Friday, August 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 9, 2013: “In recent weeks, we have been awaiting the outcome of $50 million in funding from the city. We can no longer wait”

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

These daily emails are archived at
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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?

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 9, 2013:
“In recent weeks, we have been awaiting the outcome of $50 million in funding from the city. We can no longer wait”

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?

A few of the most regular daily readers of this blog are Dedibox Sas users in Paris.  I plan to visit later this year – if you would like to meet for a drink or coffee please email me.

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.

School District of Philadelphia Press Release August 8, 2013
On June 7, The School District of Philadelphia announced that we would begin issuing layoff notices to about 3,800 employees in light of a drastic financial shortfall. These layoffs affected significant numbers of our school-based staff, including assistant principals, teachers, counselors, recess and lunch aides, secretaries, supportive services assistants and teacher assistants.  
I was joined on that day by four outstanding principals, all of whom expressed grave concerns over their ability to run a school without these staff.  
Since the budget process began in the spring, I have spoken repeatedly about our urgent need for additional funds. As of today – almost exactly four weeks until the scheduled first day of school for the 136,000 students in our District – we have not received the funds.  
In recent weeks, we have been awaiting the outcome of $50 million in funding from the city. We can no longer wait.   

Money woes could delay opening of city schools
Martha Woodall and Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers LAST UPDATED: Friday, August 9, 2013, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, August 8, 2013, 2:17 PM
Facing a still-massive deficit, the Philadelphia School District will not open on time unless it has assurance by Aug. 16 that it will receive $50 million from the city, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Thursday.

DN Editorial: Raising the bar Schools need $50 million in 1 week to stay on schedule
POSTED: Friday, August 9, 2013, 3:01 AM THIRTY-ONE days just became seven. If City Council doesn't move on certifying $50 million in proceeds from the sales tax to the School District by next Friday, Superintendent William Hite says he will be unable to open the schools on Sept. 9.

Maybe the schools shouldn't open
WHYY Newsworks Off Mic By Dave Davies @davedavieswhyy August 9, 2013
It's gotten crazy.
Year after year, the Philadelphia school system approaches the abyss and appeals to everyone for help. And city taxpayers, seeing no one else coming, step in to save the day.
Year after year, the district loses students and revenue to charter schools, loses state revenue, and struggles to educate the Commonwealth's neediest children.
Now the district's budget hole is so big that the superintendent is saying he can't open all the schools unless he gets $50 million, presumably from the city, by next Friday.
Folks, this doesn't work.

Will Philadelphia Be Able to Afford to Open Schools This Year?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav August 8, 2013 //
This letter was sent today by Superintendent William Hite to staff members in Philadelphia.
The only conclusion to be drawn is that the leadership of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia don’t care about children and whether they get an education.

Move to unionize at Philly charter school blocked, teachers say
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry, @byKevinMcCorry August 8, 2013
Claims that the company running the Olney Charter High School tried to intimidate teachers who sought to unionize may be heading for a hearing.  Hanako Franz teaches ninth-grade history at Olney Charter High School, which became an non-unionized charter run by Aspira in 2011 — Franz's first year of teaching.  Over the next two years, Franz says, the administration made many decisions — some she says to the detriment of children's education — without consulting with the teaching staff.  From there came the idea to form a union.

Allentown School District seeks vast expansion of cyber learning programs
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times 
on August 09, 2013 at 5:00 AM, updated August 09, 2013 at 5:02 AM
Nearly 2,000 students left the Allentown School District in favor of charter and cyber schools last year, bringing millions of the district's tuition dollars with them.  The district hopes to stop that exodus and win those students back by expanding its meager online course offerings into a full-blown cyber division with full- and part-time online classes for its students.

NCLB transfers left without busing in BASD
Bethlehem Area will not provide transportation for students who switch from poorly performing schools.
August 06, 2013|By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call
Bethlehem Area School District students who were allowed to transfer from poorly performing schools under No Child Left Behind will have to find their own transportation if they want to continue attending their new school.  Pennsylvania is confident that its waiver for the federal No Child Left Behind law will be approved and the state Department of Education recently informed districts they will no longer be mandated to provide transportation for students who switched schools within the district, Superintendent Joseph Roy said Monday.

Bucks school districts outsourcing substitute teachers due to Obamacare, other factors By Christian Menno Staff writer Posted on August 7, 2013
The Neshaminy School District has turned to outsourcing its substitute employees such as teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians and secretaries in anticipation of ‘Obamacare’ and other sweeping economic changes on the way.  Neshaminy, as well as Palisades, Pennridge and the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, will be using a New Jersey-based company called Source4Teachers to handle the recruiting, placement and management of their substitute teachers.  With the anticipated spike in state-mandated contribution levels that school districts pay toward the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (also known as PSERS), districts are looking for creative ways to trim their payrolls.

Reading board restores pre-K after fireworks
Shortfall in expected state money stalls vote, but city schools restore once-axed sessions
Reading Eagle by David Mekeel Originally Published: 8/8/2013
Pre-kindergarten is back in the Reading School District.
The Reading School Board voted Wednesday night to bring back the program, marking the second year in a row pre-kindergarten was axed because of budget restraints only to be restored after extra state funding was awarded to the district. 
But as often happens with the district, it didn't happen without some fireworks first.

“The group was founded by Diane Ravitch, an author, professor and education researcher from New York, and Cody, a middle school teacher and blog author from Mendocino County, Calif.  Both Ravitch and Cody knew Miller from his public education advocacy work in Pennsylvania.”
Centennial board member joins new national advocacy group
PhillyBurbs By Naomi Hall Staff writer Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 6:00 am
Centennial School Board member Mark B. Miller was recently appointed to a new national public education advocacy group, the Network for Public Education.
The network is a national advocacy group that supports grass-roots efforts to defend public education from attempts to privatize, and market public education for corporate gain.
“We want to strengthen grass-roots groups’ ability to mobilize and support candidates that are willing to defend public education,” said Anthony Cody, a founding member of the group’s board of directors.

A lack of intelligent design in lawmaker's proposal: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek |  on August 08, 2013 at 12:11 PM
The ancient Greeks thought the Earth was coaxed out of chaos. Norse mythology holds that men and women were born out of the armpit sweat of a giant. In Hindu tradition, modern man was created out of the gods’ sacrifice of the divine primordial form of man. And the biblical Creation myth claims that God created the whole universe in six days, resting on the seventh.
View full sizeState Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland File photo/Pennlive
So if Rep. Steve Bloom gets his way, would these Creation narratives, which really belong on the syllabus of a comparative religion class, be taught in science classes and given equal weight alongside such widely accepted scientific theories as evolution and global climate change?

Shifting Our Focus on Education
Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy by Rep. Ryan Aument August 6, 2013
Ryan Aument is the State Representative for the 41st Legislative District in Lancaster County.
During the last three state budget debates, education discussions focused on spending. Unfortunately, what has been lost is a meaningful conversation about how we improve the quality of our education system. This has been to the detriment of our children.
Is the answer to our challenges a never-ending supply of taxpayer money? Far too often, government spending serves to deter genuine reform, efficiency, innovation and improvement. Spending alone is never the solution. This has been demonstrated over and over through comparisons of government spending and student academic outcomes.

Punishing kids for adult failures 
The massive score drop on tough new New York tests gives us an opportunity -- and obligation -- to change course
Test scores across New York State have collapsed, new results released Wednesday showed. Last year, 55% of students in the state passed the reading test; 65% passed the math test. This year, only 31% passed both subjects. In New York City, the proportion passing the state tests fell from 47% in reading and 60% in math to only 26% in reading and 30% in math.
Did the students suddenly get stupid? Did their teachers become incompetent overnight? Did schools fail en masse?

Goldstein: Common Core tests are not the answer in child-centered education
There is no research telling us that Common Core testing standards will substantively improve kids' education. The only failure is on the part of those who set up this new curriculum.
Arthur Goldstein teaches English as a Second Language at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, Queens.
I’m trying to imagine what my principal would tell me if I proposed giving tests that caused more than half of my kids to fail. My principal is a big guy, and there are a lot of windows in his office. I envision myself flying out of at least one of them.
Yet that is what just happened in New York State. What sort of person wants so many kids to fail?

New ESEA Must Curb Federal Overreach
Learning First Alliance By National School Boards Association on August 7, 2013
By Michael A. Resnick, Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy,National School Boards Association (NSBA)
In the 12 years since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was enacted, we’ve seen firsthand how the federal role in education has expanded substantially, particularly by unilateral decisions made by the U.S. Department of Education to transform the educational delivery system through initiatives such as its waiver program.
Now, we have an opportunity to change this course through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National School Boards Association (NSBA) applauds Congress’ overall goal to ensure through legislation that all students are ready for college and careers. NSBA also is pleased to see that Congress is turning its attention to the growth of the federal role, including where it may adversely impact states and local schools.

Heilig on Black Alliance for Educational Options: Follow the Money
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav August 8, 2013 //
Julian Vasquez Heilig has been posting an illuminating series of posts that he calls “The Teat.”
Each of his posts follows the connection between advocacy groups and their funders. Some of these advocacy groups appear to do research, studies, and surveys, but they invariably reflect the priorities of those who supply the money.

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, 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).

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

I �$< �� `� Normal style='line-height:13.5pt;background:white'>Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

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

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