Saturday, September 6, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 6, 2014: Corbett's key electoral battleground -- the classroom, not the campaign trail: John L. Micek

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 6, 2014:
Corbett's key electoral battleground -- the classroom, not the campaign trail: John L. Micek

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 10:00 AM
(public hearing on education economics and basic education funding)
Parkland School District Administrative Bldg. 1210 Springhouse Rd. Allentown, PA

Corbett's key electoral battleground -- the classroom, not the campaign trail: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek |  on September 05, 2014 at 10:00 AM,
If there's one enemy that Gov. Tom Corbett has spent more time fighting than the Democrats who are gunning for his job, it's the enduring claim that the Republican gutted Pennsylvania's public schools as he slashed $1 billion in state support during his first year in office, leading to widespread cuts in programs and teachers losing their jobs.  And as a new Harper poll made clear this week, Pennsylvania voters aren't about to let go of that debate either.
The 665 respondents to the automated poll taken on Tuesday and Wednesday were evenly split on whether Corbett had credibly explained the cuts, which he's long blamed on the disappearance of federal stimulus money. 

Chester public schools offer incentives for charter schools students to return
In the second year of a crusade to woo back students who have flocked to charter schools, officials in the Chester Upland School District have upped the ante with free laptops and headphones.  The Chromebook laptop and hugely popular Dr. Dre Beats headphones - which retail for hundreds of dollars - were on the table this summer for students willing to abandon rivals such as Chester Community Charter School and return to Chester Upland classrooms or its new cyberschool.  "We realize we're in a competitive environment," said Joe Watkins, the state-appointed receiver tasked with developing a recovery plan for the cash-strapped Delaware County district.  The giveaways are the latest salvo in the battle between the struggling school system and its charters, which educate almost two-thirds of Chester Upland students.

Chester Upland receiver expected to OK expansion of charter schools
By Vince SullivanDelaware County Daily Times POSTED: 09/04/14, 10:49 PM EDT |
CHESTER — Chester Upland School District Receiver Joe Watkins plans on approving the expansion of the city’s three brick-and-mortar charter schools, allowing them to include high school classes in the future.  At a public meeting of the receiver on Aug. 21, Watkins passed three resolutions that affect Chester Community Charter SchoolChester Charter School for the Arts and Widener Partnership Charter School. The resolutions were part of what Watkins calls ongoing partnerships between the Chester Upland School District and the district’s charter schools.   “This is kind of a way to show how we are working closely with all the charter schools in the district,” Watkins said Wednesday. “We’re interested in working with them as partners.”
The resolutions related to the extension of the schools’ charters for an additional five years and the expansion of their educational programs to include high school grades. All three charters are currently authorized to offer programs for grades K-8. While none of the extensions or expansions have been granted yet, the receiver’s intentions to approve them will help the charters going forward.

PG Editorial: Old school: Pa. can’t afford to do education the same old way
Post Gazette By the Editorial Board September 6, 2014 12:00 AM
Math is becoming the most challenging subject for school administrators in Allegheny County. They may not be stumped by algebra equations or geometry theorems, but evolving demographics are forcing them to confront the question of how small is too small for a school and, by extension, a school district.  The factors that school superintendents must plug into their calculations include birth rates, population shifts, building maintenance costs, academic offerings and geography. On top of the hard data, there is a thick layer of emotion involved, which can stir up strong opposition from parents, neighborhoods, alumni and the politically sensitive school board members who must approve major changes.

On eve of retrial, judge orders competency hearing for charter school administrator Dorothy June Brown
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Saturday, September 6, 2014, 1:08 AM
On the eve of charter-school founder Dorothy June Brown's federal retrial on charges of defrauding the schools of $6.3 million, the judge has postponed the proceedings and ordered Brown to undergo an exam to determine whether she is competent to stand trial.
The 77-year-old educator's defense lawyers had requested the exam.  Jury selection for the retrial had been expected to begin Monday.  But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge S. Barclay Surrick directed Brown to undergo a psychiatric and mental competency exam and said he would later schedule a competency hearing.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear Philly charter school case Tuesday by ERIC BOEHM, PA INDEPENDENT LAST UPDATED:September 5, 2014, 11:23 AM
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a case challenging the Philadelphia School District’s decision to place limits on charter school enrollment.
The School Reform Commission, a state-appointed body that runs the school district, set the enrollment limits in August 2013 as part of a series of cost-saving measures that required the suspension of certain parts of the state’s public school code. The West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School filed a lawsuit in March challenging the enrollment limits as an unconstitutional violation of the school’s due-process rights.  The case is being closely watched by charter school advocates across the state and could set important precedents for how the Philadelphia School District deals with the growth of charter schools within its borders.

PA lawmaker eyes trash to clean up pension mess
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau Septembermciu 5, 2014
Bill would impose higher fee on trash haulers to ease PA school districts' pension costs
Cleaning up PA's pension mess with trash?  State Rep. David Milliard thinks there may be pension gold buried in the state’s landfills.  On Thursday, the Republican from Columbia County floated a bill that would impose an additional $3 tipping fee on waste haulers to reduce school districts' rising pension costs.  State Rep. David Milliard (Pennsylvania House of Represenatives)
The additional fee would generate an additional $51 million and be put into a new pension-only fund controlled by the state Treasury, according to amemorandum Milliard published seeking co-sponsors to his bill. The Additional Commonwealth Contributions to School Districts Account.” to be used to help districts lower pension costs. The money would be distributed to districts, but not charter schools, on a prorated basis.

Corbett admin needs to stop its stonewalling on Tomalis affair: Andy Dinniman
PennLive Op-Ed  By Andy Dinniman  on September 05, 2014 at 1:00 PM
It's not even Halloween and ghosts are already the topic de jour in Harrisburg and throughout the Commonwealth.  Ghost employees, that is.   Was former Corbett administration adviser Ron Tomalis a ghost who never appeared? Or was he a ghost who came and went, leaving behind no evidence that he was ever there?  The auditor general, inspector general and attorney general have already been asked to review if former Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis was the first type of ghost employee.

Nutter to attend a charter school board meeting during back-to-school week
the notebook By Paul Socolar on Sep 5, 2014 01:27 PM
Mayor Nutter’s annual Education Week, marking the opening days of school in Philadelphia, will have a couple of new twists this year.  The mayor’s activities will continue into a second week, city officials said, as Nutter plans to be in Harrisburg starting on Sept. 15 in an effort to ensure that the state legislature promptly approves the proposed Philadelphia-only cigarette tax increase upon its return from summer recess. The District is counting on $49 million from the tax this school year in order to avert further layoffs.  In another addition to the usual back-to-school activities, the mayor will go to a charter school board meeting on Sept. 10 to encourage other members of the public to do the same.  “He’s going to be using his right as a citizen to attend a charter board meeting,” said Lori Shorr, the mayor’s chief education officer. “Parents of charter school students should be going to charter board of trustee meetings.”
The mayor will attend a 6 p.m. meeting of the board of trustees at Independence Charter School.
Shorr said the mayor hopes to bring about more openness and “public accountability” for charter boards.

Mute the Messenger
When Dr. Walter Stroup showed that Texas’ standardized testing regime is flawed, the testing company struck back.
Texas Observer by Jason Stanford Published on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, at 8:00 CST
Rebellions sometimes begin slowly, and Walter Stroup had to wait almost seven hours to start his. The setting was a legislative hearing at the Texas Capitol in the summer of 2012 at which the growing opposition to high-stakes standardized testing in Texas public schools was about to come to a head. Stroup, a University of Texas professor, was there to testify, but there was a long line of witnesses ahead of him. For hours he waited patiently, listening to everyone else struggle to explain why 15 years of standardized testing hadn’t improved schools. Stroup believed he had the answer.  Using standardized testing as the yardstick to measure our children’s educational growth wasn’t new in Texas. But in the summer of 2012 people had discovered a brand-new reason to be pissed off about it. “Rigor” was the new watchword in education policy. Testing advocates believed that more rigorous curricula and tests would boost student achievement—the “rising tide lifts all boats” theory. But that’s not how it worked out. In fact, more than a few sank. More than one-third of the statewide high school class of 2015 has already failed at least one of the newly implemented STAAR tests, disqualifying them from graduation without a successful re-test. As often happens, moms got mad. As happens less often, they got organized, and they got results.

June, July, and August 2014 Gates Foundation Grant Recipients Who Promise to Push the Common Core
Susan Ohanian's Blog September 5, 2014
These awards were posted at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

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!

Superintendents, School Business Managers and School Board Members
Register for School Funding Campaign Statewide Videoconference Event -- Sept. 30th 7 - 8:45 pm
PSBA Website 9/5/2014
Join hundreds of school leaders from every corner of PA who will gather to learn about the statewide coalition campaigning for a new adequate and equitable public school funding formula. The video conference event will serve as the kick-off for the education associations' efforts in support of the Basic Education Funding Campaign. The event will be held at participating Intermediate Unit sites. Register online at: Sept. 30, 7-8:45 p.m.

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.

Back to School Special Education Boot Camp Saturday, September 20, 2014 8:30 A.M.- 3:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join presenters from: Temple University · McAndrews Law Offices · ARC
PA Education for All Coalition · Delaware Valley Friends School
PA Dyslexia and Literacy Coalition
Attend workshops on: Early Intervention · Dyslexia · Discipline · Charter Schools
Inclusion · Transition Services
Details and Registration:

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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