Thursday, January 23, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 23, 2014: But state budget records show the education spending was reduced by $655 million in stimulus money and $355 million in state funds…

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
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 Network for Public Education Press Release January 19, 2014
NPE National Conference at University of Texas at Austin March 1 & 2

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 23, 2014:
But state budget records show the education spending was reduced by $655 million in stimulus money and $355 million in state funds…also had to spend about $312 million more to start covering decades' worth of unfunded pension liabilities…

“Corbett told reporters Wednesday, as he has since 2011-12, that the $1 billion reduction was caused solely by the loss of temporary federal stimulus money. "I did not cut $1 billion," Corbett said. "That was cut before I walked in the door [as governor]."  But state budget records show the education spending was reduced by $655 million in stimulus money and $355 million in state funds.  Corbett, as required by state law, also had to spend about $312 million more to start covering decades' worth of unfunded pension liabilities for school employees. But the pension increase did not find its way into classrooms, and school boards laid off staff, cut programs and raise property taxes.”
Gov. Tom Corbett muses about school funding and voter ID law
Governor says he canceled appearance at Philly's Central High for students' sake.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:47 p.m. EST, January 22, 2014
HARRISBURG — Last Friday might as well have been a Friday the 13th for Gov. Tom Corbett, who got back-to-back helpings of bad news.  First, he canceled his first scheduled visit to a Philadelphia school after a threat of in-school protests by teachers upset over education spending cuts. Then a judge declared unconstitutional the voter ID provisions Corbett signed into law.
During a news conference Wednesday in the Capitol, Corbett, a Republican with dismal polling numbers seeking re-election, explained how his administration dealt with those issues.
Corbett's comments on schools, voter ID and other topics came after he gathered with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence to publicly propose spending 10 percent more, for a total of $15.3 million, for rape crisis services and domestic violence prevention programs in 2014-15.
Corbett calls Pa. public school funding unfair by MARK SCOLFORO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 12:15 PM
Story Highlights
  • Corbett said Wednesday that the state's school funding system should be changed.
  • He's interested in a bill that would set up a commission to develop a formula to distribute money for K-12 education.
  • Corbett’s handling of education funding has emerged as a major campaign issue.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday that Pennsylvania's system of school funding should be changed, calling for "a true funding system" that would be fair to all schools.  The governor expressed interest in a bill passed by the state House last week that would set up a commission to develop a formula to distribute money for K-12 education. The bill is pending in the Senate.  "Let's get a true, fair funding system of all the schools of Pennsylvania, not for one district or another," Corbett said. "It's not fair right now, OK? So we need to address that."

“It’s not exactly a secret that Corbett is not generally considered a friend of public education. One of his biggest campaign donors is Vahan Gureghian, the brains and money behind the biggest charter school in Pennsylvania, Chester Community Charter School. It did not take Corbett long once he took office to pay a visit to that facility and laud it as a model for the rest of the state.”
Editorial: Corbett can run, but not hide, from bad decisions
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 01/22/14, 10:12 PM EST |
For Gov. Tom Corbett, it could have been a teachable moment.
It turned out be just that, but probably not the kind the governor had in mind.
Corbett was due at Central High School in Philadelphia last Friday to honor students and staff for their recent showing on statewide testing. It had not gone unnoticed that it would mark his first visit to a public school in the city, even as his first term comes to an end. It also has not gone unnoticed that many blame the horrific cuts that have beset the district, where layoffs and staff parings have shattered more of students, staff and parents, on the austere budgets Corbett pushed in the first three years of his administration.  Of course, Corbett has another view of those finances, including his belief that the real villain in the funding crisis that beset so many Pennsylvania schools was in the expiration of federal stimulus funds, and local decisions – despite warnings not to do so – to earmark those funds for recurring programs.

This collection of postings on Vahan Gureghian continues to be one of the most visited links on the Keystone State Education Coalition blog:

West Philly group seeks to expand literacy in district schools
EACH OF Pennsylvania's 26 state prisons is mandated by law to employ a librarian with a master's degree and to have a large collection of books and periodicals. But no state law requires the same for public schools.  "I think it's backward," said David Florig, executive director of the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, a nonprofit promoting childhood literacy in West Philly. "Early reading is key to success in school and staying on track."  Only 11 of 212 schools in the Philadelphia School District have libraries. That, according to Florig, is problematic for Philly's kids, their prospects and the city's future.

Our View: Settlement needed for pension reform
The Sentinel (Carlisle) Editorial January 22, 2014
Push has come to shove in real time for Pennsylvania on pension reform and education funding.
Two weeks from yesterday — supposedly — all will be made clear regarding Gov. Tom Corbett’s reported plan to inject millions into the public education system while initiating long-promised reforms of the state’s overburdened pension system.  This should be a fiscal balancing act well worth watching. School districts statewide are at the breaking point over funding and pension system debt. Given the governor’s record on education funding and pension reform over the past three years, whatever Corbett offers will be a hard sell.  Paying for the expected heavy infusion of dollars into education is expected to come from drastic changes in the Public School Employees Retirement System. There, expect a battle over defined contribution retirement plans.
The governor’s annual budget proposal is to be presented to the General Assembly on Feb. 4.

"I've spent a lot of my time trying to educate people about the charter issue. There is so much poor thinking on the subject that it's very frustrating for me...We're building two entire systems of education...the lost money created by this duplication is a staggering amount of money and it happens every time we open a new seat in a charter school and take a person out of one of the district schools...and that money is just lost to education. It's just friction. It's transition costs, and people don't see that."
Exit interview: SRC's Joseph Dworetzky on hopes, frustrations and the future of Philly schools
In many ways, Joseph Dworetzky was the "voice of people" during his four year tenure as a School Reform Commissioner — often casting the lone "no" vote on SRC decisions unpopular with the education advocates who regularly testify at the group's action meetings.
Dworetzky, a lawyer by trade who spent time as City Solicitor in Ed Rendell's mayoral administration, held views that often clashed with those of his SRC colleagues.

Report: Philly's school 'Renaissance' a mixed bag
THE SCHOOL District of Philadelphia's latest attempt to turn around "underperforming" schools has yielded dramatic improvements in some cases, while many schools are still struggling, according to a recent report by the district.  The Renaissance Schools Initiative, launched in 2010 by former superintendent Arlene Ackerman, paired schools with either charter operators or district-run turnaround teams. Thirty-five schools have undergone the transformation, including three that since have closed.  In addition to new leadership, each of the schools replaced at least half of its teachers. Many also implemented longer instructional periods and other changes.

Grover Cleveland Mastery making progress, giving students ownership
FOR EIGHTH-grader Germaine Fitchett, the difference between Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter pre- and post-Renaissance is like night and day.  "The school got more strict. We have more responsibilities and higher requirements and things like that," the wiry teen said during a recent tour of the school, on 19th Street near Erie Avenue.  But he doesn't mean that in a bad way.  "The teachers, they're always happy and excited and things like that. And especially around PSSA time," he explained, referring to the state achievement exams. "The teachers [are] like, 'We're gonna make it, we're gonna do this, we're gonna reach this.' "

“The local job market and the city's public schools were big reasons why young adults didn't see themselves planting roots in Philadelphia.  Only 36 percent of those polled said they would recommend the city as a place to raise kids, while 56 percent said they wouldn't.”
Better schools, more jobs would keep economic boon of millennials in Philly
A new study shows that Philadelphia has become a bit of a hot spot for millenials, "but that many of them don't plan on staying for long."  Between 2006 and 2012, the city gained 100,000 millennials, adults between the ages of 20 and 34, according to "Millennials in Philadelphia: A Promising but Fragile Boom," the report released Wednesday by the Philadelphia research initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts. [Read the report below.]
Half of those surveyed, though, said they definitely or probably wouldn't be living in the city in the next five or 10 years.  About 30 percent of all other adults said the same.

“In only three years, the district has transformed spaces in the high school and middle school into high-tech learning centers, taken computer programming classes down to the elementary level, partnered with Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center to guide technology learning and become Pennsylvania's first school district to provide iPads to all 2,355 students, according to the district.”
Elizabeth Forward schools recognized for high-tech efforts
By Deborah M. Todd / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 22, 2014 11:40 PM
At any given moment in the quad of Elizabeth Forward Middle School, sixth-graders could be studying schematics for a 3-D printing project on an iPad. At the high school, it's no surprise seeing students hunched over library tables tweaking plans for an iPhone app. Even at the elementary level, lessons on constellations become digital stargazing sessions for kindergarten students brandishing iPad minis.  A push to promote the fundamentals of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education has propelled the Elizabeth Forward School District to elite status among national technology and education organizations.

Mt. Lebanon schools lauded
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette By Harry Funk January 23, 2014 5:43 AM
Accolades continued Monday for Mt. Lebanon School District’s academic achievement.
State Sen. Matt Smith and Rep. Dan Miller, both Democrats from Mt. Lebanon, attended the school board meeting to present proclamations recognizing nine of the district's 10 schools for receiving the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics.

Editorial: Reading school board takes first step in reorganizing the district
Reading Eagle Tuesday January 21, 2014 12:01 AM
When Reading School Board member Pierre V. Cooper cast the lone vote against the Berks County Intermediate Unit running the district for the remainder of the school year, he spoke of the proposal as taking power away from the board.  It was an interesting choice of words. For decades, power seemed to be one of the primary reasons people ran for a seat on the Reading School Board: the power to appoint friends and family members to district jobs, the power to garner name recognition to pursue other elected offices, the power to spend lavishly on meals at taxpayer expense and the power to direct day-to-day district operations.
Those are exactly the types of things that we hope the BCIU involvement over the next five months or so will help to eliminate. And because the other six members of the board voted to accept help from the intermediate unit, we trust that they are hoping to do that, too.

Pittsburgh city school tax rate upped by 2%
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 22, 2014 11:44 PM
The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools on Wednesday night approved a 2 percent property tax increase that will yield $3 million for the school district but still leaves the district with a budget deficit.  The 0.19-mill increase raises the tax rate from 9.65 mills to 9.84 mills. One mill generates $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.  The vote was 7-2, with board members Bill Isler and Sherry Hazuda voting no.  The district had gone more than a decade without raising the property tax rate until it raised the rate in 2013.

New Pittsburgh Public Schools Board President Speaks out on Student Achievement
Urban Media Today by Allegra Johnson January 2014
In December 2013, Thomas Sumpter was elected as the board president of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.  With a new president elected, there has been a major transition within the school board; something Sumpter says is needed to support the school district.
Sumpter said he feels optimistic about the future of Pittsburgh Public Schools and that it will take the  entire community to help close the achievement gap facing many low-income and minority students in the school district.  UrbanMediaToday's Allegra Johnson spoke to Sumpter about the school district and what he is most hopeful for.  

Teacher Evaluation Sparks Clash in Pittsburgh
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk Published Online: January 22, 2014
A dispute in Pittsburgh between the school district and teachers' union over the city's jointly designed teacher-evaluation system shows the stark distinction between ambitious policy plans and implementation—a lesson for an active philanthropic community that has invested millions of dollars in rethinking evaluation nationwide.  "I thought we were partners in reform, but the partnership [with the union] has been rocky, let's just say that," Superintendent Linda S. Lane said. "In theory, it sounds fine, but when it gets to the execution, it's tough."
The disagreement concerns the 26,000-student district's decision to set the bar so that an estimated 9 percent of teachers would receive the lowest evaluation score. The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers insists that that figure is too high.
The new system has largely been funded out of a $40 million grant from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which nationwide has put nearly $700 million into grants to reshape the teaching profession. (The Gates Foundation also supports Education Week's coverage of business and K-12 innovation.)  With no immediate resolution in sight, concerns are brewing that the dispute could scotch the remaining $15.8 million in the grant, though the Gates Foundation indicates that the funding is not yet in jeopardy.

Is Nutter changing his tune on charters?
IS MAYOR NUTTER changing his tune on charter schools?
In June, as the School District of Philadelphia was readying to close 24 traditional schools while students fled to charters, Mayor Nutter went on national TV to defend the decision.
"My job is to make sure that we have a system of great schools all across the city of Philadelphia, that they are properly funded regardless of who manages them . . . and that the elected officials, certainly myself included, are providing the proper funding for a high-quality education regardless of what school a parent decides to send their child to," he said on MSNBC.
Compare that to his comments last week, when he criticized Gov. Corbett's appointment of Councilman Bill Green to the School Reform Commission - in part because Green has previously proposed "charterizing" the entire district.  "It is my hope that [Green] will come to better understand the importance of district-managed schools and that he will stand up and truly support our schoolchildren and teachers," Nutter said in a statement. He added in a news conference: "We must come to grips with the growth of charter schools."
Nutter maintains that he has always been a supporter of good schools, district or charter, and that his concerns about charter-school expansion are related to a change in how they are funded.

With Bill Green taking the helm, it's time to dissolve the SRC
Notebook by Ron Whitehorne on Jan 22 2014 Posted in Commentary
Ron Whitehorne is a retired teacher and is on the steering committee of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS).
With the appointment of Bill Green to head up the School Reform Commission, it’s time to get serious about getting rid of this dysfunctional form of governance and returning our schools to local control.  For the last two years, the SRC has pursued a policy of “rightsizing” the District, which has called for closings schools, reducing staff, and cutting instructional programs. The SRC has also championed turning over schools with chronically low test scores to charters and, with some caveats, has favored the expansion of the charter school sector, despite the fact that these actions have only worsened the District’s fiscal problems.
The appointment of Bill Green to chair of the commission signals a continuation of this direction. Indeed, Green, based on his past statements and record on Council, may prove to be a more aggressive advocate of these policies than his predecessor, leading even SRC supporter Mayor Nutter to express reservations about his appointment. 

Philadelphia Principals Fired in Cheating Scandal
New York Timers By MOTOKO RICH and JON HURDLE JAN. 22, 2014
Three Philadelphia Public Schools principals were fired last week after an investigation into test cheating that has implicated about 140 teachers and administrators, a spokesman for the district said Wednesday.  The action follows years of investigating the results of state standardized math and reading tests taken from 2009 to 2011. The investigation, conducted by the school district and the state department of education, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, identified 33 schools — including three public charter schools — where an analysis of test answer sheets found a suspicious number of wrong answers that were erased and made right.

Pearson’s Plan for Education Is Coming
Education news Blog Jan 22, 2014 by Staff by Alan Singer
In the United States school districts are traditionally organized and funded locally. Parents, teachers, and school and district administrators usually only think about state and national issues when they feel pressed from above by state imposed budget cuts or federal demands for curriculum change and new assessments. Much of the opposition to Common Core and Race to the Top arose because parents, teachers, and administrators felt local prerogatives were being undermined by unwarranted pressure from above. But an examination of the Pearson publishing mega-giant’s plan to control public education in Great Britain makes clear, the greatest threat to local initiatives in public education may be from powerful global corporations. Beware! The Pearson Plan for education in the United Kingdom may be coming to a country near you — unless we can stop it now.

Investments for Kids in the Fiscal Year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act
First Focus FACT SHEETS By Jared Solomon January 22, 2014
While not ideal by any stretch, the Fiscal Yeary 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, also known as an omnibus budget bill, does include an overall increase in funding to discretionary investments that matter to kids, when compared to FY13. Unfortunately, after adjusting for inflation and comparing to pre-sequester levels in 2012, this investment falls far short, reflecting a decline of nearly $2.1 billion. This analysis looks at overall funding levels, funding for individual policy areas, notable increases and decreases, new investments, and significant policy changes.

Come to Harrisburg February 4th for the Governor's Budget Address
Show your School Spirit with PCCY!
On February 4th 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

PA House Education Committee Meeting Monday, January 27, 2014 11:00 AM Room 140 Main Capitol
Informational briefing - Recommendations of the Special Education Funding Commission Report.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.