Monday, February 3, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 3, 2014: Education funding at forefront as Pa. awaits Corbett's budget address

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
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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?

On Tuesday, February 4th, the Governor will be presenting his proposal for the budget, kicking off “budget season” in Harrisburg.  Will you be tweeting about the PA budget?  Use the #EducationPA and #PABudget hashtags together.

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 3, 2014:
Education funding at forefront as Pa. awaits Corbett's budget address

 “It sounds like the Governor and his staff are aware that public education is the No. 1 concern of the voters in the state,” …. “Hopefully, this budget will be responsive to that concern.”
Education funding at forefront as Pa. awaits Corbett's budget address
By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times  02/02/14, 11:49 PM EST
Gov. Tom Corbett applauds a choir at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center during a news conference Wednesday in Philadelphia. Corbett discussed his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2014-2015 during the news conference. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) 
Gov. Tom Corbett will give the final budget address of his term Tuesday, but the Republican has yet to escape the shadow cast by his first.  Corbett infamously slashed public education funding by $1 billion in 2011 to help close an anticipated $4.2 billion deficit.
Three years later, Corbett still faces a consistent chorus of criticism for his decision. Democrats, school district administrators and the state teachers’ union accuse him of balancing the budget on the backs of poor school districts.

Pensions, education central to Gov. Corbett's budget talk
By Karen Langley and Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau February 2, 2014 11:58 PM
HARRISBURG -- Sitting in shirtsleeves in his budget secretary's office, by a sign reading "Nothing stimulates the imagination like a budget cut," Gov. Tom Corbett refrained from explaining ahead of Tuesday's annual address just how he will propose closing a shortfall projected at $1.3 billion.  But the governor, a Republican facing re-election in November, and aides did offer broad outlines of the proposals on pensions, education funding and other topics that will mark his fourth annual fiscal plan for Pennsylvania government.

Public schools, pensions to top Corbett's budget address
POSTED: Sunday, February 2, 2014, 1:09 AM
HARRISBURG Public schools and pensions will top the agenda when Gov. Corbett delivers his fourth budget address Tuesday.  And overall, the news is expected to be good.
So signaled Budget Secretary Charles Zogby on Friday, saying the governor will be making "substantial new investments" in education, health care, and jobs programs.

Corbett expected to ask for more education money
Gov. Tom Corbett will present a spending plan Tuesday.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau February 3, 2014
HARRISBURG — When embattled Gov. Tom Corbett stands before the Legislature Tuesday, he is likely to present a kinder, gentler budget proposal than in years past.
The first-term Republican — up for re-election in November amid record-low approval ratings — is expected to propose his biggest funding increases ever to make up for unpopular cuts to education and human services that primarily occurred in 2011-12.
Corbett could call for at least $100 million more for public schools, $20 million more for special education, and more money for higher education on top of the extra $10 million he has already said he wants for preschool in 2014-15.  "I can't give details but I think what the governor will propose will make many people happy," said state Education Department spokesman Tim Eller. "The governor believes in education and I think you'll see that in his announcement Tuesday."
Educators hope to not repeat Corbett's first three budgets
Scranton Times Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL AND MICHAEL BUFFER (STAFF WRITERS) Published: February 2, 2014
Since Tom Corbett became governor, school districts in Northeast Pennsylvania have seen their funding slashed by $143.8 million.  Educators hope to see some of those funds restored when the governor unveils his proposed 2014-15 budget on Tuesday.
If reform to the state's pension system is not made and districts do not see an increase in funds, area superintendents fear more teaching jobs will be cut and programs eliminated.

Herzenberg at Keystone Research is wrong on pension reform: PennLive letters
PennLive Letters to the Editor on February 02, 2014 at 7:38 AM
By GENE BARR, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Harrisburg
On January 28, PennLive published a commentary by Stephen Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center that took aim at lawmakers for what he referred to as “ill-advised” efforts to reform the state’s public pension system.  Despite facing a $47 billion deficit that continues to weigh on the state budget and cut deeper into the spending plan each year, the commentary significantly downplayed the severity of the state’s pension problem.

“No country in the world conducts more standardized testing of its students. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on the tests themselves, not to mention test-prep computer software and workbooks. Pennsylvania's 2013-14 education budget allocates $53.9 million for assessment.”
Fallen standards: Opting out of high-stakes tests Opinion by LISA HAVER Monday, February 3, 2014, 3:01 AM
Lisa Haver is a retired teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
IN "THE BIG TEST," author Nicholas Lehman describes the birth of the Educational Testing Service and its many offspring, including the Standard Aptitude Test. The men who developed those early assessments over 70 years ago had to sell the idea that one multiple-choice test could measure the intelligence and abilities of any person - an idea that has become accepted and, until recently, rarely questioned.
My own children took standardized tests in third, eighth and 11th grades. The scores were put into their files, and not much was said about them. With the passage of No Child Left Behind, in 2001, states were required to administer one standardized test each year for all students from third grade though 12th. In addition to five to seven days of state standardized tests, students in many districts take bubble tests throughout the year, as well as classroom tests in each subject for report-card grades. Low scores have been used to justify firing teachers and closing schools; many states now require seniors to pass one test in order to graduate.

Lehighton board member goes to Washington
Ahner hopes to get changes in school lunch program
Times News By TERRY AHNER Saturday, February 1, 2014
While many people will spend their weekend prepping for Sunday's Super Bowl extravaganza, one local school director will spend his in our nation's capitol.  Lehighton Area School Board director Rocky Ahner left today to participate in the National School Boards Advocacy Institute, scheduled Feb. 2-4 in Washington, D.C. The Institute will advance federal issues, as well as state issues of significance.  Ahner, who was appointed to the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network, said his main focus is Bill 3663, introduced by Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

Councilman's Attendance Record Questioned
By - Lu Ann Cahn Feb 1, 2014 video (runtime 2:32)
Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green, whose been tapped to lead the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, has a 28 percent absence rate from city meetings, but he's not apologizing for it.

Science competition keeps kids on track to be next wave of researchers
At 14, Jonathan Russell is trying to do some serious science.
He's a big fan of cars, and the growing prominence of alternative motor fuels inspires him. So the Fox Chapel eighth-grader decided to experiment with how temperatures affect the viscosity of several types of organic oils.  The work earned him a top prize in biophysics — and a $1,000 check — from the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science's 18th annual regional meeting this weekend in Pittsburgh.

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.
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

PDE chief Dumaresq LIVE budget presentation, PSBA Conference Center, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m
PSBA’s website 1/13/2014
Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq will be at the PSBA Conference Center on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. to present a special state budget overview.
Find out how the proposals of the fiscal year 2014-15 Pennsylvania budget impact your school district the day after the governor delivers his address to the General Assembly. Secretary Dumaresq will review the governor's plan and answer your questions. In addition to the live presentation, members across the state also can participate through streaming media on their computers.
To register for the LIVE event, Wed., Feb. 5, 2 p.m., at the PSBA Conference Center, Mechanicsburg:

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.

The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools invites you to a screening and discussion of "Standardized: Lies, Money, and Civil Rights".
Thursday, February 6 - 6:00 p.m.Ritz East - 125 S. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA

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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