Tuesday, September 9, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 9: Gov. Corbett : "Common Core ...nothing more than Obamacare for education"

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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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 9, 2014:
Gov. Corbett : "Common Core ...nothing more than Obamacare for education"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 10:00 AM
(public hearing on education economics and basic education funding)
Parkland School District Administrative Bldg. 1210 Springhouse Rd. Allentown, PA

Concerned with adequate, equitable, predictable, sustainable #paedfunding? Follow new @PACircuitRider and @CircuitRiderSE accounts on twitter

Senator Pat Browne's website September 8, 2014
WHAT:          The Basic Education Funding Commission will hold its second hearing to discuss state education funding.
WHO:             The 15-member Basic Education Funding Commission, led by co-chairs Senator Pat Browne and Representative Mike Vereb.
Those scheduled to testify include:
·         Marguerite Roza, Director of Edunomics Lab and Research Associate Professor at Georgetown University
·         Dr. Mary Anne Wright, Superintendent of Northwestern Lehigh School District
·         Dr. Russ Mayo, Superintendent of Allentown School District
·         Mr. Michael Faccinetto, School Board President for Bethlehem Area School District
·         Mrs. Roberta Marcus, School Board President for Parkland School District
WHEN:          September 9, 2014 at 10 a.m.
WHERE:       Parkland School District Administration Building, 1210 Springhouse Road, Allentown, PA
Note: We invite the media to attend and cover this event.
Vicki Wilken (Senator Browne) vwilken@pasen.gov – 717-787-1349
Dan Massing (Representative Vereb) dmassing@pahousegop.com – 717-772-9845
Tim Eller (Secretary Dumaresq) tieller@pa.gov – 717-783-9802

"The Pennsylvania School Boards Association hosted the meeting as part of its School Funding Listening Tour. The association is hosting several sessions to solicit input on how the state's public education funding impacts districts. The information gathered will be submitted as testimony to the commission, which is co-chaired by Lehigh Valley state Sen. Pat Browne.
The association is hosting several of these sessions and plans to submit the information gathered as testimony to the commission."
Lehigh Valley educators meet to discuss school funding
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on September 08, 2014 at 9:15 PM
The state's Basic Education Funding Commission is coming to the Lehigh Valley Tuesday to hold a public hearing.  The commission is tasked with studying how the state's basic public education funding is divided amongst Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.
Ahead of the 10 a.m. public hearing at the Parkland School District, Lehigh Valley educators gathered at Broughal Middle School today to discuss the issues facing them….Today, school leaders discussed the unique challenges facing the region's urban, suburban and rural districts.

School districts struggle as pension, charter school costs drain resources
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer | Posted Sept. 9, 2014
The numbers tell a story.
Pensions and charter schools will cost Conestoga Valley nearly $7 million in this year. It’s only going to get worse. And there's nothing school administrators can do to stop it.
In its 2004-05 budget, CV spent about $850,000 on contributions to employee pension plans. In its 2014-15 budget, that number has grown to more than $5.9 million.
In its 2004-05 budget, the district spent close to $183,000 on charter school costs. In its 2014-15 budget, that amount has bloated to more than $900,000.
But the expenses are unavoidable, and it’s happening at every school district in the state.
Business managers, administrators and school board members have struggled to piece together balanced budgets the past few years. The result in many cases has been program cuts, staff layoffs, larger classrooms and a lot of cash-strapped taxpayers.
District budget meetings have become somewhat contentious during that time, often drawing large crowds filled with residents eager to offer feedback. And one popular message is that districts need to tighten their belts and live within their means.
The response from school officials is usually the same. They say that most big spending increases are beyond their control.  An examination of those budget items over the past 10 years at several school districts in Lancaster County finds that there is evidence to show they are telling the truth.

"State funds cover only about 35 percent of school costs, according to the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards, while the average in other states is about 44 percent. Back in the mid-1970s, Pennsylvania funded more than 50 percent of local school budgets."
Pennsylvania schools are desperate for pension relief: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board on September 08, 2014 at 11:07 AM, updated September 08, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Just how desperate are Pennsylvania schools for some kind of help coping with the crushing financial burdens imposed on them by the state's pension crisis?     Monday night, a member of the Central Dauphin School District will ask colleagues to consider supporting a state tax on financial transactions, like buying stock.  The prospects of the state passing a tax like that are about as likely as Ed Rendell going mute or the Susquehanna River reversing course and flowing north.  But the call for such an unlikely source of relief speaks to the enormous financial pressures facing Pennsylvania school districts.  State funding for schools has increased since the cuts inflicted during the Great Recession. However, state money has not kept pace with escalating costs, driven in large part by catch-up payments to help fill the state's multi-billion dollar pension funding gap.

Central Dauphin School Board could ask lawmakers for financial transaction tax to address pension crisis
By Marijon Shearer | Special to PennLive on September 08, 2014 at 8:45 AM,
At its regular meeting tonight -- Monday, September 9 -- Central Dauphin School Board will consider a new tax proposal presented to the board in August by a member of the Carlisle Area School Board.  Carlisle board member Tim Potts told the Central Dauphin School Board Aug. 4 that a state tax on financial transactions such as stock purchases offers a powerful alternative to property taxes for school districts facing pension funding crises.  As proposed, the tax would be temporary and dedicated exclusively to solving school districts' pension shortfalls.
Potts urged the Central Dauphin board to pass a resolution asking state legislators to call for a study of the proposal by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

PA Supreme Court to hear arguments that city school district broke Pa. constitution in charter school case
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a charter school case that has raised grave concerns among Philadelphia School District officials.   The dispute, which is being watched closely by the charter community and others, centers on the powers that the School Reform Commission has to manage charter growth in the financially distressed district.
The West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School contends the SRC illegally suspended parts of the state School Code to cap charter enrollment and then threatened to close schools that did not sign agreements with enrollment maximums.  The charter also is asking the state's top court to rule that the 1998 law that led to the state takeover of the district violates the state constitution because it allows the SRC to suspend "at will" parts of the code without providing any standards to guide the suspensions.

"Common Core has become nothing more than a top-down takeover of the education system. It is nothing more than Obamacare for education," said Corbett, a Republican facing a tough re-election battle."
Is Corbett doing an about-face on state's Common Core?
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau September 8, 2014
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett denounced the national Common Core math and reading standards Monday, but stopped short of saying he wanted to toss out Pennsylvania's own version of them.  His announcement came as the state and school districts have spent millions developing standards, coming up with a curriculum and standardized tests to match the goals, and training teachers.  It also led to head-scratching from school officials and anger from some lawmakers who were caught off guard by Corbett's comments.

“Though Common Core began as a state-led initiative to ensure our public schools met the educational standards needed in the 21st century economy, the process has been overly influenced by the federal government,” Gov. Corbett said.  “Common Core has become nothing more than a top-down takeover of the education system.  It is nothing more than Obamacare for education.”
Governor Corbett Calls on State Board of Education to Conduct a Public Review of Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards
PDE Press Release September 08, 2014
Harrisburg – Gov. Corbett today announced that he has asked for a continued public review of Pennsylvania-specific academic content in English language arts and mathematics standards from Kindergarten through 12th grade. This is the final phase in his nearly three year effort to permanently roll back the national Common Core plan implemented by his predecessor, Gov. Ed Rendell.  “Though Common Core began as a state-led initiative to ensure our public schools met the educational standards needed in the 21st century economy, the process has been overly influenced by the federal government,” Gov. Corbett said.  “Common Core has become nothing more than a top-down takeover of the education system.  It is nothing more than Obamacare for education.”  Under Corbett’s leadership, the State Board has been working toward the repeal of the national Common Core State Standards that were adopted in July 2010 under Gov. Rendell, and replace them with standards that are specific to Pennsylvania, its students and schools. In addition, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has been actively engaged in working to eliminate Common Core through passage of House Resolution 338 that supported repeal efforts and new legislation that would further that work.

Reps. Aument, Grove Puzzled by Governor’s Decision to Muddle Implementation of His Own State-Specific Education Standards
Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus website 9/8/2014
HARRISBURG – As strong advocates for the state-developed Pennsylvania Academic Standards, state Reps. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Seth Grove (R-York) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for public review of state academic standards:   “We are frustrated and confused by Governor Corbett’s incongruous decision to conduct a public review of Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards, which were developed by his administration to remove Pennsylvania from the grasp of the national Common Core Standards and supported by the General Assembly. We are extremely disappointed the Corbett administration is considering reversing its own policy and opting to further convolute public understanding of our statewide academic standards. As a result, we have lost total confidence in this administration’s ability to manage implementation of these state-specific academic standards. 

Corbett's school hearings draw fire
York Dispatch By NIKELLE SNADER  POSTED:   09/08/2014 09:18:56 PM EDT
In a statement Monday, state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said he has "lost total confidence" in Gov. Tom Corbett's administration to continue implementing the PA Core Standards.  The release of that statement, given along with state Rep. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster County, came after the governor called for public hearings about the state's newly implemented core standards in public schools, which set up common academic standards for all Pennsylvania schools.  But the PA Core Standards are different from the Common Core systems adopted by many other states in the nation, and the governor is calling for the hearings as a way to clear up the differences, said Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

Aument puzzled by Corbett's decision 'to muddle' implementation of Common Core
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Monday, September 8, 2014 5:55 pm | Updated: 6:40 pm, Mon Sep 8, 2014.
Ryan Aument says he’s confused by Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision to review Common Core and has lost total confidence in this administration’s ability to implement these state-specific academic standards.  The Landisville lawmaker authored a letter Monday with the help of his colleague Seth Grove, a York County Republican, responding to the governor’s request earlier in the day that the State Board of Education hold immediate statewide hearings to review content in language arts and mathematics.

Philly education advocates, kids press for more Pa. school funding
As Philadelphia students returned to school Monday, children's advocates rebuked Gov. Tom Corbett for not spending more on education at a rally outside his Center City office.
The city's public schools are opening with a scarcity of guidance counselors, nurses and funding for supplies.  The students themselves couldn't attend the protest, of course, but that doesn't mean their voices weren't heard. Activists and elected officials read excerpts from letters that students wrote to Corbett.  "Dear Gov. Corbett," read Patricia West of the nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth, "it's horrible that because of these budget cuts, our counselors and secretaries will be put out of a job. Please reconsider the budget. By taking away our art and music, you are taking away what makes us special."

Casey, nurses stress need for health professionals in schools
With the deaths of two Philadelphia schoolchildren still in the news, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is proposing more funding for school nurses.  Facing tight budgets, the Philadelphia School District has trimmed its roster of school nurses recently.
Casey gathered health workers at 30th Street Station Monday to make his case for enough funding to restore those ranks.  Cheryl Peiffer, president of the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses, said she and her colleagues are often a student's only link to regular, primary care.  "Parents'll say, 'Go see your school nurse, see what she thinks. Do I really need to make a doctor's appointment?'" she said. "It's tough for parents these days. You are their first line of support."  Many nurses divide their time between several schools. Peiffer said just 45 percent of Pennsylvania schools have a certified school nurse on site all day, every day.

DN Editorial: GOOD SCHOOL NEWS. REALLY: Violence is down, innovation up. And there is such a thing as a free lunch.
POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 3:01 AM
WITH Philadelphia public-school students back in class this week, we should not let the fact that these are hard times overshadow good news about the district.  There are examples large and small, but the most important are new statistics from the state Education Department that list the state's "persistently dangerous" schools.
No Philadelphia public schools are on the list. None.

"Pittsburgh Public Schools in February denied Provident's application to open a school in the city. Organizers on Monday said they are challenging the decision with the State Charter School Appeal Board.  Pittsburgh Public Schools, in denying the charter, contended that Provident wouldn't provide opportunities the district doesn't offer, and that students there couldn't interact with non-disabled peers."
Charter school planned for former North Catholic building seeks state OK
Trib Live By Tory N. Parrish Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, 1:39 p.m.
Curtis Kossman sends his daughter, 16, to Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel for $28,300 a year to get support for her dyslexia.  His son, 13, also has dyslexia and attends The Gow School, a boarding school near Buffalo, N.Y., for boys with reading disabilities that costs $57,300 a year.
“So, yes, I count myself lucky to be able to afford to send my son to a dedicated school, as well as my daughter,” said Kossman, who has the learning disorder that affects reading ability. He's leading a group trying to bring the first dedicated public school for dyslexic children to Western Pennsylvania.  Kossman and other organizers want the proposed Provident Charter School for Children with Dyslexia to open in the former North Catholic High School in Troy Hill, if they can get state approval.
Abington Heights teachers call off strike
Scranton Times-Tribune by MICHAEL IORFINO, STAFF WRITER Published: September 9, 2014
Abington Heights teachers on Monday called off plans to leave their classrooms behind.  With the school district on the verge of its first strike in a decade, the union informed the school district at about 6:30 p.m. of its plans to cancel Thursday’s strike. Notice came just minutes before a scheduled bargaining session to try to end the four-year contract dispute.  After Monday’s two-hour session ended with no significant progress, Abington Heights Education Association president Jim Maria said a strike could still be necessary in the future.  “But we will wait to see what happens at Wednesday evening’s negotiation before we finalize any future plans,” he said. “We want to take every opportunity we can to avert a strike.”  Union representatives must give the school district a 48-hour notice should the union decide to go on strike.

"Consumed by the urgency to raise students’ reading scores, policy makers and school officials have forgotten that children learn to read by reading. Acquiring the habit of turning to books for pleasure or to find out what you want to know does more for reading development than working on decoding words or trying to speed up fluency. Although, ideally, a fondness for books starts at home, reading can become a habit through opportunities to read self-chosen books at school."
Why kids should choose their own books to read in school
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 8 at 1:00 PM  
At one time many public schools gave students time to read books of their own choosing, an activity based on the common-sense theory that kids will read what interests them, and that kids who can choose what they read will learn to enjoying reading, and, hence, read more. Unfortunately, many schools no longer let students choose any of the materials that they read. Why this is a problem is explained in this post by Joanne Yatvin, a one time Principal of the Year in Wisconsin and a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, who has never been able to kick the reading habit.

Legal Feud Over K-12 Aid Continues in Washington State
Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: September 8, 2014
Tensions continue in Washington state's protracted legal battle over school funding, which has pitted the state's highest court against the legislature for well over two years.
Neither side disputes that state lawmakers have failed to live up to the demands made by the Washington Supreme Court in its McCleary v. State of Washington ruling, which found the state has failed to meet its constitutional obligation to "make ample provision" to fund schools.
But it remains unclear whether any subsequent contempt finding by the court—or the threat of court-imposed budgetary penalties—would speed or hinder legislative action when the 2015 session gets underway.  At a contempt-of-court hearing last week, it appeared that the justices might have run out of patience with the state and were mulling specific sanctions over lawmakers' inability to present a long-term plan to boost education spending to the court's satisfaction.

Anti-testing movement growing, finding success around country
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 8 at 4:03 PM  
A new report on growing resistance to high-stakes standardized testing around the country finds that the movement is growing and meeting some success in numerous states where officials have decided to cut back on the numbers of tests students must take and/or the consequences for students and educators.  The report, titled “Testing Reform Victories: The First Wave,” was done by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), a non-profit which has for many years worked to end the overuse and abuse of standardized tests. The author, Lisa Guisbond, took a national look at how states are responding to growing resistance from students, teachers, parents, principals, superintendents and others. She found, among other things:

Save Camden Schools files legal challenge over charters
Unlike their compatriots in Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson, Camden's school board and community leaders barely contested Gov. Chris Christie's move to seize control of the district in 2013.  Several even stood with Christie in announcing the takeover, and state-appointed Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard has stressed his community outreach efforts ever since.
But that relatively peaceful state of affairs may be changing.
A fledgling group of parents and activists -- with the assistance of prominent statewide groups -- has filed the first legal challenge since the takeover. Its target: state approval of two charter networks that plan to open 11 new schools in the district over the next decade.

Education at a Glance 2014 OECD Indicators 
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 
This annual publication is the authoritative source for accurate and relevant information on the state of education around the world.  Featuring more than 150 charts, 300 tables, and over 100 000 figures, it provides data on the structure, finances, and performance of education systems in the OECD’s 34 member countries, as well as a number of partner countries.
It results from a long-standing, collaborative effort between OECD governments, the experts and institutions working within the framework of the OECD Indicators of Education Systems (INES) programme and the OECD Secretariat.

Please join us for a symposium on:
“Funding Pennsylvania's Public Schools: A Look Ahead”
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics and the Temple University Center on Regional Politics.
When: Friday, October 3, 2014, 8:30 am to 12 pm
Where: Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh in Green Tree, PA
Session I:  "Forecasting the Fiscal Future of Pennsylvania's Public Schools"
A panel of legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Penn State Professor William Hartman and Tim Shrom projecting the fiscal trajectory of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts over the next five years and by University of Pittsburgh Professor Maureen McClure discussing the implications for school finance of an aging tax base.
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
Following an address by Eva Tansky Blum, Chairwoman and President of the PNC Foundation, a panel of business and labor leaders will discuss the importance of public school funding reform to the competitiveness of regional and state economies. 
We look forward to your participation!

Back to School Special Education Boot Camp Saturday, September 20, 2014 8:30 A.M.- 3:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join presenters from: Temple University · McAndrews Law Offices · ARC
PA Education for All Coalition · Delaware Valley Friends School
PA Dyslexia and Literacy Coalition
Attend workshops on: Early Intervention · Dyslexia · Discipline · Charter Schools
Inclusion · Transition Services
Details and Registration: http://bit.ly/1nSstB7

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:

Register Now – 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 (Oct. 21-24) 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)

Voting for PSBA officers and at-large representatives opens Sept. 9
PSBA Website 9/8/2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for candidates. 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 open Sept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register 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 received an email on Aug. 13 and a test ballot was sent to them on Aug. 28. In addition, a memo from PSBA President Richard Frerichs will be mailed in the coming days to all board secretaries and copied to school board presidents and chief school administrators.

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