Tuesday, May 12, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 12: What do you believe the role of the PA Supreme Court should be in evaluating the adequacy of a thorough and efficient public education?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 12, 2015:
What do you believe the role of the PA Supreme Court should be in evaluating the adequacy of a thorough and efficient public education?



Education Voters PA: Join our Call to Action on Thursday, May 14th
Join others across Pennsylvania and take 5-10 minutes on May 14th to call our state legislators to tell them that Harrisburg’s top priority this year must be enacting a new system that provides adequate and fair funding for public schools.



Five of twelve candidates participated in this PCN forum The question on the role of the court in evaluating the adequacy of a thorough and efficient public education is covered from minutes 31:55 to 37:58 of this PCN video
What do you believe the role of the Supreme Court should be in evaluating the adequacy of a thorough and efficient public education?
PCN: April 8th PA Supreme Court Candidates Forum
By Rob Krout on Apr 10, 2015
Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks election forum with PA Supreme Court candidates David Wecht (D), Dwayne Woodruff (D), Cheryl Lynn Allen (R), John Forodora (D) and Anne Lazurus (D).  .

A dozen candidates for three open seats…..
Meet the primary candidates for Pa. Supreme Court: PennLive's 2015 Voters Guide
Penn Live By Deb Kiner | dkiner@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on May 11, 2015 at 8:30 AM, updated May 11, 2015 at 8:32 AM
Candidates seeking their party's nomination for Supreme Court were invited to submit information for PennLive's Voters Guide.  The information here is presented as it was submitted by the candidates, and is unedited.  Note: This is a primary election. Voters will select only candidates running within the voter's registered party.

Cash flow to candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court approaching $5 million mark
Daily Journal By PETER JACKSON  Associated Press Posted: May 08, 2015 - 9:09 pm
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Political contributions to the dozen candidates for three open seats on the state Supreme Court are approaching the $5 million mark, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.  Democrats outraised Republicans by a lopsided margin through the end of the five-week reporting period Monday, the reports show, and at least four Democratic candidates already have bought expensive TV time to air ads leading up to the May 19 primary election.  The leading fundraisers in the Democratic field, Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court Judge David Wecht of Pittsburgh, who are endorsed by the Democratic State Committee, are planning statewide ad campaigns.

"Fortunately, the constituency most engaged in these elections - the attorneys who have to appear before often accidental jurists - have done themselves and the public the service of thoroughly vetting the candidates. The Pennsylvania Bar Association's high court choices are particularly useful, with three highly recommended candidates for three court vacancies in each party: for the Republicans, state Superior Court Judges Cheryl L. Allen and Judith F. Olson, and appointed Supreme Court Justice Correale F. Stevens; for the Democrats, Superior Court Judges Christine L. Donohue, Anne E. Lazarus, and David N. Wecht."
Pennsylvania's courts crapshoot
INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Sunday, May 10, 2015, 1:09 AM
Despite a remarkable run of scandal that deprived the state's highest court of two justices in as many years and its lowest (the late Philadelphia Traffic Court) of existence, Pennsylvania lawmakers have maintained a preternatural serenity about the condition of the state's judiciary - so much so that its ranks are being refilled by the same quasi-democratic lottery that got us in this mess.  Of course, the low-interest elections that fill the state's benches do produce some good judges, but only by accident. With a dozen candidates vying for three state Supreme Court vacancies in next week's primaries and many more entering the sweepstakes for the lower courts - more than 40 are running for Philadelphia Common Pleas Court - even the most conscientious voters will be nonplussed.

"Twelve candidates are vying for three open seats on the court that will hear our appeal in our school funding lawsuit.  We are encouraging voters to learn about the judicial candidates for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and make their own informed decisions on election day."
PA Supreme Court Candidates & Public Education
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Twelve candidates are vying for three open seats on the court that will hear our appeal in our school funding lawsuit.  We are encouraging voters to learn about the judicial candidates for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and make their own informed decisions on election day.  To learn more about the Supreme Court candidates, head to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which published an article detailing each candidate.  To learn about the candidates’ stances on the court’s role in education funding, go to minute 31:55 of this video–a recent Supreme Court candidate forum.  The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is a 501(c)3 organization. We do not endorse any candidates.  - See more at: http://www.pilcop.org/pa-supreme-court-candidates/#sthash.wsfX2r2r.dpuf

Public hearing on The Educational Opportunity and Accountability Act
PA Senate Education Committee Mtg Wed. May 13, 2015 9:00 AM Room 8E-B East Wing
The Senate Education Committee will conduct a public hearing on legislation proposed by Sen. Smucker (R- Lancaster) called The Educational Opportunity and Accountability Act. The proposal, which is expected to be introduced as Senate Bill 6, would require mandatory steps to be taken for low-performing schools within a district, including being transferred to a new entity called the Achievement School District (ASD). PSBA will be testifying at this hearing. 

"Who needs vouchers when you authorize diverting $250 million in tax dollars to private and religious schools with no fiscal or student performance accountability?  Up to 20% of these funds ($50 million) will go to scholarship organizations for administrative fees, with virtually no transparency; in Florida only 3% of education tax credit money goes to administrative expenses."
House backs $100M boost for education tax credit programs
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on May 11, 2015 at 7:06 PM, updated May 11, 2015 at 7:07 PM
Legislation that would expand popular tax credit programs that incentivize companies to fund preK through grade 12 scholarships and educational programs passed the state House on Monday.  By a vote of 166-26, the chamber approved legislation that would increase the funding for the 14-year-old Educational Improvement Tax Credit program from $100 million to $170 million and the three-year-old Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, from $50 million to $80 million.  Both programs offer state tax credits for companies that donate to state-approved educational organizations.

Pennsylvania's public pension overhaul advances
Morning Call By Marc Levy Of The Associated Press May 12, 2015
HARRISBURG — Senate Republicans on Monday advanced legislation to overhaul benefits in Pennsylvania's two major public employee pension systems — over the protests of Democrats who say they have not had a chance to even read the bill.  The 410-page bill was passed the Senate Finance Committee along partisan lines less than 72 hours after it was publicly unveiled. No hearing has been held on the bill or is even scheduled, and Senate Republicans aim to pass it by the end of the week.  Their hope is to make it a central part of negotiations with Gov. Tom Wolf, as the Democrat seeks approval for a tax increase to wipe out a massive projected budget deficit and to underwrite the biggest-ever one-year increase for public schools. Wolf opposes a key element of the GOP's bill — the end of the debt-ridden traditional pension system that covers about 370,000 workers.  Democrats said a constructive discussion about addressing a $53 billion pension debt can happen only when there's a chance to debate different ideas or plans.

State pension reform bill clears Senate committee on party-line vote
Karen Langley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  May 12, 2015
HARRISBURG - A state Senate committee on Monday approved a bill that would reduce retirement benefits or increase paycheck contributions for most state and public school workers, the first step toward legislative floor votes expected this week on the headliner issues of overhauling the pension and property tax systems. With a party-line vote, the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee endorsed a measure that also would close the traditional pension system to new hires, enrolling them instead in a defined-contribution plan. In the House, the Republican leader's office said members today will take up proposals designed to shift the burden of paying for schools from locally assessed property taxes to increases in the sales and personal income taxes. Both House Republicans and Gov. Tom Wolf have offered plans with that general outline, but the Republicans complain that Mr. Wolf would direct some revenue from the rate increases to other projects,

"Members of the General Assembly will be put into the defined contribution plan upon election or reelection and will have to abide by all new pension requirements."
Senate pension bill’s advance pits plan change vs. plan reform
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, May 11, 2015
Senate Bill 1 underwent its first vote Monday, moving out of the Senate Finance Committee along a party-line vote.  The prime sponsor of the bill, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), said the legislation is needed to ease budgetary pressures and take risk away from taxpayers into the future by moving new employees to a defined contribution pension plan and away from the defined benefit plan.  The plan will also alter future benefits of current employees by either increasing their contribution amounts to maintain Act 9-levels or roll back the pension benefit to pre-Act 9 levels.

Teachers’ retirement security is destined to get less secure
Lancaster Online Opinion Posted on May 11, 2015 by Gil Smart
I sometimes think I should have been a teacher.
I never even considered it back in the day. Back in the day I was going to be a lawyer, don’t you know. Then I wrote a column for my college newspaper, several people told me they liked it, and that led to this.  And I also didn’t know how much I enjoyed kids until I actually had my own and started spending more time with an around kids in general. Now, I could think of few things more satisfying and fun than being, say, a first- or second-grade teacher (first and second grade teachers, please don’t write to disabuse me of this notion..). The gratification would comefrom the interaction with kids, the idea that you could make a difference in their lives.  The gratification would also come – crass as this may sound – from the compensation. The idea of having some real time off over the summer. And the retirement security.

LETTER: It's time for fair funding of education
Glenside News LTE by Nancy Posel, secretary, League of Women Voters Abington-Cheltenham-Jenkintown Tuesday, May 12, 2015
To the Editor:
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania has passed a resolution in support of the Fair Funding for Education in Pennsylvania lawsuit. The league has long promoted equal access to quality education for all of Pennsylvania’s children. Pennsylvania is one of only three states that do not have a formula for a fair distribution of state education funds even though the constitution requires the legislature provide for a “thorough and efficient” education.

Editorial: Education funding is crime fighting, too
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 05/11/15, 10:46 PM EDT |
Debate in Harrisburg will soon begin in earnest to adopt a state budget for fiscal year 2015-16, and education funding will be front and center.  Among the proposals being sought by Gov. Tom Wolf is increased funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, an initiative that recently attracted outspoken support from some unusual kindergarten bedfellows: The law enforcement community.  District Attorneys Risa Ferman, Montgomery County; Seth Williams, Philadelphia; Jack Whelan, Delaware County; and Tom Hogan, Chester County, held a press conference April 29 to introduce a report, “We’re the Guys You Pay Later,” by the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids coalition. The report makes the case that more money is spent on jailing adult defendants than on investing in education for children. That early investment can be shown, the report argues, to change the path for at-risk children from potential criminals to productive members of society.

Harrisburg School District's proposed budget holds line on property taxes
By M. Diane McCormick | Special to PennLive on May 11, 2015 at 11:53 PM, updated May 11, 2015 at 11:54 PM
Harrisburg School District hopes to hold the line on property taxes, with a $136 million 2015-16 proposed budget.  The spending plan would include funds for hiring an additional staffer for the district's Career Pathways Institute and one or two managers to oversee the district security staff of about 30 people.  The proposed budget would maintain property taxes at current levels, said interim Chief Financial Officer Bill Gretton, presenting the plan to the Harrisburg School Board's Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee on Monday.

"The largest increase in next year's budget results from a $1.2 million jump in pension costs."
Derry Township School Board passes tax increase that could change between now and June
By Monica Von Dobeneck | Special to PennLive on May 11, 2015 at 8:56 PM, updated May 11, 2015 at 9:01 PM
The Derry Township School Board passed a preliminary budget Monday that would raise taxes one percent, but members said that could still change between now and the final budget June 22.  "One percent is a worst case scenario. We can bring it down," board member Brian Shiflett said.  But member Hank Donahue added, "it can change either way, up or down."  School officials have said they can balance the $58 million budget for 2015-16 without raising taxes, but that would deplete the financial reserves within a few years, even if there are subsequent tax increases of 2 percent a year.

Ligonier Valley school budget averts millage hike
Trib Live By Nicole Chynoweth Monday, May 11, 2015, 11:09 p.m.
Ligonier Valley school board unanimously gave preliminary approval to a general fund budget for the 2015-16 school year with no millage increase. The budget estimates expenditures at $29,284,263 and revenues at $27,730,582. The budget includes the utilization of $1,553,681 from the fund balance.  An expense added to the budget is $207,562 for two teachers, two aides and supplies for the new K-4 program that will debut at Laurel Valley and R.K. Mellon elementary schools. It is geared toward 4-year-old students preparing for kindergarten.
Bethlehem Area School District taxpayers could see 2.9 percent tax hike
By Jacqueline Palochko Of The Morning Call May 11, 2015
The Bethlehem Area School Board passed a proposed budget that calls for a 2.9 percent tax hike.  At a meeting Monday night, the board voted 8-1 to pass a 2015-16 budget that also calls for universal full-day kindergarten at all 16 elementary schools and construction of the new Nitschmann Middle School.  Director Basilio A. Bonilla Jr. was the lone dissenter. After the meeting, Bonilla said he could not support a budget that calls for a tax increase when senior citizens and other taxpayers are living on fixed incomes.  The average taxpayer in the district would see an increase of just under $100 next school year. In Northampton County, the increase for a home assessed at $55,637 would be $90, and in Lehigh County, $98.

3 Lancaster County school districts plan to exceed Act 1 tax limits in 2015-16 budgets
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 6:00 am
Six school districts in Lancaster County can raise property taxes above their state limits next month, and half of those plan to, according to school officials.  School districts must approve final 2015-16 budgets by June 30. Increases on property taxes are capped by the state's Act 1 index, which this year is 1.9 percent. Some districts have an adjusted index based on high poverty or stagnant property values.  Districts can apply to exceed their tax limit if they have construction debt or excessive special education and pension costs. The state Department of Education approved such exceptions for Conestoga Valley, Elanco, Elizabethtown, Hempfield, Lancaster and Solanco school districts last month.  Three of those districts are planning to use the exceptions, though none plan to tax to the limit.

Candidates, pledge support for Philly children
By Donna Cooper and Marcus Allen POSTED: Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 1:08 AM
Donna Cooper is executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.
Marcus Allen is CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania
Famed American historian Henry Adams once said, "During a campaign, the air is full of speeches - and vice versa." More than 100 years later, not much has changed.  Candidates love to make speeches about the state of Philadelphia's children and youth, and how it would be so much better if they were in charge. In fact, we tend to hear the same refrain every election.  The sad truth is that this election is happening against the backdrop of 120,000 children living in poverty, and 60,000 of them are in families so poor that they live on less than $10,000 a year.

Money and the Philly Mayor’s race
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane MONDAY, MAY 11
Guests: Dave Davies, Patrick Kerkstra Audio Runtime: 48:55
Campaign finance reports filed last Friday revealed that mayoral politics are not immune to the effects of the landmark Citizens United ruling, with independent expenditure groups spending millions of dollars in support of their candidate of choice.  That said, Philadelphia’s own finance rules had some mitigating effects on the influence of PACs and other outside organizations.  For this hour of Radio Times, Marty will discuss the contributions, the candidates, and their implications with WHYY’s senior reporter DAVE DAVIES, and Philadelphia Magazine’s PATRICK KERKSTRA.

Education and the 2015 Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Primary: Where the candidates stand
BillyPenn.com By Anna Orso May 11, 2015  at 11:43 am
Education is pretty much THE issue here in Philadelphia as the school district grapples with inadequate funding from Harrisburg and a budget deficit locally that spells layoffs and program cuts. We’re reviewing each of the candidates’ highlights of their education plans. See their websites and policy papers for more details.

Who should choose the next mayor — Philadelphia voters or four billionaires?
WHYY Newsworks Opinion by Marc Stier MAY 12, 2015 ESSAYWORKS
Marc Stier is a writer and political activist from Mt. Airy. He’s finishing a book titled “Civilization and Its Contents: Reflections on Sexuality and the Culture Wars."
Some think our mayoral election is a little dull, but nothing could be further from the truth. What we haven't fully grasped yet about this election is that Philadelphia is ground zero in the fight to save democracy in the United States. It is where we can and must take a stand against extremely wealthy individuals who seek to convert their wealth into political power and, in doing so, override the wishes and interests of working people and the middle class.  Because of the Citizens United decision, there are now no limits on how much money wealthy individuals can contribute to super PACs or that these PACs can spend to influence voters. So Jeff Yass, Joel Greenberg and Arthur Dantchik, who made billions trading options at the Susquehanna International Group, are now overwhelming all other spending in support of Anthony Williams' campaign for Mayor.
The Three Billionaires would have you believe that their only concern is to improve public education. I have no issue with that aim. I personally support charter schools, especially when they are created by groups of parents and teachers looking for creative ways of engaging kids in learning.  The Three Billionaires, however, want our public schools to be privatized. And that goal is part of the right-wing ideological agenda they have long supported.

'We needed a turnaround in a turnaround': SRC votes not to renew first Renaissance charter
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF MAY 12, 2015
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted not to renew two charter schools, including for the first time, one of its own hand-picked Renaissance charters Monday night.  Delaware Valley Charter High School (DVCHS) and Universal Bluford both received notices of nonrenewal.  DVCHS' CEO Ernest Holiday pushed back on the numbers gathered as a part of the charter school office's evaluation process, including math proficiency of less than 30 percent for the past three years.  "The recommendation does not adequately reflect our 2013-2014 graduation rate," said Holiday, who put the graduation rate for that year higher than 98 percent.  Holiday and commissioner Bill Green also debated that school's $190,000 debt to the district which, according to the district's charter school office, DVCHS accrued by continually overbilling.

SRC moves to close Universal-Bluford, Delaware Valley Charter High
MARTHA WOODALL AND KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
POSTED: Monday, May 11, 2015, 8:51 PM
During a special meeting devoted to charter schools, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Monday to begin the process of closing two for academic and management shortcomings.  One of the schools - Universal-Bluford, an elementary with nearly 600 students - is run by Universal Companies Inc., the nonprofit founded by music mogul Kenny Gamble.  In a 4-1 vote, the SRC voted not to renew Bluford's charter for another five years. It was the first time a school run by Universal has been targeted for closure. Commission member Sylvia Simms cast the dissenting vote.  The K-6 school is in the Carroll Park section of West Philadelphia.

SRC renews 12 charters, votes down Delaware Valley, Universal Bluford
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903 POSTED: Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 12:16 AM
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission voted yesterday to renew the charters of 12 schools and not to renew two others.  Delaware Valley Charter High School and Universal Bluford Charter School were not renewed based on recommendations from district staff. Both schools will remain open, pending an appeal process that could take more than a year.

Best High Schools in Pennsylvania
US News and World Report
We reviewed 29,070 U.S. public high schools; 216 Pennsylvania schools made our rankings.  Pennsylvania students must show proficiency in English, math, social studies and science subjects to graduate high school, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania students who show financial need may be eligible for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, which provides funding to attend many colleges and universities in the region.  There are many Pennsylvania schools in the 2015 rankings of U.S. News Best High Schools. The highly ranked Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, which is located in The School District of Philadelphia, is roughly 100 miles from the state capital of Harrisburg.

"Gates is the leader of education philanthropy in the United States, spending a few billion dollars over more than a decade to promote school reforms that he championed, including the Common Core, a small-schools initiative in New York City that he abandoned after deciding it wasn’t working, and efforts to create new teacher evaluation systems that in part use a controversial method of assessment that uses student standardized test scores to determine the “effectiveness” of educators.  Such philanthropy has sparked a debate about whether American democracy is well-served by wealthy people who pour part of their fortunes into their pet projects — regardless of whether they are grounded in research — to such a degree that public policy and funding follow."
Gates Foundation pours millions more into Common Core
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss May 12 at 4:00 AM  
Bill Gates famously spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, implement and promote the now controversial Common Core State Standards. He hasn’t stopped giving.
In the last seven months, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has poured more than $10 million into implementation and parent support for the Core, according to grant details on the foundation website (see below). That includes $3.7 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to support the Core at a time when it has come under increasing attack across the country, for both educational and political reasons.

Counting Poor Students Is Getting Harder
Researchers, grant-makers and policymakers have long relied on enrollment numbers for the federally subsidized Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program. They use those numbers as a handy proxy for measuring how many students are struggling economically. The paperwork that families submit to show their income becomes the basis of billions in federal funds.  To be eligible for these programs, a family must earn no more than 85 percent above the poverty line. Just over half of public school students fit that description.  At least, that's today's figure. As Jill Barshay reports for the Hechinger Report, things are about to get more vague.  That's because of a new federal program called "community eligibility." Under that provision, a school or even an entire district can provide free lunch to all its students, as long as at least 40 percent of them qualify for a means-tested program.  That means a school could, in theory, go from 40 percent to 100 percent "free lunch" overnight.

School Districts Embrace Business Model of Data Collection
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH MAY 11, 2015
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — In this small suburb outside Milwaukee, no one in the Menomonee Falls School District escapes the rigorous demands of data.  Custodians monitor dirt under bathroom sinks, while the high school cafeteria supervisor tracks parent and student surveys of lunchroom food preferences. Administrators record monthly tallies of student disciplinary actions, and teachers post scatter plot diagrams of quiz scores on classroom walls. Even kindergartners use brightly colored dots on charts to show how many letters or short words they can recognize.  Data has become a dirty word in some education circles, seen as a proxy for an obsessive focus on tracking standardized test scores. But some school districts, taking a cue from the business world, are fully embracing metrics, recording and analyzing every scrap of information related to school operations. Their goal is to help improve everything from school bus routes and classroom cleanliness to reading comprehension and knowledge of algebraic equations.

New Documents Show How Taxpayer Money Is Wasted by Charter Schools —Stringent Controls Urgently Needed as Charter Funding Faces Huge Increase
A Center for Media and Democracy Reporters’ Guide By Jonas Persson (May 8, 2015)*
“The waste of taxpayer money—none of us can feel good about,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services and Education just last month. Yet, he is calling for a 48% increase in the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) quarter-billion-dollar-a-year ($253.2 million) program designed to create, expand, and replicate charter schools—an initiative repeatedly criticized by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for suspected waste and inadequate financial controls. CMD’s review of appropriations reveals that the federal government has spent a staggering sum, $3.3 billion, of taxpayer money creating and expanding the charter school industry over the past two decades, but it has done so without requiring the most basic transparency in who ultimately receives the funds and what those tax dollars are being used for, especially in contrast to the public information about truly public schools. Although some charters have a veneer of being alternative “public schools,” many of them are run by for-profit companies or outsource key operations to for-profit firms, and are exempt from any local democratic control.

"Across the country, school districts in rural areas like New Cuyama and other pockets with low bandwidth are confronting a difficult task: Administering the new standardized tests to students online, laying bare a tech divide in the nation's classrooms.  Overall, 63 percent of public schools don't have access to broadband speeds needed for digital learning. The problem is particularly acute in rural and low-income districts: Only 14 percent in those areas meet high-speed internet targets."
Online Common Core testing lays bare tech divide in schools
Philly.com by CHRISTINE ARMARIO AND SALLY HO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Monday, May 11, 2015, 11:57 AM
NEW CUYAMA, Calif. (AP) - Nestled between mountains 60 miles from the nearest city, students at rural California's Cuyama Valley High School use Internet connections about one-tenth the minimum speed recommended for the modern U.S. classroom.  So when it came time to administer the new Common Core-aligned tests online, the district of 240 students in a valley of oil fields and sugar beet farms faced a challenge.  New Cuyama has no access to fiber optic cables. Some residents live entirely off the grid, relying on solar power and generators. The local telephone company provided a few extra lines, but that only bumped speeds a few megabits.

Pros And Cons Of Standardized Testing
The Onion INFOGRAPHIC May 11, 2015
As the American education system continues to place more emphasis on standardized testing to measure academic achievement, critics have argued that it can be more harmful than helpful to students’ development in the long run. Here are some of the pros and cons of standardized testing:

N.F.L. Sentences Brady to a Year with the Jets
The Borowitz Report BY ANDY BOROWITZ MAY 6, 2015
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (The Borowitz Report) – In what football insiders are calling an unexpectedly severe punishment, the National Football League has sentenced the New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady to a year with the New York Jets for his role in the so-called Deflategate scandal.  The punishment drew howls of protest from Patriots fans and management, with many calling it the harshest in league history, but N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the decision as “a necessary deterrent.”  “We need to send the message that this league has zero tolerance for cheating,” Goodell said. “We believe that a year of playing quarterback for the Jets sends that message loud and clear.”


Education Voters PA: Join our Call to Action on Thursday, May 14th
Join others across Pennsylvania and take 5-10 minutes on May 14th to call our state legislators to tell them that Harrisburg’s top priority this year must be enacting a new system that provides adequate and fair funding for public schools.
Our legislators must take politics out of school funding and distribute state funding to school districts using a formula that is based on real factors and the real costs of delivering services.
• Support sufficient funding for public schools that provides every student with the opportunity to learn, to meet state standards, and to be self-sufficient adults, ready for college and the workforce. Money matters when it comes to providing programs and services.
• Drive out state funding to districts using a formula that is based on real factors and the real costs of delivering services, including student factors such as the number of students who live in poverty, who are English language learners, and who are homeless. It should also take into account district factors such as the sparsity/size of the district, local tax effort, local wealth, and the number of students attending charter schools.
• Please support a long-term, student-driven, and equitable funding formula that provides adequate resources for every student to be able to meet academic standards.

School directors, superintendents and administrators are encouraged to register and attend this event.
Bucks / Lehigh / Northampton Legislative Council
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM Quakertown Community School District, 100 Commerce Drive  Quakertown, PA 18951
Welcome by Paul Stepanoff , Board President , QCSD
Introduction of Paul Clymer, State of State Education

Mr. Glenn Grell , PSERS Executive Director
Introduction by Dr. Bill Harner, Superintendent QCSD

Panel of Superintendents and Elected School Directors from Bucks / Lehigh / Northampton Counties
Introduction by Mark B. Miller, Board Vice President, Centennial SD

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION:
1) The status of 2015-16 budget in their district (including proposed tax increase)
2) PSERS impact on their budget
3) Proposed use of any new funding from Commonwealth

Larry Feinberg and Ron Williams
Benefit and need for County Wide Legislative Council in Delaware and Montgomery Counties respectively

Dr. Tom Seidenberger (Retired Superintendent ) - Circuit Rider Update


SAVE The DATE: Northwestern PA School Funding Forum
May 28, 2015 7:00 PM Jefferson Educational Society 3207 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Panelists
Conneaut School District
Mr. Jarrin Sperry, Superintendent, Ms. Jody Sperry, Board President
Corry School District
Mr. William Nichols, Superintendent
Fort LeBoeuf School District
Mr. Richard Emerick, Assistant Superintendent
Girard School District
Dr. James Tracy, Superintendent
Harbor Creek School District
Ms. Christine Mitchell, Board President
Millcreek School District
Mr. William Hall, Superintendent Mr. Aaron O'Toole, Director of Finance and Accounting
Keynote Speaker
Mr. Jay Himes, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials

CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN PENNSYLVANIA
A CALL FOR ADEQUATE AND EQUITABLE SCHOOL FUNDING
Sponsored by Coatesville and Media Area NAACPs
9:00 AM – 1:30 PM SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015
MARCUS FOSTER STUDENT UNION 2ND FLOOR
CHEYNEY UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA DELAWARE COUNTY CAMPUS, CHEYNEY, PA
Our children have to pass the state mandated tests in order to move on with life. SO - it is time for the PA Assembly to provide adequate and equitable funding to the public schools of Pennsylvania.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. SPACE IS LIMITED.
COME AND ASK YOUR PERSONAL QUESTIONS AND SHARE YOUR OPINIONS WITH PRESENTERS WHO ARE EXPERTS AND POLICY MAKERS.
Pre-Registration is required for meals. Deadline for Pre-registration is May 12, 2015


PHILLY DISTRICT TO HOLD COMMUNITY BUDGET MEETINGS
PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with local organizations, will host 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:
 Tuesday, May 12
South Philadelphia High School2101 S. Broad St.
 Thursday, May 14
Congreso, 216 West Somerset St.
 Wednesday, May 20

Martin Luther King High School6100 Stenton Ave.

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