Monday, October 21, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 21, 2013: Bucks, Chester, Montgomery & Delaware counties are down a combined $45 million in state education aid since 2011.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 21, 2013:
Bucks, Chester, Montgomery & Delaware counties are down a combined $45 million in state education aid since 2011.

SB 1085 removes the language that charter schools were to serve as models of innovation for other public schools.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 19, 2013: Listen to PCCY executive director Donna Cooper & PA budget sec’y Charles Zogby debate PA school funding on ‘Radio Times’

“And although that is no guarantee that these types of issues would not surface again, we’ve seen more than enough evidence over the years that an elected dissenting voice on a school board does more to further the cause of transparency in operations than all the assurances given by school administrators.”
PA Cyber's board needs to get its act together
Beaver County Times Online Editorial Sunday, October 20, 2013 12:15 am
The directors of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland have more than enough challenges ahead of them in dealing with the controversy surrounding the school’s founder, Nick Trombetta, but the board is not doing itself any favors with some rather bizarre behavior of its own.  The school directors, many of whom were appointed during Trombetta’s tenure, agreed to pay for his legal defense — to the tune of about $234,000 so far — even after he had resigned as CEO.  Last week, the school advertised for a special meeting to be held on Thursday evening; that same afternoon, board President Dave Jaskiewcz emailed a one-sentence letter of resignation to other board members. No one claimed to know why he resigned.

Are Pennsylvania students being set up for failure? New education standards, graduation exams highlight school resource needs
The Hechinger Report By Sara Neufeld OCTOBER 15, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — After three years of stops and starts, the state of Pennsylvania is moving ahead with new public education standards and exams required for high school graduation. But without funding to implement the new mandates, educators in Philadelphia and other cash-strapped districts say their students are being set up for failure.
Many teachers, administrators and advocates praise the Pennsylvania Core Standards for their emphasis on critical thinking and greater depth in fewer topics. They also like the idea of graduation exams to make sure a high school diploma has value. But they vehemently disagree with state officials’ contention that schools should not need additional resources to comply with the new requirements, since districts train teachers and revise curriculum routinely anyway.
“There isn’t enough money in Philadelphia to provide for basic instruction,” said Rosalind Jones-Johnson, education director for Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, predicting that the new exams will lead to an increased high school dropout rate and, consequently, increased poverty. “To mandate this and not provide the funding, the human resources and the intervention is unconscionable.”

Inquirer Editorial: A welcome change of heart
POSTED: Sunday, October 20, 2013, 2:02 AM
The city teachers' union appears to be winning the game of stare-down it has been playing with state and city officials over the $103 million in contract concessions being sought to close the School District's budget deficit.  Gov. Corbett insisted all summer that he wouldn't give the schools a promised $45 million until the district and teachers signed a new labor agreement with substantial "fiscal savings and academic reforms."
But Corbett blinked Wednesday, releasing the cash even though contract talks remain stalled. Why he did so isn't clear,

The $85 million boost to the Prisons and Probation departments would more than fill the hole caused by cuts to school districts in the four suburbs; Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties are down a combined $45 million in state education aid since 2011.
Philly Daily News Letter to the Editor by Anthony Hopkins, Communications Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth October 21, 2013, 3:01 AM
THE continuous heart-wrenching coverage of the school funding crisis in Philadelphia should be raising red flags for the citizens of the commonwealth about the state's budget priorities. It's not that the state isn't spending any new money this year. It just made the wrong choices about where to spend. For instance, while schools in both Philadelphia and the suburbs struggle to balance their budgets after losing $1 billion in state aid in 2011, the state's Corrections and Probation departments received hefty increases.
This year's budget increased spending for schools by 2.3 percent, or $71.67 per student. Meanwhile the state's Corrections and Probation agencies got a 4.3 percent bump, or $991.55 per offender. That works out to 14 times more new spending per offender than per student.

Preference for 'effectiveness' metrics over teacher seniority rules gambles with education quality
WHYY Newsworks BY BRUCE BAKER October 17, 2013
Bruce Baker is a professor of education at Rutgers University School of Education.
Seniority, in the modern education reform 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 were so simple.
This modern eduction reform 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.

Cut Testing Budget and Hire School Nurses
Schools Matter Blog by Judy Rabin Friday, October 18, 2013
Hiring school nurses, improving the health and well being of children in the poorest neighborhoods who need eyeglasses, dental care, and regular checkups, not to mention expensive medicine for asthma, would lead to higher test scores.  Will this incident in Philadelphia change policy?  It depends on how far Pearson and McGraw Hill and gang can keep their Golden Goose laying all those golden eggs as Common Core Standards are rolled in conjunction with the new market based, for profit education revolution.

Education Policy and Leadership Center

SB 1085: Bad Charter School Legislation on the Move in Harrisburg
Senate Bill 1085, a really bad bill that would overhaul current charter school law, came out of committee on 10/16/13 and will likely move in the Senate floor as early as the week of 10/21. This bill contains many serious problems. If you have a chance, please shoot an email to your state senator to share these concerns before the bill comes to the Senate floor. Feel free to copy and paste the fixes at the bottom of the post in your email to your senator.

Familiar tune?
NYT Editorial: Shortchanging Kansas Schoolchildren
The New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: October 13, 2013
The underfunding of Kansas public schools has been a long-running problem made worse by both parties in budget pinches over the years. But the schools’ fiscal agony took a precipitous turn last year when statehouse Republicans decided that an encouraging postrecession increase in revenues was the perfect moment for a huge tax cut, rather than for the overdue restoration of school aid to levels mandated under the State Constitution.
In signing a five-year, $3.7 billion tax cut, Gov. Sam Brownback took the position that cutting taxes did more to create jobs than meeting per-student aid formulas. That dodgy rationale was argued in the State Supreme Court last week when a group of school districts and parents sued for their fair share of aid under the State Constitution’s “suitable provision” mandate. State spending on education has fallen an estimated 16.5 percent since 2008, including $500 million in cuts under the Brownback administration, resulting in teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.

Teach For AmericaAmerica’s fastest growing political organization?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS October 21 at 4:00 am
In recent years we’ve seen the rise of big money being poured into local school board races from well outside the district, or city or even state where the election is being held. Millions were spent, for example, in Los Angeles school board races earlier this year. In April Ipublished a piece by a teacher in New Jersey who blogs under the name “Jersey Jazzman” about the financing of a local school board campaign, and here is a new one, about another election and the same pattern of outside funding.  A version of this appeared on the Jersey Jazzman blog.

Are Private Schools Worth It?
The Atlantic by JULIA RYAN OCT 18 2013, 12:19 PM ET
Sarah Theule Lubienski didn’t set out to compare public schools and private schools. A professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was studying math instructional techniques when she discovered something surprising: Private schools—long assumed to be educationally superior—were underperforming public schools.  She called her husband, Christopher A. Lubienski, also a professor at the university. “I said, ‘This is a really weird thing,’ and I checked it and double checked it,” she remembers. The couple decided to take on a project that would ultimately disprove decades of assumptions about private and public education.
Studying the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, they have found that, when controlling for demographic factors, public schools are doing a better job academically than private schools. It seems that private school students have higher scores because they come from more affluent backgrounds, not because the schools they attend are better educational institutions. They write about these conclusions—and explain how they came to them—in their book, The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools. Here’s an interview with the Lubienskis about their work, edited and condensed for clarity and length.

What can you do? A new study shows huge international variations in skills
The Economist Oct 12th 2013 |From the print edition
IN THE sprawling Siemens factory complex in Berlin, teenagers in blue overalls are learning how to assemble circuit boards, the first step in their three-year apprenticeships. Besides instruction in technology, robotics and other engineering skills, the young recruits—1,350 in the company’s training centre at any given time—are drilled in literacy and numeracy. By the time they leave, they are expected to be able to summarise tasks, and how to solve them, in English as well as in German.
As countries vie to improve their training and increase their productivity, the thoroughness of the Siemens approach is a model for many. At €100,000 ($135,000) per apprentice, it is a hefty investment. Norbert Giesen, a senior trainer, says that, because production methods have become more susceptible to innovation, the company now emphasises “soft” skills, such as how to build teams and divide tasks efficiently, which remain helpful even if processes change.
Such a comprehensive approach would come in useful in the many countries whose adult skill base looks patchy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a Paris-based rich-country think-tank, has just produced new research on adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills in 22 countries.

Education GPS is the source for internationally comparable data on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes. Accessible any time, in real time, the Education GPS provides you with the latest information on how countries are working to develop high-quality and equitable education systems.

PBPC Webinar: Property Tax Elimination: What's At Stake for PA Schools

PA Budget and Policy Center Webinar Chris Lilienthal·Oct 18, 2013 youtube runtime 1:13:49
Legislative proposals to eliminate school property taxes are being debated in Harrisburg, but what does it mean for school funding in Pennsylvania? Two leading property tax elimination proposals, House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76, would shift the local funding of education to state income and sales taxpayers and cap future funding growth. Over time, school districts will receive much less funding than they would under the current system. Hear firsthand in this webinar from Mark Ryan of the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) about a new analysis of the fiscal impact of these proposals on Pennsylvania's school districts. Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center offers the Center's take on the property tax proposal.

Building Common Ground Summit Saturday October 26, 2013
Dickinson/PSU School of Law, Carlisle, PA, 333 W. South Street
Interactive Panel Discussions
Senator Pat Vance, Senator Rob Teplitz, Molly Hunter of Education Law Center, Richard Fry, Superintendent of Big Spring School District
For info and registration please email:

PCCY hosting a funding formula event in Philly October 28, 5:00 pm
On Monday, October 28th 2013, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) is hosting a funding formula event starting at 5pm.  Pennsylvania is one of three states without a funding formula. We invite parents, community leaders, and other stakeholders to come and help develop strategies that push for a fair and well-funded school funding formula.  The event will take place at the United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia, PA 19103.  You can RSVP by visiting the following link:

Register TODAY for the 2013 Arts and Education Symposium Wednesday, October 30, 2013
PA Arts Education Network
The State Museum of Pennsylvania 300 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120
Registration, Networking, and Refreshments-8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Program-8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.; Lunch-12:00 p.m.; $40 Per Person
Details and regisxtration:

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. 

Where: Abington Senior High School
When  November 5, 2013 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Contact Lynn Murphy, Delaware Valley College

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, 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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