Wednesday, January 15, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 15, 2014: Let your Representative in Congress Know to Vote "YES" for Early Childhood Funding today

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:
 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 15, 2014:
Let your Representative in Congress Know to Vote "YES" for Early Childhood Funding today

TAKE ACTION: You can use the link below to quickly send an email to your Congressman urging their support for early childhood investments
Let your Representative in Congress Know to Vote "YES" for Early Childhood Funding today
PCCY website January 14, 2014
The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee sent to the floor an omnibus spending bill with a $1.5 billion increase  for early childhood education.Congress may vote on this bill as early as today, so we need to let House members know we support this terrific new investment in children.

After Months Of Lobbying, Some Hope Emerges For Massive Preschool Push  Posted: 01/14/2014 12:46 pm EST
After months of campaigning nationwide, the Obama administration seems poised to secure funding for some pieces of itsexpensive preschool push, in the form of $1.1 trillion in a budget bill released late Monday.  Overall, the bill is a "mixed bag" for education funding, according to an analysis by Joel Packer, who leads the Committee for Education Funding, a nonprofit education policy group. While the bill increases funding for the Education Department by $1.597 billion above 2013 levels, it does not return its funding to where it was before sequestration, the federal budget cuts that went into effect at the beginning of last year. Instead, education spending comes in at $811 million less than 2012 levels.
The latest congressional budget deal also includes a boost of more than $1 billion for preschool programs. Head Start funding would increase by $1.025 billion, bringing the program to $612 million above pre-sequestration levels. Sequestration forced the program to cut 57,000 slots for students last year.

Corbett's Proposed 2013/14 Funding for School Districts Nearly $1 Billion Less Than 2010/111
Representative Sturla’s website
Chart - Five Major Subsidy Categories (amounts in millions)

Pennsylania's House Democrats push Gov. Tom Corbett on public school funding
By Charles Thompson | on January 14, 2014 at 1:39 PM
Pennsylvania’s House Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday that they called a first step to reversing reduced levels of public school funding under Gov. Tom Corbett.
The resolution introduced by Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, a Philadelphia Democrat, calls for a study to set out a funding schedule that could return the state to a path adopted by the Rendell Administration that proponents said was taking the state to fairer and more adequate funding of public schools.  The so-called “costing out” formula was abandoned by Corbett when he took office amid major budget troubles in 2011.

Dems press Corbett for more Pa. education funds
As Gov. Tom Corbett prepares his state budget proposal, Pennsylvania House Democrats are calling on him to make education a higher priority.  The latest call for more attention to education has been a constant refrain since 2011, when Corbett's first budget made deep cuts to schools funding.  Republicans argue the reductions are the direct result of the disappearance of federal stimulus dollars that had been used to prop up education budgets under former Gov. Ed Rendell.
In 2011, lawmakers also abandoned use of a schools funding formula intended to smooth out funding disparities between school districts. And House Minority Leader Frank Dermody is pressing for a vote on a plan to return to such a formula.

House Democrats urge Corbett to make public education budget priority; Lawmakers push effort to restore $1 billion in school cuts since Corbett took office
PA Democratic House website January 14, 2014
HARRISBURG, Jan. 14 – With exactly three weeks until Gov. Tom Corbett announces his 2014-15 budget proposal, state House Democrats today urged Corbett to make public education a top priority and to begin efforts to restore the nearly $1 billion he has cut from public schools since taking office.  “From what we have heard so far, it sounds like this budget plan will be a lot like the last three – and that is bad news for Pennsylvania taxpayers and families,” said House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. “Since taking office in January 2011, Governor Corbett has taken Pennsylvania in the wrong direction and pushed the wrong priorities.”

Governor praises high scores of nine Mt. Lebanon schools
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 15, 2014 12:16 AM
Nine of 10 schools in the Mt. Lebanon School District scored 90 or higher on the academic performance profiles released by the state Department of Education, and that honor earned it a visit from Gov. Tom Corbett.  Mr. Corbett and state acting education secretary Carolyn Dumaresq personally delivered the nine Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Academics banners to the principals of the nine schools who earned them.
They are among 428 schools out of the approximately 3,000 schools statewide to receive the honor for scoring 90 or higher.

Gov. Corbett to make first visit to a Philly public school
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 01/14/2014
Opponents of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett soon will no longer be able to say that he has never visited a Philadelphia public school.  This Friday, Corbett will visit Central High, a celebrated magnate. Philadelphia public schools have spun into deep fiscal crisis, thanks in part to deep cuts in state funding. Yet this is his first documented visit.

Rep. Dwight Evans calls for referendum on Pennsylvania education funding
by thenotebook on Jan 14 2014 Posted in Latest news
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Put it directly to "John Q. Pennsylvania."
That's State Rep. Dwight Evans' idea for escaping the political loggerheads seen over state education funding.  Here's the question that Evans (D-Phila.) wants Pennsylvanians to consider in a non-binding statewide referendum:  In order to raise an additional $1 billion for public education annually, would voters approve of an increase to the state sales tax, personal income tax, business tax or a severance tax on revenue generated by Marcellus Shale drilling?

SB1411: Schoolwatch Bill requires schools to make budgets public
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau January 13, 2014 9:09 PM
HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House on Monday approved legislation requiring the state to create a searchable online database of the revenue and expenses of school districts and charter schools.  The legislation calls for the Department of Education to first post on its website the annual financial reports for each school district, charter school and vocational-technical school. Within a year of the bill becoming law, the agency would have to post the most recent budget of each district or school.  The proposal also calls for the creation of a searchable database of receipts and expenditures, as well as a measure comparing spending to performance, for public schools. Plans for those steps would be developed by an advisory committee made up mostly of school business managers and leaders of the House and Senate education committees.

Lancaster school, city officials oppose proposed business charter school
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era By KARA NEWHOUSE Staff Writer Jan 14, 2014
Just say "no."
That's the message School District of Lancaster administrators sent the school board at a second hearing for the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School on Tuesday.
"This applicant clearly does not have a working concept of what a school requires to be successful. We respectfully advise that ... you do not invest our children in a plan that is dangerously underdeveloped and dramatically flawed," said Director of Elementary Education Lynette Waller during an hour-long review of the application.  Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray and city council members also voiced disapproval of the charter school proposal.

OPINION: Let's keep best teachers in the classrooms
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Sunday News Jan 12, 2014 06:00
By REPS. RYAN AUMENT, SETH GROVE and TIM KRIEGER, Special to the Sunday News
This is the time of year when we reflect and give thanks to those who have inspired and encouraged us over the years, and helped us develop into the people we are today.
For many of us, a great teacher will come to mind.
Unfortunately, as school districts face rising costs and declining tax revenues, they will be forced to make tough budgetary choices. In some cases, the only solution will be to lay off teachers.
We know excellent teachers are the cornerstone of an excellent education system, yet we continue to require districts to rely solely on seniority to determine layoff decisions. This means we often lose some of our most effective teachers, simply because they have less classroom experience than other teachers in the district.

“The culprit behind all of this is a 21.4 percent increase in school districts' contributions to the Public School Employee Retirement System, up from 16.9 percent and with expectations to grow to 30 percent in three years. Even with a 3-mill, 2.7 percent tax increase for 2014-15, the school district would be down $900,000 from increases from that and other things, according to Superintendent Charles Prijatelj.”
Tuscarora SD faces potential 8.7-mill tax increase
MERCERSBURG >> Tuscarora school board voted unanimously Monday to request an exception to the Act 1 index, through which the Pennsylvania Department of Education imposes a maximum limit for a property tax increase.  Tuscarora School District could raise taxes by 8.7 mills, if the exception is granted and if the school board would choose to use all of the new limit, business manager Eric Holtzman said.  Tuscarora's 2014-15 Act 1 index of 2.7 percent is equal to 3 mills, according to Holtzman. If granted the exception, the school board could increase taxes by another 5.7 mills. That would put the total potential increase at 8.7 mills, which would be tacked on to the current mill rate of 110.66. That is a 9.6 percent increase, and new millage rate of 119.36. To compare, the increase for the current fiscal year was .75 mills.
Holtzman said that this is all preliminary and that these numbers reflect the maximum tax rate the school district could have. But the school board needs to request the exception now if it wants the option.

Saucon Valley School Board must trim budget to avoid tax hike for sixth year
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on January 14, 2014 at 10:14 PM
The Saucon Valley School Board would have to trim $450,000 from its preliminary $41.6 million spending plan to avoid a tax hike for the sixth year in a row.  In a vote tonight, the school board agreed to stay below the 2.1 percent state cap on annual property tax increases.
It would take a 1.57 percent tax hike to close the $450,000 budget hole if no cuts were made. That would mean an $81 real estate tax increase for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000.
Superintendent Sandra Fellin said the board could also opt to dip into its almost $3.1 million undesignated fund balance to help bridge the gap or do a mix of a tax increase, cuts and using savings. Fellin cautioned against using savings for ongoing expenses.

Why Philadelphia Can’t Afford to Pay for Public Education
Diane Ravitch’s blog By dianeravitch January 14, 2014 //
Did you hear about the budget crisis that stripped Philadelphia’s public schools of teachers, nurses, librarians, supplies, and many other things? Did you read that the school district has a budget deficit of $300 million and that Governor Corbett wants teachers to take salary cuts and layoffs to save over $100 million? Did you read about the 12-year-old child who died because she had an asthma attack on a day when the school did not have a nurse?
Surely, the city of Philadelphia must be in dire straits if it can no longer pay for public education?
Think again. Read this eye-popping account of the great financial success of Philadelphia’s corporate sector. Read about the salaries of Philadelphia’s university presidents (in one case, $2.1 million–job well done!). Read about how Philadelphia’s elite is thriving but unwilling to pay for decent schools for the city’s children.

The full text of Pat Kerkstra’s article is now available at this link
Helen Gym: The Agitator
Fiery Helen Gym has been the bane of school reformers. Is she eyeing the mayor’s office next?
Philadelphia Magazine BY PATRICK KERKSTRA  |  DECEMBER 27, 2013
Helen Gym advances, and Mayor Nutter inches warily back. She waves a thick stack of papers at him, each sheath a complaint lodged by parents lamenting the calamitous conditions in Philadelphia’s reeling public schools. There’s the kid with dangerous asthma at the school without a nurse on hand. The dyslexic, orphaned high-school senior applying for colleges with no counselor to lean on. The bullying victim who fled Overbrook High only to find it impossible to enroll at another school.  “This is what we’re fighting against,” Gym tells Nutter. The Mayor is just a few yards from his office door, but he’s the one shifting his feet, looking to get away.

Congressional New Year’s Resolution: Listen to Parents
Parents Across America website January 2014
This week’s federal education buzz included House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s threat to launch a Congressional investigation of the education polices of the new Mayor of New York.  Mayor Bill de Blasio ran and won on a platform of promoting neighborhood public schools, ending co-location of charter schools in neighborhood schools, and charging rent to charter schools.
Rep. Cantor was quoted as saying, “This move could devastate the growth of education opportunity in such a competitive real estate market like New York City.”  DeBlasio countered, “It’s a dangerous philosophy that turns its back on public education – and it has failed many times before. What public school parents want – and I know because I’m one of them – are real investments that lift up all our kids. That will take big, bold, progressive ideas. And that’s exactly what the people of New York City just voted for.”

“What is so distressing is that the Gates Foundation acts as if it bought public education in Pittsburgh and has the right to call the shots. Guess they never heard of the concept of democratic control of the schools. They are familiar only with plutocratic control.  Who will hold the Gates Foundation accountable for the damage it is wreaking on education??
Gates Threatens to Yank $40 Million from Pittsburgh
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch January 14, 2014 //
According to Rick Cohen of the Nonprofit Quarterly, the GatesFoundation is threatening to take away $40 million from the Pittsburgh public schools if the district and union don’t agree on a plan to evaluate teachers by test scores, to reward the “best,” and retrain the rest.  Does the Gates Foundation know that eminent researchers warn that VAM is inaccurate? Does it care that VAM has not worked anywhere?  The group in Pittsburgh that is most critical of the union is A+ Schools. Cohen points out that Gates is one of its major funders.

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

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:

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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