Friday, May 2, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 2, 2014: Group of New York Teachers refuse to give unfair standardized tests

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 2, 2014:
Group of New York Teachers refuse to give unfair standardized tests

PSBA members - Come hear former Assistant US Secretary of Education, author and education historian Diane Ravitch.
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.

Education Voters PA Statewide Call to Action May 6th
A part of the annual rite of spring, it is time to call Harrisburg and let them know what our priorities are for the Pennsylvania Budget! On May 6th, plan to take 15 minutes to call your State Representative, State Senator and the Governor about the education budget. Detailed materials will be posted here.
Education Voters of PA will be holding a Statewide Call-to-Action for Public Education!
On May 6th, thousands of people will set aside 5 minutes to call their state representative and senator and our governor. We will send a message that Pennsylvanians need a fair budget that gives students the instruction and support they need to meet state standards and provides funding that our communities can count on.  As the budget process gets underway, it’s important that our legislators and governor know we care about our public schools and are paying attention to what they are doing!

Anemic tax collections add to state budget woes
By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau May 1, 2014 11:47 PM

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania is facing an estimated budget shortfall of $1.3 billion through June 2015, according to a bleak revenue forecast issued Thursday by the state's Independent Fiscal Office.  The office calculated the shortfall by comparing the projected revenues over the next 14 months against Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget through the end of the next fiscal year.
Separately, the state's Department of Revenue collected $328.3 million less -- or 8.8 percent below -- what it anticipated in April, according to figures released Thursday.
April and March are typically some of the strongest revenue collection months.

All four Dems in Pa. governor's race want to abolish Philly's School Reform Commission
A recent survey commissioned by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers found overwhelming support among city residents for dismantling the School Reform Commission. The state appoints the majority of its members.  At a forum on education issues Wednesday evening at the Central Library, all four Democratic candidates for governor agreed with the popular consensus, saying Philly schools should return to full local control.  The SRC was created in 2001 with the intention that the state would have more of a say in – and take more responsibility for – the outcomes achieved in Philadelphia public schools.  Thirteen years later, there's a growing sentiment in the city that state intervention hasn't made things better.

Poll: Wolf maintains lead in Democratic primary for governor
Time's growing short for Schwartz, McCord, McGinty.
By Scott Kraus, Of The Morning Call 11:37 p.m. EDT, May 1, 2014
Heading down the home stretch, York businessman Tom Wolf is maintaining the wide lead he built over his fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls with a barrage of early TV ads.
The first statewide poll of the contest in more than a month shows support for Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord creeping up, but they're still trailing Wolf by more than 20 points.  Wolf is the choice of 38 percent of likely Democratic voters in The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College survey, leading Schwartz (13 percent) and McCord (11 percent). Katie McGinty, a former state environmental protection secretary, is a distant fourth with 2 percent.
2 go on attack at Democratic governor candidates forum
Lancaster Online By CINDY STAUFFER | Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014 1:15 pm
The four Democratic candidates for governor had a common enemy Thursday night: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.  Corbett's funding of public education is atrocious, they agreed. His failure to impose a drilling tax on fracking companies and to address property tax reform are both harmful to the state's bottom line.  The audience at the forum at Franklin & Marshall College was asked to hold their applause during the program but when one candidate said he was working to defeat Corbett, who is seen as vulnerable, they could not sit on their hands. The crowd burst into applause.

NYT LTE: Philadelphia School Cuts
New York Times Letter to the Editor by Randi Weingarten MAY 1, 2014
To the Editor:  No one knows better than Philadelphia’s teachers and school support staff how desperately the school district needs full and fair funding (“With Philadelphia Shortfall, Schools Face Renewed Cuts,” news article, April 26).
For several years and especially since August, the district has been operating with bare-bones resources. Classrooms are overcrowded, art and music programs have been cut back, nurses and counselors are scarce. Trying to balance the budget on the backs of educators, who have been the glue that’s holding their schools together, is unjust and unsustainable.
Instead of focusing on what more that educators can give, all eyes must turn to the governor’s office. A new report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center found that Philadelphia’s school district took 35 percent of the total dollar value of Gov. Tom Corbett’s $1 billion in education cuts, despite enrolling just 12 percent of the state’s students.  Past governors have managed to increase education funding, despite the pull toward austerity brought on by the recession. Philadelphia’s students deserve full and fair funding for their schools.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, President, American Federation of Teachers
Washington, April 30, 2014

"Depending on its findings, the actuarial analysis of the Tobash plan could trigger a serious push this spring at moving legislation to reform the two state public pension systems that have unfunded liabilities that leaves them between $45 billion and $50 billion short on paying all the pensions they now owe."
Hybrid pension plan's introduction could spark movement on pension reform
By Jan Murphy |  on May 01, 2014 at 4:14 PM
Legislation, authored by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill, to reform the two state pension systems is expected to be introduced any day now.  And if it is, the Public Employee Retirement Commission is tentatively scheduling a meeting for Tuesday to go over an actuarial analysis of that plan being offered by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill.   Tobash's plan would not affect current or retired state or school employees. However, new employees would enter a hybrid plan that allows them to be part of a defined benefit/defined contribution (401k style) plan, along with other changes.  

School districts provide costs of educating cyber charter students
Bradford Era By KATE DAY SAGER  Era Reporter  May 1, 2014
 (The following story is the last in a series on cyber charter schools and their impact on local school districts)
Two local school districts have provided information on the costs of educating cyber charter students in comparison to students educated at “brick and mortar” school buildings on campus.
The information follows on the heels of two stories on cyber charter schools that appeared in The Era last week.  The first story provided general information on the costs of educating cyber students in the Bradford Area School District, Otto-Eldred School District and Coudersport Area School District. The second story interviewed a local family with two youngsters currently enrolled in cyber charter schools, and a family whose child graduated from the program last year. 
Earlier this week, Bradford Area School District director of finance Kathy Boyd broke down the figures of the cost of educating cyber charter students in comparison to educating students who attend schools in the district. 

Nearly 200 turn out for Philly school-management vote
NEARLY 200 parents turned out yesterday at a Nicetown elementary school for a vote that should determine whether it will remain a traditional public school or be run by a charter operator.
Parents and guardians at Steel Elementary cast secret ballots in the school's foyer from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., as the School Advisory Council cast a separate vote. The League of Women Voters of Philadelphia served as an independent monitor and tallied the results, which are expected to be announced today by the school district.

Donald Sterling vs. the racism of school underfunding
WHYY Newsworks MAY 1, 2014 THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT Blog by Solomon Jones
I have said on the record that I’m not angry with Donald Sterling, whose long record of allegedly racist behavior is well documented. I’m angry with the rest of us. I’m angry because we are content to pretend that Sterling’s ban from the NBA and a forced sale of the team will solve the issue of racism. I’m angry because those who harbor similar views are now pointing to Sterling as the racist bogeyman. I’m angry because our rush to condemn Sterling has led us to ignore much more important matters, including the fact that the Philadelphia public schools are facing a $216 million budget shortfall that will once again leave our kids in the lurch.

Lower Merion School Board supports increased state funding for pre-kindergarten programs
By Richard Ilgenfritz Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Lower Merion officials are getting behind a statewide initiative that could help send more students to government-funded pre-kindergarten programs.  The Board of School Directors Monday night unanimously approved a resolution supporting increased state government funding for pre-K programs across Pennsylvania.  Under the resolution that was passed, the board suggested research shows students who have access to what it called quality pre-k programs helps them perform well in school. They also concluded that spending the money on such programs is what the resolution called a “wise financial investment.”

Boyertown School Board OKs $101M budget with property tax hike
By Rebecca Blanchard, POSTED: 04/30/14, 12:29 PM
BOYERTOWN — The Boyertown Area School Board has approved a proposed $101.1 million budget for the 2014-15 school year.  The budget would bring a 4.22 percent property tax increase to Montgomery County residents and a 1.78 percent property tax increase to Berks County homeowners.

At long last, PA school buses could be getting a boost
Pennsylvania is one of only five states that limits the length of school buses to 40 feet.
By Maura Pennington | PA Independent April 30, 2014
PHILADELPHIA—The wheels on Pennsylvania school buses may go round and round, but an old restriction has them coming up short.  Pennsylvania law currently limits those iconic yellow vehicles to 40 feet, though the legal limit for manufacturers is 45 feet. Thanks to legislation by state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Lawrence, this odd discrepancy could soon be gone.

"Teachers at Prospect Heights are drawing a line with this test.  Standardized, high stakes test dominate our schools, distort our curriculum and make our students feel like failures.  This test serves no purpose for the students,  and ultimately only hurts them."
Group of New York Teachers refuse to give unfair standardized tests
Wait What? Blog by Jonathan Pelto May 01, 2014
At great risk to their careers, 26 Teachers and Staff of International High School at Prospect Heights in New York City are refusing to give the NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test.  The comes after 3 teachers from the Earth School on the lower east side in Manhattan sent a letter of conscience to the NYC School Chancellor that they would not give the ELA.
In New York City, “Teachers will hold a press conference to announce their refusal to administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment. 26 teachers and staff at Prospect Heights International High School are refusing to administer a new assessment that is part of the new teacher evaluation system pushed by Bloomberg’s DOE and the UFT last spring.  50% of parents have opted their children out of the test. The high school serves almost exclusively recently arrived English Language Learners.”

National Teacher of the Year “stands up” for public schools
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min May 1, 2014
National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented NSBA’s “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” red wristband to Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year, at a gala honoring the nation’s top teachers this week.  NSBA’s “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” is a national public advocacy campaign that celebrates the good work in public education and believes that all children, regardless of their ZIP code, deserve a world-class education and a promising future. Celebrities including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sal Khan, and Montel Williams have joined the campaign.

USDA oversteps authority with new school nutrition regulations, NSBA says
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min May 1, 2014
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to evaluate the financial impact the federal school nutrition law and proposed regulations will have on school districts and give waivers to school districts that prove the financial and regulatory burdens are insurmountable.  Having overstepped its regulatory authority, the USDA should also eliminate a proposed regulation that would subject all foods available in school—including those that are not sold on the school campus during the school day, such as treats brought from home for birthday parties–to meet the strict nutrition guidelines consistent with competitive food standards.

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 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.

Just added - Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq will be the after-dinner speaker on May 5. 
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 earlyClick here for more details and to register online.
Registration fee of $50 includes lunch and dinner on May 5 and breakfast on May 6. 

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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