Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 16, 2013: Property tax reform a mixed bag for PA schools, businesses

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 16, 2013:
Property tax reform a mixed bag for PA schools, businesses

The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Written by Janice Bissett and Arnold Hillman Updated September 2013

Core Standards, lack of aid strain Pa. schools by SARA NEUFELD, HECHINGER REPORT  Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 11:03 PM
First of three parts
Pennsylvania's public schools have been waiting for three years to find out whether the state will move ahead with new education standards designed to make students more globally competitive.
Without official direction, many schools went ahead and began teaching the Pennsylvania Core Standards, which go deeper in fewer topics than prior guidelines and emphasize nonfiction more than novels.  Now, it seems, the state is giving the green light not only to the standards but also to related exams that students will have to pass to graduate from high school. But it is not providing additional funding to implement the mandates, and educators in Philadelphia and other cash-strapped districts say their students are being set up for failure.

“The state would keep about 13 percent of it in 2018-19, creating a $2.6 billion shortfall for school districts, Knittel said. Even if the law was amended to fix that loophole, Knittel said, the loss for school districts would be $1.1 billion.”
Property tax reform a mixed bag for Pa. schools, businesses
Bills to eliminate property taxes to fund schools would create a massive business tax cut.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau  9:45 p.m. EDT, October 15, 2013
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania's 500 school districts would lose $112 million next school year and up to $2.6 billion in five years if state lawmakers strip school boards of their ability to set and issue local property taxes and replace the arrangement with a statewide taxing system that relies on higher sales and income taxes and more taxable goods.
That's according to a report by the Legislature's Independent Fiscal Office.
Still, Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, the prime sponsor of a Senate bill on the topic, said the state's 1800s property tax system needs to be eliminated to stop school boards from raising taxes for daily operations and long-term debt.  "What I continue to hear is some school districts do a good job of managing their dollars and some spend like drunken sailors," Argall said after Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee hearing on his proposal.

Pa. lawmakers go round and round on school property taxes
As state senators in Pennsylvania consider how to address soaring school property taxes, some say serious attempts at reform are a long way off.  Many lawmakers have expressed interest in bringing down school property taxes by replacing the levies with other revenue streams.  But consensus over this is lacking -- and not just because shifting a tax burden is always going to be controversial.

Former students of shuttered charter school return for last time
REGINA MEDINA, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER  Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 12:16 AM
MANY STUDENTS of the shuttered Solomon Charter School returned to its Center City building yesterday, four days after the school's board of directors voted unanimously to close it down.
Parents and grandparents, along with their K-12-age children, filled the third-floor cafeteria to retrieve their academic and medical records and to say goodbye to classmates and staffers. Students also returned their loaned computers to the school, which focused on Hebrew and Mandarin languages, and met with recruiters from other charter schools such as Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners and PA Virtual.

Lawmaker wants to postpone addition of new Keystone Exams
Hazelton Standard Speaker BY MARK GILGER JR. (STAFF WRITER) October 15, 2013
State Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125, wants to extend the time period for development of the Keystone Exams.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has already implemented the standardized tests in algebra I, literature and biology and has developed and will soon field test Keystone Exams in English composition and in civics and government. Under current law, a total of 10 Keystone Exams must be in place no later than the 2020-21 school year. Through annual appropriation, tests will be added for algebra II, geometry, U.S. history, chemistry and world history.
Tobash wants to extend the time period for the remaining five Keystone Exams by prohibiting their development and implementation prior to the 2022-23 school year. The legislation will also eliminate the requirement of implementing the remaining five exams by 2021 and instead allow annual appropriation.  "My legislation simply says this: Let's put the brakes on this and see what the results are and see what the unintended consequences are," Tobash said Thursday. "Let's measure the exams. Let's see their success rate before we put hundreds of million dollars to develop the next five."

Grant bolsters Pittsburgh school math effort
City district in line for $3.4 million
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 16, 2013 12:06 am
Pittsburgh Public Schools are to benefit from a nearly $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help increase student access to high-level math courses and help more students think like mathematicians.  The five-year competitive grant was made to the Education Development Center, a nonprofit in Massachusetts, which is partnering with Pittsburgh Public Schools, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.

CHIP bill for Pa. kids renewed
By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau October 16, 2013 12:14 am
HARRISBURG -- The state House unanimously approved a bill Tuesday renewing the Children's Health Insurance Program and eliminating a six-month waiting period for some enrollees.
The bill now heads to the governor's desk for his signature; it passed the Senate unanimously last month.  The governor is expected to sign the bill.

A Moratorium Makes Sense
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey October15, 2013
Pittsburgh City Council has entered the debate over the future of city schools. At a public hearing yesterday, parents, students, teachers, and community members spoke passionately in support of a new resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, calling for a moratorium on school closures.

Organizers defend pricey conference for Pennsylvania school board members
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Megan Harris Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Survivors from Somali pirate raids and the Newtown shootings will join a highly regarded urban sociologist and a member of the Olympic “Miracle on Ice” hockey team to motivate more than 800 school board members and administrators gathering this week in Hershey.
School districts pay $379 each for participant to attend the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's conference Tuesday through Friday and up to $700 each in hotel fees — costs organizers say are worth the expense to taxpayers but critics contend are diversions that have little connection to running schools.
Thinking Sensibly About Charter Schools
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: October 15, 2013 14 Comments
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a full-throated supporter ofcharter schools, of which there are about 180 in New York City. The debate over how the next mayor should handle charters has been part of the campaign from the very beginning.   Earlier this month, charter school advocates rallied in Manhattan to protest the more skeptical views of the Democratic mayoral nominee, Bill de Blasio. He says that charter schools can be improved, which is true. He has also argued, much to the delight of the teachers’ union, that the Bloomberg administration has shortchanged traditional public schools and “favored” charters, which receive public funds and free space in public school buildings even though they operate independently of the school system.

What You Need to Know About New York City’s Charter Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav October 15, 2013 //
New York City’s charter schools are often held up as exemplary, which is the spin that the Bloomberg administration has fed the media for a dozen years. This insider says the spin is wrong.

Area Organizations to Host Building Common Ground Summit at Dickinson/PSU School of Law Saturday, October 26,   8:30am to noon
Event Organized by Jill Bartolli and Susan Spicka
10am  Senator Rob Teplitz will join Molly Hunter, esq. Education Law Center, and Richard Fry, Superintendent, Big Spring School District on a panel to discuss public school funding in PA.

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:

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

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