Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 2: "a relatively small number of PA parents driving $1.3 billion out of public 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?


Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 2, 2014:
"a relatively small number of PA parents driving $1.3 billion out of public education"



What Pennsylvania Can Learn From Other States’ Education Funding Formulas
Education Law Center Report February 2013



Local officials: Pensions, construction drive rise in reserves
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 09/01/14, 10:51 AM EDT |
Pennsylvania school districts may be sitting on billions of dollars in reserves, but local school business administrators say when you start looking at what some of that money is being used for, it’s not as simple as it seems.  By and large, most of the region’s school districts increased their reserve funds in the last four years, the same years in which officials there have expressed dismay at cuts in the state education budget and limits on their ability to raise revenues from tax increases.

Delco Times Editorial: Fixes needed now for public school funding
POSTED: 08/30/14, 9:21 PM EDT |
We applaud — skeptically — the recent efforts in Harrisburg to build consensus and momentum for changing the state’s broken method of funding public schools.  A group of former school executives — dubbed education circuit riders — plans to travel the state for a year to mobilize local school officials to advocate in their communities for reform. Meanwhile a new state commission charged with recommending a new school funding formula by June 2015 is beginning work.  In a nutshell, the systems of both generating and distributing funds to school districts no longer work. The new commission is focused on coming up with a means to distribute state funds fairly and adequately. A legislative effort has focused on shifting local reliance from property taxes to sales and personal income taxes.

“Great progress has been made this year with the governor and secretary of education admitting the need to change the way state dollars are distributed to support schools, and with the creation of a legislative commission to make recommendations for a new formula,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. “However, the disparities in state support for schools across Pennsylvania are well documented and the components of an equitable funding formula are well studied. Now is the time for action to ensure we fix the problem.”
State basic education funding campaign underway
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter a.davis@bradfordera.com Posted: August 30, 2014 7:00 am
A “circuit rider” wants to make sure that school officials in the four-county region have a voice in the creation of a fair, predictable basic education funding formula in Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Campaign is underway and includes nearly a dozen former superintendents, school directors and Intermediate Unit executive directors journeying throughout the state to discuss the formula.  “It would be wonderful for the often-forgotten Northwestern and Northern PA areas to become a prime mover in this endeavor,” said Pam Lenz, who is the circuit rider for Intermediate Unit 9 and 5.   IU9 includes districts in McKean, Potter, Cameron and Elk counties.  At this point, a basic education formula doesn’t exist in Pennsylvania, Lenz said.  “What school districts currently receive is based on a compilation of previous legislation, most notable of which was Act 31 of 1983,” she said. “This marked the creation of a ‘hold harmless’ provision that stated a school district would not receive less funding than it had received in the prior year. 

YDR  Editorial: Leadership needed on fair school funding (editorial)
Digital First Media Pennsylvania Editorial Board
York Daily Record UPDATED:   08/29/2014 12:17:31 PM EDT
The outdoorsman Gov. Tom Corbett paddled his way into Pottstown recently, navigating a kayak from Union Township in Berks to Riverfront Park.  Then, the pension reformer governor stepped on land to remind the two reporters present that he's on a mission to get a $50 billion public employee pension liability under control.  Next came the education governor. When asked by a reporter about fair funding for Pennsylvania schools, Corbett replied:
"What is 'fair funding' is the question ... what's the formula and how do you do it — is it per student, per school or per school district?"
In the midst of re-election year criticism of local school budget cuts tied to state funding, Corbett announced last winter that he was appointing a task force to examine fair funding for schools. The announcement followed a Terry Madonna Opinion Research Omnibus Survey that found 72 percent of adults surveyed favor using a funding formula to ensure "fair distribution" of state aid to schools.

"Across the state, school districts anticipated eliminating or reducing 370 academic programs for the 2014-15 school year, in addition to 783 academic program reductions that have occurred since 2010-11, according to a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. In Northeast Pennsylvania, tutoring programs have been eliminated and class sizes are larger.
“The arts are often one of the first things to be cut,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director for the administrators association."
Western Wayne eliminates some music classes, other districts could be next
BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL Published: September 2, 2014
Students in the Western Wayne School District returned to class last week, but for some, music is no longer on their schedule.  Pre-kindergarten to second-grade students will have no formal music education classes this year.  The move — a result of decreased state funding, increased pension obligations and delinquent construction reimbursements — could eventually be made in additional districts, officials fear.  “It was a very difficult decision, but we’re facing some really, really difficult financial circumstances,” said Western Wayne Superintendent Clay LaCoe, Ed.D.
Instead of replacing a retiring music teacher, the school board opted to save the salary and benefits and discontinue music classes for the district’s youngest students.

"This new band of smarter charter schools could move us beyond stale debates and back toward the original purpose of charter schools: to build powerful models from which the larger system of public education can learn. To be effective laboratories for reform, charter schools cannot be seen as hostile to traditional public schools. Good laboratories also need to give teachers the authority to suggest new approaches and the security to experiment without fear. And because charter schools don’t automatically reflect residential segregation patterns, they should be at the forefront of experimenting with how best to realize our nation’s enduring goal of making one out of many."
The Original Charter School Vision
New York Times Opinion By RICHARD D. KAHLENBERG and HALLEY POTTER AUGUST 30, 2014
Richard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. Halley Potter is a fellow at the Century Foundation and a former charter school teacher. They are co-authors of “A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education.”
ALTHOUGH the leaders of teachers unions and charter schools are often in warring camps today, the original vision for charter schools came from Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.  In a 1988 address, Mr. Shanker outlined an idea for a new kind of public school where teachers could experiment with fresh and innovative ways of reaching students. Mr. Shanker estimated that only one-fifth of American students were well served by traditional classrooms. In charter schools, teachers would be given the opportunity to draw upon their expertise to create high-performing educational laboratories from which the traditional public schools could learn.

"The study found that more than 80 percent of the students who leave a traditional public school to attend a charter school enroll in one whose performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests is inferior to the school they left. That doesn't mean there aren't good charters in Pennsylvania; it means the good ones aren't being replicated enough."
Editorial: Charters still an issue
Philly.com POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 1:09 AM
On the eve of Labor Day, as schools across the state prepare to open for a new year, Pennsylvania still lacks clear strategies to tackle two of public education's worst problems - inadequate funding of local districts and insufficient regulation of charter schools.
As the governor's race gets hotter, expect to hear a lot more about education funding, with Republican Gov. Corbett defending his past school spending and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf pushing for a natural-gas tax to generate more money for districts.
Charter schools shouldn't get lost in the debate. More and more students - not just in Pennsylvania, but across the nation - are opting out of traditional public schools for charters. But the evidence shows that too often, they are not being educated more effectively.
That conclusion can be found in a recent report by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan agency created by the legislature in 1987 to promote the "revitalization of rural Pennsylvania." In that capacity, the center looked at rural and urban charter schools and found that most are doing a poor job.

"Charter advocates have said school districts that lose students to charters can save on the costs of educating those children. But Hartman said the data collected show any savings are marginal compared with how much districts must pay to charter schools.  "From an economic standpoint, most of the charter school costs are extra," Hartman said. "And they are driven, not by educational need, but by parental desire, a relatively small number of parents driving $1.3 billion out of public education."
Study finds cost of Pa. charter schools 'obvious and escalating'
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON AUGUST 31, 2014
A study released this summer finds charter school enrollment has grown steadily, but at the expense of Pennsylvania school district budgets.  Penn State researchers call the financial pressure on school districts "obvious and escalating," finding that from the 2006 to 2012 school years, the statewide cost more than doubled, arriving at $1.3 billion. The main statewide subsidy for education at the same point was $5.5 billion.  Districts pay tuition for each student who leaves their district for a charter or cyber charter school.  Professor Bill Hartman, part of a team of researchers who conducted the study, said tuition costs are expected to keep rising by 10 to 20 percent a year.

Western Pa. districts aim to win back students from cyber charters
TribLive By Megan Harris Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
As scores of students flee traditional classrooms for the comfort of their keyboards at cyber charter schools, Western Pennsylvania school districts are building cyber academies in an attempt to keep those pupils and the tuition they'd otherwise take with them.
In Pennsylvania, cyber schools get 80 percent of the state funding a public school would receive for a student, usually several thousand dollars per student. The student's home district keeps 20 percent with no obligation to educate the child.  Online programs began this year in Karns City, Avonworth and Franklin Regional, and cyber academies at Fox Chapel and Gateway expanded. Other districts, including Norwin, West Allegheny, Blairsville-Saltsburg, North Hills and Baldwin-Whitehall, have led successful programs for years.  The growth of cyber charters has been costly for brick-and-mortar schools.  This year, 14 cyber charters in Pennsylvania taught 36,596 students — up from just one with 155 students in 2002.
Palmer charter school ready to open, fight for its future
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: September 1, 2014, 1:08 AM
As an embattled city charter school prepares to welcome 1,350 students on Tuesday, founder Walter D. Palmer remains hopeful the school that bears his name will remain open past June.
Palmer, a veteran educator, lawyer, and community activist, said his school had devised an academic turnaround plan and proposed an agreement with the Philadelphia School District to resolve an enrollment dispute.  He hopes to stave off a charter-revocation hearing and funding cuts that threaten the school's survival.  Palmer said he had met twice with Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and sent the district a proposal to settle several disputes.  "I'm still prepared to negotiate and find a solution to this matter," Palmer said last week.  District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Friday: "I cannot speak to the representations being made by Mr. Palmer. The fact is that the school district is moving forward with the revocation process."
He said the hearing was scheduled for Oct. 15.

Cook-Wissahickon students rally for funding with community, DeLissio
WHYY Newsworks BY JON CAMPISI SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 ROXBOROUGH
It's not just the adults who are concerned about the fiscal health of Philadelphia's public schools.
The very youngsters who rely on the city's school district for an education are worried about the state of the system as well.  State Rep. Pam DeLissio invited some of those concerned students to speak alongside her during a sidewalk address on Thursday evening outside of Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School in Roxborough.  The "Rally for School Funding," as it was dubbed, was designed to raise awareness of the budgetary problems faced by the largest school district in Pennsylvania.  "What we need is a commitment from the commonwealth that education is a priority," DeLissio said during the event.

Allegheny County school districts resize, close schools as population shifts
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 31, 2014 12:00 AM
This is the first of a three-part series.
When Kathy Wolf and her husband, David, graduated from Penn Hills High School in the 1970s, there were about 1,200 students in each of their graduating classes.  But when their son Nicholas walked across the football field to collect his diploma in June, there were just 298 students.
With a few exceptions, school districts throughout Western Pennsylvania are educating fewer students than they did even a decade ago.  In the 43 school districts in Allegheny County, enrollment loss averaged 13.3 percent from fall 2004 to fall 2013. With the school year just starting, it’s too early for figures for this year.  Sixty percent of the districts have had double-digit declines in that period, including Pittsburgh with 25 percent. Only three have grown significantly: South Fayette, Avonworth and Pine-Richland.  About half of the county’s school districts have closed schools, consolidated schools, redistricted or changed grade levels within buildings in the past decade.

Declining rolls lead Allegheny County school districts to adjust
By Mary Niederberger and Clarece Polke / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 1, 2014 12:00 AM
This is the second installment of a three-part series.
A conversation about elementary school reorganization was the genesis for the joining of Center Area and Monaca school districts into Central Valley in 2010, the state’s only voluntary district merger.  Fast forward to a June meeting of the Moon Area school board.  In the midst of a discussion about which of the district’s elementary schools to close, a board member suggested resurrecting the possibility of merging with the tiny neighboring Cornell School District.
As school districts throughout the region face declining enrollments and increasing financial pressures, it’s still rare for districts to consider merging, but more are consolidating within their own boundaries with fewer and larger, more centrally located schools.  The result is the era of neighborhood elementary schools is fading.  In Allegheny County, about half of the 43 school districts have closed schools, consolidated schools, redistricted or changed grade levels within buildings in the past decade.

School districts struggle to decide how small is too small
By Mary Niederberger and Clarece Polke / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 2, 2014 12:02 AM
Thomas McInroy is transportation coordinator, human resources director, facilities manager and curriculum coordinator for the Shanskville-Stoneycreek School District in Somerset County.
He’s also the superintendent.  Unlike employees in large school districts, staff at K-12 Shanksville-Stoneycreek — enrollment 375 — wear many hats.  “People say, ‘You’re a smaller school, so how hard can it be?’ We’re all essentially doing the same work as large school districts. We just have fewer people to do the work,” Mr. McInroy said.
Enrollment declines and tight budgets over the past decade have made it tough for districts of all sizes.  For small districts, it can be even tougher.

Charter school kids enter Pocono Mountain schools
By Jenna Ebersole Pocono Record Writer August 30, 2014 - 12:00 AM
A former Pocono Mountain Charter School administrator and a majority of the students left without a school when the charter shut down are moving to the Pocono Mountain School District.
More than half of the charter students have already switched to the district, with registration ongoing, Superintendent Elizabeth Robison announced at a district meeting last week. The former school has also finished its lease with the Shawnee Tabernacle Church, court-appointed custodian Alan Price Young said.  Robison said 206 of about 300 students at the charter were fully enrolled at district schools as of last Wednesday, with 16 more appointments scheduled. That leaves about 80 students, though they could choose to enroll elsewhere, such as at a private school.  The charter school's former assistant principal, Cassandra Nazario, will start the new school year as assistant principal at the Pocono Mountain West Junior High School, earning $65,000. She holds a 2012 master's degree from the University of Scranton, according to the district.  Nazario was also acting principal at the charter school from about the time of former principal Annette Richardson's departure in late 2013 to new principal Randy Parry's arrival in the spring.  "We're very happy to have Cassandra on board," Robison said.
A state appeals board shut down the charter school in the spring after years of litigation over whether it had broken the law amid accusations that the school's founder, Shawnee Tabernacle's the Rev. Dennis Bloom, had financially mismanaged the school and pocketed money for himself.

East Allegheny teachers to strike today
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 2, 2014 12:06 AM
Despite last-ditch efforts to resolve contract disputes before the would-be first day of school, East Allegheny teachers are still on track to strike this morning.  School directors and the East Allegheny Education Association remain at an impasse, chiefly over salaries for the district’s 128 teachers, who have worked without a contract since June 30, 2012. 

"Too often, the breadth and impact of AmeriCorps’ work is overlooked. Its members provide teaching, tutoring, after-school help and other services in more than 10,000 public schools, including one-third of the nation’s persistently low-achieving schools."
NYT Editorial: Broken Promises on National Service
New York TImes By THE EDITORIAL BOARD AUG. 30, 2014
AmeriCorps turns 20 on Sept. 12, and as the nation’s main public service program in those two decades, it has benefited numerous communities and given 900,000 Americans a chance to help people.  Unfortunately, that milestone is also a reminder of Washington’s broken promise to expand substantially the number of full- and part-time AmeriCorps members, who receive minimal living expenses and a modest education stipend — now $5,645 a year for full-time service. Those in the program, which has a budget of roughly $665 million a year, do invaluable work, like tutoring and mentoring at-risk students, cleaning up dilapidated public parks and responding to floods, hurricanes and other disasters and emergencies.  During his first run for the White House, President Obama spoke many times about his commitment to expanding AmeriCorps and other national service programs. “This will be a cause of my presidency,” he pledged. In 2009, amid much fanfare, he signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, named for the senator who was its foremost champion. The law was passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and it called for increasing AmeriCorps positions in stages to 250,000 by 2017. Yet in the five years since, the authorized ramp-up has not occurred.

Why one school system is dropping Teach For America
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 1 at 8:51 AM  
The school board in Durham, N.C., has voted 6-1 to end its relationship with Teach For America after the 2015-16 school year, when all of the 12 TFA teachers hired in the past few years will have completed the two years of service they promise to make when joining the organization.
What makes it interesting is what school board members said during a discussion about the issue. The Herald Sun reported that several board members said they did not want to continue a relationship with the organization because TFA corps members are highly inexperienced. (How could they not be? TFA recruits mostly newly graduated college students, gives them five weeks of summer training and places them in high-needs classrooms.) There were also concerns expressed that corps members are required only to promise to stay for two years and though some stay longer, some leave before the two years are up, causing a great deal of turnover in many schools with at-risk students who greatly need stability.
School board member Mike Lee was quoted as saying: “I have a problem with the two years and gone, using it like community service.”

Here's a back to school track…….
Pat Metheny With Charlie Haden - The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
youtube Published on Dec 29, 2013 runtime 5:12
Recorded at Wackerhalle, 34th Internationale Jazzwoche Burghausen, Burghausen, Germany, May 7, 2003



PSBA Members - Register to Join the PSBA, PASA, PASBO Listening Tour as BEF Funding Commission begins work; Monday, Sept. 8th 4-6 pm in Bethlehem
The bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission established under Act 51 of 2014 has begun a series of hearings across the state, and you’re invited to join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA, the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) as it follows the panel to each location this fall.
The first tour stop will be on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 from 4-6 p.m., at the Broughal Middle School, 114 W. Morton St, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  Click here to register for the free event.  Other tour dates will be announced as the BEF Commission finalizes the dates and locations for its hearings. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year.

Research for Action Fall 2014 Internships
Fall internships run from September – December.  Exact start and end dates are based on the needs of the project and the availability of the student.  Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resumé to applicants@researchforaction.org.  In your email, please include the two projects you’d most like to work on selected from the list below.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until all positions have been filled. Research for Action qualifies for work study and PHEAA and interns may also be eligible for course credit.

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)

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. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 30: Report: PA students moving from a traditional school to a charter generally move to a school with lower academic performance

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?


Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 30, 2014:
Report: PA students moving from a traditional school to a charter generally move to a school with lower academic performance



What Pennsylvania Can Learn From Other States’ Education Funding Formulas
Education Law Center Report February 2013



Interactive fact check: Did Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education?
Or is state support of public schools at a record level? Depends what you count.
York Daily Record By Ed Mahon emahon@ydr.com @edmahonreporter on Twitter  UPDATED:   08/29/2014 09:38:41 AM EDT
Democrat Tom Wolf has said that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education.
Corbett and his campaign have said the opposite.  In an April TV ad, Corbett's wife, Susan, said her husband increased spending in the education department and "Pennsylvania is at the highest it's ever been for spending in education."  A section of Corbett's campaign website has videos of a retired teacher and two current ones praising him, and it has text that says education funding for Pennsylvania kids has increased by more than $1 billion since Corbett took office.
What's true?  It depends what you count.
We created these interactive charts to show the difference. The different colors represent when former Gov. Ed Rendell was in office and after Corbett took office in 2011.

"Between 2006-07 and 2011-12, school district payments to charter schools increased annually from $527 million to $1.145 billion, with total disbursements over the time period from both local and state sources amounting to $4.777 billion.  …Importantly, the available data suggest that students moving from a traditional public school district to a charter school generally move to a school with lower academic performance than the original district."
Research Examines Charter School Enrollment Trends and Financial Impacts on Pennsylvania School Districts
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania - A Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Student enrollment in Pennsylvania charter schools has grown dramatically since the mid-2000s. Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, charter school enrollment increased by 54 percent from about 58,000 students to more than 90,000 students. Cyber charter schools grew 75 percent during the same 5-year period. Charter school enrollment in Pennsylvania, as nationally, is overwhelmingly urban. By 2010-11, only slightly more than 1 percent of all charter school students attended rural charter schools.
To assess charter school enrollment trends in Pennsylvania and the financial impacts of charters and cyber charters on traditional K-12 school districts, researchers from Penn State University studied data for academic years (AY) 2006-2007 through 2010-2011, the most recent years for which data were available. The researchers, Dr. Kai A. Schafft, Dr. Erica Frankenberg, Dr. Ed Fuller, Dr. William Hartman, Dr. Stephen Kotok and Bryan Mann, also analyzed how these impacts may vary according to urban and rural location and districts' student racial/ethnic demographics. The research was sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

Read the full charter school impact report here:
Assessing the Enrollment Trends and Financial Impacts of Charter Schools on Rural and Non-Rural School Districts in Pennsylvania
By: Kai A. Schafft, Ph.D., Erica Frankenberg, Ed.D., Ed Fuller, Ph.D., William Hartman, Ph.D., Stephen Kotok, Ph.D. Candidate, and Bryan Mann, Ph.D. Candidate, Penn State University, Department of Education Policy Studies June 2014

Capitolwire: Report criticizes district spending on low-performing charter schools
PSBA Website 8/29/2014
Pennsylvania's largest teacher's union advocated Wednesday for increased state spending in impoverished school districts to improve PSSA test scores.   But a June 2014 report by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania questions state policy mandating districts fully-fund charter schools that "consistently under perform" when compared with traditional public schools on those very same tests.  The center measured PSSA test scores for charter school students in the 2009-10 academic year, but cautioned against the accuracy of its data because the state Department of Education wouldn't specify how many students transferred into a charter school from each district, considering average charter schools accept students from an average of eight "feeder districts." The missing data made it impossible for the center to properly weight test scores, skewing the results to an "unknown" degree.  The center concluded charter school students scored lower than 93% of their public school counterparts in mathematics and 81% lower in reading. More than half -- 54% -- of charter schools reported lower test scores overall than the feeder districts that year, which paid $432.5 million in tuition to the failing charters.

Five reasons to look forward to this fall's Legislative session: Friday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com on August 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM, updated August 29, 2014 at 8:54 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
A long holiday weekend is upon us, which means our attentions are turning to matters slightly more frivolous as we wait for the clock to tick down to quitting time and the start of 72 hours of merry-making.  But before we mentally check out, we'll look ahead to the coming fall session of the state Legislature and run down a quick list of five things to look forward to in state politics this autumn.

Almost showtime: PennLive's list of midstate races to watch in the 2014 Pa. election
By Christina Kauffman | ckauffman@pennlive.com  on August 29, 2014 at 1:04 PM,
Make sure the campaign yard signs are firmly planted and grab the popcorn.
The ballot list has been finalized and this year's November election should bring no shortage of nail-biters, from the contentious Pennsylvania gubernatorial race to some heated state House and Senate races.File photo/PennLive   The ballot list has been finalized and PennLive sampled people in politics to bring voters this list of local races to watch. For a complete list of candidates appearing on the ballot in midstate races, click here.

Corbett campaign blasts F&M pollster on Twitter
Gov. Tom Corbett's re-election team takes to Twitter to criticize G. Terry Madonna, Franklin & Marshall College pollster.
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg Bureau contact the reporter
For the better part of a year, four different polls have shown Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s approval rating at historic lows for an incumbent. Despite spending millions on campaign commercials this summer, Corbett’s likability among registered voters didn’t change and he remained 25 percentage points behind Democratic rival Tom Wolf, according to a Franklin & Marshall Poll released Thursday.   But Corbett’s re-election campaign manager Mike Barley and communications director Chris Pack apparently are not working overtime to give Corbett a last-minute make-over.  Instead, the duo took to Twitter to shoot the messenger: F&M pollster and professor G. Terry Madonna.  In tweets on Thursday, Barley accused Madonna of being a shoddy pollster and Pack alleged Madonna was in cahoots with Wolf’s wife.  “You are unfairly influencing this election with bad polls,” Barley wrote on Madonna’s Twitter handle @terrymadonna.

With school budgets tight, prevailing wage again goes under microscope in PA
By Andrew Staub | PA Independent August 28, 2014
HARRISBURG, Pa. — When the Central York School District wanted to repair the roof on a middle school about two years ago, the school board found itself playing a game of financial chicken.   The roof had to be repaired before students returned for the 2012-13 school year, school board member Gregory Lewis recalled this week, but Central York had a chance to save thousands if state lawmakers followed through on proposed changes to the state’s prevailing wage law, which mandates school districts pay higher wages for public works projects exceeding $25,000.  Lawmakers didn’t change the law, and it cost Central York taxpayers big time, Lewis said. The district ended up paying about $65,000 more than what the contractor would have accepted without prevailing wage, he said.

A full, fair funding formula is essential for racial equality in Pa.
the notebook By Sheila Armstrong, Drick Boyd, and Margaret Ernst on Aug 29, 2014 02:05 PM
Last week, several Philadelphia clergy members of the interfaith organization POWER witnessed the growth of a powerful movement for racial equality in Ferguson, Mo.   After the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, ourclergy colleagues traveled to Missouri to call for justice and listen to a community in grief. They marched nonviolently with thousands of black youth asking for fair treatment from law enforcement – and even more important, for a sign from their fellow Americans that their lives matter.  But as our clergy brothers and sisters returned home last week, they returned to another place where there is no dearth of racial injustice.
In our own backyards and on our watch, we witness a different kind of violence being done not just to one teenager but to hundreds of thousands of young people across Pennsylvania. As one of just three states in the union without a funding formula for public education, Pennsylvania's severe cuts in the last few years have led to a hemorrhaging of funds from school districts like Philadelphia that educate mostly African American and Latino students. The consequences of these cuts have already had deep impact on our children’s and communities’ lives and will be felt for generations. 

Teachers union: Poor school districts hurt most by funding cuts
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau August 28, 2014 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — A report from Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union says poor school districts have fared worse than wealthy ones in state funding and student performance.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association has led criticism of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett over funding cuts that schools received in the 2011-12 year, after the expiration of federal stimulus funding that had propped up school spending for two years.
Republicans say Mr. Corbett is accountable only for funding that originated with the state, and they factor in some costs — such as pension payments for school workers — that Democrats tend not to include. When those expenditures are included, the GOP says, the amount of state money directed toward public school districts has increased each year since Mr. Corbett took office.  But Democrats and education groups argue that Mr. Corbett eliminated or reduced other funding streams, such as the $224 million that partially reimbursed districts for payments made to charter schools, leaving districts in a hole.

Philadelphia schools lay off 17 central-office workers
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, August 30, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Friday, August 29, 2014, 4:03 PM
The fallout from the Philadelphia School District's dismal financial situation continues: 17 central-office employees were issued layoff notices Friday.  Overall, 81 positions were eliminated, said Fernando Gallard, spokesman for the school system, but among those were 64 vacant jobs.
The laid-off workers come mostly from the district's facilities and capital improvements offices. One employee from the Office of Family and Community Engagement was also issued a pink slip.  Shedding the 81 jobs saves the district $5.4 million, Gallard said. The employees will work their last day either Tuesday or Sept. 19, depending on their union status.

Lea’s new principal counting on school partners to steady the ship
the notebook By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 29, 2014 11:44 AM
In a district roiled by budget cuts and layoffs, the new principal at Henry Lea Elementary is counting on a network of community supporters to help keep the West Philadelphia school on an even keel.  “The cuts are probably going to be the biggest challenge. How do you function, as a building, with less than we’ve ever had?” said Jennifer Duffy, a former District administrator hired just last week to run the 600-student school.  But, she said, “This school, more than any others I looked at, has a tremendous network.”  It’s that web of community support, she says, that will help her achieve her goal of bringing a high standard of academic excellence to a culturally and economically diverse student body.

East Allegheny teachers to strike Tuesday
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 30, 2014 12:32 AM
Teachers in the East Allegheny School District plan to take to the picket line Tuesday on what was scheduled to be the first day of school for students.  The latest negotiations between the teachers union and the school board have ended in a stalemate, with both sides still at odds over issues including teacher salaries. East Allegheny’s 128 teachers have worked without a contract since June 30, 2012.

IB: Kids are learning locally, thinking globally with this key school program: Jim Newman
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jim Newman on August 29, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Soon Pennsylvania's Department of Education will publish data summarizing student success on PSSA tests taken last year.   The data reported are an important indicator of the success of Pennsylvania students.  They also serve as a key measurement of the accomplishments of Pennsylvania schools.  Why, however, when it is commonplace to acknowledge the pressures of globalized competitiveness in so many facets of our businesses and daily lives, do we remain satisfied with mere state standards to measure the effectiveness of our schools? 
If worldwide competition long ago replaced regional and national competition, why do we continue to use state benchmarks as a satisfactory way to account for the learning outcomes of our students?   This fact remains even more curious to me because there IS a highly respected and proven way to use global standards to measure the learning outcomes of our students: the International Baccalaureate, or IB. 

Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law
From Senator Folmer's Mike's Memo email Week of September 1, 2014
With students returning to the classroom, and 1.5 million of those students being transported on Pennsylvania roads each day, here are some reminders regarding the Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law:
·         Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
·         Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped.
·         Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety.
·         If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.
·         Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.
The penalties if convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law include: $250 fine; five points on driving record; and 60-day license suspension. For more information on Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law and further traffic safety information, visit www.JustDrivePA.org.

Flash! Palm Beach County, Florida, Considers Opting Out of State Testing
Does Palm Beach County, Florida, have the nerve to follow the example set by Lee County, Florida, which voted last week to opt the entire district out of state testing?
The Palm Beach County school board is weighing that decision, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“Palm Beach County School Board members want to opt out of state-required testing, a controversial move that could jeopardize funding, athletics and students’ ability to graduate.
“They say testing has gotten out of control and creates too much pressure for students and teachers. After discussing the opt-out idea at a recent meeting, board members asked their lawyers for further study. They will discuss it again at a workshop in the next few weeks.
“Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward,” School Board member Karen Brill said. “We must explore the consequences, but we cannot allow fear to hold us back.”

Vermont State education board slams Obama administration’s testing policies
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 29 at 9:41 AM  
Vermont’s Board of Education recently passed a resolution on assessment and accountability in public education (see full text below) that slams some of the Obama administration’s key school reform policies.  Adding its voice to the growing chorus of critics who have called on the Education Department to reduce its focus on using standardized testing as a chief accountability measure for students and educators, the Vermont board approved a “a Statement and Resolution on Assessment and Accountability that statistician and researcher Gene Glass  called on his Education in Two Worlds blog “a remarkably intelligent statement about practices in assessment and accountability.”

Imagining Successful Schools
New York Times Opinion by Joe Nocera AUG. 29, 2014
What should teacher accountability look like?
We know what the current system of accountability looks like, and it’s not pretty. Ever since the passage of No Child Left Behind 12 years ago, teachers have been judged, far too simplistically, based on standardized tests given to their students — tests, as Marc S. Tucker points out in a new report, Fixing Our National Accountability System, that are used to decide which teachers should get to keep their jobs and which should be fired. This system has infuriated and shamed teachers, and is a lot of the reason that teacher turnover is so high, causing even many of the best teachers to abandon the ranks.  All of which might be worth it if this form of accountability truly meant that public school students were getting a better education. But, writes Tucker, “There is no evidence that it is contributing anything to improved student performance.” Meanwhile, he adds, test-based accountability is “doing untold damage to the profession of teaching.”


PSBA Members - Register to Join the PSBA, PASA, PASBO Listening Tour as BEF Funding Commission begins work; Monday, Sept. 8th 4-6 pm in Bethlehem
The bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission established under Act 51 of 2014 has begun a series of hearings across the state, and you’re invited to join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA, the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) as it follows the panel to each location this fall.
The first tour stop will be on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 from 4-6 p.m., at the Broughal Middle School, 114 W. Morton St, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  Click here to register for the free event.  Other tour dates will be announced as the BEF Commission finalizes the dates and locations for its hearings. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year.

Research for Action Fall 2014 Internships
Fall internships run from September – December.  Exact start and end dates are based on the needs of the project and the availability of the student.  Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resumé to applicants@researchforaction.org.  In your email, please include the two projects you’d most like to work on selected from the list below.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until all positions have been filled. Research for Action qualifies for work study and PHEAA and interns may also be eligible for course credit.

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)

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.