Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 31, 2013: Corbett numbers continue to drop; as James Carville might say, “It’s education, stupid!”……..

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 31, 2013:
Corbett numbers continue to drop; as James Carville might say, “It’s education, stupid!”……..

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 special education funding and charter schools
2. Save the date: September 19 tentative meeting date in Reading; no venue announced yet
To consider charter and cyber special education funding

Reality Check: Corbett and public education funding
Axis Philly by Isaiah Thompson, Aug. 30, 2013
A week ago, in response to a reference by President Obama to “brutal” cuts to education in Pennsylvania under Gov. Tom Corbett, Republicans shot back claiming exactly the opposite.
Gov. Corbett, said his campaign manager Mike Barley, has put “more state funding to education than any time in our Commonwealth’s history.”
It’s a forceful claim, given the reality of struggling school districts around the state, including the Philadelphia School District, which has cut hundreds of millions from its budget and still approached the new school year facing roughly a $300 million dollar budget gap.
It’s also not exactly true.

As James Carville might say, “It’s education, stupid!”……..
"On the big things that voters care about, education, every day you read a story about cutbacks," Madonna said. "Not just in Philly. All over the state."
Voters ranked education and unemployment as the most important issues facing the state.
First Term Troubles - Corbett's numbers continue to drop
BY CHRIS BRENNAN, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5973
POSTED: August 29, 2013
PENNSYLVANIA governors typically encounter trouble in their first terms and the polls reflect that with dipping popularity.
It happened to Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, in the late 1990s.
It happened to Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, in the mid-2000s.
Ridge and Rendell recovered, posting popularity numbers above 50 percent by the time they ran successfully for re-election.
Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll being released today tells a different story for Gov. Corbett, a Republican up for re-election next year.
Corbett's poll numbers continue to drop precipitously.
Just one in five registered voters think Corbett, who faces challengers from his own political party but no primary-election opponent, deserves a second term.

As teachers' contract expiration looms, legislators urge state to release $45 million
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Sunday, September 1, 2013, 3:01 AM
AS THE CLOCK winds down to midnight tonight - when the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' contract officially expires - a sense of urgency has prompted a group of Democratic state legislators to take action. State Sens. Vincent Hughes, Anthony Hardy Williams, Shirley Kitchen and state Rep. Cherelle L. Parker have written a letter, obtained by the Daily News, urging the state's acting education secretary, Carolyn Dumaresq, to release a $45 million grant, saying the PFT, as well as the city and the School Reform Commission, have "continued their efforts to ensure that our schools open on Sept. 9 with the best possible environment in place for all of our students."

Philly Countdown, Day 10: Citywide, number of school secretaries is down by 30%
The notebook by Paul Socolar on Aug 30 2013
As the School District secured the first installments of desperately needed new revenue this summer, one of the first steps taken was to rehire one secretary for each of the 213 schools -- a recognition of the vital role they play in school operations. The cost was $17.6 million.
As schools prepare to open for staff members on Tuesday and for students on Sept. 9, those secretaries are back on the job. The District has estimated that three-fourths of schools saw the return of one of the secretaries from last year.

“Gov. Corbett had three budget-season priorities: privatize the state-run liquor system, pass a transportation funding bill, and stabilize the state pension fund. He failed on all three. What if city Democrats had helped him in exchange for more support for city schools?”
Patrick Kerkstra: Ineffective Philly leaders
Patrick Kerkstra POSTED: Friday, August 30, 2013, 1:08 AM
Mayor Nutter dropped the mic. It wasn't an unfortunate emcee accident. No, this was a social-media mic drop, a hashtag-punctuated thumping of the chest on Twitter, celebrating his own record in providing for Philadelphia's public schools. "Bottom line - I put up $155 million in new City ed funding last 3yrs, State cut funding $140M - that's my record, indisputable, #dropthemic," wrote the mayor.

Threat of teachers strike closes Shaler schools Tuesday
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 30, 2013 3:37 pm
The teachers union's threat to strike has closed Shaler Area schools on Tuesday, district superintendent Wesley Shipley has announced.  Teachers threatened to strike that day, the first day of classes for students, if a new contract is not yet settled.

PA Senate Education committee drills education officials on Common Core By Natasha Lindstrom Staff Writer Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013
HARRISBURG — The Senate Education Committee drilled the state education chief Thursday on the costs and controversies related to new academic guidelines and testing based on the national standards known as the Common Core.  “I’m not arguing the standards,” Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, of Chester County said. “I’m arguing the unfairness of the system and our rush to put in required tests that have the potential of giving a stamp of failure.”

Follow the Gates’ Common Core Money in Pennsylvania
In addition, the same Gates Foundation that helped sponsor the Core also funded public relations campaigns for it nationwide through organizations including $260,000 to the Pennsylvania Business Council and $700,000 to the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, whose representatives are testifying here today. It’s odd to consider this initiative “state-led” when vast majorities of state legislators and the public never heard of it until two years after states had already signed the papers.”
Common Core: Low-Quality and Intrusive
By Joy Pullmann, Heartland Institute education research fellow
Pennsylvania State Senate Education Committee Public Hearing on Common Core State Standards, May 15, 2013

Follow the Money: A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending
Deutsch29 – Mercedes Schneider’s EduBlog August 27, 2013
This is a post about Bill Gates and his money, a brief audit of his Common Core (CCSS) purchases. Before I delve into Gates accounting, allow me to set the stage with a bit of CCSS background.  It is important to those promoting CCSS that the public believes the idea that CCSS is “state-led.” The CCSS website reports as much and names two organizations as “coordinating” the “state-led” CCSS: The National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Interestingly, the CCSS website makes no mention of CCSS “architect” David Coleman:
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.[Emphasis added.]
Nevertheless, if one reviews this 2009 NGA news release on those principally involved in CCSS development, one views a listing of 29 individuals associated with Student Achievement Partners, ACT, College Board, and Achieve. In truth, only 2 out of 29 members are not affiliated with an education company.
CCSS as “state-led” is fiction. Though NGA reports 29 individuals as involved with CCSS creation, it looks to be even fewer:

Lawmakers Begin to Connect the Dots Between Gates and Common Core
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on August 30, 2013 7:49 PM
Common Core proponents are mounting a full court press in a belated recognition that their testing juggernaut is running into some serious obstacles around the country. Former TFA CEO Wendy Kopp shared her opinion today that the Common Core test results are a "welcome wake-up call" that will "...finally give families an accurate barometer of whether our kids are mastering the skills they need to succeed in a knowledge-based global economy, early enough that we can intervene."  Meanwhile New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that "there has to be a death penalty for failing schools, so to speak," making it clear that the dismal test scores will continue to be used to decimate schools in high poverty neighborhoods.
But some lawmakers have begun to connect the dots between the Common Core and the various people singing its praises. 

Loophole means some private-sector lobbyists get public pensions, Friday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek |  on August 30, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So here's one that ought to set your teeth on edge: Thanks to a decades-old ruling by the Attorney General's Office, a small group of private-sector lobbyists are eligible for taxpayer-funded pensions. And a senior state senator is trying to end the practice.
Employees of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, which represents the state's 500 school districts in Harrisburgcan qualify for retirement benefits through the Public School Employee Retirement System, our pals at the PAIndependent, report, citing an earlier story by the Associated Press.

State school board lobby's workers qualify for public pensions
By Peter Jackson / Associated Press August 31, 2013 12:13 am
HARRISBURG -- While many workers covered by Pennsylvania's major public pension systems are not state employees, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association staff is unique among them.  The association represents the state's 500 local school boards and, among other things, advocates on their behalf in Harrisburg.
It is the only such interest group whose employees qualify for public pensions.
That is based on the authority of a decades-old legal opinion by the state attorney general's office that says the association is "an extension of local school districts and funded by them to provide information, training, publications, services and advocacy on their behalf."
The opinion was issued "when PSBA hired its first full-time staff person" in the 1930s, said association spokesman Steve Robinson.

“The superintendents shared a simple but disheartening perception: The institution of public education is under siege, and even the best-resourced and highest-performing school districts are in a fight for economic and political survival.”
A Complex Web: The New Normal for Superintendents
A superintendents network in Pennsylvania wrestles to make sense of systems that ‘may be beyond our cognitive limits’
AASA School Administrator BY JAMES H. LYTLE AND HARRIS J. SOKOLOFF September 2013
For the past 70 years, groups of superintendents from the greater Philadelphia region have met monthly at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss current trends and challenges relating to their leadership roles. Recently, one of the study councils decided it needed “to go beyond the generic, the hackneyed and the mundane to develop a theme that is exciting and cutting-edge, that deals with the ‘new normal’ that is evolving in these most demanding times.”

Florida Virtual School Faces Hard Times
Enrollment declines for country's largest state-run e-school
Education Week By Benjamin Herold Published Online: August 27, 2013
The Florida Virtual School—the largest state-sponsored online K-12 school in the country—is facing troubled times, a sign of major policy shifts now reshaping the world of online education.
On the heels of new state legislation aimed at containing costs and promoting competition among providers offering individual online courses to students, Florida Virtual School officials expect to see a 20 percent drop in state revenue this school year and announced this month that they have shed one-third of their workforce.
Experts in online education say the cuts reflect a national trend.

Rise of the connected superintendent
Multibriefs By Joe Mazza 
Dr. Joe Mazza is an innovation coach at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education (@PennGSE) and a K-6 Pennsylvania principal. You can follow him on Twitter @Joe_Mazza
Educators are increasingly leveraging social media to support their work in teaching, learning and leadership. As we head into the 2013-14 school year, it is not uncommon to find school superintendents using Facebook, Twitter, blogs, texting and other digital communications to model, by example, connected teaching, learning and leadership. 
Today's "connected superintendent" has begun using Twitter and other social media tools to learn, share, encourage and build relationships among all stakeholders in a way that complements their face-to-face efforts. You might find social media intimidating, but it is easier than you think — and the rewards are many.
I've found that Twitter is the place where connectivity comes alive for many of today's educational leaders, and it is a great starting point for superintendents looking to dive into social media. With more than 250 superintendents currently on Twitter, this tool can connect you to a learning community of other superintendents facing the same kinds of challenges that you are — while also connecting with your stakeholders. Here are five steps to getting started. 

Seamus Heaney, Poet of ‘the Silent Things’
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: August 30, 2013
Seamus Heaney was sipping bourbon during a Boston snowstorm 30 years ago, trying to explain his poetry as an escape from a terrible fear of silence that always haunted him. “What is the source of our first suffering?” he asked, quoting the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. “It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak.”
The poet, who died Friday at the age of 74, mastered that fear magnificently in five decades of lyrical composition that earned him a Nobel Prize. But that night in Boston he kept it front and center as a dark but “wonderfully resonant” prod, topping off our glasses while fielding questions for a newspaper profile. “If I could make poetry that could touch into that kind of thing, that is what I would like to do,” he said, stoking his resolve to pursue “the silent things within us.”

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).

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