Saturday, October 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 18: 27 Lehigh Valley Superintendents unite in call for charter school reform

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 18, 2014:
27 Lehigh Valley Superintendents unite in call for charter school reform

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

27 Lehigh Valley Superintendents unite in call for charter school reform
By Adam Clark,Of The Morning Call October 17, 2014
“The charter school concept is a caterpillar that never became a butterfly.”
The concerns raised Friday by Allentown School District Superintendent Russ Mayo weren't new.
Charter schools are costing taxpayers extra money, Mayo said. Board members are not. And their scores on average are lower than those of traditional public schools.
But rather than Mayo expressing these worries himself during a school board meeting, a coalition of 27 Lehigh Valley area superintendents stood for the first time in a united front.
At a news conference at the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 in Palmer Township, superintendents from Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton and Pike counties released a four-page document titled "The Cost of School Choice: Time for a Change in Charter School Legislation."

Lehigh Valley superintendents denounce state charter school system
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on October 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM, updated October 17, 2014 at 6:10 PM
School superintendents across a five-county region want Pennsylvania taxpayers to know the "true cost" of public school choice.  Twenty-seven superintendents from Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Pike and Monroe counties gathered Friday to call for reforms and highlight flaws they see in the state's charter and cyber school laws.
Superintendents are increasingly concerned about the additional cost to taxpayers, the lack of accountability and transparency in charter schools and poor test scores, said Allentown schools Superintendent Russell Mayo.  Charter and cyber schools in Pennsylvania were established in 1997 to encourage innovation and efficiency in public schools.
"We have 17 years of history now, and we can say that the good intentions of this legislation have gone astray," Mayo said. "The spread of innovation is uneven at best, and the efficiencies just don't exist."

A score of 70 is considered passing
PA Cyber Charter School Performance Profile Scores
Pennsylvania School Performance Profile Website (2012-2013)
Pennsylvania Department of Education
21st Century Cyber CS                                             66.5
Achievement House CS                                           39.7
Act Academy Cyber CS                                            30.6
Agora Cyber CS                                                        48.3
Aspira Bilingual Cyber CS                                       29.0
Central PA Digital Lrng Foundation CS                  31.7
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS           54.6
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS                        39.0
Esperanza Cyber CS                                                32.7
PA Learners Online Regional Cyber CS                 45.0
Pennsylvania Cyber CS                                           59.4
Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS                       54.7
Pennsylvania Leadership CS                                  64.7
Pennsylvania Virtual CS                                          67.9
Solomon CS                                                              36.9
Susq-Cyber CS                                                         46.4

York City's recovery officer considering next option
He'll regroup after board's rejection of district-charter mix
By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   10/16/2014 11:42:01 PM EDT
The state-appointed recovery officer for the York City School District said he needs to think about the best course to take now that the school board rejected a proposal that would have brought a charter operator in for a few schools next year.  The board on Wednesday rejected the idea of bringing in a charter operator for three schools, which David Meckley had proposed as an alternative to having an operator take over all schools. Contracting with a charter operator was included in the district's financial recovery plan if internal reform wasn't working.
"Certainly my goal was to have board cooperation and consensus, so ... I'm going to spend the next couple of days rethinking," Meckley said Thursday.
State education spokesman Tim Eller said that the board's vote doesn't mean there would be an immediate move for receivership, which is an option in the recovery law. He said the ultimate goal is for the board to maintain control and make positive change.

Lawsuit seeks to prevent charter conversion in York City schools
A complaint filed alleges the recovery plan isn't being followed correctly
By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   10/17/2014 07:46:38 PM EDT
As district officials consider the next steps for the York City School District, a lawsuit filed by city parents challenges the district's recovery plan and seeks to stop any moves toward converting schools to charters.  Four parents, two of whom are also district employees, filed the lawsuit in county court on Wednesday. The school district, the school board and recovery officer David Meckley are named as defendants.  One of the parents, Clovis Gallon, who is also a city teacher, said the move to sue has been under way for awhile.  "We felt as though the chief recovery officer was not following through with the financial recovery plan as it was written," he said.

York City School Board votes against charter schools; will run as a traditional school district POSTED 11:14 PM, OCTOBER 15, 2014, BY MELANIE ORLINS
The York City School Board has decided to forgo charter schools and continue as a traditionally run school district. This decision comes after months of debate over whether to move to a fully chartered district. The public comment of Wednesday night’s meeting started at 7 o’clock and went on for more than two hours.   When the board finally came to a vote the board president said, “You have saved the best for last. They will not turn us into guinea pigs, we will not be run by charter schools.”  Chief recovery officer, David Meckley has recommended a district that is 100% charter run by the company, Charter Schools USA. He proposed that the board vote to have three schools run by charter schools and five operated by the district in a plan that would span 5 years, but that idea was shot down. Board members say there are not enough facts to make them confident. Parents, students, and teachers are celebrating.

Phila. PFT files legal response to SRC's contract cancellation
By thenotebook on Oct 17, 2014 11:22 AM
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has filed a multi-pronged response to the School Reform Commission's move to cancel its contract.  Primarily, the union is challenging the District's gambit of going directly to Commonwealth Court with its action, bypassing the traditional labor relations process for settling contract disputes. The PFT is responding with motions to Commonwealth Court, the local Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, and the American Arbitration Association.  “We feel the SRC’s attack last week was not only cowardly and disrespectful, but lacking legal merit,” said PFT president Jerry Jordan in a statement. 

Debating teacher insurance costs is a distraction from the big picture
The "big picture" problem with debating in the press about who pays what for Philadelphia teacher health insurance costs is that we are debating a tiny tip of the iceberg.
Of course the SRC wants to focus public discussion on this tiny tip, but not on the iceberg — where teachers earn a base salary 20 percent below their suburban counterparts, while teaching in a more complex context with fewer resources. A deceptively incomplete picture, and a dishonorable way for SRC to publically bully teachers. Since it wasn't offered in rational negotiations, the SRC is very willing to take salary back by force — in a sense, like the bully who "needs" your lunch money.
The public conversation should instead, openly and honestly, incorporate the holistic contract to maintain perspective:
·         Base salaries $10,000 to $20,000 below market.
·         Three years (in March) without a raise.
·         Class sizes 40 percent to 50 percent-plus higher than elementary schools elsewhere, and those larger classes including more deeply injured kids — and without necessary counselors, nurses NTA, SSAs.
·         Add another $xxx out-of-pocket cost for supplies, basic office supplies (and the personal time to procure) — plus, in my own case, costs (and personal time again) to build a $5,000 classroom library. Now we have a clearer picture.

The Path Least Taken: At a Glance
Center for Public Education by Jim Hull September 2014
In recent years, there’s been a focus among states to establish standards that prepare students for college and careers. All too often, however, the discussion surrounding these standards largely focuses on college, and even more narrowly, four-year institutions. As a result, many have called for resources to be redirected to those high school students who have no intention of continuing their studies at college, let alone a four-year university. Thus, the thinking goes, high schools that are single-minded in preparing students for college, potentially alienate a swath of students who have no desire for post-secondary education in their future. But is such conventional wisdom accurate? Is college a distant thought for many high school graduates? Is a high school diploma the last educational milestone for a large number of graduating seniors?
Not quite. 

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

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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