Thursday, January 29, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 29: Beaver County Supts: Funding formula needed for public education

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 29, 2015:
Beaver County Supts: Funding formula needed for public education

Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearings scheduled in Mercer County, Montgomery County and Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10 am Greenville Junior/Senior High School 9 Donation Road, Greenville, PA 16125
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10 am Montgomery County, Central Montco Tech HS, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA

"Pam Lenz, a former acting superintendent of the Iroquois School District, is a "circuit rider" with the Pennsylvania Campaign for Fair Education Funding, charged with boosting awareness of school funding and of the need for a new formula.  It's important to have voices from northwest Pennsylvania represented at the hearings, she said.  "The ultimate goal is really for them to realize that every part of the state is unique," Lenz said. "(Commission members) need to listen to the voice of every part of the state when they're considering what formula they're going to recommend" and how the formula will take into account the differences of districts across the state."
Erie-area superintendents to speak at school funding hearing
By Erica Erwin 814-870-1846 Erie Times-News January 29, 2015 12:01 AM
Two local superintendents are adding their voices to a chorus of school district leaders calling for a new way to fund education.  Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams and Bill Nichols, superintendent of the Corry Area School District, will testify at a hearing of the Basic Education Funding Commission today in Greenville.  The 15-member commission has been holding hearings throughout the state as it works to develop and recommend to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing basic education funding to districts.

"Pennsylvania ranks 43rd out of 50 states in the percentage it provides toward the total cost of its public school system. For example, Maryland funds 41 percent of public school education costs; Ohio, 43.2 percent; Delaware, 58.6 percent; West Virginia, 55.8 percent; and Pennsylvania, 34.5 percent."
Funding formula needed for public education
Beaver County Times Online Letter by Beaver County School Superintendents Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:45 pm
Providing a quality education for all students is a shared responsibility among everyone. There are two efforts ongoing in Pennsylvania that are focusing on this responsibility. There is the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission, co-chaired by state Sen. Pat Brown, R-16, Allentown, and state Rep. Mike Vereb, R-150, Montgomery County, which is holding hearings around Pennsylvania to hear the public's views. In addition, the William Penn Foundation, working in concert with over 40 other organizations, has organized the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to provide grass-roots support for a funding formula.
The research from these two initiatives has revealed that Pennsylvania is one of only three states (Delaware and North Carolina are the others) that doesn't have a funding formula for supporting education. Additionally, Pennsylvania ranks 43rd out of 50 states in the percentage it provides toward the total cost of its public school system. For example, Maryland funds 41 percent of public school education costs; Ohio, 43.2 percent; Delaware, 58.6 percent; West Virginia, 55.8 percent; and Pennsylvania, 34.5 percent.
 As educational leaders we know the importance of a state funding formula that is equitable, adequate, predictable and accountable in preparing our students to compete in a global society. We encourage everyone to follow the work of the Basic Education Funding Commission  -- -- and the Campaign for Fair Education Funding --
Beaver County school superintendents

Starting Thursday, Jan. 29, PennLive will run a series of stories the decade-long, multi-million dollar campaign by for-profit schools to to alter laws and education in Pennsylvania.
How do charter schools affect education in Pennsylvania?
By Kari Larsen | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM, updated January 28, 2015 at 12:51 PM
York may become one of the few cities in America to privatize an entire school district.
Facing a $20 million budget deficit from 2014, York City School District failed to implement a recovery plan designed by chief recovery officer David Meckley. The state Department of Education then pursued receivership, which would transfer almost all functions of a school board to one person: Meckley.  Meckley plans to send York City School District's 7,500 students to a single for-profit operator, Charter Schools USA.  In response to this news, Pennsylvania State Education Association President Michael Crossey said, "York's citizens don't want this, the elected school board doesn't want this, and parents and educators don't want this."

"State Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York County), newly-minted as majority chair of the house education committee, has scheduled a hearing for the bill in Harrisburg on February 12."
Should Pa. require students to pass standardized tests to graduate high school?
The clock is ticking.
By 2017, in order to graduate high school in Pennsylvania, students must pass three state standardized tests: algebra, literature and biology.  Based on most recent student scores — especially in biology — if trends continue, Pennsylvania will soon see far fewer of its students walking down the aisle in gap and gown.
In order to preempt that reality, state Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Dauphin County) has introduced a bill that would repeal the state-mandated graduation requirement, leaving the decision to local school districts.  "The children of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, they need to learn, they need to be assessed, but when we've gone so far that we end up handcuffing our educational system with really an overwhelming amount of standardized assessment," said Tobash. "We need to stop and put the brakes on here, take a look at it."  The bill would also halt the creation and implementation of the seven other subject-specific Keystone exams called for by existing state law.

Parents United prevails in getting BCG school-closings list
the notebook commentary By Helen Gym on Jan 28, 2015 06:20 PM
What could possibly justify the closing of Northeast High School, the largest school in the city and each year bursting at the seams? Why would anyone suggest closing four elementary schools in Olney, a neighborhood that once housed some of the most overcrowded schools in the District?
We may not find out the answers to these questions, but we know now that these were some of the ludicrous ideas proposed by the Boston Consulting Group in a long-secret 2012 report presented in a private meeting to the School Reform Commission.

York City School Board votes to renew Lincoln Charter School's charter for 5 years
It voted unanimously to renew Lincoln's charter for another five years
York Daily Record By Dylan Segelbaum @dylan_segelbaum on Twitter UPDATED:   01/28/2015 10:51:27 PM EST
More than an hour and a half before the York City School Board was set to meet on Wednesday, president Margie Orr stepped to the podium at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  To a round of applause, she told the crowd of about 50 activists who had gathered there for a rally against the state takeover of the district that their fight wasn't over. They're working to implement programs to improve the district, she said, and the decision about who controls the district is now in the hands of Commonwealth Court.  "We are in this together," Orr said. "Our kids deserve the best that we can give them, and this board is going to see that they get the best."
Then, at 6:30 p.m. at William Penn Senior High School, the board — seated at a different table a few feet across from the state-appointed chief recovery officer David Meckley — voted unanimously to renew Lincoln Charter School's charter for another five years. During the meeting, there was virtually no discussion, and it wrapped up just after 7 p.m.

Philly's Truebright charter appeals shutdown order to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
Charter schools are supposed to be nimble and innovative, but the process to close an underperforming charter is anything but.  Six weeks after the Charter Appeal Board voted unanimously (7-0) to deny Truebright Academy Science Charter's bid to stay open, the school in the Olney neighborhood of North Philadelphia has taken its case all the way to Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court.  Truebright is one of five Philadelphia charter schools currently going through the non-renewal process.  It can take years from when a school district announces the intent not to renew a school's charter until the classroom doors actually shut permanently.

Charter school founder's mental competency questioned in court
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 5:09 PM
Does charter school founder Dorothy June Brown, 77, have such memory problems that she is incompetent to be retried on federal charges that she defrauded the schools she founded of $6.3 million?  Three psychiatrists and psychologists retained by Brown's lawyers and the court offered differing opinions in a hearing that began Tuesday before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick.

Former staffers sue shuttered charter school
A GROUP OF FORMER employees of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school, its founder and others for unpaid compensation, the Daily News has learned.  About 75 to 150 ex-Palmer staffers are expected to be represented in the suit and are seeking several thousand to $14,000 each in damages, said their lawyer, Joshua Rubinsky, with the law firm Brodie & Rubinsky, PC. The complaint was filed Monday in Common Pleas Court.  The suit states that Palmer did not pay for work performed during Nov. 1, 2014, to Jan. 15.

Bethlehem school board approves new teachers contract with one-year freeze
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 28, 2015 at 9:36 PM, updated January 29, 2015 at 12:29 AM
The Bethlehem Area School Board Wednesday night approved a new three-year contract with its teachers union that includes a one year salary freeze.  The Bethlehem Education Association has been working under an expired contract since Aug. 31, 2014.  Teachers agreed to a one-year salary freeze for the 2014-15 school year, 3.1 percent the next year and then a 2.9 percent increase in the final year, board President Michael Faccinetto said. It amounts to an average raise of 2 percent annually over the contract.

"The additional funds are needed to cover a $1.4 million increase in wages, and the $1.29 million net impact of PSERS increases, which the district does not control, said board President Denis Gray."
Haverford School Board wrangling with 3.57 tax increase
By Lois Puglionesi, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/28/15, 11:31 PM EST |
HAVERFORD >> Although it’s early in the school district’s budgeting process for 2015-16, the proposed preliminary budget school officials are considering includes a 3.57 percent real estate tax rate increase that would raise millage from 28.6692 to 29.6920 mills.  The new rate would translate to about a $163 annual increase for a property assessed at $160,000.
In his presentation to school officials last week, business manager Richard Henderson said 3.57 percent is the maximum allowable increase, with referendum exceptions included.
This year’s Act 1 Index enables the district to increase taxes 1.9 percent, to yield an additional $1.7 million in revenues. Officials are requesting referendum exceptions for special education and Public School Employees’ Retirement System costs, totaling $1.4 million.

Rendell presents $500 check to Chestnutwold fifth-graders
By Lois Puglionesi, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/28/15, 11:28 PM EST |
ARDMORE >> Former Gov. Ed Rendell visited Chestnutwold Elementary School on Wednesday to congratulate and present a $500 check to a fifth-grade class that recently placed second in the Rendell Center for Citizenship and Civics Citizenship Challenge essay competition.
Now in its second year, the Citizenship Challenge invites fourth- and fifth-grade students in the five-county Philadelphia region to voice their opinions on a current issue. This year’s contest asked students how they would increase voter turnout. Online voting, mandatory voting and expanding voting days/times were among suggested points to ponder.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 21 - 27, 2015
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on January 27, 2015 - 12:43pm 
Demonstrating another surge of support for assessment reform as the Spring 2015 testing season nears, this week's stories about the movement against standardized exam overuse and misuse come from more than 40% of the 50 states. The news is reinforced by several excellent analytic pieces and opinion columns (back issues of these weekly updates are archived at:  In addition to keeping the heat on state and local policy-makers, now is the time to let your U.S. Senators and Representative know you support a significant reduction in federal testing mandates, an end to test-based consequences for students, teachers or schools and more funding for better forms of assessment. Please make those calls and send your emails today!

"A majority of parents polled, 82 percent, said they want legislators to pass a testing "Bill of Rights," requiring transparency on high-stakes testing, including how much they cost taxpayers and how student data will be used. Parents also want the ability to opt their students out of tests — 66 percent said they support having a parental right of refusal."
Why Does the Public Hate Standardized Tests?
JerseyJazzman Blog Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, released a bombshell of a poll yesterday; click through to see the raw results for all voters and just for parents. My guess is that once we clear away the snow, we're going to be talking about these results for a long time. has a breakdown:

Doctors Enlisted to Deliver Early-Literacy Message
Education Week By Lillian Mongeau Published Online: January 20, 2015
Doctors are the newest group of proselytizers to join the national Too Small to Fail campaign encouraging parents to talk, read, and sing to their infants and toddlers as a key precursor to literacy.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recognized the importance of telling parents to talk to and read with their children. But it has only recently begun advising its doctors to deliver that message for the first time at a child's two-month checkup. What has been less clear, and never studied systematically, is how to deliver that information in a way that sticks during the 12- to 18-minute visits physicians generally have with families for well-baby checkups.
That's where Too Small to Fail comes in. 

PA Basic Education Funding Commission website

Sign-up for weekly email updates from the Campaign
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding website

Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

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