Thursday, January 9, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 9, 2014: Activists preparing lawsuit over fair funding of Pa. public education

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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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?

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 9, 2014:
Activists preparing lawsuit over fair funding of Pa. public education

If you are unable to listen to this live broadcast today I plan to include a link to the audio in tomorrow’s posting…..
Radio Times: Philly public school update today at 10 am
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane THURSDAY, JANUARY 9 10 am
Guests: Kristen Graham, Kevin McCorry, Dale Mezzacappa
The school year has reached the halfway point, students and teachers have returned from winter break and the School District of Philadelphia continues to hobble along with fewer schools, fewer staff, and much less money.  Meanwhile the teacher’s union hasn’t budged, the School Reform Commission is without a leader and school children have limited access to school services, counselors, nurses and librarians.  We’ll get an update on the crisis situation in Philadelphia Public Schools from three reporters who have been closely following the situation.  KRISTEN GRAHAM is the education reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, DALE MEZZACAPPA is a contributing editor at The Public School Notebook, and’s KEVIN McCORRY.

The Top Five Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose SB 1085–
Reason #3
The Charter School Funding Advisory Commission considers ONLY charter school needs.
The proposed Charter School Funding Advisory Commission is heavily stacked in favor of charter schools and is prohibited by law from considering the fiscal impact of charter school growth on local communities. (ELC_CharterBillAnalysis_SB1085_10_29_13)
This is an insult to Pennsylvania’s taxpayers.
Charter schools are not “tuition-free” as ubiquitous Internet ads proclaim. In fact, Pennsylvania taxpayers spend more than $1 billion on charter school tuition payments every year.

The Top Five Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose SB 1085 Reason #4
Language that charter schools be models of innovation has been inexplicably stripped from SB 1085
SB 1085 eliminates longstanding requirements that charter schools be models of innovation for other public schools.  Removal of this key language from the legislation begs the question, If the purpose of charter schools is not to provide something different and better than the traditional public schools, what is their purpose?  As Pennsylvanians certainly cannot afford to fund a second, parallel, costly, and completely duplicative system of public education, it is essential that any charter school reform legislation retain language that requires charter schools to be models of innovation for our public schools.

The Top Five Reasons Your State Senator Should Oppose SB 1085
Reason #5
Reason #5 to Oppose SB 1085 The Private Authorizer System
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.
SB 1085 creates a private authorizer system for charter schools in PA. More than 100 institutions of higher education, including institutions with no experience, capacity, or faculty in education, would be allowed to authorize an unlimited number of charter schools without input from local communities.  Charter schools will be able to set up shop without community approval, and send us the bill—whether we can afford it or not.

Activists preparing lawsuit over fair funding of Pa. public education
thenotebook by Jeseamy Muentes on Jan 08 2014
National and state education activists made a call this week for stronger early childhood education in Pennsylvania, and some said they are preparing to sue the Commonwealth over fairer school funding.  The comments came at a hearing Tuesday convened by Democratic Philadelphia legislators.  Rhonda Brownstein, executive director of the Education Law Center in Pennsylvania, announced that her organization and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia are preparing to file a lawsuit against the state. Brownstein said the current funding system violates the state constitution’s guarantee of a “thorough and efficient system of public education.”

Looking for an exercise in PA school funding?  Compare the challenges and concerns in Radnor with those in Philly……
Full-day kindergarten gets pushback from Radnor parents
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Thursday, January 9, 2014, 2:01 AM
RADNOR With new state standards and worries over America's slipping academic standing, interest in early childhood education has never been stronger - President Obama last year declared that "the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road."
But in affluent Radnor Township on the Main Line, a move to expand to full-day kindergarten this fall has spurred an unexpected reaction: Opposition from a growing number of parents complaining about school overcrowding and disruptions, and the end of a half-day option.
More than 200 parents and others have so far signed an online petition at urging the Radnor school board to delay the plan for at least a year.

Obama targets poverty in San Antonio, Philadelphia and other U.S. 'zones'
Reuters BY ROBERTA RAMPTON WASHINGTON Wed Jan 8, 2014 4:12pm EST
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama is set to speak on Thursday about how he will target job creation, housing, law enforcement and education in the poorest U.S. communities, part of his pledge to narrow the gap between rich and poor in America.  Obama signaled last month that he plans a new focus this year on income inequality, which he called "the defining challenge of our time", pushing to raise the minimum wage and find new ways to help poor children break out of the cycle of poverty.

City of Philadelphia Selected as a Promise Zone Designee
January 8, 2014 –  The City of Philadelphia was one of three cities and a total of five areas selected for a Promise Zone designation, a federal initiative to accelerate revitalization efforts in targeted areas.  The Promise Zone initiative is led by the White House with support from federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice. 
 “Being selected as a Promise Zone is an important step in the transformation process for a neighborhood struggling with high poverty, high crime, high vacancy, low educational attainment and low employment rates,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  “Being a Promise Zone will enable the City to align existing resources and apply for new federal funding – building on efforts already at work – through a multi-faceted, focused approach.  I want to thank President Obama and his Administration for this recognition and the opportunities it will provide.”
The Promise Zones designation provides a package of tools to help local leaders accelerate efforts to revitalize their communities. 

For FY2008-09, BEFORE the ARRA/federal stimulus money, there were several line items in addition to the PA basic education subsidy that no longer exist or were significantly reduced.  The “Tutoring” line item of $65.1 million was eliminated.
Charter School Reimbursement   $226.9 million eliminated
Accountability Block Grant          $171.4 million reduction
Tutoring                                         $  65.1 million eliminated
School Improvement Grants       $  22.8 million eliminated
Science: It’s Elementary             $  13.6 million eliminated
High School Reform                   $  10.7 million eliminated
Dual Enrollment                         $  10.0 million eliminated
                        Total:                  $520.5 million
Source: Key Education Subsidies Chart FY2006-07 thru 2012-13
Senator Hughes’ (Democratic Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee) website
Roebuck, Parker announce bill to restore tutoring funding needed to help students meet tougher new standards
Rep. Roebuck’s website PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 7 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee; and Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Phila., chairwoman of the legislature’s Philadelphia Delegation, today announced legislation to restore vital tutoring funding for Pennsylvania schools.  Roebuck will introduce a bill to re-establish and fund the Educational Assistance Program, which existed from 2003 to 2011. Under the bill, EAP would be funded at $67 million for 2014-2015, a level Roebuck said is based on the needs of students. In addition, the bill would make recently enacted high school graduation requirements conditional on the state providing enough funding to help students meet them.

Here's a guide to help you understand the numbers behind the state's ranking of schools
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era By KARA NEWHOUSE Staff Writer Jan 07, 2014 17:21
Understanding numbers can be overwhelming, whether you're a student in math class or a parent trying to make sense of the state's new school ranking system.  Last month, the state released its final batch of School Performance Profiles. The profiles feature an overall score for each school on a 0-100 scale, and Lancaster Newspapers published the scores for Lancaster County public schools.  But what's the story behind the numbers?
Here are five things parents and taxpayers need to know.

Susan Gobreski, Exeucutive Director of Educations Voters of PA, testifies on funding education before PA House Democratic Policy Committee
Education Voters PA Wednesday, January 8, 2014
On January, 7, 2014, Education Voters of PA Executive Director, Susan Gobreski, testified before the PA State House Democratic Policy Committee about how to approach funding education for the future. Here is her testimony:

Don’t mess with Bill…..

Gates Foundation May Pull Pittsburgh Public School Funding

KDKA CBS Pittsburgh by Andy Sheehan Video runtime 3:45
The Gates Foundation may pull funding because of an ongoing fight between the Pittsburgh Public School District and its teachers union; KDKA's Andy Sheehan reports.

“At a conference in November organized by the Homeless Children's Education Fund, the Penn Hills School District reported that the number of children identified as homeless rose from eight in 2008 to 82 in 2012-13.”
Majority of Pittsburgh's poor are young, in suburbs
By Anya Sostek / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 8, 2014 11:59 PM
When Lyndon Johnson wanted to put a face on his new War on Poverty in 1964, he travelled to Martin County in rural Kentucky.  When Alexandra Murphy wanted to study poverty in 2009, she moved to Penn Hills -- to put a face on new suburban poverty.
By some measures, the picture of poverty in America hasn't changed much since Johnson stood before Congress 50 years ago Wednesday to declare an "unconditional war on poverty in America" as part of his State of the Union address.

Philly School District got 20 offers on buildings listed for sale
The Philadelphia School District, attempting to fill part of its budget gap by selling off empty buildings, received 20 offers on properties after listing them for sale last fall on its website.
The district had been seeking offers on the entire portfolio of 28 shuttered schools, or individual bids for one of the seven schools listed for "expedited sales."  The deadline for submitting proposals was Dec. 17.

“Data collected by the Education Department shows that minorities — particularly black boys and students with disabilities — face the harshest discipline in schools.”
Administration Urges Restraint in Using Arrest or Expulsion to Discipline Students
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH JAN. 8, 2014
The Obama administration issued guidelines on Wednesday that recommended public school officials use law enforcement only as a last resort for disciplining students, a response to a rise in zero-tolerance policies that have disproportionately increased the number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions of minority students for even minor, nonviolent offenses.  The secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and the attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., released a 35-page document that outlined approaches — including counseling for students, coaching for teachers and disciplinary officers, and sessions to teach social and emotional skills — that could reduce the time students spend out of school as punishment.  “The widespread use of suspensions and expulsions has tremendous costs,” Mr. Duncan wrote in a letter to school officials. “Students who are suspended or expelled from school may be unsupervised during daytime hours and cannot benefit from great teaching, positive peer interactions and adult mentorship offered in class and in school.”

“As a quick reminder, TFA employees do not arrive with a degree in education or necessarily any training in the content area they are being asked to teach. Instead, they arrive with a whopping five weeks of “intensive training”  that (Blamo!) has suddenly turned them into a “highly qualified” teacher on paper, but not in practice.
That’s right. Unlike every undergraduate education major across the country, the new TFA special education instructor has had zero coursework on working with students with disabilities. Autistic students will surely understand that their teacher is learning on the job. Language impaired students will obviously be able to articulate their pride in attending a classroom led by an instructor who has only recently heard of such a disability. Yup, looks like good things are happening in this classroom.”
TFA: Teachers with Training Wheels
Idaho’s Promise Blog By Levi B Cavener January 8, 2014
Don’t worry about the swim instructor wearing floaties around his own arms while he “teaches” students how to swim. Oh, and ignore the training wheels attached to the cyclist instructor’s bicycle. Such is the advice given in Teach For America’s (TFA) response published in Idaho Education News to an Op-ed I authored in December critical of the organization.  The response, penned by TFA’s “special education specialist” Dhathri Chunduru, offers a detailed view of how the organization supports TFAers hired as special education instructors in Georgia. In her reply, Ms. Chunduru outlines the types of supports TFA provides to these new special education “teachers.”  To TFA’s credit, it appears that they offer some training critical to any would-be special educator. However, she seems to have missed the larger point. TFAers receive this training on the job. Yes, students and parents, your TFA “highly qualified teacher” has training wheels.

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 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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