Thursday, May 15, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 15: PA Charters Received $350M from Districts for Special Ed in 2012-13; spent $156M on Special Ed

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 15, 2014:
PA Charters Received $350M from Districts for Special Ed in 2012-13; spent $156M on Special Ed

"Himes and leaders with the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools and the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards pointed to 2012-13 data from the state Department of Education that show charter schools received $350 million in special education reimbursements from traditional public schools. Charter expenditures for special students leveled at about $156 million."
Charter school advocates criticize funding proposal for special education in Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Megan Harris  Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 11:09 p.m.
Two companion bills aiming to reallocate special education funding in Pennsylvania are under fire because of how they would distribute those funds to charter schools.  Charter school advocates argue that the bills would decrease funding for their special education students and hinder their ability to provide adequate student care. But supporters of the legislation maintain that charters are dramatically overfunded now compared to traditional public schools.  About 2,930 students receive special education services in Western Pennsylvania's 25 charter schools. Statewide, charters enroll 15,312 special students.
State education association leaders argued on Tuesday that charter school advocates are disseminating “false and misleading information” about House Bill 2138 and Senate Bill 1316.
“The sky is not falling as the comments from charter schools suggest,” said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.
Critics say charter schools profit from special ed overpayments
Wilkes-Barre TImes Leader By Mark Guydish - May 13. 2014 11:27PM
Luzerne County school districts paid $3.8 million to charter schools in special-education tuition in 2012-13, and a group of education associations pushing for reform contend that was likely double what the charters spent.  “We are here to address the inaccuracies and hyperbole perpetuated by the charter school community on the impact of legislation” that would alter the formula used to determine how much charters get for special-education students, Jay Himes said at the start of a web conference Tuesday.

Pa. Auditor General Pushes for Tougher Charter School Oversight
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on May 13, 2014 4:40 PM By Arianna Prothero
Pennsylvania's auditor general is calling for more stringent oversight of the state's charter schools, including the creation of an independent statewide board to oversee the publicly-funded, independent schools.  In a new report, Pennsylvania's auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, recommends tougher oversight of charters in what he said would address persistent problems he ran across while auditing charter schools. "We saw the same issues over and over again," said DePasquale. "We would pass it on to the [state] education department and nothing would get done about it." He pointed specifically to charters that have received improper lease reimbursements.  An oversight board, says DePasquale, would function as both "an enforcer and a repository for what is and isn't working."  For example, DePasquale said he's received complaints that some charter schools report inflated numbers of special education students.
The idea has tentative support from the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools. The organization's executive director, Robert Fayfich, said an independent oversight board could help improve consistency and quality among charter school authorizers.  "Unless we have strong authorizers, we will never have a strong charter sector," Fayfich said. "Now whether that recommendation is the right way to get at that, that's what we need to discuss."

Guest Column: Investing in high quality Pre-K benefits children
Delco Times By JACK WHELAN and JOHN W. PECK, Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 05/14/14, 9:32 PM EDT |
Jack Whelan is the District Attorney of Delaware County and John W. Peck is the District Attorney of Westmoreland County.
The call for providing increased access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs is not a rallying cry heard only from educators. It’s one coming from all segments of the community and for a good reason.  As prosecutors, our job is to hold criminal offenders responsible for their actions, which unfortunately also includes juvenile offenders. When we deal with them, we often think about their childhood and what led them to their criminal behavior. We see children and young adults who are on a self-destructive path and question: Could this have been prevented in the first place?  Fortunately, there is an intervention that has been proven to work. Investing in high-quality Pre-K can help ensure that every child has the best chance possible for academic and social success.

"As in past years, Watson stressed the impact of the district's contributions to the Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System.  The budget expenditures will increase about $1.5 million from this year, with the contribution to the state retirement plan accounting for about $1.08 million, an increase of about 30 percent, he said.  During the past five years, retirement plan contributions have risen from a 4.69 percent employer rate in 2005-06 to 21.4 percent in 2014-15."
Greater Latrobe School District eyes 1-mill property tax increase
Tribune-Review  By Stacey Federoff  Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Unless state funding determines otherwise, Greater Latrobe School District residents could pay about $26 more in property taxes next year.  In a presentation to the school board this week, business administrator Dan Watson said he and the finance committee recommended the approval of a proposed budget for 2014-15 of slightly more than $51 million with a 1 mill tax increase.  One mill would provide about $335,000 for the district. The average assessed value of a home in the district is $25,861, Watson said.
Still Black and White After Brown
Yinzercation Blog May 14, 2014
A diverse group of parents, students, teachers, community leaders, and elected officials rallied at Freedom Corner in the Hill District yesterday to mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Under a surprisingly scorching sun, one speaker after the next noted that we have yet to see the full promise of that historic Supreme Court case.  Rev. Freeman of the Resurrection Baptist Church in Braddock and President of the PA Interfaith Impact Network, talked about the impact of the 1954 Brown decision on his fourth grade classroom in highly segregated Georgia. He reminded the crowd of about 50 that we are part of a much larger movement for equity and educational justice.

"The education of children is a difficult and complex process, because people are difficult and complex. There is no magic bullet, no messiah that can right every educational wrong. There is no program, however cleverly developed and implemented, that will fit the needs of every child.   The hucksters who would reduce the art of teaching children to a technical set of skills that even the inexperienced can impart are misguided. Children are so much more than empty receptacles waiting to be filled or scores on standardized tests."
The education of children cannot be uniform
the notebook by Eileen DiFranco on May 14 2014 Posted in Commentary
Eileen M. DiFranco, R.N., is a certified school nurse who has proudly served the schoolchildren of Philadelphia for 23 years. She is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia.
…..Human behavior is unpredictable. Organizations that choose not to account in their planning for the vagaries of human behavior will make costly errors.  Take those who believe that streamlining, codifying, and making all procedures and products uniform will somehow make people more “efficient.” In education, this thinking has led to thinking of children, a truly unpredictable group, as “seats” that “perform” on demand.  To these reformers, all teachers have to do is stuff children full of canned programs and employ scripted practices, then voilá, success! Any teacher worth his or her salt will tell you this belief is not only naïve, but also destructive -- because it ignores the other factors that have made the child into what he or she is. Somewhere between the endless drilling of skills and constant filling of test bubbles, the child’s humanity is lost.

We have to come together to give our children the future they deserve: Jill Sunday Bartoli
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jill Sunday Bartoli on May 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Jill Sunday Bartoli is a Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She lives in Carlisle. PennLive is allowing candidates on the spring and fall ballots a single op-Ed in each election cycle.
Julian Bond tells the great story of two people—let's call them Mary and John-- walking along a river and suddenly seeing a baby floating by in the water. They immediately jump in to rescue the baby, but as soon as they get out they see another baby coming down the river.  So they jump in to rescue that baby too. And then they see a third baby in the river, and a fourth, and a fifth.
Suddenly Mary jumps out of the water and starts walking along the riverbank.   John yells at her to come back and help rescue the babies that are floating down the river.  But Mary says, "I'm going upstream to see who is throwing the babies in the river, and make them stop it."
With regard to the health, education and welfare of our children in Pennsylvania, we are still in the business of rescuing a few babies from the river rather than stopping the policies that throw far too many of them in.

Pushback on standardized testing around the country getting stronger
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS May 15 at 4:00 am
To get an idea of what is going on around the country in regards to the growing anti-standardized testing movement, look at the following collection of stories that have come out in the last week or about the growing resistance around the country to high-stakes standardized testing. This list was issued by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a non-profit organization known as FairTest that is dedicated to ending the misuse and abuse of standardized testing. FairTest puts out an updated list every week.  This week’s blast includes stories from at least 20 states as well as links to some new reports. You can see from the URLs the range of publications across the country that are covering the issue and the variety of stories. Here’s the list:

Are school closings the ‘new Jim Crow’? Activists file civil rights complaints.
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton, Published: May 13
Arguing that school closures in cities across the country disproportionately affect African American students, community activists filed three federal civil rights complaints Tuesday challenging closures in Newark, New Orleans and Chicago and called on the Obama administration to halt similar efforts elsewhere.  “Children are being uprooted, shuffled into schools that are no better than the ones they came from,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, one of several organizations that are calling their effort the Journey for Justice Alliance. “In each city, African American children’s hopes of equal educational opportunity are being dashed.”  The complaints, sent to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department, charge that students of color from Newark, Chicago and New Orleans have been disproportionately affected by school closures and charter-school expansions. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the use of federal funds by schools and other institutions.

Charters, School Closings Targeted in New Complaints From Civil Rights Group
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Debra Viadero on May 14, 2014 12:59 PM |By guest blogger Arianna Prothero
Minority communities are unfairly targeted for school closures, according to complaints filed this week with the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights office and the U.S. Department of Justice.  The Advancement Project, a civil rights advocacy group based in Washington, filed three complaints Tuesday on behalf of a coalition of community and education justice organizations. The complaints allege that school closures and privatization in Chicago, New Orleans, and Newark, N. J., violated  Title VI of the landmark Civil Rights Act because they disproportionately affected African-American and Latino communities.  "In each of the cities where we filed Title VI complaints, African-American children are being uprooted, shuffled around, and ultimately sent to schools that are no better than the one that closed," Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis said in a statement.

Congress: Senate Education Panel OKs Preschool Expansion on Partisan Vote
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on May 14, 2014 11:43 AM
In an unsurprisingly partisan vote, the Senate education committee gave its stamp of approval to legislation that would make President Barack Obama's vision for expanding preschool to more low- and moderate income 4-year-olds a reality.  Although the measure has strong backing from the administration—and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees K-12 spending and policy—its political prospects are iffy at best. The bill was approved on a 12-10 vote, with no GOP support.   Republicans on the committee made it clear that they were uniformly against the measure, in part because it would create a brand new federal program with a hefty pricetag—more than $30 billion over the first five years. The bill doesn't include any sort of mechanism to cover that cost, and the administration's proposal to pay for it—a new tax on tobacco products—went over like a lead balloon in Congress. 

Oklahoma legislature lauds record-setting school board member
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min|May 14th, 2014
The Oklahoma House of Representatives has honored Frances M. Percival for her work as the longest-serving school board member in Oklahoma’s history. She also is the longest-serving female elected official in the United States, according to state Rep. Mike Shelton.
Leaders of the Oklahoma House of Representatives surprised Percival with a resolution “for her many contributions to the Millwood School District and the State of Oklahoma,” which was adopted by unanimous consent and three standing ovations. The resolution was then delivered to the Senate for consideration.

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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