Friday, August 30, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 30, 2013: F&M Poll: Only 2% of respondents gave the Governor a grade of “A” for “Improving Public 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, 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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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 30, 2013:
F&M Poll: Only 2% of respondents gave the Governor a grade of “A” for “Improving Public Education”

Save the Date: Pennsylvanians Want a School Funding Formula
Press Event Monday September 23rd, 11:30 am Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg
Grassroots Advocacy by Education Voters PA; Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley and the Keystone State Education Coalition
Sign up here if you may be able to join us to represent your schools and community: more details will follow.

PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission Upcoming Meetings
1. Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 4th, 10:00 am at the Nittany Lion Inn State College
To consider charter funding
2. Save the date: September 19 tentative meeting date in Reading; no venue announced yet
To consider charter and cyber funding

IMHO, Here’s some takeaways: Pennsylvanians don’t want public education defunded and dismantled; the state is responsible for providing adequate funding.  Public tax dollars for charters must include transparency and accountability.
Only 2% of respondents gave the Governor a grade of “A” for “Improving Public Education”
F&M Poll: Corbett’s Numbers Reach Historic Lows
PoliticsPA written by Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor, August 29, 2013
The results of the latest Franklin & Marshall poll are devastating for Gov. Tom Corbett. His approval rating has reached its lowest point ever, and few voters believe he deserves to be re-elected.

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll August 2013 Summary of Findings
The August 2013 Franklin & Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvania registered voters finds a majority (62%) believes the state is “off on the wrong track” and only one in five (20%) believes Governor Tom Corbett has performed sufficiently well to deserve re-election. Nearly one in three (28%) registered voters believe unemployment and the economy is the state’s most important problem, followed closely by schools and school funding (23%). The Poll also finds registered voters believe passing a transportation funding plan (29%) or expanding the state’s Medicaid program (24%) should be state lawmakers’ top priority.
View the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll:

Pa. Senate education panel vets concerns about proposed Pennsylvania Core Standards
By Jan Murphy | on August 29, 2013 at 7:01 PM
The cost of implementing new grade-level learning goals remains a major concern for state lawmakers as the State Board of Education prepares to adopt them next month.  But it was clear at a state Senate Education Committee hearing on Thursday it is not their only concern.

"They don't have any resources," he said. "That's the position of my caucus: We don't oppose the standards, but we oppose a stamp of failure on any student, on any community, until that community has the appropriate standards to achieve."
Revised academic Common Core standards explained
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau August 30, 2013 12:04 am
HARRISBURG -- After hearings this spring on a new set of academic standards drew outcry from the right and left, the Corbett administration's top education official returned to a Senate committee Thursday to explain how revisions should calm those fears.  Carolyn Dumaresq, who became acting secretary of education Monday with the resignation of acting secretary William Harner, maintained that concerns about the Pennsylvania Common Core standards arose at least in part from misunderstandings.

PA Senate Education Committee Common Core Hearing Audio (runtime 2:53)
PA Senate GOP Harrisburg Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teachers strike looms for Shaler Area schools
At issue are teachers' contribution to medical benefits and salaries
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 29, 2013 11:37 pm
The Shaler Area teachers union has rejected the district's request to enter into "final best offer arbitration" rather than strike Tuesday if they don't have a new contract agreement.
Superintendent Wesley Shipley will announce later today if he is canceling classes for Tuesday.

43 Western Pa. districts need contracts for teachers, other school workers
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Megan Harris August 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
With the start of the school year at hand, almost half of the state's 500 school districts are facing contract negotiations for some portion of their workforce, including 43 districts in Western Pennsylvania.  The sticking points in talks range from the benign to contentious, as in Shaler Area School District where disagreements about salary scales and contributions to medical benefits have plagued both sides since long before the previous contract expired Aug. 15, 2011.
PPG LTE: Education quality
Post-Gazette Letters by Jonathan Cetel August 29, 2013 12:06 am
Jonathan Cetel in Executive Director of PennCAN
Regarding the Aug. 27 editorial "Virtual Indictment: How Pa. Regulates Charter Schools Is on Trial, Too": The recent allegations against Nicholas Trombetta and Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School expose the urgent need to pass a comprehensive reform of Pennsylvania's public charter schools. Lawmakers had the opportunity to pass legislation that would have paved the way for a better charter funding formula, increased accountability and stronger charter authorizing on at least three occasions over the past few years. But each time, political gridlock got in the way of what was right for kids.
Shocking allegations of financial abuse always generate headlines. But the bigger fraud that deserves more attention is the subpar education that some cyber charters are providing. Nearly every cyber charter school failed to surpass the statewide high school graduation rate of 83 percent, and in many cyber schools less than two-thirds of eighth-graders are proficient readers.

Invest in kindergarten now to develop skills that last a lifetime: Patty Kim
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  on August 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM, updated August 29, 2013 at 11:03 AM
State Rep. Patty Kim, a Democrat, represents the Harrisburg-based 103rd state House District.
Last year, because of funding problems, the Harrisburg School District was forced to cut its full-day kindergarten to a half-day program. As budgets get tighter, this may be a common occurrence at school districts across the state.  Many people are unaware that under current state law, school districts are not required to offer kindergarten at all. My fear is that as the state budget continues to leave school districts with significant funding shortfalls, school districts will decide that since it’s not required, they are going to cut kindergarten.
This would be a tragedy. Not only would it negatively impact the children who would miss out on kindergarten, but it also would impact our entire society: studies have shown that children who do not start with the solid foundation gained from kindergarten often have worse life outcomes than children who do

New Upland charter set to open doors
By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp August 28, 2013
Kelly Wilson happily had sent her son to Chester Community Charter School through fourth grade.  Wilson moved to Upland at the beginning of the summer, but the charter’s expansion to the borough made it an easy decision for her to keep Zykel Buckley-Bolds enrolled at Community Charter for fifth grade.  “When they were opening up an Upland campus, it was ideal because it was right down the street and around the corner,” Wilson said.
Community Charter, the largest K-8 charter school in Pennsylvania, will ceremoniously open its third campus Saturday. Tuesday marks the first day of school for its 300 students enrolled in grades K-5.

Philly Countdown, Day 11: What is the story with counselors?
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 29 2013
The District has said that, so far, it has recalled 126 of the 270 counselors that it had laid off, all but 10 of them by using some of the $50 million in additional funds that the city has promised to deliver as a contribution to helping close the District's budget gap.
Although officials have not confirmed this, it appears that schools with fewer than 600 students were not allotted a full-time counselor. By looking at school enrollment projections from June, the Notebook calculated that only 85 of the District's 212 schools have 600 or more students. Ten additional counselors were also assigned to Promise Academies, seven of which have enrollments below 600.
Barring more recent purchases of counselors by principals or special allotments, that still leaves more than half of the District's schools, including half of the District's 48 high schools, without a counselor -- a situation that is unheard of in fully functional school systems.

Cash-strapped Philly school district considers selling prized art collection
WHYY Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein August 29, 2013
….."We are considering selling the art collection because we must look at every revenue source possible to assist us with putting more resources the classroom," he said.
Facing a $304 million budget deficit, the district sent pink slips this summer to nearly 3,900 employees, including teachers, guidance counselors and safety staff. The district received emergency funding from the city and state after the layoffs, but only enough to hire back 1,600 workers.  It is unclear how much money the district could raise by selling the collection. In 2003, an art consultant said it was worth $30 million. Gallard said it is now valued at $2 million, but couldn't explain the change.  The fact that the district is eyeing a sale drew a range of responses from education advocates, school employees and city officials.

State oversight lacking
Letter Tribune-Review Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Shaun Rinier, Harrison City. The writer is president of the Penn Trafford Education Association.
The allegations against Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta (“Feds charge Pa. cyber school founder with 11 counts of fraud, conspiracy,” Aug. 24 and can best be described as disgraceful.  I always questioned how a cyber school, which doesn't have to worry about paying for transportation, lunches, utilities, extracurricular activities, etc., can charge public school districts the full per-pupil expenditure — which can exceed $15,000.
Trombetta indictment details complicated scheme
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By David Conti Published: Saturday, August 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton and a federal grand jury outlined a scheme they say Nick Trombetta used to skim nearly $1 million from PA Cyber Charter School and a foundation he founded, and related entities they say he controlled.
“What happens if the charter ends?” asks Masch. “Then, Aspira still owns the building even though it was 100 percent paid for with taxpayer money.”
Charter operator owed its schools millions, but no one's checking its books
City Paper By Daniel Denvir Published: 08/29/2013
The Philadelphia School District will spend a projected $729 million on charter schools in the coming fiscal year. But, if the past year at one charter operator is any indication, not all of those funds will actually go toward serving students.   Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania owed large sums of money to four Philadelphia charter schools it runs, according to an independent audit of the organization’s finances as of June 30, 2012, that was obtained by City Paper. According to the report, which was produced for Aspira and completed in April, the nonprofit was running a deficit of $722,949 as of last June and owed the publicly financed schools $3.3 million. That’s in addition to millions of dollars in lease payments and administrative fees filtered to Aspira and entities it controls with no oversight. 

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:

Yinzers - Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill.
5505 Forbes Avenue  Pittsburgh, PA 15217 
Free and open to the public; doors open at 5:00 pm
Hosted by Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh: Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation.
Co-sponsored by Carlow Univ. School of Education, Chatham Univ. Department of Education, Duquesne Univ. School of Education, First Unitarian Church Social Justice Endowment, PA State Education Association, Robert Morris Univ. School of Education & Social Sciences, Slippery Rock Univ. College of Education, Temple Sinai, Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Education, and Westminster College Education Department.
Children’s activities provided by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s HearMe project. 

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).
oNormal> Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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