Thursday, September 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 18: Auditor General DePasquale Expands Ongoing Audit of Pennsylvania Department of Education

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 18, 2014:
Auditor General DePasquale Expands Ongoing Audit of Pennsylvania Department of Education  

The one issue Pa. lawmakers can't duck this fall: A PennLive editorial cartoon
Penn Live Editorial Cartoons by Signe cartoon SIGN17e Cigarette Tax (Signe Wilkinson)
on September 17, 2014 at 8:45 AM, updated September 17, 2014 at 8:50 AM

SB76: Senate panel advances property tax elimination bill PA House has said it can’t consider. — Under The Dome™ Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted 6-5 to report out legislation aimed at eliminating school property taxes in Pennsylvania. A few of those on the Senate Finance Committee who voted in favor of the legislation offered only tepid support, indicating their affirmative vote was to simply allow for further discussion and review of the property tax elimination proposal. Senate Bill 76 would replace the school funding generated by those property taxes with a broadened and higher (from six percent to seven percent) state sales tax and an increased state personal income tax (from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent). If that sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same plan contained in House Bill 76, and it’s the same proposal the House shot down (on a 59-138 vote) last year, in early October, in the form of an amendment to House Bill 1189. So while SB76 could get a final vote from the full Senate during the coming days of the abbreviated fall session, House Republican leadership has already said (back in April) House rules bar defeated legislation from being called back up in the same session, and, at least for the House GOP leadership, the rule still applies to SB76 even though HB76 was voted down as an amendment.

Encouraging movement on aid to Philly schools. Now lawmakers need to get the job done: Penn Live Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on September 17, 2014 at 10:33 AM
The state House is expected to take an encouraging step on Monday to help Philadelphia's public school students when it casts a likely vote on a $2-per-pack cigarette tax aimed at helping the cash-strapped district close an $81 million deficit.  With the  looming threat of both teacher lay-offs and a late opening for the current school year, lawmakers were nonetheless unable to reach agreement on a bill before they broke for their summer recess in June.  Republican Gov. Tom Corbett floated the district the state money it needed to continue operating, but city and school district officials stressed that the new cash raised by the cigarette tax was still badly needed.
Local officials approved the tax hike earlier this year, but the Legislature must give its formal authorization for it to take effect.

Auditor General DePasquale Expands Ongoing Audit of Pennsylvania Department of Education  
Adds review of PDE oversight of employees and contractors 
PA Auditor General's Office Press Release September 17, 2014
HARRISBURG (Sept. 17, 2014) – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today announced that he has amended an ongoing comprehensive performance audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to include a review of the PDE’s oversight of certain employee classifications and consultants and contractors.    “We launched our current audit of the education department in February with the goal of determining whether it is doing everything in its power to ensure that our children are receiving the best education possible and that Pennsylvanians are getting the best value for our tax dollars,” DePasquale said.   “This new audit objective will enable us to assess PDE’s oversight of certain employee classifications and their effective use of contractors and consultants. It is critical that PDE direct all available resources toward student achievement in the classroom.”

Pa. audit expanded to review former education chief
An ongoing audit of Pennsylvania's Department of Education will now also look into certain employees, including Ron Tomalis, the former secretary and special adviser to the governor who resigned under a cloud of criticism this past August.  Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, the state's top fiscal watchdog, said Wednesday the in-progress audit will review special advisers, contractors, and short-term employees.  "It's not just about Mr. Tomalis," said DePasquale. "It's an issue broadly about are people being hired and they don't have an actual role to play?"

Oxford High students work toward college degrees
West Chester Daily Local By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY, For 21st Century Media POSTED: 09/16/14, 1:20 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
OXFORD >> Just as they are getting used to the new experience of starting high school, 20 ninth graders at the Oxford Area High School are also adapting to their first college experience.
In a new partnership between Cecil College and the Oxford Area School District, the students have the opportunity to be both college and high school students at the same time as the first participants in the Early College Academy.  “It’s such an incredible opportunity for our students. More and more we need to look at ways to get students to whatever future they want to achieve,” Oxford High School Principal Christopher Dormer said. “Every one of these kids who makes the four year commitment is going to graduate with an associates degree. To me, those are employable skills right out of high school. I think its an amazing opportunity.”

Wilmington PA School District goes on record against federal standards
By Mary Grzebieniak  New Castle News Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 3:30 am
The Wilmington school board unanimously went on record opposing Common Core.
The action Monday makes it the second district in Pennsylvania to publicly object to the new federal education standards.  The West Jefferson Hills district in Allegheny County was the first. In addition, Haverford Township’s school district in Delaware County, has publicly opposed certain aspects of Common Core such as testing and curriculum, according to Wilmington board member Lynn Foltz.  Board president Dr. Bo DiMuccio said he hopes the action “sends a message” although he acknowledged it probably won’t have any effect unless many more districts take action.  “This won’t change anything overnight,” he said, but added, “I think there is a wave of change happening.”  The resolution states that private groups, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, spent millions of dollars advocating the new academic standards which were developed through a process “not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws ...”  The result, according to the resolution, is “neither research based nor internationally benchmarked ...” And costs to local districts and the state were never analyzed, the resolution continues.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School seventh-, eighth-graders to attend class on Saturdays
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on September 17, 2014 at 8:00 PM, updated September 18, 2014 at 6:07 AM
Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School seventh- and eighth-graders will be in school on Saturdays and holidays as its expansion battle plays out in the courts.  The South Bethlehem-based charter school has outgrown its current location at 551 Thomas St. and seeks to open a middle school in the former Seton Academy.Bethlehem Area School District has been blocking its efforts, arguing only charter schools in Philadelphia can operate out of two locations.  The dispute has been playing out for months in the Pennsylvania court system. The district has agreed to schedule a Sept. 29 hearing on the move but won't vote on the matter until at least Nov. 17.

Palmer Charter seeks immediate relief from court
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, September 18, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 6:00 PM
The school year at a city charter could come to an abrupt end this week for its nearly 1,300 students.  The troubled Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School on Wednesday asked Common Pleas Court to order the Philadelphia School District to hand over nearly $1.4 million immediately or the charter could close Friday.  The complaint and a request for the emergency order were filed shortly after noon. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning.

York City teachers: Say 'no' to charters
York Dispatch By ERIN JAMES 505-5439/@ydcity POSTED:   09/17/2014 09:25:56 PM EDT
York City teachers are asking the district's school board to say "no" to charter schools.
That was the message of a public protest Wednesday where more than 100 people carried signs opposing the "corporate takeover" of city schools and chanted phrases like, "Our kids are not for profit!"  Dozens of parents, students and supporters joined teachers in the march before a scheduled board meeting.

Crowd urges "say no" to charter operators
Teachers and other community members marched before a board meeting
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   09/17/2014 11:58:39 PM EDT
A crowd of York City School District employees and other community members rallied before a school board meeting Wednesday, asking board members to "say no" to bringing in charter operators to run district schools.  The school board has been exploring that possibility, an option under its financial recovery plan. Those involved with the rally included the employee unions, the York NAACP, and York Concerned Clergy.

Possible York PA charter takeover sparks protest - Senate HELP takes up SETRA - ‘Undermining Pell’ - Child poverty improves, but 1 in 5 still poor
Politico By CAITLIN EMMA | 09/17/14 10:03 AM EDT
With help from Allie Grasgreen and Maggie Severns
POSSIBLE CHARTER TAKEOVER SPARKS PROTEST: Two for-profit charter school corporations are in talks to take over financially troubled York City School District in Pennsylvania — but teachers, parents and others are pushing back. The York City School Board meets tonight to review proposals from Mosaica Education, Inc., and Charter Schools USA. Protesters plan to march outside the meeting. Clovis Gallon, a York City teacher and organizer, told Morning Education he’s going to spread the message of what happened in Muskegon Heights, Mich.
— In 2012, Mosaica took over Muskegon Heights, one of the most financially troubled and academically struggling school districts in the country. That takeover made it the first charter school district in the nation — but complications soon followed. In addition to massive layoffs [] as Mosaica came in, about a quarter of the newly hired teachers quit. Mosaica didn’t make a profit. Within two years, the operation wasn’t financially sustainable and the contract was terminated []. Gallon said that kind of turmoil must be avoided in York City at all costs. “I don’t think it’s right that our local tax dollars will go to a for-profit charter that is going to be more worried about their bottom line — making huge profits — than our kids’ education,” he said.

The report is the result of a two-year study by grassroots organizers and education leaders nationwide who, under the auspices of AISR and Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER), examined the impact of rapid charter expansion on parents, students and communities.  “The group found some common concerns: Uneven academic performance; practices that pushed or kept students out of charter schools; overly harsh discipline policies; funding patterns that destabilized traditional schools; and a lack of representative governance, transparency, and adequate oversight, leading to potential conflicts of interests and instances of fraud and other problems,” the report stated.   
Charter School Law & Authorizer Practices Need Upgrades & Strengthening to Address Rapid Growth & Expansion (9/17/14)
Annenberg Institute for School Reform Published on September 17, 2014
New Report from Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform Cites Lack of Access, Transparency & Accountability
PROVIDENCE – A new report on charter schools from Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) recommends updates and adjustments to states’ charter legislation and charter authorizer standards to eliminate policies that result in student inequities, and that achieve complete transparency and accountability to the communities served.    “It is time to revisit and tune-up state charter laws and authorizer practices to allow the best features of chartering to flourish while weeding out the practices and loopholes that have cost states and taxpayers so much in both dollars and public trust,” notes the report, titled “Public Accountability for Charter Schools: Standards and Policy Recommendations for Effective Oversight,” issued today.

Thompson: Value-Added True Believers Should Listen to Principals
Scholastic Administrator This Week in Education September 17, 2014 Author: john thompson Sadly, a new Gates-funded study, "Principal Use of Teacher Effectiveness Measures for Talent Management Decisions," provides an ideal metaphor for what is wrong with value-added evaluations, in particular, and corporate school reform, in general.  I do not question the quality of work of its authors - Ellen Goldring, Christine M. Neumerski, Mollie Rubin, Marisa Cannata, Timothy Drake, Jason A. Grissom and Patrick Schuermann, or its findings.  The problem is that the report seems to assume that principals who do not agree with the Gates Foundation are incorrect and need retraining; it doesn't consider the possibility that value-added models aren't appropriate for teacher evaluations.   Goldring et. al found that 84% of the principals they interviewed believed teacher-observation data to be valid "to a large extent" for assessing teacher quality, but only 56% viewed student achievement or growth data to be equally valid. The study acknowledged that value added is perceived to have “many shortcomings.” Principals have doubts whether the data will hold up to official grievance processes. Principals also perceive that teachers have little trust in teacher effectiveness data.

Four Common Core ‘flimflams’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 17, 2014
Award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York was once a supporter of the Common Core but came to be a critic after her state began to implement the initiative. (You can read some of her work on the botched implementation  in New York here,  herehere and here.)  Burris was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010,  tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. In this post she looks at what she calls the “Four Flimflams of the Common Core.”

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!

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:

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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