Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 10: Charter magnate Gureghian also funded McCord campaign

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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 February 10, 2015:
Charter magnate Gureghian also funded McCord campaign

Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearing scheduled in Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in York County 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 25 at York Learning Center, 300 E. 7th Ave., North York
York County to discuss school funding issues in March
Some education officials, advocates are 'hopeful' for a solution
York Daily Record By Angie Mason amason@ydr.com @angiemason1 on Twitter 02/09/2015 03:07:28 PM EST
Discussion of school funding issues will come to York County in March, as advocacy groups continue to push for a new funding system and a state commission works to come up with recommendations.  School funding will be the topic of a forum hosted by Education Voters of PA in York County in March. The panel is set to include York County superintendents, board members, business officials and others.  Susan Gobreski, executive director, said the organization has been hosting forums to help bring to light the problems with the existing school funding structure and the impact those problems have.

"The Enterprise Fund's report shows that it received $100,000 from Ross Nese, president of a Pittsburgh-based nursing home services company, and another $25,000 that filtered through two other political action committees after being given by Vahan and Danielle Gureghian of Gladwyne in suburban Philadelphia.  Vahan Gureghian, the CEO of a Chester-based charter school management firm, is active in Montgomery County's Republican Party and gave more than $330,000 to former Gov. Tom Corbett's two campaigns for governor."
Source of $125K donation to Rob McCord's Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign is revealed
Morning Call By Marc Levy Of The Associated Press February 9, 2015
Who gave Rob McCord $125,000? Now we know.
HARRISBURG — A political action committee that gave $125,000 to the failed gubernatorial campaign of former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord has revealed the source of its money eight months after it blew through the deadline to report the information to the state.
A report by The Enterprise Fund appeared on the Pennsylvania Department of State's website Friday. The department, which administers state election and campaign finance reporting laws, fined the group $500 for missing a June deadline to file the report.

"The treasurer of Campaign for Pennsylvania's Future is Max Tribble of Lancaster, according to campaign records. Tribble is an executive at Gureghian's charter school management company, according to his online resumé.  Tribble did not return calls.  The chairwoman of Campaign for Equality is Abigail Meyer, who is listed in public records at the same address as Tribble"
PAC that gave McCord $125,000 reveals its sources
ANGELA COULOUMBIS, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 1:08 AM OSTED: Monday, February 9, 2015, 6:53 PM
HARRISBURG - When a little-known political action committee made a six-figure campaign contribution last spring to then-state Treasurer Rob McCord, few took notice.  The PAC, called the Enterprise Fund, donated $125,000 to McCord after his loss in the Democratic gubernatorial primary - when few were paying attention to, or even cared about, the losers.

SRC to vote on 39 charter applications Feb. 18, invites public comment
After a last-minute effort to put off the vote until June 1, Philadelphia's School Reform Commission announced it will decide on all 39 charter applications at a special meeting Feb. 18. That meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia School District headquarters.  Last week, the district emailed all the charter applicants requesting a four-month deadline extension due to an "unprecedented" number of applications.  Eight applicants agreed to that request, but the SRC decided to go ahead and vote on all of the applications next week, said district spokesman Fernando Gallard. According to Pennsylvania Charter School Law, the district must hold a public hearing within 45 days of the application deadline and a vote on the applications within 75 days of the public hearings.

Decision on charters to come next week
DECISION DAY for charter-school applicants is about a week away.  The Philadelphia School District announced yesterday that the School Reform Commission will vote on the 39 applications for new charter schools at a special hearing Feb. 18 at 3:30 p.m.  The SRC had sought to extend the timeline to vote on the applications until June 1, but ultimately decided to push forward when only some of the proposed operators consented.

"n its $2.6 billion 2014-15 budget, the school system is spending just 53 percent of its revenue on district-run schools. It is spending 29 percent on charter schools, 11 percent on debt service, 4 percent on out-of-district costs, and 3 percent on administrative costs, officials said.  For the projected 2015 budget, the biggest increases will be in charter school spending, pension costs, and debt service - $42 million, $34 million, and $5 million."
Phila. school's latest budget forecasts $80 million deficit
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 1:08 AM OSTED: Monday, February 9, 2015, 8:26 PM
The news remains grim: Without major cash infusions from the city and state, the Philadelphia School District faces a deficit of roughly $80 million for the coming school year, officials said Monday night.  School Reform Commissioner Feather O. Houstoun, opening the discussion at a planning meeting, put it mildly: Despite a new Democratic governor who has expressed sympathy for the district's plight, the 2015-16 budget is sure to contain "a lot of challenges."
Chief among them are fixed costs that are increasing far faster than revenue. Current projections have revenue rising $13 million and expenditures rising about $100 million to maintain the current level of service, which does not allow for full-time counselors and nurses at every school.
The district would need $370 million more next year to execute Superintendent William R. Hite Jr's plan for academic improvements.

"PSP’s tax forms say it distributed $10,245,186 in grants in 2013. Over 90 percent of it—more than $9.2 million—went to charter schools.    But PSP didn’t stop there. They wielded political influence as well. In 2013, the organization spent $239,601 on lobbying activity. Over $186,500 was spent on direct contact with legislators, their staffs, government officials or a legislative body."
Can $35 million buy the Philadelphia School District?
Is the Philadelphia School District for sale?
That seems to be the central question facing taxpayers in the wake of a $35 million offer from the non-profit Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP). Most of the money—$25 million—would go to fund some of the 39 new charter school applications that the School District says it can’t afford to approve. Another $10 million would go to District schools.  If the School District takes the money, PSP hopes it will help to create 15,000 more charter school seats for city students. There’s a problem, though. The money isn't nearly enough. In fact, the School District estimates it would take around $500 million to put 15,000 more students into charter schools.

It's not just the money
INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 1:08 AM
The Philadelphia School Partnership, which began about four years ago with the mission of raising private money for public schools, hasn't tried to hide its preference for charters. It's not an infatuation: High-quality charter schools have proven their academic effectiveness with motivated students who have escaped from chronically bad traditional public schools.  To open charters' doors to more students, the PSP has offered the School District $25 million to end its moratorium on expanding the number and size of charters in the city, plus another $10 million to help turn around failing traditional schools. Charters are primarily funded with public money taken from the district's budget, and the district has authority over their creation and growth.
The district was right not to pounce on the PSP offer. It's inadequate. In fact, the School District believes it would need about 20 times as much to cover the cost of creating 15,000 new charter seats over six years. The district would still have to fund the schools the students left, paying for utilities, transportation, and maybe even the same number of teachers.

Legislators back pension reform
Republican Herald BY PETER E. BORTNER Published: February 7, 2015
WEST HAZLETON — Pennsylvania needs to reform its pension system for public employees or face economic disaster, state Rep. Mike Tobash said Friday.  “It is crushing our school districts,” Tobash, R-125, said during the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Association Legislative Roundtable at the Top of the 80s restaurant. “I think we’re all frustrated.”
Tobash was one of six legislators attending the two-hour roundtable, where they focused attention on issues that concern association members, about 40 of whom attended.  All the legislators who attended the roundtable session are Republicans, and they expressed similar views on pension reform and other issues.

"Bethlehem Area's top cost drivers in the proposed 2015-16 budget are as follows:
·         Public School Employees Retirement System, up $4.6 million.
·         Employee salaries are up $4.1 million.
·         Technology costs are up $1.35 million, including a major wireless infrastructure upgrade.
·         Charter school tuition costs will rise by $721,218.
·         Student tuition up $566,758.
·         Health care up $258,174.
Bethlehem plans to pressure Harrisburg to reinstate the charter school reimbursement payments, which were phased out in 2011-12. The district has lost out on $15.4 million in charter school subsidy reimbursements in recent years.  The district's charter and cyber school enrollment has gone from about 500 students in 2007-08 to a projected 1,800 students next year at a cost of $21 million."
Bethlehem Area School District passes 2015-16 preliminary budget
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on February 09, 2015 at 6:37 PM, updated February 09, 2015 at 7:12 PM
The Bethlehem Area School Board on Monday night authorized the administration to apply to the state for exceptions to exceed the annual cap on property tax increases.  The board voted 7-1 to pass the $247.2 million preliminary budget. Director Sudantha Vidanage arrived late to the meeting and missed the vote.  The board's vote also allows the administration to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for permission to exceed the district's 2.3 percent cap on annual property tax raises.

Longstanding education advocate Gym to run for Philly City Council
Gym for council
One of Philadelphia's most recognizable education advocates has announced her candidacy for City Council.  Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, held a kickoff event Monday at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia surrounded by parents, students and union boosters.  Gym, a former elementary school teacher who was selected by the Obama administration last year for a Cesar Chavez Champions of Change award, has been a stalwart voice for education equity and government transparency for more than a decade.

Helen Gym announces run for Phila. City Council
Helen Gym is no stranger to speaking - sometimes yelling - at elected officials. Now she's vying for a seat at their table.  Gym announced her candidacy for a City Council at-large seat at a lively rally Monday at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square that focused on education.  The mother of three children in Philadelphia public magnet schools, Gym has become an advocate for public education funding and a frequent critic of city policies surrounding it.  Gym, 47, entered the race with the endorsement of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

"Of the roughly $104,000 that Excellent Schools PA has raised, $75,000 came from another political committee called Students First PAC, which is funded almost entirely by the three wealthy pro-voucher, pro-charter Bala Cynwyd donors who gave $5 million to Williams' 2010 gubernatorial campaign  I reported last week that the same three donors plan to fund an independent expenditure effort to promote Williams' mayoral campaign and they've already put $250,000 into a new committee, called American Cities, to get that started."
Dave Davies off mic: PSP-related political committee gives to Williams' campaign
WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies for NewsWorks on Feb 9, 2015 07:29 PM
The Philadelphia School Partnership, the nonprofit that last week offered the School District $25 million to expand charter schools, now has an affiliated political action committee that has donated $7,000 to the mayoral campaign of State Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia.
Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP, says his organization has focused on investing in schools and lobbying for change in Harrisburg. But it saw a need to affect the political process directly "because many of the policies that hold back Philadelphia schools and schools around the commonwealth are state policies."  As a nonprofit organization, PSP can't make political contributions. The new PAC, called Excellent Schools PA,  is technically distinct from PSP, but Gleason signed its registration statement in September and its officers are closely affiliated with PSP or its lobbying arm, Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners.

"Yet students in poor urban and rural school districts can expect little or no college advising, an especially big problem given that many of them are low-income, racial minorities who would be the first in their families to go to college — meaning they need the most help with the application process.  "Your ZIP code can really determine what your future will look like," said Kim Cook, executive director of the National College Access Network."
Rich School, Poor School
Looking Across The College-Access Divide
Beauty and peace radiate across the 319-acre campus of the elegant Cranbrook Schoolsin suburban Detroit. But in one corner of the upper school, overlooking the manicured lacrosse field, is an angst-filled office where students and their parents come to fret.  On a recent morning there, a pony-tailed soccer player was nervously fiddling with the zipper on her coat as she asked her college counselor if it was really necessary for her to do an admissions interview.  "It's just, like, nerve-wracking because, like, you don't want to say the wrong thing," she murmured, slumping in her chair.

No profit left behind
In the high-stakes world of American education, Pearson makes money even when its results don’t measure up.
PoliticoPro By STEPHANIE SIMON 2/10/15 5:34 AM EST
The British publishing giant Pearson had made few inroads in the United States — aside from distributing the TV game show “Family Feud” — when it announced plans in the summer of 2000 to spend $2.5 billion on an American testing company.  It turned out to be an exceptionally savvy move.  The next year, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated millions of new standardized tests for millions of kids in public schools. Pearson was in a prime position to capitalize.

"Merit pay, charter schools and increased scrutiny of teachers won’t work because they fundamentally misdiagnose the problem. It’s not that teachers or schools are horrible. Rather, the problem is that students with an achievement gap also have an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few. If we truly want to improve educational outcomes, these are the real issues that must be addressed."
‘You have made us the enemy. This is personal.’ — 7 N.Y. Teachers of the Year blast Cuomo
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss February 9, 2015
Seven New York State Teachers of the Year have written an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, blasting his new proposed education reforms that, among other things, link half of a teacher’s evaluation to student standardized test scores. Rich Ognibene, 2008 New York State Teacher of the Year, said in an e-mail that he wrote the first draft and six others contributed to the effort because “we were deeply hurt by the governor’s proposed education reforms.”
Writing and signing the letter along with Ognibene are Ashli Dreher, 2014 New York State Teacher of the Year; Katie Ferguson, 2012 New York State Teacher of the Year; Jeff Peneston, 2011 New York State Teacher of the Year; Marguerite Izzo, 2007 New York State Teacher of the Year; Steve Bongiovi, 2006 New York State Teacher of the Year; and Liz Day, 2005 New York State Teacher of the Year. The letter has been published in the Albany Times Union and, with permission from the authors, I am publishing it here.

Billionaire Suspends Prize Given to Schools
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH FEB. 9, 2015
Eli Broad, the Los Angeles-based billionaire philanthropist, has suspended a prize his foundation has given annually to an urban school district for more than a decade, saying he cannot find school districts doing enough good work to merit the award.  The $1 million Broad Prize, which 12 districts have won since 2002, has rewarded large urban districts with high numbers of students of color from low-income families. The judges have looked for improvement in test scores, graduation rates and college admissions.

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in York County 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 25
Where: York Learning Center, 300 E. 7th Ave., North York
Who: Panelists will include Emilie Lonardi, West York Area School District superintendent; Scott Deisley, Red Lion Area School District superintendent; Brian Geller, Northeastern School District director of operations; Troy Wentz, Hanover Public School District business manager; Ellen Freireich, York Suburban School Board member; Eric Wolfgang, Central York School Board member; Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. Susan Spicka, advocacy coordinator for Education Voters of PA will facilitate the event.

PSBA 2015 Advocacy Forum
APR 19, 2015 • 8:00 AM - APR 20, 2015 • 5:00 PM
Join PSBA for the second annual Advocacy Forum on April 19-20, 2015. Hear from legislative experts on hot topics and issues regarding public education on Sunday, April 19, at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg. The next day you and fellow advocates will meet with legislators at the state capitol. This is your chance to learn how to successfully advocate on behalf of public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
·         Schedule of Events
·         Day One –PSBA headquarters
·         10 a.m. — Early Bird Arrival and Registration
·         10:30-12 p.m. — The State Education Agenda
The chairman of the Senate and House Education Committees will share their perspectives on the education agenda for the 2015-16 session of the General Assembly. Speakers: Senator Smucker, chairman, Senate Education Committee; and Representative Saylor, chairman, House Education Committee
·         Noon-1:15 p.m. — Welcome Lunch
·         1:00-12:15 p.m. — Special Welcome and Introduction: Nathan Mains, PSBA Executive Director and William LaCoff, PSBA President
·         12:30-1 p.m. — Speaker: Diane Ravitchnationally known education historian, policy analyst and author of Reign of Error.
·         1:15-2:00 p.m. — Education Priorities will be discussed with the Education Secretary Pedro Rivera
This session provides the latest information on the governor’s proposed state funding plans, the pension crisis and the latest on special education.
·         2:00-2:30 p.m. — Federal Education Update: NSBA
Director of National Advocacy Services Kathleen Branch will join Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman from NSBA, to speak about federal advocacy.
·         2:30-3 p.m. — Social Media Training (Speakers to be announced)
·         3-3:15 p.m. — Break
·         3:15-3:45 p.m. — Grassroots Advocacy: How to be an Effective Advocate
Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Shauna D’Alessandro, school director from West Jefferson Hills SD and PSBA Allegheny Region 14 director, and Mark B. Miller, board vice president of Centennial SD and PSBA BuxMont Region 11 director.
·         3:45-4:15 p.m. — Legislative Update and Lobby Day Coordination
PSBA’s Senior Director of Government Affairs John Callahan will walk you through legislative issues and priorities that might be addressed the next day during legislative visits by members.
·         4:15-5 p.m. — Roundtable Discussion
Network with your fellow board members before visiting your legislator
·         5:00-5:15 p.m. — Break
·         5:15-6:30 p.m. — Dinner Buffet
Enjoy a legislative discussion on the 2015-16 budget and appropriations with Senator Browne
·         6:30 p.m. — Adjourn

Campaign for Fair Education Funding Seeks Campaign Manager
Campaign for Fair Education Funding February 2, 2015
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding seeks a campaign manager who is a strategic thinker and an operational leader. This position could be filled by an individual or firm. The manager will lead the day-to-day operations of the campaign and its government relations, communications, mobilization and research committees and work in partnership with the campaign governing board to set and implement the campaign’s strategic direction.

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

PA Basic Education Funding Commission 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.

Sign up for National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Network
Friends of Public Education

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

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