Thursday, April 24, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 24, 2014: NCAA Bans Coursework Completed by Athletes in 24 K12 Inc. Virtual Schools; I can't help but wonder how much their CEO might have been paid if K12's schools' test scores had merely been average instead of dismal.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 24, 2014:
NCAA Bans Coursework Completed by Athletes in 24 K12 Inc. Virtual Schools; I can't help but wonder how much their CEO might have been paid if K12's schools' test scores had merely been average instead of dismal.

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.

"Grell said there is a window of opportunity for the Legislature to implement reforms by June 30. But realistically, he said, there doesn't appear to be enough will to tackle the problem in an election year."
Rep. Grell tells Mechanicsburg school board that without reform, pension costs could double by 2017-18
By Roger Quigley | Special to PennLive  updated April 23, 2014 at 8:03 AM
If there is no action on pension reform in the state Legislature, most school districts could expect to see their pension costs double by the 2017-18 fiscal year, a state representative told the Mechanicsburg Area School Board Tuesday night.  That was the bad news from midstate Rep. Glen Grell, a proponent of reforming the state pension system. In the case of the Mechanicsburg district, Grell said this year's pension cost of $2,149,561 would more than double to $4,399,100 in the 2017-18 fiscal year.  Grell, a Republican who represents the 87th District, was invited to the board's workshop meeting to provide a history of the pension problem and what can be done to fix it.

Charter schools say proposed formula for special education funding unfairly punishes them
By Jeff Frantz |  on April 23, 2014 at 6:49 PM
Charter school operators are saying if a proposal to overhaul special education funding in Pennsylvania is passed, it will be difficult for them to operate.  The proposal -- and a pair of identical bills making their way through the state House and Senate -- is based on the recommendations of the Special Education Funding Formula Commission designed to reimburse schools for the actual costs of teaching children with special needs.  Currently, every school district gets funded on the assumption that 16 percent of students have special needs. By basing it on the state average of the student population with special needs, some schools are overfunded while others are underfunded. The more students with serious special needs a district has, the more likely it is to be underfunded.  The proposal creates a three-tiered formula, which would pay both traditional school districts and charter schools on a per-pupil basis. But, charters schools say there is a catch.

For Harrisburg schools, a good plan is sprung as a done deal: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board on April 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM
Monday night, the Harrisburg School Board took all of about three minutes to “discuss” and approve sweeping amendments to the district’s financial and academic recovery plan. That speedy action, coming before the public had a chance to see the latest changes and offer informed comments, unfortunately taints an otherwise creative and carefully balanced roadmap forward for the district.  Recovery officer Gene Veno delivered a slide presentation about the latest revisions to the board last week in a secret “work session.” While the meeting may have fit within the broad exemptions allowed by the state’s so-called “Sunshine Act,” it’s unclear why Veno or the board did not share information about the impending changes with the public shortly thereafter. Instead, Veno and the board kept all information about the latest changes to the plan under wraps until Monday right before the final board vote.
Many of the updated plan’s elements had been discussed in previous public sessions, but there’s no excuse for failing to give the public a meaningful chance to see and comment on the final package.  Which is a shame, because it’s a solid plan should help the district continue its financial recovery while pushing harder for academic progress.

"Nevertheless, the SRC did not have the authority" to suspend part of a 2008 law that prohibits districts from limiting enrollment at a charter unless the school agrees, the judge ruled.  Glazer also said the SRC could not prohibit charters from seeking payment from the state Department of Education for students enrolled beyond the limit set by the district. Payments from the Department of Education to the charters are deducted from money the state sends to each district."
Judge rules against SRC in charter case
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, April 24, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 8:00 PM
PHILADELPHIA The Philadelphia School Reform Commission's powers to suspend portions of the state law covering charter schools may have hit a snag.  A Common Pleas Court judge ruled Monday that the law that led to the state takeover of city schools in 2001 did not give the SRC the power to cap their enrollment to ease the district's financial woes.  "This court clearly recognizes and understands the severe conditions which exist in the Philadelphia School District," Judge Gary S. Glazer wrote in an opinion dealing with the SRC's efforts to cap enrollment at five city charters.

Lower court sides with charters and against School District in enrollment cap dispute
the notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 23 2014
The School Reform Commission suffered another legal setback Monday in its effort to impose enrollment caps on charter schools and take other actions that run counter to the Pennsylvania School Code.  In a ruling involving cases brought by five charter schools and later consolidated, Judge Gary S. Glazer of the Court of Common Pleas ruled that the SRC did not have the power to unilaterally suspend some sections of the school code involving charter schools.  The SRC has repeatedly sought to suspend portions of the school code regarding charter growth and the teachers' contract, partly as a way to keep the District solvent during a time when revenues have not kept up with expenses.  "A school district cannot condition the grant or renewal of a charter on compliance with provisions that violate the Charter School Law," Glazer wrote.  The ruling comes as the District plans to adopt a revised charter policy on Thursday that sets many conditions for charter schools. It also plans to renew five with enrollment caps specified.

"The lawyers present will be specifically asking City Council members to extend the 1 percent sales tax, which would provide an additional $120 million in revenue for the city’s public schools. Along with this, they will urge City Council to find an additional $75 million, as Superintendent William Hite has announced that without the $195 million more in city funding, more cuts will have to be made to the District."
Lawyers to call on City Council for more school funding
thenotebook by Jeseamy Muentes on Apr 23 2014 Posted in Latest news
The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and Education Law Center will host the “Lawyers Day of Action for Education,” a call to action by local attorneys to persuade City Council members to provide more money for the School District.  Leading lawyers will take part in a press conference and meeting with Council members from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday in the Council Caucus room at City Hall.    Among the Philadelphia attorneys who will speak are Rudolph Garcia of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Matthew Olesh of Fox Rothschild, Susan DeJarnatt of Temple University, and Jennifer Clarke of PILCOP.

Pennsylvania: 1 of Every 6 Charters Succeeds; Cyber Charters Are Low Performing
A report released by Representative James R. Roebuck, chair of the House Education Committee, found that one of every six charters in the state is “high-performing.
None of the state’s cyber charters is high-performing.  Pennsylvania has 162 brick-and-mortar charters, with 86 in Philadelphia. It has 14 cyber charters.  Representative Roebuck recommended that public schools might learn from the practices of the state’s 28 high-performing charters.  Public schools outperform charter schools. Cyber charters perform worst of all schools. Charter schools, with a few exceptions, do not improve their performance over time.

Come to Brunch (Pittsburgh, Saturday May 10th 11:00 am)
Yinzercation Blog APril 23, 2014
Do you like jazz? Do you like to eat? Do you want to support a simply incredible, grassroots effort led by local parents to help some of the most struggling students in Pittsburgh?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, clear your lunchtime calendar for Saturday May 10th. Seriously. Go to your calendar and write in “11AM, Jazz Brunch, Manchester Elementary School, 1612 Manhattan Street, 15233.” Here’s why:  This fundraiser is being held by a new initiative called the Pittsburgh Struggling Student Association, or PSSA (a delightfully ironic acronym, given that those letters usually stand for the state’s system of standardized high-stakes tests), organized by parents in the Manchester neighborhood on the Northside (who may or may not have intended for their acronym to be delightfully ironic).

Nonprofit Quarterly WRITTEN BY RICK COHEN  23 APRIL 2014 14:26
An increasingly popular route for high school basketball stars into top-flight NCAA college basketball programs is to spurn public high schools and opt for private prep schools. This past year, 10 of the 12 scholarship players for Syracuse University came from private or prep schools, including senior guard C.J. Fair, who reached Syracuse from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, instead of Baltimore City High School in his hometown. The majority of the scholarship players at Duke, Florida, and Arizona also came through the prep school route. It takes only a brief glance at the list of the top-ranked 25 high school basketball teams to see how few are traditional public schools and how many are private academies or Catholic parochial schools.  Is anyone surprised to discover that charter schools—privately managed, but authorized as schools in public school systems—are beginning to look like private prep schools when it comes to recruiting and training basketball stars?  In Pennsylvania, Bob Lombardi, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said that his members are voicing “loud and clear complaints” about charter schools. Charter schools have an advantage over traditional schools, being able to recruit basketball players from a wide geography while traditional high schools are limited to students playing in the districts where they live.

NCAA Bans Coursework Completed by Athletes in 24 K12 Inc. Virtual Schools
Education Week By Michele Molnar on April 23, 2014 5:00 PM
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) won't accept coursework completed by student athletes at two dozen virtual schools operated by K12, Inc., as of 2014-15, at any Division I or Division II college or university.  K12, the Herndon, Va-based online education company, was notified on April 9 of the development, after learning in 2012 that its schools were placed under NCAA "extended evaluation" review for the eligibility of their courses, according to Mary Gifford, senior vice president of education policy and external relations, during a phone interview today. She called that "a good process where the NCAA reviews courses on an individual basis," but was less sanguine about this latest development.

Blogger Commentary:
K12, Inc.’s Agora Cyber Charter used PA tax dollars to pay for more than 19,000 local TV commercials.  In 2013, Agora, which reported the second-highest enrollment level among Pennsylvania's 16 cyber charters, had an School Performance Profile score of 48.4, nearly 29 points below the state average.
Agora never made AYP under NCLB, but Business Week reported that it had made over $31 million for K12, Inc. in just one academic year.  K12’s CEO Ron Packard was paid $5 million in 2011 alone and $13 million from 2009-2013.  In a time when we are talking about firing teachers based upon the test scores of students that they may not have even taught, I can't help but wonder how much Mr. Packard might have been paid if K12's schools' test scores had merely been average instead of dismal…..
Jeff Kwitowski, K12’s SVP of Corporate Communications, responds to NCAA’s notification of eligibility and lack of standards for digital courses
K12 Inc.'s Blog Submitted by Jeff Kwitowski on Tue, 04/22/2014 - 3:31pm
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a private membership-based organization, recently notified a number of schools affiliated with K12 Inc. that coursework from these schools will not be used in the initial-eligibility certification process for Division I and II athletics following the 2013-2014 school year. Eleven of the schools are part of a single network of schools in one state and two of the schools are full-time blended schools. All are approved public schools that meet state content and instructional time standards and graduation requirements. 
The individual schools impacted by this decision are currently waiting for the NCAA to provide the specific coursework they reviewed in making its decision. All schools have the option to appeal.
According to the NCAA’s revised legislation for nontraditional courses, students and instructors must have “ongoing access to one another” and “regular interaction” throughout the duration of the course. However NCAA does not provide schools any measurable standard or rubric used to determine what they believe is a suitable level of student-teacher interaction. Despite repeated requests, the NCAA will not publish specific student-teacher interaction guidelines for nontraditional courses, including online and digital courses.

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

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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