Monday, January 20, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 20, 2014: Follow-up reactions to Friday’s cancellation of Governor’s visit to Philly’s Central High School

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“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 20, 2014:
Follow-up reactions to Friday’s cancellation of Governor’s visit to Philly’s Central High School

Lawmakers look at reviving Pa. school funding formula
A plan that could get lawmakers back to doling out education funding based on a formula has passed Pennsylvania's House.  The measure would create a commission to study education funding and recommend a funding formula.  A resulting formula would only apply to any funding increases, and it would be up to the Legislature to enact.  Lawmakers briefly relied on a funding formula drafted to smooth out disparities among school districts.  It hasn't been used since Gov. Tom Corbett took office, and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody said it should return.

Lower Merion School Board goes on record opposing charter school bill; asks other districts to do the same
By Richard Ilgenfritz Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
The Lower Merion Board of School Directors Monday night  approved a resolution opposing the passage of a proposed state Senate bill that could make major changes to how charter schools are formed in the state.  School officials say the bill gives the authority to create charter schools to un-elected organizations.  According to the resolution that was approved, Senate Bill 1085 allows the boards of colleges and universities to organize charter schools.
“The board of School Directors of Lower Merion School District stands in opposition to the passage of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1085 and urges school boards from across the Commonwealth to inform members of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the serious flaws in this proposed legislation and the potentially negative impact on local public schools,” Board President Melissa Gilbert said as she read off the resolution.
According to school officials, the bill would create new costs for taxpayers while taking some control from local schools. At the same time, Lower Merion officials say that if passed the bill would make it more difficult to plan student enrollment and staffing needs.

Media NAACP addresses charter school legislation
By Kathleen Carey, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 01/18/14, 10:25 PM EST
MEDIA — Community members joined Saturday afternoon to delve into concerns surrounding proposed state legislation that could potentially give charter schools more latitude and funding despite their lack of accountability.  The state Senate Bill 1085, and House Bill 618, were the focus of the discussion hosted by the Media Area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the community room at the Campbell AME Church.
“This bill makes a lot of sense if you look at a profit motive,” audience member J.B. Redding said. “The bottom line will not necessarily be the quality of education.”

Nomination of Farah Jimenez to SRC draws praise
MICHAEL MATZA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Sunday, January 19, 2014, 1:10 AM
A day after Gov. Corbett nominated Farah Jimenez to the School Reform Commission, plaudits for the University of Pennsylvania-educated advocate for vulnerable families poured in Friday.
"Smart, hardworking, and truly caring," said Mayor Nutter. Her "concern for children and our city will be a benefit for all of us."  Jimenez, 45, a 1990 graduate of Penn, and six years later of its law school, leads People's Emergency Center, a West Philadelphia nonprofit that provides services and shelter for homeless women and their children.

Parents United statement on Corbett SRC appointments
Parents United for Public Education will seek to work with any and all appointees to the School Reform Commission. As parents, however, we believe the appointment of any new individuals to the Commission does not change the fundamentally flawed nature of an entity which is ultimately beholden to politics over effective governance.  The approval process for SRC commissioners is conducted in back rooms and through private conversations with select state senators. It is neither open nor transparent. SRC commissioners have no clear statements of qualifications or responsibilities and all too often exhibit a stunning lack of awareness of their obligations as public servants.

Announcing the 2014 Candidate Report Card!
Teacher Action Group – Philadelphia January 17, 2014Uncategorized
Teacher Action Group sent the candidates for Governor an education final exam. Here are the results. Grades were assessed through answers to a survey and written explanations.  If a candidate failed to take the survey, we graded them on their policies, statements, and actions. This project is not an endorsement — it is meant to inform the voting public about a crucial election issue.  This information lives on our Campaign Report Card Page.

North Philly charter school's wellness center helps students to be well
NURSE JULIA Rodriguez loves at least two aspects of her job working at the Pan American Academy Charter School.  No. 1, taking care of students who enter the Pan American Academy Wellness Center every day. And two, her office, which is small and windowless.
"My office is awesome," said Rodriguez. "I've had offices before but none of them have given me everything that I need to take care of the kids the way this one does."
Her office is stocked with all necessary medical supplies she needs - plus some really neat gadgets like the thermometer that measures body temperature using an infrared light aimed at a human forehead.  Officials at the school and its parent organization, the nonprofit Congreso de Latinos Unidos, opened the much-visited center in 2010 to help out with some of the health-care issues facing the North Philadelphia school community.

Did you miss our weekend posting?
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 18, 2014: Worried about 'political gamesmanship,' Gov. Tom Corbett cancels first visit to Philadelphia public school
Keystone State Education Coalition Saturday, January 18, 2014

“On Friday, Corbett called the district-run buildings "shining examples of what is working in public education, not only in Philadelphia but across the commonwealth." The governor, who has promoted private, parochial and charter schools, has never visited a district-operated school in the city.  Members of Central High School's staff said their students' success has come in spite of, not because of, the governor's leadership. They wrote an open letter to Corbett expressing "discomfort" with his planned visit and calling for a statewide funding formula for education. Pennsylvania is one of three states without one.”
Pa. governor cancels visit to Philly school
Education Week by Kathy Matheson AP Published Online: January 17, 2014
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett ditched his first scheduled visit to a district-run public school in Philadelphia, where dozens of demonstrators had gathered Friday to protest his education policies and rally for more funding.  Corbett had been scheduled to present an academic award to Central High School but canceled at the last minute. Instead, he held a news conference at his office in downtown Philadelphia because he didn’t want his presence to create “a major distraction” for Central students.
“Today wasn’t supposed to be about politics,” Corbett said. “It was supposed to be about how we should be recognizing the hard work of those students and teachers.”
Protesters from the Philadelphia teachers’ union, local churches and other community organizations saw it differently. As they rallied under a heavy police presence in front of Central, district retiree Rich Migliore called the no-show “an act of cowardice.”

Corbett Ducks Protest at Philly School
PoliticsPA Written by Vincent Smith, Contributing Writer January 17, 2014
Governor Tom Corbett’s scheduled visit to a Philadelphia public school was canceled today due to protesters.  “Today, Democrats proved they are more content to push their radical ideology than applaud children for their incredible academic achievements,” PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said. “Instead of honoring the students of Central High School for their hard work and achievements, Democrats have decided to use the Governor’s award as a chance to further their liberal agenda. [They] kicked the can down the road when it came to education spending, and are now trying to spin their way out of responsibility for their actions.”
Corbett had planned to make an appearance at Central High School in Philadelphia to award three stand-out public schools that had excelled in reading and math according to the state’s new school grading system.
Instead, his administration announced that the event had been canceled and moved to the Bellevue Building in Center City, where the Governor announced his two nominations for the State School Reform Commission. The event was closed to the public.

Thanks, Gov. Corbett, for teaching us the meaning of MLK Day
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch SUNDAY, JANUARY 19, 2014, 7:33 PM
"The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy."
Tomorrow the nation pauses to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, 85 years and a few days after his birth, and nearly 46 years after his work for social and economic justice and peace was cut short by an assassin's bullet. On Martin Luther King Day, there will speeches galore and millions of volunteers undertaking worthwhile projects -- all with the goal of keeping alive the memory of a great man.  Here's another exercise: Imagine an America where Dr. King had never been born. It isn't hard to do. Thank -- or maybe "thank" -- Gov. Corbett and his political allies in Pennsylvania for reminding us what society might be like if some of us lost the right to vote, if poor children are denied an equal education, if economic injustice was considered a bug, not a feature, of modern life.  It all came to a head this Friday, the eve of the three-day holiday weekend.

DN Editorial: LOOSE SCREWS Corbett's no-show & naming of Green is a 1-finger exercise
Philly Daily news Editorial POSTED: Monday, January 20, 2014, 3:01 AM
FOR THREE years, Philadelphia has asked for a hand from Gov. Corbett to provide enough money to adequately educate our kids, and to make their education more of a priority than he has shown in the past.  On Friday, instead of a hand, he gave us the finger when he cancelled his first-ever visit to a Philadelphia public school.
He was supposed to present awards honoring academic excellence to high-scoring students at Central High, but was scared off by a large group of parents protesting his measly support of education - and possibly a student body that was prepared to show their own unhappiness over the bare-bones daily existence that passes for education that the state has provided.

Just call him Gov. Chicken
Well, here we go again.
Three months ago, I begged you to ask your governor husband, Tom, to release the $45 million he was withholding from the Philadelphia School District.  My impetus, back then, was that a child had died of an asthma attack that her family said began at school - a school that, because of budget cuts, had no full-time nurse on-site.  Ma'am, I don't know what you said or did to knock some sense into your husband's head (I'd have bonked him with a frying pan), but he released the funds the day after my column ran.  Did your wifely influence - honed over your 40-plus-year marriage - do the trick? If so, I'm hoping you'll exert it again and order Tom back to Philly.
Because he owes the kids of Central High School an apology.

Pa. decision allows girl to wrestle on boys' team
Post-Gazette By Saranac Hale Spencer / The Legal Intelligencer January 20, 2014 12:00 AM
A middle-school girl who was barred from joining a scholastic boys' wrestling team has won a preliminary injunction against her Harrisburg-area school district in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann of the Middle District of Pennsylvania sided with the girl, 12, and her parents, finding they had made the case that she would suffer irreparable harm by missing out on athletic development if she is kept off the team since there are no other reasonable options for her.  In the case, A.B. v. Line Mountain School District, Judge Brann decided the harms claimed by the school district were outweighed by those the student argued she would suffer.

Auditor general says PDE should answer lingering PA Cyber questions
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose January 19, 2014 (paywall)
The state's auditor general has taken the Pennsylvania Department of Education to task for avoiding questions about the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School paying for gifted students' college expenses.

7 schools in Lehigh Valley, northwest New Jersey make AP District Honor Roll
Lehigh Valley Live By John Best on January 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM
READ THE REPORT: For the full College Board honor roll report, click here.
A handful of area high schools made the College Board’s fourth annual AP District Honor Roll.
Inclusion on the honor roll is based on increased participation and access for students to Advanced Placement tests, and improved students’ scores in 2013 compared to the past four years.  The high schools that made the list this year include Nazareth Area and Easton Area in Northampton CountyDelaware Valley Regional and Hunterdon Central Regional in Hunterdon County; and ParklandNorthwestern Lehigh and Southern Lehigh in Lehigh County.

School funding varies by state
Only Hawaii doesn’t use property taxes
Times Leader By Steve Mocarsky - January 19. 2014 11:52PM
If the state legislature adopts the Property Tax Independence Act, Pennsylvania would join Hawaii as the only states that don’t rely on property taxes to partially fund education. 
A review of education funding methods for all 50 states reveals all but Hawaii rely on real estate taxes to some extent to fund public schools, but to what extent varies by state. 
Hawaii is unique because it has a single, statewide school district. And a constitutional amendment limits increases in Hawaii’s spending on education to match economic growth in personal income.  All education funding there comes from the state’s general fund, which relies on sales, personal income and corporate income taxes, and such special taxes as inheritance, liquor and use taxes, and license fees.
Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has for decades allowed school districts to tax real estate and improvements at whatever rates local school boards set in order to supplement state and federal education funding and achieve their budgetary needs.

Auditor General: Reading schools not making the grade
WITF Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jan 20, 2014 4:00 AM
 (Reading) -- State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has returned to Berks County six months after he gave the Reading School District a failing grade.  DePasquale says progress has been minimal, and a follow-up report indicates the district addressed only six of the auditor general's 17 recommendations.  He cites poor financial management and high administrative turnover rates as his primary concerns.

Suspect in Philadelphia charter school shooting expected to surrender By The Associated Press on January 18, 2014 at 12:50 PM
PHILADELPHIAPhiladelphia police say a boy charged with aggravated assault was expected to surrender Saturday in connection with a shooting that wounded two students inside a high school gymnasium.  Police say another boy already in custody in Friday's shooting at the Delaware Valley Charter High School in north Philadelphia has not been charged yet.

“He also made the point that more than 90 percent of children in the United States attend public schools, and asked that President Obama show support for school boards and public education.  “With the continuing focus on choice—vouchers, charters, and other options—it would be good for the president to acknowledge the hard working teachers, school staff, and school board members who do their jobs every day,” Gentzel said after the meeting.”
NSBA participates in White House meeting to plan State of the Union
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min January 17, 2014
National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel took part in a meeting with White House officials this week to help glean ideas and themes for President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28.  The White House called together leading K-12 groups for their input on the annual speech and gave participants the opportunity to present their priorities.  Gentzel pressed the White House officials to call for increased funding for K-12 education, and also include funding for early education services, and again called for a push to finish the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Obama’s Homework Assignment
New York Times Opinion by Thomas L. Friedman JAN. 18, 2014
PRESIDENT OBAMA will deliver his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, but, for my money, his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, already gave it. Just not enough people heard it.
So instead of Obama fishing around for contrived ideas to put in his speech — the usual laundry list that wins applause but no action — the president should steal Duncan’s speech and claim it as his own (I won’t tell) because it was not a laundry list and wasn’t a feel-good speech. In fact, it was a feel-bad speech, asking one big question. Are we falling behind as a country in education not just because we fail to recruit the smartest college students to become teachers or reform-resistant teachers’ unions, but because of our culture today: too many parents and too many kids just don’t take education seriously enough and don’t want to put in the work needed today to really excel?
Is this the key cause of income inequality and persistent poverty? No. But it is surely part of their solutions, and it is a subject that Obama has not used his bully pulpit to address in any sustained way. Nothing could spark a national discussion of this more than a State of the Union address.

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

Pa. attorney general is probing cheating at Phila. schools
POSTED: Saturday, January 18, 2014, 6:04 AM
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of widespread cheating among teachers and principals in Philadelphia schools, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.  State prosecutors acted after receiving information from the state Inspector General's Office, which launched its own investigation in 2011.
Bruce Beemer, chief of the Criminal Prosecution Section of the Attorney General's Office, declined to comment Friday.  A spokesman for the School District also declined to comment.

Penn Manor students help classmates get tech savvy
By KARA NEWHOUSE Staff Writer Sunday News Jan 19, 2014 06:00
Peanut butter and jelly. Silver and gold. Sugar and spice.
Some pairs just go together.
Like software and hardware.
Penn Manor High School senior Benjamin Thomas is a software guy.
His friend Nick Joniec is a hardware guy.
They're both part of the student help desk team that has been key in the preparations for a 1:1 computing program in which every high school student gets a district-issued laptop.

Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS January 18 at 8:45 am
Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards

“The philosophy is at the center of a training program paid in large part by the Walton Family Foundation, one of the country’s leading financiers of educational programs. This program is both a test lab and a skill-building exercise for the teams of educators who will be running the schools, many of them Teach for America alumni.”
Arizona Hopes New Charter Schools Can Lift Poor Phoenix Area
New York Times By FERNANDA SANTOS JAN. 16, 2014
PHOENIX — In Arizona, the charter school movement has sold itself as a safe alternative for middle-class families looking to avoid the maze of underfunded neighborhood schools. The movement is now expanding into this city’s most impoverished area for the first time, starting, in effect, an experiment in urban education.  The goal is to open 25 high-performing schools over five years within the 220 square miles of the Phoenix Union High School District. The district, in South and central Phoenix, whose largely poor, majority Latino student body has grown faster than that of any other school district in the state, conforms to demographic trends that expect minorities to become the majority in Arizona by 2020.
The strategy is grounded in the principle that test scores offer the best way to measure students’ progress and teachers’ abilities, a tenet only modestly embraced by a majority of charter schools in Arizona

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:

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

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

Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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