Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 17, 2013: New PA budget adds $1,000 per prisoner/parolee compared to $10 per public school student, 100 times less for students

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

New PA budget adds $1,000 per prisoner/parolee compared to $10 per public school student, 100 times less for students
Source: PCCY Newsletter August 16, 2013

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 17, 2013:
New PA budget adds $1,000 per prisoner/parolee compared to $10 per public school student, 100 times less for students

Fiscal Pressures Squeeze Philadelphia Schools as Opening Looms
Education Week By Jaclyn Zubrzycki Published Online: August 16, 2013
Philadelphia’s scramble this week to find the $50 million in emergency aid Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. says is needed to open schools as scheduled exposed deep rifts about how to fix the district’s chronic fiscal problems.
On the hot seat, both short and long term: a district that’s laid off thousands of teachers and support staff; a city that’s weighing how to meet its pension obligations amid the school funding crisis; teachers and principals whose contracts expire at the end of this month; and a state that’s been criticized over an aid formula that experts say is among the most inequitable in the country.

'They’re cutting everything but the kids': On budget reductions and school conditions
thenotebook by Erin Rooney on Aug 16 2013 Posted in Commentary
Residents of Philadelphia are counting down the days until the city’s public schools open. We are faced with insufficient funds and abundant worry about the School District’s ability to open safe and functioning schools. In the face of a massive budget crisis, the District has slashed numerous positions, programs, and resources. These reductions raise serious concerns.

 “You allow this opening of schools in order to provide pathetic cover for a governor who has not only failed to do his duty but has manufactured and exploited a crisis for political gain.  You normalize poverty, deprivation and inequity in his name.”
Helen Gym: SRC statement: Going to war on your own soldiers
Parents United for Public Education Posted on August 15, 2013 by HELENGYM
These remarks were made at the Aug. 15 SRC special meeting which stripped seniority from the teachers’ contract. This means that the District has the right to arbitrarily determine which staff to return to schools based on “need.” The SRC voted unanimously to do so.
Last week when you Superintendent Hite issued your ultimatum, parents across the city sprang into action on your behalf. Within 24 hours we were down at City Hall meeting with the Mayor’s office staff and City Council members. Parents wrote letters to the editor, made phone calls, contacted the media about our stories ,and turned out for press conferences for support. We stayed up late, emailing into the night, and met and planned – all on behalf of you because , foolishly, we somehow believed.
Of all the things which have run through my head in the past week, the saddest one perhaps is the sinking in that all of last week – the plea from you, Superintendent Hite, the threat not to open schools which sent parents and families across the city into a panic, the dueling press conferences – all of it was nothing but political theater to justify this.
This was never, never about educating our children.

With $50M pledge, Philly schools begin rehiring
Published: 31 minutes ago
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - After a tense week of wondering whether the city's financially struggling public schools would be able to open on time next month, the district finally has an answer: Yes.
With the city's promise Thursday of $50 million in emergency funds, education officials began hiring back about 1,000 pink-slipped employees, from assistant principals to lunchtime aides.
But what will the schools look like? Many parents say the cash infusion is barely a bandage on a district hemorrhaging red ink, and that the buildings will simply be shells - without sufficient resources or staffing to offer students a safe and adequate learning environment. About 2,500 workers remain laid off.

“Broadly speaking, you and your foundation have come under significant fire for giving so much money to overtly steer K-12 education in what some see as a controversial direction. What makes you confident that you are helping steer the country's educational system in the right direction? Per @lfeinberg and @jashsf, why not instead devote the bulk of your energy and resources toward greater investment in early-childhood education—where some see pretty clear evidence that those investments produce tangible results over a child's lifetime—or toward leveling the wildly uneven playing field between wealthy and poor districts in this country?”
Q&A: Bill Gates on Teaching, Ed Tech, and Philanthropy
Education Week Digital Education By Benjamin Herold on August 16, 2013 7:56 AM
Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently dipped into the coffers of bgc3—his personal office, think tank, and incubation engine—to make a multimillion-dollar investment in Graphite, a new venture from the San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media that aims to provide teachers with easy-to-search, Consumer Reports-style peer reviews of ed-tech products. In conjunction with Graphite's launch, Gates offered to respond via email to some questions from Education Week and our Twitter followers.

Low-income schools struggle under state’s grading system
With dozens of changes in just the past three years, the formula behind Florida’s A-to-F school grading system has been criticized as a confusing mess. But there’s been at least one constant in Miami-Dade and Broward results: The wealthiest schools never get Fs, and schools with high populations of poor students face an uphill battle to even get a C.
The trend is visible through a decade-plus of school grade results, dating back to the first grades issued in 1999.

“Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) remains the most vulnerable incumbent in the country”
The Fix’s top 15 gubernatorial races
Washington Post By Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake, Published: August 16 at 11:30 am
Republicans are playing lots of defense this cycle, with four of the top five seats likeliest to flip belonging to the GOP. Overall, the GOP has to defend 24 seats to just 14 for Democrats.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) remains the most vulnerable incumbent in the country. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) moves up to the No. 2 spot, meanwhile, as Republicans’ best pickup opportunity is still in Arkansas.

(to consider costs of special education)
Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:00 AM     
Board Room  - Allentown School District Central Administration Bldg.
31 S. Penn Street Allentown, PA

Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Public hearing on Keystone Exams
Monday, August 26, 2013, 9:30 AM, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District
105 W. Walker Rd. Wayne, PA

Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Public hearing on Common Core
Thursday, August 29, 2013, 9:30 AM Capitol, Hearing Room 1, North Office Bldg.

Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Philly at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm..
Diane Ravitch | Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:30PM 
Central Library
Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students
Ticket and Subscription Packages 
Tickets on sale here at 10:00 a.m. on August 23, 2013

Yinzers - Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill. 
The lecture is being hosted by Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh, which is a new coalition of community, faith, and labor organizations consisting of Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation.  Co-sponsors for the event include the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, the PA State Education Association, Temple Sinai, and First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh Social Justice Endowment.  More details to come.

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

PILCOP 2013 Symposium on Equality: Privatization
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Thursday, September 12, 2013
This year’s day-long Symposium will be held on Thursday, September 12th and will explore the debate over privatizing government services such as healthcare, land management and education.  The Symposium on Equality annually convenes thought leaders and outstanding advocates  to engage in meaningful discussion and exploration of the day’s most pressing civil rights and social issues. This year’s event will foster conversation, collaboration and exploration of the debate over privatizing government services such as healthcare, land management and education.

PILCOP Know Your Child’s Rights! 2013-2014 Special Education Seminars
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia July 9, 2013
The Law Center’s year-long Know Your Child’s Rights! seminar series on special education law continues in 2013-2014 with day and evening trainings focused on securing special education rights and services.  These seminars are intended for parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and others who are in a position to help children with disabilities receive an appropriate education. Every session focuses on a different legal topic, service or disability and is co-led by a Law Center staff attorney and a guest speaker.
This year’s topics include Tips for Going Back to School; Psychological Testing, IEEs and Evaluations; School Records; Children with Autism; Transition Services; Children with Emotional Needs; Discipline and Bullying; Charter Schools; Children with Dyslexia; Extended School Year; Assistive Technology; Discrimination and Compensatory Education; and, Settlements. See below for descriptions and schedules of each session.

PSBA is accepting applications to fill vacancies in NSBA's grassroots advocacy program. Deadline to apply is Sept. 6.
PSBA members: Influence public education policy at the federal level; join NSBA's Federal Relations Network
The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in filling vacancies for the remainder of the 2013-14 term of the Federal Relations Network. The FRN is NSBA's grassroots advocacy program that provides the opportunity for school board members from every congressional district in the country who are committed to public education to get involved in federal advocacy. For more than 40 years, school board members have been lobbying for public education on Capitol Hill as one unified voice through this program. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start!

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Important change this year: Delegate Assembly (replaces the Legislative Policy Council) will be Tuesday Oct. 15 from 1 – 4:30 p.m.
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

Pennsylvania charter schools going directly to Corbett for $150 million funding increase
Charter schools asking Corbett administration to change funding formula in their favor.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 10:59 p.m. EDT, August 14, 2013
HARRISBURG — For years, local school district officials have tried to get state lawmakers to pass laws reducing the amount of tax dollars paid to charter schools.
Now charter schools — which since 1997 have evolved from independent, isolated institutions into a united, powerful political force — are fighting back. They have launched a coordinated effort to gain up to $150 million annually in additional funding from local school districts in the Lehigh Valley and across the state.  In hopes of doing it, charter schools are bypassing the House, Senate and state Board of Education and going right to Gov. Tom Corbett's administration in a bid to change the funding formula in their favor.

School Choices: Are your PA tax dollars, intended for the classrooms of Chester Upland, funding this 20,000 sq.ft. mansion on the beach instead?

According to minutes from 12/18/12 Agora Cyber Board mtg, your PA tax $$$ paid for 19,298 local TV commercials

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District March 2013

"They don't feel they should be subject to this law, or, candidly, subject to you," Mutchler told senators on the state government committee, which is considering legislation to amend the five-year-old law. "They are a cancer on the otherwise healthy right-to- know-law."
Pa. official: Charter schools flout public-records law
By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau POSTED: May 15, 2013
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's 180 charter schools routinely ignore the state's Right-To-Know Law even though as publicly funded institutions they are bound to comply with it, the chief of the state's Office of Open Records told a Senate committee on Monday.  Executive director Terry Mutchler said her office had received 239 appeals in cases in which charter schools either rejected or failed to answer requests from the public for information such as budgets, payrolls, or student rosters. She said her office ruled in favor of the schools on just six of those appeals.

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

Keystone State Education Coalition Prior Posting
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

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