Saturday, November 16, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 16, 2013: Six new cyber charter school applications before PDE; No cyber charter in PA made AYP for 2012

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 16, 2013:
Six new cyber charter school applications before PDE; No cyber charter in PA made AYP for 2012

“Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Carolyn Dumaresq provided the Board a report of PDE activities. ….She noted there are six new cyber charter school applications before PDE; hearings on these applications will be held November 15 – 22”
Education Policy and Leadership Center

Pennsylvania Department of Education 2013 Cyber Charter School Applications

No cyber charter in Pennsylvania made Adequate Yearly Progress for 2012
By Mary Niederberger Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 23, 2013 7:37 AM
Recalculated figures for attaining Adequate Yearly Progress on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams for 2012 released by the state Department of Education show that the number of charter schools hitting the targets for AYP dropped from 77 to 43.
With the recalculation, no cyber charter school in Pennsylvania made AYP.

Column: Keystone exams will fail to access Pa. graduates
By ANDY DINNIMAN, Times Guest Columnist  11/14/13, 11:25 PM EST |
Andy Dinniman, a Chester County Democrat, is state Senator for Pennsylvania’s 19th Senatorial District and minority chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Everyone supports higher academic standards and accountability in education. Though controversial, I believe the new Pennsylvania Core Standards (Common Core) are a positive step for education.  However, in the false name of raising academic standards and accountability, the Corbett administration is attempting to assess these new standards through the implementation of the Keystone Graduation Exams – high-stakes tests that will result in higher property taxes, less classroom instruction, more “teaching to the test,” and the potential for a generation of students to be branded as failures.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education have proposed the Keystone Graduation Exams to the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which is set to vote on them on Nov. 21.   I encourage you to join me in opposing the Keystone Graduation Exams. Here’s why.

Dinniman, Overwhelming Majority of Area School Superintendents Call for a No Vote on Keystone Graduation Exams
Senator Andy Dinniman November 13, 2013
WEST CHESTER (November 13) – State Senator Andy Dinniman and nearly every school superintendent in southeastern Pennsylvania oppose the proposed Keystone Graduation Exams and have asked Pennsylvania’s IRRC (Independent Regulatory Review Commission) to vote against the exams on Nov. 21.
Fully 58 of the 61 superintendents and all four intermediate unit directors serving students and taxpayers in Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, and Bucks counties believe there are “major challenges and concerns with the current implementation strategy of the Keystone Exams and Pennsylvania’s school accountability system,” according to the signed letter delivered to IRRC commissioners on Nov. 4.
In addition, many local school districts have passed resolutions opposing the Keystone Graduation Exams, including the Great Valley School District, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, Radnor School District, and Haverford School District. On Tuesday, the Coatesville School Board unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s general approach toward the standardization of education.
The school districts’ concerns include new, substantial costs to local taxpayers in the hundreds of millions of dollars; the inherent unfairness of the proposed high-stakes tests; a complete lack of direction from the Pennsylvania Department of Education over how to implement and use the Keystone Exams; and perhaps most importantly, the negative impact that preparing for and taking so many required standardized tests has on public schools – many of which are performing excellently.

Common Core/Keystone Exams: The PA State Board of Education (Board) has submitted the final-form regulation entitled “Academic Standards and Assessment."
The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) plans to meet and act on this regulation at our public meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Regulation #6 – 326: Academic Standards and Assessment
Amends existing regulations to reflect Pennsylvania's Common Core Standards in English language arts; address test security concerns; and require students to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams in order to graduate from high school.
The agenda and any changes to the time or date of the meeting will be posted on IRRC’s Web site at note that any comments should be submitted to the Board prior to the 48-hour blackout period, which begins at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday,November 19, 2013. Please provide IRRC with a copy of any comments submitted, as well. Please note that all correspondence and documents relating to a regulation submitted to IRRC are a matter of public record and appear on IRRC’s Web site.
For a copy of the regulation or if you have any substantive questions regarding the regulation, please contact the Board at (717) 787-3787. You can also download the final-form regulation from IRRC’s Web site using the following link:

Pittsburgh: 3 charter schools apply to open in city next fall
A fourth one files request to expand
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 15, 2013 11:34 PM
In a district already expecting to spend $54.9 million on charter schools in 2014, Pittsburgh Public Schools has received applications from three new charter schools for next fall and a request to expand an existing one….. Charters are public schools open to state residents. Under state law, districts must pay for each resident who attends a charter school. In the case of Pittsburgh, that amounts to $12,871 for regular students or $27,923 for special education students.  The proposed 2014 city school budget already would spend about $1 of every $10 on charter schools, including a $2.8 million budgeted for a new Propel charter school in Hazelwood that is expected to open next fall.  If all three new charters were granted, the three schools could cost the district $5.4 million in the first year and $17.1 million in the fifth year. The figure could be more or less, depending on whether some students are in special education or come from outside the district or enrollment projections aren't met.

Petition asks Pittsburgh board to delay votes on key city school issues
School closing, building sale among requests
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 15, 2013 11:44 PM
With one legislative meeting left before four new Pittsburgh Public Schools board members are sworn in, Great Public Schools Pittsburgh is asking the board to delay voting on three key issues.
The organization has started a petition on, signed by more than 550 supporters, asking the board to wait until new members are sworn in to vote on:
* A contract with Teach for America to provide 15 to 30 new teachers in hard-to-fill areas as well as to provide a more diverse teaching pool.
* Start of the process to close Pittsburgh Woolslair K-5 on the Lawrenceville-Bloomfield border.
* Sale of the Burgwin school building in Hazelwood for use as a Propel charter school.
The petition states, "This newly elected board represents the largest board turnover in over two decades, and the new board, duly elected by Pittsburgh voters, should have its say in these important issues."

Bill would allow public schools to eliminate or reduce property tax
By Barbara Miller Staff Writer
published nov 13, 2013 at 10:59 pm (updated nov 13, 2013 at 10:59 pm)
Never again pay a property tax bill to your school district?
While the idea, on its face, may sound enticing, taxes are going to fund public schools. If a bill in the state Legislature becomes law, it would be a question of which taxes, and how much of each, would finance public education.  What’s known as House Bill 1189 contains no provision to alter the taxing options of either municipalities or counties, so, even if the bill passed, it would have no effect on real estate taxes levied by those governmental bodies.  Sponsored by state Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, House Bill 1189 is an amendment to the Local Tax Enabling Act giving school districts the option of reducing or eliminating school property taxes. A co-sponsor is Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson.

State Responds to PILCOP Philly Nurse Shortage Complaint
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
On November 8th, we received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in response to the group complaint we filed on behalf of Parents United for Public Education regarding the shortage of nurses. In the letter, the state indicates that it will investigate the lack of nurses specifically related to students with disabilities by reviewing current staffing plans and conducting onsite visits. The Department of Education further states that it is not responsible for investigating this complaint related to non-disabled students and places that responsibility with the Office of Student Services. The state is also referring the matter to the Department of Health. The letter does not indicate if the department has any plans to meet with parents or advocates during its investigation. Please continue to report nursing shortage issues through to keep the pressure on the state. Click here to read the letter.
For more information on the complaints project, click here.

Appeals board: New Hope charter can stay open until end of school year
ERIN JAMES / The York Dispatch UPDATED:   11/15/2013 07:35:50 AM EST
The fight to save New Hope Academy goes on.
A state-level decision Thursday means the York City charter school will not have to close by Jan. 15, as New Hope had been previously ordered to do. Instead, the school can stay open until the end of its academic year.  Pennsylvania's charter school appeals board voted unanimously Oct. 15 to close New Hope and later issued a 52-page report explaining that decision. The document is a castigation of charter violations, academic failures and unethical financial practices at New Hope first alleged by the York City School District and now upheld by the state.  The appeals board altered its original order Thursday with a 4-2 vote to grant New Hope's request for a stay. That means the order to close is delayed, not reversed.

Administrator returns to working with the students
The light snowfall Tuesday reminded Darlene Davis of one of the minor, if inescapable, annoyances of her former job as a school superintendent.  Every time it snowed, she would have to make the call: school or no school. And no matter which she choose, people would complain about it.  "Some people say, 'I can't believe you closed'; others say, 'I can't believe you opened.' You can't make everyone happy," said Davis, 56, who spent three years as chief of the Cheltenham School District in Montgomery County, a diverse community of high achievers whose two most notable alumni are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.  So Davis decided to make herself happy. After rising to the top of her profession, she retired last year to go back to the thing she loved most about education - working with children - as principal of Widener Partnership Charter School.

“Davidson, 51, has a reputation for being a conservative Democrat. Some Democrats are concerned about her votes regarding women’s health care rights and her support of school vouchers, according to Smith.”
Davidson could face a challenge in 164th
By Danielle Lynch, Delaware County Daily Times 11/14/13, 11:05 PM EST |
If state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby, decides to run for re-election next year, she could face a challenger in the primary election.  Lansdowne Democrat Billy J. Smith is eyeing the seat. Smith, 38, is an attorney who previously served on Lansdowne Borough Council. He primarily handles criminal defense cases and was previously an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.

“But reading scores are notoriously difficult to improve. While math scores on tests such as NAEP have improved substantially since testing began in the early 1990s, reading scores have  increased only by slim margins. Experts believe that’s because children learn math mostly at school, while they learn most of their language skills at home, much of it before they even enter school.  Neuman said that means states wanting to make significant improvements in early reading need to target parents before their children reach school, or even preschool.”
States Insist on Third Grade Reading Proficiency
Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline By Adrienne Lu, Staff Writer November 15, 2013
Educators have known for decades that learning how to read by the third grade is a critical milestone for children. Students who fall too far behind by the third grade rarely catch up.
One recent study found that students who don’t read well by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.  Despite progress in some states, only 35 percent of fourth graders across the country are proficient inreading, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released earlier this month.

PSBA welcomes new heads of Government Affairs and Member Services
PSBA Press Release 11/15/2013 Steve Robinson, Dir. of Publications and PR
John Callahan and Lin Carpenter recently joined PSBA as senior director of Government Affairs and assistant executive director of Member Services, respectively.  "We are excited to have these talented leaders join us in public education advocacy. Their expertise will be a great asset to this organization," said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains.

Congratulations! Getting elected to the school board was the easy part…..
PSBA New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
November 2013-April 2014
Announcing School Board Academy’s New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
You will need a wealth of information quickly as you jump out of the starting block and hit the ground running as a newly elected member of the board of school directors. New board members, as well as veterans who might like a refresher, will want to make the most of the opportunity to attend PSBA's New Board Member Training Program: Great Governance, Great Schools! .

EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns 
EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns beginning January or May of 2014 in the downtown Harrisburg offices. One intern will support education policy work including the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign. The second intern position will support the work of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network. Ideal candidates have an interest/course work in political science/public policy, social studies, the arts or education and also have strong research, communications, and critical thinking skills. The internship is unpaid, but free parking is available. Weekly hours of the internship are negotiable. To apply or to suggest a candidate, please email Mattie Robinson for further information at

Philadelphia Education Fund 2013 EDDY Awards November 19, 2013
Join us as we celebrate their accomplishments!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm WHYY, 150 North 6th Street, Philadelphia
Invitations coming soon!

Building One Pennsylvania Fourth Annual Fundraiser and Awards Ceremony, November 21, 2013 6:00-8:00 PM
IBEW Local 380   3900 Ridge Pike  Collegeville, PA 19426
Building One Pennsylvania is an emerging statewide non-partisan organization of leaders from diverse sectors - municipal, school, faith, business, labor and civic - who are joining together to stabilize and revitalize their communities, revitalize local economies and promote regional opportunity and sustainability.

Just announced: The Last Waltz Philly benefit for Philadelphia School Children at the Trocadero on Saturday, November 30th
WXPN The Key November 5, 2013 | 12:25 PM | By Bruce Warren
On Saturday, November 30th the Trocadero Theatre hosts The Last Waltz Philly, a benefit for Philadelphia school children. Producers of the event Fergus Carey (owner of Fergie’s, Monk’s Cafe, Belgian Cafe and Grace Tavern), Bryan Dilworth (of Bonfire Booking), singer-songwriter Andrew Lipke, and musician and producer Kevin Hanson. The Last Waltz, a concert by rock group The Band and featuring numerous guest musicians including Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and others, was held on Thanksgiving in 1976. The Last Waltz Philly will celebrate the music of The Band’s farewell show all for an excellent cause.

The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition April 5-7, 2014 New Orleans
The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  Our first time back in New Orleans since the spring of 2002!
General Session speakers include education advocates Thomas L. Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, as well as education innovators Nikhil Goyal and Angela Maiers.
We have more than 200 sessions planned! Colleagues from across the country will present workshops on key topics with strategies and ideas to help your district. View our Conference Brochure for highlights on sessions and focus presentations.
Questions? Contact NSBA at 800-950-6722 (NSBA) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

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