Sunday, September 28, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 28: Quadrillion to one: no fallout; no charges for Gureghian managed CCCS

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 28, 2014:
Quadrillion to one: no fallout; no charges for Gureghian managed CCCS

KEYSTONE EXAMS: Not Just Another Standardized Test
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

How to Register to Vote - Deadline is October 6th
PA Department of State
Once you know you are eligible to vote, the next step is to register. In Pennsylvania, you can register in person, by mail and at various government agencies. Below you will find information about how to register, as well as links to voting registration forms and applications.

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Meetings*
PA Basic Education Funding Commission  website
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 11 AM, Clarion University
Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 10 AM, Perkiomen Valley
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Pittsburgh
* meeting times and locations subject to change

Basic Education Funding Commission with State Senator Rob Teplitz
Comcast Newsmakers September 24, 2014
Jill Horner speaks with Pennsylvania State Senator Rob Teplitz ( ) about the Basic Education Funding Commission and its efforts to find a more equitable funding formula for the state’s public schools.

Plancon: Corbett Administration Approves More Than $21.6 Million in Reimbursement for Construction Projects in 41 Schools
PDE Press Release September 26, 2014
Harrisburg – Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq today announced that more than $21.6 million has been approved for reimbursement of construction projects in 41 schools in 27 school districts and one career and technology center across the commonwealth.
“This much-needed funding will help to free up dollars that can be directed into the classroom to support student achievement,” Dumaresq said.  “I am hopeful that as we progress through the current fiscal year, the department will be able to approve additional projects as more funding becomes available.”

If charters are recommended for York city schools, what if the school board says 'no'?
If outside operators are recommended, rejection could lead to other state action
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   09/27/2014 03:29:10 PM EDT
Teachers and other community members rallied outside a school forum last week, urging the York City School Board to "say no" to two charter operators being considered to run schools.
The companies, Mosaica Education and Charter Schools USA, have visited York's schools, hosted local representatives at their schools and had discussions with the district's state-appointed chief recovery officer about potential draft agreements for operating district buildings starting next year, which is an option under the district's recovery plan. (Read ongoing coverage of York City School District considering using charter operators.)  At least one school board member, Michael Breeland, has publicly said he doesn't want charter operators, and board President Margie Orr said Friday she's not sure she sees what more the operators can offer the district.  But if David Meckley, the recovery officer, were to recommend one of the charter operators, the board's rejection of the notion could raise at least the possibility that a receiver would be appointed to carry out the plan.  The state recovery law — which triggered the appointment of Meckley and development of the recovery plan — states that the board must not take any action inconsistent with its recovery plan. If the board did, the state could petition the county court to appoint a receiver for the district.

Did 27,000 Pennsylvania educators get laid off under Gov. Tom Corbett? (Pa. Fact Finder)
York Daily Record By Ed Mahon @edmahonreporter on Twitter UPDATED:   09/26/2014 10:38:24 PM EDT
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, left, shakes hands with challenger Tom Wolf after their debate Monday in Hershey. A second debate is scheduled to take place in the Philadelphia media market on Oct. 1, followed by an Oct. 8 debate in the Pittsburgh media market. (Jason Plotkin — Daily Record/Sunday News)  An ad from Democrat Tom Wolf's campaign criticizes Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on the issue of education and says that because of the governor's cuts, "27,000 educators were laid off."  The issue got brought up again in Monday's general election debate, and Wolf's supporters have made a similar claim before.
PA Families First released a TV ad earlier this year, saying "Gov. Tom Corbett cut nearly a billion from education, forcing school districts to fire 20,000 teachers and staff," according to the Associated Press.  Tom Wolf makes a point during the Pennsylvania Governor's debate Sept. 22. (Jason Plotkin - Daily Record/Sunday news)  The Wolf campaign previously used the 20,000 figure. But the campaign and other critics of the governor increased it after the Keystone Research Center released a report with updated figures.  Katie McGinty, the head of a committee supporting Wolf, said during a Sept. 2 news conference in York County that Pennsylvania is "firing 27,000 teachers."
So what's true?

So the charter funding formula is unfair – but to whom?
Many observers agree that the overall pot of Pa. education aid is too small. But debate over fixing the rules fairly is fierce.
the notebook By  Dan Hardy  on Sep 24, 2014 01:24 PM
With education funds scarce in the commonwealth, the debate over how charter schools get their money has never been more polarized.  The stakes are huge: Last school year, 176 charter schools educated 129,000 students statewide, at a cost to Pennsylvania school districts of more than $1.2 billion. About half those schools and students are located in Philadelphia; they consume 30 percent of the District’s operating budget.  Charter schools are independently run public schools paid for by tax dollars, authorized and primarily funded by the school districts from which their students come. Districts send charters a per-student payment, based on a state-established formula.

State's special education funding rules are slow to change
the notebook By Dan Hardy  on Sep 24, 2014 01:29 PM
Pennsylvania’s special education funding system is complicated and in flux. But it has generally discouraged districts from identifying too many special education students while rewarding charters that do so.  Until this year, state special education funding for school districts assumed that 16 percent of their students had special needs, allocating money based on that percentage of total enrollment.  A legislative special education funding commission late last year recommended that districts get funding based on the actual numbers, with three tiers of payments based on the severity of a student’s disability. That concept was applied only to the small amount of new special education funding in the 2014-15 state budget.

Answers to common questions on Philly funding needs
the notebook By Paul Jablow on Sep 26, 2014 10:33 AM
Doesn’t Philadelphia get a huge share of state education aid already?
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made the point when he met with District Superintendent William Hite in August that the city has 12 percent of the state’s school population but receives 18 percent of the state’s basic education subsidy. But Matthew Stanski, Hite’s finance director, says that these numbers alone don’t capture the reality. He gives several reasons. First, Pennsylvania chips in a smaller share of education funding than most other states, so there is less state aid to balance out inequities between districts. But more important, he said, Philadelphia educates more children from low-income backgrounds than any other district. More than 80 percent of Philadelphia students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, almost twice the statewide average of 43 percent. Such a high concentration of poverty comes with added costs to a school district

Fallout of Pa. cheating scandal continues with charges against two Philly principals
Early in the morning, before anyone else arrived, former Communications Technical High School principal Barbara McCreery would sit in her office and redo some of her students' standardized test booklets – 15 at a time, she admits, with an answer key in hand.  McCreery details that routine in a grand jury report released this week by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, as she and former Bok Technical High School principal Arthur "Larry" Melton were arrested on charges of forgery and tampering with public records.

Quadrillion to one: no fallout; no charges for Gureghian managed CCCS
"A state forensic analysis found that the odds that erasure patterns were random on the reading portion of Chester Community Charter School seventh-graders’ 2009 PSSAs were between one in a quadrillion and one in a quintillion. Analyses done in 2010 and 2011, according to the Department of Education, also found “a very high number of students with a very high number of wrong-to-right erasures.” But the state left the charter to investigate itself."
Citypaper July 2013: How Pennsylvania schools erased a cheating scandal
Tainted scores throw an entire way of running schools into question.
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 07/18/2013
The odds that 11th-graders at Strawberry Mansion High School would have randomly erased so many wrong answers on the math portion of their 2009 state standardized test and then filled in so many right ones were long. Very, very long. To be precise, they were less than one in a duodecillion, according to an erasure analysis performed for the state Department of Education.
In short, there appeared to be cheating — and it didn’t come as a total surprise. In 2006, student members of Youth United for Change protested being forced out of class for test-preparation sessions and won concessions from the district. In 2010, principal Lois Powell-Mondesire left Strawberry Mansion; after her departure, test scores dropped sharply. 

"CCCS was founded by Gladwyne lawyer and entrepreneur Vahan Gureghian, who is also the founder and CEO of Charter School Management, Inc. (CSMI), a for-profit management company that operates CCCS under contract. The school has attracted attention in part because Gureghian is an influential power broker in both Delaware and Montgomery counties and a major Republican campaign donor.   According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Gureghian has in recent years contributed almost half a million dollars to state Republican candidates and committees, including over $300,000 – more than any other individual donor – to the campaign of Gov. Tom Corbett. A strong proponent of charter expansion and school choice, Gureghian played a significant role on Corbett’s transition team, including as a member of its education committee."
the notebook July 2011: Two of Pa.'s largest charters part of test score probe
by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook/NewsWorks on Jul 21, 2011 12:07 PM
Two of the largest charters in Pennsylvania, Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) and the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber), are among the 89 schools across the state that are to be investigated for statistical irregularities on 2009 standardized tests.
In all, 10 Pennsylvania charters were found to have 2009 test scores warranting further inquiry, according to a recently revealed state report meant to identify "potential test results that may have been earned unfairly."  The rest of the 89 schools are spread over 38 school districts. State Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis has directed those districts to conduct investigations in all their traditional public schools that were heavily flagged in the study. The charters with unusual results will investigate themselves, according to Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) spokesperson Tim Eller. 

A proposal before state lawmakers would require public colleges and universities to agree on uniform guidelines for accepting credits, not only from AP exams, but also from International Baccalaureate or College-Level Examination Program exams, which are less common in Pennsylvania.
HB2076: AP classes put college-bound students on fast track
Trib Live By Kari Andren Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
When Alexandra Piampiano stepped onto the lush, 200-acre campus of St. Vincent College in the fall, she was considered an upperclassman.   Piampiano earned 24 college credits in subjects ranging from psychology to world history through Advanced Placement exams she took in high school in Webster, N.Y.  Piampiano is one of 10 first-year students who entered St. Vincent as sophomores. The students, part of an incoming class of 450, earned between 23 and 47 credits through AP exams, programs offering college courses in high school or a combination of the two, school officials said.

Palmyra Area School District figuring out how to calculate GPA for online courses
PennLive By Monica Von Dobeneck | Special to PennLive  on September 25, 2014 at 10:01 PM, updated September 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM
The Palmyra Area School District is trying to be more flexible in its academic requirements, and that includes letting students take extra courses online. But that is posing a dilemma in how to calculate grade point average.  High school Principal Benjamin Ruby brought the issue to the school board Thursday night.  He said some students are taking extra courses because they want to graduate early or just because they want the extra challenge. But the online courses cost $400, and some parents might be unwilling to spend that money.

DePasquale right on DOE
Pottsville Republican Herald EDITORIAL Published: September 26, 2014
Even though the Corbett administration has failed to produce any work product from former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis, who was kept on as an adviser after the governor sacked him, it also contends there is something wrong with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale continuing to look for it.  A DOE spokesman contended that DePasquale is playing politics, after the auditor general announced that he would expand an ongoing routine audit of the department to examine the performance of its paid advisers, including Tomalis.

Judge orders Palmer charter to pay back $1.5 million
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, September 27, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Friday, September 26, 2014, 5:17 PM
The Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School has received more bad news.  The charter - which has said it might have to close because it cannot pay its bills - has been ordered to repay the School District of Philadelphia the $1.5 million it has received over the last several years for students it was not authorized to enroll.
Commonwealth Court Judge James Gardner Colins issued the order Thursday. It stemmed from a state Supreme Court decision in May that the school was bound by the terms of the charter it signed in 2005, which limited enrollment to 675 students.

Why Don’t We Have Real Data on Charter Schools?
Charters were supposed to be laboratories for innovation. Instead, they are stunningly opaque.
The Nation by Pedro Noguera  September 24, 2014
In several cities throughout the country, there is a fierce conflict raging over the direction of education reform. At the center of this increasingly acrimonious debate is the question of whether or not charter schools—publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules (and often the control) of traditional public-school systems—should be allowed to proliferate. Given their steady growth (from no more than a handful twenty years ago to over 6,000 today), charter schools and their advocates appear to have the upper hand. A new bipartisan bill—the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, sponsored by Republican senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Democratic senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Michael Bennet of Colorado—would provide new funds to launch, replicate and expand charter schools nationwide.

"Indeed, K12 Inc.’s spectactular growth over the years stems largely from the extraordinary amount the company spends on lobbying, as well as on marketing and advertising, with promises in some areas that enrollment comes with a free computer. USA Today found that the company spent $21.5 million on advertising in the first eight months of 2012. The company sponsors billboards, radio advertisements, and spots on children’s cable television.
K12 Inc.’s lobbyists helped author model legislation to develop sweeping voucher laws through the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that provides state lawmakers with template legislation. Though state by state lobbying figures are difficult to come by, given the patchwork of varying laws, K12 Inc. has hired dozens of local officials to ensure that these voucher laws are quickly passed with few amendments. “We have incurred significant lobbying costs in several states,” K12 Inc. noted in a filing with the SEC.
“The stockholders benefit from those students’ enrollments, but the students get stuck with a lousy education that will follow them the rest of their lives,” says Jeff Bryant, the director of the Education Opportunity Network."
Venture Capitalists Are Poised to ‘Disrupt’ Everything About the Education Market
Venture capitalists and for-profit firms are salivating over the exploding $788.7 billion market in K-12 education. What does this mean for public school students?
The Nation by Lee Fang  September 25, 2014  
This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.
In his book, Finding the Next Starbucks: How to Identify and Invest in the Hot Stocks of Tomorrow, Michael Moe, describes how carefully crafted business strategies have transformed markets to create huge profits in unlikely sectors. The title relates to how Starbucks became a global corporation of almost $15 billion in revenue by capturing and streamlining the café experience. Moe, a former director at Merrill Lynch, wrote that at one point in the United States, even healthcare was an undesirable and difficult industry for investment, and that bankers once worried if profit-making in such a realm was worth their effort. In 1970, healthcare spending comprised 8 percent of GDP, yet market capitalization in healthcare stood at less than 3 percent. That shifted quickly not only as the boomer generation aged, but as a wave of privatization hit hospitals, insurers, and other segments of the healthcare system. More than thirty years later, Moe wrote, healthcare companies are among the largest in the world, and represent more than 16 percent of US capital markets. “We see the education industry today as the healthcare industry of 30 years ago,” Moe predicted.

Health Issues in Schools: "Mom I can't find the Nurse"
October 21, 2014 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia 
Philadelphia has one of the worst childhood asthma rates in the country. We need more nurses in Philadelphia's schools to aid children suffering from this and other health issues. Join us to discuss Pennsylvania laws governing nursing services.
Tickets: Attorneys $200       General Public $100      Webinar $50   
"Pay What You Can" tickets are also available
Click here to purchase tickets

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

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.

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.

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.

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