Saturday, October 4, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 4, 2014: Coming Monday - The Campaign for Fair Education Funding

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, Superintendents, 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 4, 2014:
Coming Monday - The Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Coming Soon …The Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a new statewide effort consisting of more than 40 organizations (including the Keystone State Education Coalition) committed to fundamentally changing the way Pa. funds its public schools, will hold a news conference Monday at 12:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda to announce the campaign’s goals and next steps. For more information, visit

League of Women Voters to hold forum on Keystone Exams Tuesday, Oct. 7 in Radnor
Main Line Media News October 3, 2014
The Leagues of Women Voters for Radnor, Haverford, Chester County, Lower Merion and Narberth will hold a public forum entitled “Keystone Exams Not Just Another Standardized Test” on Oct. 7. The forum, also sponsored by area school districts, will enlighten parents and the community about the state’s new high school graduation requirement and how it affects public school students. Sharon Kletzien, education specialists for the League of Women Voters of PA will moderate and Amber Gentile, chairwoman of the teachers education at Cabrini College will give an overview on the topic. Panelists include state Sen. Andy Dinniman, West Chester Area School District Superintendent James Scanlon, Laurie Actman, Lower Merion School Board member, Conestoga High School Principal Amy Meisinger, Ray McFall, Delaware County Intermediate Unit assistant executive director and Josh Kershenbaum, an education lawyer. The forum begins at 7 p.m. at the Radnor Township Municipal Building, 310 Iven Avenue in Radnor. For more information: (610) 446-8383 or

"The videoconference event aimed to galvanize education leaders’ support for a fair education funding formula designed to ensure that every student across the state has access to quality education no matter where they live. The campaign’s objective is to have a fair and equitable basic education funding formula adopted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by 2016."
Chester County schools argue for fair schools funding
Unionville Times October 3, 2014
DOWNINGTOWN — School leaders and educators across Pennsylvania participated in the virtual kick-off of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding on September 30. Dozens of Chester County superintendents, administrators and school board members joined the discussion via videoconference from the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). Approximately 850 participants tuned in from 29 Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Unit (PAIU) locations across Pennsylvania.

PA Campaign for Fair Education Funding Storify of Sept. 30th Campaign Kickoff
On Sept. 30, 2014, more than 850 school leaders throughout Pennsylvania met at 29 Intermediate Unit offices, connected by two-way video, to kick off the statewide Campaign for Fair Education Funding and discuss the need for a fair, predictable basic education funding formula.

Blogger's Note: Video from the September 30th Basic Education Funding Commission hearing in Clarion has not been posted yet.  When it is we will post the link.
Testimony Presented to the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission September 30, 2014
Joseph Bard, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

School property taxes not a universal problem across Pa., report finds
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  on October 03, 2014 at 1:57 PM, updated October 03, 2014 at 2:43 PM
Pennsylvania doesn't have a school property tax problem, only parts of the state does.
That is the conclusion of a report released by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center that looks at school and county property tax rates and county assessment practices.
The center's director Sharon Ward said what the findings tell her is that a wholesale elimination of the school property tax as called for in Senate Bill 76is not warranted and could lead to $2.6 billion underfunding of schools in the next five years.  "Senate Bill 76 approaches school property taxes with a chainsaw where we think a scalpel is more appropriate," Ward said.

Study: SB 76 not necessary, but York taxes higher than much of Pa.
York Dispatch By NIKELLE SNADER  505-5431/@ydschools 10/03/2014 08:02:46 AM EDT
With property taxes on the rise in York County, several legislators, school board members and residents have called for sweeping property tax reform.  But taxes aren't really that high compared to national levels, and legislation such as the proposed Senate Bill 76 isn't the best answer for Pennsylvania schools and taxpayers, according to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.  The bill would eventually eliminate all school property taxes and replace the revenue with a combination of funding from income and sales and use taxes.
But the legislation would be a "chainsaw" approach instead of the necessary, more targeted solutions for highly taxed areas, said Sharon Ward, director of the center, which released a comprehensive report on property taxes in Pennsylvania on Thursday.

Pennsylvania's pension time bomb is ticking; will Legislature act? Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on October 03, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Pennsylvania legislators have known for some time that the state is $40 to $50 billion (that's "billion" with a "b") short of the money needed to cover future pension payments to state employees and teachers.   There has been no shortage of ideas for how legislators can begin to defuse the pension time bomb.  However, right now, there is a shortage of time for the Legislature to work out a responsible solution.  Legislative leaders have left the House and Senate only five days of work to pass bills between now and January.  This, from a legislature that is supposedly full-time and costs Pennsylvania taxpayers $229 million a year. (The bill would have been even higher in this year's budget, but Gov. Corbett used his veto to slash the Legislature's spending authority by $51 million.)

PA-Gov: RMU Poll: Wolf 57 Corbett 34
PoliticsPA Written by Nick Field, Managing Editor October 3, 2014
Another poll, another piece of bad news for Governor Tom Corbett.
The latest Robert Morris University poll shows Democratic nominee Tom Wolf holding onto his substantial lead over Corbett.  The survey of likely voters found 50 percent supporting Wolf and 29.2% backing Corbett. 20.85 remain undecided.  If those undecided are pressed, however, Wolf leads 56.8% to 33.8% when “leaners” are included.

Wolf maintains large lead over Corbett with month left in governor's campaign
Trib Live By Melissa Daniels Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, 5:18 p.m.
The latest sample of voter opinions in the Pennsylvania governor's race tested for lingering effects of Gov. Tom Corbett's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation.
It shows the struggling Republican incumbent still trailing Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by double digits.  Robert Morris University Polling Institute found 54.6 percent of voters say the Sandusky case would not affect their vote, according to an online survey sponsored by Trib Total Media. Almost 27 percent say Corbett's handling of the investigation makes them less likely to support his re-election, and 12 percent say it makes them more likely to vote for Corbett.
Auditor General launching second audit of Department of Education following allegations of highly paid ghost employee
Penn Live By Christina Kauffman |  on October 03, 2014 at 2:01 PM
Following allegations that a special adviser was actually a ghost employee paid to do virtually nothing, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is launching a second special audit of the Department of Education to hasten his review of the department's oversight of consultants and contractors.  Last month, DePasquale announced he was expanding the scope of an ongoing audit of the Department of Education to examine the oversight of contractors, consultants, and other job classifications that would include Gov. Tom Corbett's former special adviser on higher education Ron Tomalis

PSBA's John Callahan to appear on 'Pennsylvania Newsmakers' 
Political analyst Dr. G. Terry Madonna interviewed John Callahan, PSBA's senior director of government affairs, yesterday in Harrisburg during a segment for Pennsylvania Newsmakers. Callahan provided an update on school financing and the PlanCon process. The interview will air 7:30 AM Sunday on WGAL Channel 8.
Pennsylvania Newsmakers airs on the following networks around the state:
·         WGAL Channel 8 (Harrisburg and Lancaster): Sundays at 7:30 AM
·         WBPH (Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia): Mondays at 8:30 PM
·         WKBS 47 (Altoona): Saturdays at 9:30 AM
·         WPCB 40 (Pittsburgh): Saturdays at 9:30 AM

Councilman proposes setting stage for local takeover of Philly schools
It may be a case of putting the cart before the horse, but a Philadelphia councilman is proposing requirements for a city school board.   The proposal is taking shape even though there's no sign the state will return the Philadelphia School District to local control.  Visualizing a board made up mostly of education experts, Councilman David Oh said he's also like to include several members elected from the public as part of his charter change request.  "This charter change would include, for example, having third-party auditing, and having board members -- two that are elected and four that have advanced degrees and 10 years in their profession," he said.
Even though the state controls the district via the School Reform Commission, approving the changes would send a sign Philadelphia is ready to take over control of the educational process, Oh said.  "I think the first step we have to do is show the state we have put in a new, more responsible, more accountable system that is based on best practices," he said. "I think, at that point in time, we are prepared to receive the school district back with the support of the state in transitioning financially the school district from SRC to local control."

Two Philly charters owe their existence to appeals to state board
With passage of the cigarette tax, Philadelphia will see new charter applications and an appeals process for those that don't make the cut. In 2000, Walter Palmer's charter won approval via appeal.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 2, 2014 07:22 PM
The new cigarette tax bill that sends badly needed money to the School District comes with a caveat -- that the District start accepting applications for new charter schools.
To the consternation of the charter community, the School Reform Commission has not considered new charter applications since 2007, citing its precarious financial situation, although it has continued converting low-performing District schools to charters.
The new law also says that applicants denied by the SRC can appeal to the state Charter Appeals Board (CAB). This has been the procedure across Pennsylvania but is something charter applicants in the city were prevented from doing by the law that created the SRC.   
Will this open the floodgates to new charters? Hard to tell, but there's a bit of history.

Duquesne teachers' union approves new labor deal
By The Tribune-Review Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, 7:15 p.m.
The teachers' union for the Duquesne City School District ratified its new contract, a representative from the Pennsylvania State Education Association said Friday.  The union was scheduled to vote on the deal Thursday, a day after announcing that it and the district had tentatively reached an agreement.  The district is not expected to formally address the contract until Oct. 28.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Fighting Charter School Fraud in Pennsylvania
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch October 3, 2014 //
Here is the latest from Donald Cohen of “In the Public Interest,” which exposes privatization scams.  Donald Cohen writes:
“A $300,000 plane. $861,000 to pay off personal debts and keep open a struggling restaurant. A down payment on a house and an office flush with flat-screen televisions, executive bathrooms and granite counter tops. This isn’t a list of expenditures from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, this represents a small slice of the more than $30 million of taxpayer funds that have been wasted through fraud and abuse in Pennsylvania’s charter schools since they first opened in 1997.
A new report from the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education, and Action United is blowing the lid off the lack of public oversight at Pennsylvania’s 186 charter schools.

Report: Charter schools have lost $30 million since 1997
Beaver County Times Online By J.D. Prose  Published: Thursday, October 2, 2014 4:00 am
A day after Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta was in a federal courtroom as part of his ongoing criminal case, a new report cited him as an example of $30 million in fraud and financial mismanagement among Pennsylvania charter schools since 1997.
The report, “Fraud and Financial Mismanagement in Pennsylvania’s Charter Schools,” was done by three organizations, the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education and Action United.  It piggybacks on a national report on charter schools in May by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education that claimed more than $136 million has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse by charter schools.

Fraud and Financial Mismanagement in Pennsylvania’s Charter Schools
Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education, Action United September 2014
Executive Summary
Charter school officials have defrauded at least $30 million intended for Pennsylvania school children since 1997. Yet every year virtually all of the state’s charter schools are found to be financially sound.   While the state has complex, multi-layered systems of oversight of the charter system, this history of financial fraud makes it clear that these systems are not effectively detecting or preventing fraud.  Indeed, the vast majority of fraud was uncovered by whistleblowers and media exposés, not by the state’s oversight agencies. In this report we identify two fundamental flaws with Pennsylvania’s oversight of charter schools:
■■ General auditing techniques alone do not uncover fraud. Pennsylvania oversight agencies
rely on general auditing techniques, but not those specifically designed to uncover fraud. The
current processes may expose inaccuracies or inefficiencies; however, without audits targeted
at uncovering financial fraud, state agencies will rarely be able to detect fraud without a
■■ Adequate staffing is necessary to detect and eliminate fraud. Pennsylvania inadequately
staffs its charter-school oversight agencies. In order to carry out high-quality audits of any
type, auditors need enough time. With too few qualified people on staff, and too little training,
agencies are unable to uncover clues that might lead to fuller investigations and the discovery
of fraud

Students ask Harvard University to cut ties with Teach For America
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss October 3 at 2:04 PM  
Teach For America has a deep association with Harvard University. The Graduate School of Education has a page on its Web site called “Stories by Teach For America,” which features, not surprisingly, heartwarming stories about students who joined TFA.  Now, a group of students have sent a letter to President Drew Faust asking the school to sever ties with TFA unless the organization makes big changes.

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.  

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)

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.