Saturday, March 14, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 14: PA school districts have the most inequitable spending for poor students in the nation, according to US Dept of Education.

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 14, 2015:
PA school districts have the most inequitable spending for poor students in the nation, according to US Dept of Education.


"The children who need the most seem to be getting less and less and the children who need the least are getting more and more," Duncan told reporters Friday on a conference call.
Ed Secy Duncan: Pa.'s school-spending gap widest in nation
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST Friday, March 13, 2015, 4:33 PM
Pennsylvania has the nation's starkest spending gap between rich and poor school districts, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday, and that must be remedied.  Statewide, poor districts like Philadelphia's spend 33 percent less per student than wealthy districts, the biggest such gap in the country, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.  In poorest quarter of Pennsylvania districts, current expenditures per student - with the exception of most federal funds - are $9,387. In the wealthiest fourth, districts spend $12,529, not counting most federal funds.

Pennsylvania schools lead in unequal funding, data show
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 14, 2015 12:00 AM
Pennsylvania’s school districts have the most inequitable spending for poor students in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Its numbers show that the state’s school districts that have high numbers of impoverished students spent about a third less than those with low numbers of impoverished students.
In a phone news conference Friday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan — along with Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League — highlighted the differences as part of his efforts to urge Congress to consider ensuring that high-poverty schools get the resources they need as members weigh the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Mr. Duncan said some Republican proposals do just the opposite, giving more money to well-off districts.
He said that when ESEA — the last version was the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 — was first passed 50 years ago, it was not only an education law. “It was also a civil rights law, designed to ensure equity and opportunity for every child in America,” he said.

Group pushes for state to return to formula funding for public schools
TribLive By Tom Yerace Saturday, March 14, 2015, 12:51 a.m.
Proponents for a change in how Pennsylvania funds its public school system hope to have a new formula for that system in place by next year.  The Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a group primarily made up of former superintendents and intermediate unit directors, is pushing for the state to return to a formula-based system as a way to establish “fair education” funding for all public school districts in the state.  Pennsylvania is one of only three states without a funding formula for education, although it had one from 1966 to 1992.  Ron Dufalla, a former Brentwood schools superintendent, is one of 10 “circuit riders” who have been making appearances before or contacting school boards and intermediate units throughout the state. Their job is to inform districts about the kind of funding formula the Campaign wants the state to implement and move them to act in support of it.
ELC to Court: Hear our Case on Behalf of Pennsylvania Students
Education Law Center March 13, 2015
Parents, advocates, and school district personnel descended on Commonwealth Court March 11 to hear arguments against legislative leaders, state education officials, and Pennsylvania's Governor for failure to uphold the state's constitutional obligation to provide a thorough and efficient system of public education.   Attorneys from the Education Law Center, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and O'Melveny & Myers LLP, are representing parents, six school districts, and advocacy organizations in the case initially filed in state court on Nov. 11, 2014.  In William Penn School District, et al., v. Pennsylvania Department of Education, et al., the petitioners detail the state's failure to ensure that essential resources are available for all of Pennsylvania's public school students to meet state academic standards and proficiency targets established by the Legislature.   "We are asking the court to undertake its fundamental duty to enforce Pennsylvania's Constitution. This is certainly how other state courts have seen it," said ELC Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney. "Pennsylvania's school children deserve to be heard and the court has a duty to act. If the court rules that it has no role, it means that the Education Clause of our constitution cannot be enforced and is a hollow promise." 

"Our analysis calls into question whether or not the School Performance Profile is actually a valid measure of the quality of a school or whether it's simply a reflection of the level of poverty that exists in a school," said Kate Shaw, executive director of Research for Action.
New analysis questions validity of Pa.'s School Performance Profile rating
WHYY Newsworks BY SARA HOOVER MARCH 13, 2015
Everyone wants to know how schools are doing -- parents, teachers, taxpayers. School performance is followed closely, but the individual measures used to rank schools may not be that well understood.  New analysis shows the metrics used may actually measure poverty rather than academic performance.  Research for Action, a nonprofit organization focusing on educational issues, released the analysis on the School Performance Profile, the way Pennsylvania measures the academic performance of every public and charter school in the state.  Although multiple indicators are considered, the organization found that 90 percent rely on test scores.  Several studies already raise the question of whether standardized test scores measure student achievement or poverty.
Adopted in 2013, the School Performance Profile replaced Adequate Yearly Progress reports.

"Meckley said Friday that the Wolf administration is "adamantly opposed" to any schools being converted to charters.  "Ultimately the position came down that charters are off the table," Meckley said, and based on that, an alternative plan that involved some charters, crafted around December, would not be viable.  Meckley said receivership would just create an adversarial relationship between him, the school board and the education department."
Meckley resigns as recovery officer for York City schools
By ANGIE MASON  York Daily Record/Sunday News UPDATED:   03/13/2015 04:56:01 PM EDT
David Meckley says he has resigned as chief recovery officer for the York City School District.
Meckley was named chief recovery officer in late 2012. He led an advisory committee in coming up with a recovery plan for the district, which was adopted in summer 2013 and has met opposition along the way -- particularly to the possibility that a charter-school company could be brought in.

Citing Gov. Wolf's opposition to charter schools, York City receiver steps down
Penn Live on March 13, 2015 at 6:10 PM, updated March 13, 2015 at 6:11 PM
David Meckley said Friday that he has resigned as chief recovery officer for the York City School District, according to a story on ydr.com.  Meckley said in an interview with the York Daily Record that the Wolf administration is "adamantly opposed" to any schools being converted to charters.
Meckley was named chief recovery officer in late 2012. He led an advisory committee in developing a recovery plan for the district, which was adopted in summer 2013 and has met opposition along the way - particularly to the possibility that a charter-school company could be brought in.

Gov. Wolf issues statement on resignation of York City Schools' receiver
By PennLive.com on March 13, 2015 at 6:44 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf today released the following statement regarding David Meckley's resignation as chief recovery officer of the York City School District:  "I am thankful to David Meckley for his service to the York City School District.  "The fact of the matter is that school districts across Pennsylvania are struggling as a result of misguided funding cuts that have starved our classrooms of resources and put our children at a disadvantage. The York City School District, which has been forced to the brink of financial collapse, is no different.

Guest Column: Charter schools are not the answer
By David W. Hornbeck, Delco Times Guest Columnist  POSTED: 03/13/15, 10:06 PM EDT |
David W. Hornbeck was Maryland State Superintendent of Schools from 1976 to 1988 and Philadelphia Superintendent from 1994 to 2000
As Philadelphia’s Superintendent of Schools, I recommended the approval of more than 30 charter schools because I thought it would improve educational opportunity for our 215,000 students.  The last 20 years make it clear, I was wrong.
Those advocating change in Maryland’s charter law through proposed legislation are equally committed to educational improvement. They are equally wrong. New policy should not build on current inequities and flawed assumptions, as the proposed charter law changes would do.
Mixed academic results: Charters, on the whole, do not result in significant improvement in student performance. It’s mixed at best. In some evaluations, charter schools overall actually underperform regular public schools.  Funding and unequal opportunity: Charter funding is also negatively affecting regular public schools. Charter advocates rely on the premise that as money flows from a regular school to a charter school, the costs of the regular school go down proportionately. Sounds good; it’s just not true. Costs in schools sending students to charters cannot shift as fast as students and revenue leave.

As Wolf pushes budget, his wife finds spotlight
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, March 14, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Friday, March 13, 2015, 4:21 PM
Gov. Wolf turned to a new, if not totally secret, weapon Friday in the high-volume campaign for his education and tax reform package - a soft-spoken York County artist who is also the new first lady of Pennsylvania.  Frances Wolf, 62, took the case for the Democratic governor's roughly $1 billion proposed hike in school funding to Paul Fly Elementary School in Norristown, where she hosted a roundtable and listened to teachers and administrators, many of whom complained about budget cuts under GOP predecessor Tom Corbett.
"The Norristown Area School District has been underfunded for years," said Superintendent Janet Samuels. "We have done our best to stretch so we are able to provide quality services to your students."  Frances Wolf's visit to the Montgomery County school was another sign of how aggressively the administration hopes to rally public support for his budget and tax overhaul, which has been greeted with sharp resistance from Republican lawmakers.

Saucon Valley softens deal, teachers union rejects it
By Jacqueline Palochko Of The Morning Call  March 13, 2015
Saucon Valley School District softens contract deal but it wasn't good enough for teachers.
The Saucon Valley School District softened its contract offer to its teachers union, making concessions on major sticking points involving salaries and health care, but it wasn't enough to end the more than three-year dispute.  Instead, the Saucon Valley Education Association is submitting its own new offer, union chief negotiator Rich Simononis said.  "We have crafted a new proposal that we feel addresses concerns of the board. It is our intention to present this proposal to the board as soon as possible," he said. "We will continue to bargain in good faith."

Saucon Valley latest contract offer includes average raises of 4 percent, $6,069 in average back pay
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 13, 2015 at 6:07 PM, updated March 13, 2015 at 6:58 PM
The Saucon Valley School Board's latest six-year contract offer includes average retroactive raises of $6,069 and then three years of average salary increases of 4 percent.   The offer was presented to the Saucon Valley Education Association Feb. 26 through a state mediator. Friday afternoon the board released the proposal to the community "for the sake of transparency" since the union has not tentatively agreed to the proposal.  This proposal remains on the table until April 10. At that point it will be withdrawn and the board reverts back to its last position.

'Paycheck protection' issue is bogus (YDR opinion)
York Daily Record editorial UPDATED:   03/13/2015 02:04:39 PM EDT
At the risk of being — in the words of state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township — “smart-asses”: Pennsylvania Republicans really should stop using the term “paycheck protection.”
It's misleading and disingenuous.  The “paycheck protection” concept is that public-sector union workers' bank accounts are in peril because their dues are deducted electronically from their paychecks — just as, say, United Way contributions are.  Proponents of “paycheck protection” contend those dues deductions are often used for political purposes. That, to a certain extent, is true — depending how you define political. But here's the thing: Those paycheck deductions are generally voluntary.

OptOutPhilly: Planned Opt Outs in PA Spring 2015
Do you plan to opt out? Add your child's school (or schools) by completing this simple online form: http://tinyurl.com/nr3llvo   If your school/district is listed and you wish to connect with other parents who are opting out, please send an email with your name, school, and district to optoutphilly@gmail.com and we will do an email introduction. Please note that not all schools have parents who are willing to be contacted. If that is the case, we will let you know. Please be patient. Thanks.

In first, four N.H. school districts shake up testing with Feds' approval
The US Education Department is allowing the New Hampshire school districts to proceed with a pilot project in which locally designed measures of student learning replace some statewide standardized testing.
Christian Science Monitor By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Staff writer MARCH 6, 2015
NASHUA, N.H. — A cluster of public school districts in New Hampshire is radically redefining testing and accountability in a first-of-its-kind pilot project approved Thursday by the US Department of Education.  The pilot, called Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE), uses locally designed measures of student learning as a replacement for some statewide standardized testing. These assessments require students to apply what they’ve learned in multiple steps and tasks. Fourth-graders, for instance, might design a new park, calculate the cost of creating it, and write a letter to persuade town leaders to build it.
At a time when cries of “overtesting” from parents and teachers are growing louder across the nation, and when Congress is working to rewrite the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, the experiment will be watched closely.

3.1415: A Pi Day for the century
WHYY Newsworks BY AVORY BROOKINS MARCH 9, 2015 THE PULSE
Saturday, March 14th is what the pocket-protector-wearing crowd fondly calls "Pi Day." They are referencing the best-known irrational number of them all: pi. The first five digits of this iconic number are, 3.1415...which happens to be the date Saturday, and thus, the celebrations. In honor of the mathematical wonder, we spoke to Aatish Bhatia, an engineer at Princeton University and the author of the Empirical Zeal blog, to help answer some of your most basic Pi questions.



Delaware County and West Philly Dentists to provide FREE dental care to children 0 – 18 years old during spring break the week of March 30 – April 3 for “Give Kids a Smile Day.” 
For this event, sponsored by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local dentists will provide free screenings and cleanings for children.  Give Kids a Smile Day is especially for children who do not have health insurance or who have not had a dental exam in the last six months. Appointments are necessary, so please call PCCY at 215-563-5848 x32 to schedule one starting Monday, March 16th.  Volunteers will be on hand to answer calls. Smile Day information can also be found on the school district website and on PCCY’s website - http://www.pccy.org/resource/give-kids-a-smile-day/

PCCY Spring Training:  Hit a School Funding Home Run for Kids  Advocacy Training Workshop March 18 or 21
This year we have an unprecedented opportunity to make public education funding more fair and to get more of it for schools across Pennsylvania. Voters spoke in November when an incumbent governor—widely perceived to be responsible for drastic education cuts, was unseated while his opponent ran on the promise to increase school funding. A funding commission has been established to research and develop recommendations for a new funding formula. Now is our time to let our elected officials know we take investment in education seriously.
Please join Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for our annual advocacy training to learn how you can win fair and increased funding for our students.
By participating, you’ll be joining a statewide movement. PCCY is a part of a statewide coalition of 50 (and growing) organizations committed to getting a fair funding formula passed by 2016.
Attend our training to:
·         Learn
o        Why education funding in PA is broken and how a funding formula can fix it
o        Best practices for amplifying your voice for PA kids
o        How to develop an advocacy plan tailored to fit your schedule and strengths
·         Connect with
·         Others throughout our region who are as passionate about public education as you are
·         Leave
·         Inspired and ready to take action for PA
Workshop Details:
When: The same workshop will be offered on two different days for your convenience.
Wednesday, March 18th, 6:00-8:00pm or Saturday, March 21st, 9 am - Noon
Where: United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia, 19103
For additional information, email info@pccy.org.
This event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested. Children are welcome.
Click here to sign up:

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia offering two special education seminars in March
Leaving Gifted Kids Behind Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
In this session, participants will learn how Pennsylvania law affects and supports gifted children, as well as practical tips for ensuring gifted services. We will also discuss race and gifted services.
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.  

This session will focus on giving you the tools you need to support children with emotional problems, including those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system.
Note: This session was originally scheduled for February 17, but had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather. Tickets purchased for the original date still apply. 

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

2015 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Hilton Hotel, Harrisburg Pennsylvania
PA Budget and Policy Center
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at the Hilton Harrisburg. Join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2015-16 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, and local communities. The Summit will focus on the leading issues facing the commonwealth in 2015, with workshops, lunch, a legislative panel discussion, and a keynote speech.
Space is limited, so fill out the form below to reserve your spot at the Budget Summit.

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 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.
More info/registration: http://www.educationvoterspa.org/index.php/site/news/2015-events/

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.
More info/registration: http://www.educationvoterspa.org/index.php/site/news/2015-events/

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.

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.

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