Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 6, 2013: No one was elected to any PA charter school boards last night

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 6, 2013:
No one was elected to any PA charter school boards last night

No one was elected to any PA charter school boards last night; they will continue to receive “shrink-wrapped” tax dollars without ever facing taxpayers/voters; private charter management companies will continue to operate with impunity and virtually no accountability

PA General Assembly Launches New Website
The website is available at
Senate Majority Leader Pileggi’s website November 5, 2013
HARRISBURG – A completely revamped version of the General Assembly’s website was launched this morning to give the public better access to a wide array of legislative information, including bill text and history, votes in the Senate and the House, committee meetings and votes, and much more, legislative leaders announced.   “This is a total overhaul,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9), a strong proponent of open government initiatives and chairman of the Legislative Data Processing Committee, the body which oversees and manages the General Assembly’s website. “Transparency builds confidence in government, and we rebuilt the website from the ground up so that it’s easier than ever for the public to follow and comment on the work of the General Assembly.”
Some of the most prominent features of the redesigned website include:

It may be too late for Corbett to change the narrative, pollster Madonna says: Politics as Usual
Podcast audio runtime 24:19
By John L. Micek |  on November 05, 2013 at 12:00 PM,
It's Election Day and what better way to spend 25 minutes of it than by gossiping about politics?
Franklin & Marshall College pollster and political analyst G.Terry Madonna joins PennLive Opinion Editor John L. Micek and Politics Reporter Robert J. Vickers for a fast-moving look at today's municipal and judicial races; Gov. Tom Corbett's uphill re-election effort and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's low-key public profile.

Archdiocese to freeze pensions for 8,500
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia plans to freeze the traditional pension for about 8,500 parochial school teachers, church office workers, and other lay employees, church officials said Tuesday.
The change, designed to keep the estimated $150 million deficit in the plan from increasing and whittling it down over time, will take effect June 30, after which current employees will no longer accrue benefits under the plan.

Charter Reform: Did those student “backpacks of money” full of tax dollars pay for the $29 million beachfront lot and new 20,000 square foot mansion in Palm Beach for the Governor’s largest campaign donor?

Pa. lawmakers to scrutinize charters' cost to taxpayers
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Melissa Daniels Published:  Nov. 4, 2013, 11:58 p.m.
In North Hills School District, it costs taxpayers $10,336 a year to send a student to a charter school. A few miles south, Pittsburgh Public Schools would pay $12,871 a year — 25 percent more — to send a student to the same charter.  “There ought to be a standardized rate for it,” said David Hall, finance and operations director at North Hills. “I really don't think the full burden ought to fall on the local taxpayer, which it essentially does.”  The state Legislature is poised to address such concerns. The Senate Education Committee on Oct. 16 passed a proposal to change how districts calculate charter payments, increase accountability and set up a committee to scrutinize what it costs to run a charter.  Similar proposals have come and gone. Three times in the past three years, charter legislation failed to make it through both chambers.
This time, the debate is happening against the backdrop of a federal indictment against Nick Trombetta, founder of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. He stands accused of stealing $1 million from the charter through a network of shell companies.
SB1085: Proposal to change Pa. charter school rules runs into resistance
Some education advocates are criticizing a Pennsylvania Senate proposal to revamp how public charter schools start, expand, and receive funding -- because it would remove a check on the growth of the alternative schools.  A plan before a key legislative committee would allow charter schools to increase their enrollment without the approval of the school district that first authorized their charter.  School districts are the proper entities to authorize charter schools because the districts must ensure that all students are educated, including the students with the greatest needs, said David Lapp, a former charter school teacher and now a staff attorney with the Education Law Center.

“Ultimately, SB 1085 would gut local control over charter school authorization and growth, encourage unfettered expansion of even poorly-operated charter schools, take already underfunded school districts to the brink of financial collapse, and remove important accountability tools that school districts can use to ensure that charter schools are performing well and equitably serving all kinds of students.”
SB1085 Charter School Reform Falls Short on Accountability
Education Law Center Analysis: October 29, 2013
Charter school reform is needed in the Commonwealth and significant legislative effort has gone into two similar bills: HB 618 and SB 1085. The most recent bill to receive attention in the General Assembly is SB 1085. Education Law Center supports some of the accountability provisions of SB 1085.  However, through the lens of ELC’s charter reform principles and through the lens of the state constitutional mandate to maintain and support a thorough and efficient system of public education, ELC strongly opposes many other provisions of the bill.
As a whole, the harmful amendments significantly outweigh the minor improvements, and, therefore, ELC opposes passage of the bill as it is currently drafted.
In short, SB 1085 would:
• Permit any charter school, good or bad, to grow without permission from any authority.
• Permit charter schools to unilaterally amend the terms of their charter, at any time, for any reason.
• Double the length of a charter from five to ten years, which would slice accountability in half.
• Permit institutions of higher education to authorize new charters, even though they have no financial stake or accountability to the public for the school’s performance.
• Permit “multiple charter school organizations” to avoid accountability to the communities they serve by electing to be authorized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
• Create a funding commission that is stacked in favor of charter schools and not permitted to consider the fiscal impact of charter expansion on their local communities.
• Single out Philadelphia by permitting charter schools in the city to ignore the authority of the School District of Philadelphia’s governing body.
Ultimately, SB 1085 would gut local control over charter school authorization and growth, encourage unfettered expansion of even poorly-operated charter schools, take already underfunded school districts to the brink of financial collapse, and remove important accountability tools that school districts can use to ensure that charter schools are performing well and equitably serving all kinds of students.
Because the bill would decrease accountability and damage public education for the majority of public school students it should not be passed as currently drafted.

“That was the point of the funding formula. The General Assembly recognized that different types of students required different levels of resources, and that different types of communities required different levels of state investment. A fair, accurate and transparent school-funding formula allowed the state to distribute dollars based on those differences.”
Letters: Reinstate school funding formula
Philly Daily News Letter by Brett Schaeffer Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 3:01 AM
Brett Schaeffer is Communications Director for the Education Law Center
IT'S GOOD to see Rep. John Taylor engaged in the school-funding discussion in his Oct. 25 letter. We need the entire Philadelphia delegation working on this issue in Harrisburg.
It is important, though, to clarify some of Rep. Taylor's points.  Rep. Taylor is correct in saying that a school-funding formula was enacted under Gov. Ed Rendell. However, that formula was not used to calculate the state funding cuts in 2011 and it was ultimately amended out of law in 2012.  So, Gov. Corbett has not been using a funding formula.
Now, let's look at the numbers.

John Callahan new Senior Director of Government Relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Greenlee Partners LLC November 5, 2013
Congratulations to John Callahan who has started his new position as Senior Director of Government Relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. John had served as Deputy Director of Policy and Planning for Governor Tom Corbett.  

“But it raises a perplexing question, too. If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off?”
In Public Education, Edge Still Goes to Rich
New York Times By EDUARDO PORTER Published: November 5, 2013
 “There aren’t many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility — the idea that you can make it if you try — than a good education,” President Obama told students at the State University of New York in Buffalo in August.  It is hardly a partisan belief. About a decade ago, on signing the No Child Left Behind ActPresident George W. Bush argued that the nation’s biggest challenge was to ensure that “every single child, regardless of where they live, how they’re raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America.”  This consensus is comforting. It provides a solution everyone can believe in, whether the problem is income inequality, racial marginalization or the stagnation of the middle class. But it raises a perplexing question, too. If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off?

Colorado Rejects Move for Schools as Casino Fails in Massachusetts
New York Times By JACK HEALY Published: November 5, 2013
DENVERColorado voters on Tuesday rejected one of the most sweeping school-financing measures in the nation this year, according to The Associated Press, deciding that the promise of smaller class sizes, full-day kindergarten and smarter education spending was not worth the price of a tax increase.  The vote was a major defeat for teachers’ unions and the state’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, a Democrat who campaigned heavily in support of the measure to provide $1 billion mostly for educational improvements. It was also a blow to charter-school advocates and a group of deep-pocketed philanthropists who had supported the effort as a rare opportunity to infuse new money into poor and struggling schools. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York contributed $1 million, as did Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation is a major contributor to education projects.

Massachusetts Expert Panel Looks at Third-Grade Reading Proficiency
Eye on Early Education November 5, 2013 by Alyssa Haywoode
Last fall, the Massachusetts Legislature passed and Governor Patrick signed “An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency,” into law, taking a bold step to address and improve the state’s literacy efforts.  There has been growing recognition of the importance of helping children read well by the end of third grade. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has not yet made progress in improving third grade reading outcomes.  What’s needed is a birth-through-age-nine approach that aligns research, policy and best practices, and ensures all children have learning experiences in language-rich environments that help them learn to read and love to read.

Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out
The Nation by Owen Davis and StudentNation on November 5, 2013 - 2:32 PM ET
At a September 16 PTA meeting, Castle Bridge elementary school parents received some unwelcome news: the New York City Department of Education was imposing new standardized tests on their children in kindergarten through second grade. Kindergarteners would take a break from learning the alphabet to bubble A through D on multiple-choice exams. Images next to each problem—a tree, a mug, a hand—would serve as signposts for students still fuzzy on numbers.
The district purchased the tests to meet the state’s new teacher evaluation laws. In elementary schools that don’t serve grades three through eight, No Child Left Behind testing dictates don’t apply, necessitating a supplemental test. Castle Bridge, a progressive K-2 public school in Washington Heights, is among thirty-six early elementary schools in the New York City targeted for the new assessments.
According to Castle Bridge mom Dao Tran, those at the PTA meeting were appalled. This was the first they’d heard of the tests. Talk of refusal arose among some parents, but they knew that “acting as individuals wouldn’t keep testing culture from invading our school.” They opted for collective action.

Are Charter Schools The Solution to Public Education?
From Rethinking Schools By Stan Karp OCTOBER 14, 2013 AT 11:59AM
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.

When the IRRC considered the Keystone Exams in 2009, school districts all over PA passed resolutions in opposition; was your district one of them?
School Board Resolutions Opposing Keystone Exams Submitted to IRRC - 2009

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:

Mark B. Miller to speak at Nov. 12th conference on school violence
Congratulations to PSBA First Vice President Mark B. Miller for presenting at an upcoming conference related to school violence. Miller will offer a presentation titled “Breaking the Circle of Violence: Bullying, Duty of Care, and Deliberate Indifference” in Linthicum Heights, MD on Nov. 12. For more details, click here

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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