Thursday, February 6, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 6, 2014: About that “Head Start fadeout”…plus continuing reaction to 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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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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?



Pre-K for PA: All Children Ready to Succeed
The Pre-K for PA issue campaign is working to ensure that all Pennsylvania children are ready to succeed. Our vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in the commonwealth has access to high-quality pre-kindergarten.




Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 6, 2014:
About that “Head Start fadeout”…plus continuing reaction to budget address


“What makes you think the money spent is ineffective?” I asked him.
He referenced a study, released last spring, suggesting that educational gains made by a group of Head Start students faded almost entirely by the third grade. This study is often cited by critics of early childhood education as proof that government-funded early childhood education doesn't work.
I had read the same study. I asked if he knew that the study also included information showing that students enrolled in early childhood education graduate from high school more, go to college more, get pregnant as teenagers less and get arrested for felonies less than their peers.  He said he wasn't aware of those parts of the report. Nor was he aware of the mountain of other research showing steady, long-term gains for students enrolled in early childhood education.”
Hansen: The jury is in — and study after study backs early childhood education
By Matthew Hansen / World-Herald columnist February 4, 2014
State Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion recently held a town hall meeting and mounted what appeared to be a one-man assault on early childhood education.  Kintner told the assembled crowd in Nebraska City that universal preschool is a scary idea, a federal government plot, and in fact “a dream of social engineers to get their hands on our kids,” according to news accounts of the meeting.
He reportedly twice promised that he wouldn't vote for any more state money to fund any more education for 2- and 3- and 4-year-old Nebraska children.  Why? Because, Kintner told the crowd, educating these young Nebraska children may in fact be worthless.
“The jury is still out on if early education even works,” he said, and he added that he needs proof.
This teed up a tantalizing question, as least for a nerd like myself. I have long assumed that early childhood education is, like most any sort of education, a good thing. But I had no real proof, for or against.
Does early childhood education really work? Or is the jury still out?
So I spent a week reading studies, including studies that summarize more than a half-century of research into the effectiveness of early childhood education.

Show Us The Money For Pre-K
Campaign for America’s Future by JEFF BRYANT FEBRUARY 5, 2014
If our nation’s leaders made policy decisions on actual evidence, this matter would have been addressed a long time ago.  This “matter” is the increasingly desperate state of the nation’s youngest children and the callousness in the way they’re being treated in our austerity-loving, market competitive culture.  There’s also evidence there is something we could actually do about it right now, if only there were the political will – and yes, the heart – to take the necessary actions.

House Lawmakers Weigh Federal Role in Early-Childhood Education
Education Week Campaign K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on February 5, 2014 1:49 PM
President Barack Obama's marquee, multibillion-dollar proposal to entice states to expand their prekindergarten offerings—which already was a political long shot—hit yet another roadblock Wednesday during a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing.  But, in what may be a sort of consolation prize to early-childhood advocates, the long-stalled reauthorization of another program for the youngest children—the Child Care and Development Block Grant program—may see fresh momentum.  Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the panel, said that Congress first needs to get a handle on the myriad of early-childhood education programs—45 across the federal government, according to a report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office—before creating a brand-new, multibillion-dollar program.
 "Many federal early-care and education programs are in need of serious review," Kline said at the hearing. "This should be our first priority, not rubber-stamping a 46th federal program."

Pre-K Remains Hot State-Policy Topic
Governors, legislators press early education
Education Week By Christina A. Samuels February 4, 2014
element of President Barack Obama's education agenda highlighted in last week's State of the Union address—appears to be maintaining legislative momentum at the state level this year, where lawmakers around the country will deal with healthier budgets.  In California, state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, has proposed a $1 billion expansion of the state's transitional preschool program, which just started in the 2012-13 school year for students who missed the state's kindergarten age cutoff. Mr. Steinberg wants the program to be available to all 350,000 of the state's 4-year-olds.
On a much smaller scale, Hawaii's Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, has asked state lawmakers to approve a budget that would create 32 preschool classrooms, serving 640 children.
And even states that appeared to be philosophically opposed to state-funded early-childhood education are considering a move in that direction: Idaho Rep. Hy Kloc, a Democrat, has proposed a three-year voluntary pilot program in five schools in Idaho. Other preschool proposals in the state have failed, but Mr. Kloc said he has received support for his $1.4 million program not just from early-education advocates, but from law enforcement officers and school superintendents.

Giving Children an Early Boost
New York Times Letters to the Editor FEB. 4, 2014
Three LTEs in response to recent opinion pieces on early childhood education.


EPLC EDUCATION NOTEBOOK - SPECIAL EDITION Summary of Governor Corbett’s Proposed Education Budget FY 2014-15
Education Policy and Leadership Center Wednesday, February 5, 2014
http://www.eplc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Education-Notebook-14-04-Special-Budget-Edition-02-05-14.pdf

PBPC: Governor's Proposed 2014-15 PA Budget in Charts
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on February 4, 2014

Something New In the Proposed PA Budget This Year
Prior funding for charters has flowed through school districts and was allocated based upon individual school district tuition formulas.  The proposed 2014-2015 Proposed Ready to Learn Block Grant (Excel) allocates funding directly to charter schools (see XL starting at line 502).
Ready to Learn Block Grant 2014-2015 Fiscal Year
PDE’s website February 4, 2014
The Governor’s Budget provides $341 million in total funding, including $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success, and funding for the successful Accountability Block Grant that supports pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten and other proven educational programs at the current level of $100 million.  As part of this budget, schools will be authorized to use their Accountability Block Grant for purposes allowed in the Ready to Learn Block Grant, ultimately increasing flexibility for schools and improving learning outcomes for students.  A total of $240 million of the Ready to Learn Block Grant funds will be allocated through a student-focused funding formula to enhance learning opportunities for students and provide resources for schools to innovate at the local level.  Schools will be able to use their Ready to Learn Block Grant allocation for programs such as:

“Today in Pennsylvania, there are only enough public funds to make pre-k available to help fewer than 20 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds access high-quality programs.”
PP4C: An Overview of Gov. Corbett's Proposed 2014-15 Budget
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children February 5, 2014
Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed a $29.4 billion state spending plan for fiscal 2014-15 that includes some positive investments for Pennsylvania's children, but also underscores the work that still needs to be done to help every child succeed. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) has reviewed some of the more notable budget proposals that impact the commonwealth's kids. Here is our recap:

PSBA: School funding increases promising, need initiative details to assess impact on struggling districts
PSBA website 2/4/2014
It is a promising sign that Gov. Corbett's proposed 2014-15 budget includes increased funding for public education, said officials at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
"It is good news that this year the conversation starts with discussing additional funding, but there is much work that needs to be done to ensure spending increases for public education come to fruition in the budget that is adopted by June," said Nathan Mains, PSBA executive director. "While we are encouraged, we need to see the details of the various programs and block grants to determine how they may impact school entities across the state."
School districts need flexibility in how they use state funding. If the initiatives outlined today by the governor are too restrictive, districts' hands will be tied when working on improving education for their students. Putting more money in the Basic Education Funding (BEF) line gives our districts the greatest flexibility. Currently, the BEF is flat-funded from last year.

“The governor's budget makes no increase in basic education funding but does add $241 million to a new program, the Ready to Learn Block Grant. The program is welcome, but strings attached to those funds may prevent schools from restoring the basics that have been cut over the past three years — small classes, summer school, nurses and counselors, art, music and advanced courses. Common sense demands that we restore the basics and build from there.”
Sharon Ward: Gov. Corbett's budget won't move Pennsylvania ahead
Morning Call Opinion 6:15 a.m. EST, February 5, 2014
Sharon Ward is director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
Punxsutawney Phil is predicting more chilly weather ahead, but a winter-weary Gov. Tom Corbett must have spring on his mind. His budget address Tuesday painted a bright and rosy picture of Pennsylvania's future even as we remain in the grip of a long economic winter.
Pennsylvania's economy is not recovering as quickly as most states. Gov. Corbett, attempting to improve growth, made a bet that a billion dollars in new corporate tax cuts would fuel economic recovery, but that bet has been lost. Our unemployment rate has hovered above the national average for more than a year, and job growth trailed all but two other states last year.
Instead, corporate profits continue to rise, but those profitable corporations are paying less in taxes, if anything at all.  And Pennsylvania has faced one budget crisis after another, with the casualties falling largely on schoolchildren, local taxpayers and the state's economy.
GOP, Democrats differ on Gov. Corbett's fiscal proposal
By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 02/04/14, 9:07 PM EST
Gov. Tom Corbett lauded Pennsylvania for overcoming its economic challenges during his annual budget address Tuesday, claiming “signs of revival are clear to see.”
Corbett cited a growing work force and diminishing unemployment as evidence that Pennsylvania is emerging from the economic hardships it faced when he took office three years ago. He credited sound budgeting and spending discipline for shoring up state finances.
The Republican proposed a $29.4 billion budget that increases education funding, lowers business tax rates and relies on reforming the state’s Medicaid program. He again lobbied for two unfilled goals from his 2013 address — pension reform and liquor control privatization.
Without raising state income or sales taxes, the budget proposal boosts spending by 3.6 percent from the current budget — the largest increase of Corbett’s tenure.

A Pa. budget address offering peace pipes and magic
JOHN BAER, DAILY NEWS POLITICAL COLUMNIST Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 3:01 AM
WHAT TO DO when facing a re-election fight that (at this stage) makes challenges faced by Gen. George Armstrong Custer seem small?  Well, if you're Gov. Corbett, you offer a peace pipe.
He did that yesterday by proposing to put his money (actually yours) where his political problems are.  Under fire for education cuts? How about a few hundred million in new funding, including $29 million more for Philly schools?

WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane: Reaction to Governor Corbett’s 2014-2015 budget speech
Guests: John Baer and John Micek February 5, 2014 audio runtime 51:02
Last night Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his 2014-2015 budget plan for Pennsylvania, his fourth address to the joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The blueprint included investments towards public education – with an emphasis on preschool and K-12, job programs and health care. The commonwealth is facing a deficit of about $1 billion dollars, and the increasing rise of public employee pensions of about $610 million dollars may be temporary adjusted by less state and school contributions. Without any new tax proposals, the Governor is hopeful the recent new law approving small games of change will create new revenue, as he is pushing for the Pennsylvania Lottery to include bingo-style game, Keno. A Pennsylvania-tailored, Medicaid-type expansion was proposed, using federal money to help pay for hundreds of thousands of uninsured people, as long as they are looking for work and paying an income-based premium. As this is the last budget address of his term, Governor Corbett is running for a second term this fall – a new Franklin and Marshall poll shows public approval ratings at about 23 percent of Commonwealth voters think he’s doing an “excellent” or “good” job. We get reaction to and analysis from Philadelphia Daily News columnist JOHN BAERand JOHN MICEKeditor of the editorial and opinion pages for The Patriot-News and PennLive.

PPG Editorial - Irresponsible: Corbett’s budget plan is risky for Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial February 5, 2014 8:32 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett’s $29.4 billion budget for 2014-15 would increase state spending by 3 percent and send more dollars toward education, but it relies on too many questionable maneuvers in order to be balanced.  Mr. Corbett, who this year will ask voters to give him a second term in office, has been vilified over his education funding in the past. This time, he would offer $241 million more for school districts, money that would have to be used primarily for curriculum development and training for educators, and $10 million so 1,670 more children can attend pre-kindergarten programs. He also proposed the first increase for special education in six years, a $20 million hike in a $1 billion line item.
Even with these improvements, though, the education budget is far from generous. It keeps allocations for basic education — the backbone of school district spending and the first line of defense against local property tax increases — level for another year, and it does the same thing for the state’s public universities.

Area districts applaud school grant proposal
Tribune-Review  By Kari Andren Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
A proposed block grant that would infuse more money into K-12 education drew praise from school officials who have grown weary of little or no increases in state funding even as costs continue to rise. Gov. Tom Corbett proposed $240 million in Ready to Learn Block Grants during his annual budget address in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
“This block grant is designed to ensure that every child is reading and doing math at grade level by the third grade, that students are getting the grounding they need in science and technology, and that a school is flexible enough to give tailored instruction to students who need it,” Corbett said.
More Bad than Good
Yinzercation Blog February 5, 2014
Governor Corbett doesn’t want to hear what the public thinks about his proposed budget. He leaked details to the press Monday in advance of his Tuesday announcement “under the condition of a late-night embargo, precluding the gauging of reaction before publication.” [Post-Gazette, 2-4-14] So we’ll keep our analysis nice and simple for him:
  • More $ for special ed = GOOD
  • More scholarships for higher ed = GOOD
  • More $ for early childhood = GOOD
  • Flat funding for K-12 basic ed = VERY BAD
  • More $ for richer schools = BAD
  • Flat funding for higher ed = BAD
  • Making schools compete for $ = BAD
  • Grant $ only for training but not teachers = BAD
Now, for those who would like a few more details, let’s start with the positive. Governor Corbett proposed a $20 million increase to special education funding. 

“Decades of research show income stratification is one of the strongest predictors of student outcomes.  Since SPP scores are heavily weighted based on standardized test scores, schools that enroll high numbers of traditionally-disadvantaged students face particular challenges in meeting the eligibility requirements for the initiative.”
RFA Releases Policy Note on Gov’s Expanding Excellence Program
Research for Action Posted by Alison Murawski on Feb 4, 2014
Earlier today, Governor Corbett outlined his 2014-15 budget priorities. According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) press release, the Governor’s plan includes the Expanding Excellence Program. If enacted and funded, this initiative would “provide competitive funding to schools that have attained a 90 or higher on the School Performance Profile and are willing to analyze and share best practices that have proven to raise student achievement. Grant recipients will be responsible for supporting schools across the state that strive to replicate these strategies and techniques.”  What does this mean for the schools and students this program may affect? Click here to find out.

Parkland School Board lauded with personal trading cards
Sort of. Student tech teams created trading cards bearing each director's photo.
By Margie Peterson, Special to The Morning Call 9:44 p.m. EST, February 5, 2014
School boards may get a song from students or a speech or two during School Director Recognition Month, but the Parkland School Board might be the first to receive its own set of trading cards.  Parkland's Trojan Tech Teams of students created trading cards with each school director's picture and some information about them and gave them to the directors — including the recently sworn-in David Hein — at last week's meeting.
“Schools are required to get in 180 days of instruction by June 30. And “there’s no provision in the School Code for schools to get a waiver of the 180-day requirement,” said Tim Eller, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  “The only way changes could occur is by action of the General Assembly,” Eller said, noting that the last time the General Assembly so acted was during the 1995-96 school year, when snowstorms closed schools for two weeks.”
Snow days push county schools to brink
Lancaster Online By SUZANNE CASSIDY | Staff Writer February 5, 2014 7:19 pm
On Wednesday, students — and their parents — woke up to the reality of yet another day without school.  For many Lancaster County students, it was their seventh snow day so far. (And we’re only in the first week of February.)  Many county students now will be in class the second week of June — some until Friday, June 13, or even beyond.  The state may offer some relief to graduating seniors, but to get such relief for other students would be a far more complicated matter.

PPS panel recommends denial of three charter schools
Pittsburgh Citypaper Posted by Rebecca Nuttall on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 12:15 PM
From 2008 to 2013, only two charter school applications have been approved by the Pittsburgh Public School District out of 15 proposed. On Feb. 2 at a PPS education committee meeting, the district’s charter school review teams recommended the denial of an additional three charter applications.  If the PPS board of directors follows these recommendations, which they have historically done, the district would have an 11 percent approval rate for charter schools over the past five years. The board will vote on the charter schools at a legislative meeting on Feb. 26.
According to a release from the district, the three applications for Homewood Children’s Village Collegiate Charter School, Provident Charter School for Children with Dyslexia, and Robert L. Vann Charter School should be denied because they lack curriculum or a plan for meeting the needs of all students, and do not provide expanded educational options beyond those available in the district

How The Debate Over Charter Schools Makes Us Dumber
TPM CAFE Opinion by CONOR P. WILLIAMS – FEBRUARY 5, 2014, 6:00 AM EST3208
Almost nothing gets education arguments roiling from reasonable to rancorous like charter schools. Through one lens, charters are “aggressive and entrepreneurial…[and] loosely regulated” institutions that are ultimately a “colossal mistake” undermining traditional public education. Through another, they’re transformational places “generating extraordinary academic success with the most disadvantaged children,” in sharp contrast to moribund traditional public schools. Easy as it is to fall into one or the other of these positions, each contributes to paralyze discussions of charters’ flaws and merits.  It would be nice if we could answer the question empirically. That’s a perfectly intuitive starting point: how do charters perform vis-à-vis traditional public schools? Unfortunately, national data on charter school performance is mixed at best.

“The Walton Family Foundation will be investing $25 million in start-up investments to 112 new charter schools, bringing the total number of charter schools it has helped open to 1,500—or about a quarter of all charter schools over the past 17 years.”
Walton Family Foundation Invests $25 Million in New Charters
Education Week Charters & Choice Blog By Katie Ash on February 5, 2014 11:06 AM
The Walton Family Foundation will be investing $25 million in start-up investments to 112 new charter schools, bringing the total number of charter schools it has helped open to 1,500—or about a quarter of all charter schools over the past 17 years.
"We're both very proud of our investments in the charter space and enthusiastic about supporting choice in cities across the country as a mechanism to providing families with high-quality options," said Marc Sternberg, the director of the foundation's K-12 education reform division, in an interview with Education Week.

Here’s Milton Friedman's "Public Schools: Make Them Private" paper from 1995.
Public Schools: Make Them Private
by Milton Friedman Washington Post on February 19, 1995
Milton Friedman, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976.
Executive Summary
Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically restructured. Such a reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system--i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. The most feasible way to bring about such a transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend. The voucher must be universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education. No conditions should be attached to vouchers that interfere with the freedom of private enterprises to experiment, to explore, and to innovate.
This article appeared in the Washington Post on February 19, 1995. Reprinted by permission of the author and the Washington Post.

High cost of Common Core has states rethinking the national education standards
Education Views Feb 5, 2014 by Staff
States are learning the cost of Common Core is uncommonly high.
The federally-backed standards initiative, first proposed by the nation’s governors and an educators’ association, seeks to impose a national standard for achievement among K-12 students. So far, 45 states plus the District of Columbia have signed on, with some implementing curriculum designed for the Common Core Standards Initiative during the current school year and the rest set to take part in the next school year. But several states are reconsidering their participation, and one big reason is the cost.
States will spend up to an estimated $10 billion up front, then as much as $800 million per year for the first seven years that the controversial program is up and running. Much of the cost is on new, Common Core-aligned textbooks and curriculum, but the added expenses also include teacher training, technology upgrades, testing and assessment. The figures are taking states by surprise.

Common Core: The Gates Foundation's Imaginary World of School Reform Collides with Reality
Education Week Living In Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on February 5, 2014 12:19 PM
Guest post by John Thompson.
The Gates Foundation's Director of Education, College Ready, Vicki Phillips, describes what she admits is the ideal implementation of Common Core and test-driven evaluations. In the "vast majority of cases," these changes would be implemented carefully. The key principle would be that teachers and students would be given "time to adjust to new expectations before they face serious consequences for not meeting them."
If implemented properly, Common Core "test scores shouldn't be used to make consequential decisions, such as whether students should graduate, until we are sure we understand how to interpret the results." Neither would schools or teachers be punished "until teachers have had a few years to get used to the new ways of working."
Such a distinction between idealized implementation and reality would seem to be progress. Just when it seemed like the Gates Foundation was conceding that it is important to acknowledge the facts about their theories, however, Phillips showed she was just spouting rhetoric. Phillips claimed that the ideal state she described "with the exception of a few outliers," is what is "actually happening across the country."

Georgia Congressman to Introduce Anti-Common Core Bill
Education Week Campaign K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on February 5, 2014 4:40 PM
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., a former school board member and candidate for Senate, is preparing legislation that would restrict the U.S. Secretary of Education, or any other federal employee, from dangling grant money to entice a state to adopt a particular set of standards.
The bill is a reaction to—you guessed it—the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. Common core has become a total political football in state houses across the country, as legislatures decide whether to stick with or ditch the standards and/or federally-financed, aligned tests.
This isn't the first time that someone in Congress has sought to limit the Secretary's authority when it comes to standards. A bill to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives last summer, would also prohibit the secretary from tying grant money—or ESEA waivers—to a state's adoption of academic standards. That provision largely mirrored language introduced by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.

Text of report detailing $100 million-plus needed for Common Core tests in Maryland
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog VALERIE STRAUSS February 5 at 11:37 am
I recently wrote about a Maryland Education Department report that said the vast majority of schools in many of the state’s counties are not technologically prepared to give new online Common Core-aligned standardized tests, and  at least $100 million will have to be spent by 2015 to get ready.

Here's the truth about Shanghai schools: they're terrible
Shanghai tops the Pisa rankings thanks to their focus on test-taking. Their model would be a nightmare for US schools
By Saga Ringmar theguardian.com, Saturday 28 December 2013 07.00 EST
The western world watches China's rise as a formidable world-power with a mixture of awe and apprehension. Sci-fi films depict a futuristic world where Baidu.com is the new Google and Mcdonalds has been replaced by Grandma Wang's Dumpling Emporium. And yet again Shanghai is number one on the Programme for International Student Assessment's (Pisa2012 ranking list of international education, and the US is once again at a low rank, this time 36th place. The US is desperate, and naturally the Chinese educational system seems like an answer. But let me tell you – this is not the case. I know; for two years I attended a local Shanghainese high school and this is the truth: they are terrible.
The biggest problem with Chinese education? It's medieval

Public advocacy is a must, NSBA panelists tell school boards
NSBA School Board News Today by Lawrence Hardy February 5th, 2014
School board members must speak up and speak out about the successes and challenges of their local public schools, panelists told 750 school board members at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) first annual Advocacy Institute.  Competing interests — including those who want to privatize the system — are already defining the message and potentially putting school boards and public schools out of business, some media experts warned.

NSBA honors House members for work on ESEA, federal overreach
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min February 5th, 2014
U.S. House of Representatives members, Aaron Schock of Illinois, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Ron Kind of Wisconsin, were honored this week 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.

North Carolina school board may refuse to implement new law that eliminates teacher tenure
NSBA Legal Clips February 5, 2014
According to the News & Record, the Guilford County Board of Education (GCBOE) has voted to refuse to implement a new North Carolina law that eliminates tenure for some teachers.  Under the new law, school leaders have until July 1 to pick 25% of teachers, with at least three years of experience, and offer them new four-year contracts.  Under their new contracts, the teachers would receive $500 compounding salary increases over the four years, but they must surrender their tenure.  Voting to uphold the the state and U.S. constitutions, GCBOE Chairman Alan Duncan pointed out that tenure rights are property rights for vested teachers. School board member Ed Price questioned how the 25 percent of teachers would be chosen and whether test scores would be a factor.  With that approach, he said, “some teachers may shy away from low-performing classrooms or schools.”


Have you considered signing this petition yet?
PENNSYLVANIA PROPERTY TAX PAYERS: OPPOSE PROPOSED SB1085 CHARTER SCHOOL LAW REFORM
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 staff@eplc.org 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.

“Senate Bill 1085 represents a substantial rewrite of the state’s charter school law; a key facet is a higher education authorizer system that would allow proposed charter schools to seek approval from approximately 100 institutions without the input or approval of local school districts. The legislation does not require that the higher education institutions possess educational or management expertise or capacity related to charter schools or public K-12 education more generally. In this way, the proposed structure differs from the framework in other states; for instance, New York’s higher education authorizer is a dedicated center— the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute—within a single public university system.
 A review of relevant, rigorous research finds no evidence that higher education authorizers, in particular, correlate with student achievement gains. A comprehensive study of charter school performance in 16 states found lower student achievement in states with multiple authorizers, including non-profit organizations and higher education authorizers.”
Research For Action Releases Brief on Higher Eds as Charter Authorizers
Research For Action Posted by Alison Murawski on Jan 28, 2014
Debates on charter school reform are annual occurrences in Harrisburg. This year, amid a number of proposed changes in charter school regulation and oversight, Senate Bill 1085 adds a new element with especially far-reaching implications: allowing higher education institutions to authorize new charter schools.  In its latest Policy Note, Research for Action examines how this provision of Senate Bill 1085 compares with policy and practice in other states. Currently, 12 states permit higher education authorizers, with the number of active authorizers ranging from one to 11 institutions. If Pennsylvania lawmakers adopt Senate Bill 1085 as currently drafted, the Commonwealth could have as many as 100 higher education authorizers. Research provides no evidence that this change will result in stronger student outcomes.
The attached brief provides a review of existing research, an overview of higher education charter authorizers nationwide and in neighboring states, and answers to frequently-asked-questions.
To read the full brief, click here. Research for Action was also featured on WHYY and KYW Newsradio for our analysis of this topic.

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: https://www.psba.org/workshops/register/?workshop=150

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: swoods@auditorgen.state.pa.us.

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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