Saturday, November 9, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 9, 2013: 55 of 62 suburban Philly superintendents and 4 IU directors urge PA not to adopt Keystones as graduation requirement

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for November 9, 2013:
55 of 62 suburban Philly superintendents and 4 IU directors urge PA not to adopt Keystones as graduation requirement

61% of low-income families have no age appropriate books at home.
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EPLC Education Notebook Friday, November 8, 2013
Education Policy and Leadership Center

Many regional school leaders argue against Keystone exams
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Saturday, November 9, 2013, 2:02 AM
Fifty-five school superintendents and the heads of four intermediate units in the region are urging state officials not to adopt a plan requiring students to pass proficiency tests in order to graduate from high school.  In a letter sent Tuesday to the state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the educators raised several issues with the proposed Keystone Exams, from higher dropout rates to added costs for districts.  As there are 62 school chiefs in the Pennsylvania suburbs, the superintendents represent nearly all of the districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.

Read the letter sent to IRRC by Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County school leaders
PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission website
To view the pdf of the letter click on the link the says BUCKS CHESTER DELAWARE MONTGOMERY COUNTIES dated November 6, 2013

When the IRRC considered the Keystone Exams in 2009, school districts all over PA passed resolutions in opposition; was your district one of them?
School Board Resolutions Opposing Keystone Exams Submitted to IRRC - 2009

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 schools may hire from Teach for America
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 9, 2013 12:05 AM
Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane wants Teach for America -- which has deployed 32,000 college graduates without education degrees to classrooms nationwide for more than two decades -- to help the district fill 15 to 30 teaching vacancies next fall.
Hiring teachers through the alternative certification program would be a first for the district, which has faced teacher furloughs in recent years.

“…bringing their (Waltons) total support for TFA to over $100 million since 1993.”
As WalMart Writes Checks, Critics Blast Teach for America
Critics blast non-profit as 'pipeline' for pro-corporate policies like charter schools and privatization
Published on Monday, August 5, 2013 by Common Dreams - Lauren McCauley, staff writer
The education non-profit Teach for America has been under increasing fire recently as critics and alumni accuse the organization of misappropriating their original mission by backing the policies of the "corporate education agenda" that promote privatization, the expansion of charter schools and the undermining of teachers unions.
These criticisms come amidst news last week that Wal-Mart owners, the Walton Family—key backers of charter school expansion and the effort to end teacher protections—donated $20 million to the nonprofit for "recruitment, training and professional development," bringing their total support for TFA to over $100 million since 1993.

Special Report: KD Investigators Question Spending At Pittsburgh Urban Pathways Charter School
CBS Pittsburgh Reporting Andy Sheehan November 7, 2013 6:30 PM
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s the mission of the Urban Pathways Charter School downtown to provide alternative education for underprivileged students, and CEO Linda Clautti has complained for years that she thinks her school and other charter schools are getting shortchanged.
“Part of my job as the chief executive officer is to make up that gap,” Clautti said.
But a KDKA investigation found that Clautti might start by tightening her own belt.

PA Gov. Tom Corbett officially kicks off re-election bid
Governor's low approval numbers make his quest for a second term tough, experts say.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:57 p.m. EST, November 6, 2013
PITTSBURGH — This is where Tom Corbett's long march begins.
The city of three rivers. The city of six Super Bowl rings. The city that launched Corbett from local prosecutor to the governor's mansion he hopes to occupy for another four years despite historically low public approval ratings.
"I stand here with a sense of determination," Corbett said Wednesday, sharing the stage with his wife, Susan, and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley at the John Heinz History Center. "We are running for re-election. We are seeking a second term for governor and lieutenant governor. ... Why? Because we are not done."  It looks to be a harrowing journey — and not because Corbett plans a dozen stops over the coming days, including in Allentown on Friday. The Republican incumbent will be dogged by the specter of $1 billion in education cuts, haunted by the crimes of Jerry Sandusky and attacked by up to eight Democrats looking to capitalize on his unpopularity.
Gov. Tom Corbett visits Lehigh Valley during state re-election tour
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on November 08, 2013 at 6:53 PM
Facing an extremely crowded field of Democratic opponents, incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett stopped today in the Lehigh Valley as part of his statewide re-election campaign tour.
During the visit to B. Braun Medical Inc. in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, he said he delivered on his campaign promises four years ago of cutting wasteful spending, eliminating taxes and creating more jobs.  "With your help, we're going to win, aren't we?" Corbett told a crowd of cheering supporters. "With your help, we're going to be able to continue to look forward, not for this generation but for generations to come."

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announces re-election campaign at Willow Grove VFW
By Caitlin Burns, POSTED: 11/07/13, 8:25 PM
WILLOW GROVE — Campaign season has begun again.
Gov. Tom Corbett announced his campaign for another term at the Willow Grove VFW Post 3612 Nov. 7. It was the second day of his 10-day campaign announcement trip.
“This is what we’re really campaigning for. It’s for the families, our parents and our grandparents, for our children and our grandchildren. It’s about Pennsylvanians,” Corbett said. “I hope with your support we’re going to be elected the next governor of Pennsylvania so we can finish what we’ve started. We’re not done yet.”

Corbett visits Northeast Philly in kickoff of re-election campaign
Gov. Tom Corbett stopped in Northeast Philadelphia as part of a statewide tour to kick off his re-election campaign.  "We don't need to make a change at the end of my term and go back to the policies of let's tax and let's tax and let's spend. We need to have strict discipline in our spending. And to allow you to keep the money in your pockets," he told a room of supporters at the American Legion Post in Fox Chase.  While not all were enthusiastic, they seemed willing to give the Republican governor, who has struggled in the polls even among members of his own party, the benefit of the doubt.

Corbett to Philly: Schools crisis not my fault
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir Published: 11/07/2013
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett chose an American Legion hall in Northeast Philadelphia to launch his troubled reelection campaign this morning. He drew a crowd of supporters — and a louder group of protesters outside.  Corbett's campaign slogan is "Promises Kept. More Jobs. Less Taxes." On some signs, it's, "Less Taxes. More Jobs." Either way, the Corbett campaign has decided to focus on a simple message in an effort to cut through widespread criticism of his cuts to funding for education and services for the poor, as well as his reluctance to regulate or tax his donors in the natural gas drilling industry, and the failure to pass his "big three" legislative priorities: transportation funding, liquor-sales privatization and pension reform.

Deal rejected by Saucon Valley teachers included raises, increased health insurance contributions
By Nick Falsone | The Express-Times  on November 08, 2013 at 12:31 PM
A four-year contract deal rejected last month by Saucon Valley School Districtteachers includes a one-year salary freeze, consecutive years of about 2.5 percent raises and a one-time bonus of $1,500 next year for all teachers, according to a report made public this morning by state officials.
The deal, which would be retroactive to last school year, also includes full reimbursement for approved graduate courses taken by teachers with only a bachelor’s degree and increases of between $10 and $75 per month in the teachers’ contributions to their health care plans, depending on the year of the contract and type of plan.  The details of the deal were released this morning by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. A fact-finder crafted the deal at the request of the teachers and the district. Both sides had reached an impasse on negotiations for a new contract. The teachers’ last contract expired June 30, 2012.

Allentown charter school proposal's ties to religious movement questioned
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on November 08, 2013 at 7:00 AM
A group seeking to establish an engineering charter school in Allentown has repeatedly denied any links to a movement inspired by the Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen.
But one of the Allentown Engineering Academy Charter School applicantspublished a book recently called "Beginnings and Endings: Fethullah Gulen's Vision for Today's World."
That has some members of the Allentown School Board, which has rejected the charter school four times in the past eight years, questioning the honesty of the applicants.

Phila. tax initiatives bogged down in Harrisburg
By Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: November 06, 2013
Three of the bills seemed tame and technical, designed to smooth the rough edges of a recent property-tax revolution in Philadelphia. Only one would have impact outside the city.  Another bill would have helped bail out Philadelphia's schools by adding $2 to the price of a pack of cigarettes - again, only within city limits.  All four proposals had the support of Mayor Nutter, City Council, and leaders of Philadelphia's state House and Senate delegations.
Then politics got in the way - a blend of Harrisburg's traditional town-and-country animus, a letter from a guy named Norquist, and, of all things, an impassioned speech from one of Philadelphia's own that didn't sit well across the Capitol dome.

Cheltenham School Board president honored with Pennsylvania School Boards Association's Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
Montgomery News By Jarreau Freeman Published: Friday, November 08, 2013
When Cheltenham School Board President Tina Viletto speaks about education, one can hear the passion in her voice.  “I get very upset when I hear people say children can’t succeed [in public schools] because [in some cases], if they haven’t been provided the tools, you don’t even know how they can blossom,” she said.
Because of her zeal for public education, there seemed to be little surprise among her colleagues on the school board that she was the 2013 recipient of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award, which was bestowed upon her at the PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Pa., Oct. 16.

The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award 
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.

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! .

Where 4th graders are forced to take 33 standardized tests a year
Washington Post Answer Sheet blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS November 8 at 9:35 am
When you hear people talk about the explosion of standardized testing in public education in the No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top era, it may be hard to understand just what that means to a student sitting in a classroom. This may help explain: Fourth graders in the Pittsburgh Public Schools will take 33 standardized tests mandated by the district or state this year — 10 fewer than last year. In fact, K-12 students take more than 270 required exams.

Changes Afoot for Pa.'s Charter School Law?
Education Week Charters and Choice blog By Katie Ash on November 7, 2013 4:47 PM
Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are poised to reevaluate the way that charter schools in the state are funded, with a new bill addressing such concerns currently in the state senate.  As an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune explains, right now, Pennsylvania charter schools receive varying amounts of funding depending on the home district of their students. So a student from one district may funnel $10,000 of per-pupil funding to the charter school, but a student coming from the district next door may bring $13,000 to the same charter school.  Both supporters and critics of charter schools in the state say it's time to take a hard look at the actual costs of educating students in charter schools to inform a rewrite of the funding formula.

“In the Sunshine State, online-ed providers only receive money when a student stays in a course for an entire year and successfully completes an end-of-year exam.”
Group Urges Overhaul on Funding of Full-Time Virtual Schools
Education Week Digital Education blog By Benjamin Herold on November 8, 2013 1:22 PM
States' current systems for funding full-time online and virtual schools need to be overhauled to better account for the actual cost of providing online education and to better account for student outcomes, argue the authors of a report released last month by the National Education Policy Center.  The keys to making that happen, they say? Allocating funding to online and virtual schools each time a student successfully completes a course, instead of on a per-pupil basis tied to enrollment, and using a rate calculated to ensure that online schools don't receive more than traditional brick-and-mortar schools do to deliver the same course and generate a similar student outcome.

House Democrats to Field Bipartisan Preschool Bill
Education Week Campaign K-12 By Alyson Klein on November 8, 2013 7:05 AM
Congress can't seem to do much that's bipartisan these days, but a forthcoming bill on early-childhood education by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., will be a key exception.  Miller announced his intentions earlier this year to craft legislation based in part on President Barack Obama's plan to entice states to expand preschool programs to more 4-year-olds. And Hanna's spokeswoman, Renee Gamela, confirmed that he will be the co-sponsor when the bill is released. That could happen as soon as next week.
On the other side of the Capitol, Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the panels that oversee K-12 education policy and spending, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., another big fan of education legislation, are also working on preschool legislation that's likely to be similar to Miller's. Harkin, in fact, has called preschool his number one education priority during his very last year in Congress.
But, even though all of those lawmakers are hoping for GOP support on their preschool proposals, the Obama administration's plan has a high pricetag, $75 billion over 10 years. That is a tall order for GOP lawmakers bent on reining in spending.

The November 13 episode of EPLC/PCN "Focus on Education" will discuss Special Education: Student Rights and Services. 
The hour long program produced by EPLC and PCN is broadcast on PCN at 9:00 p.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. PCN also typically repeats the episode at later times each month.  Previous episodes can be viewed online here. Topics we have covered thus far in 2013 are school violence, student testing, the work of school boards, how schools are funded, the dropout crisis, parents as advocates, and arts education.  To learn more, visit PCN's "Focus on Education" web page. Information about sponsorships available for the show can be obtained by contacting Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or

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

Mark B. Miller to speak at Nov. 12th conference on school violence
Congratulations to PSBA First Vice President Mark B. Miller for presenting at an upcoming conference related to school violence. Miller will offer a presentation titled “Breaking the Circle of Violence: Bullying, Duty of Care, and Deliberate Indifference” in Linthicum Heights, MD on Nov. 12. For more details, click here

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education Center for Urban Education presents  “Building the Capacity of Schools to Meet Students’ Needs”
Pedro A. Noguera, PhD; Friday, November 15, 2013; 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
David Lawrence Hall, Room 121; 3942 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh
The event is free and open to the public

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.

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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