Saturday, June 7, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 7, 2014: Parent Trigger Shoots Blanks Again In Philly; Parents Want Good Neighborhood Public Schools

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 7, 2014:
Parent Trigger Shoots Blanks Again In Philly; Parents Want Good Neighborhood Public Schools

The Education Policy and Leadership Center

And they're off
Capitol Ideas Blog By Steve Esack June 6, 2014
The Legislature’s annual sprint race to finish budget by the June 30 deadline officially got started Friday with the introduction of a flat-line spending bill for 2014-15.  If you want to know what’s inside it, look at the current 2013-14 budget. It’s identical and it’s main use is to get the negotiations started.  “House Bill 2328 does not represent any proposed budget for FY2014-15,” said Adolph’s spokesman Mike Stoll. “It is simply a vehicle so that a bill will be in place to start the budget process outlined in the House rules.”

Editorial: Charter school law in need of repair
Bucks County Intelligencer Friday, June 6, 2014 12:15 am
When the charter school law was adopted, multiple benefits were envisioned: to give parents an alternative to failing public schools, at no additional cost to them; to provide competition for public schools, thus spurring schools to improve; and to act as laboratories where, relieved of some state mandates and sparked by the nimbleness of small scale, new and innovative learning methods would percolate and migrate to public schools.  But like anything new, the charter school law had kinks in it. Ironically, what was supposed to help public schools has been hurting them. And so, state lawmakers are in the throes of fixing the law or, more accurately, have been presented with the opportunity to fix it.  Most hurtful is the funding formula for special education. The way it works, the districts forward funds for each special-ed student lost to a charter school. That sum is determined by a state formula that essentially reflects the average cost of educating a special needs student. However, the formula does not distinguish between students in need of low-level services versus those in need of a higher degree of help.

Parents at Phila. school reject takeover by charter
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, June 6, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, June 5, 2014, 8:52 PM
After a bitterly fought battle, parents at Luis Muñoz Marín Elementary have voted to keep their school a part of the Philadelphia public school system, rejecting a charter organization's takeover proposal.  According to results announced Thursday night by Philadelphia School District officials, 223 parents wanted Muñoz Marín to remain a traditional public school and 70 voted for ASPIRA of Pennsylvania to take control.  In a separate vote, 11 members of the school's advisory council wanted to remain with the district. None voted for ASPIRA.

Muñoz-Marín parents vote decisively to keep school within the District
thenotebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on Jun 06 2014 Posted in Latest news
Updated | 3:50 p.m.: Superintendent William Hite announced that Muñoz-Marín will remain a traditional District school, saying, “Parents and guardians have chosen a path for their school and we are going to support their choice and quickly move forward with the very important work of improving outcomes for students at Muñoz Marín.”
A long, lively day of voting at Muñoz-Marín School in North Philadelphia ended with a decisive victory for the school’s current administration, with parents rejecting a proposed match with a charter provider, ASPIRA, and electing to remain under District management.
“It’s 223 for traditional public school and 70 for ASPIRA,” spokesperson Fernando Gallard announced at 7:45 Thursday night to a roar of delight from the school’s jubilant supporters and staff.  In a separate vote Thursday, parents on Muñoz-Marín’s School Advisory Council also voted to reject ASPIRA, 11-0.

"According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of school districts have furloughed staff since 2010-11, with classroom teachers accounting for more than 40 percent of those losing jobs. Additionally, seven in 10 districts have not filled vacant positions, and more than a quarter have instituted hiring freezes."
School officials: Budget slashing in a class by itself
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, June 7, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Friday, June 6, 2014, 4:33 PM
Reduced state and federal funding and rising pension and other mandated costs have led to unprecedented cuts in Pennsylvania school districts, according to an annual survey of school budgets.  The survey, by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, said that for the fourth consecutive year, schools had been forced to make cuts inside and outside classrooms.

HB1722: Proposal to base teacher furloughs on performance gets mixed reactions from educators
By Gideon Bradshaw |  on June 06, 2014 at 6:02 PM, updated June 06, 2014 at 7:09 PM
A bill making its way through the House is meant to let administrators decide which teachers to lay off based on performance.  The House Education Committee approved legislation earlier this week that would phase out the practice of furloughing teachers based on seniority, forbidding schools from making such an agreement with unions.  Instead, school districts would base those decisions on teacher performance in a uniform rating system currently being implemented in Pennsylvania schools.

"Moments after Wolf's brief remarks, Clarke said Gov. Corbett had an open invitation to visit as well. "We are truly a bipartisan Council," he said."
Wolf visits Council as it tangles with schools' cash woes
POSTED: Thursday, June 5, 2014, 8:40 PM
Tom Wolf visited Philadelphia City Council Thursday, landing squarely in the midst of a school budget crisis that many members have blamed on the state's Republican leadership.
The Democratic gubernatorial nominee was escorted past pupils from three city elementary schools displaying a quilt advocating for arts funding. Wolf then headed into a closed-door meeting in Council President Darrell L. Clarke's office.  Afterward, Wolf spoke in the caucus room to Council, staff, lobbyists and reporters, saying he was "a fan of this great city."

HB1738: Basic education funding commission bill goes to Gov. Corbett
PSBA Legislative Update June 6, 2014
PSBA’s efforts to seek a predictable, adequate and equitable funding formula were one step closer to implementation as the Senate this week passed House Bill 1738, with the measure now headed to Gov. Corbett for his signature. The legislation, passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives, establishes a bipartisan commission to make recommendations for a new funding formula for basic education. Under House Bill 1738, sponsored by Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks), the commission will examine and identify factors that could be used to determine the distribution of basic education funding among school districts. Such factors would include each school district’s market value/personal income aid ratio, equalized millage rate, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, local support and other areas. The recommendations will be made within one year; legislation would then be drafted for approval by the General Assembly.

Deferring Pa. pension payments remains possibility
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JUNE 7, 2014
The Republican House Majority Leader isn't ruling out a move to shirk Pennsylvania's scheduled payments toward its pension debt.  "There's not an appetite to reduce the [payments] in the House," said Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, as he stressed the need for an overhaul to pension benefits for future employees.  Pennsylvania's unfunded pension obligation is approaching $50 billion. That debt to its funds for school and state worker pensions has grown, in part, due to underfunding in years past. Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed reducing the scheduled payments, also called collars, this year.  "It's kicking the can down the road," said Turzai. He declined to elaborate on his way out of a press event where House Republicans made the case for a plan to largely reduce benefits for future state and public school hires.  That plan, offered by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill, would enroll workers in a "hybrid" retirement system: part traditional pension and part 401(k)-style plan.

Hybrid pension plan could save future billions for Pa., doesn't touch current shortfall
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 06/05/14, 10:09 AM EDT
To those who walk the halls in the Capitol in Harrisburg, the handicapping of the Commonwealth’s two major pension programs is old news.  What’s new is what lawmakers currently are proposing to do about it.  A Chester County Republican member of the House has teamed up with a Schuylkill County Republican to propose a bill creating a hybrid system for new employees, combining the current “defined benefit” pensions with more flexible, and risky, 401(k) investment plans.

Teachers: ‘We've paid our fair share' into pension system
West Chester Daily Local By EVAN BRANDT POSTED: 06/06/14, 6:27 PM EDT |
Note to Readers: This is the fourth part of a series on the pension crisis facing Pennsylvanians. The stories are part of a project being done by The Pottstown Mercury (, a sister paper of the Daily Local News.
There is one constant that runs through Pennsylvania’s pension system debates, shortfalls, reform measures, proposals and skyrocketing costs to local school districts.  Throughout it all, the employees who are part of the system have steadily paid a share of their paychecks into the system.  When state legislators decided they and school districts could take “a pension holiday” because Wall Street was doing so well, the employees paid.  When the legislators increased benefits for themselves and those in the system, the employees paid.  And when the market collapsed and Harrisburg enacted reforms and “collars” to try to staunch the bleeding from the gaping wound they had created, the employees paid.
“We never stopped. The only thing we’ve ever done to affect PSERS is exactly what we were supposed to do. We’ve paid our fair share throughout it all,” said W. Gerard Oleksiak.

Bethlehem Area vo-tech postpones vote on allowing charter school students to attend
Officials say their attorney needs more time to review the matter.
By Meghan Moravcik Walbert, Special to The Morning Call 8:50 p.m. EDT, June 5, 2014
A vote that will determine whether charter school students may attend Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School in the future has been postponed until August.
The school's Joint Board of Directors expected to discuss and vote on the issue at its Tuesday night meeting. However, shortly before the meeting, the item was pulled from the agenda.
"Our attorney didn't have enough information to render an opinion yet," joint committee Vice Chairman Basilio Bonilla said after the meeting. The vote is now expected to take place Aug. 5.
Last month, some directors said they want to draft a policy that prohibits charter school students from taking classes at Bethlehem Area Vo-Tech. Two directors in particular, Bonilla and Michael Faccinetto, who also serve on the Bethlehem Area School Board, said the change is necessary to ensure that Bethlehem Area students do not get pushed out of classes.  However, Director Bryan Eichfeld, who represents the Saucon Valley School District, questioned the fairness and legality of such a policy, saying that a charter school student's parents also pay taxes and charter school students areentitled to benefit from the vo-tech.
"The big culprits are the ever-increasing contribution rate for the Public School Employees Retirement System and the state's "Hold Harmless" funding distribution formula."
G-A school board raises property taxes by 2 mills
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By Amber South  06/05/2014 09:39:20 PM EDT
GREENCASTLE >> Property owners in Greencastle-Antrim School District will have to pay an additional two mills in property taxes in the 2014-15 school year.  Some thought the increase should be higher and others thought it should be lower, but G-A school board on Thursday unanimously approved it. The increase brings the total mill rate to 103.5 mills.  One mill is equal to $1 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.  The two-mill increase will be reflected in the 2014-15 general fund budget as about $348,000 in revenue. Despite that and the use of about $650,000 from the fund balance, the district is facing a deficit of about $652,000, according to Jolinda Wilson, business manager.

"I think the biggest thing, though, is in a troubled system, to create a place, a space, where there is lots of information and rational conversation about: How are we gonna fix this thing? And we've just heard from many, many readers about how important that is to them to help them stay in the fight. This is something sooner or later we've gotta figure out, or Philly isn't ever gonna be the great city that people want it to be. I think The Notebook's biggest contribution is to help people stay in that battle and keep trying to solve it."
20 Years of Covering Philadelphia Public Education, For Better and For Worse
Talking with Paul Socolar as The Notebook celebrates two decades in the trenches.
Philadelphia Magazine BY JOEL MATHIS  |  JUNE 6, 2014 AT 11:22 AM
On Tuesday, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook celebrates its 20th anniversary with a celebration at the University of the Arts, complete with music, awards, and exhibitions — including the Harvey Finkle photos you see below — documenting the challenges of covering urban education for two decades. (A 20th anniversary issue has also been published.)
Paul Socolar is the editor and publisher of The Notebook. He talked with Philly Mag about the publication, the persistent challenges of urban education, and how Philly schools might finally be saved.

Public School Notebook celebrates 20 years of muckraking excellence
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 06/06/2014 | 0 Comments Posted
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook turns 20 and is celebrating this Tuesday at the University of the Arts. Event details are here.
It is hard to imagine education news in Philadelphia without the Notebook. There are great education reporters at other outlets, including The Inquirer and WHYY (the Notebookhas a partnership with the latter). But theNotebook alone provides the sort of comprehensive coverage that our perennially battered School District needs.  Decades of underfunding, concentrated poverty, waves of reforms-of-the-moment, high-stakes standardized testing and the unmet needs of special-education students all require more reporting and investigation than the rest of us reporters can handle.

Saucon Valley files unfair labor practice charges against teachers
District says union's latest contract proposal starts negotiations anew.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 9:27 p.m. EDT, June 6, 2014
The Saucon Valley School District has filed an unfair labor complaint against the teachers union, claiming it is trying to erase two years of contract negotiations and attempting to start anew.
District officials this week filed the unfair labor practice charges with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. The charges come just a couple of weeks after the union presented the board with a new contract proposal that the district says has been the most costly to date during two years of negotiations.
Coatesville School Board approves teacher contract, includes raises
By Kristina Scala, Daily Local News POSTED: 06/06/14, 1:17 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
CALN – Coatesville Area School District teachers will start a new school year with a two-year contract approved by the school board.  The Coatesville Area School Board approved the two-year contract on Tuesday, May 27, by a 7-1 vote. The contract for 483 teachers was set to expire Aug. 29.  According to the contract’s details, teachers will receive a 1.5 percent increase during the 2014-15 school year and a 2.9 percent increase for 2015-16. The agreement states that teachers will remain on their current salary step and the number of teacher days will decrease by one in-service day with no change in salary.

One day, perhaps, the national media might admit that they were taken in by the purveyors of the Néw Orleans story. Or maybe they will keep saying the same things again and again, without regard to facts.  Mike Deshotels, veteran educator, blows up the carefully manufactured tale of success by privatization. What a lesson for the nation: close down every public school; turn every school into a privately managed charter school; fire every experienced teacher and replace with a fresh college graduate with give weeks of training. Is this the formula for success in any other nation? No.

OSBA, education groups support new Ohio graduation requirements
NSBA School Board News Today Joetta Sack-Min|June 6th, 2014
The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) is among a coalition of state education groups that is supporting new graduation requirements for Ohio students.  The new graduation requirements, approved by a joint legislative committee, would replace the Ohio Graduation Test with seven end-of-course exams in English, math, science, U.S. history, and government. The measure would require all high school juniors to take a nationally recognized college-entrance exam, most likely the ACT exam, with expenses paid by the state.  There would be alternative paths to a diploma other than through the new planned end-of-course examinations, which would replace the Ohio Graduation Tests.

Two States Repeal Education Standards
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH JUNE 6, 2014
The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina signed billswithin the past week repealing the Common Core state standards, guidelines for children’s achievement in reading and math between kindergarten and high school graduation. Both states had been among the 46 and the District of Columbia that had adopted the standards, written by a group of educators and other experts convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. But as resistance grew in their states, lawmakers moved to replace them with standards developed within the states. Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina signed that state’s bill last week, and Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma signed a bill on Thursday that would require educators in the state to set new standards to replace the Common Core.

Come to Harrisburg to Speak Up for Public Education
Wednesday, June 18, Monday, June 23, and Monday, June 30
Education Voters PA
Governor Corbett’s “election-year” budget is falling apart. Revenue projections are down and Corbett and state legislators are looking to make more than $1.2 billion in cuts to his proposed 2014-2015 budget.  Lobbyists will be swarming the Capitol in the month of June and we need to be there, too.  Join Pennsylvanians from throughout the commonwealth as we send a loud and clear message that after three years of balancing the state budget on the backs of Pennsylvania’s public school children, it is time for our state government to do what is right and pass a fair budget that will provide students with the opportunities they need to meet state standards and be successful after they graduate.

Julian Vasquez Heilig  |  | 1 Comment
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Do you believe in public education? Do you want US policymakers to understand why decision makers in Chile have now judged vouchers to be problematic after 30 years of universal implementation? Do you have frequent flier miles you can donate? Sponsor a grad student today!  This summer, I along with eight UT-Austin graduate students will travel to Santiago, Chile in August 2014 with Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig to conduct field research that will result in a policy brief, op-eds and a peer-reviewed academic paper detailing recent changes in Chile’s market-based education policy proposed this past April by Chile’s current Education Minister Nicholas Eyzaguirre.

Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education After 60 Years -
EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - June 8 at 3:00 p.m. 
The next EPLC "Focus on Education" episode will air this coming Sunday, June 8 at 3:00 p.m. on PCN television.  This June 8 panel will discuss the significance of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and its significance today; the current picture of racial segregation in public schools; whether, in Pennsylvania, we are improving or getting worse; the responsibility of state government; the effects of the "school choice" movement on segregation and integration in public schools; and much more.
The panel will include: 
·         Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
·         Homer C. Floyd, Former Executive Director, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission;
·         Rhonda Brownstein, Esq., Executive Director, Education Law Center; and
·         Erica Frankenberg, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Education Policy Studies, Penn State University.
Visit the EPLC web site for related resources.

PSBA opens nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
The nomination process is now open for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award. This award 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.  Applications will be accepted until July 16, 2014. The July 16 date was picked in honor of  Timothy M. Allwein's birthday. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. More details and application are available on PSBA's website. 

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Click here to read more about EPLC’s Education Policy Fellowship Program, including: 2014-15 Schedule 2014-15 Application Past Speakers Program Alumni And More Information

PCCY invites you to get on the School Spirit Bus to Harrisburg on Tuesday June 10th for Fair and Full School Funding!
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
On Tuesday June 10th, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will be going to Harrisburg.  Join committed parents, leaders, and community members from around state to make it clear to Harrisburg that PA students need fair and full funding now!  We are providing free transportation to and from Harrisburg as well as lunch.   Please arrive at the United Way Building located at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway no later than8:15am.  The bus will depart at 8:30am sharp! Reserve your seat today by emailing us at or calling us at 215-563-5848 x11. You can download and share our flyer by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

Pennsylvania Education Summit Wednesday, June 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (EDT) Camp Hill, PA
PA Business-Education Partnership
Welcome By Governor Tom Corbett (invited)
Remarks Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq (confirmed)
Perceptions & comments of business leaders, educators, college presidents, and advocacy groups

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

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