Charter Deform Made its Way to PA House Floor Today

Having spent more than five years as an Officer and Governing Board Member of Pennsylvania School Boards Association I have seen a lot of garbage come out of the Capitol Building (a lot of good things, too). What I saw today has forced me to dust off a Blog I have not used in more than two years. Let me be perfectly clear, everything that follows in this post is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) of Centennial School District, PSBA, nor any other organization with which I am affiliated. The one constant in each of these years has been watching another attempt to cement the largess of Charter and Cyber Charter operators and management companies. Every dollar that goes to unjustly enrich an EMO is money that would be better spent in the classroom. How much more of our taxpayer’s money are we going to flush away paying exorbitant rentals and fees to insiders and family members operating Charter Schools? My own school district served as host when Governor Corbett signed ACT 3 of 2013 … Continue reading

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PA House Finance Chm Bernie O’Neill Proposes Writing Special Ed Funding Formula Into PA School Code

Thirty months after Gov Corbett signed PA Act 3 into law on the stage of William Tennent High School in Centennial School District, PA House Finance Chair Bernie O’Neill is still trying to fix the broken process by which public school districts pay charter school operators for the special education services they claim to provide. This is not new territory for Chm O’Neill, himself a former special education teacher at WTHS. He’s been fighting this up(capitol)hill battle for more than a decade. Spearheaded by Representative O’Neill and Senator Pat Browne, the Special Education Funding Commission authorized by Act 3 of 2013, brought forth a new formula that was fair to both public school districts and charter school operators. HB2138 was overwhelmingly approved in the House. Unfortunately, when the Senate approved the bill, it was weighted down by a seventeen year phase in period to take the wind out of its sails. Now Rep O’Neill is pushing to have the Special Education Funding Formula written into the PA School Code. I think that is a great idea, as long as it … Continue reading

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If I Were (PSBA) President….

…. I would look to secure our future by advocating for even greater member participation in PSBA and on Capitol Hill. As a recipient of the Timothy M Allwein Award, I have proven my ability at the legislative level. That is not why I write today. Now that the polls are open, people are asking me what I stand for and why I am the better candidate. That is a fair question. I have been an active PSBA Leader for seven (7) years and like to feel I’ve made some valuable contributions. However, several people have been leaders for twice that span, and they have been the heart and soul of the organization. Collectively, we have been carrying the torch together with the help of Past Presidents like Roberta Marcus and Marianne Neel to guide us. Three years ago, PSBA went through a governance review process, bringing about many positive changes that were long overdue. I supported their work. As an Officer of PSBA in 2012 and 2013, I carried part of the weight of seeing these changes through while … Continue reading

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House Education Committee Gathers Assessment Information

In a welcome move, PA House Education Chairs (Rep Stan Saylor and Rep James Roebuck) held a hearing yesterday to collect input from educators, administrators and school board members before looking at proposed legislation to curtail the numerous problems and onerous burden on students, professional staffs and district budgets. The testimony was well received. About the only item not enumerated was the true cost of the high stakes tests as PDE placed the cost at roughly $30 Million. That figure is only the cost to the Commonwealth, while the cost to school districts to comply with the mandates is much higher. Centennial School District spends $675,000/year while School District of Philadelphia puts the cost at $65,000,000. As 2014 came to a close, Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution 17-0 requesting SDoP to “Opt Out” of high stakes tests. Rep Bernie O’Neill (a former Special Education teacher from Centennial SD) was the first to target a major flaw by asking why a special needs student who never took Algebra should be required to pass the Algebra Keystone Exam as a prerequisite for … Continue reading

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Centennial board member joins new national advocacy group   Photo provided by Network for Public Education centennial board member appointed to org Mark B. Miller, Centennial school board member. Buy this photo   Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 6:00 am | Updated: 6:56 am, Thu Aug 8, 2013. Centennial board members joins new national advocacy group By Naomi Hall Staff writer Centennial School Board member Mark B. Miller was recently appointed to a new national public education advocacy group, the Network for Public Education. The network is a national advocacy group that supports grass-roots efforts to defend public education from attempts to privatize, and market public education for corporate gain. “We want to strengthen grass-roots groups’ ability to mobilize and support candidates that are willing to defend public education,” said Anthony Cody, a founding member of the group’s board of directors. The group was founded by Diane Ravitch, an author, professor and education researcher from New York, and Cody, a middle school teacher and blog author from Mendocino County, Calif. Both Ravitch and Cody knew Miller from his public education advocacy work in Pennsylvania. “He’s been … Continue reading

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Diane Ravitch announces Mark B Miller named to NPE Board

Diane Ravitch announces four new members to the Board of Directors of advocacy group The Network for Public Education. Network for Public Education ( President, Diane Ravitch, along with co-founder, Anthony Cody, announced today, the addition of Mark B Miller, among four new members to the Board of Directors. NPE is a national organization built with the most highly qualified leaders in the struggle to protect public education from privatization and special interest groups counter to the best interests of all children. By creating alliances with grassroots groups across the country, NPE leverages the strength of numbers to bring about positive change to the nation’s education landscape. Known to oppose high-stakes testing; privatization of public education; mass school closures to save money or to facilitate privatization; demonization of teachers; lowering of standards for the education profession; for-profit management of schools, NPE supports many ideals in free and appropriate public education. NPE supports schools that offer a full and rich curriculum for all children, including the arts, physical education, history, civics, foreign languages, literature, mathematics, and the sciences, subject to democratic … Continue reading

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Let’s Put Education Ahead of Incarceration

How can people like the Koch’s, Devos and Waltons claim to be so in love with America and show such disdain for its children? Betsy is undetered by facts showing vouchers have not improved education. Charles blames our nation’s teachers for results on tests that are skewed by influences (poverty, violence, hunger, etc..) beyond their control. Sam believes a teacher with five weeks training can outperform a teacher with five years of practice (I call it them “Wal-Mart Specials”) Their efforts are demonizing public education because creativity does not show up in tests where rote memory rules. These pseudo intellectuals are looking to take the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) out of our engines so we can compete with countries on a scale that does not matter in the part of the world we live in. American does no longer leads the world in education. We lead the world in incarceration (per capita) and we lead the world in defense spending (more spent than the #2 through #25 combined). We are in no position to be abandoning our children under the guise of “reform. … Continue reading

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Gallup Poll Flawed by Poisoned Sample

A Gallup poll recently released by CBS gives the appearance that public schools lag behind all other institutions of learning. However, 75% of the respondents to the poll do not have children in any school. “Of the 1,012 surveyed, 236 said they were parents of a child who will be attending school in grades K through 12 this school year.” No doubt most of the responders’ opinions are influenced by the millions of dollars spent by special interest groups, mainly the operators of Charter/Cyber Charter Schools themselves to imply their schools are the pinnacle of the education pyramid.   The EMO’s and Charter/Cyber Charter owners spend millions of dollars (a fraction of their profits) each year advertising and lobbying for the support of those who have no stake in public education (now). The respondents to the Gallup study are not looking ahead to the day when they will have to be providing all kinds of welfare benefits (or incarceration) to the students who attend low performing schools. Here are some other sources of research to help you balance your take on the … Continue reading

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Mark B Miller Elected Vice President of Penna School Boards Assn.

Director Elected to School Board Association School board member Mark B. Miller is now on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. By Tom Sofield  November 3, 2011 Centennial School District School Director Mark B. Miller was recently elected to serve on the 2012 Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, according to a release. Miller, who was voted second vice president, was one of one of several elected to serve on the 26-member board of directors for the nonprofit state-wide organization that works to improve public schools in Pennsylvania. The officers were elected in mid-October during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey.   The Upper Southampton resident, who works as a consultant and artist manager/agent, currently serves as PSBA assistant regional director for Bucks County, co-chair of the Keystone State Education Coalition and on the school district’s finance committee. The release states, Miller graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia, Pierce Business College, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, and Temple University. Also elected to the board of directors: Robert Lumley-Sapanski (Bellefonte Area … Continue reading

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Alternative Revenue Committee brings in new sources of funding

To balance budgets, schools allow ads October 16, 2011|By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Staff Writer (read full article) (Page 3 of 3) The Centennial system, also in Bucks, has launched a host of ventures aimed at raising $2.5 million by June 2014. Centennial trademarked the William Tennent High School name and its panther mascot’s image, and signed a licensing agreement with Modell’s Sporting Goods. Board member Mark Miller, himself a marketing consultant, said Internet companies often sell apparel bearing school logos, without paying fees. With its trademark, Centennial can curb that. This fall, licensed T-shirts went on sale at Modell’s in Warminster, with athletic bags to follow. The district gets a 20 percent cut. Schools also circulate Modell’s discount coupons, for a percentage of sales, and Modell’s signs are in the high school stadium and gymnasium. Want to be noticed at a one- or two-day Centennial event? Sponsoring the “Your-Name-Here Invitational” is $5,000; an “Invitational Presented by Your-Name-Here” is $3,000. That’s not all: State Farm Insurance pays Centennial $5,000 to put a sign on the high school stadium ticket booth … Continue reading

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