Monday, November 18, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 18, 2013: It’s not just about Pennsylvania’s basic education subsidy.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3050 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 18, 2013:
It’s not just about Pennsylvania’s basic education subsidy.

“The reforms contained in Senate bill 1085 will do nothing to address the real problems with charters: lack of rigorous oversight, and a near invisibility of any useful information that would help parents and allow others to evaluate their effectiveness, including the taxpayers who support them - to the tune of nearly $1 billion.”

Did you catch our weekend postings?
Saturday, November 16, 2013
PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 16, 2013: Six new cyber charter school applications before PDE; No cyber charter in PA made AYP for 2012

Folks, I’ve got to tell you that I actually missed my exit on the turnpike the other day when I first heard the Governor’s new re-election education radio spot.

It’s not just about the basic education subsidy.

For FY2008-09, BEFORE the ARRA/federal stimulus money, there were several line items in addition to the basic education subsidy that no longer exist or were significantly reduced:

Charter School Reimbursement   $226.9 million eliminated
Accountability Block Grant          $171.4 million reduction
Tutoring                                         $  65.1 million eliminated
School Improvement Grants       $  22.8 million eliminated
Science: It’s Elementary             $  13.6 million eliminated
High School Reform                   $  10.7 million eliminated
Dual Enrollment                         $  10.0 million eliminated
                        Total:                  $520.5 million
Source: Key Education Subsidies Chart FY2006-07 thru 2012-13
Senator Hughes’ (Democratic Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee) website

Corbett ads defend his education record
HARRISBURG - The radio ad is called "Looking out." As inspirational music plays in the background, a female voice declares that Gov. Corbett believes deeply in public education and that his administration is funneling more state dollars into classroom instruction than ever before.
"Tom Corbett," the woman intones confidently. "Looking out for Pennsylvania's children."
Hitting the airwaves statewide earlier this month, the ad is one of the governor's first campaign messages to voters and is notable as much for its claims as for what it is trying to refute: the governor's image as the man with a slash-and-burn approach to public education funding.
The story of how public schools have fared since Corbett took office in January 2011 is widely expected to be front and center in next year's governor's race, and is perhaps the one issue that critics and supporters agree has dogged the governor.
That is where any agreement ends.

Keystone graduation exams don’t make the grade: Andy Dinniman
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Andy Dinniman on November 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Everyone supports higher academic standards and accountability in education. Though controversial, I believe the new Pennsylvania Core Standards (Common Core) are a positive step for education.  However, in the false name of raising academic standards and accountability, the Corbett administration is attempting to assess these new standards through the implementation of the Keystone Graduation Exams, high-stakes tests that will result in higher property taxes, less classroom instruction, more teaching to the test, and the potential for a generation of students to be branded as failures.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education have proposed the Keystone Graduation Exams to the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which is set to vote on them on Nov. 21.

“The reforms contained in Senate bill 1085 will do nothing to address the real problems with charters: lack of rigorous oversight, and a near invisibility of any useful information that would help parents and allow others to evaluate their effectiveness, including the taxpayers who support them - to the tune of nearly $1 billion.”
SB1085: DN Editorial: Unchartered territory
Philly Daily News POSTED: Monday, November 18, 2013, 3:01 AM
PARENTS considering sending their kids to charter schools - or Pennsylvania lawmakers who are considering sending charter-school bills out of committee for a vote - should answer the following questions:

1.Parents shopping for a charter school can get detailed information on the founders, boards, philosophy, test scores as well as any federal probes or indictments a charter may be subject to from which source?
a) The Pennsylvania Coalition of State Charter Schools
b) Pennsylvania Department of Education
c) Individual charter websites
d) None of the above

2.The number of state charter schools making Adequate Yearly Progress last year was:
a) 78 percent
b) 50 percent
c) 28 percent
d) Depends on who's keeping score.

Senators in Harrisburg are getting ready to move on a charter-school reform bill this week, and while their instincts for reform may be sound, the details of that bill have skipped over some preliminary steps that should have established a more solid foundation for charters from the beginning, when they were approved in 1997.

SRC remains leaderless, does most business as usual.
PHILADELPHIA For four weeks now, the body that runs the troubled Philadelphia School District has been leaderless.  And while the smart money is on an interim School Reform Commission chair being named by Thursday's voting meeting, the state isn't committing to even that.
"There is no official timetable" for a new SRC chair, said state Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller. "The governor's working to make sure that he has an individual who is well qualified and who can work with the members of the commission to move the district forward."

“The nonprofit fund receives corporate support through Pennsylvania programs that give businesses tax credits for contributing to approved scholarship programs.”
Just to be clear, this $3.2 million for new scholarships comes from Pennsylvania’s EITC program which diverts tax dollars to private and religious schools.  There are no fiscal or student performance reporting requirements attached to the funds.
Fund offering 2,000 scholarships for low-income city students
PHILADELPHIA The Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia announced Friday that applications are available for 2,000 new four-year scholarships to help low-income city families send children in kindergarten through eighth grade to nonpublic schools.  The program, established in 1998, currently aids about 4,500 children who attend 185 private and parochial schools, where tuition averages $4,200.  The average annual scholarship amount is $1,600 per child.

“Mr. Marshall was the fifth former board member of a charter founded by Ms. Brown who has testified of doctored documents related to management contracts with companies Ms. Brown controlled.  Other former board members testified that they had not attended some meetings at which minutes indicated they had voted, but Mr. Marshall said he went to monthly board meetings.”
Founder of Agora Cyber Charter School accused of stealing $6.7M
Post Gazette By Martha Woodall / The Philadelphia Inquirer November 18, 2013 12:00 AM
After James D. Marshall Jr. became board president of the Agora Cyber Charter School in 2007, he signed lots of documents for the school.  But last week, he told jurors in the $6.7 million fraud trial of school founder Dorothy June Brown that he did not sign a management contract with Ms. Brown's Cynwyd Group L.L.C. in 2006 -- even though his name was on it.

“In the Penn Hills School District, he said, the number of students identified as homeless increased from eight in 2008 to 82 in 2012-13. "That's a dramatic increase," he said.
"If you have kids who don't have enough to eat or a place to sleep, you can forget about reading or math scores," Mr. Miller said.
Other districts that reported their total of homeless students to the HCEF included Wilkinsburg, with 245 students, making up 24 percent of its population; Clairton with 61 students for 8 percent of its student body; Woodland Hills with 184 students or 5 percent; Deer Lakes with 80 students or 4 percent; and Pittsburgh with 718 students or 3 percent.”
Pittsburgh suburbs suffering poverty at high rate
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 17, 2013 11:40 PM
Poverty is growing at a faster rate in the suburbs than in the cities, and the Pittsburgh area is ahead of the curve -- but not in a good way.  Nationally, about 55 percent of the population living in poverty is outside of cities, but in Allegheny County, 61 percent of people living in poverty are in the suburbs, and the number rises to 79 percent when the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is measured. That area includes Allegheny and its six surrounding counties.

Election-year Pa. budget could be bad for politics
New Jersey Herald By MARC LEVY Associated Press Posted: Nov 16, 2013 12:07 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The difficult fiscal picture facing Gov. Tom Corbett when he took office in 2011 was like nothing anyone in Pennsylvania state government had experienced, and the resulting budget-balancing cuts in spending are still a sore spot.
Next year, Republicans who control state government are beginning to warn could be equally or more difficult.  If nothing improves, Corbett and the Legislature will have to navigate an estimated $1.4 billion in higher costs, an unexpected half-billion-dollar hole in health care dollars and the traditional resistance to cutting spending in an election year.
"I think, in many respects, this coming budget is going to be the most difficult budget in four years and I never thought I would be saying that," Corbett's budget secretary, Charles Zogby, said.

Pocono Mountain Charter School principal claims she was forced out
By Jenna Ebersole, Of The Pocono Record 11:18 a.m. EST, November 17, 2013
The principal of the Pocono Mountain Charter School is no longer with the school, though accounts conflict about the circumstances of her departure.
Annette Richardson, who was named principal in the spring just as court-appointed custodian Alan Price Young arrived, said officials fired her suddenly Thursday morning.
But Young offered a different account Friday.  "It appears that she chose to depart from the school," Young said without elaboration, noting that he could not publicly discuss personnel issues.  Richardson's exodus comes after the termination of previous principal Jeffrey McCreary in March after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft charges for allegedly stealing almost $90,000 when he served as a Scranton School District principal.
N.J. looks at possibility of requiring full-day kindergarten
About a hundred school districts in New Jersey now offer only a half-day of kindergarten. But the state is weighing the possibility of changing those programs to a full day.  A bill creating a task force to study the feasibility of implementing full-day programs statewide will come up for a vote in the state Senate Monday.  The 21-member task force would study a variety of issues including the academic impact of full-day kindergarten, staffing needs, and class size, according to state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

In NY, parents seem to be waking up to the actual impact that Common Core implementation and test-based teacher evaluations are having on their students.
At Forums, New York State Education Commissioner Faces a Barrage of Complaints
New York Times By AL BAKER Published: November 17, 2013
He has been shushed, booed, called imperious and mocked as the incomprehensible teacher who bleated on and on in Charlie Brown’s classroom.
In a series of public forums across the state, John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner, has become the sounding board for crowds of parents, educators and others who equate his name with all they consider to be broken in schooling today. Some blame him for too quickly imposing more rigorous academic standards tied to what is known as the Common Core. Parents call him deaf to the misery of pupils taking standardized tests and too open to commercial involvement in the system; teachers blame him for sapping what joy they had left in their craft.

Hey Arne - those suburban schools led the world on the 2009 PISA exams.
Arne Duncan: ‘White suburban moms’ upset that Common Core shows their kids aren’t ‘brilliant’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS November 16 at 6:11 pm
 (Update: Adding more on opposition to Core, where Duncan spoke)
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
Yes, he really said that. But he has said similar things before. What, exactly, is he talking about?

Some Kids “Aren’t Brilliant”? This Duncan Blunder Is Bigger Than It First Appears
Deutch29 Blog by Mercedes Schneider November 17, 2013
In May 2010, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the first annual “Mom Congress” at Georgetown University. Duncan’s goal, as reported on the USDOE website, was “to discuss how to effect meaningful change in American education and to mobilize millions of parents to become more involved in their children’s learning.” [Emphasis added.]
Duncan wants parents to be “more involved” in the educational process. But there is a hitch– as there always is with the reformer version of “parental involvement”:
The parental involvement must coincide with the reform agenda.

Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on November 16, 2013 6:18 AM
A recent book described the "Reign of Errors" we have lived through in the name of education reform. I am afraid that the Common Core continues many of these errors, and makes some new ones as well.   The Business Roundtable announced last month that its #1 priority is the full adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is likewise making a full-court press to advance the Common Core. Major corporations have taken out full-page ads to insist that the Common Core must be adopted. Many leading figures in the Republican party, like Jeb Bush, have led the charge for Common Core, as have entrepreneurs like Joel Klein. And the project has become a centerpiece for President Obama's Department of Education.
Yet in New York, the first large state to implement the tests associated with the new standards, students, parents and principals are expressing grave concerns about the realities of the Common Core. Common Core proponents like Arne Duncan have been quick to ridicule critics as misinformed ideologues or delusional paranoiacs.   Defenders of the Common Core like Duncan and Commissioner John King in New York insist that only members of the Tea Party oppose the Common Core. In spite of this, the opposition is growing, and as more states begin to follow New York's lead, resistance is sure to grow.

Doris Lessing, Novelist Who Won 2007 Nobel, Is Dead at 94
New York Times By HELEN T. VERONGOS Published: November 17, 2013
Doris Lessing, the uninhibited and outspoken novelist who won the 2007 Nobel Prize for a lifetime of writing that shattered convention, both social and artistic, died on Sunday at her home in London. She was 94.  Her death was confirmed by her publisher, HarperCollins.
Ms. Lessing produced dozens of novels, short stories, essays and poems, drawing on a childhood in the Central African bush, the teachings of Eastern mystics and involvement with grass-roots Communist groups. She embarked on dizzying and, at times, stultifying literary experiments.

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

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.

Just announced: The Last Waltz Philly benefit for Philadelphia School Children at the Trocadero on Saturday, November 30th
WXPN The Key November 5, 2013 | 12:25 PM | By Bruce Warren
On Saturday, November 30th the Trocadero Theatre hosts The Last Waltz Philly, a benefit for Philadelphia school children. Producers of the event Fergus Carey (owner of Fergie’s, Monk’s Cafe, Belgian Cafe and Grace Tavern), Bryan Dilworth (of Bonfire Booking), singer-songwriter Andrew Lipke, and musician and producer Kevin Hanson. The Last Waltz, a concert by rock group The Band and featuring numerous guest musicians including Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and others, was held on Thanksgiving in 1976. The Last Waltz Philly will celebrate the music of The Band’s farewell show all for an excellent cause.

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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