Saturday, September 13, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 13: Terry Madonna talks school funding on Pennsylvania Newsmakers with Jay Himes and Sherri Smith

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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PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 13, 2014:
Terry Madonna talks school funding on Pennsylvania Newsmakers with Jay Himes and Sherri Smith

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

Act 1 Index for FY 2015-2016 is 1.9%
Index Calculation Required by the Taxpayer Relief Act [44 Pa.B. 5883]
Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, September 13, 2014
6926.333(l)), the Department of Education (Department) has calculated the index for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016. Under section 333(l) of the Taxpayer Relief Act (53 P. S. § 
The index is the average of the percentage increase in the Statewide average weekly wage and the Employment Cost Index. For FY 2015-2016, the base index is 1.9%. 
For school districts with a market value/income aid ratio greater than 0.4000, an adjusted index will be posted on the Department's web site at by September 30, 2014. 

Joining host Terry Madonna for a discussion of public school funding are Jay Himes, Executive Director of the PA Association of School Business Officials, and Sherri Smith, President-Elect of the PA Association of School Administrators. (segment starts at 13:10; runtime 10:20)
Pennsylvania Newsmakers with Terry Madonna September 12, 2014

Pension reform, liquor privatization will be tough challenges in Pennsylvania legislature's pre-election session
By Charles Thompson | on September 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM, updated September 12, 2014 at 3:29 PM
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. to add links to prior stories on some of the issues mentioned.
Sometimes success in life is all about recognizing your limitations, and doing the best you can to work around them.  It's going to be like that for the Pennsylvania Legislature this fall.
On the most complex issues of the day: dealing with the state's soaring pension costs; deciding whether, and how, to modernize the state-run sales of wine and liquor; or legalizing forms of marijuana for medicinal uses; the odds for passing legislation aren't great.
But there are a lot of other items – bills that haven't been the subject of summer speaking tours by Gov. Tom Corbett, or massive lobbying by well-heeled business interests and labor unions – that very well could get done.  And some of them may literally be lifesavers.
That's the backdrop for the General Assembly's election season, four-week legislative session starting Monday.  First, a little bit about why the heavily-lobbied, headline-making issues aren't likely to get resolved.

Corbett facing questions over education review in Pa. House
Pennsylvania House lawmakers plan hearings to grill the Corbett administration on its plan to review state academic standards implemented last March.  Gov. Tom Corbett recently called for a review of the Pennsylvania Core, so-named because it blends national benchmarks called Common Core and objectives designed by commonwealth officials.  The confusion over education standards all goes back to their name, said state Rep. Seth Grove, R-York.  "When the administration decided to keep Common Core in the name of the academic standards they were moving forward with, it confused a lot of people because they assumed that the administration was adopting Common Core and not moving away from it," Grove said.

Bills letting PA teachers carry guns and NRA sue municipalities await Legislature
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau September 12, 2014
State lawmakers gradually return to session Monday from their summer break.
Lawmakers don’t have to be in House and Senate chambers for roll call until 1 p.m. and neither chamber is expected to finalize many controversial bills dealing with state pension systems and medical marijuana on Monday.  But that doesn't mean the Legislature is not going to make fireworks during the three-day session.  The Senate Education Committee gets the session off with a bang by holding a hearing at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday on a bill to allow teachers and other school employees to carry concealed firearms on the job. The bill is by Sen. Don White, R-Indiana. 

Polls put Corbett behind in governor’s race
Wolf leads as voters express frustration with the status quo
James P. O'Toole / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 13, 2014 12:00 AM
Two new surveys tell a familiar story: Gov. Tom Corbett trails his challenger, Democrat Tom Wolf, by a wide margin.  But the polls from Quinnipiac University and the Internet polling firm, YouGov, diverge in methodology and on just how steep a hill the incumbent must climb to salvage his chances for a second term.  The Quinnipiac survey found the Democrat running away with the race, with a lead of 59 percent to 35 percent among likely voters. The YouGov results, compiled for CBS News and the New York Times, put Mr. Wolf’s advantage at 50 percent to 39 percent among registered voters.

Teachers probably would have to pay for own background checks under Toomey's bill
York Dispatch By CANDY WOODALL 505-5437/@ydbiz 09/11/2014 09:33:40 AM EDT
State educators and administrators support U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's bill that would expand background checks for school employees and private contractors, but many are left wondering who would pay for the additional investigations.  While Pennsylvania has required state criminal background checks for new employees since 1986 and federal background checks since 2006, Toomey's proposal — the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act — would require all educators and contractors to submit to background checks periodically through four major state and federal registries.  Regardless of tenure, school employees would be checked against state and federal background databases, child abuse and neglect registries, the fingerprint identification system of the FBI and the National Sex Offender Registry.
Cost: The cost of those checks would be about $40 per person, and it would most likely be paid by the employees, officials said.

"Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy said the district is seriously considering appealing to the state Supreme Court due to the statewide impact of the ruling.  "The court basically opened the door for charter districts by ruling that charter schools can operate from multiple locations. That's a big change," Roy said in an email."
Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School wins appeal
By Rudy Miller | The Express-Times on September 11, 2014 at 12:45 PM, updated September 11, 2014 at 2:54 PM
An appellate court has rejected an appeal filed by the Bethlehem Area School District to block a second building for the Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School.  The kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school at 551 Thomas St. in Bethlehem wants to open a second building to handle its increasing enrollment.  The school wants to open a middle school at the former Seton Academy on Sixth Avenue in Bethlehem for grades six, seven and eight.
The school district has argued state law allows only Philadelphia charter schools to operate out of more than one building.  The state charter school appeals board agreed with the district, but the decision wasoverturned by a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel.
The Bethlehem Area School District appealed to reargue its case before the full panel of all 11 Commonwealth Court judges. That appeal was rejected today.

Bethlehem NAACP forum participants: Charter schools are a new form of segregation
By Lynn Olanoff | The Express-Times on September 11, 2014 at 8:59 PM, updated September 11, 2014 at 9:07 PM
Participants in a Bethlehem NAACP forum on charter schools tonight assailed charters for causing a new form of school segregation.  "We could end up with segregation in another form," Bethlehem NAACP President Esther Lee said of charter schools. "It's not 1909, but it's close."
Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy, who participated as an attendee, also said charter schools are causing segregation.  "People go because they don't want their kids around kids who speak Spanish or poor kids," Roy said. "It's a way to siphon kids out of the school system and make them less diverse."  Roy called charter schools the greatest financial threat to the Bethlehem Area School District. Charter schools are costing the school district $20 million this year, causing the district to cut programs especially for students in need, Roy said.
"The kids who need it most are the ones who are getting hurt," he said. "To me, it's actually a civil rights issue."

City school crisis dire for us all
Last month, a smart young writer at the Washington Post named Lydia DePillis wrote a provocative article about cities and families that lit up every urbanists' social-media feed. In it, she observed something parents have known for a long time: Kids are expensive. "Why, from a purely economic standpoint, would a city on the make try to attract families at all?" she asked.
The question stopped me in my tracks. For America's comeback cities, the ability to land and keep middle-class families is considered a badge of success. Over the last decade, Philadelphia has definitely become a city "on the make." It has proudly drawn thousands of new residents of childbearing age - that millennial generation - and showered them with the amenities they love, from bike lanes to beer gardens to spray parks, in the hope they'll stay and raise families here.
The irony, of course, is that this week the city's grossly underfunded schools just barely managed to open on schedule. Basic educational amenities that suburban districts take for granted, such as guidance counselors and nurses, are a luxury. Even if the legislature approves Philadelphia's $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes, it may not be enough to get the district through the year, never mind next year or the year after.

Philadelphia's District and charter high schools: How are they doing?
By thenotebook on Sep 12, 2014 11:16 AM
Making sense of the numbers
The Notebook's school profiles provide a lot of detail about the 90 public high schools and their programs. Here we provide statistics about their students and how they are performing. That is important information as you think about where to attend high school.
You’ll find data about all the District-run high schools and charters below. For each school, you can see the enrollment and whether it serves large percentages of low-income and special education students and English language learners.  Student attendance is often a good indicator of how engaged students are. Keep in mind that a school with 90 percent attendance has twice as many students absent as one of the same size with 95 percent attendance. The number of suspensions tells you about school climate, though a large school might be expected to have more suspensions than a small one.

York Suburban named one of top schools in state, nation
NIKELLE SNADER / The York Dispatch 505-5431 / @ydschools
POSTED:   09/12/2014 03:08:48 PM EDT | UPDATED:   ABOUT 15 HOURS AGO
York Suburban High School has been ranked the fifth-best high school in Pennsylvania and ranks 67th among all of the nation's high schools, according to rankings released by "Newsweek" magazine.  The publication ranked high schools based upon factors including scores on standardized tests, enrollment rates, graduation rates, Advanced Placement and SAT data and the counselor-to-student ratio, according to the magazine.
The school district also ranked 83rd in the nation for ensuring that students in low-income families performed at a comparable rate to other students in the district, according to the magazine's "Beating the Odds" rankings.

Fatal Attraction: America’s Suicidal Quest for Educational Excellence
Yong Zhao's Blog 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 273
[This is the introduction to my latest book Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World published by Jossey-Bass in September 2014. Also available onAmazon and Barnes & Noble.]
In 2009 Dr. Beverly Hall, former superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools, was named America’s National Superintendent of the Year for “representing the ‘best of the best’ in public school leadership.”[1]Hall was hosted in the White House by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In 2010, the American Educational Research Association honored her with its Distinguished Community Service Award, which “recognizes exceptional contributions to advancing the use of education research and statistics.”[2] Also in 2010, President Obama appointed Hall to the elite National Board for Education Sciences.
In 2013, Hall was indicted by a grand jury in Georgia for “violation of Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, false statements and writings, false swearing, and theft by taking.”[3] The Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act is a law typically used against Mafia leaders. If she is convicted, Hall faces 45 years in prison.
What made Hall a national hero is precisely what brought about her downfall. 

Newsweek's High School Rankings for 2014: Two Lists Are Better Than One
Newsweek By Zach Schonfeld / September 8, 2014 11:18 AM EDT
For more than a decade, Newsweek has published an annual list of America’s Top High Schools, ranked primarily according to a ratio of AP/IB exams to the number of students graduating. This year we’re doing things a little differently.

The White House Blog Chart of the Week: More Students Are Graduating High School than Ever Before

The White House Blog Tanya Somanader September 12, 2014 
As students head back to school, Secretary Arne Duncan hit the road this week on the Department of Education’s annual back-to-school bus tour to discuss how we can help every student receive a complete and competitive education in order to reach their full potential.
After all, a high-quality education is a pre-requisite to success in today’s economy. It's a national imperative that every student graduate from high school prepared for college and for a career. And thanks to the dedication of our teachers and educators and the hard work of our students, more young people are graduating and earning their high school diplomas than ever before. 
Check out the chart below to see how our high school graduation rate is the highest it has ever been -- then share it with everyone who needs to know.

In U.S., 70% Favor Federal Funds to Expand Pre-K Education
Americans view preschool education as less important than other education levels
Gallup Politics by Jeffrey M. Jones September 8, 2014
PRINCETON, NJ -- Seven in 10 Americans say they favor using federal money to make sure high-quality preschool education programs are available for every child in America. Twenty-eight percent oppose the idea.

WA Supreme Court finds Legislature in contempt on education funding
Seattle Times Politics Northwest Blog Posted by Joseph O'Sullivan September 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM
The Washington state Supreme Court is holding the Legislature in contempt for not making enough progress toward fully funding public education but, for now, is holding off on sanctions.
In an order Thursday in the landmark McCleary school-funding case, the court  said it won’t issue any sanctions until at least the close of the 2015 legislative session. After that, action could be swift.  “On the date following adjournment of the 2015 session, if the State has not complied with the court’s order, the State shall file in the court a memorandum explaining why sanctions or other remedial measures should not be imposed,” reads the order, which was signed by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.  The decision was unanimous. Read the order for yourself here.

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
·         Ron 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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