Saturday, May 10, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 10, 2014: Happy Charter School Week; Choice for Choice Sake?

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 May 10, 2014:
Happy Charter School Week; Choice for Choice Sake?


Blogger Commentary: Happy Charter School Week; Choice for Choice Sake?
Thursday night for the first time in 14 years as a school director I voted not to approve a check register during our public board meeting.  I voted no because the register included over $22,000 in cyber charter tuition payments to three cyber charter schools.  I am fortunate to live in a well funded, high-performing suburban school district.  We offer a blended schools program for students who would like all or some of their coursework as cyber courses.

Our high school PA School Performance Profile (SPP) score last year was 96.4;
our middle school SPP score was 94.0.  When the School Performance Profiles were announced the acting Secretary of Education indicated that a score of 70 was considered passing.

Here are the SPP scores for the cybers:
PA Cyber School: 59.4
PA Leadership Cyber School: 64.7
PA Virtual Cyber School: 67.9

If you were responsible for levying taxes on your neighbors to fund schools how would you vote?


So what did the Pa. Legislature do during its May session: 5 takeaways
By Jeff Frantz | jfrantz@pennlive.com on May 09, 2014 at 2:46 PM, updated May 10, 2014 at 3:09 AM
 It's the time of year when legislators leave Harrisburg and turn their attention to winning an election, in hopes of winning another election, so they'll be able return in January.  They hit the road after two weeks of sessions during which the big issues -- pension reform, a possible liquor privatization plan -- never made it to the main stage. But they're due back June 2, with less than a month to finish a budget that could have a $1 billion shortfall.  So what did lawmakers do in May? And what still has to be done? Here are five takeaways:

Corbett pledges school funding amid state deficit
Trib Live By Megan Harris  Published: Saturday, May 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
On a swing through Western Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett made substantial promises for pre-K, special education and across-the-board school grants, though state leaders say he has a long road ahead if he hopes to repair his reputation as no friend to education.  In Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday, the governor touted millions to the three “Ready” arms of his budget proposal — Ready to Learn, Ready to Grow and Ready to Succeed — each designed to target different age-appropriate needs.
Learn from high-performing Pa. charter schools – without overpaying
University CIty Review - By State Rep. Roebuck May 9, 2014
As Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, I recently released a new report showing that about one in six charter schools in Pennsylvania is high-performing. The report – available at http://is.gd/DkaV8Q -- also addresses other hot topics about charter schools.  I would like the number of high performers among charter schools to be larger, but it's important to ask what these schools have in common and what we can learn for use in other tax-funded schools, including traditional public ones.

State of flux: Pa. education department needs more people, less churn
thenotebook by Adam Schott and Jessica Beaver on May 09 2014 Posted in Commentary
Whatever the race, whatever the candidate’s party, when it comes to government agencies, modern campaign platforms have time-honored goals: cutting red tape, doing more with less, and streamlining programs.  In this year's race for governor, though, those goals would be short-sighted.   With education front and center in the looming contest, every candidate — Democratic and Republican alike — is advancing an ambitious set of proposals. Yet the agency that will be charged with implementing these plans, whatever the result on Nov. 5, lacks the capacity to provide any meaningful level of support to the state’s 500 school districts and more than 3,000 public schools.  In the same way that school districts have faced pressure to reduce operational expenses and central office staffing, the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s staffing levels have steadily declined over the past decade. A 2011 survey of state education agencies found that Pennsylvania has one of the smallest relative to student population, and as of April 1, more than a quarter of the most senior positions in the agency are either vacant or filled by temporary employees. 

Education Policy and Leadership Center
EPLC EDUCATION NOTEBOOK May 9,  2014

Hundreds of Perkiomen Valley students protest teacher layoffs
By Caroline Sweeney, The Mercury POSTED: 05/09/14, 11:36 AM EDT |
COLLEGEVILLE — Hundreds of students streamed out of the front doors of the school in a quiet wave around 8:30 a.m. More than 550 Perkiomen Valley High School students participated in a walk out to protest proposed budget cuts which could mean several teachers would lose their jobs.

 “After listening to what was said at this evening’s meeting, I can understand that many of you have doubts and concerns,” one student wrote on the Facebook event page that was set up earlier this week. “But think about the big picture, this issue is greater than just us: this is the education of future students possibly being harmed as a result of certain cuts; and most schools across Pennsylvania are facing the same challenges.”
Perkiomen Valley student walkout is still on despite threat of detention
By Frank Otto, The Mercury POSTED: 05/08/14, 6:44 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
PERKIOMEN — In a meeting after school Thursday at Perkiomen Valley High School, members of the administration threatened detention for students who walk out this morning to protest the proposed layoff of three teachers.  Students plan to walk out of the high school just before homeroom around 8 a.m. in a show of civil disobedience due to the proposed elimination of one math, one social sciences and one English teacher for the 2014-15 school year.
In response, students were reportedly told there would be “undetermined consequences” with a maxium punishment of three detentions for walking out. Some students were also saying Thursday that there were rumors circulating that members of the track team would not be allowed to participate in the PAC-10 championship Friday evening if they walked out of school.
Student organizers said Thursday night that administrators also threatened to possibly cancel the school’s prom.

Philadelphia Educators Charged for Alleged Roles in Cheating on State Tests
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on May 8, 2014 10:16 AM
Five Philadelphia educators, including an elementary school principal, face multiple felony charges for their alleged role in cheating on Pennsylvania state exams over a period of five years, the state's top prosecutor announced this morning.  Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane outlined the charges—which include perjury, tampering with public records, forgery, and criminal conspiracy—against four teachers and one principal who worked in the Philadelphia school district. A grand jury recommended the charges after state prosecutors presented evidence of the educators' role in the cheating.

POWER throws mock funeral for Philly schools
JENNY DEHUFF, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER DEHUFFJ@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5218 POSTED: Sunday, May 11, 2014, 3:01 AM
LUGGING A coffin down the middle of Broad Street isn't something you see every day, but it happened Friday afternoon in a dramatic demonstration heralding the death of Philly's public schools.  Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER) organized a mock funeral procession that started in the courtyard at City Hall and made its way to Gov. Corbett's office at the Bellevue Hotel, on Broad Street near Locust.  Chanting, "No education-No Life!" about 100 interfaith leaders, students, parents and teachers joined in the march along Broad Street to signify the death of young people's futures if more funding is not provided to the school district.

Inquirer Editorial: Teachers can't be cheaters
POSTED: Friday, May 9, 2014, 1:08 AM
Arguably, it has never been tougher to be a teacher in America - especially in poor, urban, crime-infested neighborhoods such as Philadelphia's Hunting Park, where too many children find it hard to focus their minds on learning.  Education is the most valuable commodity children from such environments can obtain. They should have the very best teachers. Too frequently, though, they not only lack fine educators; they are subjected to pedagogical abuse.  It's abuse when a teacher, prodded by a principal, cavalierly changes or provides the answers to a test rather than put forth the effort required to teach what the child needs to learn.

Last year, 25 hedge fund managers earned more than double every kindergarten teacher combined
Vox.com Updated by Matthew Yglesias on May 6, 2014 matt@vox.com
Alpha magazine is out with its annual "rich list" detailing the successes of the highest earning hedge fund managers in America. The news once again is that it's good to be a successful hedge fund manager: the top 25 earned a collective $21.1 billion this year.  Even within that group there's considerable inequality. The top earner, David Tepper, took home $3.5 billion which is about five times as much as either of the two men tied for the tenth slot.  How does that look in context? Well, it's about 0.13 percent of total national income for 2013 being earned by something like 0.00000008 percent of the American population. Another way of looking at it is that this is about 2.5 times the income of every kindergarten teacher in the country combined.

All but one of Pennsylvania's members of Congress voted to approve HR 10; Allison Schwartz did not vote.
Roll Call Vote by GovTrack on H.R. 10: Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act
On Passage of the Bill in the House
Number: House Vote #217 [primary source: house.gov]
Date: May 09, 2014 (113th Congress)
Result: Passed  This was a vote to pass a bill.

HR10: School boards disapprove of Congress’s attempt to expand charter schools
NSBA School Board News Today by Alexis Rice|May 8th, 2014
The National School Boards Association (NSBA), the leading advocate for public education representing more than 90,000 local school board members, is opposed to H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, which is scheduled for a floor vote this week.  Decisions regarding charter schools should rest with the state and the local school board, not federal lawmakers, NSBA contends.  The legislation also fails to recognize that to protect student outcomes, charter schools should be authorized exclusively by the local school board.
“Charter schools absent school board oversight have far less accountability for student achievement than traditional public schools,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director.  “The school board governance model protects student outcomes for the many, not the few, and strives to resolve inequities in educational delivery and service.”

HR10: House Poised to Pass Bipartisan Charter Legislation, But Senate Future Uncertain
Education Week By Alyson Klein on May 9, 2014 7:16 AM
Bipartisan legislation aimed at helping charter schools with a track record of success expand their reach is expected to sail through the U.S. House of Representatives tomorrow. But the path for the legislation in the Senate—where lawmakers recently introduced a nearly identical bill this week—remains unclear.  The House measure was written by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. It's also gotten high-profile backing from Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the House Majority Leader, a huge proponent of school choice.


Pennsylvania Education Summit Wednesday, June 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (EDT) Camp Hill, PA
PA Business-Education Partnership
Featuring:
Welcome By Governor Tom Corbett (invited)
Remarks Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq (confirmed)
Perceptions & comments of business leaders, educators, college presidents, and advocacy groups

“How Public School Funding Works in Pennsylvania—Or Doesn’t: What You Need to Know” When: Friday, May 30, 2014, 9 am to 12 pm Where: Marriott Hotel in Conshohocken, PA
Session I:  "Funding Schools: What Pennsylvania Can Learn from Other States"

Key Pennsylvania legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Professor Robert C. Knoeppel of Clemson University, an expert on emerging trends and ideas in public school finance.
Introduction: Representative Steve Santarsiero
Moderator: Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
Panel:
Charles Zogby, Secretary of the Budget, Commonwealth of PA, Senator Patrick Browne, Senator Anthony Williams, Representative Bernie O'Neill, Representative James Roebuck
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
A discussion with a panel of CEOs who are major employers in the region.
Introduction: Rob Loughery, Chair, Bucks County Commissioners
Panel (confirmed to date):
Michael Pearson, President and CEO, Union Packaging, Philip Rinaldi, CEO, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Bryan Hancock, Principal, McKinsey & Company, and author: "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools"
You can register for this free event here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-public-school-funding-works-in-pennsylvania-or-doesnt-what-you-need-to-know-tickets-11527064761?ref=ebtnebregn

PA Charter Schools: Opportunities and Questions -
EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - May 11 at 3:00 p.m. 
The next EPLC "Focus on Education" episode will air this coming Sunday, May 11 at 3:00 p.m. on PCN television.  This May 11 panel will discuss what charter schools are, where they're located, what parents need to know when considering a charter school, how charter schools are funded, how they are held accountable for student performance, who charter students are, what charter school "reform" efforts are being considered by state legislators, why charters are so controversial in some places, and other issues related to charter schools.
The panel will include: 
  • Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
  • Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr., Democratic Chairman, PA House Education Committee;
  • Maurice "Reese" Flurie, Ed.D., CEO, Commonwealth Connections Academy;
  • Lawrence F. Jones, Jr., Founding CEO, Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School and President, Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools; and
  • Nathan G. Mains, Executive Director, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Visit the EPLC web site for resources on charter schools.

PILCOP Know Your Child’s Rights Seminars
Join us on May 15th for one of three training sessions on Assistive Technology and Settlements.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
This training series on special education law teaches parents, attorneys and advocates how to secure education rights and services for students with special needs. These seminars aim to bring together a diverse community of advocates including parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and community members. Each session focuses on a different legal topic, service or disability. Many sessions are co-led with guest speakers.
Next Trainings: Thursday May 15, 2014: Assistive Technology and Other Related Services; Settlements; Settlements (Abbreviated Session)

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.

2014 CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN PENNSYLVANIA
60 YEARS AFTER BROWN HOW ARE THE CHILDREN? WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?
Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM (8:30 Registration)
MARCUS FOSTER STUDENT UNION 2ND FLR. CHEYNEY UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, DE Co. Campus
Keynote Speaker: Dan Hardy – Retired Reporter -Philadelphia Inquirer
Distressed Schools: How Did it Come to This?
PANELS:
  • The State of Education in Pennsylvania 60 Years after Brown
  • Keystones and Graduation: Cut the Connection
  • How Harrisburg Cut District Funding, Poured on the Keystones, and Connected them to Graduation
  • Financing Our Schools: What Does it Cost to Educate a Child in 2014 and How Should We Fund It?
  • Effective Advocacy – How to be Heard in Harrisburg - And - What We Need to be Saying
For more info and registration: http://www.naacpmediabranch.org/#

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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