Monday, January 5, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 5: Editorial: The shame of education funding in Pa

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, Wolf education transition team members, 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public EducationAre you a member?
The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 5, 2015:
Editorial: The shame of education funding in Pa

"This past year districts in the top half of average resident income will spend nearly $1,800 more per student than the poorest half of districts. That represents a 140 percent increase in the size of the gap –more than $1,000 per student - since the 2010-11 school year."
Delco Times Editorial: The shame of education funding in Pa.
Delco Times Editorial January 3, 2015
The people of Pennsylvania are learning something they’ve known for a long time in the William Penn School District.  When you cut education funding, it cuts a lot deeper in economically struggling school districts than it does in those more well-to-do areas.  It’s called being penalized because of your zip code, and it has been a fact of life in William Penn and other fiscally distressed school districts in Delco and across the state for a long time.  It’s part of the unlevel playing field that makes up the shame – or maybe that would be better stated as sham – that is public education funding in Pennsylvania. And it got a lot worse in the four years Republican Tom Corbett took up residence in the governor’s mansion.  A recent review by the Associated Press confirmed the sad state of affairs in Pennsylvania less fortunate school districts.  The gap between what wealthy and poor school districts spend to educate children widened dramatically under Corbett’s leadership, exacerbated by deep cuts in aid needed to balance the state budget.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
Keystone State Education Coalition 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."

"State funding for schools in Pennsylvania is definitely below the national average of about 45.5 percent, and that results in high local property taxes in many districts"
Fact check: Tom Wolf wants state to pay 50 percent toward public education, but are his numbers on target?
Here's a look at what it would really mean if the state contributed half of public education spending.
York Daily Record By Ed Mahon @edmahonreporter on Twitter UPDATED:   01/03/2015 12:17:48 PM EST
Democrat Tom Wolf, who was elected governor in November, made education funding a key part of his campaign. He said the goal should be to get the state's share to 50 percent.  To get a sense of what it would take to reach that goal, it helps to know the history of state funding in Pennsylvania and how much the state provides now.  Wolf and his campaign have tried to frame the issue by citing numbers on education spending. We are fact-checking two of their statements:

Daily Local Editorial: Disparity in school funding an important issue in Pa.
West Chester Daily Local Editorial POSTED: 01/05/15, 12:31 AM EST |
An Associated Press analysis of school spending in Pennsylvania has revealed a key finding that has been explored at length on this Opinion page over the past few years.  The gap between what wealthy districts and poor districts spend to educate children has widened dramatically in Pennsylvania. In the recent AP analysis, the findings showed that the gap more than doubled in the four years of Gov. Tom Corbett’s term.  But even before Corbett moved into the Governor’s Mansion, we compared school spending in districts we call the “have-nots,” to those which we call the “haves.” The differences in income and property value have created wide disparities in school revenue and spending.  For the have-nots, that translates to less money per student and a greater tax burden on property owners to provide the most basic education as required by the state constitution.  AP compared this disparity to other states and found that Pennsylvania is among the worst.

State needs to find formula for success
Times Tribune Opinion BY REP. MARK HANNA Published: January 4, 2015
When legislators gather in Harrisburg to begin the 2015-16 session, they will face a structural budget deficit of well more than $2 billion.  This is a point Gov.-elect Tom Wolf has emphasized as he travels Pennsylvania.  The emphasis of this point is not about laying blame or piling on as some people seem to think. It’s about acknowledging reality, remembering how we got here, and avoiding the missteps of the past four years.
Yet for the past week I’ve been reading quotes from Republican leaders about how they are only willing to work with our new governor if their failed ideas of the past come first. This seems like a familiar approach, and one that is not likely to help steer Pennsylvania out of the ditch it is in and begin to address its educational, economic and financial needs with new and innovative solutions.
Across Pennsylvania, public schools are starved for resources. This is a direct result of the $1 billion Gov. Corbett cut from education, which he never restored. But before we can begin to restore that funding, we need to lay a strong foundation. We need an education funding formula that ensures all children receive a quality education, no matter where they live. We need investments by the state in buildings, supplies and programs. We need to restore the charter school reimbursement so districts can afford to provide that option to the parents and students who want it.

Politics, Fiscal Issues Frame Pa. School-Aid Debate
Education Week State Ed Watch Blog 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.

State government revenues continue late-year uptick in Pennsylvania
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 02, 2015 at 4:56 PM
In keeping with the recent bullish national economic news, the Pennsylvania Revenue Department said Friday that for the fourth straight month state government tax and other revenue collections have exceeded budget estimates.  State general fund revenue exceeded projections by 6.3 percent in December, good for a monthly surplus of $161.7 million.  For the first half of the 2014-15 fiscal year, revenues are now $270.7 million over estimates, or 2.1 percent ahead. That does not include an anticipated $80 million transfer of profits from the state-owned liquor stores that have already been built into the projections.  When held up against the first half of fiscal 2013-14, the picture is even brighter: year-over-year revenue growth is a robust 5.6 percent, even after some one-time income sources are factored out.

2014: The year in York County education stories
Struggle over control of city school district was prominent all year.
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   01/03/2015 11:55:24 PM EST
As 2014 comes to a close, it's time to look back on the biggest education stories to hit York County.  So much has happened in one year, and yet, there's so much we still don't know.  The possibility that district schools will be converted to charters operated by an outside company grew closer to reality in 2014. The school board put out a request for proposals seeking operators to run district buildings, and those companies began making appearances in the district – usually accompanied by protests.  In October, the school board rejected a proposal to have a few buildings operated by a charter company. Recovery officer David Meckley then directed the board to approve an agreement to turn all schools in to charters, operated by Charter Schools USA. The board tabled that action in November, leading the state to request Meckley be named receiver – a request the court granted.  But the decision drew almost immediate appeals. As 2014 comes to an end, it's still uncertain what comes next. Need to catch up? Check out this timeline going back to 2012, which we've been updating with stories for several months.

Philadelphia Futures tries to help students soar
MELISSA DRIBBEN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Sunday, January 4, 2015, 12:03 PM POSTED: Saturday, January 3, 2015, 10:36 PM
David Goldberg, a theoretical cosmologist, physics professor, and associate dean for research and graduate education at Drexel University, is one of those academic superheroes who can translate complex scientific topics into language that mere mortals can comprehend.  That talent was a major reason that Philadelphia Futures chose him to address nearly 600 parents, mentors, and students at the nonprofit's 25th annual conference Saturday at Drexel.  Every teen in attendance came from a low-income family. None had parents with college degrees. And all had enough intelligence and ambition to qualify for the program that has provided mentorship and scholarships to thousands of disadvantaged students in the city since 1989.

"Some members of the state Legislature often squawk about teachers union contracts that use seniority rules to protect veteran teachers from being laid off. The lawmakers argue layoffs should be based on teacher performance rather than seniority as if somehow veteran teachers are lazy because they know they are protected from losing their jobs.  But the House operates on its official seniority rules that mandate caucus leaders appoint plum committee assignments based on years of elective service, not on smarts, acumen or private-sector experience."
Politics as Usual
By Steve Esack and Laura Olson Of The Morning Call January 3, 2015
Swearing-in ceremony for Legislature
The new two-year legislative session officially began Dec. 1. But the newly elected and re-elected full-time legislators will take the oath of office Tuesday.  The swearing-in ceremonies for 203 members of the House will kick off at 8:30 a.m. with two hours of media photo ops and interviews on the House floor. The official ceremony will start at noon, with the oath of office, speeches, introduction of caucus leaders and freshmen lawmakers. The Senate, which also will be sworn into office, will cross the hall to the House for a joint session in which they must certify the gubernatorial election returns.

"Pennsylvania educators fought the recent changes, which eliminated the requirement that families submit their children’s portfolios, as well as the results of standardized testing in third, fifth and eighth grade, to school district superintendents. The new law also allows parents to certify that their children have completed high school graduation requirements and to issue homegrown diplomas without any outside endorsement.
“Here we are loosening standards for a subset of students while at the same time giving them the same credential as all other students,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. He noted that the home-school law had been weakened at the same time that public school students were being held to more rigorous academic standards and teachers were being judged by the performance of their students."
Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH JAN. 4, 2015
FREEPORT, Pa. — Until recently, Pennsylvania had one of the strictest home-school laws in the nation.  Families keeping their children out of traditional classrooms were required to register each year with their local school district, outlining study plans and certifying that adults in the home did not have a criminal record. At the end of the year, they submitted portfolios of student work to private evaluators for review. The portfolio and evaluator’s report then went to a school district superintendent to approve.  But in October, after years of campaigning by home-schooling families in the state as well as the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy group, Pennsylvania relaxed some of its requirements.
“We believe that because parents who make this commitment to teach their children at home are dedicated and self-motivated, there’s just not a real need for the state to be involved in overseeing education,” said Dewitt T. Black III, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has close ties to local Christian home-school associations. Mr. Black wrote an early version of the bill that eventually passed here.

Charter schools debate continues -- are they about money or education?
By Chris Potter/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 4, 2015 12:00 AM
Traditional public schools may feel besieged by public criticism and hostile politicians. But to hear charter school advocates tell it, they aren’t alone.  “There’s a lot of noise directed at charters,” said Jonathan Cetel, the executive director of the research and advocacy group Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now (PennCAN). “But there are thousands of families on wait lists [to enroll in charters], and they don’t have a voice.”  Charters have been controversial since state law established them in 1997. While even some staunch defenders of traditional schools acknowledge that there are successful charters, there have also been underperforming charters and cases of outright fraud, especially in the Philadelphia area.  “It’s not about education, it’s about making money,” said Ted Kirsch, president of the statewide American Federation of Teachers.

A+ Schools moves to stronger advocacy on Pittsburgh schools
By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 4, 2015 12:00 AM
Five years ago, Pittsburgh Public Schools educators earned top marks — and a $40 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — for playing well with others. Teachers and administrators had agreed to use data in improving teacher performance, an agreement Mrs. Gates said was among those that “have the potential to serve as national models.”
But the debate about using teacher performance — rather than seniority — to determine which teachers are laid off for financial reasons can feel like an after-school rumble.
“We’ve been in the national spotlight because our teachers have said, ‘We want to grow and get better,’” said Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers president Nina Esposito-Visgitis. “So it’s disappointing that the focus is on getting rid of teachers.”
Among her disappointments: the increasingly activist role played by a local education watchdog group, A+ Schools. Carey Harris, its executive director, makes no apologies for taking a more strident position than A+ would have held a few years ago.

Wilkinsburg school officials say ship has been righted
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 5, 2015 12:00 AM
A year ago, the Wilkinsburg school board, with four newly elected members, was just beginning to discover the depth of the dysfunction in the district.  About the time the board conducted its initial meeting, the state released the first School Performance Profiles, which showed Wilkinsburg High School had the lowest academic score in the county and among the lowest in the state. The profiles are based on multiple measures including test scores, the academic growth students have made in a year, graduation rates, attendance and Advanced Placement course participation.

Sound familiar, Pennsylvania?
NYT Editorial: The Central Crisis in New York Education
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD JAN. 4, 2015
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s forthcoming State of the State address is expected to focus on what can be done to improve public education across the state.
If he is serious about the issue, he will have to move beyond peripheral concerns and political score-settling with the state teachers’ union, which did not support his re-election, and go to the heart of the matter. And that means confronting and proposing remedies for the racial and economic segregation that has gripped the state’s schools, as well as the inequality in school funding that prevents many poor districts from lifting their children up to state standards.
These shameful inequities were fully brought to light in 2006, when the state’s highest court ruled in Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York that the state had not met its constitutional responsibility to ensure adequate school funding and in particular had shortchanged New York City.  A year later, the Legislature and Gov. Eliot Spitzer adopted a new formula that promised more help for poor districts and eventually $7 billion per year in added funding. That promise evaporated in the recession, spawning two lawsuits aimed at forcing the state to honor it.
A lawsuit by a group called New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights estimates that, despite increases in recent years, the state is still about $5.6 billion a year short of its commitment under that formula.

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. A recent review by the Associated Press confirmed the sad state of affairs in Pennsylvania less fortunate school districts.

    BISE Multan Board Class 10 Date Sheet 2015


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.