Friday, April 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 18, 2014: David L. Cohen: Pa. needs quality pre-K

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 18, 2014:
David L. Cohen: Pa. needs quality pre-K

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.

David L. Cohen: Pa. needs quality pre-K
By David L. Cohen Friday, April 18, 2014, 1:08 AM
David L. Cohen is executive vice president of Comcast Corp.
It's not always the case that the business and education sectors are in full agreement on what's needed to improve the quality of education and skills of our students. But when it comes to prekindergarten, the stars are fully aligned.  One of our nation's most respected business leaders, John Pepper of Procter & Gamble, says it best: "Being ready for kindergarten affects everything that follows. The connections from preschool to third-grade reading proficiency to high-school completion - a bare-minimum requirement in today's economy - could not be clearer."  He's so right. Consider the following two simple examples that prove his point:
In Maryland, children who were assessed as not "fully ready" for kindergarten were five times more likely to fail third-grade reading and math standards.
Children in Cincinnati who weren't ready for kindergarten were half as likely as those who were ready to later meet third-grade reading standards.

The haves vs. the have nots
Axis Philly by Julia Bergman, Apr. 15, 2014
Ask the average Philadelphian what their top concern is and they’re likely to say education.
The city has become a battleground for debates over fair and sufficient funding for public schools. At the forefront of that debate is what many consider debilitating cuts to education made by Gov. Tom Corbett.  In 2011, Corbett’s first year in office, the governor cut $1 billion from state aid to public education. In Philadelphia, the result was fewer teachers, counselors and aides, increased class sizes and schools stripped of extracurricular programs like music and art.
But, education is a statewide issue as well.

More 'amicus' briefs: Activists and gubernatorial candidate back union's stance
the notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 17 2014 Posted in Latest news
Two friend-of-the-court briefs filed this week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court support the position of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers that the School Reform Commission does not have the power to impose contract terms in areas that traditionally have been negotiated.
One was filed by the advocacy group the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS) and the other by Rob McCord, a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. McCord's brief was written by the PFT's attorneys.  The SRC has asked the court to rule quickly and affirm its right to impose work-rule changes on the union as negotiations have stalled. With the teacher-hiring and transfer process already underway, Superintendent William Hite has announced his intention to weaken the role that seniority plays in making assignments and deciding on layoffs.
The APPS brief, written by attorney and former District teacher and administrator Rich Migliore, says that parents and other advocates -- the District's primary stakeholders -- have not been heard in this issue.

DN Editorial: Help wanted
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014, 3:01 AM
THOUGH it's hard to believe, the Philadelphia School District's financial situation is about to get worse.  Despite slashing its budget, closing schools and shedding nearly 8,000 jobs in recent years, the district still faces a deficit in the range of $210 million in the next school year.  And it doesn't have much time to come up with the additional money. The School Reform Commission must approve a budget for the 2014-15 school year by May 30. Without assured funding from state and local sources, the SRC will have no choice but to once again cut jobs and programs.  Not much is left to cut. The administration has been decimated. The ranks of counselors, librarians and school nurses have been thinned. Money for supplies and books is scant. We shudder to think what's next.

Charter schools targeted by PIAA
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 17, 2014 11:10 PM
Bob Lombardi has nothing against charter schools, but as the executive director of the PIAA, he says his job is to be the voice of many schools around the commonwealth of Pennsylvania that are screaming foul against the charter school effect on athletics, particularly basketball.
"There are loud and clear complaints from our membership," Lombardi said.
That's why Lombardi is pushing an idea that would effectively eliminate sports at charter schools.
"We have asked at our annual meetings [with school representatives] if there are any issues," Lombardi said. "They say, 'Yes, charter schools.' Our schools are not happy."
In the past few weeks, Lombardi has met twice with the PIAA Legislative Oversight Committee in the Legislature and asked the committee to craft a proposal that would force charter-school students to play sports for the public school district in which they live, and not the charter school.

The Poorest, Most Charter-Rich Cities in the U.S.
tudents at Alice Harte Elementary Charter in New Orleans. Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Charter schools are a lightning rod in education circles. Are they bastions of achievement-for-all-oriented reform or a symbol of inching towards the privatization of education? One thing that is agreed upon: Their DNA is largely rooted in cities.  While charter school students are still a miniscule percentage of America’s student body at 4.2 percent, the numbers in our cities are much larger. Fifty-five percent of the nation’s roughly 5,700 charter schools are in cities, where they make up 12 percent of public schools. And when you look at some of America’s most troubled urban enclaves, the percentage of students in public charter schools increases dramatically from that 4.2 percent. Take, for example, New Orleans, which has the highest percentage of charter school students in the country at 79 percent. Detroit clocks in second at 51 percent. Cleveland (29 percent) and Philadelphia (28 percent) are also in the top 10. Starting to see the trend here?

The Common Core – Why Isn't Public Support More Robust?
Public Agenda Blog by Jean Johnson THURSDAY, APRIL 17TH, 2014 
Bill Gates and the U.S. Army back it, along with a whole slew of educational associationsbusiness leaders and think tanks. And despite the partisanship we often see in politics today, the development and adoption of the new, voluntary Common Core learning standards in literacy and math got off to an amazing start. Set in motion in 2009 by an alliance of Republican and Democratic governors, Common Core standards were quickly adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.  So how did an idea that started off with such impressive support become so controversial?  A wide range of critics, including some parentsteachers, education experts, Tea Party activists and liberal groups have begun pushing back against the Common Core — or at least the way it’s being implemented. One state, Indiana, has already dropped the standards, and other states are considering doing so as well.

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 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, 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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