Friday, January 31, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 31, 2014: Kerkstra: 8 changes to fix Philly schools before its too late

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3080 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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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?


On Tuesday, February 4th, the Governor will be presenting his proposal for the budget, kicking off “budget season” in Harrisburg.  Will you be tweeting about the PA budget?  Use the #EducationPA and #PABudget hashtags together.



Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 31, 2014:
Kerkstra: 8 changes to fix Philly schools before its too late

“Pennsylvania has one of the most extensive networks of independently managed cyber charter schools in the country, with 14 such schools currently serving roughly 35,000 students. For-profits, including K12 and Connections Education, a division of publishing giant Pearson, play a major role in many of those existing schools. The companies have lobbied actively in the state capitol, where former K12 executive Charles Zogby now works as the state's budget secretary.  Despite one of the most generous funding formulas in the country, Pennsylvania's cyber charters have been plagued by poor performance, high rates of student attrition, and dramatic examples of fraud.”
Pa. Rejects Cyber Charter Applicants, Citing For-Profits' Role
Education Week Digital education Blog By Benjamin Herold on January 29, 2014 9:13 PM
For the second consecutive year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has denied all the applicants proposing to open new full-time virtual charter schools in the state.
One big factor in the rejections: The department believed that the purportedly independent boards of five of the six proposed schools were too closely tied to for-profit companies poised to receive contracts from the new schools if charters were granted. 

Masch: Claim that charters get less money per student than District schools is false
thenotebook by Michael Masch on Jan 30 2014 Posted in Commentary
For years, charter school supporters have been wrongly asserting that Philadelphia charter schools cost much less to operate than District-operated schools, and that charters are being shortchanged, receiving substantially less per-student funding from the School District than the District spends on each student in its own schools.  Among those who have made this assertion are Lawrence Jones, president of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, Robert Fayfich, executive director of that organization, and Robert Morano, a board member of the Achievement House Cyber Charter School in Exton.   Fearful of antagonizing elected officials who support charter schools and wealthy, politically active businesspeople who support charter schools, the School District of Philadelphia has been reluctant to publicly challenge these kinds of claims by charter advocates, even though District leaders have known for years that they simply are not true.

 “Recently Corbett called on lawmakers need to come up with a better way of dividing education funding to the 500 school districts and other school entities, including charters. But that shouldn't be confused with saying that the school system needs more funding, he cautioned.”
Corbett seeks $10 million more for Pa. early education
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JANUARY 30, 2014
Gov. Tom Corbett plans to ask Pennsylvania lawmakers for a $10 million increase for early education grants in his budget address next week.  The proposal would amount to a 16 percent increase in funding for the state's Pre-K Counts program.
"Our Pre-K Counts programs consistently deliver high-quality pre-K education," Corbett said Thursday. "We're not talking just babysitting, we're talking care, we're talking about teaching, we're talking about nurturing."  Going into the fiscal year beginning in July, estimates show a deficit of more then $1 billion. But Corbett has given advance notice of a few other increases he plans to request in his spending plan -- such as more assistance for abuse victims and initiatives serving those with intellectual disabilities.

Corbett wants to give top schools $1M to help low-performing ones
Beaver County Times By Natasha Lindstrom Calkins Media Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 6:49 pm | Updated: 12:48 am, Thu Jan 30, 2014.
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett wants Pennsylvania’s top schools to compete for a share of $1 million to help lower-performing schools get better.  The proposed Governor’s Expanding Excellence Program would establish a new competitive grant fund intended to encourage the highest-performing schools in the state to come up with effective ways of sharing what they do best.  “It allows them to have pride in what they do,” state Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said. “Schools will be able to secure some additional funding to help offset those costs of sharing their programs and training with other schools, because in education the whole goal is getting all students to achieve success.”  If the state Legislature supports the concept, schools would be able to compete for grants of up to $20,000, which means at least 50 schools could benefit.

GEEPers, More Money for the Rich
by Yinzercation January 30, 2014
You’re not going to believe this. But in his budget proposal next week, Governor Corbett is apparently planning to increase funding for public schools by – wait for it – giving wealthy districts more money. OK, it’s not as simple as that. But in effect, this is exactly what he is proposing.
As we learned two weeks ago, the Governor has been talking about finding $100-$200 million more to put into public education. [“New Year Cheer”] That would be great, though sources close to Corbett say “a decent chunk of that funding will be the state’s share of the pension payments for school employees.” They also report, “One thing is certain, little-to-none will be in the form of an increase of the state budget’s basic education line item.” [Capitolwire, 1-29-14 (paywall), see summary on Keystone State Education Coalition, 1-30-14] In other words, that money is not going to help our public schools hire back teachers or restore any of the programs our students have lost.

“The senate Democrats' plan would restore several line items that Corbett had cut from the state budget: $100 million for accountability block grants; $85 million in charter-school reimbursements to districts; $50 million for tutoring; $40 million for early learning and $25 million for special education.”
Democrats unveil proposals for more money for schools
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Thursday, January 30, 2014, 5:46 PM
Democrats from Philadelphia's state Senate delegation unveiled a plan Thursday to provide $300 million more for education across the state.  During a briefing at the School District's headquarters, senators said the increased aid for schools would not require any broad-based tax increases.  State Sen. Vincent Hughes, Democratic chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said the proposal "just marks the down payment" on the nearly $1 billion needed over the next three years to restore cuts in school funding since Gov. Corbett, a Republican, took office.

Philly's Senate Dems propose $300M extra for education
REGINA MEDINA, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER MEDINAR@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Friday, January 31, 2014, 12:16 AM
A GROUP OF state Senate Democrats proposed a budget yesterday that would boost education funding by $300 million for 2014-15 without a tax increase.  The funding was part of an overall budget proposal that offered $1.1 billion in additional revenue and savings, said state Sen. Vincent Hughes, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  The Democrats' proposed increase comes as Gov. Corbett is expected to present his budget next week. It is a "down payment of a billion-dollar increase that we need to have over the next three years," said Hughes, surrounded by members of the Philadelphia Senate delegation inside district headquarters in North Philadelphia.

Pre-K Works, but Only for Those with Access
PCCY Blog Spot Thursday, January 30, 2014
The amount of public funding available for Pre-K in Pennsylvania covers less than 20 percent of the 3-and-4-year-olds that need it.  The annual cost of private pre-k can rival the cost of college tuition, forcing too many families to go without a high-quality program essential to their children’s success.  Public concern over the shortage of high quality pre-k is clearly something that elected officials and candidates are beginning to notice.  Again, the President called for federal investment in pre-k in the 2014 State of the Union Address.  Similarly, New York Mayor Bill de Balsio rallied voters to his side in part by emphasizing his commitment to pre-k.  According to a new poll commissioned by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly favor increased spending on pre-k, even at the expense of raised taxes.  With every House seat up for election, not to mention many Senate seats in the southeast and a Governor’s race that might hinge on that area; this is the best chance for the Philadelphia area’s children to gain access to high-quality pre-k.
The poll finds that nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvanians support increasing funding to ensure all children have access to voluntary, high quality pre-k programs, with more than half of voters strongly supporting it.  And they are willing to raise their taxes to do so, by a more than two to one margin. This is not a partisan issue, a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents support expanding access to high-quality pre-k programs.

Philadelphia’s School Crisis: A City On The Brink
Unless we fix the schools, Philly is doomed. But what can be done when the city’s leadership class lacks the will to face the problem head-on? Here are eight changes we need to demand right now—before it’s too late.
Philadelphia Magazine BY PATRICK KERKSTRA  |  JANUARY 30, 2014
My family and I moved out of Philadelphia last year. We did so reluctantly, and with a crippling heaping of guilt.  It wasn’t the crime, or the taxes, or the grit. No, we left for the same reason that untold thousands have decamped for the suburbs before us: the crummy state of the city’s public schools, a chronic and seemingly immutable fact of life in Philadelphia.
The failings go way beyond the typical struggles of a big urban district. In December, the latest national assessment found that just 14 percent of Philadelphia fourth-graders were proficient or better at reading, compared to 26 percent in other big cities and 34 percent nationally. Of the 25 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia ranks 22nd in college degree attainment. Graduates of the School District of Philadelphia are particularly bad off; only about 10 percent of district alums go on to get degrees.
Still, it wasn’t the statistics that drove us away. It was the deflating sense that there was no clear and affordable path for our two young kids to get the education they need—particularly our son, who has some special needs. Despite our love for the city, our belief that Philadelphia is genuinely on the rise, and endless conversations in which we tried to rationalize staying, my wife and I decided we had to leave. The day the moving van arrived, I didn’t feel angry so much as I felt ashamed. That embarrassment is, I think, not entirely uncommon. And it’s a sign that the failings of the city’s schools are damaging Philadelphia even more than in the past.

Dallastown school board member is running to succeed Rep. Ron Miller in state House
By Jeff Frantz | jfrantz@pennlive.com  on January 30, 2014 at 5:53 PM
A Dallastown Area School Board member is seeking the Republican nomination tosucceed Rep. Ron Miller in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Kristin Hill resigned from her position as a part-time aide in Miller's office earlier this week and announced her candidacy. Miller, who has represented the 93rd legislative district since 1999, is running for the state Senate seat formerly held by Mike Waugh.

Is new Pa. school rating system fair to learning disabled students? PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor  by COURTNEY THURSTON on January 30, 2014 at 2:41 PM
As a high school junior at Commonwealth Connections Academy, an online public charter school, I know each of my peers belongs to many groups, among them Olympic hopefuls, professional dancers, people of faith, aspiring actors and actresses, families from low income areas, budding engineers and scientists, and another equally important group: learning disabled students.
If you don’t believe this group is just as important as the others, congratulations, you’re a part of the problem!

Delco Times Letter: Common Core Standards in public schools require answers from parents
Delco Times LTE by JOANNE YURCHAK POSTED: 01/30/14, 10:05 PM EST |
To the Times:
Common Core State Standards (recently renamed PA Core Standards) is a costly, untested, educational experiment that was foisted on Pennsylvania’s schools without legislative approval. When full math and language arts implementation began in Pa.’s public schools in July of 2013, few educators, school administrators, school board members and legislators understood the particulars of this initiative that will fundamentally transform our educational system. Currently, even fewer parents and taxpayers understand the variety of motives for its formulation, its methodologies, its huge unfunded mandates, and its potential harmful effects on Pennsylvania’s educational system and economy.  Listed below are several questions that citizens should pose to their own district’s school board members and school administrators in order to gain a better understanding of the Common Core initiative and parental and student rights with regard to its mandates.

New Hope Academy Charter stay request denied; matter scheduled for arguments in March
Cram Session Blog Posted on January 30, 2014 by Angie Mason York Daily Record Reporter
The docket sheet for New Hope Academy Charter School’s appeal case says that the Commonwealth Court has denied the school’s request to extend its stay in order to remain open throughout the appeal process.  I’m working to track down the full order.
What does this decision mean?  The state Charter Appeal Board originally ordered New Hope to close in January. Then, the board gave the school an extension of sorts to remain open until the end of the school year in June, while the school appealed the board’s decision not to renew New Hope’s charter. New Hope had then asked the Commonwealth Court for a longer extension, wanting to remain open until the court appeals process is complete.

PSBA White Paper: The costs of charter and cyber charter schools
Updated January 2014
Research and policy implications for Pennsylvania school districts
White Paper by PSBA’s Education research & Policy Center
This week PSBA’s Education Research and Policy Center issued an update to its charter school funding white paper this week, originally published in October 2010. The net cost to districts for students attending charter schools increased from $434 million in 2006-07 to $1.145 billion in 2011-12. The financial analysis indicates the need for several changes to the current charter law related to funding.

Franklin & Marshall College Poll
Survey of Pennsylvanians Summary of Findings
Prepared by: Center for Opinion Research, Floyd Institute for Public Policy
January 30, 2014
The January 2014 Franklin & Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvania registered voters finds a majority (62%) believes the state is “off on the wrong track” and only one in four (23%) believes Governor Tom Corbett has performed sufficiently well to deserve re-election. The survey also finds that President Obama’s job approval ratings (30%) in Pennsylvania are the lowest since he took office in January 2009. Nearly one in three (31%) registered voters believes unemployment and the economy is the state’s most important problem, followed by schools and school funding (19%).

“Though affirming that they wholeheartedly support the Common Core standards as “a more rigorous path through pre-kindergarten to grade twelve for all students,” the superintendents wrote that there are serious problems with the introduction of the reforms. They specifically cited the fact that Maryland plans to continue using an outdated test — the Maryland School Assessments — while the state has shifted to a new curriculum that isn’t aligned with the old test. They also said it is inappropriate for new test-based teacher evaluations and accountability measures to roll out before the reforms have been fully put in place.”
Md. superintendents criticize implementation of reforms
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS January 30 at 4:33 pm
Nearly all of the superintendents of Maryland school districts have signed a statement that criticizes federal and state education officials for forcing them to implement several major reforms, including the Common Core State Standards, on what they say is an unrealistic timetable.  The document, signed by 22 of Maryland’s 24 superintendents from districts educating more than 800,000 students, asks for more time and resources to put the reforms in place, including the use of new Common Core tests expected in the 2014-2015 school year. The letter represents the first time that such a high percentage of schools chiefs in Maryland have come together to publicly call out education officials over school reform.

Text of Maryland superintendents’ document on school reform
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS January 30 at 11:00 pm
Here is the text of a document approved by 22 of Maryland’s 24 local schools superintendents expressing concern about how federal and state officials are forcing school districts to implement specific school reforms. You can read more about the document and why the superintendents, through the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, decided to make public their concerns in this post.

Early Education Spending By The Feds Has Not Really Risen Since Obama Took Office
The Huffington Post  |  By Rebecca Klein Posted: 01/29/2014 7:43 pm
Further proof that words aren't enough: President Barack Obama has advocated for the importance of early educationsince his first presidential campaign, yet overall federal spending on America’s littlest learners has seen only a slight increase since 2008.  Instead, a recent report from the New America Foundation shows that after early education received a funding injection from the 2009 stimulus package, policymakers failed to keep up that increased investment. The 2009 spending hit a high of $32.6 billion, but the real tale lies in the comparison between the 2008 and 2013 figures: $20.7 billion then and only slightly higher at $21.5 billion last year.



Register Now! EPLC’s 2014 Education Issues Workshops for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters
EPLC’s Education Issue Workshops Register Now! – Space is Limited!
A Non-Partisan One-Day Program for Pennsylvania Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff and Interested Voters
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 in Harrisburg, PA
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in Monroeville, PA
Thursday, March 27, 2014 in Philadelphia,PA

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 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

Auditor General DePasquale to Hold Public Meetings on Ways to Improve Charter Schools
Seeks to find ways to improve accountability, effectiveness, transparency
The public meetings will be held:
  • Allegheny County: 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25, Commissioners Hearing Room, Ross Township Municipal Center, 1000 Ross Municipal Rd., Pittsburgh
  • Northampton County: 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27, City Council Chambers, 6th Floor, City Hall, One South Third St., Easton
  • Cambria County: 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, March 6, Commissioners Meeting Room, Cambria County Court House, 200 South Center St., Ebensburg
  • Bucks County: 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, March 7, Township of Falls Administrative Building, Suite 100, 188 Lincoln Highway, Fairless Hills
  • NEW: Philadelphia: 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, March 14, City Council Chambers, Room 400, City Hall
Time is limited to two hours for each meeting. Comments can be submitted in writing by Wednesday, Feb. 19, via email to Susan Woods at: swoods@auditorgen.state.pa.us.

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.

The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools invites you to a screening and discussion of "Standardized: Lies, Money, and Civil Rights".
Thursday, February 6 - 6:00 p.m.Ritz East - 125 S. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA

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 pan style='font-size:9.0pt;font-family:Arial'> 

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

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

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