Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 5: Pennsylvanians vote for strong public schools.

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?
The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 5, 2014:
Pennsylvanians vote for strong public schools.

Next Basic Education Funding Commission hearing is scheduled for Harrisburg Thursday, November 6th, 10 am North Office Building, Hearing Room 1.

Tom Wolf elected Pennsylvania governor in landslide
By Bill Landauer, Laura Olson, Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call November 5, 2014
Democrat Tom Wolf made history Tuesday by beating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the general election.  Wolf is the first challenger from either party to knock off a sitting governor since Pennsylvania voters changed the state Constitution in 1968 to put a limit of two terms on the executive office.  And he did it in an otherwise Republican-friendly midterm election that saw higher-than-anticipated voter turnout.
Three minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m., FoxNews, CNN, ABC and CBS declared Wolf the winner based on exit poll interviews of voters, leading to raucous celebrations at Wolf's election night headquarters in York.

'A thousand cuts' and one big one: How Corbett's fate was sealed
LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 10:00 PM
In January 2011, with the effects of the recession lingering, the new Pennsylvania governor needed to find billions of dollars in his first budget.  He had promised not to raise taxes, though. So he cut.  State funding for public education took a $1 billion whack, amid the expiration of federal stimulus money.
That may have sealed Gov. Corbett's fate, according to political analysts sifting the wreckage of the Republican's historic loss.
"Signing the Grover Norquist pledge ruined Corbett, just killed him," said Democratic media strategist Neil Oxman, referring to the Washington antitax activist who is influential in the GOP.
Corbett could have levied a severance tax on natural gas, or moved money from other programs to soften the blow. He did not, while he reduced business taxes an estimated $400 million and placed more than $600 million in reserve.

Wolf bests Corbett, faces solidly GOP Legislature
WITF State House Sound Bites by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 5, 2014 2:52 AM
Democrat Tom Wolf has toppled Republican Governor Tom Corbett, ending a 40-year streak of incumbent governors in Pennsylvania winning re-election.  The York County millionaire whose early TV ads blasted away his primary opponents handily defeated Corbett, according to unofficial tallies showing a 10-point margin.  In his victory speech, Wolf outlined his plans for the next four years, listing education spending as his top priority. He alluded to policy difficulties, urging supporters in York not to be cowed by them.  "One of the easiest things to do when we talk about change is to inspire fear, and we have got to move away from that fear of the future, because if we don't we're going to continue to be consigned to a dead end," Wolf said. "We have got to get beyond the fear. We've got to get to the point where we actually think we can achieve things."
On the other side of the state, Governor Corbett had just given his concession speech, defending his efforts to push fiscal discipline and limited government.

"… when he takes office next January, he'll confront not only a hostile, Republican-controlled Legislature, but a state on shaky fiscal ground. The state faces a likely $1.7 billion deficit for the fiscal year that starts next July 1.  "People vote when they feel like they have a stake in things," U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., told reporters. With public education a central issue in the fight between Corbett and Wolf, voters felt they had such a stake, Casey said.  And Wolf will have to offer a plan to tame a public employee pension debt clocking in somewhere around $45 billion to $65 billion,"
For Wolf and his supporters, Tuesday a party, the hard work begins Wednesday: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek |  on November 04, 2014 at 10:18 PM
YORK _ So in the end, maybe it made sense that Tom Wolf held his victory celebrations at the York Fairgrounds.  A carnival atmosphere prevailed, with supporters getting their photos taken with a cardboard cutout of Wolf and the dark blue Jeep already so ubiquitous that it had passed into cliche.  Wolf's "Fresh Start" campaign bus, already so ever-present that a campaign reporter joked that he needed a fresh way to write about "Fresh Start," was parked in a corner of the  cavernous Utz Arena.  Unofficial tallies showed Wolf, 65, making history on Tuesday, defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett 65 to 35 percent, as of 9:15 p.m.  Several outlets called the race for Wolf as early as 8 p.m.

Wolf wins — and now his real struggle begins
The networks called the Pennsylvania governor's race minutes after polls closed, but this was an election that was over before it began.  That's what you'll hear from independent analysts as well as Republican and Democratic political operatives. Incumbent Republican Tom Corbett lost this election more than two years ago, when he pursued policies that would prove unpopular and didn't see the need to actively defend them.  "This story was written a long time ago," said Charlie Gerow, a Republican media strategist in Harrisburg. Gerow said Corbett had a story to tell about inheriting a fiscal mess and holding the line on taxes, and that his education spending policies were defensible.  But Corbett, lacking the temperament and political skill to sell himself, let the
narrative get away from him.  It wasn't just spin that did Corbett in, though. The hard numbers show tens of thousands of public education jobs were eliminated under his watch, and local school boards felt pressure to increase property taxes

GOP appears poised to defend Pa. legislative edge
LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTEDRepublicans on Tuesday fended off a bid by Democrats to chip away at their control of the state legislature, setting the stage for partisan battles over policy and priorities with the newly elected governor, Tom Wolf.  In the Senate, where Republicans hold 27 of the 50 seats, there were four marquee races - including a hotly contested one in Delaware County - that helped cement the GOP's advantage.  By late evening, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) said Republicans had picked up more seats to expand their majority to 30 - "a significant win," he said, especially in an election that saw the top of the GOP ticket, Gov. Corbett, lose in historic fashion.

PoliticsPA Election Recap
Written by PoliticsPA Staff November 5,2014
Tom Wolf cruised to a double-digit win and Gov. Tom Corbett to a historic loss Tuesday. Below the top ticket race, a Republican wave swept bigger GOP majorities into the state House and Senate. Here are all the election results you need to know.

Republicans wrest control of United States Senate from Democrats
Trib Live AP By Salena Zito and Tom Fontaine Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 12:16 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Republicans seized control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in eight years, starting with a win Tuesday in West Virginia where Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito emerged the predictable victor.  The GOP's deciding race was in Iowa, where Joni Ernst defeated Bruce Braley. Then in North Carolina, Tom Tillis ousted Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. The party picked up at least seven seats to gain a majority and more power in the final two years of President Obama's administration, and expanded its control of the U.S. House.
Republicans toppled Senate Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado and Montana and replaced retiring Democrats in three states, including West Virginia's Sen. Jay Rockefeller. The Louisiana race, headed to a runoff, remained a possible flip, along with Iowa and Alaska.
Nebraska was the seventh victory for the GOP, making a 52-45 split with three races undecided.
Inheritance tax payment by Scaife estate improved state's revenue picture for October
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | on November 04, 2014 at 4:57 PM, updated November 04, 2014 at 5:45 PM
Pennsylvania's revenue picture is brighter than expected and it's largely attributable to the estate of late Pittsburgh Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.  The October revenue report released on Monday showed of the $2.2 billion in overall collections for the month, the inheritance tax alone brought in $171.6 million – which was $90 million more than expected from this death tax.  The Tribune-Review reported last month that the state received $99.5 million as a prepayment on the inheritance tax that the Scaife's estate will owe. It indicated that was the largest inheritance tax payment the Department of Revenue ever received.  The newspaper also reported estate lawyer Yale Gutnick said it was the first of several estimated tax payments that the executors will make until the final amount is determined.
Scaife died on July 4 at the age of 82.

"But the ultimate insult of the Keystone Graduation Exams is that in the end the whole system is a charade. After all the time spent preparing for the test, testing, student and parent anxiety, supplemental instruction, more testing and project-based assessments, after all is said and done a superintendent can allow up to 10 percent of a class to graduate even if they fail the tests or project-based assessments. And that’s not all: Any superintendent can put together an improvement plan and with PDE approval, exempt all the other students over the 10 percent figure who failed. So where is the accountability?
Meanwhile, the state continues to spend millions upon millions of dollars on testing and, in fact, just signed a $210 million contract for more testing. "
Guest Column: Let’s nix standardized tests and concentrate on education
By State Senator Andy Dinniman , Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 11/05/14, 12:54 AM EST |
Do you remember a teacher who changed your life? One whose patience, encouragement and passion for learning stayed with you and made a difference in who you are today?  Now, do you remember a great test that you took that had the same impact? I bet you don’t and I bet today’s students won’t either.  Of course testing has its role, but when days of instruction time are devoted to test-taking and entire classes are spent on teaching to high-stakes tests, this regimen eats away at the very core of learning.  All this focus on testing came to a head when Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania Department of Education instituted the Keystone Graduation Exams in Pennsylvania. Starting with the Class of 2017 (current freshmen and sophomores) students will have to pass exams in three subject areas (Algebra I, Biology and Language Arts) in order to graduate.

"Of the 70 students attending charter schools, 38 are enrolled in cyber charters (31 regular education and seven special-education). If the cost of these 38 children were based on the district's cyber option annual tuition of $4,500, the district would save $307,359. This money could provide sizable property tax relief to local taxpayers and could be used toward all-day kindergarten and numerous enrichment opportunities."
LETTER: Funding system for charter and cyber schools requires an urgent fix
Express-Times Letters to the Editor  by Douglas Wagner Superintendent, Wilson Area School District on November 04, 2014 at 11:00 AM
The Wilson Area School District recognizes that charter and cyber charter schools can be a viable option for students. However, it is important to understand that charters and cyber charters are not "free."  They are funded by a state-mandated formula that takes local tax dollars from school districts, causing property tax increases. Districts are mandated to send the local cost-per-pupil-expenditure to the receiving charter school for students leaving the district to attend a charter school, regardless of actual costs for the student's education.   

“One thing we know [is] that all of the factors around literacy point to the fact that if we can address early literacy by the time children are in 3rd or 4th grade, it’s a resolution to everything we will face later,” he said in his opening remarks. 
How can parents help their kids learn to read?
District explores improving child literacy at SRC meeting.
the notebook By Shannon Nolan on Nov 4, 2014 04:06 PM
Monday night’s School Reform Commission meeting on strategy, policy, and priorities brought together teachers, partner organizations, and District officials working on a new citywide campaign. They were all looking for answers to the same question: How do we get kids to read?
The common answer that night: Parents need to be involved, preferably from their children's early stages of development. Parents at the meeting, however, represented a small minority of attendees.  The campaign, called READ! by 4th, stands for Ready, Engaged, Able, and Determined, and aims for reading proficiency for all Philadelphia 4th graders by 2020. The program launched in August.  Superintendent William Hite talked at the meeting about the importance of early literacy in children for future success.

Philadelphia Schools: Another Year, Another Budget Crisis
Trying to figure out why Philadelphia's public schools have been teetering on insolvency the past few years is no easy task.  But let's start with some basic facts. The district, the eighth largest in the nation, is entirely dependent on three sources of money: Almost half of its $2.8 billion budget comes from the city. A little over a third comes from the state. most of the rest comes from the federal government.  Matthew Stanski, the district's chief financial officer, likes to compare this money to an "allowance". He says, "We're given an allowance and we have to determine what to do with that allowance."  The problem, says Stanski, is that it's not nearly enough. Only 36 cents out of every dollar goes to kids and classrooms. A huge chunk of money - $727 million — goes to charter schools, which compete with traditional public schools for resources in Philadelphia. Health care costs take up another $117 million every year.  Finally, says Stanski, there's the teachers' pension fund. It takes another big bite out of the budget.  "Lets say you're an employee making $70,000 a year." says Stanski. "That's about a $14,000 payment to your pension fund. It's just not sustainable and yeah, it worries me tremendously."

Imhotep Charter sued by related nonprofit
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 7:05 PM
When Imhotep Institute Charter High School opened its new building in East Germantown five years ago, officials dubbed the $10 million facility "the Miracle on 21st Street."  Now, as the school with an African-centered curriculum fights to keep its charter, the building at 6201 N. 21st St. is at the center of a tug-of-war.  Sankofa Network Inc., a related nonprofit that owns Imhotep's campus, filed a Common Pleas Court lawsuit last week alleging the charter owes $1.2 million in rent, interest, and fees.  The court action comes after the school, which opened in 1998, was rocked by months of turmoil, including the ouster in late June of M. Christine Wiggins, Imhotep's founding chief executive.

Philadelphia City Council Hearings on High-stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement, Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM
Education Committee of Philadelphia City Council
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM, Room 400 City Hall
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Councilman Mark Squilla and The Opt-Out Committee of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools urge all who care about the future of education to attend:  Parents, students and educators will testify on the effects of over-testing on students and teaching, including the crisis of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Information:  Alison McDowell or Lisa Haver at:

DelCo Rising: Winning for Education Nov18 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Delaware County students and taxpayers have sacrificed enough. The state is not paying its fair share.  Rising property taxes and school budget cuts are not acceptable–help us change that.
Join your neighbors for a community workshop: Delco Rising:  Winning for Education
Learn about Pre-K for PA and the Statewide Campaign for Fair Education Funding and how they can  help your community
Practice winning strategies to advocate for your community
Create an advocacy plan that works for you—whether you have 5 minutes or 5 days per month
This non-partisan event is free and open to the public.
Click here to download a PDF flyer to share.

Webinar: Arts Education - Research Shows Arts Education Boosts Learning, So Where's the Rush to Teach Arts?
Education Writers Association NOVEMBER 12, 2014 - 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Decades of research suggest that some types of arts education can lead to academic improvements. But even though No Child Left Behind designated arts a core subject, student access to dance, theater and visual arts declined between 2000 and 2010. What are the challenges educators face in teaching a discipline many researchers say spurs student achievement, reduces absences and boosts graduation rates? This webinar will look at state-level arts education policy and student access to arts programs, the arts education research landscape, and offer a spotlight on city programs that are galvanizing arts education.
James Catterall, Centers for Research on Creativity, Professor Emeritus, UCLA
Sandra Ruppert, Director, Arts Education Partnership
            Mary Plummer, Southern California Public Radio

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.