Friday, October 17, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 17: Superintendents from well funded suburban districts tell BEFC state funding of basic education is inadequate

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 17, 2014:
Superintendents from well funded suburban districts tell BEFC state funding of basic education is inadequate

The PA Senate will reconvene on Wed. Nov 12, 2014 at 1:00PM
The PA House will reconvene on Mon. Oct 20, 2014 at 11:00AM

Next Meeting Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Community College of Allegheny County, West Campus, Pittsburgh

Corbett vs. Wolf: What regional differences say about the race for governor
By Nick Malawskey |  on October 16, 2014 at 2:37 PM, updated October 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM
The prevailing media narrative in the Pennsylvania governor's race is that Gov. Tom Corbett is running from behind and that his opponent, Tom Wolf, has created a nearly insurmountable polling lead that makes his victory over the incumbent an all-but forgone conclusion.  That's correct, insofar as Corbett is running from behind, but a deeper look at polling data indicates that it's still too early to count the governor out.  Since early polling indicated Wolf had a healthy lead headed into the general election, Corbett has clawed much of that back – especially outside of the Democratic bulwarks of eastern Pennsylvania.  In fact, when polling results are broken down regionally, there's a good chance that Corbett not only will give Wolf a run for his money on election day but could end up carrying much of the state. Whether or not that translates into votes remains to be seen.  At Franklin and Marshall College, pollster Terry Madonna breaks the stat

State school performance scores stuck in limbo
Trib Live By Megan Harris Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Overdue school performance scores will remain in limbo through the end of the month pending verification from the state Department of Education, spokesman Tim Eller said.  “We're hopeful that the (profiles) will be released in the next few weeks,” Eller said this week, “but we want to make sure every school has an opportunity to check their information and make corrections if necessary.”  It's the latest in a series of delays this year for release of annual scores that became a fiasco a year ago.  District administrators were initially told to expect school scores Sept. 24. Then state officials emailed them to say public release was delayed to Oct. 1. Eller said the department has communicated via email as the process evolves.  “Since the 2013-14 (score) is the first year that impacts educator evaluations, the department wants to ensure schools have adequate time to review their information for accuracy,” he said.
Education funding group hears local testimony at Perkiomen Valley
By Frank Otto, The Mercury POSTED: 10/16/14, 6:36 PM EDT |
PERKIOMEN >> Members of the Basic Education Funding Commission met with local school superintendents Thursday at Perkiomen Valley High School to hear their issues regarding the school education formula.  State Rep. Mike Vereb, R 150th, one of the leaders of the commission tasked with coming up with a new basic education funding formula, hosted the hearing in a school where he was first drawn to the issue. Perkiomen Valley High School students protesting budget cuts this spring reached out to Vereb for his help in securing more education funding, putting the representative at the forefront of education funding reform.
“We’ve been statewide,” Vereb said of the commission. “What we’ve heard from multiple superintendents is our non-taxable properties, special education, transportation; they’re the same issues coming up. It’s a matter of how do we tackle those issues moving forward.”
In addition to Perkiomen Valley Superintendent Cliff Rogers, superintendents from Spring-Ford Area (David Goodin), Methacton (David Zerbe), Norristown Area (Janet Samuels), Phoenixville Area (Alan Fegley), Hatboro-Horsham (Curtis Griffin) and North Penn (Curtis Dietrich) gave testimonies to the commission in the high school’s auditorium.

Superintendents: School funding inadequate
Doylestown Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014 6:30 pm | Updated: 7:53 pm, Thu Oct 16, 2014.
As school superintendents testified before the commonwealth's Basic Education Funding Commission on Thursday, a consistent theme was echoed through their pleas to lawmakers — state funding of basic education is inadequate.  And most of the officials were not from financially distressed school systems. They represented suburban districts that would be considered well-off financially.  Curtis Griffin of Hatboro-Horsham, whose district recently received a credit upgrade, said "our financial future is bleak" because of the burden placed on local taxpayers. "I find that the current public school funding is inadequate, inequitable, unfair, unpredictable and unsustainable," he said.  Curtis Dietrich of North Penn, Montgomery County's largest school district, drove home the point of the inequities with an illustration that showed the state contributing $7.2 million in 2001 to North Penn's $125 million budget. In 2014, with a budget that grew $98 million to $223 million, the state's share increased less than $2 million to just under $9 million.
State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, who represents the communities that fill those districts, said the funding is "hardly living up to our constitutional obligation to our students."

School superintendents describe bleak funding landscape to Pa. legislators
JESSICA PARKS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 6:45 PM POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 6:38 PM
Seven Montgomery County school superintendents testified Thursday before Pennsylvania's Basic Education Funding Commission in Collegeville, describing years of declining funds and increasing costs, program and staff cuts, and unpredictable allocations from the state.
"Our financial future is bleak. We cannot continue to increase . . . this burden on the local taxpayer and our local business representatives," Hatboro-Horsham Superintendent Curtis Griffin said, calling the state funding system inequitable and unsustainable.  Griffin conceded that his district, like many others in well-off Montgomery County, aren't struggling in the same way as districts such as Philadelphia, where low funding has become an existential threat.  For suburban districts, the larger problem is an over reliance on homeowners to foot the school bills.

Storify: Education Funding Commission hearing at PV, 10-16-14
Storify by Frank Otto October 16, 2014
The Basic Education Funding Commission tasked with coming up with a new formula for state education funding arrived for a hearing in Perkiomen Valley and heard testimony from a host of local superintendents.

We don't need to reinvent the wheel.....
Funding Formulas in Other States
Education Commission of the States Powerpoint for October 16, 2014 Basic Education Funding Commission Hearing presented by Mike Griffith of ECS

Basic Education Funding Commission Public Hearing Thursday, October 16, 2014
Basic Education Funding Commission website October 16, 2014
Other State Formulas & Weights, Level of Local Support, and Taxing Capacity
Video of this hearing has not been posted yet - there are links to the agenda and testimony.

SRC listens to anger for hours, after thousands protest contract cancellaton
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 16, 2014 11:37 PM
A massive crowd gathered outside District headquarters to support protesting teachers.
For nearly three hours Thursday night, the School Reform Commission listened to harsh and bitter criticism of its move last week to cancel its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and unliaterally change health benefits for the union's 11,500 members. 
The SRC's first meeting since its Oct. 6 action followed a demonstration outside District headquarters that drew what police estimated as upwards of 3,000 angry teachers and their supporters, who listened to speeches, chanted, and vowed labor solidarity.  Inside the meeting, SRC members were lectured by more than 50 teachers, parents, legislators and one student. Alfredo Practico of Masterman Middle School called teachers "heroes" and said it was wrong to take anything away from them.  Then PFT president Jerry Jordan called the SRC members "liars."  Former PFT president Ted Kirsch called out SRC members individually, especially Green, whose father, Mayor Bill Green III, famously reneged on a 10 percent raise for the PFT in 1981, precipitating a 50-day strike.

Thousands join street protest before raucous SRC meeting
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM AND AUBREY WHELAN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS LAST UPDATED: Friday, October 17, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 10:29 PM
Furious over the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's move to unilaterally cancel its teachers' contract, 3,000 people shut down North Broad Street on Thursday, vowing more disruptive action if the panel's action is not undone.  The eyes of the nation are on Philadelphia, said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, in town for a massive rally held before an SRC meeting.  "Philly is ground zero for injustice," Weingarten told the crowd of sign-waving teachers, counselors, nurses, and supporters. "The SRC has become a morally bankrupt institution."  "We're not rolling over and we're not taking it," said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.  Joined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the SRC filed a motion for declaratory judgment Oct. 6 in Commonwealth Court to affirm its action, taken to save $54 million by making PFT members pay toward their health benefits. The union is expected to file a counter-motion shortly.

Future of York City schools remains unclear
York Dispatch By ERIN JAMES 505-5439/@ydcity POSTED:   10/16/2014 09:27:49 PM EDT
One thing is clear after the York City school board's rejection this week of a plan to turn three schools over to a for-profit charter company next year.  The district's future remains undecided.
Each of the district's nine board members expressed doubt Wednesday that a charter company could solve the district's financial and academic problems — even the two members who voted in favor of chief recovery officer David Meckley's proposal to split operation of the district's eight buildings between traditional administrators and Charter Schools USA next year.

Greased lightning for a good cause
Auto-body students in Chesco repairing a car to be given to a man in need.
It turns out that Chester County is an auto-body trainee's idea of utopia.
High-income residents, expensive cars, and winding rural roads add up to a lucrative place for collision-repair specialists to make six-figure salaries.  And 45 students at Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine are on their way there, learning the magic of making dents - or worse - disappear. But along the way, the teens are doing a good deed.  Students at the Downingtown school are the first high schoolers in the nation to participate in a program that repairs older vehicles to be donated to needy families and charitable groups.  The students are part of Recycle Rides, a seven-year-old program of the National Auto Body Council that has insurance companies, paint suppliers, parts vendors, and collision repairers collaborating to not only fix up a car, but also give it away.

Education issues highlight 57th House District race
Trib Live By Kari Andren Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Education funding is the top issue for candidates seeking to represent part of Westmoreland County in the state House.  Three-term Rep. Tim Krieger, R-Delmont, will square off against Democratic challenger Donna McClelland, a Greensburg attorney, on Nov. 4 for the district comprising Delmont, Greensburg, Hunker, New Stanton, Salem, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg, Youngwood and parts of Hempfield.  Krieger, 53, said reining in pension costs, particularly for school districts, is crucial to alleviate school budget pressures.  “When you take a look at local districts, there's substantial state funding there,” Krieger said. “School district budgets are getting more tight and will continue to get more tight until we address the problem.”
After founder loses court case, 600 students face expulsion from Philly's Palmer charter
Usually, charter schools hold lotteries to decide who will attend. But one school is scheduled to hold a lottery Thursday night to find out who will have to leave.  A forced enrollment cut is just one of many problems faced by the Walter D. Palmer Charter School in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties.  A pioneer of the local school choice movement, Walter Palmer has for years overenrolled his charter school, hoping to force the Philadelphia School District to eventually pay for the extra students.  He lost that fight in court this year. Now, almost half of Palmer's 1,200 students have to find new schools.

Philly students disrupt anti-union film screening at school district HQ
Yesterday evening, students from the Philadelphia Student Union disrupted ascreening at the School District headquarters of “Won’t Back Down,” a film largely critical of teachers unions and supportive of charter school development.  The students sat silently in the first few rows of the auditorium, only to break out of their seats about 20 minutes into the film to sit in front of the screen and clap and chant in support of a fair funding formula and against the recent decision by the School Reform Commission to cancel the teachers’ union contract.  Members of the surprised audience took out their cell phones and began filming the students while event organizers scrambled around the auditorium attempting to control the situation.

Diversity rising in Lancaster County's suburban and rural schools
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Friday, October 17, 2014 6:00 am
Across the road from New Holland Elementary School, cornstalks stretch toward the sky, Amish children play baseball and silos dot the landscape in every direction.  "It's a picture of America," Bob Hollister says.  But the Eastern Lancaster County School District superintendent isn't referring to the idyllic scenery outside New Holland Elementary.  Hollister is talking about the student body inside the school, which has almost 25 percent minority students.  And he's right. The picture of American public schools has become increasingly diverse.

"Three years after the New York Times exposé, K12 appears to finally be taking a step away from virtual charter school operation — not because it is bowing to critics’ continuing complaints, but because virtual charters are no longer the lucrative or growing business they once were."
K12 Inc: The Beginning Of The End For Controversial For-Profit Charter Schools
K12 Inc. may be shifting its focus away from managing online charter schools, a business that has made it the subject of harsh criticism.posted on Oct. 15, 2014, at 5:00 p.m.
Molly Hensley-Clancy BuzzFeed Staff October 15, 2014
For years, the core business of the education company K12 Inc. has been mired in controversy. The company essentially invented the business of operating for-profit virtual charter schools, using public education funds to run free online elementary and high schools in 29 states — and to generate millions of dollars of profits.  K12 schools became known for dismal academic results, high turnover rates, and profit-maximizing tactics that involved charging school districts for students who left the school within months. A 2011 New York Times investigation into the company, which K12 strongly disputed, was followed by a major shareholder lawsuit, causing the company’s stock to plummet. Investor Whitney Tilson, an outspoken advocate of education reform, announced that K12 was his largest short position, releasing apresentation that detailed a raft of further violations by the company’s charter schools.

State and District Leaders Vow to Reduce Testing, Stick With Yearly Assessments
Education Week Curriculum Matters Blog By Liana Heitin on October 15, 2014 1:00 PM
UPDATED  State school chiefs and leaders from big-city districts committed to reviewing the array of assessments students take in schools and eliminating redundant tests, but they also made clear that they will not back away from annual standardized testing.   At a conference call this afternoon, representatives from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools acknowledged widespread concerns about the frequency and quality of tests being administered in public schools, and said they will take steps to ensure the tests used are in students' best interests.

"Education experts said Mr. Deasy’s resignation was part of a broader pattern, partly because change-minded leaders may have pushed too hard without securing the commitment of the teachers who would be responsible for making the modifications in their classrooms. “There are a lot of places where I think it’s been pressed as far as it can go,” said Gary Orfield, professor of education and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at University of California, Los Angeles, referring to many of the latest changes. “And I hope there will be something new emerging. We have to be sensitive to teachers, and they have to be involved if these reforms are ever going to actually work.”
Deasy Resigns as Los Angeles Schools Chief After Mounting Criticism
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH OCT. 16, 2014
In a sign of the powerful resistance that big-city school chiefs face in trying to make sweeping changes, John E. Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, resigned on Thursday after reaching an agreement with the city’s school board that ended his tumultuous three-and-a-half-year tenure.  Mr. Deasy, a strong proponent of new technology in schools and of holding teachers accountable for improving student test scores, had faced mounting criticism from board members and teachers who saw him as an enemy. He testified against teachers’ unions this year in a lawsuit in which a California judge ruled that tenure protection laws deprived students of their basic right to an education and violated their civil rights.

New website offers closer look into candidate' views on public education
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 (
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 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

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Meetings*
PA Basic Education Funding Commission  website
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Community College of Allegheny County
West Campus, Pittsburgh
Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 10 AM, Lancaster
Tuesday, November 18 & 19, 2014, Philadelphia
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 10 AM, East Stroudsburg
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10 AM - 12:00 PM, Lancaster
* 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

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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