Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 5, 2013: School Funding shouldn't depend upon how powerful your legislator is – Join us in Harrisburg Sept. 23rd

shouldn'tDaily 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

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
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 September 5, 2013:
School Funding shouldn't depend upon how powerful your legislator is – Join us in Harrisburg Sept. 23rd

Pennsylvanians Want a School Funding Formula
Sign up to join us in Harrisburg on September 23rd!
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: more details will follow.

“According to the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks, 33 of the 37 lawmakers who represent the 21 districts that received extra funds are legislative leaders, committee chairs, vice chairs or secretaries.”
Legislators give $30.3M to 21 school districts behind closed doors
Lancaster gets $2.4 million surprise but cash-strapped Columbia doesn't get a dime
Lancaster Online By JEFF HAWKES  Staff Writer Originally Published Jul 21, 2013 06:00
Twenty-one of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts got a nice surprise in the state's new budget: extra cash for these tough times.  Districts large, small and in-between benefited, including the Allentown schools, with nearly 19,000 students, the School District of Lancaster, with 11,200, and a rural Potter County district, with only 184 pupils.
But cash-strapped Columbia School District was not among the lucky 21. Because the district struggles to meet the needs of nearly 1,000 poor children in a borough with a weak tax base, Laura Cowburn wonders why it was left out.

PA One of Only Three States Without Education Funding Formula
No accuracy, fairness, or transparency possible without sound formula
Education Law Center Press Release February 28, 2013

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

“The critics scoffed when Shannon and Watkins announced their plans to lure kids back into district schools. They’re not laughing anymore.”
Editorial: Persuasive power fills desks of Chester Upland schools
Delco Times Published: Thursday, September 05, 2013
They rang in a new era in the Chester Upland School District on Tuesday.  Literally.
The glorious sound of bells marked the start of another school year in the district that is struggling mightily to reverse decades of declines.  A small group of school officials and dignitaries were on hand to greet students as they headed back to the classroom.  Among them was new Superintendent Gregory Shannon. If the new boss was smiling, it was with good reason.

Can for-profit education rescue Camden's kids?
WILLIAM BENDER, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5255 POSTED: Thursday, September 5, 2013, 12:16 AM
CSMI, the firm that runs the Chester and Camden schools, is a for-profit company founded by Vahan Gureghian, a politically connected Gladwyne lawyer who donated more than $300,000 to Gov. Corbett's gubernatorial campaign and served on the education committee of his transition team. CSMI has fought to prevent public disclosure of its finances - including how much taxpayer money ultimately goes to company officials. The company has argued that, unlike public schools or some other charter schools, its finances are a "trade secret" or "confidential information," because CSMI is a private company managing a school, and not a school itself. In 2009, Gureghian attorney Edmond George - listed in public records as a founder of the Camden Community Charter School - sought to silence the Inquirer by asking a judge to order the paper to "refrain from public comments" about the company, the school or Gureghian. The motion was denied. In a separate matter, a CSMI lawyer tried unsuccessfully to bar a reporter from an arbitration hearing in open court.

Over the past 3 years this has been one of the most frequently visited links on the Keystone State Education Coalition website:
Follow the Money: Contributions by Vahan Gureghian 1/1/07 - 5/31/11

NAACP joins fight against Keystone Exams
By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp September 04, 2013
The Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches became the latest group to oppose the use of state exams as graduation requirements, arguing they are a human rights violation that denies students the opportunity to develop their potential.
The NAACP mailed a statement Tuesday to the Pennsylvania Board of Education, urging it to reject a proposal requiring that students pass a series of Keystone Examinations before graduating. The board is expected to vote Sept. 12 on the proposal, which mandates students pass state exams in algebra, biology and English literature in order to graduate.
“One examination cannot identify whether or not a human being has learned well,” said Joan Duvall-Flynn, chair of the state NAACP Education Committee. “One test cannot do that. Some people don’t do well on paper and pencil tests, but they can demonstrate knowledge and they can use the information.”

Letter from the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches regarding the Keystone Exams

Philly teachers' union to pull new ad attacking Mayor Nutter
WHYY Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein September 4, 2013
The Philadelphia teachers' union said it is putting on hold a new ad that blasts Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett over the school district's budget woes.  George Jackson, spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said the union has made the decision because Nutter and PFT president Jerry Jordan have scheduled a private meeting this week.
"We think we got [Nutter's] attention," said Jackson. "In the interest of fostering a productive dialogue, for right now, we're going to suspend the ads."

School districts, teachers at a loss for solution to labor strikes
Laws, tax limits hinder negotiations
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 5, 2013 12:27 am
Gone are the days when teachers stayed on strike until their contracts were settled and school boards could raise taxes to fund the agreements.  Now, it's not uncommon for negotiations to go far beyond the expiration dates -- in some cases several years -- before a settlement is reached.
The reason: financial pressures on districts that include drops in state and federal funding, large hikes in pension contributions and state-imposed limits on raising taxes, coupled with a state law governing contract negotiations that has no real teeth.

Seven facts you should know about new Common Core tests
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: September 4 at 2:21 pm
The Common Core State Standards now being implemented in most states and the District of Columbia will soon be accompanied by new standardized tests being developed by two multi-state consortia — the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) — with $360 million in federal funds. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said repeatedly that he expects these exams, due to be rolled out in 2014-15, to go beyond the familiar multiple-choice standardized tests students have been forced to take for more than a decade and to be an “absolute game-changer in public education.”
Is he right? Not so much. Here are seven myths and realities about the new tests, from FairTest, or The National Center for Fair & Open Testing,  a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized tests. You can find more here on FairTest’s website.

The Wrong Kind of Education Reform
Three new books decimate the case for charter schools and vouchers.
Slate By David L. Kirp Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, at 1:16 PM
The case for market-driven reforms in education rests on two key premises: The public school system is in crisis, and the solution is to let the market pick winners and losers. Market strategies—high-stakes teacher accountability, merit pay, shuttering “failing” schools—are believed to be essential if public schools are ever going to get better. And these maxims underlie the commitment to charter schools and vouchers. Freed from the dead hand of bureaucracy and the debilitating effects of school board politics, the argument runs, schools are free to innovate.
If you follow education debates, you’ve heard that again and again. Here’s what’s new: A spate of new books undercuts both propositions, simply decimating the argument for privatizing education.

“Education Nation is a magnificent concept, and always has been. But so long as the very FACTS that guide the discussions are drawn from the Gates Foundation, and Gates grant recipients are the chief experts featured, we do not have a true dialogue, a real debate about the future of education in America. We have instead a showcase for test-driven school reform, with some cameo appearances by real educators who sometimes are allowed to strike a note of skepticism.”
Education Nation, 2013: Will NBC News Use the Gates Foundation's Facts Again? Or Can We Get a Real Dialogue Going?
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on September 4, 2013 10:57 AM
NBC News will be presenting, for the fourth time, several days of programming focused on education. Education Nation will take to the airwaves from October 6 to 8, broadcasting from the New York Public Library.

Mexico Passes a Weakened Bill to Evaluate Teachers
New York Times By KARLA ZABLUDOVSKY Published: September 4, 2013
MEXICO CITY — Mexico took a major step this week toward instituting evaluations of public schoolteachers and ending their practice of buying and inheriting their posts, but analysts said violent protests by teachers had led Congress to include provisions in the new legislation that might undermine the overhaul.  Shoring up the flagging education system has been a pillar of PresidentEnrique Peña Nieto’s efforts to advance the country economically and move more people into the middle class. Analysts had closely watched the progress of the legislation as a sign of his ability to move forward on revamping the telecommunications and energy industries.

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 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).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.