Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 14: Who are the top donors to PA gubernatorial campaigns?

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 14, 2014:
Who are the top donors to PA gubernatorial campaigns?


BASIC EDUCATION FUNDING COMMISSION PUBLIC MEETING
Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:00 AM     Perkiomen Valley H. S. 509 Gravel Pike Collegeville, PA
(public hearing to consider other state's funding formulas and weights; and level of local support and taxing capacity)

Perkiomen Valley High to host school-funding hearing
Inquirer by Kathy Bocella LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 1:08 AM
MONTGOMERY COUNTY - School-funding hearing is set
COLLEGEVILLE Area school superintendents will testify Thursday at Perkiomen Valley High School at a hearing on what has become a key issue in the gubernatorial campaign - school funding.  The topics will include the effects that pension costs and tax-exempt properties have on school budgets. The discussions also will cover the impacts of special education, transportation costs, and business taxes.  The hearing, set to begin at 10 a.m., is expected to include a presentation from Mike Griffith, an independent school-finance consultant, on other states' education funding formulas.

The Campaign for Fair Education Funding Launches Effort to Ensure Access to Quality Education for Every PA Student
Campaign for Fair Education Funding October 6, 2014 Press Conference Video (runtime 43:18)
More than 40 Organizations Join Statewide Initiative to Change Funding Formula
A coalition of more than 40 organizations today kicked off the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to ensure that every student has access to a quality education - no matter where they live.  "Every child deserves a chance to succeed. We need a fair, sustainable and predictable method for funding public schools that recognizes the shared responsibility we all have – and the shared benefits we all receive – when every Pennsylvania child gets that opportunity," said campaign manager Kathy Manderino.  The Campaign's member organizations include educators, labor, business groups, faith-based organizations, child advocates, charter schools, traditional public schools and representatives from rural, urban and growing school districts.

Who are the top donors to Gov. Tom Corbett's campaign?
Penn Live By PublicSource on October 14, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Here's a look at the top 10 donors to Gov. Tom Corbett's campaign:

Who are the top donors to Democrat Tom Wolf's campaign?
Penn Live By PublicSource on October 14, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Here are the top 10 donors to the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf:

Follow the Money: Who gave/received school privatization contributions in Pennsylvania in 2014
Keystone State Education Coalition October 8, 2014
Six millionaires/billionaires contributed $1,482,604 to privatize democratically-governed Pennsylvania public education.

"Corbett has taken heat for presiding over state cuts in education funding. His Democratic predecessor cut basic funding for schools as revenues slumped and relied on temporary stimulus money until those federal funds dried up.  In 2012, Corbett brought state funding for education back up to 2008 levels, still at least $500 million below the previous year without the stimulus funds. This fiscal year, Pennsylvania is spending $5.5 billion on basic education."
Polls: Nearly 22 percent of Republicans deserting Corbett
Morning Call By Ellen Wulfhorst October 13, 2014
WAYNE, Pa., Oct 13 (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is not only trailing his Democratic challenger badly, but he has lost the support of nearly a quarter of his fellow Republicans, according to polls showing his bid for a second term is in deep trouble.
With the incumbent faring so poorly, his party is counting on Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey to shore up Corbett's campaign. But even the backing of a powerful populist like Christie, renowned for his bipartisan appeal, could be too little, too late for his Pennsylvania counterpart, analysts say.

Common Core execution is flawed
Centre Daily Times BY DAVID HUTCHINSON October 9, 2014 
State College
Most of us in education have come around to the view that it’s no longer appropriate for students to spend the bulk of their time on the memorization of facts and the rote use of math and science algorithms.  In large part, the Common Core standards were an attempt to address this, by refocusing classroom instruction on conceptual understanding and the development of higher-order thinking skills — something the better teachers have always tried to do.
The other rationale for Common Core is that, in a highly mobile society, we should have some measure of consistency from one region of the country to another. The parents of a reasonably successful fifth-grader in Mississippi should not be shocked to discover that their child is reading at only a third-grade level in Pennsylvania (a recent true story).  Though far from perfect, and despite the fact that there was almost no input from actual teachers in the development of these standards, the majority of educators are of the opinion that Common Core reasonably meets these two objectives.  So, what’s the problem? There are several.

League of Women Voters Keystone Exams Forum (video)

Radnor Township School District Published on Oct 9, 2014 Video runtime 1:56:53
The Leagues of Women Voters from Radnor, Haverford, Lower Merion/Narberth and Chester County, with the support of local school districts and in partnership with their parent-teacher organizations, hosted a public forum on the Keystone Exams on Tuesday, October 7. 

State can't produce work documents for Tomalis under open records law
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, 4:24 p.m.
HARRISBURG — The Corbett administration did not produce a contract or a work record of former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis' 15-month service as a special education advisor who was paid $139,000 a year, documents show.  The Department of Education and the Office of the Governor, both under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, provided no documents such as progress reports, employee evaluations, performance reviews or performance improvement plans sought under the Right to Know Law by Campaign for a Fresh Start, a political committee formed by Corbett's opponent, Democrat Tom Wolf. Fresh Start highlighted its findings in a news release Monday.  Corbett, of Shaler, and Wolf, of Mt. Wolf in York County, face each other in the Nov. 4 general election.  A Corbett campaign spokesman said the Fresh Start news release was an effort by the Wolf campaign to distract from Wolf's plans to significantly boost taxes.
Pa. lawmaker wants to give governor the power to abolish SRC
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903 POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 3:01 AM
A PHILADELPHIA Democrat wants to give the power to abolish the School Reform Commission to the governor.  State Sen. Vincent Hughes plans to offer an amendment in the Senate this week that would authorize the governor, through the Secretary of Education, to dissolve the SRC.
Currently, the SRC would have to vote to dissolve itself.  The amendment will come a week after the SRC unilaterally canceled the school district's contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers - an unprecedented move - and imposed changes to health-care benefits. The move riled the union and drew public scorn from several Philly Democrats, who framed the action as a "Hail Mary" to help Gov. Corbett's re-election efforts.

Tom Wolf's dumb idea about SRC
Philly.com Opinion By Phil Goldsmith POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 1:08 AM
Phil Goldsmith served as interim chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia from 2000 to 2001.
I must admit that I have been sleepwalking through the gubernatorial campaign between Republican Gov. Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf. Up to now, it's been same old, same old. Corbett stokes fear about tax increases, and Wolf, surrounded by his children, wife, and mother, acts as if he is running for Father of Pennsylvania, not its chief executive.
But I was jolted out of my slumber when I read that Wolf supports the abolition of the School Reform Commission (SRC) and wants to replace it with an elected school board. Now that got my blood moving. Most dumb ideas do. And this one is a doozy.  Either Wolf is just cozying up to union leaders or he is naïve about the ways of Philadelphia. Or, most likely, both.

Letters: SRC contrary to Constitution
Philly Daily News Opinion by LISA HAVER POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 3:01 AM
Lisa Haver is a retired Philadelphia teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
THE DECISION by Chairman William Green and members of the School Reform Commission to invalidate its long-standing contract with school district teachers, nurses, counselors and secretaries - in a meeting which was, for all practical purposes, closed to the public - is about issues much larger than money.  Their decision represents a violation of the civil rights of those who educate our children, and signals another step in the almost casual obliteration of the rights of the many Americans who work in public service. Most significantly, it is a clear violation of democratic principles and an assault against the American tradition of representative government.

Philly teachers say they already give to keep schools afloat
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Sunday, October 12, 2014, 1:09 AM
Inez Campbell has paid for students' medicine. Kimberly Lent has footed the bill for prom tickets and class dues. Sharnae Wilson bought her own copier because her school's machine doesn't always work. Emily Cohen has shelled out for enough books to fill a small library.  For decades, Philadelphia School District teachers, counselors, nurses, school psychologists, and others made a trade-off, they say.  They got top-flight health insurance with no payroll deductions. But they were paid lower salaries than their suburban counterparts, and worked in tougher circumstances.
And, nearly universally, they spent hundreds - even thousands - of dollars every year on supplies the system and its families often don't provide.

Fact-checking the District's claims about the contract cancellation
Some statements were erroneous. Often the reality is more complicated than what has appeared in press releases and sound bites.
the notebook By Paul Socolar on Oct 13, 2014 10:05 AM
Last Monday, the School Reform Commission voted to cancel the teachers' union contract and unilaterally change the health benefits for members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. After that action, PFT president Jerry Jordan charged that several of the official statements about the contract situation were "lies."   Here is a look at some of the statements and issues in dispute, and what the Notebookhas been able to find out about them.

Kindergarten enrollment declines 11.5% in Pittsburgh
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 14, 2014 12:00 AM
While Pittsburgh Public Schools enrollment has been dropping for years, officials took heart that in the past two years kindergarten enrollment was up.  This fall, however, kindergarten enrollment is down 11.5 percent from last year, and the district’s enrollment K-12 overall is down 1.72 percent.  “It’s never a good news story when it’s down,” said superintendent Linda Lane shortly after she received the report Monday. “So that train continues. We certainly are going to continue to be concerned and think about what more can we be doing in regard to that.”
Mrs. Lane said the district will examine birth rates to see whether that is part of the picture. “We don't have an explanation,” she said.

Bethlehem schools pleased with outsourcing substitute teachers despite lagging rates
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on October 13, 2014 at 7:56 PM
The company the Bethlehem Area School District hired to handle its substitute teacher staffing is lagging slightly behind last year's placement rates but officials remain pleased.
The district hired Substitute Teacher Services last year and this is the first year the company is handling all sub staffing. The Allentown School District is considering hiring Substitute Teacher Services as well.  Comparing the first seven weeks of this school year with last school year:
"We did better by 2 percent last year," said Russell Giordano, Bethlehem Area director of human services.  Superintendent Joseph Roy said the region's pool of substitute teachers has shrunk and filling vacancies in schools is increasingly difficult. STS has folks in its call centers calling potential subs long before district staff would be able to.

Celebrating Hope, Action, and Change
Yinzercation Blog October 13, 2014
Pittsburgh hosted the national launch of Bob Herbert’s new book last week with an event that was part rally, part community meeting, and part serious conversation. But it was also a fun celebration of our education justice movement with kids and drums and balloons, full of hope that ordinary folks like us can change the world when we work together. Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America tells a series of close-up stories about growing income inequality, the true costs of war, and our country’s failure to invest in public goods from infrastructure to education. It’s a devastatingly honest account of our national policy failures and the consequences of misplaced priorities.

TOUGH TIMES FOR K12, INC:
Politico Morning Education October 13, 2014
 The nation’s largest for-profit operator of public schools, K12, Inc., has had a bumpy ride of late. Its stock closed Friday at a 52-week low of 13.82 per share, down from a recent peak of 36.78 in September 2013. What’s behind the slump? For one thing, the company’s astronomical growth has slowed significantly. Just last fall, K12 executives were projecting revenue of $987 million for fiscal year 2014. But actual revenue for the year came in under $920 million. In a conference call last week, executives projected revenues would rise only slightly in the next fiscal year.
— Meanwhile, K12’s academic empire has been in turmoil. The board of Agora Cyber Charter in Pennsylvania, which is one of K12’s largest and most profitable online schools, has signaled its intent to seek new management (though it will continue to buy digital curriculum from K12). Colorado Virtual Academy broke ties with K12 before the start of the school year. And late last week, Delaware’s state board of education voted to close another struggling school operated by K12, the Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute. Trouble also looms in Tennessee, where Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has ordered the K12-operated Tennessee Virtual Academy to shut down after this school year unless it shows big gains in academic performance. And last spring, the NCAA said it wouldn’t accept coursework completed at any of two dozen K12-operated schools as proof of a student’s eligibility to compete for Division I or II colleges and universities.

Can our taxpayers get their money back?
School Choices: K12 Inc execs taking $2K per student in salary. 8 execs, 75K students, $21M in salaries. 20% of revenue in 8 pockets.
Morningstar Executive Compensation

"The idea is that teachers, like doctors in medical residencies, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can be responsible for classes on their own. At Aspire, mentors believe that the most important thing that novice teachers need to master is the seemingly unexciting — but actually quite complex — task of managing a classroom full of children. Once internalized, the thinking goes, such skills make all the difference between calm and bedlam, and can free teachers to focus on student learning."
As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works
New York TImes By MOTOKO RICH OCT. 10, 2014
OAKLAND, Calif. — Monica DeSantiago wondered how in the world she would get the students to respect her.  It was the beginning of her yearlong apprenticeship as a math teacher at Berkley Maynard Academy, a charter school in this diverse city east of San Francisco. The petite, soft-spoken Ms. DeSantiago, 23, had heard the incoming sixth graders were a rowdy bunch.
She watched closely as Pamela Saberton, a teacher with seven years’ experience in city public schools and Ms. DeSantiago’s mentor for the year, strolled the room. Ms. Saberton rarely raised her voice, but kept up a constant patter as she recited what the students were doing, as in, “Keion is sitting quietly,” or “Reevan is working on her math problems.”
To Ms. DeSantiago, the practice seemed unnatural, if not bizarre. But the students quieted and focused on a getting-to-know-you activity, writing down their hobbies and favorite foods.
Over the coming year, Ms. Saberton would share dozens of such strategies with Ms. DeSantiago, one of 29 prospective teachers earning a small stipend while participating in a residency program run by Aspire Public Schools, a charter system with schools in California and Memphis.

How a national moratorium on standardized testing could work
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss October 14 at 5:00 AM  
In early 2012, Robert Scott, then the commissioner of education in Texas,rocked the world of education reform when he declared that school accountability systems based on high-stakes standardized tests  had led to a “perversion” of what a quality education should be and he called “the assessment and accountability regime” not only “a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex.”  Different kinds of protests by parents and educators, school boards and students began in Texas, California, New York and other states, and the year ended with a public call by  Joshua Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing. Since then the “test reform movement” has grown around the country, with tens of thousands of parents opting their children out of mandated standardized tests, teachers are starting to raise their voices and refusing to administer them, students are leading protests for sanity in school accountability.
That all brings us to a new call for a full-scale testing moratorium, this one by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a nonprofit organization known as FairTest that is dedicated to ending the misuse and abuse of standardized tests. It’s no surprise that this group would seek a testing moratorium, but it comes at a time when the call is falling on more receptive ears than ever. In the following fact sheet, FairTest spells out why now is a good time for such a freeze and how it would work.

New website offers closer look into candidate' views on public education
PSBA NEWS RELEASE 10/6/2014
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) has created a new website for its members and the general public to get a closer look into candidates' views on public education leading up to the 2014 election for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Following the primary elections, PSBA sent out a six-question questionnaire to all Pennsylvania House and Senate candidates competing for seats in the November election.  Candidates are listed by House, Senate seat and county. Districts can be found by visiting the 'Find My Legislator' link (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/).
Features include:
·         Candidate images, if provided
·         Candidates are tagged by political party and seat for which they are running
·         Candidates who did not respond are indicated by "Responses not available."
Visit the site by going to http://psbacandidateforum.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the link tweeted out by @PSBAadvocate.
Candidates wishing to complete the questionnaire before election day may do so by contacting Sean Crampsie (717-506-2450, x-3321).

Register Now – 2014 PASCD Annual Conference – November 23 – 25, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PASCD Annual Conference, “Leading an Innovative Culture for Learning – Powered by Blendedschools Network” to be held November 23-25 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: David Burgess -  - Author of "Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator", Dr. Bart Rocco, Bill Sterrett - ASCD author, "Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal?" and Ron Cowell. 
This annual conference features small group sessions (focused on curriculum, instructional, assessment, blended learning and middle level education) is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for cultural change in your school or district.  Join us for PASCD 2014!  Online registration is available by visiting www.pascd.org

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

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.
Admission: This event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required.
When: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19106
Contact: Questions? Call 215-351-0511 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.

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