Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 8, 2013: U.S. Voters Overwhelmingly Support Investments in Early Learning

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 2650 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 8, 2013:
U.S. Voters Overwhelmingly Support Investments in Early Learning

NSBAC’s Friends of Public Education: New national grassroots public education network launches (are you a member?)
Friends of Public Education, a new national grassroots network launched by the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC), will bring together local leaders and concerned citizens from across the country to speak out on federal legislation to strengthen public education. The network, which can be accessed NSBAC website’s,, will help bolster support for a strong public education for all students.

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.

U.S. Voters Overwhelmingly Support Investments in Early Learning
Thrive by Five Washington August 7th, 2013 by Paul Nyhan
Voters rank investments in early education as the second most important priority for the federal government, trumping tax cuts. An overwhelming percentage (86 percent) support work that gives children a strong start in school and life, a new poll found.  Voters’ support for high-quality preschool, home visiting and child care is both broad and deep. Three out of five Republicans said they support President Barack Obama’s plan to expand and improve all three, according to the poll released by the First Five Years Fund. More than 80 percent of Democrats support the proposal.

“The money will pay for reading coaches, professional development of teachers and to help identify students needing help with their reading abilities.”
NM allocates $15M to improve early reading
Education Week SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) Published Online: August 7, 2013
New Mexico is allocating $15 million for programs to help students improve their reading through the third grade.  The Public Education Department said each of the state's 89 school districts will receive at least $50,000 through the "New Mexico Reads to Lead" initiative and two-fifths of the districts are in line for larger amounts.

Deborah Stipek: Benefits of preschool are clearly documented
By Deborah Stipek Special to the San Jose Mercury News
Deborah J. Stipek, Ph.D., is a professor of education at Stanford University and former dean. 
POSTED:   08/06/2013 12:01:00 PM PDT | UPDATED:   ABOUT 22 HOURS AGO
Opponents of President Barack Obama's plan to increase access to quality preschool can criticize studies to support their political agenda, but science is on the side of advocates. Research demonstrating the benefits of preschool is strong and consistent.
Critics select a few studies out of the more than 100 conducted in the U.S. and find something wrong. For example, they reject the findings from Perry Preschool, the best known study of the long-term effects of preschool, because it was conducted a half-century ago. True enough, but its longevity has allowed researchers to compare participants to nonparticipants well into adulthood and document long-term effects.

“Acting Secretary of Education William Harner, who attended the hearing, said he is familiar with all of the issues raised by the local school officials because he faced the same issues as superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District. Mr. Harner said in addition to improving the special education funding formula, he will push for more supports for early childhood education to ensure students are proficient readers by third grade.”
Pennsylvania looks at special education funding
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 8, 2013 12:15 am
New Castle Area superintendent John Sarandrea understands the frustration of trying to find money in aschool district budget for special education costs that aren't covered by the state special education subsidy.  He also understands the frustration of parents of special needs students who want the best possible educational program for their children.
Mr. Sarandrea is the father of two special needs sons, one who has cerebral palsy and one who is severely mentally retarded. The annual bill to educate his sons is about $75,000, he told members of the state Special Education Funding Formula Commission that met Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh Student Union.

Distressed Districts: Harrisburg's summer teacher exodus is a wake-up call: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek |  on August 07, 2013 at 11:10 AM
The teachers Harrisburg’s cash-strapped schools need the most are the ones it can least afford to pay. And this summer, the district has suffered an exodus of talent as 30 of them headed for the door.  The departures are the most visible manifestation of the challenges facing the school district as it, and Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno, walks a difficult path back to fiscal stability.

Harrisburg teachers resign as union agrees to pay cuts
By Emily Previti |  on August 06, 2013 at 8:35 PM
HARRISBURG – Teachers in the capital city’s public school system approved a new contract Tuesday, but the mere prospect of concessions already had prompted at least 30 of them to leave over the summer.  Expect the exodus to “continue for quite some time,” Harrisburg Education Association President Sherri Magnuson said Tuesday night just after counting ballots.

“Gov. Tom Corbett's former Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis was reportedly among the finalists. He had served as a board of governors member by virtue of his secretary's position but relinquished that job on May 31 and is the governor's special advisor on higher education issues.  He has declined comment since his name was linked to the search.”
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education names Florida educator Frank Brogan as chancellor
August 7, 2013 11:25 am
By Bill Schackner and Karen Langley / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The board overseeing Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities this morning named Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, as the system's next chancellor, voting by conference call to offer him the job over two other undisclosed finalists in a process marked by secrecy.

Should the state really control all education funding?
Pocono Record Opinion By Merlyn Clarke August 07, 2013
Merlyn Clarke is a retired East Stroudsburg University political science professor who now serves on the Stroudsburg Area School District board.
Pennsylvania Tax Cyber Coalition, the group that is promoting House and Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, refer to school board members as "a small band"»essentially unaccountable to the taxpayer" that has raised taxes without taxpayer approval. (See Their legislation would cut this "band" out of the revenue loop and instead entrust the billions of dollars currently collected and spent locally to state legislators. The legislation would accomplish this by eliminating the property tax and replacing it with enhanced sales and income taxes levied and spent by the state.
It's fair to ask how a different "band" — state legislators, who often hail from uncontested, gerrymandered districts — might manage this money.

The ALEC Pennsylvania Capitol: As I See It
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Jodi Hirsh on August 06, 2013
Jodi Hirsh is the Pennsylvania coordinator for People for the American Way. She writes from Pittsburgh.
Corporations do not dream, laugh, hope, or cry, but in Pennsylvania they vote – forty times, to be exact, on each bill.  That, after all, is the number of state legislators who have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national organization that acts as the interface between corporate lobbyists who think up and draft their own legislation and the state lawmakers they need to help them get these bill enacted into law. 

“What's undeniable is that students who attend full-day kindergarten get off to a better start in their education.”
Kindergarten is an unfortunate casualty of tight times at mid-state school districts: Editorial
By Patriot-News Editorial Board  on August 07, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Tough economic times and tight state funding are preventing many young children in Pennsylvania from getting the strong start they need in their education.
As PennLive’s Barbara Miller reports in the series, “Cuts in Kindergarten,” East Pennsboro and Steelton-Highspire districts slashed kindergarten back to a half-day program this year.
Harrisburg cut kindergarten to a half-day starting last year (and had to struggle to fund that). York, Allentown, Erie and Reading did the same.
View full sizeGetting ready for another year of teaching kindergarten.Joe Hermitt,
That’s despite the well-established payoff to full-day kindergarten. As Joan Benso, with PA Partnerships for Children notes, “Literature tells us children who attend full-day kindergarten programs do better academically. It helps close the readiness gap for children who don’t enter school ready to do math or reading.”

Ed Law Center to seek U.S. probe into alternative education
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 1:08 AM
The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania is expected to ask the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday to conduct a civil rights investigation into the placement of Pennsylvania students in state-funded alternative-education programs. The complaint being lodged with the civil rights division alleges that school districts across the state are removing a disproportionately high number of African American students and those with special needs from their regular schools and placing them in "educationally inferior" alternative-education programs, including disciplinary schools.

Free program will help Philly students get ready for school
REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 12:16 AM DISTRICT SCHOOLS are set to open Sept. 9, but a coalition of groups has coordinated an effort to go "back to school" on Monday. The Save Our Skills reading program, organized by state Sen. Vincent Hughes' office and the Free Library of Philadelphia, will be offered for free to the city's first- through third-graders. Hughes said the initiative fills a need ahead of a challenging school year. "It's the biggest issue outside of funding, the skills that are lost from June to September," Hughes said.

Philly student makes case for increased school funding
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 5:35 PM
Tauheed Baukman couldn't imagine what his high school would be like under the Philadelphia School District's doomsday budget. A single secretary. No guidance counselors. No support staff. So the senior from Parkway Center City took matters into his own hands.

Budget cuts jeopardize Young Playwrights programs in Philly area schools
by thenotebook by Sameer Rao on Aug 07 2013 Posted in Latest news
Philadelphia Young Playwrights is widely championed by education advocates, teachers, principals, and school administrators alike for providing high-quality arts literacy options to many area schools without formal theatre programs. But District austerity measures have thrown the future of its Philadelphia programs into limbo.  With the School District facing a $304 million shortfall, individual school budgets have withered, decimating District funding for arts and music education. As the rescue package for Philadelphia schools continues to remain unresolved, principals don't know if they will be able to maintain these partner programs when schools open in the fall.

New Member Appointed to the Board of Directors of advocacy group
Mark B. Miller, PSBA First Vice President and Co-chairman of the Keystone State Education Coalition appointed to board of the Network for Public Education
Warminster Patch Posted by Michelle Bisacquino , August 07, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Network for Public Education ( President, Diane Ravitch, along with co-founder, Anthony Cody, announced the addition of Mark B Miller, among four new members to the Board of Directors. NPE is a national organization built with the most highly qualified leaders in the struggle to protect public education from privatization and special interest groups counter to the best interests of all children. By creating alliances with grassroots groups across the country, NPE leverages the strength of numbers to bring about positive change to the nation’s education landscape. 

Pottsgrove principal’s radio program at crossroads of education, religion
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt 07/27/13 12:01 am
LOWER POTTSGROVE — On the topic of religion and public schools, longtime Pottsgrove educator Bill Ziegler is an expert in more ways than one.
In addition to having just taken the reins as principal at Pottsgrove High School, Ziegler produces and hosts a Christian radio program that deals with the often thorny crossroads of religion and education.  Called TiPPS, which stands for Teaching in Public and Private Schools, Ziegler’s program of daily one-minute messages is carried on 700 stations nationwide.

Haverford School Board approves Delco security grant
Delco Times By Lois Puglinesi Delco Times Correspondent Published: Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Haverford School Board directors approved a grant with Delaware County for installation of a panic alarm system in school buildings.  Superintendent William Keilbaugh said that after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, county officials discussed forming a coalition to secure public schools and came up with the idea of a panic button. The Delaware County District Attorney’s office and county council secured a grant to cover costs for installing one panic button in every county school, public and private.

Whoops - Sent this out yesterday without the link attached……
 “Kaplan points out that people should also consider the larger implications of the citywide bare bones budget cutting: “Schools make neighborhoods viable, so we need to ask, what is the position of Philadelphia – to build neighborhoods or decimate them?”
This summer, Kaplan and Argerakis awaited June 30 fiscal deadline with strained nerves; unfortunately, their fears were confirmed, more staff members were let go and after-school programs will be entirely slashed.”
Livin’ On Prayers and Passion: A South Philly school makes music despite obstacles
WXPN The Key August 2, 2013 | 11:15 AM | By Madeleine Kruhly
Located in a high-need section of South Philadelphia, the Andrew Jackson Public School had been without a music education program for thirty years.
That was, until the arrival of Chris Argerakis. He has since introduced drumsticks and guitar picks, rooting rock in Andrew Jackson’s curriculum.  Joining the teaching staff five years ago, Argerakis has acted to build a program to provide a practical music education. He does so in spite of a shoestring budget from the School District: $100 for the year.

Politico Morning Edition August 7, 2013: Harkin, Murray pledge pre-K bill.
Back to preschool during recess - Out today: Common Core headaches - New resource on Title IX - First-ever district waiver for NCLB
By LIBBY A. NELSON | 08/07/13 6:25 AM EDT
With lots of help from Caitlin Emma, Nirvi Shah and Stephanie Simon

Under New Standards, Students See Sharp Decline in Test Scores
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: August 7, 2013
The number of New York students passing reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported on Wednesday, unsettling parents, principals and teachers, and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.  In New York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the state exams in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department.
The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving. Last year, under an easier test, 47 percent of city students passed in English, and 60 percent in math.

New York fails Common Core tests
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 8/7/13 2:27 PM EDT
The political fight over the Common Core academic standards rolling out in schools nationwide this fall is sure to intensify after New York reported Wednesday that students across the state failed miserably on new reading and math tests meant to reflect the more rigorous standards.
Fewer than a third of students in public schools passed the new tests, officials reported. And, in a twist that could roil education policy, some highly touted charter schools flopped particularly badly.
…..The poor results for KIPP, Democracy Prep and other renowned charters suggest that “we have to be more careful about claims of miracle schools,” said Michael Petrilli, an education analyst at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
While many educators and politicians praised New York for demanding more of its students, some critics accused officials of raising the bar too high, too fast — without any proof that the new tests would, in fact, help children succeed in the global economy.
“The decision about where to set the passing mark is a judgment call,” said Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. Setting it so high guaranteed low pass rates and “adds to the phony narrative about ‘failing schools,’” Ravitch said.
Based on other measures, including national standardized tests and high school dropout rates, Ravitch argues that schools are performing better than ever before and that popular reforms including more testing, more charter schools and more vouchers to help families pay for private schools are not needed.

California Court Rules That Charter Schools Can Dismiss Student Without a Due Process Hearing
Children who are disadvantaged by a disability, poverty, or in a minority group may not have the same “access” to charter schools as those without
Law Offices of Bonnie Z. Yates by Rosa K. Hirji August 6, 2013
Scott B., a 14 year old student with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was dismissed from his charter school by letter from the principal for bringing a knife to school and showing it to another student.  There was no hearing, and no finding to support the decision by the charter school’s Board of Trustees in the one-sentence dismissal letter.  On June 14, 2013, the California Court of Appeal[1] upheld the dismissal and ruled that charter schools are exempt from California law requiring due process hearing procedures for students undergoing an expulsion from their local public school. 

Gates pours millions in new grants to change teaching profession
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 8 at 4:00 am
The Gates Foundation is spending millions of dollars in new grants that will further its already vast and controversial influence on public education. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars to to develop teacher assessment systems, it is putting many millions more into that issue, as well as into the creation of new online “adaptive” courses, the implementation of the Common Core standards, and more.

No moon: Perseid meteor shower set to put on a great show before dawn August 12
You can expect to see up to 100 “shooting stars” per hour when 2013’s best meteor shower peaks before dawn August 12.
Astronomy By Richard Talcott — Published: May 27, 2013

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, September12, 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).

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

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

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