Saturday, April 11, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 11: Community Forums on School Funding slated for Lehigh Valley (Apr 22), State College Area (Apr 28) and Southeastern PA (Apr 29)

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3550 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, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 11, 2015:
Community Forums on School Funding slated for Lehigh Valley (Apr 22), State College Area (Apr 28) and Southeastern PA (Apr 29)

Education Voters of PA: Join us for an education forum near you!
Please join Education Voters, school officials, community leaders and guest legislators at upcoming community forums in the Lehigh Valleycentral PA, and Southeastern PA to discuss school funding and state funding policy. Click HERE for more details. Pre-registration for the forum is recommended, but not necessary.

"Here is the key question in the Pennsylvania Capitol this spring: Can our divided government fix broken school funding, attack huge pension liabilities, and relieve oppressive property taxes while also eliminating a structural general fund deficit? And can they achieve these goals in ways that also promote economic growth?"
Center on Regional Politics Bulletin Spring 2015

"But the Republicans’ criticisms were dismissed by supporters of the government’s budget, including his spokesman, as misleading and “hypocritical,” because Wolf’s plan is based on ideas GOP legislators had floated in the past and are preparing to introduce now.  “They have supported almost identical plans in the past,” said Jeff Sheridan, Wolf’s press secretary. And rather than feel a negative impact from the proposed budget, Sheridan said that a family of four in Chester County who owned a home and made less than $100,000 would pay less overall in combined taxes."
Wolf’s budget draws fire, support
West Chester Daily Local By Michael P. Rellahan,, @ChescoCourtNews on Twitter POSTED: 04/10/15, 4:18 PM EDT |
WEST CHESTER >> Members of Chester County’s delegation to the state House of Representatives, along with county elected officials, gathered Friday to decry Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget, even as their party’s leadership in Harrisburg readied a fiscal plan that features many of the same aspects of the Democrat’s budget.  Five House members — state Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th, of North Coventry, state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156th, of West Chester, state Rep. Duane Milne, R-167th, of East Whiteland, state Rep. Becky Corbin, R-155th, of East Brandywine, and state Rep. Warren Kampf, R-157th, of Tredyffrin — appeared in Courtroom One of the Historic Chester County Courthouse to criticize Wolf’s budget as “bad for Chester County.”  “This is basically more of the same and a return to the politics and governance of the Rendell Administration” and not a new direction, as Wolf had promised, said Hennessey, the senior member of the delegation. He declared that “taxpayers in Chester County would pay $177 million more (in raised taxes) than they would get in property tax relief” under Wolf’s plan.

U.S. Rep. Costello, Pottstown School District educators talk about standardized tests
Reading Eagle By Paige Cooperstein  Friday April 10, 2015 12:01 AM
Pottstown Middle School students spent four days during one week this semester taking the reading portion of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test, said Principal Gail Cooper.  The following week, she said the kids took the math portion of the test over three days.  Cooper hears teachers say that students are getting burned out just by learning strategies, like how to properly fill in the bubbles on an answer sheet.
Robert Decker, chairman of the math department, said things aren't any better with the Keystone Exams at the high school.  They take a long time to administer, he said, and because they are given near the end of the year, students' results don't help teachers immediately address learning needs.  U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, a Chester County Republican who represents parts of Berks and Montgomery counties, met with Pottstown educators on Thursday to talk about standardized testing.  Costello listened to the challenges faced by the Pottstown School District, including limited funding and the difficulty in adapting the test for students with special needs; 22 percent of Pottstown students receive special needs services.
Costello also discussed a piece of legislation he's sponsoring to curb testing.

Philly to outsource substitute-teaching jobs Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015, 2:59 PM
The Philadelphia School District is outsourcing management of its substitute-teaching services, effectively privatizing hundreds of jobs now held by unionized workers.  The move, school officials said, will save costs and, most importantly, improve a dismal “fill rate."  Last year, just 64 percent of sub jobs were filled every day, impacting the education of thousands of children, said Naomi Wyatt, the district’s human-resources chief.

District takes steps to outsource substitute teacher services
Officials say too many classrooms are without adequate staffing. The move may bring nonunion teachers into schools next fall.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 10, 2015 06:11 PM
UPDATED 9 P.M. with comments from PFT president Jerry Jordan
The School District of Philadelphia wants to hire a private company to provide substitute teachers, a move that it says will improve coverage while possibly saving money. It will also bring nonunionized teachers into schools.   On Friday the District posted a request for proposal (RFP) seeking bids on a service to fill about 500 empty classrooms a day, or an average of more than two per school. Naomi Wyatt, the District's chief talent officer, said that the District is currently able to fill only 64 percent of the vacancies – a poor rate that can destabilize the school day and costs money besides.  Teachers, principals, and other school employees must give up preparation periods or regular duties to monitor the classrooms where teachers are absent. Teachers earn personal days as payback for the lost prep time.
"We recognize that we need to improve the quality and quantity of substitutes available to all District schools," said Naomi Wyatt. "We are seeking a vendor that can provide high-quality substitutes at a 90 percent fill rate." 

NAACP urging Philly voters to weigh in on school district control May 19
The NAACP is urging primary voters to support a ballot question to bring Philadelphia schools back to city control.   Even though the question on the May 19 primary ballot is nonbinding, it's important, said Minister Rodney Muhammad, head of the Philadelphia NAACP.  If it is the will of Philadelphians to have an elected school board instead of the appointed School Reform Commission, it would send a powerful message to those who do have the ability to change things in Harrisburg, he said.  "I believe we can put the pressure on to make our officials that are involved take the steps to bring us back to local school governance," Muhammad said.
Getting rid of the SRC would requires a new law from the Legislature or a vote by SRC members to  abolish the board.

Erie schools near decision on early-retirement plan
By Ed Palattella  814-870-1813  ETNpalattella Erie Times-News April 11, 2015 12:01 AM
The Erie School Board is getting closer to voting on an early-retirement incentive that could lead to as many as 200 employees getting $25,000 each for departing before the 2015-16 school year.  Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams and board President Bob Casillo both described the incentive as a pivotal tool in eliminating a $7.4 million deficit in the district's $153.8 million preliminary budget for 2015-16.  The board must pass a final budget by June 30. Casillo said the nine school directors will not support a tax increase.  "At this point, it is a necessity," Casillo said of the early-retirement incentive. "We have to bridge a $7.4 million gap. We can't rely on funds coming from the state."

"If approved, Wolf’s budget would increase funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts by $100 million and would include a $20 million increase in state funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, which would bring the program’s total funding to $59 million.  Here in Pottstownan analysis by the governor’s office indicated it would increase the district’s state funding by $1 million in the coming year."
PA First Lady Frances Wolf visits Pottstown PEAK early education programs
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 04/10/15, 7:28 PM EDT |
POTTSTOWN >> Frances Wolf, wife of Gov. Tom Wolf, was introduced to Pottstown Friday through the eyes of its youngest students and those working to improve their chances at success in life.  The Pennsylvania First Lady’s visit followed on the heels of her husband, who was in town Thursday night to accept the Sixth Form Leadership award from The Hill School, where he graduated in 1967.  Wolf is on a “Schools that Teach” tour through the Commonwealth promoting her husband’s first budget proposal which faces a tough road through the Republican-controlled Legislature and includes a significant increase in education funding, an issue crucial to his election victory.

Saucon Valley teachers miss deadline; 'bottom line proposal' withdrawn
By Kurt Bresswein | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 10, 2015 at 6:19 PM, updated April 10, 2015 at 6:24 PM
The Saucon Valley teachers union says it was unable to schedule a vote on what the school board termed its "bottom line proposal" by Friday's deadline, and the offer is now off the table.  Rich Simononis, chief negotiator for the Saucon Valley Education Association, issued a statement Friday saying the union asked theSaucon Valley School Board for an extension on the board's deadline for a rank-and-file vote.   Saucon Valley School District teachers have worked under an expired contract since July 2012, and previously went on strike during contract talks in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

New York City charters leave thousands of seats unfilled despite exploding demand, study finds
Washington Post By Emma Brown April 10 at 9:30 AM  
New York City’s charter schools are leaving thousands of seats unfilled each year despite ballooning demand and long waiting lists, according to an analysis of public data to be released Friday.  The decision not to fill seats that are left vacant by departing students deprives other deserving students of places in the schools, the report argues. It also means that charter schools can appear to be improving, according to proficiency rates on standardized tests, even as the absolute number of children scoring proficient declines each year, it says.  The report, entitled “No Seat Left Behind” and issued by the Harlem-based parent advocacy group Democracy Builders, calls on charter schools to begin voluntarily “backfilling” their empty seats — or admitting new students to replace those who leave.

Inside a Charter School
New York Times Letters APRIL 11, 2015
Readers debate the teaching and disciplinary methods used at the Success Academy schools.

Update on ESEA from US DOE
U.S. Department of Education sent this bulletin at 04/11/2015 07:39 AM EDT
Good Morning-- Earlier this week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate education committee, announced an agreement to begin a bipartisan process of fixing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. The committee will consider the proposed bill next week.   This agreement, however, is just a beginning. As I detailed in a speech on Thursday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., there is work ahead to deliver a bill that fulfills the historic mission of this law.  Congress originally passed ESEA 50 years ago this week. Then as now, it stood to connect civil rights to education, enshrining America’s core value that every child deserves a quality education, no matter her race, disability, neighborhood, or first language. I am happy to see this bipartisan effort come together, yet I also know the distance we have to go toward a bill that establishes an expectation of excellence for all American children, and stays true to ESEA’s role as a guarantor of civil rights.  ESEA must continue this nation’s vital progress in closing gaps for vulnerable students. In that effort, there is more yet to do.

Why the Senate’s proposed No Child Left Behind rewrite doesn’t go far enough
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss April 10 at 11:00 AM  
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., sitting next to the committee’s ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., listen to testimony during a hearing looking at ways to fix the No Child Left Behind law, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the Senate education committee, and ranking Democrat Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state recently reached an agreement on a rewrite of No Child Left Behind that, if it were to become law, would significantly reduce the federal role in local public education.
The “Every Child Achieves” proposed legislation would, for example, shift decisions about how to evaluate teachers, what to do about low-performing schools and other matters from the federal government to states and local school districts. But there is something it would not do: eliminate federally mandated standardized testing for grades 3-8 and once in high school.  Here is a piece that looks at the details of the proposed legislation, written by Monty Neill and Lisa Guisbond. Neill is executive director of  FairTest, or the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which is dedicated to eliminating the abuse and misuse of standardized tests. Guisbond is an assessment reform analyst at FairTest.

Is it a student’s civil right to take a federally mandated standardized test?
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton April 10 at 8:39 PM  
Advocates for poor and minority children are pushing a novel idea: standardized tests as a civil right.  The nation’s major civil rights groups say that federally required testing — in place for a decade through existing law — is a tool to force fairness in public schools by aiming a spotlight at the stark differences in scores between poor, minority students and their more affluent counterparts.  And they are fighting legislative efforts to scale back testing as lawmakers on Capitol Hill rewrite the nation’s main federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind.  “Removing the requirement for annual testing would be a devastating step backward, for it is very hard to make sure our education system is serving every child well when we don’t have reliable, comparable achievement data on every child every year,” Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, said in recent testimony before the Senate education panel. Her group joined 20 civil rights organizations to lobby Congress to keep the requirement to test all children each year in math and reading.

Yong Zhao: A World at Risk: An Imperative for a Paradigm Shift to Cultivate 21st Century Learners[1]
Yong Zhao's Blog 6 APRIL 2015
*Published in Society 52(2), pp 129-135, April 2015, a special issue of the journal commemorating the 30th anniversary of A Nation at Risk. This is the submitted version. For the final  published version please visit:
**In recognition of its significance and influence, I purposefully chose to emulate the style and language of A Nation at Risk in this paper.
“Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world” (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983, p. 1). The bedrock of American prosperity, the massive middle class, has been shrinking. The economy that once created the American middle class has been going through a hollowing-out process (Wohlsen, 2012). Traditional middle-class jobs have been disappearing quickly, offshored to other countries or replaced by machines (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2012) (Goldin & Katz, 2008; McAfee, 2012). The U.S. economy is growing–companies are making record profits and investing, and new businesses are created every day. That growth, however, is creating jobs at the very top and the very bottom (Aspen Institute, 2012), hence the fast growth of rewarding opportunities for the creative and entrepreneurial and the low-paying jobs in the service sector (Auerswald, 2012; Florida, 2012).

Nominations for PSBA offices closes April 30
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA. The positions open are:
  • 2016 President Elect (one-year term)
  • 2016 Vice President (one-year term)
  • 2016 Eastern Section at Large Representative - includes Regions 7, 8, 10, 11 and 15 (three-year term) 
Complete details on the nomination process, including scheduled dates for nominee interviews, can be found online by clicking here.

EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, April 12 at 3:00 p.m. 
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Topic 1: Reaction to Governor Wolf's 2015-2016 State Education Budget Proposal
Jim Buckheit, Executive Director, PA Association of School Administrators
John Callahan, Senior Director of Government Affairs, PA School Boards Association
Topic 2: Physical Education and Health Education Issues for Students
Dr. Cindy Allen, Professor, Health Science Department, Lock Haven University
Todd Bedard, Chair, Health and Physical Education Department, Cumberland Valley School District
Linda Woods Huber, Executive Director, PA State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Jessica Peconi-Cook, Health and Physical Education Teacher, Mt. Lebanon School District
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell

Please join Education Voters, school officials, community leaders and guest legislators at upcoming community forums in the Lehigh Valleycentral PA, and Southeastern PA to discuss school funding and state funding policy. Click HERE for more details. Pre-registration for the forum is recommended, but not necessary.
Lehigh Valley Forum April 22, 7:00-8:30
Penn State Lehigh Valley, 2809 Saucon Valley Rd, Center Valley, PA 18034
The entrance is at the back of the building and parking is available in lots by the school. 
Confirmed panelists include:
Dr. Bill Haberl, superintendent, Pen Argyl Area SD
Dr. Joe Roy, superintendent, Bethlehem Area SD
Mr. Rich Sniscak, superintendent, Parkland SD
Mr. Russ Giordano, school board director, Salisbury Township SD
Ms. Stacy Gober, CFO, Bethlehem Area SD
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Moderator: Roberta Marcus, School Board Director, Parkland SD
Register HERE to attend the Lehigh Valley education forum.

Central PA education forum Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-8:30
Grace Lutheran Church (in Harkins Hall), 205 S. Garner Street, State College
Dr. Cheryl Potteiger, superintendent, Bellefonte Area School District
Ms. Kelly Hastings, superintendent, Keystone Central School District
Mr. James Estep, superintendent, Mifflin County School District
Mr. Sean Daubert, CFO, Mifflin County School District
Dr. Robert O’Donnell, superintendent, State College Area School District
Mr. David Hutchison, school board member, State College Area School District
Ms. Cathy Harlow, superintendent, Tyrone Area School District
Mrs. Linda Smith, superintendent, Williamsburg Community School District
Register HERE to attend the central PA education forum.

Southeastern PA Regional Meeting on School Funding
Wednesday April 29th 7:00 pm Springfield High School Auditorium, 49 West Leamy Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064
Local school district leaders will discuss how state funding issues are impacting our children’s educational opportunities, our local taxes and our communities.
Hosted by Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council, Education Voters of PA, the Keystone State Education Coalition and Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Mr. Frank Agovino, school board president, Springfield School District and Board of Directors, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
Dr. James Capolupo, superintendent, Springfield School District
Dr. Wagner Marseille, Acting Superintendent, Lower Merion School District 
Mr. Joe Bruni, superintendent, William Penn School District
Dr. Richard Dunlap, superintendent, Upper Darby School District
Mr. Stanley Johnson. Executive Director of Operations, Phoenixville Area School District
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Moderator: Mr. Lawrence Feinberg, Chairman, Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council
Registration info to be provided soon.

All are invited for a screening of the documentary:
STANDARDIZED: Lies, Money & Civil Rights—How Testing is Ruining Public Education Monday, April 27, 7-9PM
The Saturday Club, 117 West Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA
Standardized testing has long been a part of public education. Over the last ten years however, education reform has become an increasingly heated political issue and seemingly a highly profitable target market for private enterprise resulting in expanded and high-stakes testing. While some hold the view that testing is an effective assessment of student ability and teacher and school effectiveness, many feel these exams are instead undermining our students, teachers and schools.   Daniel Hornberger’s STANDARDIZED documentary raises issues about this model of education reform and the standardized testing that goes along with it. The film includes interviews with prominent educational experts and government officials who take aim at the goal of standardization that is being promoted and imposed by our federal and state governments. It sheds light on the development, nature and use of these assessments, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and the ostensible private enterprise and government agendas behind them. 
A Q&A session with a panel of informed parents, teachers and experts will follow.
This screening is made possible through a collaboration of Radnor, Tredyffrin/Easttown and Lower Merion concerned parents and PTOs.
For questions and to RSVP, contact

Your Right to a Fair Shot: Discrimination Claims, Post-Secondary and the Professions

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, April 21, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Attendees will learn about discrimination claims, post-secondary schools and the professions in this session. You'll learn how federal law aids students with disabilities who do not qualify for special education services, hear about recent cases, and understand strategies for getting students 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.  
Tickets: Attorneys $200       General Public $100      Webinar $50   
"Pay What You Can" tickets are also available

Who will be at the PSBA Advocacy Forum April 19-20 in Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg?
  • Acting Ed Sec'y Pedro Rivera
  • Senate Ed Committee Majority Chairman Lloyd Smucker
  • House Ed Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne
  • Diane Ravitch
  • House Majority Leader Dave Reed
  • House Minority Leader Frank Dermody
  • 2014 PSBA Tim Allwein Advocacy Award winners Shauna D'Alessandro and Mark Miller
How about You?
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.
·         Registration is only $25! We don't want cost to be a factor. That's how important public education advocacy is!
·         Can't make the two days? Register and come to either day that works into your schedule.
Details and Registration for PSBA members (only $25.00)

Register for the April 18 Education Voters Advocacy Summit in Harrisburg
Education Voters of Pennsylvania will be holding a half-day advocacy summit for public education advocates on Saturday April 18 from 10:00-2:00 in Harrisburg, PA.
During the summit we will:
  • Get an update on Governor Wolf’s budget from John Hanger, secretary of planning and policy,
  • Develop successful advocacy techniques and strategies to maximize our impact on public policy,
  • Receive organizing and communications training
  • Network with other advocates from throughout the state, and
  • Leave prepared to support fair and adequate state funding for schools this year!
Event Location: Temple University Harrisburg 234 Strawberry Square Harrisburg, PA 17101
Lunch will be provided. Please register today! Space is limited.

Join NPE in Chicago April 25-26
Curmuducation Blog Saturday, March 21, 2015
I don't get out much. I'm a high school English teacher in a small town, and kind of homebody by nature. When I leave town, it's for family or work. But in just over a month, on the weekend of April 25-26, I am taking a trip to Chicago for neither.   The Network for Public Education is the closest thing to an actual formal organization of the many and varied people standing up for public education in this modern era of privatizing test-driven corporate education reform. NPE held a conference last year, and they're doing it again this year-- a gathering of many of the strongest voices for public education in America today. Last year I followed along on line-- this year I will be there.

Beyond a New School Funding Formula: Lifting Student Achievement to Grow PA's Economy
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM (EDT) Harrisburg, PA
7:30 am: Light breakfast fare and registration; 8:00 am: Program
Harrisburg University Auditorium, Strawberry Square 326 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
Opening Remarks by Neil D. Theobald, President, Temple University

SESSION I: THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF ACHIEVEMENT GAPS IN PENNSYLVANIA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS with introduction by Rob Wonderling, President, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and Member, Center on Regional Politics Executive Committee.            
Presentation by Lynn A. Karoly, Senior Economist, RAND Corporation 

SESSION II: WHAT CAN PENNSYLVANIA LEARN FROM THE WORLD’S LEADING SCHOOL SYSTEMS? with introduction by David H. Monk, Dean, Pennsylvania State University College of Education
Presentation by Marc S. Tucker, President and CEO, National Center on Education and the Economy 
Sessions to be followed by a response panel moderated by Francine Schertzer, Director of Programming, Pennsylvania Cable Network 
Program presented by the University Consortium to Improve Public School Finance and Promote Economic Growth

No comments:

Post a Comment

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