Thursday, April 16, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 16: Three wealthy pro-school choice donors spending half a million dollars a week buying TV time for Senator Williams

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 16, 2015:
Three wealthy pro-school choice donors spending half a million dollars a week buying TV time for Senator Williams

More than 3500 PA policymakers now receive our daily Ed Policy Roundup. If you have a colleague who might find value in it please send their name, affiliation and email address.

Lehigh Valley Forum on School Funding 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
Dr. Russ Mayo, superintendent, Allentown 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.

State budget negotiations heating up
By Steve Esack Call Harrisburg Bureau April 15, 2015
HARRISBURG — The long march to reaching a final budget officially has begun in the state Capitol.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Legislature's Republican leaders met for the first time Tuesday to set parameters for budget negotiations and form panels focused on financial and policy issues outlined in the governor's $33.8 billion spending plan.  "All parties came to an agreement that we are going to put together different working groups on the particular issues that are outstanding — both on-budget and off-budget," House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said Wednesday.  That'll be a lot of groups.  Wolf's budget is complex mosaic of interlocking proposals that carry a cumulative 16 percent tax increase. That extra revenue would pay for more education spending and job-creation programs, while closing a structural deficit of $1.5 billion to $2.3 billion and reducing property and business tax rates.  The governor, a former businessman, told lawmakers that he plans to be a part of budget talks, Wolf's spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, said.

Gov. Wolf's 'not willing to compromise on his principles,' spokesman says
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 15, 2015 at 1:57 PM, updated April 15, 2015 at 3:05 PM
As demonstrated by Tuesday's meeting with Republican leadership, Gov. Tom Wolf plans to play an active role in how his proposed budget moves through the Legislature.  "The governor told Republican leaders he wants to be personally involved," said spokesman Jeff Sheridan. "He doesn't want to wait for a budget to come to him."  In the wake of Tuesday's meetings, House and Senate Republicans are organizing work groups that will analyze the larger components of the budget, such as pensions and taxes. Reed said they could begin meeting as soon as Thursday.

Pa. Taxpayers will find a lot to like in Gov. Wolf's budget: Michael Wood
PennLive Op-Ed  By Michael Wood on April 15, 2015 at 1:30 PM
Michael Wood is research director at the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in Harrisburg.
Last November, Pennsylvania voters chose by a large margin a new governor who campaigned on increasing funding for classrooms, enacting a severance tax on gas drillers and making our tax system fairer.  Newly elected Gov. Wolf delivered on each of these items - and more - in his first proposed budget. There are many things to like in the governor's plan.  The governor's proposal would set Pennsylvania on a new path after years of stagnation in the wake of the Great Recession.  Nowhere is this more evident than in education. His plan would invest more than $1 billion in PreK-12 and higher education in 2015-16.  This would include increased basic education, special education, and early childhood funding. Additional state dollars would immediately benefit schools and help reduce pressure on local taxpayers.

'I do not think there are any Republican votes' for Gov. Wolf's budget, House GOP leader says
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 15, 2015 at 12:57 PM, updated April 15, 2015 at 2:00 PM
House Majority Leader Dave Reed said Wednesday that he's willing to bring Wolf's proposed budget to the floor, but believes it would not have the votes to pass.  "If the governor requests me to do that next week, we would try to accommodate that next week," he said.  During recent budget hearings and public statements, Gov. Tom Wolf and other top democrats have repeatedly said the budget isintended to be taken as a whole. Indeed, many of its key components--such as property tax relief and other tax increases--are intertwined.  But Reed said he's doubtful that the Wolf budget has anywhere near the 102 votes necessary to pass the House.  "I do not think there are any Republican votes for the governor's budget as a whole," he said.

"Lawmakers say bipartisan "working groups" will begin meeting this week to tackle the different pieces of the commonwealth's spending plan and try to find common ground.  Senate Democrats say it's a method used most recently under former Governor Ed Rendell, and they're happy to see it return."
Harrisburg inching toward a schedule, if not a budget deal
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON APRIL 16, 2015
Pennsylvania state budget negotiations are starting to take shape in Harrisburg. The backbiting has subsided for now, as meetings pick up between Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders.  The governor rankled Republicans recently when he said he was prepared to work on a state budget long after the June 30 deadline.  House Republican Majority Leader Dave Reed took umbrage at the remark, calling it "premature" and suggesting Wolf said it because he was "new at this process." By Wednesday, things had been smoothed over in a meeting Wolf held with GOP legislative leaders the day before.  "It was actually brought up in a humorous format yesterday," said Reed. "The governor said that he was mostly just trying to joke around about being here through the winter, and his goal was to be done by June 30th, and I think that's a goal the House and Senate share as well."

PhillyDeals: Pa. Rep. Grell is chosen to head PSERS by JOSEPH N. DISTEFANO POSTED: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 1:08 AM
After a "national search," Pennsylvania's underfunded Public School Employees' Retirement System, based in Harrisburg, said Wednesday that it has offered its top job to a candidate from close to home: State Rep. Glen R. Grell (R., Cumberland).  Grell's predecessor, Jeffrey Clay, who retired a year ago, was paid $237,000 a year, which would be a big raise over the $86,000 Grell earned as a state representative. He is "still negotiating" his pay with PSERS, spokeswoman Evelyn T. Williams told me.  In a statement, Grell said he would miss representing his Harrisburg-area district, and thanked the PSERS trustees who selected him. The trustees - aides to the governor, teacher and school board representatives, and lawmakers - are familiar faces to Grell because he was a member of the board until January, when he was replaced by state House leaders with Rep. Stephen Bloom, also a Cumberland County Republican.

American Cities, the committee funded by three wealthy pro-school choice donors, started its ads for Williams in late March, and is spending a half million dollars a week buying TV time.
Pro-Williams group spending at $4-million pace
An independent group backing Philadelphia mayoral candidate State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is on a pace to spend $4 million dollars on advertising in the race.
American Cities, the committee funded by three wealthy pro-school choice donors, started its ads for Williams in late March, and is spending a half million dollars a week buying TV time. The group has now bought more than $1.5 million worth of TV and radio ad time, according to sources familiar with the placements.  American Cities spokesman Joshua Morrow declined to discuss the PAC's plans, but if it keeps buying at that clip, the group will spend around $4 million dollars by the May 19th primary election.  The committee could decide to spend less as the election approaches, of course, but the same three donors put more than $5 millions into Williams' campaign for governor five years ago.  American Cities isn't the only independent group buying ads in the Philadelphia mayor's race. Two independent groups backing Jim Kenney, Build a Better America and Forward Philadelphia, have spent around $900,000 on ads so far. At that pace, they'd top $2 million for the race.  For some perspective I spoke to Kytja Weir, who follows spending in state elections for the Center for Public Integrity in Washington

"One very glaring omission in this discussion is the reason that businesses need intermediaries like CSFP to funnel money to private and especially religious schools. These corporations cannot donate tax-credited funds directly to these schools because our state constitution explicitly forbids it. Article III, Section 15, of the Pennsylvania State Constitution states: "No money raised for the support of public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school." EITC/OSTC laws are cleverly written to circumvent that proscription. Gov. Tom Wolf correctly calls them "back door vouchers."
Letters: Dispersing the EITC smokescreen
Philly Daily News Letter by Gloria C. Endres Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 12:16 AM
THE OPINION piece by Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia's executive director, Ina Lipman, ("Clearing the air over EITC programs") clouds the issue even more.
Lipman disingenuously leaves out some important facts and figures while using heart tugging anecdotes to deflect from the real problems surrounding the Education Improvement Tax Credit Act (2001) and its offshoot, the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Act, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett, in 2012.  Lipman's article does not, for example, mention the gradual increase of tax-supported funding that goes toward these programs and scholarships. In 2012, it was $75 million. Now it is up to $150 million, and a bill in Harrisburg, if passed, will raise it to $250 million. That is public money from the general fund funneled to private and religious education across the state.

Haven't seen any press coverage or analysis of this yet.....
The Feasibility of Alternative Methods for Authorizing Charter Schools in Pennsylvania
PA Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Report, April 2015

Work being done on child abuse background checks law to provide clarity
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 15, 2015 at 1:35 PM, updated April 15, 2015 at 2:19 PM
Nearly 152,000 requests for child abuse clearances poured into the ChildLine office of the state Department of Human Services in the first two months after a new background check law took effect on Dec. 31.   Out of those applications that have been processed, 185 - less than 1 percent - were submitted by individuals with some history of child abuse.  Given that small percentage, is this law that requires anyone who has routine interaction with children in a work or volunteer capacity to obtain criminal background checks and a child abuse clearance overkill?  You would be hard-pressed to find any child advocate to say that. Rather they say if anything, it is a reason to celebrate the fact that perpetrators of child abuse were prevented from gaining access to children.  Yet even advocates are seeing a world of confusion surrounding the new law and believe some tweaking could help the public better understand what it requires.

Nearly 15 percent of New Jersey 11th graders skip new PARCC test
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Preliminary results show nearly 15 percent of New Jersey high school juniors and less than 5 percent of grades three through eight refused to take a new standardized test being given for the first time this year in all districts, state education officials said Wednesday.  The test is being given in all districts twice. Most finished the first round last month; the second round begins later this month.  The test, intended to measure whether students are meeting the nationwide Core Content standards, are the subject of criticism and a boycott movement in New Jersey and many of the dozen other states where they have been rolled out this year.  State education officials have warned that districts where less than 95 percent of eligible students take the test could risk losing federal education money, though critics doubt that will happen.
"This is a halftime moment where we wanted to share a snapshot," Education Commissioner David Hespe said in a phone interview about the test, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.  The state Department of Education sent the preliminary information in a memo to school officials Wednesday.

Over 50% of students in some New York school districts are boycotting Common Core tests
Business Insider by ABBY JACKSON APR. 15, 2015, 6:24 PM
Tuesday marked the start of state standardized testing in New York, and opt-out figures have been coming in as huge numbers of parents boycott standardized tests.  These tests are part of the Common Core, nationwide public school standards that some parents and teachers have attacked for putting too much of the focus on test-taking instead of learning.
The English Language Arts tests will run this week, and math exams will start next Wednesday. While no official state-wide opt-out numbers are yet available, figures are starting to emerge at certain schools and districts.  The biggest New York state opt-out numbers look to be centered in pockets throughout Long Island, Westchester, and Buffalo, where Common Core vitriol runs particularly deep.

Thousands of students opt out of state mandated English Language Arts exam as families from Brooklyn to Buffalo boycott tests
It's an anti-testing tsunami.
Thousands of families across the Empire State said no to standardized testing, boycotting the state-mandated English Language Arts exams which began Tuesday.  While accurate figures were hard to come by, testing opponents, parents groups, and school officials from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, to Buffalo all agreed the number is likely to far exceed the 60,000 students who refused to take the test last year.  “From what I’m hearing from other superintendents, it could be at least 300,000 students across the state that opted out,” said William Cala, superintendent of Fairport Central School District near Rochester.

Two thousand kids in West Seneca schools opt out
Buffalo News on April 14, 2015 - 10:59 AM
Thousands of students have refused to take state standardized tests Tuesday in the Buffalo Niagara region, the first day of English Language Arts tests given to third through eighth graders across New York State this week.  The number of students refusing to participate is expected to grow significantly over the 60,000 statewide who refused to take the tests last year.  The rate reached 70 percent Tuesday in the West Seneca School District, where 2,074 of 2,976 eligible students refused testing. Rates at individual schools ranged from 50 percent at Northwood Elementary School to 83 percent at Allendale Elementary.  Last year, the district-wide refusal rate in West Seneca was approximately 30 percent.

Students opting out soars this year in CNY; some districts up more than 600 percent By Elizabeth Doran | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 14, 2015 at 4:59 PM, updated April 14, 2015 at 5:13 PM
The number of students opting out of this year's state assessment tests in English soared at most Central New York school districts, superintendents report today.  Overall, thousands of students across Central New York boycotted the test, according to a survey of districts. Some districts saw the number of students refusing to take the exams increase more than 600 percent.  For example, Liverpool reported 192 students opted out in 2014; that surged to 700 so far this year, according to Superintendent Mark Potter.

Citing trouble finding fill-ins, Philly schools seek to outsource substitute teachers
In what's become a more common strategy for public schools all over our region, the Philadelphia School District wants to outsource substitute teachers.  The district's main goal is not necessarily saving money, but ensuring fewer schools are left scrambling to cover classes a day-to-day basis.
That's welcome news to Maritza Hernandez, principal of Julia De Burgos elementary school in North Philadelphia .  Of the 50 teachers in her building, she says she has at least one — but sometimes many — call out each day of the week. Sometimes it's for health or medical reasons, but many other times, she says teachers just get burned out.  "Just frustration for lack of resources. We try to make it as positive as it can be, but unfortunately it just doesn't always turn out that way" said Hernandez, one of the district's many first-year principals.  She says many substitutes don't want to come to 4th and Lehigh. De Burgos elementary sits in a neighborhood that's often plagued by drug-related gun violence.  "They say, 'No, I'm not going to come in. Not here.'"

"Entries must complete the following prompt: "Fully fund my education because . . . ," and can be submitted online at or in person at the Mayor's Office of Education, Room 115, City Hall. The deadline is May 5."
New campaign gives Philly students voice in funding debate
SASHEIKA DUFFUS is pleading to rehire counselors and teachers. Mayegan Brown is advocating for more administrators.  Now the two 11th-graders have a chance to be heard - or read or seen - thanks to a campaign launched yesterday by Mayor Nutter called "Students Speak!" that allows students to submit a written or video essay on the need for full and fair funding in the city's public schools.  "Education is about these young people," Nutter said in announcing the initiative at A. Philip Randolph Career Academy in Nicetown during a joint news conference with Superintendent William Hite and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan. "[Students] want an education. They want their voices to be heard."  Nutter noted that his proposed property-tax hike would raise an additional $103 million for the city school district, calling it the "only funding option out there" that does not rely on "one-time gimmicks" or major legislative changes - an apparent dig at the Democratic candidates vying for mayor, and perhaps at City Council members, who oppose a tax hike.

Drexel, Penn pay Central team's way to robotics championship
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 2:54 PM
A caller awaited Central High School's principal when he arrived at school Wednesday: Mayor Nutter.  The city's chief executive, it turns out, had read an Inquirer story detailing the plight of Central's RoboLancers, the student-led robotics program. The team recently won the organization's top honor and a pass to its world championship in St. Louis next week - but needed $35,000 to get there.  "He told me it was important for us to be at Worlds," principal Timothy McKenna said. "He said he was going to make calls on our behalf."  The mayor called back within the hour telling McKenna the team was on its way.  The RoboLancers, who receive no money from the struggling Philadelphia School District, were promised $20,000 each from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University to get to the St. Louis competition.

North Penn School District slated to have fair funding formula forum April 23
By Jarreau Freeman @JarreauFreeman on Twitter Published: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Lansdale >> Pennsylvania has no basic education funding formula, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit Legislative Services and Grants Development Director Tina Viletto said April 7.  “At this moment in time there is no clear, consistent determination as to how a district receives its funds [from the state],” she said to North Penn School Board members during their monthly work session. “Without a formula, districts have a hard time determining how they are going to fund all the needs that face the school district each year. Without a formula, it is possible that districts won’t have the revenue to cover the mandatory and necessary costs by the 2017-18 [school year].”  Many districts throughout the region are facing increases in enrollment, climbing retirement and health care costs, and deficits in the millions.  In March, when Gov. Tom Wolf made his budget proposal, he talked about restoring $1 billion in public education cuts that occurred under former Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration, and moving the funding of public education away from the taxpayers.

Pennsylvania Schools Wait for Budget Passing, Website Shows Possible Funding Increases
Your4state by Brittany Marshall 04/15/2015 06:15 PM
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa - The "Schools that Teach" website shows residents the school district funding increase through Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget.   For the Chambersburg Area School District, the increase is close to $2 million. Officials said this will help with a looming $2 million budget deficit.    "Whether the revenue goes up or the district expenditure goes down, that is an opportunity for the school district to meet some of its goals in the budget that it hasn't been able to do simply from not having enough funds," said Steven Dart, business administrator.   The website shows Chambersburg would see the largest increase in funding followed by the Waynesboro Area School District.   The website breaks down funding for basic and special education.  Chambersburg Area School District officials said special education funding is at the top of their list.   "We do have an increasing cost in autistic support, that is one of the most rapidly growing areas in education, at least in Chambersburg," Dart said.   Officials hope the funding increase will pass as they wait for the budget to be introduced to the general assembly.  Until then, they are working out plans to pass a school budget due on June 30. 

Saucon Valley teachers authorize strike
By Christina Tatu Of The Morning Call April 15, 2015
Saucon Valley teachers voted Wednesday evening to authorize a strike, giving their union negotiating committee the power to call for a walk-out.  The vote doesn't necessarily mean there will be a strike, and a statement issued by the teachers union did not specify when one could occur.  This is the latest development in a contract impasse that has dragged on for three-and-a-half years.

Atlanta Cheating Sentences: Accountability for Whom?
Huffington Post by Pedro Noguera Professor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development Posted: 04/15/2015 1:16 pm EDT Updated: 04/15/2015 1:59 pm EDT
So much is wrong about the cheating scandal in Atlanta: the miscarriage of justice in the verdict rendered by Judge Jerry Baxter, the unwillingness of policymakers to recognize their own culpability in the scandal, the lack of attention to the educational needs of the children in Atlanta and hundreds of other communities where failed policies have undermined the quality of education children receive, and of course, the cheating itself.  There is no doubt that cheating occurred in Atlanta Public Schools (APS), and that it was systemic, pervasive and involved dozens of educators across many schools. The fact that there was extreme pressure placed on educators to obtain higher test scores, and that unrealistic goals for improvement were set, may explain why it occurred but it does not justify it. Educators may not get paid like doctors but they are trusted and generally held in high regard by the public (less so by policymakers) for the work they do. The mere fact that we apply the term in loco parentis (in place of parents) to teachers is just one of many indications that they occupy an important role in our society.

You're invited to our 2015 YEA!  Philadelphia Investor Panel Competition on April 22nd at Rosemont College! 5:30 meet & greet; 6:30 Presentations
Young Entrepreneurs Academy - Philadelphia and suburban middle schoolers make presentations to a panel of local investors to obtain funding for their business/social movements.  We hope you can join us for this fun and inspiring event. Registration is FREE:

PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with local organizations, will host seven community budget meetings. District officials will share information about budget projections and request input on school resources and investments.  Partnering groups include the Philadelphia Education Fund, POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild), Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local clergy and community advocates. All meetings will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:
 Wednesday, April 15
Northeast High School, 1601 Cottman Ave.
 Wednesday, April 22
Bartram High School, 2401 S. 67th St.
 Tuesday, April 28
West Philadelphia High School, 4901 Chestnut St.
 Wednesday, May 6
Dobbins High School, 2150 W. Lehigh Ave.
 Tuesday, May 12
South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St.
 Thursday, May 14
Congreso, 216 West Somerset St.
 Wednesday, May 20
Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Ave.

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.

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

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