Monday, September 23, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 23, 2013: With lawmakers returning, it's time to stand up for public education

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 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 September 23, 2013:  With lawmakers returning, it's time to stand up for public education

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: 

With lawmakers returning, it's time to stand up for public education: As I See It
Patriot-News Op-Ed By Susan Gobreski, Lawrence A. Feinberg and Susan Spicka on September 22, 2013 at 5:15 AM
Susan Gobreski writes on behalf of Education Voters of PA.
Lawrence A. Feinberg writes on behalf of the Keystone State Education Coalition.
Susan Spicka writes on behalf of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley.
Pennsylvania’s public school children are paying a heavy price for the failure of Governor Corbett and our state legislature to perform the ONLY service mandated by the Pennsylvania Constitution, which clearly states, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”  In other words, every child, in every community across Pennsylvania, must receive a decent education – one that prepares them to be informed citizens, meet state standards, and graduate from high school ready for college or the workforce and self-sufficiency.

Pa. education activists plan plea for more funding
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson, @marywilson September 23, 2013
Education advocates will welcome Pennsylvania lawmakers back to Harrisburg Monday for the fall session with a reminder that they need more money.  In Harrisburg, legislators might be abuzz about picking over the scraps of the governor's legislative agenda, but some advocates are trying to get the attention squarely on public schools and how they're funded.

Lehigh Valley education advocates to call for funding reform at Harrisburg event
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times  on September 20, 2013 at 7:45 PM
Representatives from three Lehigh County school districts are heading to Harrisburg on Monday to push for education funding reform.  ParklandSouthern Lehigh and Northwestern Lehigh school district representatives plan to join advocates from across Pennsylvania during a news conference at the Capitol Rotunda, organizers said.  The group is slated to highlight problems schools face due to state funding cuts and the absence of a "rational" education funding formula as they call on lawmakers to make the issue their top priority in the fall legislative session, organizers said.  The news conference is scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday. The state House and Senate are set to reconvene at 1 p.m.

Media Advisory and Background for September 23rd Pennsylvania School Funding Press Event
Keystone State Education Coalition Sunday, September 22, 2013

Did you miss our weekend posting?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 21, 2013:  School Funding Formula Press Event on Monday 9/23 at 11:30 am Capitol Rotunda
Keystone State Education Coalition Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pa. Auditor General Calls For Changes In Charter Schools
KDKA Reporting Andy Sheehan September 20, 2013 6:44 PM
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The abuse of public money is spotlighted in the indictment of former Pa. Cyber Charter School head Nick Trombetta.  He’s accused of siphoning off at least $8 million in public money for personal expenses, a condo in Florida and even an airplane.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says the problem is not limited to him.
“It’s not everyone, it’s not every school, but we some people basically syphoning money off that’s supposed to go to the classroom, and we found… now has even bought a jet plane for one of their owners,” said DePasquale. “That money is supposed to be used to help our kids get better opportunities for the future; instead, it’s lining pockets of some individuals.”

New school report cards due
'Adequate Yearly Progress' will be replaced in public schools by a simplified grading scale.
By Adam Clark and Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call September 21, 2013
Every September for the past decade, Pennsylvania's schools have eagerly awaited word from the state about whether they earned the distinction of making "Adequate Yearly Progress."
Known by educators as AYP, the title was a measure of whether schools, and school districts, had a high enough percentage of students who scored proficient or advanced on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. The threshold for making AYP inched closer to 100 percent each year, and schools and parents complained the goals were impossible and the determinations of success versus failure were confusing and inaccurate.
This September, AYP and the benchmarks needed to achieve it are gone. On Sept. 30, the state Department of Education plans to roll out the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile, a grading system made possible through a federal order that creates waivers from the mandates of No Child Left Behind.  While schools are welcoming a reprieve from what they see as the increasingly impossible standards, they aren't completely sold on its replacement — a single score issued for every public, charter and career-technical school in the state.

Pennsylvania releasing scores from new public school accountability system
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on September 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM
Pennsylvania parents and taxpayers will soon be able to check the performance of any school in the state online.  On Sept. 30, the state Department of Education plans to release its new public school accountability system, known as Pennsylvania school performance profiles.
Anyone will then be able to log on to a website that will include report cards for every school building in the state. Each school will be scored on a 100-point scale through a complex formula that accounts for state test scores, graduation rates, student growth, closing achievement gaps and other factors.

Voters in three towns to decide on merging into South Hunterdon regional school district
Lehigh Valley Live By John Sievers on September 21, 2013
Residents from three south Hunterdon County municipalities will vote Tuesday on a proposed regional school merger that advocates say will save money and improve education.
The LambertvilleStocktonWest Amwell Township and South Hunterdon Regional High School districts would be retooled into one if voters in those municipalities approve the ballot referendum.

Teachers Lead Philly member Kathleen Melville Testifies Before PA House Democratic Policy Committee

Teachers Lean Philly website 09/22/2013
On September 10th, Representative Brian Sims of Philadelphia hosted a hearing on Philly education for the House Democratic Policy Committee. Teachers Lead Philly member Kathleen Melville was invited to testify, along with Helen Gym of Parents United, Jerry Jordan of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Mark Gleason of the Philadelphia School Partnership, and many others. Read Kathleen's testimony below:

SRC chief learned early to put education first
Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Monday, September 23, 2013, 2:01 AM School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro A. Ramos, 48, must lead Philadelphia's school system through its worst fiscal crisis in memory - $220 million deficit, thousands laid off, barely enough money to operate the schools this year. Most counselors, secretaries, and vice principals will be missing. No wonder SRC meetings are loud and tense.

Who Would Choose Jail Over School? Us
Digital Notebook Blog by Evan Brandt Sunday, September 22, 2013
We've had a spate of crimes in the area in the past week.The McDonald's on High Street suffered an early Friday morning robbery in which one person was injured.  That same early Friday morning  the South Coventry Sunoco station at the intersection of routes 100 and 23, just a couple hundred yards from the entrance to Owen J. Roberts High School, was robbed at knifepoint.  The night before, the 7-Eleven convenience store in West Pottsgrove was robbed at gunpoint.  When we've got the rocket scientist charged robbing the same National Penn Bank branch on High street, two blocks from his house, twice in the same month, and the robbery of the newly opened Gulf Station just down the street.
All of which got me thinking about crime and how to prevent it.

Reign of Error: Diane Ravitch in Philadelphia
teacherbiz blog SEPTEMBER 21, 2013 · 6:29 PM
On September 17th, just one day after a comparatively poorly-attended “Teacher Town Hall” hosted by Michelle Rhee, Steve Perry, and George Parker at Temple University, Diane Ravitch spoke to a full auditorium—and via simulcast to a section of overflow seating populated with audience members who didn’t get a seat at the sold-out event—at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Dr. Ravitch’s presence in the city, which is a hotbed for political, economic, and social debates that center around the city’s troubled school system, was celebrated by thousands of educators—both those who were able to attend the event and those who weren’t. Ravitch was introduced by Randi Weingarten, Ravitch’s friend of many years and President of the American Federation of Teachers, who has spent a significant amount of time in Philadelphia in recent weeks to defend the city’s public school teachers from attacks on the profession that are all too common across the country–and to support the PFT’s efforts to negotiate a meaningful contract with the School Reform Commission, which has cut thousands of teachers and support staff, closed buildings, and asked teachers to take pay cuts of up to 13%.

Do American public schools really stink? Maybe not
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 9/21/13 5:12 PM EDT
The drumbeat is hard to miss: Our schools are failing. Public education is in crisis. Our students are falling further and further behind.
The rhetoric comes from the left and right, from educators and politicians and lobbyists and CEOs and even Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The deep dysfunction of our public schools is said to threaten not only America’s economy but also its national security.
But a vocal group of contrarians is challenging that conventional wisdom. The latest weapon in their arsenal: A new book out this week by education historian Diane Ravitch, who argues that the biggest crisis facing public education is the relentless message that public education is in crisis.  It’s a debate with broad power to shape the nation’s $600-billion-a-year investment in public education. Where’s the truth? That’s not always easy to discern. Here’s a look at four key talking points — and the facts (and spin) behind them.

Here’s what does really stink:
“With the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percentage of kids in poverty than America. Similarly, America also has a remarkably high percentage of people living in what is called “deep poverty,” at less than half the official poverty rate.”
America’s Shameful Poverty Stats
That so many of our political leaders tolerate so much misery amid so much plenty is one of the great scandals of our age.
The Nation by Sasha Abramsky September 18, 2013
The latest Census Bureau figures on poverty in America, combined with the data on inequality released a week earlier, confirm a shocking new reality. While a sliver of top earners are doing better than they ever have before, for tens of millions of Americans, insecurity—and, for a distressing number, destitution—is the new norm.

1.7 million in Pa. brace for food stamp reform
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Kari Andren Sept. 21, 2013, 9:54 p.m.
A slate of proposed changes in how food stamp benefits are calculated and a tightening of states' flexibility in running the programs could impact more than a million Pennsylvanians receiving the assistance.  The changes are part of a measure approved by the U.S. House on Thursday that would cut nearly $4 billion a year for the next 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which helps one in seven people nationally and statewide buy groceries.  The White House has threatened to veto the bill if the Democrat-controlled Senate approves it.  Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, has vowed to fight the proposal.
Casey said data show $1 in SNAP spending generates $1.70 in economic activity.
“Over the last few years, the Senate has pushed for substantial reforms to the SNAP program to improve efficiency and effectiveness,” Casey said. “Despite these steps, the House is intent on further eroding a program that is vital to thousands of Pennsylvania children and seniors.”
About 1.7 million Pennsylvanians receive food stamps, with about 68 percent being families with children, slightly under the national level of 72 percent.

“The result, according to the analysis by economists from the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University, who looked at 1913 onward, is the broadest income gap between super-rich and everyone else since just before the Great Depression.”
Study Says America's Income Gap Widest Since Great Depression
NPR by SCOTT NEUMAN September 10, 2013 5:39 PM
The gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is growing, according to an analysis of IRS figures by an international group of university economists, and it hasn't been so wide since 1928.
The incomes of the very wealthiest 1 percent of Americans increased by 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012. By contrast, the bottom 99 percent saw their earnings in the same period go up by just 0.4 percent. In 2012, the top 1 percent collected 19.3 percent of all household income and the top 10 percent took home a record 48.2 percent of total earnings, The Associated Press reports.

Why Investor Whitney Tilson Is Betting Against K12, Inc.
When the profit motive forces action
EdSurge by Tony Wan September 21, 2013
Nothing should unite both critics and fans of education technology more than reports of companies making big money from shoddy products. But what about when the critic may also make a profit by betting that an edtech company will tank because of its lackluster service and results?  At the Value Investing Congress held in New York City on September 17, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, who manages Kase Capital, delivered a whammy of a case against online school provider, K12 Inc., with a 110-slide talk on "An Analysis of K12 (LRN) and Why It Is My Largest Short Position," shared on BusinessInsider. He said that K12 is his portfolio’s biggest short position.

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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