Thursday, July 17, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 17: Do your taxpayers know how much your district is spending on cyber charter tuition and how your district's SPP scores compare with Pennsylvania's cyber charter schools?

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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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?


The state budget line for special education funding in Pennsylvania was increased by $20 Million in this year's budget after being flat funded for 6 years running.  However, mandated special ed services provided by schools between 08-09 and 11-12 increased by $453 million.



Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 17, 2014:
Do your taxpayers know how much your district is spending on cyber charter tuition and how your district's SPP scores compare with Pennsylvania's cyber charter schools?


A score of 70 is considered passing
Pennsylvania School Performance Profile Website (2012-2013)
Pennsylvania Department of Education

21st Century Cyber CS                                             66.5
Achievement House CS                                           39.7
Act Academy Cyber CS                                             30.6
Agora Cyber CS                                                        48.3
Aspira Bilingual Cyber CS                                       29.0
Central PA Digital Lrng Foundation CS                 31.7
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS           54.6
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS                        39.0
Esperanza Cyber CS                                                32.7
PA Learners Online Regional Cyber CS               45.0
Pennsylvania Cyber CS                                           59.4
Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS                     54.7
Pennsylvania Leadership CS                                 64.7
Pennsylvania Virtual CS                                          67.9
Solomon CS                                                              36.9
Susq-Cyber CS                                                         46.4

State Rep. Dave Reed (Indiana - 62) is Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee
Reed Introduces School Property Tax Reform Plan
Rep. Reed's website 7/15/2014
HARRISBURG – In order to address the rapid rise in school property taxes across the Commonwealth, Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana) has introduced a plan to provide relief to homeowners from both state and local sources.  “The funding of our education system is one of the most important issues facing the Commonwealth,” Reed said. “Through this proposal, the state equally contributes its fair share to our communities, while also enabling greater flexibility for our local school districts.”   Under House Bill 2425, the state’s share of Basic Education Funding would increase from around 35 percent to 50 percent with an additional $4 billion being distributed to local school districts across the state with the requirement that they reduce property tax rates with each new dollar received. School districts would also be given the ability to completely eliminate school property taxes through other local options.   The revenue for the plan would be generated by shifting to a combination of the state income tax and state sales tax.
“For years folks have talked about the need for property tax reform,” Reed added. “This proposal seeks to combine a number of different ideas to bring a realistic solution forward to eliminate school property taxes and significantly increase the state’s commitment to our schools.” 

Pittsburgh schools could furlough 20 teachers
Trib Live By Bill Zlatos Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 12:27 p.m.
Pittsburgh Public Schools has sent out preliminary furlough notices to 20 teachers and 19 teacher aides, district officials announced Tuesday.  The board is expected to take action on the furloughs at its legislative meeting Aug. 27.  “It is definitely anticipated the number for both groups could go down, based on attrition and school needs,” said district spokeswoman Ebony Pugh.  The district will send final notices to affected employees on Aug. 1.  In 2012, the district furloughed 190 teachers and 81 other employees to reduce the district's budget deficits.
National Journal calls Corbett dead man walking
Lancaster  Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 4:03 pm
The publication has been keeping a careful watch on the gubernatorial campaigns taking place this year across the nation, and have named Corbett most likely to lose his job come November.
The National Journal cited a recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll, political upstart Tom Wolf held a commanding 22-point lead over the GOP incumbent.

‘Vortex of political hell’ captures Philly’s cigarette tax bill
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent July 15, 2014
Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter gets credit for calling it like he sees it.
An obviously frustrated Nutter told reporters last week he was tired of watching the legislative ping-pong over a bill that would increase taxes on cigarettes in Philadelphia to fund schools.

Top-level departures and changes in District's central office
the notebook By David Limm on Jul 16, 2014 03:25 PM
Turnover continues to strike the ranks of Superintendent William Hite's senior staff at a time when the District could use some consistency.   Two senior-level staffers in the academic office recently left their posts at 440 N. Broad St. The cadre of assistant superintendents has also been hit by departures; five of the eight positions supervising principals and directing the District's regional school networks are in transition.   On Tuesday, the District released a spreadsheet showing all its 18,561 employees and their salaries, reflecting its recent personnel moves.
The District's chief of academic supports, David Hardy, is gone after a short stint as the District's top administrator in charge of academic instruction. Hardy came last fall from Camden, where he headed school turnarounds.
In the Office of Curriculum and Assessment, Hardy's immediate subordinate, Donna Runner, left the District last month. She now works in a similar position at Charter School Management Inc. (CSMI), the for-profit charter management firm founded by wealthy lawyer and influential political donor Vahan Gureghian.   In addition, Sophie Bryan, who was Hite's special assistant and former interim head of the Charter Schools Office, has become chief of staff to the School Reform Commission. She was previously chief of staff for SRC Chairman Bill Green, when he was a City Council member. 

Philadelphia School District releases employee salary data
Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes Jul. 15, 2014 5:06 pm
It's another release in a series of open data efforts, starting last April with the District's budget data. "Our hope is that this will reduce the number of right to know requests around employee data," said a spokesman.  The Philadelphia School District released employee data today, including names, salaries and union representation. It’s another release in a series of open data efforts, starting last April with the District’s budget data.  The data is downloadable in .csv format and can be viewed using Excel or other spreadsheet viewers. To quench your curiosity: District Superintendent William Hite is listed as having the highest annual compensation, at $270,000.
This is the first time the District has released this data, in bulk, to the public. Previously, it has released it “piecemeal” to respond to data requests, said Philip Ichinaga, the District’s executive director of information technology security.  “Our hope is that this will reduce the number of right to know requests around employee data and allow people to pull down the dataset as needed from our open data site,” Ichinaga wrote in an email.

Mars opposes gas well
Post-Gazzette By Sandy Trozzo
A standing-room-only crowd urged the Mars Area school board Tuesday night to join their fight against a proposed gas well that would be within one mile of the school district’s campus.
Although the school board in March unanimously turned down a Rex Energy request to drill under the schools, members of the Mars Parent Group want directors to be more involved in their fight against the well, which is proposed on property in Middlesex owned by former school board member Kim Geyer.


CHARTER SCHOOL FAIL
EducationNews Published on Jul 15, 2014 You Tube runtime 3:57
Mark Naison debunks Charter School mythology in this episode of Education News. Comparing the Charter School explosion to the subprime mortgage collapse, Naison reveals the startling failures and false promises of the Charter mystique.

19 Ohio charter schools to be investigated for years of misconduct
Ex-teachers testify before state education board
By Catherine Candisky The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday July 16, 2014 6:11 AM
The State Board of Education ordered an immediate investigation yesterday of a chain of 19 charter schools in response to sweeping allegations of test cheating, attendance tampering, improper sexual conduct and other misdeeds.  Four former teachers from the Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School in Dayton testified at the board’s monthly meeting in Columbus about years of questionable behavior, some saying they were afraid to come forward until they found new jobs.

Tougher High School Exit Criteria May Not Boost College Prospects, Study Says
Education Week Inside School Research Blog By Sarah D. Sparks on July 15, 2014 11:16 AM
In an effort to prepare students for college and careers, nearly all states have toughened their graduation requirements, particularly in science and mathematics. But their efforts may mean fewer students make it through high school and to college in the first place, according to a new study in the journal Education Researcher.
Lead researcher Andrew D. Plunk and his colleagues tracked the rates of students dropping out of high school, attending college, and completing a higher degree in states between 1980 and 1999, during the last rperiod in which states tightened graduation requirements.
Across nearly every racial group, high school dropout rates increased as states required more math and science courses in order to graduate. For example, the researchers found dropout rates were nearly 3 percentage points higher for students in states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana that required a total of six math and science classes to graduate by 1990, than in states with no requirements, 11.4 percent versus 8.6 percent.

Trends in state charter school laws: Authorizers, caps, performance-based closures and virtual schools
Education Commission of the States By Kathy Christie, Maria Millard, Jennifer Thomsen and Micah Wixom June 2014
Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school legislation. ECS analysts reviewed laws in the 50 states in creating an online database that highlights how state charter school laws vary, particularly in how states establish standards and accountability for charter school authorizers, allow for appeals, provide assistance with start-ups and fund charter schools.  Recently, attention to authorizers — the entities responsible for approving and overseeing charter schools — has increased. A growing number of states are establishing standards and reporting requirements that authorizers must adhere to.  Other rapidly evolving policy areas discussed in this brief are limits or “caps” on the number of charter schools allowed in a state, automatic performance-based closures and virtual or “cyber” charter schools.

Teacher tenure: For good apples, too 
We need to be protected from our principals
Opinion BY ARTHUR GOLDSTEIN  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 4:30 AM
Every day, it seems, I read about a new lawsuit to do away with teacher tenure. The crusade reminds me of my friend Harris Lirtzman. It’s because of tenure that I teach and he doesn’t.
Harry used to be a deputy New York State controller until, in 2009, he decided to become a math teacher of special-education students in the Bronx. He offered experience and a depth of understanding few could match — but his discerning eye proved to be his downfall.
He studied the kids’ Individualized Education Programs, the documents that state what services special-education students require, and discovered that many were being underserved, possibly to save on school expenses.  Harry began asking questions — and learned exactly how unwelcome they were when, in December 2011, he was denied tenure.

Yes, Cheetos, Funnel Cake, and Domino's Are Approved School Lunch Items
And other lessons from my trip to the annual school nutrition conference.
Mother Jones By Kiera Butler Wed Jul. 16, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
At exactly 10 a.m. on Monday, hundreds of school cafeteria professionals ran hooting and clapping down an escalator into an exhibition hall that looked like a cross between a mall food court and the set of Barney. Pharrell blared over loudspeakers. The Pillsbury Doughboy was on hand for photo ops, as was Chester the Cheetah (the Cheetos mascot) and a dancing corn dog on a stick. Attendees queued up to be contestants in a quiz show called "Do You Eat Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?" and flocked toward trays groaning with every kind of kid food one could imagine: tater tots, PB&Js with crusts preremoved, toaster waffles with built-in syrup, and endless variations on the theme of breaded poultry: chicken tenders, chicken bites, chicken rings, chicken patties, and, of course, chicken nuggets.  I was at the annual conference of the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the professional group that represents the nation's 55,000 school food workers, and the biggest draw of the event—the exhibition hall—had just opened for business. More than 400 vendors vied for the attention of the conference's 6,500 attendees, who had descended on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center with one main goal: to find new foods to serve at their schools.


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 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. 

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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