Tuesday, January 21, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 21, 2014: PlanCon: School districts still waiting for $1 billion from state

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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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 21, 2014:
PlanCon: School districts still waiting for $1 billion from state

PlanCon: School districts still waiting for $1 billion from state
By Steve Esack and Adam Clark, Call Harrisburg Bureau 11:44 pm, January 19, 2014
For weeks, Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has been warning that next year's budget could have an estimated $1.2 billion deficit due in part to a spike in pension payments needed to help cover decades of unfunded liabilities.  Last Thursday, about two dozen public school officials and one lawmaker gathered in the Capitol to remind the governor and the Legislature about another unfunded liability: construction costs.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education owes about $1 billion to numerous school districts, including several in the Lehigh Valley, for about 350 state-approved renovation and construction projects.

PDE PlanCon website
When a school district undertakes a major construction project and seeks reimbursement from the Commonwealth, a process known as PlanCon is initiated. PlanCon, an acronym for Planning andConstruction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for Commonwealth reimbursement. The PlanCon forms are designed to: (1) document a local school district's planning process; (2) provide justification for a project to the public; (3) ascertain compliance with state laws and regulations; and (4) establish the level of state participation in the cost of the project.

Study says Pa. is in tough financial shape
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Brad Bumsted Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 9:30 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania state government's financial health is the 42nd worst among states, according to a George Mason University study that analysts predict will become political fodder in the governor's race.  The study released last week by the Mercatus Center at George Mason said, “States with the worst fiscal condition have had years of poor financial management.”  The study defined fiscal condition by considering “liquidity, budgetary balance, reliance on debt to finance current and long-term expenditures, and ability to pay for essential services.”
Asthma figure in Pittsburgh city schools triggers AGH study
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Adam Smeltz Published: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, 11:45 p.m.
School nurses estimate as many as half of Pittsburgh Public Schools students live with asthma, a staggering figure that is more than triple national averages and confounds doctors across the region, researchers say.  But the mystery could begin to unravel in a yearlong study announced on Monday by Allegheny General Hospital. A $415,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments will help doctors to identify more precise childhood asthma rates and exact triggers for the respiratory disease.
“If that 50 percent number in Pittsburgh is real, it means we have some real problems related to air quality,” said Dr. David P. Skoner, a study co-director and the division director in asthma, allergies and immunology for the Allegheny Health Network. He called the figure “hard to believe” but not impossible.
"The fight for equality and justice must be one for fair and full funding for educating all of our young people across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and certainly here in Philadelphia," Nutter said. "And I believe that you cannot be free without an education. Not just an adequate deduction, but a superior education, to be a first-class citizen in this country."
Nutter calls school funding an issue of inequality
MARIA PANARITIS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, January 20, 2014, 4:36 PM
PHILADELPHIA With Gov. Corbett seated just feet away, Mayor Nutter used an appearance at a Martin Luther King's Birthday ceremony Monday to call for full funding of public schools, his speech a subtle jab at an administration blamed for budget cuts that have left public schools in crisis.  In remarks preceding a ceremonial ringing of the Liberty Bell at noon in honor of King and Nelson Mandela, Nutter made a stark departure from the broad reflections offered by Corbett and others on the legacies of the freedom fighters.  Nutter's pointed, if brief, sermon concerned an issue that landed Corbett in trouble Friday, when he canceled an appearance with students at Central High School, avoiding hundreds of disgruntled people gathered outside the Philadelphia magnet school to protest his school-funding policies.

Waiting for the next wave on cheating scandal in Philly
Following years-long investigations by both the Philadelphia School district and the state, 138 Philadelphia educators have been implicated in what's become one of the largest high-stakes-testing cheating scandals in the nation.  Last week the school reform commission fired three district principals, and further disciplinary announcements are expected soon.  The educators allegedly conspired to improve students' standardized test scores from 2009 through 2011 by erasing wrong answers and replacing them with right ones.  The district's first round of announcements concerned educators currently working within the district as principals. A subsequent round will concern those currently employed as teachers and other school staff, and a final round will consist of all those who no longer work for the Philadelphia School District.

UPDATED: ELC Analysis: Charter School Law Revisions in SB 1085
Education Law Center December 3, 2013
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 1085 by a 15-11 vote on November 19, 2013. Many major amendments were approved, but none addressed the underlying issues of improving charter school accountability and increasing access for all students that we raised in our initial analysis of SB 1085.  There are several changes to the bill that raise new concerns for ELC.

Letter: Legislative effort to cut cyber education funding hurts students, teachers
Delco Daily Times POSTED: 01/20/14, 8:12 PM EST 
By DIANA MONINGER, Vice President, PA Families for Public Cyber Schools, Harrisburg
To the Times:
Why would you cut cyber school funding? Funding already has been drastically cut.
Cyber education plays an important role in a growing number of children’s lives in Pennsylvania.
In fact, more than 42,000 students are enrolled in one of 16 cyber charter schools statewide. For many parents cyber schools are not always their first option, but the best option to educate their children at their own pace in a safe environment. Traditional schools were not meeting their child’s needs, but they are willing to sacrifice to educate their children at home through a cyber school because it’s in their child’s best interest. Like every other parent in Pennsylvania, they want to see their children succeed and reach their potential to become productive adults. All children in cyber schools are seeing success and are learning – two things our public school system is designed to achieve.

RFA Releases Issue Brief on Cyber Charter Schools
Research for Action Posted by Alison Murawski on Dec 3, 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is currently considering applications that could expand the number of cyber charter schools statewide by 40 percent. In the General Assembly, at least 12 proposals are pending on cyber charter authorization, funding or oversight.
To inform these discussions, RFA used the state’s recently-issued School Performance Profile (SPP) scores to examine the performance of 11 cyber charter schools for which complete data are available. We compared these scores to all public schools statewide (both traditional public schools and brick-and-mortar charters) and looked at student mobility rates using enrollment and demographic data from the five cyber charters with publicly-available data.
Our analysis found that the performance of the cyber charter sector lags behind both traditional public schools and brick-and-mortar charters in SPP scores. Additionally, mobility rates of cyber charter students are significantly higher than for brick-and-mortar charters in almost all cases.

“Leaving aside the financing uncertainties, the mayor is on solid pedagogical ground. Full-day prekindergarten is a smart investment in growing minds, preparing children to be skilled learners at a moment when they are primed for it. It’s better to reach them at age 4 rather than fixing their learning problems later. Across the country, lawmakers and educators have embraced the universal preschool movement. President Obama has made a similar case. Mr. de Blasio is making a mainstream argument, though on a bigger scale than anyone else.”
NY Pre-K on the Starting Blocks
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD JAN. 20, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to offer full-day preschool to every New York City 4-year-old hasn’t yet rounded the corner from election slogan to classroom reality. But it’s moving: a public-relations campaign on Friday started blitzing the city with leaflets and emails to drum up support for the tax to pay for it.  The mayor has assembled early-education experts to design the program and has been seeking support from legislators. He’s even won a (backhanded) endorsement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said in hisState of the State address that he wants universal preschool for the entire state. While Mr. Cuomo seems content with an applause line in a wish list, Mr. de Blasio is on the hook with a deeper commitment. He has said how he will pay for it, how much it will cost and that it will begin late this year.  His preschool plan (and a separate after-school program for middle-schoolers) relies on the State Legislature raising income taxes on city residents making $500,000 and above. He calls this a negligible sacrifice for a transformative social good. Even so, its prospects are unclear, given Mr. Cuomo’s recent fervor for cutting taxes.

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

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
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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