Friday, September 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 20, 2013: If you are involved with policy regarding charter schools you need to read SRC member Joseph Dworetsky’s lucid analysis of their financial impact on school districts (and taxpayers).

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 20, 2013:  If you are involved with policy regarding charter schools you need to read SRC member Joseph Dworetsky’s lucid analysis of their financial impact on school districts (and taxpayers).

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 for a fair and equitable funding formula yet?  Have your friends and colleagues?

Analyzing the role of charter school funding in the District's budget problems
by thenotebook by Joseph A. Dworetzky on Sep 19 2013 Posted in Commentary
School Reform Commission member Joseph Dworetzky sent the following observations and analysis of charter funding in response to a story on the District's budget gap that appears in the Notebook's latest issue on "Schools in Crisis." 
I wanted to compliment you on the piece you wrote about the budget gap. Despite all the complexity, I thought that you did a great job of keeping track of the many moving parts. I want to offer a couple of observations about one additional area that, to my mind (and I am speaking for myself and not on behalf of the SRC), is a fundamental part of the story.
1. Whether or not one supports charters in general, the economics of their funding are central to the District's budget problems. For convenience, I will use rounded numbers to set out the analysis.

It’s not just the PA Basic Education Subsidy…….
Since FY 2008-2009 (before the federal ARRA stimulus money)
$226.9 million in Charter School Reimbursement budget line have been eliminated

A corporate plane, luxurious homes, sprawling real estate holdings and $1 million in cash.  The affidavit says these were all purchased at Trombetta’s direction by officers in Avanti, the for-profit consultant group founded by Trombetta.
Affidavit Unsealed In Pa. Cyber School Investigation
CBS Pittsburgh KDKA Reporting Andy Sheehan September 19, 2013 8:38 PM
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former Pa. Cyber School head Nick Trombetta is pleading not guilty to charges of theft and fraud, but an unsealed affidavit lays out the case that he syphoned off $8 million in taxpayer dollars to fund his own lavish lifestyle.

Unsealed records show PA Charter Cyber School investigation began with inside sources
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 19, 2013 10:18 am
The federal investigation that led to the indictment last month of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta started with two inside sources and spread to include inquiries into transactions involving about 20 businesses and nonprofits with which he had dealings, according to records unsealed this morning.
A 68-page affidavit and search warrant application signed on July 11, 2012, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell indicates that months earlier, two of Mr. Trombetta's associates approached the FBI through their lawyers.
They are identified in the affidavit as the CEO and president of Avanti Management Group. Records obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicate that former PA Cyber executives Brett Geibel and Betty Jane Price held those posts at that time.

Will Phila. be the graveyard of public education?
Karen Heller, Inquirer Columnist POSTED: Thursday, September 19, 2013, 3:01 AM
Congratulations! Our state has won national attention in the public schools debate. Education historian and activist Diane Ravitch told an overflow crowd at the Free Library on Tuesday, "The state of Pennsylvania is ground zero for the destruction and privatization of education." Who wants to live at ground zero of a crisis? Apparently, we do, and the experts are coming. According to the latest Pew poll that shocks no one, the majority of Philadelphians think that our schools stink, that the city is a good place to live and a lousy one to educate children. Oh, and almost everyone is to blame.

Will state Legislature act on Philly schools crisis?
WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies September 19, 2013
The Pennsylvania Legislature returns to session next week. While the main attractions will be liquor privatization, transportation funding and other statewide concerns, some folks around here are looking to Harrisburg to resolve a standoff in Philadelphia City Hall.
Mayor Michael Nutter wants City Council to pass a bill to implement legislation enacted by state lawmakers last spring making an increase in Philadelphia's sales tax permanent and putting most of the money into the schools. That wasn't Nutter's plan. He wanted cigarette and liquor taxes, but that's what the Legislature did.

The Two Faces of American Education
The New York Review of Books by Andrew Delbanco OCTOBER 10, 2013
Radical: Fighting to Put Students First
by Michelle Rhee Harper, 286 pp., $27.99

“When you walk away from the public responsibility to maintain a good public school in every neighborhood, you abandon the civic mission of public school. You abandon an institution that is a pillar of our democratic society. You turn citizens into consumers who feel no obligation to other people’s children, only to themselves. Many people look enviously at the high-performing nations of Finland and Korea. There are no charter schools or vouchers in Finland or Korea. They have built a strong education profession and strong schools in every neighborhood. The more choice, the more inequality, the more segregation. Do we really want to go in that direction?” 
Diane Ravitch Responds To Your Questions
NPR On Point Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Our hour with Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education and a current education historian and policy analyst, drew a lot of activity on our website and social media feeds. Many of you were really sold on Ravitch’s hard-charging stance on education reform and what she sees as the privatization of American public education, but others had some questions that you didn’t feel were properly addressed during our conversation with the author.
We collected a few of the more interesting comments and invited Ravitch to reply. Her responses are printed below in full:

Diane Ravitch and the Corporate Reign of Error
Huffington Post by Arthur Goldstein ESL Teacher and UFT Chapter Leader 09/19/2013 6:06 pm
I've been teaching for almost thirty years, and I don't know precisely when my colleagues and I became public enemy number one. But after reading Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch I'm getting a pretty good handle on why.  Corporate reformers like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton family seem to believe teachers have done a disservice to kindergarteners by allowing them to blow bubbles in their milk and push trucks around on the floor. Why weren't we training them to take valuable multiple-choice exams? Why did an entire generation of Americans, including public school teachers, misdirect its energies by trying to eradicate poverty? Couldn't we just fervently ignore it, as corporate reformers have done so successfully?

33 reviews of Ravitch's Reign of Error

for the love of learning blog by Joe Bower September 18, 2013

Whitney Tilson Blasts Education Company K12
The education activist and hedge fund manager is taking a major stand against the online education and tech company by publicly shorting its stock, calling K12’s practices and academic results “dismal.” And K12’s model undermines the charter school movement in which he is deeply entrenched.
By Mariah Summers BuzzFeed Staff posted on September 17, 2013 at 6:37pm EDT
Hedge fund titan and education reform activist Whitney Tilson turned his Value Investing Congress speech Tuesday into an all-out attack against technology-based education company K12, calling it “a catastrophe for education” in spite of solid financials.
“My sense is this is very much like subprime lending or for-profit colleges; the model makes sense on a small scale, but is very prone to malfeasance,” Tilson said. “I’m very attuned to the education reform movement and my feeling is there is going to be a pushback.”

Interested in keeping the “public” in public education?  Sign up for text grassroots alerts from the Network for Public Education.
Join NPE's NIXLE Group by texting "4NPE" to 888777.  After sending the initial text, NIXLE will ask for a "zipcode" - providing a zipcode will limit messages to local interest of each subscriber. Leave the zipcode blank if you want to receive all grassroot alerts from NPE.

PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission Public Meeting Sept 26th at Alvernia College in Reading from 9:30 am – 3:00 p.
To consider charter and cyber special education funding

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. 

Building One Pennsylvania
Fourth Annual Fundraiser and Awards Ceremony
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2013 6:00-8:00 PM
IBEW Local 380   3900 Ridge Pike  Collegeville, PA 19426
Building One Pennsylvania is an emerging statewide non-partisan organization of leaders from diverse sectors - municipal, school, faith, business, labor and civic - who are joining together to stabilize and revitalize their communities, revitalize local economies and promote regional opportunity and sustainability.

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

Proposed Amendments to PSBA Bylaws available online
PSBA website 9/17/2013
A special issue of the School Leader News with the notice of proposed PSBA Bylaws amendments has been mailed to all school directors and board secretaries.
This issue also is available online in the Members Only section by clicking here. Voting on PSBA Bylaws changes will take place at the new Delegate Assembly on Oct. 15, 2013, at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center from 1-4 p.m. All member school entities should have appointed their voting delegates and submitted names to PSBA. Details on selecting an entity's voting delegate can be found in previous issues of the School Leader News.

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