Friday, January 9, 2015
PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 9: PA Senate Bill 1 pension reform likely to include defined contribution plan
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PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 9, 2015:
PA Senate Bill 1 pension reform likely to include defined contribution plan
"Finally, in recent years,
's share of
state funding for schools has plummeted to a meager 33%. The national average
is 46%. As the share of state funding decreases, school districts become
excessively reliant on local taxpayers to pay for public schools." Pennsylvania
Column: Midstate citizens invited to local forum on school funding
On Thursday, Jan. 15,
County residents are invited to attend
a forum about public school funding at 6:30 p.m. at the First Evangelical
Lutheran Church of Chambersburg, 43
W. Washington St. Superintendents from the Chambersburg, Fannett-Metal, Greencastle-Antrim,
Shippensburg and Tuscarora school districts will make short presentations. This
will be followed by time for questions from the audience.
State senators Rich Alloway and John Eichelberger and Rep. Paul Schemel will be present in order to learn about issues our local districts face and to listen to the concerns of their constituents. This forum is being moderated and sponsored by Education Voters of PA and Education Matters in the
both members of the non-partisan Campaign for Fair Education Funding. This
campaign is made up of business, organized labor, charter school, traditional
K-12, faith-based and community organizations, and groups representing every
corner of rural and urban PA. We have come together to offer support to our
lawmakers as they work to address the serious problems with our state's school
funding system. Cumberland Valley
Letter: Superintendents support funding change
The Sentinel Letter to the Editor January 8, 2015
By John W. Friend, superintendent, Carlisle Area School District, and Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators president-elect, on behalf of Richard W. Fry, superintendent, Big Spring School District; David F. Reeder, superintendent, Camp Hill School District; Frederick S. Withum III, superintendent, Cumberland Valley School District; Justin Bruhn, administrative director, Cumberland/Perry AVTS; Jay Burkhart, superintendent, East Pennsboro School District; Mark K. Leidy, superintendent, Mechanicsburg Area School District; Alan E. Moyer, superintendent, South Middleton School District; and Todd Stoltz, superintendent, West Shore School District
Several statewide associations representing school boards, superintendents, business managers and intermediate units are collectively supporting the efforts of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to change the way we fund our local school districts.
In every school district in
school boards, business managers and superintendents are forced to compensate
for inadequate state funding with additional property taxes. It is keenly
unfair and puts a significant burden on our residents. Unfortunately, school
districts have few options to balance budgets except to cut programs and
positions, which have a direct impact on educational experience for our
students. Districts that have been able to put money aside for unforeseen
expenses are now depleting those reserve accounts to balance their budgets. Districts cannot continue the failed strategy
of cutting programs while striving to improve educational outcomes. The
continued escalation of mandated pension costs is placing districts in Cumberland County and across the state in financial
jeopardy. We need our legislature to provide funding to school districts that is
equitable, adequate, predictable and fair. It is a commitment that our
statewide leaders must take seriously and act on for the 2015-16 school year. We are hopeful that the legislatively
established Basic Education Funding Commission will develop a new formula to
help school districts, their students and taxpayers. This work is long overdue.
Join us in this important endeavor by learning more at fairfundingpa.org. Cumberland County
More rational method of funding
Sunbury Daily Item Opinion by Gordon Tomb, Senior Fellow, Commonwealth Foundation Thursday, January 8, 2015 3:49 pm
The Daily Item editorial (Wolf needs to close the wealth gap, Dec. 31, 2014) calls for increased state funds for education while ignoring the dysfunction of the current funding system.
We are not denying that our public schools can do better. According to The Nation’s Report Card, more than half of
Pennsylvania students are not proficient in
reading and math.
However, additional money is not the solution.
Pennsylvania spent a
record $27 billion on education in the last fiscal year. Spending per pupil is
more than $14,600, which ranks among the top 12 states in the country and
exceeds the national average by nearly $3,000.
Students would be better served if the existing inequity in state funding were fixed. In 2012-15, 25 districts received more than $10,000 in state aid per student while 50 districts received less than $3,000 per student. At the root of this imbalance is a provision mandating each school district receive at least as much in state dollars as it received the previous year even if enrollment levels drop. A better approach proposed by the state’s Basic Education Funding Commission is a weighted student funding (WSF) model that accounts for enrollment levels and student characteristics. Economically disadvantaged children, for example, would receive more funds.
A more rational method of funding — not more money — would be a good step toward a better education for students and an improved return on the taxpayers’ investment in education.
PA Senate Bill 1 pension reform likely to include defined contribution plan
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, January 8, 2015
Pension reform has been given the key moniker of Senate Bill 1 and will likely take the form of a defined contribution plan, a key player in the process told The PLS Reporter this week.
During Tuesday’s swearing-in day ceremonies in the Senate, newly re-elected President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) raised the prospects of pension reform legislation to a new level by declaring a pension reform bill will take on the prestigious title of Senate Bill 1, a more-than-symbolic gesture emphasizing the importance of the issue to the Senate.
“Moving the state pension system more in line with that of the private sector is one of the most significant means we have to gain more revenue, for needs like education,” Sen. Scarnati stated during Tuesday’s ceremony. “Pension reform will be Senate Bill 1 and a top priority this session.”
According to Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), a longtime pensionphile and current chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the pension reforms included in the bill are likely to include a shift to a defined contribution plan from the current defined benefit plan.
“I would expect that its platform would include a defined contribution plan for new school district and state workers as the foundation of the proposal,” he told The PLS Reporter.
Co-chair Pedro Rivera talks about Wolf's education transition team
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 8, 2015 06:19 PM
and administrator Pedro Rivera, who is now the Lancaster superintendent, is the co-chair of
Gov.-elect Tom Wolf's transition committee for education.
Rivera was born and raised in
spent 13 years in the Philadelphia system, and
has led Lancaster
schools since 2008. He said in a Thursday interview that the committee is
working on finding the people who can best engineer a "transformation"
of the Department of Education and carry out Wolf's education priorities.
Rivera's name has surfaced in the rumor mill speculation on who might be the education secretary under the new governor. He said that he has also "heard the rumors," but that "nothing has been offered." Still, he feels that he can have an influence on a critical issue for
Pennsylvania. Education affects workforce development,
economic stability, and building strong communities, Rivera said, adding that
"there is no more important issue" facing the next governor. http://thenotebook.org/blog/158091/pedro-rivera-talks-about-wolfs-education-transition-team
INSIDE TAKE: Standardized Testing Isn’t Worth It
Not the way we’re doing it. A week of tests, all for useless data.
Philly Mag/Citified BY ANDREW SALTZ | JANUARY 8, 2015 AT 6:30 AM
(Editor’s note: This column is the first of many to come from Citified insiders, our roster of urban doers, experts and advocates who will offer their takes on a wide array of issues, from schooling to policing to politicking. Insiders are not Phillymag staff, and their opinions are their own. Read more about our insiders here.)
I’m cranky this week.
I spend a lot of time trying to make my classroom, Room 207 at the Paul Robeson High School for Human Services, welcoming. I have my contact information in four places. I bought comfortable chairs. I decorate with seemingly important quotes and song lyrics, I post student work, I use bright colors. I shake hands and give high-fives at my doorway. I’ve developed a reputation for preaching, in a secular way of course, the gospel of being in class, on time (“You can’t say TGIF if you don’t have a job, and you won’t have a job without succeeding in the classroom”). I greet a lot of students by name; I heckle and get heckled. It’s love.
My principal greets everyone at the door. Our staff has built lasting, meaningful relationships. On a typical day, you can show up at 3:30 and see kids helping, tutoring, or just...there. They don’t want to leave. But this week, for the state-mandated Keystone Exams (3 two-hour subject tests, soon to be a graduation requirement) I tear down their work or, for certain immovables, cover the walls with opaque trash-can lining. I have to talk in hushed tones. When I greet my kids, I need to quickly get them in their seat, with a number 2 pencil. I need to make absolutely sure that they have no cellular devices.
Read more at http://www.phillymag.com/citified/2015/01/08/inside-take-teacher-says-standardized-testing-toll-great/#cSeWRVb7M6ultDpB.99
Teaching math and science through art, and a neural net (made of children)
WHYY Newsworks BY PETER CRIMMINS JANUARY 8, 2015 THE PULSE
In the fall of 2013, Ben Volta arrived at
with no ideas. He
had just been hired by the school in the Morton McMichael
neighborhood of West Philadelphia, in
partnership with Mural Arts Program, to develop a mural with the students. He had no lesson plan, no vision of what the
mural would be. He came on the first day of class, sat down with the other 7th
graders, and listened to the teacher. "I
remember them doing a lot of long division," said Volta.
"I don't remember how to do that, and I was trying to figure it out as
Like many 7th graders, his mind started to wander. As a kid,
Volta was a terrible student, barely earning the marks to
graduate from high school, but he always excelled at art. While not paying
attention to long division, he remembered a short movie he had once seen called
"Powers of 10," a 1977 short film made for IBM by Ray and Charles
Eames – designers famous for the Eames chair.
The film is a visual experiment in representing exponential
multiplication. It starts by focusing on two people picnicking in a park in Chicago, and slowly zooms
out. Every 10 seconds the field of view expands to the next power of 10. It
takes just a few minutes to reach the infinite expanse of the universe.
By Vince Sullivan,
Times POSTED: 01/08/15, 11:37 PM EST | County Daily
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> Chester Upland School District Receiver Joe Watkins said Thursday morning that his pursuit of public-private partnerships with the city’s charter schools has been called off. The development was announced at a follow-up status hearing with district representatives and the
secretary of education before Judge Chad Kenney.
The hearing comes one month after Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq filed a petition to remove Watkins from his position as receiver, which he has held since December 2012. At the end of that hearing, Kenney asked for Thursday’s follow up, instructing the two sides to improve their communications and to hammer out the details of an evolving financial recovery plan.
Watkins’ main focus after the December hearing was to try working with the charters, which have drawn thousands of Chester Upland students and millions of dollars from the district, contributing to a $20 million structural deficit. Thursday morning, district Solicitor Leo Hackett told Kenney that those efforts were being abandoned due to lack of progress.
Consultant lauds Coatesville schools for reform efforts
MICHAELLE BOND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Friday, January 9, 2015, 1:08 AM
Matthew Haverstick has led internal reviews for private and public groups across the state. They usually go one of two ways. The leaders can choose to make meaningful changes so the crises that brought on the scrutiny do not happen again. Or they can look at the results, shrug, and go back to business as usual. How closely the public is watching is usually crucial in determining in which direction an organization will go, Haverstick, a lawyer, said. And the
has had plenty of public scrutiny. "They have a very caring and committed
community of parents, of taxpayers who want things to turn out well but are
going to keep an eye on things and keep people on their toes in the
district," Haverstick said. Coatesville
Montour board places superintendent on paid leave pending retirement
By Mary Niederberger /
Post-Gazette January 8, 2015 8:12 PM
The Montour school board placed superintendent Donald E. Boyer on paid leave of absence pending his retirement March 30, a move that was met with cheers by several dozen residents who attended Thursday’s board meeting. Under the terms of a proposal Mr. Boyer presented to the board, he will be paid $106,250 for “full payment of all contractual amounts due to him under his contract of employment,” according to the agenda motion on the payment.
The school board offered no specific reason for parting ways with Mr. Boyer, 76, whose contract ran through September 2016. But it was clear some type of tension existed between Mr. Boyer and the newly reorganized board.
By Sarah Peters | The Express-Times on January 08, 2015 at 4:04 PM
The Phillipsburg School District is asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to make clear its position on whether or not public school employees can distribute religious literature to students. Howard Mankoff, the attorney representing the district in the matter, sent a written statement indicating as much Thursday afternoon. "If this is indeed the EEOC's position, it means that teachers, regardless of their religion or belief system, and regardless of the wishes of the parents, can give religious literature to students," Mankoff wrote. It's an important question to which school officials need an answer before
Phillipsburg decides how
to respond to the commission's proposal to resolve the matter, Mankoff wrote.
"The administration declined to release the overall cost of the plan, saying details would be disclosed in coming weeks. Federal funds would cover three-quarters of the average cost of tuition, and states would have some responsibility to provide matching funds under the plan.
Currently, there are approximately eight million
community college students, according to the American Association of Community
Colleges. Those who attend full time pay an average tuition of $3,800 a
Obama Calls for Two Years of Free Community College for All Students
Proposal Will Face an Uphill Climb in Congress
Wall Street Journal By DOUGLAS BELKIN, BYRON TAU and COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON
Jan. 8, 2015 6:33 p.m. ET
President Barack Obama on Thursday proposed offering free community college nationwide, in effect extending government-funded education from kindergarten through a two-year degree.
“I’d like to see the first two years of community college free for everyone who is willing to work for it,” Mr. Obama said in a video posted Thursday on Facebook. “It’s something we can accomplish and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”
The plan, which would offset some of the $20 billion in annual tuition received by community colleges, will require legislation in a Republican-controlled Congress that already is at odds with the president over other spending issues. The concept is expected to formally be released in Mr. Obama’s 2016 budget proposal, due out in February.
Obama Plan Would Help Many Go to Community College Free
New York Times By JULIE HIRSCHFELD
DAVIS and TAMAR LEWIN JAN. 8, 2015
The Roots of Obama’s Ambitious College Plan
The roots of President Obama’s ambitious proposal for free community college can be found in a 2008 book by the economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz called “The Race Between Education and Technology.” The book, a combination of economics and history, tells the story of how the
United States built the world’s
most successful economy by building its most successful education system. At
the heart of that system was the universal high school movement of the early
20th century, which turned the United
States into the world’s most educated
country. These educated high school graduates — white-collar and blue-collar
alike — powered the prosperity of the 20th century, Ms. Goldin and Mr.
Katz demonstrated. “The 20th century was the American century,”
they wrote, “because it was the human-capital century.”
The ugly segregationist history of the charter school movement
Popular education "reform" measures are rooted in white resistance to Brown v. Board of Education
Salon.com by CHRISTOPHER BONASTIA, ALTERNET JAN 7, 2015 11:35 AM EST
As a parent I find it easy to understand the appeal of charter schools, especially for parents and students who feel that traditional public schools have failed them. As a historical sociologist who studies race and politics, however, I am disturbed both by the significant challenges that plague the contemporary charter school movement, and by the ugly history of segregationist tactics that link past educational practices to the troubling present. The now-popular idea of offering public education dollars to private entrepreneurs has historical roots in white resistance to school desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The desired outcome was few or, better yet, no black students in white schools. In
County, Virginia, one of the five cases decided
in Brown, segregationist whites sought to outwit integration by
directing taxpayer funds to segregated private schools.
Mark Your Calendars. The next Twitter Chat on PA School Funding is Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Join us #paedfunding
Tweet from Circuit Rider Kathleen Kelley
Adams Co. PSBA Basic Education Funding Listening Tour Breakfast
JAN 14, 2015 • 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Jan. 14, 8:30-10:30 a.m. at the
, Gettysburg Area
Middle School 37 Lefever St., Gettysburg,
PSBA Members Register online: https://psba.wufoo.com/forms/p97bly31fs5ecs/
PILCOP Special Education Seminar: Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities
United Way Building
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia,
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.
January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The
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.