Monday, October 14, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 14, 2013: $1 million a day

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 14, 2013:
$1 million a day



THE HISTORY OF SCHOOL FUNDING IN PENNSYLVANIA 1682 - 2013
The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Written by Janice Bissett and Arnold Hillman Updated September 2013



Did you catch our weekend postings?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 12, 2013:
“The lack of staffing due to a deliberate withholding of funding is not just a disgrace. It is dangerous and it is unsustainable.”

 “The way New Jersey funds schools today is largely the result of legal cases going back to the 1970s. The state's Supreme Court has been very specific in ordering the legislature to fully fund schools, and to make sure that the state's 31 poorest receive more money -- recognizing that they have greater needs. Those are the so-called former "Abbott" districts, named after the Jersey City schoolboy who was the lead plaintiff in the funding case known as Abbott v. Burke.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has also over the years required the state to fund full-day preschool for all three- and four-year-olds in the state.”
The argument over fair funding continues; some look to N.J. for a better way
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 11 2013
Across the river in New Jersey, the neediest school districts have more money per student to spend, not less, than their nearby and generally better-off neighbors that surround them.
What a concept.  This is directly opposite to the situation in Pennsylvania, where wealthy districts spend more, and the gap is growing.  And where Philadelphia, the state's largest city, is so starved for funds that its schools lack counselors, librarians, full-time nurses, and other basic services, as Gov. Corbett's administration is holding back $45 million in allocated state funds while awaiting reforms in the teachers' contract.

“And yet $1 million a day - $360 million a year - is roughly what the Philadelphia School District would have in its budget if a 2008 plan for fairer funding of Pennsylvania schools had been kept in place.”
DN Editorial: $1 million a day
Philly Daily News Editorial Monday, October 14, 2013, 3:01 AM
A MILLION dollars a day. Imagine what a different place the Philadelphia School District might be in with $1 million more a day. Not only could schools have counselors, nurses, art teachers, music teachers and libraries, but the district's management priorities would shift to academic progress rather than the panicked lurch from one crisis to the next.
And yet $1 million a day - $360 million a year - is roughly what the Philadelphia School District would have in its budget if a 2008 plan for fairer funding of Pennsylvania schools had been kept in place. This is based on an estimate by John Myers, of APA Consulting, the firm that did the original school "costing out" study for the state. His estimate of $360 million that "might have been" came during a school funding symposium held in City Hall last week; many experts claim that that's way too low a figure.

“Above Philadelphia is Lower Merion School District. One of its two high schools is Harriton HS. Harriton HS has 1188 kids and four full-time nurses. Science Leadership Academy has 490 kids, and we have a nurse two days a week. This year, the average per pupil expenditure in Philadelphia hovers just under $10,000 per child while Lower Merion is able to spend over $25,000 per child. The way we fund schools in this state is criminal, and it has to change.”
Dear Gov. Corbett – How Many Kids Must Die?
Practical Theory Blog by Chris Lehmann Posted on October 10, 2013
Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA.
You aren’t allowed to be surprised by this.
Laporshia Massey died on September 25th after having an asthma attack at school. According to thearticle in City Paper, it was close to the end of the day, the school called home for advice, and dad told his daughter that they’d deal with it when she got home. She got home, and Dad realized how serious the problem was, and rushed her to the hospital. It wasn’t enough, and Laporshia died later that day.
You aren’t allowed to be surprised by this.
Bryant Elementary doesn’t have a full-time nurse, and the 25th wasn’t one of the days their nurse was staffed at their school. The school called home, a teacher drove her home at the end of the day, so it is not as if the school did nothing. And in case anyone thinks they could have / should have seen this tragedy coming, you should know how hard it is as a lay-person to make the call to call 911.

6 Delco schools targeted for help after getting low performance tag
By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 10/12/13, 10:50 PM EDT
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is dispatching academic recovery liaisons to assist 92 schools being dubbed as priority schools under the new Pennsylvania School Performance Profile evaluating standards.  The 92 priority schools on the list released by PDE last week do not exactly represent the lowest-performing schools in the state. Rather, the schools were determined by a mixture of several factors, including poor performance on standardized tests and whether they can receive federal aid for either high concentrations of low-income students or poor test scores.

Easton Area High, South Mountain Middle schools to get academic help from state liaisons
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times  on October 12, 2013 at 6:02 PM
A pair of Lehigh Valley schools with students who are struggling academically will get some extra help from the state later this year.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is assigning academic recovery liaisons to Title 1 schools that fall in the bottom 5 percent statewide based on students' scores in math and reading on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams or in algebra and literature on Keystone Exams, department officials said this week.
These schools received a federal "priority" designation, and Easton Area High School in Palmer Township and South Mountain Middle School in Allentown are among them, officials said.

State plans to re-check test score answers
Luzerne County Citizens Voice BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER, STAFF WRITER October 13, 2013
The state is recalculating the school performance score released for the Greater Nanticoke Area High School, according to Joe Long, principal of the Greater Nanticoke Area Educational Center and K.M. Smith Elementary School.  On Oct. 4, the state Department of Education released the new School Performance Profiles, which give public schools in the state an overall score from 0 to 100, plus seven possible extra-credit points. The Greater Nanticoke Area High School received a score of 59.3, the second lowest of 31 schools in the county with posted marks.
The recalculation is due to a glitch involving evaluations of Keystone Exams, Long said at Thursday's school board meeting.  "They counted in all the Keystone Exams taken in the high school last year, and they shouldn't have," Long said. "The only ones that should've been counted are from kids who took a Keystone course."
The state didn't post scores from other high schools in the county with the Keystone Exam problem, Long said. A total of 15 schools in Luzerne County did not have posted scores.

Book Review by Eleanor Chute at PPG:
Diane Ravitch's 'Reign of Error': an in-your-face defense of public education
'The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools'
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 13, 2013 12:17 am
Education historian Diane Ravitch has produced a book that could make anyone from parents to policy wonks think twice about the direction American public schools are going.
Ms. Ravitch, 75, a former assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush and now research professor of education at New York University, was once a proponent of testing and school choice, but she had an epiphany in 2006 when she realized the school choices she had been supporting didn't work.
That epiphany resulted in the 2010 book "Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education."
This time, Ms. Ravitch has written "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools."

TribLive Opinion: It would be a bad idea to replace property taxes to pay for public schools
The Tribune-Review By Ray Richman Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Ray Richman is a professor emeritus of public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a real estate tax consultant to the City of Philadelphia and the State Tax Equalization Board. He directed the preparation in 1971 of the commonwealth's “Assessors Handbook.”
No one who has studied the economics of the real estate tax would advocate its abolition and the substitution of any other tax for it. Yet some local governments in Allegheny County want to do just that. And some conservatives would abolish it, too.
The real estate tax is the only tax local governments levy that does not cause people or businesses to flee the taxing jurisdiction; it is more progressive than a sales tax; the burden cannot be shifted to others, neither tenants nor prospective buyers; and it is economical to administer.  The only trouble with it is that it is often abused by politicians and frequently badly administered. But bad administration is almost always caused by political interference with the assessment process.
Lawmaker wants online courses offered at all Pa. middle and high schools
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON OCTOBER 13, 2013
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.
Rep. Ryan Aument wants to make all school districts offer such classes to students in grades six through 12. The first step, he said, is getting the state to make a database of vetted cyber courses.

Teens get free passes to Philly museums
WHYY Newsworks BY EMMA JACOBS OCTOBER 14, 2013
Philadelphia teens can now visit the city's museums for free. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is giving out museum passes good for admission to 12 of the city's most popular cultural institutions.  More than 1,600 young people have signed up online for the passes in the first week of the STAMP program.  Adrienne Whaley, curator of education and public programming at the African American Museum of Philadelphia, said she hopes the passes will get teens who haven't come to the museum before to visit.

Easton Area School District official wants high-tech recording devices on school buses
By Peter Panepinto | The Express-Times  on October 13, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Easton Area School District buses might have digital recording devices by the time students return from holiday break next year.  Chief Operating Officer Mike Simonetta proposes that the district replace its school bus camera equipment with digital recorders by about January. He said about 50 or 60 of the district's 95 active buses still operate using VHS recorders.

Don't forget the key role these people play in your child's education: PennLive letters
PennLive Letters to the Editor  by WILLIAM R. HARTMAN, JR., PAESSP Executive Director, on October 12, 2013 at 7:26 AM
The Senate of Pennsylvania has recognized October as National Principals’ Month. In their proclamation, they recognize the vital importance of principals as educational visionaries, instructional and assessment leaders, disciplinarians, community builders, budget analysts, facilities managers and administrators of legal and contractual obligations.
Despite the general recognition of the important role principals play in creating effective schools, most of us only have a vague idea about what principals actually do. Many retain the mythological vision of a man, sitting in his office, waiting to punish unruly students.

Elementary students learn keyboard typing ahead of new Common Core tests
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton, Published: October 13
The 7-year-olds in Natalie May’s class have to stretch their fingers across the keyboards to reach “ASDF” and “JKL;” as they listen to the animated characters on their computer screens talk about “home keys.”  “After 15 minutes, some of them will say their fingers are hurting, so we take a break,” said May, a Phoenix educator who began teaching typing to second-graders this school year.  Of the major shifts taking place in American classrooms as a result of the new national Common Core academic standards, one little-noticed but sweeping change is the fact that children as early as kindergarten are learning to use a keyboard.  A skill that has been taught for generations in middle or high school — first on manual typewriters, then electric word processors and finally on computer keyboards — is now becoming a staple of elementary schools. Educators around the country are rushing to teach typing to children who have barely mastered printing by hand.

Concerns Arise Over Privacy of Schoolchildren's Data
Pittdburgh Post-Gazette By NATASHA SINGER / The New York Times October 13, 2013 6:01 pm
A leading children's advocacy group is challenging the $8 billion educational technology software industry to develop national safeguards for the personal data collected about students from kindergarten through high school.  In a letter sent last week to 16 educational technology vendors -- including Google Apps for Education, Samsung School, Scholastic and Pearson Schoolnet -- Common Sense Media, an advocacy group in San Francisco that rates children's videos and apps for age appropriateness, urged the industry to use student data only for educational purposes, and not for marketing products to children or their families.

Mercedes Schneider Explains: Who Paid for the Common Core Standards
Huffington Post by Diane Ravitch Posted: 10/10/2013 3:14 pm
Mercedes Schneider has undertaken an immense task. She decided to spend her free time -- when she is not teaching -- trying to figure out how much the Gates Foundation paid various organizations to write, develop, implement, promote, and advocate for the Common Core standards.  This is a herculean job because the foundation has been so free-handed with its money. To its credit, the Gates Foundation has a website that enables researchers to identify their grants over time. At a certain point, as you go through the list of who got how much money to "promote" the CCSS, you start to wonder "who DIDN'T get Gates money?"


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: http://pennbpc.org/webinars

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. BuildingOnePa.org

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

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