Saturday, December 27, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 27: Grinch steals Democracy in York PA

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 27, 2014:
Grinch steals Democracy in York PA

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"...Corbett's efforts to advance the fortunes of private, parochial and charter schools frequently brought him into conflict with public school boosters."
What will history say of Gov. Tom Corbett's tenure in Pennsylvania?
By The Associated Press on December 25, 2014 at 2:10 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The most notable elements of Gov. Tom Corbett's legacy may have been cemented on Election Day.  His defeat by first-time candidate Tom Wolf saddled Corbett with the distinction of being the first Pennsylvania governor denied re-election in the 40 years that the state's chief executive has been allowed to seek a second consecutive term.
And amid historic Republican gains in state legislatures across the country — including in Pennsylvania — Corbett was the only sitting GOP governor to lose his seat to a Democratic challenger in the Nov. 4 election.  Whether history will be kinder than voters in assessing the governor's track record remains to be seen.

State cleared to take over York City School District
WITF Written by Emily Previti /Keystone Crossroads | Dec 26, 2014 11:01 AM
 (York) -- State officials can take over the struggling York City School District, a judge has ruled.
York County Judge Stephen Linebaugh issued his decision Friday, less than a month after the Pennsylvania Department of Education filed its petition for a receivership – as a state takeover is called.  State officials have said they would, if approved for a receivership, bring in Charter Schools USA to operate the district.  So this means York likely will be the first city in the Commonwealth - and only one in the nation – where public education is provided exclusively by a private company.

State takes control of York City School District
York Daily Record Staff report UPDATED:   12/26/2014 03:08:31 PM EST
The York City School District has entered receivership, according to a ruling Friday in York County court.  David Meckley has been named receiver. He is granted all of the school board's powers except for levying taxes. He now has the authority to move forward, without the school board's consent, with plans to convert all district schools into charters run by the Florida-based Charter Schools USA.  Meckley has said such a move is necessary because a collective bargaining agreement reflecting the recovery plan has not been worked out and because the district hasn't met academic progress goals included in the recovery plan.

"Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, a Democrat who takes office Jan. 20, has said he opposes the move to turn the schools into charter schools. Corbett, a Republican, has sought to boost avenues for public school students to attend private, parochial and charter schools, frequently bringing him into conflict with public school boosters."
Pennsylvania wins receivership for York schools
Bucks County Courier Times by Associated Press | Posted: Friday, December 26, 2014 3:15 am | Updated: 3:30 pm, Fri Dec 26, 2014.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A judge gave approval Friday to Gov. Tom Corbett administration's bid to take over the troubled York City School District and place it in receivership, a decision opposed by the district, labor union and state school boards association that was quickly appealed.  The decision by York County President Judge Stephen Linebaugh gives more authority to the Corbett administration's appointee to carry out a plan to make York City's public schools the first in Pennsylvania to be turned into privately run charter schools.
If upheld, the approximately 7,500-student district would become the third Pennsylvania school district to be placed into receivership. 

Questions still linger about the fate of the York City School District
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | on December 26, 2014 at 5:12 PM, updated December 26, 2014 at 9:21 PM
A York County court ruling said it's OK for the state to takeover the York City School District, but what will become of the public school is a question that's far from answered.
President Judge Stephen Linebaugh on Fridayissued his decision – a move that could pave the way to the district's full conversion to charter schools.  Or the issue could be tied up in court appeals for months and Linebaugh's decision may be overturned.

Students react to York City receivership
York Dispatch by NIKELLE SNADER 505-5431 / @ydschools 12/26/2014 02:59:00 PM EST 
A handful of students and staff members met outside the York City judicial center Friday to protest Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh's decision to appoint David Meckley as the receiver for the city school district.  Among them was senior Ashlee DeSantis, who said the coming days will likely be filled with confusion and unanswered questions for many students in the York City district.
DeSantis and junior Nicole Harman said they've been following the case closely. But the decision was still a disappointment, DeSantis said.
"We were prepared for the worst, but you still hope for the best," she said.
Both students said they got involved with protesting the decision because they're worried about programs and what will happen to staff members at the school.

Attorney: Appeal already filed in York City receivership case
ERIN JAMES and NIKELLE SNADER / The York Dispatch 505-5431 / @ydschools
POSTED:   12/26/2014 09:13:29 AM EST
Control of the York City School District will transfer to a state appointee following a York County judge's ruling Friday granting a state petition for receivership.  he decision of President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh gives all but taxing power to a Spring Garden Township man who has steered the district's financial recovery process for two years.  David Meckley, who has an extensive business background, has served as the district's chief recovery officer for two years. His tenure started after the state placed York City in moderate financial recovery status.
Marc Tarlow, representing York City School District, said he filed an appeal to Linebaugh's decision on Friday morning.

York City School District, other groups appeal court decision on state takeover
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | on December 26, 2014 at 5:11 PM,
Within minutes of the judge's ruling, the York City School District filed an appeal and started hoping a higher court would issue a decision in its favor.  York County President Judge Stephen Linebaugh on Friday morning approved the state Department of Education's petition to name David Meckley as the district's receiver.  Meckley has been the district's chief recovery officer since 2012, but the new role gives him full control of the public school system, except the ability to set the tax rate.  His proposal to sign a contract with for-profit operator Charter Schools USA has beenopposed by parents, residents, community leaders and elected officials.

Wolf, others react to York City schools receivership decision
THE YORK DISPATCH POSTED:   12/26/2014 01:41:57 PM EST
Here is some of the reaction to Friday's court decision turning over control of the York City School District to a state-appointed receiver:

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, other leaders respond to state takeover of York City School District
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
A York County judge on Friday gave the state permission to put the York City School District under the leadership of David Meckley, a 63-year-old businessman and lifelong York County resident.  Part of his recovery plan for the district is a full conversion to charter schools.
Receivership and a conversion to charter schools is opposed by Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, parents, school board members and the district's 550 union employees.  Meanwhile, the state Department of Education and a school-choice advocacy group support the judge's decision and a switch to charter schools.  Here's what they're saying:

STATEMENT: PSBA disappointed with judge’s decision in York City School District case
PSBA website December 26, 2014
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is extremely disappointed with a decision made by York County Judge Stephen Linebaugh today, which turns the York City School District over to receivership by David Meckley. The receiver’s plan is to seize the authority to govern the York City School District from the locally elected school board and turn operations over to Charter Schools USA, a for-profit education management company.
“PSBA calls on outgoing Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq and David Meckley to delay any final decisions to turn the district over entirely to a privately run charter school operator until the incoming Wolf administration has had a chance to weigh in on the issue,” said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains.
“The decision has ignored the will of the community and created a dangerous precedent of putting the entire public education system in the hands of a corporate entity that is not accountable to the students or taxpayers,” Mains said.
PSBA will be reviewing the shortcomings of today’s ruling and deciding what course of action to take going forward.

Pennsylvania wins receivership for York schools
Trib Live by Melissa Daniels Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, 12:36 p.m.
A proposal to turn the York City School District into Pennsylvania's first all-charter school system moved forward Friday despite opposition from the district, the teachers union and community members.  York County President Judge Stephen Linebaugh ruled to place the district into state receivership under appointee David Meckley. The district opposed the decision, and its attorney Marc Tarlow quickly moved to appeal, according to The Associated Press.  Meckley plans to bring in Charter Schools USA, a Florida-based operation, to run York's eight schools, establishing the first all-charter district in the state.
Pa. to Takeover York City Schools, Paving the Way for Charter Conversion
Education Week By Denisa R. Superville on December 26, 2014 3:54 PM
A Pennsylvania judge on Friday approved the state's request to appoint a receiver to oversee the York City School District in a move that could result in all or some of the district's eight schools being taken over and run by a for-profit charter management organization. 
The order by President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh of the Common Pleas Court in York County was released on Friday morning. It places the district in receivership for three years, beginning today, Dec. 26.   David Meckley, who was appointed the district's chief recovery officer in 2012 when the district was declared to be in "moderate financial recovery," will serve as the receiver. (You can read the opinion here.)  In a statement in the York Dispatch, Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, who petitioned the court for receivership on Dec. 1, said Meckley can now begin to implement measures that will restore financial and academic stability to the district. 

PSEA President: Court decision puts interests of for-profit company ahead of students in York City School District
PSEA Press Release Posted December 26th, 2014 for Pennsylvania State Education Association
HARRISBURG (December 26, 2014) – A court decision granting Gov. Tom Corbett’s last-minute request to put the York City School District under the control of a state receiver ignores the will of the community, puts students’ education at risk, and paves the way for a corporate takeover of the city’s schools, the president of the state’s largest school employee union said.
PSEA President Michael Crossey said that the Corbett administration’s last-ditch effort to take over the school district and turn its schools over to charter schools is unnecessary, inappropriate, and dangerous.   “York’s citizens don’t want this, the elected school board doesn’t want this, and parents and educators don’t want this,” Crossey said. “With less than a month left in his term, there was no need for the Corbett administration to take this step and undermine the wishes of York’s citizens and their elected leaders.”

PCPCS Applauds York Decision
Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools website December 26, 2014
Albert Einstein had said “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Unfortunately this quote has been appropriate in the School District of the City of York where the academic performance of the district has languished among the worst in Pennsylvania for years.  Today’s decision by President Judge Stephen Linebaugh to enable the District to be placed into receivership provides the opportunity to bring in new ideas and potentially break the historical cycle of disservice to the children of York. Over the past few months, multiple alternative ideas have been proposed to improve the delivery of education in York and all have been rejected by those in charge of the District.  Whether the new approach will succeed is yet to be seen, but at least it proposes something other than the status quo which has failed miserably in serving the children.

Is Second Worst Good Enough for York Students?
Commonwealth Foundation website NOVEMBER 10, 2014 | Commentary by JAMES PAUL
Note: This commentary was published in the York Daily Record.
The second lowest-performing school district in Pennsylvania is asking for more time to improve but refusing recommended reforms. Unfortunately, more time is not something students and families in York City can afford.  York City ranked 499th out of 500 school districts in performance in 2012-13, according to the Department of Education. Average SAT scores in the district’s largest high school are well below average in both math and reading. Standardized test results are not only stagnant, but they lag behind the average scores of low-income students across the state.
Despite this dismal achievement, the York City School Board recently rejected a compromise proposal to convert three district schools into charter schools. The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union, wants to maintain the failing status quo.

"But make no mistake-- this is not good news. It's particularly bad news if you are in PA's other high-poverty districts. If it becomes this easy, this simple for a state to simply hand a school district to a for-profit charter, then in the long run, nobody is safe. Well, except all the people running those charter corporations, cheerfully converting public tax dollars to private profits.  If you care about public education, you may not know much about York, PA, but I'll bet that before too long, you'll know plenty about the decisions that are made there."
The Shafting of York, PA: Round One
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Friday, December 26, 2014
Merry Christmas to the teachers, taxpayers, students, parents and elected school board of York, PA. Today Stephen P. Linebaugh, President Judge of the 19th Judicial District of Pennsylvania ruled that the state may go ahead with takeover of York Schools. Well, not so much "take over" as "hand over to a for-profit charter school company with a dubious track record in Florida." A lump of coal would have been an improvement. York is one step closer to being the first district in the country converted straight to full charter takeover.  Here are some of the salient points to keep in mind as this story continues to unfold (because appeals are going to be filed with all the quickness, you may be sure).

Merry Christmas. We’re Stealing Your Schools.
GadflyOnTheWall Blog by Steven Singer December 27, 2014 stevenmsinger 
Merry Christmas. We’re stealing your schools.
That’s the message from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to York City School residents Friday.  Gimme’ that local control!  A judge ruled the district is now under direction of its Chief Recovery Officer David Meckley instead of its duly elected school board.

Critics balk at state’s change in reading specialist certification
Times Leader By Mark Guydish
Last updated: December 24. 2014 2:52AM - 676 Views 
The state quietly changed the requirements for certification as a school reading specialist, a move that has sparked criticism that the government has dumbed down a complex job, eliminating the need for a master’s degree in favor of simply passing a test. “What a disservice to our children,” said Jodi Loughlin, assistant teaching education professor at Misericordia University and a reading specialist for 15 years at Shenandoah Valley School District before coming to Misericordia.  The job of a reading specialist “involves everything from diagnosing a student with difficulty in reading to prescribing an instructional plan,” Loughlin said. “I think what people don’t understand is that there are so many aspects to reading.” She cited phonic awareness, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency, to name a few.

New Pa. law requires more school clearances
Morning Call By Eleanor Chute Of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 24, 2014
Will you have to undergo a background check to help out in your child's classroom?
If parents want to help out at their child's holiday party at school, do they need to undergo a criminal background check first?  This question and others about the line between volunteer and visitor might become more difficult to answer starting Wednesday, when a new state child protective services law takes effect.  The law, among other things, expands background checks for school volunteers and requires school employees, independent school contractors and volunteers in direct contact with children to update clearances every 36 months.
It also spells out the duties of teachers and other "mandated reporters" in reporting suspected child abuse and the criminal penalties if they fail to do so.

Sandusky-inspired child protection law burdensome for schools
By Jan Murphy | on December 26, 2014 at 1:01 PM
new state law designed to provide an additional layer of protection for children is proving to be a bureaucratic headache, not to mention an unfunded mandate, for school officials.  
Act 153 requires anyone who has direct contact with children or are responsible for their welfare whether in a paid or unpaid position to update their criminal history background check and child abuse clearance every three years. It begins to take effect on Wednesday.
The law is a part of a package of measures put in place to address deficiencies in child protective laws that crystallized in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual assault scandal.
Several school districts surveyed say this law, though well intentioned, carries with it some unintended consequences in making sure everyone comes into and remains in compliance.

Souderton Area School Board renews five-year contract with Souderton Charter School Collaborative
Montgomery News Souderton Independent By Jarreau Freeman @JarreauFreeman on Twitter Friday, December 26, 2014
Franconia >> The Souderton Charter School Collaborative is here for five more years.
The Souderton Area School Board approved the renewal of a five-year contract between the district and SCSC during the Dec. 18 legislative meeting.  The contract renewal was approved by a 5-4 vote. Board members Janet Flisak, Matt Holliday, Ken Keith, board Vice President Thomas Kwiatkowski and board President Scott Jelinski voted yes and board members Jill Basile, Nicholas Braccio, William Brong and Donna Scheuren voted no.  Prior to the vote, board members weighed in on how difficult this vote was, many of them stating that a charter school in a high-performing district, such as theirs, was unnecessary while others called on legislators for charter school reform.  “I think the Souderton charter school is excellent and one of the best charter schools in Pennsylvania,” Holliday said. “The charter school system is where I have the issue. Parents have the right to send their children elsewhere — private school, charter school — but my opinion is that if they don’t send a child to a district school, the parents should pay for it.”
A charter school is a school that receives public funding, but operates independently.

There Can Be No Successful All-Charter School System
Huffington Post by Peter Greene, Teacher and writer; blogger,
Posted: 11/21/2014 11:10 pm EST Updated: 11/21/2014 11:59 pm EST
Writer-researcher Mark Weber published a piece about charters on NJSpotlight this week that deals with charter schools in New Jersey, but which has implications for the charter movement all across the US.  Weber is perhaps better known in the "edubloggoverse" as Jersey Jazzman, and his research prowess (coupled with that of Julia Sass Rubin of Ruthers) is highly respected. This piece brings together much work that he's published in the past; a trip through the pages of his blog will reveal considerable more detail for those who want it.  The bottom line is that New Jersey charters do not serve the same population as the districts that house them. Specifically, they serve a smaller percentage of poor students and students with extra learning challenges.

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.

1 comment:

  1. It's abuse 101 and it's happening because money talks loudest and people are accepting the abuse. Unless/Until that stops, it will only continue. By any means necessary, WE need to protect our Democracy from the shenanigans of the super rich and their cronies like the crooked pols.


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