Wednesday, May 21, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 21: At 36%, Pennsylvania trails 40 other states in what it contributes to basic education

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 21, 2014:
At 36%, Pennsylvania trails 40 other states in what it contributes to basic education

Tom Wolf gets the Democratic nod, Mike Fleck could be out of office and other results from Tuesday's primary election
By Megan Lavey-Heaton |  on May 21, 2014 at 12:29 AM
Tom Wolf was named the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor in Tuesday night’s primary. Mike Stack is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.  Here’s all the primaries that PennLive covered on Tuesday. You can find full coverage at Please note that a write-in candidate could present a challenge in any of these races in the fall. There are a number of uncontested races not in the list below that will be decided in the fall.

“I am the f—— senator, I do what the f— I want, how I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me.”
SD-4: Haywood Defeats Indicted Sen. Washington
PoliticsPA Written by Brittany Foster, Managing Editor May 20, 2014
Democratic challenger Art Haywood beat indicted Senator Leanna Washington.
Haywood took 40% of the vote, followed by Washington at 34% and other Democratic challenger Brian Gralnick 27%. They took 15,874, 13,440 and 10,590 votes respectively.

Boyle beats Margolies, rest of crowd for Democratic nomination
WHYY Newsworks BY TOM MACDONALD MAY 21, 2014
Youth, a grass-roots campaign and lots of union backing triumphed last night in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District.   State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) who is just 37 said he brought a young campaign organization that worked hard for a victory in the district covering parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia.

Rep. Davidson holds on in 164th Legislative District
By JOHN KOPP,, @DT_JohnKopp POSTED: 05/20/14, 11:45 PM
State Rep. Margo Davidson escaped with a close victory in the Democratic primary for the 164th Legislative District Tuesday, edging her challengers with about 52 percent of the vote.  Davidson, a two-term incumbent, received 2,675 votes, according to unofficial tallies released by the Delaware County Election Bureau. Smith, an attorney, garnered 2,143 votes. Adjunct professor Dafan Zhang received 241 votes.

Charters, vouchers, EITC…..
All Candidates Supported by Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst PAC Advance To General Election
StudentsFirst PAC Press Release May 20, 2014
Harrisburg, PA – Tuesday's primaries in Pennsylvania showed that support continues to grow for advocates of common sense education reform, as candidates of both parties endorsed by StudentsFirst in seven key races claimed victory in their campaigns for state House and Senate seats.  “Tonight’s election results indicate strong support among the Pennsylvania electorate for continued education reform and show that candidates for public office – regardless of their party affiliation – can run on their commitment to improving public education and win,” said Ashley DeMauro, State Director for StudentsFirst in Pennsylvania, which operates the Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst political action committee (PAC). “On behalf of StudentsFirst’s Pennsylvania members, I congratulate the candidates on their primary victories.”

PSBA issues new report comparing charter, traditional public school requirements
PSBA May 20, 2014
PSBA will be sending to legislators the third piece in the “Closer Look”series that provides a comparison of charter and traditional public school requirements, showing that the exemptions allowed to charters in the name of providing innovations has not led to a transparent, accountable or high-performing system of education.  Click here to see the report, Charter-Public School Comparison: An Uneven Playing Field.  The other pieces in the “Closer Look” series include: Double-dip Pension Payments Mean Charter Schools Get Paid Twice and Pennsylvania Charter Schools Continue to Underperform.

A dozen problems with charter schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS May 20 at 2:30 pm
School reformers keep talking about charter schools as if they were the answer to public education’s problems, when there is a great deal of evidence that shows big problems with the charter sector.  For example, a report on Pennsylvania’s charter schools recently released by a state legislator found that only one in six of the state’s charter schools is”high-performing” and it notes that none of the online charters is “high-performing.”  The report, released by Rep. James Roebuck, chairman of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee, says that the state has 162 brick-and-mortar charters (28 of which are considered “high performing” based on standardized test scores) and 14 cyber charters. It notes about those 28:

"Philadelphia education advocates cite two underlying causes of the schools’ financial plight.  Pennsylvania trails 40 other states in what it contributes to basic education. A 2013 report by the Education Law Center gave the state’s share as 36 percent, putting Philadelphia at a disadvantage compared with wealthier districts that can raise more money through property taxes.  And there is no set formula for distributing state aid. The ELC report said Pennsylvania was “a national outlier,” one of only three states without an enrollment-based, transparent formula for distributing state education dollars."
Then and now, Pa. schools struggle with funding
The state's share of funding lags behind 40 other states. No formula has been set for education aid, but that may change.
the notebook by Paul Jablow Summer 2014
Ben Franklin 11th grader Jeremy Rodriguez said that his school has been devastated by cuts and that some students are so discouraged they have stopped coming to class.  A crowd of some 100 parents, teachers, principals, and education activists braved a brutal rainstorm on April 30 to wage what amounted to a two-hour attack on the School Reform Commission, which was considering the proposed bare-bones budget for the next school year.  Earlier that day and a block away, an 11th grader at Benjamin Franklin High School named Jeremy Rodriguez had been fighting his own battle with the current school budget.  “Some days the teachers just don’t have the energy … they’ll give us a paper and we’ll teach ourselves,” said Rodriguez, 17. “There’s nothing new in the school. … All the books are ripped up.”  And with students from two recently closed high schools now attending, he said,“Everywhere you walk, you’re bumping into somebody."  Some classrooms are so crowded with desks, he said, that “it’s hard to walk to the front.”
Twenty years ago, when the Notebook was founded, Rodriguez hadn’t been born and there was no such thing as the SRC. But the first edition headline, “Unfair state funding for schools challenged,” could have just as easily been written in 2014.

FYI, for 2012-2013, Career Connections charter school had a PA School Performance Profile score of 43.8.
Court upholds decision for Pittsburgh Public Schools not to renew Career Connections charter
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 19, 2014 6:17 PM
A state appeals court today upheld an earlier decision by the Pittsburgh Public Schools to not renew the charter for Career Connections.Charter High School.  The school, which opened in 1999, sought the renewal in 2011. However, the city schools rejected the request in March 2012, citing 23 deficiencies, including, generally, failure to meet accepted standards of fiscal management, failing to meet student performance requirements and failing to uphold its written charter.

Parkland school directors OK proposed 2014-15 budget with 2.1 percent tax increase
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times on May 20, 2014 at 9:15 PM
The Parkland School Board tonight approved a proposed final budget that will raise taxes 2.1 percent in 2014-15.  School directors voted 9-0 in favor of the $152,182,566 spending plan, which includes a tax rate of 14.12 mills, up from 13.83 mills in 2013-14.  Superintendent Richard Sniscak said administrators are still working on it and expect to present a final budget with a pared down tax increase next month. This is the first time in three years that the district has not applied for permission to exceed the Act 1 index.  Budgets that boost taxes beyond the state-set index must be approved by voter 

"As a result of this change to the tax code, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit. They are permitted to combine this tax credit with other tax breaks while they also collect interest on any money they lend out. According to one analyst, the credit allows them to double the money they invested in seven years. Another interesting side note is that foreign investors who put a minimum of $500,000 in charter school companies are eligible to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members under a federal program called EB-5."
Why Hedge Funds Love Charter Schools
Huffington Post Business by Alan Singer Social studies educator, Hofstra University
Posted: 05/20/2014 10:08 am EDT Updated: 05/20/2014 10:59 am EDT
In April I posted, The Dishonorable Andrew Cuomo Meets the Hedge Fund / Charter School Zombies. In an online comment, Huffington Super User William Occam challenged me to provide "evidence that any of the individuals you have publicly shamed in this essay stand to financially gain from their support." I responded at the time but feel he merits a more detailed answer and I would like to take another shot at the hedge fund / charter school zombies. I also recommend aYouTube satire, the Education News/Comedy Show, by my colleague Mark Naison of Fordham University.
Obscure laws can have a very big impact on social policy, including obscure changes in the United States federal tax code. The 2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, included provisions from the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000. The law provided tax incentives for seven years to businesses that locate and hire residents in economically depressed urban and rural areas. The tax credits were reauthorized for 2008-2009, 2010-2011, and 2012-2013.

"The bottom line here is very clear: Arts education isn't something we add on after we've achieved other priorities, like raising test scores and getting kids into college. It's actually critical for achieving those priorities in the first place."
First lady: Arts education good for good schools by DARLENE SUPERVILLE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 6:20 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Delivering a forceful argument on the role of the arts in education, Michelle Obama said Tuesday that it isn't something to be introduced after student test scores go up but is a critical element of achieving those higher test scores in the first place.  The lawyer-turned-first lady argued her case while opening the first White House student talent show, featuring spirited song and dance routines by students whose schools had performed so poorly they were chosen for a new federal arts education program.

Waivers From Nutrition Standards Included in Agriculture Budget Proposal
Education Week Rules for Engagement Blog By Evie Blad on May 19, 2014 1:45 PM 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to grant schools a waiver from some strengthened school nutrition standards for the 2014-15 school year if they can demonstrate that compliance created an economic hardship, under a bill crafted by the House of Representatives panel that oversees the school lunch program.  The language, included in spending legislation released Monday, would require waivers for districts that can demonstrate "a net loss from operating a food service program for a period of at least 6 months that begins on or after July 1, 2013."

First lady vows to ‘fight’ healthy school-lunch rollback
Washington Post By Tom Hamburger and Kimberly Kindy, Published: May 19, 2014
Sounding a new aggressive tone, first lady Michelle Obama vowed in a private conference call Monday to fight industry efforts at rolling back healthy school-lunch standards, an issue that could come up for a vote on Capitol Hill this week.  The remarks to health activists were made at the beginning of a week of intense lobbying around changes in the national school-lunch program, which sets standards for fat, sugar and sodium levels in food.  “I was thrilled that the first lady pulled advocates together this morning and sounded such a strong rallying cry to fight back against efforts to weaken the school food standards,” said Margo Wootan, who lobbies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere on behalf of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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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