Saturday, October 25, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 25: New Report Outlines Potential Savings for PA Taxpayers through Investment in Pre-K

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 25, 2014:
New Report Outlines Potential Savings for PA Taxpayers through Investment in Pre-K

"As this report indicates, Pennsylvania currently spends billions of dollars a year on special education services – a cost we know can be significantly reduced by expanding access to publically-funded, high-quality pre-k programs," said Steve Wray, Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia – a Pre-K for PA coalition member. "Pre-k works. And, it's time to make it a top priority for Pennsylvania – particularly given the state's current challenges in ensuring adequate and equitable funding for public education."
New Report Outlines Potential Savings for PA Taxpayers through Investment in Pre-K   Pre-K for PA
Analysis Looks at Long-term Cost Savings Generated from Reduced Grade Repetition and Special Education Needs
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire
Pennsylvania stands to reap significant benefits in the form of reduced costs to taxpayers and the state budget as a result of expanded access to pre-kindergarten programs for the commonwealth's 3- and 4-year-olds. That's according to new research released by Pre-K for PA and conducted by The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.  The report outlines how investment in high-quality pre-k benefits K-12 school systems by reducing the need for special education programs and grade repetition, and producing fewer behavioral problems in school. Pennsylvania schools currently spend a significant amount of time and money helping children catch up who arrive for kindergarten unprepared – both academically and socially.

Video is now posted for both the October 16th and October 21st hearings
Basic Education Funding Commission Public Hearing - October 16, 2014
Other State Formulas & Weights, Level of Local Support, and Taxing Capacity
Perkiomen Valley High School
Basic Education Funding Commission Public Hearing - October 21, 2014
Enrollment Changes and School Funding

Harrisburg hearing has been added; Lancaster hearing moved to Nov. 24
Upcoming BEF Commission Meetings*
Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 10 AM, Harrisburg, NOB, Hearing Room 1
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 1 PM & Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 10 AM Philadelphia
Monday, November 24, 2014 at 10 AM IU#13 Lancaster
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

EdWeek: Election 2014 Caravan of Delights: Pa. Gubernatorial Race
Education Week State EdWatch By Andrew Ujifusa on October 24, 2014 11:53 AM
As we get closer to the Nov. 4 general election, I will take a look each day at a state election of interest. (If you've missed my election reporting from CaliforniaFlorida, and Georgia, you've still got time to catch up!) I'll look at polling numbers and the candidates' general positions on K-12 issues, and I'll also highlight the political and policy environments that are influencing the debate about public schools. For the sake of brevity, I'll only focus on the Democratic and Republican candidates. Today I'll focus on the race for governor in Pennsylvania.
Consistently ranked as one of the most "endangered" governors when it comes to reelection prospects, Keystone State Gov. Tom Corbett has consistently trailed Democrat Tom Wolf this year, and he is the only Republican governor whose race is now considered safely in the Democratic column, according to Real Clear Politics. (I wrote about Wolf's position on education funding earlier this year.) However, Corbett has closed the gap in recent months, and what was once a deficit of approximately 20 percentage points is now getting closer to single digits, as the Real Clear Politics polling average below shows:

"It's moving," he said this morning at an event downtown. "If it was 10, 15 points, would they be bringing Bill Clinton into Pittsburgh and Barack Obama into Philadelphia?"
Corbett says he's confident
Post Gazette Early Returns Blog by Karen Langley on Friday, 24 October 2014 5:24 pm.
Ten days from Election Day, Gov. Tom Corbett says he's feeling good. He doesn't believe the public polls.  "It's moving," he said this morning at an event downtown. "If it was 10, 15 points, would they be bringing Bill Clinton into Pittsburgh and Barack Obama into Philadelphia?"
Corbett said he's sure those men are busy, and that their appearances show Democrats want to motivate more voters to get out to the polls.  "We're very comfortable with where we are right now," he said today. "You remember, I haven't ever been predicted to win my race. I'm in my -- two, three, four -- fifth race, if I count my township commissioner. Every time: He can't win. I'm standing here in front of you as governor." 

Here's why Pennsylvanians should grant me four more years: Tom Corbett
PennLive Op-Ed  By Tom Corbett on October 24, 2014 at 11:21 AM
Looking back on where Pennsylvania was four years ago, it would have been hard to foresee where we are today and the bright future we have ahead.
Four years ago, we faced many challenges. We were spending more than we had and paying for it on the backs of taxpayers. Unemployment was 8.1 percent, businesses were leaving for other states and our public school system had been gutted under the guise of one-time federal stimulus money from Washington.  Even our capital city was burdened with debts and on the brink of bankruptcy.  Pennsylvania desperately needed to change direction, and you, the voters, trusted me to shake up Harrisburg's status quo and build a stronger future for our next generation.

For governor, Democrat Tom Wolf is the better choice: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board on October 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM
As Pennsylvanians vote on Nov. 4, they'll be asked to choose a governor to lead a divided state where politics-as-usual has stymied progress.  Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, despite four years of single-party control of the Capitol, has been denied victories on two of his three signature issues: liquor privatization and taming the exploding cost of public employee pensions.
Despite broad public support for reform and Corbett's best efforts, including both entreaties and strong-arm tactics, the Legislature broke for the year without acting to defuse the $65 billion pension time bomb. And repeated vows not to "kick the can down the road" now ring hollow.  
Even with a major win on a $2 billion-plus highway repair and reconstruction package, legislative victories have been few and far between for Corbett. And that's made it easy to forget that he handily dispatched Democrat Dan Onorato in the Republican wave of 2010. 
But as much as the General Assembly was an impediment to Corbett's success, so too was Corbett himself.

State Education Department launches Pennsylvania Standards review website. Under The Dome™ Friday, October 24, 2014
The state Department of Education launched a Pennsylvania Standards review website Thursday, urging the public to log on and provide feedback on how to improve state standardized testing. The review website comes one month after Gov. Tom Corbett pressed the state Board of Education and acting department Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq to complete the rollback of national Common Core Standards adopted four years ago by Gov. Ed Rendell's administration. “Gov. Corbett and I are focused on ensuring that students, parents, educators and taxpayers have a comprehensive understanding of what is expected of our students at each grade level,” Dumaresq said. “I encourage the public to take the opportunity to visit this website, share their thoughts and provide suggestions about the Pennsylvania Standards.” The website features sample questions from third grade level math and language arts tests, but will be updated by mid-November to include material from tests administered to grades four through eight, as well as Algebra I and literature questions found on secondary level tests. “I encourage Pennsylvania educators to use this website to share their thoughts and ideas regarding Pennsylvania’s eligible content,” said Dr. Linda Hippert, executive director of Allegheny Intermediate Unit. “The website is a user-friendly resource that will provide the department and the State Board with quality information as they complete this review process.” To participate in the review, CLICK HERE.

Pennsylvania website seeks public feedback on what students should learn
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 25, 2014 12:15 AM
One of the math skills that’s fair game for third-graders on state standardized tests is multiplication tables up to 10 times 10.  Now members of the public have a chance to let the state know whether that — or any other “eligible content” in math or English language arts — is appropriate.  The state Department of Education this week unveiled a new web site,, which allows comment on what the state says children should know and be able to do. The site opened with third-grade math and English language arts.
By mid-November, the state expects to have available eligible content in English language arts and mathematics for grades 4 to 8 and Algebra I and Literature at the secondary level. This is material that can be tested on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests or Keystone Exams.

If you were wondering who helped pay for the Commonwealth Foundation to buy counter-demonstrators in Philadelphia recently here's some news:
"The Sarah Scaife Foundation has “been responsible for a lot of national public policy for the conservative movement, in particular the work done by the Heritage Foundation, and in Pennsylvania the work done by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Allegheny Institute [for Public Policy],” said Allegheny County Republican Committee chairman Jim Roddey."
Scaife-related foundations poised to take bigger stage
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 25, 2014 12:00 AM
Three foundations that Richard Mellon Scaife long guided are heading into a season of leadership changes, reorganizations and dramatic expansions three months after the filing of the late billionaire’s will.  Nearly doubling in size is the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which Mr. Scaife, son of the philanthropy’s namesake, turned into a national force in funding the development of conservative thought. That foundation is expected to absorb the smaller, similarly focused Carthage Foundation.  Growing to an even larger degree is the Allegheny Foundation, which has traditionally done about two-thirds of its charity work in Western Pennsylvania.

"Research presented by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators during testimony against the bill in March found inadequate homeschool educational programs were twice as likely to be identified during the superintendent review stage than during the initial evaluation stage."
Bill that would end district-level review of homeschooling in Pennsylvania goes to Corbett
Trib Live By Megan Harris Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
State legislators approved a homeschooling bill that eliminates the need for school superintendents to weigh in on whether students are receiving an appropriate education.
Under current law, parents hire an evaluator every year to interview the child, review a portfolio of the child's work and certify whether the child is receiving an appropriate education. The portfolio and evaluator's assessment are submitted for review to the superintendent of the child's school district, who issues a determination of whether the family is in compliance with the homeschooling law.  House Bill 1013, among other changes, removes the requirement that portfolios be turned in to the school district for review and requires the superintendent to accept an evaluator's assessment that appropriate education is taking place.
Philly schools take risk by disbursing health care savings before court rules
The Philadelphia School District decided Friday to give schools access to $15 million starting Monday, based on expected savings from forcing teachers to contribute toward their health care premiums.  Since the School Reform Commission terminated its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the district has been planning three disbursements totalling $44 million.
Until Friday, it was unclear when principals would have access to those funds. Principals were notified in mid-October what their school allocation would be, but the disbursement date was left up in the air after several legal challenges by the teachers union, which is protesting the legality of the SRC's unilateral move.  On Monday, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted the union's request for an injunction in the case, effectively halting the district's plans to begin charging teachers for health care premiums on Dec. 15.  All eyes then turned to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, where the SRC has asked for a declaratory judgment in the matter. President Judge Dan Pellegrini heard arguments Wednesday, but has not yet made a ruling.

Despite legal challenge, Phila schools to spread the cash
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 5:27 PM POSTED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 4:49 PM
City schools will get a $15 million cash infusion Monday, but the money is earmarked to buy books, fund teachers' salaries, and help struggling students may yet disappear.
The School Reform Commission on Oct. 6 unilaterally canceled the teachers' contract and ordered 11,200 employees to begin paying for their health-care benefits on Dec. 15, a move officials said would save $54 million annually.  But the health-care changes - and the savings - are not a done deal. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is fighting the SRC's actions in court, and a Common Pleas Court judge has issued a temporary injunction, which has halted the changes. Separately, a Commonwealth Court judge is weighing where the case should be heard.

Mayor’s Pittsburgh education task force holds first public session
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 21, 2014 8:52 PM
At its first meeting open to the public, the mayor’s education task force bounced around ideas ranging from safety to class size in Pittsburgh Public Schools.  The meeting at Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy 6-12 in Oakland on Tuesday was the fourth meeting of the group, which includes more than 20 school and city officials and community members. A fifth meeting with Mayor Bill Peduto is planned but unscheduled and is to be followed by its final task, a report to City Council.

Lewisburg's Kathy Swope to head the Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Lewisburg Daily Item Posted October 23, 2014
LEWISBURG — Kathy Swope, president of the Lewisburg school board, has been elected president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, where she will lead the nonprofit organization that represents more than 4,500 school board members on policy, personnel and benefits issues and education.  “There is no one that’s more deserving of this than Kathy,” said Mary Brouse, who has served 21 years on the Lewisburg school board. Swope is “an outstanding leader who gives 120 percent all the time.”  Swope, who begins her term as leader of the Mechanicsburg-based organization in 2015, has served on the Lewisburg school board since 1997 and as its president since 2008.

Hazing allegations abruptly end Central Bucks West football season
Surprised. Shocked. Astonished.
Those are just some of the adjectives Doylestown residents used while reacting to word this week that players on Central Bucks West High School's football team allegedly participated in hazing activities.  Administrators decided to cut the Bucks' season short as a result.
As he stood outside of a hoagie shop on State Street, Luke Vrancken called the allegations disgraceful.  "Sports is about the brotherhood and the teammates and how you come together as a family and as a team and this is no part of it. That's just demeaning," said Vrancken.

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).

Children with Autism - Who’s Eligible? How to get ABA services?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join us on November 19th, 2014 to discuss eligibility services for children with Autism. This session will teach parents, teachers, social workers and attorneys how to obtain Applied Behavioral Analysis services for children on the autism spectrum. Presenters include Sonja Kerr (Law Center), Rachel Mann (Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania), Dr. Lisa Blaskey (The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania), and David Gates (PA Health Law Project).

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

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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