Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 10, 2013: Supt. Hite: “We cannot allow the city, the state, the School District, or anybody else to think that this is normal”

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 10, 2013:
Supt. Hite: “We cannot allow the city, the state, the School District, or anybody else to think that this is normal”

Pennsylvanians Want a School Funding Formula
Press Event Monday September 23rd, 11:30 am Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg
Every child in Pennsylvania deserves an opportunity to learn, whether they are from large or small, rich or not-so-rich, urban, suburban or rural school districts, charter schools or cyber schools; whether their legislator is a freshman state representative or a senate officer.
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: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/104e0endYpVYcPxSyfG9V_DOIVAB0J3AVI0-20Q8Yylw/viewform 

Some state lawmakers bent on banning swaps after five-hour public debt reform hearing
By Emily Previti | epreviti@pennlive.com  September 09, 2013 at 8:01 PM
HARRISBURG – Some Pennsylvania legislators appear bent on banning local government units from using interest-rate swap transactions.
“I didn't hear anything today that would persuade me to back away from that position," said state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/York.
Teplitz spoke after he and the rest of the state Senate Local Government Committee heard five hours of testimony Monday focused on legislation that would ban swaps and enact other changes to the Local Government Unit Debt Act.

Swap ban proposal elicits mixed opinions from school, government officials
By Emily Previti | epreviti@pennlive.com  on September 09, 2013 at 10:57 AM, updated September 09, 2013 at 3:48 PM
HARRISBURG – Gambling with public money or critical financial management tool? 
Pennsylvania's potential interest-rate swap ban is generating testimony conveying both views during a state Senate Local Government Committee hearing Monday. 
The session's first 90 minutes or so have focused on Senate Bill 904, which would ban public agencies from utilizing the risky financial instruments. 
“These have gone under the radar for a very long time." - Former Auditor General Jack Wagner
Aside from former Auditor General Jack Wagner and two former Bethlehem Area School District officials, the dozen or so people appearing Monday want local government units to retain the ability to engage in swaps - if with some limitations.

Pa. House Democratic Policy Committee property tax hearing held in Montgomery County
Storify by Evan Brandt at Pottstown Mercury September 9, 2013
The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee is holding hearings across the state to learn how cuts to state funding of education are affecting property taxes. On Monday, Sept. 9, they held a hearing in the South Hall of the West Campus of Montgomery County Community College.

Public hearing to examine public education funding cuts Tuesday, Sept. 10th in Philadelphia; Franklin Institute 2 to 4 pm
The hearing is open to the public and media coverage is invited.
HARRISBURG, Sept. 5 – House Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today the committee will hold a hearing about Pennsylvania’s public education and funding cuts from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the Franklin Institute, Fifth Floor Conference Center, 222 North 20th St., Philadelphia.
State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., requested the hearing and will serve as co-chairman. The hearing will focus on the importance of public education and how decreasing state funding is hurting schools all over the Commonwealth.
The current hearing agenda is:
  • 2 p.m. – Welcome and opening remarks
  • 2:10 p.m. – Panel one:
    • Dr. Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology, University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education
    • Jamira Burley, executive director, Philadelphia Youth Commission
  • 2:35 p.m. – Panel two:
    • Laurada Byers, co-founder, Russell Byers Charter School
    • Mark Gleason, executive director, Philadelphia School Partnership
  • 3 p.m. – Panel three:
    • Helen Gym, co-founder, Parents United
    • Jerry Jordan, president, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
  • 3:25 p.m. – Panel three:
    • Kathleen Melville, communications coordinator for Teachers Lead Philly and teacher at Constitution High School
    • Christine Carlson, founder, Greater Center City Neighborhoods School Coalition
  • 3:50 p.m. – Closing remarks

"We cannot allow the city, the state, the School District, or anybody else to think that this is normal," he said at South Philadelphia High School. "Because children now are in schools that still need additional resources. And it's really important for us, during the course of this year, to make sure those resources are returned to us."
Schools open smoothly but amid scrutiny, concerns
Martha Woodall and Michaelle Bond, Inquirer Staff Writers POSTED: Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 1:07 AM Amid the Philadelphia School District's financial crisis, 134,000 students returned to school Monday. Despite fears that the first day would be chaotic, officials said that for the most part, things went smoothly. A command center set up to field calls for help from principals at the district's 212 schools mostly resembled a public television station's pledge drive where volunteers wait for phones to ring. Staffers logged 60 calls between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. "The day went reasonably well," Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/223076081.html#7mGLtHpzuPgify2H.99

The ‘grim new normal’ in Philadelphia schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, September 10 at 6:00 am
Consider this: The constitution of Pennsylvania says that the state legislature must
provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.  Now consider what students and teachers in Philadelphia faced when they returned to school Monday for the start of their new academic year after months of financial chaos that led to the closing of 24 schools, the layoffs of more than 3,800 personnel and other cuts:

After budget cuts and closures, tremendous uncertainty surrounds the return to school
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 09 2013 Posted in Latest news
As the Philadelphia School District prepared to open for the 2013-14 school year, teachers scoured for usable desks that they could stuff into classrooms with, in some cases, 40 or more students.  Some even contemplated bringing in spare chairs from home.

Philly teachers' first-day-back recap: "I don't know how we're going to do this"
Citypaper By Samantha Melamed Published: 09/09/2013
Philly teachers made it through their first day back at school, in many cases without counselors, assistant principals, librarians and nurses — but it wasn't always pretty. How they're going to make it through 179 more of them isn't totally clear. 
Take Robeson High School in West Philly, which received students from closed schools including Bok, University City and Lamberton. The school is sharing a counselor with six other schools, according to 9th- and 11th-grade English teacher Andrew Saltz. That's already proving to be a problem: One student had experienced a death in a family, but the school has no grief counseling available. Saltz scrambled to come up with an external referral. And many of his other students need fee waivers for the SATs, and they need the counselor to apply for them. "She said that was not on the list of things she was doing," Saltz says. "I don't know who's going to send out transcripts — kids are already appying for rolling admission, so I have no idea. And some schools require a letter from a guidance counselor. So I don't know what we're going to do."
"I found this app for their smartphone, which helps them search scholarships, and I got really excited. And then I got really depressed, because I'm trying to replace a guidance counselor with a dollar smartphone app." 

Philadelphia schools open with small staffs
AP by KATHY MATHESON September 9, 2013
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The city's struggling public schools opened a new term Monday with larger classes and smaller staffs, leaving many to wonder how the nearly broke district will fare over the coming year.  Superintendent William Hite made the rounds at several buildings to greet students and employees. While contending that Philadelphia's schools were prepared to open, he also acknowledged the lack of resources in many.  "We still want guidance services in every school," Hite said. "We need a lot more assistant principals. We need a lot more teachers. ... We need music the full year. We need sports the full year."

Agencies serving Philly public school kids with special needs expect challenges
By Maiken Scott, @maikenscott September 9, 2013
For Philadelphia public school students with behavioral health issues such as depression or ADHD, the first days of school might bring some anxiety and challenges. Ten of the 24 schools that were closed down had in-house therapy programs for kids, who now will receive services in their new schools.  Roxy Woloszyn from the advocacy organization Public Citizens for Children and Youth says kids will continue to receive the services despite budget cuts and school closings, but therapists are expecting some difficulties.
"There is always that normal, beginning-of-school-year confusion, even without that whole bunch of children who have gone to new schools," she said. "The providers are pretty well prepared to deal with that, and to adapt quickly, to insure that children get the support that they need. "

What I Will Say to My Son at the Beginning of this Strange New School Year
Parents United for Public Education Posted on September 9, 2013 by SHAI GLUSKIN
I’ve been thinking of what to say to my son at the beginning of this strange new school year. Of course he and I have been talking a lot already, most of it in mutually outraged tones about the injustice of the situation.  But I feel there is another conversation needed in advance of my son walking into Central High School tomorrow.
I want to tell him about the horribly contradictory feelings I’m having. On the one hand, I desire disaster and chaos. Wouldn’t that prove to all the leaders who have let us down that you can’t starve schools and expect there to be anything like school! On the other hand, I want my son’s life to go forward in the most normal way it can; I don’t want him to get hurt or suffer because of the folly of state and local politicians.

WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane: Update on Philadelphia public schools
Runtime 52:01 September 9, 2013
It’s back to school today for Philadelphia’s public school children as the District faces a $304 million budget deficit.  Roughly 10,000 students will be returning to new schools in different neighborhoods after 24 buildings were closed over the summer. Administrators will have to make due with fewer teachers, counselors, nurses and aides given layoffs last spring.  The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has yet to sign a contract after failing to agree to major salary and work rule concessions aimed at saving $103 million dollars in savings to the District.  And parents are concerned for their children’s education, safety and well-being.   In this hour of Radio Times we’ll talk about the challenges facing the School District of Philadelphia with three people who have been following the situation closely. Joining us are freelance journalist PATRICK KERKSTRA, WHYY reporter KEVIN MCCORRY and DONNA COOPER, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth. - See more at: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2013/09/09/24928/

Enrollment spike saves 12 teacher positions in Chester Upland (With Video)
By JOHN KOPP jkopp@delcotimes.com @DT_JohnKopp September 07, 2013
The enrollment surge within the Chester Upland School District not only prevented two elementary schools from closure, but it also saved the jobs of 12 teachers.  Receiver Joseph Watkins formally approved the recall of 12 teachers from furlough at a special meeting Friday. He also approved the creation of three new teaching positions.

Watching the money always a positive
Beaver County Times Online Editorial Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013 6:00 am
With the high-profile cases of Nick Trombetta and the secrecy-laced Friendship Ridge sale fresh on our minds, it was refreshing to see a local legislator, Rep. Jim Christiana, R-15, Beaver, step up and get out front on more transparency and accountability from government.
Christiana told reporter J.D. Prose last week that when the state Legislature reconvenes on Sept. 23, he would make every effort to place the so-called CountyWATCH, SchoolWATCH and CharterWATCH bills on the House Education Committee agenda, which is chaired by Rep. Paul Clymer, R-145, Bucks County.  Christiana is basing the legislation on his previous effort that led to PennWATCH, which is an online searchable database for state government revenue and spending. His proposal would require county governments, school districts and charter schools to likewise make their revenue and spending records available online.

Chicago Bombshell! TFA Plans to Staff 52 New Charters as 50 Public Schools Die
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav September 9, 2013 
The document displayed on her website shows plans for 52 new privately-managed charters that will open over the next five years.  These charters will be staffed largely by TFA’s young recruits, with five weeks of training.  Just weeks ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools, claiming they were “underutilized.” But the school closures presented an opportunity to expand the charter sector.

How big can Teach For America get?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, September 10 at 4:00 am
Even in school districts where teachers have been laid off because of budget cuts, Teach For America manages to keep expanding. An education blogger in Massachusetts who writes about corporate-influenced reform on the website EduShyster.com, writes about this in the following post.

NPE Endorses Pro-Public Education Candidates
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav September 9, 2013 //
The Network for Public Education has endosed candidates in several crucial local school board elections. NPE has a process that involves surveys of all candidates in each contest. We give our endorsement to those who support their community public schools and oppose privatization and the pernicious misuse of high-stakes testing.
We don’t have money, but we count on the help of all those who care about the future of public education to stand with those courageous enough to run for office. We count on the power if numbers, the power of democracy.

Parents as Advocates for Children and Education - EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN Sept. 11th
Next Wednesday, September 11, tune in to the next episode of EPLC's "Focus on Education" series, which will discuss Parents as Advocates for Children and Education and air at 9:00 p.m. on PCN television.  The panel will include: 
  • Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center;   
  • Corinna Vecsey Wilson, PCN Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
  • Deborah Dunstone, President, Pennsylvania PTA;
  • Sylvia P. Simms, Founder and President of PARENT POWER and Commissioner, School Reform Commission, The School District of Philadelphia
  • Bonita Allen, Former Member, Pennsylvania Title I State Parent Advisory Council and now a SPAC Parent Involvement in Education Consultant; and   
  • Kurt A. Kondrich, M.Ed., Chair, Pennsylvania State Interagency Coordinating Council and Director of Family and Community Outreach, Early Intervention Specialists
EPLC and PA Cable Network (PCN) have partnered for a monthly program focusing on education issues in Pennsylvania.  The first episodes aired from February to June and covered school safety issuesstudent testingthe work of school boardshow public education is funded in Pennsylvania, and the school dropout crisis.  The program was paused for the summer months.
The episode next Wednesday, September 11 will be broadcast on PCN at 9:00 p.m., and "Focus on Education" will not be broadcast monthly through December.  Tapings of the episodes which aired in February through June are available on the PCN web site.
To learn more, visit PCN's "Focus on Education" web page.

Keystone State Education Coalition Co-Chair and PSBA Pres-Elect Candidate Mark B Miller on tap for Bucks County Town Hall Meeting to discuss possible Property Tax reform, HB 76 on Sept. 12th.
Thursday evening September 12th, 7 to 9 p.m. @ Kings Caterers, 4010 New Falls Road, Bristol

PILCOP 2013 Symposium on Equality September 12, 2013
Privatization: Looking out for the Public Good
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Thursday, September 12, 2013 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
University of Pennsylvania Law School Levy Conference Center
3400 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA
Join us for a day of panels, discussions and presentations on what privatization means for communities and individuals, using healthcare, education and land use as examples.
Details and tickets here: http://www.pilcop.org/2013symposium/

Education Law Center Annual Event Sept. 18th, 2013
Featuring Morris Dees and honoring education advocates Barbara Minzenberg and the Philadelphia Student Union.  Wednesday, Sept. 18th at 5:30 p.m., Crystal Tea Room, Wanamaker Building 100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission Upcoming Meeting Sept 19th in Reading
Save the date: September 19 tentative meeting date in Reading; no venue announced yet
To consider charter and cyber special education funding

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 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 www.psba.org. 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 http://www.psba.org/elections/.

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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