Friday, September 12, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 12: Corbett-ordered review of PA Core Standards to start with taking the public pulse of them

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 12, 2014:
Corbett-ordered review of PA Core Standards to start with taking the public pulse of them

Concerned with adequate, equitable, predictable, sustainable #paedfunding?  Follow new @PACircuitRider and @CircuitRiderSE accounts on twitter

Corbett-ordered review of PA Core Standards to start with taking the public pulse of them
By Jan Murphy | on September 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM,
Gov. Tom Corbett's call for a re-examination of the state-specific English and math standards has buoyed critics' hope that the controversial learning goals may be on their way out.
But not so fast. Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq told the State Board of Education on Thursday that what she hopes emerges from this governor-ordered review is a comfort level with the set of grade-level learning expectations known as Pennsylvania Core Standards.
To do that, the department plans to roll out on its Standards Aligned System website parent-friendly information about the standards, including content statements about what students are expected to learn and be able to do in each grade and examples of how that information is assessed on state tests. The third-grade content statements will appear by Oct. 15 with the other grades to be added by Nov. 15 on the
On that site, the public will be able to offer input and make suggested changes that the State Board would then vet at public hearings.
"We want to demystify these conversations about what Common Core is and what Pennsylvania Core standards are. If we need to make changes, we will," Dumaresq said. "But let's first make sure we understand what we're talking about."

Trailing by 24 points in new poll, Corbett says he'll call pensions special session if re-elected: Thursday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | on September 11, 2014 at 8:18 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday vowed to call a special session on pension reform if voters hand him a second term in November, warning that retirement costs will consume an ever-greater portion if state spending if they remain unaddressed.  Speaking to The Inquirer's editorial board, the Republican governor took a pop at Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, warning that if he is not "re-elected for four more years, there will be nothing done about this, because Mr. [Tom] Wolf says there is not a pension problem."  The conversation came on the eve of a new Quinnipiac University poll showing Wolf leading Corbett by a 24-point margin.  It was the latest escalation of tensions between the two Toms. Corbett took to the airwaves this week to defend his record on education spending.

Pollster: Gov. Tom Corbett is 'dead man walking'
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau September 11, 2014
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett — whose blitz of television commercials has done nothing to shield him from an angry electorate — may stand virtually no chance of fending off his Democratic rival Tom Wolf on election day, according to the latest poll released Thursday.
Corbett is down 24 percentage points to Wolf, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll of 1,161 likely voters. With less than two months until the Nov. 4 election, Corbett has virtually no chance of closing the gap that shows 59 percent of voters support Wolf, compared with 35 percent of voters who support Corbett, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.
"He is dead man walking," Malloy said.
The Quinnipiac poll is the latest survey to show Corbett with a double-digit deficit of 11 to 30 percentage points. The Corbett campaign has criticized some of the polls that show a higher deficit, and has touted polls that show the race tightening.
On Thursday, the Corbett campaign dismissed the Quinnipiac phone survey results, pointing to the latest New York Times/CBS News online poll, released Wednesday, that showed Corbett down 11 percentage points. That poll uses a different and largely untested method.

Lt. Governor and Acting Secretary of Education Kick Off Governor’s Jobs1st STEM Competition: Building a Stronger Pennsylvania; Open to Students in Grades 9-12
PDE Press Release
September 10, 2014
Lancaster – Lt. Governor Jim Cawley and Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq today visited Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster to kick off the statewide Governor’s Jobs1st STEM Competition: Building a Stronger Pennsylvania.
The competition is open to public, nonpublic and private school students in grades 9-12 to showcase their skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“STEM and related careers are important to the long-term stability of Pennsylvania’s economy, and this competition will introduce students to the diverse employment opportunities that exist in their communities,” Lt. Gov. Cawley said.  “Students participating in the competition will gain an understanding of the concepts and skills needed for these high value occupations.”

"Feinberg noted that Pennsylvania is one of three states in the nation that do not have school funding formulas. He pointed to inequities in the current system whereby a school district like Radnor, among the top five wealthiest in the state, is only twelve miles from Chester-Upland, among the poorest."
Haverford school director Larry Feinberg serving with education leaders as “Circuit Rider”
Delco Times By LOIS PUGLIONESI, Times Correspondent POSTED: 09/12/14, 1:24 AM EDT |
HAVERFORD — Township school director Larry Feinberg announced he has been appointed to an 11-member corps of education leaders, called Circuit Riders, who will disseminate information and build support for a new public education funding formula in Pennsylvania.
Speaking at last week’s school board meeting, Feinberg noted Gov. Tom Corbett has acknowledged the need for a fair and adequate funding formula. The legislature has voted to establish a Basic Education Funding Commission, charged with recommending a new way to distribute state funds to school districts.  With support from a William Penn Foundation grant, more than 35 organizations united to form the Basic Education Funding Campaign, with the “goal of seeing this through,” Feinberg said.

The process has not been updated in decades, Grove said, a fact best demonstrated by the requirement that documentation must still be submitted in microfilm form.  "If you are not familiar with microfilm, it was state of the art technology in the 1920 under the Hoover administration. Yay us," Grove said in his statement.
PlanCon: PA school construction reimbursement program under microscope
Lebanon Daily News By John Latimer @johnmlatimer on Twitter
UPDATED:   09/11/2014 02:25:38 PM EDT
HARRISBURG >> Lebanon School District business manager Curt Richards was among a handful of education officials who spoke Wednesday in support of legislation that would improve how school districts seek and receive state reimbursement for construction projects.
Richards spoke at a Capitol news conference held by Rep. Seth Grove of York, the sponsor of House Bill 2124. The bill, which has already passed the House, would streamline and automate what's known as the PlanCon process — which stands for Planning and Construction Workbook — an antiquated and time-consuming reporting system that school districts are required to follow in order to receive reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for a portion of their construction costs.

PlanCon: Pottsgrove gets $350K in back payment for Ringing Rocks, more could come for high school under pending bill
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 09/10/14, 6:13 PM EDT
LOWER POTTSGROVE — The state has informed the Pottsgrove School District that after nearly four years of delay, it will begin making payments to reimburse district taxpayers for the $16 million cost of renovating and expanding Ringing Rocks Elementary School.
The news, combined with the district’s recent support for a bill that would ease the process by which districts are reimbursed for construction, puts the spotlight on a bureaucracy best known to educators as “Plan-Con.”  Business Manager David Nester made the announcement about the Ringing Rocks reimbursement at the end of Tuesday night’s Pottsgrove School Board meeting.

Nineteen school districts receive construction reimbursement; hundreds more wait for vote on PlanCon reform bill. — Under The Dome™ Thursday, September 11, 2014
 The state Department of Education — for the first time in over three years — approved reimbursement payments Wednesday for 19 school construction projects stuck in the Planning and Construction (PlanCon) Workbook process. The news comes three months after lawmakers pushed an additional $10 million into the program and tweaked language in the Fiscal Code to free up another $70 million by passing over districts on the cusp of receiving temporary reimbursements in Part H of the process that failed to submit complete paperwork within the new 90-day deadline. For more about the school districts getting construction reimbursements, along with what many lawmakers and school officials would like to see done to improve that process, CLICK HERE (paywall) to read Capitolwire Staff Writer Christen Smith’s report.

Parents sue state over Philadelphia schools
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent September 10, 2014
A group of parents whose children attend Philadelphia public schools are asking state courts to step in after the secretary of education ignored complaints about the district.
A lawsuit filed in Commonwealth Court on Tuesday claims the parents have submitted more than 800 complaints to the Department of Education since September 2013 documenting “dire school conditions.” Because the Philadelphia School District is under the control of state government, the department and Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq have an obligation to investigate these formal complaints, but have failed to do so, the parents allege.
According to the lawsuit, the parents’ concerns are related to “staff layoffs and reductions of supplies,” along with “curriculum deficiencies” like the lack of physical education classes and foreign language classes.

We will not be silent: What parents want around state accountability
the notebook Commentary By Helen Gym on Sep 11, 2014 09:38 AM
A child dealt with the death of a parent with no counselor available during a time of extreme distress.  A high school student started each period searching for desks and chairs, because her classes were so overcrowded.  A 7-year-old with emotional and learning needs began regressing and scratched himself bloody during class, because a classroom aide and full-time counselor were no longer available like they were the year before.  A Bartram High parent filed a complaint in October about multiple assaults, disruptions, and a lack of staffing, while her honors student struggled: “I have serious concerns about my child’s safety,” she wrote, presaging violence at Bartram that would make national news later in the year.
These are just a handful of examples among the 825 complaints filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) by parents, educators, and students last year as the District’s “doomsday budget” unfolded. None of these earned an investigation  from state officials.
Pennsylvania state law allows for any individual to file a complaint with PDE for curriculum deficiencies and obligates the state to conduct an investigation of that complaint. That was our intention when Parents United for Public Education and our attorneys at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia launched a major campaign last year to hold the state accountable for the consequences of enforcing a doomsday budget .

City Council will not put measure on SRC to voters
CLAUDIA VARGAS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, September 12, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 7:31 PM
Gov. Corbett might not get the memo after all.  Despite 40,000 signatures on a petition from school reform advocates and a morning rally outside City Hall, Philadelphia City Council on Thursday killed an effort that would have asked the governor to dissolve the School Reform Commission.  In its first meeting since returning from summer recess, Council introduced a flurry of bills but also passed on some legislation left over from the spring term, including a resolution to put a question on the November ballot asking voters if they support abolishing the SRC and returning schools to local control.  The primary sponsor of the bill, Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, said she did not think she had the two-thirds vote required to put the nonbinding resolution on the ballot.  "Their concerns were that if we didn't get the cigarette tax, they would have said it's because we introduced this. . . . They thought we should not create a controversy with the state," Blackwell said.

National arts leader tours Cultural District, urges inclusion of arts in education
By Clarece Polke / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 12, 2014 12:00 AM
Piano lessons for Jane Chu were just a fun activity when she began as a child.
The recently appointed chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts was 9 years old when her father died, transforming the hobby into her “source of refuge.”  “Music gave me the language to express what I felt,” she said. “I didn’t necessarily have the vocabulary in English, but I had music.”  Speaking Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Arts Education Partnership National Forum, Ms. Chu told the hundreds of attendees about her experiences growing up in Arkansas as the child of Chinese immigrants and how music helped her relate to Chinese and American cultures.  The two-day forum with more than 300 educators at the Marriott City Center Hotel will examine the role of the arts in education and in closing the opportunity gap for minority students. The Washington, D.C.-based Arts Education Partnership was formed in 1995 by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Council of Chief State School Officers and U.S. Department of Education.

Leaders and Laggards
A State-by-State Report Card on K-12 Educational Effectiveness
United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation 2014
See how Pennsylvania stacks up.

Washington State High Court Holds Legislature in Contempt on K-12 Funding
Education Week State Ed Watch Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on September 11, 2014 2:49 PM
The Washington State Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state legislature is in contempt for failing to identify a long-term plan for substantially increasing funding for public schools, but has given lawmakers until the 2015 legislative session to submit such a plan before imposing any sanctions.  In its Sept. 11 ruling, the court justices said that they would take lawmakers at their word that they would come up with a strategy for overhauling Washington's K-12 funding next year. But the justices did not specify what punishments it might impose if lawmakers failed to do so.

EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, Sept. 14 at 3:00 p.m.
Two Panels: 1) "Paying for College In Pennsylvania" and 2) "School Employees Pension Crisis"
The next EPLC "Focus on Education" episode will air this coming Sunday, September 14 at 3:00 p.m. on PCN television.  This September 14 show will be comprised of two 30-minute panels.  The first will cover "Paying for College In Pennsylvania" and the second panel discussion will be about "School Employees Pension Crisis".

Panel 1: "Paying for College in Pennsylvania" will include
·         Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
·         Gregory L. Gearhart, Past President, PA Association of Student Financial Aid Advisors and Director of Financial Aid, Messiah College;
·         Sonya Mann-McFarlane, Higher Education Access Partner, PHEAA Division of PA School Services; and
·         Kathleen F. McGrath, Esq., Bureau Director, PA 529 College Savings Program, Pennsylvania Treasury Department
Panel 2: "School Employees Pension Crisis" will include
·         NO thanksRon Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;
·         Jeffrey B. Clay, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS)
·         Jay D. Himes, CAE, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials
·         State Representative Mike Tobash, 125th Legislative District - Schuylkill/Berks Counties, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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!

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)

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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