Wednesday, December 24, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 24: Could the Next State Budget Include a New Funding Formula for PA Schools?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 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 December 24, 2014:
Could the Next State Budget Include a New Funding Formula for PA Schools?


Happy Holidays!



The ABC's of Basic Education Funding in Pennsylvania (video)
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding December 18, 2014 Video Runtime 3:31
The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials provides a short, easy to follow tutorial on how funding works and the challenges lawmakers confront.



"The next ( PA Basic Education Funding Commission) hearing will be held at the beginning of January in York County."
Could the Next State Budget Include a New Funding Formula for PA Schools?
WESA Pittsburgh NPR Station By JESSICA NATH WED DECEMBER 24, 2014
For as long as property taxes have been used to locally funded schools, there has been a debate over fairness and it might come to head this year in Pennsylvania.  State Senator Matt Smith (D – Allegheny) is hopeful the 2015-16 budget will incorporate a funding formula for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts.  He is a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission, which is tasked with crafting the formula.  Created in June, the 15-member commission has about six months to go until it must submit a proposal to the legislature.  The commission has held several public hearings throughout the state and has heard from superintendents, parents, and officials from other states with formulas.  “This isn’t anything definite by any means, but I’m very hopeful that we can incorporate our work into governor elect (Tom) Wolf’s budget proposal in March, and we have to do the budget by the end of June,” Smith said. “So I think we should try as hard as possible to come to a consensus, so it’s part of the new governor’s budget.”

Keep Up with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding is sending out regular email notices about the activities of the Campaign and ways for supporters to get involved and connect with this growing movement.  Please sign-up here  to receive those updates, and encourage others - parents, teachers, students, civic leaders, business owners, etc. - to do the same.

PILCOP School Funding Lawsuit Update: Petitioners Answer State’s Preliminary Objections
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia website December 2014
The petitioners filed their answers to the state’s preliminary objections in our school funding lawsuit.   These objections mostly refer to a previously tried case. In response to the legislators’ brief, we wrote that some factual issues raised by that brief are not appropriate for the court to consider at this time.  After the answers were filed, the court issued a scheduling order for briefing the preliminary objections. Briefs in support of the respondents’ preliminary objections must be filed on or before January 16, 2015. Briefs in opposition must be filed on or before February 17, 2015. Argument will be heard in March 2015.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf: 'I was elected governor of Pennsylvania, not dictator'
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | cwoodall@pennlive.com   Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on December 23, 2014 at 11:09 AM, updated December 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM
With less than a month until he is officially seated as the state's top executive, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf said he's looking forward to working with the Legislature.  The Democrat will face a Republican majority in both the state House and Senate, and isn't deterred by the challenge.
While he's sticking to his campaign platforms, one of which called for a 5 percent severance tax on oil and gas drilling in the state, Wolf is willing to negotiate.  After volunteering at Our Daily Bread in York on Tuesday, he responded to comments made earlier this month by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, who said there would be no severance tax without pension reform.  Pension reform will be on the table "if the Legislature wants it to be. I was elected governor of Pennsylvania, not dictator," Wolf said.  "I look forward to sitting down and having a good conversation with Senator Corman," he added.

New lawmakers bring fresh eyes to Pa.'s problems
Philly.com by MARK SCOLFORO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS December 20, 2014, 11:30 AM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Twenty-eight are Republicans, five are Democrats. Six are women. And once they're sworn in next month, all of them will get a vote in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
The newest class of freshmen lawmakers, including three House members who made it to the Senate, have not had much opportunity to bask in their recent victories as they spent time picking caucus leaders, setting up offices and navigating their way around the Capitol. And, oh yeah, figuring out what to do about that enormous state budget deficit.

Meet the PA House Republican Representatives-Elect
PA House Republican Caucus December 2014

"Charter Schools USA is a very successful for-profit business. It is very profitable. Its CEO Jonathan Hage is an entrepreneur, not an educator. The company’s headquarters are in Florida but it operates 70 charter schools in seven states. It hopes to take over the entire York, Pennsylvania, school district."
How Charter Operators Get Rich
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch December 23, 2014 //
Charter Schools USA is a very successful for-profit business. It is very profitable. Its CEO Jonathan Hage is an entrepreneur, not an educator. The company’s headquarters are in Florida but it operates 70 charter schools in seven states. It hopes to take over the entire York, Pennsylvania, school district. The money to operate the charter schools come out of money that would otherwise go to district public schools.  How does Hage and the corporation make big money? It is not the management fee of 5%. It’s the rent.
As Channel 10 learned in its investigation, charters profit handsomely by paying outsize rent to themselves.  “When the company helps open a new school, its development arm, Red Apple Development, acquires land and constructs a school. Then, CUSA charges the school high rent.
“For example, Winthrop Charter in Riverview may struggle to balance its budget this year thanks to a $2 million rent payment to CUSA/Red Apple Development. The payment will equate to approximately 23% of its budget, even though CUSA CEO Jon Hage has been quoted as saying charter school rent should not exceed 20%.”  The corporation says that as long as test scores are high and parents are happy, the profits are no problem.

State school boards association offers Coatesville more advice
MICHAELLE BOND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 6:10 PM
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association says it differs with some of the recommendations a Chester County grand jury gave to the Coatesville Area School District last week.  The association said Tuesday that sweeping votes on meeting agendas are not always bad, antinepotism policies can go too far, and all school board members, not just new ones, should receive in-depth training.  The jury's recommendations to fix systemic problems within the district might create other troubles or not go far enough, according to Stuart Knade, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's lawyer.

Looking back: Which Philly education stories were most important, most read?
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Dec 23, 2014 06:36 PM
The Notebook is closed until Jan. 2, and our reporters won't be posting new stories. But follow our Philly Ed Twitter feed for any breaking news and join the conversation in our comments.
It is time for our year-end review of the biggest education news in Philadelphia in 2014. We looked at the 20 top stories viewed on our site over the course of the year, as well as other major developments that had an impact on education in the city.     No surprise, the topics that generated the most interest and news were state education funding, the District’s perennial budget crisis, the School Reform Commission’s battle with the teachers’ union, controversy about charter schools, and the continuing investigation of adult cheating on standardized tests.

Allentown school budget proposal filled with uncertainty
By Edward Sieger | The Express-Times on December 23, 2014 at 6:05 PM
The Allentown School District is preparing a preliminary budget that includes a host of variables: charter school costs, increases to healthcare, the health of its fund balance and state education funding, perhaps the biggest wildcard of them all.  "You have to get out your crystal ball," said Jack Clark, the district's chief financial officer. "You don't have a budget from state, we're still negotiating on medical costs."  The Allentown school board last week adopted the district's proposed preliminary budget, marking its availability for public review on the district website, allentownsd.org. The board is scheduled to vote on the preliminary budget in January, so it can be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in late January or early February.

Garnet Valley teachers’ union, school board resume contract talks
Delco Times By Susan L. Serbin, Times Correspondent POSTED: 12/23/14, 11:09 PM EST |
CONCORD >> As a result of the second rejection of the fact-finder’s report by the Garnet Valley Education Association, the teachers’ union leadership and school board negotiating team will go back to the table.  The union took a second vote this week, within the time frame set out in the fact-finding process. Rejection of the report crafted by appointed fact-finder William Lowe cancels any specifics of the several dozen recommendations made. The board approved the report at a special meeting Dec. 10 and was not required to vote again.  The union and board have been in negotiations since January 2014. The teachers’ most recent contract expired June 30, 2014. The board requested the fact-finding process from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, which was carried out to the finale of the education association’s second rejection.

"Even those vaguely aware of him did not find it perplexing that a Turkish preacher, billionaire, and head of a multinational media and business empire—a man of immense power in Turkey and sinister repute—had set up shop in Pennsylvania and become a big player in the American charter school scene."
Turkey’s Two Thugs
Erdoğan and Gülen are both dangerous—but only one of them lives in the Poconos.​
City Journal by CLAIRE BERLINSKI 23 December 2014
Until recently, I lived in Turkey. It seemed to me then unfathomable that most Americans did not recognize the name Fethullah Gülen. Even those vaguely aware of him did not find it perplexing that a Turkish preacher, billionaire, and head of a multinational media and business empire—a man of immense power in Turkey and sinister repute—had set up shop in Pennsylvania and become a big player in the American charter school scene. Now that I’ve been out of Turkey a while, I’ve realized how normal it is that Americans are indifferent to Gülen. America is full of rich, powerful, and sinister weirdoes. What’s one more?

Feds aim to redistribute quality teachers
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON 12/23/14 5:35 AM EST
More than a decade ago, Congress ordered states to figure out a way to distribute qualified teachers fairly, so low-income and minority children weren’t so often stuck with inexperienced and unlicensed educators.  As it turns out, they’ve done a lousy job.
New data out from the Education Department find sizable — and in some states, huge — disparities in children’s access to fully qualified and experienced teachers.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, more than 20 percent of teachers are unlicensed in the schools with the largest concentration of minority students. In largely white schools, just 0.2 percent of teachers lack a license, the data show.
Or consider Louisiana: Nearly 20 percent of classes in the most impoverished schools are taught by teachers who don’t meet the federal definition of “highly qualified” — which generally means they lack a bachelor’s degree, are unlicensed or don’t have a strong academic background in the subject they’re teaching. In the wealthier schools, fewer than 8 percent of classes are led by a teacher who’s not highly qualified.
In New York, students in high-poverty schools are nearly three times more likely to have a rookie teacher and 22 times more likely to have an unlicensed teacher than their peers in more affluent schools.
“The inequitable distribution of teachers teaching low-income students is staggering, sobering and getting worse,” said Arnold Fege, president of Public Advocacy for Kids, an education policy group.

Federal Educator Equity Profile Pennsylvania 2011–12 Data
This profile compares certain characteristics of educators in schools with high and low concentrations of students from low-income families and minority students. These data are the best available to the Department. In working to ensure that all students have access to excellent teachers and leaders, states and districts are encouraged to supplement these data with additional measures of educator quality.

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.

PSBA Master School Board Director Recognition: Applications begin in January
PSBA website December 23, 2014
The Master School Board Director (MSBD) Recognition is for individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions as members of their governance teams. It is one way PSBA salutes your hard work and exceptional dedication to ethics and standards, student success and achievement, professional development, community engagement, communications, stewardship of resources, and advocacy for public education.
School directors who are consistently dedicated to the aforementioned characteristics should apply or be encouraged to apply by fellow school directors. The MSBD Recognition demonstrates your commitment to excellence and serves to encourage best practices by all school directors.
The application will be posted Jan. 15, 2015, with a deadline to apply of June 30. Recipients will be notified by the MSBD Recognition Committee by Aug. 31 and will be honored at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October.
If you are interested in learning more about the MSBD Recognition, contact Janel Biery, conference/events coordinator, at (800) 932-0588, ext. 3332.

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