Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 21, 2013: PA No Child Left Behind Waiver Request Approved by U.S. Department of Education

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, the acting PA Secretary of Education, 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?

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 21, 2013:
PA No Child Left Behind Waiver Request Approved by U.S. Department of Education

Acting Sec’y Harner Attends Town Hall Meeting at DCIU
Thanks very much to PA Acting Secretary of Education Dr. William Harner who attended a Town Hall meeting last evening at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. 
More than 80 superintendents, administrators, school board members, parents and community members from Delaware and Chester Counties attended the meeting, where Dr. Harner took questions from the floor for over 2 hours.  Topics included adequate school funding, the Common Core, raising standards without providing adequate funding, lack of an education funding formula in PA, Keystone Exams, unfunded mandates including special education and PSERS, charter schools, the NCLB waiver and new school profile/report card, the impact of poverty and the need for quality early childhood education.
The meeting was sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the DCIU.

PDE Press Release August 20, 2013
Pennsylvania’s No Child Left Behind Waiver Request Approved by U.S. Department of Education
Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has approved the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver request that will help make our Pennsylvania’s public schools better for our children and their families.
“This is welcome news for students, parents, taxpayers, educators and public schools across the state,” Corbett said. “This waiver allows Pennsylvania to focus on improving schools by directing resources to areas that help students academically succeed. We now have a better way of guiding improvement efforts in schools by establishing ambitious, yet attainable, goals.”
The approved waiver is designed to improve Pennsylvania education in three areas: making sure all our students are ready for careers or college; developing recognition and accountability standards by the state for all public schools; improving and supporting effective teachers and principals in all our classrooms.

PDE: Overview of Pennsylvania’s Approved No Child Left Behind Waiver

U.S. Department of Education grants Pennsylvania waiver from No Child Left Behind law's AYP requirement
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 20, 2013 11:41 pm
The measure used for public school performance throughout Pennsylvania for more than a decade -- adequate yearly progress, or AYP -- is being replaced by a new accountability system.
The U.S. Department of Education and Gov. Tom Corbett announced Tuesday that the federal government has granted the state a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which was enacted in January 2001.  The new system is called School Performance Profile. Each school will be given a profile score, based on test participation, performance, graduation or attendance rates and closing certain achievement gaps.

Pennsylvania Gets Its No Child Left Behind Act Waiver, Just in Time
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Michele McNeil on August 20, 2013 4:25 PM
Pennsylvania today became the 43nd waiver applicant to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education, just in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year.  That means 41 states, the District of Columbia, and eight California districts now have waivers under the NCLB law.
Pennsylvania was a longtime holdout—then-state education Secretary Ron Tomalis had decided to wait to apply for a waiver until after the 2012 presidential election. 

“Tim Eller, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said School Performance Profiles would replace Adequate Yearly Progress if the U.S. Department of Education approves the state’s application to a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.”
School performance profiles to provide scores based on academic achievement, growth
By Julianne Mattera |  on August 19, 2013 at 9:50 PM, updated August 20, 2013 at 12:27 AM
School across the state are set to receive individual scores based on students’ academic achievement and growth as part of anticipated school performance profiles.
Shirley F. Hunter, Central Dauphin’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, explained to Central Dauphin School Board members Monday night the scores would be available for public information. They also would factor into teachers’ evaluations going forward.

Pittsburgh schools lose eight top administrators in 2013
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 21, 2013 12:08 am
Since the beginning of 2013, eight top central office administrators in Pittsburgh Public Schools have resigned or retired.  The latest departure is Cate Reed, executive director of strategic priorities, who is leading the district's efforts to "envision" its future along with consultants paid by a $2.4 million foundation grant. The school board is expected to vote on her resignation tonight.

 “The state must make education funding a priority, Mr. Hanger said. Job creation must be another priority, and the gas industry must be taxed, he said.  "This governor is making the wrong choices," Mr. Hanger said. "You can't skimp on education and have a successful economy. We're on the edge of destroying public education in the state of Pennsylvania."
Michael Barley, campaign manager for the Corbett campaign, said the governor has committed more state resources to education than any other governor.”
Governor candidate touts tuition plan, education funding
Scranton Times-Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) Published: August 21, 2013
High school graduates could attend one year at a public college or two years of community college with no immediate costs, according to a plan by a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
John Hanger, a former state Department of Environmental Protection secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell, pitched his Keystone Opportunity Fund on Tuesday morning at Lackawanna County Courthouse Square.

Pennsylvania is just one of three states that do not use a funding formula to appropriately distribute funds among its numerous school districts. Further, the proportion of funding for public education contributed by the state is among the lowest in the nation. In Philadelphia, 83% of children go to underfunded schools. This is not only an embarrassment, but a tragedy of epidemic proportions that will impact the city and state for generations to come.”
State Rep. Sims to Pa.: Put your money where your kids are
LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 11:21 AM
Brian Sims represents the 182nd Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
State budgets are not just checkbooks, they are moral documents. They reveal whether our values of fairness, our national reputation as a leader for equity and inclusion, and our policy outcomes match our state’s egalitarian tradition and vision.” – Jermaine Toney Vice President Joe Biden has famously said, “don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value.”  Unfortunately, the budget Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has signed into law—that maintains nearly 81% of the $1 billion in cuts he imposed in 2011 and 2012—demonstrates that supporting Pennsylvania’s youth is simply not among his values or priorities. This budget of skewed priorities has caused the Commonwealth to become a national embarrassment as Governor Corbett’s lack of leadership has placed politics over pupils and has unfairly shifted the burden and blame from the state to the city.

Student Letter to Mayor Nutter: All Philly school children need your help
WHYY Newsworks Letter By Mary Conrad August 21, 2013
Mary Conrad is a graduate of Central High School, a mechanical engineering and mechanics student at Drexel University, and a Central High School RoboLancers Team 321 mentor.
Dear Mayor Nutter,
This past year, your daughter, Olivia, graduated from Masterman. There were secretaries on staff to help run the school office or to give Olivia an early dismissal if she needed one. There were counselors to send Olivia's transcripts to colleges or to talk to if Olivia needed advice. There were nurses if Olivia felt sick. There were teachers who were qualified to teach in that subject and who were well educated in it. There were librarians in case Olivia wanted to read a book or needed help doing research for a project. There were a variety of extracurricular activities that Olivia could have participated in. There was security in the halls and at the front doors to make sure Olivia was safe. Olivia had everything she could possibly expect from a public school education at her fingertips, not to mention the best Philadelphia could offer in public education, given Masterman's excellent reputation.

Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst weighs in on Philly fiscal situation…
District leaders' recent actions set schools on the right path
thenotebook by Ashley DeMauro on Aug 20 2013 Posted in Commentary
Ashley DeMauro is the state director for StudentsFirst in Pennsylvania
The fiscal situation in the School District of Philadelphia demands our immediate attention, and it has been encouraging to see Gov. Corbett, Superintendent William Hite, Mayor Nutter, and the City Council work together to find a solution that allows all schools to open Sept. 9.
It may be tempting to think that a quick fix to keep the District afloat is sufficient. But it would be irresponsible to not implement long-term reforms that help to ensure schools in Philadelphia – and across the state – will be effective and financially sustainable.

Countdown, Day 20: Schools bring back staff, but many can only afford aides
Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 20 2013 Posted in Countdown to calamity?
Less than three weeks left. The good news: Each school is staffed for student registration. Either a secretary who has been called back from layoff or a temp worker is at each school. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on all weekdays but Wednesday, when the hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The bad news: Principals have been confronted with difficult personnel decisions, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that the $50 million accepted from the city last week with such fanfare is not going very far.

“To my mind what was almost as shocking about this story as the fact that it should be happening in the United States of America, rather than say, Chad, was that the paper consigned it to its education section, downplaying it by reassuring its readers that although Philadelphia might be "edging toward a financial precipice" the situation" is not as dire yet as Detroit".
Now, when a city the size of Philadelphia can't afford to pay its school teachers and America's so-called newspaper of record treats the story as a ho-hum "nothing-much-to-see-here" yarn for the inside pages, it's fair to say we are entering uncharted waters, to put it mildly.”
Painting grim picture of how life can change
JAMES CAMPBELL SUNDAY (Melbourne Australia) HERALD SUN AUGUST 18, 2013 12:00AM
TAKING a well-earned break this week from reading about our fascinating election campaign, I chanced upon something in the New York Times that really puts our problems in perspective.
According to a story in that paper, the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania had last week been forced to borrow $50 million so it could reopen its schools at the end of the summer holidays.
Without the emergency loan, the paper reported, the man in charge of the system was threatening to delay the start of the school year because there was not enough money to pay the staff.  Apparently Philadelphia's school system is so broke that over the summer "the district closed 24 schools and laid off 3783 employees, including 127 assistant principals, 646 teachers and more than 1200 aides, leaving no one even to answer phones".
Even with the $50 million emergency cash injection, Philadelphia's school children will be returning to schools with a minimum of staff and "sharply curtailed" extra-curricular activities.

ABCs Common Core: Amid political squabbles, schools prepare for new Common Core standards By Natasha Lindstrom and Freda R. Savana Staff Writers August 18, 2013
For the first time in U.S. history, a majority of the country’s schools will soon be teaching students based on a uniform set of national academic standards known as Common Core.
But in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett has put final approval of the new school standards on hold, in response to a wave of backlash that erupted over Common Core this past spring.

Philadelphia: Shame on Governor Corbett!
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav August 20, 2013 //
Or, maybe, not so slowly.
The state has a constitutional responsibility to maintain a public school system in every district but the state leaders don’t believe in what the state constitution says.

Settlement in charter school whistle-blower suit
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 6:23 PM
A former charter school administrator who alleged that she was wrongfully fired the day after the school was raided by federal agents has settled her whistle-blower suit. Court documents show that Adorable Harper reached a settlement with Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School in Juniata Park this month. The terms were not disclosed.

How the Charter Formula Games Special Education
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
While the Charter formula for regular education students is relatively straightforward, the formula for special education students has several provisions that cause unintended consequences which are extremely detrimental to districts and which give charters unexpected windfalls, entirely unrelated to reimbursing them for their costs.
The current Charter formula is based on equalizing the playing field with the district from which the student comes, rather than on a basis of reimbursing the charter for its actual cost. But on that basis—equalizing funding with that of the District—the charter/special education funding interaction is especially deficient, for it in fact gives the charter school a large bonus over what is available for the district special education student.

“Justice—the idea that society needs to ensure that its institutions distribute access and opportunity for all, not just for some—cannot be accomplished one school at a time for the children whose parents know how to play the system to advantage their own children.”
Creating Public School Districts of Last Resort
In The Architect of School Reform Turned Against It, Sara Mosle, an education writer and charter school teacher, reviews Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error (to be released September 17)
I urge you to read carefully the first half of Mosle’s piece. It is among the tightest and most accurate summaries I’ve read of education reform during the past twenty years—the kind of test-and-punish reform that aims to use standardized test scores to motivate teachers to work harder to close achievement gaps and that emphasizes parental choice.  Mosle correctly concludes that such school reform has failed to realize its goal of narrowing achievement gaps.

Student test scores now linked to teachers’ licenses
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 20 at 6:00 am
We should have seen this coming.
School reformers who love using student standardized test scores as the chief accountability measure in education have found yet a new way to use them against teachers.

“Hundreds of millions of public dollars are funneled, year after year, into top-down, corporate-driven "solutions" like vouchers and for-profit charters that simply do not work.  Meanwhile, schools that are serving our most vulnerable students are threatened with closure or sanction because they do not meet some arbitrary test score cutoff; administrators spend most of their days meeting mountains of regulations; and too many good teachers, who have had profound, positive effects on the lives of children, are leaving the field.”
Summer of Discontent
August 16, 2013 - The Forum for Education and Democracy by George Wood, Forum Executive Director and Superintendent of Federal Hocking Local Schools
In Steinbeck's The Winter of our Discontent, the well-meaning Ethan Hawley compromises his ethical compass to fix his family's economic distress.  Recent revelations regarding similar ethical lapses in the education community make me wonder if we have not seen a summer of discontent.
The signs are everywhere.  In Florida, new state superintendent Tony Bennet resigned soon after it was revealed that he 'fixed' the education accountability system in Indiana--when he was state superintendent there--to make a charter school look good.  That charter school, sponsored by a major campaign contributor, was held up as a model of how privatizing public schools would save the system.  In Ohio, legislators have put in place a new two-year budget that rewards failing charter schools with more funding even as it makes punishing cuts to successful charters and traditional public schools.  The big winner in this budget owns the most powerful for-profit charter management organization in the state and contributes serious campaign moneyto the majority Republican Party's leadership.  

Common Core debate highlights rifts among Florida Republicans, tea party groups
Miami Herald by Kathleen McGrory at 10:54 AM on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013
The new Common Core State Standards are more than just a roadmap for teachers and students.  They’re a political football causing a rift among Republicans.
In Florida, conservative moms and tea party groups have mounted fierce opposition to the national standards, saying decisions about teaching and learning should be made by state governments and local school boards — not the federal government. Their efforts attracted significant attention this summer, thanks to well-attended rallies, social media blitzes and the support of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

(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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