Friday, July 25, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 25: State commission on basic education funding begins its work

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 25, 2014:
State commission on basic education funding begins its work

"Republican members of the commission from the Senate are Browne, the co-chair; Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster, and Mike Folmer, whose district covers parts of Dauphin, Lebanon and York counties. Democratic senators are Andrew Dinniman of Chester County, Matthew Smith of Allegheny County and Robert Teplitz, whose district covers parts of Dauphin and York counties including Harrisburg
House members are Republicans Paul Clymer of Bucks County, who designated O'Neill as his representative; Donna Oberlander of Clarion County, and Mike Vereb, the co-chair, from Montgomery County. Democrats, besides Roebuck, are Mark Longietti of Mercer County and Mike Sturla of Lancaster.
In addition to Zogby, Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq and Deputy Education Secretary Nichole Duffy are also on the commission."
State commission on basic education funding begins its work
By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 24, 2014 09:12 PM
The state legislature's Basic Education Funding Commission held its first meeting Thursday, with the goal of creating a school funding formula that one member said would be "focused on children and their best interests."
Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that do not have a predictable education funding formula based on student enrollment and characteristics.The distribution of more than $5 billion in state aid has some relationship to a district's size and wealth, but does not account for enrollment fluctuations or what is needed to insure at least basic adequacy of services for all students. 
Recent, modest increases in state aid have often been doled out based on politics -- a situation that has left Philadelphia unable to provide students with basics like counselors and librarians in its schools. 
As a result, the state's 500 districts, including Philadelphia, have a hard time planning for the future without a solid handle on what revenue they can expect year to year. Wealthier districts get very little state aid, but poorer ones like Philadelphia depend on it.

Reforming Pa. public school funding ‘herculean’ task for new commission, members say
By Jan Murphy |  on July 24, 2014 at 4:45 PM
commission tasked with coming up with a recommendation for overhauling the funding system that provides key state support to Pennsylvania's public schools is now operational.
The Basic Education Funding Commission members met on Thursday for its organizational meeting and reminded its 15 members of their charge: develop a fair distribution formula for the basic education dollars that flow to the state's 500 school districts and charter schools.
The commission, co-chaired by Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, and Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, has until June 10 to complete its work, according to the law that created it. Its next meeting is set for 11:30 a.m. Aug. 20 in the North Office Building Hearing Room 1 in the Capitol Complex and its focus will be an explainer of how schools are funded now.

Basic Education Funding Commission Organizes and Begins Work
PA Senate Republican website July 24, 2014
The Basic Education Funding Commission held its inaugural and organizational meeting today (July 24) and is now ready to begin its work developing an adequate and fair system for distributing state money to local school districts, according to Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Representative Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery).  During the commission’s first meeting, Senator Browne and Representative Vereb were elected to co-chair the commission. The commission also set its next meeting for August 20, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. in the North Office Building, Hearing Room 1 in the State Capitol in Harrisburg. This meeting will mark the first time the commission will hear testimony related to funding of basic education in the Commonwealth.
“We expect to undertake a comprehensive study of a number of factors and listen to a wide-range of testimony over the upcoming months,” Senator Browne said. “We are looking to develop realistic parameters that will ensure that every school district receives the funding required to properly provide a high-quality education to its students. I look forward to working with Rep. Vereb and the rest of the commission to accomplish that goal.”  The 15-member Basic Education Funding Commission is tasked with developing and recommending to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts. The new formula will take into account relative wealth, local tax effort, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, local support as well as other factors.

Longietti named to Basic Education Funding Commission tasked with finding fair and adequate funding for Pa. schools
State Rep. Mark Longietti has been appointed to the Basic Education Funding Commission, which held its first meeting Thursday.  “Providing quality education for all Pennsylvania children is one of my legislative priorities,” said Longietti, D-Mercer. “I am thankful for the opportunity to have a seat at the table to discuss ways to provide fair and adequate funding for all of our schools.”
The bipartisan, bicameral 15-member commission was created by Act 51 of 2014. It is charged with developing a basic education funding formula, and identifying factors that may be used to determine how to distribute basic education funding among Pennsylvania schools. The commission must consider potential consequences of a funding formula that does not provide the same level or proportion of state funding as school districts received in the prior year.
The commission is required to issue a report on its findings and recommendations by June 10, 2015 and to draft proposed regulations and legislation based upon its findings. Legislation would have to be enacted to adopt a new funding formula.
Longietti said he was encouraged by comments from Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, who recommended commission members read “Educational Economics” by University of Washington professor Marguerite Roza.

Here's more info on the book that Secretary Zogby referenced at yesterday's organizational meeting of the Basic Education Funding Commission:
Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go?
Review: A provocative look at school finance and the need for better data and accounting systems
California Association of School Business Officials website
When Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, made his appearance at the venerable Technology, Education and Design (TED) forum, he quoted from a red-covered book, and the mere mention of it gave its content widespread authority.  The book was Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go? by Marguerite Roza (ISBN  978-0877667643).
School business administrators who read it will be on a roller-coaster ride, sometimes agreeing and often disagreeing.  Roza clearly spells out her theses in the introduction, saying, "School spending, whether adequate or not, is anything but efficient, and there is simply no way to pinpoint those responsible for the sum of parts in place today.” Above all, she points out lack of correlation between spending and outcomes, between accounting and accountability.
She is not shy about making recommendations. Ever hear of weighted student funding? It is impossible to read the book and not think that California Governor Jerry Brown and other state executives have not been influenced somewhat by the ideas resting among her 128 pages.

PA House Bill 1738 (O'Neill) Providing for Basic Education Funding Commission

"John Callahan, senior director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, told the state House Education Committee in March that school districts that haven‘‍t gotten their anticipated reimbursements are struggling to balance their budgets.  “Districts that have carefully planned for financing school construction and renovation projects have had to throw their plans out the window and use up their reserves waiting for reimbursements, cancel needed repair projects, increase taxes, cut programs and services and borrow additional money to cover the state‘‍s share of their debt payments,” Mr. Callahan told legislators."
Many Pennsylvania school districts wait for millions in state reimbursements
Some construction projects continue to wait
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 24, 2014 12:00 AM
It appears the 200 school districts across the state, including 13 from Allegheny County, that are awaiting millions of dollars in state reimbursements for construction projects will continue to wait.
The reason: Legislators included only a modest increase to the reimbursement fund of the PlanCon program that since 1973 has provided partial reimbursements to districts for new construction or renovation of buildings.  The $10 million increase to the $296 million annual PlanCon fund for distribution is not expected to have much effect on the backlog of payments that has existed for several years, given that Allegheny County districts alone are owed more than $18 million. 

Corbett brings his pension plan plea to Bucks
By Chris Palmer, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: July 24, 2014
Gov. Corbett on Wednesday made a Bucks County senior center the latest stop on his weeks-long campaign to rally support for a bill addressing rising pension costs.
With tie loosened and sleeves rolled up inside the Neshaminy Senior Activities Center in Trevose, Corbett listened to a group of county residents discuss their concerns about rising property taxes, then told them that overhauling the pension system could be a solution.
While local school boards determine property taxes based on a number of factors, Corbett contends cutting pension costs could reduce pressure on districts to raise taxes to pay for them.

Gov. Corbett pushes pension reform in Delco
By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 07/24/14, 1:00 PM EDT
Gov. Tom Corbett continued his ongoing push for pension reform Thursday, calling Pennsylvania’s escalating public pension costs the state’s most important fiscal challenge.
The Republican urged state lawmakers to address pension reform during a visit to Campbell’s Boathouse Restaurant in Upper Providence. Corbett has traversed Pennsylvania this month trying to rally support among a state Legislature that failed to pass a pension reform bill during June’s budget negotiations.  Corbett, who faces a tough re-election bid against Democrat Tom Wolf, tied increases in school property taxes to the state’s ballooning pension liabilities. To cover “out-of-control pension costs,” Corbett said, school districts have raised taxes.

Corbett gambles on pension issue to turn race around
Seeing Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett drawing a line in the sand this summer over public employee pension reform reminds me a little of Pappy O'Daniel, the rotund governor in the Coen brothers film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" played by Charles Durning.  When his son suggests that Pappy try and catch up in his re-election bid by embracing "re-form," the guv whacks him with his hat and yells, "How we gonna run re-form when we're the damn incumbent?"
It seems Corbett has found a way: embrace pension re-form and run against the Harrisburg establishment.  The governor says he wants an overhaul of the public employee pension system because it's the right thing for Pennsylvania, and it's true he's advocated for it for a long time. But he's taken his game to a whole new level this summer.

Schools chief in Delco is honored
Last year, Jim Capolupo was thrilled simply to be one of five finalists competing for the title of national superintendent of the year. For the lifelong Eagles fan, it was like playing in the Super Bowl - even though he didn't get to experience the thrill of victory.  This year, however, the Springfield School District, Delaware County, chief was back in the game and took home his profession's equivalent of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"I thought it was, you get one shot," said Capolupo, 61, who was named the nation's top superintendent by the 500-member National Association of School Superintendents last week. "From what I now understand, you can have two."  The organization cited Capolupo's focus on literacy and college readiness, with Springfield guaranteeing that 100 percent of fourth graders who started with the district in kindergarten would be reading at grade level, and 100 percent of high school seniors would be ready to go a two- or four-year college.
The district has hit its mark, or come very close, every year since 2005.

Philly School Redesign Initiative (SRI) is a call to our talented, committed educators to lead the critical work of redesigning our city's neighborhood schools to meet the demands of the 21st century.  
School District of Philadelphia School Redesign Initiative July 2014
Through the School Redesign Initiative, the School District of Philadelphia invites partners with a talent and passion for school improvement to submit a proposal to redesign a school.  Exceptional applicants that are able to leverage advances in research, technology, and practice to put forth innovative ideas for how to engage all students in learning for the 21st century - as well as to demonstrate a commitment to the school community, an ability to lead effectively, and strong instructional expertise - will be selected to assume the leadership of a District school beginning in the fall of 2015.  In the interim, selected applicants will spend the year working with the local school community to tailor the academic program to the needs of the students at the school.  Selected applicants will be provided with funding to support their design year, as well as work space, networking opportunities, and connections to local and national experts to inform the design process.  

Schools still need nurses  Opinion By Ashlee Murray POSTED: Friday, July 25, 2014, 1:08 AM
As a pediatric emergency-medicine physician in Philadelphia, I am often asked for advice on when children should return to school during or after an illness. Until recently, I have always encouraged parents to send their children back to school as quickly as possible, because school is an essential part of every child's life.  However, in the wake of significant School District budget cuts, layoffs affecting many of Philadelphia's school nurses, and two student deaths due to illness at city schools, my advice has changed dramatically.

Allentown schools may be unable to hire kindergarten teachers due to lost funds
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on July 24, 2014 at 9:28 PM
The Allentown School District may have to halt its plans to hire additional full-day kindergarten teachers after getting less state funding than originally anticipated.  Despite cutting 98 positions as part of their budget last month, the district had planned to hire 11 new teachers as part of its initiative to expand its offering of full-day kindergarten classes.  But the district received roughly $750,000 less than expected from the Pennsylvania Budget, and Superintendent Russell Mayo said it is now unclear whether those teachers can be hired.

Common Core: What it is, what it isn't and why it's political
the notebook By Laura Waters for NewsWorks on Jul 24, 2014 03:39 PM
What a week for adversaries of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)! On July 22, Glenn Beck, the radio and TV personality, hosted "a live national night of action against the Common Core" called WE WILL NOT CONFORM and told Fox News' Sean Hannity that the Common Core was "creating millions of slaves."  Not to be outmatched, on July 28, the Badass Teachers Association, a radical segment of the national teacher unions, will hold a rally in Washington, D.C., to "end all federal support for the Common Core."
Common Core-haters unite! From union queen Diane Ravitch to the racist John Birch Society, from Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, contemplating a run against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, the Common Core is everyone's favorite whipping-boy.  Maybe it's time to step back a bit and review the Common Core, especially in light of the recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll that found that a sizable portion of New Jerseyans "know nothing" about it.

"Forgoing SATs and ACTs, advocates say, opens college access to a wider population. Applicants who do not submit scores are more likely to be minorities, women, the first in their family to attend college, students with learning disabilities, and from low-income families, the study said."
Bryn Mawr to drop SAT requirement for admission
Bryn Mawr College, the small private women's school on the Main Line, this week joined a growing number of schools around the country that no longer require the SAT or other standardized test scores for admission.  The college instead will rely on high school grades, essays, and other factors - a move officials hope will attract a broader applicant pool.
"We know there are students all around the country who, when they see 'test scores,' they see it as a barrier to applying," said Peaches Valdes, Bryn Mawr's director of admissions.  The new policy will take effect for the admissions cycle that begins this fall.  "The Philadelphia area has become a hotbed of test-optional schools," said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of Fair Test: National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a major critic of the SAT and other standardized tests.

Evidence, Brown, and the Civil Rights Act
Huffington Posdt by Robert E. Slavin, Director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University Posted: 07/24/2014 10:29 am EDT
2014 is the anniversary of two great milestones in American history: Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) and the Civil Rights Act (1964). I was too young to remember the first, but I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the Civil Rights Act had passed. I was 13, working as a volunteer in a giant orphanage in Washington, DC, called Junior Village. The kids, hundreds of them from babies to teens, were all African American, and so was most of the staff, plus a few liberal whites, so the news was greeted with euphoria. That summer changed my life.
Many people are writing to commemorate these great events, always with a question of how far we've really come toward the fairness and equality promised both by Brown and by the Civil Rights Act. Anyone with eyes to see has to acknowledge the progress that has taken place, but also the huge inequities that still remain.

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Research to Practice
The National Writing Project's resources for teachers\Inspiring Students to Write
The Philadelphia Writing project (PhilWP), a renowned local site of the National Writing Project, teaches writing and literacy as critical tools for learning. Penn GSE professor Dianne Waff works with teachers to move them and their students toward writing-intensive lives that connect learning, high student achievement, and personal growth.  The following tips come from experienced PhilWP Teacher Consultants (TCs), who offer ideas to encourage students to write and develop a love for words and creative expression.

BATS DC Rally July 28 10 am
BATS PRESS RELEASE Sunday, July 20, 2014
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs), an activist organization of over 50,000 teachers will be holding a rally in Washington D.C. to protest the devastating educational policies of the United States Department of Education and Arne Duncan.   The Rally will be held on July 28, 2014 at the USDOE Plaza beginning at 10 a.m. and will draw thousands of teachers, parents, students, and educational activists from around the country.  BATs will demand such things as ending federal incentives to close and privatize schools, promote equity and adequate funding for all public schools, and ban all data sharing of children’s private information.

Bucks Lehigh EduSummit Monday Aug 11th and Tuesday Aug 12th
Location: Southern Lehigh High School 5800 Main Street, Center Valley, PA 18034
Time: 8 AM - 3 PM Each Day(Registration starts at 7:30 AM. Keynote starts at 8:00 AM.)
The Bucks Lehigh EduSummit is a collaboratively organized and facilitated two day professional learning experience coordinated by educators in the Quakertown Community School District , Palisades School DistrictSalisbury Township School DistrictSouthern Lehigh School DistrictBucks County IU, and Carbon Lehigh IU, which are all located in northern Bucks county and southern Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Teachers in other neighboring districts are welcome to attend as well! The purpose of the EduSummit is to collaborate, connect, share, and learn together for the benefit of our kids. Focus areas include: Educational Technology, PA Core, Social Media, Best Practices, etc.

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. 

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