Saturday, March 22, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 22, 2014: Another school board resolution opposing Senate Bill 1085

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 22, 2014:
Another school board resolution opposing Senate Bill 1085

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

Colonial school board passes resolution opposing Senate Bill 1085
By Brendan Wills, The Times Herald POSTED: 03/20/14, 9:09 PM EDT |
WHITEMARSH — The Colonial school board unanimously passed a resolution at Thursday night’s board meeting in opposition to Senate Bill 1085, known as the charter school reform bill.
The bill, if passed, would amend the language of Public School Code of 1949. The new language would change regulations for charter school funding and allow university or college officials to authorize the creation of charter schools.  “We’ve been urged, along with a number of other school districts, to inform members of the senate about the potentially negative impact of this legislation on public schools,” said board member Christina Frangiosa. “The bill includes some fairly positive changes to charter school funding, but it has some pretty negative components as well, including taking away local control for authorizing charter schools.”
Frangiosa indicated the potential for nonlocal authorities to use taxpayer money without the same regulatory restraints in place for school boards that currently oversee the authorization of charter schools.

Education Debate - Pittsburgh, April 8
by Yinzercation March 20, 2014
Please mark your calendars now and plan to be a part of this event:
Tuesday, April 8th  at Pittsburgh Obama 6-12 515 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206
Who is running for governor of Pennsylvania? What will the candidates do to help our schools? How will they support public education as a civil right and a public good?  So far this primary season, Governor Corbett has declined invitations to debate. He does have someone running against him in the Republican primary, but political analysts give his opponent almost no chance of bumping the incumbent from the ticket. I look forward to debates this fall when Gov. Corbett will be asked to publicly defend his record on education. But right now we need to know more about the Democratic candidates vying to take on the governor in the general election.  That's why the PA Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) and Yinzercation decided to co-host a Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate education debate. This will be the only debate in Pennsylvania focused exclusively on education issues! And all of the major candidates have committed to coming: Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, Jack Wagner, and Tom Wolf.

Pennsylvania May 20th gubernatorial primary
WHYY Radio Times with Marth Moss-Coane March 21, 2014
Guests: Chris Borick and James O’Toole  Audio runtime  52:00
Pennsylvanians go to the polls on May 20th to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries. The gubernatorial race has captured national attention with incumbent Republican Tom Corbett considered one of the most vulnerable governors in the country this year. The Democratic field is packed with five candidates vying to reclaim the Commonwealth’s executive office. It’s sure to be an interesting election. We’ll handicap the primary with two political observers: CHRIS BORICK, professor of political science at Muhlenberg College and JAMES O’TOOLE, columnist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"But Pileggi also knows that those most at risk of being overrun by rampaging property taxes are seniors and those on fixed incomes.  That’s why he’s sponsoring Senate Bill 299, which would freeze property taxes for residents who are at least 65 years old and have qualified for a Homestead exemption for at least five years. The bill also would reimburse local school districts for the lost revenue.  Now all it needs is one thing: A funding source."
Editorial: Time to spring into action on property-tax reform
Delco TImes March 22, 2014
Welcome Spring!
Rarely have such words had more meaning than after one of the most miserable winters in memory. We suffered the indignities of 67.6 inches of snow, making it the second snowiest winter on record. For some reason, memories of the winter of 2009-10, just four scant years ago, seem more distant.  Maybe it’s because this year’s snow was accompanied by brutal, unending cold temperatures that made venturing outside – if even dashing from the car to the office or back into the house – an unpleasant experience.  We endured an ice storm that left much of the region in the dark – without power or heat – for as much as a week.  So we proclaim today the arrival of spring, and its promise of new life.  Unfortunately, it brings with it something else, an old problem.

Quakertown superintendent faces questions about loss of state job
Interim superintendent answers online queries, including those about his resignation as education secretary.
By Melinda Rizzo, Special to The Morning Call 9:21 p.m. EDT, March 21, 2014
Quakertown Community School District interim superintendent William Harner wants the job on a permanent basis, but first he faced some tough questions from the community.  That process began Thursday night when Harner fielded questions submitted online in a special town hall-style meeting at the district's administration headquarters in Milford Township.  The district crafted questions from a pool of 54 responses from residents, asking Harner's take on such things as student achievement and academic excellence; community relationships; and his brief stint as acting state education secretary last summer.

Easton Area School District officials, teachers agree to talk about fiscal issues
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on March 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM
Easton Area School District officials, school board members and teachers unions have agreed to sit down and talk about ways to solve the district's budget woes.  School board President Frank Pintabone, Superintendent John Reinhart and Easton Area Education Association President Jena Brodhead showed up to a noon press conference together, marking a symbolic change from past district and teacher relations.  "I am extremely happy to announce that the association, the board and the administration will be entering into a dialogue immediately that will best address the financial and educational position of the district," Pintabone said, reading from a statement at Easton Area High School in Palmer Township.  The first meeting could be as soon as Monday but no framework for the sessions has been agreed upon, Pintabone said.
The 2014-15 preliminary budget before the school board projects 36 teacher layoffs and a 4.9 percent property tax hike. District officials have said class sizes would increase if the layoffs proposed in the latest budget come to fruition.

"Enlisting parents as reading coaches is the linchpin innovation of a remedial reading initiative called the Springboard Collaborative. Springboard, created by Alejandro Gac-Artigas, has run summer reading programs in charter schools the past three years and expanded to include four District schools last summer.  “Parents are the greatest natural resource in education,” Gac-Artigas said, “and what’s crazy is that this resource is almost entirely untapped in high-poverty communities.”
Parents learn how to turn kids into confident readers
thenotebook by Connie Langland on Mar 21 2014 Posted in Latest news
On a March afternoon, 8-year-old Jakai Rhoades and his mother, Ebony Wilkie, began tackling his homework.   “What does this word look like?” Wilkie asked her son, a 3rd grader at nearby Blaine Elementary School. “It’s a compound word—two words together. Do you see?”
“Spaceship,” he answered, correctly.  “Rumble … rumble … ROOAAARRRR,” read Jakai. “The rocket goes up into …” He stumbled on the next word. But his mom was at the ready, pointing upwards again and again, offering Jakai a really big hint.  He tried again, reading, “The rocket goes up into … space!”   Yes! Jakai was pleased, and so was Wilkie.
In this household in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, learning to read is a joint venture.

Councilman wants slots at Philadelphia International Airport
A Philadelphia City Councilman wants to make the airport into a mini-casino. The revenue generated would go to city schools.  Councilman Jim Kenney says he thinks putting slot machines in Philadelphia International Airport would be a great way to raise money for education.
"We need new revenue sources for the school district. The state legislature has been reticent to pay anything with the word tax associated with it. 1300 machines at Las Vegas creates 27-30 million dollars a year. They get more visitors than we do but certainly the revenue would be significant."  The general public would NOT be able to gamble at the airport under his plan.

"It is illegal in Pennsylvania for lawmakers to trade a vote or official act for a gift, but they can otherwise accept gifts as long as they disclose those worth $250 or more.  Kauffman said lobbyists wouldn't bother with gifts if they did not get special treatment in return, however."
Common Cause Pa. leader renews call to ban all gifts to lawmakers
Barry Kauffman wishes he would never have to read about Pennsylvania politicians accepting cash gifts from lobbyists ever again.  The head of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a government watchdog group, said he has been urging the General Assembly to ban all gifts to public officials for decades.  Kauffman renewed that plea Thursday in light of news, first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, that four state lawmakers and a city judge allegedly accepted money or gifts from a lobbyist who was wearing a wire for the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. 

New data: Even 4-year-olds get suspended
Politico By CAITLIN EMMASTEPHANIE SIMON and MAGGIE SEVERNS | 3/21/14 12:02 AM EDT Updated: 3/21/14 11:09 AM EDT
More than 8,000 toddlers in the U.S. were suspended from preschool at least once during the 2011 school year, new data from the U.S. Department of Education show — a small but significant number, experts say, because preschool students shouldn’t be sent home from school at all.  The stat is part of a flood of information from the Obama administration that examines race and equity issues in schools through dozens of data points, from pay for teachers in low-income schools to the percentage of black students taking AP calculus.

"No one who has not taught in a public school can possibly appreciate how hard teaching is.  There are no shortcuts to effectiveness. That's long been the case.  But today teachers are subjected to increasing demands, making the job more challenging than ever before.  I'm glad that TFA is making changes. It will be good for all stakeholders."
Teach for America Finally Gets Real
Education Week Reality Check blog By Walt Gardner on March 21, 2014 7:18 AM
Teach for America's decision to launch a pilot program requiring a year of classes in educational pedagogy and theory, together with actual classroom experience is long overdue ("Teach for America tests out more training," The Washington Post, Mar. 10).  I've never understood how five weeks of training in the summer before recruits begin teaching were adequate.  Yet until now, TFA defended its policy.  Although the change is being attributed to complaints by recruits that they were not well prepared for the realities of the classroom, I think there's another factor at play.  So far, TFA has received about 50,000 applications for the 2014-14 school year, a 12 percent decrease compared with last year's pool.  As the economy improves, I expect to see a further drop in the number of applicants.  That's because I've always believed much of the appeal of the program was the result of the dearth of jobs in the private sector.

NYT Letters: The Role of Charters in School Reform
New York Times MARCH 20, 2014
A Saner Charter School Debate” (editorial, March 17) points to a fact that is often overlooked: New York City’s charter schools educate only about 6 percent of the city’s students. Yet charter schools continue to dominate public debate about reform in education.
It’s time to change the conversation to focus attention and resources on the other 94 percent — including the more than one million New York City children who still rely on traditional public schools to prepare them for college and the workplace.

Charter Schools
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD MARCH 16, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of re-evaluating the practice of co-locating charter and noncharter schools in public school buildings. Critics of charter schools were encouraged; charter enthusiasts feared he would damage schools that served students well.
So far, however, he has hardly waged “war” on charter schools, which are independently run, exempt from some state regulations but receive public money. In reviewing 17 charters granted space in public school buildings by the Bloomberg administration late last year, Mr. de Blasio vetoed only three proposals. His critics questioned the fairness of denying a high-performing Harlem charter school, with fifth and sixth grades, the right to expand to include seventh grade. The administration said it would find a way to allow the expansion and keep the school intact at an alternative site.

NSBA makes recommendations on Race to the Top Preschool Development Grants
NSBA School Board News Today March 21, 2014
Lucy Gettman, Director of Federal Programs at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) spoke at a public meeting on the Race to the Top Preschool Development (RTT-Preschool) Grants, which was held at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C. on March 20.   The public meeting gave an opportunity for several education community voices to go on record with recommendations and priorities for the Department of Education and the Department of Health & Human Services as well as reply to questions from constituents about the upcoming grant competition.

Field-Testing Set to Begin on Common-Core Exams
Education Week By Catherine Gewertz Published Online: March 21, 2014
Next week marks a major milestone in an assessment project of unprecedented scope: the start of field-testing season for new, shared tests of a common set of academic standards.
Between March 24 and June 6, more than 4 million students in 36 states and the District of Columbia will take near-final versions of the tests in mathematics and English/language arts. Those exams—tied to the Common Core State Standards that all but a handful of states have adopted—were created by a bevy of vendors hired at the request of two groups of states: the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Fairtest - The National Center for Fair and Open Testing
Sign up for weekly Testing Resistance & Reform News and Updates!

Pre-K and Early Education in Pennsylvania - EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - March 23 at 3:00 p.m. 
The next EPLC "Focus on Education" show will air this coming Sunday, March 23 at 3:00 p.m.on PCN television.  This March 23 panel will discuss the issues of quality and access to early education in Pennsylvania, what research says about the value of early education, state funding for early education, how Pennsylvania compares to other states, and other related topics.
The panel will include: 
  • Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center and Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
  • Tracey Campanini, Director, Bureau of Early Learning Services, Office of Child Development & Early Learning, Pennsylvania Department of Education;
  • Michelle Figlar, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; 
  • Blair Hyatt, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Head Start Association; and   
  • Philip A. Peterson, FSA, Partner at Aon Hewitt and co-creator of the Aon/United Way of Southeastern PA Hand-in-Hand Award for quality child care in the business community, and former co-chair of the Early Learning Investment Commission

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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