Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 12, 2014: OP-ED: Reform of Pa. charter schools long overdue

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 12, 2014:
OP-ED: Reform of Pa. charter schools long overdue

Governor Corbett Recognizes Academic Excellence of Three Harbor Creek Schools; Outlines Increase for Education in 2014-15 Budget
PDE Press Release February 11, 2014
Harbor Creek Twp. – Governor Tom Corbett today presented the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics to three schools in Harbor Creek School District, Erie County.
“These schools demonstrate the remarkable commitment and dedication of students, parents, taxpayers, teachers and administrators in preparing students for a successful future,” Corbett said.  “Klein, Clark and Rolling Ridge elementary schools are great examples of the high-quality learning that is taking place in classrooms across Pennsylvania.”
Based on the 2012-13 School Performance Profile,, Klein Elementary School attained a 94.9 percent, the highest in the district and the second highest among the 75 public schools in Erie County.

OP-ED: Reform of Pa. charter schools long overdue
Pottstown Mercury By State Reps. Joe Emrick and Mike Reese, Guest columnists 02/10/14, 8:03 PM EST |
Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are charged with being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. It is our responsibility to treat this money as an investment by doing all we can to ensure the highest possible “return.” One of the greatest investments we make is in education. Our students are our future and the manner in which we invest in them will significantly impact Pennsylvania’s next generation.  Parents also make an investment in education when they decide to send their child to a charter or cyber charter school. Both institutions are held accountable to Pennsylvania taxpayers, as charter schools must be approved by local school districts, while cyber charter schools face approval by the state Department of Education.
Last September, a bipartisan vote passed House Bill 618, which addresses the investment in charter school education as well as the double dip on pensions that currently benefits cyber charter schools. We urge our Senate colleagues to take up this legislation and send it to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for his signature.

“The report found that only 13 percent of child-care programs in Delaware County are considered high quality; 15 percent in Chester County; 18 percent in Bucks County; and 20 percent in Montgomery County.  Very few children attend high-quality private programs - 4 percent in Delaware and Bucks, 6.5 percent in Chester, and 7 percent in Montgomery.
Even harder to come by are high-quality subsidized programs such as Pre-K Counts and Head Start for 3- and 4-year olds. In Chester County, for instance, there are 68 slots for 4,372 eligible Pre-K Counts students; in Delaware County, 326 spots for 7,193 students.”
Group: Preschool programs badly lagging in Pa. suburbs
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, February 10, 2014, 5:15 PM
It's not only poor Philadelphia children who are going without high quality child-care and preschool programs - suburban communities have severe shortages of slots, and in many cases costs are prohibitive.  Those findings are from a report released today by Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group that has issued similar studies on education, health, poverty, and nutrition in recent months.
Characteristics of high-quality care include having trained teachers who understand child development and can teach social and emotional skills along with letters and numbers, said Shawn Towey, the organization's child-care policy coordinator.

Pennsylvania lawmakers pepper Budget Secretary with questions about Gov. Tom Corbett's spending plan
By Charles Thompson |  on February 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM, updated February 10, 2014 at 4:43 PM
This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. to reflect later testimony from Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser before the House Appropriations Committee, and revenue projections from the Independent Fiscal Office.
Pennsylvania lawmakers from both sides of the aisle made clear Monday that their comfort level isn’t quite there yet with Gov. Tom Corbett’s $29.4 billion budget proposal.  In the opener to what will be a three-week gauntlet of agency budget hearings, they also made clear that the gubernatorial election year dynamic is already in the room, and will likely be hard to separate from the debate going forward.  With Corbett seeking a second-term this year, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby was peppered with questions by Senate Appropriations Committee members about the number of one-time revenue sources and favorable bets that Corbett's 2014-15 budget is built on.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale's 2014 agenda includes looking at state university system and charter school law
By Jan Murphy |  on February 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale came before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning to make a pitch for more money for his department and to offer a preview of the areas his department’s 400 auditors will focus on this year.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is asking for more money to hire five new auditors and make other upgrades to allow his department to be more aggressive in its auditing of state and local agencies.

Corbett budget a mix of good, bad and ugly
Bucks County Intelligencer By Mark B. Miller Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 12:15 am
The best I can say about the latest budget to come from Gov. Tom Corbett is that it is not the worst budget to come from Gov. Corbett. There is a small infusion of funds for education, and that is good. There are jobs on the horizon, also good. It’s a step in a positive direction that is very much needed.  Breaking down what I see, there is a $20 million increase to special-education funding after six years of flat funding. By itself, this is no significant help. But in 2013, Gov. Corbett also signed Act 3 into law (right here in Bucks County), setting the commonwealth’s Special Education Funding Commission into motion (GOOD).
Special-education funding lags behind the need for our public schools. Charter and cyber charter schools get a disproportionate share of that money with no accountability for its use (BAD). If action is not taken soon, public schools will not be able to serve the needs of our special-education students (UGLY).

Today's New York Times story on Philly schools: downright strange
CityPaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 02/11/2014
Today's New York Times story on Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite was strange, mainly because of what was left out. Which was mostly everything. This school district is undergoing one of the most profound crises in American public education, but readers outside this region will learn very little about that crisis from this article.  There is little context, and no mention of the fact that many blame Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts for the ensuing public-education crisis. Also no mention that this issue is the largest obstacle confronting Corbett in his reelection campaign, or that it is the issue that has turned him into America's most vulnerable incumbent governor.
Indeed, there's not even a mention that the state controls Philadelphia school, and has done so since 2001. Indeed, it is entirely unclear as to whether Hite can make any independent decisions on his own without asking permission. After all, he serves at Corbett's behest, through his proxies on the SRC.
That would have been nice to mention.

District raises concerns about York charter proposal
A health-and-fitness school is trying again for approval
York Daily Record By Angie Mason UPDATED:   02/11/2014 09:28:16 AM EST
Elements of a proposed charter school, before the York City School Board for the third time, were debated during a nearly four-hour public hearing Monday night.
Cynthia Dotson went before the board in her third attempt to have the proposed Championship Academy of Distinction Charter School approved. The proposal is for a health-and-fitness themed charter school that would open with kindergarten to third grade.

First hearing for proposed Choices Charter School in William Penn School District
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, Special to the Times POSTED: 01/27/14
The founder of Choices Charter School recently made his case to the William Penn Board of School Directors to let him open the district’s first charter school in the first of two hearings on the school’s application.  Jim Duffy hopes to open the Choices of William Penn Charter School at the start of the 2014-2015 school year in a renovated 18,000 square foot building located at 237 Mill St. in Darby. The K-8 school expects attendance to be 360 students by the 2018-2019 school year.  This would be the first charter school for Choices in the county.

Easton Area School Board passes preliminary budget with a possible 4.9 percent tax increase
Lehigh Valley Live By Lynn Ondrusek on February 11, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Easton Area School Board approved a preliminary budget tonight that includes a possible 4.9 percent tax rate increase.  The decision came after an initial 4-4 deadlock to the delight of parents who have pleaded with the board to restore laid-off teachers.  The $132.9 million budget for 2014-15 school year includes 36 teacher cuts, which is down from the originally projected 56 staff cuts. 

School District of Lancaster faces $7.7 million budget deficit for 2014-15
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Tuesday, February 11, 2014 11:00 pm
Heading into budget season at School District of Lancaster in recent years has meant staring down a hole.  A big, gaping one.
The board is looking at a $7.7 million deficit for the 2014-15 budget. If it stays within the Act 1 index — the state's limit on property tax increases — it will either have to make cuts or draw from reserve funds.  Alternatively, the board could pass a preliminary budget with a tax hike of more than 3.1 percent and apply to the state for Act 1 exceptions.  The board will not adopt its final budget and tax rates until June, but the deadline to apply for Act 1 exceptions is early March. The board will vote on the issue at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

Derry Twp. School Board asks public for direction on pursuing investigation into past practices
By Monica Von Dobeneck | Special to PennLive   on February 10, 2014 at 10:17 PM,
HERSHEY — The Derry Township School District has been in the news lately over reports of secret meetings and possible misuse of taxpayer dollars.  Now newly seated school board members want to know if residents want them to pursue an investigation into past wrongdoing — possibly through a forensic audit — or just move forward with policies that ensure such events don't happen again.  “What outcome would you like to see?” new Board Member Julie Neal asked during Monday's board meeting. “We can't get stuck in the past, but we also can't pretend it didn't happen.”

Advanced Placement classes double in popularity
Philadelphia Inquirer by KIMBERLY HEFLING, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 1:55 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Columbus McKinney is taking his fifth Advanced Placement course at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, undeterred even though he didn't score high enough to get college credit on two of the AP classes he took previously.
McKinney said he thinks the extra workload is worth it no matter the grade on the final exam. "It prepares you for what it's going to be like when you get to college," the 17-year-old said during a break from his AP Physics course.  McKinney is part of a larger trend: The number of U.S. public school students taking Advanced Placement classes nearly doubled over the last decade. The class of 2013 took 3.2 million AP exams, according to a College Board report released Tuesday.

Meet the top 50 wealthiest school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania
Here are the Pittsburgh region's wealthiest school districts.
Ethan Lott Research Director-Pittsburgh Business Times Feb 11, 2014, 11:38am EST
Who are the wealthiest school districts in the seven-county region?
Pine-Richland School District led all of the 105 school districts in the region, with median household income of $109,906, according to a Pittsburgh Business Times analysis of newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Eleven local districts were among the top 50 (out of 500) in the state, and 20 districts were among the top 100 statewide.
Students in Duquesne City School District live in the poorest households in the region and statewide, with a median household income of $20,330. It would take more than six Duquesne households to equal one household in the toniest district statewide, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, which boasts a median household income of $123,908. Twelve districts statewide topped the six-figure mark in median household income.

Districts Adopt Effective Governance Standards
PSBA website 2/11/2014
Thanks are extended to these districts statewide that adopted PSBA Standards for Effective School Governance
PSBA's thanks are extended to all school entities that adopted PSBA's Standards for Effective School Governance and Code of Conduct for Members of Pennsylvania School Boards. Remaining entities continue to be encouraged to notify PSBA when the standards are adopted.
School entities statewide adopting PSBA Standards for Effective School Governance include:

“The complaint alleges that Defendants issued materially false and misleading statements and/or failed to disclose material information regarding the Company's student enrollment and revenue growth prospects for fiscal year 2014.”
SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Announces Class Action Involving K12, Inc. and Its Board of Directors and a Deadline of April 1, 2014 to Seek a Lead Plaintiff Position -- LRN
Wall Street Journal February 11, 2014
SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Announces Class Action Involving K12, Inc. and Its Board of Directors and a Deadline of April 1, 2014 to Seek a Lead Plaintiff Position -- LRN
NEW YORK, Feb. 11, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Levi & Korsinsky announces that a class action lawsuit has been commenced in the USDC for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of investors who purchased K12, Inc. ("K12" or the "Company") (NYSE:LRN) common stock between March 11, 2013 and October 9, 2013.
Click here to learn more about the action or call: 877-363-5972. There is no cost or obligation to you.

The new push for school vouchers at state, federal levels
Washington  Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS February 12 at 4:00 am
Liberals, Jeff Bryant notes in this post, “tend to laugh off” voucher programs “as aberrations from fly-over country.” They shouldn’t. Bryant is director of the Education Opportunity Network, a partnership effort of the Institute for America’s Future and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign. Jeff owns a marketing and communications consultancy in Chapel Hill, N.C., and has written extensively about public education policy. A version of this first appeared on Salon.
By Jeff Bryant
Many people who ventured to Slate recently gaped in horror at a map of the United States depicting a rash of schools – like a case of chicken pox across the nation’s Bible Belt – that are teaching children creationism instead of the scientific theory of evolution, all at taxpayer expense.

Senate Ed Committee Chairman Folmer Holding Town Hall Meetings on Education
Senator Folmer’s Facebook Page February 10, 2014
Parents, I want to hear your thoughts on education! Join me for a parent town hall meeting Tuesday, February, 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 203 of the Neidig Garber Building, on the campus of Lebanon Valley College.
A similar meeting is planned for Monday, February 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the Quiet Study Room of Penn State Harrisburg’s Capitol Union Building.
Seating is limited - please RSVP to (717) 787-1347 or

Have you considered signing this petition yet?
Petition by Denise Kurnas
To be delivered to The Pennsylvania State House, The Pennsylvania State Senate, and Governor Tom Corbett
This petition is designed to keep charter school oversight in local district control instead of allowing other entities or the Pennsylvania Department of Education to spend our property tax dollars without input from our locally elected school board officials. 

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.

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia February Seminars
Dear Parents and Advocates:
This month we are offering TWO great special education seminars. 
Learn about special education provisions in charter schools, 
including how one's rights differ from school to school. 
Tuesday, February 11, 2013 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Audience members will learn about the legal needs of children with dyslexia, and other learning disabilities, and hear from expert presenters on the latest research and trends. 
Tuesday, February 25, 2013 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. - Full Session 
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Abbreviated Session 

NPE National Conference 2014

The Network for Public Education
The Network for Public Education is pleased to announce our first National Conference. The event will take place on March 1 & 2, 2014 (the weekend prior to the world-famous South by Southwest Festival) at The University of Texas at Austin.  At the NPE National Conference 2014, there will be panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote address by Diane Ravitch. NPE Board members – including Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimson, and Julian Vasquez Heilig – will lead discussions along with some of the important voices of our movement.

The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition April 5-7, 2014 New Orleans
The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  Our first time back in New Orleans since the spring of 2002!
General Session speakers include education advocates Thomas L. Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, as well as education innovators Nikhil Goyal and Angela Maiers.
We have more than 200 sessions planned! Colleagues from across the country will present workshops on key topics with strategies and ideas to help your district. View our Conference Brochure for highlights on sessions and focus presentations.
·                             Register now! – Register for both the conference and housing using our online system.
·                            Conference Information– Visit the NSBA conference website for up-to-date information
·                             Hotel List and Map - Official NSBA Housing Block
·                             Exposition Campus – View new products and services and interactive trade show floor
Questions? Contact NSBA at 800-950-6722 (NSBA) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

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