Monday, August 13, 2012

PPG Follow the money graphic: where those backpacks of money have gone at the state’s largest cyber charter…..

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

The Governor’s education policy is based upon each child carrying a “backpack” of tax dollars to the school of his/her choice.  Millions upon millions of those tax dollars have been flowing out of struggling school districts to cyber schools. 

This Post Gazette graphic shows where those backpacks of money have gone at the state’s largest cyber charter…..
PPG graphic – Cyber Charter Schools: Following the money

PA Cyber connections prompt inquiry
Many Trombetta associates had role in school's development
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 12, 2012 12:46 am
When the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School needed more office space, then-superintendent Nick Trombetta didn't hesitate to seek help from his friends.
The burgeoning school secured property on the main drag of the Beaver County town of Midland with the aid of Mr. Trombetta's high school wrestling teammate. It built a three-story brick office building at 735 Midland Ave. under the supervision of the teammate's brother.
A nonprofit run in part by allies and relatives of the superintendent's inner circle leased and later sold the building to PA Cyber. And a company run by a PA Cyber board member sold the school teleconferencing equipment for the facility.
In the process, hundreds of thousands of dollars that originated with local public schools flowed through PA Cyber into the hands of people with long relationships with Mr. Trombetta.

Pennsylvania charter, public schools not always bound to same rules

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 12, 2012 12:24 am
Charter schools are public schools, funded with taxpayer dollars, but charter and regular public schools don't have to follow all of the same rules.  The state Charter School Law provides some exemptions, from length of the school year to bidding requirements for supplies.
The newest exemption is the newly approved state requirement for public schools -- except for charter schools -- to consider student performance as half of the measurement for evaluating teachers beginning in 2013-14.
Ira Weiss, solicitor for Pittsburgh Public Schools, believes the current exemptions are so significant that it's like having two basketball teams, one with eight players and the other with 11.
"Everybody likes to talk about competition. Competition really means playing by the same rules," Mr. Weiss said.
Bob Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, said the charter school law was designed to eliminate some administrative burdens while at the same time providing accountability for performance.  He said that has worked well in some cases but not all.

Brick-and-mortar school projects could hit skids
Pittsburgh Tribune review By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, August 13, 2012
HARRISBURG — A $300 million-a-year state program that helps school districts pay to construct or renovate buildings will soon be closed to new projects, at least temporarily, as state officials decide whether it needs to be changed or eliminated.  Some districts are rushing to submit their plans before a nine-month moratorium starts in October.
Schools are under financial pressure from growing pension obligations and state funding cuts, and they’re concerned the moratorium could be the first step toward elimination of the so-called PlanCon reimbursement.

The real cost of public schools

Published: Sunday, August 12, 2012, 12:15 AM
Patriot-News Op-Ed  BY TIM POTTS
TIM POTTS is an elected member of the Carlisle Area School Board.
In May and June as the Carlisle Area School District prepared to adopt its budget for the 2012-13 school year, we were visited by concerned citizens. They wanted to let us school board members know that they didn't want to pay higher taxes, not even the 0.9 percent increase on the table. For decades, school boards have heard about the burden of property taxes. 

Originally Published: 8/11/2012   Share   
Districts worry about timing of Keystone Exams
Officials favor new tests but fear subjects may not be fresh in kids' minds
David Mekeel Reading Eagle
High school juniors may have to dig deep into the recesses of their memories in the upcoming school year, thanks to a new state testing system.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced the new Keystone Exams will replace the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, tests for 11th-graders. The state has used the PSSAs to meet testing requirements in the federal No Child Left Behind law.

EITC 2.0: Businesses urged to fund scholarship program
By Mary Niederberger and Laura Olson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 13, 2012 12:03 am
The expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program approved this summer may not be fully ready for this school year as advertised, with several scholarship organizations saying it could take weeks, perhaps months, to raise funds.

EITC 2.0: List of PA Schools Eligible for Vouchers in the 2012-13 School Year – to be finalized by August 15th
Pennsylvania Department of Education

EITC 2.0: Few local schools lining up for Pa. ‘voucher lite’
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt Posted: 08/10/12 12:01 am
POTTSTOWN — Now that the state has declared Pottstown High School to be a low-achieving school and its low-income students can use a tax-funded scholarship program to seek out an alternative place to get their education, the question arises — where can they go?
A check with state authorities and surrounding schools indicates the choices are limited.

Spencer: Charter schools bring hope in Chester
Published: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Delco Times Opinion By GIL SPENCER,
Jalah Thomas, 10, is sitting on a chair on the third floor of the Chester YWCA, waiting to be registered in Chester’s newest charter school.  She’s wearing a yellow top, gray sweat pants, pink sneakers and sporting a large tattoo on her left bicep. (Don’t worry, it’s fake.)
Asked why she wants to go the Chester Charter School for the Arts, Jalah shruggs.
 “I didn’t,” she replies.

CNN to interview Ravitch August 18th

Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 08/11/2012

Paul Ryan on education policy: vouchers, for-profit colleges, local control

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)talks a lot about scaling back the reach of the federal government, but back in 2001, he voted in favor of No Child Left Behind, the signature education program of the George W. Bush administration that gave unprecedented power to the U.S. Education Department to tell states and districts what they had to do to get federal funds.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (Win McNamee/GETTY IMAGES)Ryan, who presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney just tapped to be his vice presidential running mate, has obviously changed his mind. Todayhis Web site says: Rather than relying on the federal government to ensure that students are given the capability to fulfill their potential, education ought to be governed by state and local boards more ably qualified to determine student need.

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!
Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA

Education Policy and Leadership Center
EPLC’s Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters

EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center

Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!

PSBA 2013 Officer Candidates Slated
If you are not planning to attend the October Leadership Conference and would like to vote for any of these candidates please see the absentee ballot information below and note the August 15 deadline for absentee ballot requests
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.
They are:
Marcela Diaz Myers, Lower Dauphin SD, Dauphin County
President (automatically assumes the office of president)
Jody Sperry, Conneaut SD, Crawford County
Richard Frerichs, Penn Manor SD, Lancaster County
Mark B. Miller, Centennial SD, Bucks County
First Vice President
Larry Breech, Millville Area SD, Columbia County
Second Vice President
Edward J. Cardow, Chichester SD, Delaware County
Second Vice President

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
Absentee ballot requests must be received no later than August 15
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and home mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grass roots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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