Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 8, 2014: SB1085: Haverford School Board opposes charter school reform bill

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 8, 2014:
SB1085: Haverford School Board opposes charter school reform bill


SB1085: Haverford School Board opposes charter school reform bill
Delco TImes By LOIS PUGLIONESI, Times Correspondent  04/07/14, 11:27 PM EDT |
HAVERFORD — The board of school directors voted unanimously at a recent meeting to approve a resolution opposing Senate Bill 1085, also known as the charter school reform bill. The resolution maintains that SB 1085, as currently drafted, is flawed and has potential to “negatively impact local public schools.”  Introduced by school director and legislative liaison Larry Feinberg, the resolution calls upon legislators to return the bill to the Education Committee for further debate.  Sponsored by state Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-13, of Lancaster, SB 1085 would amend the Public School Code of 1949 and “extensively revise charter school provisions.”

PA Senate panel to consider basic education funding commission bill on Tuesday.
Capitolwire Under the Dome email April 7, 2014
The state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday plans to consider legislation many hope will produce a new basic education funding formula for Pennsylvania. The bill – House Bill 1738 - would create a 15-member commission to develop a formula to determine the distribution of education funding to public school districts. According to the legislation, the commission is to identify factors that will be used to distribute the funding, such as each school district’s market value/personal income aid ratio, equalized millage rate, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, student poverty and local tax support. The committee is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. in Room 8-EA of the state Capitol’s East Wing.

"Few taxpayers are going to complain about paying 42 cents a week for better roads and transit systems. The same should also hold true for better schools.  The state is making the investment necessary to assure a functional and efficient highway system. Isn't it time to do the same for our children?"
DN Editorial: Paving the way: Repairs coming for highways, so can schools be next?
Philly Daiy News POSTED: Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 3:01 AM
EXPECT to see a lot of highway road crews this spring.  They will be out in force for two reasons: Our wicked winter left behind a record number of potholes, and PennDOT crews and contractors will be repaving and rebuilding a record number of area roads and bridges.  As the Inquirer reported recently, 52 major highway projects, worth about $500 million, are getting under way in the region in the coming weeks.  …None of this work comes for free. ACT 89 included provisions to increase fuel taxes and license fees over the next five years to raise the money needed.  This year, the average driver will pay an additional $22 in taxes and fees to support highway and mass-transit projects. It works out to 42 cents a week.

Technical schools expanding to meet new needs
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER April 7, 2014, 1:08 AM
In one of the newest and fastest-growing secondary schools in Chester County, teacher Katie Smith was demonstrating proper technique to 16-year-old Courtney Draper and 18-year-old Scott Persing - with a big assist from Dwight.  Dwight is a silken-haired shih tzu. Persing was anxiously shaving fur from the squirmy toy-breed canine at the Brandywine campus of the Technical College High School, run by the Chester County Intermediate Unit, taking another step toward a veterinary career.  Formerly branded "vo-tech" and disdained by baby boomers and their children who saw them as dumping grounds for college-track washouts, programs such as this - redubbed "career and technical education," or CTE - can barely expand quickly enough to meet the demand from a new generation of students. They have watched costs skyrocket and job prospects dwindle for university graduates, even as well-paying skilled jobs in manufacturing, auto repair, and medical centers that don't require college degrees go begging.
Draper, Persing, and thousands of others are opting to learn something beyond biology, geometry, and Shakespeare: a trade.

No consensus: The politics of reform
April 05, 2014 10:00 pm  •  By Daniel Walmer, The Sentinel
Franklin & Marshall professor and pollster Terry Madonna has seen this drama before — over and over again, throughout 40 years of covering Pennsylvania politics. Advocates call for the elimination of property taxes in Pennsylvania, bills are introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature, and bills die without becoming law.  It’s made him skeptical that comprehensive property tax reform will ever be achieved.  “When you look at it like I have through my whole academic career — 40 years — I look at it now and say, ‘What has changed?’” he said.  Polls have long showed that most Pennsylvanians don’t like the property tax, and the reasons haven’t changed, he said.
“The fundamental arguments — it’s inequitable, it hurts the seniors on a fixed income, it hurts young people who are starting out — overall, the basic arguments are still the same,” he said.

SRC urges Supreme Court to act soon
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Monday, April 7, 2014, 6:50 PM
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission told the state Supreme Court on Monday it's important for the court to rule quickly on whether the commission has the power to impose work rule changes for teachers next fall.  The SRC's filing is the latest volley in a legal dispute between the SRC and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers over the powers granted to the commission by the law that led to the 2001 state takeover of city schools.  Two weeks ago, the commission asked the state's top court to declare that it has the authority to make unilateral work-rule changes, including disregarding seniority for teacher assignments, transfers, layoffs, and recalls.

New arguments in legal battle over teacher work rules; PDE and SRC press urgency
notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 07 2014 Posted in Latest news
The legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission has the power tounilaterally impose new workrules on its teachers is getting more intense with the filings of new arguments urging quick action by the Supreme Court.  In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) maintains that "the collective bargaining agreement ... has proven a particularly high barrier to the District effecting reforms essential to providing services in a fiscally responsible and manageable manner."  PDE says that SRC needs the  "extraordinary powers" it is seeking so it can put the District on sound financial footing and, ultimately, return it to local control.

Bethlehem Area School District plans to change open enrollment requirements
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on April 07, 2014 at 9:04 PM
The Bethlehem Area School District plans to modify its elementary school open-enrollment policy so parents don't have to reapply annually.  Currently, the district allows parents to send their child to a school other than their home elementary school with principal approval. Parents are responsible for student transportation to the new school and they must reapply each year.  This gives families flexibility to drop a child with grandparents or a sitter before or after school and send a child to the school that suits a family best, said Dean Donaher, director of student services.  "We are fairly generous as long as the principal agrees there is room in the school (and it won't add staff)," Donaher sad.  About 300 of the district's 6,100 elementary school students opt for open enrollment.

In 2013 the Walton Family Foundation provided $1.87 million in grant funding to the Philadelphia Schools Partnership

America's Most Challenging High Schools - PA Listing
Washington Post by Jay Matthews April 4, 2014
The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year. Also noted are the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies (Subs. lunch) and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career, called equity and excellence, (E&E). A (P) next to the school's name denotes a private school.

Uncle Sam Out: Senators Demand Feds Keep Dollars Away from Standards
Education Week State Ed Watch Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on April 7, 2014 4:26 PM
Cross-posted from the Politics K-12 blog by Alyson Klein
Ten Republican senators don't want to see another dime of federal money going to states in exchange for adopting certain academic standards. That includes the Common Core State Standards, now embraced by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The senators also don't want any more federal funding going to develop assessments that go along with the common core, or any other set of standards.  And they've said so, in a letter sent April 4 to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the panel that oversees K-12 spending, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the top Republican on the subcommittee. The letter suggests adding language to the bill financing the U.S. Department of Education that essentially would bar the education secretary from using any federal funds to bolster a particular set of standards or tests.

"Pedro Noguera, an education professor at New York University who resigned in 2012 from the state board that grants approval of charter schools, said the lack of constructive dialogue around charter schools in New York is upsetting.  "There's a vilification that is unhealthy," he said. "And it is preventing the city from being able to use charter schools as a learning tool, which is in part how they were meant to be used."  He added: "When we're competing, we're not collaborating. That's what I find most disturbing. We're fighting battles in court when we should be working together to figure out what works for our children."
Caught in the New York City Charter School Debate
P.S./M.S. 149 and a Charter Run by the Success Academy Charter Schools Lie at Heart of Battle
Wall Street Journal By MARA GAY April 4, 2014 9:26 p.m. ET
Karen McLean says she doesn't understand why the school where she sends her twin boys is struggling, fighting for basic resources while classrooms just steps away gleam with fresh paint and are filled with new computers and art supplies.  Shea Reeder says she put her son's name into a lottery three years ago because she wanted more for him.  Ms. McLean's 8-year-old sons, Micah and Shawkeem, attend P.S./M.S. 149, a district school on West 117th Street in Harlem overseen by the New York City Department of Education. Ms. Reeder's 10-year-old son George attends Harlem Central, a publicly funded charter run by the charter network Success Academy Charter Schools.  The two Harlem schools lie at the heart of the battle over charter-school expansion in New York, and Ms. Reeder and Ms. McLean said they are caught in the cross hairs.

Charter School Refugees
New York TImes By ANDREA GABOR APRIL 4, 2014
LAST week, the New York State Legislature struck a deal ensuring thatcharter schools in New York City would have access to space, either in already crowded public school buildings or in rented spaces largely paid for by the city. Over the next few years, charters are expected to serve an increasing proportion of city students — perhaps as much as 10 percent. Which brings up the question: Is there a point at which fostering charter schools undermines traditional public schools and the children they serve?  The experience of Harlem, where nearly a quarter of students are enrolled in charter schools, suggests that the answer is yes. High-quality charters can be very effective at improving test scores and graduation rates. However, they often serve fewer poorer students and children with special needs.

The Nation by Peter Rothberg on April 6, 2014 - 6:35 PM ET
This post requires full disclosure: I could hardly be more involved in what I'm writing about here. Not only do my two children attend PS 29, one of the main teachers involved in the story teaches my son's class, I've personally worked with the teachers and parents trying to organize resistance to high-stakes testing, I know a number of the Teachers Resolution's signatories and I'm totally biased in their favor.
Now, on to our story:  This past week, third through eighth graders in New York State public schools took the English Language Arts standardized tests. In New York City, the tests have an unusually high-stakes dimension absent in most of the rest of the state (and the country) in that students' scores can play a significant role in their admission to middle school.
http://www.thenation.com/blog/179193/brooklyn-teachers-push-back-against-high-stakes-testing#

What If We Had a Test and Nobody Took It?
Huffington Post by John Thompson Posted: 04/06/2014 4:16 pm EDT Updated: 04/07/2014 9:25 am EDT
In a rational world, the public school test prep season wouldn't heat up during the winter and the first of April wouldn't signify the beginning of the high-stakes test marathon, and the end of learning during the last quarter of the school year. Before NCLB, testing didn't distort instruction and it was done in the last couple of weeks of May. Now, for weeks after almost all students and teachers have completed their roles in the ordeal, testing make-up sessions disrupt school.
Why?  Testing drags on for so long for the same reason why so test prep is mandated. When stakes are attached to assessments, a cat and mouse game results. Schools seek quick and easy fixes to make accountability numbers look better and systems respond by tightening regulations. So, under-the-gun schools are required to test 95% of students or face sanctions. That is why teaching, learning, the completion of classroom projects, field trips, and the celebration of sharing the school year must take a backseat to rounding up the last test-takers.

GOP Legislators Apparently Don't Want More Money Going To Poor Schools
Huffington Post by Rebecca Klein Posted: 03/27/2014 5:36 pm
Judges, beware: Your job may be in jeopardy if you try to promote equal education for all students, according to a Center For American Progress report out Thursday.  The provocative new report outlines four cases -- in New Jersey, Alaska, Kansas and Washington -- where Republican legislators tried to or threatened to punish judges who ordered that the state give more money to disadvantaged districts. In these cases, lawmakers attempted to halt funding for courts, oust specific judges or restrict judicial authority to avoid providing districts with equal financial resources.


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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