Tuesday, December 16, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 16: Will York PA join NOLA as a district where 'choice' does not include a traditional public school?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 16, 2014:
Will York PA join NOLA as a district where 'choice' does not include a traditional public school?



A look back: How Pennsylvania has distributed money for education since the 1960s
By the Notebook on Oct 2, 2014 10:39 AM



This article includes a list of appointees to the education transition team
250-plus people named to Gov-elect Tom Wolf's transition review teams
By Christian Alexandersen | calexandersen@pennlive.com on December 15, 2014 at 12:55 PM, updated December 15, 2014 at 1:10 PM
Gov-elect Tom Wolf announced the names of more than 250 people on Monday that will review state agencies, commissions and various issue areas as part of his transition team.  Wolf named the chairmen and women for the review teams last week. The individuals selected by Wolf will review a number of areas including aging, agriculture, education, health, military and veterans, transportation, revenue and many more.  The transition review teams will work with the outgoing administration to better understand the issues and challenges that face the executive branch, according to a prepared release.  Additional names may be forthcoming.
Here's a breakdown of the members of the transition review teams:

Gamesmanship shouldn't overtake needed debate on shale tax, pensions: PennLive Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board on December 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM
In what is either an encouraging note of conciliation or a sure recipe for gridlock, new state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has said he'll only a consider a severance tax on natural gas drillers (or other new revenue raisers) if lawmakers and the incoming Wolf administration are able to reach agreement on a pension reform package.  Speaking to reporters at last weekend's Pennsylvania Society gala in New York City,Corman, R-Centre, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that majority Republicans are "not ruling anything in or out," and plan to work with Gov.-elect Tom Wolf on his agenda when the York County Democrat takes office next month.   But, he added, "there's no tax, a Marcellus Shale tax, tobacco tax, whatever you want. There's no sin tax that's going to cover our costs for pensions and Medicaid. There's just not enough money there."  Corman is absolutely correct that a new severance tax would put only a mild dent in those massive costs. But his statement is at once encouraging and troubling. 

York County judge hears arguments on York City Schools receivership case
By ANGIE MASON York Daily Record/Sunday News UPDATED:   12/16/2014 05:56:21 AM
Attorneys grilled David Meckley, the York City School District's recovery officer, on the district's financial circumstances and the proposed agreement that would turn all the district's schools into charters next year, as the state's request to take control of the city schools was heard in court.
If York County Judge Stephen Linebaugh approves the state's request, Meckley would named receiver and have the authority to steer the district's future, with the school board left only with the power to levy taxes.  Meckley spent much of Monday morning testifying about the creation of the district's recovery plan and what's happened since.

David Meckley testifies as state's first witness in York City School District hearings: Live updates
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | cwoodall@pennlive.com on December 15, 2014 at 12:30 PM,
York County President Judge Stephen Linebaugh on Monday heard from the state's first witness in its petition to put the York City School District in the hands of a local businessman.  David Meckley, who has served as the state-appointed chief recovery officer since December 2012, explained his recovery plan, which includes a full conversion to charter schools.  The state Department of Education earlier this month filed a petition to grant receivership to Meckley, a  63-year-old lifelong York County resident who currently lives in Spring Garden Township. The township is part of the York Suburban School District, one of York City's neighboring districts.

Will York join NOLA as a district where 'choice' does not include a traditional public school?
York Daily Record Comprehensive ongoing coverage…..
York City School District financial recovery: Ongoing coverage
Staff report UPDATED:   12/12/2014 06:56:40 PM EST

Pa. auditor backs off state Department of Education
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON DECEMBER 16, 2014
It appears the tensions have subsided, at least for the moment, between the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the commonwealth's fiscal watchdog.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale blasted the agency earlier this month for being uncooperative with a performance review.  But he said more recently that the department has begun sending timely responses – beginning with one that was due last Tuesday.  "For the first time in the history of our audit of the Department of Education, they met a deadline of supplying information," said DePasquale.

The Note: December 12, 2014
Arts and Education News from the Education Policy and Leadership Center and the PA Arts Education Network

"Contractually obligated costs attached to salaries and benefits will go up by 5.3 percent, totaling an estimated $2.7 million of the budget. Salaries are projected to increase $381,000 and benefits are projected to increase $2.3 million overall, Riker said."
No cuts to programs or staff positions in tentative $77 million Nazareth School Board budget
By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times  on December 15, 2014 at 9:05 PM
Next year's Nazareth Area School District budget proposal doesn't include layoffs or cuts to programs, but taxpayers likely will see a 2.4 percent hike.  The tentative $77 million 2015-16 school budget is a 4.25 percent increase over the 2014-15 $73.9 million spending plan. The preliminary budget Monday was unveiled to the public by district superintendent Dennis Riker and business administrator Bernadine Rishcoff.

Chester Upland officials talk about district on 'Live From the Newsroom'
Delco Times Heron's Nest Blog by Editor Phil Heron Tuesday, December 16, 2014
He survived an attempt by Gov. Tom Corbett to remove him from his job, now Joe Watkins is ready to tangle with 'Live From the Newsroom.'  We'll have the embattled receiver of the Chester Upland School District as our guest Wednesday night, along with CU Superintendent Gregory Shannon.  Watkins was targeted in a surprise move by acting state Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, who filed a petition in Delaware County Court to have Watkins ousted. But Delco Judge Chad Kenney decided Watkins deserves more time to turn things around in the seemingly forever troubled school district.

"Although definitions vary somewhat, the idea of a community school is grounded in a notion of the neighborhood school as a vital educational and social service hub in the community. Classes are held like at any other school, but a community school threads social and academic supports into its educational model, forging partnerships with neighborhood services that cater to students and their families. "
South Philadelphia High drives toward becoming a community school
the notebook By Payne Schroeder on Dec 15, 2014 11:48 AM
For Kamoy Gumbs, a senior at South Philadelphia High School, the school day doesn’t end after the final bell. Instead, he heads up to the third floor to do some homework in the school’s teen lounge before he trades his pencil for an apron.  “I love cooking, and one of my friends told me about it, so I came over,” said Gumbs, 17, who takes part in a culinary arts program after school provided by Sunrise of Philadelphia, a social services organization. “I started in 10th grade -- it’s my third year. I go every day.”  Southern, as the school is often called, has been working with local service providers like Sunrise for three years to provide afterschool programming and social services inside its building for students, parents, and, when it can, other community members.
In addition to the culinary program, the school offers many others, on topics including class credit recovery, sexual health education, outpatient therapy, college preparation for children of migrant and refugee parents, and social benefit access.  In August, City Council held a hearing on the possibility of creating “community schools” in the District. Then, in late October, the District’s chief of student services, Karyn Lynch, announced tentative plans to turn Southern and Strawberry Mansion into community schools.

Philly - District won't propose any school closings this year
the notebook By David Limm on Dec 15, 2014 06:26 PM
For the second year in a row, School District of Philadelphia officials will not be proposing any closures of District schools.  "At this time, we are not making any recommendations to close schools next year," School District spokesperson Fernando Gallard confirmed in an email, without elaboration.

Pileggi won't run for state Supreme Court
Post Gazette Early Returns Blog by Mike Pound on Monday, 15 December 2014 5:16 pm.
State Sen. Dominic Pileggi won't run for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, even after apparently fielding many requests to do so.  Mr. Pileggi, a Repubican who was just ousted from his position as Senate majority leader, said on Facebook late this afternoon that he planned to remain in the Senate. His candidacy for the state's higest court was a hot rumor during last weekend's Pennsylvania Society activities.

RFA: A Brief Review of PSAP’s Position Paper One City, Two Systems of Schools
By Lucas Westmaas & John Sludden Research for Action December 2014
Background
A position paper released on December 5, 2014 by the Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners (PSAP), the advocacy arm of the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), calls for an “aggressive expansion of schools that are achieving results for low-income and minority students” (p. 2). The document describes what it terms “high-impact” schools and “underperforming” schools. The author(s) states:  For poor and minority students in Philadelphia, there really are two kinds of schools: those that work and those that don’t...variation in outcomes is not dependent on school type, student income levels, or other out-of-school factors (p. 2).  Research for Action (RFA) found a number of issues with the claims made by PSAP. Specifically:
1.       PSAP argued that the populations served by the two groups of schools are essentially identical, but omits discussion of several important differences between the groups— primarily in the special education population and in the grade levels served.
2.       PSAP made questionable decisions about which schools to include in their “underperforming” sample and failed to detail their rationale for doing so.
3.       We were not able to reconstruct PSAP’s calculations of the percentage of students who are eligible for free lunch.
To be clear, this brief is not intended to offer an alternative explanation for the data presented by PSAP. Rather, this document argues that the data presented by PSAP are not nearly sufficient to support their sweeping conclusions.
We begin with an explanation of how PSAP appears to have constructed its sample.

Calls renewed for charter school regulations
Philly Trib by Wilford Shamlin III Tribune Staff Writer  Friday, December 12, 2014 12:15 pm
A new report calls for tighter regulations of Philadelphia charter schools, concluding wasteful spending at the privately managed schools costs a yearly average of more than $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money, and more than $30 million since 1997.  “Pennsylvania lawmakers have not given oversight bodies the tools they need to detect that fraud and stop it early,” according to a report prepared by three nonprofit agencies, ACTION United, The Center For Popular Democracy, and Integrity In Education.

PUBLIC SCHOOL POVERTY: THE NEW NORMAL
Third and State Blog Posted by Waslala Miranda on December 12, 2014 5:49 pm
The Great Recession may be over but many in Pennsylvania are still suffering from its effects. This is most obvious in our public schools where the number of students who qualify for free- or reduced-priced lunches, a poverty measure, is disturbingly high. Almost half of all public school students qualified for the lunch program in 2013-14.  When we look at these students and their school districts we find:

Pittsburgh summer learning programs boost math scores, not other outcomes
By Clarece Polke / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 16, 2014 12:00 AM
A study released by the Rand Corp. today showed students who attend high-quality summer learning programs, including Pittsburgh’s Summer Dreamers Academy, performed better in math but not necessarily in reading and social and emotional well-being.  The study showed for the first time learning outcomes of more than 5,600 students tracked across summer learning programs in five school districts nationwide, including the Dreamers Academy, a K-7 tutoring and enrichment program operated by Pittsburgh Public Schools. After one summer, students who attended one of the programs showed “statistically significant” improvement in math scores over students who applied for a program but were not admitted, according to the report.

"It is not a choice when they close your neighborhood school."
Charter School Testimony: Alison McDowell
Caucus of Working Educators POSTED BY THE CAUCUS BLOG 5SC ON DECEMBER 13, 2014
Here's my testimony from Thursday's charter hearing. It was so odd. There weren't any SRC or District officials, just a lady up front with a laptop. Strange. On the positive side, I was surprised given the crowd, that quite a few people clapped when I was done and someone I don't even know thanked me on Twitter. We are slowly making an impact. We just have to keep showing up.

Education Shouldn’t be an Unfair Game!
School Finance 101 Blog by Bruce Baker Posted on December 11, 2014
A common claim these days, either in political rhetoric or in the context of litigation over the equity and adequacy of state school finance systems is that money simply doesn’t matter. The amount of money we put into any school or district is inconsequential to the outcomes children achieve or quality of education they receive. The public schooling system is simply a money black hole! Thus, it matters not how much money we throw at the system generally and it matters not whether some children get more than others. Further, it matters not whether children with greater educational needs have resources comparable to those with lesser needs and greater preexisting advantages.  Yes, these arguments are contradicted by the vast body of empirical evidence which finds otherwise! And these arguments are often used to deflect emphasis from disparities in resources across children that are egregious on their face, and often not merely a function of state legislative neglect of state school finance systems, but state legislative actions to drive more public resources to those already more advantaged. And things are only getting worse.

Wolf tabs Obra S. Kernodle IV as deputy chief of staff
Philly Trib by Damon C. Williams Tribune Staff Writer Sunday, December 14, 2014 1:00 am
Governor-elect Tom Wolf has announced Obra S. Kernodle IV will become his deputy chief of staff. Wolf takes office in January.  Kernodle’s appointment makes him one of the youngest African Americans to hold such a position in the governor’s cabinet, and he will also work as director for the office of public liaison.  Kernodle, 36, joins John Hanger, who will serve as secretary of planning and policy, and Mary Isenhour, who will serve as secretary of legislative affairs. One–time gubernatorial candidate Kathleen McGinty will serve as Wolf’s chief of staff.

Former Coatesville school officials charged
MICHAELLE BOND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Monday, December 15, 2014, 12:16 PM POSTED: Monday, December 15, 2014, 11:42 AM
Two former ranking officials at the Coatesville Area School District mismanaged and misappropriated school funds while their struggling school system sunk deeper into debt, the Chester County district attorney alleged Monday.  Capping a grand jury investigation that spanned more than a year, Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan said former superintendent Richard Como and former athletic director Jim Donato would be charged with stealing school funds and violating the state's Ethics Act.

GOP Senate Aides Working on Draft ESEA Bill That Could Ditch Annual Testing
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on December 15, 2014 3:21 PM
Senate GOP aides, who are hoping to get a bill reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act on the runway early in the new year, are getting started on legislation that looks very similar to a bill Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the incoming chairman of the Senate education committee, introduced last year. (Cheat sheet on that legislation here.)  But there would be one major change: an end to the federal mandate for annual testing, Republican Senate aides confirm.
Instead the bill would leave decisions about testing schedules up to states. Some would likely stick with annual assessments, while others would try out gradespan testing and still others would mix and match, GOP aides say.  That's an idea that's likely to prove popular with education organizations, especially traditional Democratic allies, including the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, both of whom have backed bills that would reduce testing requirements.

American Federation for Children Press Release via email December 15, 2014
AFC Chairman Betsy DeVos to speak at 2015 SXSW Education Conference
Solo discussion topic: Competition, Creativity & Choice in the Classroom
Washington, D.C. (Dec. 15, 2014) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, is pleased to announce that Betsy DeVos will speak at this year’s SXSWedu on March 11, 2015. After a successful social media campaign through the SXSWedu Panel Picker, DeVos was selected from more than 1,000 entries. DeVos’ solo presentation “Competition, Creativity & Choice in the Classroom” will discuss how educational choice disrupts the status quo and provides entrepreneurs, teachers and innovators the opportunity to revolutionize the country’s antiquated education model.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to speak at this year’s SXSWedu conference and share our vision for how educational choice is the catalyst for an education revolution and better outcomes for all children,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children and Alliance for School Choice. “Our nation’s education system is rooted in an outdated, top down education model that stifles innovation in the classroom. Educational choice is the gateway to empowering teachers, inspiring innovators and unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit to create a 21st century education model that recognizes and embraces the individuality and uniqueness of every student.”  Betsy DeVos is chairman of the American Federation for Children and Alliance for School Choice, the nation's voice for educational choice. She also serves on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and has been involved in education reform for more than two decades.  Created in 2011, SXSWedu celebrates learning and innovation in education nationwide. This year’s event will be held March 9–12 in Austin, TX.


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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