Friday, September 5, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 5: Chester Upland receiver expected to OK expansion of charter schools

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 5, 2014:
Chester Upland receiver expected to OK expansion of charter schools

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

“You’re talking about huge amounts of money,” Feinberg said Wednesday. “It seems inappropriate ... How much money needs to be taken out of the public school system for personal gains?”  Feinberg would like to see a wider public discussion about the possible expansions and extensions for the charters because he believes it affects every resident of Pennsylvania, since a significant portion of Chester Upland’s funding comes from state sources."
Chester Upland receiver expected to OK expansion of charter schools
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 09/04/14, 10:49 PM EDT |
CHESTER — Chester Upland School District Receiver Joe Watkins plans on approving the expansion of the city’s three brick-and-mortar charter schools, allowing them to include high school classes in the future.  At a public meeting of the receiver on Aug. 21, Watkins passed three resolutions that affect Chester Community Charter School, Chester Charter School for the Arts and Widener Partnership Charter School. The resolutions were part of what Watkins calls ongoing partnerships between the Chester Upland School District and the district’s charter schools.   “This is kind of a way to show how we are working closely with all the charter schools in the district,” Watkins said Wednesday. “We’re interested in working with them as partners.”
The resolutions related to the extension of the schools’ charters for an additional five years and the expansion of their educational programs to include high school grades. All three charters are currently authorized to offer programs for grades K-8. While none of the extensions or expansions have been granted yet, the receiver’s intentions to approve them will help the charters going forward.

Blogger's note: To my knowledge, this right-to-know request is still in the courts
February 2006: Charter school should reveal deal, court says
February 17, 2006 By Dan Hardy INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The management contract between the Chester Community Charter School and a for-profit charter-management company headed by Main Line lawyer and businessman Vahan H. Gureghian should be made public, Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Related prior postings:
Follow the Money: Contributions by Vahan Gureghian 1/1/07 - 5/31/11

PA School Performance Profiles: How does Chester Community Charter School, Pennsylvania's largest brick and mortar charter, compare withChester-Upland School District's elementary and intermediate schools?
School                                                                                    SPP Score
Chester Community Charter School (K-8)                                    48.9
Chester Upland School of the Arts (PreK-5)                     56.3
Chester Upland Columbus Elementary (PreK-5)              52.0
Chester Upland Main Street School (PreK-5)                   51.5
Chester Upland Showalter Intermediate (6-8)                   43.2
Chester Upland Stetser Elementary (PreK-5)                   59.0
Chester Upland Toby Farms Intermediate (6-8)                48.6

Relative wealth, population shift mean different things to different districts. “  Under The Dome™ Thursday, September 4, 2014
Relative wealth” and “population shift” have emerged as the Basic Education Funding Commission's favorite buzzwords for describing the fundamentals of a new state aid formula for public schools. But the meaning of those terms differ from district to district — and the new formula the commission is tasked with creating, school business leaders say, must be fair and equitable to all 500 of them. CLICK HERE (paywall) to read Capitolwire Staff Writer Christen Smith’s story about the two important – but thorny – issues impacting many of the state’s school districts.

"Circuit riders" spread message of school funding formula
WITF Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Sep 4, 2014 1:15 PM
 (Harrisburg) -- A group of mostly former school superintendents is taking to the road to get their message out about school funding.  The circuit riders, as they're calling themselves, hope to educate others about how the state distributes money to school districts.
For example, Jim Buckheit, executive director for the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, says some midstate districts aren't getting the funds they need.

"Today, high-poverty public schools in Pennsylvania spend an annual average of $3,000 less per-student compared to wealthy schools, adding up to a funding gap of $75,000 in a classroom of 25 students.  Pennsylvania is one of only three states that distribute state funds to public schools without a statewide education funding formula."
School funding cuts hit poorest kids the hardest: Michael Crossey
PennLive Op-Ed  By Michael Crossey on September 04, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Pennsylvania's 1.7 million school-age children are heading back to public schools this fall. Most will return to schools struggling with issues of underfunding, cuts to instructional programs and staff, and larger classes.   Pennsylvanians have long enjoyed one of the best public school systems in the nation. Our state's reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress are among America's best.  Despite this excellent track record, we're now beginning to see declines in key test scores – the sad, but not unexpected consequence of what I call the "great public school defunding experiment."

Harper poll of Pa. gubernatorial race shows smaller margin between Tom Wolf and Gov. Tom Corbett
By Christina Kauffman |  on September 04, 2014 at 4:31 PM,
A Harper Polling survey released Thursday shows Gov. Tom Corbett trailing his Democratic rival by 11 points, the narrowest margin in any of the three Pennsylvania gubernatorial polls released in the past week.  The survey shows Democratic challenger Tom Wolf leading the Republican incumbent 52 percent to 41 percent.  A survey released a week ago from the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College showed Wolf supported by 49 percent of respondents, compared with 24 percent supporting Corbett. And a recent Robert Morris University Polling Institute survey showed Wolf leading 55.5 percent to Corbett's 24.7 percent.

Their View | Reforming our antiquated school construction law: PlanCon and House Bill 2124
Centre Daily Times Opinion by BY DAVID HUTCHINSON September 3, 2014 
David Hutchinson is a member of the State College Area school board.
Now under Senate consideration, House Bill 2124 would greatly streamline the arduous 11-step Planning and Construction Workbookprocess by which the commonwealth reimburses local school districts for a portion of approved school construction costs.  PlanCon has been part of the school code and state regulation for decades. The process is lengthy and requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s approval at multiple steps as a district proceeds with a project.  The proposed legislation would reduce the process to five steps and would even allow for electronic submission of paperwork, eliminating the current requirement to submit documents via a combination of printed forms and microfilm. A modernization of this process is clearly overdue.

Legislators describe issues facing state to West Chester Chamber
By Jim Callahan, Daily Local News POSTED: 09/04/14, 12:11 PM EDT |
CONCORD >> State Sen. Dominic Pileggi looked out over his audience with a pie chart of the state budget projected behind him: “Pick your favorite issue,” he said sourly.   Pileggi, R-9th of Chester, offered the charts showing broad expenditures and revenues of the state to illustrate how a budget was crafted.  He urged the members of the West Chester Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide input to legislators when they were debating issues.
However, they had to be aware that when legislators talk to people about services they are all for them. “But the same people don’t want to pay,” he said.  Pileggi appeared at a breakfast meeting of the chamber Thursday at the Concord Country Club with State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland, and State Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156th of East Goshen.  All were presenting members with a short report on issues facing the state that they were working on.

Local lawmakers to host town hall focused on pension reform
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Thursday, September 4, 2014 12:04 pm
Two legislators are teaming up to host a special informational town hall meeting that will tackle public pension reform.  State Reps. Ryan Aument and Mindy Fee said they have heard from many residents who have questions and concerns about the underfunded retirement systems. So, in an effort to help constituents understand the crisis and what lawmakers are doing about it, they decided to organize a forum on the topic.

'Passing the Trash': Pa. teachers slip through the cracks by quitting amid allegations
By Anna Orso |  on September 03, 2014 at 10:00 AM, updated September 03, 2014 at 9:03 PM
A former Bucks County softball coach pleaded guilty this year to sex charges and admitted having sexual contact with high school-aged students — at two separate schools.  Eric Romig, 36, propositioned two of his 16-year-old players at Faith Christian Academy during the 2008-09 school year, according to police. When one of the girls came forward, Romig was forced to resign, but the school never called police.   According to local media reports, Romig quietly slipped away from Faith Christian Academy and got a job at Pennridge High School, where he admitted he had sexual contact with another 16-year-old student. He was sentenced this year to spend 3-1/2 to 7 years in prison.   This practice of educators slipping away from a job after allegations of sexual misconduct arise happens in Pennsylvania, and legislation introduced to curb the problem has largely lagged in the state Legislature.   Senate Bill 46 — known as the "Passing the Trash" legislation — was introduced by Philadelphia Democrat Anthony Williams in 2011. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate last summer and won approval from the House Education Committee in October. But the bill has not made it any farther than that. Williams said he's perplexed as to why.

Principals question role of test scores in new evaluation process
Trib Live By Tom Yerace Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, 12:51 a.m.
When Alle-Kiski Valley school superintendents evaluate their principals' performance this year, student achievement will be half the equation.  This school year, the principals' performance will be evaluated through a set of criteria designed to improve performance and accountability, under the state's Educator Effectiveness Project.  A similar evaluation tool was put into play last year for teachers.  “A lot of it is in line with what we are implementing now,” said Matthew Curci, Apollo-Ridge superintendent. “A lot of it has to do with documentation. Obviously, we'll have to tweak a little bit to fall in line with the state process, but what they're asking for is similar.”
One aspect of the new evaluation process for principals — that educators don't like — is the inclusion of how students perform on standardized tests.

The effort, led by the William Penn Foundation and Drexel University, seeks to double the number of neighborhood children in high-quality child care within three years.  It sets other big goals too: Raise children's performance on pre-literacy tests by 15 percentage points. And through that, increase reading proficiency at local elementary schools almost 40 percentage points."
HUD head to visit West Phila. Promise Zone
By Jeff Gammage, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: September 04, 2014
The feds promised to help West Philadelphia. And now a cabinet secretary is showing up to take a look around.  Julián Castro, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will tour parts of the new Promise Zone on Friday, as two local institutions commence a $4 million initiative to transform early childhood education in a troubled part of the city.

Teachers unions' hope ride on November election
BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5903
POSTED: September 03, 2014
AS TEACHERS prepare to return to Philadelphia schools with fewer resources and still without a contract, union leaders already have an eye toward November.  That's when Democrat Tom Wolf looks to defeat Republican Gov. Corbett, who trails by 30 points in a Robert Morris University poll released yesterday. The union's hope is that Wolf, a businessman who publicly supports a tax on natural-gas drillers to help fund education, would restore some of the money cut under Corbett.
"It's very big," Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan said yesterday of the upcoming election, standing outside Girls High School in Olney, where the union held its first general membership meeting since last school year. "Certainly, we have a pattern, we have a history during the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell. We had a fair funding formula that the Legislature during his tenure approved and the governor implemented, and it was very, very helpful for every school district in the commonwealth, not just for Philadelphia.

Let them eat lunch: all Philly students now eligible for free school meals
For students in the Philadelphia school district, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
Starting this fall the School District of Philadelphia will serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students, waiving the need for parents to submit a paper application proving their income is low enough to qualify.  The district's division of food services has transitioned to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision — which allows districts which serve predominantly low-income students to discard the paper application.
According to an official release, the district anticipates that benefits will include "better access to school meals by easing the strain on household budgets, reducing the paperwork burden on families and eliminating the stigma associated with the free lunch program."
Although more students will be able to dine on the district's dime, officials say the move will actually won't cost the cash-strapped school system money.

Washington State High Court Justices Grill Attorney for State On School Funding
Education Week State Ed Watch By Andrew Ujifusa on September 3, 2014 7:40 PM
Justices on the Washington State Supreme Court aggressively questioned an attorney for the state Wednesday on why they should give state lawmakers more time to detail how they would dramatically increase K-12 spending. 
The court called the hearing to determine why the state should not be held in contempt for failing to abide by two previous court orders, in 2012 and 2014, requiring lawmakers to outline a detailed plan for funding state education to satisfactory levels. In 2012's McCleary v. State of Washington ruling, the court found the state's K-12 budget to be constitutionally inadequate.
While the justices did not rule from the bench on Wednesday, several of them seemed strongly skeptical that sitting back and trusting the legislature would produce different results than the relatiely modest funding increases approved so far. The state has until 2018 to constitutionally fund education under the McCleary ruling. If the court finds the state in contempt, it could take actions that would impact some or all of the state's future spending.

Teacher Rotation: China’s New National Campaign for Equity
Yong Zhao's Blog 5 SEPTEMBER 2014 209 NO COMMENT
By 2020, about one million teachers and principals in China will be swapped between good and poor schools annually, if the nation’s new strategy for easing education inequity goes as planned. The strategy is outlined in a policy document[in Chinese] jointly issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security recently.  The policy requires no less than 10% of teachers in urban and high quality schools be reassigned to teach in rural and poor schools each year. To prevent schools from sending less qualified teachers, the policy requires at least 20% of the rotated teachers be “backbone” [high quality] teachers. The policy also requires principals and deputy principals be rotated to a different school after serving two terms in the same school. Teachers from rural schools and or poor schools will have the opportunity to fill the vacated positions urban schools and better quality schools.  The policy is the implementation of a directive issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Part last November urging local governments to rotate school leaders and teachers from high quality schools to less-privileged ones to balance education resources.  Prior to the official issuance of the national policy, over 22 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) had already developed similar policies and begun piloting similar programs.

PSBA Members - Register to Join the PSBA, PASA, PASBO Listening Tour as BEF Funding Commission begins work; Monday, Sept. 8th 4-6 pm in Bethlehem
The bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission established under Act 51 of 2014 has begun a series of hearings across the state, and you’re invited to join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA, the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) as it follows the panel to each location this fall.
The first tour stop will be on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 from 4-6 p.m., at the Broughal Middle School, 114 W. Morton St, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  Click here to register for the free event.  Other tour dates will be announced as the BEF Commission finalizes the dates and locations for its hearings. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year.

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

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA.  Join us for a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person. To register, click here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page.  The Symposium will include the following:

Register Now – 2014 PAESSP State Conference – October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen.  This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference (Oct. 21-24) registration forms now available online
PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration forms are available online now. Other important links are available with more details on:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online -- bios/videos now live
PSBA Website August 5, 2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for each candidate. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openSept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to cast the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school entity's votes will be receiving an email in the coming weeks to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to cast the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

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