Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 7, 2013: Feds want data protected in Trombetta cyber charter fraud case

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 7, 2013:
Feds want data protected in Trombetta cyber charter fraud case

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: 

PA Auditor General wants misused funds recouped
PhilyTrib Written by  Damon C. Williams Thursday, 05 September 2013 16:47
While the Philadelphia School District grapples with its mandated funding of charter schools in the city as part of its overall financial strategy, State Auditor General Eugene DePasuale has called on the Pennsylvania Department of Education to recoup nearly $2 million in improper lease reimbursements to seven charter schools throughout the commonwealth.

“When Trombetta and Prence were arraigned last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar said a tap on one phone yielded so much evidence that investigators set up a database to track it.
One use of a protective order is to prevent defendants and their lawyers from sharing information the government gathered on other people during an investigation.”
Feds want data protected in Trombetta cyber charter fraud case
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Brian Bowling  Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The federal government has some information in the Nick Trombetta case that is so sensitive that it doesn't want the public to know it exists, according to a court document filed Friday.
A federal grand jury on Aug. 23 indicted the founder of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and his accountant, Neal Prence, on fraud and tax-evasion conspiracy charges. By law, prosecutors have to let the pair and their attorney see the evidence that will be used against them.
School districts, teachers at a loss for solution to labor strikes
Laws, tax limits hinder negotiations
By Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday, September 05, 2013
Shaler Area teachers walk a picket line Tuesday morning in front of the district offices and middle school on Mount Royal Boulevard.
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.

“Also add these to this list of what's missing: a full-time guidance counselor in every school, an assistant principal in every school. Extracurricular activities outside of fall sports.  So what is the district promising? Classrooms across the city packed to the contracted maximum.”
Short on teachers, aides and copy paper, Philly schools prepare to open anyway
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry, @bykevinmccorry September 6, 2013
With classes set to begin Monday morning, here's the on-the-ground view of what life in a traditional Philadelphia public school looks like:  Fewer staff. More students. Basic supplies at a premium. Money for discretionary spending non-existent.  For a school district that's closed 24 schools and shed 3,000 staffers over the past few months, it's the most contentious school opening in recent memory.

Swaps to come under PA Senate panel scrutiny
WITF Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 5, 2013 7:12 PM
A bipartisan group of state senators is trying to rid Pennsylvania of the use of complex financial agreements known as interest rate swaps.
Interest rate swaps have been maligned in recent years as the unnecessary bringer of woe, as governments saw cash cows turn to dollar drags when they were blindsided by the 2007 credit crisis, and then the recession of 2008. The instruments were illegal for local government entities across the commonwealth until a 2003 law signed by former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
"There have been examples of where it has succeeded, but you only need to get it wrong once before taxpayers are on the hook for a bad decision or bad risk," said Fred Sembach, chief of staff for Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon). Folmer is sponsoring a measure to eliminate the use of swaps among government entities and municipal authorities.

Property taxes, education funding subject of Monday, Sept. 9th hearing at MCCC
By Evan Brandt Thursday, 09/05/13 04:37 pm
POTTSTOWN — The House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss property taxes and “education funding cuts” at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus South Hall on College Drive.
“The committee will hear from stakeholders — including school board members, superintendents, education advocates and the AARP — who will discuss education funding cuts and their impact on property taxes,” according to information posted on the Facebook page of state Rep. Mark Painter, D-146th Dist.  Painter, requested the hearing and will serve as co-chairman, according to information provided by the office of state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-96th Dist., the Lancaster representative who chairs the House Democratic Policy Committee.

Philly: 5 Questions We Have Going Into the New School Year
Our City Our Schools
The 2013-2014 school year is less than a week away and a new school year always brings potential and excitement for the thousands of students, parents and staff embarking on another 9 months of learning. This year brings added uncertainty, however, as a historic budget crisis and an extensive school closure initiative looms over the School District of Philadelphia. Here are five questions we have about the state of public education in Philadelphia going into this new year.

The public and public schools in four charts
Center for Public Education by Patte Barth The Edifier September 6, 2013
It’s September and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for competing polls about what Americans think about public education.  True to form, with all the asking — and in some cases, prodding — anyone can sift through the results and find support for their own agendas.  Like charter schools? We’ve got that covered. Don’t want school choice? We have that, too.  Here is my attempt to dig a little deeper into recent polls to uncover what the public is really telling us underneath the numbers.
I relied primarily on three national polls published over the last three months: Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup(PDK/Gallup, September 2013), Associated Press-NORC (AP/NORC, August 2013) and the American Federation of Teachers/Hart Research Associates (AFT/Hart, July 2013).  PDK and AFT are associations representing educators. Their reports should therefore be read with that lens in mind. Nonetheless, all three are associated with reputable pollsters giving them a level of credibility lacking in some other surveys conducted by interest groups. The PDK/Gallup has the longest history. Their recent poll was the partnership’s 45th release.

Ohio: Charters No Better Than Public Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav September 6, 2013 //
The accountability hawks thought that tests and report cards would help to display the failure of urban public schools and pave the way for more privatization via charters. What they didn’t anticipate, however, was that the charter schools would do no better than the public schools–and by their own measures, far worse.
Test case, Ohio.
On the A-F report cards (a favorite of the reformers), nearly 90% of the charters were graded either D or F. These were supposed to be schools that produced spectacular results by dint of freedom from regulation and unions. They didn’t. Embarrassingly, the Ohio charters had a lower graduation rate.
The charter experiment is not working on Ohio, although it is making a few people very rich.

Public hearing to examine public education funding cuts Tuesday, Sept. 10th in Philadelphia
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
The hearing is open to the public and media coverage is invited.

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. 
Thursday evening September 12th, 7 to 9 p.m. @ Kings Caterers, 4010 New Falls Road, Bristol

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 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).


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