Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 23: Public Issues Forum State College Thursday April 24, 6 - 8:30 pm: What should be the role of standardized tests?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 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 April 23, 2014:
Public Issues Forum State College Thursday April 24, 6 - 8:30 pm: What should be the role of standardized tests?

Deadline for PSBA officer nominations is 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.

"Pollster G. Terry Madonna said that the positive responses to his February survey came from both sides of the aisle.  "It's rare that you find this kind of consensus in a highly polarized political environment," he said.  "Education now probably ranks as the single most important issue that the voters of our state think state officials ought to deal with."
Voters agree: Pennsylvania needs a school funding formula
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 4:31 pm
Pennsylvania doesn't have a reliable school funding formula, and voters want one, according to a new public opinion poll.  Almost three quarters of Pennsylvania voters said they "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" using a school funding formula to ensure fair distribution of public dollars in a survey by Terry Madonna Opinion Research.

Survey: Voters see link between education and economic development
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 22, 2014 1:13 PM
A statewide survey released today shows most registered voters believe public schools have an impact on economic development and should get more state money, using a fair funding formula.
The education findings from the Terry Madonna Opinion Research Spring 2014 Omnibus Survey were released during a telephone press conference that included leaders of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and the Central Pennsylvania Education Coalition.  Leaders of the organizations used the results to bolster their arguments for more state money and a predictable and equitable funding formula.
In a news release, Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said, "While our state's year-over-year job growth sits among the weakest states and the state's contribution to public education funding is below the national average, Pennsylvanians are making connections that state officials so far have missed."

Public Opinion Describes Disconnect Between Current Policies and Pennsylvania’s Needs
Press Release PASBO, PARSS, PSBA, PASA, CPEC -  HARRISBURG (April 22, 2014)
 At a time when the state’s economy is struggling to pick up steam, Pennsylvanians are making strong connections between public education, state funding and economic development according to a new statewide public opinion poll released today.  “While our state’s yearoveryear job growth sits among the weakest states and the state’s contribution to public education funding is below the national average, Pennsylvanians are making connections that state officials have so far missed,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). “Strong public schools are critical to a strong economy and the investments our state makes should strengthen every community.”  

Does a grim budget picture mean Republicans are reconsidering drillers' tax?: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | on April 22, 2014 at 8:35 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
It's no secret that legislative Democrats want to slap an extraction tax on Pennsylvania's booming natural gas industry. But an increasingly bleak state budget picture has some Republicans reconsidering their longstanding opposition to such a levy.  The top Republicans on the budget-writing House and Senate Appropriations Committees are now saying that an extraction tax could be a part of June's final budget document, The Associated Press reports. That's a major pivot from the near-doctrinal opposition in Republican ranks to adding Pennsylvania to the ranks of states that tax natural gas at the wellhead.  The multinational industry has been a lightning rod since it arrived in Pennsylvania five years ago, and raising taxes on it would be preferable to cutting aid to schools or the poor, some Republicans say.

Reporting Back on Community Schools
Yinzercation Blog April 22, 2014
After our fantastic gubernatorial candidate Education Debate two weeks ago, some people did not get much sleep. Early the next morning, over thirty people went to Cincinnati, Ohio for a national conference on community schools. Pittsburgh sent the largest delegation, which included school board members, district administration, representatives from the Mayor’s office and City Council, parents, teachers, foundation officials, faith leaders, and community members.
Now this group is ready to report back what they learned. Want to find out more about community schools and what they might look like for Pittsburgh? Many of us really wanted to go to the conference but could not – so this is our chance to hear all about it and be a part of the discussion. Please come!
Tuesday, April 29, 2014: 6PM
Community Empowerment Association
7120 Kelly St., Pittsburgh 15208

NSBA develops guide for school boards on boosting student success through community partnerships
NSBA School Board News Today Alexis Rice April 22nd, 2014
A new guide released today details how school board members can build partnerships to secure a high-quality education, from early learning to graduation, for students in their districts. “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success,” demonstrates how school boards can work with other community partners to provide seamless services and engage community members to improve their schools.

Easton Area School District sends letters to teachers about possible staffing cuts
About 75 received letter saying they could lose jobs without union concessions.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 9:28 p.m. EDT, April 22, 2014
More than 70 Easton Area School District teachers have received notification that their positions could be eliminated next year if the teachers union does not make contract concessions.
Teachers union President Jena Brodhead and Superintendent John Reinhart both said Tuesday afternoon that about 75 teachers received letters last Thursday about their positions. Reinhart said the letter stated that the position each person occupies could be affected by the 2014-15 budget.  "It was a courtesy letter sent to those who might, due to seniority and certification, be forced to vacate their positions," he said in an email statement. "It was sent now because we are quickly approaching a deadline for adopting a budget."
"Raises in pension costs and the increased cost for cyber- and charter schools were two leading factors in the overall increase in spending in the proposed budget, Haberl said."
Pen Argyl Area School District proposed budget calls for 2.7 percent tax hike
By Lynn Ondrusek on April 22, 2014 at 9:37 PM, updated April 22, 2014 at 9:38 PM
The Pen Argyl Area School District introduced its preliminary 2014-15 budget at tonight's meeting in front of one resident, media members and other district employees.  The projected $27.3 million budget calls for a possible 2.7 increase in real estate taxes, according to Pen Argyl Superintendent William Haberl.  That increase would mean a $63 increase per year in school real estate taxes for a home in the district assessed at $50,000, Haberl said. The average tax bill would be $2,426 under the proposed budget, he said.

"This difficult decision was made with substantial evidence that this school is not serving the needs of students and their families," said Superintendent William Hite in a statement. "We require better student outcomes from a public institution that was granted a charter to educate children. We must use all of our resources towards supporting students in academic success."
District wants to close down Walter Palmer charter school as of July
the notebook on Apr 22 2014 Posted in Latest news
by Dale Mezzacappa for the Notebook and Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
The charter school office of the School District is recommending that Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School be shut down after the end of this school year. A six-page District memo cites problems including declining test scores, a $3 million general fund deficit, and failure of its associated foundation to maintain its nonprofit status.  A 1,300-student K-12 school with two campuses, Palmer is one of the oldest and largest charters in the city. It has been in an ongoing battle with the District over the school's practice of enrolling students over its approved enrollment cap of 675.  The recommendation will be presented to the School Reform Commission at its Thursday meeting.

Hite urges end of Palmer Charter School
The Philadelphia School District wants the School Reform Commission to revoke the charter of Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, alleging poor academic performance, financial problems and billing for students not enrolled.  At its Thursday meeting, the SRC will be asked to suspend payments to the school as of July 1 and begin revocation proceedings for the K-12 school, which has campuses in Northern Liberties and Frankford.

"Philadelphia’s charter schools are starting to show signs of the financial strain that hit district-managed schools hard, starting a year ago, and triggered by giant losses in state and federal funding. Khepera has operated without a chief executive for about a year.
Khepera is seeking renewal of its charter with the School District of Philadelphia, just as the school district rolls out tough new standards that increase accountability of the charter schools it authorizes. Statewide, charter schools have come under scrutiny in the wake of investigations into questionable practices or criminal activity in connection with charter schools and cyber charter school programs."
Philly Trib Written by Wilford Shamlin III April 21, 2014
Frustrated by stalled negotiations between school officials, a union representing teachers at Khepera Charter School in Mount Airy has voted to authorize its negotiating team to call a strike, an official said Monday.  “Teachers want to provide the best education possible, but without a contract, many of our teachers are looking for jobs elsewhere so they can support their own families, pay their student loans and apply for mortgages,” said Kim Johnson, president of the Alliance of Charter School Employees, Union Local 6056.
Khepera is an African-American centered academy serving 450 students on two campuses, one for grades K-5 at 6610 Anderson St., and another for middle school students and offices at 144 W. Carpenter Lane. Teachers continue to work under a collective bargaining agreement that expired Dec. 31, 2012 but remains in force. The teachers union has agreed to extend the contract three times. The last extension was approved in August.

"Philadelphia is the only one of the Commonwealth's 500 school districts that does not have an elected local school board.  …The state took over the District in 2001, citing fiscal and academic distress. However, in 13 years under the SRC, the District's financial problems have only worsened, with many schools lacking basic services."
Teachers' union, supporters seek fall ballot question on abolishing SRC
by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 22 2014 Posted in Latest news
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools are seeking a resolution from City Council and a non-binding referendum on the November ballot calling for the School Reform Commission to be disbanded and the District returned to local control.  The PFT and PCAPS held a press conference Tuesday to announce the results ofan informal survey of about 3,000 parents and residents that found overwhelming support for replacing the SRC with a local school board that is either elected or appointed by the mayor.

DN Editorial: Is local better?
Philly Daily News Editorial: Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 3:01 AM
THE Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have started a campaign seeking return of the school district to local control. You can hardly blame them.  The teachers union is locked in mortal combat over a new contract with the School Reform Commission, the state-created board that has overseen the schools since 2001. The SRC is demanding concessions from the union over pay, benefits and important work rules, and has gone to the state Supreme Court for the right to impose them.  So, it's no surprise that the PFT would prefer to have anyone other than the SRC running the district.

Public Issues Forum State College Thursday April 24, 6 - 8:30 pm | What should be the role of standardized tests?
Centre Daily Times BY DAVID HUTCHINSON April 19, 2014 
David Hutchinson is chairman of the Public Issues Forums of Centre County.
What: Public Issues Forums of Centre County: “What Should be the Role of State Standardized Tests in our Schools?”
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday     Where: Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St., State College
With the passage of No Child Left Behind more than 10 years ago, we entered the era of “accountability” in public education.  Since that time, federal law has mandated that every student in multiple grades be tested annually in math, language arts and now science. The intent was to close the “achievement gap.”  The so-called achievement gap remains, but the strategy of state standardized testing has since expanded to include holding teachers accountable for the progress of individual students, as measured by these tests.  In many states, performance reviews — and perhaps careers — are at stake.

Public Issues Forum | Appropriate uses for scores, evaluations exist
Centre Daily Times BY ED FULLER, BOB O’DONNELL April 19, 2014 
Ed Fuller is an associate professor in education policy studies at Penn State. Bob O’Donnell is the superintendent of the State College Area School District.
The use of state-mandated, high-stakes testing recently has expanded and led to debates about the utility of such testing.  On one hand, many policymakers think schools and educators must be held accountable through the use of test scores. On the other hand, some educators have advocated for the discontinuation of all state testing.  We believe there is a middle ground.

Public Issues Forum | Tests have many shortcomings
Centre Daily Times BY DAN HENDEY April 19, 2014 
Dan Hendey is the head of school at State College Friends School. He has been a teacher for more than 15 years and holds a master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins University.
Standardized testing along with the common core standards are having a big impact on our educational system.  Public schools are being asked to teach a curriculum that has become more uniform in scope and sequence and, ideally, presents each student with a similar rigorous educational experience.  Furthermore, standardized tests are being recognized as a major measure of a teacher’s and school’s effectiveness in teaching our students. These tests and test scores, being relatively easy to determine and compare across schools, are quickly gaining credence as the default measurement of the effectiveness of a school and its teachers.  As an educator, I wholeheartedly support the need for a strong curriculum. However, for several reasons, I am not convinced that a uniform curriculum and standardized tests are the best way to achieve rigor and educate our students.

Masterman tops list of best Pa. schools again
Philadelphia's Masterman High School once again topped U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of Pennsylvania schools, with a number of suburban high schools rounding out the top 10.  New Hope-Solebury in Bucks County surged into the No. 3 spot ahead of academic powerhouses Conestoga (fifth) and Lower Merion (15th).  Northhwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, in Erie, was ranked No. 2.  "I just could not be more thrilled," said New Hope-Solebury superintendent Raymond J. Boccuti. "This district has always been dedicated to teaching, learning and improving student achievement. . . . Each year we keep improving things, and pushing forward a little bit more."

US News & World Report: 2014 Best High Schools in Pennsylvania
US News & World Report April 21, 2014
We reviewed 31,242 U.S. public high schools; 169 Pennsylvania schools made our rankings.View Rankings  In 11th grade, Pennsylvania high school students take assessments in reading, writing, math and science, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania students who show financial need may be eligible for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, which provides funding to attend many colleges and universities across the country.
There are many Pennsylvania schools in the 2014 rankings of U.S. News Best High Schools. The highly ranked Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School is located in The School District of Philadelphia, which is roughly 100 miles from the state capital of Harrisburg.

"This is the first time that a major accrediting body has rejected the education offered by K12 and declared that its credits were unacceptable."
The NCAA announced that it will no longer accept credits awarded by 24 virtual charter schools, all of which are operated by Michael Milken’s corporation K12.  This is huge.
All of these virtual schools are highly profitable. The K12 corporation, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, receives full tuition for each student; the district loses the tuition, and the student gets a computer and textbooks. K12 is known to have a high dropout rate and low graduation rates.

No Rose Bowl. No Final Four.
K12, Inc., a Virginia-based for-profit company that runs online schools in 32 states and attributes nearly 85 percent of its income to public dollars (See more at: NCAA will no longer accept coursework from 24 virtual schools affiliated with online course provider K12, Inc.) K12 Inc online (charter/coursework) is the brainchild of “Junk Bond King” Mike Milken. Business Week reported that Mike Milken:  With K12, the largest U.S. operator of taxpayer-funded online schools, the former junk-bond king has figured out how to make money in education.
Junk Bond King, as in selling something that is worthless. Yes, that same Mike Milken that:
Was indicted for racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 in an insider trading investigation. As the result of a plea bargain, he pled guilty to securities and reporting violations but not to racketeering or insider trading. Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison, fined $600 million, and permanently barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission

Obama Administration to Face Hurdles on Vulnerable Programs
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: April 22, 2014
President Barack Obama has reshaped the education policy landscape over the past five years by dangling money—much of it in the form of competitive grants—in front of cash-strapped states and districts.  But, as his administration enters its twilight years, the future is in doubt for programs that have become brand names in the world of K-12 policy, including Race to the TopInvesting in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods. Lawmakers have grown increasingly uninterested in funneling scarce federal dollars to programs closely associated with a president whose popularity and influence are on the wane.

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
People keep asking us what they can do to help with the public education funding crisis. Next Thursday, Philadelphia attorneys can help by simply taking their lunch break at City Hall.
Philadelphia City Hall, 4th Floor  11:45 a.m. Press Conference; 12:15 - 1:00 p.m. Meet with City Council Members RSVP at
co-hosted with the Education Law Center  
Join your fellow attorneys at City Hall on Thursday, April 24 to tell City Council that Philadelphia cannot function without good public schools, and high-quality public schools require adequate funding. We will ask City Council to extend the sales tax to provide $120 million in recurring annual revenue to Philadelphia's public schools.
We will hold an optional webinar on Wednesday, April 23 at 4:00 p.m. to prepare you with talking points and more background information. RSVP for the webinar or day of action here.
Please RSVP, forward this email to your colleagues and join us on the 24th in sending a unified message to City Council members that the legal community supports public education.

Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will Host an Education Funding Forum in Delaware County on May 7th
On May 7th,  PCCY will host a forum that discusses the state of school funding  in Delaware County. As many of you all know, state budget cuts have impacted districts beyond Philadelphia. The event will be held at the Upper Darby Municipal Branch Library, 501 Bywood Avenue, Upper Darby PA 19082 from 6:30pm-8pm.  Attendees will get a budget update from Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, hear from School Board members representing Upper Darby, William Penn, and Haverford School Districts and learn how they can get  involved.  Contact Devon Miner at for any questions or concerns.

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill
May 5-6, Mechanicsburg & Harrisburg
Make an impact on the legislative process by attending PSBA’s Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill, May 5-6. Day one will provide legislative insights on pensions, training on being an effective advocate, and media relations. Dr. G. Terry Madonna, leading Pennsylvania political analyst, will discuss the legislative landscape in his usual lively and informative style.  How to Be an Effective Advocate -- Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Larry Feinberg, Roberta Marcus and Tina Viletto on how to successfully support your issues.  At noon, Rep. Dave Reed, Majority Policy Chairman, will address participants.
On day two, participants will start with a breakfast at the Harrisburg Hilton with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley as guest speaker  and then hit the ground running with visits to legislative offices in the State CapitolSpace is limited so register early. Click here for more details and to register online.
Registration fee of $50 includes lunch and dinner on May 5 and breakfast on May 6. 

Educating the Voter: A Forum on Public Education featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates - April 30th 6:00 pm Phila Central Library
Presented by Committee of Seventy, Congresso and Philadelphia Education Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:00PM 
Philadelphia Central Library 1901 Vine Street, 19103 215-686-5322
Join Democratic gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty, Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord for a discussion on public education. Montgomery Auditorium at 6:00 P.M.
Please click here to register.

PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.

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, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

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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