Saturday, January 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 18, 2014: Worried about 'political gamesmanship,' Gov. Tom Corbett cancels first visit to Philadelphia public school

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The Top Five Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose SB 1085

NAACP Public Discussion on PA Charter School Expansion Bill SB1085. 
January 18th, 12:30 pm Campbell AME Church 3rd&Olive Streets Media PA.

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 18, 2014:
Worried about 'political gamesmanship,' Gov. Tom Corbett cancels first visit to Philadelphia public school

EPLC Education Notebook – Friday, January 18, 2014
Education Policy and Leadership Center

Corbett to propose big boost in school funding: Friday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 17, 2014 at 7:52 AM, updated January 17, 2014 at 8:19 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With clearly more than one eye on November, Gov. Tom Corbett will propose adding hundreds of millions of dollars to public education during his annual budget address next month.
Citing sources familiar with the budget talks, Corbett could propose pumping as much as $200 million into schools, a move described as a "major investment" after years of reductions, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports this morning.  Administration spokesman Jay Pagni would neither confirm nor deny the report, telling the newspaper that "We won't release any details of the proposal" beforeCorbett delivers it to a joint session of the state House and Senate in February.
Corbett is set to make his first appearance at a Philadelphia school on Friday. He's been assailed for his cuts to school spending, with districts across the state cutting positions and programs in response to a loss of $1 billion in funding.  Corbett and his allies have pushed back hard against that narrative, arguing that he's added more money to basic education - $5.5 billion -- than his predecessors, and that any reductions in state support were the result of a loss of federal stimulus funding when he took office.

Education rising to the top of the legislative agenda in election year
PA Independent By Maura Pennington | January 16, 2014
PHILADELPHIA — In the fight to win control of Harrisburg in 2014, the civil rights of students are in the forefront.  Education funding, access and outcomes in Pennsylvania have become central issues in a tense election year for the state. National activists are drawing attention to claims of inequality, while state legislators argue for budget priorities.
Dianne Piché, senior counsel and director of education program at theLeadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center in New Jersey, have raised the possibility of legal action to target fairness in education funding.

New Year Cheer
Yinzercation Blog January 17, 2014
It may be mid-January, but we have at least four more reasons to keep the New Year party going this week.  First, Governor Corbett is apparently getting ready to propose an increase to state funding for public education. Sources close to his office say that the new budget, which will be announced on February 4th, will include $100 to $200 million more this year. [, 1-16-14] That’s a good step in the right direction. But we’re still down $700 million in the annual budget from 2010-2011, with the cumulative loss for our schools now topping $2.4 billion. Any restoration of funds will be a win for our education justice movement, reflecting the enormous effort of grassroots advocates to keep the plight of public schools on the political agenda.

Pennsylvania owes its school districts $1.2 billion for construction; reps want it to pay up
By Jeff Frantz | on January 17, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Pennsylvania owes its school districts $1.2 billion in reimbursement for construction.
The state has been slow to pay up -- even after issuing a moratorium blocking more districts from entering the the PlanCon reimbursement program -- and now districts are having to pay debts they were told the state would cover. Now two state representatives are working on plans to overhaul the PlanCon program and get schools their money.
Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, and Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, each said Thursday they will be introducing legislation aimed at making districts whole for building new schools and renovating old ones.

Backers withdraw plan for proposed D. June Brown Charter School in Harrisburg
By M. Diane McCormick | Special to PennLive on January 15, 2014 at 10:15 PM,
Applicants for a Harrisburg charter school withdrew their proposal Wednesday night, claiming after a break in a Harrisburg School Board hearing that he had a train to catch.
The bumpy beginning to the hearing – referencing plagiarism, people named as school founders later disclaiming their involvement, and the naming of the planned school after a woman facing 54 counts of wire fraud -- did not influence the withdrawal, said Johnny Patterson, CEO of Philadelphia-based nonprofit National Education Partners.  "It has nothing to do with the hearing," Patterson said after the withdrawal. "It's just time constraints. I would be more than willing to sit here and answer their questions, but due to the time constraints, that's it."

The full text of this resolution is included in the link
LMSD Board approves resolution in opposition to Senate Bill 1085
Lower Merion School District website Announcements Posted: January 13, 2014
The Lower Merion School District Board of School Directors unanimously approved a resolution to oppose Senate Bill 1085, a charter school reform bill that will create new and substantial costs for taxpayers, take control of public schools away from local communities, and limit the ability of school districts to effectively plan for student enrollment changes and staffing needs. The resolution, initially discussed in the Board’s legislative committee, was presented and approved at the start of the Board’s education meeting on Monday, January 13.

"We, as the staff of Central High School, are writing to express discomfort with your visit," the letter states. "We are proud of and celebrate our students' achievements, yet we recognize that they have accomplished this in spite of, rather than because of, your budget cuts and educational policies."
Worried about 'political gamesmanship,' Gov. Tom Corbett cancels first visit to Philadelphia public school
Governor stays away after letter from teachers expressed 'discomfort' with his presence.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 8:50 p.m. EST, January 17, 2014
PHILADELPHIA — Gov. Tom Corbett canceled his first visit to a Philadelphia public school on Friday in the face of opposition from teachers.  Corbett, who suffers from record low approval ratings in part over $1 billion cut of federal and state education funds in his first budget, toured the state this week in an attempt to fix that image as part of his re-election campaign.
He was presenting education awards to schools that had students who performed exceptionally high on the state's new grading system that measures academic performance in math and reading.  His visits to schools in Hershey and Allegheny County, among others, went smoothly.
The visit to Philadelphia did not.
He was scheduled to give awards Friday to three of Philadelphia's premium magnet schools at a ceremony at Central High School in the city's Olney section.  Late Thursday afternoon, his administration received an unsigned letter from Central staff saying it felt unease over his plans.
"He has bailed on the children of Philadelphia once again," parent activist Helen Gym told the crowd. "God knows, for the last [three] years of his term, we have been here without our governor."
Corbett cancels school appearance amid heavy protests
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Sunday, January 19, 2014, 3:01 AM
A SWARM of protesters who gathered outside Central High School yesterday morning in anticipation of Gov. Corbett's first visit to a district-run Philadelphia public school found a bit of irony: a no-show governor.  Corbett, who has been criticized for cutting nearly $1 billion from education during his time in office, abruptly canceled the appearance. Instead, he held a news conference at his Center City office, claiming he did want to cause a distraction.
"I don't run from anything," Corbett said. "I take decisions head-on. But I was not going to be a distraction to the school day or to the students. I was not going to engage in the theatrics of what the adults wanted to do."  The governor and acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq were scheduled to present awards to Central, Julia Masterman and Carver high schools for their high scores on the state's first-ever school-performance profiles.

Corbett dodges protesters to name Green SRC chair
 thenotebook on Jan 17 2014 Posted in Latest news by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
On a frigid January morning nearly halfway through a school year marked by draconian cuts to services and staff, Gov. Corbett -- plagued by a low approval rating and an impending November election -- braved the eastbound lanes of the Turnpike to make his first gubernatorial appearance at a Philadelphia traditional public school.  At least that's the way it was written up in the playbook.  Instead, in a last-minute audible, Corbett changed the event's venue to his office at the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and changed the news narrative to his nomination of two new School Reform Commission members who he said would bring the city "fresh talent and true dedication."  Corbett selected Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green to chair the SRC and Farah Jimenez, leader of West Philadelphia's People's Emergency Center,  to replace outgoing Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky.

Corbett blames protesters for politicizing Central High School event by Sean Collins Walsh FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 2014, 11:55 AM
Gov. Corbett originally planned to spend the morning presenting educational achievement awards at Central High School - his first visit to a traditional Philadelphia public school since taking office.
But a large protest over education cuts during his administration caused him to divert his plans.
Corbett, speaking to reporters at the Bellevue in Center City, said he was "saddened and disappointed" he couldn't go to Central.   "Today wasn't supposed to be about politics, it wasn't supposed to be about contracts, it wasn't supposed to be about negotiations. It was supposed to be about the students," Corbett said. "I decided not to engage in the theatrics that have been designed by adults."

Corbett cancels Philly school visit, is accused of cowardice
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 01/17/2014 | 1 Comments Posted
Amidst protests, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett cancelled a visit to Philly's Central High School at the last minute today and convened a press conference at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce instead.  Corbett, who has orchestrated deep cuts to public education statewide, was scheduled to commend Central, an esteemed magnet school, and two other city schools for their academic achievement.

Praise and reproach from Nutter on SRC nominations
LAST UPDATED: Saturday, January 18, 2014, 1:08 AM
POSTED: Friday, January 17, 2014, 2:08 PM
Gov. Corbett on Friday remade the School Reform Commission - and possibly the Philadelphia School District - in announcing two new choices for the panel.  Corbett will nominate City Councilman Bill Green, a Democrat, and social-services advocate Farah Jimenez, a Republican, to the SRC. If approved by the state Senate, Green would have to resign his Council seat and would become SRC chair.  But even as the governor praised the nominees, Mayor Nutter stepped into the fray. He lauded Jimenez, but called Green's selection "quite frankly, perplexing."
The mayor said he was concerned about Green's votes against some education funding measures and his published views on public education."

Mayor 'deeply concerned' about appointment of Green to chair SRC
thenotebook by Paul Socolar on Jan 17 2014 Posted in Latest news
In a bluntly worded statement released to the press Friday afternoon, Mayor Nutter offered a less-than-welcoming response to Gov. Corbett's nomination of City Councilman Bill Green to head the School Reform Commission, calling it "quite frankly perplexing given his votes against some education funding measures and his published views on public education."
The statement goes on to say that the mayor is "deeply concerned, based on his past public statements and participation in School District budget hearings, as to whether or not, as chair, Councilman Green will be a strong and forceful advocate for increased educational funding."

More than 130 Philly educators implicated in cheating, officials say
thenotebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 16 2014 Posted in Latest news
After more than two years of investigations by both the state and the School District, 138 Philadelphia educators have been implicated in test score cheating, according to information given to the School Reform Commission on Thursday.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education has filed or is pursuing actions against 69 current and former employees based on its investigation of 14 so-called Tier 1 schools -- 11 District schools and 3 charters -- District officials told the SRC. They provided no more details on that group.
The District found grounds for disciplinary action against an additional 69 educators in 19 so-called Tier 2 schools that it investigated with the help of the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Officials gave more details on the results of its own investigation.

Pocono Mtn. board member proposes tax decrease in budget
By Jenna Ebersole Pocono Record Writer January 16, 2014
Taxpayers in the Pocono Mountain School District could see a two mill decrease for the 2014-15 year after discussion on a preliminary budget Wednesday night.
The board heard a presentation on the preliminary budget, which will not be finalized for several months after state and federal dollars are allocated. It proposed a balanced budget, with no tax increases, of about $205 million.  But board member Ricky Smith suggested an alternative, taking two mills out of an allocated roughly four mills that was budgeted to be put in a reserve. The revised proposal will likely return for consideration at one of the board's February board meetings.
CFO Joseph Colozza said after the meeting that the reserve money is a kind of "rainy day" fund to allow for unexpected expenditures, which is less necessary given that the school has a roughly $17 million fund balance for the first time in several years.
He said the preliminary budget also calls for an increase in infrastructure expenditures that have been put off during more cash-strapped years, including for the purchase of several buses, which lessens the need for a reserve.  The proposal also did not call for any staff reductions.
To balance the budget, the proposal takes about $4 million from the fund balance for capital improvements and employer retirement contribution increases.

EDITORIAL: School districts getting no help with big pension bills
By Express-Times opinion staff  on January 17, 2014 at 6:45 AM
School districts in Pennsylvania are now sharing their preliminary budgets for the coming school year, and — no surprise — pension costs are the biggest source of distortion and tax pressure. That’s not going to change anytime soon; annual local contributions to state-regulated pension funds are on the increase.  Around the Lehigh Valley, the degree of stress varies by district. The Bethlehem Area School District is facing a $16.9 million deficit. Even so, the district is considering upgrades that some districts could only dream about — such as elevating boy’s club lacrosse to a varsity sport. The district is facing escalating demands in pension costs (up $4.4 million to $20.7 million) and charter-school payments (up $6.7 million to $20.5 million).

Voucher and Tax Credit Students Should Participate in State Tests, Says Fordham
Education Week Charters & Choice Blog By Katie Ash on January 16
Private schools accepting voucher- and tax-credit-scholarship students should be required to administer state tests to those students and disclose the results, says a new report detailing school choice policy recommendations by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Only private schools that teach ten or fewer voucher- or tax-credit-scholarship students should be exempt from disclosing state test results, in order to protect the privacy of those students, the report says. And only those students receiving state funds to attend private schools should be required to undergo state testing, the report emphasized. 

Maryland schools need $100 million for online Common Core tests, says report
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS January 17 at 9:33 am
A new report from Maryland’s Education Department to the legislature says that the vast majority of schools in many of the state’s counties are not technologically prepared to give new online Common Core-aligned standardized tests and that at least $100 million will have to be spent by 2015 to get ready.  In Montgomery County alone, it is estimated that necessary computer purchases will cost some $10 million, wireless enhancements to the infrastructure another $3 million and other technological improvements an additional $4 million. Prince George’s County estimates it will need at least $5 million in improvements — money neither county has to spend. Eleven of 24 school systems in the state have completed a series to tests to determine readiness, and in those 11, a whopping 85 percent of schools aren’t prepared, the report said.

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
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.

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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