Friday, May 16, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 16, 2014: ATTYTOOD: Urban parents NOT waiting for 'Superman,' it turns out

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 16, 2014:
ATTYTOOD: Urban parents NOT waiting for 'Superman,' it turns out

Charter advocates' misleading claims mustn't be permitted to stall needed special education reform
Special education funding legislation provides critical reform for school districts, charter schools and taxpayers
HARRISBURG (May 13, 2014) -- Reform of special education funding for both school districts and charter schools is a necessity, and legislation that attempts to target special education resources to those school districts and charter schools with high cost special education students must move forward without delay.  Pennsylvania's education associations recognize the importance of addressing current special education funding and fully support the legislation that implements the recommendations of the bi-partisan Special Education Funding Commission formed under Act 3 of 2013. Despite the need for this legislation, recent attempts by charter school advocates to disseminate false and misleading information about the impact of the proposal on charter schools have stalled consideration of the measure in the General Assembly.
"The critical special education funding reform proposals in House Bill 2138 and Senate Bill 1316 represent the culmination of months of excellent work by the Special Education Funding Commission," said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). "These proposals, which were well-vetted by the Commission and based on input from stakeholders from across the Commonwealth, should not be held hostage by charter school advocates wishing to continue benefiting from the current formula, which dramatically overfunds charter schools for their special education costs."

Do we have a constitutional system of funding public education? (No): Michael Churchill
PennLive Op-Ed  By Michael Churchill on May 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Michael Churchill is an attorney at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
Every state legislator has a sworn duty to provide "a thorough and efficient system of public education" as mandated by the Pennsylvania Constitution since 1874.   These 19th century words mean a system that is comprehensive, includes all that is needed to be productive of the desired effect, and without unnecessary effort or waste.   To assess whether our legislators and Governor are complying with that command we need to ask some basic questions:
·         Are the state's schools preparing students to be productive citizens of Pennsylvania?
·         Are successful results system-wide or is success isolated and dependent on where a student lives?
·         Is the cost of providing this education spread fairly, or do people shoulder widely differing tax burdens? 
·         And finally, do all schools have the resources necessary to adequately prepare their students?
Whether our students have the tools they need  in an ever-changing, highly technological economy is the most important and hardest to answer.

Pa. must offer solution to high property taxes
Morning Call Opinion by State Sen. Rob Teplitz 5:05 p.m. EDT, May 15, 2014
The writer, a Democrat, represents the 15th District comprising parts of Dauphin
and York counties.
I strongly believe the issue of high property taxes must be addressed by the General Assembly. In his May 9 letter to the editor, Brian Fake noted my concerns about the Property Tax Independence Act and urged me to provide my own solution. Here it is:
First, homeowners must receive the property tax relief that they were promised when casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania.  Second, targeted relief must be provided to senior citizens and other vulnerable populations who are particularly affected by high property taxes.
Finally, because the Corbett administration's draconian cuts to public education have forced property taxes to increase at the local level, the commonwealth must begin to invest again in public education.  I am drafting and supporting legislation along these lines.
"Look, voters have now seen nearly a generation of the charter school movement, and they're smart enough to know that while some charters do a good job, others are lousy or even criminal in some cases, and overall they do no better than public schools. They want their neighborhood schools improved, not replaced, and they like their kids' teachers for the most part. Plus, they're starting to realize who's making out the most from the charter movement, and that it's not the kids."
Urban parents NOT waiting for 'Superman,' it turns out
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch  POSTED: THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2014, 9:44 PM
The mythology about urban charter schools -- that the vast majority of city parents would do anything to pull their kid out of public schools and enroll them in a charter -- is the central conceit of the controversial documentary "Waiting For Superman." In recent days, though, parents are showing the "Superman" mythology is just that, a myth. Here in Philadelphiaparents at the Edward T. Steel Elementary School in Nicetown voted overwhelmingly against the idea of turning over management to a charter operator.  OK, so that's just one school. But this week, voters in the city of Newark -- in a special election to replace ex-Mayor Cory Booker after his election to the U.S. Senate -- had a clear choice. One candidate, Shavar Jeffries, pledged to carry on Booker's pro-charter policies and benefited from a ton of money, much of it from New Jersey's powerful Democratic machines. His rival was Ras Baraka (pictured at top) -- the son of controversial (to say the least) poet and 1960s-era radical Amiri Baraka and a Newark school principal who supports traditional public schools and had support from the teachers union.

The plan for fixing public schools: Fracking?
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 05/15/2014 | 0 Comments Posted
Gov. Tom Corbett’s deep cuts to education funding have plunged schools into crisis. Each of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates has promised to reverse those cuts, and turned to taxing the state’s booming natural-gas industry as a way to do it.  Most of the candidates have called for a severance tax on production of roughly 5 percent; Rob McCord wants a 10-percent tax.
There are no doubt other places to raise money, but, perhaps, none that are so popular. A recent poll found 71 percent of respondents want the state to share in revenues from taxing fracking. States like West Virginia and Texas impose significant taxes.   But Corbett, a major recipient of energy-company donations, opposes a severance tax and insists that it would drive friendly job-creators from the state. 

Threatened charter school fights back, hard
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, May 16, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, May 15, 2014, 4:55 PM
A Philadelphia charter school has launched a three-front attack on the School Reform Commission's efforts to shut it down.  The Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School has started a national petition drive on to try to save the school. A mother of two of its students has sued the commission, contending that its "vindictive and illegal" process disregards parts of the state school code.  And this week, the school asked a Common Pleas Court judge for an emergency injunction to halt a June 2 hearing on the school's fate on the ground that the SRC is skirting state law.

Philly City Council president pitches school-funding deal
WHYY Newsworks BY TOM MACDONALD MAY 15, 2014
There is a new plan afoot by the Philadelphia City Council to fund the school district.
City Council President Darrell Clarke says the proposal would at first give the Philadelphia School District nearly all of the money generated from keeping a sales tax surcharge that was supposed to expire. But after the first year, some of those sales-tax dollars would go to the city's underfunded pension plan.  "We think this is a balanced approach we are looking for if this legislation, along with a couple of other measures, are enacted to provide more than the $120 [million] that has been discussed over the last couple of months," Clarke said. "We think it's an approach to put both those entities on a path to stable footing, so I think it is something we should look forward to implementing."  Starting in year two, this plan counts on creating a Philadelphia cigarette tax ­— something leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature would have to approve and, so far, have refused to do.

300 Notebook members needed: Join today
by thenotebook on May 14 2014
The Public School Notebook is member-supported. You have probably read this statement in our print edition or online, but what does it really mean?    As Philadelphia’s in-depth public education news source, the Notebook helps people make sense out of a complex school system through comprehensive coverage and analysis from the city’s most experienced team of education journalists. Your membership allows us to keep this small but highly productive team on the job.
Through our publishing and other activities, the Notebook has pulled together a community of people who are deeply concerned about educational and social justice and provided a forum to discuss problems and find solutions. Your membership enables us to support this community.  
We provide all our content free of charge, but it does not get produced for free. To be able to continue the level of news coverage we provide, in print and online, it is essential that we recruit 300 additional members by June.   If you are not yet a Notebook member, or if you have not renewed your membership for 2014, please do so today. If you are already a member, please share this message with your friends.

It’s Now the Canadian Dream
New York Times Opinion by Nicholas Kristof MAY 14, 2014
It was in 1931 that the historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “the American dream.”
The American dream is not just a yearning for affluence, Adams said, but also for the chance to overcome barriers and social class, to become the best that we can be. Adams acknowledged that the United States didn’t fully live up to that ideal, but he argued that America came closer than anywhere else.  Adams was right at the time, and for decades. When my father, an eastern European refugee, reached France after World War II, he was determined to continue to the United States because it was less class bound, more meritocratic and offered more opportunity.
Yet today the American dream has derailed, partly because of growing inequality. Or maybe the American dream has just swapped citizenship, for now it is more likely to be found in Canada or Europe — and a central issue in this year’s political campaigns should be how to repatriate it.

Dinniman: Roundtable Discussion on Education in Pa. set for May 21
Senator Dinniman's website  MAY 13, 2014
WEST CHESTER (May 13)  – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that he is bringing together education professionals and advocates from throughout the region for a roundtable discussion on critical issues in education on Wednesday, May 21 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Technical College High School – Brandywine Campus.
“Parents, teachers, students and education professionals from suburban and urban school districts across Pennsylvania recently united against the expansion of the Keystone Graduation Exams,” Dinniman said. “Now, another pressing issue will bring together suburban and urban schools from throughout the region – the need to adequately support and sustain public education for the future.”  The panel will feature education professionals from Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Delaware and Philadelphia counties as well as representatives from major education organizations, including:
·         Joe Ciresi, President, Spring-Ford Area School District Board of Directors.
·         Helen Gym, Parents United of Philadelphia.
·         Bill LaCoff, President-Elect of the Pennsylvania School Board Association, Owen J. Roberts School District Board of Directors.
·         Larry Feinberg, Keystone State Education Coalition, Haverford Township School District Board of Directors.
·         Joe O’Brien, Executive Director, Chester County Intermediate Unit.
·         Joan Duvall-Flynn, President and Education Committee Chair of the NAACP, Media Branch.
·         Hillary Linardopoulos, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
·         Korri Brown, President, Southeast Region, Pennsylvania State Education Association.
·         Mike Churchill, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
·         Mark Miller, Director, Network for Public Education, Vice-President of the Centennial School District Board of Directors.

Pennsylvania Education Summit Wednesday, June 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (EDT) Camp Hill, PA
PA Business-Education Partnership
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
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:

Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM (8:30 Registration)
Keynote Speaker: Dan Hardy – Retired Reporter -Philadelphia Inquirer
Distressed Schools: How Did it Come to This?
  • 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:

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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