Saturday, August 30, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 30: Report: PA students moving from a traditional school to a charter generally move to a school with lower academic performance

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 30, 2014:
Report: PA students moving from a traditional school to a charter generally move to a school with lower academic performance

What Pennsylvania Can Learn From Other States’ Education Funding Formulas
Education Law Center Report February 2013

Interactive fact check: Did Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education?
Or is state support of public schools at a record level? Depends what you count.
York Daily Record By Ed Mahon @edmahonreporter on Twitter  UPDATED:   08/29/2014 09:38:41 AM EDT
Democrat Tom Wolf has said that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education.
Corbett and his campaign have said the opposite.  In an April TV ad, Corbett's wife, Susan, said her husband increased spending in the education department and "Pennsylvania is at the highest it's ever been for spending in education."  A section of Corbett's campaign website has videos of a retired teacher and two current ones praising him, and it has text that says education funding for Pennsylvania kids has increased by more than $1 billion since Corbett took office.
What's true?  It depends what you count.
We created these interactive charts to show the difference. The different colors represent when former Gov. Ed Rendell was in office and after Corbett took office in 2011.

"Between 2006-07 and 2011-12, school district payments to charter schools increased annually from $527 million to $1.145 billion, with total disbursements over the time period from both local and state sources amounting to $4.777 billion.  …Importantly, the available data suggest that students moving from a traditional public school district to a charter school generally move to a school with lower academic performance than the original district."
Research Examines Charter School Enrollment Trends and Financial Impacts on Pennsylvania School Districts
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania - A Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Student enrollment in Pennsylvania charter schools has grown dramatically since the mid-2000s. Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, charter school enrollment increased by 54 percent from about 58,000 students to more than 90,000 students. Cyber charter schools grew 75 percent during the same 5-year period. Charter school enrollment in Pennsylvania, as nationally, is overwhelmingly urban. By 2010-11, only slightly more than 1 percent of all charter school students attended rural charter schools.
To assess charter school enrollment trends in Pennsylvania and the financial impacts of charters and cyber charters on traditional K-12 school districts, researchers from Penn State University studied data for academic years (AY) 2006-2007 through 2010-2011, the most recent years for which data were available. The researchers, Dr. Kai A. Schafft, Dr. Erica Frankenberg, Dr. Ed Fuller, Dr. William Hartman, Dr. Stephen Kotok and Bryan Mann, also analyzed how these impacts may vary according to urban and rural location and districts' student racial/ethnic demographics. The research was sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

Read the full charter school impact report here:
Assessing the Enrollment Trends and Financial Impacts of Charter Schools on Rural and Non-Rural School Districts in Pennsylvania
By: Kai A. Schafft, Ph.D., Erica Frankenberg, Ed.D., Ed Fuller, Ph.D., William Hartman, Ph.D., Stephen Kotok, Ph.D. Candidate, and Bryan Mann, Ph.D. Candidate, Penn State University, Department of Education Policy Studies June 2014

Capitolwire: Report criticizes district spending on low-performing charter schools
PSBA Website 8/29/2014
Pennsylvania's largest teacher's union advocated Wednesday for increased state spending in impoverished school districts to improve PSSA test scores.   But a June 2014 report by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania questions state policy mandating districts fully-fund charter schools that "consistently under perform" when compared with traditional public schools on those very same tests.  The center measured PSSA test scores for charter school students in the 2009-10 academic year, but cautioned against the accuracy of its data because the state Department of Education wouldn't specify how many students transferred into a charter school from each district, considering average charter schools accept students from an average of eight "feeder districts." The missing data made it impossible for the center to properly weight test scores, skewing the results to an "unknown" degree.  The center concluded charter school students scored lower than 93% of their public school counterparts in mathematics and 81% lower in reading. More than half -- 54% -- of charter schools reported lower test scores overall than the feeder districts that year, which paid $432.5 million in tuition to the failing charters.

Five reasons to look forward to this fall's Legislative session: Friday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | on August 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM, updated August 29, 2014 at 8:54 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
A long holiday weekend is upon us, which means our attentions are turning to matters slightly more frivolous as we wait for the clock to tick down to quitting time and the start of 72 hours of merry-making.  But before we mentally check out, we'll look ahead to the coming fall session of the state Legislature and run down a quick list of five things to look forward to in state politics this autumn.

Almost showtime: PennLive's list of midstate races to watch in the 2014 Pa. election
By Christina Kauffman |  on August 29, 2014 at 1:04 PM,
Make sure the campaign yard signs are firmly planted and grab the popcorn.
The ballot list has been finalized and this year's November election should bring no shortage of nail-biters, from the contentious Pennsylvania gubernatorial race to some heated state House and Senate races.File photo/PennLive   The ballot list has been finalized and PennLive sampled people in politics to bring voters this list of local races to watch. For a complete list of candidates appearing on the ballot in midstate races, click here.

Corbett campaign blasts F&M pollster on Twitter
Gov. Tom Corbett's re-election team takes to Twitter to criticize G. Terry Madonna, Franklin & Marshall College pollster.
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau contact the reporter
For the better part of a year, four different polls have shown Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s approval rating at historic lows for an incumbent. Despite spending millions on campaign commercials this summer, Corbett’s likability among registered voters didn’t change and he remained 25 percentage points behind Democratic rival Tom Wolf, according to a Franklin & Marshall Poll released Thursday.   But Corbett’s re-election campaign manager Mike Barley and communications director Chris Pack apparently are not working overtime to give Corbett a last-minute make-over.  Instead, the duo took to Twitter to shoot the messenger: F&M pollster and professor G. Terry Madonna.  In tweets on Thursday, Barley accused Madonna of being a shoddy pollster and Pack alleged Madonna was in cahoots with Wolf’s wife.  “You are unfairly influencing this election with bad polls,” Barley wrote on Madonna’s Twitter handle @terrymadonna.

With school budgets tight, prevailing wage again goes under microscope in PA
By Andrew Staub | PA Independent August 28, 2014
HARRISBURG, Pa. — When the Central York School District wanted to repair the roof on a middle school about two years ago, the school board found itself playing a game of financial chicken.   The roof had to be repaired before students returned for the 2012-13 school year, school board member Gregory Lewis recalled this week, but Central York had a chance to save thousands if state lawmakers followed through on proposed changes to the state’s prevailing wage law, which mandates school districts pay higher wages for public works projects exceeding $25,000.  Lawmakers didn’t change the law, and it cost Central York taxpayers big time, Lewis said. The district ended up paying about $65,000 more than what the contractor would have accepted without prevailing wage, he said.

A full, fair funding formula is essential for racial equality in Pa.
the notebook By Sheila Armstrong, Drick Boyd, and Margaret Ernst on Aug 29, 2014 02:05 PM
Last week, several Philadelphia clergy members of the interfaith organization POWER witnessed the growth of a powerful movement for racial equality in Ferguson, Mo.   After the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, ourclergy colleagues traveled to Missouri to call for justice and listen to a community in grief. They marched nonviolently with thousands of black youth asking for fair treatment from law enforcement – and even more important, for a sign from their fellow Americans that their lives matter.  But as our clergy brothers and sisters returned home last week, they returned to another place where there is no dearth of racial injustice.
In our own backyards and on our watch, we witness a different kind of violence being done not just to one teenager but to hundreds of thousands of young people across Pennsylvania. As one of just three states in the union without a funding formula for public education, Pennsylvania's severe cuts in the last few years have led to a hemorrhaging of funds from school districts like Philadelphia that educate mostly African American and Latino students. The consequences of these cuts have already had deep impact on our children’s and communities’ lives and will be felt for generations. 

Teachers union: Poor school districts hurt most by funding cuts
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau August 28, 2014 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — A report from Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union says poor school districts have fared worse than wealthy ones in state funding and student performance.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association has led criticism of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett over funding cuts that schools received in the 2011-12 year, after the expiration of federal stimulus funding that had propped up school spending for two years.
Republicans say Mr. Corbett is accountable only for funding that originated with the state, and they factor in some costs — such as pension payments for school workers — that Democrats tend not to include. When those expenditures are included, the GOP says, the amount of state money directed toward public school districts has increased each year since Mr. Corbett took office.  But Democrats and education groups argue that Mr. Corbett eliminated or reduced other funding streams, such as the $224 million that partially reimbursed districts for payments made to charter schools, leaving districts in a hole.

Philadelphia schools lay off 17 central-office workers
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, August 30, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Friday, August 29, 2014, 4:03 PM
The fallout from the Philadelphia School District's dismal financial situation continues: 17 central-office employees were issued layoff notices Friday.  Overall, 81 positions were eliminated, said Fernando Gallard, spokesman for the school system, but among those were 64 vacant jobs.
The laid-off workers come mostly from the district's facilities and capital improvements offices. One employee from the Office of Family and Community Engagement was also issued a pink slip.  Shedding the 81 jobs saves the district $5.4 million, Gallard said. The employees will work their last day either Tuesday or Sept. 19, depending on their union status.

Lea’s new principal counting on school partners to steady the ship
the notebook By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 29, 2014 11:44 AM
In a district roiled by budget cuts and layoffs, the new principal at Henry Lea Elementary is counting on a network of community supporters to help keep the West Philadelphia school on an even keel.  “The cuts are probably going to be the biggest challenge. How do you function, as a building, with less than we’ve ever had?” said Jennifer Duffy, a former District administrator hired just last week to run the 600-student school.  But, she said, “This school, more than any others I looked at, has a tremendous network.”  It’s that web of community support, she says, that will help her achieve her goal of bringing a high standard of academic excellence to a culturally and economically diverse student body.

East Allegheny teachers to strike Tuesday
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 30, 2014 12:32 AM
Teachers in the East Allegheny School District plan to take to the picket line Tuesday on what was scheduled to be the first day of school for students.  The latest negotiations between the teachers union and the school board have ended in a stalemate, with both sides still at odds over issues including teacher salaries. East Allegheny’s 128 teachers have worked without a contract since June 30, 2012.

IB: Kids are learning locally, thinking globally with this key school program: Jim Newman
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jim Newman on August 29, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Soon Pennsylvania's Department of Education will publish data summarizing student success on PSSA tests taken last year.   The data reported are an important indicator of the success of Pennsylvania students.  They also serve as a key measurement of the accomplishments of Pennsylvania schools.  Why, however, when it is commonplace to acknowledge the pressures of globalized competitiveness in so many facets of our businesses and daily lives, do we remain satisfied with mere state standards to measure the effectiveness of our schools? 
If worldwide competition long ago replaced regional and national competition, why do we continue to use state benchmarks as a satisfactory way to account for the learning outcomes of our students?   This fact remains even more curious to me because there IS a highly respected and proven way to use global standards to measure the learning outcomes of our students: the International Baccalaureate, or IB. 

Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law
From Senator Folmer's Mike's Memo email Week of September 1, 2014
With students returning to the classroom, and 1.5 million of those students being transported on Pennsylvania roads each day, here are some reminders regarding the Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law:
·         Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
·         Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped.
·         Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety.
·         If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.
·         Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.
The penalties if convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law include: $250 fine; five points on driving record; and 60-day license suspension. For more information on Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law and further traffic safety information, visit

Flash! Palm Beach County, Florida, Considers Opting Out of State Testing
Does Palm Beach County, Florida, have the nerve to follow the example set by Lee County, Florida, which voted last week to opt the entire district out of state testing?
The Palm Beach County school board is weighing that decision, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“Palm Beach County School Board members want to opt out of state-required testing, a controversial move that could jeopardize funding, athletics and students’ ability to graduate.
“They say testing has gotten out of control and creates too much pressure for students and teachers. After discussing the opt-out idea at a recent meeting, board members asked their lawyers for further study. They will discuss it again at a workshop in the next few weeks.
“Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward,” School Board member Karen Brill said. “We must explore the consequences, but we cannot allow fear to hold us back.”

Vermont State education board slams Obama administration’s testing policies
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 29 at 9:41 AM  
Vermont’s Board of Education recently passed a resolution on assessment and accountability in public education (see full text below) that slams some of the Obama administration’s key school reform policies.  Adding its voice to the growing chorus of critics who have called on the Education Department to reduce its focus on using standardized testing as a chief accountability measure for students and educators, the Vermont board approved a “a Statement and Resolution on Assessment and Accountability that statistician and researcher Gene Glass  called on his Education in Two Worlds blog “a remarkably intelligent statement about practices in assessment and accountability.”

Imagining Successful Schools
New York Times Opinion by Joe Nocera AUG. 29, 2014
What should teacher accountability look like?
We know what the current system of accountability looks like, and it’s not pretty. Ever since the passage of No Child Left Behind 12 years ago, teachers have been judged, far too simplistically, based on standardized tests given to their students — tests, as Marc S. Tucker points out in a new report, Fixing Our National Accountability System, that are used to decide which teachers should get to keep their jobs and which should be fired. This system has infuriated and shamed teachers, and is a lot of the reason that teacher turnover is so high, causing even many of the best teachers to abandon the ranks.  All of which might be worth it if this form of accountability truly meant that public school students were getting a better education. But, writes Tucker, “There is no evidence that it is contributing anything to improved student performance.” Meanwhile, he adds, test-based accountability is “doing untold damage to the profession of teaching.”

PSBA Members - Register to Join the PSBA, PASA, PASBO Listening Tour as BEF Funding Commission begins work; Monday, Sept. 8th 4-6 pm in Bethlehem
The bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission established under Act 51 of 2014 has begun a series of hearings across the state, and you’re invited to join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA, the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) as it follows the panel to each location this fall.
The first tour stop will be on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 from 4-6 p.m., at the Broughal Middle School, 114 W. Morton St, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  Click here to register for the free event.  Other tour dates will be announced as the BEF Commission finalizes the dates and locations for its hearings. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year.

Research for Action Fall 2014 Internships
Fall internships run from September – December.  Exact start and end dates are based on the needs of the project and the availability of the student.  Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resumé to  In your email, please include the two projects you’d most like to work on selected from the list below.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until all positions have been filled. Research for Action qualifies for work study and PHEAA and interns may also be eligible for course credit.

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

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:

Register Now – 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, Pa.  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 (Oct. 21-24) 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:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

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. 

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