Monday, August 19, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 19, 2013: Not content bypassing taxpayers, PA charter schools seek to bypass House, Senate and State Board of Education too….

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

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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 19, 2013:
Not content bypassing taxpayers, PA charter schools seek to bypass House, Senate and State Board of Education too….

Did you miss our weekend postings?

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

Budget Secretary Issues Statement About $45 Million in State Budget for Philadelphia School District
PDE Press Release August 13, 2013
Harrisburg – Budget Secretary Charles Zogby today issued the following statement about the $45 million that was allocated to the Philadelphia School District in the 2013-14 state budget:
“As required by the law that was duly enacted by the General Assembly, any additional state funding, including the $45 million in one-time state funds included in the 2013-14 state budget, is only to be released to the district when the Secretary of Education certifies the district has begun to implement fiscal, educational and operational reforms.
“A new collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers that makes substantial progress toward achieving the fiscal savings and academic reforms set out by CEO William Hite and the School Reform Commission must be in place before any new funding is released.
“This year, Pennsylvania taxpayers are slated to invest more than $1.3 billion into the district.  Before making any additional state investments, it is critical that the fiscal savings and academic reforms CEO Hite and the SRC have said are essential to the long-term sustainability and viability of the district be in place.
“The time has come for the leaders in the City of Philadelphia to do their part. By acting to extend the sales tax they cannot only provide additional funding for this year’s school opening but fix in place another key piece to the district’s long-term sustainability.”

“As we witness the slow-motion agony of public schools, not just in Philly but across the state, due to Corbett's historic de-funding of education, remember this. He had a natural gas windfall drop in his lap. If he'd only stirred himself to tax energy companies in the ways that states like Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska do, we'd have a lot more money to feed the state's schools, and a whole lot else.”
So many wrong steps led us all to this Philly schools mess
By Chris Satullo, @chrissatullo August 18, 2013
I ... don't ... know ... what ... to say.
I don't know what to say about how tragic the Philadelphia schools crisis has become. What can you say when opening the schools with only a $250 million resource deficit vs. adequacy feels like progress?
Or when the city's mayor freely admits he's pushing for a Harrisburg funding package that he had no say in crafting and knows is sorely deficient. Why? Because, even if you need 50 bucks, getting 10 bucks still beats the heck out of zero.

Harrisburg wrecked this ship
Inquirer Letter to the Editor by Alan Bronstein Sunday, August 18, 2013, 1:09 AM
Not so many years ago, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in all its wisdom, decided that the people of Philadelphia didn't know how to run the city schools. So the state took them over, dissolved the school board, appointed its own school board, and called it the School Reform Commission. The state was going to show us that the School District could be run better and more economically.

School crisis drives families from city
Melissa Dribben, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Sunday, August 18, 2013, 1:09 AM
Brian Hackford is divorcing Philadelphia, citing irreconcilable differences over public education. For most of his adult life, Hackford has loved this city - its energy, its grit, its humor, its culture, its diversity, restaurants, parks, museums, and a host of other ineffable qualities that have made this place home for most of his adult life. But try as he might, he no longer believes the Philadelphia School District can be trusted to provide his three children with a good education.

“So it might be useful to consider the facts. Most important is that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took control of the District in 2001. The PFT contract now in effect and the two that preceded it were all approved by the state’s agent, the School Reform Commission. To blame the PFT for contract costs and provisions is to overlook the inconvenient fact that the state created the circumstances it now wants to reverse
Philly Burns; The Inquirer Fiddles
Jersey Jazzman Blog Saturday, August 17, 2013
Perhaps they haven't yet heard about this in the editorial offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but the city's schools are about to implode, thanks to Tea Partyin'constitution-shreddin'public-education-destroyin' wingnut Governor Tom Corbett and his fellow travelers in Harrisburg.
While ignorant ideologues like Andy Smarick pretend that Philadelphia is somehow proof that rampant privatization is necessary for urban districts (don't worry, suburbs - Andy's coming for you next!), people who know what they are talking about make clear that the issue for Philadelphia's schools remains inequitable, inadequate funding.

Fighting for a Voice at the Table, Philadelphia Charter School Teachers Rally for Unionization Sunday, 18 August 2013 09:55By Sean KitchenRaging Chicken Press
ASPIRA owns the charter of the school –  in support of the teachers’ union drive.  By organizing a union with the help of the Philadelphia Alliance of Charter School Employees and the  American Federation of Teachers of Pennsylvania (AFT PA), these teachers are on the frontlines of the education reform movement and among the first to seek to unionize the corporate education sector.  The teachers went public with their fight at the end of last school year and in response have faced threats and intimidation by principals and administrators.

Corbett pension plan is a bait-and-switch: As I See It
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Richard C. Rowland on August 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM, updated August 18, 2013 at 10:03 AM
Richard C. Rowland is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees.
Having previously presided over the Bureau of Consumer Protection as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, one would think that Gov. Tom Corbett would recognize and certainly not engage in efforts to promote a bait and switch on Pennsylvania’s taxpayers.   His latest public employee  pension “reform” plan, however, is just that—a bait and switch that the Pennsylvania General Assembly must expose and reject when it returns to session next month.

Philly’s school funding crisis driven by pensions, and it’s only going to get worse
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent August 16, 2013
HARRISBURG — As the Philadelphia School District scrambles to come up with enough cash to open for students in September, a new report suggests the city’s school funding crisis is on par with municipal issues in Detroit, Chicagoand elsewhere.
At the heart of it all: pensions.
Payments to retired teachers and public employees are a growing threat to government budgets everywhere, and it is no different in PhiladelphiaA new report from the Thomas Fordham Institute, a conservative education nonprofit, estimates the district’s total retirement costs will balloon from $73 million in 2011 to $349 million by 2020.
On a per-pupil basis, that works out to $900 per pupil in the district for 2011, growing to $2,300 per pupil by 2020.

Moratorium sought on Pittsburgh school closings
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 17, 2013 12:08 am
The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network Education Task Force Friday called on Pittsburgh Public Schools to place a moratorium on school closings until the community impact of past closings can be studied.

Wilkinsburg's new school leader wants support from community
By Alex Zimmerman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 19, 2013 12:01 am
It might be the toughest job in Wilkinsburg, and some say the future of the borough hinges on it.
Lee McFerren, who became superintendent July 1, is tasked with turning around a school district plagued by declining enrollment, soaring tuition payments to charter schools, violence and significant shortfalls in reading and math proficiency.

Costs of implementing new Pa. academic standards debated
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson, @marywilson August 19, 2013
The potential cost of implementing new Pennsylvania educational standards promises to be a prominent issue at a pair of upcoming state Senate panel hearings on the Pennsylvania Common Core.  The academic standards, which include assessments required for high school graduation, were developed within the commonwealth to satisfy federal regulations.  But they were engulfed in controversy this spring as critics suggested they represented top-down educational mandates.

Common Core standards are 'curriculum upsidedownia'
San Francisco Chronicle Opinion by George Ball Published 10:38 pm, Friday, August 16, 2013
George Ball is the past president of the American Horticultural Society and chairman of W. Atlee Burpee & Co., in Bucks CountyPa.
Now adopted in 45 states, including California, and the District of Columbia, this federal effort sets uniform standards on how math and English are taught in American schools. A top-down program imposed on states in order to qualify for Race to the Top funds, the curriculum is the fruit of a process tainted with politics, vested interests and a lack of transparency.
The Common Core Curriculum is being implemented without empirical evidence of its value, and imposed hurriedly without consulting the very people most affected: students, teachers and parents.

“The divisions fall along the familiar fault lines of income, education and race that drive so much of American life. In many cases, it's as though parents are looking at two very different sets of schools in this country.”
Poll: Demographics divide views of schools
Delco Times By Jennifer Agiesta and Philip Elliott Associated Press Published: Monday, August 19, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — Minority and low-income parents are more likely to see serious problems in their schools — from low expectations to bullying to out-of-date technology and textbooks — than those who are affluent or white, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll.  Overall impressions of the nation's schools and teachers are similarly positive among all groups of parents, but deep demographic differences emerge in the details of how parents see teachers, schools and even their own roles in their children's education.

 “Parents think that the test results will be used to help their child do better. They don’t realize that the results are not available for months, when their child no longer has the same teacher. Nor do they know that neither the teacher nor the student is allowed to see the test questions after the test, so they never learn what they got wrong and where they need to improve.”
Do Parents Support High-Stakes Testing?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav August 18, 2013 //
A reader posted this AP story about parent support for standardized testing and the Common Core. If you read the story carefully, it shows that parents have no idea how test results are being misused and are unfamiliar with the Common Core. The headline says parents support “high-stakes testing,” but nothing in the story supports that assertion.

Head Start eliminated services to 57,000 children in U.S. as a result of sequester
Washington Post By Michael Alison Chandler, Published: August 18 |
Head Start programs across the country eliminated services for 57,000 children in the coming school year to balance budgets diminished by the federal sequester, cutting 1.3 million days from Head Start center calendars and laying off or reducing pay for more than 18,000 employees, according to federal government data scheduled for release Monday.

Quality, Not Just Access, Important in the Kindergarten Debate
New America Foundation by C.J. Libassi Published:  August 16, 2013
Barriers to full-day kindergarten exist throughout the country, and the recent cuts to full-day kindergarten in Pennsylvania are just the most recent reminder. But although access is a crucial component to ensuring that the positive effects of quality programs reach students, it matters only inasmuch as those programs are worth attending. Given that quality in full-day programs so often gets overshadowed by (important) questions of student access, it is worth examining why program quality matters and which specific quality metrics matter most when designing kindergarten programs.

House Dems question if charter schools are helping English language learners

The Hill Floor Action Blog By Ramsey Cox - 08/16/13 02:04 PM ET
House Democrats asked the Department of Education to investigate if charter schools are meeting standards for English language learners (ELL). 
Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent Education Secretary Arne Duncan a letter Thursday asking him to collect data on ELL students enrolled in charter schools.
The lawmakers said a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that some charter schools are not reporting student performance data, including reading and math proficiency rates and graduation rates for all students. They said this calls into question whether charter schools meet current standards of educational quality and accessibility for ELL students.
Best and brightest: Only a few countries are teaching children how to think
The Economist Book Review  Aug 17th 2013 | From the print edition
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way. By Amanda Ripley.Simon and Schuster; 320 pages; $28. Buy from 
BAMA Companies has been making pies and biscuits in Oklahoma since the 1920s. But the company is struggling to find Okies with the skills to fill even its most basic factory jobs. Such posts require workers to think critically, yet graduates of local schools are often unable to read or do simple maths. This is why the company recently decided to open a new factory in Poland—its first in Europe. “We hear that educated people are plentiful,” explains Paula Marshall, Bama’s boss.  Poland has made some dramatic gains in education in the past decade. Before 2000 only half of the country’s rural adults would finish primary school. Yet international rankings now put the country’s students well ahead of America’s in science and maths (the strongest predictor of future earnings), even as the country spends far less per pupil. What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in “The Smartest Kids in the World”, her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe.

(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).

Not content bypassing taxpayers, charter schools seek to bypass PA House, Senate and State Board of Education too….
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.

A statewide charter authorizer would have virtually no accountability to local taxpayers.  None.  Just like our cyber charters.

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 meeting, 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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