Monday, February 23, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 23: After millions and millions of our PA tax dollars have long left the barn, PA Cyber changing way it handles contracts

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
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 23, 2015:
After millions and millions of our PA tax dollars have long left the barn, PA Cyber changing way it handles contracts



Education Voters of PA holding public forums on school funding
Lancaster County: Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University
York County: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30pm at the York Learning Center
Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center



"PA Cyber paid Rochester-based NNDS about $49 million for 2012-13, $14.8 million under the management contract and $34 million under the curriculum contract. For 2013-14, PA Cyber paid NNDS about $15 million for management services and a little more than $38 million for its curriculum, for a total of $53 million.  So far this school year, NNDS has invoiced PA Cyber for $5 million, with management services accounting for nearly all of that.  NNDS and PA Cyber have had a relationship since 2005 after NNDS was created by PA Cyber founder Nick Trombetta, who is now under federal indictment for tax evasion and other charges connected to his time as the school’s leader."
PA Cyber changing way it handles contracts
By J.D. Prose jprose@timesonline.com  Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2015 4:00 am
MIDLAND -- A consulting group has recommended that the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School avoid percentage-based management contracts such as the one it has historically had with longstanding partner National Network of Digital Schools.
While the report by the Hanover, Mass.-based Clarus Group was approved by the cyberschool’s trustees Monday, the Midland online giant has already taken steps to stop the percentage-based payment practice and address other concerns Clarus highlighted in its report.  Michael Conti, PA Cyber’s chief executive officer, said Thursday he was not surprised by any of the findings in the report, which he said “tells the public at least that nothing terrible is going on.”

"But, as the Wall Street Journal reported last year, “Pennsylvania has the lowest effective tax rate for natural-gas production when compared with 10 other high-production states.”  The Journal cited a study conducted by the state’s independent fiscal office that concluded that Pennsylvania’s effective tax rate on natural gas production was lower than Ohio’s, Louisiana’s, Texas’ and West Virginia’s. The state’s effective rate – which takes into consideration tax incentives granted to the industry – is 1.6 percent. In Ohio, it’s 1.8 percent. In Louisiana, it’s 2.6 percent. Texas, 4.6 percent. West Virginia, 7.2 percent."
Delco Times Editorial: Wolf is right: Tax natural gas industry
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 02/21/15, 10:07 PM EST |
One of the centerpieces of Gov. Tom Wolf’s campaign was a proposal for a 5 percent extraction tax on natural gas production in the state’s Marcellus Shale region.  Wolf recently made good on that promise, making his proposal official and sending it to the Legislature – where it has the appearance of being dead on arrival.  The Republican response, for the most part, was quick and harsh. GOP lawmakers lined up to express opposition to the tax. The talking points were remarkably similar, demonstrating a discipline of message that has become a hallmark of their politics.

INVITATION: Join Next Twitter Chat on Pennsylvania Education
PSBA's website
The next monthly Twitter chat with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. The February chat will focus on the PASA-PASBO annual budget survey, released the day before, and the on-going need for a fair, predictable basic education funding formula. Use hashtag #FairFundingPA to participate and follow the conversation.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
Pennsylvania part of growing standardized testing opt-out movement

"Test-In" & Forum on High Stakes Testing
Thurs., Feb 26, 2015 (5-7pm)  Free Library of Philadelphia – Central Branch Room 406 & 407 1901 Vine St., Phila 19103 (between 19th and 20th Streets on the Parkway)
Caucus of Working Educators BY MAX ROSEN-LONG 301SC ON FEBRUARY 16, 2015
Join parents, teachers, students, community members, higher ed faculty, politicians, & district administrators at the...“Test-In” & Forum on High Stakes Testing
-Answer sample PSSA and Keystone test questions.
-Hear teachers break the code of silence and reveal the injustice of high stakes testing from the classroom perspective.
-Hear students describe how the onslaught of testing has forced art, music, gym, and recess out of the school day.
-Hear school nurses describe the emotional and physical impact testing has on students.
-Learn exactly how much money and time is spent on testing annually in our schools.
-Discuss alternatives to high stakes testing.
-Learn how parents, teachers, and students have fought back again high stakes testing in Chicago, New York, Seattle, and other cities across the country.
http://www.workingeducators.org/test_in_forum

PA House Education Committee to consider HB503, Proposed Legislation: Funding for Cyber Charter Schools and Comprehensive Charter School Reform, Wed. February 25th, 9:30 a.m., Room 140, Main Capitol
COSPONSORSHIP MEMORANDUM: Posted: February 11, 2015 02:45 PM; From: Representative Mike Reese; To: All House members; Subject: Proposed Legislation: Funding for Cyber Charter Schools and Comprehensive Charter School Reform
I am preparing to introduce legislation that will reform the funding formula for cyber charter schools as well as make necessary improvements to the nearly 18-year-old Charter School Law.  My bill is built upon HB 618 (2013-2014 session), which passed the House in September 2013 by a vote of 133-62.  The goals of my legislation are two-fold.  First, my bill seeks to generate financial savings for school districts and local taxpayers by making sensible changes to the formula for funding cyber charter schools.  Second, my legislation will improve school choice by strengthening the law under which charter and cyber charter schools are established and operate.  My bill will accomplish these goals by doing the following:

Read the text of HB 530 Charter Reform bill here:

As charters nip at budget, one school's story
MIKE NEWALL, INQUIRER COLUMNIST POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2015, 1:09 AM
As the School Reform Commission gathered Wednesday for its heated vote on whether to approve new charter schools, principal Ron Reilly of Willard Elementary in Kensington was holding a monthly staff meeting.  In the back of Reilly's mind, though, was what was happening across town - the potential impact of new charters, on the district, on his school.

Pa. launches pilot programs to help students struggling with dyslexia
WHYY Newsworks BY KATIE HILER FEBRUARY 23, 2015
Three Pennsylvania school districts are rolling out a pilot program to screen kids for dyslexia -- and to offer teaching resources.  The Pennsylvania Dyslexia Literacy Coalition assisted then-Rep. Ed Neilson and the state Department of Education in developing the pilot.  Diane Reott, a Newtown Square mother, helped found the coalition after her son, Matthew, was diagnosed with dyslexia 13 years ago. At the time, his school district offered very little in terms of specialized tutoring.  "The pilot is not just about having these kids get better services. It's really about helping teachers to be better trained to know what to do in a classroom," said Reott. "We really want the teaches to be helped as much as the children."

Overview of 50 States' Funding Formulas
By Mike Griffith, Education Commission of the States
Presented to PA Basic Education Funding Commission October 2014

The ABC's of Basic Education Funding in Pennsylvania (video)
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding December 18, 2014 Video Runtime 3:31
The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials provides a short, easy to follow tutorial on how funding works and the challenges lawmakers confront.
PASBO answers the question: What is Basic Education Funding?

Don’t Give Up the Gains in Education
New York Times Editorial By THE EDITORIAL BOARD FEB. 21, 2015
Congress made the right decision a decade ago when it required states to administer yearly tests to public school students — and improve instruction for poor and minority students — in return for federal education aid.  National test data clearly show that since the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act was signed in 2002, academic performance for the country’s students has improved and achievement gaps between white and minority children have narrowed. Earlier this month, the Department of Education announced that the nation’s high school graduation rate had hit 81 percent, the highest rate ever.  Even so, the achievement gaps remain distressingly wide, and American children are still losing ground to competitors abroad who are much better prepared for college and the new economy. It would be a grave mistake for Congress to back away from important reforms in its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was named the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002.


The State of Public Education Funding in Pennsylvania
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, March 17, 2015 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA
Join Law Center attorneys for a briefing on the basics of education funding, a recap of the March 11th oral arguments in the school funding lawsuit, information on the new administration’s budget proposal and more.  There are limited spots available for this free event. 1.5 CLE credits will be offered to participating attorneys.

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Lancaster County Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University
Education Voters of PA and the Millersville University Education on Location program will be co-hosting a forum about public school funding in Lancaster County on Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University, the Lehrer Room in the Bolger Conference Center.
This event is free and open to the public. It will give Lancaster County residents the opportunity both to learn more about how state funding issues impact their own school districts and to learn about how they can make a positive difference for their schools and communities by advocating for a state system of funding schools that is fair, adequate, and predictable and will provide all students with an opportunity to learn.
Panelists for the forum include:
Dr. Brenda Becker, Hempfield Area SD, Superintendent
Dr. Bob Hollister, Elanco SD, Superintendent
Dr. Mike Leichliter, Penn Manor SD, Superintendent
Dr. Tim Shrom, Solanco SD, Business Manager
Ms. Idette Groff, Conestoga Valley SD, School Board Member    
Mr. Tim Stayer, Ephrata Area SD, School Board Member
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Education Voters of PA

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in York: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30pm to 8pm at the York Learning Center, 300 E. 7th Avenue, York.

This forum will give York County residents the opportunity both to learn more about how state funding issues impact their own school districts and to learn about how they can make a positive difference for their schools and communities by advocating for a state system of funding schools that is fair, adequate, and predictable and will provide all students with an opportunity to learn.
Panelists for the forum include:
Dr. Emilie Lonardi, West York SD, Superintendent
Dr. Scott Deisley, Red Lion Area SD, Superintendents
Mr. Brian Geller, Northeastern York SD, Director of Operations
Mr. Troy Wentz, Hanover Public SD, Business Manager    
Mrs. Ellen Freireich, York Suburban SD, School Board Member    
Mr. Eric Wolfgang, Central York SD, School Board Member
Guest Panelist: Mr. Jim Buckheit, Executive Director, PA Association of School Administrators
Moderated by: Ms. Susan Spicka, Education Voters of PA

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center, 340 North 21st Street, Camp Hill.
This forum will give Cumberland County residents the opportunity both to learn more about how state funding issues impact their own school districts and to learn about how they can make a positive difference for their schools and communities by advocating for a state system of funding schools that is fair, adequate, and predictable and will provide all students with an opportunity to learn.
Panelists for the forum include:
Mr. Richard Fry, Big Spring SD, Superintendent
Mr. John Friend, Carlisle Area SD, Superintendent
Dr. Mark Leidy, Mechanicsburg Area SD, Superintendent
Ms. Christine Hakes, Camp Hill Area SD, Business Manager
Mr. Matt Franchak, school board member, East Pennsboro SD, School Board Member    
Guest Panelist: Mr. Dave Patti, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Business Council
Moderated by: Ms. Susan Spicka, Education Voters of PA

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.
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

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

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