Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 15: Anthony Cody: This model does not allow for a robust and independent public sector that is under the democratic control of citizens. .… The only thing that stays "public" is the source of the funding

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 15, 2014:
Anthony Cody: This model does not allow for a robust and independent public sector that is under the democratic control of citizens.  .… The only thing that stays "public" is the source of the funding

House GOP leads by example
Inquirer Opinion By Sam Smith and Mike Turzai POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 1:08 AM
State House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) represents the 66th District. shsmith@pahousegop.com   House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) represents the 28th District. mturzai@pahousegop.com
Light has long been shining from some corners of Harrisburg as policies driving sustainable job growth, budgetary responsibility, unparalleled investments in education, and consumer choices have been sown.  The Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus has consistently led from the front by identifying both the needs of Pennsylvania's families and children and the requirements for employees and employers and then proactively moving an agenda of responsible solutions.

Charters dodge Pa. changes to special education funding
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JULY 15, 2014
A recently approved tweak to special education funding won't apply to charter schools in Pennsylvania after all. State lawmakers shied away from the changes after charters argued it would have been unfair.  There will be changes to the way traditional public schools receive any new funding for special education -- it'll be based on the needs of individual students and school districts, instead of being tied to an average special needs cost across the state.
But charter schools are still receiving special education funding under the same flat rate. They got lawmakers to back off of changes when they pointed out the potential hit to their budgets.

“He's disappeared, and there's no money,” the source said. “Everything is in disarray.”
Finances of Sankofa charter under investigation
By Michael N. Price and Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News POSTED: 07/12/14, 6:18 PM EDT
The recently revoked Sankofa Academy Charter School, long the subject of financial scrutiny from the West Chester Area School District, is now facing a criminal investigation as well, according to a search warrant filed at district court last month.  Sankofa Academy's charter officially expired on June 20 after it was revoked by the West Chester Area School Board in April.
Three days after the charter expired, on June 23, the West Chester Police Department filed for the search warrant at district court.  The warrant authorized borough detectives to examine five of Sankofa Academy's bank accounts. According to an affidavit attached to the warrant, the investigation began after Sankofa Chairman Frederick Franklin went to police and accused school founder and CEO Lamont McKim of using school funds for personal uses.

Corbett plunges into public fight for pension bill
Delco Times POSTED: 07/14/14, 12:41 PM EDT |
GLENSHAW, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett is using the resources of his office and his campaign to press for legislation to curb future public pension costs by paring back benefits.  The campaign issued robocalls over the weekend, while Corbett’s office lined up public events beginning Monday in suburban Pittsburgh to discuss pension legislation.  In the robocall, the Republican governor criticizes the Republican-controlled Legislature for sending him a budget “loaded with perks and earmarks,” and then warns of property tax increases without passage of pension legislation.

With pension reform, the buck stops with Gov. Corbett: Frank Dermody
PennLive Op-Ed  By Frank Dermody on July 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM
State Rep. Frank Dermody, a Democrat, is the state House Minority Leader. He represents the 33rd House District in Allegheny County.
Gov. Tom Corbett continues to shift the blame for his own direct role in increasing school property taxes in Pennsylvania.   The governor claims pension costs are draining school district budgets and forcing higher property taxes. He says his pension reform proposal would reduce costs for school districts and reduce property taxes for homeowners. He is wrong.
There would be no pension "crisis" today if Governor Corbett had not cut K-12 education funding. Those sustained cuts, over his tenure, have grown into a $3 billion loss for Pennsylvania schools.   The governor's decision to drain schools of $3 billion while he provided more than $2 billion in tax breaks to some of the world's wealthiest corporations is driving pension problems for school districts and property tax hikes for homeowners.

Corbett draws links between pensions and school tax hikes
But reform measure governor supports wouldn't provide school districts relief anytime soon.
Morning Call By Karen Langley, Of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11:02 p.m. EDT, July 14, 2014
HARRISBURG — As Gov. Tom Corbett reasserts his case for changing the retirement benefits for future state and school workers, he has emphasized a connection more tangible to voters than that of state budget pressures: increases in local property taxes.  "Let me give you an example of not getting pensions," Corbett said last week in Lebanon County. "Number 1, this is about property taxes, if we don't do something on pensions soon."  The next day, he announced that before signing the state budget he had vetoed a portion of funding for the General Assembly, in part because legislators had not delivered changes to the statewide pension systems.
Many Pennsylvania school districts name pension payments as a budgetary stressor. Indeed, one-third of the state's districts cited pension costs when they received state permission to raise property taxes in the upcoming school year beyond an allowed rate.
"Clearly, pensions are one of the most significant, if not the most significant, drivers of expenditures in school budgets, which in turn drives property taxes," said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.
But the House Republican pension bill, which Corbett, also a Republican, supports and has urged legislators to pass, would provide school budgets with little near-term relief. Because the plan is limited to new hires, savings would materialize only over time.
Score one for Gov. Corbett
Delco Times Heron's Nest Blog by Phil Heron, Editor Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Don't look now, but we believe Gov. Tom Corbett got one right.
The governor threw down a gauntlet last week when he signed the budget, but promptly cut out about $72 million in operating expenses and pet projects of the Legislature.  Yes, that would be the same two bodies that are controlled by his own Republican Party.  He was irked by members of the GOP ignoring his call for pension reform and heading home for the summer. He wants them to come back to Harrisburg and work on it. I hope he's not holding his breath.

Pa. pension debate oozes into summer campaign season
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JULY 14, 2014
After weeks of lying low during the state budget process, Gov. Tom Corbett is packing his schedule with visits across Pennsylvania to call for an overhaul of public pensions.
His message is no different than it was two weeks ago, at the height of the typical late-June legislative frenzy. The pension proposal at the heart of Corbett's plea has not changed. But short of a legislative success to hawk, the governor is taking his frustration to the voters, and blaming the measure's failure on lawmakers.  Rapport isn't great between the administration and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, who rebuked the governor for vetoing about 20 percent of their annual funding and other proposed programs last week. Corbett said he used the line-item veto to underscore his displeasure that lawmakers began their summer break without passing a pension bill.  Corbett's latest move gives him a new argument to take to voters during his campaign for reelection this fall, said pollster Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College.

Corbett's hard stand on Pa. budget stirs anger
By Amy Worden and Thomas Fitzgerald, Inquirer Staff Writers POSTED: July 14, 2014
HARRISBURG - In his first post-primary television ad, a stern Gov. Corbett tells would-be supporters that he "did not come to Harrisburg to make friends."  On Thursday, he boldfaced that point.  After pushing the 10-day deadline to take action on the legislature-approved state budget to the bitter end, Corbett came out swinging, accusing legislators of failing to act on the pension crisis and instead filling their own coffers with money for pet projects.
Behind closed doors he signed the $29 billion spending plan, but not before wielding his blue pen to do something no governor in at least the last 20 years dared to do - by line-item veto slashing $65 million in funding to run Senate and House operations.

Being poor helps districts when it comes to state education funding
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com on July 14, 2014 at 3:21 PM, updated July 14, 2014 at 4:32 PM
When it comes to divvying up the state dollars going into public education, it's good to be poor.
A good chunk of the $12 billion going into education in the recently enacted 2014-15 state budget that Gov. Tom Corbett signed last week is driven out by a distribution formula that directs a disproportionate amount of state funding to poorer districts.  "The premise of it has always been to provide more state funding to less wealthy school districts just because of their inability to raise local funds," said Tim Eller, press secretary for the state Department of Education.

How much of state education funding is coming to your midstate school district?
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com on July 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM, updated July 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM
School districts in nine midstate counties will receive a combined total of slightly more than $1 billion from three key state funding streams in 2014-15.  PennsylvaniaFile photo/Pennlive 
This represents a nearly $21.5 million increase in state aid from these revenue sources over the prior year for districts in Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties.  The following is a searchable database that provides state Department of Education-provided estimates of basic ed, special ed and block grant funding that these 89 districts are expected to receive in the coming school year.

"Is this the best our elected officials can do for our schoolchildren? Come up with another sin tax - first liquor by the drink, then cigarettes? What happened to the rhetoric about how important education is to our children, the vitality of the city, the growth of the commonwealth?"
Cigarette tax the best we can do?
Philly.com Opinion by PHIL GOLDSMITH POSTED: Sunday, July 13, 2014, 1:09 AM
Phil Goldsmith served as chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia 2000-01.
The initial backslapping over the then-expected passage of the cigarette tax to help bail out Philadelphia schools is similar to the accolades for the performance of the U.S. soccer team in the World Cup. As you might recall, everyone was going gaga over the U.S. performance, though the team won only one game, lost two, and tied one.  The reason for all the backslapping - both by soccer fans and supporters of another sin tax to support the basic right of education - is that we set our expectations so low.  Success with soccer was moving on to one more round, not winning the World Cup or even getting into the semis or finals. Legislative success for funding the School District was fending off more layoffs, not enhancing high-quality education. No wonder the district hobbles along in perpetual bankruptcy - financially and educationally in terms of expectations and aspirations.

"Fund You": Pa.'s one-finger solution
LET'S TALK about Gov. Corbett's semiballsy declaration of war on the Legislature.
First, though, let's acknowledge that picture of the guv giving a one-finger salute to the Legislature after signing a budget that cuts some of its funding.  The photo, which I'm calling "Fund You," is an instant classic, certain to be reprised.  The action - cutting lawmakers' cash and special projects while essentially calling them lazy, greedy and worthless - is merely political theater.  If you were down the Shore last week or otherwise doing things better than tracking the squirrely world of Pennsylvania politics, here's a quick recap.

"It makes some wonder: Is it possible for Philadelphia government to be honest and effective? We’ve had plenty of successful and corrupt politicians (two of our best policy brokers, former Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Fumo and Pennsylvania State Representative John Perzel, were sent to jail over corruption charges). But all too few Philly politicians have proven they’ve got what it takes to be powerful and squeaky-clean. So far, Nutter is not one of them."
Can a Mayor Be Too Honest?
Just ask Michael Nutter.
Politico By HOLLY OTTERBEIN July 13, 2014
Holly Otterbein covers Philadelphia for WHYY and NewsWorks.org. Follow her at @hollyotterbein.
Remember 2008? Whatever it was like where you live, trust me, it was even headier in Philadelphia. The Phillies, the biggest losers not only in baseball but in professional sports, won the World Series. We danced in the streets that day—past red, white and blue images of presidential candidate Barack Obama adorning barber shops and fixed-gear bikes around town. When he cinched the election the next month, we danced in the streets again.
Perhaps nothing inspired more hope in city residents around that time, though, than a wonkish, Wharton-educated, bespectacled 51-year-old named Michael Nutter. A year earlier, the reform Democrat had gone from underdog in the race to be Philadelphia’s next mayor to clobbering a slate of usual suspects in the May primary, including a millionaire, the boss of the city’s Democratic Party, a West Philly congressman and a powerful state representative.

WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane July 14, 2014
The Philadelphia cigarette tax; the Pennsylvania budget
Hour 1 Guests: Kevin McCorry, Sharon Ward, Katrina Anderson Audio runtime 52:01
Just one vote held up the proposed cigarette tax in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly last week.  The $2-per-pack tax would have helped fund Philadelphia’s struggling public schools and now it’s uncertain if they will be able to open on time.  We start this hour off looking at how the cigarette tax got derailed and where it now stands with WHYY education reporter KEVIN MCCORRY.  Then, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the state budget on Friday but vetoed $65 million in funding for the legislature, saying the General Assembly failed to reign in pension spending.  We’ll get analysis of the budget and discuss the politics with SHARON WARD, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, and KATRINA ANDERSON, Director of Government Affairs for the Commonwealth Foundation.

West York without 30 adviser, coaching positions next year
west york: Thirty coaching and advisory positions in the district will be left empty for 2014-15 as a cost-saving measure.
York Daily Record By NIKELLE SNADER POSTED:   07/13/2014 09:47:21 PM
The West York Area School District will operate next year without 30 adviser and coaching positions after district officials cut the stipends for those positions to save money in this year's budget.  The trimming of positions was approved by the school board in February. The positions had been filled by teachers who earned varying stipends, often between $1,000 and about $2,600, Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said.  Rather than losing the positions, school officials were going to allow teachers to share stipends to continue in their roles, said Lonardi. In other words, instead of two assistant coaches earning $1,000 each, they would have split one $1,000 stipend.  But the teachers' association vetoed that option, saying it was unwilling to change the teaching contract following the cuts.

"This model does not allow for a robust and independent public sector that is under the democratic control of citizens.   Instead, the public system must be re-engineered so that the funds continue to flow from taxpayers, but flow into various profit-seeking enterprises competing against one another. The only thing that stays "public" is the source of the funding."
Questioning Education Reformers' Motives: The Big Taboo
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on July 13, 2014 5:15 PM
When Lyndsey Layton interviewed Bill Gates a few months ago, she violated one of the major taboos of the education reform discourse. She suggested that he needed to respond to concerns being raised about his personal financial motives in supporting the Common Core. 
Here is her question, as transcribed by Mercedes Schneider

In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice.
The New Yorker BY RACHEL AVIVJULY 21, 2014
One afternoon in the spring of 2006, Damany Lewis, a math teacher at Parks Middle School, in Atlanta, unlocked the room where standardized tests were kept. It was the week before his students took the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, which determined whether schools in Georgia had met federal standards of achievement. The tests were wrapped in cellophane and stacked in cardboard boxes. Lewis, a slim twenty-nine-year-old with dreadlocks, contemplated opening the test with scissors, but he thought his cut marks would be too obvious. Instead, he left the school, walked to the corner store, and bought a razor blade. When he returned, he slit open the cellophane and gently pulled a test book from its wrapping. Then he used a lighter to warm the razor, which he wedged under the adhesive sealing the booklet, and peeled back the tab.

Obama/Duncan continued federal push for charter schools
Final Priorities, Requirements, and Definitions-Charter Schools Program (CSP) Grants for National Leadership Activities
Federal Register - A Rule by the Education Department on 07/14/2014
The purpose of the CSP is to increase national understanding of the charter school model by—
(1) Providing financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools;
(2) Evaluating the effects of charter schools, including the effects on students, student academic achievement, staff, and parents;
(3) Expanding the number of high-quality charter schools (as defined in the notice) available to students across the Nation; and
(4) Encouraging the States to provide support to charter schools for facilities financing in an amount that is more commensurate with the amount the States have typically provided for non-chartered public schools.

Any connection with Duncan's own policy priorities here?
Arne Duncan Says Philly School Funding is "Unacceptable"
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 14, 2014 10:38 AM
By guest blogger Lesli A. Maxwell. Crossposted from District Dossier.
In a visit to Philadelphia over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the city's battered public schools are "starved for resources" and that current state levels of investment in K-12 are "unacceptable," the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
The secretary, who has been known before to weigh in with strong opinions on local education matters, spoke at length about the funding crisis in Philadelphia that has left the big city system, once again, on the verge of massive layoffs and another devastating round of spending cuts.
It's the second time in a year that the Education Secretary has made such public remarks about Philadelphia's fiscal crisis. Last July, he issued a formal statement urging Pennsylvania politicians and education officials to address the district's financial meltdown that, at the time, threatened to postpone the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Report Calls on Principals to Put Greater Focus on Pre-K-3 Years
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Denisa R. Superville on July 11, 2014 2:18 PM
Nashville, Tenn.
Recognizing the importance of learning in the early-childhood years, the National Association of Elementary School Principals gave its members a sneak peak at a forthcoming report that calls for more training and professional development for elementary school principals to address their students' needs before they even enter kindergarten.  The report calls on elementary principals themselves to start to adjust their focus and mission to include prekindergarten even if those classes and services may not be located in the buildings they run.
The executive summary of the report, "Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice," was unveiled at the group's annual conference here, where pre-K-3 and early-childhood education are among this year's hot topics.

This blogger usually goes out of his way to ignore anything having to do with celebrity reformer personality Ms. Rhee for the same reasons he's never watched the Kardashians…..
Michelle Rhee's Ed Reform Group Powers Down Five State Affiliates
By Arianna Prothero on July 14, 2014 5:53 PM | No comments
By Andrew Ujifusa. Cross-posted from the State EdWatch blog.
StudentsFirst, the advocacy group founded by former District of Columbia schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has expanded at a steady pace into many states over the last few years, but the group has confirmed over the last week that it's ending the work of paid staff in five states: Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, and Minnesota.  In Florida, as reported by Travis Pillow at RedefinED on July 7, StudentsFirst will maintain only a "nominal presence," while pulling the plug on its core policy work. Then on July 9, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported a similar situation in Minnesota—StudentsFirst's state affiliate will no longer maintain a paid staff there
The reasons for these decisions can vary from state to state, however.

PBS’s Frontline examines the resurgence of school segregation in America
NSBA School Board News Today Margaret Suslick July 14th, 2014
PBS’s Frontline will feature upcoming programming about resegregation in America, “Separate and Unequal,” following the recent 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education. Tune in to PBS on July 15, 2014 (check your local listings for time) for Frontline’s two-part examination of what’s behind the growing racial divide in American schools, and the legacy of Brown.
Frontline will profile Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Parish School District, which desegregated its schools in 1981 following a 25-year-long legal battle. Today, frustrated with the district’s many low-performing schools, a constituent group of mostly white, middle-class parents and business leaders have a bold plan to break away from the school district and Baton Rouge to form a new city with its own separate schools. If they succeed, the newly formed school district would be more affluent and predominantly white, and the East Baton Rouge Parish School District would be left essentially resegregated, with a student population of mostly black students from lower-income families.

Educational Collaborators Pennsylvania Summit Aug. 13-14
The Educational Collaborators, in partnership with the Wilson School District, is pleased to announce a unique event,  the Pennsylvania Summit featuring Google for Education on August 13th and 14th, 2014!  This summit is an open event primarily focused on Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks, Google Earth, YouTube, and many other effective and efficient technology integration solutions to help digitally convert a school district.  These events are organized by members of the Google Apps for Education community.

Pre-K for PA has supporters all over the greater Philadelphia region who want to help ensure all three and four year-old children can access quality pre-K.
We need your help -- join an upcoming phone bank. Join a fun gathering of like minds in Philadelphia and Conshohocken on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. We are calling fellow Pre-K for PA supporters to build local volunteer teams.
Call a Pre-K Friend in Philly:
United Way Building, 6th Floor 1709 Ben Franklin Parkway 19107 
Wed July 30, 5-7 PM
Call a Pre-K Friend in Mont Co:
Anne's House 242 Barren Hill Road Conshohocken PA 19428
Wed July 16, 5-7pm
Wed July 30, 5-7pm

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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