Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 17: "Message…was clear. My students didn’t deserve to have a clean, safe school or basic resources."

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
PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 17, 2014: "Message…was clear. My students didn’t deserve to have a clean, safe school or basic resources."


Pennsylvania lawmakers preparing for July vote on a budget plan tied to pension, liquor bills
By MARC LEVY and PETER JACKSON  Associated Press First Posted: June 16, 2014 - 1:53 pm
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania's state Senate majority leader says he's telling rank-and-file Republican senators to prepare to work in the Capitol into July on a $29.4 billion budget plan whose deficit seems to grow by the day.  Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said Monday that it's unlikely a new state budget will be approved before the fiscal year ends June 30. Lawmakers reconvened with two weeks left in the fiscal year amid closed-door work by Republicans on the budget.

Pileggi Suggests Legislature Will Miss Budget Deadline
PoliticsPA Written by Jeffrey Robinowitz, Contributing Writer June 16, 2014
Pennsylvania’s State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi announced today that he has informed his fellow Republicans that they will probably have to continue working on the $29.4 billion budget plan into July.  With only two weeks remaining before the fiscal year ends on June 30, Senator Pileggi said that it’s unlikely a new state budget will be approved before then.
http://www.politicspa.com/pileggi-suggests-legislature-will-miss-budget-deadline/58793/

Pa. lawmakers expect to miss June 30 budget deadline
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JUNE 17, 2014
It's shaping up to be a longer-than-usual work calendar for Pennsylvania lawmakers negotiating the commonwealth's budget.  House and Senate Republican leaders aren't expecting to meet the state constitution's end-of-June budget deadline.  "It's unlikely that we will finish our work by June 30," Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said he told his caucus's members. "Certainly be prepared for at least the first week in July."

Pa. legislators face tough budget decisions
By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau POSTED: June 15, 2014
HARRISBURG - When legislators return to the Capitol on Monday, they will have just two weeks left to figure out two things: how to close a gaping budget deficit, and how to do it without damaging their reelection chances.  With the clock ticking fast down to the June 30 deadline to pass a state budget, the GOP-controlled legislature and Gov. Corbett appear nowhere near reaching an agreement on the best way to close a budget gap ranging between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion.  And the disagreement is fundamental: Should the state plug the budget deficit by imposing new taxes or raising existing ones? There have been discussions lately in legislative circles - and even within the governor's office - about a tax on natural gas extraction and, possibly, an increase in the cigarette tax.  The stakes for finding a swift resolution are high. Corbett, battling years' worth of low public-approval ratings, faces a tough reelection battle in the fall. All 203 seats in the House are up for grabs, as are half of the 50 seats in the Senate, where the Republican hold on the majority is not insurmountable.

"But before that, make sure to tune in to Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane in the morning (Tuesday), when Hite and Green discuss the District's dire budget situation and ongoing funding crisis that continues to destabilize the city's school system."
By thenotebook on Jun 16, 2014 03:02 PM
A June 30 deadline fast approaches, and the School District is scrambling again to adopt a budget for next school year that avoids another round of painful cuts and devastating layoffs.
At noon tomorrow, Superintendent William Hite and School Reform Commission Chair Bill Green will join with education advocates at School District headquarters in calling for more funding for the city's schools. The District has said it needs $216 million in additional funding ($96 million after getting $120 million from the extension of the city's extra-1-percent sales tax) to maintain current service levels, which school officials have deemed inadequate.

Peduto names task force on public education in Pittsburgh
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The first meeting of mayor’s task force on public education will be Tuesday and will be private.
Mayor Bill Peduto has appointed more than 20 people to the task force, including city, district and union officials as well as parents and students.  The task force is expected to meet four times to discuss how to make public schools stronger throughout the city, with recommendations due to the mayor in September.

Should a standardized test determine whether a student graduates from high school?
Listen to Senator Dinniman's Town Hall Meeting on Education
In case you missed PA Education Committee Minority Chairman Andy Dinniman's recent Telephone Town Hall Meeting on #Education, you can listen to it here. http://tinyurl.com/opvh3om 

Districts fear substitute teachers shortage will grow with health care law
Scranton Times-Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL Published: June 15, 2014
Area school districts will soon restrict substitute teachers from working more than 30 hours a week, despite sub shortages that left area classrooms uncovered this year.  Starting in January, under the Affordable Care Act, employees who work more than 30 hours a week must be offered health insurance. If substitute teachers work more than four days a week, they will work more than 30 hours. Superintendents say their districts cannot afford to offer insurance.  “This is one of the situations where I think the law has unintended negative consequences for districts,” said local attorney John Audi, who has advised districts he represents to start tracking hours now.

"Without the state mandate to pay charter school tuition, there would be NO increase in BASD property taxes this year," board President Michael Faccinetto wrote in the letter. "This is the cost of school choice."
Bethlehem board blames tax increase on charter schools
Bethlehem district's property owners will see a 5 percent increase.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call June 17, 2014
When Bethlehem Area School District residents open their tax bills this summer and see a roughly 5 percent increase, they also will receive a personal explanation from the school board president.  Whether or not they should believe that attached letter depends on whom you ask.
The board passed a 2014-15 budget in a 6-3 vote Monday night and also agreed to send a one-page letter along with every tax bill. 
Education Cuts = Property Tax Hikes for Bucks and Montgomery County Homeowners
PCCY Blogspot Friday, June 13, 2014
In 2011, Pennsylvania legislators cut nearly a billion dollars from public education and left our schools shorthanded and without a funding formula.  The budget cuts were needed, ostensibly, because Harrisburg—and therefore the taxpayers—could not afford the current education budget.  They were saving us money.  Or were they?  PCCY’s analysis found that, lacking a funding formula, schools in Montgomery County are now underfunded by $34 million and schools in Bucks County are underfunded by $24 million.

"Forty-four percent of the nearly 100,000 public school students in Lehigh and Northampton counties qualified this school year for the federal school lunch program. That's up from about one-third in 2007, according to a Morning Call analysis of state Department of Education records on students qualifying for free and reduced-lunch in 2007 and 2014."
In suburbia, a growing education in poverty
By Patrick Lester and Dan Sheehan, Of The Morning Call 9:36 pm, June 14, 2014
From its distinguished alumni — CEOs, well-known authors, professional actors — to its enviable test scores and championship sports teams, the Parkland School District glows with an aura of affluence and privilege.  But amid its McMansions, backyard pools and pristine parks lies a different Parkland, one that has long been hidden but is emerging, family by family, into view. It's the Parkland of the poor.  Over the past five years, the district has seen a dramatic rise in the number of students living in poverty. A total of 1,605 students — about one in five — qualified this school year for free or reduced-price lunches, the benchmark for determining the level of low-income students in schools. That number could fill more than half the district's eight elementary schools.

"It's time for all to see what the families and teachers see in neighborhood schools like Steel and Munoz Marin: The charter "emperor has no clothes."
Letters: Rush on charter conversions ignores real issue - trauma
Philly Daily News LTE by DAUN KAUFFMAN POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 3:01 AM
Daun Kauffman is a 13-year teacher with the school district in North Philadelphia.
THE GROWING number of schools that the School District of Philadelphia has handed over to charter operators is sad. The district's "failing" school pronouncements beg some questions: Why are so many urban schools deemed failing? What are the largest urban education issues? How does the district paradigm address the specific urban issues? Without those answers, the handoff to "charter businesses" is academic gambling, financially fraudulent and morally vacant.
Even with a myopic focus on test scores, there is still no charter operator clearly delivering higher scores at a sustainable investment cost. I submit that the coveted scores cannot be dependably delivered, even with more money, new paint, some computers and more aggressive use of teaching-faculty labor.

Students heighten protests over funding cuts
Philly Trib Written by Wilford Shamlin III June 15, 2014
Philadelphia public school students expressed their frustration and anger at funding cuts for public education with a student walkout, raising the intensity of public protests as the last day of school approaches Thursday for thousands of students.  A group of students led by Youth United for Change rallied outside the school district’s main office on Wednesday, just two days after its outgoing executive director, Andi Perez, was among six community activities detained by city police during a protest outside Comcast’s corporate offices at 17th Street and JFK Boulevard.
Protests were organized on Thursday at City Hall and outside the governor’s regional office as a reminder to elected officials of their state-mandated obligation to fund public schools.

"The school no longer had a library. Nearly all the textbooks had broken spines and were out-of-date. The message might not have been explicit, but it was clear. My students didn’t deserve to have a clean, safe school or basic resources."
‘Fiscal Crisis’ or Physical Crisis in Philadelphia’s Public Schools?
Moyers & Company by Elisabeth Hoyson and Elaine Weiss June 10, 2014
As low-income districts experience ever-greater struggles to meet their students’ needs on dwindling budgets, their schools are targets of “reforms” fundamentally different from those serving higher-income students. And, as my own teaching trajectory reflects, these attempted “fixes” can actually exacerbate inequities.
On my first day of unsupervised teaching as a Philadelphia teaching fellow, I followed the assistant principal as she sauntered through the building, seemingly unaffected by the palpable tension. She led me into my classroom, then pointed at me with the antenna of her walkie-talkie and shouted over my students’ clamor, “This is Ms. Hoyson. She will be here for the rest of the year. She is a certified teacher and you are lucky to have her.”  There was nothing lucky about my students’ situation. They lived in a poverty-stricken neighborhood notorious for violent crime. School offered little refuge, as its consistently high incidence of violence placed it on the district’s list of “persistently dangerous” schools.

Philadelphia: Much Reform, Little Change
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch June 16, 2014 //
In this article, veteran journalist Dale Mezzacappa reviews the tumult in Philadelphia and interviews people who have known the issues for 20 years or more. Given the high poverty in the district and the state’s neglect, not much has changed for the better.  Mezzacappa says there are more choices than ever. But the district is in terrible trouble:  “The state took over the District’s governance. Charter schools proliferated. Dozens of neighborhood schools were closed, including such landmarks as the 99-year-old Germantown High.  “Despite the state takeover, the District’s financial condition has only become more desperate."

How many bad teachers are there?
Not many, according to new – and expensive – evaluations
Huffington Post By Sarah Butrymowicz JUNE 16, 2014
Pittsburgh officials revealed the first official results of a new teacher evaluation system designed to help weed out ineffective teachers Thursday. The verdict? Nearly all the teachers – 96.9 percent – are good at their jobs.  The results, praised by the local teachers union and school system alike, follow a pattern emerging around the country: new evaluation systems, which replaced supposedly lax systems that allowed failing teachers to skate by and which cost millions to develop, aren’t unearthing large numbers of bad teachers.

Phila. Funding Crisis Threatens Spread of Innovation
Education Week By Benjamin Herold Published Online: June 10, 2014
Philadelphia
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.

Congress: Pennsylvania GOP could be crucial in whip race
By JAKE SHERMAN and JOHN BRESNAHAN | 6/16/14 12:01 PM EDT Updated: 6/16/14 6:22 PM EDT
…..Assuming every House Republican votes in the whip race, the candidates need 117 votes to win outright. If no one clears that threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated and the race will be determined on a second ballot.  As the trio of whip candidates work the phones and needle their colleagues, an unexpected power center has emerged: The purple state of Pennsylvania.  The Keystone State’s 13 lawmakers are meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. to hear from Roskam, Scalise and Stutzman. The state’s lawmakers are discussing voting as a bloc, and want to hash out who they might support. It’s a tough state to read, as Republicans represent the moderate suburbs of Philadelphia and deep red pockets in the western and middle part of the state. If Pennsylvania sticks together and votes for one candidate, it could easily sway the race in that person’s direction.

Home-schooling parents rally against Common Core
KIMBERLY HEFLING, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Sunday, June 15, 2014, 7:49 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Home-schooling mom Jenni White gave some of the loudest cheers when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation to repeal the Common Core education standards.
White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, helped organize rallies, robo calls and letters to legislators encouraging the repeal. "You name it. We had to do it," White said. "We just had to do it out of a shoestring budget out of our own accounts."  In Oklahoma and elsewhere, home-schooling parents, often with their kids, are a frequent presence at legislative hearings and other political functions representing anti-Common Core forces. Sometimes, as in White's case, they are even leading the opposition.
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20140615_ap_d7ada48a220646a6aab752befe2cf8e8.html#Kj6wtRhEyFFxHfLe.99


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.

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.

EPLC Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters - Harrisburg July 31
Register Now!  EPLC will again be hosting an Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters. This nonpartisan, one-day program will take place on Thursday, July 31 in Harrisburg. Space is limited. Click here to learn more about workshop and to register. 

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.

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