Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 28: PA Supreme Court: Charter Enrollment Caps Legal and Binding

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 28, 2014:
PA Supreme Court: Charter Enrollment Caps Legal and Binding

"Research is clear that the education process should start early with high-quality pre-kindergarten that capitalizes on a child's most rapid period of brain development.  It also shows this high quality start results in improved long-term academic performance and can increase graduation rates by as much as 44 percent.  Unfortunately less than 30 percent of Pennsylvania's 3 and 4-year olds have access to high-quality Pre-K.  When state lawmakers return to Harrisburg in June, they should ensure that more kids are served by accepting Governor Corbett's proposed increase to Pre-K Counts as part of the final budget."
Pre-K education is an issue for the military, too: PennLive letters
PennLive Letters to the Editor  on May 27, 2014 at 6:16 AM By THOMAS J. 'TJ' WILSON, III, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret), Executive Advisory Council, Mission: Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids, Biglerville
Adding new technology to our Armed Forces' arsenal is a critical national security strategy. New weapons - like the Navy's Laser Weapon System - will redefine naval warfare.  Leading edge military equipment, however, is only as good as the men and women operating it.  That is why I find a Department of Defense report so troubling. It shows 75 percent of young Americans are unfit for military service because they are either too poorly educated, have serious criminal records, or are obese.  This level of ineligibility among our young adults presents a real recruiting problem for the Armed Forces and a potential national security challenge.

"There is no dispute that the charter school signed the 2005 charter," Justice Seamus P. McCaffery wrote in an opinion posted Tuesday afternoon on the court's website. "By doing so, it agreed to all the terms of the charter, including the enrollment cap."
State high court rules in favor of SRC charter case
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave a rare bit of good news Tuesday to the cash-strapped Philadelphia School Reform Commission.  The top court unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling that said the school district had illegally capped enrollment at Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School. The lower court had said the school should be paid $1.3 million from the district for students it had enrolled above the 675 enrollment maximum in its signed agreement.  The Supreme Court overturned the lower court, said the charter was bound by the terms of an agreement it had signed with the district in 2005, and was not entitled to the additional money.

School District will try to revoke Palmer's charter
By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: May 25, 2014
The School District of Philadelphia has dropped plans to suspend its agreement with a troubled charter school July 1, but will move ahead with a hearing to revoke it.  The district said Friday it was pursuing just revocation of Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School because a court battle over the School Reform Commission's power to suspend a charter could take months to resolve.  The district said it would proceed with a charter-revocation hearing, set for June 2, that would allow Palmer Leadership to present its case for staying open.  Walter D. Palmer, founder and board president, said Friday he was pleased that suspension was off the table.  He said the school still hoped to negotiate with the district to resolve issues, but would participate in a hearing.

Lawmakers say new funds Gov. Corbett wants for schools in doubt
Lancaster Online By JEFF HAWKES | Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 9:26 am
A projected billion-dollar revenue shortfall has some state lawmakers advising schools not to count on millions in extra funding Gov. Tom Corbett proposed in February.  In his election-year budget address, Corbett announced Ready to Learn grants totaling $241 million in new school funds. Lancaster County's 16 districts would have split $8.4 million.  Without the money, some districts say they'll have to balance budgets by making cuts or drawing from reserves.
"Clearly my advice (to schools) would be not to count on (state) funding above what they were spending last year," said Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Republican from West Lampeter Township.

Gov. Corbett unleashes on teachers union
GOV. CORBETT let national and local teachers-union leaders have it, accusing them in a letter of using last week's death of a student at South Philadelphia's Jackson Elementary as an opportunity "to grandstand and make a political statement," the letter says.  The May 23 correspondence was directed to Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania president Ted Kirsch and national AFT president Randi Weingarten.  "I am deeply troubled that the union leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers - and by extension the American Federation of Teachers - would use the recent tragedy at Andrew Jackson Elementary School as an opportunity to make a political statement and to further your self-serving agenda," Corbett wrote.

"Sheetz - former director of school health services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health - said the findings were of particular interest in Philadelphia, where last week a first grader died after becoming ill at a school that had no full-time nurse.  Jackson Elementary student Sebastian Gerena, 7, died of a congenital heart defect. It is unclear whether a full-time nurse at the school would have made a difference."
School nurses save, not cost money, new study says
Across the country, full-time school nurses are often early victims of budget cuts, sacrificed to make ends meet in strapped school systems like Philadelphia's.  But having nurses can save money, according to a new study published in the Journal of American Medicine Association Pediatrics.  Every dollar spent on nursing services, the authors concluded, saves $2.20 in medical costs and lost productivity from teachers and parents.  "I quite frankly don't understand how a school can function without a school nurse," Anne Sheetz, senior author of the study, said Tuesday.

Oh says he can scrounge $70 million for Philly schools
WHYY Newsworks BY TOM MACDONALD MAY 26, 2014
With prospects of a cigarette tax for Philadelphia burning down in Harrisburg, a Republican councilman is searching the city's proverbial couch cushions for cash.  Councilman David Oh, one of three Republicans on council, said he and his staff have gone over Philadelphia's budget and taken some dollars from departments where they appear to have too much money to cobble together more funding for the public schools.  "In the mayor's budget which he proposed, there is typically money that is somewhat in excess of what the department actually spends by the end of the year," Oh said. "When you add it all up it's about $74 million that we could look at."

Pittsburgh teacher absenteeism called 'startling'
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
While Pittsburgh Public Schools has been pushing to improve student attendance, the National Council on Teacher Quality has taken a look at teacher attendance.  In a report released Thursday, the council found that city teachers were out of the classroom an average of 12 days in 2012-13.  About a quarter of days counted are ones approved by the district -- not sick or personal days -- including professional development and designing the district's teacher evaluation system.

"I wrote to Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane and her Cabinet on March 26 concerning this absenteeism due to testing. It is therefore “startling” to me that Ms. Lane expressed surprise and concern when teachers used fewer than their allotted sick days but that she was not “startled” by missed classroom time related to testing. Perhaps instead of teacher bashing and using misleading headlines, you should focus on how to best support our hard-working educators."
Teacher bashing
The writer is a child advocate and reading specialist, who volunteers in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
I am writing in response to Eleanor Chute’s article with the headline “Pittsburgh Teacher Absenteeism Called ‘Startling’ ” (May 23). Perhaps a better headline might have been “Dedicated teachers take fewer than allotted sick days.” With teachers constantly in contact with sick children it is “startling” that they do not miss more days.  Every moment in a child’s education is precious. However, I know of teachers forced to leave their classrooms for six days in a row due to PSSA testing.

Saucon Valley: Teachers' contract proposal costly
The six-year deal contract proposal would have included a total 36 percent tax hike.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 10:30 p.m. EDT, May 27, 2014
Saucon Valley teachers' latest proposal would have raised property taxes dramatically and cost the school district up to $24 million in one year.  Last week, the union presented the school district with a new contract proposal that the school board says is the most costly proposal yet during the two years of negotiations. During a presentation Tuesday night, the board's chief negotiator, Ed Inghrim, said there's very little chance the district will approve the proposal.
"They're asking for a contract for what we would have seen in a roaring economy," he said. "We're not in a roaring economy."
"Public School Employees’ Retirement System will cost the district $6.5 million, up from $5 million. Of that $1.5 million increase, the state contributes 50 percent. As Director Don Cadge framed this, half of the increase in property taxes needed to fund this budget goes to the retirement/pension costs."
Springfield (Delco) board approves tax hike; outsourcing of busing still being considered
By SUSAN L. SERBIN, Times Correspondent POSTED: 05/27/14, 10:08 PM EDT
SPRINGFIELD — The school board approved the 2014-2015 general fund budget of $72.8 million at the proposed preliminary final stage. It calls for a 2.54 percent tax increase, but, as Executive Director Don Mooney said, there are still unknown factors.  Barring substantial changes by final adoption in June, the millage rate will be 30.0442. This puts school taxes at $3,004 for a property assessed at $100,000; $4,390 for the median assessment of $146,130; and $7,511 for a property with an assessed value of $250,000. The dollar increase of the respective values is $74, $108 and $186.

"This was related to his cozy relationship with various organized labor organizations, as well as opposition to school choice and his propensity to vote for various types of corporate welfare," Knepper said. "So we took issue with his voting record."
Write-in challenger takes GOP primary, but Fleck gets Dems' nod in Pa.
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON MAY 28, 2014
Pennsylvania's first openly gay state lawmaker says he nearly lost his re-election effort because of voters' reaction to his sexual orientation, not his voting record.  Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, has unofficially lost the Republican primary for his House district, but has won the Democratic primary by a margin of 15 write-in votes. The Department of State, which oversees elections, is expected to certify the results next week, making them final.

"It also comes as some urban school districts—largely Democratic areas such as Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia—try to come to grips with the explosion of public charter schools and the ways in which they are transforming the public education landscape and redefining the traditional public school structure. In those cities, advocates on both sides of the charter debate have sparred over funding, space, and resources."
Report Maps Charter Populations in Congressional Districts
Education Week Charters & Choice Blog By Denisa R. Superville on May 22, 2014 5:55 PM
A new report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which shows where charter schools—and their students—are located by congressional districts, underlines the increasing growth of public charters.  The report, "Details from the Dashboard,"  which was released Thursday, shows that 25 congressional districts each have more than 15,000 students enrolled in public charter schools, 67 have more than 10,000 students, while 102 have 20 or more public charters located within their boundaries.  Twenty of the 25 congressional districts with the largest public charter enrollment are represented by Democrats.  The report comes nearly two weeks after the U.S.  House of Representatives voted 360- 45 to approve a new charter bill that would make it easier for successful charter operators to expand. The bill also will encourage charters to widen their outreach to special student populations, including students with disabilities and English-language learners, two groups that charter schools have been criticized for not doing their fair share to enroll.

Ohio’s charter school dropouts soar, push state in opposite direction of U.S.
By Doug Livingston Beacon Journal education writer
In 2010 at age 17, Al Tonyo dropped out of a vocational high school in Cleveland but still wanted a diploma.  So, he enrolled at Life Skills High School of Cleveland, one of 77 publicly funded Ohio charter schools that markets itself as a flexible alternative to traditional public schools.  Then, he dropped out again.  Tonyo was no exception.
Charter schools such as Life Skills, operated by Akron-based White Hat Management and targeting dropouts, are sending Ohio spinning off in the wrong direction. Dropout rates nationally are on the decline, but Ohio’s rate is on the rise.

E-Rate Is Billions Short on Meeting Schools' Wireless-Network Needs, Analysis Finds
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Benjamin Herold on May 28, 2014 6:41 AM
An estimated $3.2 billion in new funds are needed to realize President Barack Obama's goal of providing all students with high-speed wireless Internet connections inside their schools and libraries by 2018, concludes a new analysis by two prominent education-technology organizations.  That staggering sum represents a needed investment above and beyond the $2.4 billion currently directed to schools and libraries each year as part of the federal E-rate program. It does not include the additional billions needed to provide schools and libraries with broadband connections to the outside world, nor does it account for the estimated $1.6 billion annually it would take to maintain new in-school wireless networks once they are built.

“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

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!

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

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.