Friday, August 23, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 23, 2013: PSBA Board of Directors names Nathan Mains as new executive director

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 23, 2013:
PSBA Board of Directors names Nathan Mains as new executive director

The next discussion will be in State College and focus on cyber and charter schools, Browne said.
Special education funding across Pennsylvania examined in Allentown
By Lynn Ondrusek on August 22, 2013 at 6:14 PM, updated August 22, 2013 at 6:21 PM
Four parents, three with their special needs children in attendance, told a Pennsylvania education commission today how putting their children into regular classrooms and intermediate unit programs helped the students succeed in life.  Three have graduated from high school and are moving on to jobs or furthering their education at Lehigh University.  “We’re not here today to get anything,” said Kim Resh, of Lower Nazareth Township, one of the parents on the panel. “We’re here to better it for the future children.”

From AYP to SPP
Yinzercation Blog August 22, 2013
Move over Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Time to make room for the School Performance Profile (SPP). Pennsylvania has just been granted its waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which had required that all students in the country be proficient in reading and math by next year. But don’t start celebrating just yet.

PSBA Board of Directors names Mains as new executive director
Steve Robinson, Director of Publications and PR 8/22/2013
Nathan G. Mains has been named the new executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association by the PSBA Board of Directors following a nationwide search. Mains will begin his tenure as the sixth executive director of the association on Sept. 8.
"We are very pleased to have Nathan joining our team. He brings a fresh perspective and energy to our organization. The PSBA Board is anxious to move forward under his leadership," stated PSBA President Dr. Marcela Diaz Myers.
"It is an honor to be selected to join PSBA -- an organization with a rich history of advocating on behalf of public education across the commonwealth," added Mains. "I am looking forward to joining the PSBA team and their strong efforts on behalf of school boards across Pennsylvania."

The False Choice of School Choice; Philadelphia Public Schools Crushed By Debt And Charters
MotherCrusader Blog by Darcie Cimarusti Friday, August 23, 2013
I drove through Philadelphia twice today on my way to pick up my girls from a visit with my aunt in Maryland. (Why yes, that IS a lot of driving for one day...)
And as I drove through Philly the first time, I listened to WHYY's Marty Moss-Coane interview Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite. As I tuned in, I was thrilled to hear public school advocate extraordinaire Helen Gym of Parents United for Public Education. If you want to REALLY understand what's happening in Philadelphia's public schools, read the10 Question interview Helen gave to NBC10 Philadelphia.
As I approached Philly and listened to the entire interview, I was struck by the number of K12 Inc. billboards (the national cyber charter behemoth), lining 95 South.  I took note of no less than 4, so who knows how many there actually were.  The irony of this did not escape me, especially as I listened to this portion of the broadcast.

‘Perfect storm’ threatens Philadelphia schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 23 at 6:00 am
The Philadelphia public school system is in a financial and leadership crisis so severe that writer Aaron Kase said in this article on that the district is in its “death throes.” While that may be premature, there is no question that the system is in agony, having been starved for funding by the state for years and used as a playground by school reformers who imposed one experiment after another, each which served to undermine the traditional public schools.
The financial problems are so deep that this summer, the appointed School Reform Commission, which has run the district since the state took it over a dozen years ago, passed a “doomsday” budget that included cuts so drastic that there was no money for schools to open this fall with funding for things such as paper, new books, athletics, arts, music, guidance counselors and more shortly after announcing the closure of some 40 schools. Superintendent William Hite had said he feared schools could not open on time in September but he recently said they will, though  many schools will be suffering from a loss of personnel and services. The crisis continues.
I asked Helen Gym, a Philadelphia public school parent and activist, a few questions to explain the situation she and other citizens of the city are facing. Gym is a founder of Parents United for Public Education, a citywide parent group focused on school budgets and funding to improve achievement and accountability in the public schools. She is a former editor of The Notebook, an independent Web site about Philadelphia public schools. She is also a board member at Asian Americans United, a Chinatown-based community organization active in education, youth leadership, immigrant rights, and community development. Gym was named the Philadelphia Inquirer’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2007 for her work in education, immigration and community activism.
Here’s our e-mail conversation:

Amid Schools Crisis, Teachers Union Is Under Fire
Daniel Denvir City Paper Posted: Thu, Aug. 22, 2013, 12:00 AM
A School Reform Commission (SRC) meeting descended into familiar chaos on Aug. 15 as the state-controlled board suspended portions of the Public School Code, allowing the Philadelphia School District to ignore teacher seniority in hiring back some of the 3,859 teachers, counselors, aides and other staff laid off in June. 
“Our current staffing structure, as mandated in the School Code, does not allow us to prioritize matching the abilities of staff to the needs of schools and students,” Superintendent William Hite Jr. explained, according to his prepared testimony. The actual words he uttered, however, were nearly incomprehensible as a packed auditorium of teachers and supporters heckled him.
The school district’s case for the code suspension — which also halts graduated, seniority-based pay raises and gives the district more control over charter-school growth — is straightforward: In emergency circumstances, they need flexibility to prioritize retaining the most critical teachers and staff. But it comes as the SRC and state leaders carry out a broader attack on the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), which is now negotiating a new contract. Hite is seeking, among other changes, to end seniority in teacher assignments and replace length-of-service-based pay with “performance” measures, typically based on standardized tests.

Why America Should Care About Philadelphia’s Children

Philadelphia, the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution was written, and the site of the oldest residential street in the United States, has become the site where the nation’s drift away from its founding ideals is most acutely obvious.
A recent op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer described the situation of the city’s public schools as a “slow train wreck.” The district faced “a $304 million hole in the amount of money that’s needed to open safe schools.” A “rescue package” offered by the state was woefully inadequate. Recently, the city borrowed $50 million just to open the schools on time. And a big showdown between teachers and school administrators is expected later this month.
“This should be a big national story,” the op-ed writer concluded, “arguably as big as what happened in Detroit. At the end of the day, Detroit’s bankruptcy was something that happened on a piece of paper. What’s happening here is real kids and real schools.”
Indeed, what’s happening in the City of Brotherly Love should be a national story, which is why it is important to get the narrative straight.

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

Acting PA Education Secretary to speak at Lancaster Lebanon IU 13 on Sept. 10
Penn Manor SD website by Brian Wallace August 16, 2013
William Harner, the acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, will speak Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, 1020 New Holland Ave. The address is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. School administrators, board members, teachers’ union representatives, PTO/PTA officers and others interested in education issues are urged to attend. Registration is requested by Sept. 6 at :

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

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).

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