Monday, December 23, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 23, 2013: Keep Following the Money: Financial Accountability and Governance of PA Cyber Charter Schools

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 23, 2013:
Keep Following the Money: Financial Accountability and Governance of PA Cyber Charter Schools

SB1085: On Monday December 23rd 10-11 am, WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane will be featuring a conversation on SB1085, the charter school reform bill.  Scheduled guests are school choice advocate State Senator Anthony Williams and school board member/public education advocate Lawrence Feinberg.  Radio Times welcomes your phone calls during the morning live broadcast. Call 1-888-477-WHYY (1-888-477-9499)

EPLC Education Notebook Friday, December 20, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

Did you miss our weekend posting?
PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 22, 2013: Keep Following the Money: Financial Accountability and Governance of PA Cyber Charter Schools

“The documents, from which PA Cyber officials redacted the names of those who received reimbursements, covered the period from Dec. 15, 2011, to Oct. 16, 2013.  The Times has filed an appeal with the state's Office of Open Records seeking unredacted documents to determine if PA Cyber paid for the children of school officials to take college courses.”
Education department mum on PA Cyber's college tuition payments
Beaver County Times Online By J.D. Prose Sunday, December 22, 2013 12:00 am (paywall)
MIDLAND -- The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School has paid nearly $38,000 in college tuition expenses for some students over the last three years, nearly all of it under its gifted program, but the Pennsylvania Department of Education would not clarify the legality of those payments.
A review of PA Cyber purchase orders and receipts shows it spent just under $35,000 on college tuition payments that were handled by its gifted department while another $2,700 in tuition was only identified as special education.  According to the documents obtained by The Times under the state's Right-To-Know Law, PA Cyber has footed the bill for students at the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Penn State University, Bloomsburg University, Lackawanna College, Montgomery County Community College, the Community College of Allegheny County and the Community College of Beaver County.

Pension overhaul at the top of Corbett's 2014 to-do list
Gov. Tom Corbett's team seems to be gearing up for round two of the fight to overhaul Pennsylvania's public pension systems in 2014.  The wind went out of the administration's sails this past June after the governor's plan to address the state's $47 billion public pension debt foundered in the Legislature.  But the administration is hinting that new proposals are in the works.  There's interest in relieving some of the burden of rising pension costs for school districts, said Budget Secretary Charles Zogby.

“Donnelly's caseload doubled this year after the Philadelphia School District's budget woes forced it to sharply reduce districtwide staff.  Last year, the district employed 384 full-time counselors for 141,143 students – an overall ratio of one counselor for every 367 students. This year, the district employs 218 full-time counselors for 131,463 students – an overall ratio of one counselor for every 603 students.  The American Counseling Association recommends a ratio of one counselor for every 250 students.”
Philly school counselors struggle to help seniors with college plans
WHYY Neewsworks by Kevin McCrorry DECEMBER 23, 2013
As application deadlines loom for many of the nation's top colleges, guidance counselors in Philadelphia's traditional public high schools are scrambling to ensure that the needs of all students are met.  According to Philly School Counselors United, staff shortages due to budget cuts have made the undertaking "frantic" for counselors and a "struggle" for the school district's seniors.  Christine Donnelly is the only guidance counselor for the Academy at Palumbo's more than 800 students.  It's hard, she said, to juggle the college prospects of her 182 seniors while taking care of the emotional needs of students in the entire school.
"I have to pick and choose," she said. "I can't do them all"

“What about schools? Our education gap is largely the result of one factor, and it's not the teachers' union or too much self-esteem. It's poverty, pure and simple. The truth is that students who attend schools in resource-laden, affluent schools do as well as their peers in Norway or Singapore. But urban schools that are left to wither atop a property tax base of abandoned homes and factories achieve at levels closer to the Third World. And as long as a kid in a rich suburb like Lower Merion, Pa., has resources that a kid born a mile away in Philly couldn't dream of, it's going to stay that way.”
The exceptionalism of our two Americas
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch DECEMBER 22, 2013, 9:26 PM
Sometimes we make America more complicated than it really is. With 2013 nearing the end and yet another make-or-break midterm election about to knock us upside the head, we look at our inability to get anything done, our inability when we do try to do something to get it right, the inability of millions of people to find meaningful work or to make ends meet, and we wonder if things have ever been worse. This, interestingly, in a nation that was forged in a violent revolution and had a second one that was cut short -- with a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands in between.
So what's our problem?

Inquirer Editorial: Ads won't pay for education
POSTED: Monday, December 23, 2013, 2:01 AM
Bad habits that at first seem amusing become irritating when repeated over and over. Take City Council's patting itself on the back for inadequate responses to the public schools' cash-flow problems.  The latest example is legislation that would allow the School District to sell advertising space on its buildings, recently passed by a Council committee. The idea, which at best might generate $15 million, would produce a pittance compared with the district's budget shortfall, once estimated at $304 million. Council members may argue that it isn't all they're doing to get the schools more money, but their other initiatives only merit an incomplete.

Budget cuts kill acclaimed space program for students at Northeast High
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Monday, December 23, 2013, 2:01 AM
For 50 years, Northeast High School students have taken part in sophisticated simulated space missions that halted asteroids speeding toward Earth, repaired satellites, and landed on the moon.  That era is over.
Last week, the nationally acclaimed Space Research Center after-school program - and dozens of other academic clubs - were eliminated, yet more victims of the Philadelphia School District's ongoing budget cuts.  "It's really, really unfortunate," Northeast junior Leon Frame said. He was an astronaut this month on the program's final mission.  The Space Research Center program, known as SPARC, was just one of dozens of extracurricular activities dropped at Northeast because of fiscal pressures. Debate, dance, Science Olympiad, and other clubs also were cut.

China’s academic obsession with testing
Washington Post Opinion By Kelly Yang, Published: December 19
Kelly Yang is founder and director of the Kelly Yang Project, an after-school program for students in Hong Kong, and a columnist for the South China Morning Post.
HONG KONG - This month, for the third time in a row, the Asians kicked American butt — academically, that is. On reading, science and math, students in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore earned the top scores on the international PISA testU.S. students scored below or near the worldwide average, prompting suggestions that American education as a whole is failing. As a Hong Kong educator, I’m confident that the last thing the United States needs to copy is Chinese education.

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

The DCIU Google Symposium is an opportunity for teachers, administrators, technology directors, and other school stakeholders to come together and explore the power of Google Apps for Education.  The Symposium will be held at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.  The Delaware County Intermediate Unit is one of Pennsylvania’s 29 regional educational agencies.  The day will consist of an opening keynote conducted by Rich Kiker followed by 4 concurrent sessions. 

NPE National Conference 2014

The Network for Public Education November 24, 2013
The Network for Public Education is pleased to announce our first National Conference. The event will take place on March 1 & 2, 2014 (the weekend prior to the world-famous South by Southwest Festival) at The University of Texas at Austin.  At the NPE National Conference 2014, there will be panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote address by Diane Ravitch. NPE Board members – including Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimson, and Julian Vasquez Heilig – will lead discussions along with some of the important voices of our movement.
In the coming weeks, we will release more details. In the meantime, make your travel plans and click this link and submit your email address to receive updates about the NPE National Conference 2014.

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.
·                             Register now! – Register for both the conference and housing using our online system.
·                            Conference Information– Visit the NSBA conference website for up-to-date information
·                             Hotel List and Map - Official NSBA Housing Block
·                             Exposition Campus – View new products and services and interactive trade show floor
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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