Monday, February 17, 2014

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 17, 2014: Look who’s advocating for public schools

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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If you value democratically governed American public education that serves all children then advocate for it.



Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for February 17, 2014:
Look who’s advocating for public schools


Look who’s advocating for public schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS February 15 at 3:01 pm
The National School Boards Association is launching a campaign in support of public education — with some unexpected help.
Called “Stand Up4Public Schools,” the campaign’s goal is to persuade association members to be more forceful advocates for public schools and locally controlled school districts at a time when, in the name of reform, many school boards have lost their power to mayoral and even state takeovers and traditional public schools have come under attack. As an example, consider this: John Huppenthal, the reform-minded superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, is sending a message in robocalls promoting a voucher program that lets parents use public money to send their kids to private school, according to the Phoenix New Times.
The National School Boards Association, looking for some high-profile support, successfully wooed Sal Khan, founder of the famous online Khan Academy, who has been hailed as a visionary by many of the most powerful school reformers, including Bill Gates. The academy is a Web site that offers thousands of free video lessons in math, science and other subjects, such as art history, as well as interactive activities and assessments. While some reformers see the future of public education as moving online, Khan has said he sees his academy as an educational tool and expects his own children to attend brick-and-mortar schools for a full education.
Khan’s posters for the campaign include those that say: “Great Things Happen At Public Schools,” and “Who I am today began with public education.”

Fewer PA college students want to be teachers
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 8:35 pm, February 15, 2014
In an era of layoffs, high-stakes testing and crowded classrooms, many college students in Pennsylvania are saying no thanks to careers in education.  All across the state, at public and private institutions, the number of students enrolled in education programs has plummeted.
Nowhere is this more apparent than at the state-owned universities such as Kutztown and East Stroudsburg, which were founded in the 19th century to train teachers for Pennsylvania schools.
In fall 2004, there were 18,685 students enrolled as education majors at the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. By last fall, that number had dropped a third to 12,569, a rate that far exceeds the overall drop in students attending college.

Educators Say Corbett Funding Needs Formula
Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA Thursday, February 13, 2014
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Education advocates say Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed funding of a $241 million education block grant is a significant dollar amount, but they still question whether it is the best way to use the money.   Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, says it remains to be seen what conditions are attached to the one-year Ready to Learn grant program and whether or not districts can use the money for the most critical needs.
"Since we don't have a funding formula,” Gobreski stresses, “the big question is going to be does that drive out money to where it's needed, the school districts that are really struggling to be able to meet the needs of kids right now, and are these the right programs to focus on?"

Hite releases school action plan built on 'bold expectations'
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Monday, February 17, 2014, 1:07 AM
Despite enormous, ongoing fiscal challenges in the Philadelphia School District, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. is thinking big.  How big?
Every 8-year-old in the city reading at grade level. Every student graduating ready for college and careers. Every school with a great principal and teachers. Full funding for great schools.
Centering on those four goals, Hite's 41-page blueprint for the future of the district, to be issued Monday, is full of "bold expectations," the superintendent said.
Incoming School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green is fully on board with the plan, an aspirational document that emphasizes "evidence-based strategies" and counts on significant changes in the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' contract, now being negotiated.

Plan for Philly public schools calls for bold steps
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903 POSTED: Monday, February 17, 2014, 3:01 AM
SCHOOL DISTRICT of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite today will unveil a bold action plan, calling for more school turnarounds, more autonomy for principals and new student assessments.  The blueprint, called Version 2.0, hinges on four interrelated goals: getting 100 percent of students to graduate and be ready for college and a career; getting 100 percent of 8-year-olds reading on grade level; providing every school with a great principal and teachers; and getting 100 percent of the funding needed. It builds upon Hite's first action plan released in January 2013.

Calling for stable funding streams, Hite will attach a price tag to his new action plan
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 17 2014 Posted in Latest news
Superintendent William Hite, seeking to demonstrate that the District is moving forward despite profound financial woes, has released an updated “action plan” for improving city schools.
The 42-page plan takes aim at four “anchor goals” that Hite calls both “aspirational in scope and urgent in nature,” including having 100 percent of 8-year-olds reading on grade level and 100 percent of students graduating with college or job-ready skills.  To achieve this, the plan also sets aspirational goals around human capital and fiscal support. It calls for 100 percent great teachers and principals and 100 percent “of the funding we need for great schools.”

Mayor Peduto puts new focus on Pittsburgh Public School system
Critical report from 2003 revisited
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 17, 2014 1:14 AM
More than a decade ago, the Mayor's Commission on Public Education called for the Pittsburgh Public Schools board to be appointed by the mayor rather than elected by residents.
That hasn't happened nor have some of the other recommendations in the 144-page report critical of the district and written during the administration of Tom Murphy in 2003.
In the intervening years, no other mayor or mayor's commission has tried to take control away from an elected school board or made such sweeping recommendations.
While he hasn't suggested appointing the school board, Mayor Bill Peduto, sworn in last month, is taking a keen interest in the fate of the school district.

Report calls on Pittsburgh schools to focus on resources
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 16, 2014 11:05 PM
For Great Public Schools-Pittsburgh, the question of how to solve the district's academic and financial problems shouldn't be couched as how to trim the budget.  "Instead we must ask, 'How can we fund the schools our students deserve?' We must expand our way of thinking, reframe the problem and come at public education as a community committed to finding the resources our students need to succeed in school and in life," the coalition stated in a report released Friday.  The report is titled "Great Public Schools for All Pittsburgh Children" and calls for making schools "community schools" that provide education and other services and serve as community centers.

Marple Newtown School Board adopts preliminary budget
Delco Times by Leslie Krowchenko POSTED: 02/16/14, 9:59 PM EST
NEWTOWN — With the figures the same as those presented in January, the Marple Newtown School Board voted 8-1 to adopt the 2014-2015 preliminary budget of $73.7 million.
The version would require a corresponding 3.88 percent tax increase.  Marple Newtown’s Act 1 index for next year, as set by the state, is 2.1 percent. The motion authorized the administration to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the retirement exception to satisfy 1.1 percent of the difference, which would allow the district to increase taxes to an estimated maximum of 3.2 percent, said Business Administrator Joe Driscoll. The remaining 0.68 percent will be reduced through the final revenue and expense projections, he added.
The preliminary budget represents a 4.6 percent increase over the current year. Driscoll noted the major cost drivers are $878,000 in salaries, divided among increases, two new teachers and additional special education support staff, $2.2 million in benefits, $200,000 for textbook adoptions and no increase in the budgetary reserve.

Western Pennsylvania schools taking snow days in stride
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Megan Harris Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
If two feet of pristine, powdery snow blanketed Pittsburgh overnight, Quigley Catholic High School students would still rise at dawn, roll out of bed to email their teachers and start a school day from the relative comfort of their Western Pennsylvania homes.  “We haven't called a snow day in five years,” technology coordinator Mitch Yanyanin said. “If we know it's coming, we tell everyone to stay home the next day. If we don't, sometimes we delay, but we love this system. Our students and staff are home safe, and no one misses any classroom time.”  Persistently frigid weather and snow showers conspired to sap school districts nationwide of snow and calamity days built into otherwise meticulous calendars.
Editorial: Want property tax reform? It's time to speak up
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 02/15/14, 11:57 PM EST |
We’re here to be watchdogs for the communities we serve. And like a good watchdog, we know when someone is creeping around the house.  In this case, they’re creeping around the state House and the Senate.  We’ve made it our mission this year to keep a close eye on property tax reform and the funding formula used by the state to determine how much money is allocated to individual school districts.  Our watchdog role will only take us so far, though. Once we have the burglar backed up against the wall, the homeowner has to come in and take over.
That’s your cue.

Guest Column: With the right legislation, cybers and charters could offer good return on investment
By JOE EMRICH and MIKE REESE, Times Guest Columnists 02/14/14, 9:52 PM EST |
State Rep. Joe Emrick, R-Upper Nazareth, represents the 137th District; state Rep. Mike Reese, R-Mount Pleasant, represents the 59th District.
Members of the 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.


Why Does PBS Ignore the Assault on Public Education? Can You Guess?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch February 16, 2014 //
In the aftermath of David Sirota’s exposé of PBS accepting $3.5 million for a series about pension reform, funded by the Arnold Foundation (and since returned), another question naturally arises: why has PBS shown little or no interest in the corporate takeover of and turmoil in public education?  I appeared on Charlie Rose last year for about 15-20 minutes. But otherwise the viewers of PBS have not had any in-depth investigation of the corporate-funded assault on one of our nation’s most crucial democratic institutions. Why isn’t PUBLIC television interested in PUBLIC education?

“The loudest of the complaints is based on New York’s decision not to wait for those new Common Core exams, which are expected to make their debut in 2015, but to begin testing students on the new standards last year. Teachers said they had not been fully trained in the new curriculums, and had not received new textbooks and teaching materials; many still did not have them in the fall. As the tests changed, the scores plummeted: Less than a third of the state’s students passed.”
Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left
New York Times By AL BAKER FEB. 16, 2014
The Common Core has been applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of rigorous learning goals. Though 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to them since 2010, resistance came quickly, mostly from right-leaning states, where some leaders and political action groups have protested what they see as a federal takeover of local classrooms.  But the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder.  Carol Burris, an acclaimed high school principal on Long Island, calls the Common Core a “disaster.”  “We see kids,” she said, “they don’t want to go to school anymore.”

More than 500 New York State principals slam Common Core testing frenzy
Wait What? Blog Feb 14
While Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, and the Connecticut State Department of Education are instructing Connecticut superintendents and principals to mislead and lie to parents in an attempt to scare parents from opting their children out of the standardized testing frenzy, a group of more than 500 New York State principals have signed a letter setting the record straight about the problems associated with these new Common Core standardized tests.  Hopefully more Connecticut school administrators will join education leaders like Madison, Connecticut Superintendent  Thomas Scarice and stand up, step forward and speak out against the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test (SBAC), the overuse of standardized testing in Connecticut’s public schools and the right of parents to opt-out their children from this unfair, unnecessarily, expensive and destructive tests.


Join us February 19th for our Service-Learning As Dropout Prevention Webinar! February 19th from 3pm-4pm
Pennsylvania Dropout Prevention Network
Join Hillary Kane, Chair of the Pennsylvania Service-Learning Alliance, as she discusses service-learning as a dropout prevention strategy. Service-learning, unlike traditional community service, is a hands-on teaching strategy that can resonate with students who are disengaged from more traditional methods of instruction. Join this call to learn more about service-learning and how your school or district can take advantage of it to reach students and keep them in school.

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 fbinner@pasen.gov.

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.
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.

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

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.

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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