Tuesday, January 14, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 14, 2014: Taxation without representation: SB1085 would eliminate taxpayer participation in the authorization of new charter schools

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

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The Top Five Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose SB 1085

SB1085 Advocacy Alert:
 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 14, 2014:
Taxation without representation: SB1085 would eliminate taxpayer participation in the authorization of new charter schools

Corbett, Acting Education Secretary Dumaresq award Derry Twp. schools for academic achievements
By Julianne Mattera | jmattera@pennlive.com  on January 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM,
Gov. Tom Corbett and Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq Friday presented banners to three schools in Derry Township School District, recognizing them for their high academic performance in the last school year.  Hershey Middle School, Hershey High School and Hershey Intermediate Elementary School all received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics.  Out of the three, the middle school was the standout as officials pointed out its score of 96 percent on the 2012-13 School Performance Profile was not only the highest in the district, but among all public schools in Dauphin County.

First Lady Susan Corbett Recognizes Academic Achievement of Mooreland Elementary School in Carlisle
PDE Press Release January 13, 2014
Carlisle – First Lady Susan Corbett today presented the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics to Mooreland Elementary School in Carlisle Area School District, Cumberland County.
Mooreland Elementary School demonstrates the invaluable partnership between students, parents, teachers, administrators and support staff,” said Mrs. Corbett.  “I commend the school and community for their commitment to ensuring that our children receive a quality education.”
Based on the 2012-13 School Performance Profile, www.paschoolperformance.org, Mooreland Elementary School attained a score of 93.9 percent, the highest score in the district.

House passes two bills aimed at increased transparency on school spending
By Jeff Frantz | jfrantz@pennlive.com  on January 13, 2014 at 4:51 PM
The state House passed a pair of bills Monday sponsors said would increase transparency in school funding across Pennsylvania.  One bill, 1411, would set up SchoolWATCH, a statewide website to track expenses in school districts across the state. It's sponsor Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, said the bill is based on PennWATCH, which tracks state spending. That passed 119-81.
Both bills need Senate approval before they could reach Gov. Tom Corbett's desk.

Pension reform to take center stage in the Pa. Legislature this spring, leaders say
BY JAN MURPHY | jmurphy@pennlive.com, JEFF FRANTZ | jfrantz@pennlive.com and CHARLES THOMPSON | cthompson@pennlive.com on January 13, 2014 at 7:55 AM, updated January 13, 2014 at 3:07 PM
Pension reform has been an issue that has been simmering on the Legislature’s stove for quite a while.  Whether it reaches the boiling point in the upcoming months remains to be seen.
The House and Senate return to Harrisburg today, looking for a pre-election encore to their fall session success of passing a $2.4 billion transportation plan.  Could pension reform be it?

Be Careful What You Wish For
Politically Uncorrected Column by G. Terry Madonna & Michael L.Young January 13, 2014
As we race toward the halfway mark of the new decade, politics in Pennsylvania remains uncertain. Long the quintessential competitive two-party state, Republicans have now lost a record setting six straight presidential elections back to 1988, while laboring under a registration deficit of 1 million voters. Nevertheless, they still control the governorship, one U.S. senate seat, both houses of the state legislature and 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional seats.
Republican control of the governorship came in the 2010 Tea Party year. So did retaking control of the state house and winning a majority of the congressional delegation. It took a wave election to accomplish the first and some artful gerrymandering to accomplish the second.
But 2012 was not so kind to state Republicans. Instead, they lost the presidential election decisively, did not come close to defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, and more ominously lost all three statewide row offices – attorney general, auditor general and treasurer-- for the first time in state history.

The Regulation of Charter Schools
American School Board Journal By Del Stover January 2014
An estimated 6,000 charter schools are open across the nation, enrolling more than 2.3 million students. Certainly, these schools are having an impact on the educational landscape, but that impact varies widely from state to state. Where state policymakers have adopted sound policies, charters have proven much more likely to provide novel and exciting educational experiences for children.  Elsewhere, however, poorly conceived or weakly enforced policies have allowed charters to evolve into what appears to be a rival education system. This system competes with traditional schools for scarce resources and diverts thousands of students into academically inferior schools.  So what is good charter school policy? What should school boards, working through their state school boards associations, be advocating to ensure the academic success of children attending charter schools in their districts?

Harambee charter CEO to surrender to federal authorities
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Monday, January 13, 2014, 6:26 PM
West Philadelphia charter school chief executive Masai Skief has agreed to turn himself over to federal authorities this week while he waits sentencing on embezzlement charges.  Skief, 32, CEO of the Harambee Institute of Science Technology Charter School, said in court papers filed Monday that he would not dispute federal prosecutors' allegations he had used a debit card to steal money from Harambee after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in August.

PhillyDeals: Analyst: More Phila. school cuts would hurt bond rating
Inquirer by JOSEPH N. DISTEFANO POSTED: Monday, January 13, 2014, 2:01 AM
The Philadelphia School District has cut all the programs it can afford to cut without scaring away not just more students, but also the bond-buying investors the schools depend on to finance operations, Moody's Investors Service analyst Michael D'Arcy warned in a report to clients last week.  More program cuts will drive city students to charter, Catholic, private, or suburban schools, reducing state and federal school payments and obliging the credit-rating agency to cut the district's bond rating, according to the report.  Moody's said it will cut its Ba2 credit rating for the school district's $3.4 billion debt - boosting borrowing costs - unless state and city funding officials, school financial managers, and labor unions agree on plans to curb the cycle of overspending and program cuts.

State Rep. Glen Grell named legislator of the year by school retirees
By Deb Kiner | dkiner@pennlive.com  on January 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM
The Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees presented state Rep. Glen Grell, R-Hampden Township, with its 2013 Joseph Siegman Outstanding Legislator of the Year award on Jan. 7.   “Representative Grell was selected for his continued efforts in the General Assembly to find workable solutions to the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s statewide pension systems,” said Richard Rowland, PASR’s executive director. “Though we have not taken a formal stand on his pension reform proposal, PASR greatly appreciates how Representative Grell has advanced the conversation in Harrisburg and heightened awareness that action needs to be taken sooner rather than later to address the funding shortfalls in the state’s retirement systems.”

Examining the only voluntary school district merger in Pennsylvania history
Reading Eagle By Becca Y. Gregg Monday January 13, 2014 12:01 AM
MONACA, Beaver County - In a dimly lit steakhouse some 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, two school superintendents - one current and one newly retired - crowd into a booth illuminated by neon signs.  The smell of barbecue permeates the air at PJ's Bar-B-Q & Steak House, as Nick Perry and Dan Matsook grab menus and talk school mergers.  For Matsook, it's a familiar setting for such a discussion.
In October 2005, Matsook, then superintendent of the Center Area School District, sat in another restaurant, the Ground Round in nearby Moon Township, where he and school officials from his district and the neighboring Monaca School District laid the foundation for what would be the first voluntary merger of two school districts in Pennsylvania.

House candidates scramble for backing in Philly suburbs
Philly.com CapitolInq Blog by Jonathan Tamari POSTED: JANUARY 12, 2014, 1:18 PM
This post was reported and written by Inquirer staff writers Chris Palmer and Jonathan Tamari. An abbreviated version appeared in Sunday’s Inquirer:
WASHINGTON -- Two open and competitive congressional seats in the Philadelphia suburbs have opened the door to political struggles based on county loyalty, differing strategies and at least one plain old insurgency.  The decision by U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) to not run for another term in his Chester County-based seat has set off the latest maneuvering.

Residents tell SRC of concerns about universal enrollment
For more than a year, a working group has been exploring sweeping changes to the way students apply and are assigned to city schools - a universal enrollment process that would boil Philadelphia School District, charter, and possibly private schools' application and assignment systems into one.  On Monday night, a few hundred parents, students, and others gathered to give the School Reform Commission an earful on the idea. Many said they saw serious problems with universal enrollment, which could be managed by a third party and, some fear, might narrow families' choices.  Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he understood the concerns. He emphasized that the district was not overseeing the universal enrollment efforts, and said its opting in was not a given.

A universal enrollment process won't improve neighborhood schools
thenotebook on Jan 13 2014 Posted in Commentary by Jerry Jordan
Jerry Jordan is president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, and a graduate of the city's public schools. 
As the School District of Philadelphia prepares for today's public strategy meeting on the topic of universal enrollment, I am hopeful that the District will recognize that exploring universal enrollment is simply continuing down the path of misguided and experimental "reform" efforts with no basis in improving education for all of Philadelphia’s children.
Universal enrollment is the notion that a common application would match each Philadelphia student to a single school based on a set of criteria. Students would then be assigned to a District, charter, or parochial school. This opens the door for myriad problems, and, most significantly, is another misguided distraction that detracts from the real issues plaguing our schools. As the District prepares to look at the pros and cons of this concept, I am concerned that the real issues at hand will get lost in logistical details of the process, which would take away from the broader discussion that must be had.

North Phila. nonprofit aims for 'D. June Brown' charter in Harrisburg
A new North Philadelphia nonprofit has taken the unusual step of naming the charter school it wants to establish in Harrisburg for Dorothy June Brown, who last week was acquitted of six counts of fraud by a federal jury but will be retried on the 54 counts the panel could not agree upon.  National Education Partners Inc. is seeking to open the Dr. D. June Brown Academy, which would enroll 650 K-8 students, in September. The nonprofit is scheduled to go before the Harrisburg School District's board Wednesday night to ask for approval.

Beaver County Times' appeal for unredacted PA Cyber records denied
By J.D. Prose jprose@timesonline.com | 0 comments  January 13, 2014 11:00 pm
The state's Office of Open Records has denied The Times' request for unredacted records from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School concerning payments it made for students to take college courses.  The Times received documents from 2013, 2012 and 2011 in November, but PA Cyber had redacted names of students and any individuals who might have received reimbursements after paying college expenses. The paper then appealed to the state office to get unredacted documents.

Nazareth Area School District makes College Board honor roll again
District wins the distinction three times in a row for Advanced Placement enrollment, improved scores.
By Meghan Moravcik Walbert, Special to The Morning Call  January 13, 2014
The Nazareth Area School District made the honor roll.
The College Board recently released its fourth annual District Honor Roll list, recognizing 477 school districts across the United States and Canada that increased enrollment in Advanced Placement courses and improved student scores on AP exams.  Forty districts in Pennsylvania were recognized, including Nazareth, Easton Area, Parkland, Northwestern Lehigh and Southern Lehigh.  Nazareth Area High School Principal Alan Davis thanked the district's AP teachers at a school board meeting Monday night, noting that Nazareth is one of just seven districts in the state to appear on the past three honor rolls.
East Penn School District anticipates tax hike this year
School district hit with high costs for special education, employee pensions.
By Margie Peterson, Special to The Morning Call January 14, 2014
The East Penn School District is expecting to have to raise taxes this year, partly as a result of large increases in special education and employee pension costs.  Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger declined Monday to say what the expected tax increase might be, but said the proposed preliminary budget for 2014-15 will be unveiled at the school board's Jan. 27 meeting.
School districts that anticipate they might have to increase taxes over the Act 1 index, which this year is 2.1 percent, must adopt a proposed preliminary budget by February.
Bethlehem Area begins school budget process with $16.9-million deficit
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on January 13, 2014 at 8:31 PM
The Bethlehem Area School District is starting the 2014-15 budget process with a projected $16.9 million deficit.  The $242.2 million preliminary spending plan currently includes no tax increase.
The district can hike taxes by up to 2.6 percent under state law and also apply to the state for exceptions to the annual property tax cap. The district estimates the maximum tax increase, including exceptions, could generate $7.59 million in school property taxes.

Boosts for Head Start, Title I, Special Education in Federal Spending Bill
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on January 13, 2014 11:23 PM
Federal funding for most schools would be largely restored after the biggest cuts to K-12 spending in history, under a giant spending bill unveiled Monday night by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress. And the Head Start early childhood program would see a major, $1 billion boost.   But two initiatives high on the Obama administration's wish list—a Race to the Top for higher education and $750 million in new grants to help states improve their preschool programs—won't receive funding in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 of this year. What's more, the Obama administration's signature school turnaround program would undergo a major makeover, resulting in more flexibility for states and districts to devise their own strategies for fixing the lowest-performing schools.

Rep. George Miller, Major Education-Reform Advocate in Congress, to Retire
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog by Alyson Klein on January 13, 2014 1:17 PM
U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House education committee, a key author of the No Child Left Behind Act and a powerhouse on K-12 policy for decades, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to Congress after this term.
It's hard to overstate the impact that the retirement of Miller, first elected to Congress in 1974, will have on the future of federal K-12 policy. He was one of the first Democrats to embrace policies like charter schools, merit pay for effective teachers, and a robust role for the federal government in accountability—and remains among their most vocal champions in the Democratic caucus.
He's helped sell those ideas—which aren't always popular with traditional Democratic allies such as teachers' unions—to his fellow Democrats, aided in part by his close relationship with his colleague from the Golden State, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader.

Rep. George Miller, leading Democratic voice on education, set to retire
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton, Monday, January 13, 6:27 PM
Rep. George Miller’s decision to retire after 40 years in Congress, coming after the announced retirement of Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa), means Democrats will lose their two strongest congressional leaders on education issues at the end of the year.
Miller, 68, the ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has led the Democrats on issues surrounding K-12 schools and higher education for more than 15 years.
 “He’s been the leading Democratic voice in the House on that whole range of issues — education, working people, low-income and special populations of children,” said Joel Packer, a lobbyist who represents the country’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association. “Coupled with Harkin’s retirement, this is going to create a double void, so to speak.”

Get Ready to Talk About Early Childhood Education
Bloomberg Businessweek By Brendan Greeley January 06, 2014
Thursday night, in a speech to the annual conference of the American Economic Association in Philadelphia, Jim Heckman mentioned, in an aside, that an early childhood education initiative may show up in this year’s State of the Union address.
Heckman won a Nobel Prize in 2000. I followed up with his office and was cautioned that the aside was a conjecture, and not to treat Heckman as an administration source. But the idea of real money for pre-kindergarten does fit with what the president’s been saying. And it fits with what the profession of economics knows about how to spend the least money for the most return on economic development.

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 shaneeg@pccy.org.

PDE chief Dumaresq LIVE budget presentation, PSBA Conference Center, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m
PSBA’s website 1/13/2014
Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq will be at the PSBA Conference Center on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. to present a special state budget overview.
Find out how the proposals of the fiscal year 2014-15 Pennsylvania budget impact your school district the day after the governor delivers his address to the General Assembly. Secretary Dumaresq will review the governor's plan and answer your questions. In addition to the live presentation, members across the state also can participate through streaming media on their computers.
To register for the LIVE event, Wed., Feb. 5, 2 p.m., at the PSBA Conference Center, Mechanicsburg: https://www.psba.org/workshops/register/?workshop=150

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 Urban_parent@yahoo.com

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 info@pccy.org 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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