Thursday, February 27, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 27, 2014: The most disappointing thing about the Common Core nationwide is that it has never walked itself down to a basic public school in D.C., Detroit, New York or Philadelphia.

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 27, 2014:
The most disappointing thing about the Common Core nationwide is that it has never walked itself down to a basic public school in D.C., Detroit, New York or Philadelphia.

“There’s a massive disconnect between what people at the national level want to tout and the reality on the ground,” Gym said. “The most disappointing thing about the Common Core nationwide is that it has never walked itself down to a basic public school in D.C., Detroit, New York or Philadelphia.”
In Philadelphia schools, national standards clash with local realities
Recently adopted education standards are a nonstarter for Philadelphia schools
Daily Pennsylvanian By LIANNA SERKO · February 25, 2014, 5:44 pm
This past fall, Sayre High School students in a program called “Leaders of Change” examined how Philadelphia and state schools function and came to a stark conclusion: Their school system is failing them. The theme that emerged, College sophomore and program volunteer Filippo Bulgarelli said, was that the students - all more involved and high-achieving than the average Sayre student - knew that something was wrong with their school, but didn’t know how it was being addressed.  Bulgarelli said the students saw the problems first-hand: lack of academic opportunities and overworked teachers - not to mention the poor conditions that permeate the city’s schools. These issues plague public schools in cities and rural areas throughout much of the nation, and Philadelphia is no exception.  Nationally, a movement has developed to impose uniform educational standards on public schools. In summer 2010, Pennsylvania adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which seeks to set national academic benchmarks. The Philadelphia School District is implementing the standards for the first time this school year.
But with the reality of a funding crisis in the school district, some experts decry the assertion that the Common Core is of any true consequence in the city’s public schools. 

“The question is plain: Do a majority of our government officials want to be part of the problem or do they want to be part of the solution?”
Corbett's budget plan would repeat past pension mistakes: Don Bell
PennLive Op-Ed  By Don Bell on February 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Don Bell is the Superintendent of Schools in the Northern Lebanon School District
I have had many conversations about the Commonwealth’s pension system and all those conversations seem to end in...“How did we get here and who is at fault?"  We all know, or can easily find out, the governor, legislators, and cabinet personnel who were in place when the perfect pension storm happened and who is at fault. However, blaming others has never and will never solve our financial challenges.  We also know how we got here. 
In fact, there is a mathematical equation for the pension debacle we have been facing: Increased salaries + increased benefits - decreased investment income = the perfect pension storm.
Therefore, the most constructive conversation we can have and more importantly the action that must be taken at this point is to understand what went wrong, fix the problem and never repeat it again.   Unfortunately, Gov. Tom Corbett's  proposed 2014-15 budget is looking to repeat the past again by underfunding the program and kicking the funding can down the road.

“A Quinnipiac University poll, also released today, bolstered that claim, with Wolf posting the greatest margin of victory over Corbett from the Democratic field.
Wolf would defeat Corbett 52-33 percent, according to the poll.”
Wolf posts double-digit leads over Corbett and Democratic gubernatorial field
By Robert J. Vickers |  on February 26, 2014 at 7:37 AM
Two new polls place York County businessman Tom Wolf firmly at the head of the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial pack and besting incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in a head-to-head faceoff.  Wolf, a former state revenue secretary, now leads a field of seven Democratic hopefuls, according a poll released Wednesday by Franklin & Marshall College.  The F&M poll, which did not include underdog Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz and recently entered former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, found Wolf drawing 36 percent support.

“The suburban seats in play include the 6th District seat held by long-serving Sen. Robert M. “Tommy” Tomlinson of Bucks County and the Delaware County-based 26th District seat being vacated by Republican Edwin “Ted” Erickson.”
Always a battleground, Senate Dems eye the Philly 'burbs in 2014: Politics as Usual
By John L. Micek |  on February 25, 2014 at 1:22 PM
As they look to further narrow a 26-23 (with one vacancy) in the 50-member Senate, Pennsylvania Democrats are training their eyes on the purple to blue Philadelphia suburbs this campaign season.  "We feel that we have an excellent chance this year of picking up more seats. We picked up three seats in 2012 -- including mine," state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin, a co-chair of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, said during a live broadcast of "Politics as Usual" on Tuesday. "We have opportunities this year to pick up more seats and also pick up enough seats to get into the majority." 

Appeals court reverses decision to shut down Pocono Mountain Charter School
Panel finds charter school appeal board erred in considering auditor general's report, orders new decision
By Peter Hall, Of The Morning Call 5:26 p.m. EST, February 26, 2014
An embattled Monroe County charter school has successfully challenged a decision by state officials that would have forced it to close its doors by the end of the school year.  But officials in the Pocono Mountain School District say they're confident the school board's 2010 decision to revoke the charter of Pocono Mountain Charter School will again be upheld when the state revisits the case later this year.  In a 39-page decision Wednesday, a Commonwealth Court panel found the state Charter School Appeal Board made a procedural error when it reopened Pocono Mountain School District's case against Pocono Mountain Charter School to hear additional evidence.

Plum School Board member attends education conference
Plum Advance Leader By Karen Zapf Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Joe Tommarello has more than a passing interest in how government works.
Tommarello, 21, is vice president of the Plum School Board. He also is studying political science at the University of Pittsburgh and aspires to be a lawyer.  The youngest member of the Plum School Board earlier this month got to interact with government leaders in Washington, D.C., when he participated in the National School Boards Advisory Institute.
Tommarello, who last year was appointed to the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network joined more than 700 members of school boards across the country from Feb. 2 to 4 to advocate on behalf of public education at the federal level.
Letters: Hite's Action Plan: Here's the reality LTE by Karel Kilimnik POSTED: Thursday, February 27, 2014, 3:01 AM
ALL THIS hoopla around Dr. Hite's latest plan for our school district needs some perspective.
Talk to any educator and ask what is needed, for instance, to achieve "all 8 year olds reading on grade level."  As a retired kindergarten teacher, let me describe working conditions so you have an idea of what our children have to contend with when they enter kindergarten.

Letters: Why don't teachers have role in Action Plan 2.0? LTE by Kristin R. Luebbert POSTED: Thursday, February 27, 2014, 3:01 AM
THE NEW Action Plan 2.0, presented by Superintendent William Hite at last week's School Reform Commission meeting, contains some worthy goals. As the Daily News points out in its Feb. 18 editorial, no one can argue with the goal of having a great school for each and every child in Philadelphia to attend. The teachers and professional school staff in Philadelphia work to make this a reality every day.  However, there are some profound disconnects in the plan about how teachers and other school staff can work with the administration to reach that goal. The Action Plan states that its major goals are to "strengthen neighborhood schools" and "create and launch new, evidence-based school models." It is disappointing that Dr. Hite's plan was formulated without any meaningful contribution from the people who know best what has worked in Philadelphia's classrooms, and what has not.

States Found to Lag in Linking Data on Early-Childhood Programs
Key information often siloed, report finds
Education Week By Julie Blair Published Online: February 25, 2014
Only one state—Pennsylvania—collects and then cross-references data from five major early-childhood-education programs and makes the information available to authorized users through its own K-12 data system, a new survey finds. But many other states are working to put similar plans in place or are aiming to connect early-childhood education, health, or social-service records to K-12 school databases.  Moreover, states should make coordinating all education, health, and social service program data a top priority, according to the report issued by the Bethesda, Md.-based Early Childhood Data Collaborative, an umbrella group advocating for the better...

Maine Considers Ban on Virtual Schools, in Favor of Statewide Program
Education Week Digital education Blog By Lucija Millonig on February 26, 2014 3:00 PM
By guest blogger Lucjia Millonig
A proposal moving through Maine's statehouse would put a moratorium on virtual charter schools, while also laying the groundwork for the creation of a new cyber program open to students across the state.  Republican state Senator Brian Langley of Ellsworth is spearheading the measure, saying that it will promote the efficient use of state funding in supporting online learning.  The proposal was approved by the state's House of Representatives this week, though it has yet to pass the state Senate.

Partisan Split on Common Core Evident in Congress
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: February 25, 2014
A spate of Republican-sponsored legislation on Capitol Hill makes clear that the partisan edge to criticism of the common-core academic standards isn't restricted to state legislatures.
Some GOP lawmakers—including members who are up for re-election or seeking higher office—have introduced bills that would admonish the Obama administration for its role in bolstering the Common Core State Standards and, in some cases, bar federal use of competitive grants or regulatory flexibility to encourage their adoption.

Educator Sal Khan receives prestigious Heinz Award
NSBA School Board News Today by Lawrence Hardy February 26th, 2014
Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy and the first celebrity advocate for NSBA’s national “Stand Up 4 Public Schools”campaign, has been named one of five recipients of the 19th annual Heinz Awards.  The awards, administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, were established in 1993 by Teresa Heinz to honor the work of her late husband U. S. Sen. John Heinz.  Khan is one of three celebrity spokesmen in NSBA’s national public advocacy campaign, Stand Up 4 Public Schools, where he will be joined by basketball legend and business mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson and talk show host and celebrity spokesperson Montel Williams.

High Quality Pre-K: Families Need it, Voters Want it – County Meetings

PCCY February 21, 2014
Only 16% of children in southeastern Pennsylvania have access to publicly funded high quality early learning programs.  Statewide analysis from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children echoes the findings of PCCY’s Bottom Line Report on Early Care and Education that shows access to high quality early learning programs remains out of reach for many children and working families.  A recent poll of likely voters finds 63% of Pennsylvania voters support investing more public funds in high quality pre-k, even 58% say they are willing to pay higher taxes to pay for it.  With proven research and strong voter support, the Pre-K for PA campaign is working to make sure that every candidate running for office in Pennsylvania sees the political wisdom and social benefits of making access to high quality preschool a top priority in their campaign.  YOU can help build momentum for making Pre-K a defining issue in the 2014 elections, join the Pre-K for PA campaign.
Help This Campaign Succeed.  Join the County Organizing Meetings:
Bucks County Thurs. Feb. 27 at Middletown Township Public Hall
Montgomery County Weds. March 5 at Montgomery County Community College

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. 

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
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:
  • 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.

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