Wednesday, November 22, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 22: Chester Community Charter School at bottom in Delco on state safe-school reports; Ask for Palm Beach mansion drops $5M to $64.9M

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 22, 2017: Chester Community Charter School at bottom in Delco on state safe-school reports;
Ask for Palm Beach mansion drops $5M to $64.9M

Contact your member of Congress here to urge them to support net neutrality:

“This has led Fight for the Future to focus on getting people to reach out to Congress. The organization set up as a place where people can easily call their representatives and encourage them to slow the FCC's efforts. “
The U.S. government is using Thanksgiving to hide its plans to destroy net neutrality
There's a simple art to releasing bad news — do it when the fewest people are looking. 
That's the game plan the U.S. government's media regulator is reportedly following to release its plan to destroy net neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to drop its new plan on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The rules could be voted on by mid-December, leaving the door open for internet providers to begin manipulating traffic. It's a devilishly brilliant plan by the FCC and its chairman, Ajit Pai, who has made no secret of his wish to undo the benchmark rules put in place during Barack Obama's presidency. There will inevitably be plenty of people already enjoying their holiday break, and any major coverage on Wednesday will then be lost to a day of turkey, gravy, football, and indigestion, followed by three more days in which people won't be looking at the news.  This is the challenge that net neutrality advocates are facing, and they know it. Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, posted on Reddit a month ago to start drumming up support.  "There's a reason that Pai is releasing a plan that he knows will be overwhelmingly unpopular with voters from across the political spectrum on one of the busiest travel days of the year when many journalists are out of the office," Greer wrote in an email. 

F.C.C. Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in a Victory for Telecoms
New York Times By CECILIA KANG NOV. 21, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission released a plan on Tuesday to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites. The proposal, made by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites. They also prevent the companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services. The announcement set off a fight over free speech and the control of the internet, pitting telecom titans like AT&T and Verizon against internet giants like Google and Amazon. The internet companies warned that rolling back the rules could make the telecom companies powerful gatekeepers to information and entertainment. The telecom companies say that the existing rules prevent them from offering customers a wider selection of services at higher and lower price points.

Pennsylvania House leaves Marcellus Shale tax up in the air
Delco Times By The Associated Press POSTED: 11/21/17, 5:55 PM EST
HARRISBURG >> Legislation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to impose a long-sought tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production is up in the air until December.  The Republican-controlled House adjourned until Dec. 4, after spending parts of Monday and Tuesday debating proposed amendments by Republicans who oppose a tax in the nation’s No. 2 gas state. Dozens of proposed amendments are still lined up, and House Republican leadership opposes the bill. Supporters of a tax include most Democrats and Republicans from southeastern Pennsylvania, but some say industry-friendly amendments to the bill may change their minds. The Republican-penned proposal raises less money than the 6.5 percent tax proposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. The bill’s volume tax rises with the price of natural gas and would raise about $100 million in a full year, using 2016 production and current prices.

Pa. lawmakers getting a boost in their salary, starting in December
Penn Live By Jan Murphy November 21, 2017 Updated 5:21 PM
Pennsylvania lawmakers will have a little extra money in their December paychecks as a result of the automatic cost-of-living salary adjustment they receive. The statutorily provided .81 percent increase in salary will raise the rank-and-file legislator's annual salary to $87,180, a $702 increase over this year's pay. The increase for legislative leaders will raise their salaries between $99,410 and $136,094, depending on the position they hold. Because of a law that passed in 1995, the pay raises do not require a vote. However, because of the public backlash over the automatic pay raises, some lawmakers choose not to accept their pay raise and give it back to the state Treasury or donate it to charities or community organizations.

“It’s not, however, as if education reformers at the federal and state level have abandoned their cause. They seem, instead, to be directing their energy into other avenues that circumvent the debate over public school governance altogether. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has championed school vouchers, which allow parents to use public money for private schooling. Harrisburg Republicans have adopted a similar approach. Leaders have successfully prioritized expanding a tax credit program that functions similarly to vouchers, and have recently begun to champion the establishment of education savings accounts, another voucher-adjacent program.”
Why Harrisburg’s silence on demise of Philly’s School Reform Commission speaks volumes
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 22, 2017
Sixteen years ago, Pennsylvania’s state leaders did something dramatic and unprecedented. They dismantled Philadelphia’s local school board and replaced it with the School Reform Commission — a five-member panel made up of three gubernatorial appointees and two mayoral appointees. This wasn’t just any governance shake up. It was a bet that state government could and should help fix struggling school districts. The SRC voted to disband last week, and Philly’s mayoral-appointed local school board will soon be back in power. The news prompted speeches and celebrations in Philadelphia, particularly among those who see the SRC as a hostile intrusion on local control. In Harrisburg, however, there’s barely been a blip.

Our view: Erie schools get back to basics
GoErie By the Editorial Board Posted November 22, 2017 at 2:00 AM
  Reading is fundamental. That is a truth so universally recognized that the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, RIF, adopted it as its name. The Erie School District has long recognized the importance of building strong reading skills in its students, especially by the third-grade level. But for too many years, the district had to worry about its own foundation, its bottom line. As Superintendent Brian Polito told the Erie School Board recently, the district’s financial crisis caused the district to strip “supports out of our system that really helped some of these struggling kids.” As examples, he pointed to after-school programming that offered one-on-one help children struggling in reading and math. “Those are all gone because we had no option but to cut those in order to balance the budget,” Polito said, as detailed by Erie Times-News reporter Ed Palattella. So it is welcome news that now that the district is on the path to financial stability, Polito and others are wasting no time in shifting their focus to improving academic achievement. The recently passed state budget legislation includes a recurring $14 million in additional funding. The badly needed money will help cover a $8.6 million deficit and create a fund balance of $3 million. But the money will not be enough to hire a bevy of new teachers and other support staff to target students who struggle with reading and math. Instead, Polito said he and the staff will assess and pursue strategies that promise the greatest impact as they draft a new strategic plan for the district in keeping with the new funding levels.

Blogger note: While Chester Community Charter may be not-for-profit, a private, for-profit company—Vahan Gureghian's Charter School Management Inc.—manages the school's finances. It owns the buildings, leases them to the school, pays the teachers and, according to a 2008 report by the Inquirer, had collected $60.6 million in public funds since the school was started in 1999. There is virtually no public transparency for how the taxpayer funds are spent. According to Pennsylvania's Campaign Finance Reporting website, Mr. Gureghian has made over $1.3 million in political contributions since 2007 and was the largest individual donor to Governor Corbett.  He also served on Governor Corbett’s Education Transition Team. Click here for more background on Mr. Gureghian
Chester Community Charter School at bottom in Delco on state safe-school reports

Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter POSTED: 11/21/17, 9:00 PM
Among all public schools in the county no school, let alone a whole district, has had more safety incidents among its populace than Chester Community Charter School, the not-for-profit education provider that teaches grades kindergarten through eight at three campuses in the city of Chester, Chester Township and Upland Borough, according to state findings. There were 1,032 incidents in the 2016-17 school year among the school’s approximately 3,600 students, according to safe school reports released last week by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This is the third consecutive year more than 1,000 incidents have been reported at the school after 1,168 in 2015-16 and 1,173 in 2014-15. Chester Community Charter School’s incident count for last school year is more than the district with the most incidents in the same time frame, Southeast Delco School District at 917. Disorderly conduct was the most reported violation at the three-building school with 239 occurrences, followed up with 81 fights, 51 simple assaults on students and theft with 39 counts. All but 31 incidents took place during school hours.

Reprise June 2016: Chester Upland: Exhibit A for broken charter law
The district’s situation highlights statewide issues: Special ed, a lack of transparency, and financial challenges linked to charter payments.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa and Bill Hangley June 3, 2016 — 11:45am
To put some noteworthy flaws of Pennsylvania’s charter law in stark relief, one need look no further than the Chester-Upland School District, a desperately poor enclave in generally well-off Delaware County. As the state’s most distressed district, it is so unable to meet its students’ needs that it is under the control of a receiver. Nearly half of the students in Chester Upland attend charter schools, and 46 percent of its budget goes to charter payments. Most charter students there are enrolled in the Chester Community Charter School (CCCS). The K-8 school has 2,900 students, nearly as many as the 3,300 K-12 students in the district. The state’s largest brick-and-mortar charter by far, CCCS was founded and is operated for profit by a company owned by businessman Vahan Gureghian, a major supporter of former Gov. Tom Corbett and other Republican candidates and causes.

“Broker Christian Angle has represented the owners of 1071 North Ocean Boulevard since they first listed the residence for sale in March 2015. The owner is a trust linked to Philadelphia-area lawyers Vahan and Danielle Gureghian, who initially planned to occupy the custom-built home. The Gureghians’ Palm Beach residence features a bowling alley, home theater, pub room and library, plus dual ocean balconies and an eight-car garage.”
The asking price for the 35,993-square-foot property has fallen almost $20M since early 2015
The Real Deal – South Florida Real Estate News May 13, 2017 11:00AM
The owners of a never-occupied, eight-bedroom mansion in Palm Beach cut their asking price by $5 million to $64.9 million. The new $64.9 million asking price for the French Chateau-style mansion is almost $20 million below the original asking price when it was listed for sale more than two years ago. The 35,993-square-foot residence at 1071 North Ocean Boulevard is still the most expensive home listed in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, how racially balanced are America’s public schools?
Brookings Report by Grover J. “Russ” WhitehurstRichard V. ReevesNathan Joo, and Edward Rodrigue Monday, November 20, 2017
It’s been more than 60 years since the Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, ruled “separate but equal” schools unconstitutionalIn that time, school populations have diversified, thanks in large part to an increase in the numbers of Hispanic and Asian students attending U.S. schools. But how closely do America’s traditional public and charter schools look like the communities they serve? And if schools’ student bodies don’t reflect their neighborhoods’ racial makeup, how come? In “Balancing Act: Schools, Neighborhoods, and Racial Imbalance” (PDF), Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Richard V. Reeves, Nathan Joo, and Pete Rodrigue examine the share of white, black, and Hispanic students at 86,109 public schools—both traditional and charters—across the country and identify schools whose racial imbalance with respect to their surrounding neighborhoods makes them ‘outliers’ within their states.

Segregation in Steel Valley: How these Pittsburgh-area elementary students are separated by race and academic performance
Public Source by Mary Niederberger  | 2 hours ago November 21, 2017
The Steel Valley School District operates two elementary schools in a shoulder of the Monongahela River. One school enrolls mostly black students. The other, 2 miles away, is majority white. When Terrance Frey learned that his son’s school, Barrett Elementary, is 78 percent black and Park Elementary is 84 percent white, he was shocked. “It was kind of insulting. It was like reading one of those books on civil rights. You know, like you have to sit in the back of the bus,” said Frey, who is black. Such segregation was not what he and his wife, Bianka Cable, expected when they purchased a home on 21st Avenue in Munhall three years ago. They sought out a racially diverse community and school district for their son, 8-year-old Terrance. Cable didn’t want him to have the same experience she had as one of a handful of black students attending her Ohio high school, but she didn’t expect the polar opposite either.

School district contracts should go to Philadelphians of color and other demands for the new school board | Solomon Jones
Inquirer by Solomon Jones  @SolomonJones1 | Updated: NOVEMBER 21, 2017 — 10:01 AM EST
With the dissolution of the School Reform Commission, Mayor Kenney will soon take over the $2.9 billion-a-year School District of Philadelphia. As a black Philadelphian, and a taxpayer whose children attend our city’s public schools, I am the typical school district parent. So let me speak bluntly. We are the majority of the city’s population, our children make up 86 percent of those who attend our public schools, and before anyone takes over the schools, we have some demands. We want the majority of school district contracts to go to companies owned by Philadelphians who are people of color. We want school district jobs to go to parents whose children attend neighborhood schools. We want a process in which school district parents will have a voice in deciding who sits on the nine-member school board. And we want a yearly audit of the money — our money — and how it is spent on our schools.

District says Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences needs an intervention
Its School Progress Report average has remained in the lowest category for three years in a row, but parents say they are happy with the staff and principal.
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy November 21, 2017 — 10:05am
Changes may be coming to Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences.
As part of the District's Great Schools initiative, officials held a meeting Monday night at the school with students and families to announce the findings of a “school quality review.” The school is one of six “focus schools” set to receive possible interventions from the District to help it improve performance, but details of those interventions have not yet been revealed. Three criteria are used to determine which schools are “focus schools.” Under the District’s School Progress Report, the school has remained at the lowest level, "intervene," for three years in a row. The SPR average is at or less than 15 percent, and the school isn’t receiving any major intervention, such as School Redesign, or being added to the Turnaround Network. School closures or charter conversions are not options for these schools, but interventions can include significant overhauls in faculty and staff.

Deer Lakes, its teachers can't agree on length of school day
Trib Live by GEORGE GUIDO | Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, 10:24 p.m.
The Deer Lakes School District and its teachers are reported to be close to getting a new contract. But it might take three new board members to bring the negotiations over the finish line. Things got testy at times toward the end of Tuesday's school board meeting regarding talks on a new contract. The final contract negotiation with the current school board Tuesday afternoon reportedly broke down. No new negotiations are scheduled until at least the time when the new school board is reorganized Dec. 5. Two school directors said that salary isn't the sticking point of the negotiations — but length of the class day is. Outgoing school board member Lisa Merlo said the district's teachers have a 7 hour, 15 minute instructional day, which she said is the second shortest in Allegheny County. The board wanted the class day extended by 30 minutes; the teachers union agrees with a nonbinding fact-finders report of extending it by 20 minutes.

For Haverford’s Gallagher, UD’s Gentile, a tradition worth fighting for
By Jack McCaffery, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 11/21/17, 10:17 PM EST 
UPPER DARBY >> The two thoughts will come on schedule, which is as soon as Joe Gallagher wakes up on Thanksgiving morning. One, then the other. In an instant. Guaranteed. The first: It would be nice if St. James and Chester would still be playing a holiday football game. The other: At least Haverford is Haverford and Upper Darby is Upper Darby and some things are eternal. Gallagher is the football coach at Haverford, and that means he will have something to do Thursday. That’s because Haverford and Upper Darby coaches have had something to do every Thanksgiving since 1921. 

“In the three years leading up to the passing of the pilot program, K12 Inc. recruited a handful of well-connected current and former state policymakers to make the case for a virtual school law. The company spent nearly half a million dollars on retaining lobbyists, according to lobbying expenditures examined by Education Week. (To read K12 Inc.'s response to Education Week's investigation, which includes details about North Carolina, click here.)
The pilot program was passed as part of the state's budget bill. The new law required the board of education to authorize two online charter schools. The only two applicants were for schools backed by K12 Inc. and Connections Education, the second largest online school operator which is owned by education giant, Pearson. Both were approved.”
Online Charter Schools in North Carolina Petition to Go From Pilot to Permanent
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Arianna Prothero on November 21, 2017 1:53 PM
One of North Carolina's two full-time online charter schools—which opened as part of a temporary pilot program—is asking state lawmakers to make the schools permanent.
Officials with North Carolina Connections Academy also requested more money from the state at a Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee meeting earlier this month, according to WRAL, an NBC affiliate. That's in spite of the fact that the schools have earned poor marks from the state's accountability system in the three years they've been operating. Lawmakers in the meeting indicated that they want the schools to present more information on their performance at a follow-up meeting. The schools, which are run by the nation's two largest, for-profit virtual school companies, got the green light to open in 2014 as part of a four-year pilot. It was the culmination of a long lobbying campaign by K12 Inc., the bigger of the two companies, as I reported in a 2016 Education Week investigation that looked at these lobbying efforts nationwide.

Researchers find early signs that Seattle’s $58 million preschool program may be paying off
More than two years into the city’s four-year pilot preschool program, a new study suggests it is helping more children get ready for kindergarten.
By Neal Morton  Seattle Times staff reporter Originally published November 21, 2017 at 9:00 am Updated November 20, 2017 at 8:34 pm
When voters in 2014 approved a $58 million property-tax levy to pay for city-subsidized preschool, elected officials largely sold the idea as a way to help erase the gaps in achievement among ethnic groups that show up even before children enter school. And now, more than halfway through the program’s four-year trial period, a new study of its results to date suggests it is preparing more children for kindergarten, with the greatest gains among students of color and those from low-income households or families that don’t speak English. “The results are very encouraging,” said Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess, who as a city council member campaigned heavily for the 2014 measure.

What 150 Years of Education Statistics Say About Schools Today
Education Week By Sarah D. Sparks November 16, 2017
Long before there was an independent federal education department—before many states had school systems, in fact—there was a federal education statistics agency. Today, the National Center for Education Statistics celebrates its 150th anniversary (albeit without a permanent commissioner in place). Though the agency remains independent of the Education Department, its work has laid a bedrock for education policy in the United States in areas from large-scale testing, to tracking students over time, to using surveys and local administrative data to understand changes in schools. “NCES, even if people aren’t aware of it, has played a huge role in shaping education research,” said Sean P. “Jack” Buckley, a former commissioner of NCES. “The idea of standardized assessments in longitudinal studies … really all grew out of NCES and IES [the Institute of Education Sciences], and it drives so much research now that probably more than half of researchers aren’t aware of where that came from.”

Tom on Point: Not an island
American School Board Journal December 2017 by Tom Gentzel
Thomas J. Gentzel ( sends e-mail)) is NSBA’s executive director and CEO. Follow Gentzel on Twitter @Tom_NSBA.
Public schools are where most children learn. They are major employers, they are reference points (“turn left at the middle school”), and they are gathering places. They are a community asset, whose continued success is entrusted to the citizens themselves and led by their representatives on school boards. We value all this, yet we also can take it for granted. Of course, public schools exist everywhere. They educated generations of our families, and they will serve our grandchildren and their grandchildren. They are as firmly embedded in our society as any enterprise possibly could be. Yet, while a publicly funded and operated education is a right in this country, its future is not guaranteed without the active commitment and support of the people it serves. When I drive past a public school, I often think about the decisions that put it in that spot and designed it to look that way. How many school board meetings were held to answer those questions, let alone to determine how to pay for the building, to staff it, and to ensure that it meets current and projected instructional needs? How was the public engaged in the process? And, how well did it meet expectations? What lessons were learned, and how are they being applied to future decisions about school facilities, programs, and related services?

Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 10 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·         Jan. 6, Haverford Middle School
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4 - 6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Register Now
Come a day early and attend the Equity Symposium!
Join hundreds of public education advocates on Capitol Hill and help shape the decisions made in Washington D.C. that directly impact our students. At the 2018 Advocacy Institute, you’ll gain insight into the most critical issues affecting public education, sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Whether you are an expert advocator or a novice, attend and experience inspirational keynote speakers and education sessions featuring policymakers, legal experts and policy influencers. All designed to help you advocate for your students and communities.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 21: PA House OKs children’s health insurance bill without argument

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, 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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 21, 2017:
PA House OKs children’s health insurance bill without argument

Do you have newly elected board members? Have them send their email addresses to sign up for the PA Ed Policy Roundup and/or follow us on twitter: @lfeinberg

Philadelphia takes control of schools, but state still owes pupils
Inquirer Commentary by Vincent Hughes Updated: NOVEMBER 20, 2017 — 7:00 PM EST
State Sen. Vincent Hughes represents portions of Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Mayor Kenney said he wanted to end state oversight of the School District of Philadelphia as a necessary step toward reclaiming local control of our public schools.  Now, with the action by the School Reform Commission to disband, control of the schools will be placed in local hands. This move is overdue.  It’s time for our city to take ownership. Putting the school district under the direct control of the mayor allows for a central point of accountability.  Evidence from other cities shows that performance increases with direct accountability. Under local control, the city can better integrate new services into the schools.  Counselors, health professionals, librarians, school building repairs, and more can be provided for the schoolchildren.  That’s a good thing, because our children deserve more. Be clear, local control does not take the state off the hook for properly funding schools. This is the fundamental issue.  No matter who controls, the state has the constitutional responsibility to fund the schools adequately and equitably.

Pa. House leaders strip transgender controversy from Children's Health Insurance Program renewal
Penn Live By Charles Thompson Updated 4:43 PM; Posted 3:52 PM
This post was updated at 4:43 p.m. with comments from Gov. Wolf's office and news of action by the House Health Committee on a related bill.
Leaders of the state House of Representatives have taken steps to defuse a looming fight over transgender services that could have imperiled health insurance coverage for tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children. The House Rules Committee Monday voted to strip out language in a Childrens Health Insurance Program reauthorization bill that would have barred CHIP coverage for gender reassignment surgery. The deletion leaves the CHIP program in position - assuming final House and Senate passage - to be reauthorized as is through 2019 with no fear of a potential veto from Gov. Tom Wolf, whose administration expanded the program last year to include transgender services.

Delco Times By The Associated Press POSTED: 11/20/17, 8:21 PM EST 
HARRISBURG >> The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is advancing legislation to reauthorize the federally subsidized Children’s Health Insurance Program after removing wording to prohibit coverage for gender or sex reassignment surgery. The House unanimously passed the bill Monday and sent it to the Senate. The Senate had inserted the Republican-penned prohibition three weeks ago, sparking opposition by Democrats. The bill reauthorizes the program for 2018 and beyond. It currently covers 177,000 children in Pennsylvania. Senate Republicans say Pennsylvania can’t legally extend coverage for gender reassignment surgery. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration says it expanded the coverage last year to comply with a new Obama administration rule. That rule is on hold in federal court and isn’t being enforced by the Trump administration. Separate legislation is now pending in the House to prohibit the coverage.

Less is more when it comes to the Pennsylvania Legislature
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board November 21, 2017
THE ISSUE - In Pennsylvania’s last legislative session, the state House and Senate approved legislation calling for a state constitutional amendment that would reduce the size of the House from 203 to 151 seats. If both chambers approve it again during the 2017-18 session, voters will get to decide the matter in a statewide referendum. House Bill 153 was introduced by Rep. Jerry Knowles, a Schuylkill County Republican. One of the co-sponsors is Rep. Steve Mentzer, a Republican whose district includes Lititz, all of Warwick Township and most of Manheim Township. Sometimes bigger is better — a piece of pie, your high-definition TV, a first-class seat on an airplane. But sometimes bigger equals bloated, excessive and unnecessary. Such is the condition of our oversized state Legislature. Pennsylvania has the second largest legislature in the nation, trailing only New Hampshire. This is not a good thing. The push to reduce the size of the General Assembly is not new. Lawmakers tried it in 2012 and 2013. Like just about everything else in Harrisburg, it’s a complicated process.

Radio Times: SRC ends, Philly schools get local control
WHYY Radio Times Guests: Donna Copper and Bill Green Air Date: November 21, 2017
After nearly 16 years of contentions debates, including walkouts and other forms of demonstrations by political leaders, education advocates, parents and students, the School Reform Commission (SRC) has voted to end its control of the School District of Philadelphia. On Thursday, the five-member body approved an end to the commission after this academic year. On July 1, the District will return to a local Board of Education which will be made up of nine members. So, what comes next? In this hour, Marty talks with DONNA COOPER, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and BILL GREEN, SRC commissioner about the history of the state takeover, charter school expansion and the future of Philadelphia’s schools.

Departing Suburban board members say public education is under threat
York Dispatch Junior Gonzalez, 505-5439/@JuniorG_YD Published 3:53 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2017 | Updated 3:53 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2017
Among the changes occurring at the York Suburban School district are changes to the district’s school board. Three longtime members — President Lynne Leopold-Sharp, Vice President Cathy Shaffer and Emily Bates — are attending their final school board meeting Monday, Nov. 20, at the Ronald H. Provard Education Center starting at 7 p.m. With their departures come many questions regarding the exit of former district superintendent Michele Merkle, who resigned on Sept. 25, 11 days after she took a medical leave of absence. While repeated requests for comment from board members have not been returned or were deferred to a district administrator, the three departing members accepted a request for questions asking them to reflect on their nearly 60 years of collective experience on the York Suburban school board.

Long-serving Jeannette board members step down
TRIBUNE-REVIEW by DEBRA ERDLEY  | Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
The Vietnam War was raging and Americans were cheering the Apollo 11 moon landing when Bill Brasco made his first bid for election to the Jeannette school board in 1969. “My kids were starting school, and I wanted to make sure everything was just right. So, I thought I'd give it a shot,” he said. Brasco, 84, stepped down Monday from the board after 48 years, ending his run as the second longest-serving school board member in Pennsylvania — trailing only Arden Tewksbury, who has logged 56 years on a school board in Wyoming County, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Morrison “Moe” Lewis, who also retired from the board Monday, might have beat Brasco's record. But the 81-year-old lawyer, who was elected to the board in the early 1960s, left the board temporarily to serve as an assistant district attorney in the 1970s.

Central York schools head named Pa. Superintendent of the Year
York Dispatch Junior Gonzalez, 505-5439/@JuniorG_YD Published 1:19 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2017
The superintendent of the Central York School District was given the year’s top honor by the statewide association for public school administrators. Michael Snell, now in his eighth year leading Central York schools, was named the 2018 Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). Snell was recognized for the award at a PASA luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Harrisburg, the release states. The award is selected by a panel of school administrators. In a news release by PASA, Snell is praised as a leader in an educational concept known as mass customized learning (MCL), which uses teachers’ expertise to come up with individualized learning plans for students. Snell will be the Pennsylvania honoree for the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in Nashville. He is now eligible for the national AASA Superintendent of the Year Award.

Temple gets its first Rhodes Scholar: A North Philly kid
Inquirer by Susan Snyder, Staff Writer  @ssnyderinq | Updated: NOVEMBER 19, 2017 — 8:51 PM EST
Hazim Hardeman’s mother wanted a better school than the family’s North Philadelphia neighborhood could offer her son. So she falsified the family’s address and sent him to Shawmont in Roxborough. “For her, it was a life-and-death situation,” said Hardeman, now 23. “She understood that having access to this education at such an early age would really be formative and could shape or even determine the trajectory that my brother and I would be on.” For Hardeman, a 2017 magna cum laude graduate of Temple University, her choice might have been life-altering. This weekend, Hardeman was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship – the first student in Temple’s history to receive the honor. He will pursue his studies in sociology or political theory next fall at Oxford University in England.

“Studies since the 1950s have consistently shown that segregated schools largely serving minority students tend to produce weaker academic results, which limit students’ opportunities to succeed later in life. That’s not because the students are black or brown. It’s because apartheid schools typically are found in impoverished communities with limited resources to spend on public education.”
Why 'apartheid schools' have become common in Philly and NJ | Editorial
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: NOVEMBER 20, 2017 — 7:28 PM EST
More than 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education  decision, segregated schools persist across America. They can be found in largely white rural and suburban towns, in minority-majority cities like Philadelphia, and in supposedly progressive, ethnically diverse states like New Jersey, where what a new study calls “apartheid schools” have become common. Apartheid, the legal term for the system of segregation that once existed in South Africa, was used by the UCLA Civil Rights Project to describe schools in which less than 1 percent of the students are white. More than a quarter of New Jersey’s black students attend apartheid schools, said the report, released last Wednesday. That ranks it sixth among states with the highest segregation of black students and seventh in segregation of Latinos.

Honoring the 50th anniversary of a pivotal student protest in Philadelphia
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 20, 2017
On Nov. 17, 1967, thousands of students rallied outside the old Board of Education building along Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. It wasn’t the first student protest, and it would hardly be the last. But the happenings that day — now 50 years in the rearview — have lingered in the city’s collective consciousness like few other education-related events. That’s in part because the cause that brought students out that day — increased representation for African-Americans in the curriculum and the classroom — remains. But it’s also because of how the authorities responded to the November ’67 protest, and what would become of the man who directed that response.

Commission Overseeing Philly Schools Votes to Disband. What Happens Next?
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Denisa R. Superville on November 17, 2017 12:01 PM
Cheers, chants, and applause broke out in Philadelphia on Thursday night after a majority of the members on the School Reform Commission—the state created body that oversees the city's school system—voted to dissolve. "The people united, will never be defeated, the people united, will never be defeated," meeting attendees chanted after the 3-1-1 vote to dissolve the School Reform Commission on the grounds that the district was no longer in "distress." That was the term the state used 16 years ago, when then-Republican Gov. Mark S. Schweiker and Democratic Mayor John F. Street agreed to a state takeover of the school system. The move to dissolve the School Reform Commission, which had become increasingly unpopular in recent years, jumped into high gear about two weeks ago when Philadelphia's Democratic Mayor James Kenney publicly called for the SRC to dissolve itself and return the school board to local governance.  But Kenney is not proposing an elected school board—which some speakers at the meeting on Thursday said was their ultimate goal. Instead, the mayor is proposing a return to the kind of board outlined in the city's charter, in which a nominating committee will recommend potential board members to the mayor. The city council has called for getting a say in who gets to serve on the board.

Another View: A call to stand against some school ‘progress’
Delco Times Letter by John Haenn, Delaware County POSTED: 11/20/17, 7:52 PM EST
To the Editor We’d like to believe that governmental bodies all the way from our local school boards to the looming federal level have the best interests of the people in mind. In some cases, they do. In some cases, the intent is good but the execution gets botched. Common is this result when many minds are contributing to one end. Pennsylvania is beginning to tackle one of these issues, and local school boards are faced with a tough question. Progressive legislation has been introduced that would allow people to use male/female facilities in places of public use based on the gender that they identify with. This is the polite way of saying that the legislation will allow girls and boys to use any locker room or bathroom that they choose. And it’s already happening.

“The federal government has a unique role to play, mainly in reducing the cost of capital for them to acquire these buildings,” Christy Wolfe, senior policy adviser at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told The 74. But three of those key programs — tax-exempt private activity bonds for nonprofits, New Markets Tax Credits, and Qualified Zone Academy Bonds — would be eliminated under the tax reform the House passed last week.”
Educators Warn of ‘Devastating’ Consequences for Charter Schools in New GOP Tax Bill
The74 by Carolyn Phenice November19, 2017
When KIPP Academy of Opportunity in Los Angeles opened its doors at the start of this school year, its 400 students were, for the first time in several years, all under one roof. The school opened in 2003, but Los Angeles’s tight real estate market forced the network to split the students, fifth- through eighth-graders, between two campuses, three miles apart, for the past six or seven years. That meant higher costs to operate two buildings, stress on kids who had to change buildings frequently, and logistical woes for administrators stretched between two campuses, Marcia Aaron, CEO of KIPP LA, told The 74. Charter schools in Los Angeles, and around the country, usually must find — and pay for — their own facilities, a tricky prospect given their specific design needs and the high cost of real estate in big cities where many charters are located. Instead of taxpayer-backed bonds that school districts can float, charters that are ready to construct their own schools rely on a mix of financing tools, often aided by federal tax breaks, to fund construction of their schools.

“More than three million children attend charter schools in 44 states and the District of Columbia. The charters include national business chains, questionable “non-profits,” mysterious cyber-schools, “mom and pop” small schools, and far too few innovative quasi-public schools. About 20% of the charters operate directly to make a profit off of children and local governments. But there are many ways for charters to make money including high salaries to sponsors, sub-contracting to friendly vendors, and elaborate real estate ruses that allow charters to essentially rent facilities at exorbitant rates from their corporate partners.”
Network for Public Education Study Exposes Charter School Scams
Huffington Post by Alan Singer, Contributor 11/20/2017 06:30 am ET
Six months into its first year of operation, Innovative Arts Academy Charter School in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania was forced to restructure its leadership when student enrollment dropped. It replaced another charter school in the same building. The previous tenant, Medical Academy Charter School closed because of financial problems and low enrollment. The just released Network for Public Education (NPE) report, Charters and Consequences, documents charter school scams supported by wealthy “philanthropists,” powerful political interests, and an assortment of entrepreneurs looking to make money off of education. Eleven studies look at the charter school assault on public education from Oakland, California to Brooklyn, New York with stops in Arizona, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. Operating “behind a wall of secrecy,” the dark side of the charter movement includes “mismanagement, failure, nepotism or outright theft and fraud” and “abuse of taxpayer funds.” The full report is available online. Unless otherwise noted, information in this blog comes from the report.

NPE: Charter Effects Are Alarming
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Sunday, November 19, 2017
We can talk all day about the intentions of charter operators, about the possible ramifications of various charter policy decisions. Heck, on occasion I can talk about the conditions under which I would welcome charter schools (because I don't automatically default to the position that they're a Bad Thing). There is a pattern in the ed reform movement. Reformsters hold up a bright shiny polished reform idea, people hop up to say, "Wow, that looks great! Let's have some of that!" And then something else entirely is delivered. So when we talk about any reform policy, we need to talk about what is actually happening on the ground. And what is happening on the ground is fairly alarming. The Network for Public Education has now done that for charter schools. Full disclosures-- first, I'm a member of NPE and second, NPE is not predisposed to be kind to charter schools. Nevertheless, I recommend you read their new report Charters and Consequences and judge for yourself. NPE has taken a look at what is actually happening in the charter world, and it's not good. The report is a collection of eleven separate pieces of investigation, created over the span of a year

Court throws out landmark SC school equity lawsuit
After 24 years of court battles, a landmark school equity lawsuit aimed at improving education opportunities in the state’s poorest, rural schools has been dismissed. The S.C. Supreme Court closed the case in a 3-2 order, praising state lawmakers for responding in “good faith” to the court’s 2014 mandate to find ways to fix South Carolina’s failing public schools. State House leaders, who asked the court to dismiss them from the case, applauded the ruling. “Today’s order confirms that the Supreme Court is satisfied by the House’s transformative efforts to improve South Carolina’s education system,” House Speaker Jay Lucas said after the court’s decision was handed down Friday. . “Providing every child in every part of our state access to a 21st century education has and will continue to be a priority for the South Carolina House of Representatives.” Meanwhile, the ruling was disappointing to an attorney representing the more than 30 poor, rural school districts that sued the state in 1993, arguing they did not have the money or resources to provide children with a quality education.

Stuff They Don't Want You to Know episode: The Gulen Movement 
Stuff Network Podcast Runtime 1:01 POSTED SEP 29, 2017
What do private schools and revolution have in common? The answer may surprise you. Join the guys as they bring on their intern Sam Teegardin and for a firsthand look at a strange and insidious conspiracy reaching from the Eastern US seaboard and journeying through locations across the world to fundamentally rock the political foundations of the Turkish state.

Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 10 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·                              Jan. 6, Haverford Middle School
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017