Friday, February 14, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 14, 2014: SB1085: Wissahickon School Board approves resolution opposing charter school reform bill

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 14, 2014:
SB1085: Wissahickon School Board approves resolution opposing charter school reform bill

HB618: Lawmakers need to send charter school bill to Gov. Corbett's desk: Joe Emrick and Mike Reese
PennLive Op-Ed  By  Joe Emrick and Mike Reese
State Reps. Joe Emrick and Mike Reese, both Republicans, respectively represent the 137th and 59th state House Districts.
on February 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM, updated February 13, 2014 at 11:15 AM
Members of the General Assembly are charged with being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. It is our responsibility to treat this money as an investment by doing all we can to ensure the highest possible “return.”  One of the greatest investments we make is in education. Our students are our future and the manner in which we invest in them will significantly impact Pennsylvania’s next generation.  Parents also make an investment in education when they decide to send their child to a charter or cyber charter school. Both institutions are held accountable to Pennsylvania taxpayers, as charter schools must be approved by local school districts, while cyber charter schools face approval by the state Department of Education.

SB1085: Wissahickon School Board approves resolution opposing charter school reform bill
By ERIC DEVLIN, POSTED: 02/13/14, 9:55 AM EST |
LOWER GWYNEDD ­— One proposed bill in Harrisburg aiming to reform charter schools has officials in the Wissahickon School District up in arms.  The Wissahickon School Board approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 1085 regarding charter school reform during its Feb. 10 meeting.  “Just to remind everyone what this bill would do,” board member Ron Stoloff said, “it would take a situation that is already not really good, and make it worse.”

Schools should have more choices with funds
Times Leader February 13. 2014 10:10PM By Mark Guydish -
In a webinar hosted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association on Thursday, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq outlined how the state wants districts to spend some $340 million in proposed “ready to learn” grants, and at first blush it looks like most Luzerne County districts will have fairly wide options  Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget took about $100 million spent last year in Accountability Block Grants and added another $240 million to create the new grant program, doling out the money to districts based on a formula that looks at total enrolment as well as enrolment of low income and English as Second Language students.

Forget Valentine's Day, for political junkies Friday is 'House of Cards' Day: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek |  on February 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM,
So just how much is Brittany Foster looking forward to the debut of the new season "House of Cards" on Friday?  "Well no offense to Congressman Bob Brady, but he's no Pete Russo," Ray Zaborney.  "Why do you think I scheduled my Valentine’s Day date for 4 p.m.?,"Foster, the new managing editor of must-read gossip site PoliticsPA, said with a laugh. "I have a marathon planned. I might do it for the whole night."

Pa. school districts can make up snow days in 20-minute installments
The string of winter storms this year has prompted school closures across Pennsylvania. While school districts won't see teaching time requirements relaxed, they will be able to apply for some wiggle room.  The state Department of Education is sending reminders to school districts that they are allowed some flexibility in meeting instructional time requirements under state law.
Schools have to stay open at least 180 days a year, but they can apply to have the time calculated by hours.

Anti-Corbett 'schools not prisons' mantra misses the mark: analysis
By Donald Gilliland |  on February 13, 2014 at 3:54 PM,
Some 150 chanting protesters from Philadelphia filled the capitol rotunda Wednesday afternoon, holding placards that read "Education not Incarceration," and "Tell Governor Corbett Fund Schools Not Prisons."  The notion that Gov. Tom Corbett is building prisons and defunding schools has taken on the color of conventional wisdom among a growing group of Democrats in Philadelphia, despite the fact neither part of the notion is precisely true. 

Judge may appoint new Spring-Ford school board member by Jessica Parks Thursday, February 13, 2014, 1:08 AM
ROYERSFORD A Common Pleas Court judge may be asked to appoint a new Spring-Ford Area school board member, after the sitting board deadlocked on two candidates.  Twice this month, the board has voted, 4-4, on appointing Clinton Jackson or Janet Stokes to the Region II seat.

Snow Day? That’s Great. Now Log In. Get to Class.
New York Times By AL BAKER FEB. 13, 2014
WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — At 9 a.m. on Thursday the snow was piling high outside and officials had long since made the call to shutter the local schools.  But Alexa H. Hirschberg, 17, was not curled up in bed, watching videos on her Netflix account or making plans on Facebook for sledding with her boyfriend. She was showered and dressed, seated before a laptop in her family’s kitchen searching for the day’s assignments her French teacher had left online. School was out, but she was in virtual class.  As classrooms become more electronically connected, public schools around the country are exploring whether they can use virtual learning as a practical solution to unpredictable weather, effectively transforming the traditional snow day into a day of instruction.

Anybody remember when Bill was sure that what we really needed was small high schools?  Anybody remember Windows ME?
Bill Gates: Why the United States Really Needs Common Core Standards
The Gates Foundation spent nearly $200 million to pay for the writing, review, evaluation, dissemination, and promotion of the Common Core standards.  It is difficult to find a D.C.-based education organization that has not received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation to promote the standards.  Bill Gates believes in the Common Core standards.
That is why he wrote this article to explain that they really were developed by parents, teachers, local governments, and others, not by four D.C.-based organizations that he funded.

School board defies N.C. state law abolishing teacher tenure
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS February 12 at 11:14 am
A school board in North Carolina just voted unanimously to reject a new state law that abolishes teacher tenure in four years and requires school districts to offer some teachers temporary contracts in exchange for their tenure through 2018. It also plans to sue the state over the constitutionality of the law.  The Guilford County School Board, which oversees a district with more than 72,000 students, took the step Tuesday night at a meeting that was heavily attended by some 200 enthusiastic teachers, according to the Greensboro News & Record
The action represents growing pushback from school boards against state school reform laws that are forcing local school officials to take steps they don’t want to take, such as reducing tenure and implementing an increasing number of high stakes tests. In the last two years, hundreds if not thousands of school boards around the country passed resolutions calling for an end to high-stakes testing of students and more thoughtful assessment systems. Voting to reject a state law is an even bigger step. It comes at the same time that Tennessee’s state education board has decided that it will in April rewrite licensing rules that link student standardized test scores to the licensing of teachers. The move was a shock to the state’s reform-minded education commissioner, Kevin Huffman.

Jesse Hagopian is a Classroom Warrior
One year after leading a boycott against the MAP assessment test in Seattle public high schools, the teacher continues to fight for the kids.
SeattleMet By Matthew Halverson Published Feb 1, 2014, 5:00am
It became known as the Education Spring: One year ago, Jesse Hagopian and his fellow teachers at Garfield High School stood up to Seattle Public Schools and refused to administer the MAP, a standardized test considered by even its own creators to be inadequate for assessing high school students’ progress. After threatening to suspend insubordinate teachers, the district eventually relented, making the test optional at the high school level. The boycott’s success reverberated in school systems across the country, inspiring teachers who’d been beaten down by the glut of standardized tests ushered in by No Child Left Behind. And in the process Hagopian became a model for teachers who put kids first and grades second.

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.
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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