Thursday, February 20, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 20, 2014: In the 2011-12 school year, it was estimated that 66.7 percent of virtual charter schools were managed by private companies

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3100 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
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?

Stand Up for America’s Public Schools  On Twitter@4PublicSchools

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 20, 2014:
In the 2011-12 school year, it was estimated that 66.7 percent of virtual charter schools were managed by private companies

New PPC Report Finds High-quality Pre-k Benefits Only 1 in 6 Young Learners
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children Press Release February 19, 2014
Only about 18 percent of Pennsylvania's 3- and 4-year-olds - or 1 in 6 children - are able to access high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs, despite the proven benefits and growing public support for these programs, according to a new report from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC).  This lack of access to high-quality pre-k not only means missed learning opportunities for young children, it also results in additional long-term costs for Pennsylvania's taxpayers. These issues can be addressed through stronger public investments in high-quality pre-k, PPC President and CEO Joan Benso said.  "The sooner high-quality pre-k is made available to more Pennsylvania children, the sooner we can see the increased benefits to our children, our communities and the commonwealth," Benso said. "Investing in our young learners is a smart and necessary step toward building a stronger Pennsylvania." 
PPC's report, "A Smart Choice for a Solid Start: The Case for Pre-k in PA," shows nearly a quarter of a million 3- and 4-year-olds in Pennsylvania lack access to high-quality pre-k because their families cannot find or afford such programs.

 “However, private companies dominate the management of virtual charter schools.  In the 2011-12 school year, it was estimated that 66.7 percent of virtual charter schools were managed by private companies.”
What State Policymakers Need to Know about Funding Virtual Charter Schools
Education Commission of the States, The Progress of Education Reform February 2014

Former K12 Inc. Executive Listed Among Top-Paid 'Government' Workers
Education Week Marketplace K12 Blog By Sean Cavanagh on February 19, 2014 12:51 PM
new report by an advocacy organization places Ron Packard, the former CEO of nationwide, for-profit education provider K12 Inc., among the country's "highest-paid government workers."*
Why the asterix?  *"They're not who you think they are," asserts the report, released Wednesday by the Center for Media and Democracy.  The center, based in Madison, Wis., describes itself as an investigative research and reporting group that seeks to probe the sway that corporations and "front groups" exert on public policy. 

This is going to hurt: 5 takeaways from the state pension systems' hearings
By Jeff Frantz |  on February 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM, updated February 19, 2014 at 12:40 PM
What could have been?  A version of that question was asked several times Tuesday by both Republicans and Democrats as officials for the state's pension systems went before the House and Senate appropriations committees.  The State Employees Retirement System and Public School Employees' Retirement System will have to pay out between $45 and $50 billion more than they have. That debt has grown significantly since 2004, the last time Pennsylvania and its school districts fully paid what they owe.  If the state hadn't lowered it's annual payments through various pieces of legislation -- and increased benefits for some employees in 2001 -- it would be paying PSERS 9.69 percent of benefits earned this year, according to Executive Director Jeff Clay.  This year, the state is paying 16.93 percent for benefits earned by the state's public school employees. Next year, if nothing changes, the state will need to pay 21.4 percent of those earned benefits. Payments to PSERS would keep ticking up until 2036, when the state would have to pay almost a third of the value of the earned benefits, under current state law.

“Most of the $225 million in assets the state wants to transfer is tied up in longer-term investments in private debt, private equity and real estate firms and partnerships, Clay said. These aren't stocks the system could sell tomorrow. Instead, typical commitments range from eight to 15 years.”
Retirement system questions if Corbett's proposed $225 million asset transfer provides same value as cash
By Jeff Frantz | on February 18, 2014 at 3:36 PM
As part of his budget proposal, Gov. Tom Corbett wants to give the state's school pension employee system $225 million from the Tobacco Settlement Fund instead of paying that amount from the general fund.  But Jeffrey Clay, the Executive Director of the Public School Employees' Retirement System, said the transfer wouldn't do much to solve the system's immediate cash flow needs.  Instead, the system could get saddled with low-performing investments that it can't sell easily or quickly, Clay told the House Appropriation's Committee on Tuesday.

Lawmakers grappling with high costs of pension proposals
WITF Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 18, 2014 5:41 PM
How much will the clearest piece of the governor's pension proposal cost? About $4.7 billion, according to the two state public retirement systems.  Directors of the pension funds, facing an unfunded liability (or debt) of roughly $45 billion dollars and counting, told state lawmakers Tuesday that Gov. Corbett's proposal to lower state payments into the pension plans will provide budgetary relief for the state but billions of dollars in added costs to taxpayers - and that's in the short term.

“The secretary will also visit Lancaster Newspapers for an editorial board meeting at 10 a.m. on Thursday. We'll have streaming video of the meeting on this page.”
Pa. education secretary Carolyn Dumaresq speaking in Lancaster this morning
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Thursday, February 20, 2014 6:00 am
Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq is speaking to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce this morning.  The secretary is discussing ways for education institutions and the business community to work together, as part of the Chamber's "Wake Up to the Issues" forum at the Eden Resort.

Education key to growth, Westmoreland County economic development official says
Tribune-Review By Joe Napsha Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 11:18 p.m.
Workforce developers need to work with school districts to create a pool of employees with the skills to meet the growing demands of manufacturing jobs, a Westmoreland County economic development official said on Wednesday.  “We need to take a whole new approach to workforce development. Without integrating K (kindergarten) through 12 ... we won't come to a workforce solution,” said James Smith, president of the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland.
More than 225 business, government and community leaders attended the Greensburg-based organization's annual membership meeting at St. Vincent College in Unity.
Mayor Peduto puts new focus on Pittsburgh Public School system
Critical report from 2003 revisited
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 17, 2014 1:14 AM
More than a decade ago, the Mayor's Commission on Public Education called for the Pittsburgh Public Schools board to be appointed by the mayor rather than elected by residents.
That hasn't happened nor have some of the other recommendations in the 144-page report critical of the district and written during the administration of Tom Murphy in 2003.
In the intervening years, no other mayor or mayor's commission has tried to take control away from an elected school board or made such sweeping recommendations.
While he hasn't suggested appointing the school board, Mayor Bill Peduto, sworn in last month, is taking a keen interest in the fate of the school district.

“He outlined 52 separate actions under four broad goals: ensuring that every 8-year-old reads on grade level, every student graduates ready for college and career, every school has a great principal and teachers, and the School District is fully funded.  The $320 million would begin to pay for a laundry list of programs, from additional supports for special education students and English-language learners to expansions of strong charter schools. The details were revealed in a financial supplement to the action plan, to be released Thursday.”
Hite wants $320M in new aid annually for schools
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Thursday, February 20, 2014, 1:08 AM
PHILADELPHIA Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. wants $320 million in new money annually to begin to execute his ambitious blueprint for Philadelphia schools, and fully carrying it out could double that amount, he said Wednesday.  That request for the 2014-15 school year is above and beyond $120 million the system is banking on - but has not yet gotten - from an extension of an extra 1 percent city sales tax.  For a district that practically scraped together spare change to open schools last fall, those numbers are stunning. But Hite is firm.

Philly schools plan would require an extra $320 million annually
DAYS AFTER unveiling a bold plan to improve Philadelphia's public schools, Superintendent William Hite last night revealed the bold price tag to go with it: $320 million.  That's the amount of additional annual revenue the district is seeking to begin implementing Hite's Action Plan 2.0 - including enhanced early-literacy programs, added support for English-language learners and special-ed students, and more training and evaluation of teachers. The full implementation cost, however, could be almost twice that.

“Hite said that the ultimate cost to bring the District to a new level is closer to the $770 million in addititional funds each year arrived at by a report prepared for City Council by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. By way of comparison, it compared Philadelphia per-pupil spending with those of nearby districts. For instance, if the city spent the same per pupil as Lower Merion, it would spend an additional $1.6 billion a year; if it spent at the same level as Pittsburgh's public schools, it would have an additional $1 billion.”
Hite says Philly schools need bare minimum of $320 million more next year
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 19 2014 Posted in Latest news
The School District of Philadelphia will be asking for $320 million in additional funds next year  to reach "a bare minimum amount of improved and sustained educational opportunities for our students and families," according to a financial supplement to Superintendent Hite's Action Plan 2.0 made public Thursday.  Ideally, to fully realize Hite's plan -- built on "bold expectations" for creating great schools that can prepare all students for college and careers -- the price tag exceeds twice that, Hite said.  "Our citizens deserve better, our students deserve better. We're asking for a set of investments," Hite said in a conference call with reporters.

As teacher contract talks drag on, Hite keeps tough stance on work rules
thenotebook by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Feb 19 2014 Posted in Latest news
For Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite, it's a classic managerial quandary.  Either grab some quick savings that could free up money for services that the city's schoolchildren could really use.  Or hold off on that deal in hopes of securing the long-term structural changes that you bet will strengthen the system overall.

Questions to ask about the District and school budgets
The notebook by James H. Lytle on Feb 19 2014 Posted in Commentary
District budget. It’s doubtful that more than a few fully understand it.
The District's budget is in many ways a masterpiece of obfuscation, with a design that dates back to former CEO/Superintendent Paul Vallas, who was an accountant by training. The current version fulfills the District’s obligation to publish an annual budget. But the document’s design features and the survival climate created by the continuing financial crisis have given central administration almost complete control over allocation decisions.

Green says at SRC meeting: Contract change is priority
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 8:40 PM
New School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green cut right to the chase: The Philadelphia School District needs money, he said minutes after taking the oath of office Tuesday, but there's a more pressing issue.  Schools can't improve without major changes to the teachers' contract, Green said. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has been without a contract since August, and negotiations are proceeding slowly.

Lower Merion schools chief to step down
Lower Merion School District superintendent Christopher McGinley will depart his post at the end of the academic year, according to a letter sent Tuesday to district students and parents.
McGinley is leaving for an associate professorship at Temple University, where he’ll also help lead the College of Education’s certification program for aspiring school administrators. His last day will be June 30.  McGinley said in the letter the move came as “an incredibly difficult” decision but the job at Temple “provides a unique opportunity" to contribute to his profession and help prepare a new generation of school leaders.

4 ways privatization is ruining our education system
Its most deleterious effect: The proliferation of charter schools means underperforming children get left behind by PAUL BUCHHEIT, ALTERNET WEDNESDAY, FEB 19, 2014 08:15 AM EST
Profit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it’s beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products.  There are good reasons – powerful reasons – to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.

#ResistTFA popular on Twitter
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS February 20 at 4:00 am
A student-led campaign against Teach For America took to Twitter this week and has been proving to be popular, at one point more so than tweets with the Olympic hashtag.
The Twitter effort is being led by Students United for Public Education, a grassroots, student-led organization founded by Stephanie Rivera, a Rutgers University Graduate School of Education Student & Urban Teaching Fellow, and Hannah Nguyen, University of Southern California student and a chapter leader of SUPE.

“NSBA’s campaign intends to counter the aggressive, well-funded attacks on public education with national and local outreach that supports local school board governance and honors the achievements of America’s public schools,”
Celebrities showcase public education in NSBA’s national campaign
NSBA’s School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min February 19th, 2014
In partnership with its state associations, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched, an all-new national campaign to highlight the success of public education. The campaign features advertisements with celebrity advocates and public school graduates to tell their stories of public education.
“Great public schools reflect the will of local communities and the strong governance of local school boards dedicated to advancing student achievement,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This is an excellent vehicle for NSBA and our state associations to connect to share the great things happening in America’s public schools.”
Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy, is the campaign’s first celebrity advocate. Two other household names have joined upcoming phases of the campaign: basketball legend and business mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson and former talk show host and celebrity spokesperson Montel Williams. State school boards associations will be highlighting local celebrities in their campaigns as well, and more celebrities will be joining the national campaign over the next year.

Workshop: For the Love of Schools: Be a Public Education Advocate  
Join us in Philly at Arch St. United Methodist Thursday, Feb 27, 6-8 pm OR Saturday March 1, 10 am - 2 pm in the chapel of the church.
Public Citizens for Children and Youth and Education Voters PA is  offering two  duplicate workshops designed to support parents, community members, and advocates in their efforts to improve public education.  The workshop will provide leaders with information on the state of public education  funding in our region and what they can do to get involved.  Participants will learn advocacy best practices and develop individualized action plans.
Participants should enter through the door on Broad St.
This event is free and open to the public.. Childcare and light refreshments will be provided. 

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. 

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.