Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 9, 2013: 47 Philly schools, 9 Philly charters among PA's 92 'priority' public schools to receive extra help

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for October 9, 2013:
47 Philly schools, 9 Philly charters among PA's 92 'priority' public schools to receive extra help

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.

“The list included 47 Philadelphia district-run schools, 20 charter schools - including several cyber charter schools - and five schools apiece in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Four are in Chester-Upland, two each are in York and Lancaster and there was one each in the Allentown, Duquesne, Easton Area, Greater Johnstown, Norristown Area, Upper Darby and William Penn school districts.”
Help promised for Pa.'s struggling schools by MARC LEVY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: October 8, 2013, 5:09 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Philadelphia schools and privately operated charter schools dominated a Department of Education list released Tuesday of Pennsylvania's 92 lowest-performing schools that will be in line to get help under a new strategy to meet federal guidelines.  Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq said the department hopes to have eight to 10 "academic recovery liaisons" ready by November to work with groups of principals from the 92 schools as part of Pennsylvania's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Law, in which it must undertake an effort to help struggling schools.

List of the 92 worst-performing schools that the Pennsylvania Department of Education said would receive academic help
Philadelphia Title I Schools with Federal Designation

Poorly rated: Philadelphia dominates new Pa. 'priority' schools list
Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 08 2013
Not surprisingly, Philadelphia schools account for more than half the schools flagged as among the lowest performing on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's new school rating system for 2012-13.  Among about 90 schools statewide designated as "priority" -- meaning that they are rated among the lowest 5 percent in the state -- 47 are Philadelphia District-run schools, and another nine are charter schools located in the city. 

Phila. has more than half of Pa.'s worst schools
More than half of Pennsylvania's 92 worst-performing schools are in the Philadelphia School District, the state said Tuesday.  Thirteen of the 47 city schools on the state Department of Education's list were shuttered in June as part of the district's effort to close schools based on low enrollment, maintenance needs, and chronic academic problems.
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Tuesday night that he was disappointed that so many district schools were on the state's list. He pointed out that the district was by far the largest in the state, and had the most low-income children and students with special needs.

47 Philly schools among Pa.'s 92 'priority' public schools to receive extra help
For the first time, Pennsylvania is identifying poor-performing public schools that will receive extra help from the state to get up to speed on reading and math scores. Nearly 50 are located in Philadelphia.  The names of the 92 "priority schools" were released Tuesday in an effort to comply with the commonwealth's federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind education law.

Strain on districts, taxpayers is growing, educators say
Scranton Times-Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) October 9, 2013
The House Democratic Policy Committee on Tuesday afternoon heard testimony from area educators who said there are few places left to cut - and taxpayers cannot afford to pay more.
About 40 taxpayers and more than a dozen policy committee members from across the state attended the meeting at the Taylor Community Center. The hearing comes one week after House lawmakers voted in favor of a new optional school property tax reduction bill that would give districts the choice of shifting partially or completely away from relying on property taxes to a mix of an additional earned income tax on wages and a tax on business gross receipts. Every dollar raised through the replacement taxes would go to reduce property taxes. There has been no action on the bill in the Senate.

Cyber, charter schools need top-bottom reform in Pa. (Editorial)
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online Editorial October 8, 2013
By The York Daily Record, member of Digital First Media Pennsylvania editorial board
State Rep. Dan Truitt, R-West Chester, made a very good point while issuing a pithy sound bite about the Legislature's effort to reform charter school funding.  "If you went to the shooting range, you wouldn't hear the instructor say: 'Ready, fire, aim,'" the Chester County Republican said. "Well, that's exactly what we're doing here."
The state House recently passed a package of changes to charter school regulations - which would be great and overdue news, save for the fact that the reform bill only makes temporary changes while a statewide commission continues to review the rules.  At issue, mostly, is the provision in the bill that changes the way local school districts are required to pay for cyber charter schools. As it is, districts have to chip in for a disproportionate amount of the cyber school's pension costs and pay for things that the cyber school doesn't need, such as cafeteria costs.
Most cyber schools don't have cafeterias, but as it is, school districts pay them as if they do. There is no such thing as a virtual lunch lady, and the mystery meat is so mysterious as to be nonexistent.  Closing that loophole - and the even more expensive one that essentially allows cyber charter schools to double-dip when it comes to recouping pension costs - should be a priority. It's wasteful and contrary to the supposed purpose of the schools, providing quality public education while controlling costs.

Trombetta sister admits filing false tax return
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 9, 2013 12:06 am
Elaine Trombetta Neill, the sister of indicted Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta, pleaded guilty today to filing a false income tax return at a hearing that was as much about him as about her.  Ms. Neill, 56, of Aliquippa, was tearful throughout the hearing before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti. Asked by the judge 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."  Assistant U.S. attorney James Wilson outlined the evidence in a lengthy summary aimed squarely at Mr. Trombetta.

Trombetta sister pleads to assisting brother in charter school fraud
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Brian Bowling  Oct. 8, 2013, 4:12 p.m.
A tearful and sometimes inaudible Elaine Trombetta Neill admitted in federal court Tuesday that she helped her brother hide some money he siphoned from the Beaver County cyber charter school he founded.  Neill, 56, of Center acknowledged her one2one Enterprises was little more than a shell that Nick Trombetta, 58, of East Liverpool, Ohio, set up to funnel more than a million dollars to himself, Neill and their mother.

Kansas Legislature Threatens Showdown With Court Over School Financing
The New York Times By JOHN ELIGON Published: October 8, 2013
TOPEKA, Kan. — As advocates of increased school funding brought their request to the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday, the staunchly conservative Legislature vowed to defy any court orders that it felt trampled on its sovereignty.  Justice Eric S. Rosen seemed to question whether the state could be trusted.  Legislative leaders have said that if the court repeats a ruling from a separate case in 2005, when it ordered lawmakers to increase school aid to the constitutionally mandated level, they may refuse to honor the decision because it was up to them to determine how state money is spent.

New York City’s Charter Schools Fear Having de Blasio for a Landlord
The New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: October 8, 2013
Charter schools in New York City have flourished over the past decade, attracting donations from Wall Street, praise from leaders in business and government, and free real estate from the city.
But with a changing of the guard imminent in City Hall, many charter school leaders are concerned that the support they have enjoyed during the three terms of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may be in peril.  The leading candidate to succeed Mr. Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, is a no-bones-about-it critic of charter schools who rose to prominence in part by berating the mayor’s educational agenda. By contrast, the Republican candidate, Joseph J. Lhota, is a fierce defender of charter schools.

Ed. Sec. Duncan's Policy Leverage May Be Put to Test
Persuasion and sanctions, not cash promises, loom larger on policy horizon
Education Week By Michele McNeil Published Online: October 4, 2013
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan faces an increasingly rocky education policy landscape and wavering support for his aggressive K-12 agenda—at a time when his stack of bargaining chips is dwindling.  Compared to his assets in President Barack Obama's first term, Mr. Duncan has few sweeteners left to use as leverage. That's likely to leave him even more dependent on sanctions and persuasion in the administration's final three years.

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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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