Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 30, 2013: The number of homeless K-12 students in PA increased to 19,905 in 2012 from 18,531 the previous year

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 30, 2013:
The number of homeless K-12 students in PA increased to 19,905 in 2012 from 18,531 the previous year

SB1085 represents a giant leap toward the creation of a parallel, costly and largely redundant public school system in Pennsylvania, squarely on the backs of taxpayers struggling mightily to support the one we already have.

Across U.S., a record number of homeless school-age children
By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 30, 2013 12:19 AM
A record number of public school students have become homeless in Pennsylvania and the nation, putting more than 1.1 million children at increased risk of falling behind, dropping out and ultimately joining either the criminal justice system or the welfare system, according to education officials and advocates for the homeless.
In Pennsylvania, the number of homeless K-12 students increased to 19,905 in 2012 from 18,531 the previous year, an increase of 7 percent, according to data released recently by the U.S. Department of Education. In the nation, the number of homeless students increased to 1,168,354 from 1,065,794, an increase of 10 percent, with 43 states reporting increases from the previous year and 10 states reporting increases of 20 percent or more, the department reported.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School can't have two locations, state says
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  updated October 29, 2013 at 5:53 PM
The Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School's plans to expand to a second location have been scuttled by the Pennsylvania Charter Appeal Board.  The charter school's board is expected to discuss the decision and its ramifications at 6 tonight at the school, 551 Thomas St. on South Side Bethlehem. The board could opt to appeal the decision to state Commonwealth Court.
Earlier this year, the Bethlehem Area School Board rejected the charter school'srequest to move its middle school students off the South Side campus to Bridle Path Road. Bethlehem issued the original charter for the school so it must sign off on any location change.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School plans to appeal rejection of second location
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on October 29, 2013 at 8:21 PM
Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School plans to appeal a state Charter Appeal Board decision that prevents it from expanding to a second location.  The school's board of trustees voted unanimously tonight to authorize its attorney to file an appeal with the Commonwealth Court.  "I almost fell of my chair (when I learned of the decision)," said Carlos Lopez, school founder and board member.  Over the summer, the school asked its chartering district, Bethlehem Area, to approve moving its middle school students to a second location. Since its inception, the charter school has added a grade annually and it has now outgrown its Thomas Street location.

Public school supporters protest tax abatements outside Rittenhouse highrises
ALEX WIGGLESWORTH, FOR PHILLY.COM Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 7:12 PM
Against the backdrop of tony Rittenhouse Square, protesters with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools and like-minded organizations donned Halloween costumes Tuesday afternoon for a festive rally against the city's 10-year property tax abatement.
The abatement, which became law about 15 years ago, applies to all newly-constructed or improved properties in the city.  But, according to a report released Tuesday by PCAPS, the program will deprive Philadelphia schools of millions in property tax revenue in the coming year, with three buildings in Rittenhouse Square alone accounting for $2.1 million of the loss.
"The paper we are releasing today documents two facts," activist and retired teacher Ron Whitehorne said. "One, the schools are losing significant revenue because of these abatements. We project the loss at $50 million in the coming year.  "Secondly, the main beneficiaries of these tax breaks are wealthy real estate developers and owners. Of the more than 16,000 tax-abated properties, the top five properties alone account for $15 million in lost revenue to the school district. These are luxury condos and housing developments concentrated in Center City."

Call for Volunteers to help at Philly High School Expo on November 16th
A collaboration of nonprofit organizations will host this year’s High School Fair on November 16 at Drexel University’s Armory. The Fair steering committee is seeking education professionals (with some knowledge base about the high school system) to volunteer as Guides at the Fair. These Guides will help students and family to navigate the fair and answer questions about available school options and the application process. Volunteers will receive a brief training and materials to ensure they are prepared to answer questions.
If you are interested and able to volunteer for a 3-hour shift on November 16, please complete this brief form: or contact Kristen Forbriger with questions  If your organization is interested in sharing relevant information or presenting a workshop at the fair, please submit a request here:

The need for seniority in schools by LISA HAVER POSTED: Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 12:16 AM
RECENT efforts to eliminate seniority and tenure protections for Pennsylvania's professional school employees demonstrate a lack of understanding about the benefits that an objective selection process provides to all - faculty, students, parents . . . or to anyone who wants a system free from the cronyism which once ruled the city and its school district.
There are many misconceptions about how seniority works. Seniority protects workers from being unfairly fired because of the personal biases or political interests of management. It does not prevent mediocre or incompetent teachers from being fired. The responsibility to terminate an ineffectual teacher rests with administration alone. Rather than follow the official procedure, which involves time and paperwork, many principals simply transfer the teacher to another school.

U.D. super's retirement package gets slammed by state auditor general
By Danielle Lynch, Delaware County Daily Times 10/29/13, 10:07 PM EDT |
UPPER DARBY — Upper Darby School District officials recently responded to a month old report done by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, which called the retirement deal of a former superintendent excessive.  In the 10-page performance audit report that was released in late September, DePasquale stated that the Upper Darby School Board reportedly agreed to pay “the former superintendent $356,256 in a lump sum retirement incentive, unused sick and vacation days and medical, dental, vision and prescription coverage when he retired in 2009 – two years into a three-year contract.” 

Easton Area School District to appeal 'I Heart Boobies' bracelet case to U.S. Supreme Court
By Peter Panepinto | The Express-Times  on October 29, 2013 at 9:08 PM
The Easton Area School District is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a district student ban on “I Heart Boobies” cancer awareness bracelets.  The board voted 7-1 tonight to authorize the district solicitor to file a petition to the highest court in the country.
Superintendent John Reinhart said he fully backs the decision and he hopes appealing the case will bring clarity.  "The Third Circuit Court has compromised administrators' abilities to intervene in what is and what is not appropriate in school," he said.

“Kerns said that Asher’s return and an agreement by Lower Merion Republican Vahan H. Gureghian, who has almost single handedly bankrolled the fractured, cash-strapped organization in recent years, to share his finance committee chairmanship with Asher shows the “new unity” of the county GOP.”
Robert Asher returns to active role in Montco GOP By Margaret Gibbons Staff writer October 25, 2013
Lower Gwynedd Republican Robert B. Asher, a GOP powerbroker on both the state and national levels, returned to an active role in Montgomery County GOP politics Thursday night.
The announcement of Asher as co-chair of the organization’s finance committee by a wide-smiling county GOP Chairman Robert J. Kerns drew warm applause from almost 300 party officials and foot soldiers gathered at the party’s fall fundraising dinner at the Westover Golf Club in West Norriton.

More on the Corbett-Gureghian relationship in the comments posted under this PoliticsPA piece:

Grading our Schools Databases – Scranton Times-Tribune
Links to several statewide school databases

Afterschool Programs: A prime time for learning
Politico Opinion By ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER | 10/29/13 9:49 PM EDT
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a former governor of California.
Luke Farris, a fifth-grader, says he never would have made it on the Straight-A Honor Roll without his after-school program, adding that it “gives children who don’t have computers at home extra time” to learn in the afternoons. Eighth-grader Nadia Pereida sings the praises of her “amazing” after-school program, singling out classes she’s taken in Lifetime Adventures, cooking, robotics, dance and soccer. And Axel Suastegui says simply that his after-school program “makes me feel happy and safe.”
Those three students all participate in After-School All-Stars programs in Nevada. There are millions more like them in after-school programs all over the country who are improving their grades in reading and math, attending school more regularly and getting involved in exciting extracurricular activities while their parents are at work.  As founder of the ASAS, which now provides programs in 15 cities serving 92,000 children, and as honorary chair of the Afterschool Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for after-school programs, I’ve seen firsthand what reams of data have proven: These programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities.

Common Core/Keystone Exams: The PA State Board of Education (Board) has submitted the final-form regulation entitled “Academic Standards and Assessment."
The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) plans to meet and act on this regulation at our public meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Regulation #6 – 326: Academic Standards and Assessment
Amends existing regulations to reflect Pennsylvania's Common Core Standards in English language arts; address test security concerns; and require students to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams in order to graduate from high school.
The agenda and any changes to the time or date of the meeting will be posted on IRRC’s Web site at  Please note that any comments should be submitted to the Board prior to the 48-hour blackout period, which begins at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday,November 19, 2013. Please provide IRRC with a copy of any comments submitted, as well. Please note that all correspondence and documents relating to a regulation submitted to IRRC are a matter of public record and appear on IRRC’s Web site.
For a copy of the regulation or if you have any substantive questions regarding the regulation, please contact the Board at (717) 787-3787. You can also download the final-form regulation from IRRC’s Web site using the following link:

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.

The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition April 5-7, 2014 New Orleans
The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  Our first time back in New Orleans since the spring of 2002!
General Session speakers include education advocates Thomas L. Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, as well as education innovators Nikhil Goyal and Angela Maiers.
We have more than 200 sessions planned! Colleagues from across the country will present workshops on key topics with strategies and ideas to help your district. View our Conference Brochure for highlights on sessions and focus presentations.
Questions? Contact NSBA at 800-950-6722 (NSBA) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

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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