Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 5, 2014: Statewide coverage and reactions to Governor’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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 5, 2014:
Statewide coverage and reactions to Governor’s budget address

Governor Corbett’s Budget Increases Funding for Education by $387 Million; New Initiatives to Raise Student Achievement 
PDE Press Release February 04, 2014
Harrisburg – Gov. Tom Corbett today unveiled his 2014-15 state budget that invests $12.01 billion in state funding for students in Pennsylvania’s early, basic and postsecondary education systems.  This is an increase of $387 million, or 3.3 percent, over last year’s budget.
“Every child in this state should be ready to learn, ready to grow and ready to succeed,” Corbett said.  “At every level, from early childhood to high school and beyond, every dollar we spend is an investment in the future of our commonwealth.”
Since 2011, Corbett’s Ready to Learn education agenda has transformed the state’s education system.  Through targeted initiatives, Corbett has increased accountability and transparency of public schools, infused stronger educational resources into classrooms and focused financial resources on supporting all students.  As a result of these strategic investments, Pennsylvania’s students are Ready to Learn, Ready to Grow and Ready to Succeed as they prepare to enter the 21st century global economy.

“Last year, school districts got $100 million to fund preschools, full-day kindergarten and other programs under the Accountability Block Grant program. That amount will still be available.
But almost all of the new funding under the renamed grant would be limited to helping third-graders read on grade level; growing science, technology, engineering and math programs; and providing tutoring to struggling students.  The final $1 million would be used as competitive grant funds for high-achieving schools to analyze and publish best practices that increase student achievement.”
Corbett gives schools more money — but with strings attached
School districts would have to use the $386 million increase on Gov. Corbett's initiatives.
By Adam Clark and Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 9:05 p.m. EST, February 4, 2014
Gov. Tom Corbett wants to spend $386 million more on education in 2014-15 but is attaching strings on the way school districts can use the money.  Corbett's budget, announced Tuesday, calls for increasing education spending to $11.9 billion, an amount that represents more than 40 percent of the state budget.  The additional money comes in the form of a $241 million increase for the newly named Ready to Learn Block Grant, a new $25 million college scholarship fund, a $20 million increase in special education funding and $10 million more for early education, among other initiatives.  Meanwhile, the proposed basic education subsidy for public schools is flat, as is funding for the state-owned and state-related universities.
"It was his best budget speech yet," said one of them, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware. "I think he realized the importance of support for investments in education."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett calls for additional $400 million for education in 2014-15
Extra spending relies, in part, on reducing state's and school districts' pension payments for employees, and one-time revenue shots.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:28 p.m. EST, February 4, 2014
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett, stung repeatedly in polls over his previous education cuts, proposed $1 billion in new spending Tuesday.  And public schools are going to get a big chunk of it.  Corbett's election-year budget totals $29.4 billion for 2014-15, a 3.5 percent increase over this fiscal year. It's the biggest proposed increase since the Republican took office in January 2011.
Polls show education remains a weakness as Corbett preps for re-election. Some voters blame him for thousands of layoffs and program cuts in public schools and universities after state and federal education funding was reduced in 2011-12.  Whether he finds firmer footing by the Nov. 4 election depends partly on whether the GOP leaders who run the Legislature back his priorities during a budget debate that runs through June
Gov. Corbett proposes $29.4 billion state budget; suggests pension savings, new money for education
By Karen Langley and Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau February 4, 2014 11:23 PM
HARRISBURG -- After earlier proposals of spare budgets, Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday put forward a more generous plan for state government -- with a new $240 million grant program for K-12 education, an area of political liability -- as he heads into a re-election battle.
Along with the Ready to Learn block grant program, which schools could use for curriculum development or teacher training, the governor proposed a $25 million scholarship fund for college students from middle-income families, funding to provide services for 1,200 people with intellectual disabilities and the first increase to special education funding in six years.

Corbett budget increases overall funding for public schools: Pa. budget 2014
By Jan Murphy |  on February 04, 2014 at 11:30 AM,
At a glance: Public schools would see a $20 million increase in special education, the first increase in six years. Their basic education subsidy would remain unchanged at $5.5 billion.
Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal creates a new $241 million block grant program that would supplement the existing $100 million accountability block grant program to improve student performance.   It also establishes a $10 million competitive grant program to fund programs that combine traditional and digital learning and a $1 million one to encourage high-achieving schools to analyze and publish their best practices to share with other schools.  
Overall, the Department of Education budget for preK through higher education is rising 4 percent, to $14.1 billion.

Would-be Democrat rivals pan Corbett budget speech
Lancaster Online by Associated Press Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 6:35 pm | Updated: 12:03 am, Wed Feb 5, 2014.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett may be trying to broaden his appeal to voters with his latest budget plan, but Democrats hoping to unseat him say it didn't change their minds.
Corbett presented lawmakers with a $29.4 billion proposal on Tuesday that would increase funding for schools and social services. Cuts to those areas helped balance his first two budgets.
Five candidates for the Democratic nomination — John Hanger, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz and Tom Wolf — said the proposal won't make up the loss from Corbett's $1 billion-plus cut in education spending in 2011.  "He seems to be recognizing the overwhelming clarion call to do something more for public education," said McCord, the state treasurer, calling the latest proposals "too little too late."

Corbett's 4th budget takes risks to boost spending
Lancaster Online by Associated Press Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 7:35 pm | Updated: 8:04 pm, Tue Feb 4, 2014.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Robust tax collections, new sources of cash and delayed pension and health care payments would help pour hundreds of millions of additional dollars into education and social services under the spending plan Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett presented to lawmakers Tuesday.  For Corbett, a Republican facing a tough re-election battle after balancing his first two budgets with cuts to public schools and social services, it's a turnaround that will require some crafty, and perhaps risky, moves to accomplish.

Mixed reviews on Corbett's school-funding increase
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 7:18 PM
The $400 million boost to public education that Gov. Corbett proposed Tuesday drew swipes from critics who said the gains would come through targeted programs that favored wealthier districts and would not make up for years of budget cuts.  Others, including local educators, welcomed any increase in state aid.  "If everything falls in place, it would be pretty good for our district," said Upper Darby Superintendent Richard Dunlap, whose district stands to get an additional $2.1 million, enough to cut a looming 5.5 percent tax increase almost in half.
Joe Watkins, the state receiver in the Chester Upland district, said he believed his district might net $700,000 more next year.  "We'll be doing a little better," he said, "and we're grateful for it."

Corbett budgets $29 million more for Phila. schools; SRC nominees approved
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM AND MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 6:09 PM
Philadelphia got two new school reform commissioners Tuesday, and news that Gov. Corbett is proposing $29 million in new money for city schools.  The infusion comes through a new "Ready to Learn" grant that comes with some strings - better-performing districts have more choices on what to spend the funds on, while struggling systems such as Philadelphia's will have fewer options.  The beleaguered district needs any money it can get, but the new funds will not fill the hole of more than $100 million created by nonrecurring money in this year's spending plan.

Education a focus of Gov. Corbett's budget address; plan includes funding boost
The notebook by Paul Socolar on Feb 04 2014 Posted in Latest news
Gov. Corbett devoted nearly one-fourth of his annual budget address to education issues, proposing a total commitment of $10.1 billion to public education spending in the fiscal year starting July 1, a boost of 3.8 percent.
budget summary from the state Department of Education shows that the total allocation represents an increase of $369 million in funding for public schools.

Corbett's fourth budget has a different purpose from his first: column
By Robert J. Vickers |  on February 04, 2014 at 5:34 PM
The transformation from year one of a governor’s budget to year four is something to behold.
Like political cicadas, the first year spending plans of governors and other elected chief executives look one way in their first term, but often morph markedly in the term’s final year.
“The first year budget is a vision … which lays out the brand new governor’s vision for Pennsylvania within the confines of fiscal responsibility,” said Steve Crawford, a Harrisburg lobbyist and former chief of staff to former Gov. Ed Rendell.

Pa. Dems rebuff Corbett budget plan, calling it full of 'gimmicks'
Gov. Tom Corbett's $29.4 billion Pennsylvania budget plan is being criticized by Democrats as too little, too late.  The governor says his plan to boost state spending by more than 3 percent signals a change for the better in Pennsylvania's fiscal situation.  But Democrats see a cynical election-year ploy, dependent on revenue from one-time sources or incomplete plans.

Corbett outlines big new school grant program
Education Week Published Online: February 4, 2014
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett says a new block grant program he wants to create for public schools is designed to ensure that children read and do math at grade level by the third grade.  The Republican governor unveiled the details of the grant program Tuesday during his budget address to lawmakers Tuesday.

Five takeaways from Democrats response to Corbett's Pa. budget
By Jeff Frantz | 
on February 04, 2014 at 3:01 PM, updated February 04, 2014 at 3:33 PM
Soon after Gov. Tom Corbett finished delivering his budget address, the state's Democratic leaders offered their response. Here are five takeaways:

Education advocates waiting for specifics on Corbett spending plan
thenotebook by NewsWorks Staff on Feb 04 2014 (audio runtime 3:30)
Education saw the largest boost in spending in Gov. Corbett's budget proposal. He is seeking additional funding for special education programs, early learning grants, and higher education scholarships.  But the big increase proposed is not for the state's main pot of  funding for schools, but for a block grant program called "Ready to Learn." NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller discussed the governor's education spending priorities with Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania.

“Teachers and other professionals at STAR schools receive bonuses of up to $6,000 each. Paraprofessionals and technical-clerical workers represented by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers receive bonuses of as much as $2,000.  In all, 143 staff members are sharing $524,570 in bonuses, 70 percent of which is paid for by a federal grant.”
Three Pittsburgh schools named STARs for high scores
Achievements yield big bonuses to teachers
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 4, 2014 11:24 PM
Fourth-grader Olivia Russell thinks it's "awesome" her school, Pittsburgh Whittier K-5 on Mount Washington, has been named a STAR school for the second year in a row, one of only three schools districtwide honored for academic growth.  "It's actually cool you have a little title, and it's fun to have that," she said.  Announced Tuesday, all three schools -- Whittier, Sunnyside PreK-8 in Stanton Heights and Conroy, a North Side school serving special needs children -- have earned STAR status in each of the first two years of the program.

“Another striking fact from the District's charter enrollment report is that more than 30 of the city's charters -- including many of the charters that boast high test scores -- have enrollments substantially below their enrollment caps. In all, the city's underenrolled charters could take in 8,000 more students if they were to fill up to their authorized limit.”
City's charter enrollment surpasses 67,000; many charters exceed enrollment caps
The notebook by Paul Socolar on Feb 04 2014 Posted in Latest news
New data released by the School District on Tuesday show that charter enrollment in Philadelphia has swelled to 67,315 students, which is more than one-third of all K-12 students in public schools.  More than 1,500 of those students are enrolled in excess of enrollment caps for individual schools. Twenty charters are 10 or more students over their enrollment caps.
Four charters have more than 100 students in excess of their caps, led by Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter, where the District reports an enrollment of 1,302 despite an enrollment cap of 675.  The District has attempted to make those caps enforceable by writing them into its charter agreements. But this has not prevented the state from paying some charters directly for students enrolled in excess of the caps.

Pennsylvania can’t tell schools in other states what to do, so there’s a role for Congress here, too. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is among those working on a bill requiring all schools to do background checks that will keep predators from sliding into new jobs working with children.”
It's too easy for schools to put kids at risk by "passing the trash": PennLive Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on February 04, 2014 at 10:15 AM
Susquehanna Township School District’s ill-fated decision to hire administrator Shawn Sharkey, now accused of repeatedly having sex with a student, shows how important it is for school districts to know as much as possible about employees they hire.
Sharkey’s prior record at the Philadelphia School District didn’t include any improprieties with students. However, his file there “contained important information which, if known, might have caused the Susquehanna Township School District not to hire him,” according to Friday’s report from a Dauphin County grand jury investigation. Sharkey got lousy grades in college and in Philadelphia was so laggard in obtaining his required professional certification that he risked termination.

Reps. Schock, Meehan, and Kind Honored by School Board Members
NSBA Press Release February 3, 2014 
Washington (Feb. 3, 2014) – U.S. House of Representatives members, Aaron Schock of Illinois, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Ron Kind of Wisconsin, were honored this afternoon with the Congressional Special Recognition Award, given by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for their strong support for public education.
Schock, Meehan, and Kind worked together to introduce and promote the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, HR 1386, which would better establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by the U.S. Department of Education on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation. Provisions of the bill were approved as an amendment to the House version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), HR 5, which passed the House last summer.

In New York, A Call to Ignore Exam Results When Evaluating Educators
New York Times By AL BAKER FEB. 4, 2014
A year after a switch to new standardized tests for public school students caused passing rates to plummet, leaders of both political parties in the New York Legislature on Tuesday called on the state to back away from plans to use those exams to grade teachers.
In synchronized statements, Democratic leaders of the State Assembly joined Republicans in the State Senate to propose that the tests, which are aligned with the new curriculum standards known as the Common Core, be excluded, for now, from the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in 2012.

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

RESCHEDULED: PDE chief Dumaresq LIVE budget presentation, PSBA Conference Center; new date Feb. 13
PSBA website Feb 4, 2014
Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq will be at the PSBA Conference Center on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2:30 p.m. to present a special state budget overview. The program has been rescheduled in advance of anticipated severe weather conditions.  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, Thu., Feb. 13, 2:30 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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