Tuesday, October 23, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 23: From 2008 to 2016, state spending on special education increased by $72 million. But costs increased by $1.54 billion.


Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

From 2008 to 2016, state spending on special education increased by $72 million. But costs increased by $1.54 billion.


‘Spectacular’ growth in teaching profession, but big changes are afoot, landmark Penn study says
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Posted: 59 minutes ago
The teaching profession is transforming, according to research to be released Tuesday: It is larger than ever, but more unstable; it's attracting more educators of color than ever, but losing them at higher rates than white teachers. The Great Recession brought school layoffs, but that trend has reversed, and the number of teachers nationwide is increasing far faster than the rate of students, according to federal data. Between 1988 and 2016, the number of teachers nationwide increased by more than three times the number of students. "The growth in teaching has been spectacular, and our point is, there is going to be a price," said Richard Ingersoll, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, who has been studying the profession for 30 years. Ingersoll is lead author of the updated research. "I don't see this growth as sustainable." gThere have been steep increases in special education teachers, educators who instruct English language learners, and elementary-level enrichment teachers — those who teach a subject like foreign language or robotics. There's been a 90 percent increase in math teachers, and a 94 percent increase in science teachers — due in part to changing graduation requirements in schools across the country.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/education/teaching-profession-big-changes-afoot-landmark-penn-study-says-20181023.html

“From 2008 to 2016, state spending on special education increased by $72 million. But costs increased by $1.54 billion. Of PA’s 417 districts, more than 83% are paying a greater share of special education costs since 2008.”
Southeast PA pays waaay more for special ed–October 19, 2018
34 Districts surrounding PHL pay highest share
PCCY Website October 19, 2018
The basic skills you learn as a child, thankfully, stay with you your whole life. How to read. How to tie your shoes. How you learn best. Unfortunately, being denied the opportunity to learn basic skills can stay with you your whole life as well. For many children with disabilities in Pennsylvania, the promise of such opportunities are a cruel pipe dream–and their numbers are growing. The number of children who need special education services in the Commonwealth are rising, but the state share of funding is declining, according to a new report from the Education Law Center and PA Schools Work, of which PCCY is a lead organization.
https://www.pccy.org/news/southeast-pa-pays-waaay-special-ed-october-19-2018/

Editorial: Keystone alternatives are needed
Altoona Mirror EDITORIALS OCT 23, 2018
Pennsylvania’s decision to walk away from heavy-handed reliance on the Keystone Exams as a basis for high school graduation acknowledges that standardized testing alone isn’t a reliable mechanism for upping students’ prospects for achieving success as adults. While the demonstrate-proficiency-on-the-exams-or-else approach to graduation was built upon good intentions — the hope of better preparing students for college and the work world — in the broader picture, that initiative represented shortsightedness. That shortsightedness should have been recognized sometime long before plans for the requirement ever were shifted into the proverbial high gear. As can now be said confidently, delays in actually putting into effect the proficiency-or-else rule have been beneficial in preventing harm that some students, otherwise successful in school and preparing well for their lives after graduation, might have experienced. However, the study and work — and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent — to develop Keystone Exams tests in algebra, biology and literature have helped to improve the state’s education system. Even the tests’ critics admit that.
http://www.altoonamirror.com/opinion/editorials/2018/10/keystone-alternatives-are-needed/

Voter registration increases rare for Pa. midterms and show voter excitement, experts say
PA Post by Emily Previti OCTOBER 23, 2018 | 05:00 AM
Voter registration is up this year across the board – which is rare for Pennsylvania during a midterm election year. Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated or third-party voters’ registration increased during 2018, which didn’t happen for any other midterm going back at least two decades, according to a PA Post analysis of Pennsylvania Department of State archived registration data going back to 1998. Experts say the trend seems to quantify excitement among voters in Pennsylvania and across the country amid national political polarization. Registration often surges for the opposing party of a sitting president, noted Dan Mallinson, assistant professor of public policy and administration at Penn State Harrisburg.
https://papost.org/2018/10/23/voter-registration-increases-rare-for-pa-midterms-and-show-voter-excitement-experts-say/

Gun control, once a third rail, now a key issue as Democrats seek to control House
Inquirer by Justine McDaniel, Posted: October 23, 2018- 5:13 AM
Two years ago, when Democrat Chrissy Houlahan began running for Congress, people told the military veteran and former high school teacher to stay away from one topic: Gun control. "There was a caution to me … that it wasn't a quote-unquote winning issue," she recalled. But she ignored the advice. And since she announced her candidacy, a rash of mass shootings, including the one in February in Parkland, Fla., have rocked the country. Supporting major gun-control policies, she has been endorsed by gun-safety groups and is favored to win a newly redrawn seat that in its last configuration has been long held by Republicans. The shift Houlahan noticed in the Sixth District, which now covers Chester County and part of Berks County — suddenly there was "permission to talk" about gun issues, she said — is one that activists say is echoed nationwide. Gun control, once considered a third rail in American politics, has emerged as a prominent issue in races across the country, particularly in several key congressional districts.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/news/gun-control-rights-election-2018-midterms-pennsylvania-houlahan-parkland-20181023.html

Jeff Bartos: ‘Pennsylvania is being left behind’
Intelligencer Opinion By Jeff Bartos Posted Oct 22, 2018 at 2:01 AM
The running mate of Republican Scott Wagner, Bartos says the current administration isn’t doing enough to build the state’s economy.  On the eve of the 2018 Primary, my running mate Scott Wagner and I were shaking hands with customers at a diner in Johnstown when I met an elderly gentleman who shared the following: “My son, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren moved to Texas because there are better job opportunities there than in this part of Pennsylvania.” Then, holding both of my hands, the gentleman asked me, “What are you going to do to keep others’ children and grandchildren here in Pennsylvania?” For 20 months, I have had the distinct privilege to campaign across the commonwealth and meet thousands of Pennsylvanians. Sadly, I have heard this gentleman’s story again and again in places like my hometown of Reading and so many other forgotten regions of Pennsylvania. I am running to be the next lieutenant governor because I believe Pennsylvania can be the fastest growing, most dynamic state in the nation — a place young people eagerly look to move to rather than regretfully (but necessarily) decide to leave. This has not been a focus for the current administration. With all the economic prosperity and opportunity occurring nationally, Pennsylvania is being left behind.
http://www.theintell.com/opinion/20181022/jeff-bartos-pennsylvania-is-being-left-behind

PA-8 and PA-17: Two key Pa. congressional races look more likely for Dems | Monday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek jmicek@pennlive.com Updated 11:54 AM; Posted 8:24 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Two weeks out from Election Day, that Democratic blue wave we've been hearing so much about might look a little less certain. But the party's path to control of the U.S. House of Representatives continues to run through Pennsylvania. Surveying the state's political topography, the crew at Crystal Ball, the prognosticating newsletter run by University of Virginia political sage Larry Sabatois awarding upgrades to a pair of Pennsylvania races. One isn't particularly surprising, though the other may come as a relief to a certain incumbent United States congressman. Moving from "Lean Democrat" to "Likely Democrat" is the all-incumbent 17th District race in western Pennsylvania, pitting Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lambagainst Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus; and the 8th District race in northeastern Pa. between incumbent Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright and Republican John Chrin.

https://www.pennlive.com/capitol-notebook/2018/10/two_key_pa_congressional_races.html#incart_river_index

York City district will apply to end recovery status this summer
Lindsay C. VanAsdalan, York Dispatch Published 11:43 a.m. ET Oct. 22, 2018
The York City School District has officially decided to apply to end its financial recovery status when its state-mandated plan ends next summer. The district's chief recovery officer, Carol Saylor, announced at the board's Oct. 17 monthly action meeting that she is working on the justification — a written document outlaying the reasons the district is ready to be released — to give to the state's education secretary when the plan is up in June. She said she plans to share the full report with the board once completed. Board President Margie Orr said both she and Superintendent Eric Holmes agreed with Saylor's assessment that the district is doing very well. "We see no reason for the Department of Education to oversee us," she said. District spokeswoman Erin James wrote in an email that the administration is working with Saylor to submit the application, and until that process is complete, they are declining to speak about it publicly.  If termination is granted, the district will then go into a status called monitoring, Saylor said, meaning the plan remains in place for five years, with the chief recovery officer continuing to report to the secretary on the district's progress.
https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/2018/10/22/york-city-district-apply-end-recovery-status-summer/1695302002/

GETTING ON TRACK TO GRADUATION ACROSS FOUR COHORTS:
Ninth Grade On-Track Patterns in the School District of Philadelphia, 2013-2017
Philadelphia Education Research Consortium by Molly Pileggi, Kendra Strouf
Why this study - This brief is an addendum to an earlier report, Getting on Track to Graduation, published in May 2018 by the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (Crofton and Neild, 2018). Focusing on two cohorts of first-time ninth grade students (the Classes of 2019 and 2020), Getting on Track to Graduation examined the extent to which students earned the number and type of course credits required to be considered on-track to graduation. This brief extends analyses from the earlier report with data from two additional cohorts of first-time freshmen (the Classes of 2017 and 2018) to better understand whether the patterns described in the original report have been consistent over time.
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/fd267a_a3224d6a237d4cda851dff1227b09c94.pdf

School District of Lancaster, IU13 to enhance science programming thanks to Chesapeake Bay watershed grants
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer October 23, 2018
School District of Lancaster will provide more than 2,500 students in sixth through eighth grades with hands-on watershed education, thanks to a federal grant award announced Monday. The district has partnered with Maryland-based NorthBay — which received a $112,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training program — and the Lancaster County Conservancy to integrate inquiry-based, on-site learning into the science curriculum at each of its four middle schools, plus the K-8 Martin School. The program will allow teachers and students to explore the Chesapeake Bay watershed and learn how choices made today could impact their communities later. Grant recipients were announced Monday at an event featuring Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, SDL Superintendent Damaris Rau, Lancaster County Conservancy President and CEO Philip Wenger and others at the Climber’s Run Nature Preserve in Pequea.
https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/school-district-of-lancaster-iu-to-enhance-science-programming-thanks/article_fb3e8532-d634-11e8-9e08-435e08ad9653.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share

Downingtown Superintendent Emilie Lonardi completes term as president of PASA
Daily Local by Digital First Media October 22, 2018
DOWNINGTOWN — They say if you want something done, ask a busy person.
Downingtown school Superintendent Dr. Emilie Lonardi successfully completed her term as president of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) on Friday. She served a one-year term as leader of more than 800 members of the PASA organization, which includes school district superintendents, intermediate unit executive directors and charter school chief administrative officers.During her year of service as PASA president, Lonardi helped develop a new six-year strategic plan for the association. She worked with PASA staff to strengthen the organization's professional development program and put PASA on solid financial footing. As president, Lonardi represented the organization in important discussions with state and federal policy makers on a variety of issues such as funding mandates and school safety and security.
Lonardi held this position during her recent transition to the Downingtown Area School District. She joined Downingtown in July 2017 after serving as the West York School District superintendent for 19 years.
https://www.dailylocal.com/news/downingtown-superintendent-emilie-lonardi-completes-term-as-president-of-pasa/article_006688a2-d62b-11e8-9311-d3b787135763.html

The Parent & Community Advisory Council will provide input and guidance to the Board by communicating the interest and concerns of Philadelphia public school parents/caregivers and community members. Applications are due by 5 PM on November 9, 2018.
Would you like to use your voice to be a champion for public education?
https://www.philasd.org/schoolboard/parent-community-advisory-council/


Public schools for private gain: The declining American commitment to serving the public good 
When schooling comes to be viewed mainly as a source of private benefit, both schools and society suffer grave consequences. 
Phi Delta Kappan by David F. Labaree  October 22, 2018
We Americans tend to talk about public schooling as though we know what that term means. But in the complex educational landscape of the 21st century — where charter schools, private schools, and religious schools compete with traditional public schools for resources and support — it’s becoming less and less obvious what makes a school “public” at all.  A school is public, one might argue, if it meets certain formal criteria: It is funded by the public, governed by the public, and openly accessible to the public. But in that case, what should we make of charter schools, which are broadly understood to be public schools even though many are governed by private organizations? And how should we categorize private schools that enroll students using public vouchers or tax credits, or public schools that use exams to restrict access? For that matter, don’t private schools often serve public interests, and don’t public schools often promote students’ private interests?   In short, our efforts to distinguish between public and nonpublic schools often oversimplify the ways in which today’s schools operate and the complex roles they play in our society. And such distinctions matter because they shape our thinking about education policy. After all, if we’re unclear which schools deserve what kinds of funding and support, then how do we justify a system of elementary, secondary, and higher education that consumes more than $800 billion in taxes every year and consumes 10 to 20 or more years of every person’s life?  
http://www.kappanonline.org/labaree-public-schools-private-gain-decline-american-commitment-public-good/


NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact federaladvocacy@nsba.org

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
https://www.nsba.org/conference


Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.


Monday, October 22, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 22: A closer look at school funding in Pa. governor race


Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

A closer look at school funding in Pa. governor race


A closer look at school funding in Pa. governor race | Analysis
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna and Andrew Seidman, Posted: October 22, 2018
As it was four years ago when Democrat Tom Wolf was elected Pennsylvania's governor, education funding is a major issue in his campaign for reelection. Wolf is casting himself as the "education governor," and Republican nominee Scott Wagner is using the issue as a campaign centerpiece. But overall, both candidates are sticking to platitudes. Here is a review of their statements: Wagner has called for spending an additional $1 billion annually, while also saying Pennsylvania schools "have enough money." Asked during an Oct. 1 debate how he would pay for the plan, Wagner said he would find savings in the state budget. But while his campaign highlighted programs Wagner would trim, it's unclear how the plan would generate all the projected revenue. It's also unclear how Wolf would follow through on his goals. Wolf has added more than $500 million to the main subsidy for public education, although school district costs have risen faster. The state is being sued over school-funding inequities, and Wolf says he'd continue to press for more education aid if reelected.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/news/politics/elections/pennsylvania-tom-wolf-scott-wagner-governor-school-funding-20181022.html

Keystone Exams to be stripped down as graduation requirement
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com October 22, 2018
The Keystone Exams were implemented in 2012-13 as an end-of-course state test to asses a student’s proficiency in a certain testing subject. Algebra I, biology and literature were the first three tests that were administered, and are the only subjects being tested on date. The number of testing subjects was set to increase over the years to include algebra II, chemistry, world history and four other areas, marking 10 total Keystone Exams students were expected to take. Students were expected to pass these exams in order to graduate high school. However, pushback from school districts and educators has placed consecutive moratoriums to put the mandatory passing of these standardized tests on hold. State Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, said he heard about the problem with the exams when meeting with Tredyffrin/Easttown School District officials. “The board members came up to me and said, ‘we have a real problem with these keystones. We have students who are accepted in to Ivy League schools and they’re having difficulty passing this (test) and it’s causing a lot of problems,’” said McGarrigle during an Oct. 16 phone call.
https://www.delcotimes.com/news/keystone-exams-to-be-stripped-down-as-graduation-requirement/article_d7f8c32a-d3ce-11e8-9e18-77032de34923.html

How the demise of an online charter school is roiling Ohio politics
Washington Post By Laura Meckler October 20 at 6:36 PM
CINCINNATI — For nearly two decades, an online charter school with a bold name — the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow — grew in Ohio, helped along by the state’s Republicans, who embraced the idea of “school choice” for families. Conceived on the back of a Waffle House napkin, the school grew to become one of the largest in the state. Republicans cheered on ECOT, as the school was known, and ECOT officials contributed more than $2 million to GOP campaign accounts. That was before it all crumbled. It was before state regulators figured out the school was being paid to educate thousands of students who never logged in. Before the state ordered the school to repay $80 million. Before the school abruptly closed in January, leaving 12,000 students stranded. Now, Democrats, who have been locked out of power in Columbus for eight years, are hoping the complex tale of a charter school’s collapse holds their ticket back. Ohio is one of many places where education is proving pivotal. In Kansas, gubernatorial candidates are debating school spending following deep cuts under the last administration. In Arizona, the governor’s race centers on how to raise teacher salaries and whether to expand school choice programs. In several states, candidates are debating school safety measures and whether to arm teachers. Across the country and in Washington, school choice is among the most fraught and partisan issues in education, and no state has been more invested in supporting choice than Ohio. That means, Republicans, who were all-in, are now forced to defend their support for a school that crashed and burned.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-the-demise-of-an-online-charter-school-is-roiling-ohio-politics/2018/10/20/1e9f55d2-c1d7-11e8-b338-a3289f6cb742_story.html?utm_term=.738e50bce57c

Democrats hope to cut GOP majorities in legislative contests
AP News By MARK SCOLFORO yesterday
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Dozens of new faces will be joining the Pennsylvania Legislature next year because of retirements, and the national political mood has Democrats hopeful they can pick up seats and chip away at the large majorities Republicans have long enjoyed in both chambers. But the Republican margins of 121-82 in the House and 34-16 in the Senate mean even the bluest of waves would likely fall short of flipping control. There’s much at stake, because in the Pennsylvania Legislature the majority party has a dominant role in determining what happens. Over the past two years, lawmakers have enacted tougher rules for surrendering guns in domestic violence cases, established grants to help make schools safer and overhauled pension benefits for future state government and public school employees. The Republican majorities have struggled to reach budget agreements with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, although this year’s spending was completed before the July 1 deadline. Perhaps the most contentious issue to face lawmakers in years has been the challenge of responding to a sweeping state grand jury report into the sexual abuse of children by priests. Late Wednesday, legislation stalled in the Senate on the last scheduled voting day of the two-year legislative session, leaving none of the grand jury’s recommendations enacted.
https://apnews.com/10386ebf59d640ad82eadb81971d3151

Philly’s community schools initiative a mixed bag so far, report says
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent October 20, 2018
This story originally appeared on PlanPhilly.
When Philadelphia designated nine community schools in 2016, officials didn’t announce any numeric goals for the high-profile initiative funded with revenue from Mayor Jim Kenney’s controversial tax on sweetened beverages. They did, however, promise an outside evaluation. That evaluation came down Thursday — 100 pages of analysis that suggest some success in the first year of the project and some high-level issues that need to be addressed. The positives came mostly at the school level, where analysts from the nonprofit Research for Action found high buy-in from principals and promising inroads made by community school coordinators. Big picture, though, the report’s authors worry city and school district officials haven’t worked well enough together to ensure the success of the ambitious programs meant to help students overcome barriers associated with poverty. Research for Action analysts urge the project’s leaders to develop clearer goals that can be measured and tracked.
https://whyy.org/articles/phillys-community-schools-initiative-a-mixed-bag-so-far-report-says/

“The addition of STEM as a fifth class special, on a five-day rotation with art, music, library and health and physical education, was made possible in part by the extra 56 minutes added to the elementary school day this year. The State College Area School board in December voted to approve the students day plan for 2018-19, which, among other things, included extending the elementary school day and pushing back the start time for middle and high school students by 30 minutes.”
What 56 extra minutes of school daily means for area elementary students
Centre Daily Times BY LAUREN MUTHLER lmuthler@centredaily.com October 21, 2018 11:38 AM Updated October 21, 2018 01:21 PM
Using mirrors, shoe boxes, flashlights and paper, students in teacher Tara Pollick’s fifth-grade STEM class set to work on solving a problem. “We’re reading a book about Omar’s light,” Ferguson Township student Ronald Gilligan said. “His brother works for a tomb in Egypt, and we have to help him figure out how to reflect light into the tomb without damaging the hieroglyphics.” Reading about this fictional character’s story and helping to imagine, plan and create a solution to his problem is one way elementary students are being introduced to science, technology, engineering and math with the new STEM is Elementary curriculum introduced this school year in the State College Area School District.
https://www.centredaily.com/latest-news/article219802675.html#storylink=latest_side


Education may propel the Blue Wave in DeVos country
A Blue Wave may not only snuff out the DeVos legacy, but change the course of education policy in the nation
Salon.com by JEFF BRYANT OCTOBER 20, 2018 9:00AM (UTC)
This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.
It’s increasingly clear that if the November midterm elections are to produce a “Blue Wave” for the Democratic Party, then many of the wins will need to come in Midwestern states that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election. But what’s less well understood is that an issue helping Democratic candidates compete in the region is education. In the stomping ground of U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos — including her home state of Michigan as well as the surrounding states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and nearby Minnesota — Democratic candidates are getting an edge by sharply opposing the DeVos agenda of privatizing public schools. Up and down the ballots in state contests in the Midwest, Democratic candidates call for an end to school voucher programs that use public taxpayer funds to pay for tuitions at private schools, they propose tougher regulations of privately managed charter schools funded by the public, and they pledge to direct public money for education to public schools. Should Democrats retake the Rust Belt, it may not only snuff out the DeVos legacy but also change the course of education policy in the nation.
https://www.salon.com/2018/10/20/education-may-propel-the-blue-wave-in-devos-country_partner/#.W8sfwUYDyVU.twitter

“Rather than offering a positive vision for the most diverse generation of students in American history, the Department of Education under DeVos failed to put forward any vision that is responsive to the needs of today's students. In fact, this department has gone out of its way to gut protections and guidelines aimed at defending students and helping them succeed.”
Betsy DeVos is failing an entire generation of students
CNN By Mark Huelsman Updated 5:10 PM ET, Fri October 19, 2018
(CNN)Thirty-nine years ago this week, President Jimmy Carter stood in the East Room of the White House alongside more than 200 education officials, a group of fourth grade students, and civil rights hero Dr. Benjamin Mays to sign a bill creating a new Department of Education. Rather than being buried as one of three priorities under what had been the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, advocates hoped a new department would elevate the needs of students and teachers as a priority, and better clarify a confusing relationship between local schools, states and the federal government. It would also create a new secretary in the Cabinet who could advocate entirely for each new generation of American students. Carter's signature was the fulfillment of a key campaign promise and decades of activism on the part of racial justice groups, the women's rights movement, and advocates for disabled Americans and non-English speakers, who fought to invest far greater resources in all students, particularly those who had been underserved. Congress declared the new department would be tasked with "ensuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual."
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/18/opinions/betsy-devos-failure-on-dept-of-education-anniversary-huelsman/index.html

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration
New York Times By Erica L. GreenKatie Benner and Robert Pear Oct. 21, 2018
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law. A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed. Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/21/us/politics/transgender-trump-administration-sex-definition.html


NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact federaladvocacy@nsba.org

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
https://www.nsba.org/conference


Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.


Friday, October 19, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 19: In resource-poor districts, vital STEAM resources are hard to come by


Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

In resource-poor districts, vital STEAM resources are hard to come by


“In the world of STEAM, it’s easy to get left behind if your school district struggles financially.”
In resource-poor districts, vital STEAM resources are hard to come by
Part of the PublicSource series Failing the Future By Mary Niederberger October 18, 2018
The South Fayette School District is proud of its “STEAM Story.” In a district video, educators gently guide first graders using magnetic circuitry kits, fourth graders working with LEGO robots and seventh graders creating their own Smartphone apps. The video shows a student making musical notes by tapping a piece of cardboard connected to a computer, a group creating safety updates to a walker for the elderly and another student building a basketball trivia app. One young student featured in the video says, “I really like this technology because you get to make stuff out of it and it comes out really cool at the end.” Similarly, the Fox Chapel Area School District shares a video that features its mobile fabrication lab and stories about students using 3D printers, vinyl cutters and computerized milling CNC machines. And, in the Upper St Clair School District, the website announces that a group of middle and elementary school students are winners of a multimedia excellence award at the September World Artificial Intelligence Competition at Carnegie Mellon University.
https://schoolfundingpa.publicsource.org/stories/in-resource-poor-districts-vital-steam-resources-are-hard-to-come-by/

How the debate over guns is playing out in four Pa. swing districts
In races across the state, health care is getting more attention
PA Post by Ed Mahon October 18, 2018
In a suburban Philadelphia district, advocates for tighter gun laws split with national ones over whether the incumbent Republican or his Democratic challenger would be best for their cause. In southcentral Pennsylvania, an ad showing Army veteran and Democrat George Scott burning a semi-automatic rifle helped him in his narrow primary victory in May. Now, Republicans are trying to use that same ad against him. But across the state, other issues — most notably health care — are getting more attention in campaign ads than guns. The congressional races in Pennsylvania highlights the fractured landscape for efforts to address concerns over gun violence, one year after a mass shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people and eight months after 17 students and staff members were killed at a Florida high school.
https://papost.org/2018/10/18/how-the-debate-over-guns-is-playing-out-in-four-pa-swing-districts/

Saving pets, slowing speeders, more: 16 bills Pa. legislators decided should become law
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com | Posted October 19, 2018 at 05:40 AM | Updated October 19, 2018 at 06:07 AM
.Gov. Tom Wolf better limber up his hand and have a good supply of ink on hand to sign or veto the cornucopia of bills that the General Assembly sent him over the course of the past few weeks. Lawmakers were moving bills at a fast pace to avoid having them die due to inaction when the 2017-18 legislative session ends on Nov. 30.  Both chambers only have one day scheduled between now and then. Much attention was paid to the heavily watched child sex crimes legislation that grew out of the grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. Work on that one didn't get completed before lawmakers went home on Wednesday.  But a lot of other bills did make it to the finish line, about 90 of them. Here's a look at what 16 of them will do.
Statewide graduation requirement alternatives
This measure would give students who don't pass the Keystone Exams an alternative pathway to earn a high school diploma, starting with this year's freshman class.
https://www.pennlive.com/expo/news/erry-2018/10/1b2c393dc44039/16-bills-your-legislators-deci.html#incart_river_index

“After 10 years of delay and deliberation, Pennsylvania lawmakers have finally revamped the requirements for high school graduation. Gov. Tom Wolf intends to sign the measure.”
After nearly a decade of debate, Pa. passes new graduation requirements
The measure provides alternatives to the original plan, which would have required students to pass state tests for a diploma.
WHYY NEWS Avi Wolfman-Arent October 18 — 5:56 pm, 2018
After much delay and consternation, Pennsylvania will change its high school graduation requirements. But the change won’t be as drastic as was first planned when state leaders committed to revisions nearly a decade ago. Rather than having to pass a set of exams, current freshmen will be eligible to graduate if they can check off one of several boxes, including having SAT or ACT scores above a state-set threshold; an industry certification; a full-time job offer; proof of military enrollment; or acceptance to a four-year college. Students will have to meet locally determined grade requirements in each of the subjects tested on the Keystone Exams: Algebra I, biology, and literature. Students can still pass those exams to get their diplomas or receive a composite score determined by Department of Education officials. The Pennsylvania Senate passed this new framework unanimously Monday, and Gov. Wolf quickly announced he would sign the bill. The struggle to revamp graduation requirements started in 2010.
https://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/10/18/after-decade-of-debate-pa-passes-new-graduation-requirements/

Parents defend Central High teacher
Supporters say Tom Quinn was targeted for encouraging students to register to vote.
The notebook Commentary Rebecca Poyourow October 18 — 10:00 am, 2018
Pennsylvania Republican Party Chair Val DiGiorgio has accused Central High School teacher Tom Quinn of distributing anti-Republican material to students as an attempt at “liberal indoctrination.” DiGiorgio’s accusation triggered an exploratory investigation by the District. Quinn’s supporters say that the flier that DiGiorgio said Quinn handed out to students was actually a poster hanging in a staff office at Central High School, alongside political material of conservative viewpoints. Parents say the attack is particularly troubling because of Quinn’s position in the city as a leader of civic education. He organizes the nonpartisan Philly Youth Vote Campaign to get students ages 18 and older registered to vote. The publicity from the accusation against Quinn has led to threats against him and the students at Central High School.
Below is a commentary on this controversy from District parent Rebecca Poyourow. 
https://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/10/18/parents-show-their-support-for-teacher-tom-quinn/

Report on racism roils Main Line school district
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent October 18, 2018
As Wednesday’s packed town hall would suggest, a recent report on racism in the Haverford Township School District has residents’ attention. The report, penned by a local activist group called H-CAN, detailed a series of anonymous complaints about racist language, offensive graffiti, discriminatory comments, and “microaggressions” in this upscale Delaware County suburb. It also alleged discriminatory discipline practices and bemoaned the underrepresentation of black students in advanced classes. On Wednesday, H-CAN presented its findings at a standing-room-only meeting and school district officials got a chance to respond. Though calm pervaded the town hall — perhaps because of a format that forbade testimony and required residents to ask questions via notecards — the report has clearly struck a communal nerve. In interviews afterward, some residents reaffirmed the problems outlined by H-CAN and others rebutted them, claiming the attention caused by the report and subsequent news coverage has painted the community in a false light.
https://whyy.org/articles/report-on-racism-roils-main-line-school-district/

Damaris Rau touts School District of Lancaster's growing dual enrollment program at State of the District Breakfast
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer October 19, 2018
Damaris Rau believes School District of Lancaster is doing great things for its students.
But doing so requires funding — and the district could use more. Superintendent Rau pitched a fundraising opportunity Thursday to state legislators, college administrators, health officials, church leaders and others at SDL’s inaugural State of the District Breakfast at the Hamilton Club building on East Orange Street. The district’s fundraising goal: $100,000, which would support its growing dual enrollment program. “The research shows that students who have a post-high school education are more likely to get a good job and improve their quality of life,” she said. “It is really important for us to increase access for all students.” Rau said the district’s dual enrollment program, which gives students the opportunity to enroll in free college courses, has grown from 22 students in 2015-16 to 297 this school year. That number, she added, should grow to about 350 students by spring. 
https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/damaris-rau-touts-school-district-of-lancaster-s-growing-dual/article_462e95ae-d302-11e8-ba06-47c33a0db39e.html

Philly School board approves FACTS move, Solis-Cohen building funds
Board also votes on more than $12 million in contracts for supplies and equipment for school repairs.
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy October 18 — 11:24 pm, 2018
The Board of Education approved the relocation of one school and new construction for another at Thursday night’s board meeting. The board agreed to Folk-Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School’s (FACTS) plan to move from 1023 Callowhill St. to 421 North 9th St. in the 2020-21 school year. The new location will provide 85,000 square feet of space to enable the school to grow from the current 533 students to a maximum capacity of 847 in kindergarten through eighth grade. Also at tonight’s meeting, Academy at Palumbo high school students Kamryn Sacksith and Christina Ly lambasted board members about the condition of their school building. In September, parts of the school flooded after large amounts of water built up on top of the roof and leaked into the building, causing ceilings to collapse during two rainy weekends. “When I am going to school the last thing I want to worry about is if the ceiling is going to fall on top of my head,” Sacksith said, “which has actually happened to me before.”
https://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/10/18/school-board-approves-facts-move-solis-cohen-building-funds/

Here's the case for consolidating Pa's public schools | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Colin McNickle Updated Oct 18, 8:30 AM; Posted Oct 18, 8:30 AM
Indeed, there can be concrete benefits to consolidating local school districts in Pennsylvania. But operational concerns - contractual, economic and, to some, even parochial -- stand to trump any rush to future mergers, concludes a new analysis by the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. "Given past experience, consolidations in Pennsylvania seem very unlikely," says Eric Montarti, research director at the Pittsburgh think tank (in Policy Brief Vol. 18, No. 39). "(F)ew consolidations occur because there are deep-seated local objections and serious economic reasons for not pursuing" them. The commonwealth today has 500 public school districts. But 66 years ago, in 1952, it was one of 15 states with at least 2,000 school districts. Pennsylvania's school district consolidation was driven by two legislative acts in 1960s. By 1972, the Keystone State's 2,506 districts had been whittled to 528. Those acts eventually paved the way for a reduction to 501 districts.
https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2018/10/heres_the_case_for_consolidati.html#incart_river_index

We followed 15 of America's teachers on a day of frustrations, pressures and hard-earned victories
USA Today This story was reported by Beatriz Alvarado, Thyrie Bland, Jason Gonzales, Leigh Guidry, Rick Hampson, Bracey Harris, Lori Higgins, Joe Hong, Austin Humphreys, Kristen Inbody, Annysa Johnson, Byron McCauley, Amanda Oglesby, Kelly Ragan, Meg Ryan, Lindsay Schnell, Devi Shastri and Alden Woods and written by Hampson, USA Today 1:02 a.m. EDT Oct. 18, 2018

It’s shortly after dawn when Edward Lawson, one of America’s 3.2 million public school teachers, pulls his car into the parking lot of Julian Thomas Elementary in Racine, Wisconsin. He cuts the engine, pulls out his cellphone and calls his principal. They begin to pray. Lawson is a full-time substitute based at a school with full-time problems: only one in 10 students are proficient in reading and math. That may be explained by the fact that 87 percent of the students are poor and one in five have a diagnosed disability. Blame for test scores, however, often settles on the people who are any school’s single-most-important influence on academic achievement – teachers. Lawson says a prayer for the coming school day. He says a prayer for the district, the students, the upcoming state tests. He says a prayer for the second-grade teacher who had emergency back surgery and for the sub taking her class. He says a prayer for all teachers – a fitting petition for a profession in crisis.
https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/nation/2018/10/17/teachers-appreciation-pay-union-jobs-schools-education/1509500002/

English-Learners Often Denied Full Access to STEM Education, Report Finds
Education Week By Corey Mitchell on October 18, 2018 1:25 PM
School systems across the country should do more to ensure that current and former English-language learners have access to STEM education, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds. The report is a follow-up to a 2017 study that detailed how under-resourced schools and underprepared educators hinder efforts to help students learn English. The latest study looks to build on those findings by exploring how those factors limit English-learners' access to high-quality and challenging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics educational opportunities. The committee behind the report, a who's who of scholars on educational equity, English acquisition and STEM-related subjects, produced a list of 24 conclusions and seven recommendations designed to address the primary concern. The recommendations cover an array of topics, ranging from how districts can remove barriers that limit English-learner participation in STEM education to tips on developing curricula and assessments to facilitate and monitor the progress of students once they enroll in courses.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2018/10/english_earners_denied_access_to_STEM.html

Look up in the sky this weekend for shooting stars
Orionid meteor shower will peak Sunday night
WRITTEN BY READING EAGLE THURSDAY OCTOBER 18, 2018 01:21 PM
Cloud-free conditions should allow much of the United States, including Berks County, to see this weekend's Orionid meteor shower, the first major shower of the fall. The Orionids will peak on Sunday night and into early Monday morning, AccuWeather forecasters say, but stargazers should also be able to see some meteors on both Friday night and Saturday night leading up to the shower's peak, weather permitting. "Activity is expected to be a little higher this year than in years past with 20 to 25 meteors per hour, but bright moonlight will be an issue," AccuWeather astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel said. The nearly full moon will be shining brightly in the sky for most of the night, making it harder to see some of the dimmer meteors, but it will not ruin the celestial show completely. Many people heading out to spot some shooting stars this weekend are in luck as mainly clear conditions are on tap for a large area of North America on Sunday night.
https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/look-up-in-the-sky-this-weekend-for-shooting-stars


“Not only do we have a superstar lineup of keynote speakers including Diane Ravitch, Jesse Hagopian, Pasi Sahlberg, Derrick Johnson and Helen Gym, but there will be countless sessions to choose from on the issues you care about the most. We will cover all bases from testing, charters, vouchers and school funding, to issues of student privacy and social justice in schools.”
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 here.
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 to register for your hotel room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link here. Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer some scholarships based on need. Go here 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 get your Early Bird ticket here. We can't wait to see you.

NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact federaladvocacy@nsba.org

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
https://www.nsba.org/conference


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