Saturday, February 7, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 7: Listen to Mark Gleason and Donna Cooper debate charter expansion on 'Radio Times' on the web

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 7, 2015:
Listen to Mark Gleason and Donna Cooper debate charter expansion on 'Radio Times' on the web

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

Pa. lawmakers propose 8 percent shale tax to help fund schools, pensions, environmental initiatives
Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that doesn't tax extraction -- beyond a relatively small impact fee.  Some Republicans and Democrats are calling that a major lost opportunity to put money into a state looking at a $2.3 billion deficit and where school funding has been drastically cut.  Gov. Tom Wolf ran on platform that included imposing a 5 percent extraction tax. This week, two cohorts of state legislators made public their own plans to tax shale production in the state to raise funds for education, the pension systems and the environment.

Pa. school funding formula roadshow hits Montgomery County
How to fund Pennsylvania's schools is a hot topic. The state's Basic Education Commission is traveling the Commonwealth to hear from stakeholders as it drafts a new formula for distributing state education aid.  The state funnels more than $5 billion annually to 500 school districts, but its methods have been widely criticized as unfair. That's why the 15-member panel was established last summer.  A hearing held at Central Montco Technical High School in Montgomery County this week focused on career and technical schools.   Commission co-chair state Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery County) is an alumnus of the the host school. He said the panel initially forgot about career and technical schools.

Third & State Posted by Waslala Miranda on February 6, 2015 4:16 pm
Across the state, public school enrollment continued its long, downward trend with a 2.9% decrease since 2007-08.  This isn’t surprising when you realize that Pennsylvania has been a low population-growth state for 30-40 years.  Of all the states that had any positive population growth in 2013, Pennsylvania came in dead last with the addition of only 9,326 people.[1]  We also have one of the oldest populations. The 2010 Census showed that among states Pennsylvania had the 4th highest percentage of its population over age 65 (15.4%), and the 3rdhighest percentage of its population over age 85 (2.5%).[2]

Listen to this rebroadcast streaming……
Mark Gleason and Donna Cooper debate charter expansion on 'Radio Times'
By the Notebook on Feb 6, 2015 10:00 AM
On WHYY's Radio Times this morning, Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth and Mark Gleason of the Philadelphia School Partnership joined host Marty Moss-Coane to discuss the value and harm in expanding the number of charter schools in Philadelphia during a time of financial turmoil. The topic has been a lightning rod for contentious debate as the District considers approving new charter schools for the first time since 2007.

"Oglesby, who earns $104,500 as government affairs director, became chairman of the Believe Again PAC in December. The committee is registered to the Northwest Philadelphia home of Wanda Bailey-Green, who was board president for the embattled New Media Technology Charter School in 2014. The committee gave $10,000 to Oglesby's former boss and mayoral candidate state Sen. Anthony Williams, known for his pro-voucher and pro-charter stance, on Dec. 30."
School district defends director's prominent political role
BY DAY, RODNEY Oglesby represents the interests of the Philadelphia School District in Harrisburg and City Hall as government affairs director. By night, he's raising money as head of a political action committee with strong ties to the charter school movement.
Oglesby's employer sees no conflict between the roles.
"His activity with the PAC is in line with the [district] policy and what is allowed in the policy," district spokesman Fernando Gallard said yesterday, citing Section 315 of the district's employment policy which "recognizes and encourages the right of its employees as citizens to engage in political activity."

Education Firebrand Helen Gym Lands Big Union Endorsement, Donation for Council
She’ll launch her campaign next week.
Phiily Mag Citified BY HOLLY OTTERBEIN  |  FEBRUARY 6, 2015 AT 5:39 PM
It’s official: The firebrand education activist Helen Gym says she is running for Democratic City Council At-Large in the May 19th primary.  Though she hasn’t made a formal announcement yet, she’s already got one major endorsement under her belt: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ executive board voted Thursday to endorse her.  "I feel very strongly about coming out as the [first candidate] endorsed by the teachers' union," says Gym. "I think their vote represented a broad swath of teachers in the city, and theirs is a voice that needs to be heard and hasn't been."  Gym, a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, is planning to kick off her campaign at an event on Monday.  Gym has never run for citywide office before, but she already has a high profile as a vocal critic of education budget cuts and widespread school closings in Philadelphia.

Kenney: PSP has cooties, don't take its money
Philly Clout Blog by David Gambacorta POSTED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2015, 4:11 PM
The Philadelphia School Partnership caused quite a stir earlier this week when it offered to deliver as much as $35 million to the perpetually broke School District of Philadelphia to ensure the city's charter school numbers keep growing.  Former City Councilman -- and current mayoral candidate -- Jim Kenney said in a statement today that the district should absolutely, positively not take the money. Even if it    Here's Kenney's statement:

Sen. Pileggi to seek Delco judgeship
State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican who was ousted as Senate majority leader in November, will run for a seat as a county judge.  His announcement Friday marked a potential change in career paths for Pileggi, who spent eight years as Senate majority leader, is a former Chester mayor and a key political figure in Delaware County. He will seek a vacant seat on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.

“Researchers have consistently argued that accountability measures such as SPP scores must be adjusted for factors outside the control of educators in order to accurately identify school effectiveness,” Fuller said. “The Commonwealth’s SPP scores are strongly associated with student- and school-characteristics, and therefore may not be accurate in their assessments.”
Instead, Fuller said, “SPP scores are more accurate indicators of the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in a school than of the effectiveness of a school.”
Research suggests school accountability measure is inaccurate
Several recommendations emerge to help assess school effectiveness
Penn State News February 4, 2015
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- There is near universal agreement among policymakers that schools should be held accountable for meeting high expectations. In fact, every state has adopted some form of a school accountability system. However, there are serious questions about what these accountability systems actually measure and whether the systems accurately identify school effectiveness.  Research by Ed Fuller, executive director of the Center for Evaluation and Educational Policy Analysis (CEEPA) in Penn State’s College of Education, suggests that Pennsylvania’s School Performance Profile (SPP) scores are inaccurate measures of school effectiveness.

Save our schools like you saved your company, Gov. Wolf (letter)
York Daily Record Letter By Stephen Queenan UPDATED:   02/06/2015 03:04:17 PM EST
Stephen Queenan is a William Penn special education teacher.
Gov. Wolf, can you save our city schools like you saved your company? Your official website,, boasts, "Both Sarah and Katie attended York County public schools before going to college." I hope that translates into your taking pride in and helping save public education in Pennsylvania. You stated in a campaign ad, "The money we need to fund our schools lies right under your feet. I'll make the gas companies pay up to help fund our schools for a change." What lessons did you learn from selling then saving Wolf Cabinets from the "brink of bankruptcy?" Can you do the same for York schools?

Red Flags Raised on Plan to Let Title I Aid Follow Students
Element in ESEA bill riles up voucher foes
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: February 3, 2015
Education groups are fighting a proposal on Capitol Hill that would allow federal funding to follow disadvantaged students to the public schools of their choice—an idea that school district advocates see as a pit stop on the highway to Voucherville.
The policy—known as "Title I portability"—is included in a draft bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act introduced by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee.  Under the proposal, which was also included in an ESEA renewal bill that passed the House of Representatives with only Republican support in 2013, states would have the option of allowing federal money for disadvantaged children to follow students to any public school.

In Defense of Annual School Testing
New York Times Opinion By CHAD ALDEMAN FEB. 6, 2015
Chad Aldeman is an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit education research and consulting firm. He served as an adviser to the Department of Education from 2011 to 2012.
WASHINGTON — DURING a recent hearing by the Senate Education Committee, its Republican chair, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, questioned whether the federal government’s annual standardized testing requirement, embodied in the No Child Left Behind law of 2001, may be too much. He pointed out that students now spend 1 to 3 percent of their school year taking federal, state and local tests in reading and math.  The concerns about standardized tests are bipartisan. Last fall former President Bill Clinton said, “I think doing one in elementary school, one in the end of middle school and one before the end of high school is quite enough.” This was the policy his administration championed in the law that predated No Child Left Behind. And recently teachers’ unions and the liberal Center for American Progress backed this type of “grade-span” approach for school accountability purposes.  The idea of less testing with the same benefits is alluring. Yet in practice it would actually roll back progress for America’s students.

How Controversial Online Charter Schools Push Aside Their Opponents
Thanks to a mysterious legislative mandate tacked onto the state budget, North Carolina will now be home to two new experiments in online schooling.
Molly Hensley-Clancy BuzzFeed News Reporter posted on Feb. 5, 2015, at 8:36 p.m.
It has taken three years, a court case, an appeal, a half-dozen hearings, and a posse of lobbyists, but controversial education company K12 Inc. has finally won a battle to operate an online charter school in North Carolina.  The Board of Education approved today the opening of North Carolina Virtual Academy, an online charter school that will be managed and operated by K12 Inc. After years of resistance from the state school board, the approval was essentially mandated by a last-minute legislative rider slipped into the state’s budget. Another virtual charter school, which will be operated by a subsidiary of education giant Pearson, was also approved.
In online charter schools, students take classes at home on their computers, interacting with their teachers via chat and video calls; as at traditional charters, taxpayers foot the bill.
The opening of North Carolina Virtual Academy is a key victory for K12, the nation’s largest operator of online charter schools, which has been weathering increasing pushback across the country in the face of poor academic results and high student turnover in the online schools it manages. K12 does not dispute those results, but attributes them to the struggling student population it says it serves.

From Capital Associates, Inc.:
Feb    17, 18, 23, 24, 25
Mar    2, 3, 4
Apr    13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22
May    4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13
Jun    1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30

Feb    9, 10, 11, 23, 24, 25
Mar    2, 3, 4, 30, 31
Apr    1, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22
May    4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13
Jun    1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

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

EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, February 8 at 3:00 p.m. 
Panel 1: Curriculum, Assessment and Academic Opportunities for All Students
Dr. Richard D. Nilsen, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Panel 2: Career and Technical Education
Jackie Cullen, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators
Dr. Clyde Hornberger, Educational Consultant and Former Director, Lehigh Career & Technical Institute
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by 
EPLC President Ron Cowell. 

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


  1. 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.
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