Monday, August 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 18: Teaching Is Not a Business

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 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, business 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

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 18, 2014: Teaching Is Not a Business

(public hearing on Basic Education Funding in Pennsylvania)
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:00 AM Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg.

Little League thriller: Last-gasp rally lifts Taney past Texas team
MATT BREEN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Monday, August 18, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Sunday, August 17, 2014, 10:01 PM
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Scott Bandura sprinted from first to third base and Taney manager Alex Rice sent him home. The speedy catcher from Mount Airy slid safely across the plate with two outs in the sixth inning Sunday night.  Philadelphia's Taney Dragons had clawed back from three runs down to tie their Little League World Series game with Pearland, Texas, at Lamade Stadium. And they were not finished.

Our team needs funds to keep the dream alive. Please consider a donation.  #TaneyDragons

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 16: Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts

Teaching Is Not a Business
New York Times Opinion By DAVID L. KIRP AUG. 16, 2014
David L. Kirp is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools.”
TODAY’S education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology.  Neither strategy has lived up to its hype, and with good reason. It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.

At Upper Darby HS, Tina Fey says her dad went to Philly schools during Depression yet they had funds for arts education.

Education panel faces enduring issues
Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice by ROBERT SWIFT Published: August 17, 2014
HARRISBURG — Education funding is the No. 1 issue in the governor’s race, so it’s not surprising that lawmakers are studying it to death.  The newly created Basic Education Funding Commission will tackle an aspect of this issue when it meets for a second time this week. The 15-member commission is composed of lawmakers and state officials.  The commission’s job is to issue a report by next June on how to more fairly distribute the $5.5 billion state instructional subsidy to school districts. The members will look at property tax rates, levels of local taxpayer support, property values, student population shifts, students at the poverty level and students not proficient in English.  “Many of our public schools are underfunded, many are overfunded,” said Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks County, author of the law creating the commission. “It’s time we establish a more equitable way of driving out our state dollars. ”
Any recommendation to change the funding formula would need approval from lawmakers and the governor.

"But it doesn't take a genius — or even a commission of geniuses — to figure out how to make it right:  Start with the amount of money the state spends on basic education, divide it by the total number of students and multiply that by the number of students registered in each district  That equals each district's fair share of Pennsylvania's education funding."
EDITORIAL: All things equal
York Dispatch POSTED:   08/12/2014 09:14:40 AM EDT
The state's new Basic Education Funding Commission has a year to recommend a fix for the inequitable formula now used to distribute money to Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.
We're not sure why the 15 members — six senators, six House representatives and three state administrators — need until next June.  It seems they should be able to wrap this up by the end of the year, allowing districts plenty of time to plan their 2015-16 budgets using a fair formula for a change.  Sure, the current funding formula hasn't been revised since 1991, and things have gotten far out of whack in nearly 25 years.

"Instead, the hard work must continue to get everyone with poorly funded schools in Pennsylvania to make their legislators understand that they will no longer tolerate sending their children to crowded, poorly equipped classrooms. They need to make the politicians understand that education funding is the No. 1 issue for voters."
Inquirer Editorial: It isn't just city schools
POSTED: Sunday, August 17, 2014, 1:09 AM
The decision of Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. to open Philadelphia schools on time was the right call. Delaying school to protest its inadequate funding would only make matters worse for a system with too many students already performing below grade level.  Unfortunately, the decision to open schools without knowing whether they will get the funds to close an $81 million budget gap may exact a high price as well. Gov. Corbett is advancing the district its budgeted $265 million state allocation, but without knowing whether more funds will be available to finish the school year, cost-cutting steps must be taken.

York continues process that could turn all city schools into charters….
"School officials were surprised by what they thought was low turnout for a meeting last week where charter operators made presentations for taking over operations of schools in the future, said David Meckley, York City School District's chief recovery officer.  He estimated that without the providers, the Community Education Council and school board members, and politicians in the crowd, there were maybe 10 people in attendance."
Potential York City charter school operators to be narrowed and vetted
Some community members want to ensure the organizations' backgrounds are researched
York Daily Record By Angie Mason UPDATED:   08/16/2014 08:35:26 AM EDT
As York City school officials consider proposals from seven charter operators, some community members say they hope the district will take time to thoroughly vet the candidates.
Seven operators responded to York City School District's request for proposals for outside operators to take over one or more schools starting in 2015-16. The organizations made presentations before the Community Education Council on Wednesday.
Some community members are urging that the operators are thoroughly investigated. David Meckley, the district's chief recovery officer, said the first focus is narrowing the field to those most qualified, so they can spend more time having serious discussions about a smaller group.

Despite gains, most charter schools still rank in bottom quarter in grade rankings
By Ethan Lott Research Director-Pittsburgh Business Times Aug 15, 2014, 10:43am EDT
Most of the charter schools operating in the region that are listed on the Business Times ranking of public schools moved up in our annual rankings of schools by grades between 2013 and 2014.
When the 2014 Guide to Western Pennsylvania Schools was compiled in April, charter schools were not included in the rankings as they had been in past years. Since then, the charter school standardized test scores have been added to the database, and the rankings are presented here.
The online Guide to Western Pennsylvania Schools has been updated as well to include charter schools.

PA School Performance Profiles: How does Chester Community Charter School, Pennsylvania's largest brick and mortar charter, compare with Chester-Upland School District's elementary and intermediate schools?
School                                                                                    SPP Score
Chester Community Charter School (K-8)                                    48.9
Chester Upland School of the Arts (PreK-5)                     56.3
Chester Upland Columbus Elementary (PreK-5)              52.0
Chester Upland Main Street School (PreK-5)                   51.5
Chester Upland Showalter Intermediate (6-8)                   43.2
Chester Upland Stetser Elementary (PreK-5)                   59.0
Chester Upland Toby Farms Intermediate (6-8)                48.6

Plan would boost Pa. charters' teacher certifications
Traditional public schools and charter schools don't have the same rules when it comes to teacher certifications, but one new proposal would bring the two types of schools a little closer together.  All professional staff at traditional public schools in Pennsylvania are required to be certified by the state. Contrast that with charter and cyber-charter schools, which are only required to have 75 percent of their teachers state certified.  Forthcoming legislation from state Rep. Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery, would hike that level to 80 percent.

"Despite a vibrant downtown, Philadelphia is a much poorer city than many people realize. With one-quarter of its residents living below the poverty level, Philadelphia is the ninth-poorest U.S. city with a population over 250,000. Relative to Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia suburbs, the school district is significantly underfunded by the state and its city government, especially when one adjusts for the comparatively large percentages of special education, English language learners, and low-income students. In short, the district faces huge challenges with limited resources.
In addition to this fundamental fiscal weakness, the district is undermined by its governance structure. With no independent taxing authority, every year the district administration must plead for funding from the state and city. As with the boy who cried wolf, the politicians who hear the message repeatedly become skeptical. In addition, the city and state have an incentive to delay committing funds as long as possible in the hope that the other will take the lead.
In the summer of 2014, the district once again faces a dire fiscal situation and is appealing to the city and state to rescue the schools. The danger is that the district may have entered a vicious cycle in which persistent financial crises encourage more parents to leave the city or move their children to charter schools, further undermining the district’s financing and reinforcing the exodus of students."
The Philadelphia School District’s Ongoing Financial Crisis
Why the district has a money problem
Education Next By John Caskey and Mark Kuperberg  FALL 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 4
John Caskey and Mark Kuperberg are professors in the department of economics at Swarthmore College. Erica Kouka provided research assistance.
Each year, as predictably as classes end in June, the School District of Philadelphia faces a budget crisis for the coming school year. In 2014, the School Reform Commission, the school district’s state-imposed governing body, for the first time and in violation of the city charter, refused to pass a budget, arguing that there were insufficient funds to run the schools responsibly. Philadelphia’s mayor Michael Nutter said, “It is a sad day in public service that we find children being held on the railroad tracks awaiting some rescue to come from somewhere.” And yet, casting the school children of Philadelphia in the Perils of Pauline has become a yearly ritual.  In the summer of 2013, the district superintendent announced that schools might not open on time, as severe budget cuts had led to insufficient staffing. The budgets of many individual schools allowed for no counselors, no secretaries to assist principals or answer telephones, and no arts or sports programs. With a last-minute financial-aid pledge from the city, some laid-off personnel were recalled, and schools opened on time. But the district was still in such dire straits that Philadelphia’s newspapers launched a drive to obtain pencils, paper, and other basic supplies. This is no way to run a school system, much less the eighth largest in the United States.
We investigate why these school crises keep recurring.

Imagine walking many miles in Philly schools chief's shoes
Imagine that one day someone offers you a job.
Here's the deal: You must carry some papers from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Get to L.A., and your reward will be $3,000. OK! But there's a catch: You have to walk.
You need the dough, so you agree to the deal and set out. You walk and walk, hard marches.
One day, the boss calls to say: "What, you're only in Ohio? What's wrong with you?"

Just like the Crayons in our logo, NPE recently became more colorful
Cloaking Inequity Blog August 17, 2014 | Julian Vasquez Heilig
I am honored to serve on the Network for Public Education Board of Directors. The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, and share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education. For more information about NPE, visit  We recently welcomed Xian Barrett, Jitu Brown, Carol Burris and Kennet Santana to the NPE Board of Directors

Former D.C. charter board CFO promoted private companies that allegedly paid him
Washington Post By Emma Brown August 16 at 6:05 PM  
As the D.C. Public Charter School Board’s chief financial officer, Jeremy L. Williams was responsible for monitoring charter schools’ business practices and ensuring their compliance with rules meant to prevent financial mismanagement.  Instead, he allegedly received $150,000 to help three former managers of Options Public Charter School evade those rules and take millions of taxpayer dollars for themselves, according to a pending civil lawsuit.  Williams and the other defendants in that lawsuit have denied doing anything illegal.
But e-mail messages The Washington Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Williams used his official capacity with the charter board to help the former Options leaders promote two for-profit businesses that allegedly served as vehicles for diverting millions of dollars in taxpayer funds meant for students.

PENN GSE: Attn K-12 educators! Sign up for our newsletter & receive straightforward, helpful tips from the latest ed research:
Penn Graduate School of Education

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA.  Join us for a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person. To register, click here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page.  The Symposium will include the following:

National School Boards Action Center August 06, 2014 by Staff
Members of Congress return to their hometowns to meet with constituents locally and on September 8 they return to Washington, D.C.  As a public education advocate, you can help to influence their decisions and votes on legislation affecting your local public schools by reaching out to your members of Congress.  They will be especially interested in your concerns as this is an election year for the entire U.S. House of Representatives and one third of the Senate.
Read the latest on federal education issues on Capitol Hill  in the NSBAC August Congressional Recess Talking Points and then contact  your members of Congress during the August recess.  You can call your members’ offices using the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 or use the National School Boards Association’s legislative action center at  Consider becoming a Friend of Public Education to connect with National School Boards Action Center’s advocacy efforts and stay active year round.

Save the Date 2014 PAESSP State Conference October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen
This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference registration forms now available online
PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration forms are available online now. Other important links are available with more details on:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online -- bios/videos now live
PSBA Website August 5, 2014

The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for each candidate. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openSept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to cast the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school entity's votes will be receiving an email in the coming weeks to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to cast the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

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