Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 15: Will York City SD become next New Orleans?
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, business 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
SRC meeting canceled; Hite
will have press conference Friday morning
The notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 14, 2014 05:21 PM
With D-Day upon us -- the Aug. 15 deadline for layoffs and
other cuts without a guarantee of more funds for this school year -- District
leaders on Thursday first announced a special meeting of the School Reform
Commission, then canceled that and opted for a press conference instead.
Superintendent William Hite will hold a press conference at 10
a.m. Friday in the atrium of District headquarters at 440 N. Broad St. SRC
members will be present. The SRC meeting
was canceled because there was no agenda and no action items for the SRC to
vote on, said District spokesman Fernando Gallard. It is generally expected that Hite will
announce that he has received sufficient assurances
from Gov. Corbett's office and key legislative leaders to allow him to
open schools on time on Sept. 8. Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski will
give an update on the District's finances.
Decision pending on whether
Phila. schools will open on time
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER
STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, August 15, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday,
August 14, 2014, 7:07 PM
Will Philadelphia schools open on Sept. 8, as scheduled? Can
the nearly broke system afford to run classes all year? Will officials lay off
more than 1,300 employees? Will they pack classes with 40 students? After a summer of suspense, the answers to
those questions are expected Friday. A special School Reform Commission meeting
had been called for Friday morning but was scrapped late Thursday in favor of a
news conference with Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.
Parents anxiously await
decision on Philly schools
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY
NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM,
215-854-5903 POSTED: Friday, August 15, 2014, 3:01 AM
WITH THE summer winding down, Erika Ford's daughter, Jordin, is
excited about her first day of kindergarten - or "big kids' school,"
as she calls it. "It's like
something that she's been waiting for, leading up to, looking forward to,"
said Ford, of Nicetown. Unfortunately,
Ford and thousands of other parents in the Philadelphia School District aren't
sure exactly when that first day will be - or what conditions to expect - due
to the district's budget woes. Superintendent
William Hite is expected to announce a plan today to deal with an $81 million
deficit, which could include massive layoffs, moving back the scheduled Sept. 8
opening or shortening the school year.
analysis of Philly school finances is flawed
By John Sludden thenotebook on Aug 14, 2014 12:13 PM
Note: This is adapted from a brief that was published Aug. 8
by the Philadelphia-based group Research for Action. The full brief can be
Philadelphia’s school funding situation is a central issue in
state policy discussions. The recent debate has focused on city’s authority to raise
taxes on cigarettes. But the essential questions on whether the school
system has enough money have been present in the state capitol for at least two
decades. The Commonwealth Foundation released
a brief on
Philadelphia school trends recently that received prominent attention in the local
press. It argued that despite a funding increase, the District has little
academic improvement to show for it.
The main arguments presented in the brief are:
· “Revenue and
spending have soared over the last 10 years.”
spending more on education, performance is lagging.”
“enrollment has declined more rapidly than staff.”
· “Systemic reform is needed.”
But our analysis shows that the brief’s evidence and
conclusions are misleading, inaccurate and devoid of context. For instance, the
foundation fails to note that the bulk of the revenue “increase” in the last
five years of the sample came in the form of proceeds from borrowing. And much
of that money went to pay for mandated, and climbing, costs related to special
education, and charter schools. We
examine each point below, using our own data supplemented by research from
other non-partisan organizations.
A large drop in
federal funding and insufficient replacement from the state sent Philadelphia
US News and World Report By Allie BidwellAug.
13, 2014 | 4:42 p.m. EDT
The city of Philadelphia has just days to find a solution to a
funding crisis in order to open its more than 200 schools for the next academic
year. Sound familiar? It should, because the
same thing happened last year, when the district was facing a $50 million
shortfall in funding after it had already laid off thousands of employees.
Though the city eventually borrowed money to bail the district out and
reinstate some employees, the last-minute fix hasn't had a lasting impact.
Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite is currently asking for $81 million to
bridge the gap by August 15, or schools won't open on time and the district
will lay off more teachers and school staff.
But with state lawmakers out of session and unable to give the city
authority to levy a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes – the currently proposed
strategy that would allow schools to open on time – the
prospects look dim.
The number of public school teachers and support staffers
employed in Pennsylvania began falling the year before Gov. Tom Corbett took
office and passed his first budget, according to state employment figures that
show school staffing is at its lowest point in a decade.
An attack ad this week by Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Tom Wolf blames Corbett for cutting state education funding, and his website
says those cuts “removed 20,000 teachers from the classroom,” but neither notes
the downward trend was under way.
“Corbett cut a billion dollars from education,” Wolf tells the
camera. “Now almost 80 percent of school districts plan to raise property
taxes.” The Republican Party of
Pennsylvania shot back, deriding the statement as a lie and telling Wolf to remove
the ad. Billy Pitman, Corbett's campaign
spokesman, said stimulus funding “artificially propped up” school budgets.
Traditional public schools and charter schools don't have the
same rules when it comes to teacher certifications, but one new proposal would
bring the two types of schools a little closer together. 100 percent of professional staff at
traditional public schools in Pennsylvania are required to be certified by the
state. Contrast that with charter and cyber charter schools, which are only
required to have 75 percent of their teachers state-certified. Forthcoming legislation from state Rep.
Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery) would hike that level to 80 percent.
Charter operators pitched their history, experience and plans
for taking over York City School District schools during a meeting Wednesday
night. The seven organizations that
responded to the district's request for proposals for outside operators made
presentations to the Community Education Council. Here's a look at some of what
they had to say:
Corbett defends education
adviser who resigned amid questions about duties
By Mary Niederberger and Bill Schackner / Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette August 14, 2014 11:54 AM
Gov. Tom Corbett today defended outgoing higher education
adviser Ron Tomalis, maintaining the Mr. Tomalis did his job despite
accusations that he was a “ghost employee” for the past year.
In addition, the governor said politics were behind demands in
recent days for the firing of acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq,
who has vigorously defended Mr. Tomalis in the wake of a July 27 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that
showed Mr. Tomalis wrote just five emails, averaged little more than a phone
call a day and had a largely empty calendar in his first year as higher
PPG Editorial: Questions
remain: Corbett aide’s exit won’t make the case go away
By the Editorial Board August 15, 2014 12:00 AM
It’s no surprise that Ron Tomalis, Gov. Tom Corbett’s special
adviser on higher education, resigned Tuesday.
The Corbett administration had been having a tough time explaining what
he did in the last year to earn the $139,542 salary he was paid after stepping
down as state education secretary in June 2013. Plus, Mr. Tomalis’ boss is
running for re-election — better to try and tamp down the controversy in August
than, say, in October.
But this issue is not likely to go away. The questions about
Mr. Tomalis’ work product remain, despite Mr. Corbett’s declaration two weeks
ago that “he’s not a ghost employee” and education secretary Carolyn Dumaresq’s
fumbling defense of a colleague who was paid as much as she without heading a
department of 600 employees and a $12 billion budget.
Brian O’Neill: State
official’s purge ends a lesson to kids
By Brian O’Neill / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 14, 2014 12:00
I’m a bit sorry the governor’s special adviser on higher
education wasn’t able to hang on a little longer, as Ron Tomalis and his allies
were fast becoming an inspiration to students across the commonwealth. I’m not speaking only of Mr. Tomalis’ making
big money for not doing very much. That’s been done many times before Gov. Tom
Corbett gave Mr. T a special adviser’s gig that paid $139,542. I’m speaking mainly of the string of ever
flimsier excuses that had been keeping him afloat for weeks. Our students
desperately need something fresher than “the dog ate my homework,’’ and Mr.
Tomalis’ colleagues had been nothing if not imaginative in coming up with new
alibis for why this man seemed to do less than even the Maytag repairman.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/brian-oneill/2014/08/14/Brian-O-Neill-State-official-s-purge-ends-a-lesson-to-kids/stories/201408140125#ixzz3ANa0vXLJ
Could 'community school'
concept work in Philadelphia?
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN
MCCORRY AUGUST 14, 2014
In Philadelphia, 40 percent of school-aged kids live in
One in five students has had some contact with the Department
of Human Services
The rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea among Philadelphia's 15- to
19-year-olds is three times the national average. In an effort to help city children achieve
academically despite socioeconomic and cultural trappings, City Council has
started examining the idea of turning schools into social-service hubs. On Wednesday, Council held its first hearing
on the possibility of creating "school-based family service centers,"
commonly known as "community schools."
After Tuesday's defeat of another of their candidates to the
Los Angeles school board, charter school advocates are rethinking how to
support local candidates.
"The area where I would like to see us continue to make
strides is reliably marshalling a grassroot support of
voters," said Gary Borden, executive director of the California
Charter School Association Advocates. Alex
Johnson garnered 13,153 votes, losing George McKenna by less than 2,000
votes during Tuesday's runoff. District One being home to about
15,000 charter school students. Johnson
ran on a message of reform, advocating for the expansion of charter schools and
tying test scores to teacher evaluations, amongst other criteria. He was much
more successful in attracting independent expenditures, garnering
$860,000, more than four times the outside financial support as McKenna.
Pennsylvania Arts Education
Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be
held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum
of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA. Join us for a daylong convening of
arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about
the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person.
To register, click
here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page. The Symposium will include the following:
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE AUGUST
CONGRESSIONAL RECESS: BACKGROUND & TALKING POINTS
National School Boards
Action Center August 06, 2014 by Staff
Members of Congress return to their hometowns to meet with
constituents locally and on September 8 they return to Washington, D.C.
As a public education advocate, you can help to influence their decisions and
votes on legislation affecting your local public schools by reaching out to
your members of Congress. They will be especially interested in your
concerns as this is an election year for the entire U.S. House of
Representatives and one third of the Senate.
Read the latest on federal education issues on Capitol
Hill in the NSBAC
August Congressional Recess Talking Points and then contact
your members of Congress during the August recess. You can
call your members’ offices using the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 or use
the National School Boards Association’s legislative action center at
nsba.org/advocacy. Consider becoming a Friend of Public Education to connect
with National School Boards Action Center’s advocacy efforts and stay active
Save the Date 2014 PAESSP
State Conference October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL
EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be
held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh,
Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan &
Dr. Ray Jorgensen
This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours,
numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network
with fellow principals from across the state.
PASA-PSBA School Leadership
Conference registration forms now available online PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education
conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be
one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and
dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online
registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't
wait, registration forms are available online now. Other
important links are available with more details on:
Slate of candidates for PSBA
offices now available online -- bios/videos now live PSBA Website August 5, 2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large
representatives is now available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for
each candidate. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school
entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a
secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openSept. 9 and
closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board
secretary) is authorized to cast the vote on behalf of the member school entity
and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one
of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school
entity's votes will be receiving an email in the coming weeks to verify the
email address and confirm they are the person to cast the vote on behalf of
their school entity.