Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 6: Rep. Stan Saylor of York County to Chair House Ed Committee

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 6, 2015:
Rep. Stan Saylor of York County to Chair House Ed Committee

Details of proposed Pennsylvania school funding formula coming soon, East Allegheny directors told
Trib Live By Patrick Cloonan Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, 3:56 a.m.
A coalition of educational organizations soon may have a plan for what it calls a fair formula for state subsidies to public school districts.  “Probably in the next couple of weeks we'll have information from the campaign about what they think they'll have in the formula,” Ron Dufalla told East Allegheny school directors Monday.  Dufalla, a Lincoln resident and retired Brentwood school superintendent, is one of 11 “circuit riders” sent out on behalf of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding.  The campaign has 51 members with a stated mission “to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts and maintains an adequate and equitable system of funding public education by 2016.” Its members include the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
Corbett camp op-ed criticizes AP's report on education funding gap
Trib Live By Donald Gilliland Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, 11:33 p.m.
Gov. Tom Corbett's administration Monday issued the final salvo in the education funding debate that helped topple him.  Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq issued an op-ed criticizing an Associated Press report that concluded the gap between how much wealthy and poor schools spend per student more than doubled during the Republican's four-year tenure.
“It's quite a stretch, if not a misrepresentation, to hold the governor accountable for spending decisions made by each school district,” she said.
The AP's Pennsylvania editor, Larry Rosenthal, said the news organization stands by its story.
“The Associated Press' analysis of the school funding gap illuminates an issue of significant importance for Pennsylvanians,” he said. “The story notes education funding comes from various sources, including determinations made in 500 communities and from the state. We stand by the story.”
Thanks to Gov. Corbett, Pa. has another 'grand canyon': Editorial Cartoon
Penn Live By Editorial Cartoons (John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune) on January 05, 2015 at 11:40 AM  (For more about the issue addressed in the cartoon, see this link.)

Widening equity gap? Corbett administration, advocates differ on AP education funding report
The gap between what wealthy and poor school districts spend on education in Pennsylvania has doubled since Gov. Tom Corbett took office, according to a recentstudy by the Associated Press.
In 2014-15, wealthier districts are expected to spend nearly $1,800 more per student than poorer districts, according to the AP.  In 2010-2011, that difference was $750.  Some of that inequity has been driven by Corbett's decision to stop giving extra resources to districts coping with the added costs of charter schools – which are almost exclusively situated in poor, urban districts such as Philadelphia, Chester-Upland, York, and Reading.  Since former Gov. Mark Schweiker's time in office, the state subsidized those districts with an added funding stream to cover the inefficiencies of operating what amount to many distinct, independent school systems.
Corbett's first budget, though, axed that charter-reimbursement line – a $220 million per year cut.

Demand fair funding for schools (letter)
York Daily Record LTE By Tim Senft UPDATED:   01/05/2015 01:39:09 PM EST
What is fair funding for Pennsylvania schools?
That is the question two groups are trying to answer as Pennsylvania public schools struggle to balance budgets using inadequate state funding.  York County school districts receive approximately 34 percent of their funding from the state. Local taxpayers provide a majority of each district’s remaining funds in the form of real estate and other local taxes. 
A 34 percent funding level ranks Pennsylvania 43rd out of 50 states in the amount of K-12 education costs covered by state funds. Part of the reason for the low funding level is that Pennsylvania is one of only three states that do not have a consistent funding formula for distributing money to public schools.  Two groups have been established to examine Pennsylvania’s existing funding method and make recommendations for a fair, reliable and predictable funding formula.

Inky Editorial: End schools blame game
INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Monday, January 5, 2015, 1:07 AM
It would be hard to overestimate the damage Pennsylvania's elected leaders have inflicted on the commonwealth by failing to adequately and equitably fund public schools over the past four years. The inferior education being provided to students as a result is the reason so many are failing to pass assessment and graduation exams. Better-paying jobs will be out of their reach when they become adults, which will ultimately have a negative impact on the state's economy.
The problem is more acute where tax bases are modest. The state's contribution to public schools has fallen from 50 percent in 1975 to about 34 percent currently, according to an Education Law Center study conducted by Penn State researchers. Poor local governments have been unable to lift the heavier burden to fund their schools adequately.
In fact, a recent Associated Press analysis showed that the funding gap between Pennsylvania's wealthy and poor districts has doubled over the past four years. Districts among the top 20 percent in average income are spending in excess of $4,000 more per student this year than the poorest 20 percent.

York City School Board set for court battle over receiver appointment
Court expected to hear arguments Tuesday on appeal of receivership
York Daily Record By Angie Mason amason@ydr.com @angiemason1 on Twitter 01/05/2015 09:20:46 PM EST
The York City School Board on Monday night ratified the appeal already filed over a court's recent appointment of a receiver for the district and directed attorneys to appeal any future adverse decisions in the case — moments after recently named receiver David Meckley said the board didn't have the authority to do so.  More on that legal question is expected to be heard in court Tuesday.  Meckley was named receiver for the school district in a Dec. 26 order from York County Judge Stephen Linebaugh, which gives Meckley all the powers of the board except taxation. The school district almost immediately filed appeal.
Since then, the state education department has argued the appeal is invalid because the board lost its power to do so once Meckley was appointed. At Monday night's meeting, Meckley read a statement reiterating that position.  The recovery law also requires employees and elected or appointed officials to follow any directives from him, he said, and he disapproves of any appeal because it would delay implementation of the district's recovery plan.

Saylor, Grove & Wagner: Status quo unacceptable for York schools (column)
York Daily Record Opinioin By Reps. Seth Grove, Stan Saylor, and Sen. Scott Wagner UPDATED:   01/05/2015 01:14:08 PM EST
In December 2012, the secretary of education declared York City School District in moderate financial distress.  By law, the school board was expected to follow the directives of the chief recovery officer along with the creation and implementation of a financial recovery plan.  As the law clearly stated, any failure to implement the recovery plan or follow a directive triggers a petition from the secretary to the Court of Common Pleas. This petition requests the court place the district into receivership.  Under CRO David Meckley, the school board for York city approved a financial recovery plan, which had internal and external models for recovery.  After two years for the internal recovery to be implemented, there was still no union contract reflecting the concessions necessary to fulfill the plan, and no evidence of academic improvement.  This left Mr. Meckley with little choice but to move forward with consideration of the external option.  As the process to implement an external recovery model moved forward, continued failure of the school board to take the necessary actions for recovery triggered a petition to the court for receivership.  We cannot stress enough that an internal reform was the primary goal.

Rep. Stan Saylor of York County to Chair House Ed Committee
Speaker-Designate Turzai Announces House Committee Chairs for the 2015-16 Session
PA House Republican Caucus website 1/5/2015
HARRISBURG – Speaker-Designate Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) today announced the appointments of both Republican and Democratic committee chairmen for the 2015-16 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 6.   House committees study each bill and determine which proposals will go to the full House. They conduct public hearings on key issues, allowing citizens and interested groups to have a say in the legislative process, and they serve as a resource for members and others.   “These House committees will tackle the serious issues facing Pennsylvania and, through public hearings and meetings, vet those issues and proposed solutions with the public,” Turzai said. “These men and women of both caucuses will lead the way in preparing legislation for the full House to consider.”   Committees are outlined in the House Rules that are enacted for each session.
Turzai made the following appointments, which are unofficial until announced on the House floor: 

Rep. Dave Reed prepares for role as majority leader
By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau January 5, 2015 12:00 AM
INDIANA, Pa. — He’s young, from Indiana County and has just been elevated to one of the most prominent positions in Pennsylvania politics.  State Rep. Dave Reed, 36, a six-term incumbent, is the newly elected majority leader of the House Republican caucus, a group that holds a 119-member majority in the 203-seat chamber. He’ll take the oath of office for a new term on Tuesday.
The majority leader must attempt to advance the group’s legislative agenda while balancing the geographic and ideological diversity of the large caucus. State House Republicans range from Central Pennsylvania Tea Party-style conservatives to more moderate members in the Philadelphia suburbs, and the leader must keep enough members appeased to maintain the 102-vote margin needed to pass legislation.

As new legislature takes office debate brews on possible votes
HARRISBURG - The ceremonial start to the 2015-16 legislative session begins Tuesday in the Capitol with the swearing in of House and Senate lawmakers - including nine newcomers from the southeast.  The governor-elect, Democrat Tom Wolf, does not take office until Jan. 20. What will happen in the intervening weeks is as yet unresolved, with House and Senate leaders saying they are leaving the door open on scheduling voting days while Gov. Corbett is still in office.

2nd round of Philly charter application hearings probe demographics, bottom lines
In the wake of two charter schools closing last month in the middle of the school year, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission Monday entered into a second round of hearings on 40 proposed new charter schools.  While the first round consisted of 15-minute pitches by charter school applicants promising new buildings and better neighborhoods, these hearings are designed to dig into the weeds of the applications, to "obtain additional data" before making a decision, said Allison Peterson, a lawyer with the Levin Legal Group who is acting as the "hearing officer" on behalf of the School Reform Commission.  Megan Reamer, program officer from the district's Charter School Office,  relayed comments and answered questions. Neither SRC members nor senior leadership from the school district attended.

When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top in the world.
By Stephen Krashen Tuesday, January 6, 2015 Sent to The Personal Finance Cheat Sheet
An article in The Personal Finance Cheat Sheet (http://wallstcheatsheet.com/personal-finance/the-20-worst-public-schools-in-america.html/?a=viewall#ixzz3O21gUU85) begins with this statement:"We often hear data about how America is performing in science, math, or reading. For instance, in 2012, the U.S. ranked 27th in math and 17th in reading in a 34-country comparison by the OECD."  Not mentioned is the fact that when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top in the world.
Our unspectacular overall scores are because the United States has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries, now roughly 25 percent, compared with high-scoring Finland’s 5.4 percent.  In some American inner cities, the poverty rate is over 80%.  Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these negatively affect school performance. The best teaching in the world has little effect when students are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read.

Make Sure Your Voice is Heard in the NCLB Revision Process
ASCD Edge by Elliott Seif January 5, 2015
Word is that there is considerable discussion in Congress about passing a revision of the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2015.  Educators and those involved with schools need to make their voices heard about what kind of NCLB law should be enacted in the future.
This commentary suggests nine changes to NCLB that will help educators develop programs that meet the needs of students in the 21st century. The letter below, which includes the nine recommendations,  is a sampling of what might be sent to National politicians – your representatives, Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative John Kline, who will lead the Senate and House Education Committees, and the President – to affect what changes are enacted into law. I urge you to contact your legislators to send them a message like the one below, with these recommendations or your own ideas. You may also wish to discuss your ideas with others and come up with a group response to what you would like to see in a revised law.

Welcome to Citified
Urban affairs news, done right.
PhillyMag/Citified BY PATRICK KERKSTRA  |  JANUARY 5, 2015 AT 6:00 AM
Welcome to Citified, Phillymag’s new channel about how Philadelphia works–and how it doesn’t.
So what is Citified, exactly? In time, we hope, Citified will be your go-to source for smart, authoritative, daily coverage of the people, ideas and institutions that run Philadelphia (or ought to). We’re talking bread and butter urban affairs. The mayoral race. City Hall. The school district. Cops. Courts. Urbanism. And much more.
What will set Citified apart is our approach. We’re going to put a premium on analysis, drawing on the experience of veteran city reporters and real life urban practitioners to put the headlines in perspective. We’re going to give our writers the room to flat out say–without the usual hemming and hawing–what’s real and what’s bullshit. We’re going to make it easier to understand how Philadelphia operates and who pulls the levers. And we’re going to talk a lot about what can be done to make Philadelphia better.

Nation’s Eighth Largest School District Faces Big Questions
The Daily Signal by Evan Grossman @Watchdogorg / January 04, 2015
This is could be a landmark year for Philadelphia schools. From the results of an anticipated state audit to the expansion of its charter program, the district faces important changes in 2015 that will affect the quality of education and help drive spending in the face of a massive deficit.
Here are the five biggest questions facing the district in 2015:

The True Cost of Teach For America's Impact on Urban Schools
The American Prospect by RACHEL M. COHEN JANUARY 5, 2015
Why are school districts paying millions in "finder's fees" to an organization that places people without education degrees to teach in urban schools—even where applications from veteran teachers abound?
In debates over education policy in urban school districts, few topics are more contentious than the role played by Teach For America, the national organization that recruits elite college graduates to teach in low-income urban and rural schools for two years.  It is not uncommon to hear veteran teachers, who majored in education and often have advanced degrees, complain that their profession is diminished by what they see as a preference for TFA recruits who did not study education. Parents are heard to question the qualifications and commitment of TFA’s novice educators, given the assumption that their sign-up for a two-year stint suggests only a fleeting interest in teaching. And both veteran teachers and parents sometimes bemoan the fact that the racial and ethnic make-up of the TFA corps rarely matches that of the students they are assigned to teach.
Here Rachel M. Cohen, writing fellow at The American Prospect, explores another area of controversy in the Teach For America program: the start-up costs of hiring a TFA teacher, and the program’s impact on the retention of veteran teachers.
—The Editors

NPR: Six Education Stories To Watch in 2015
As the senior member of the NPR Ed team with 25 years on the education beat, here are the top stories that my expert sources and I believe will be ones to watch in 2015. For more predictions, check out our crowdsourced list.

PILCOP Special Education Seminar: Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities
Philadelphia Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 1:00 - 4:00 P.M.
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Tickets: Attorneys $200  General Public $100   Webinar $50   
"Pay What You Can" tickets are also available    
Speakers: Sonja Kerr; Kathleen Carlsen (Children’s Dyslexia Center of Philadelphia) 
This session is designed to provide the audience with information about how to address 1) eligibility issues for children with learning disabilities, including dyslexia and ADHD, 2) encourage self-advocacy and 3) write and implement meaningful IEPS (what does Orton-Gillingham really look like?)   This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice is a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers. 
Questions? Email jfortenberry@pilcop.org or call 267-546-1316.

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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