Thursday, March 20, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 20, 2014: Congressional hearings on testing needed now! Please RT to your Senators and Congressmen.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3150 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 March 20, 2014:
Congressional hearings on testing needed now! Please RT to your Senators and Congressmen.

Congressional hearings on testing needed now! Please RT to your Senators and Congressmen.  #testhearingsnow

"At the Philadelphia Education Fund, we are committed to three simple things: excellent teachers in the classroom; retaining students in school until graduation; and ensuring all students have the opportunity to access college and career. And we continue to support them once they start their postsecondary education; we grant one million dollars per year in last dollar scholarships to low-income students from Philadelphia’s public schools heading to college."
Helping first-generation college students get through that tough first year
Philadelphia Business Journal by Darren Spielman, Guest Columnist Mar 19, 2014, 4:07pm EDT
Darren Spielman is president/CEO Philadelphia Education Fund.
Anyone paying attention is familiar with the flux in Philadelphia K-12 education: How do we adequately fund our schools so that students have the chance to succeed and become contributing members of the economy?  How do we prepare and support our teachers, as well as recruit and retain them, so that all young people benefit from excellent teachers in the classroom? How do we assess performance? How do we improve instruction? District vs. charter schools. Autonomy vs central control, and on and on.  In the midst of the controversy, it can be hard to know how to get involved.

Pa. House panel OKs sex abuse bill aimed at schools
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- The state House of Representatives is preparing to take up legislation aimed at ensuring schools know if prospective employees have been investigated or disciplined for sexual misconduct.  A bill requiring schools to review the work histories of applicants who would work with children cleared the House Education Committee unanimously on Wednesday. The legislation also would prohibit schools from entering into agreements that would keep confidential an investigation into suspected abuse or sexual misconduct by an employee.

Senate OKs bill for school rescheduling due to snow days
Delco Times by John Kopp POSTED: 03/19/14, 10:42 PM EDT
The state Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that gives school districts flexibility to make up instruction time lost to snow days.  Senate Bill 1281 enables school districts calculate their school days based on instructional hours without seeking approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It also enables districts to reschedule instructional days on one Saturday per month.

"Without charter schools, the district's current budget would have an $8 million surplus, Roy said. But with a projected $20 million in charter school tuition for 1,542 students, Bethlehem instead faces a $12 million deficit, he said.  "We're cutting our programs so that we can fund charter schools," Roy said."
Maximum tax increase possible for Bethlehem Area School District
School district faces $12.1 million deficit. Superintendent blames charter schools.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 10:52 p.m. EDT, March 19, 2014
Bethlehem Area school directors agreed Wednesday that raising taxes as high as possible may be the most viable solution to the district's budget woes.  Facing a $12.1 million deficit and the possibility of reducing students' academic opportunities, each of the six school directors who attended Wednesday's budget workshop said they support Superintendent Joseph Roy's recommendation to raise taxes beyond the 2.6 percent state index.  District Chief Financial Officer Stacy Gober wouldn't specify the highest possible tax increase because the district has yet to receive confirmation from the state that it qualifies for exceptions to exceed the index. But the district believes it qualifies for as much as $3.9 million through the exceptions, which would more than double the $3.7 million it would get from a 2.6 percent increase, Gober said.
KIPP: Making the most of extra time
thenotebook by Paul Jablow on Mar 19 2014 Posted in Latest news
It’s 3 p.m. on a Monday, and all around the city – or the country for that matter – kids are filing out of school, headed for waiting parents or the bus.  Not, however, at the KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School. Here, teacher Josie Santiago walks about a room with a dozen 7th and 8th graders, helping them with homework in Spanish, history, math, or other subjects, or with life in general.  “Make eye contact with me,” she tells one student as part of a mini-lecture on slacking off.   A room away, teacher Amoreena Olaya talks with advanced students about Macbeth: “We’re really challenging them,” she says.
Elsewhere, other teachers convene a documentary film club, tutor math, prepare students for the upcoming state standardized tests, drill the step team, and preside over a study hall for students who have been acting out and need a “quiet space.” The students will stay until about 4:45.
KIPP West Philadelphia is one of a small but growing number of schools around the country to use “extended learning time,” expanding both the regular school day and the school calendar beyond the traditional framework of 180 days that start between 8 and 9 a.m. and end around 2:30 or 3 p.m.

Charter school challenges court ruling, says 2011 vote in its favor should stand
By Jenna Ebersole Pocono Record Writer March 18, 2014
The court fight is not over yet.
The Pocono Mountain Charter School has filed an application for reargument with an appellate court, arguing the court should recognize the validity of an original state board's vote in its favor in 2011.  The school filed the application with the Commonwealth Court last week, following the court's ruling in late February that sent the charter revocation case back to the state board with instructions to vote again by the end of the school year. Pocono Mountain School District has battled with the charter through years of litigation seeking to shut the school down.

Superintendent was lone schools official to take promised pay cut
WHEN TALK of massive layoffs swirled around the Philadelphia School District last year, high-ranking administrators promised to take pay cuts.  The district had sought $133 million in labor concessions from employees, so the officials' often-espoused mantra of "shared sacrifices" would extend to them, too, they said.  "Compensation for senior leadership" would be reduced, consistent with decreases imposed on nonunion staff in 2012, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. told reporters last April.

Audit report showed Coatesville School District mismanaged funds
MICHAELLE BOND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 5:46 PM
COATESVILLE While the Coatesville Area School District struggled with a multimillion-dollar deficit, it paid for retirement benefits in 2012 to an administrator who was ineligible for them, according to a multiyear state audit report released earlier this month.  By exceeding its budget and causing a deficit in its general fund, the district is also violating the state Public School Code, the report said.  The audit, which spanned from June 3, 2010, to April 26, 2013, revealed that the district has continuously overestimated the revenue it thought it would generate and had a "dramatic $31.1 million drop" in its general fund balance over a seven-year period, which has put it in an "unstable financial position."

Common Core Creates Opportunities For Publishers
NPR Morning Edition by LYNN NEARY March 19, 2014 5:00 AM
Listen to the Story runtime: 5 min 39 sec
New education standards called Common Core are being adopted in 45 states and Washington, D.C.  That has created an opportunity for trade publishers.

Florida moves toward school voucher expansion — but with no accountability
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS March 18 at 10:00 pm
Florida’s legislators appear to be on their way to passing legislation that will greatly expand the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program — a voucher-like scheme that allows public money to be used for private school tuition. A Miami Herald editorial said the plan  will “please the few” but  undercut “the many,” while Frank Cerabino, a writer for The Palm Beach Post, went further, describing the legislation as an opening gambit in what “promises to be a banner year for the dismantling of public education in Florida.”  Under the current program, which started in 2001, scholarships are provided to low-income families to pay for private school tuition, “funded by businesses which receive dollar-for-dollar credits on their corporate income taxes,” as  The Herald explained here.  Currently about 60,000 students receive scholarships each year — with more than 80 percent of them using the money to pay for tuition at religious schools. There is a cap on tax credits now set at $286 million but it is set to go up to nearly $900 billion in the next four years. The new legislation would add millions of dollars to the cap and allow it grow even  faster than previously permitted.

Gilded Crusade for Charters Rolls Onward
New York Times By MICHAEL POWELL MARCH 12, 2014
To call Eva S. Moskowitz a walking lightning rod is to deeply understate the matter. Electricity all but arcs and leaps off her scalp.  Years ago, she ran the City Council’s Education Committee with a dynamic, if unyielding, hand. She accused school officials of retreating on their standards, and she was often right.  Her battles with the former teachers’ union president, Randi Weingarten, called to mind Mothra and Godzilla.  Now she is the proprietor of the Success Academy charter school chain. She calls herself a crusader, and who could argue? Her voice has the rasp of long weeks piled atop long weeks.  It’s worth noting this is a nicely gilded crusade. She oversees 20 schools, and is paid $485,000. She is no outlier.

Governors’ Top Education Issues: State-of-the-States 2014
Education Commission of the States By Jennifer Thomsen March 2014
Education issues were again at the forefront when the leaders of 42 states and the District of Columbia outlined their priorities in their 2014 state-of-the-state addresses. Governors outlined their plans for increasing the quality and availability of education – from preschool through postsecondary – to spur economic growth and enhance the quality of life of each state’s citizens. This brief highlights the most frequently cited education priorities of the nation’s governors:

"At the end of the last semester, the Lawrence district took over management of LVHS from K12 Inc., a private company that had been running the school, after it posted a graduation rate of just 26.3 percent. That compared to 88 percent for Lawrence High School and 94 percent for Free State High School."
Lawrence prepares for full takeover of troubled K12 Inc. virtual high school
Lawrence Kansas Journal World By Peter Hancock March 17, 2014
The Lawrence school district is preparing to take full control of Lawrence Virtual High School, a charter school that until recently had been run by a private company.  The move comes as district officials begin to question the effectiveness of virtual schools generally. The future of the Lawrence program will depend on whether it can improve its academic performance.
“If we can do it well, we plan to continue,” Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll said. “It's all about quality for me. There is a need across Kansas, as evidenced by the enrollment we have, but we've got to do it well.”

Education Forum: No Child Left Behind - The Law that Instituted High-Stakes Testing
Thursday, March 20th at 7pm in the East Penn School District Board Room, 800 Pine St. in Emmaus, PA.
Presented by East Penn Invested Citizens
You are invited!  The No Child Left Behind Law that instituted standardized testing was passed more than 10 years ago and has radically changed the educational landscape across the nation.  EPIC is proud to host an Education Forum regarding high-stakes, standardized testing.  
Muhlenberg Education Professors will be sharing cutting-edge research that explores how standardized tests have impacted students, teachers, schools, and outcomes.  Please attend and spread the word by sharing this post.  The event is open to ALL school districts.
Please feel free to share this invitation with your friends and neighbors and help us to spread the word about this event!

PA School Board Members interested in running for PSBA officer positions must file applications no Later than April 30th
PSBA's website Electing PSBA Officers
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee during the month of April, an Application for Nomination on a form to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. "The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by April 30 to be considered and timely filed. If said date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, then the Application for Nomination shall be considered timely filed if marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed and postmarked on the next business day." (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Details and position descriptions:

Live Chat with PA's Major Education Leadership Organizations on Twitter Tuesday March 25th at 8:00 p.m.
PSBA website 3/11/2014
On Tuesday, March 25 at 8 p.m., Pennsylvania's major education leadership organizations will host a live chat on Twitter to share the opinions of school leaders from throughout the state and invite feedback.  Join the conversation using hashtag #PAEdFunding and lurk, learn or let us know what you think about the state of support for public schools.  If you've never tweeted before, join us. It's a simple, free and fast-paced way to communicate and share information. Here are directions and a few tips:

How the Business Community Can Lead on Early Education
Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Join business and community leaders to learn about how you can help make sure every child arrives in kindergarten ready to succeed. On April 29th, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will host a forum featuring business leaders from around the country talking about why they’re focused on early childhood education and how they have moved the needle on improving quality and access in their states.
Featured Speakers
  • Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus of The Vanguard Group
  • Phil Peterson, Partner, Aon Hewitt and Co-Chair of America’s Edge/Ready Nation
  • And more to be announced! 
  • Date & Time Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 5-7 PM
Registration begins at 5 PM; program from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Location Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
10 North Independence Mall West Philadelphia, PA 19106

PILCOP Special Education Seminars 2014 Schedule
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Tuesday, March 25th, 12-4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

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
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in Monroeville, PA
Thursday, March 27, 2014 in Philadelphia,PA

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.

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