Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 20, 2013: Salon.com pulls no punches on Philly school funding debacle

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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Where’s the funding?
Here’s $520.5 million in Pennsylvania school funding budget lines that existed pre-ARRA/stimulus (FY 2008-2009) that no longer exist:
High School Reform                            $  10.7 million eliminated
Accountability Block Grant                  $171.4 million reduction
Tutoring                                               $  65.1 million eliminated
Dual Enrollment                                   $  10.0 million eliminated
Science: It’s Elementary                      $  13.6 million eliminated
School Improvement Grants                $  22.8 million eliminated
Charter School Reimbursement          $226.9 million eliminated
Key Education Subsidies Chart FY2006-07 thru 2012-13
Senator Hughes’ website

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 20, 2013:
Salon.com pulls no punches on Philly school funding debacle

“Want to see a public school system in its death throes? Look no further than Philadelphia. There, the school district is facing end times, with teachers, parents and students staring into the abyss created by a state intent on destroying public education.”
“Indescribably insane”: A public school system from hell
Pennsylvania's right-wing governor drains public schools of basic funds -- and the sickening details will shock you
Salon.com BY AARON KASE MONDAY, AUG 19, 2013 07:44 AM EDT
Want to see a public school system in its death throes? Look no further than Philadelphia. There, the school district is facing end times, with teachers, parents and students staring into the abyss created by a state intent on destroying public education.
On Thursday the city of Philadelphia announced that it would be borrowing $50 million to give the district, just so it can open schools as planned on Sept. 9, after Superintendent William Hite threatened to keep the doors closed without a cash infusion. The schools may open without counselors, administrative staff, noon aids, nurses, librarians or even pens and paper, but hey, kids will have a place to go and sit.
The $50 million fix is just the latest band-aid for a district that is beginning to resemble a rotting bike tube, covered in old patches applied to keep it functioning just a little while longer. At some point, the entire system fails.

“Nutter said he thinks another plea to the Corbett administration to deliver the $45 million now is futile, despite the uncertainties still swirling about as schools try to open Sept. 9 under tumultuous conditions.”
Countdown, Day 21: Mayor says kids, not teachers, being asked to do heaviest lift
Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 19 2013
Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission continue their commitment not to budget a penny that they are not sure of getting as schools struggle to prepare for opening under unprecedented conditions. They have decided that the $50 million from the city is gettable, despite the tug-of-war between Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke over how to raise it.  So they have put those millions back into the District budget. Not so for the $45 million grant the state has committed but is holding back, pending concessions from the teachers' union in contract talks.

Philly can't keep bailing out schools to cover state's failure, analyst warns
Philly.com POSTED: Monday, August 19, 2013, 1:17 PM Joseph N. DiStefano
Philadelphia's "unusual" plan to bail out its public schools with a $50 million loan to ensure the state-controlled system opens on time this year will help slow the drain of students to charter schools -- which enroll one-third of the city's nearly 200,000 public school students, up from one-sixth just five years ago -- and is affordable for the city in its current financial situation, says credit analyst Michael D'Arcy in a report for Moody's Investors Service. But bigger or more-prolonged school bailouts by Philadelphia city government "would be credit-negative for the city," and could result in a cut to Philadelphia's bond rating that would boost its future borrowing costs, D'Arcy warned.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Wall-St-to-Philly-No-more-school-bailouts.html#k1icVrTm0zh3FQxi.99

PFT ready to file grievance for members recalled in violation of contract's seniority rules
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 3:01 AM
THE TEACHERS' union will file a grievance for each member recalled by the district in violation of seniority rules in the current contract, Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, announced last night during a phone call with thousands of members, sources said. Jordan's pronouncement would appear to directly challenge the district's effort last week to suspend certain sections of the public-school code, including seniority rules and step wage increases.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130820_PFT_ready_to_file_grievance_for_members_recalled_in_violation_of_contract_s_seniority_rules.html#TUfEmh6QJVBdRLLT.99

School districts get creative to cut costs
Chris Palmer, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Monday, August 19, 2013, 1:07 AM
When schools open this month, students in Bristol Township will be hopping onto a fleet of new buses fueled by propane. Beyond being more environmentally friendly, the buses are expected to generate a significant saving: The two-year contract the Bucks County district negotiated for propane sets the price at $1.50 per gallon, according to district Superintendent Samuel Lee, and the district has submitted a grant proposal to further lower costs. Bristol, like many local districts, can use all the help it can get: As reported in The Inquirer last month, despite rising property-tax rates, the district had to close a $9 million gap to balance its 2013-14 budget. That trend - rising expenses outpacing revenue - has districts in the region looking for ways to stay afloat. And though the primary method is often to reduce staff or programs, districts are exploring measures that include propane-fueled buses, rearranging teacher schedules, and selling naming rights to school stadiums. The Methacton School District, in Montgomery County, is auctioning items on eBay for extra cash.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20130819_School_districts_get_creative_to_cut_costs.html#Uv5DXAxEgJsOsBPd.99

Apollo-Ridge SD considers Web page ads
TribLive Valley News Dispatch By Brian C. Rittmeyer  August 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Apollo-Ridge School District is being courted to join a network of school districts in making money from their Web sites through advertising.  Bob Phillips, marketing manager of Ellwood City-based Thought Process Enterprises, said the idea is to create a network of school districts in Western Pennsylvania that allow advertising on district Web sites.
“The exodus of teachers from Pennsylvania is not a new trend, but it is becoming increasingly hard for graduates of Pennsylvania teaching programs to find K-12 teaching jobs in Pennsylvania public schools, said Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.”
Pennsylvania teachers heading out of state to find jobs
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on August 19, 2013 at 6:45 AM
Hunting for a position as a first-grade teacher in Pennsylvania became a full-time job for Williams Township native Sarah Widmer.  After Widmer graduated from Shippensburg University in 2012, she immediately began her job hunt, applying to every school district in Pennsylvania; all 500 of them. Some multiple times. She estimates she submitted resumes for 40 jobs in the Quakertown Community School District alone.
No one ever called her for an interview.

Ana Puig was a member of Governor Corbett’s education transition team and the PA State Director for FreedomWorks…..
“She and her co-chair, Anastasia Przybylski, lobbied hard for a tuition-voucher bill in the state legislature.”
Tea Party leader Ana Puig quits to work for Pa. revenue department
POSTED: Monday, August 19, 2013, 11:46 AM Thomas Fitzgerald, Inquirer Politics Writer
What’s a nice tea party leader doing in a place like this? Ana Puig of Bucks County, a leader in the tea party movement since its earliest days in 2009, has a new job: legislative liaison for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. Intellectual whiplash! The tea party, of course, is defined by its skepticism of big government, and particularly by its dislike of taxes. Puig not only went to work for state government, she represents the people who collect the taxes to keep the beast purring along.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/big_tent/Tea-Party-leader-quits-to-work-for-Pa-revenue-department.html#hLIRf8ldkcwa2DYh.99

What we know about schools — but choose to ignore
By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 19 at 1:30 pm
Here’s an important piece on school reform by P.L. Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina. He edited the 2013 book “Becoming and Being a Teacher,” and wrote the 2012 book, “Ignoring Poverty in the U.S.: The Corporate Takeover of Public Education.” This was published on his blog, the becoming radical.

Community Schools: 21 Detroit Schools To Stay Open 7 Days A Week
CBS62 Detroit Reporting Pat Sweeting August 15, 2013 6:34 PM
DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s a plan to make schoolsmore a part of the community. Detroit Public Schools on Thursday announced that 21 schools will now remain open 12 hours a day, seven days-a-week.  The schools will offer homework help, medical services, and parenting and pre-natal classes, as well as financial literacy and technology skills programs.
Carol Weaver, who directs the new DPS Community Schools program, said each of these schools will receive a community schools coordinator who will work with the school’s principal and staff to determine the needs of students and their families.

Chicago's community schools in jeopardy with budget cuts
by thenotebook on Aug 19 2013 Posted in Latest news
by Rachel Reed for Catalyst Chicago
As Chicago's principals make tough decisions in the wake of massive budget cuts, one major casualty could be the out-of-school time programs offered by community schools.
Chicago’s 150 community schools provide after-school and specialty programs in partnership with outside organizations. The goal is to provide expanded learning opportunities for children – most in lower-income neighborhoods – as well as programs to address students’ health and social-emotional needs. Families are part of the mix, too; some community schools offer GED classes or other programs for parents.

More info on Community Schools here:

Pittsburgh Public Schools asked for moratorium on closings
Update:(Published August 17, 2013) The superintendent's response was added in a later version of this story.
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 16, 2013 4:37 pm
The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network Education Task Force today called on Pittsburgh Public Schools to place a moratorium on school closings until the community impact of past closings can be studied.  If the effects have been detrimental, Irene Haberman, task force chair, said, "We want to make sure that's not going to happen elsewhere in the city."

Driving the News: How right wing funders are manufacturing news and influencing policy in Pennsylvania
A Report by Keystone Progress August, 2013
Executive Summary - There is a disturbing new movement to supplant genuine investigative reporting with pseudo-reporting by right-wing advocacy organizations. These advocacy groups, posing as legitimate news bureaus, are well funded and have become accepted as objective news organizations by many mainstream newspapers, television and radio news operations. In fact, one such network claims that it is already "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."  This insidious infiltration of legitimate news operations is led by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.  Its local affiliate in Pennsylvania is the
Pennsylvania Independent.

Which Way Do We Go? Policy-Makers and the Public Differ on How to Achieve Education Excellence
Release of 2013 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 , from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Gallup Building, 901 F Street, NW, Washington, DC.
You are invited to attend the release of findings from the 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. This year's poll shows American policy-makers are forging ahead with education initiatives, but they may be leaving Americans behind and out of the loop, particularly when it comes to the Common Core State Standards. How much do Americans know about Common Core? Are they supportive of the initiative? What are the implications for educators and policy-makers at the national level?  Join us for an event where prominent speakers and panelists will present this new research and discuss what common ground exists for building solutions that bring positive change to the American public education experience.

As one educator put it, less than half in jest, “The problem with national testing is that the conservatives hate national and the liberals hate testing.”
War on the Core
New York Times Opinion By BILL KELLER Published: August 18, 2013 114 Comments
I respect, really I do, the efforts by political scientists and pundits to make sense of the current Republican Party. There is intellectual virtue in the search for historical antecedents and philosophical underpinnings.
I understand the urge to take what looks to a layman like nothing more than a mean spirit or a mess of contradictions and brand it. (The New Libertarianism! Burkean Revivalists!) But more and more, I think Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s Republican rising star, had it right when he said his party was in danger of becoming simply “the stupid party.”
A case in point is the burgeoning movement to kill what is arguably the most serious educational reform of our lifetime. I’m talking about the Common Core, a project by a consortium of states to raise public school standards nationwide.

(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 www.psba.org. 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 http://www.psba.org/elections/.

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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