Monday, May 19, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 19: Editorial: If you care about education, get out and vote

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 19, 2014:
Editorial: If you care about education, get out and vote

"A recent poll from Franklin and Marshall College identified education as the top issue among Democrats as they head to the polls on Tuesday to select a candidate to oppose incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.  Twenty-nine percent of those polled identified education as the top issue, ahead of even the economy, which was stressed by 17 percent of those polled.  Interesting numbers, especially in light of the fact that citizens love to complain about issues, including property taxes, then stay away in droves when it comes time to select a candidate."
Editorial: If you care about education, get out and vote
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 05/17/14, 9:58 PM EDT
It turns out we’re not the only ones clamoring for change when it comes to education funding in Pennsylvania.  In a year-long series of editorials we’ve dubbed “The Keystones: Education Funding and Property Taxes,” we’ve placed education funding in Pennsylvania under a microscope.  Starting with the basic building block of education funding in Pennsylvania, the property tax, through the money allocated to education in the state budget, we’ve put a focus on this crucial issue.
We’re not alone.

"We get the kind of democracy, the kind of government we deserve. And if you don't like what's happening, or if you do, and you want to see it continue, then the most direct way to make sure it does is to take 10 or 15 minutes on Tuesday to vote. And if you're a parent, bring your kids with you, you can never start them too early.
And if you don't vote, you really can't complain."
Registered with a party? Vote on Tuesday. You can't complain if you don't: John L. Micek
PennLive By John L. Micek |  on May 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM
In June 1988, a day or so after I turned 18, I drove into the middle of the little town in Connecticut where I grew up, and ran two of the most important errands I could think of.   I don't remember the exact order, but I know I drove to the Post Office, where I filled out my Selective Service paperwork. And I also ran over to Town Hall, where I registered to vote for the very first time. 

What you need to know to vote in Tuesday's primary election: Q&A
Everything you need to know before heading to the polls for Tuesday's 2014 Pennsylvania primary election.
By Jeff Frantz |  on May 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM
I've seen all these commercials for Democrats running for governor. What else is on the ballot Tuesday?  Important stuff! The Republican and Democratic nominations for who represents you in Congress next year are on the line. So are the nominations for every seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and half of the state Senate. And the Democrats also have five candidates vying to be the lieutenant governor nominee.
I want to vote, but don't know anything about the candidates. Is there a place I can learn about who's running?  PennLive has prepared this fun-filled voters guide, which can be a starting point.

Dick Scaife: What matters most
The Tribune-Review By Dick Scaife  Published: Sunday, May 18, 2014, 12:54 a.m.
Nothing gives perspective to life so much as death.  Recently, doctors told me I have an untreatable form of cancer.  Some who dislike me may rejoice at this news. Naturally, I can't share their enthusiasm.  The diagnosis has prompted me to consider my life, the city and region I call home, the country I love, and the many people I have known — especially those who are friends, or whose lives and achievements I respect.  In coming weeks and months, I hope to write about some of these things.
Today, I want to write about one thing that is so important to me: Newspapers.
"I support parents who want to send their children to private, religious schools. I attended private Catholic schools. My parents wanted me to get a good, Catholic education and they sacrificed to pay for it. They never expected their non-Catholic or non-Christian friends and neighbors to help pay for it. Yet the $60 million that is spent annually on EITC scholarships for private school students is money that the state loses in tax revenue and must be made up for by us in higher local taxes. And understand that these scholarships aren't intended just for low-income families. A family with two children can have an income of $105,000 and still be eligible for an EITC scholarship."
EITC: School taxpayers offsetting business tax breaks (Letter)
Chambersburg Public Opinion by Pete Lagiovane 05/18/2014 09:11:37 PM EDT
Last month we learned that the Greencastle-Antrim School District, facing a million-dollar deficit, will have to make several hundred thousand dollars in cuts and increase property taxes by 2 mills. So far this month, we have also read that both the Chambersburg and Tuscarora school districts will be raising property taxes by about the same amount to balance their budgets. Yet while all this is happening to our local public schools, two local businesses are contributing $17,500 to Cumberland Valley Christian School, Shalom Christian Academy and Montessori Academy.  The two businesses are participating in the K-12 Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Scholarship Program. Every year the K-12 EITC program provides $60 million to individual students to go to private, mainly religious schools. Here's how it works: Businesses make donations to the EITC program and receive a triple-dip of tax reductions. They receive a state tax credit, state tax deduction and a federal tax deduction. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, "Altogether, a company making a $300,000 annual ETIC contribution over two years will pay only $20 in out-of-pocket costs."

"Bob Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, declined to comment on Atiyeh's strategies, saying he didn't know enough about the situation. He did say, though, that he has never heard of a potential charter school landlord paying someone to garner pre-enrollment signatures.  Smith, who has voted for two of the many charter schools proposed during his 10 years on the school board, hasn't either.  "Of all the charter schools we've dealt with, we've never had the landlord so actively involved in the recruiting," he said.
Atiyeh's tactics are not against the law but fall into a gray area, said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who released a report Monday calling the state's lack of charter school oversight an "enormous problem." He believes landlords and their prospective charter school tenants should have "complete separation."
Developer Abe Atiyeh helps charter schools open, reaps profits in return
Abe Atiyeh pays for startup costs and ads, reaps profits in return.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 9:43 p.m. EDT, May 17, 2014
When parents and children attended open houses at the proposed Arts Academy Elementary Charter School in Allentown, they heard about small class sizes, a safe environment and opportunities like ice skating and dancing.  Supporters of the school handed out fliers, gave tours of the building and pre-enrolled students whose parents were eager to sign them up.
What those parents didn't hear at the winter sessions was who owns the former Allentown Racquetball & Fitness Club building at 601 Union St., the site of the proposed school. They also didn't see the person who offered a consultant $30 for every potential student it pre-enrolled.
While Thomas Lubben, a retired charter school superintendent, is the public face of the proposed school, the effort to open the charter is sponsored by someone who says he's "the glue" that has held a number of recent charter school proposals together.
With a vast portfolio of vacant properties, money to spend on marketing and a soft spot for school choice, prolific Lehigh Valley developer Abe Atiyeh has become one of the greatest advocates of the local charter school movement.
Bethlehem Area School District buses may record audio
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on May 18, 2014 at 4:55 PM
The Bethlehem Area School District is moving forward with plans to start recording video with audio on its school buses.  Buses are equipped to record video and sound but the audio recording was shut off to comply with Pennsylvania's Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Act. A recent change to state law means that the district can turn the sound recording back on.
The school board has taken the first step to modify its school bus recording policy to include audio recording and will vote on the matter at an upcoming meeting.
School districts must enact a policy authorizing the recording for disciplinary or security purposes, annually notify parents and place a sign on each bus that passengers may be audio recorded.

Inquirer Editorial: Clarke's gamble is too risky
POSTED: Sunday, May 18, 2014, 1:10 AM
As hard as it is to believe, City Council is about to throw away a $120 million funding stream for Philadelphia's destitute public schools, which are understaffed, underachieving, and unsafe.
That money was authorized a year ago by the legislature when it extended an emergency increase of the city's sales tax to 8 percent. Not only would the extension generate $120 million for struggling schools, but the legislation also set aside an escalating portion of the revenue for city pensions.

"The lessons of charter schools and cyber charter schools are that frightened parents want their children out of dangerous schools in dangerous parts of neighborhoods."
I never thought that I would say this to Eric Hanushek. “You are mostly correct about money not being the whole answer.” I have just read an article (more of a monograph) about how Corey Booker, now U.S. Senator from New Jersey, got Governor Elect Christie and Mark Zuckerberg to agree to reform the Newark School District in 2009. I did not have the heart to read the entire article. It reminded me of the Annenberg Urban Challenge Grants, as well as the Annenberg Rural Challenge Grants, and the soon to be expanded charter school action on the national level.
No matter what these right minded philanthropists- government types do, nothing will change, on a large scale, until the sending homes and communities change. There really isn’t a program that includes large scale changes in where the kids come from. There is no culture out there, whether in urban or rural settings that seeks to make things better for the families that send their children to public schools.

US DOE: Working to Keep Schools and Communities Safe
US Department of Education
"This job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation." — President Barack Obama, December 16, 2012
When schools are the centers of their communities, students, parents, and entire neighborhoods benefit. Ensuring that schools are sanctuaries for teaching and learning—and free of crime and violence—is a priority for President Obama, the administration, and the entire nation
The need: Violence and trauma in schools and communities can affect students' overall health and well-being as well as their educational outcomes.
The goal: All children should grow up free from fear and violence. Fortunately, most of America's children do. But there are far too many schools and neighborhoods where fear and violence are part of a child's daily life. This is unacceptable, and the President's school safety-related proposals reflect a national goal of ensuring that all children live in safe neighborhoods and attend nurturing schools that provide them with the services and supports that they need to thrive.

Science Standards Divide a State Built on Coal and Oil
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH MAY 18, 2014
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Sitting in the headquarters of the Wyoming Liberty Group, Susan Gore, founder of the conservative think tank, said new national science standards for schools were a form of “coercion,” adding, “I don’t think government should have anything to do with education.”
Ms. Gore, a daughter of the founder of the company that makes Gore-Tex waterproof fabric, was speaking here weeks after the Republican-controlled Legislature made Wyoming, where coal and oil are king, the first state to reject the standards, which include lessons on human impact on global warming. The pushback came despite a unanimous vote by a group of Wyoming science educators urging acceptance. Wyoming was the first state to say no, but likely not the last. A House committee in Oklahoma last week voted to reject the standards, also in part because of concerns about how climate change would be taught.

PCCY invites you to get on the School Spirit Bus to Harrisburg on Tuesday June 10th for Fair and Full School Funding!
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
On Tuesday June 10th, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will be going to Harrisburg.  Join committed parents, leaders, and community members from around state to make it clear to Harrisburg that PA students need fair and full funding now!  We are providing free transportation to and from Harrisburg as well as lunch.   Please arrive at the United Way Building located at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway no later than8:15am.  The bus will depart at 8:30am sharp! Reserve your seat today by emailing us at or calling us at 215-563-5848 x11. You can download and share our flyer by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

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:

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Click here to read more about EPLC’s Education Policy Fellowship Program, including: 2014-15 Schedule 2014-15 Application Past Speakers Program Alumni And More Information

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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