Thursday, December 4, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 4: Statewide Coverage - "Reality Check" looms for PA Budget

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 4, 2014:
Statewide Coverage - "Reality Check" looms for PA Budget

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Public Hearings
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 10 AM East Stroudsburg; Carl T. Secor Administration Bldg., 50 Vine Street, East Stroudsburg Area School District
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10 AM - 12:00 PM Lancaster; location TBA
* meeting times and locations subject to change

Peter Greene Curmuducation Blog: Ed Reform -The Big Picture
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Sunday, November 23, 2014
Why do we have these policies that don't make sense? Why does it seem like this system is set up to make schools fail? Why do states pass these laws that discourage people from becoming teachers?   My friends, colleagues and family ask these kinds of questions all the time. So my goal today is to step back and try to fit the pieces into the larger picture. If you have been paying attention, you already know this stuff, but perhaps this post will help someone you know who's trying to make sense of reformsterdom. Here, then, is my attempt to show the big picture.

"The school district is staring at a deficit believed to be in the vicinity of $20 million. And Watkins sees a familiar stumbling block standing in the path of putting the district on a sound financial course. It continues to bleed money – and students – to charter schools.
The one-time charter advocate now finds himself in the position of falling on his sword, telling Corbett that their friends in the charter business are slowly strangling Chester Upland."
Delco Times Editorial: No end to problems in Chester Upland
POSTED: 12/03/14, 10:57 PM EST |
Joe Watkins can probably cancel that China trip.
The head of the perennially struggling Chester Upland School District raised a lot of eyebrows recently when he announced plans to visit the Far East and meet with a Chinese educator and businessman about a possible partnership he hoped would result in as much as $1 billion flowing back into the troubled district.
Instead this morning he will be in a courtroom in Media trying to hold on to his $144,000-dollar-a-year job as receiver in Chester Upland.
Oddly enough, the outspoken Republican finds himself in this position not because of Democratic or community opposition, but because the outgoing Republican governor, the man who put him in charge just two years ago, has decided to pull the rug out from under him.
Tom Corbett and Watkins seemed to be a perfect match. Both were Republicans who were vocal boosters of charter schools as an alternative in areas where public schools were failing.
That certainly describes Chester Upland, where more than half of students are now enrolled in charter schools, a factor that plays a big part in the district’s constant budget problems.
But just two years later, Corbett’s acting education secretary, Carolyn Dumaresq, filed a petition in court seeking to oust Watkins and replace him with another former state education secretary, Francis Barnes.

Wolf: Corbett should 'hold off' on York City schools
ERIN JAMES / The York Dispatch 505-5439 / @ydcity  12/03/2014 05:15:39 PM EST
Pennsylvania's incoming governor has called on his predecessor to halt the state's attempt at seizing control of the York City School District "and let me make these decisions."
At a press conference Wednesday, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf said he sees no need for Gov. Tom Corbett's administration to pursue receivership of the district when Corbett's time in office will expire in a few weeks.  "I would just ask him and his administration to hold off and let me make these decisions," Wolf said.  Wolf will take office Jan. 20.
"Between now and then, the governor's going to be in a position to do a lot of things," Wolf said. "There will be some emergency things that have to be done. I get that. This is not one of them."

Wolf likely to make severance tax an early priority
By Michael Sanserino / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 4, 2014 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — Gov.-elect Tom Wolf will enter office next month facing Republican majorities in the state Senate and House of Representatives that grew as a result of the most recent election.
But he should find support for one of his biggest campaign pledges — to impose a severance tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale.  And it’s growing more likely that the tax proposal will top his legislative agenda at the start of his term, according to a panel of politicians and pundits that met Wednesday in Harrisburg.  Speaking at Pennsylvania environmental advocacy nonprofit PennFuture’s post-election forum at the Civic Club of Harrisburg, state Rep. Kate Harper, a Montgomery County Republican, said there appears to be enough public support to impose a severance tax.  “Since 2008, we’ve been living on fumes, so I think most people know we need more money,” Ms. Harper said. “And most people would rather we get that money from the shale industry than their own pockets.”  She said she believes there is a mandate for a severance tax in Pennsylvania.  That sentiment mirrors polling figures collected by Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College.

Pa. budget round up: 7 takeaways from the deficit blame game
By Wallace McKelvey |  on December 03, 2014 at 5:18 PM, updated December 03, 2014 at 5:32 PM
Readers were awash in data and opinion about Pennsylvania's looming $1.9 billion deficit on Wednesday as politicians placed blame in a series of press conferences.  Reporters raced from one end of the Capitol, where Budget Secretary Charles Zogby presented his annual mid-year budget briefing, to the other, where Senate Democrats presented their response. Amid a flurry of a press releases, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf joined in the chorus with his own event in downtown York.  With so much information to sort through, what does it all mean and why does it matter?

Gov.-elect Wolf, outgoing Gov. Corbett spar over $2B deficit
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau December 3, 2014
HARRISBURG — In a case of political deja vu, the state's outgoing and incoming governors are bickering over the state deficit and seeking to write their own versions of what caused the shortfall.  On Wednesday, the outgoing administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett announced what most political watchers already knew: The state is facing a cumulative $2 billion deficit by June 30, 2016.  Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf sought to distance himself from the birth of the financial mess. He told the public he will inherit the problem when he is sworn in on Jan 20.  The sniping was similar to the blame game that took place between incoming Corbett and outgoing Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell in 2010 when they each painted his own picture of the deficit.  In his mid-year budget briefing report, Corbett's budget secretary, Charles Zogby, said the deficit had been forecast since the budget was passed in July. The $29 billion budget used $2 billion in one-time revenue sources after the GOP-controlled Legislature rejected the governor's plan to privatize state liquor stores and reform pension systems, he said.
While the deficit is high, Zogby said, it is nothing compared to the $4.2 billion deficit Corbett faced when he took office in 2011, and the continued financial pressures each subsequent year.
"The reality is, the dynamic the new governor will walk into is no different than the dynamic facing this governor in each of the last four years," Zogby said at a news conference in the state Capitol.
"Baloney," Wolf said later.  The deficit was caused by Corbett's "failed ideology" over four years and "an orgy of one-time [revenue] fixes" in the 2014-15 budget, Wolf said.

State budget chief Zogby says officials face tough choices next year
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau December 3, 2014 1:04 PM
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett's budget chief said Wednesday that balancing the state budget next year under incoming governor Tom Wolf will require state leaders to raise revenues if they do not act to seriously contain the annual growth in the cost of pension and other programs.
“It's a debate that needs to occur, frankly, because we're in an environment where we've hit the wall in terms of what people in this building are willing to cut," Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said during a mid-year budget briefing. “You can't say no to pension reform, no to LCB reform, no to everything else and no to taxes and balance the budget. It's just not going to work.”
The state's Independent Fiscal Office has projected that Pennsylvania faces a budget shortfall of $1.85 billion in the next fiscal year, in part because of one-time measures used to balance the current year's spending plan.

Official: 'Reality check' looms for Pa. budget
ANGELA COULOUMBIS, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 2:58 PM POSTED: Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 10:52 AM
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's budget woes are at a point where only a tax hike or deeper cuts will bail out the state, the budget secretary said Wednesday.
"We've hit the wall in terms of what people in this building are willing to cut," Secretary Charles Zogby said during his mid-year briefing in the Capitol. ".Folks are in for a reality check."
Zogby's message continues the dour fiscal drumbeat that state officials have pounded for weeks.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf: State's fiscal situation 'unacceptable' and worse than one Gov. Tom Corbett inherited
By Jan Murphy |  on December 03, 2014 at 3:02 PM, pdated December 03, 2014 at 4:29 PM
As Gov.-elect Tom Wolf and his advisers try to get his arms around the budget hole that the state faces, what he sees so far is "unacceptable."
The state budget is built on many one-time fixes. Its expenditures outstrip its revenues. It is facing a budget deficit that may or may not be larger than the $1.9 billion figure that has been suggested by others.   "It is not acceptable simply because it doesn't work mathematically," Wolf said. "The commonwealth of Pennsylvania deserves a lot better so we need to get beyond this."
At a Wednesday news conference at the Yorktowne Hotel on the state's fiscal situation, Wolf emphasized that he is not prepared yet to say specifically how he plans to address the budget challenges beyond what he said he would do during his campaign.

Wolf isn't ready to say how he'd fix budget mess by PETER JACKSON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 6:03 PM
YORK, Pa. (AP) - The Corbett administration's budget chief on Wednesday defended the use of one-time stopgaps to offset $2 billion in Pennsylvania state spending in the current year, saying they helped avert higher taxes, while Gov.-elect Tom Wolf called it "unacceptable" and said he is still not convinced officials know the depth of next year's deficit.
Budget Secretary Charles Zogby's annual midyear analysis of state finances prompted a critical response from the incoming Democratic governor at his first news conference since he ousted Republican incumbent Tom Corbett in the Nov. 4 election.

Budget tussle the latest in a messy transition
WITF State House Sound Bites Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 3, 2014 6:21 PM
A mid-year progress report on the state's budget outlook is giving the outgoing Governor Corbett and incoming Governor-elect Tom Wolf a chance to put each other on notice, becoming the latest chapter in what's becoming a rocky gubernatorial transition.  With his legally-mandated mid-year budget report Wednesday, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby confirmed what independent agencies have said for months: next year's budget situation will be tough, due to rising mandated costs, weak revenues, and the amount of one-time funding sources used to balance this year's spending plan.  "It's sort of like Groundhog Day in these budget presentations, for me -- it's the same old story of growth and mandated cost," said Zogby. As he spoke, Senate Democrats stood at the ready to denounce the Corbett administration's budget legacy, and Wolf's staff prepared for a press conference later that afternoon on the sorry state of the budget.
The bare cash reserves and the nearly $2 billion "planning deficit" for the next fiscal year should come as no surprise, Zogby said.  "There's this sort of shock that there's gaming at the casino attitude out there," said Zogby.  A few hours later, Wolf addressed reporters, underscoring the state's dismal financial picture and Governor Corbett's role in it.

Pennsylvania budget chief forecasts $2B deficit for incoming governor Wolf
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, 11:24 a.m.
HARRISBURG — Despite positive signs in the economy, Pennsylvania faces a potential budget gap of $2 billion next year because of short-term budget fixes, the state budget secretary said Wednesday.  Charles Zogby, fiscal chief for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, said challenges awaiting the new governor and legislature next month include continued growth in public pension costs and mandated spending in human services benefits.  Lawmakers have “hit a wall,” in terms of spending cuts, Zogby said, and a discussion of new revenue would be appropriate — short of major reforms to curb public pension costs and selling the state stores.  “Folks are in for a reality check,” he said.  Democrats pummeled Zogby, and his boss, within minutes of the end his budget briefing.
Eight things to know about an expected $2 billion deficit for the Pa. budget
Wolf says he is inheriting a big problem
By Ed Mahon @edmahonreporter on Twitter UPDATED:   12/03/2014 11:40:08 PM EST
Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf said on Wednesday that he wants people to have a sense of how serious the state budget problems are — and to know that he didn't cause them.
"I want to make sure that we're all in agreement that I am inheriting a big problem here," Wolf said during a news conference at The Yorktowne Hotel.  Wolf was joined by Josh Shapiro, a Montgomery County commissioner and vice-chair for Wolf's Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force. Wolf, a Democratic businessman from York County, takes office Jan. 20.
Wolf painted a bleak budget picture, saying that one-time funding sources, slow economic growth and a "failed ideology" will cause a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Wolf said an "orgy of one-time fixes" has created problems for the state.
Shapiro said Wolf's task force wants to challenge assumptions in the last budget under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett to "get to the root cause of the problem and really understand the full scope of the hole."  Shapiro said it was too soon to say what the solutions are.
The Wolf news conference came hours after state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, a Corbett appointee, gave a mid-year budget briefing, in which he said the state is facing an about $2 billion planning deficit for the 2015-16 budget.  Zogby said that shouldn't be a surprise to Wolf or anyone else. He said the state has faced mandated cost increases "that, in each and every year, have outstripped available revenues."
Here are eight things to know about the briefing, the news conference and the budget:

Budget gap exposes transition tensions
Scranton Times Tribune ROBERT SWIFT, HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF Published: December 4, 2014
HARRISBURGPennsylvania’s budget deficit exposed tensions in the gubernatorial transition Wednesday as Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf and the outgoing budget secretary offered very different assessments of the scope of the state’s fiscal problems.
The exchanges came at the midway point of the 2014-15 fiscal year and seven weeks before Mr. Wolf takes office Jan. 20 to succeed Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who lost his re-election bid.
Mr. Wolf said he is trying to determine if the deficit will actually be larger than the $1.85 billion revenue shortfall projected for the next fiscal year by the state Independent Fiscal Office. He said this assessment is needed before he can offer detailed fiscal solutions beyond his call during the campaign for a state severance tax on natural gas production.
“I’m inheriting a big problem here,” said Mr. Wolf, who will unveil his budget proposal in March. “I want to make sure I understand the magnitude of the problem.”  Mr. Wolf said he thought Mr. Corbett’s statements about having a $4 billion budget deficit when he took office in 2011 are “baloney.”  “Folks are in for a reality check,” said Corbett Budget Secretary Charles Zogby at a mid-year budget briefing.  He said it won’t be possible to balance future state budgets by saying no to reducing public pension costs, privatizing the state liquor stores and hiking taxes.
Mandated costs are outstripping revenue growth, said Mr. Zogby.  Mr. Wolf said the way to grow revenue is through policies that encourage economic growth.  “We have not done this,” he added.
Both Mr. Wolf and Mr. Zogby zeroed in on the use of an estimated $2 billion in one-time revenue sources that won’t be replenished to balance the current $29 billion budget. This was a factor in the decision by Moody’s, the New York-based credit ratings agency, last July to put a lower rating on Pennsylvania’s debt.

G. Terry Madonna: Tom Wolf will have tough first year
To push ambitious agenda will make for difficult first year
York Daily Record By Flint McColgan @flintmccolgan on Twitter
UPDATED:   12/03/2014 10:50:32 AM EST
On Nov. 4, Pennsylvania voters made history and sent two distinct messages for what they want from their state government, according to a noted political expert.  G. Terry Madonna, professor of public affairs and director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll, spoke to a packed crowd in the Mirror Room of the Yorktowne Hotel in York Tuesday during lunch.  While Pennsylvanians went along with the national wave of electing Republicans to legislative positions, they made history by replacing incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett with Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Those are the two messages.  Every incumbent governor has won a second term since the state constitution was changed to 

Heads up! Your Legislature's 'in session' again
JOHN BAER, DAILY NEWS POLITICAL COLUMNIST Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 3:01 AM
PSST . . . Want a little fun fact about your Legislature?
Get this: The 2015-16 legislative session is underway.
Yep, started Monday. State Constitution says so.
And even though lawmakers aren't sworn in and won't be until Jan. 6, they're already drawing pay - 'cause that's just how they roll.  All 253 House and Senate members, including those newly elected last month, get paid the first of the month, including the first of this month.
Put another way, the nation's largest full-time legislature, legally in session but not actually in session, gets a payday in time for the holidays more than a month before being sworn in to office.
Pretty sweet, no?  Oh, and that first check includes the annual automatic raise provided by taxpayers who pay more each year. One assumes that's to ensure that the stellar service and shiny reputation of your Legislature continues.

Student group asks Penn to contribute $6 million to city schools
SUSAN SNYDER, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Thursday, December 4, 2014, 1:08 AM
A University of Pennsylvania student group called on the school Wednesday to begin donating about $6 million a year to Philadelphia, with the money designated for its cash-starved public schools and other "essential services."  The Student Labor Action Project asked Penn president Amy Gutmann to set aside the money for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT). Penn, like other nonprofits, gets a break on property taxes. The $6 million represents a small portion of the property tax it would pay as a for-profit entity.  Penn's response was the same as it has been in recent years when education advocates and others have raised the prospect: No.
Officials at Penn - and other city universities - have said the schools donate in many ways, including services, expertise, neighborhood upgrades, and student scholarships. Penn has noted that it also gives up to $750,000 a year to Penn Alexander, a district elementary school in that opened in partnership with it in 2001. And as the city's largest private employer, the university generates more than $170 million in business, real estate, and sales and wage taxes.

As if the debate over public education weren't vitriolic enough: this morning, Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School CEO David Hardy tweeted "What does Temple law professor Susan DeJarnett and Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson have in common? They both shoot at unarmed boys."
Charter school leader compares critic to Officer Wilson
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 12/03/2014 | 0 Comments Posted
As if the debate over public education weren't vitriolic enough: this morning, Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School CEO David Hardy tweeted "What does Temple law professor Susan DeJarnett and Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson have in common? They both shoot at unarmed boys."  Wilson, of course, being the controversial Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Mike Brown, sparking widespread protest and debate.
What did DeJarnett do?

Charter school CEO compares Temple professor to Darren Wilson
A DATA-DRIVEN opinion piece written by a Temple University law professor led a prominent charter-school leader to fight back on Twitter yesterday, claiming the professor shoots at unarmed boys.  Twitterverse was not pleased.  "What does Temple law professor Susan DeJarnatt and Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson have in common? They both shoot at unarmed boys," David P. Hardy wrote in a tweet sent out at 5:07 a.m. yesterday.  Hardy is the chief executive officer of Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School and a spokesman for PhillySchoolC

Circuit Rider Martin Hudacs ‏@MartinHudacs on Chester County Radio Thursday 3:30 pm
#FairFundingPA I get to talk educational funding on WCHE's (1520 AM) Chalk Talk at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Listen in: 

In Episode 10, we talk with Dr. Pat Mulroy (@mulroy54) about her work as a PA Circuit Rider.
TL Talk Radio Season 1: Episode 10 – Fair Education Funding [Podcast runtime: 26:50]
 The Circuit Riders provide information, resources, and strategies to help engage educational leaders in the efforts for fair, consistent, predictable, sustainable and equitable funding for public education. Pat helps us understand why it is important for all leaders to get involved in this important conversation.  With limited funding sources and increasing expenses, now is the time for advocates for public education to get involved in the conversation!

PBS NewsHour Examines Innovation in Philly Schools

Education Week Digital Education Blog By Benjamin Herold on December 3, 2014 12:03 PM
Efforts by the struggling Philadelphia school district to save itself by cultivating "innovative" school models were the focus of two public television segments produced by award-winning reporter John Merrow and aired on PBS's popular NewsHour program this week.
As with Education Week's multi-part "Innovation Gamble" series last school year, the focus is on Science Leadership Academy, a magnet high school that has gained national recognition for its work merging educational technology with hands-on, inquiry-driven learning.

Principals' Group Rejects Use of 'Value-Added' Measures For Evaluations
Education Week By Denisa R. Superville on December 3, 2014 3:16 PM
This post first appeared on the Teacher Beat blog.  By Stephen Sawchuk
The National Association of Secondary School Principals has entered the loud fray over teacher evaluation, giving preliminary approval to a statement that says test-score-based algorithms for measuring teacher quality aren't appropriate.   In addition to criticizing the research on such "value added" systems, the statement says that the timing for using them comes at a terrible time, just as schools adjust to demands from the Common Core State Standards and other difficult new expectations for K-12 students.  "New teacher evaluation systems demand the inclusion of student data at a time when scores on new assessments are dropping. The fears accompanying any new evaluation system have been magnified by the inclusion of data that will get worse before it gets better," the statement reads in part. "Principals are concerned that the new evaluation systems are eroding trust and are detrimental to building a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement necessary to successfully raise student performance to college and career-ready levels."  The resolution was approved at the organization's November board of directors meeting. A public comment period follows, and the statement will go before the NASSP's members at its February 2015 meeting. 

Testing Resistance & Reform News: November 26 - December 2, 2014
Submitted by fairtest on December 2, 2014 - 1:18pm 
On this "Giving Tuesday," our gift to you is another set of stories and resources about the rapidly growing national assessment reform movement.  In return, we ask that you help FairTest's critical work supporting grassroots activists, policy-making allies, and journalists by making your most generous possible contribution today either by clicking here or mailing your check to P.O. Box 300204, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.  Your donation will be fully tax deductible.  Thanks for all you do !

Chromebooks Overtake Apple’s iPads in U.S. Education Market
Gigjets By Radu Tyrsina / December 1, 2014
When Google first released its Chromebook concept, many didn’t believe that it will prove to be so successful. But it seems that affordable price, portability and always-online have been the main selling points of a device that is becoming hotter by the day.  According to recent data coming from IDC and reported by Financial Times, Google has overtaken Apple in United States schools. Around 715,000 Chromebooks have been shipped to U.S. schools in the third quarter, while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads to schools. With these new numbers, Chromebooks now account for a quarter of the educational market.  What’s really impressive is that laptops running Chrome OS have seen a dizzying increase. They have gone from zero to a quarter of the US educational market in only two years. And it seems that price has been the deciding factor.

Discipline, Disabilities, School to Prison, Disproportionality
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Presenters include Sonja Kerr; Howard Jordan, ACLU; Dr. Karolyn Tyson; Michael Raffaele, Frankel & Kershenbaum, LLC
This session is designed to assist participants to understand the specifics of the federal IDEA disciplinary protections, 20 U.S.C. §1415(k) as they apply to children with disabilities. Topics will include functional behavioral assessment, development of positive behavioral support programs for children with disabilities, manifestation reviews and avoiding juvenile court involvement. 
Questions? Email or call 267.546.1317.

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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