Monday, October 13, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup October 13: Distribution of money for K-12 schools in Pa. uneven, study says

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 13, 2014:
Distribution of money for K-12 schools in Pa. uneven, study says

“The study came the same week the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a coalition of more than 40 business, education and community groups, met at the Capitol to campaign for fair and predictable funding for K-12 education.”
Distribution of money for K-12 schools in Pa. uneven, study says
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 10, 2014 11:29 PM
Even though Pennsylvania invests in K-12 education, it distributes those resources inequitably, according to an American Institutes for Research study.  “Revenue and spending across Pennsylvania school districts fails to meet basic equity standards, with significant numbers of districts serving high-need populations having substantially lower per-pupil spending than surrounding districts serving more advantaged populations,” the study, released Friday, stated.
The unevenness in spending is so large that there is a difference of about $3,000 per child between the total revenue that the poorest and richest districts spent. That increased from $2,000 in 2010.

Here’s the study cited above….
Educational Equity, Adequacy, and Equal Opportunity in the Commonwealth: An Evaluation of Pennsylvania’s School Finance System 
American Institutes for Research (AIR) by Bruce Baker of Rutgers University and Jesse Levin of AIR October 2014
The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has just completed an analysis of Pennsylvania’s school finance system.  Educational Equity, Adequacy, and Equal Opportunity in the Commonwealth: An Evaluation of Pennsylvania’s School Finance System examines multiple measures of education adequacy and equity, as well as relationships between funding and student achievement. The new report – written by nationally recognized education finance experts Bruce Baker of Rutgers University and Jesse Levin of AIR – also provides an overview and analysis of school funding formulas in other states and the methods used to develop these formulas.
Full report is linked here.

“Despite the heavy investment of taxpayer dollars, the Keystone Research Center notes that there is no enforcement of requirements or guidelines, and no data exists on how well these programs perform.  While public schools are required to let taxpayers know how well they perform, these programs still cannot answer the most basic question:  Do the students receiving scholarships or aid from these programs improve academically?”
Third and State Blog Posted by Waslala Miranda on October 10, 2014
In the last few days of the legislative session, state lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill that would expand and unify the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC).  Tax credits provide taxpayer subsidies to businesses that fund scholarships to students attending private and religious schools, pre-K through 12th grade.  House Bill 1207, a proposal by Rep. Jim Christiana (R – Beaver County), would make more tax credits available for businesses and combine the tax credit programs so any money left in one program could be used by the other.  Taxpayers would pay up to 90% of the tab.  A PBPC analysis shows why taxpayers foot nearly the entire bill: the triple dip tax reduction.  In addition to the tax credits, businesses could file for state and federal tax reductions for “charitable” contributions. 

Teachers' union leader to SRC: See you in court
ROBERT MORAN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, October 11, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Friday, October 10, 2014, 8:38 PM
The leader of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said Friday that he expected the union's lawyer to go to court next week to fight the School Reform Commission's decision to cancel the union's contract.  At a news conference, PFT president Jerry Jordan was joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who came to the city to blast the SRC's action.  Weingarten called the SRC's move "reckless, illegal, and immoral."
The union leaders were backed by a large contingent of city and state political leaders showing their support for the union's 15,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, and secretaries.

Bill Green: Why the SRC acted quickly, decisively Opinion by William J. Green POSTED: Sunday, October 12, 2014, 1:09 AM
William J. Green is chairman of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission
For almost two years, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) have been in contract negotiations, seeking a labor agreement that positions our schools for long-term stability and invests in student success.  After 21 months, we remain far apart on key issues. Meanwhile, due to the district's devastating funding crisis, conditions in our schools are worsening. Stories about overcrowded classrooms, understaffed schools, and dwindling to nonexistent resources and services have become frighteningly common.
Our students need more, and they need it now.  The School Reform Commission last week suspended the PFT contract in order to achieve $43.8 million in savings this year - and nearly $200 million over four years - through changes to union health benefits. Philadelphia teachers previously paid nothing for health-care costs. By requiring new monthly contributions - $26 to $67 for individual coverage and up to $200 for family coverage - the district will be able to reallocate funds and restore resources that our schools currently lack.

State education secretary seeks lawsuit dismissal over conditions in Phila. schools
SUSAN SNYDER, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Monday, October 13, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Sunday, October 12, 2014, 5:35 PM
Pennsylvania's secretary of education on Friday asked Commonwealth Court to dismiss a lawsuit against her that accuses her of failing to investigate complaints from Philadelphia school parents over poor conditions in schools.  The complaints, Carolyn Dumaresq contends in court filings, do not constitute "curriculum deficiencies," so she is not compelled to investigate.
"The petition fails to state a claim of violation of that regulation," the response said in part.
"It is outrageous for the state to disclaim any responsibility for these problems," Benjamin Geffen, staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, said in a statement issued in response and published on the group's website.  "The state's failure to fully fund public education in Philadelphia and in districts across the state is the real reason our students must contend with grim conditions when they walk into schools each day."

Allentown School District likely to outsource substitute teachers
By Adam Clark,Of The Morning Call October 12, 2014
Another local school district is outsourcing its substitute teachers
Allentown School District will likely outsource some of its substitute teaching positions, pending a vote at the Oct. 23 school board meeting.  Administrators introduced plans at Thursday's school board Finance Committee meeting to outsource substitutes who work between 15 and 89 cumulative days for an average of at least 30 hours a week.  The district would continue to employ substitutes who fill short-term assignments, as well as salaried substitutes, who are contracted to work at least 90 consecutive days and are members of the teachers union.

Conservative unease growing toward leadership in Pennsylvania Senate
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau October 13, 2014 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — Signs of conservative discontent have emerged in what has often appeared a unified caucus of Republicans in the state Senate.  A second GOP senator in two weeks has written to Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, with complaints about Mr. Pileggi’s stewardship of Republican legislative goals.  Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, claimed in a letter Friday that Mr. Pileggi has refused to allow votes on several conservative initiatives — ending automatic dues deduction for public-sector unions, remaking pension benefits for state and school workers, ending the state’s business selling liquor — and said he would not support another term as majority leader for Mr. Pileggi, who was first elected to that post in November 2006.

Universal Companies' schools offering full-scale health centers
AS PRINCIPAL of Universal Bluford Charter School, Crystal Gary-Nelson saw about 6 percent of her students missing daily last year. That's a pretty low number, but one she wants to improve upon.  The issue, she said, was not so much truancy, but sickness.  "For us, if I can just keep my scholars in school healthy, that's a bonus for us," the second-year principal said. One of the problems is "kids being sick for a prolonged period of time and it going untreated."
To help address the issue, the West Philadelphia school and the seven other schools run by Universal Companies now have a full-scale health center, a hybrid between a school nurse and a doctor's office. The centers are staffed with a full-time medical assistant and a part-time nurse practitioner who can give physical exams, administer immunizations, write prescriptions and treat acute illnesses with parental consent.

Johnstown to host social studies conference
Johnstown Tribune Democrat By Kelly Urban October 11, 2014
An upcoming conference will shine a light on the importance of social studies education.
The Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies will hold its 61st annual conference Thursday through Saturday at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown.  It will feature a variety of workshops and educators from across the state.  David Trevaskis, president of the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies, said the goal of the conference is to create future partnerships, share materials with educators that they can then use in the classroom and advocate the social studies at all levels of education.

“Since a state-mandated consolidation effort in the 1960s and '70s reduced the number of districts from 2,227 to just over 500, only one voluntary merger has occurred: Center Area and Monaca in Beaver County formed the Central Valley district in 2009.  Five years later, district officials say they are pleased with the results. Central Valley now has the lowest tax rate in Beaver County while offering students more AP classes and avoiding the expensive need to replace aging schools in Monaca.  Districts in three other counties are considering mergers, according to the state Department of Education.”
Morrisville woos other school districts for merger deal
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  Sunday, October 12, 2014, 1:09 AM
In theory, Morrisville High School still has a music program, but with the music teacher assigned to a social studies class, students aren't getting lessons, and the Bulldogs have yet to field a marching band at a football game.  Its musical blues aren't the only off-key notes in the small and steadily shrinking district in the postage-stamp-size Bucks County borough just across the Delaware River from Trenton.  Its situation is so dire school leaders have issued urgent appeals to several neighboring districts to consider either a full-scale merger, or at least a tuition deal that would allow Morrisville to send some of its students to their schools. So far, however, any courtship has been one-sided.

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Meetings*
PA Basic Education Funding Commission  website
Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 10 AM, Perkiomen Valley
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Pittsburgh
* meeting times and locations subject to change

Join the PSBA Listening Tour - Oct. 15 & Nov. 20
The bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission established under Act 51 of 2014 has begun a series of hearings across the state, and you’re invited to join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA as it follows the panel to each location this fall.  The next tour stop will be on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 from 5:30-7 p.m., at the William Tennent High School, 333 Centennial Road, Warminster, PA 18974.  A tour also has been scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 20 from 6-8 p.m. at the Brighton Elementary School in Lancaster. Click here to register for the free event. Be watching for more tour dates as they are scheduled. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year. Members also are encouraged to complete a form online allowing you to “Tell your story” if you are not able to attend one of the BEF Listening Tours.

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

What About the Schools? A Community Forum on the Next Governor's Education Agenda Oct. 15 7:00 pm WHYY Philly
Pennsylvania's public schools, especially in Philadelphia, are in dire straits. Many hope that the upcoming gubernatorial election will help shine a light on the state's education issues. But how will Harrisburg politics and financial realities limit the next governor’s agenda for education?
Join Research for Action, WHYY, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey for an interactive community forum designed to suggest an education agenda for the next administration—and to assess the politics of achieving it.  Hear from local educators about what they see as priorities for the schools, and from seasoned policy practitioners on the political realities of Harrisburg.  Then, make your voice heard. Discuss your thoughts and perspectives with other event guests and interact with the panelists. You’ll come away from this spirited discussion with a more nuanced view of the politics of education in both Philadelphia and at the state level.
Admission: This event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required.
When: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19106
Contact: Questions? Call 215-351-0511 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.

EduCon 2.7 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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