Wednesday, November 20, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 20, 2013: “Taxation without representation.” Amended SB1085 Charter Bill still includes provisions enabling colleges to unilaterally create and operate charters using your tax dollars and allowing unfettered charter expansion by removing enrollment caps.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 20, 2013:
“Taxation without representation.” Amended SB1085 Charter Bill still includes  provisions enabling colleges to unilaterally create and operate charters using your tax dollars and allowing unfettered charter expansion by removing enrollment caps.

Philly charter operator Dorothy June Brown's former top deputy takes stand for the prosecution
A former top administrator in Dorothy June Brown's charter school network said in federal court Tuesday that she fabricated bundles of documents, including several emergency loan agreements between schools that were submitted to federal investigators.  Joan Woods Chalker, 75, who had worked with Brown since 1989 and eventually became her top lieutenant, took the stand in Brown's $6.7 million fraud a month after she pleaded guilty in federal court to three counts of obstruction of justice.

 “Last year, we offered testimony in opposition to the eight applications before the Department at that time and called for a yearlong moratorium on cyber charter expansion.  A year later, the reasons for a moratorium are even stronger”
Education Law Center Continues to Call for Moratorium on New PA Cyber Charter Schools.
Education Law Center November 14, 2013

Senate Bill 1085, “Charter School Reform” was amended and reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday.
Some noteworthy provisions of the proposed legislation:
  • Would remove local control and oversight by school districts by granting colleges and universities power to authorize and operate new charter schools with no say by taxpayers or their elected school boards
  • Would remove enrollment caps further eroding school districts’ control of their budgets
  • Would reduce cyber charter payments by about 5 percent
  • Would split pension double dip savings 50/50 between the state and school districts
  • Would create an 18 member commission to develop charter/cyber funding formula

“Senate Bill 1085 could make the lack of effective oversight worse by allowing colleges and universities to autonomously authorize and operate charters without providing clear incentives for them to cooperate with the local districts that are required to help pay the charters' bills.”
SB1085: Inquirer Editorial: Charters need a better law
POSTED: Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 2:01 AM
How bad is Pennsylvania's charter school law? So bad that it required the destitute Philadelphia district to pay $305,000 to a dysfunctional charter that has been shut down. The state Senate may vote this week to replace the 1997 act, but the legislation has flaws that must be corrected.
It's clear that the charters need better oversight. Too many misspend funds and do no better academically than regular schools. Instead of providing oversight, too many local districts get caught up in the competition for students and the public funds that follow the schoolchildren.

Tell Your State Senator to Reject Senate Bill 1085
Lower Macungie Patch Posted by Mark Spengler , November 17, 2013 at 06:08 PM
For years, Pennsylvania school districts and many others have been screaming for charter school reform. In September, Harrisburg took a decent first step by passing House Bill 618 by a vote of 132-62. The bill called for saving money by erasing the pension double dip for cyber-charter schools and requiring all charters to return overpayments to school districts. The bill also continued to give local school boards the ability to approve or disapprove new charters and perform important oversight.
The Senate version of charter school reform is Senate Bill 1085 and it is a bad bill for Pennsylvania taxpayers and for public education in general. The bill foolishly removes local school boards from having a voice in the approval of new charter schools and instead gives that function to outside entities. The bill also removes language about charters being models of innovation, which was clearly one of the main ideas for originally establishing these schools. As a result, PA would be wide open to a costly and redundant system of public education where new charters would simply mimic local public schools. Senate Bill 1085 also does very little to reduce the cost to local school districts.  

SB1085: Group Calls PA Charter School Bill "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"
Public education advocates say a new charter school bill takes control away from communities.
Public News Service by Tom Joseph November 19, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A wolf in sheep's clothing: That's how a Pennsylvania public education advocacy group describes a bill in the state legislature that would change the way charter schools are authorized to operate.  According to Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, her biggest concern revolves around Senate Bill 1085, allowing an institution of higher learning to authorize charter schools.
"Private authorizers would actually take the power from school boards away and give it to entities that aren't part of the community or aren't accountable to the community, and yet it would still send them the bill," she warned.

Bucks schools get good report card
The news is mostly good for Bucks County public schools, according to a report released Tuesday by an education advocacy group.  Twelve of 13 districts in Bucks boast above-average graduation rates, the report said. Standardized test scores are similarly high, and several districts have had success closing performance gaps between students from different economic backgrounds.  "Right now, Bucks County school districts are doing great," said Donna Cooper, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the group that released the report.  The Bucks publication is one of four county-centric reports that PCCY will release this month focusing on the Philadelphia suburbs. PCCY is a Philadelphia-based youth advocacy organization.

PCCY’s Public Education Reports

Transportation funding gets kick-started with comeback vote in Pennsylvania House of Representatives
By Charles Thompson |  on November 19, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett’s hopes for a major legislative win came roaring back to life Tuesday, as the state House voted 104-95 to give key preliminary approval to a multi-pronged, $2.4 billion transportation funding program.  And now, it just might have too much momentum to be denied.
After two long days of lobbying by Corbett, State Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch, House Speaker Sam Smith and others, the plan’s backers finally delivered a slim, but apparently solid majority for an amendment carrying major cash infusions for highway projects, bridge repairs and public transit needs.  The bill also carries higher taxes on fuels, and increases in virtually all vehicle-related fees and fines faced by Pennsylvania drivers and businesses.

How Charter Schools Are Undermining the Future of Public Education
In too many places, charters function more like deregulated “enterprise zones” than models of reform, providing subsidized spaces for a few at the expense of the many.
Alternet Rethinking Schools / By Stan Karp November 14, 2013  |  
Somewhere along the way, nearly every teacher dreams of starting a school. I know I did.
More than once during the 30 years I taught English and journalism to high school students in Paterson, New Jersey, I imagined that creating my own school would open the door to everything I wanted as a teacher:
  • Colleagues with a shared vision of teaching and learning.
  • Freedom from central office bureaucracy.
  • A welcoming school culture that reflected the lives of our students and families.
  • Professional autonomy that nourished innovation and individual and collective growth.
  • School-based decision-making that pushed choices about resources, priorities, time, and staffing closer to the classrooms where it matters the most.
But reality can be hard on daydreams, and I got a glimpse of how complicated these issues are when my large comprehensive high school embraced the reform trend of the day and moved to create small theme academies inside the larger school. As the lead teacher of a new communications academy, I soon faced a host of thorny questions: Who would our new academy serve? What would the selection process be? How would the academy share space and resources with the rest of the school? How would our academy team be formed, and what impact would overlapping circles of authority have on teachers' contractual and evaluation processes? What would be the effect of the new academies on the larger school around us, which still opened its doors to everyone?
I think of this experience often as I follow the polarized debate over charter schools. I know there are many committed charter school teachers who share the dream of teaching in a progressive, student-centered school. And I know that, for some teachers, charter school jobs are the only ones available.
But I also know the charter school movement has changed dramatically in recent years in ways that have undermined its original intentions

Advertisements for the Common Core
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: November 19, 2013
The country is engaged in a fierce debate about two educational reforms that bear directly on the future of its schoolchildren: first, teacher evaluation systems that are taking hold just about everywhere, and, second, the Common Core learning standards that have been adopted by all but a few states and are supposed to move the schools toward a more challenging, writing-intensive curriculum.  Both reforms — or at least the principles behind them — got a welcome boost from reading and math scores released recently by the federal government. Although the nation as a whole still has a long way to go to match high-performing school systems abroad, states that have toughened their teacher evaluations and standards have shown positive results.

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

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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