Monday, September 16, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 16, 2013: Since 1991-92 there has been no set formula for providing funds for PA schools. 65% of all funds now distributed in this school year are based on statistics from the 1989-90 school year.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 16, 2013:  Since 1991-92 there has been no set formula for providing funds for PA schools. 65% of all funds now distributed in this school year are based on statistics from the 1989-90 school year.

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: 

Have you signed this petition yet?  Have your friends and colleagues?
One thing that all sides in the education debate in PA seem to agree upon is the need for a fair and adequate funding formula
Are you getting too much done at work or perhaps spending too much quality time with your family at home?  We can help!
Here’s a solution for you: sign up for a twitter account and follow the Keystone State Education Coalition at @lfeinberg

Did you miss our weekend posting?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 14, 2013:
It’s not just the Basic Education Subsidy. There was almost $227 million in the PA budget’s Charter Reimbursement line before it was zeroed out.  Zero, zip, zilch…..

“Since 1991-92 there has been no set formula for providing funds for schools. 65% of all funds now distributed in this school year are based on statistics from the 1989-90 school year. It is, however, noteworthy that a six-year formula-driven plan was proposed in Fiscal Year 2008-2009. The plan failed because only parts of it were ever implemented during FY 2008-09 and 2009-10, and the General Assembly chose to abandon any further references to the plan in subsequent years.”
“….The General Assembly must address what they want the system of public education in Pennsylvania to do. Then they must provide for a stable and predictable method of funding, which insures the equitable distribution of Commonwealth resources. At present, there is no system of funding. Each year a hold harmless is applied with politically motivated supplementals. This is not what our Constitution meant by “thorough and efficient.”
The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools
Written by Janice Bissett and Arnold Hillman
The following monograph was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS).  During the constant debates over the fairness of our current system of school funding in the Commonwealth, there did not seem to be a concise reference that included all of the various ways of funding schools over the many years of public education.

 “It's been argued that the loss of federal stimulus funding and limited state resources forced the disregard of public education priorities.  This simply is not true. The state budget finds money to make up for federal cuts affecting the Corrections Department to the tune of $187 million. In fact, expired federal funds were replaced almost dollar for dollar with state funds for other agencies.
However, this has not been done for education.
Recent state budgets have failed to provide any funding to charter school reimbursements, educational assistance and school improvement grants.  Accountability grants, vital for early childhood education, have been cut by $154 million since the 2010-11 budget.”
It's basic: State budget cuts hurt schools Opinion BY RYAN A. BIZZARRO Contributing writer SEPTEMBER 14, 2013
RYAN A. BIZZARRO, of Millcreek Township, is the Democratic state representative for the 3rd District
Let's quit distorting the facts about public education funding in Pennsylvania.
A cut is a cut, period. Numbers don't lie, and Gov. Tom Corbett cut almost $900 million from Pennsylvania's public schools in 2011. The governor's 2-month-old state budget restored only $130 million, leaving a gaping $726 million funding gap that has left schools, communities and taxpayers gasping. Consider the effects from such political choices:
- 70 percent of Pennsylvania's public school districts have been forced to raise property taxes while furloughing tens of thousands of teachers and support personnel.
- State support for education has dwindled from 44 percent to 32 percent since the governor took office.
- 75 percent of school districts statewide plan to reduce instructional programming.
- 47 percent of school districts expect to increase class size.
- 23 percent of school districts plan to delay purchasing textbooks.
The twisted logic used to defend the de-funding of Pennsylvania schools and the hoodwinking of Pennsylvania's property taxpayers is gold-medal-worthy.

Our View: Core Standards come with costs
The Sentinel (Carlisle) Editorial September 14, 2013
Pennsylvania — and the nation — needs to improve the education process. As the state this week moved one step closer to final implementation of Common Core Standards, we wish those standards came with a projected cost or projected funding.
Pennsylvania on Thursday joined 44 states and the District of Columbia in adopting regulations grounded in the Common Core State Standards, a framework developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. The state Board of Education approved a set of regulations that included these Pennsylvania Core Standards with a 13-4 vote.
The Common Core does not dictate a national curriculum. Local school districts will retain control over their own lesson plans and methods to teach the standards. We love that local control, because each school district faces its own challenges.
While officials are correct to push standards that challenge our kids on an equal basis, leaving the financial weight of how to reach those standards on area school districts and teachers is a heavy load. Most school districts over the past several years have battled with budget crises — a process that is sure to continue as they begin planning the next budget.

Trombetta, Avanti gave big to Vogel and Marshall
By J.D. Prose Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:00 am
A review of federal, state and county campaign contribution reports show that indicted Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta and four officers in a supposed front business donated about $50,000 to various candidates and incumbents over the last decade.
While records show that Trombetta, an Aliquippa native and East Liverpool, Ohio, resident, made donations totaling more than $27,000 to state and congressional candidates as far back as 2002, the bulk of the contributions made by the four people associated with the Koppel-based Avanti Management Group, an educational management firm, came between 2009 and 2012.

At reinvented vo-tech schools, popularity begins to outpace capacity
By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times on September 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Nazareth Area High School senior Garrett Newhartz already knows what career he wants.
Newhartz, 17, of Upper Nazareth Township, spent last year paid as a part-time machinist and inspector at two local production plants. This year, he's learning more in his third year as a student at the Career Institute of Technology in Forks Township.
"It's a better alternative than going straight to college -- it can almost guarantee you a well-paying job," Newhartz says about CIT. "I really like it because it gave me a chance to experience what I was going to do the rest of my life and whether I liked it or not. I decided yes, I want to stay in my trade and get better at it."
Newhartz isn't alone.

Bill would tweak executive session rules
By Brad Hundt Editorial Page Editor Sep 13, 2013 at 9:54 pm
State Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth, has introduced a measure that would create stricter guidelines on when elected officials can go behind closed doors to discuss personnel matters or other issues.
The bill, which is being debated in the House Committee on State Government, would limit when members of school or township boards, city councils or any other elected body, can retreat into “executive session.” Those meetings, held out of public view, are typically used by officials to discuss issues they deem too sensitive to be aired in public, such as hiring or firing decisions, labor contracts or pending litigation. However, Saccone, and other supporters of the bill, believe that the regulations are drawn too broadly and that, sometimes, the discussion within executive sessions can wander into other areas. Those deliberations should be seen and heard by constituents, they insist.
“The default should be that information is public,” said Saccone, whose legislative district includes portions of Washington County. “It’s absolutely vital to hold people accountable.”

This week’s calendar of events for Philadelphia Public School Advocates
Parents United Philadelphia September 13, 2013

Closing school libraries? This means war
Philadelphia's school budget woes have shuttered the district's much-lauded libraries. It's a failure of basic civilization that cannot be allowed to stand.
Philadelphia Weekly By Stephen Segal Posted Sep. 13, 2013
And so finally it's come to this: The Philadelphia School District has closed its top schools' libraries due to the budget crisis. Only 15 librarians remain in the entire district, where enrollment has already climbed past last year's 150,000 students. As the Inquirer reported today, principals at Central High and Masterman are scrambling to figure out how exactly they're supposed to give students an education without being able to give them books to read.

Wilkinsburg educators go to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
District pays $15,665 for overnight retreat
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 15, 2013 12:09 am
The Wilkinsburg School District is in such difficult financial condition that this calendar year it went on the state's financial watch list, took out a $3 million loan, voted to eliminate some teaching and administrative positions this fall and charges the highest property tax rate in Allegheny County.
But it still was able to pay for a two-night professional development retreat for administrators, staying Aug. 13 and 14 at the luxurious Nemacolin Woodlands Resort where the resort tab was $15,665.50 -- which amounted to more than $1,000 per person.

W. Pa. districts join struggle to sell shuttered schools
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Jason Cato  Sept. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Hallways inside the two-story, brick building that once housed Donora Elementary are silent, having seen the last 81 students two years ago.  Ringgold School District officials in Washington County hope to find a new life for the old structure as well as another mothballed school in Monongahela.  “They are beautiful buildings, beautiful structures,” said Superintendent Karen Polkabla, who is helping school board members decide whether to seek sealed bids, conduct a private sale or put the buildings up for public auction.
Selling former schools can prove challenging, given the buildings' age, size and their narrow market. Finding new uses for these buildings also can be daunting, according to a report released this year by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit that focuses on public policy and community service issues.

PN Editorial: Don't gamble taxpayer money on Wall Street
By Patriot-News Editorial Board on September 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spent an extra $108.9 million experimenting with it.
The Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority spent an unnecessary $41.4 million trying it.  The Delaware River Port Authority lost $56 million and was stuck with another $248 million of red ink on its books.  The Philadelphia School District handed over an extra $35 million doing it.
“It” was trying to hedge their bond borrowing costs with interest rate swaps.

"Reign of Error" Reviewed: Ravitch Rises
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on September 15, 2013 6:18 PM
Diane Ravitch has emerged as an iconic figure on America's political landscape. What Daniel Ellsberg was to the Vietnam War, Ravitch has become to the battle raging over public education - a truth-teller with the knowledge that comes from decades on the inside of the education "reform" movement. Her new book, Reign of Error, The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, goes on sale Tuesday, and reveals a great deal about the nature of the epic struggle raging over the future of public education in America - and beyond.
Ravitch's previous book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, was a breakthrough. An "establishment" figure reviewed the evidence and categorically rejected the dominant reform strategies then on the ascent. What's more, Ravitch called out what she termed the "billionaire boys club" for their heavy-handed attempts to privatize the public schools.
Reign of Error picks up where Death and Life left off. Over the past three years the patterns of corruption and influence have become clear, as has the evidence.

Reign of Error: the important new book by Diane Ravitch
Daily Kos By Ken Derstine teacherken SUN SEP 15, 2013 AT 01:29 PM PDT
The testing, accountability, and choice strategies offer the illusion of change while changing nothing.  They mask the inequity and injustice that are now so apparent in our social order.  They do nothing to alter the status quo.  They preserve the status quo.  They are the status quo.
Those words appear on p. 225 of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, the new book by Diane Ravitch. The words are a summary of what has been wrong with recent educationl They appear in Chapter 21, titled "Solutions: Start Here" which is where Ravitch begins to offer a different vision for how to improve public education.

Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, “reformers” aim to destroy public schools
Our public schools aren't in decline. And "reformers" with wild promises don't care about education — just profits BY DIANE RAVITCH SUNDAY, SEP 15, 2013 07:00 AM EDT
As long as anyone can remember, critics have been saying that the schools are in decline. They used to be the best in the world, they say, but no longer. They used to have real standards, but no longer. They used to have discipline, but no longer. What the critics seldom acknowledge is that our schools have changed as our society has changed. Some who look longingly to a golden age in the past remember a time when the schools educated only a small fraction of the population.
But the students in the college-bound track of fifty years ago did not get the high quality of education that is now typical in public schools with Advanced Placement courses or International Baccalaureate programs or even in the regular courses offered in our top city and suburban schools. There are more remedial classes today, but there are also more public school students with special needs, more students who don’t read English, more students from troubled families, and fewer students dropping out. As for discipline, it bears remembering a 1955 film called “Blackboard Jungle,” about an unruly, violent inner-city school where students bullied other students. The students in this school were all white. Today, public schools are often the safest places for children in tough neighborhoods.

Parents are rebelling against standardized tests
Frustration with exams prompts opt-out actions
Boston Globe By Katie Zezima  ASSOCIATED PRESS SEPTEMBER 09, 2013
DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, N.J. — While his eighth-grade classmates took state standardized tests this spring, Tucker Richardson woke up late and played basketball in his Delaware Township driveway. Tucker’s parents, Wendy and Will, are part of a small but growing number of parents nationwide who are ensuring their children do not participate in standardized testing.
They are opposed to the practice for an array of reasons, including the stress they believe it brings on young students, discomfort with tests being used to gauge teacher performance, fear that corporate influence is overriding education, and concern that test prep is narrowing curricula down to the minimum needed to pass an exam.

“Duncan, whose longtime allies include Joel Klein, Bill Gates and other apostles of disruption, has a record of supporting reforms that increase the role of market forces — choice, competition, the profit motive — in education. He wants private enterprises vying to make money by providing innovative educational products and services, and sees his role as “taking to scale the best practices” that emerge from this contest.”
No Child Left Untableted
New York Times By CARLO ROTELLA Published: September 12
Sally Hurd Smith, a veteran teacher, held up her brand-new tablet computer and shook it as she said, “I don’t want this thing to take over my classroom.” It was late June, a month before the first day of school. In a sixth-grade classroom in Greensboro, N.C., a dozen middle-school social-studies teachers were getting their second of three days of training on tablets that had been presented to them as a transformative educational tool. Every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County’s 24 middle schools would receive one, 15,450 in all, to be used for class work, homework, educational games — just about everything, eventually.

The Colbert Report hosts Arne Duncan September 17th
Tuesday's Guest. 11:00pm / 10:00c Arne Duncan. U.S. Secretary of Education, TEACH Campaign.

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 Has Been Rescheduled to Sept 26th in Reading
Was originally scheduled for September 19.  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 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).

PASCD Annual Conference ~ A Whole Child Education Powered by Blendedschools Network November 3-4, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
We invite you to join us for the Annual Conference, held at an earlier date this year, on Sunday, November 3rd, through Monday, November 4th, 2013 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.  The Pre-Conference begins on Saturday with PIL Academies and Common Core sessions.  On Sunday and Monday, our features include keynote presentations by Chris Lehmann and ASCD Author Dr. Connie Moss, as well as numerous breakout sessions on PA’s most timely topics.
Click here for the 2013 Conference Schedule
Click here to register for the conference. 

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