Thursday, February 13, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 13, 2014: “Education is the world’s most durable good. So the question is, how do we give that to more people?”

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 13, 2014:
“Education is the world’s most durable good.   So the question is, how do we give that to more people?”

PCCY Report: Funding needed to aid poor children get prepared for school
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 02/12/14, 8:55 PM EST
A Philadelphia think tank released a report Wednesday describing an overwhelming lack of high-quality options for early childhood education for Delaware County families.  The Public Citizens for Children and Youth’s report, titled “The Bottom Line is Children: Early Care and Education in Delaware County,” describes a dearth of opportunities for area children, many of whom are from poor or low-income families. Increased funding is necessary to create more openings for children in high-quality early care and educations facilities, the report concludes.

PCCY Bottom Line County Reports
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
PCCY reports in the areas of Public Education, Health, Early Care and Education and Family Economic Security in each of the four suburban Philadelphia counties.

How Preschool Impacts Student Scores Shown In One Graph
Huffington Post By Rebecca Klein   |  Posted: 12/09/13 EST
If policymakers want to improve students’ scores on international exams, they should start by bettering education options for their littlest learners.  That is part of the story told by a report released on Monday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international group that promotes economic progress. The OECD report used data collected from its international exam, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), to compare education patterns around the world.  The PISA results showed that, on the whole, students who attended preschool performed better on the international exam. For example, on average, students from OECD-member countries performed more than 20 points better on the exam if they had attended preschool, even after accounting for socioeconomic differences.
For a full sense of how preschool impacted PISA scores, check out the OECD graphic below:

Sen. Mike Folmer to host two education-related town hall meetings
By Jan Murphy |  on February 12, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Got an idea about what can be done to improve state education policy? If so, Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, is providing a time and place to share it.
View full sizeSen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, will host two upcoming education-related town hall meetings to provide a forum for parents to share their thoughts and concerns about education in Pennsylvania.  The Senate Education Committee chairman is hosting two upcoming meetings that will focus specifically on education-related issues designed for parents to share their thoughts and concerns about education in Pennsylvania.

“Tuition payments to Pennsylvania charter schools rose from $960 million in 2010-11 to more than $1.15 billion in 2011-12.”
Report: Pennsylvania’s charters are costly to traditional public schools
NSBA School Board News Today by Lawrence Hardy February 12th, 2014
Pennsylvania’s growing number of charter and cyber-charter schools do not save school districts money and, in many cases, add to their expenses, says a new report from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).  “Charter schools do not charge a standard rate for their educational services,” says the report by PSBA’s Education Research and Policy Center. “In fact, the amount paid to charter schools varies greatly by school district, and is often completely unrelated to the actual operational costs incurred by charter schools.”

Gov. Corbett's proposed school grant program short-changes kids for the long haul: Susan Spicka
By PennLive Op-Ed  By Susan Spicka For the past three years many home and business owners have seen their property tax bills skyrocket at the same time that our school districts are increasing class sizes and slashing programs and services for our children.  Gov. Tom Corbett has apparently realized that his handling of public education funding has become an enormous liability for him in an election year. 
As a result, he is trying to make voters forget about his decision to flat fund Pennsylvania's basic education subsidy in his latest budget proposal by rolling out a shiny new “Ready to Learn” grant program that includes a one-time, non-recurring allocation in state funding for public education.
Before patting Gov. Corbett on the back, however, parents and taxpayers should carefully examine his proposal and ask some important questions so we understand how this grant will impact our property tax bills and our children’s schools.

Where’s the Money?
Yinzercation Blog February 12, 20114
Governor Corbett seems to be having trouble finding the money to pay for our children’s education. So we’ve put together this helpful list of potential state revenue sources to help him out. Because there is money that could help us restore the devastating budget cuts to our schools (now totaling $2.3 billion), but it’s just not going to our kids.

"If all the charter school students came back it would cost us $5 million to add staff," Mayo said. "But we are paying charters $22 million."
Allentown School District superintendent: Charters are biggest drain
By Margie Peterson, Special to The Morning Call 9:17 p.m. EST, February 12, 2014
Of all the problems contributing to Allentown School District's dire financial situation — and the list is long — perhaps the toughest challenge is the drain of students to charter schools, Superintendent Russ Mayo said Tuesday.  Pointing to Allen High School, Mayo said the enrollment had declined from about 3,700 students five years ago to 2,500 today as kids head for the myriad charter and cyber charter schools that have sprouted up.
Districtwide, Allentown expects to pay $5.7 million more in charter school tuition in 2014-2015.
Public education continues to be attacked
Morning Call LTE by Brie Chambers Bethlehem 6:33 p.m. EST, February 12, 2014
I have two children in the Bethlehem Area School District and a third who will enter in a few years. While an increase in education spending is certainly welcome, the conditions do not help the districts in the ways that they need it. Expanding STEM programs — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — is very valuable, but what about the other programs that have been cut? Or class sizes? Or full-day kindergarten, which is desperately needed in Bethlehem?
I believe that this is clearly an election-year ploy after devastating the public education budget in Gov. Corbett's first year. His budgets continue to attack public education while he rallies for more charter schools. We have several charter schools in this area that are not providing the level of education that Bethlehem schools do. How does he feel about tax dollars being spent on those charters? What good will it do to expand STEM programs this year, only to have other programs cut and to have the new STEM programs cut next year?
“Education,” she said, “is the world’s most durable good. It’s the only thing you can acquire that no one can take away from you. So the question is, how do we give that to more people?”  “How do we get parents to understand [whether] their child’s school is delivering expected outcomes, like character-building, citizenship, learning to read at grade level?" she said. “What are schools doing to ensure success?”
New SRC member Jimenez offers a rare combo of empathy and tough love
thenotebook by Annette John-Hall on Feb 12 2014 Posted in Commentary
Farah Jimenez, newly confirmed member of the School Reform Commission, will be the first to concede that the SRC is not the answer to solving myriad problems that plague the District. And it may not ever be.  There are a lot of vehicles through which she could work to help Philadelphia kids achieve, Jimenez told me over a cup of coffee in West Philly last week. “It doesn’t have to be the SRC," she said. "But it is what it is, and it’s my pleasure to serve.”
By an overwhelming majority, the state Senate confirmed Jimenez, executive director of People’s Emergency Center, and City Councilman Bill Green to the five-member board last week. It was no secret that Jimenez, 45, was open to the idea of floating her name as a replacement for Joseph Dworetzky. She views her SRC involvement as “a calling.”
If serving on the SRC helps her advocate for the schoolchildren of Philadelphia, she’s all for it. Of all the things Jimenez is --  Penn Law School graduate, Afro-Cuban daughter of immigrant parents, Republican wife of a white, Jewish, Democratic lawyer, CEO of a decidedly democratic nonprofit with a radical name -- she is most definitely a pragmatist.

Farah Jimenez talks school funding, teacher contracts, and appointment to SRC (audio runtime 4:18)
thenotebook by NewsWorks staff  on Feb 12 2014 Posted in Latest news
When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett nominated Farah Jimenez to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission last month, she drew nearly universal praise. 
Jimenez, the CEO of the People's Emergency Center in West Philadelphia, was confirmed by the state Senate last week. The Republican has been lauded for her work with homeless women and children, a credential advocates feel will translate well to the board overseeing Philadelphia schools.  Listen to a one-on-one interview with Farah Jimenez and WHYY's education reporter Kevin McCorry using the audio player above.

Schools: Why the runaround on turnarounds? Opinion HELEN CUNNINGHAM AND MARK GLEASON Thursday, February 13, 2014, 3:01 AM
Helen Cunningham chairs the Philadelphia School Partnership's School Investment Committee and is the executive director of the Samuel S. Fels Fund, and Mark Gleason is the executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership.
AMID extensive coverage of the very real challenges facing our public schools, we shouldn't lose sight of what's actually working. Right now, outstanding educators are working closely with families of all backgrounds to transform Philadelphia's lowest performing schools into some of the best schools in the city. Yet, not enough people are talking about Renaissance schools.
Philadelphia's turnaround efforts began nearly a decade ago when Mastery Charter Schools assumed management of three chronically failing schools: Thomas, in South Philadelphia; Shoemaker, in West Philadelphia; and Pickett, in Germantown.
Nearly nine years later, how are they shaping up? Math

Department of Education planning to make up for all those missed snow days
By Jeff Frantz |  on February 12, 2014 at 6:22 PM
With another snow day hours away, the Department of Education is sending notices to Pennsylvania school districts giving them options for completing the school year.
In a normal year, districts have until June 30 to provide students with 180 days of instruction. But districts can petition the department to count their instruction time by hours instead of days in the event of unusual circumstances, like repeated walloping snowstorms.  Under the hour format, elementary students would have to receive 900 hours of instruction, secondary students 990. Moving to hours allows districts to meet the requirement by extending the school day, or converting half days to full days, in addition to adding days at the end of the year.

House education committee weighs in on school weather closings
Cram Session Blog Posted on February 12, 2014 by Angie Mason
The chairmen of the House Education Committee today sent a letter to the state education department, asking officials to consider using flexibility available when working with school districts that have missed many days due to weather – but also to urge districts to take any step they can to meet the 180-day requirement.  York County Reps. Seth Grove and Kevin Schreiber provided a copy of the letter, which says that the inclement weather has caused several school districts to contact legislators about receiving a waiver from the requirement to provide 180 days of school each year. The department told legislators it doesn’t have the authority to do so.

Study: U.S. students not reading at grade level; Pa. shows improvement
thenotebook by Dan Hampton on Feb 12 2014
Dan Hampton is an intern at the Notebook.
Most students in the United States lack essential reading skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive society, according to a report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.   The report is an update to data reported in two earlier Casey Foundation studies,Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters and Early Warning Confirmed. Data in those documents revealed that children who read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade are more likely to graduate high school and succeed as an adult. The end of 3rd grade is about the time when children go from learning to read to using reading to learn other subjects.  But according to the foundation’s most recent report – which gathered data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) - almost 80 percent of low-income students in the United States and 66 percent of all students do not read at grade level by 4th grade.

NSBA and AASA express concern about new restraint and seclusion bill in U.S. Senate
NSBA School Board News Today by Alexis Rice February 12th, 2014
Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued a joint statement today in response to new legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The new bill would reduce the authority of states and local school districts to decide the appropriate use of restraint and seclusion in public schools. Restraint and seclusion are used as a last resort in situations that may endanger the safety and welfare of students, teachers and other school personnel.

Bill Gates: Commend Common Core
USA Today opinion by Bill Gates 6:47 a.m. EST February 12, 2014
We need education reform and this is the best way to fix school for our kids.
  • 45 states are in the process of implementing new academic standards, known as the Common Core.
  • Unfortunately, the public conversation is shrouded in myths that generate anxiety and confusion.
  • I believe the new standards are one of the most important education ideas in decades.
Last month, Melinda and I published our foundation's annual letter, about myths that block progress for the poorest. We focus on myths about global issues, like the myth that foreign aid is a big waste, but when it comes to domestic issues we're in the grip of mythology, too. And these myths aren't just wrong; they're harmful, because they can lead people to fight against the best solutions to our biggest problems.
Take the example of America's schools. Right now,45 states are implementing new academic standards, known as the Common Core, which will improve education for millions of students. Unfortunately, conversation about the standards is shrouded in myths.
I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years.

Core Questions: How Does Common Core Address Poverty?
StateImpact NPR BY JOHN O'CONNOR FEBRUARY 10, 2014 | 7:54 AM
Chris Guerrieri is a Jacksonville art teacher who also blogs about education.
Last month he sent us an email about Florida’s Common Core standards.
“My question was: How does Common Core affect poverty?” he asked.

Join us February 19th for our Service-Learning As Dropout Prevention Webinar! February 19th from 3pm-4pm
Pennsylvania Dropout Prevention Network
Join Hillary Kane, Chair of the Pennsylvania Service-Learning Alliance, as she discusses service-learning as a dropout prevention strategy. Service-learning, unlike traditional community service, is a hands-on teaching strategy that can resonate with students who are disengaged from more traditional methods of instruction. Join this call to learn more about service-learning and how your school or district can take advantage of it to reach students and keep them in school.

Senate Ed Committee Chairman Folmer Holding Town Hall Meetings on Education
Senator Folmer’s Facebook Page February 10, 2014
Parents, I want to hear your thoughts on education! Join me for a parent town hall meeting Tuesday, February, 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 203 of the Neidig Garber Building, on the campus of Lebanon Valley College.
A similar meeting is planned for Monday, February 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the Quiet Study Room of Penn State Harrisburg’s Capitol Union Building.
Seating is limited - please RSVP to (717) 787-1347 or

Have you considered signing this petition yet?
Petition by Denise Kurnas
To be delivered to The Pennsylvania State House, The Pennsylvania State Senate, and Governor Tom Corbett
This petition is designed to keep charter school oversight in local district control instead of allowing other entities or the Pennsylvania Department of Education to spend our property tax dollars without input from our locally elected school board officials. 

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center 2014 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Harrisburg Hilton Thu, Feb 20, 2014 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Thursday, February 20th to provide an in-depth look at the Governor's spending plan and an update on the federal budget — and what it all means for communities and families across Pennsylvania.
As in previous years, the Budget Summit will be at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Harrisburg
Additional information, agendas, and workshops will be posted in the new year.

Register Now! EPLC’s Education Policy Forums on Governor Corbett’s 2014-2015 State Budget Proposal for Education
The next EPLC education policy forums will be held on the following days and in the following locations.  These forums will take place shortly after Governor Corbett’s February 4th presentation of his proposed 2014-15 state budget and will focus on his plans for education.
Thursday, February 13, 2014 – Pittsburgh, PA
Monday, February 24, 2014 – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – State College, PA
Thursday, February 27, 2014Harrisburg, PA
Space is limited for each event and an RSVP is required. Anyone wishing to receive an invitation should inquire by contacting The Education Policy and Leadership Center at or 717-260-9900.

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.

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

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:

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.

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia February Seminars
Dear Parents and Advocates:
This month we are offering TWO great special education seminars. 
Learn about special education provisions in charter schools, 
including how one's rights differ from school to school. 
Tuesday, February 11, 2013 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Audience members will learn about the legal needs of children with dyslexia, and other learning disabilities, and hear from expert presenters on the latest research and trends. 
Tuesday, February 25, 2013 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. - Full Session 
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Abbreviated Session 

NPE National Conference 2014

The Network for Public Education
The Network for Public Education is pleased to announce our first National Conference. The event will take place on March 1 & 2, 2014 (the weekend prior to the world-famous South by Southwest Festival) at The University of Texas at Austin.  At the NPE National Conference 2014, there will be panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote address by Diane Ravitch. NPE Board members – including Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimson, and Julian Vasquez Heilig – will lead discussions along with some of the important voices of our movement.

The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition April 5-7, 2014 New Orleans
The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  Our first time back in New Orleans since the spring of 2002!
General Session speakers include education advocates Thomas L. Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, as well as education innovators Nikhil Goyal and Angela Maiers.
We have more than 200 sessions planned! Colleagues from across the country will present workshops on key topics with strategies and ideas to help your district. View our Conference Brochure for highlights on sessions and focus presentations.
·                             Register now! – Register for both the conference and housing using our online system.
·                            Conference Information– Visit the NSBA conference website for up-to-date information
·                             Hotel List and Map - Official NSBA Housing Block
·                             Exposition Campus – View new products and services and interactive trade show floor
Questions? Contact NSBA at 800-950-6722 (NSBA) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

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