Saturday, January 3, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 3, 2015: Corbett administration's efforts to deny appeal in York PA: "Yeah, that seems like a Catch-22 that author Joseph Heller would have admired."

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 3, 2015:
Corbett administration's efforts to deny appeal in York PA: "Yeah, that seems like a Catch-22 that author Joseph Heller would have admired."

Editorial: York school district has a right to appeal receiver (YDR opinion)
York Daily Record editorial UPDATED:   01/02/2015 02:34:55 PM EST
David Meckley, the York City School District's recovery officer, left, and attorney Clyde Vedder enter the York County Judicial Center as testimony continued in York city schools receivership case Dec. 16. (Paul Kuehnel - Daily Record/Sunday News)  York Suburban School Board member Joel Sears hit the nail on the head (or maybe we should say the gavel on block) with his Facebook comment last week about a court filing in the York school district receiver case:
"There's a Catch-22 if ever there was one," he wrote.  Indeed, it is.
The filing by the state education department and David Meckley, newly appointed receiver for the district, argues that the city district's appeal of Judge Stephen Linebaugh's decision to put the district into receivership is invalid.  Why?
Well, because once Judge Linebaugh appointed Mr. Meckley as receiver, the school board officially lost the authority to do anything other than levy taxes.
That, according to the filing, makes the appeal invalid because the only one with the power to authorize an appeal of Mr. Meckley's receivership would be, well, Mr. Meckley himself.
And — no surprise here — Mr. Meckley doesn't want to appeal his receivership.
Yeah, that seems like a Catch-22 that author Joseph Heller would have admired.

"The net effect will be to impose a district wide charter system under which all decisions concerning the education of the children of the district will for the foreseeable future be controlled by a board which at this time is made up solely of citizens of other municipalities."  Meckley had advocated a full conversion of district schools to charter schools operated by a for-profit company and overseen by a nonprofit board.  The three members of that board, none of whom live in York City, are Carl Anderson, Jody Keller and Ernie Waters.
The state's response to the district's appeal will be the subject of a hearing before Linebaugh on Tuesday morning, according to the York County Prothonotary's Office."
York City attorneys fight for right to appeal receivership
ERIN JAMES / The York Dispatch 505-5439 / @ydcity POSTED: 01/02/2015 03:57:42 PM EST
Attorneys for the York City School District are accusing the state Department of Education of running "roughshod" over the district's right to appeal a judge's order.
Last week, York County President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh granted the department's petition to appoint David Meckley as the district's receiver for three years. That means Meckley would assume all powers and responsibilities of the locally elected school board, except the power to set the property-tax rate.  Attorneys for the district and two employees' unions filed appeals.
On Wednesday, the state filed a response to the appeal. The state argued that Meckley "immediately" assumed nearly all responsibilities and the appeal should be struck down because Meckley did not authorize it.  Today, the district filed its response, arguing the effect of Linebaugh's order "is drastic enough to militate in favor of a clear right to appeal and be heard."
"The stated intent of the petitioner should not be ignored at this point either," the district argues.

"… the state education department is now trying to "run roughshod over the district's right to appeal." 
York City School District argues for right to appeal
By Angie Mason, Daily Record/Sunday News UPDATED: 01/02/2015 04:48:57 PM EST
An attorney for the York City School District filed documents in court Friday, arguing that having won a request for a receiver appointment, the state education department is now trying to "run roughshod over the district's right to appeal."  Earlier in the week, the state filed documents arguing that the district's appeal isn't valid, because once the receiver was appointed the school board lost its power to direct the solicitor to file appeal. The state also requests that there be no automatic stay of receivership, triggered by the appeal filing.  But the district's filing argues that the state cannot meet the requirements for the automatic stay to be removed.  "Moreover, from a public policy standpoint, a stay is necessary in order to insure that the district has an opportunity to appeal the court's decision," the documents state.

York City parents consider alternatives in all-charter plan
Some have signed a petition in favor of a traditional option
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter
As the possibility that York City School District buildings will be converted into charter schools comes closer to fruition, some city parents are wondering about their options.
Converting district schools into charters was an option included in the school district's financial recovery plan — a move that David Meckley, recently named the district's receiver by the court, has said is warranted because of the district's academic performance and a lack of new employee contracts with concessions called for by the recovery plan.
The school board tabled the idea in November because of unanswered questions on the plan and is trying to appeal the court's decision to make Meckley receiver, which would give him the authority to move forward without the school board's consent.
If the district's schools are converted into charter schools, with Charter Schools USA as management company, the law requires that the district establish alternative arrangements for students who don't want to attend the charter school.
In court hearings, Meckley listed a cyber program as an alternative. Law firms that deal with education matters have said that wouldn't be sufficient for special education students.
Since then, state education spokesman Tim Eller has said that cyber was one possibility but that additional public options would be considered to make sure students have programs and services as required by state law.

"Picture this: the superintendent of your public school system makes so much money that he’s tooling around in his own 43-foot yacht on the weekends.  Hard to believe, right?  A public school superintendent has to report to his board of directors, the school board, who would think twice about paying lavish sums of money on the taxpayer’s dime. However, if you’re the founder of Charter Schools USA, no one bats an eyelash."
Charter Schools USA Founder Sets Sail for Riches
By: Sharon Aron Baron March 31, 2014 by Coral Springs Talk
Picture this: the superintendent of your public school system makes so much money that he’s tooling around in his own 43-foot yacht on the weekends.  Hard to believe, right?
A public school superintendent has to report to his board of directors, the school board, who would think twice about paying lavish sums of money on the taxpayer’s dime. However, if you’re the founder of Charter Schools USA, no one bats an eyelash.
Charter Schools USA founder Jonathan Hage and his first mate Edward Pozzuoli, attorney for Charter Schools USA who is also president of the law firm Tripp Scott, have registered a yacht under the name of “Fishin’ 4 Schools” as well as formed an LLC under the same name.

Politics, Fiscal Issues Frame Pa. School-Aid Debate
Education Week State Ed Watch By Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: January 2, 2015
In November’s Republican-dominated elections, the Pennsylvania governor’s race was a big outlier, and the implications for public school spending in the Keystone State are just starting to play out.  The Democratic victor, newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf, made support for increased school spending a centerpiece of a campaign that ousted incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett, the only Republican governor who won a seat in 2010, but then lost it in 2014.  Now, Pennsylvania joins Nevada and Georgia as states with momentum building to overhaul school funding.

LTE: Gap between schools in PA is a call to action
Inquirer Letter to the Editor Jan 2, 2015 by Brett Schaeffer, communications director, Education Law Center,
Heading into a new year, it is becoming increasingly clear that state lawmakers and Gov.-elect Tom Wolf must confront how to fund public education ("Gap between rich, poor schools doubled in 4 years," Dec. 28). The latest analysis, conducted by the Associated Press, is one in a long line that drives home the point that the state's approach to funding schools just does not work. Classroom sizes are getting bigger and bigger. Programs are being cut and student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. The existing funding system places untenable burdens on local taxpayers.
Students and taxpayers need a sustainable, predictable, and long-term funding method based on the real costs necessary to meet state academic standards. The good news is that leaders across a wide array of interests and from every corner of Pennsylvania are joining together to help lawmakers address this challenge. The Campaign for Fair Education Funding ( includes more than 40 education advocacy organizations; teachers and administrators; representatives of charter schools and traditional public schools; urban and rural interests; business groups and organized labor; faith-based groups; and community groups.
Our members agree that every public school must have the resources necessary to enable every child to meet state academic standards, be prepared for post-secondary success, and become productive, knowledgeable, and engaged adults.

Round 2 of new Philly charter hearings gets underway on Monday
By the Notebook on Jan 2, 2015 03:07 PM
The first three of 40 separate hearings in a second round of presentations on proposed new Philadelphia charter schools will take place Monday at School District headquarters.  Then 10 more days of hearings are scheduled this month, as the District prepares to make decisions by the end of February on whether to approve these charter applications.  In this round, the charter applicants will hear from the Charter School Office or District staff on the evaluation of their proposals, respond to questions from a hearing officer, and have 15 minutes for a final statement.  Hearings are open to the public, but will not be live-streamed. The hearing schedule:

District working to place students from closed Palmer Charter School
So far, Philly officials have found spots in District schools for about one-third of the 640 displaced charter students. Classes resume Monday.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 2, 2015 04:21 PM
With classes at Philadelphia public schools starting up again on Monday, District officials were working hard to find new placements for students left without a school when the Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter abruptly shut its doors during the winter break.
About 180 Palmer students had been placed either online or in person at the Office of Student Enrollment and Placement as of Friday, said District spokesman Fernando Gallard. When all the Friday enrollments are tallied, he said, he thinks the number will be about 200 -- still less than one-third of the 640 or so K-8 students enrolled at Palmer in mid-December.

Dallastown creates Keystone recovery classes
York Dispatch By NIKELLE SNADER 505-5431/@ydschools POSTED:   01/02/2015 03:22:30 PM EST
Dallastown Area students struggling to pass state Keystone exams will have a semester-long course in coming years that helps students pass the tests, which are a graduation requirement beginning with graduates in 2017.  The school board approved Keystone recovery courses for three subjects based on the statewide curriculum, which include Biology I, English II and Algebra I. The recovery courses will allow more time for students struggling with the curriculum in any or all of those classes to receive additional teaching.  The students will meet each day for a semester in classes that are about 25 minutes long, according to the course outlines, and will include one-on-one time with teachers and work in small groups. 
Requirements: The classes will be required for students who did not score advanced or proficient on the Keystone exams, said Assistant Superintendent Joshua Doll.

The plot to overhaul No Child Left Behind

The Republican plan could dramatically roll back the federal role in education.
Republicans are hatching an ambitious plan to rewrite No Child Left Behind next year — one that could end up dramatically rolling back the federal role in education and trigger national blowouts over standardized tests and teacher training.
NCLB cleared Congress in 2002 with massive bipartisan support but has since become a political catastrophe: The law’s strategy for prodding and shaming schools into improvement proved deeply flawed over time, and its unintended failures have eclipsed its bright spots. Today, NCLB is despised by some parents who blame it for schools “teaching to the test,” protested by some on the left for promoting education reform and reviled by Republicans in Congress who say the law represents aggressive federal overreach.  Now Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. John Kline, who will lead the Senate and House education committees next year, are planning to push an overhaul of NCLB at a moment when backlash in the states has reached an all-time high, opening up new political windows to strip the federal role out of education.

Common Core, don't copy China's test-prep culture
CNN By Yong Zhao updated 11:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Editor's note: Yong Zhao is presidential chair and professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy and Leadership in the College of Education, University of Oregon. He is the author of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World." Follow him on Twitter:@yongzhaoUO The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
(CNN) -- The goal of Common Core is laudable: Give all students a common experience in English and math. But the path to that end has been fraught with problems. For one thing, more parents and educators are upset over all the tests students now have to take. Teachers are concerned about the negative impact of teaching to the test.  Supporters of Common Core insist the standards and tests are necessary for holding schools accountable and ensuring a better future for America. But they may want to take a page from China, which has experienced the good, bad and ugly of a testing culture.  For over a thousand years, Chinese emperors used the imperial exam system keju to select government officials. When the great empire was shattered by Western powers in the 19th century, keju was blamed for China's failure to cultivate the creative and diverse talents needed for modernization. It was officially ended in 1905. But the keju spirit lives on today in the body of the college entrance exam, or gaokao.

"More charter schools closed last school year in Columbus alone than opened this school year statewide."
Fewer charter schools opened in Ohio in ’14
By Jennifer Smith RichardsThe Columbus Dispatch  •  Friday January 2, 2015 4:29 AM
Only 11 new charter schools opened this school year. In the entire state.
It’s a surprising number given that some years — including last school year — more than 50 charters opened. Ohio consistently has been a boom state for new charter-school ventures, and it’s not at all unusual for more than 30 to open their doors each year.  The slowed growth this school year signals greater caution after a particularly tumultuous year for charters.

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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