Monday, October 27, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 27: Accountability important, except for PA home-schoolers?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 27, 2014:
Accountability important, except for PA home-schoolers?

Gov. Tom Corbett, Tom Wolf take campaigns to Pittsburgh
Penn Live By The Associated Press  on October 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf are spending the second-to-last weekend of the gubernatorial campaign in the Pittsburgh area.  Wolf and Corbett each had rallies planned Sunday afternoon.  Wolf wants to raise taxes on Pennsylvania's natural gas industry, boost the state's share of public school funding and shift more of the tax burden to higher earners. Corbett argues that Wolf will need to raise taxes on the middle class to underwrite his education funding promises and opposes higher taxes on the natural gas industry.

Pa. governor's race may pivot on turnout by party faithful
By James P. O'Toole / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 26, 2014 12:00 AM
As the days before the election dwindle to single digits, the campaigns are switching focus from persuasion to mobilization.  While there may not be many minds left to be made up, as always, key questions remain on which voters will be sufficiently motivated to go to the polls.
Former President Bill Clinton’s appearance on the South Side Monday for Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate for governor, is emblematic of that effort. He can be counted on to echo the message carried by his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with first lady Michelle Obama in Philadelphia appearances earlier this month — that positive polls notwithstanding, Democrats in general and Mr. Wolf in particular will lose if Democrats don’t show up on Nov. 4.

"Pennsylvania and New York have some of the strictest superintendent oversight rules regarding home-schooled students. Leaving certification of home-school education to evaluators alone, as House Bill 1013 would allow, abrogates public responsibility.  The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for signature.  He should veto it."
Our View: Keep home-schooling standards
Carlisle Sentinel by The Sentinel Editorial Board October 25, 2014
The numbers of home-schooled students statewide — 21,897 in 2012 — and in Cumberland County — 606 — are proportionally small compared to those attending Pennsylvania’s public schools, but the monitoring and ensuring the efficacy of the home-schoolers’ education remains an essential public interest.  The General Assembly in its last session weakened that public supervision when it passed and sent to the governor legislation that would no longer require school district oversight of a home-schooled student’s work That removes an essential level of quality control from the compulsory education process and caters blatantly to the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy group that pushed for the bill’s passage.

"The fact that Mosaica is now in the hands of a receivership means it is outside any level of public control and means that the sole obligation of the receivership is to protect the interest of the debtors while the families' interests are incidental," said Gym.  Mosiaca has also been making waves in York lately, where that city district's chief recovery officer Dave Meckley, a Corbett administration appointee, had been advancing a plan to hand over the entire district to one of two charter management organizations, one of which was Mosaica."
Should Philly parents worry about fiscal woes of for-profit charter operator?
A federal judge has ordered the heavily indebted Mosaica Education Inc., a for-profit charter school management organization, to accept a turnaround receiver.  Mosaica, which contracts with more than 100 schools to serve 25,000 students in the U.S. and abroad, carries a $20 million debt load with its lender, Tatonka Capital.  Tatonka sued Mosaica Education Inc. in September after it defaulted on its debt. In a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten authorized Katie Goodman of GGG Partners, LLC, to be Mosaica's turnaround receiver.
Does this spell trouble for Mosaica's individual schools?

DN Editorial: UNCHARTERED TERRITORY: The Legislature needs to jettison trivial pursuits & pass a new school bill
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 3:01 AM
Imagine buying a car and never doing routine maintenance. That's pretty much the case with Pennsylvania's charter-school law, which was passed back in 1997 and hasn't been touched since.  In the meantime, the world of charters has changed dramatically.
In 1998, charter enrollment in the state was just a blip on the screen.
Today, 120,000 students statewide are enrolled in bricks-and-mortar or cyber charters, among them 67,000 students in Philadelphia alone.  While charter operators and school boards disagree on many things, they both believe it is time to update the law.

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
Community College of Allegheny County - Video Runtime: 215:30

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

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 25: New Report Outlines Potential Savings for PA Taxpayers through Investment in Pre-K

Jersey Jazzman: TIME Article on Tenure Gets It Wrong
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch October 26, 2014 //
The cover of next week’s TIME magazine is deeply insulting to hard-working teachers, with its headline, “Rotten Apples” and the claim that it is nearly impossible to fire tenured teachers (but tech millionaires who know nothing about education know how to do it: abolish tenure). As most people in the education field know, about 40% of those who enter teaching leave within five years. More: tenure is due process, the right to a hearing, not a guarantee of a lifetime job. Are there bad apples in teaching? Undoubtedly, just as there are bad apples in medicine, the law, business, and even TIME magazine. There are also bad apples in states where teachers have no tenure. Will abolishing tenure increase the supply of great teachers? Surely we should look to those states where teachers do not have tenure to see how that worked out. Sadly, there is no evidence for the hope, wish, belief, that eliminating due process produces a surge of great teachers. Jersey Jazzman here begins a series of posts about the TIME article. Some said it wasn’t as inflammatory as the cover. JJ says that may be so, but the article is nonetheless a font of misguided opinion.

"Ripley, like most supporters of efforts that narrow education, would deny that she fails to support a broad education.  She just wants to get rid of the thing she doesn’t like.  But her logic would get rid of everything other than math and reading instruction.  And that would be a very poor education indeed."
Narrowing Education
Education Next By Jay P. Greene 10/23/2014
Some people seem determined to narrow education.  I’ve been trying to make the case for a well-rounded, liberal education, but that idea has less support than I realized.  In their effort to maximize math and reading test scores, schools have sometimes narrowed their focus at the expense of the arts and humanities.  I’ve tried to document some of the benefits that students receive from art and theater.  And today Dan Bowen and I tried to defend the role of sports in schools in the New York Times‘ Room for Debate forum on the issue.
One of the main critics of sports in school is Amanda Ripley. reprising an argument she earlier made in The Atlantic and in her book.

The American Dream Is Leaving America
New York Times Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof OCT. 25, 2014
THE best escalator to opportunity in America is education. But a new study underscores that the escalator is broken.
We expect each generation to do better, but, currently, more young American men have less education (29 percent) than their parents than have more education (20 percent).
Among young Americans whose parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5 percent make it through college themselves. In other rich countries, the figure is 23 percent.
The United States is devoting billions of dollars to compete with Russia militarily, but maybe we should try to compete educationally. Russia now has the largest percentage of adults with a university education of any industrialized country — a position once held by the United States, although we’re plunging in that roster.
These figures come from the annual survey of education from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or O.E.C.D., and it should be a shock to Americans.

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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