“In 2016, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the national charter lobbying group 50CAN released a report on cyber charters, which found that compared to traditional public school students, full-time cyber students have poor academic growth. Overall, cyber students make no significant gains in math and less than half the gains in reading compared to their peers in traditional public schools, this report found.”
Pa. cyber charters consistently receive poor academic scores
Several states cracked down on cyber charters this school year, but Pennsylvania was not among them
The notebook by Greg Windle June 14 — 4:40 pm, 2018
No cyber charter school in Pennsylvania have ever received a passing academic score from the state, and very few have come close, according to information recently highlighted in a report from the office of Democratic State Rep. James Roebuck of Philadelphia. Roebuck and other House Democrats have assembled a package of bills that would further regulate charters by reforming how they use reserve funds, rules for leasing buildings, special education payments, contracting, the teacher evaluation system, disclosure in advertising, school building closures, and the transfer of school records. The package would not single out cybers, but other legislation has been introduced that would reduce their per-student reimbursement. Pennsylvania has 13 cyber charters enrolling more than 34,000 students, or 10 percent of all the cyber students in the country. These schools are authorized not by local districts, but by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. But districts must send per-pupil payments to cyber charters for each local student they enroll, and the payments are the same as for brick-and-mortar charters, even though cybers have fewer expenses. This has proven frustrating not only to the districts and other proponents of traditional public schools, but to several groups that favor school choice and charters.
SB1095: New graduation requirement bill passes state Senate committee
A bill written by state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, would alter state requirements for high school graduation. digital first media file photo
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, email@example.com, @KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 06/14/18, 8:36 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
The bill introduced by state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, that would alter the graduation requirements for high school students is going to the Senate floor after passing committee. On June 13 the 12-member Senate Education Committee unanimously voted out Senate Bill 1095 which changes the prevalence of performance on state-mandated Keystone Exams as a requirement for graduation with options that will focus on a student’s own college or career readiness. Starting in the 2019-20 school year students are expected to pass the Keystones with a proficient score in the testing areas of algebra I, biology and literature in order to graduate. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, no more than 72 percent of students in 2017 were proficient on these exams. McGarrigle said Thursday he has been hearing from the school districts that he represents about the burden placed on teachers, administrators and students to try to get through the end-of-term exams. “We met with all of the key players and came up with alternate pathways where this would not be a graduation requirement,” said McGarrigle. “When everyone said no to us, we kept pushing ahead asking, ‘How can it be a yes?’ and we weren’t taking no for an answer.” McGarrigle’s bill has the following options — after an amended version passed by the education — that will provide alternative ways for students to graduate:
“The alternatives include such options as:
Penn Live By Jan Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Updated Jun 14, 3:09 PM
Passing the Keystone Exams would be prevented from becoming a graduation requirement for Pennsylvania students under legislation that is advancing in the state Senate. The bill, which has drawn widespread bipartisan legislative support as well as the backing from education groups and Gov. Tom Wolf's administration, would allow districts to choose from a variety of alternatives for students to prove their graduation-readiness. The proposed legislation, which unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, would extend the moratorium that exists on requiring students to achieve a score of "proficient" or "advanced" on the Keystone Exams to graduate through 2019-20. The alternative pathways provided for in the legislation to prove career or college readiness would take effect starting in 2020-21. Under this legislation, students would still be required to take the three Keystone Exams to meet the high school accountability requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Those exams in Algebra I, biology and literature are administered at the end of those courses, which in the case of the literature exam is often in 10th grade. The scores on the exams would serve as a default way of measuring a student's graduation readiness.
Tell your senator to vote YES to graduation reforms under Senate Bill 1095
PSBA Website POSTED ON JUNE 14, 2018 IN PSBA NEWS
Yesterday the Senate Education Committee amended and approved Senate Bill 1095 (Sen. McGarrigle, R-Chester/Delaware), legislation that provides multiple options to demonstrate readiness for high school graduation. The plan under Senate Bill 1095 as amended is the culmination of extensive discussion with leaders in the Senate and the education community, including PSBA, and recommendations from the Department of Education. These reforms to state-level graduation requirements also reflect the feedback received by PSBA from our members. Please contact your senators now and ask them to urge leaders to bring Senate Bill 1095 to the floor quickly and to vote YES on this important proposal. Let your senators know that without a new plan in place, the only way to graduate is passing Keystone Exams — beginning with the Class of 2020. Students who are rising juniors will be impacted by the Keystone Exam mandate. Emphasize the need to get this bill enacted ASAP so that students and schools can have more flexible options.
Click here to send a letter to your senator.
Read PSBA’s news release on SB 1095
Guest Column: The sad state of poverty among children in America
Delco Times By Joseph Batory, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 06/14/18, 8:39 PM
For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers,
their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day.
And the song that I am singing is a prayer to non-believers,
To come and stand beside us, we can find a better way.
– From a John Denver song: ‘Rhymes and Reasons’)
As a nation, we have lost our way! In the “political wheeling and dealing” of Washington government’s elites, far too many of these elected officials continue to pursue only their own self-serving interests. Getting re-elected is all that matters to these people. So the agendas and subsequent support of rich and powerful individuals and groups have become their priority rather than the common good and the critical needs of our nation. One of the “buried issues” you never hear very much about in Congress or the White House is the appalling rate of poverty among children in the United States. But the primary advocate for children in America, Marian Wright Edelman, leader of the The Children’s Defense Fund, has been relentless in her demands for better treatment of the poor children in our nation. Here is what she wrote to the newly-elected president in January:
A look at school meals and healthy eating in a district that grapples with widespread poverty.
the Notebook June 14 — 6:04 pm, 2018
About Food Matters - This special online section of the Notebook takes a look at school meals and the important role they play in providing nutrition to children in Philadelphia, the poorest among the 10 most populous U.S. cities. In Philadelphia, 28 percent of the population, and 39 percent of those under 18 – that’s 135,000 children – live under the federal poverty line, according to the most recent census figures. his edition is made possible by the generous support of the Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation.
McCaskey's 'Day of Understanding' demonstrates importance of empathy
Lancaster Online by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD June 15, 2018
THE ISSUE: Students of both the J.P. McCaskey and McCaskey East campuses took part in a daylong event May 30 titled a “Day of Understanding.” The event was aimed at discussing the social and cultural issues affecting their lives in and out of the classroom. They attended one assembly devoted to community issues that was led by Ismail Smith-Wade-El, a member of Lancaster City Council who worked for former Mayor Rick Gray’s poverty commission; Miriam Soto, home ownership center director at the Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership; and Vanessa Philbert, household stability impact team leader at Community Action Partnership. A second assembly focused on social issues was led by Joanne Carroll, president of TransCentralPA, which provides advocacy and support for transgender individuals; Salina Almanzar, an activist, artist and School District of Lancaster board member; and Tanay Harris, a community activist on cultural and racial issues. The day began with a broadcast of a panel discussion in which student leaders addressed the social and cultural issues they faced, and ended with student discussions facilitated by teachers.
McCaskey High School students are finished for the academic year, but they still have something to teach us. Consider their “Day of Understanding.” What a great idea it was to set aside a day so students could discuss issues that concerned them — including some that threaten to divide them. It grew out of district Superintendent Damaris Rau’s student cabinet meetings last fall. Rau then consulted with J.P. McCaskey and McCaskey East building leaders. Student leaders were part of the day’s planning committee from January onward. The day’s assemblies focused on “societal challenges that groups of people face, and some of the social services available to help them,” explained Jay Butterfield, the district’s director of schools. “We addressed poverty, racial inequity, gender inequity, political dynamics and self-advocacy. We discussed avenues that students can pursue to receive support and become active in creating change for a better future.”
“The good news is that the survey, conducted for the Bipartisan Policy Center, also found broad support for efforts to ensure that all children get a strong start in life. By wide margins, liberal and conservative respondents alike expressed concern about the high cost of quality child care; agreed that many parents have too little time to spend with their children; thought that all children should be guaranteed the shelter, food, education and care needed to thrive; and supported programs to help child care workers earn a living wage. Importantly, a majority (54 percent) said they would be willing to pay higher taxes for programs that help children, even if those programs didn’t directly benefit them.”
Rick Santorum and George Miller: There are no losers when we invest in early child care | Opinion
by Rick Santorum & George Miller, For CQ-Roll Call Updated: JUNE 15, 2018 — 5:00 AM EDT
Rick Santorum is a co-chairman of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative. A Pennsylvania Republican, he served two terms each in the House and Senate. George Miller is a cochairman of the BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative. A California Democrat, he served 20 terms in the House representing the Bay Area. The Bipartisan Policy Center is a Washington-based think tank that actively promotes bipartisanship.
Sixty percent of Americans say they expect the next generation will be “worse off” than their own. That profound sense of pessimism was perhaps the most startling finding of a recent national survey on views about early childhood development. The reasons for this loss of confidence in a brighter future are complex. For one, changes in the workplace and society as a whole have created new and often difficult trade-offs for working families. Forty percent of American children under the age of 5 today grow up in families that earn less than $50,000 per year, and 70 percent live in households where all resident adults work. For millions of parents juggling low-wage jobs, it’s a daily struggle to provide the basics, from housing and food to adequate medical care, let alone to afford high-quality child care. In many cases, these pressures and stresses are most acute just at the time when children are going through critical periods of cognitive and emotional development — years that lay the foundation for later learning and career success.
Gulen Charters: Abuses of a Charter School, Vision Academy of Wm Penn School District
Upper Darby Sentinel News By Agnes Lawless Bedard June 14, 2018
Imagine a public school where by the end of the school year the majority of teachers and support staff who started the school year, are no longer with that school. Of course in a public school parents would know about a situation like that as the teachers union would be out in front fighting on behalf of the teachers. In the William Penn School District, Vision Academy Charter School reportedly had the same situation where there were 30 employees for the school listed in 2016 – 2017 school year and yet by the end of the school year, only 6 remained. In a 3 month investigation, the Upper Darby Sentinel News has talked with former employees of the school and an alarming picture has emerged of discrimination, threats and mismanagement. There are accusations of grade changing, charges of attendance records being changed and complaints of verbal abuse of teachers in front of students. Teachers who left the school do not want to be identified for fear of being blackballed from other teaching positions. The school opened in 2015 with the support of Pennsylvania State Representative Margo Davidson. There are accusations of document manipulation which is governed by not only the Pennsylvania Department of Education but also the Federal Department of Education. More than 3 former employees, teachers and support staff, saw and knew of the changing of attendance records.
Pa students need real educational choice, not more of the status quo
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Colleen Hroncich Updated Jun 14, 8:03 AM
Colleen Hroncich is a senior fellow at The Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Harrisburg.
In her recent PennLive op-ed, "Let's set the record straight," Susan Spicka uses Commonwealth Foundation's analysis of school district reserves to accuse us of approaching every problem with a single tool. This is rich considering Spicka really does offer only one solution to every education problem ... more money. Many Pennsylvania school districts have oversized fund balances. Last year, PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told a local newspaper that 8 to 12 percent of annual expenditures is an acceptable general fund balance and anything beyond 20 percent is cause for concern. In 2016-17, nearly half of Pennsylvania school districts held reserves of 20 percent or more of spending. Thirteen of those schools requested permission to raise taxes above the Act 1 limit.
Quakertown School District approves budget, with tax increase
Expenses will exceed revenues
WFMZ By: Justin Sweitzer Posted: Jun 15, 2018 01:32 AM EDT Updated: Jun 15, 2018 05:12 AM EDT
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - School board directors for the Quakertown Community School District approved a budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year Thursday night in a move that will raise school district real estate taxes by 4.2 percent. The decision comes amid the board’s attempts to manage a structural budget deficit that has been nagging at the district in recent years. With the passage of the 2018-2019 budget — which was approved 5-4 —- the district will finish that fiscal year with an estimated shortfall of $767,331. The 4.2 percent real estate tax increase will cost taxpayers an estimated $158 each, according to the district.
Smethport school board increases taxes
Bradford Era By FRAN DE LANCEY Era Correspondent email@example.com Jun 12, 2018 Updated Jun 12, 2018
SMETHPORT — With all nine members present Monday, the Smethport Area School Board unanimously adopted the 2018-19 budget, which amounts to $15,136,296 and increases the property tax millage from the current 18.01 to 18.64. According to Business Manager Sue Jordan, with the 2018 Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion resolution the board adopted earlier this year, the district's median assessed valuation is $43,220, which would mean an increase of $28 in school taxes. For a property assessed at $100,000 this increase would be $63. Both increases would be 3.5 percent. Directors also approved a resolution implementing the Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion for 2018. The assessment exclusion is $10,262 providing a savings of up to $191.28 off the real estate tax bill for those who were approved. All other taxes for 2018-19 remain unchanged. These include both the $5.00 assessments on all residents aged 18 and older as allowed under the Public School Code of 1949 and Act 511 of 1965; the one percent wage tax and a similar rate for all real estate transfers.
“The district has cited non-discretionary expenses, including special education placements, charter school tuition and pension costs, as major driving factors necessitating a significant tax increase.”
CASD’s final budget vote slated for June 26
Daily Local By Lucas Rodgers, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LucasMRodgers on Twitter POSTED: 06/13/18, 5:22 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 DAY AGO
CALN >> Coatesville Area School Board members are planning for a final vote on adopting the district’s $178 million budget for the 2018-19 school year, set to take place at a school board meeting June 26. A final vote on the proposed budget, which includes an 8.4 percent tax increase in its initial draft, was originally scheduled for the school board meeting on May 29. However, the school board tabled the vote to take time to seek emergency funding from the state Legislature and review other options for cutting costs in the budget. School board members and district administration discussed the ongoing budget process at the school board’s committee meeting Tuesday evening. Superintendent Cathy Taschner said school board members had recently made two trips to the state Capitol in Harrisburg, with different members of the board attending each time, to meet with state legislators. “I want to thank our legislators who have been working very closely with the board of directors throughout this whole process, and we appreciate their support greatly,” Taschner said. “We’ve been encouraged by the actions that they’ve taken, the amount of time and interest they’ve taken to look at the amount of reductions that the school district has made and the manner in which we have fiscally been responsible and prudent.”
Are your school taxes going up?
GoErie June 15, 2018 (paywall)
Only two school districts in Erie, Crawford counties have asked for no tax increase. Of the other districts, Erie School District’s proposed hike is the lowest; Iroquois’ is the highest.
Philadelphia Story: Another School Choice Failure
Tultican Blog by Thomas Ultican 12JUN
For the last two decades, Pennsylvania’s political leaders have attempted to improve schools in Philadelphia without spending money. In 2001, Governor Thomas Ridge turned to Chris Whittle and his Edison Project to study the school system and create a reform plan. That December, the state of Pennsylvania disbanded the local school board and assumed total control of the district. Since then, citizens of Philadelphia have endured – with minimal input – a relentless school choice agenda and the loss of public schools in their neighborhoods. Politicians – not wanting to spend on education – often claim the problem is public schools have become bloated and inefficient. This assertion is normally paired with an attack on teachers’ unions as being the enemy of good pedagogy and progress. The medicine offered to solve these ills is competition and market forces. It is theorized that competition will improve management and force teachers to do their job better. After two decades of implementing this theory in Philadelphia; test scores are still low, communities are still plagued by poverty and fraud is rampant. Worst of all, the public-school system has been significantly harmed.
House Spending Bill Would Give Small Boost to Education, Reject Cuts by DeVos
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 14, 2018 12:23 PM
The U.S. Department of Education would get a $71 billion budget in a House spending bill for the next spending year released Thursday, a relatively small increase from current spending levels. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' agency would get an additional $43 million in the legislation proposed by the House appropriations subcommittee for fiscal 2019. That's actually the opposite of what she wants, since earlier this year the Trump administration proposed a $63.2 billion budget for the department for fiscal 2019—that proposal came out before Trump signed a spending bill in March for fiscal 2018 providing $70.9 billion for the department. The department's largest program, Title I aid targeted at students from low-income backgrounds, would get nearly $15.8 billion in the legislation, the same amount it gets now. Several prominent programs would receive flat funding or get moderately sized increases in the new House spending proposal. Two major programs DeVos sought to eliminate in the administration's fiscal 2019 budget program, Title II funding for educators' professional development and after-school aid, are still funded in the House bill; Title II Part A is flat-funded at nearly $2.1 billion, according to a source. And the legislation does not appear to include funding for DeVos' proposals to expand K-12 choice through new programs, including $1 billion she pitched for both public and private school choice through an initiative she dubbed Opportunity Grants.
Congress Stages A Sell-Job On Charter Schools And Ignores Complaints Of Black Parent
Education Opportunity Network by Jeff Bryant June 114, 2018
One of the more disturbing aspects of the push to create more charter schools was on full display during a Congressional hearing this week when charter proponents stacked the agenda with biased testimony and completely ignored the lone witness who could attest firsthand to the real impact these schools have on communities of color. The lone dissenting voice in the battery of speakers lined up to give glowing praise to these privately operated but publicly funded schools was Jonathon Phillip Clark, an Iraq War veteran and black Detroit parent with seven children in the public-school system. Clark is also an assistant director at Mission City, a nonprofit organization in Detroit that provides mentoring and tutoring throughout the school year and an arts camp during the summer, and he serves on the board of an organization called 482Forward, a group of parents and students that advocates for a high-quality, equitable education for Detroit children. Unlike most of the participants in this hearing – members of the House Education and Workforce Committee, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Nina Rees, CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers President Greg Richmond, and Harvard Professor Martin West – only Clark spoke from experience of having children educated in charter schools and a neighborhood affected by free-market “school choice” competition posed by these schools. Yet his remarks were mostly ignored.
Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders. State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or email@example.com.
Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16
PSBA Website May 14, 2018
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators. The 2018 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 14, 2018. The application due date is July 16, 2018 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Download the Application
Join with EdVotersPA and PCCY for Capitol Caravan Days and fight for our public schools! When: 9:00-3:00 on June 12 or June 20 (your choice!)
Where: The Harrisburg Capitol
Why: To show state lawmakers that their constituents expect them to support public school students in the '18-19 budget
Education Voters of PA joining together with Pennsylvania Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for a lobby day in Harrisburg. Join a team and meet with your state legislators and legislative leaders to talk about how the state can support K-12 students in the state budget.
Register Here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdrk24gH61bp7Zjy_JFpIELPYcEvXx05Ld4-_CPltQYyqLSPw/viewform
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
POWER 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM at the PA Capitol
On Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM, students, parents, community activists, and faith leaders from different traditions will gather on the steps of the State Capitol Main Rotunda for POWER’s 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action to demand support for legislation to put 100% of the Commonwealth's Basic Education Budget through PA's Fair Funding Formula. We ask you to join us as we stand in solidarity with one another and continue demanding fair and fully funded education for Pennsylvania’s public school students. In addition to a large rally, we will march to Governor Tom Wolfe's office to pray for his support for 100% through the Formula. Join us as we hold meetings that day with our legislators asking each one to speak out in favor of POWER's 100% plan.
Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket .
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait. These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link . Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer based on need. Go and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to . We can't wait to see you.