Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup For February 28, 2013: Ravitch on Philly: “the most insulting, most demeaning contract ever offered in any school district to my knowledge.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup
For February 28, 2013: Ravitch on Philly: “the most insulting, most demeaning contract ever offered in any school district to my knowledge.”

Roebuck Seeking Co-sponsors for Comprehensive Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Legislation

Lehigh Valley superintendents implore lawmakers for charter, special education funding reforms
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on February 27, 2013 at 8:44 PM
A group of Lehigh Valley superintendents today detailed the impact of state budget cuts on their districts and implored Democratic legislators to reform Pennsylvania's charter school laws.
Newly elected state Rep. Dan McNeill, D-Lehigh/Northampton, requested the House Democratic Policy Committee hearing to discuss how schools have managed budget cuts under Gov. Tom Corbett and what his latest budget proposal means for students.
Parkland School District Superintendent Richard Sniscak spoke on behalf of the five districts attending the hearing in Bethlehem's town hall.  Superintendents asked legislators to reform the state's cyber and charter school laws and increase special education funding.

Exeter Twp. school director calls for adequate, equitable, predictable state funding for public ed
PSBA by Steve Robinson, director of Publications & PR 2/27/2013
Russell Diesinger, a school director with Exeter Township School District and an assistant regional director for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), told members of the House Democratic Policy Committee that the 2012-13 state budget plan recently offered by Gov. Corbett does not go far enough to properly fund public education or minimize the need for districts to cut valuable programs for students.

East Penn school director calls for state to increase funding to public education
PSBA N E W S R E L E A S E 2/27/2013 Steve Robinson, Director of Publications & PR
Charles Ballard, school board president with East Penn School District and an assistant regional director for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), told members of the House Democratic Policy Committee that adequate basic and special education funding must be a priority in the 2013-14 state budget and unfunded mandates must be reduced or eliminated.
In his testimony, Ballard demonstrated how Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed increase of $90 million to basic education funding does not go far in his home district. If the increase is approved, that would likely mean East Penn would receive $306,000 more than last year, a 3.0% increase. However, East Penn is anticipating an increase of $2.1 million in pension payments -- only half of which are reimbursed by the state. This leaves his district nearly $1 million short.
In addition, his district must keep up with the cost of funding charter schools. This year, East Penn has had to contribute $3.5 million to fund charter schools, an increase of $500,000 from last year. This unfair funding formula includes the district paying pension costs to the charter schools even though the state reimburses charters for these costs. This "double dipping" results in charters being paid twice -- once from the district and once from the state.

Editorial: Corbett pension plan is the path back to fiscal stability
By Patriot-News Editorial Board  on February 27, 2013 at 10:41 AM
Forty-one billion dollars: It is a number that boggles the mind.
Yet that is the gap separating the value of the assets held by Pennsylvania’s two public pension systems and the benefits it will eventually have to pay out to current and future retirees. And unless something is done right now, that amount and the crushing burden it will place on taxpayers and local school districts is going to grow. This pension crisis is now the biggest, single threat to the state’s long-term fiscal stability and potential economic growth.

Among Philly teachers, anger and dismay at contract offer
Kristen A. Graham, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER  February 27, 2013, 9:26 PM
Patrick Naughton is an enthusiastic social studies teacher and the dean of students at Robeson High School in West Philadelphia, but the first thing he did Wednesday morning was look for a new job.  Naughton had read about the Philadelphia School District's initial contract offer to its teachers union - a 13 percent pay cut for those making over $55,000, an end to seniority-based positions, and smaller provisos such as an end to a guaranteed adequate supply of textbooks - and felt a great sense of urgency.

District seeking to slash, restructure teacher compensation
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 26 2013
The School District wants teachers and other Philadelphia Federation of Teachers members to take pay cuts as high as 13 percent, work a day that is an hour longer, and then get no raises until 2017, according to documents that union officials have circulated to members and were obtained by the Notebook.  The documents are presented as summaries of the initial proposal the District has put on the table in contract negotiations, which began last week. The teachers’ contract expires this summer.

No seniority? No water fountains? More on the contract
Inquirer Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham February 27, 2013, 10:12 AM
I’ve read the Philadelphia School District’s full list of demands from teachers, and it’s a doozy. (That’s on top of details reported last night and in this morning’s Inquirer.)
Some bullet points:

So you want to be a teacher?  Welcome to urban public education 2013.
More charters, diverted tax dollars to private and religious schools with no accountability, closing schools that are the fabric of their communities and a contact proposal like this.
School District Proposals to the PFT Professional Teachers’ Contract

If this is the deal, Philly teachers should strike
Daily News by Will Bunch POSTED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 8:12 PM
Apparently the old saying is wrong: You can get blood from a stone after all. In a world where "the American Dream" has become a year in which your salary stays the same, the so-called City of Brotherly Love is on the brink of setting a new standard in squeezing middle-class workers to death. It's not like we haven't seen this story before: Working men and women asked to take a sizable pay cut...and work longer hours...and pay more for shrinking benefits. Usually such reports alternate with the news that the CEO of that same outfit is leaving with a golden parachute worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions.
But just when you think it can't get any worse, here come the contract demands that the Philadelphia School District would like to cram down the throat of the city's unionized school teachers. The news -- first reported by Kristen Graham of the Inquirer -- is a jaw-dropper:

Philadelphia Insults Its Teachers and Other Employees
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav February 28, 2013 //
Philadelphia’s Broad-trained Superintendent William Hite offered the district’s employees an insulting contract: pay cuts up to 13%, benefit cuts, longer school days, and no pay increases until 2017. After 2017, any increases would be “performance-based,” dependent on the principal’s recommendation. Seniority would be abolished, as well as any payment for advanced degrees. See here and here.  In addition, schools with more than 1,000 students would not be required to have libraries or librarians. No more counselors. No limits on class size. The district would no longer be required to provide teachers lounges, water fountains, etc.
This is the most insulting, most demeaning contract ever offered in any school district to my knowledge. 

PA Students First PAC, major pro-voucher group might have broken PA election law
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013, 11:42 PM
Citypaper Posted by Daniel Denvir Follow on Twitter @DanielDenvir
Political operative John D. McDaniel's ongoing Philadelphia Board of Ethics saga has centered on Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown's troubling campaign finance practices and wasteful political patronage in the Nutter administration. McDaniel had been Brown's campaign manager, held apparently sole control over a political action committee and held a well-paying job at the airport provided by the mayor himself. Now there's a new twist: McDaniel's Progressive Agenda PAC also funneled $5,900 from Students First PAC, a Pennsylvania group backed by Bala Cynwyd hedge fund managers and wealthy national school voucher advocates, to state House candidate Fatimah Muhammad's 2012 campaign, which was heavily supported by voucher proponents.

Pittsburgh Public Schools board rejects two charter school proposals, tables third
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 27, 2013 7:58 pm
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board tonight rejected two applications to open charter schools this fall and tabled a third, effectively denying it because of requirements to act within a certain time window.

Parkland School Director Honored With Advocacy Award
Parkland School Board Vice President Roberta Marcus was honored Tuesday night by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association with the second annual Timothy Allwein Advocacy Award.  Marcus, a Parkland school board member since 1995, was selected to receive the award as a result of her many volunteer hours devoted to raising awareness of key legislative issues on the local, state and federal level.

Education leaders discuss sequestration’s impact to public education
NSBA School Board News by Joetta Sack-Min February 27, 2013
National School Boards Association (NSBA) President C. Ed Massey participated in a Feb. 27 press conference call to rally against the scheduled federal budget cuts, known as the sequester, that are schedule to take place on Friday. The call was organized by the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of 100 national education organizations including NSBA, to highlight the planned program cuts and teacher layoffs that will occur if Congress does not intervene.

“To determine whether all those students were really so unprepared for college-level work, Ms. Scott-Clayton examined the students' actual high school and college credits earned and grades received. She found that 20 percent of students placed in remedial math and 25 percent of those placed in remedial reading were "severely misidentified," meaning that not only could they have passed the entry college course in that subject, but they could have done so with a grade of B or better.”
Many Students Don't Need Remediation, Studies Say
Education Week By Sarah D. Sparks Published Online: February 19, 2013
At a time when more high schools are looking to their graduates' college-remediation rates as a clue to how well they prepare students for college and careers, new research findings suggest a significant portion of students who test into remedial classes don't actually need them.
Separate studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education come to the same conclusion: The way colleges are using standardized placement tests such as the College Board's AccuplacerACT's Compass, and others can misidentify students, and secondary schools and universities should work to develop a more comprehensive profile of students' strengths and weaknesses in performing college-level work.

PhilaSoup March 2013 - Sunday Get together
Sunday, March 3, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EST) Philadelphia, PA
Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall (2nd Floor)
3417 Spruce Street, PhiladelphiaPA 19104
Philasoup is a monthly microgrant dinner meant to bring innovative and dynamic Philadelphia-area educators together, highlight the great work they are doing and fund some terrific projects. The vision for PhilaSoup is to be a monthly microgrant dinner that starts and ends with educators but is an access point to education for the whole city.

PSBA officer applications due April 30
PSBA’s website 2/15/2013
Candidates seeking election to PSBA officer posts in 2014 must file an expression of interest for the office desired to be interviewed by the PSBA Leadership Development Committee.
This new committee replaces the former Nominations Committee. Deadline for filing is April 30. The application shall be marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by the deadline to be considered timely filed. Expression of interest forms can be found online at

Edcamp Philly 2013 at UPENN May 18th, 2013
For those of you who have never gone to an Edcamp before, please make a note of the unusual part of the morning where we will build the schedule. Edcamp doesn’t believe in paying fancy people to come and talk at you about teaching! At an Edcamp, the people attending – the participants - facilitate sessions on teaching and learning! So Edcamp won’t succeed without a whole bunch of you wanting to run a session of some kind! What kinds of sessions might you run?
What: Edcamp Philly is an"unconference" devoted to K-12 Education issues and ideas.
Where: University of Pennsylvania  When: May 18, 2013  Cost: FREE!

2013 PSBA Leadership Symposium on Advocacy and Issues
April 6, 2013 The Penn Stater Convention Center Hotel; State College, PA
Strategic leadership, school budgeting and advocacy are key issues facing today's school district leaders. For your school district to truly thrive, leaders must maintain a solid understanding of these three functions. Attend the 2013 PSBA Leadership Symposium on Advocacy and Issues to ensure you have the skills you need to take your district to the next level.

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