Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 10, 2013: What crisis? If PA had not scrapped ed funding formula in 2011 Philly would have received $360 million more this year.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 10, 2013:
What crisis? If PA had not scrapped ed funding formula in 2011 Philly would have received $360 million more this year.

Standardized test scores have long been strongly correlated with students’ household incomeIn 1979, 300 of Pennsylvania’s school districts were above the average for personal income and 201 were below.  In 2011, 122 school districts were above the average with 378 school districts below.

At symposium, a call for state education funding formula
If the Pennsylvania Legislature had not scrapped a statewide education-funding formula in 2011 it had approved three years earlier, the Philadelphia School District would have received $360 million more in state aid this year and would not be in a fiscal crisis now, an expert said Wednesday.  Instead of facing the $304 million deficit that led to the layoff of thousands of employees in June, Philadelphia's schools "would be beginning to get back into the game," John Myers, a national school-funding consultant involved in creating Pennsylvania's 2008 formula, said at a school-funding symposium.  The City Hall event was hosted by the Mayor's Office of Education and the Education Law Center in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and Education Voters Pennsylvania.

Closings part of Pittsburgh Public Schools cost-saving proposal
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 10, 2013 12:30 am
Pittsburgh Public Schools board member Mark Brentley Sr. had a direct question for Superintendent Linda Lane: Are you planning to close Manchester K-8 next year?
Ms. Lane said she doesn't have an answer to that question -- or any others about which schools she might recommend closing as part of the district's efforts to cut costs and improve education.
She plans to present to the board next month a wide-ranging proposal drawn from the envisioning process for which foundations have paid $2.4 million for consultants to assist the district.

In Bethlehem, new state rankings underscore link between poverty and low scores
Allentown Morning Call By Meghan Walbert, Special to The Morning Call 11:03 a.m. EDT, October 8, 2013
Bethlehem Area schools with a high percentage of students on free or reduced lunch were the same schools that received the district's lowest scores under the state's new performance measurement system.  Assistant Superintendent Jack Silva presented the information to school board members during a curriculum committee meeting Monday night, on the heels of the state's Oct. 4 release of its School Performance Profiles.  Each school across the state was scored on a 0-100 scale. Six Bethlehem Area schools received a score lower than 70, the number acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq has called a benchmark of success.
Of those six schools, five have the largest percentages of students on free or reduced lunch in the district: Marvine Elementary (91 percent), Donegan Elementary (89 percent), Broughal Middle School (88 percent), Fountain Hill Elementary (85 percent) and Freemansburg Elementary (82 percent).  The sixth school, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, has 64 percent of students on free or reduced lunch – not among the highest in the district but still significant.
"There is a strong correlation," Silva told curriculum committee members. "That's not an excuse. It just means we need to try harder to move those students forward."
“Philadelphia Futures distributes more than 40,000 copies of the guide free of charge to all public, public charter and parochial high schools in Philadelphia. A PDF version of the guide is available on the Philadelphia Futures website.”
Philadelphia Futures releases 24th annual college guide
by thenotebook on Oct 09 2013 by Isaac Riddle
Applying to college can be a frustrating process for high school students, especially when many schools, like those in the School District of Philadelphia, are without a full-time guidance counselor.  But Philadelphia Futures is hoping to help fill the gap with the release of its 24th annual edition of the Step Up to College: Guide to the College Preparation, Application, Admissions and Financial Aid Processes

Tax break for seniors offered by Pennsylvania Senate majority leader
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Brad Bumsted Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 11:54 p.m.
HARRISBURG — In the latest wrinkle in a decades-old debate, the state Senate majority leader proposes freezing senior citizens' school property taxes and possibly paying for it by legalizing video lottery games.  Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, wants to freeze property taxes for homeowners 65 and older, whose fixed incomes typically are affected the most by rising real estate taxes. Legalizing keno-style lottery games is one potential source to pay for the freeze, Pileggi suggests.

Analysis: Property tax replacement revenue falls short
Scranton Times-Tribune BY ROBERT SWIFT (HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF) Published: October 9, 2013
HARRISBURG - A new fiscal analysis of a school property tax elimination bill released on the heels of a House vote shows a sizeable revenue shortfall developing for school districts even when replacement revenues from two expanded state taxes are factored in.
The estimated revenue shortfall would reach $900 million in fiscal 2015-16 - the second year of operation - and steadily increase in the next several years if the bills as currently written are enacted this fall by lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett, according to the analysis just released by the state Independent Fiscal Office.

House bill would expand cyber ed throughout PA
WITF Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 8, 2013 8:46 PM
A plan to make online courses available to middle school and high school students in Pennsylvania is before the state House.  Online education in the commonwealth has been limited, for the most part, to cyber charter schools and a few brick-and-mortar schools. But Rep. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) wants to make all school districts offer such classes to students in grades six through 12.

Pocono Mountain Charter school founder sentenced to 10 months prison for tax evasion
Morning Call by Peter Hall October 9, 2013 (paywall)
Reverend Dennis Bloom of Pocono Mountain Charter gets 10 months prison for tax evasion.

Turning Education Upside Down
“Flipped schools,” where students watch video lessons at home and do homework in class, are showing early promise in improving learning.
NY Times Opinion By TINA ROSENBERG October 9, 2013
Fixes looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.
Three years ago, Clintondale High School, just north of Detroit, became a “flipped school” — one where students watch teachers’ lectures at home and do what we’d otherwise call “homework” in class. Teachers record video lessons, which students watch on their smartphones, home computers or at lunch in the school’s tech lab. In class, they do projects, exercises or lab experiments in small groups while the teacher circulates.
Clintondale was the first school in the United States to flip completely — all of its classes are now taught this way. Now flipped classrooms are popping up all over. Havana High School outside of Peoria, Ill., is flipping, too, after the school superintendent visited Clintondale. The principal of Clintondale says that some 200 school officials have visited.

Buffalo NY Forum on testing reform draws 2,500 vocal teachers, parents and administrators
Speakers make case to legislators
The Buffalo News By Dale Anderson | News Staff Reporter October 2, 2013 - 11:40 PM
Reform of high-stakes testing for schoolchildren, a groundswell movement of lawn signs and small-scale protests, became an earthquake Wednesday evening.
The Summit for Smarter Schools, organized by a group called the Partnership for Smarter Schools and hosted by State Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo; Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo; and State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, filled Kleinhans Music Hall with more than 2,500 parents, teachers and school administrators.  Cheers erupted as Kennedy and Ryan called out the names of districts represented in the audience. It sounded like a school closing list in the middle of a blizzard, encompassing schools from Barker to Allegany-Limestone, with a couple from the Rochester area thrown in for good measure.
“We’ve had a lot of quote-unquote educational reform in the past decades aimed at poor schools in the cities,” Ryan said before the session started, “but now all schools are feeling the pain, regardless of their previous performance. This is why you see a lot of suburban parents here tonight. They’re all being treated poorly. They’re mad about these tests.”

Notes on the Seniority Smokescreen
School Finance 101 Posted on October 9, 2013
Data and thoughts on public and private school funding in the U.S. by Bruce D. Baker
Seniority, in the modern reformy lexicon, is among the dirtiest words. Senior teachers are not only ineffective and greedy and never put interest of the children over their own, but they are in fact downright evil, a persistent drain on state and local economies and a threat to our national security! By contrast, “effectiveness” is good and since seniority and effectiveness are presumed entirely unassociated, the simple solution is to replace any reference to seniority in current education policies with measures of “effectiveness.”
If only it was so simple. This modern reformy mantra grossly misinterprets the relationship between seniority and effectiveness, presumes currently available measures of effectiveness to be more useful than they really are at sorting “good” from “bad” teachers, ignores that the proposed solutions have in many cases been found NOT to solve the supposed problem, and is oblivious to the broader literature on teacher labor markets, compensation and the quality of the teaching workforce.

Charter School Defenders Insist They are "Private Entities"
Education Week Living In Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on October 7, 2013 5:26 PM
Over the past several years we have become accustomed to hearing that "Charter schools are public schools too," from advocates of their expansion.  However, when anyone attempts to subject these schools to any sort of regulatory oversight, this designation is often the first thing to be discarded. Case in point? A California couple, Yevgeny "Eugene" Selivanov and Tatyana Berkovich, who were convicted in April of multiple counts of fraud related to their practice of using their charter school bank account for personal expenses and thousands of dollars worth of meals.   According to the LA School Report,  The couple is appealing their conviction, however, asserting that this amounts to a misunderstanding over the nature of charter school finances. An amicus brief has been filed in the case by the California Charter Schools Association, which urges the appeals court to set aside the conviction on numerous grounds. 
 The table of contents of the Amicus brief enumerates the reasons charter school operators should not be subject to this sort of oversight:

How the government shutdown impacts public education
The Edifier – Center for Public Education October 2, 2013
When the federal government shutdown on October 1st, the Department of Education (ED) was forced to make substantial changes. According to its website, ED consists of about 4,225 staff members; On the morning of the shutdown, all but 212, a little more than 5%, were furloughed. Such a large portion of dismissed employees necessitates an exploration of how public school services, families and students will be impacted. As it turns out, the severity of the consequences depends on the length of the government shutdown.

NSBA leaders bring local school boards message to NBC’s Education Nation
NSBA’s School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min October 9th, 2013
National School Boards Association (NSBA) leaders participated in NBC’s Education Nation Summit this week, bringing NSBA’s message that local governance matters to a wide audience that included governors, foundations, business leaders, researchers and practitioners.
This year’s summit incorporated a student-centered “What it Takes” theme, with panel discussions on how to ensure all students are prepared for success in K-12, higher education, and careers. NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel and President David A. Pickler were among the more than 300 attendees invited to the event.

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.

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. 

Philadelphia Education Fund 2013 EDDY Awards November 19, 2013
Join us as we celebrate their accomplishments!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm WHYY, 150 North 6th Street, Philadelphia
Invitations coming soon!

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

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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