Monday, January 13, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 13, 2014: In New Jersey, a Solution to the Pension Crisis

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3060 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

The Top Five Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose SB 1085

SB1085 Advocacy Alert:
The legislature returns to work today.  Please contact your PA state senator ASAP to express concerns with SB1085 Charter Reform bill.
Charter reform should not diminish accountability and local control over the expenditure of tax dollars.
If you have a few more minutes to spare please consider also contacting Senate Majority Leadership:

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 13, 2014:
In New Jersey, a Solution to the Pension Crisis

Did you catch our weekend posting?
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 11, 2014:
If Pennsylvania was still following the school funding formula enacted in 2008, an additional $2 billion would be available to help all of Pennsylvania’s students learn.

"The governor wants to put more money in public education, and I think that's something you're going to hear about in the budget," Zogby said.  "Everybody looks at the individual line items," Zogby said. "And then you get into education, it's always of interest — how much is coming to my school districts? Every lawmaker wants a spreadsheet."
Corbett budget speech to kick off months of talks By The Associated Press on January 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The annual Harrisburg ritual known as the governor's budget address is about to bring Pennsylvania's power elite to the state House chamber for the chief executive to review his record in office, lay out policy priorities and unveil his proposal for the coming year's spending.  This year's speech will be given by a Republican incumbent with a fairly extensive record behind him and a nine-month re-election campaign in front of him. He also faces low popularity ratings, a challenging revenue forecast and a pack of would-be Democratic candidates nipping at his heels.  When Gov. Tom Corbett climbs the dais in about three weeks to deliver his fourth budget address, he might be wondering if what he is about to say will either seal political defeat in November or send him on to a second term.

Pennsylvania Legislature facing several challenges
Liquor sales, pensions are top issues on agenda
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau January 12, 2014 11:38 PM
HARRISBURG -- With a transportation funding law on the books, Pennsylvania lawmakers return to work today to an agenda that includes the other high-profile issues -- overhaul of liquor sales and pensions -- that ensnared budget talks in June.  The topics have been priorities of Gov. Tom Corbett, and Republican legislative leaders agree that an impending spike in state pension contributions -- including an increase of $610 million just next year -- calls for considering changes to the retirement plans for teachers and state workers.

“Time spent at Radnor High underscores the gap that moved Hughes: the dichotomy between Philadelphia and strong suburban districts such as Lower Merion, Council Rock, and Tredyffrin/Easttown.  It's the difference between students with constant access to counselors and nurses and students without those services always guaranteed; between a school with myriad after-school opportunities and those with few; between teachers with ample supplies and those who have to go begging for copier paper.”
At Radnor High, a look at 'what schools should be'
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Sunday, January 12, 2014, 2:02 AM
RADNOR Jillian Hughes attends a public school with 22 Advanced Placement courses, 96 percent of students going on to college or trade school, and a sense of community so strong that 300 students formed a club just to turn up and cheer at school sporting events.  "We have everything we need," Hughes, 15, said of Radnor High.  Moved by the Philadelphia School District's extraordinary budget crunch and the wide gulf between her own education and that of city students, Hughes recently gathered and distributed supplies for pupils at one Philadelphia elementary school. Now, she's collecting warm clothes for students and plans to keep up and possibly expand her efforts.

Pittsburgh teacher evaluation fight may prove costly
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 12, 2014 11:37 PM
After the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Pittsburgh Public Schools $40 million in 2009 to help improve teacher quality, the district and its teachers have received national attention for working together.  Now the two sides have been at an impasse for months over scores to be used to determine teacher ratings -- distinguished, proficient, needs improvement and failing -- in a new teacher evaluation system going into effect this school year.
The ongoing dispute in a portion of the Empowering Effective Teachers initiative has raised some concerns about the future of the Gates grant, but Gates spokeswoman Deborah Veney Robinson said last week, "We have not said we're considering pulling the grant."

Holocaust education in Pa.: A must, not a may Opinion by Ilene Munetz Pachman Sunday, January 12, 2014, 2:02 AM
is a writer and retired teacher in Bucks County who helped lead the successful effort to honor Raoul Wallenberg with a commemorative U.S. postage stamp  The Pennsylvania Senate could vote as early as Monday on a potentially historic piece of legislation, the newly amended bill to mandate Holocaust education.  Nearly 70 years after the Nazi death camps of World War II were liberated, and with genocide still occurring in our explosive world, it's past time for our educators to teach the lessons of the Holocaust. In fact, it's the precise time for our State Senate to pass the bill (which would return to the House, where the legislative language has been weaker) and, hopefully, finally - a wonderful prospect - get it before Gov. Corbett for his signature.
On Dec. 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee changed the language in the bill, from may teach the Holocaust back to shall. The amended legislation echoes earlier bills proposed by State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Phila.) and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila.). When House Republicans voted down Boyle's bill, State Rep. Paul Clymer (R., Bucks) proposed the compromise that did not mandate Holocaust education.

Feeding the Edu-Tech beast
Tribune-Review Commentary By Michelle Malkin  Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The Common Core school standards' gold rush is on. Apple, Pearson, Google, Microsoft and Amplify all are cashing in on the federal one-size-fits-all standards/testing/textbook racket. But the Edu-Tech boondoggle is no boon for students. It's more squandered tax dollars down the public school drain.  Even more worrisome: The stampede is widening a dangerous path toward invasive data mining.  According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the Edu-Tech sector “is expected to more than double in size to $13.4 billion by 2017.” That explosive growth is fueled by Common Core's top-down digital learning and testing mandates.
In New Jersey, a Solution to the Pension Crisis by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  Friday, January 10, 2014, 8:20 PM
NORTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (AP) - A woman believed to be America's oldest working teacher is marking her 100th birthday this week.  Students, teachers and family members of Agnes Zhelesnik gave her a birthday celebration Friday at The Sundance School in North Plainfield.

‘The Procedure’ and how it is harming education
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS January 12 at 12:00 pm
Do you know what “The Procedure” is and why it is a problem for education? Here to explain is Marion Brady, a veteran classroom teacher, who has written history and world culture textbooks (Prentice-Hall),  professional books, numerous  nationally distributed columns (many are available here), and courses of study. His 2011 book, “What’s Worth Learning,” asks and answers this question: What knowledge is absolutely essential for every learner? His course of study for secondary-level students, called “Connections: Investigating Reality,” is free for downloading here. Brady’s website is

The Civil Rights of Children
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARDJAN. 11, 2014
Most school officials try to apply disciplinary policies fairly and in compliance with federal laws that forbid racial discrimination. Even so, a large and troubling body of data — some if it gathered by the federal government — shows that black and Hispanic students are disproportionately and unjustifiably subjected to suspension, expulsion or even arrest for nonviolent offenses that should be dealt with in the principal’s office.  As a result, minority children who are already at greater risk of dropping out are being ejected from school and denied the right to an effective public education.

Come to Harrisburg February 4th for the Governor's Budget Address
Show your School Spirit with PCCY!
In 25 days the Governor will introduce his budget plan for 2014-2015.  Based on past performance, the next budget may do little to meet the needs of Pennsylvania’s public school students.  School districts in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery remain underfunded by the state by a combined $161 million.  That is why we need YOU to stand up for your school in Harrisburg on February 4th to demand equitable funding for our schools.  To really make our point, please wear local school colors, jackets or sweatshirts to show your school spirit!  
Click here to sign-up and get details.  For more information please email Shanee Garner-Nelson at

NAACP: Public Discussions Scheduled on PA Charter School Expansion Bill – SB1085. January 18th, 12:30 pm Media PA.
NAACP Press Release January 9, 2014
Open and public discussion of PA Senate Bill 1085, a charter school expansion plan now due third consideration in the PA General Assembly, will be held on January 18, 2014 in the community room of Campbell AME Church, at 3rd  and Olive Streets in Media, PA.  The event is free. The discussion will last from 1:00 – 2:00 PM.  A light lunch will be available between 12:30 and 1:00 PM    “Local control of public education through the elected school board is under threat for each of the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania,” stated Bettie McClarien, a member of the Media Area NAACP Education Committee, and coordinator of this event.  “Senate Bill 1085 is specifically structured to allow charter school authorization by colleges and universities or by the Department of Education and without local school board input. The bill is written so as to eliminate tax payer participation in approval of the opening of charter schools in their school districts,” McClairen said.    “Even voters in successful suburban districts such as Radnor, Garnett Valley, Nether Providence and Rose Tree Media will be subject to an influx of charters run by educational management organizations with no knowledge of or concern for the community.”
A panel of informed education experts has been assembled to enlighten the public concerning the contents and implications of SB 1085. Sue Tiernan, school board member from West Chester Area School District and David Lapp of the Education Law Center will serve on the panel.  Other officials knowledgeable on the bill have been invited to the panel as well.
More info contact:  Bettie McClairen at

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.

Representatives from winning schools and partner organizations are invited to join us for the grants award ceremony on Monday, January 27, 2014 at the World Cafe Live3025 Walnut Street from 4:00pm to 6:00pm.  RSVP to or call 215-563-5848 x11.

January 24th – 26th, 2014 at The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

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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