Monday, October 20, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 20: Education, education, education: Corbett, Wolf; 2 weeks out

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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PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 20, 2014:
Education, education, education: Corbett, Wolf; 2 weeks out

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

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 18: 27 Lehigh Valley Superintendents unite in call for charter school reform

"The state legislature has formed a BEF commission, which is now in the process of going around the state to hold meetings with school officials to find out how the current formula affects them. With the information the 15 members of the commission gather, they are to develop recommendations for a new formula by next June."
State education funding issues politicize growth pressures
State funding formula brings political complications to educational process
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By Amber South @AESouthPO on Twitter UPDATED:   10/18/2014 06:30:17 PM EDT
FRANKLIN COUNTY >> Growth is good right? It opens doors to more revenue. But what if the system that determines how much money you get from that growth is outdated?
That's the problem facing some of the state's 500 school districts today. They get a disproportionate amount of basic education funding — BEF — from the state compared to most other districts which have lost enrollment over the past 20 years.
According to the Pennsylvania Association of Small and Rural Schools, about 65 percent of the amount of BEF a district gets is based on data from the 1989-90 school year. Since then, 125 districts have grown between hundreds and thousands of students, while 375 others have lost students.  The BEF formula that exists today is the result of many of years of changes and additions to the first funding methods generations ago. It is a popular opinion that the BEF formula is out of date and doesn't work for today's schools and their needs.
Add on top of this the "hold harmless" component. At its most basic, it ensures that school districts must get at least the same amount of state funding as the year before. Each school district is actually supposed to get 2 percent more.

Suburban Democrats focused on GOTV - get out the vote
JASON LAUGHLIN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 1:09 AM POSTED: Saturday, October 18, 2014, 10:40 PM
As usual, the motherlode for Pennsylvania's gubernatorial candidates this November isn't in coal country or around the Marcellus Shale.  It's in and around Philadelphia.
The city and Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties account for more than 33 percent of Pennsylvania's registered voters, according to the latest totals.
"Victory in statewide elections run through the Philly suburbs," said Chris Borick, director of Muhlenberg College's Institute of Public Opinion. "The number of voters and their ability to swing makes them the Holy Grail of state politics."

Politico: GOP schooled on education politics
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 10/19/14 7:04 AM EDT
This story is part of an ongoing POLITICO series on how national policy issues are affecting the 2014 midterm elections.
Republicans thought this would be the year to make education their winning issue. The plan was simple: Talk up the GOP’s support for school choice — including vouchers to help parents pay for private school — and win the hearts of moms everywhere.  It hasn’t worked out like that.
Instead, in Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Republicans are on the defensive about education. It isn’t usually a top-tier concern for voters, but Democrats see issues such as college affordability and K-12 funding as their best chance to motivate the on-again, off-again voters who often sit out midterms.

Letter from the Editor: Rep. Nick Micozzie, crusader for school funding reform, leaves legacy
By Phil Heron, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 10/20/14, 5:32 AM EDT |
Nick Micozzie knew something had to change.
For years he had watched as the burden of property taxes chased more and more residents from the towns he represented in Harrisburg.
More importantly, he saw the effect on those left behind, in particular the young people.
He saw a system that penalized them simply because of where they lived.
He saw a fundamentally unfair, unbalanced playing field that was hurting students and families in the Upper Darby and William Penn school districts.  Nobody had to tell Micozzie that Pennsylvania’s method of funding education, with its reliance on property taxes, was quickly creating an educational caste system, a system where a kid in Radnor, Springfield or Marple got a better education simply because of the benefit of where they lived.
Unlike many who have talked about this basic inequity in Pennsylvania education circles for decades, Micozzie decided to do something about it.

For Corbett, an uphill battle for a second term
By Karen Langley Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 19, 2014 12:00 AM
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Thomas Wingett Corbett Jr. is the 46th governor of Pennsylvania, and he could become the first to lose a bid for re-election. But speaking to the GOP faithful at a dinner here last week, the Shaler Republican didn’t sound like an incumbent down in the polls.
“I’m excited for this election. But particularly I’m excited for the future of Pennsylvania,” he told the Republicans of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. “And it gets renewed every day for me, renewed in seeing the people, traveling the state, going into a convenience store or a fast food store, getting coffee here and there, people coming up and saying, ‘Governor, keep doing what you’re doing.’ ”  What he did four years ago, in his first gubernatorial race, was to sweep 63 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, winning a state with a Democratic edge in voter registration by 9 percentage points.

Survey shows Wolf's lead over Corbett cut to seven percentage points
James P. O'Toole / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 18, 2014 12:00 AM
A new survey shows Gov. Tom Corbett trailing his Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, 49 percent to 42 percent, the smallest margin between the two candidates of any public poll released so far.
The poll, released by the website Keystone Report, was conducted by Magellan Strategies, an independent but GOP-leaning firm based in Louisiana. In isolation, that might not seem to be such good news for the incumbent, but the finding suggests a much closer race than has been seen in other recent surveys.  The RealClearPolitics aggregation of public polls puts Mr. Wolf’s average lead at 15.1 percent.  A survey conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5 by Quinnipiac University showed Mr. Wolf leading by 17 percentage points.  A late September poll conducted for the New York Times by the firm YouGov, which used an Internet panel rather than a more traditional phone survey, put the Democrat’s advantage at 9 percentage points.

Running from behind, Corbett pushes into race's final days, report: The Sunday Brunch
By John L. Micek |  on October 19, 2014 at 10:30 AM, updated October 19, 2014 at 1:01 PM
Good Sunday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The Philadelphia Inquirer goes inside Tom Corbett's re-election campaign this morning, finding a candidate trying to defy both polls and history by closing a yawning polling gap that could deny him a second term:

"Then there is the school funding question. That one bothers him, he says, because he believes his record on education has been purposely misrepresented. He said his administration has increased the state's share of money for schools, found more money for early childhood education, and established new performance evaluation standards for teachers and performance profiles for schools.  "Look at where we are," he said. "Look at how we've improved."
Corbett: It's votes, not polls, that count
ANGELA COULOUMBIS, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 1:09 AM POSTED: Saturday, October 18, 2014, 10:32 PM
YORK, Pa. - Stopping in on an early-morning gathering for veterans Thursday, Tom Corbett moved easily through the sea of older men, gripping their arms and crouching down to listen to their war stories.  It was his kind of crowd. Small. Calm. Controlled. Military men - men with simple but poignant values he relates to: honor, duty, and love of country.  For a campaign stop, Corbett's message to the vets was as apolitical as it was simple: Tell your story. People need to understand what you have accomplished.  "Reinforce it," he urged.
It is a lesson the first-term Republican governor could have easily given himself. It is also one of the reasons he is now in the unlikely position of being an incumbent trying to prove the polls wrong and claw his way to another four-year term.

WHYY Interview: Tom Wolf: 'I think I’ve been as specific as I could possibly be'
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf speaks to NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller at WHYY studios in Philadelphia. (10 minute audio)
Pennsylvania voters will soon have their say on who will serve as governor for the next four years. Incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett came to WHYY studios last Friday.  Today, NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sat down with Democrat Tom Wolf.
Addressing a bruising political battle with Corbett that's been full of negative political ads, Wolf said, "I think, so far, I've been able to keep my side of the campaign on the level.
"That, I think, is appropriate in a democratic campaign -- pointing out what I think the shortcomings of the other side have been and pointing out what I would like to do instead."

WHYY Interview: Listen: 7 minutes with Gov. Corbett on education spending and competing priorities
Listen to WHYY's unedited conversation with Gov. Corbett on education spending
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett came to WHYY studios Friday to answer a wide array of questions from various reporters during an hourlong visit.  Aside from NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller's interview, the conversations weren't intended to be broadcast in their entirety.
But upon reviewing the tape – considering the importance of education as an issue in this election – I decided to post my full, unedited seven-minute conversation with Corbett, who is seeking re-election to a second term.

Wolf-Corbett race may be state's most expensive
MORNING CALL  By Eric Holmberg,Of PublicSource October 18, 2014
Less than a month before the election, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and his challenger, Democrat Tom Wolf, have raised and spent enough money to put the governor's race on track to be the most expensive in Pennsylvania history.  During this election cycle, Wolf has raised $27.6 million and spent $21.1 million compared with Corbett, who has raised $20.6 million and spent $19.3 million.  That's $48.2 million raised on a race where Wolf has consistently been ahead in the polls by a double-digit margin. If the polls hold, Corbett would be the first incumbent governor to lose since Pennsylvania switched to two-term limits for the governor in 1968.
Combined, the two campaigns have run nearly 21,000 TV ads costing more than $13 million. Pennsylvania's state candidates have spent more than most other states on TV ads, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Disenchantment with Gov. Tom Corbett leads voters to Tom Wolf
Lehigh Valley Live By Associated Press  on October 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM,
Many Pennsylvania voters who plan to vote for Democratic gubernatorial nomineeTom Wolf know little about him but are lining up behind the first-time candidate because of their disenchantment with Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, according to Associated Press interviews with voters across the state.  In about 30 random interviews in the Philadelphia suburbs, Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Altoona, Wolf supporters in both parties who did know something about him cited his personal likeability or business experience rather than his proposals, such as his plans to overhaul the income tax and levy a new tax on natural-gas extraction.
Most said they simply disliked Corbett, criticizing him as an enemy of public schools who lacks compassion. And some objected to his refusal to tax natural gas drilling and the suspicion that it is not being done in an environmentally friendly way.

Q&A with the candidates: Public education takes front seat in election
PSBA Bulletin

Funding early education is smart money By Joel Naroff POSTED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 1:09 AM
Education is a major issue in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign. Understandably, the discussion has centered on funding and spending. But once we get over the political palaver, the next governor must decide how best to spend whatever money is available.  I have a suggestion: early education.  Let's first dispense with the funding and spending debate. Politicians refuse to accept a simple but basic aspect of public financial management: Once revenue enters the state's coffers, its origin becomes irrelevant.  This concept, called fungibility, means that since money is money, it can be used any way the government decides.
Consider the debate over who was at fault for the billion-dollar Pennsylvania Education Department funding cut in Gov. Corbett's first budget. The decline in spending was not due to the end of the federal government's stimulus program. Pennsylvania politicians made the decision to reduce education funding.

Why not democracy?
INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 1:09 AM
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
- Unknown
That comment, often wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill, sums up quite a few responses when an elected school board is suggested for Philadelphia.  That's understandable. One need spend only a few minutes thinking about the boss-driven, corruption-generating political system that democracy has produced in this city to decide it doesn't need any more of that.
But such pessimism suggests that Philadelphians are incapable of what people in other cities and towns across America are doing, which is finding a way to maneuver through their own political cesspools to provide for the education of their children.

SRC's contract slam hurts those most essential Opinion by CLARK DELEON POSTED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 1:09 AM
Monday, Oct. 6, is another day that will live in infamy, now that the state's School Reform Commission, in a Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack on organized labor, unilaterally ripped up the Philadelphia public school teachers' union contract.   I haven't changed my mind about the ultimate failure of public education in the city because of the complete lack of political will in Pennsylvania to properly fund a school system responsible for educating mostly poor, and mostly black or Hispanic children.  But I didn't think the end game would be so badly played.

"In spite of Commonwealth Foundation and various other entities efforts to paint teachers as the bad guys, a poll conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts in September of 2013 found that 31 percent of residents placed responsibility for the crisis in the Philadelphia School District on the Republican-controlled state legislature and Governor. Another 31 percent blamed the Democratic Mayor and City Council and 21 percent blamed school administrators and the state-controlled State Reform Commission. Only 11 percent of those surveyed held the union or teachers responsible."
Astroturf Activism and Corporate Education Reform
LA Progressive BY YOHURU WILLIAMS  October 19, 2014
The Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think tank, reportedly compensated counter protesters in Philadelphia on Thursday in a failed effort to give the appearance of popular support for the recent move by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) to abrogate the contracts of Philadelphia teachers. This is yet another sign of the dangers of corporate education reform and the lengths its proponents are willing to go to stifle dissent and subvert democracy, including resorting to the use of AstroTurf or “fake grassroots” demonstrations and groups.

Ebola, Common Core and job creation: 3 takeaways on U.S. Rep. Scott Perry vs. Linda Thompson debate
By Julianne Mattera |  on October 17, 2014 at 8:20 PM, updated October 18, 2014 at 7:59 AM
Former Harrisburg mayor Linda Thompson and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry might have both said they came from humble beginnings, but that's where the similarities stopped Friday.
During a two-hour radio debate on WHP580 Radio on Friday afternoon, Perry, R-York, and Thompson, the Democratic challenger in the 4th U.S. Congressional District race, took opposite stances on practically every issue.  Thompson also didn't hesitate to attack Perry — even near the end accusing Perry of not wanting to admit that he had a "failed record as a congressperson."
The topics were broad including, the government's involvement in creating jobs, frackingCommon Core, illegal immigrants and immigration reform, border security, Ebola, voter ID, and ISIS.  Out of those, here are three topical-based takeaways from the debate:

Trombetta back in court over secret recordings
Beaver County Times Online By J.D. Prose October 19, 2014
PITTSBURGH -- Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta returns Monday to federal court in Pittsburgh arguing that evidence in his criminal case should be tossed because agents recorded conversations protected by attorney-client privilege.
Trombetta, an Aliquippa native and East Liverpool, Ohio, resident, and his legal team were initially in court Sept. 30, but U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti continued the hearing after proceedings stretched into the evening.

D’Alessandro, Miller receive 2014 PSBA Allwein Advocacy Award
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) will award Shauna D’Alessandro, school director from West Jefferson Hills SD and president of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Board of Directors (Allegheny Co.), and Mark B. Miller, board vice president with Centennial School District (Bucks Co.), with the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 22.  The award was established in 2011 by PSBA in memory of Tim Allwein, the association’s former assistant executive director for Governmental and Member Relations. It is presented annually to an individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.

Charter Schools: An Experiment Gone Awry
What follows is a presentation made on October 11, 2014, at the Public Education Nation event, hosted by the Network for Public Education. The entire panel discussion can be viewed here.
Living in Dialogue Blog By Wendy Lecker October 18, 2014
I have come to think of the charter school movement as a failed experiment on our children.
In terms of their promises, charter schools have failed. They have no better academic outcomes than public schools, rather than sharing do anything to avoid scrutiny, and they don’t cost less.
But I’d like to talk about a more important, and damaging failure. Charter schools on the whole have failed in helping us accomplish the goal of public education.  I work in field of school funding and it amazes me that there is this whole other world where public education is really being examined, that education reformers choose to ignore: courts in school funding cases.

Why Schools "Fail" or What If "Failing Schools" Aren't?
EdTraveler Blog by Noel Hammett SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2013
Most discussions of "school reform" focus on the need to close or restructure failing schools or else provide students with choice as a way out of them. Embedded within these discussions are theories or suggestions about why these schools are failing. Often left unexamined is the actual claim that these schools are failing.
Since I have had the opportunity to study many schools in Louisiana throughout my career as a member of the faculty in the College of Education at Louisiana State University, and through the lens of my service as a School Board Member for sixteen years, I will focus on schools in Louisiana. When a school in Louisiana is assigned the letter grade F, it is almost universally accepted in the media and in school reform policy debates that children in this school are receiving a sub-standard education, almost by definition since the school itself is seen as "failing." Yet the second part of the title of this paper, which comes from a chapter in the Late Gerald W. Bracey's 2003 book "On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools," raises an interesting question.

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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