Thursday, October 2, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 2, 2014: Reaction to 2nd Corbett/Wolf debate: education, education, education

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 2, 2014:
Reaction to 2nd Corbett/Wolf debate: education, education, education

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

In Tom Corbett/Tom Wolf race, being the 'education governor' is hallowed ground: debate coverage
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  on October 01, 2014 at 3:15 PM, updated October 01, 2014 at 3:38 PM
PHILADELPHIA - Given the opening, Gov. Tom Corbett counter-attacked vigorously Wednesday against Democrat Tom Wolf's assertions that he "has not been a friend to public education."
Corbett, seated next to his foe in a Center City television studio here, countered that he has been a "very good friend" to the schools. "I have not," he conceded, "been a friend of the (teachers) unions."  How that argument works with Pennsylvania voters over the next five weeks will likely go far in determining whether Republican incumbent Corbett gets a second term as governor.
Here's the fact pattern he is up against:

In Philadelphia debate, Corbett and Wolf spar again on education cuts
Wolf: "You have not been a friend to education." Corbett: "I've not been a friend to the unions."
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 1, 2014 09:28 AM
The very first question to Gov. Tom Corbett in his debate with challenger Tom Wolf went straight to the point: Are schools better off in Pennsylvania since he took office?
The issue of education took up the first 17 minutes of the candidates' hour-long debate on Wednesday morning. Starting at 8 a.m. in the studios of KYW Radio, it was broadcast during morning drive time.  In a round of lightning-fast questioning marked by verbal zingers and frequent interruptions, the two men largely repeated their campaign positions on the issue, which, polls have shown, dominates voter concerns.  Corbett blamed unions and his predecessors for the predicament that many Pennsylvania school districts find themselves in: rising property taxes often accompanied by draconian cuts in personnel and services. Some 27,000 jobs have been cut from state school districts over the last several years.  Wolf blamed Corbett and said that if he became governor, he would send more money to school districts from the state by imposing a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas and creating a graduated income tax with higher rates on those in upper-income brackets. He said class sizes would go down.

"For the first 17 minutes of the hour-long session, aired live from KYW Newsradio's Philadelphia studio, the rivals traded accusations on school funding."
Corbett, Wolf tussle over education, state spending
THOMAS FITZGERALD AND JOSEPH DOLINSKY, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 10:09 AM POSTED: Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 8:37 AM
A drive-time debate between Republican Gov. Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf turned into a verbal slugfest Wednesday as the candidates accused each other of cooking the books, kicking the can down the road or otherwise displaying an unfitness to govern Pennsylvania for the next four years.  Wolf cited recent downgrades of Pennsylvania's credit worthiness by rating agencies that judged the latest budget as patched together with a series of one-time transfers of funds and overly optimistic revenue projections. He said the administration had "cooked the books."  "Are you accusing me of a criminal act?" replied Corbett, a former prosecutor and state attorney general. He said budget-making is an inexact art, and contended that former Gov. Ed Rendell - in whose cabinet Wolf served - had used some of the same tactics in writing some of his budgets.

Corbett, Wolf debate budget, school funding
By Kate Giammarise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 1, 2014 11:18 PM
PHILADELPHIA — Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf both aggressively tried to make their case to voters during a radio debate in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning, sparring over mostly familiar territory such as school funding and the commonwealth’s budget but also touching on a pornographic email scandal engulfing state government.  Education issues dominated much of the debate, as well as questions about the state budget, Mr. Wolf’s tax plan, the natural gas industry, job creation, pensions, the minimum wage and the scandal involving pornographic emails Attorney General Kathleen Kane says were sent by staffers in that office during Mr. Corbett’s tenure as AG.  Education — and how much money school districts have had or not had during the Corbett administration — has been a dominant theme of the campaign and it took up much of the first portion of the debate.

“It’s a matter of priorities, governor,” Wolf said to Corbett. “You have not been a friend of education.”  Corbett responded immediately, even talking over Wolf to make his point.  “I would disagree with you,” Corbett said. “We have been a very good friend of education. I have not been a friend of unions.”
Sparks fly at 2nd Corbett, Wolf campaign debate
Washington Times By MARC LEVY - Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A lively second debate between Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf became tense Wednesday as Wolf sought to assign blame to Corbett for budget deficits and struggling schools while Corbett tried to frame Wolf as the candidate who will favor labor unions over taxpayers.  Corbett and Wolf met during the one-hour “Breakfast with the Candidates” event at KYW-TV and KYW-AM in Philadelphia, answering questions by station reporters.  Wolf set the tone by going on offense immediately, turning a question about how quickly he can promise to increase the quality of public schools in Pennsylvania into an attack.
A caffeinated Wolf tangles with Corbett in morning drivetime debate in Philly: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek |  on October 01, 2014 at 11:39 AM, updated October 01, 2014 at 12:01 PM
Maybe Democrat Tom Wolf should have insisted that all three of this year's gubernatorial debates be held in the morning.   Because it was a caffeinated and feisty Wolf who showed up for Wednesday's confrontation with Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.   Wolf, a wealthy York County businessman, parried Corbett on issues ranging from education funding to economic development in the unusual, hour-long session that aired during morning drive-time on KYW-Newsradio in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning.   If we're scoring this one on points, Corbett may have emerged with a narrow victory for once again nailing Wolf on his failure to offer specifics on some of his tentpole plans. But Wolf, a one-time Rendell administration official, got his shots in early.

"The candidates also discussed schools for much of the hour-long debate, with Wolf accusing Corbett of eliminating a fair funding formula in Pennsylvania and Corbett restating his claim that he has increased education funding."
Corbett and Wolf mix it up, but no bombshells in Pa. governor's debate
Pennsylvania's two gubernatorial candidates came out swinging Wednesday at a televised debate in Philadelphia that centered on education, taxes and jobs.  Democrat Tom Wolf, a former state revenue secretary, said Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had "obviously cooked the books" in the state budget he signed last year. Wolf said the Corbett administration had overestimated revenues in the financial plan, relied on one-time transfers, and eventually ended up with a $700 million-plus shortfall.  Corbett shot back, "So you're accusing me of a criminal act?"
Corbett defended his budget as balanced and said revenues hadn't come in as expected, just as in past administrations.

Schoolyard Fight: Corbett, Wolf spar over the governor's history of education funding 
"Ask any teacher, they would undoubtedly say they've been cut."
Pittsburgh CItypaper By Rebecca Nuttall @PghReporter October 1, 2014
For several months, commercials for Gov. Tom Corbett's and Tom Wolf's campaigns have made starkly different claims about the governor's record on education spending.  "He's increased spending in the education department — $1.5 billion from where it was when he took office," says Corbett's wife, Sue, in an April 2014 video.  "The facts speak for themselves. Tom Corbett cut a billion dollars from our schools," counters the voiceover on a Wolf-for-governor ad from September 2014.  Each video provides its own sources for the claim. But if you ask teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools whether Corbett cut funding to public education, they don't need to look at charts or watch commercials to give you an answer.
"I've had this debate with people and if you would ask any teacher, they would undoubtedly say they've been cut," says Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. "We know what we've lost.

Vintage postings, Sept. 2011: Revenue Secretary: Corbett does not want to be known as the education governor
Carlisle Sentinel By Lauren McLane, Sentinel Reporter, September 14, 2011 Pennsylvania is not only open for business, the commonwealth is seeking to be a predator of new business, according to Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser… Part of Corbett's long-term goals are to create funding in which the "funding follows the student," said Meuser, who added that while Corbett does not want to be known as "the education governor," Meuser believes the governor's actions will speak for themselves.

Corbett vows pension special session in next term
By Dave Sutor New Castle News Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:30 am
Gov. Tom Corbett, if re-elected this year, plans to call for a special session of the Legislature specifically to deal with Pennsylvania’s pension issues.  He would like to see the meeting address state, municipal and school district concerns.  “I’ve been trying to fight the pension battle,” Corbett, a Republican, said during a meeting with The Tribune-Democrat Friday.  “I don’t know that we’re going to even get the little bit that we’re trying to get now. I’ve already announced, I’m going to call, in my second term, right away, a special session on pensions; not just the state pension, we might as well bring in the municipal pension, too, because I can tell you, all municipalities are coming to us, saying, ‘Take a look at this.’ Is that a big one to bite off? Yes. But, if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it? I know one thing, my opponent (Tom Wolf ) is not going to touch it.”

Philly schools' bond rating downgraded
Inquirer by Kristen Graham POSTED: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014, 10:48 AM
The Philadelphia School District's budget crisis isn't just pinching students and teachers. It's also affecting the school system's bond rating.  Fitch Ratings this week downgraded the district's underlying bond rating to BB-. The district's rating outlook remains negative, Fitch analysts said.
"The downgrade of the underlying rating largely reflects the continued deterioration of the district's already tenuous financial position," a Fitch report said. "The district's plans to achieve structural balance rely heavily on its continued ability to achieve dramatic expenditures savings, particularly gaining significant negotiated concessions from the teacher's union. Fitch believes the level of cooperation needed to fully realize these plans will likely not be forthcoming, resulting in continued negative operations and increased accumulated deficits."
Fitch also cited rapid charter school growth, noted that further growth is expected, "increasing the challenges of the district's financial environment." Since 2010, the number of city children enrolled in charters nearly doubled. The number of students enrolled in district-managed schools has dropped annually.

"Language tucked into the measure by State Rep. John Taylor (R., Phila.) requires the district to accept new charter applications. The law also gives rejected applicants the right to appeal to the state Charter Appeal Board in Harrisburg."
City schools to accept new charter applications
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, October 2, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 5:32 PM
In a move that cheered charter-school advocates, the Philadelphia School District said Wednesday that it would accept applications for new charters this fall for the first time in seven years.  "We are cautiously optimistic about this," said Robert Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.  But the cash-strapped district said proposals would be considered "in the context of the district's budgetary constraints."
District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the charter office was accepting applications to comply with the state's recently enacted cigarette tax law, which authorizes Philadelphia to impose a $2-a-pack tax to provide funds for schools.

Groups charge $30 million in charter school fraud, call for tougher oversight
A new report is calling for holding charter schools in Pennsylvania more accountable.
Produced by the groups Center for Public Democracy, Integrity in Education and Action United, the report says the $30 million in charter school fraud already discovered in Pennsylvania could be the tip of the iceberg because there isn't enough oversight.  Kia Hinton of Action United says they are calling for reforms such as targeted audits because $30 million could have been put to much better use.  "Do you know what that could get us? That could get us more teachers so our classrooms don't have 40 students, that could get us textbooks, so our students have textbooks and that could get us support staff to support our teachers and our students," Hinton said.
The groups are also calling for a moratorium on any new charter schools until more controls are implemented.

State Supreme Court rules for West Chester school district
West Chester Daily Local By Kelly Lyons, on Twitter POSTED: 10/01/14, 7:17 PM EDT |
West Goshen >> After a six-year-long battle between the West Chester Area School District and the Friends of Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined it was unconstitutional to require the school district to refund Friends its property taxes paid from 2008 through 2010 in a decision made Wednesday, Sept. 24.
Friends is a nonprofit organization associated with cyber-charter school Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, which in turn is associated with the school district. The nonprofit leases a building to the school on Enterprise Drive, and must submit its property taxes to the district.
The Supreme Court ruled that the General Assembly’s amendments to the school code in 2011 that allowed for tax exemptions for charter schools and their affiliates was unconstitutional “because it violated the separation of powers doctrine and the uniformity clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution,” according to court documents.
“Our argument, and the Supreme Court’s decision, focused on the Separation of Powers issue which prohibits the legislature from interfering with final judgments of the courts,” said the district’s lawyer Anthony Verwey in a press release.

Propel plans for charter school in Sto-Rox advances
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 2, 2014 12:00 AM
Propel has won another round in its attempt to start a K-12 charter school for up to 800 students in the Sto-Rox School District and will try to open a school by next fall.
The state Charter Appeal Board on Tuesday denied the district’s application for a stay that would have prevented Propel from opening its school while the appeal board’s decision to grant a charter is being appealed to Commonwealth Court.

Top 10 Reasons to See Bob Herbert
Yinzercation Blog October 1, 2014
We are hosting Bob Herbert, the award winning, longtime New York Times columnist, for the national launch of his new book,Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America. I know that sounds like a very serious title, but this is going to be an exciting event and the book features our local education justice work! So why should you come next Thursday (October 9th) at 5:30PM to Carnegie Mellon? Here are the top ten reasons you don’t want to miss this event:

Penn alumna fights for Philadelphia school reform
Daily Pennsylvanian By JENNIFER WRIGHT  10/01/14 2:04am
If you manage to catch Helen Gym for five minutes, two of them might be spent on the phone with a school district parent or dropping off materials from Parents United for Public Education for Back to School nights across the city.  Whether it is in-between dropped phone calls on a train home from WashingtonD.C., or a weekday morning after explaining to a parent on the phone how to file a complaint through, Gym can transition right into an interview about what’s going on in the district without missing a beat.
A former teacher, Penn alumna and school district parent, Gym is a loud voice among the many engaged in the dialogue about affecting changes to the school district — and rallying parents to push back is what Gym and her colleagues at Parents United see as part of the solution.

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card
School Funding Fairness Suffers Amid National Recession
Education Law Center Coauthored by Bruce Baker of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education; David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center (ELC); and Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director.
NEWARK, February 5, 2014 -- The 3rd Edition of Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card details how the Great Recession and its aftermath have affected school funding in the states.
The Great Recession triggered dramatic reductions in state and local revenue from property, sales and income taxes. To prevent layoffs and cuts to education programs, the federal government provided substantial stimulus funds on a temporary basis. When the stimulus ended, however, states faced a crucial test: either restore revenue or allow cuts to education funding and programs. This report shows many of the states failed this test, sacrificing fair school funding after the foreseeable loss of federal stimulus.
The National Report Card (NRC) examines each state's level of commitment to equal educational opportunity, regardless of a student's background, family income, or where she or he attends school. Providing fair school funding -- at a sufficient level with additional funds to meet needs generated by poverty -- is crucial if all students are to be afforded the opportunity to learn and be successful.

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
Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 10 AM, Perkiomen Valley
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Pittsburgh
* meeting times and locations subject to change

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!

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; closes October 6th
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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