Thursday, November 14, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 14, 2013: …the first significant, bipartisan, bicameral bill on prekindergarten in over a decade

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 14, 2013:
…the first significant, bipartisan, bicameral bill on prekindergarten in over a decade

SB1085 gives unelected charter school operators the power to spend school tax dollars without any oversight or controls

Does Pa. spend enough on education? Depends on who you ask
ABC27 WHTM By Dennis Owens  Nov 13, 2013 5:47 PM EST
The final weeks of the legislative session are here, and lots of advocates are feverishly working lawmakers at the Capitol with last-minute requests for funding.  But a theme emerged on Wednesday that was unmistakable.  In the morning, a report was released suggesting Pennsylvania is underfunding pre-kindergarten education.
An hour later in the Capitol Rotunda, Shippensburg University students, majoring in education, criticized a lack of state support for public schools.
"Teachers do not have the supplies that they need because of budget cuts," lamented Rebecca Rohr, a Hershey native and Shippensburg senior.
Two hours later, from the same spot in the Rotunda, charter and cyber charter school students took to the microphone to criticize a Senate bill that would reduce their funding by five percent.

Haverford school board debates merits of Keystone Exams
By LOIS PUGLIONESI, Delco Times Correspondent  11/13/13, 9:40 PM EST
HAVERFORD-School directors engaged in spirited debate last week prior to voting 5-1 with one abstention to approve a resolution opposing Keystone Exams as a high school graduation requirement.   School directors Larry Feinberg, Denis Gray, Coleen Bennett, Russ Bilotta and Phil Hopkins voted in favor of the resolution. Joe Martin voted no, and Kimberly Allen-Stuck abstained. James Goldschmidt and Pat Giambuzzi were not present.
School Director Larry Feinberg introduced the measure, noting that the Independent Regulatory Review Commission is scheduled to vote Nov. 21 on regulations the state Department of Education approved regarding Pennsylvania Common Core Standards. Regulations include a requirement for students to demonstrate proficiency on Keystone exams in order to graduate.

Pa. group: Spend more on pre-K
Despite increased state spending, Pennsylvania needs to invest even more in pre-kindergarten and other "high quality" early-learning programs, according to an annual report from a child-advocacy group.  The 2013 School Readiness report said that only 15.9 percent of 3- and 4-year olds -- 47,158 children -- have access to publicy funded pre-k programs such as Head Start and Pre-K Counts, a decline from 16.7 percent in 2012 and 17.6 in 2011.
Fewer than 5 percent of children under 4 benefit from high-quality care, which has been shown to boost cognitive development and improve literacy and social skills, said the report, published by the nonprofit Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

PP4C: School Readiness Report Finds PA Must Pick Up Pace of Early Learning Investments
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children November 13, 2013
Pennsylvania needs to make stronger investments in pre-kindergarten and other high-quality early learning programs if it wants to reap the full social and economic benefits of these proven programs, according to the 2013 School Readiness report issued today by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC).
Despite increased state investments this fiscal year in Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance and child care services, tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children lack access to these effective programs. The 2013 School Readiness report finds that:
  • Only 15.9 percent of all 3- and 4-year-olds in the commonwealth, or 47,158 children, have access to publicly funded pre-k programs like Head Start and Pre-K Counts - a decline from 16.7 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in 2012 and 17.6 percent in 2011.
  • Fewer than 1 in 20 children ages 0-4 benefit from high-quality child care, which has been shown to boost cognitive development and improve literacy and social skills.
  • The number of child care subsidy slots available to infants, toddlers and preschool-age children has dropped by nearly 3,000 in the past year – falling to 38,936 slots from 41,844 – and more than 6,200 children are on waiting lists for child care subsidy, with an average wait of nearly 20 weeks.
The report, along with county-level data tables, is available at

Who are the educational reformers and why should anyone listen to them?
Eileen DiFranco is a writer, community volunteer, and a registered public school nurse.
A cartoon is making the rounds on Facebook. An adult stands holding a blank slate and asking the question, "And how much experience do educational reformers have?" The scary answer is little to none.  Let's take look at some of the people who would have the public believe that they know what is best for our children.

Dispatch From Philadelphia: The Brutal End of Public Education
Colorlines by Julianne Hing November 13 2013, 7:00 AM EST
Othella Stanback could very well be a Philadelphia public school success story in the making. At 19 years old and in her senior year at Ben Franklin High in North Philly, she’s dropped out of school twice and considered leaving more times than that. But she’s always come back. And she has dreams for herself.
“I want to be an FBI agent,” Stanback says, sitting in the late afternoon on the steps of a local welfare office, where she’s come to file paperwork. She has two young children—4-year-old Amor and 2-year-old Amira—and while it’s been tough juggling school and parenting, her ambitions have remained intact. “Or teach philosophy,” she says, ticking off her potential careers. “Except I took one of those quiz things for college recently and it told me the thing I’d be good at is organizing.” Of course, before starting any of those careers, she needs to get into to college—and that’s where the odds are stacked against her.

Lawmakers need to pass charter school reform bill now: Ashley DeMauro
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Ashley DeMauro  on November 13, 2013 at 9:15 AM
Ashley DeMauro is the state director for StudentsFirst, a pro-school choice group, in Pennsylvania.
As the Pennsylvania General Assembly takes a hard look at our public charter school system, it’s important to take a step back and remember what this is all about: ensuring our students have schools that prepare them to be successful in life.  Unfortunately, some schools aren’t serving kids the way they should be. While we continue to identify ways to improve traditional public schools, we must also find ways to ensure our system of public charter and cyber charter schools offers high-quality options. 

No insight on tax hike in Pittsburgh public schools budget
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 13, 2013 11:49 PM
The newly released 393-page preliminary budget for Pittsburgh Public Schools has lots of data but no forecast for what the property tax rate will be in 2014.  School Superintendent Linda Lane released the budget book Wednesday without a recommendation on whether taxes should be increased.  Instead, she is looking for board input on the $529.14 million preliminary budget, which is 1.4 percent or about $7.3 million more than the 2013 adopted budget of $521.8 million.

Pittsburgh Will Hire TFA, After Furloughing Experienced Teachers
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch November 13, 2013 //
The Pittsburgh Board of Education is about to hire its first Teach for America recruits, young college graduates with only five weeks of training. It appears to be ready to start with a small number, but the number is likely to grow as the districts realizes savings by letting senior teachers go and replacing them with entry-level teachers who are unlikely to stay longer than two years. In the past, the district never hired alternatively certified teachers.

PSBA’s New Governmental Relations Director John Callahan, President Marcela Myers, incoming President Rich Frerichs and previous Allwein Advocacy awardees Roberta Marcus and Larry Feinberg made this presentation to Tina Viletto at Cheltenham’s school board meeting on Tuesday evening.
Cheltenham School Board president honored with Pennsylvania School Boards Association's Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
By Jarreau Freeman Thursday, November 14, 2013
When Cheltenham School Board President Tina Viletto speaks about education, one can hear the passion in her voice. “I get very upset when I hear people say children can’t succeed [in public schools] because [in some cases], if they haven’t been provided the tools, you don’t even know how they can blossom,” she said.  Because of her zeal for public education, there seemed to be little surprise among her colleagues on the school board that she was the 2013 recipient of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award, which was bestowed upon her at the PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Pa., Oct. 16.

Pennsylvania lawmakers, residents rally for 'In God We Trust' bill
But Republican leader says bill is not being scheduled for a vote in the House.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 10:01 p.m. EST, November 13, 2013
HARRISBURG — Some state lawmakers who back a bill that would require school districts to display "In God We Trust" in classrooms and other areas of public schools say they aim to promote history.  The bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, says the requirement promotes learning. It coincides with the 150th anniversary of the first time the phrase was minted onto U.S. coins, under the direction of James Pollock, who ran the U.S. Mint during the Civil War and then became Pennsylvania governor.  But a rally Wednesday in support of Saccone's measure, House Bill 1728, turned into a theological synod in the Capitol.
Lawmakers and others loudly called for more religious instruction in public schools despite the constitutional ban on mixing church and state.
House and Senate Preschool Bills: A Guide to the Latest Proposal
Education Week Campaign K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on November 13, 2013 12:01 AM UPDATED
President Barack Obama's vision—outlined in his State of the Union address—to help states expand prekindergarten to a broad swath of low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds would be realized under bipartisan legislation slated to be released today on Capitol Hill.
The measure has bipartisan backing—it's being put forth by the top Democrats in both chambers on education issues, along with one Republican, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y. But it would cost more than $30 billion over its first five years and faces some major hurdles in a Congress consumed with trimming spending.  Still, the legislation, written by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate education committee, and Rep. George Miller, the top Democrat on the House education committee, along with Hanna, is still worth a close look. If the political landscape ever changes, the bill could help inform a major remaking of the federal role in prekindergarten. Plus, this is the first significant, bipartisan, bicameral bill on prekindergarten in over a decade—a pretty big deal all in itself.

Harkin, Senate Democrats Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to High-Quality Early Learning Programs
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee—along with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR)—today introduced theStrong Start for America’s Children Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five.  Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY).  Building on the framework put forward by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address, the bill focuses on four key goals: boosting funding for high-quality preschool programs serving low- and moderate-income families; increasing the quality of infant and toddler care offered by providers; supporting broad-scale quality improvements to child care programs; and encouraging continued support for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

National School Boards Association Office of Advocacy August 2013
Research proves that quality early childhood education programs help improve children’s school
readiness and can help close achievement gaps that exist among children even before they enter school.  Research also finds that children who participate in high-quality programs demonstrate greater interest in learning, are less likely to repeat a grade or require special education classes, and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. States have recognized the benefits of early childhood education and as many as 40 fund preschool for three and four-year-olds. However, recent fiscal conditions threaten to derail some of this progress.

Microsoft drops Stack Ranking. Failed policy in Gates' business, so why are we using his ideas in education?
Microsoft kills employee-ranking system
CNN Money By Julianne Pepitone  @julpepitone November 13, 2013: 12:08 PM ET
Microsoft is getting rid of its much-maligned "stack ranking" method of reviewing employees. The system forced managers to rate a certain percentage of workers as underperforming, no matter what.  The ranking system also helped Microsoft (MSFTFortune 500) decide which top performers received promotions and bonuses. But critics and former Microsoft employees alike have said the program pit staffers against each other -- which hampered collaboration and put the focus on internal, rather than external, competition.  Microsoft's new review program focuses on personal performance and teamwork that benefits the company -- which means "no more curve" and "no more rankings," according to an email that HR manager Lisa Tremmel sent to global employees on Tuesday. Microsoft shared the email with CNNMoney.

Here's a directory of Pennsylvania state Senators on Twitter:

Congratulations! Getting elected to the school board was the easy part…..
PSBA New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
November 2013-April 2014
Announcing School Board Academy’s New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
You will need a wealth of information quickly as you jump out of the starting block and hit the ground running as a newly elected member of the board of school directors. New board members, as well as veterans who might like a refresher, will want to make the most of the opportunity to attend PSBA's New Board Member Training Program: Great Governance, Great Schools! .

EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns 
EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns beginning January or May of 2014 in the downtown Harrisburg offices. One intern will support education policy work including the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign. The second intern position will support the work of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network. Ideal candidates have an interest/course work in political science/public policy, social studies, the arts or education and also have strong research, communications, and critical thinking skills. The internship is unpaid, but free parking is available. Weekly hours of the internship are negotiable. To apply or to suggest a candidate, please email Mattie Robinson for further information at

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 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:

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education Center for Urban Education presents  “Building the Capacity of Schools to Meet Students’ Needs”
Pedro A. Noguera, PhD; Friday, November 15, 2013; 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
David Lawrence Hall, Room 121; 3942 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh
The event is free and open to the public

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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