Friday, October 11, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 11, 2013: Coalition to Corbett: Fund schools, develop formula

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 11, 2013:
Coalition to Corbett: Fund schools, develop formula

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.

Coalition to Corbett: Fund schools, develop formula
A coalition of civil- and human-rights groups has urged Gov. Corbett to release state funds for Philadelphia's cash-strapped schools and develop a new funding formula for education.
"This crisis quickly has become an embarrassment to the entire nation," leaders from 10 local, state, and national organizations wrote in a letter to the governor scheduled to be released Friday.
"Over the last several years, Philadelphia has become a cautionary tale for the rest of the country, illustrating the harm that occurs when political posturing and irresponsible budget decisions trump the educational needs of students, families, and communities," said the letter, sent to Corbett Tuesday.  Leaders who signed the document said the district's $300 million deficit was "largely created" by Corbett and the legislature's decision to slash $1 billion in statewide aid for schools in 2011 and abandon a statewide formula that had been designed to provide resources to the districts and schools with the neediest students.

Did Philly school crisis claim a girl's life?
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2013, 4:48 PM
There's a disturbing story that's getting a fair amount of attention today -- and deservedly so. As first reported by Daniel Denvir of the City Paper, a 12-year-old with severe asthma fell ill at one of the Philadelphia schools that lost a full-time nurse this fall because of the current funding crisis. The 6th-grader was simply sent home -- and died from complications after she was rushed to an emergency room:

Sixth-grader's death adds to fears over Philly layoffs of school nurses
In late September, a Bryant Elementary School sixth-grader died from asthma complications. Her parents and Philadelphia school administrators have offered conflicting accounts of the incident.
In the wake of the child's death, asthma educators are concerned about the impact reduced staffing will have on medical emergencies that occur at school.

Two shuttered Philly school libraries to reopen
ROBERT MORAN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Thursday, October 10, 2013, 8:39 PM
PHILADELPHIA Two school libraries, shuttered last month due to budget cuts, will reopen Tuesday after a donation from an anonymous donor.  As The Inquirer reported last month, Central High and Masterman, two of the city's most prestigious schools, closed their libraries because the district did not fund librarians.

State school achievement data posted online
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Megan Harris  Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
State Education officials on Wednesday posted on the web rankings of 3,000 Pennsylvania schools, but scores gauging academic achievement and other performance measures for 573 schools were missing.  The release is part of the implementation of School Performance Profiles, which are designed to compare schools by enrollment, graduation rates, test scores and other factors. The system assigns a number grade from 1 to 100; with extra credit, the score may be as high as 107.  Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq said previously that she chose not to further delay posting incomplete data, in part, to meet federal deadlines for Title 1 funding to schools with high populations of low-income children.
Reactions mixed to new school-evaluation system
By Brad Rhen Lebanon Daily News UPDATED:   10/09/2013 01:23:58 PM EDT
Lebanon County superintendents had a mixed reaction to the new school-evaluation system unveiled recently by the state Department of Education.
The School Performance Profiles, released by the PDE on Oct. 4, are designed to show the academic performance of the state's 3,200 traditional, charter, cyber and technical schools.
The SPPs replace the previous school-grading system known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, which rated only the state's traditional public schools based solely on standardized-test results. The state is no longer required to use AYP to evaluate schools because it received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law earlier this year.

Allentown School District custodians accept three-year wage freeze
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on October 10, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Allentown School District custodians and maintenance workers have agreed to a wage freeze for the next three years.  In exchange, their new contract expressly prohibits the district from outsourcing those employees, except those who leave via attrition.
The district had sought information in Julyabout how much it would cost to outsource custodial services for all or some of its 22 school buildings and other facilities.
But the new three-year contract states that none of the current 103 employees can be replaced that way, a provision previous contracts never contained.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul: 'Leveling' Philly schools in the time of budget crisis
It's gone from bad to worse.  Packed classrooms. Lack of a full-time guidance counselor. No education in arts or music. Those were the complaints of parents at South Philadelphia's A.S. Jenks elementary school through the first month of school.
And now this.
On Monday, parents received word that that the district was removing another teacher from their school – this in addition to the teacher they lost to layoffs in June.  As a result, the K-4 school will now serve its first through fourth grades only with classes that combine multiple grade-levels in one classroom.  Every first-grader will be in a class with second-graders. Some third-graders will be combined with fourth-graders; others will be with second-graders. Only the school's kindergarten students will not be affected.

Board president steps down at scandal-ridden PA Cyber school
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 11, 2013 12:38 am
The man who guided the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School's board through a year of probes and staff turmoil resigned late Thursday, and the board accepted the resignation against the backdrop of an apparent state review of educational benefits provided to his daughter.
David Jaskiewicz, who had been on the board for at least five years and served as its president during a federal investigation of its founder and vendors, was not at the special board meeting at which his resignation was accepted. After the meeting, the online school's attorney provided a two-line email, dated Thursday afternoon, from Mr. Jaskiewicz tendering his resignation. It provided no reason.

Pa. Cyber School releases new details on legal costs
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 9, 2013 4:57 pm
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School today released documents further chronicling nearly half a million dollars in spending on legal bills spurred by the federal grand jury probe of its founder and various subcontractors.  The Post-Gazette reported Monday that the online public school, based in the Beaver County town of Midland, hired attorneys to protect its interests, those of founder Nick Trombetta who resigned from his post of CEO in June 2012, and those of seven employees.

Trombetta’s sister admits filing false tax return
Lisbon, Ohio Morning Journal News October 10, 2013
PITTSBURGH - The sister of indicted Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta, pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing a false income tax return at a hearing in U.S. District Court, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  When Elaine Trombetta Neill, 56, of Aliquippa, was asked by U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, whether she falsified her 2010 tax return, including in it income that she did not earn and expenses she did not incur, she said, "Yes, your honor," the Post-Gazette reported.
Assistant U.S. attorney James Wilson outlined the evidence in a lengthy summary aimed squarely at Trombetta.

PPG Editorial: Defense spending: A cyber school should not cover lawbreakers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial October 11, 2013 12:10 am
Due to an ongoing investigation and criminal charges filed against its founder, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School spent nearly half a million dollars on legal fees in the past year. That's bad news for the taxpayers, all across Pennsylvania, who fund the public school.
Even worse is the realization that any repayment to the school may not come for a long time, if ever.

Social Darwinism Resurrected for the New Gilded Age
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on October 10, 2013 2:20 PM
Over at the Bridging Differences blog, a fascinating dialogue is occurring, where Michael Petrilli has been laying out the philosophical arguments for a two tier educational system. I appreciate Mr. Petrilli, because while some reformers hide their intentions behind mushy rhetoric, he has laid out his argument plainly, where it can be debated.
His latest attempts are to be found in his recent post, The Especially Deserving Poor
Here he builds on a theme he sounded last January, when he wrote in defense of high expulsion rates for DC charter schools, suggesting that these schools were "serving the strivers,"   and thus should be allowed to cast off the less motivated or compliant students.

PA Budget and Policy Center Fall Webinar Series to Tackle Property Taxes, Marcellus Shale, Health Care, Education
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on October 9, 2013
Pack your brown bag lunch and join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for a great series of noontime webinars this fall — starting Friday, October 18 from noon to 1 p.m. Learn more about the problems with legislative proposals to fully eliminate property taxes and proven strategies to provide property tax relief where it is needed. Other topics include the countdown to new health care options in 2014, the latest on jobs in the Marcellus Shale, and what we can do to restore needed education funding in Pennsylvania. Each webinar is designed to provide you with the information you need to shape the debate in the State Capitol.
More info and registration here:

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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