Saturday, May 3, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 3, 2014: "Why can the charter school guarantee my child art, music and gym when the School District cannot?"

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 3, 2014:
"Why can the charter school guarantee my child art, music and gym when the School District cannot?"



HELP NEEDED FOR PA SPECIAL ED BILL HB2138.  PLEASE CALL YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE TODAY!
For the first time in history, Pennsylvania is close to adopting a funding formula for special education that uses accurate student counts and addresses actual student needs. This is a huge victory for students with disabilities and was made possible by the hard work of countless advocates representing dozens of organizations throughout Pennsylvania.
We do need a final push, though.  Legislators need to hear about the importance of this bill.

Education Law Center Analysis: Special Education Funding Reform Legislation:

PLEASE CALL YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE TODAY.
1. Find the Harrisburg office phone number and e-mail address of the your state representative here — http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/#address.
2. Call their Harrisburg office and leave a message, asking them to support House Bill 2138.



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!

April Revenues and Corporate Taxes Plummet Below 2012-13 Levels
PA Budget and Policy Center Posted by Michael Wood on May 2, 2014
Something emerged from April’s revenue results[1]that is troubling – and has a longer lasting impact on the Commonwealth’s ability to make critical investments in education, health care, and infrastructure than merely missing revenue targets. Revenue collections are now $87 million, or 0.4%, less than they were at this point in 2012-13 – and this shortfall is largely our own doing. While personal income and sales taxes have grown by $242 million, or 1.4% collectively, from last year (as could be expected in a slowly growing economy), corporate tax collections have dropped by $292 million compared to last year.
The reduction in corporate tax collections from last year is not due to flagging profits or economic conditions, but can be traced back to tax cuts enacted in recent years. 

"Why can the charter school guarantee my child art, music and gym when the School District cannot? Where is the equity if a charter school is able to fund multiple administrators and counselors in each of their buildings, but the School District is barely able to fund one principal? Why can a charter school bring the promise of fresh paint and new desks, when the School District cannot afford soap for the dispensers in the bathrooms? "
On Defining Moments, Honesty and Looking Behind the Curtain: How Philly School Families Are Fighting Back
Huffington Post by Hillary Linardopoulos, Former teacher at Julia de Burgos Elementary School; now union activist in Philadelphia, PA Posted: 05/02/2014 5:14 pm EDT 
Recently, two School District of Philadelphia schools were deemed failing and slated for conversion to a charter school. By failing, of course, we are talking about test scores. Test scores that have steadily declined in the wake of devastating budget cuts under Governor Corbett's watch. Budget cuts that have decimated schools to the point where parents are fundraising for secretaries in schools. Budget cuts that have made copy paper worth its weight in gold (hear Philly parent Maurice Jones talking about it here). Budget cuts that have forced students to wait two weeks for a short meeting with a guidance counselor.
But, no excuses, the School District tells our children. Failure is failure, and your school is not up to par; a charter school is the best choice.  And in a bizarre, misguided and certainly ineffective means of claiming to listen to the parents of the affected school communities, the School District has declared that the parents will vote on the conversion.

Steel parents favor keeping it a district school
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, May 3, 2014, 1:08 AM lPOSTED: Friday, May 2, 2014, 8:49 PM
PHILADELPHIA Parents at a city public school that has faced possible conversion to a charter have voted decisively to have their school remain part of the Philadelphia School District.
District officials singled out Steel Elementary, in Nicetown, for poor academic performance and presented parents with a choice: Stay with the district or become part of the Mastery Charter Schools network.  According to results announced by district officials Friday, 121 parents want Steel to remain a traditional district school and 55 want to align with Mastery.
In a separate vote, nine members of the school's advisory council chose Mastery and eight wanted a district-led transformation.

Parents at Steel vote to keep school under District control; SAC goes for Mastery
the notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on May 02 2014 Posted in Latest news
The parents at Steel Elementary School voted 121-55 to keep the school under District control, while the School Advisory Committee voted 9-8 in favor of Mastery Charter, officials announced Friday afternoon.  District spokesman Fernando Gallard said that the results of the two votes would be used to "guide [the] recommendation" of Superintendent William Hite to the School Reform Commission, which is tentatively scheduled to vote at its May 29 meeting.
About 800 parents and guardians were eligible to vote, Gallard said.

Steel parents win decisive vote to keep school public
Parents United for Public Education Statement on Decisive Parent Victory Vote at Steel School
Today the parent community of Steel School rejected a message of fear, failure and disinvestment and stood up for their school, their community and for public education. In a decisive parent victory, 70% of parents voted to keep Steel – the last public school in Nicetown – a District-managed public school. A disgraced split SAC vote – in which more than 80 percent of SAC applicants were disqualified on the day of the vote – underscores even more how decisive the parent voice actually was, even despite such a suspect process.
The power of parent voice in this decision cannot be underscored. Parents went up against a District – and in particular Deputy Supt. Paul Kihn – who had been operating less than honestly around the establishment of achievement networks run by third-party providers. Parents refused Paul Kihn’s punishing message of shame and failure. He used test scores and lack of resources as a battering ram to divest the District of its central responsibility to educate the children in its care. In doing so, parents did not just expose the hollow promises of rapidly expanding charter operators. They demanded a new vision from school leaders who are altogether wholly lacking in any District public school vision.

Split voting results at Steel Elementary bring on the spin cycle
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY MAY 2, 2014
The results are in from an unusual election in Philadelphia's Nicetown section.   
Parents at Steel Elementary School voted Thursday on whether the school should remain under current leadership or be turned over to Mastery Charter Schools.  Out of 800 eligible voters, 176 parents cast ballots. They chose to keep existing leadership by a margin of 121 to 55.  But in the second facet of voting, where only approved members of the School Advisory Council were allowed to weigh in, the results tilted in Mastery's favor 9 to 8.
In the absence of decisive recommendation, both sides declared victory.

Pa. granted exceptions allowing 164 school districts to raise property taxes more than 2.1 percent
By Jeff Frantz | jfrantz@pennlive.com on May 02, 2014 at 4:20 PM
With the exemptions, 81 districts will be able to meet their preliminary budgets without further taxing, according to the Department of Education. Under Act 1, the other 83 have a choice of cutting back the preliminary budget they submitted to the department or asking voters on the May primary ballot for permission to further increase property taxes.

Easton Area teachers reject 2-year wage freeze; 72 staff cuts possible
Union says teachers are willing to make other sacrifices; school board president says they've had 69% in pay hikes since 2007-08
By Frank Warner, Of The Morning Call 12:02 a.m. EDT, May 3, 2014
Teachers in the Easton Area School District have rejected a two-year wage freeze that administrators said may be the only way the district can avoid cutting 72 teachers next school year.  Two-thirds of the teachers voted Thursday night to turn down the proposal, and the teachers union notified administrators of the vote on Friday.  School board President Frank Pintabone, who has led the charge to eliminate the district's $6 million deficit, said the vote is disappointing.  "It's upsetting to me," Pintabone said, "because at the end of the day the kids are going to suffer. I'm upset for the community.
Easton Area School District teachers were willing to accept one-year wage freeze, union president says
By Rudy Miller | The Express-Times on May 02, 2014 at 9:33 PM
Easton Area School Districtteachers were willing to take a one-year pay freeze but balked at the district's call for a two-year freeze, which they say called for salary rollbacks, according to the teachers union president.  Union President Jena Brodhead said in an email the district administration's proposal called for two years of salary rollbacks and increased insurance contributions and deductibles. Even if the union had accepted the proposal, 29 jobs would have been cut through attrition, she said.

12 Problems with Charter Schools
Yinzercation Blog May 2, 2014
Are there good charter schools? You might be surprised to hear my short answer to this question, which is “yes.” Many people I talk to these days assume that I am entirely anti-charter. That’s not true. However, I do have some concerns about the way that charters currently operate in Pennsylvania and their outcomes for students. Twelve concerns, to be precise, which we’ll get to in a moment.  First, the good news: Southwest Pennsylvania has several high-quality charter schools, six of which were just named in a report by Rep. James Roebuck as “high performing.” (Although the study uses the state’s new School Performance Profile (SPP) scores to make that determination, which I have argued is a poor way to understand school quality.) The report separates the high-performing charter schools into two groups based on how many students they serve who are living in poverty. [Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Update, April 2014]

NY Teachers Question Pay-for-Performance Element in Proposed Contract
New York Times By AL BAKER  MAY 2, 2014
It is a concept sprung from the marketplace, and was long a gleam in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s eye: offering extra pay for the city’s best public school teachers.
A deal for that sort of citywide plan was struck by his successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the union for New York City’s 80,000 public school teachers this week, as part of a new contract that also offered across-the-board raises of 18 percent over nine years.  But while the idea seemed, at first glance, not to be controversial, it has left some teachers clamoring for details and has raised concerns in others about favoritism, differentiating pay and tipping schools’ collegial climates into ultracompetitiveness.

Network for Public Education News Briefs 2 May 2014  
Ohio’s acting state superintendent of public instruction, Michael Sawyers claims that Ohio’s new 3rd Grade Guarantee will help Ohio’s children.  After all, Governor John Kasich has consistently alleged that children behind in reading by third grade are more likely to drop out of school than stronger readers.  Sawyers extolls the 3rd Grade Guarantee as a dropout prevention program that will primarily support students who have fallen behind in Ohio’s poorest urban school districts.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the percentage of children projected to be held back in third grade at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year across Ohio’s urban districts is:  Youngstown, 59.8 percent; Cleveland, 57.8 percent; East Cleveland, 57.2 percent; Warren, 55 percent; Warrensville Heights, 54.1 percent; Euclid, 52.1 percent; Lorain, 51.3 percent; Columbus, 49.3 percent; and Dayton, 47.7 percent.
Contrary to Kasich’s and Sawyers’ belief that the 3rd Grade Guarantee will lower the dropout rate, this blog has covered a mass of expert research demonstrating that repeating a grade is not only unlikely to improve reading but also very likely to result in students dropping out later as they become over-age in grade during adolescence.  Expert research, however,  hasn’t stopped the American Legislative Exchange Council from developing and distributing across the legislatures of the 50 states model legislation to require that children pass the standardized reading test before they can be promoted to fourth grade.


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 devonm@pccy.org 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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