Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 24, 2014: 2014 Contributions to Students First PAC

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3500 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, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 24, 2014:
2014 Contributions to Students First PAC

Wealthy donors, big unions pony up in Corbett-Wolf race
LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 1:08 AM
POSTED: Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 9:58 PM
Pennsylvania's candidates for governor raised almost $18 million over the summer from well-heeled donors and special interest groups, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday with the state.  Gov. Corbett's biggest donor, the Washington-based Republican Governors Association, gave him $4 million in the three months that ended Sept. 15 in monthly installments, the reports showed.  Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, a York businessman, received about $2.9 million from labor unions in the three-month period, including $500,000 from AFSCME, which represents public employees, and $100,000 from the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the teachers' union.

Its been a while since we took a look at funding for the Students First PAC (not to be confused with Michelle Rhee's national group), that continues to be a major player in campaign contributions.  Here's the latest, and some background links:

PA Department of State
Campaign Finance Online Reporting
2014 Contributions to Students First PAC


Here's a prior KEYSEC posting on Students First PAC
Keystone State Education Coalition Monday, January 9, 2012
FOLLOW THE MONEY: Contributions to Students First PAC - Not Exactly Grassroots $6.66 Million from just 19 donors

Not familiar with Students First PAC and the Susquehanna Group?  Here's a couple places to start…
Will a PAC Pick Philly’s Next Mayor?
Students First is very interested in City Council.
Philadelphia Magazine BY PATRICK KERKSTRA  |  JULY 6, 2012 AT 7:30 AM
The pro-privatization Students First PAC has been a huge player in state politics from the moment it emerged in 2010 flush with cash, much of it from three local businessmen who together founded Susquehanna International Group, a global investment company.
Students First gave State Sen. Anthony Williams—a leading Democratic proponent of school vouchers—a staggering $3.65 million for his failed gubernatorial run. And ever since, the PAC has showered smaller sums on state representatives and senators receptive to the organization’s goal of sweeping education reform.

Williams campaign driven by school choice, hefty donors
WHYY Friday, May 14th, 2010
The candidates vying for Pennsylvania’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination Tuesday are largely unknown to voters in this region. But one Philadelphia Democratic State Senator with a famous father is reaching out to voters on television, thanks to some of the heftiest campaign contributions Pennsylvania has ever seen.

LWV Panel:KEYSTONE EXAMS Not Just Another Standardized Test Oct 7th Radnor
What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania’s NEW High School Graduation Requirement
Join the Radnor, Haverford, Chester County, Lower Merion & Narberth Leagues of Women Voters October 7 @ 7:00 pm in Radnor
In partnership with your area schools’ Parent Organizations and supported by your area School Districts
Moderator: Susan Carty, President, League of Women Voters of PA
Panelists Will Include:
Pennsylvania State Senator, Andy Dinniman
Lower Merion School District Board of Directors Member, Lori Actman
Conestoga High School
Principal, Dr. Amy Meisinger
Education Lawyer, Josh Kershenbaum, Esq.
Additional Panelists To Be Announced
Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM Radnor Municipal Building, 301 Iven Ave., Radnor
Questions? Please Call 610-446-8383 or e-mail

Top Senate leader - we'll have a severance tax sooner or later: Tuesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek |  on September 23, 2014 at 8:10 AM, updated September 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The eyes of Pennsylvania's political and chattering classes might have been on last night's gubernatorial debate between Toms Wolf and Corbett, but the state Legislature still managed to cut its way through the din.  Well, inasmuch as chronically taciturn Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, cuts through the din, in any case.  Thus did Pileggi, who never uses one word where half of one will suffice, turned heads by predicting that Pennsylvania will have a natural gas severance tax on the books before too long.  "We know it’s coming sooner or later,” Pileggi told a local news source Chadds Ford Live.

Philadelphia cigarette tax measure moves to Corbett for enactment
Penn Live by  Charles Thompson |  on September 23, 2014 at 5:49 PM, updated September 23, 2014 at 7:14 PM
The Pennsylvania Senate gave final passage Tuesday to a bill authorizing the City of Philadelphia to enact a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes sold within the city limits.   Proceeds from the new special tax would go to support Philadelphia's public schools, which are expected to operate at a deficit approaching $80 million this year.  The Senate's 39-11 vote, which follows House passage Monday, sends the tax authorization bill to Gov. Tom Corbett, who has previously announced his support for the measure.

In a huge victory for Philly schools, lawmakers reach consensus on cigarette tax
Philadelphia schools received a tremendous victory in Harrisburg Tuesday as Senate lawmakers passed a long-sought $2-per-pack cigarette tax that district leaders expect to generate $49 million in revenue this school year for the city district.  In a 39-to-11 vote, senators adopted the language approved by the House of Representatives Monday. This was key, as the two chambers disagreed for much of the summer over other elements unrelated to the cigarette tax that were tucked into the omnibus legislation.  The House stripped those provisions out last week. Tuesday, understanding the urgency of the district's fiscal needs, Senate leaders moved the bill without the ancillary measures or amendments that would have kicked the bill back to the House.  Gov. Tom Corbett too lauded the action, saying he will sign the bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

Senate passes Phila. cigarette tax; Corbett poised to sign
LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 1:08 AM
HARRISBURG - The state Senate late Tuesday approved a bill authorizing the City of Philadelphia to impose a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes, ending months of wrangling over revenue to plug a deepening hole in the School District budget.  Gov. Corbett said he would sign the bill Wednesday. The price hike could take affect in a week or so.  "I am pleased that both chambers have taken action on this legislation so that the Philadelphia School District and, more importantly, the students of Philadelphia can benefit from it," he said in a statement.

Philly cigarette tax clears Senate, finally headed to Corbett
PHILADELPHIA School District officials breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as a local cigarette tax - $2 per pack to provide key funding for schools - cleared the final hurdle in Harrisburg after months of suspense.  The state Senate approved the bill, 39-11, one day after lawmakers in the House passed it. It heads to Gov. Corbett, who is expected to sign it publicly today. The tax is expected to generate at least $49 million this school year for the embattled district, erasing a sizable deficit and averting massive layoffs.

Charter school operator fields questions in York
More meetings will be held this week
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   09/23/2014 10:41:14 PM EDT0 COMMENTS
Representatives of Charter Schools USA, one of two charter companies being considered to take over York City School District buildings, fielded questions on issues including finances and academics from a small audience on Tuesday night.  The school district is considering bringing in an outside operator — either Charter Schools USA or Mosaica Education — to run schools starting in 2015-16, which is an option in the district's recovery plan if internal reform does not work.

"Within the terms of the contract, the teachers’ salaries will be frozen for both the 2013-14 school year (retroactively) and 2015-16. Horizontal and vertical salary step movement will be open in both 2014-15 and 2016-17.  “No additional dollars (will be) added to the salary schedule,” a release from the school district said.  Teachers at the top of the salary structure will get a $750 one-time bonus in each year pay increases are opened up.  As far as health care, teachers will pay 5 percent of their “core plan” for half of 2014-15, matching the agreed-upon 2013-14 rate. In February, the rate will increase to 7 percent, which will carry through the 2015-16 school year. For 2016-17, the rate will increase to 8 percent."
Spring-Ford OKs new teachers’ contract
West Chester Daily Local By Frank Otto, POSTED: 09/23/14
Limerick >> Almost two years after negotiations began and with one full year taught under an expired contract, a state mediator’s proposal was approved as the basis for a new contract for Spring-Ford Area School District’s teachers.  In a meeting Monday night, the Spring-Ford Area School Board voted unanimously — with Bernard Pettit absent — to ratify a contract with the Spring-Ford Education Association (SFEA) which will extend until the end of the 2016-17 school year.

School district alerts parents on embattled charter school
PARENT Kim Miller was not expecting her fall plans to include making phone calls, filling out forms and attending district meetings in a competitive race to find her daughter a new school.
Now, however, it's a real possibility for Miller and other parents of the 1,290 students attending the embattled Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, which last week said in court documents that it would close if it did not receive funds from the school district.
A hearing to resolve the matter will be held today in City Hall.
The school's disclosure prompted the district "to put together a transition plan for parents," said district spokesman Fernando Gallard. A letter from Superintendent William Hite was sent yesterday to Palmer parents and guardians informing them of their school options, and providing phone numbers and email addresses in case of further questions. Robocalls were made yesterday afternoon as well, Gallard said.

What to do if your school closes a month into the year: The case of Philly's Walter Palmer charter
The scuffle between the Philadelphia School District and Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School may soon create more than 1,000 education refugees —students in search of a desk.  The charter's eponymous founder, Walter Palmer, says the school doesn't have enough funding to keep its doors open all year.  In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Palmer would not provide a specific date by which the school would need to close, but earlier reports suggested Oct. 1.  Palmer charter serves 1,275 K-12 students at campuses in Northern Liberties and Tacony. Of these, 271 have special education requirements.  Reacting to a letter Palmer sent last week, the Philadelphia School District began mailing notices to parents Tuesday, laying out options for caregivers forced to scramble to enroll their children into another school. Parents will also be contacted via robo-call.

Community group scrambles to file charter-school application for GHS property
A grassroots group in Northwest Philadelphia wants to transform Germantown High School into an independent charter school serving neighborhood students.  During a packed Monday night community meeting, Germantown High School Coalition members voted to submit a charter-school application to the Philadelphia School District by the Nov. 15 deadline.  "We don't have any time," said Julie Stapleton-Carroll, who leads the group. "What we're trying to do is herculean."  The district stopped inviting new charter-school applications in 2009, but a highly anticipated piece of state legislation could make creating a new charter easier.
In a measure authorizing Philadelphia to impose a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes is a provision that allows charter-school applicants to petition the Charter Appeals Board if the Philadelphia School Reform Commission rejects them.

PDE Sec. Dumaresq announces Flexible Instructional Day Program
PSBA Website 9/23/2014
In response to requests from local education agencies for additional options and flexibility in dealing with loss of instructional days due to severe weather, the Pa. Department of Education has developed a pilot program for LEAs to seek PDE approval of alternative methods of delivering instruction.  An LEA electing to participate in the Flexible Instructional Day Program must submit a summary of the local plan that addresses all of the applicable criteria established by PDE. Latitude will be granted in the methods adopted for the delivery of instruction. LEAs may create a program that is online, offline, or a combination of the two. However, if the local Flexible Instructional Day Program consists of elements that rely on public broadcast or internet access, comparable options must be made available to students and teachers unable to access the resources due to a lack of power, technology, or connectivity.  Moreover, the Flexible Instructional Day Program must clearly delineate how the LEA will comply with the Free and Appropriate Public Education requirement under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, including the delivery of services per Flexible Instructional Day as well as the provision of any missed services post Flexible Instructional Days.

Academic Skills on Web Are Tied to Income Level
New York Times By MOTOKO RICHSEPT. 23, 2014
Wealthier students tend to perform better on tests of reading comprehension than their poorer peers, a longstanding trend that has been documented amply. But with the Internet having become an indispensable part of daily life, a new study shows that a separate gap has emerged, with lower-income students again lagging more affluent students in their ability to find, evaluate, integrate and communicate the information they find online.  The new research, led by Donald J. Leu at the University of Connecticut, is appearing this month in Reading Research Quarterly. Although the study is based on a small sample, it demonstrates a general lack of online literacy among all students, indicating that schools have not yet caught up to teach the skills needed to navigate digital information. Although youngsters are experts at texting, posting photographs on Instagram and upgrading to the newest social media app while their parents are trying to decipher Facebook, children are still not adept at using the Web to find reliable information.

What About the Schools? A Community Forum on the Next Governor's Education Agenda Oct. 15 7:00 pm WHYY Philly
Pennsylvania's public schools, especially in Philadelphia, are in dire straits. Many hope that the upcoming gubernatorial election will help shine a light on the state's education issues. But how will Harrisburg politics and financial realities limit the next governor’s agenda for education?
Join Research for Action, WHYY, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey for an interactive community forum designed to suggest an education agenda for the next administration—and to assess the politics of achieving it.  Hear from local educators about what they see as priorities for the schools, and from seasoned policy practitioners on the political realities of Harrisburg.  Then, make your voice heard. Discuss your thoughts and perspectives with other event guests and interact with the panelists. You’ll come away from this spirited discussion with a more nuanced view of the politics of education in both Philadelphia and at the state level.
This event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19106
Questions? Call 215-351-0511 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

Save the date: Bob Herbert book event! Pittsburgh October 9th
Yinzercation Blog September 17, 2014
Save the date – you don’t want to miss this! We are hosting the national launch of Bob Herbert’s new book, Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled AmericaYou might remember Mr. Herbert as the award winning and longtime columnist for the New York Times. This book is especially exciting for us because Bob came to Pittsburgh several times to interview parents and teachers in our local grassroots movement and wound up writing three chapters on our fight for public education!
Date:    Thursday, October 9, 2014  Time:    5:30 – 6:30PM, moderated discussion and Q&A.
Doors will open at 5 with student performances.  Followed by book signing.
Location:    McConomy Auditorium, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15213.  Free parking in the garage.
Hosted by:    Yinzercation (we are profiled in the book!)
Moderator:    Tony Norman, columnist and associate editor,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PUBLIC Education Nation October 11
The Network for Public Education will hold a historic event in one month's time
PUBLIC Education Nation will deliver the conversation the country has been waiting for. Rather than featuring billionaires and pop singers, this event will be built around intense conversations featuring leading educators, parents, students and community activists. We have waited too long for that seat at someone else's table. This time, the tables are turned, and we are the ones setting the agenda.   This event will be livestreamed on the web on the afternoon of Saturday, October 11, from the auditorium of Brooklyn New School, a public school. There will be four panels focusing on the most critical issues we face in our schools. The event will conclude with a conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.  

Please join us for a symposium on:
“Funding Pennsylvania's Public Schools: A Look Ahead”
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics and the Temple University Center on Regional Politics.
When: Friday, October 3, 2014, 8:30 am to 12 pm
Where: Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh in Green Tree, PA
Session I:  "Forecasting the Fiscal Future of Pennsylvania's Public Schools"
A panel of legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Penn State Professor William Hartman and Tim Shrom projecting the fiscal trajectory of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts over the next five years and by University of Pittsburgh Professor Maureen McClure discussing the implications for school finance of an aging tax base.
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
Following an address by Eva Tansky Blum, Chairwoman and President of the PNC Foundation, a panel of business and labor leaders will discuss the importance of public school funding reform to the competitiveness of regional and state economies. 
We look forward to your participation!

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)

Voting for PSBA officers and at-large representatives opens Sept. 9
PSBA Website 9/8/2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for candidates. 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 open Sept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register 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 received an email on Aug. 13 and a test ballot was sent to them on Aug. 28. In addition, a memo from PSBA President Richard Frerichs will be mailed in the coming days to all board secretaries and copied to school board presidents and chief school administrators.

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