Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 3: Hornbeck: Charter schools do not equal education reform

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 3, 2015:
Hornbeck: Charter schools do not equal education reform



The next PA Basic Education  Funding Commission Public Hearing will be on Thursday, March 12th at 10:00 am in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building, Harrisburg



Streaming Tuesday at 11:30 am: Gov. Tom Wolf Budget Address
PCN By Rob Krout on Mar 02, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf Budget Address Video courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services

New Pa. Senate majority leader Corman: Pension overhaul before any Wolf tax measures
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY MARCH 2, 2015
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will unveil a state budget proposal that will crystallize his plan for increasing education spending while also dealing with the state's $2.3 billion structural deficit.  In order for Wolf's agenda to pass, which will likely include a slate of tax increases and expansions, he must first find a way to compromise with the Republican leaders who control the Legislature.  Chief among them is Jake Corman of Centre County. The state Senate's new, more conservative majority leader has views on overhauling the state-employee pension system that may foil Wolf's investment-heavy agenda.

Binge watchers beware, Gov. Tom Wolf's first budget could offer 'House of Cards' worthy plot twists: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 02, 2015 at 2:25 PM, updated March 02, 2015 at 3:30 PM
There's no doubt at all about who's going to take center stage just before noon on Tuesday when  Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his first budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate.   But like any good multipart drama -- and there will be binge-watchers, no doubt about it -- Wolf's speech will just be one of several plot threads competing for Pennsylvanians' attention as budget season marches to its inevitable finale in June.  Lawmakers in the state House and Senate, abetted by their taxpayer-funded PR staff, were laying the groundwork for that counter-narrative on Monday, as they summoned reporters to a series of press conferences and briefings.

Wolf unveils ‘ambitious’ budget today, plans tax hikes for school funding
Delco Times By MARC LEVY, Associated Press POSTED: 03/03/15, 5:40 AM EST |
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf’s first budget proposal to the Legislature is due, and supporters say it will be ambitious in its efforts to provide new funding for education and to help local taxpayers shoulder the burden of paying for public schools.
Wolf is due to deliver his budget and address a joint session of the Legislature before noon Tuesday, as he juggles a budget hole of more than $2 billion, rising costs of more than $1 billion and campaign promises to bring unprecedented help to struggling public schools.
Everything Wolf proposes must be approved by a Republican-controlled Legislature, and many in the Capitol wonder how a liberal Democrat governor and a Legislature dominated by rural and suburban conservatives will come to an agreement on major priorities.

Wolf wants Pennsylvania income, sales tax increase
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau March 3, 2015 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to call today for the Republican-controlled General Assembly to send him a budget that boosts state education funding and provides relief for school district property taxes while raising the rates of the sales and personal income taxes.
In his first budget, the Democratic governor, who unseated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, faces the task of closing a revenue shortfall estimated at $2 billion while meeting campaign pledges such as increasing state funding for education.
His plan for doing so includes a proposal to raise the personal income tax rate in July 2015 from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent, while increasing the eligibility for a poverty exemption, according to a briefing document prepared by the administration. He will propose increasing the state sales tax in July 2016 from 6 to 6.6 percent while broadening what the tax applies to, but keeping food, clothing and prescription drugs exempt, according to the document. (Allegheny County has an additional 1 percent sales levy.)

Proposal: $3 billion more for Pennsylvania schools
By Evan Grossman  /   March 2, 2015  Watchdog.org
PHILADELPHIA — Opponents in the contentious Philadelphia education debate agree on very little. But the rivals do share common ground on one thing: Pennsylvania must develop a new funding formula for its public schools.   Strong-willed school advocates on both sides of the debate such as Action United, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, PennCAN and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Public Charter Schools have put down their battle axes and stand together in support of a Campaign for Fair Education Funding proposal to invest more than $3 billion in Pennsylvania public schools.

Hornbeck: Charter schools do not equal education reform
Chartering schools is not an education reform; it's merely a change in governance.
Baltimore Sun Opinion by David Hornbeck February 27, 2015
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.

"The bill also creates a panel made up of members of the House, Senate, Department of Education and the State Board of Education as well as representatives from charter schools and public school districts. This panel will be tasked with coming up with a recommendation for funding and other matters for charter and cyber-charter schools.
HB530: Charter school reform bill clears PA house education committee
York Dispath By JOSHUA VAUGHN 505-5438/@ydschools POSTED:   03/02/2015 12:05:19 PM
A bill aimed at reforming the way charter and cyber-charter schools are funded and changing the way those schools are evaluated cleared its first hurdle last week with approval from the House education committee.  House Bill 530, introduced by Rep. Michael Reese, R-Westmoreland County, changes school district funding to charter and cyber-charter schools.
Currently, the public school district a student comes from pays the tuition for that child to attend charter and cyber-charter. The payment is based on the amount the district would normally spend to educate the child, and lawmakers say the payments need to more accurately reflect charter school's costs.  House Bill 530 allows districts to deduct certain costs such as food services from the calculation when paying cyber-charter schools.  By law, the online schools cannot provide lunch to their students, but their compensation includes the amount public schools spend feeding children, according to state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, chairman of the education committee.

Wolf to outline plan to expand charter-school accountability
Philly.com by PETER JACKSON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LAST UPDATED: Monday, March 2, 2015, 5:11 PM POSTED: Monday, March 2, 2015, 2:42 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf, who replaced the chairman of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission partly because of his support for additional charter schools in the cash-strapped city, will discuss his plan for charter reform in Tuesday's budget address.
The Democrat "will discuss greater charter oversight in his budget," spokesman Jeff Sheridan said Monday of Wolf's scheduled speech before a joint session of the Legislature.

Campaign for Fair Education Funding Update Monday March 2, 2015
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding introduced a proposed Basic Education funding formula last week that is predictable, sustainable, and strategically directs resources to students and school districts with the greatest needs.  The formula provides the investment necessary to enable every child to succeed academically. 
The Patriot News reported that, "A coalition of educational, business, child advocacy, faith and community groups has crafted a school funding formula that they believe would lead to an equitable student-driven method of distributing state dollars for public schools." 
WESA quotes Joan Benso, President & CEO of PA Partnerships for Children, a campaign partner, who said that, "We're saying to the general assembly, the governor and the Basic Ed Commission that as you continue this work this winter and spring through the commission and through the budget to more rationally fund Pennsylvania's schools that there are some critical elements that you cannot ignore, and you need to consider." 
Please check out the campaign's NEWS RELEASE and EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  of the formula and share with friends and colleagues.

Local educators are hopeful for Wolf’s spending plan
Luzerne County Citizens Voice BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER Published: March 3, 2015
Area educators are hoping to see increased state funding for their school districts when Gov. Tom Wolf proposes a budget today.  “As with most school districts, we are hoping for the best, but we understand that Gov. Wolf just took office and our expectations remain realistic,” Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Bernard Prevuznak said. “Change takes time, but at least we have the support of a governor who is a friend to public education.”
Increased funding for education was a major plank in Wolf’s campaign. Wolf has said he wants to increase the state share of school funding, from the approximately one-third now to half.
“Since the governor is trying to balance a budget with a $2 billion deficit, and rising pension costs, I am trying to be a realist,” Pittston Area School District Superintendent Michael Garzella said. “I believe the governor has good intentions related to educational funding; however many obstacles must be overcome before our schools begin to see 50-percent state funding levels.”

As new SRC chair, Neff plans to continue teamwork
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF MARCH 3, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf called -- and newly named Philadelphia School Reform Commission chair Marjorie Neff answered.  Neff replaced former Gov. Tom Corbett appointee Bill Green as chair of the SRC, a position with responsibilities such as setting the agenda for meetings and signing all district contracts.  But Neff, a former principal of Julia R. Masterman, a special admissions district-run school, said she's not expecting to shake things up. "I'm a collaborator, I'm interested in making sure all voices are heard," she said the day after the shakeup. "So I don't think there's going to be any changes."  As for new directions, Neff said she is "just trying to support the governor in his reinvestment in public education."  Green has "graciously" stated he would work with her, Neff added.  "We work as a team together," said Green, who said he didn't expect the decisions coming out of the SRC to change with new leadership.

Five things to know about Marjorie Neff
Retired principal to replace Green as SRC chair
EMILY BABAY, PHILLY.COM LAST UPDATED: Monday, March 2, 2015, 9:58 AM
Marjorie Neff is the new leader of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, after Gov. Tom Wolf stripped Bill Green of the chairmanship over the weekend.  Green's ousting came just days after the SRC's controversial approval of five new charter schools in the district.
Wolf asked Neff, an SRC commissioner and retired Philadelphia School District principal, to serve as the chair.  Here are five things to know about the woman now in charge at the SRC:

Analysis: The SRC Can’t Win
Heads: You lose your job. Tails: You lose funding. There’s got to be a better way to govern Philadelphia’s schools.
Philly Mag BY JOEL MATHIS  |  MARCH 2, 2015 AT 3:10 PM
Now we know for sure: There is no good way to govern Philadelphia schools — because all attempts to do so will end in tears.  Today, those tears belong to Bill Green, who gave up a council seat last year to make a longshot bet that he could lead Philadelphia schools into a new, brighter era. Now he’s apparently lost that bet, pending the outcome of a legal challenge — but the issues exposed by his untimely fall from grace have not. The Philadelphia School District is all but ungovernable.  A central issue: One underlying assumption of the state takeover of the Philadelphia school district — lo these many years ago — was that the state would speak with something like one voice. Yes, the governor gets to choose three of the School Reform Commission’s five members, and three people can generate disagreement on any topic. But the direction from Harrisburg, at least, was supposed to be somewhat consistent.

Philly’s Mayoral Candidates Pretty Much Cool With Wolf’s Ouster of Green
One jokes that Wolf “should fire everyone and get a new team.”
Philly Mag Citified BY HOLLY OTTERBEIN  |  MARCH 2, 2015 AT 1:58 PM
Most of Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates either agree with Gov. Tom Wolf‘s shocking decision this week to remove Bill Green as chairman of the city’s School Reform Commission, or believe that it was his choice to make. After Green defied Wolf’s call to approve no new charter schools, Wolf tapped Marjorie Neff, a former school principal, to be the new head of the SRC.
None of the candidates polled said they outright disagree with Wolf's move. Green said it may be illegal, and he is planning to challenge Wolf's decision in court.

The Brief: Is Bill Green’s Political Future Over?
And other questions about Gov. Wolf’s bold move.
Philly Mag Citified BY HOLLY OTTERBEIN  |  MARCH 2, 2015 AT 6:38 AM
Gov. Tom Wolf sure isn’t pulling any punches.
In a move that has shocked many, Wolf announced Sunday that he is yanking Bill Green from his position as chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission and naming retired school principal Marjorie Neff as the new chair.  What's this all about? Green is an appointee of Wolf's predecessor, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Perhaps more significantly, against Wolf's recommendation, Green voted last month to approve the creation of seven new charter schools (five were ultimately OKed). Neff, on the other hand, voted against all of the proposed charters.
When asked if Wolf removed Green at least partly because of his vote, Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said, "Wolf thought it was irresponsible to approve five new charter schools at a time when the school district cannot afford the approval of any new charter schools. However, the governor made this move because he believes the district cannot continue down its current path, which is putting our children at a disadvantage. The governor named Marjorie Neff as chair because she supports his vision for the School District of Philadelphia."

How to Ensure and Improve Teacher Quality
New York Times Room for Debate UPDATED MARCH 3, 2015 3:30 AM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed major changes to teacher evaluations in New York. The changes emphasize student scores on standardized tests as a way to rate a teacher’s performance. It is a trend that is popping up across the country, raising concerns amongteachersadministrators and public school parents, some of whom are refusing to let their children take the exams.  If this approach is not the way to go and yet American students are still academically behind their peers in other countries, how do we ensure and improve teacher quality such that student success is a given?

Walton Family Foundation stepping back from Milwaukee education scene
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Alan J. Borsuk  Feb. 28, 2015
Alan J. Borsuk is senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School.
"We have decided to make grants where we can have the highest impact, which means working in the places that we believe are most ripe for improving our education system."
Read that sentence and you know that it isn't coming from someone happy with the education landscape in Milwaukee.  In fact, the statement is from the Walton Family Foundation, the huge philanthropy of the family of the founders of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The foundation is pulling back from a long, strong commitment to "education reform" in Milwaukee.  The Walton decision is important in itself. The foundation has given several million dollars a year to Milwaukee schools and education organizations.  But it is also important in a broader context. Walton is joining a significant list of national players who in one way or another have entered the Milwaukee scene and then departed or reduced their interest.
I came, I got involved, I got frustrated, I didn't see much change, I moved on. That has been the summary of a parade of those who have found Milwaukee a difficult environment for change.
And there are others (the large and impressive KIPP network of charter schools comes to my mind first) that have declined even to try Milwaukee for similar reasons.  Fifteen years ago, Milwaukee was called by some "ground zero" for school reform. Now, you rarely see national attention to Milwaukee education, at least not for positive reasons. The Walton decision underscores that.



PSBA Members Only: Annual Pennsylvania Education Budget Briefing
MAR 4, 2015 • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Join us for a special complimentary members-only Annual Pennsylvania Education Budget Briefing webinar, Wednesday, March 4 at noon.  The webinar features Acting Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and PSBA Senior Director of Government Affairs, John Callahan, who will discuss Gov. Wolf’s 2015-16 proposed budget. You will have the option to attend live at PSBA’s Headquarters in Mechanicsburg or join us online through your computer. Both options will allow you to ask questions during the webinar.

Lawsuit asks the Court to ensure that all students -- including those living in low-wealth districts -- have the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards.
Meet Us in Court on March 11th
Education Law Center
On Wednesday, March 11th at 9:30 a.m., the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will hear oral arguments in our school funding lawsuit which challenges the legislature's failure to adequately support and maintain Pennsylvania's public school system. This historic case, which the Education Law Center filed with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and pro bono counsel O'Melveny & Meyers, asks the Court to ensure that all students -- including those living in low-wealth districts -- have the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards. We ask the court to hear this case and enforce the rights of our children to a "thorough and efficient" system of public education as guaranteed to them by our state constitution.
Please come and support us as we fight for vulnerable students and all public school students across the state. The hearing will be held at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Courtroom 5001 in Harrisburg, PA.  If you plan to attend or have questions, contact Spencer Malloy at smalloy@elc-pa.org. (The courtroom is walking distance from the Harrisburg Amtrak Station.) 

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.

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:

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