Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 30, 2013: “We no longer need to hypothesize about the results. Cyber charters do not work for the majority of the students they enroll.” Plus: House budget coverage/reactions; several items on early childhood education

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 30, 2013:
“We no longer need to hypothesize about the results. Cyber charters do not work for the majority of the students they enroll.”
Plus: House budget coverage/reactions; several items on early childhood education

Delay the cut in the capital stock and franchise tax
We urge the legislature to delay planned tax cuts rather than making additional budget cuts to schools, health care, and human services.
Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget

PA House GOP leaders push their budget, aiming to spend less than Corbett
By The Associated Press  on May 29, 2013 at 1:40 PM, updated May 29, 2013 at 1:48 PM
Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania House say they want a state budget for next year that would spend about $100 million less than the governor has proposed but about $600 million more than what passed a year ago.  The GOP leadership introduced their budget plan Wednesday for the fiscal year starting July 1.  They're highlighting an increase in spending on K-12 education, funding to hire 300 more state troopers and greater support for certain health programs, county conservation districts and the state open records office.
A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett's budget office calls it "a starting point."

PA House budget includes $4 million bump for lawmakers
By Melissa Daniels  PA Independent May 29, 2013
HARRISBURG — Among the $578 million spending increase Pennsylvania’s House Republicans propose for next year’s state budget is a cool $4 million bump for lawmakers themselves.
The $28.3 billion proposal, released Tuesday, is about $100 million less overall than what Gov. Tom Corbett proposed in February.  But Corbett’s plan keeps funding flat for Senate and House of Representatives budgets, at nearly $272 million. The House proposal bumps that up to $276 million, an increase of 1.5 percent.

“Earlier this month, Adolph said the House will not tackle Corbett's pension reform plan.
Senate Republicans leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, have been lukewarm to the idea, too.  The Senate Finance Committee plans to hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday on a bill that mirrors Corbett's pension proposals. The House has yet to schedule hearings.
If the Senate and House cannot agree on pension reform, the state budget will have to be reduced by $175 million. School districts also could not factor in the pension savings in their own budgets.”
State budget talks to heat up in Harrisburg
House Republicans are to propose budget that would spend slightly less than what Gov. Tom Corbett had proposed.
By Steve Esack, Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:50 p.m. EDT, May 28, 2013
HARRISBURG — House Republicans on Wednesday will introduce a 2013-14 budget that is $100 million less than Gov. Tom Corbett had proposed in February.
The Republicans, who control the House by a 19-member majority, will call for reducing Corbett's spending plan to $28.3 billion to partly account for a drop in state sales tax revenue.
Exact details of the House's plan are not known. But no agency is expected to take the brunt of the spending cuts.  To make up for that anticipated loss, the House could recommend shaving part or all of Corbett's 2.4 percent spending increase, which represents an extra $679 million.

PA House Republican Caucus on budget proposal

PA House GOP budget proposal (spreadsheet)

PBPC: What You Need to Know About the Pa. House Budget Bill
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center May 29, 2013
Pennsylvania House Republican leaders today introduced a 2013-14 budget that is $100 million less than what Governor Tom Corbett proposed in February. Overall, the $28.3 billion plan cuts $230 million in spending proposed by the Governor, shifting nearly $130 million of the savings to other budget priorities.
A significant piece of the spending reductions come from education—$85 million from reduced state payments for school employees’ Social Security and pension benefits. These savings are the result of deep cuts to education that have reduced the ranks of teachers, reading specialists, counselors and other school staff. The House plan adds $10 million of these savings to the $90 million increase already proposed by the Governor for the K-12 basic education subsidy. Most of the rest of the education savings are redistributed to priorities other than education.

It’s not just about the basic education subsidy; look at what’s not in the proposed budget:
For FY2008-09, BEFORE the ARRA/federal stimulus money, there were several line items in addition to the basic education subsidy that no longer exist or are significantly reduced.
High School Reform                   $  10.7 million eliminated
Accountability Block Grant         $171.4 million reduction
Tutoring                                    $  65.1 million eliminated
Dual Enrollment                         $  10.0 million eliminated
Science: It’s Elementary             $  13.6 million eliminated
School Improvement Grants        $  22.8 million eliminated
Charter School Reimbursement   $226.9 million eliminated
                        Total:                $520.5 million
Here’s the detail:
Key Education Subsidies Chart FY2006-07 thru 2012-13
Senator Hughes’ website

Video of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's education funding webinar of May 28
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center May 29, 2013
You can watch a video of the webinar at or share it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook. A link to the PowerPoint presentation is also available at that web page.
Be sure to register for our next webinar on Tuesday, June 18 at 4 p.m. to get the latest on the 2013-14 state budget. Register at
Finally, don’t forget to bookmark and follow our web site ( and blog ( for the latest from Harrisburg, including an update later today on the budget bill released by Pennsylvania House Republican leaders. 

Petition: PA State Senators and House Representatives: Increase Special Education Funding line item in 2013-2014 PA State Budget.
The State of Pennsylvania has flat-funded Special Education since 2007-2008. Meanwhile, the gap between Special Education costs and funding continues to grow, and now many local municipalities are being forced to increase property taxes year after year, and cut educational programming and curriculum from which Basic Education and Special Education students benefit in order to finance Special Education programs.

Impasse immediate over plan to revise Pa. pension system
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson @marywilson May 30, 2013
State Senate lawmakers are beginning the public vetting of a three-part proposal from the governor's office to deal with Pennsylvania's multibillion-dollar pension debt.
Months of debate leading up to the hearing have only made the groups on either side of the issue seem more entrenched than ever.

Pennsylvania has been experimenting with students in cyber charter schools under the guise of 'innovation' for more than a decade. We no longer need to hypothesize about the results. Cyber charters do not work for the majority of the students they enroll.”
Letter: The true costs of unchecked charter growth
WHYY Newsworks By Rhonda Brownstein May 29, 2013
Ben Herold's recent article "Rising cyber-charter costs fuel push for statewide reform" focused on the financial cost of cyber charters. In the article, much attention was given to responses from cyber charter operators and supporters who emphasize catchy policy terms like "innovation," but wholly ignore the reality of student experiences in these programs.
Cyber schools failing our kids
Discussion of cyber education must focus on evidence of what has actually occurred in Pennsylvania as opposed to a theoretical discussion of the supposed benefits of this "innovative" movement. Our state has allowed unchecked cyber charter growth, and the consequences have been grave. Cyber charter school growth has further harmed funding-starved districts and incentivized unregulated district-run cyber programs. The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania is deeply troubled by the financial costs. But more devastating are the educational consequences of these programs. Students enrolled in Pennsylvania cyber charter schools are not receiving a quality education.

Teplitz Calls for Costing-out Study of ‘Flawed’ Charter School Funding Formula
Senator Teplitz’s website MAY 29, 2013
HARRISBURG, May 29, 2013 — As school districts continue to struggle with tighter budgets, state Sen. Rob Teplitz said a thorough examination of the charter school funding formula is needed to address spending inequities.  Teplitz has introduced a resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a comprehensive statewide costing-out study of charter schools and cyber schools in Pennsylvania. The resolution has 19 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
Pennsylvania’s charter school funding formula establishes a per-student tuition rate based on the cost to educate a student in his or her home school district, and not on the actual costs at the charter or cyber charter school.  The flawed formula creates spending inefficiencies that hurt taxpayers, said Teplitz, who is a member of the Senate Education Committee.

“It would eliminate all extracurricular activities, sports, art and music. The budget would expand classes to the limit allowed by the Philadelphia teachers union contract: 30 students in grades K to 3, and 33 students in grades 4 to 12.
There would be one nurse for every 1,500 pupils, the state mandate, instead of the district's current rate of one per 1,000 students.
No support staff would be available to serve lunch, watch children during recess, greet visitors, type letters, answer phones or conduct business.
Assistant principals would be nothing more than a memory.”
Proposed Philly school budget cut begin to hit home
CENTRAL HIGH School teacher Jacquelyn Mancinelli said she and everyone she knew were in "a state of disbelief" when they learned about the school district's proposed budget cuts.
The school's 27 athletic teams, many of them champions, gone.
The guidance counselors who assist students through the difficult process of college applications from September to Christmas vacation each year: also gone.
"But now it's starting to become more of a reality and everybody is really scared," said Mancinelli, 25, a ninth- and 10th-grade English teacher.

$2 tax on cigarettes to aid school district wins Philly City Council support
WHYY Newsworks By Tom MacDonald @tmacdonaldwhyy May 29, 2013
Philadelphia's budget process is moving forward as a key City Council committee approved a cigarette tax to help the schools.  The bill creating Mayor Michael Nutter's proposed $2r per pack cigarette tax was among six approved by Council's committee of the whole Wednesday. Nutter has offered several proposals to help the school district fill a $300 million budget shortfall.

Gerry Lenfest: School budget cuts would hurt Philly's economy
WHYY Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein May 29, 2013
Philadelphia's School Reform Commission will vote Thursday on whether to adopt a budget that would deprive the district of librarians, sports, music and assistant principals.
One day before the vote, charity giants Carole Haas Gravagno and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest decided to throw their weight behind the city's struggling schools.
Haas Gravagno, chairwoman of the Stoneleigh Foundation, urged city and state leaders to figure out a way to avoid the cuts. She said they would hurt children, taxpayers, businesses and the suburbs alike.  "We're more interested in building juvenile justice centers or prisons. That's where [children will] go if we aren't taking care of them," she said. "This will spill over into all the counties if we don't do something."  Lenfest, another noted philanthropist, said in a statement that "gutting the schools" would hurt Philadelphia's economy.

“The average resident will see his real estate taxes reduced by $31.78 or .1105 mills.”
Radnor School Board cuts taxes in $82.7 million budget
Delco Times By Linda Stein Wednesday, May 29, 2013
RADNOR - After a long and contentious debate, the Radnor Township School Board adopted an $82.7 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The budget includes a ½ percent tax rate decrease for the first time in 30 years, board President Eric Zajac said.

Haverford School Board OKs budget draft, 3.55% tax hike
By LOIS PUGLIONESI DelcoTimes Correspondent Wednesday, May 29, 2013
HAVERFORD — School directors at a recent meeting voted 7-0 to adopt a proposed final budget with a 3.55 percent tax rate increase, slightly higher than the 3.49 percent increase projected in earlier budget drafts.

Editorial: Public school funding crisis needs action
Delco Times Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
It is the telltale sound of spring. Cha-ching.
No, not the chatter of those 17-year Cicadas awakening across the landscape. We’re talking about your local school board munching their way deeper and deeper into your wallet.
Yes, it’s school budget time again. Stop us if you’ve heard this tune before.

More than 300 Business Leaders and Organizations from 44 States Sign Letter Asking Lawmakers to Support Early Childhood Programs
Letter Delivered to President Obama and Congressional Members
Former Chief Executives of Macy’s, Inc. and Procter & Gamble to Meet with Secretary Duncan and Secretary  Sebelius to Discuss Early Childhood Programs
Press Release America’s Promise Alliance May 29, 2013
WASHINGTON, DCAmerica’s Promise Alliance (America’s Promise) and its early childhood project ReadyNation today announced that more than 300 business leaders and organizations from 44 states around the country have signed an open letter to President Obama and Members of Congress declaring support for early childhood programs. Citing the benefits early childhood programs provide to the nation’s economy, workforce preparedness, and standing in the global marketplace, business leaders are asking the nation’s leaders to make it a national priority to invest in the academic and social development of young children. The full letter and list of signatories can be found at

Letters to the editor: Pre-K Partnership will help Pennsylvanians
ERIE TIMES-NEWS by Lt. Gen. Dennis L. Benchoff U.S. Army (Ret.), Lancaster
PUBLISHED: MAY 29, 2013 12:01 AM EST
I agree with Erie's educators about the importance of high-quality pre-K for children's development ("Pre-K funding fluctuates but Erie educators say experience still vital," May 8). As a retired Army general and member of Mission: Readiness, I also know it is important for our future national security.  The Defense Department estimates that 75 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24 cannot join the military primarily because they are too poorly educated, physically unfit or have a criminal record. In Pennsylvania, 22 percent of high school graduates can't score high enough on the military's exam to enlist. Education outcomes will improve through expansion of quality pre-K programs, which have been shown to increase graduation rates by as much as 44 percent and lessen criminal behavior in later years.

We're Leaving Our Kids at the Gate
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children Blog May 29, 2013 5:43 PM | Posted By : PPC
Lawmakers in Washington continue to act like the worst consequence of sequestration is that it disrupted airline flights. Of course, they fixed that, but now they need to do something about the 2,000-plus Pennsylvania children whose early learning opportunities will be disrupted if Congress doesn't act soon to reverse the sequester.
Since the sequester took effect on March 1, the commonwealth's Head Start programs have been hit with a $13.5 million reduction, potentially eliminating services to more than 1,500 children by the end of the year. Some programs already are closing their doors, leaving kids without pre-k programs. Estimates show child care funding in Pennsylvania will be cut by about $3.5 million due to the sequester, potentially leading to more than 650 children losing subsidies that allow their parents to afford care and maintain their employment

Montgomery County: Early Childhood Education, Child Care and the Proposed 2013-14 State Budget
Public Citizens for Children and Youth

Delaware County: Early Childhood Education, Child Care and the Proposed 2013-14 State Budget
Public Citizens for Children and Youth

Chester County: Early Childhood Education, Child Care and the Proposed 2013-14 State Budget
Public Citizens for Children and Youth

Bucks County: Early Childhood Education, Child Care and the Proposed 2013-14 State Budget
Public Citizens for Children and Youth

First Book provides access to new books for children in need.
To date, First Book has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.  First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.
We are proud of our past success and even more excited about the future. First Book is uniquely positioned to become a leader in providing digital resources so that children in need don’t miss out.  No matter how formats and technologies change, children from low-income families will still need access to rich and varied content. First Book is helping guide the publishing industry as it evolves so that all children can benefit from new technologies and flourish as readers.

Cheltenham High School Makes Newsweek’s Best Schools List for 2012
Citizen’s Call Blog Posted on May 28, 2013
Cheltenham High School (CHS) has been named to America’s Best High Schools list, byNewsweekThe Daily Beast. The list highlights the best 2,000 public high schools in the nation. With a solid ranking of 760, CHS more than held its own in the ratings competition, the essence of which is to identify the leading schools in the country in preparing students for college.
The high school tracked a 98 percent graduation rate, 90 percent college bound rate, 1545 average SAT score and 3.5 average Advanced Placement Exam score. CHS achieved an overall score of 3.2, placing it in the 760th position. According to Newsweek/The Daily Beast, those schools on the list “have proven to be the most effective in turning out college-ready grads.”

Here’s the full list - 77 Pennsylvania high schools are on this list
America’s Best High Schools
Newsweek/Daily Beast by Lauren Streib May 6, 2013 5:00 AM EDT
This year our ranking highlights the best 2,000 public high schools in the nation—those that have proven to be the most effective in turning out college-ready grads. The list is based on six components: graduation rate (25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent), and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course (5 percent). Click here forfull methodology.

“In a letter to lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee last week, 10 education groups including the National Education Association and the National School Boards Association banded together to ask the panel to reject what they called “devastating cuts.””
Special Education Could Face $2 Billion In Cuts By MICHELLE DIAMENT May 28, 2013
As a new round of budget talks gets underway in Congress, special education advocates are sounding the alarm about big cuts that may be on the horizon.
Preliminary figures from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations indicate that education programs could be slashed by nearly 20 percent for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, partly as a result of the sequester, the across-the-board spending cuts that took effect in March.  Though detailed proposals have yet to be released, the Council for Exceptional Children — which lobbies on behalf of special educators — is estimating that such cuts would mean more than $2 billion less for programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“When you see these figures in black and white, it’s pretty stunning,” said Lindsay Jones, senior director for policy and advocacy at CEC. “I don’t know how (schools) could withstand it.”
The level of cutbacks proposed is drawing concern from the broader education community.

 “How can we reduce the effects of poverty on our students? Robert Balfanz, codirector of the Everyone Graduates Center and research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, writes that (PDF) "schools that serve high concentrations of low-income students need to be able to provide direct, evidence-based supports that help students attend school regularly, act in a productive manner, believe they will succeed, overcome external obstacles, complete their coursework, and put forth the effort required to graduate college- and career-ready."
Reducing the Effects of Child Poverty
THE WHOLE CHILD BLOG May 28, 2013 by Klea Scharberg
In today's global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. The 2008 economic crisis became a "household crisis" (PDF) when higher costs for basic goods, fewer jobs and reduced wages, diminished assets and reduced access to credit, and reduced access to public goods and services affected families who coped, in part, by eating fewer and less nutritious meals, spending less on education and health care, and pulling children out of school to work or help with younger siblings. These "new poor" join those who were vulnerable prior to the financial shocks and economic downturn.
Today's statistics are astounding:

“NSBA, AASA (the School Superintendents Association), the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals wrote the document. It notes that states and districts face “very real obstacles” to align their curricula with the new standards and administer the required tests.”
National school leadership organizations urge “adequate time” for Common Core implementation
School Board News Today by Alexis Rice May 29th, 2013
States and school districts need adequate time, professional development, and the technical infrastructure to properly transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the assessment requirements, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the major organizations representing school administrators say in a joint statement on the issue.
“Strong educational standards can be an important tool for improving student achievement, but states and school districts must be well prepared to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “For the standards to succeed, states and school districts must have the financial resources and the infrastructure to manage online assessments, and they must be able to provide school administrators and teachers with the professional development.”

Need to feel good about the Common Core and Keystone Exams?
What would it take for us to see similar events focusing on high quality early childhood education and community schools?  Generous sponsors?
“The Pennsylvania Education Summit is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Business Council Education Foundation, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Team Pennsylvania Foundation with the support of generous sponsors.”
Pennsylvania Education Summit
Harrisburg, PA Thursday, June 13, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM (EDT)
The Pennsylvania Education Summit: Building a Pathway to College and Career Success will gather business leaders, teachers, school superintendents, curriculum specialists, state lawmakers, legislative staff, executive agency professionals, workforce investment board members and staff, and other education stakeholders for a civil conversation on the public policy required to ensure our Commonwealth's young people are "college and career ready."  The Pennsylvania Education Summit will highlight and support the efforts of the Corbett Administration and Pennsylvania General Assembly to design and implement education reforms that increase student achievement and accountability in Pennsylvania's K-12 education system.
Agenda and registration here:

“What’s the least bad option going forward? Who should bear the brunt of this legacy of fiscal irresponsibility? Current retirees? Today’s teachers? New teachers? School districts? Taxpayers? The students themselves?”
No Way Out? How to Solve the Teacher-Pension Problem
Live or Webinar June 6, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. EDT
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 1016 16th Street NW, 7th Floor Washington, DC 20036
America’s teacher-pension systems (with up to a trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities according to some estimates) present a raging public-policy dilemma. Career teachers absolutely deserve a secure retirement, but lawmakers promised them benefits that the system cannot afford, as those promises were based on short-term political considerations and bad math. Now the bill is coming due, and someone’s going to get soaked.
  • Sandi Jacobs, vice president and managing director of state policy, National Council on Teacher Quality
  • Josh B. McGee, vice president of public accountability, Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Charles Zogby, secretary of the budget, Pennsylvania
  • Leo Casey, executive director, Albert Shanker Institute
Moderator: Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
This event will be webcast. Visit our website,, at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, June 6, to watch the proceedings live.
Register now to join the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality for a timely look at the teacher-pension crisis and various state efforts to address it.

EPLC Education Policy Fellowship Program – Apply Now
Applications are available now for the 2013-2014 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 350 graduates in its first fourteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 12-13, 2013 and continues to graduation in June 2014.

Turning the Page for Change celebration, June 11, 2013
Please join us for the Notebook’s annual Turning the Page for Change celebration on June 11, 2013, from 4:30 - 7 p.m. at the University of The Arts, Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad Street. We will be honoring a member of the Notebook community for years of service to our mission as well as honoring several local high school journalists. Help us celebrate another year of achievement that included two awards from the Education Writers Association and coverage of other critical stories like the budget crisis and the school closing process.

Building One America 2013 National Summit July 18-19, 2013 Washington, DC
Brookings Institution to present findings of their “Confronting Suburban Poverty” report
Building One America’s Second National Summit for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions will involve local leaders and federal policy makers to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common challenges around housing, schools and infrastructure facing America’s metropolitan regions and its diverse middle-class suburbs. Participants will include local elected and grassroots leaders from America’s diverse middle class suburban towns and school districts, scholars and policy experts, members of the Obama Administration and Congress.  The summit will identify comprehensive solutions and build bipartisan support for meaningful action to stabilize and support inclusive middle-class communities and promote sustainable, economically competitive regions.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District March 2013

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight Keystone State Education Coalition (updated May 2, 2013)
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

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