Tuesday, January 7, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 7, 2014: Temple prof: Pa. cyber charters turning huge profits, sending tax dollars out of state

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SB1085 is now listed on the Senate calendar for 3rd consideration.  Have you discussed charter reform with your state legislators?
Debating charter school reform in Pennsylvania
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane - Audio runtime 52:01

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for January 7, 2014:
Temple prof: Pa. cyber charters turning huge profits, sending tax dollars out of state

We need to find a formula for school funding success: As I See It
By Patriot-News Op-Ed  on January 06, 2014 at 2:12 PM, updated January 06, 2014 at 2:33 PM
By Joseph Bard, Jim Buckheit, Jay Himes, Nathan Mains, J. Hugh Dwyer
Joseph Bard is Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools Jim Buckheit is Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Jay Himes is Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials Nathan Mains is Executive Director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association J. Hugh Dwyer is Executive Director of Central Intermediate Unit 10 and head of the Central Pennsylvania Public School Coalition
The time has come to treat public education as a bipartisan issue that has benefits for all children, regardless of where they attend school in this Commonwealth.  As state leaders come to Harrisburg to begin the 2014 legislative session on Tuesday, January 7, we need them to work together in the best interest of children in every region of our state. We cannot continue to invest in education for some and not all schools.  It limits our children’s futures and it hurts our state’s economy.  In Pennsylvania, school finance disparities continue to seriously undermine the mission of the state’s public schools. Except for the three-year period from 2009-2011 when education funding was based on the number of students and the additional cost to educate certain types of students, Pennsylvania has not allocated its basic state funding to public schools through a predictable, fair or equitable funding formula since 1991. There is a better way.

PA House Democratic Policy Committee to hold public hearing on school funding reform and equal education opportunities Tuesday, January 7th in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 2 – Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, today announced the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing examining school funding reform and equal educational opportunities in Pennsylvania from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the National Constitution Center, F.M. Kirby Auditorium, 525 Arch St.
The hearing is open to the public and media coverage is invited.

SB1085: Pa. Senate set to tackle charter school reforms
Ellwood City Paper By Natasha Lindstrom Calkins Media January 6, 2014 12:15 am
HARRISBURG — The state Senate is set to vote as early as this month on the latest proposal to overhaul Pennsylvania’s 16-year-old charter school law.  Tension between the state’s charter system and traditional public schools has intensified as charter schools have proliferated and overall education funding has dropped, with an estimated 119,000 students enrolled in nearly 180 brick-and-mortar and cyber charters in Pennsylvania.  The push for reforms has been further fueled by high-profile corruption scandals, with Nick Trombetta, the former CEO of the Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, now facing up to 100 years in prison if convicted on charges of scheming to steal and hide millions of public dollars.

Temple prof: Pa. cyber charters turning huge profits, sending tax dollars out of state
Fewer teachers. No school building. No heating bill. Same cost.
You'd think Pennsylvania's 16 cyber-charter schools, which teach home-based students via the Web, would spend a lot less per student than bricks and mortar schools.
Not so.  They collect as much money per student as the state's brick-and-mortar charter schools. Despite a call from Governor Tom Corbett to do otherwise, the state still doesn't ask how much it actually costs to educate students in cyber-charters to proficiency standards (nor does it, actually, for any of its schools).
Instead — as it does for brick-and-mortar charters — the state simply demands that school districts turn 70- percent to 80 percent of their normal per-pupil costs over to the cybers.

The Five Top Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose Senate Bill 1085
The PA Senate is poised to vote on SB 1085, the charter school “reform” bill. Now is the time for Pennsylvanians who care about our public schools to contact our state senators and urge them to oppose this legislation. Over the next 5 days our blog will detail 5 deeply flawed policies in SB 1085. Please take a few minutes, contact your senator each day this week to share your concerns about these flawed policies, urge him/her to oppose SB 1085, and share this information far and wide! If our senators don’t hear from voters, they will likely pass this bill.
Reason #5 to Oppose SB 1085

Bill would address counselor shortage in Philly schools
PHILADELPHIA The impact of the Philadelphia School District's budget crunch is far-reaching, but one cut stood out to State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Phila.) - a shortage of counseling services.  Constituents in his district, which includes parts of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County, often brought up the topic with Boyle and his staff.
"They said, 'The waiting list to see a counselor is forever,' " he said. "It's a huge problem, and very few people are paying attention to it."  So, Boyle recently introduced legislation to address the problem. His bill would amend the state public school code to lower the student-counselor ratio at all public schools - to 375-1 in elementary schools and 325-1 in high schools. Each is based on recommendations by the American School Counselor Association.

Pearson doesn’t have a test for this yet…..
Upper Darby students to play during Grammy week
LAST UPDATED: Monday, January 6, 2014, 2:01 AM
UPPER DARBY Two Upper Darby High School students have been chosen to attend the Grammy Camp/Jazz Session in Los Angeles the last week in January as part of the music awards show celebration.  Immanuel Wilkins and Yesseh Furaha-Ali, both saxophone players, will join 30 other musically talented students from across the country. The group will perform at several events during the 56th Grammy Awards celebration.

Federal jury in Dorothy June Brown fraud trial to resume its work on Wednesday
The jury in the federal fraud trial of charter-school founder Dorothy June Brown was not able to resume deliberations Monday because one member could not get to the courthouse because of inclement weather.  U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick said deliberations would resume Wednesday.  Jurors in the $6.7 million fraud trial have not met since Dec. 19, when - after more than a week of deliberations - the foreman indicated they were having problems reaching consensus on the 60 counts facing Brown.  The veteran educator, 76, is accused of defrauding the four charter schools she founded of $6.7 million, and participating in a cover-up scheme.

“The amount paid out by all 62 southeast Pennsylvania school districts was found to be up $61 million over the prior year, according to the report, which forecasts even higher payments to sustain retirement plans in the future.”
School pension costs rise 42 percent in Bucks County
By James McGinnis Staff writer January 3, 2014 1:30 pm
The cost of school pension plans increased 42 percent last year with most local school districts forking over millions of dollars more for retirement plans, according to a new report by Temple University’s Center on Regional Politics.  An analysis conducted by the university found that the overall cost of school retirement plans increased by a combined $12 million in a single year for the 13 districts in Bucks County.  A similar increase was reported in Montgomery County and across the Philadelphia region.

Three things to know about Philadelphia’s school budget: Debt, pensions and safety
By Maura Pennington | Watchdog.org January 3, 2014
PHILADELPHIA — State, local and even federal taxpayers are keeping the School District of Philadelphia operational, but the funding crisis seems to deepen with each passing year.
The district adopted a $3.1-billion budget for 2013-2014, but revenue falls short of costs by $304 million. The School Reform Commission, which has run the district for more than a decade, holds broad authority to make cuts. Yet classroom spending is only one issue affecting students in the city.  The district is the state’s largest. It includes more than 10 percent of all public school students in the state and this year received more than 20 percent of all state education subsidy dollars.  Philadelphia is home to more than half of the schools on the state Department of Education‘s list of “failing schools.” The schools on the list represent the lowest 5 percent in student achievement as measured by state standardized tests.

Hear their stories: Students discuss school funding cuts
PSEA Affiliate Partners for Public Education video runtime 3:05
In 2011, Pennsylvania cut nearly $1 billion from public schools, creating a crisis that gets worse every year these funds are not restored. But don't take our word for it. Hear what students, parents, and educators have to say.

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, an eastern Pa. Republican, will retire in a year
Patriot News By The Associated Press on January 06, 2014 at 3:21 PM
PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach, one of a shrinking number of Republican moderates in the U.S. House, said Monday he will retire from Congress at the end of this term.
Gerlach said it's "simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family."  The six-term congressman's decision opens up a district anchored in Philadelphia's western suburbs and rural areas on either side of Reading, as well as a coveted seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Gerlach has routinely had relatively close elections, though the latest round of redistricting made his seat more GOP-friendly.

“The group wants the Supreme Court to reverse the 3rd Circuit decision and reaffirm that school officials have the authority to determine if messages disrupt the school environment and infringe on the rights of others. The association is joined by the American Association of School Administrators, the School Superintendents Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.”
National school boards group urges U.S. Supreme Court to hear 'I Heart Boobies' appeal
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on January 06, 2014 at 5:26 PM
Read the full brief here.
The National School Boards Association is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the "I Heart Boobies!" case and reverse an appellate court decision that found the cancer awareness bracelets are not lewd.  The Easton Area School District banned the bracelets with the slogan "I Heart Boobies! Keep a Breast" in 2010, arguing they distracted students and could lead to sexual harassment.  Easton Area Middle School students Kayla Martinez, then 12, and Brianna Hawk, then 13, wore the bracelets to school in defiance of the ban. The girls were suspended as a result and filed a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania fighting the ban, arguing it violated their constitutional rights.

15 Months in Virtual Charter Hell: A Teacher's Tale
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on January 6, 2014 6:12 AM
Guest post by Darcy Bedortha.
In late August, 2012, I took a job in a school that is part of the largest virtual charter school chain in the nation. While I had misgivings about the nature of the school, I thought perhaps if I were diligent, I could serve my students well.  In November 2013 I decided I could no longer continue as a teacher. This is my story.
Some Background on K12 Inc.
K12 Inc., the virtual-education company, was founded in 1999 by the one-time "junk bond king" Michael Milken and the hedge fund banker Ronald Packard. The company's original board chairman was William J. Bennett, who had been the U.S. Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan. (Bennett resigned from his position with K12 Inc. in 2005 after sparking controversy by stating that the U.S. crime rate would go down if more African-American babies were aborted.)  As a private company founded by financiers, K12 Inc. is highly profit-driven. Though its stock price has apparently taken a hit recently, there is little doubt that K12 Inc. has been quite successful in bringing in revenue--even as regular public schools have faced dire financial straits. According to the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, Packard, who is the current CEO, earned $19 million in compensation from 2009-2013. In 2013 alone, as Chicago closed 50 of its public schools and Philadelphia closed 23 more, K12 Inc. brought in a whopping $730.8 million in taxpayer dollars from its managed public schools, and its top executives saw their compensation skyrocket by 96 percent.  

Clash of Priorities Sets Up Cuomo-de Blasio Showdown on Pre-K Push
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM and SUSANNE CRAIG Published: January 6, 2014
It was a political show of force. Nearly every top labor leader in New York City stood side by side on Monday in a Harlem classroom as Bill de Blasio, the newly installed mayor, looked on.
One by one, each pledged fealty to the effort quickly emerging as the centerpiece of Mayor de Blasio’s first year in office — fulfilling his campaign promise to provide citywide prekindergarten classes, and to pay for them by taxing the rich.  But at nearly the exact same time, in a flag-draped room in Albany, the man who may control the fate of Mr. de Blasio’s plan, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was trumpeting his own vow to lower taxes.

Test Scandal in Atlanta Brings More Guilty Pleas
By KIM SEVERSON and ALAN BLINDER Published: January 6, 2014
ATLANTA — The cast of characters was mostly former teachers and principals, six of whom pleaded guilty on Monday in a Fulton County courtroom for their part in what has been described as the largest cheating scandal in the nation’s history. Their pleas bring to 17 the number of educators who have already pleaded guilty, with a handful more in active negotiations.
But the real focus seemed to be on the woman sitting quietly near the rear of the courtroom, Beverly Hall, the former superintendent. Once considered to be among the top urban school leaders in the country, she is now viewed by some as the ringleader of a vast cheating conspiracy devised to make her and her district look good.

“Pennsylvania: Only 36 percent of of Pennsylvania voters approve of the job Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is doing, according to a December survey. The governor gets low marks for his handling of almost every major issue. A crowd of Democrats, led by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, is fighting to take on Corbett this November. The governor has had trouble getting his agenda through a legislature controlled by his own party, with the exception of a transportation package approved late last year. He has also been criticized for being slow to bring criminal charges in the Penn State sex abuse scandal when he was attorney general.”
Governors, Lawmakers Return to Capitols With an Eye on November
Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline By Daniel C. Vock, Staff Writer January 6, 2014
Governors and legislators will wrestle this spring with how to spend newfound surpluses. They will debate whether to entice businesses with lower tax rates or to restore funding for schools, as their states climb out of the recession. But mostly they will focus on getting re-elected.  This marks the fourth  year in the terms of most governors elected in 2010, a group of many first-time state executives who have reshaped the national landscape on taxes, government spending and health care coverage.

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 November 24, 2013
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.
In the coming weeks, we will release more details. In the meantime, make your travel plans and click this link and submit your email address to receive updates about the NPE National Conference 2014.

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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