Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 25, 2014: Indiana Withdrawing From Common Core Standards; Gov. Pence said he believes state's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level.

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

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?

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for March 25, 2014:
Indiana Withdrawing From Common Core Standards; Gov. Pence said he believes state's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level.

Live Chat with PA's Major Education Leadership Organizations on Twitter
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:

Inquirer Editorial: Take emphasis off state tests
POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 1:08 AM
Parents are right to protest the oversize emphasis placed on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams when so many schools are poorly funded.  Robin Roberts says her three children won't be taking the PSSAs with the rest of the students at Philadelphia's C.W. Henry Elementary School. "If it's so important for us to do well on these tests, why are they not setting us up to succeed?" asked Roberts.  It's a good question. You can't expect much success on standardized tests when students don't even have basic supplies. The Philadelphia School District is still operating with a deficit. A fund-raising drive was held just to provide pens, crayons, and paper to students.  The state allows students to opt out of the PSSAs for religious reasons. But if enough parents follow Roberts' example, maybe Gov. Corbett and the legislature will make it a higher priority to increase funding not just for Philadelphia, but for schools across the state.

March 24-31 Call Congress and Demand Hearings on Abusive Testing #TESTHearingsNow
The Network for Public Education
On March 2, 2014, The Network for Public Education issued a call for congressional hearings into the overuse and abuse of tests in our schools.  Will Your Senator or Representative Join Us?
First, call your Representatives and Senators during the week of March 24, 2014 and ask them to hold formal Congressional Hearings into the overuse and abuse of tests in our schools! You can find the contact information for your Senators and Representatives here!!

AS I SEE IT: Corbett's budget invests in education
Indiana Gazette Opinion by Carolyn Dumaresq on March 23, 2014 1:30 AM
Carolyn C. Dumaresq, Ed.D., is Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of education.
Investing in Pennsylvania’s children is an investment in their future and the future of Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 budget dedicates a record $12.01 billion for Pennsylvania’s early, basic and postsecondary education system.  Of this amount, $10.1 billion is slated to support Pennsylvania students in pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Since taking office, Corbett has increased support of public schools by $1.55 billion.  Since 2011, Corbett’s Ready to Learn education agenda has transformed the state’s education system. Through targeted initiatives, the governor has increased accountability, infused stronger educational resources into classrooms, focused financial resources into initiatives that support all students, and created a transparent way for taxpayers to see how their tax dollars are benefiting students.
The School Performance Profile, www.paschoolperformance.org, shows that 73 percent of the state’s 3,000 public schools are preparing our children for a successful future.

Report: Pennsylvania drilling taxes among lowest
 published mar 21, 2014 at 10:38 pm
PITTSBURGH – Pennsylvania’s taxes on the natural gas drilling boom are among the lowest in the nation, according to a new report from a nonpartisan office of the state Legislature.  Pennsylvania is the only state with significant production that doesn’t impose a severance tax based on the volume or market value of gas produced, the figures released Thursday by the Independent Fiscal Office found. Instead, the state imposes an impact fee for each well drilled, no matter what it produces.  The report looked at 11 states and found a Pennsylvania well that began producing in 2014 will be taxed at an effective tax rate of at most 1.6 percent. By comparison, a similar well in West Virginia will be taxed at 7.2 percent, a Texas well at 4.6 percent, a Colorado well at about 5.6 percent and Ohio at 1.8 percent.

McCord unveils education plan propped up by 10 percent "drillers' tax"
WITF Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 24, 2014 3:13 PM
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord says his education plan would be funded largely with a 10 percent natural gas drilling tax.  McCord, the state treasurer, said he wants to boost money for education by $1.3 billion, in a move to replace cuts to education under the Corbett administration. The governor's office says the reductions were the result of the end of federal stimulus dollars. McCord said his education spending would make early education a priority.
"Not just K-12, and not just full-day kindergarten, and not just pre-K, but we add an extra $220 million dollars to early childhood learning," McCord said in a speech to the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg.  He said the proposal would be funded in large part with 10 percent "drillers' tax."

"District officials have said the school has financial and academic difficulties and has not met the conditions of its charter. They cited several concerns: recent test scores that show just 5 percent of students are proficient in math and 10 percent in reading, unpaid bills, and not a single progress report to the district in four years."
W. Chester charter pleads for time to show improvement
The founder of a West Chester charter school, during a hearing to revoke its charter, appealed to the school district for more time to show academic and financial progress.  Lamont McKim, the CEO and cofounder of Sankofa Academy and a graduate of West Chester School District, said his teachers taught him "to do my best, never give up, and things take a little time."

"Under the new staffing policy, beginning next fall, all school vacancies will be filled through what is known as a "site-selection process." School committees that include parents and other teachers make recommendations, but principals have the final say."
Philadelphia Schools to bypass seniority in fall
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, March 24, 2014, 4:43 PM
PHILADELPHIA School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. announced Monday that the district will impose work rules allowing principals to fill teacher vacancies in the fall without regard to seniority.  The district also asked the state Supreme Court to declare that the School Reform Commission has the power under the state takeover law to make the changes on its own, without approval of the teachers' union.  Jerry Jordan, president of the 11,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said the union would file a challenge in the state's top court.

"Other changes being sought by the district include: eliminating the deadline for issuing layoff notices; relaxing minimum staffing requirements for counselors, librarians and teachers; giving principals the authority to determine how teachers use prep time; and the ability to hire a third-party vendor to manage substitute teachers."
SRC seeks to eliminate seniority, impose other changes on teachers
LOCKED IN A stalemate with the teachers union, the Philadelphia School District took a more forceful approach yesterday, asking the state Supreme Court to reaffirm its right to impose work rules, including the elimination of teacher seniority.  The filing is the climax of tense negotiations between the district and its largest union, which have been under way for more than a year. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan called the move a "bogus effort" to avoid bargaining in good faith.  "The school district and the SRC have chosen to forsake negotiating in good faith in favor of a legal end-around to avoid meaningful contract talks with the PFT," Jordan said in a statement. "The members of the PFT are partners in public education, not indentured servants."

Hite suspending seniority for September, seeking approval from Supreme Court
notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 24 2014 Posted in Latest news
With labor negotiations stalled, Superintendent William Hite said Monday that he intends to impose a system for assigning teachers to schools next year that eliminates seniority as the deciding factor and instead gives principals the power to fill all vacancies and assemble staff.
“It is our intention to implement a range of work-rule reforms, and these include teacher assignment and transfer, layoff and recall, staffing levels, leveling, and the use of prep time,” Hite said in an interview.  The District filed a 60-page motion asking the state Supreme Court to issue a "declaratory judgment" to affirm its legal right to make such changes unilaterally.
Come September, “all openings ... will be filled through the site selection process,” Hite said. Now, only about half of open positions are filled that way, Hite said.

District focuses on providing students with the right teachers, with the right skills for the best possible education
School District of Philadelphia Press Release March 24, 2014
PHILADELPHIA - Consistent with the Action Plan goals to prepare every student for college and career, the School District of Philadelphia announced new staffing guidelines for the 2014-15 academic year.  This step represents a continuation and expansion of the changes put into place by the District in the fall.  “Our plan helps each and every student have the right teacher with the right skill-sets to support quality learning. We have seen firsthand the impact the right teachers have on students,” said Dr.  William R. Hite, Superintendent. “My top priority is to ensure students have every opportunity to succeed and these changes will better meet the academic needs of our students.”   The new guidelines will prioritize staffing decisions based on student and school needs; a committee comprised of the principal, teachers and a parent will determine teacher staffing at each school.  While the process will continue to include seniority as a factor for some staffing decisions, it will end the practice of using seniority as the only factor in any decisions. Also, substitute teacher services will be competitively bid for the 2014-15 academic year.

3 'innovative' high schools coming to N. Phila.
DESPITE unprecedented financial challenges, the Philadelphia School District is opening three new high schools in September as it seeks to redefine urban secondary education.  The schools, described by the district as "small schools of choice," are expected to add a grade each year and eventually to enroll between 475 and 600 students. The nonselective schools will draw half their enrollments from surrounding neighborhoods; the other half will be open to students citywide.
Each school will follow a new model known as project- or competency-based education, in which students display proficiency by addressing real-world problems in order to advance.

Lehigh to host Governor's School for engineering and technology
Morning Call Valley 610 Blog Posted by Adam Clark at 05:28:34 PM on March 24, 2014
Lehigh University will host a Governor's School for engineering and technology, one of four Governor's Schools the state is holding this summer.   Lehigh's Governor's School will be a two-week, summer residential program for high school students interested in studying technology and mathematics.  It will run from July 20 to Aug. 2, 2014, offering students an enrichment experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), cooperative learning, and hands-on laboratory experiences. For more information visit www.lehigh.edu/pgset.  High school juniors and seniors who are selected to attend the Governor’s Schools receive full scholarships, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the universities, and private and corporate donations.

Bishop Zubik: No Common Core in Catholic schools here
Post Gazette Popular Belief blog Written by Peter Smith on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 6:00 am.
Bishop David Zubik said that Common Core -- the national educational standards that many public and Catholic schools have adopted -- won't be coming to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  In a March 18 letter, Bishop Zubik weighed in on a debate that has been roiling in educational circles recently.  Common Core was put together by representatives of various state, educational and other private organizations, trying to develop standard baselines for what students should be learning nationwide. In addition to critics who say it shoehorns a one-size-fits-all approach to public schools, some in Catholic circles have opposed using standards other than those that start with a Catholic model.  Bishop Zubik wrote that even if Pennsylvania were to adopt the Core standards for the public schools, they would not be mandated for parochial ones. 

Indiana Withdrawing From Common Core Standards
Posted: 03/24/2014 5:58 pm EDT Updated: 03/24/2014 6:59 pm EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana on Monday became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core math and reading standards that outline what students should be learning, capitalizing on a conservative backlash but leaving some critics wondering whether the state is leaving the program in name only.  Indiana was among 45 states that adopted Common Core in the last few years, but some conservatives have since criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools.  In signing legislation Monday to pull Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence said he believes the state's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level. The Republican-controlled Legislature had previously approved the measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new standards outlining what students should be learning in each grade.

"The federal government was initially supposed to pick up 40 percent of the excess cost of educating students with disabilities, but has continually fallen short of that goal."  …Ideally, he'd like to the federal government to meet its 40 percent commitment sometime in the next three to five years. "I think we can set it on path," Kline said. "That will be a good debate to have."
Kline Seeks to Make Special Education Funding a Priority
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on March 24, 2014 7:20 AM
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, said today that he will be pouring new energy into a perennial priority: Bolstering funding for special education.
Education advocates, Congress, and the administration, need to put special education funding first, Kline said in an interview. "It's easy for people to say we need to fund special education and then get distracted by many, many different things," Kline said. "We oughta be meeting the federal government's commitment to funding special education and that oughta be the first priority."  Last week, Kline held a roundtable in his district on special education. Participants included a veteran special education teacher; special education parent; school superintendent; Denise Specht, the president of Education Minnesota, an affiliate of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers; and Mary Kusler, the director of government relations for the NEA.

Educational Opportunity Network Blog by Jeff Bryant March 19, 2014
For people who like to think of themselves as being “exceptional,” Americans can sometimes abandon the very principles their exceptionality is founded on.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the current debate of education policy.  A feature that has long made America’s public school system exceptional for sure is its governance through democratically elected local school boards. The way this has been working, according to the National School Boards Association, is that your local school board “represents the public’s voice in public education, providing citizen governance for what the public schools need and what the community wants.”  Any power a school board has is generated through the exercise of democracy. When you don’t agree with decisions made by your board members, “it is your right as a voter to select new board members who will see to it that your students and your schools succeed.”  How American is that?
But now, many of the loudest voices in the nation’s education debate tell us that is completely and utterly wrong.

"Gallup polls consistently show that nearly half of American adults believe God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years."
Taxpayers fund creationism in the classroom
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 3/24/14 5:01 AM EDT
Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.  Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.
Public debate about science education tends to center on bills like one in Missouri, which would allow public school parents to pull their kids from science class whenever the topic of evolution comes up. But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

Network for Public Education's Pennsylvania Friends and Allies:
@the chalkface                         http://atthechalkface.com
Angie Villa Art & Education        http://www.angievillaartwork.blogspot.com
Keystone State Education Coalition       http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/
Parents United for Public Education       http://www.parentsunitedphila.com
Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education            http://www.kennedy-center.org/education/kcaaen/statealliance/home.cfm
Philly Teacherman                     http://phillyteacherman.blogspot.com/
Raging Chicken Press               http://www.ragingchickenpress.org/
SUDA                                       http://www.standupdemandaction.org
Yinzercation                              http://yinzercation.wordpress.com

The Pennsylvania PTA 105th annual statewide convention April 4-6, 2014, at the Radisson Valley Forge/King of Prussia.
Pennsylvania PTA Harrisburg, Pa. March 21, 2014
Delegates from local PTA units, councils, and regions throughout the state will gather to give direction to the State PTA on issues of resolutions, bylaws, and timely topics being addressed around education and child advocacy.  The convention format will include a Diversity Leadership Conference, a Town Hall Meeting on Suicide Awareness and Prevention, twenty (20) workshops on timely issues, networking time with other delegates, an exhibit hall, a Reflections Gallery showcasing student artwork, and the opportunity to hear keynote speakers and representatives from the National PTA and other statewide partnering organizations from Pennsylvania. Complete details for registration may be obtained at the Pennsylvania PTA website at www.papta.org.

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

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

PSBA nominations for offices now open!  Deadline April 30th
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA.  Complete details on the nomination process, links to the Application for Nomination form, and scheduled dates for nominee interviews can be found online by clicking here.
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
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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