Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 11: "Its harder to outrage the public anymore."

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
PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 11, 2014: "Its harder to outrage the public anymore."

Policy options can help fund schools in Pa.
Inquirer Opinion By Vincent Hughes POSTED: Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 1:08 AM
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D.) represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is also the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission recently took the unprecedented step of refusing to approve the $2.4 billion budget for the next fiscal year. The SRC labeled the current amount of available revenue as "catastrophic" for conditions in our classrooms.  Pennsylvania has a projected budget deficit of more than $1.5 billion, which might seem to make prospects for additional funding for Philadelphia's schools bleak. However, it doesn't have to be this way. There are many commonsense policy choices available to increase the amount of state funding available for public education in Philadelphia.

Corbett won't budge on tax talk until pension bill passes
Gov. Tom Corbett says he won't consider a tax increase to help fill a growing budget gap unless the Legislature agrees to overhaul Pennsylvania's pension system for future state and school employees. Corbett said Tuesday if pension legislation does pass, he's not sure what, if any, kind of tax increase he'd support.  The new fiscal year begins July 1.  Pension legislation was scheduled for discussion Tuesday in the state House of Representatives. The proposal Corbett supports would combine a limited traditional, defined-benefit pension with a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan that would provide a smaller benefit than employees get under the present system.  It would not affect the hundreds of thousands of current state and public school employees.  The state's largest teacher union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, opposes it.

Different sort of money problem limits pension reform debate in Pennsylvania
By Jan Murphy |  on June 10, 2014 at 7:07 PM
There's no question money is at the heart of the state's pension problem. But the money problem limiting lawmakers' debate on reforming the two state pension systems may not be the one you think.  The Public Employee Retirement Commission is out of money. In fact, it has spent $20,000 of its next fiscal year's appropriation.  So without money, it can't perform actuarial studies on any more pension reform proposals — including the one crafted by Rep. Glen Grell, R-Hampden Township — until after the July 1 start of the new fiscal year, when lawmakers hope to have put this issue to bed and be heading home for their summer break.  Without an actuarial note, Grell's plan or any other pension proposal that emerges in the General Assembly's final push to deal with pension reform this month can't be considered because the rules require it to have one.  This places an artificial limit on the pension reform options that lawmakers have available to them, if they want to get this issue off their plates in the next few weeks.

Stephen C. Antalics Jr.: Charter schools drive up local education taxes
Allentown Morning Call LTE by Stephen C. Antalics June 09, 2014
Stephen C. Antalics Jr. of Bethlehem is a retired scientist and entrepreneur.
This year, the Bethlehem Area School District wisely denied the Advanced Military Aerospace Science Academy request to be a charter school.  The district last year announced its career placement program, a plan that offers Advanced Placement courses in four areas of study, including the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The district could implement a junior ROTC program that would certainly preclude the need of the military aerospace charter school, thereby preventing duplication and extra cost.  The proposed Bethlehem school budget for the 2014-15 school year has reflected a deficit of approximately $16.9 million. There is a large outcry about excessive costs going toward the teachers' retirement fund  which represents approximately $2.2 million of the deficit. A telling number that appears to go unheeded is that the funding deficit for charter schools represents approximately $6.7 million, three times that of pensions.

City Council leader, schools chief clash over means to fund Philly schools
The Philadelphia school district's budget crises never seem to end.
In fact, even as students and parents hold their collective breath for the possibility of even more cuts to classroom resources for next school year, the ghost of last year's crisis lingers.
Last summer, Superintendent William Hite said he would not open schools unless the district received an additional $50 million from the city.  Soon after, Mayor Michael Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke held competing press conferences with differing visions for how to deliver this funding. Both parties assured the district that it could count on the needed revenue.
Schools, though severely under-resourced, opened.  Ten months later, district officials and city politicians are still squabbling over that $50 million.

Phila. Funding Crisis Threatens Spread of Innovation

Education Week By Benjamin Herold Published Online: June 10, 2014
Nearly a year after Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. committed millions of dollars to expand Science Leadership Academy and two other pioneering district schools here, the investment in hands-on, technology-rich instructional models has stirred hope and experimentation across the city.  But the tentative flourishing of innovation is at risk of being overwhelmed by a massive funding shortfall that has cast doubt on the superintendent's ability to safely open schools in September, let alone spread promising new models across the 131,000-student system.

Corbett can't visit state's largest city without mass protest
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 06/09/2014
Gov. Tom Corbett can't visit Philadelphia, his state's largest city, without facing mass protest. Recent appearances here have been clouded in secrecy, subject to last-minute change—and infrequent.  This evening, hundreds of students, teachers and parents gathered in front of the Comcast Center to protest Corbett's deep cuts to public education funding as the governor (reportedly) held a fundraiser with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie inside. Demonstrators blocked the street chanting "what do we want? Fair funding!" and "arrest Gov. Corbett!." Police arrested a handful of activists committing civil disobedience without incident.
Protesters included members of Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), Parents United for Public Education, Youth United for Change, Philadelphia Student Union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Caucus of Working Educators.

 "Most big cities are at the mercy of their states and don't have enough resources. It's just the way things are done. Pennsylvania is one of the worst. We keep pointing it out and pointing it out. Its harder to outrage the public anymore."
Philadelphia School Notebook Celebrates 20 Years
Education Week Education and the Media Blog  By Mark Walsh on June 10, 2014 12:27 AM
Twenty years ago this month, a new superintendent was named to run the Philadelphia public schools. David W. Hornbeck, then a prominent national education consultant who had been a Maryland state schools superintendent, set an ambitious course to turn the long-troubled school district "on its head."  That same June in 1994, the city's two daily newspapers and other news outlets gained a scrappy new competitor—The Philadelphia Public School Notebook.
The Notebook, as it is known, was at first only a print publication, meant to serve a grassroots audience for the then-204,000-student district.  Twenty years later, the Philadelphia schools have seen five superintendents, including such national names as Paul G. Vallas and Arlene Ackerman; a host of reforms, including turning some schools over to private managers; a "friendly takeover" by the city and the state of Pennsylvania; and rounds of wrenching budget cuts.
The Notebook, meanwhile, has a vibrant Web presence in addition to publishing 60,000 copies six times a year.

The way forward
By thenotebook on Jun 10, 2014 10:42 AM
The Notebook is able to celebrate a 20th anniversary this year thanks to lots of hard work and generous financial supporters – and thanks to you, our readers. 
Philadelphia has a vast community of people – not just parents, educators, and students but many others – who are deeply committed to quality public education and to improving opportunities for all students. Without this highly engaged community, we would have fewer meaningful stories to tell. More important, we would have little hope of overcoming the serious problems facing city schools.  As it turns 20, the Notebook remains committed to its original ideals: providing useful information to a broad audience, highlighting community voices, exposing inequities, and holding public officials and institutions accountable – all with the goal of building momentum for improved schools across Philadelphia.

"Overall, salaries are going down about $85,500, but employee benefits are up $1.3 million from the previous year."
Kennett school district OKs final budget
West Chester Daily Local By CANDICE MONHOLLAN,
POSTED: 06/10/14, 6:28 PM EDT
KENNETT SQUARE – The Kennett Consolidated School Board approved a $76 million operating budget for the 2014-15 school year at its meeting Monday, an increase in spending of about $2 million.  The final number is also up about $360,000 from the original preliminary budget presented in February.  The board was able to take the originally proposed tax increase of 2.51 percent and reduce it to 1.78 percent, setting the millage rate at 27.94. The average district homeowner will pay an additional $89 more in taxes next year.  “(This is) the smallest increase in over 15 years and down from historically high increases of over 10 percent” in the early 2000s, said board Treasurer Michael Finnegan. “The district has managed to weather the harsh economic times the past five years while preserving programs and improving facilities.”

Mars schools budget keeps taxes steady
Post-Gazette By Sandy Trozzo
The Mars Area school board Tuesday approved a $43.5 million budget that keeps the property tax rate at 99 mills.The budget was 5 percent higher than this year’s budget on both the revenue and expenditure side. Increased revenue was generated by new houses and businesses, as well as increased earned income tax, said Jill Swaney, business manager.
It maintains all programs and adds six professional positions.

"In God We Trust? How about a bill that would require charter and cyber schools to post their PA School Performance Profile scores prominently in any advertising paid for with public tax dollars?"
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch June 10, 2014 //
Keystone State Education Coalition Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 3, 2014:
Blogger Rant:
At a recent school board meeting I voted against authorizing a payment to Agora Cyber Charter School. Why? During the NCLB regime, Agora never once made AYP; this year their PA School Performance Profile Score was 48.3 (scale of 100). In my district, our Middle School score was 94; our High School score was 96.4. Agora is run by K12, Inc., a for-profit company founded by convicted bond felon Michael Milken. K12 paid it’s CEO $13 million from 2009 through 2013 and spent our tax dollars on over 19,000 local TV commercials. I do not believe Agora should receive one cent of my neighbors’ tax dollars.
Instead of posting “In God We Trust”, how about a bill that would require charter and cyber schools to post their PA School Performance Profile scores prominently in any advertising paid for with public tax dollars?

PA Basic Ed. Funding Campaign: Building capacity to advocate for adequate, equitable school funding
PSBA website 6/10/2014
The Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Campaign seeks up to ten (10) regional "circuit riders" statewide to work with and support school system leaders to build capacity and advocate for an adequate and equitable school funding system.
Regional Circuit Riders Contract Employment Announcement
The Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Campaign seeks up to ten (10) regional "circuit riders" statewide to work with and support school system leaders to build capacity and advocate for an adequate and equitable school funding system. Circuit riders will support school system leaders by providing education and training about past and current school funding systems, principles and models of good school funding systems and effective advocacy strategies using information and materials provided by the Campaign. School system leaders include school directors, Intermediate Unit executive directors, district superintendents, business managers and other key school district leaders.  Building capacity among Pennsylvania school system leaders to advocate for an adequate and equitable school funding system is one component of a broader multi-year effort that involves more than 25 organizations across Pennsylvania. This component is a collaborative effort of the PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), PA School Boards Association (PSBA), PA Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) and PA Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU). PASBO serves as the fiscal agent for the collaborative.

NSBA praises the U.S. Senate introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act
NSBA School Board News Today Alexis Rice June 10th, 2014
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praises the introduction today of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (S. 2451) in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.). The legislation would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counterproductive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).
“We appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, which would ensure that local school boards are able to make sound decisions based on the needs of their students and their communities,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Federal regulations that fail to recognize the value of strong local governance put politics before the best interests of our nation’s students.” The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act would:

California Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional
New York Times By JENNIFER MEDINA JUNE 10, 2014
LOS ANGELES — A California judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure laws deprive students of their right to an education under the state Constitution. The decision hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case, one that could radically alter how California teachers are hired and fired and prompt challenges to tenure laws in other states.  “Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students,” Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court wrote in the ruling. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”  The ruling, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, brings to a close the first chapter of the case, Vergara v. California, in which a group of student plaintiffs argued that state tenure laws had deprived them of a decent education by leaving bad teachers in place.

Gates Foundation Urges Moratorium on Decisions Tied to Common Core
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH JUNE 10, 2014
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a strong backer of academic guidelines known as the Common Core — reading and math standards for kindergarten through high school pupils — and one of the country’s largest donors to educational causes, has called for a two-year moratorium on states or school districts making any high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned to the new standards.  The Common Core, originally adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia and supported by the Obama administration, was designed by a group of educators and experts convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Over the past two years, teachers have been scrambling to adapt classroom curriculums to the new guidelines. Some states, including Kentucky and New York, have already rolled out new standardized tests aligned to the standards, while many other states piloted tests this spring.  Teachers unions and parent groups have expressed frustration with the speed with which the new standards and tests have been implemented, particularly at a time when states are also instituting new performance evaluations for teachers that tether ratings in part to student performance on test scores.

Public Schools Are Hurting More in the Recovery Than in the Recession
Five Thirty-Eight Economics By BEN CASSELMAN 6:52 AM JUN 10, 2014
The slow economic recovery is taking a toll on the nation’s public schools, reversing a multi-decade trend of increased funding and pushing student-teacher ratios to their highest levels since 2000.  U.S. schools actually weathered the recession itself relatively well. State funding, which accounts for about 45 percent of school revenues on average, fell sharply during the downturn, while local spending, which accounts for roughly another 45 percent, mostly from property taxes, was essentially flat. But federal stimulus dollars helped plug the gap, offsetting the worst of the state-level cuts. Both per-student spending and student-teacher ratios improved modestly during the recession.  Once the recession ended, however, so did the stimulus — long before state and local governments were ready to pick up the slack. Federal per-student spending fell more than 20 percent from 2010 to 2012, and it has continued to fall. State and local funding per student were essentially flat in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available.

Education Voters of Pennsylvania, the NAACP and the Keystone State Education Coalition are sponsoring a public meeting with speakers from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center.
When:  Monday June 16th, 6-7 PM
Where: Delaware County Community College Southeast Center, Room 135
              2000 Elmwood Ave, Sharon Hill, PA 19079
Learn about how a statewide legal strategy could help students in William Penn, Southeast Delco and neighboring districts and how you might participate.  Legal experts and attorneys will be present to talk about the law, your children’s rights and a potential lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania based on the state Constitutional requirement to provide an education.

Come to Harrisburg to Speak Up for Public Education
Wednesday, June 18, Monday, June 23, and Monday, June 30
Education Voters PA
Governor Corbett’s “election-year” budget is falling apart. Revenue projections are down and Corbett and state legislators are looking to make more than $1.2 billion in cuts to his proposed 2014-2015 budget.  Lobbyists will be swarming the Capitol in the month of June and we need to be there, too.  Join Pennsylvanians from throughout the commonwealth as we send a loud and clear message that after three years of balancing the state budget on the backs of Pennsylvania’s public school children, it is time for our state government to do what is right and pass a fair budget that will provide students with the opportunities they need to meet state standards and be successful after they graduate.

Julian Vasquez Heilig  |  | 1 Comment
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Do you believe in public education? Do you want US policymakers to understand why decision makers in Chile have now judged vouchers to be problematic after 30 years of universal implementation? Do you have frequent flier miles you can donate? Sponsor a grad student today!  This summer, I along with eight UT-Austin graduate students will travel to Santiago, Chile in August 2014 with Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig to conduct field research that will result in a policy brief, op-eds and a peer-reviewed academic paper detailing recent changes in Chile’s market-based education policy proposed this past April by Chile’s current Education Minister Nicholas Eyzaguirre.

PSBA opens nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
The nomination process is now open for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award. This award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  Applications will be accepted until July 16, 2014. The July 16 date was picked in honor of  Timothy M. Allwein's birthday. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. More details and application are available on PSBA's website. 

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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