Thursday, August 22, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug. 22: In 2009-10, the $220 million PA Charter School Reimbursement State Budget Line was completely eliminated


Started in November 2010, 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

If any of your colleagues would like to be added to the email list please have them send their name, title and affiliation to KeystoneStateEdCoalition@gmail.com

PA Ed Policy Roundup August 22, 2019



PA Charter Trivia: In 2009-10, the $220 million PA Charter School Reimbursement State Budget Line which partially compensated school districts for stranded costs/loss of state aid when a child moves to a charter school, was completely eliminated.



PA Ed Policy Roundup will be offline on vacation next week

Editorial: Charter bills crucial for all districts Fair school funding imperative
Scranton Times-Tribune BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD / PUBLISHED: AUGUST 21, 2019
Securing equitable state funding for the Scranton School District is crucial to its success. As a grass-roots movement grows to pressure the state for that money — $18 million or more by which it has been underfunded relative to its peer districts — momentum also has begun to build in Harrisburg for broader reforms that would help all of the state’s 500 public school districts. Charter schools are public schools that are funded by taxpayers, yet lack the same level of accountability, regarding academics and finances, that state law demands of conventional public schools. For the most recent school year, Pennsylvania taxpayers paid $1.8 billion to charter schools. Those schools are funded according to the costs-per-student of the students’ home school districts, rather than according to the charter schools’ actual costs. Moreover, some of the charters have been found to underperform the conventional public schools for which they purport to be an alternative. Gov. Tom Wolf last week directed the Department of Education to develop regulations to produce greater public accountability for charter school operations to achieve these goals:
■ Allow school districts to limit student enrollment at charters that do not provide a high-quality, equitable education.
■ Require transparent charter admissions policies that do not discriminate based on intellectual or athletic ability.
■ Hold charters to the same transparency standards that apply to public schools.
■ Hold charter companies and boards of trustees to ethical standards to prevent conflicts of interest involving financial benefits to themselves, families or related interests — the same standards that apply to public school boards.
■ Require charters to seek public bids for supply and service contracts.
■ Establish a charter application process that informs contributing school districts about proposed operations.
■ Require charters to document all costs and prevent overcharging.
■ Recoup taxpayers’ costs that the Department of Education provides to for-profit charters.
All of those measures will help to put conventional and charter schools on equal footing, where they should be, given their common public funding. Wolf is not alone in seeking a fairer charter system. Because charters affect the finances of all 500 public school districts, the issue is important to every legislator. The governor and legislators from both sides of the aisle plan on seeking legislative changes this fall to change how charter schools are funded.

Wolf touts investment in education at Coebourn Elementary in Delco
BROOKHAVEN — Gov. Tom Wolf stopped by Coebourn Elementary School in Brookhaven Wednesday afternoon to tout the successes of public education before local schools open their doors for a new year next week. The Democratic governor said he was there to “brag” about public institutions like Coebourn and the billions of dollars he has added to education funding in the five years he has served in Harrisburg. “The future of Pennsylvania runs through places just like this, and if we don’t do what we need to do in places like Harrisburg then shame on us because we’re not doing what we need to do for our future,” said Wolf. “There is not a whole lot that government should do in a system like ours, but making sure we have a world–class education system has got to be, for me, the top priority. “We have a long way to go get there in Pennsylvania, but we have done some things. I’m proud that in the five budgets that I’ve been part of we have actually brought 1.2 billion new dollars in K-12 education.” In the state budget that Wolf signed for 2019-20, $160 million was added to basic education with a $50 million boost for special education. Approximately $80 million was added in funding for Pre-K, Head Start, career and technical programs, and other education programs for the year.

“Allentown has pointed to rising charter costs as the reason it asked 23 charters and cybercharters to take a tuition cut. In 2009-10, it paid less than $10 million for 1,000 students to attend charters. For the upcoming school year, the district is expected to pay about $60 million. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run.”
Lehigh Valley charter schools tell Allentown School District to ‘live within its means’; reject tuition pay cut
By JACQUELINE PALOCHKO THE MORNING CALL | AUG 21, 2019 | 8:07 PM
Almost 20 charter schools have sent a joint letter to the Allentown School District saying they will not take a 10% tuition reduction to help Allentown balance its budget.
Lehigh Valley charter schools have rejected Allentown School District’s attempt to balance its budget by having them accept 10% less in tuition payments, telling the district to “live within its means.” In a letter dated Wednesday and addressed to school board President Audrey Mathison, Ana Meyers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, on behalf of 19 of the Valley’s 23 charter and cybercharters, called Allentown’s request “not acceptable.” “Like public charter schools, the district needs to live within its means and budget accordingly,” Meyers wrote in a joint letter. Her group represents some but not all the Valley’s charter schools. Like public charter schools, the district needs to live within its means and budget accordingly. The Allentown School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last week, Julie Benjamin, the district’s communications director, said that if charter schools don’t agree to the reduction, Allentown would explore other options. Benjamin said Allentown has enough money to meet its financial obligations until the spring. The Allentown School District this month submitted a $341.8 million budget to the state that is balanced only if charter schools agree to a tuition reduction that saves Allentown $6 million. The district publicly made its request at a June 27 meeting, but individual letters weren’t sent to the charter schools until last week.

LETTER: Make an informed decision on education
Observer Reporter Letter by Joe Zupancic, Canonsburg August 22, 2019
As the start of the school year approaches, our televisions and social media platforms are being flooded by advertisements from Pennsylvania cyber charter schools trying to lure students and parents away from their own traditional public schools. These schools, or their nationally affiliated education management companies, try to use terms like “individualized instruction” and “tuition-free public school” to sweeten the pot in trying to get new customers. When evaluating the option of whether to remove their children from their home public school and send them to a cyber charter school, parents should be armed with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. Fortunately for parents, the Pennsylvania Department of Education provides them with just such a tool. The website www.futurereadypa.org is the site where the Department of Education uses to host the data regarding the performance for all schools in the commonwealth, whether they are traditional public schools, brick-and-mortar charter schools and cyber charter schools. Anyone can access this data and analyze the performance of their home school district and any other school. One of the extremely helpful features of the site is that it allows one to compare the performance of more than one school at a time. By using this feature, parents can see for themselves the difference between the public school their children now attend and the cyber charter schools that are competing for their students and our tax dollars.
All parents should honor their obligation to make the best decision possible regarding the education of their children. The best way to honor that obligation is to make that decision an informed one.

“It was one of Philadelphia’s first ‘no excuses’ charter schools. And the students were like guinea pigs in an intense educational experiment, one designed to alter lives and, crucially, measure whether it worked. A dozen years after the school’s first class graduated eighth grade, the students are now in their mid 20s. We caught up with Jayuana and 32 of her former classmates. Some who made it to graduation, some who didn’t. Some who praise the school, others who abhor it. But we were most interested in the people themselves.”
Don’t eat the marshmallow: Students from a ‘no excuses’ charter grow up to tell the tale
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent August 21, 2019 Listen
Jayuana Bullard sat upright on her bed — in a room wallpapered with lipstick imprints, in a house crumbling from neglect, in a neighborhood known as one of Philadelphia’s most violent. The thought came easily, like she’d summoned it before. “I wonder if they felt like they failed somehow,” she said. They were her teachers from a middle school she’d left more than a decade ago. She not only remembered them, she wanted their approval. Still. All these years later. “Sometimes I think about it,” she said. “And I wonder.” Jayuana is 25, an age when middle school is often a distant memory. We may be able to name a teacher or class that still resonates. Perhaps we had some social awakening as we passed from childhood to adolescence. Few of us probably see our lives as a referendum on the people that taught us in middle school. Not Jayuana. “As far as my character, as far as me figuring out how to get things done and figuring out how to treat people on a daily basis…Me as a human?” she said. “They played such a big role.” There’s not a statistic, a data point, a concrete, measurable outcome in Jayuana’s life that would lead you to this conclusion. But, when you talk to talk to Jayuana and hear the plain conviction in her voice — you know it.
So what was this school?

Entering his 7th year as Philly superintendent, Hite emphasizes consistency, puts more focus on equity
In his back-to-school interview, Hite discusses building upgrades, hiring and the comprehensive planning review.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa August 21 — 9:35 am, 2019
As he enters his seventh year as Philadelphia schools’ superintendent — making him the longest serving District leader since Constance Clayton (1982-93) — William Hite is emphasizing a story of steady progress and consistent focus on crucial goals. To be sure, he acknowledges, city schools still face daunting obstacles of concentrated poverty and financial struggles abetted by a broken state funding system. “The things that school districts don’t do well is maintain a focus on things they’ve set out to accomplish,” Hite said in a back-to-school interview on Tuesday. “They start a lot of things, add a lot of things, and it feels like a lot of activity and energy. One thing that is important here in Philadelphia, we’re focused on the same things as last year.” Among the most important: improving early literacy and getting more students to graduate with “the skills and ability to pursue their aspirations and dreams.” Other areas of focus include recruiting and retaining talented teachers, and stepping up facilities repairs and upgrades.

Pa. can’t wait any longer on broadband expansion. Here’s why | Opinion
By Pam Snyder  Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor August 22, 2019
State Rep. Pam Snyder, a Democrat, represents the 50th House District, which includes parts of Fayette, Greene, and Washington counties. She writes from Harrisburg
Imagine the following scenarios:
  • A sixth grader, who is trying to finish an online project, can only complete this assignment while sitting in her parent’s car in the parking lot of her school.
  • A physician, whose patient lives more than an hour away, wants to utilize remote patient monitoring technology, but is unable to do so.
  • A large employer is considering relocating to Pennsylvania, bringing with it the potential of hundreds of jobs and community investment, but has decided against it.
What’s the common denominator in each of these scenarios?
It’s unreliable broadband internet service.
For the past three years, I have been pushing for all Pennsylvanians – rural, urban and suburban – to have access to reliable, affordable broadband access, regardless of the county in which they reside. In particular, the more rural and densely populated areas of our state have been most affected by this lack of access.

Teacher salaries: Pa. ranks among top states for starting teachers, study shows
Penn Live By Janet Pickel | jpickel@pennlive.com Today 5:41 AM
In his 2019 state budget, Gov. Wolf proposed setting Pennsylvania’s minimum salary for teachers at $45,000. The minimum starting pay for teachers has been at $18,500 for 30 years. Across Pennsylvania, almost a third of school districts have teachers earning salaries below $45,000, according to the state Department of Education. Other employees with a bachelor’s degree earned a median salary of $47,000 in 2017 in the state. While the minimum salary boost remains just a proposal in Pennsylvania, the state ranked well on a study of starting teacher salaries vs. other salaries.

Gun-law changes supported by Pa. suburban women, Republican poll shows
Penn Live By Katie Meyer | PA Post Posted Aug 20, 2019
 (Harrisburg) — A Republican polling firm says its latest survey found compelling evidence that a key bloc of swing voters want stricter gun control. The pollsters, from the group Public Opinion Strategy, surveyed 500 suburban women in five districts, including Pennsylvania’s first congressional. They found that out of seven options, the women said their highest priority issue is guns. That option got first choice ranking from 30 percent of respondents. The next, healthcare, garnered 24 percent. National security, at the bottom, had eight percent. More: Reducing gun violence to save lives is aim of Pa. Gov. Wolf’s latest executive order The suburban women overwhelmingly — 72% to 4% — said they think gun laws should be stricter, and that they’d be much more likely to vote for a GOP candidate who supports gun control measures like universal background checks and waiting periods for firearms purchases. Suburban districts are often home to the moderate voters who help decide elections. Muhlenberg College professor Chris Borick, who runs his own poll, said women are particularly key for a couple reasons. “One is, there’s a high turnout rate among the group,” he said. “And two, over the last few decades they have shown a willingness to switch party allegiance.”

 “The question is, will state lawmakers show equal leadership and courage? They need to take notice – something has changed in Pennsylvania and in America. Inertia will no longer be tolerated. People are no longer buying the excuses that the constitution protects extremists and mass murderers. People have had enough of bloodshed in mosques, synagogues, churches, bars and Walmarts. And people have had enough of rapid-fire weapons blowing away individuals while we contemplate the Second Amendment. To be crystal clear, we do not support banning any law-abiding person from owning weapons to defend person and property. We understand many of our neighbors in Pennsylvania are responsible hunters, and we see no reason to deny them access to the weapons they need for sport. But we also see no reason hunters or home defenders need assault weapons that have killed dozens of people in a matter of minutes.”
Gov. Wolf is acting to reduce gun violence, but he needs the Legislature to follow his lead | Pennlive Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Posted Aug 21, 2:48 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf has done the right thing. He has taken decisive action to help stem the tide of gun violence in our state. Now it’s time for the Legislature to follow his lead. After the mass shooting that killed 12 innocent people in Virginia Beach in May, Pennlive called for the governor to do something to help prevent another tragedy here in Pennsylvania. We urged him to take the modest step of organizing a bipartisan task force to come up with initiatives to address the scourge that threatens us all. Then, the shootings in El Paso and Dayton took place, killing dozens of people in incidents less than 24 hours apart. And a week later, six police officers were shot in a standoff with someone who shouldn’t have had a gun in Philadelphia. The governor heard the cries resounding in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, calling on leaders to “do something.” And do something he did.

Voting for Gun Control: March For Our Lives Group Has a Federal Plan for That
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk on August 21, 2019 1:42 PM
The March for Our Lives, the group founded by students in Parkland, Fla., after the slaughter last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has issued a wide-ranging plan to address "a national public health emergency": gun violence. Since its formation, the group and the surge of extraordinary youth activism that accompanied it have successfully reframed the issue of gun control as a safety issue rather than exclusively a Second Amendment one. States passed dozens of bills on guns and safety that year. But so far, that activism has led to few legislative successes at the federal level. The plan offers the group's most detailed outline to date of what laws it thinks needs to happen at that level. Described as "a Green New Deal, but for guns," by one of the organization's key leaders, it calls on policymakers to:

Public Support for Teachers' Unions and Charter Schools Grows, Survey Says
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on August 20, 2019 12:01 AM
An annual poll conducted by an education research and policy journal reports an increase in public support for charter schools—but also for teachers' unions, which are often among charters' biggest antagonists.  The 2019 survey from Education Next, which oversees an annual poll on attitudes toward education, also affirmed previous polling showing that the issue of school choice divides Democrats. White members of the party were significantly less likely to support both vouchers and charter schools than their black and Hispanic counterparts, according to EdNext. The public's backing for teacher pay raises also rose again this year, as it did in 2018 following a series of high-profile teacher strikes over salaries and working conditions. On a related note: Among Republicans, approval for teachers' unions spiked compared to a year ago, although it remains relatively low. And what about how students feel? Most give top marks to their high school—however, they're markedly less likely to give their own local public schools an A grade (68 percent) than their parents (82 percent). Overall, however, 60 percent of the public gave their local public schools an A or B grade—an increase of 9 percentage points from last year and the highest percentage since 2007.


Adolescent Health and School Start Times:  Science, Strategies, Tactics, & Logistics  Workshop Nov 13, Exton
Join school administrators and staff, including superintendents, transportation directors, principals, athletic directors, teachers, counselors, nurses, and school board members, parents, guardians, health professionals and other concerned community members for an interactive and solutions-oriented workshop on  Wednesday, November 13, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm 
Clarion Hotel in Exton, PA 
The science is clear. Many middle and high school days in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, start too early in the morning. The American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other major health and education leaders agree and have issued policy statements recommending that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 am to allow for sleep, health, and learning. Implementing these recommendations, however, can seem daunting.  Discussions will include the science of sleep and its connection to school start times, as well as proven strategies for successfully making change--how to generate optimum community support and work through implementation challenges such as bus routes, athletics, and more.   Register for the workshop here: https://ssl-workshop-pa.eventbrite.com Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to offer early bird registration for $25, which includes a box-lunch and coffee service. Seating is limited and early bird registration ends on Friday, September 13.
For more information visit the workshop website 
www.startschoollater.net/workshop---pa  or email contact@startschoollater.net

EPLC/DCIU 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates Sept. 14th
The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates at the DCIU on September 14, 2019.
Target Audience: School Board Directors and Candidates, Community Members, School Administrators
Description: Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates. Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. The workshop will include Legal and Leadership Roles of School Directors and School Boards; State and Federal Policies: Implications for School Boards; School District Finances and Budgeting; Candidates and the Law; Information Resources; "State and Federal Policies" section includes, but is not limited to:
K-12 Governance
PA Standards, Student Assessment, and Accountability
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
K-12 State Funding
Early Education
Student Choices (Non-Public, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, Career-Technical, and more)
Teacher Issues
Linking K-12 to Workforce and Post-Secondary Education
Linking K-12 to Community Partners
***Fee: $75.00. Payment by Credit Card Only, Visa or Mastercard, PLEASE DO NOT SELECT ANY OTHER PAYMENT TYPE*** Registration ends 9/7/2019

“Each member entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 23 – Oct. 11, 2019).”
PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2019, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 15th at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).

In November, many boards will be preparing to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This event will help attendees create a full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Register now:
PSBA: Start Strong: Developing a District On-Boarding Plan for New Directors
SEP 11, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
In November, many boards will be faced with a significant transition as they prepare to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This single-day program facilitated by PSBA trainers and an experienced PA board president will guide attendees to creating a strong, full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Grounded in PSBA’s Principles for Governance and Leadership, attendees will hear best practices from their colleagues and leave with a full year’s schedule, a jump drive of resources, ideas for effective local training, and a plan to start strong.
Register online at MyPSBA: www.psba.org and click on “MyPSBA” in the upper right corner.

PSBA: Nominations for The Allwein Society are open!
This award program recognizes school directors who are outstanding leaders & advocates on behalf of public schools & students. Nominations are accepted year-round with selections announced early fall: http://ow.ly/CchG50uDoxq 

EPLC is accepting applications for the 2019-20 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Education Policy & Leadership Center
PA's premier education policy leadership program for education, policy & community leaders with 582 alumni since 1999. Application with program schedule & agenda are at http://www.eplc.org 

2019 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-18, 2019
WHERE: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16 to Friday, October 18, 201
Registration is now open!
Growth from knowledge acquired. Vision inspired by innovation. Impact created by a synergized leadership community. You are called upon to be the drivers of a thriving public education system. It’s a complex and challenging role. Expand your skillset and give yourself the tools needed for the challenge. Packed into two and a half daysꟷꟷgain access to top-notch education and insights, dynamic speakers, peer learning opportunities and the latest product and service innovations. Come to the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference to grow!

NPE Action National Conference - Save the Date - March 28-29, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA.
The window is now open for workshop proposals for the Network for Public Education conference, March 28-29, 2020, in Philadelphia. I hope you all sign on to present on a panel and certainly we want all to attend. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NBCNDKK

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.



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug. 21: Poor school districts are funding the state’s cyber charter schools, research shows. That wasn’t always the case


Started in November 2010, 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

If any of your colleagues would like to be added to the email list please have them send their name, title and affiliation to KeystoneStateEdCoalition@gmail.com

PA Ed Policy Roundup August 21, 2019


On Radio Times at 10:00 this morning: School shootings spark drastic safety proposals
WHYY Radio Times Air Date: August 21, 2019 10:00 am
Guests: Avi Wolfman-Arent, Jen Kinney
In the wake every school shooting, parents are rightfully rattled and concerned about how to better protect their children. But the answer as to how schools can improve security is a murky one and has led to some controversial methods being proposed and implemented. Beefed-up surveillance tactics, armed guards, and even arming teachers and administrators are all ideas that have been put on the table in recent years. Today on the show, we’ll talk about how the mass shooting epidemic, and the reactions to it, are shaping schools in Pennsylvania. Joining us is WHYY reporter AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT, and freelance reporter, JEN KINNEY.

“Also unexpected was the fact the majority of the reports had more to do with emotional and mental health concerns about individual students then they had to do with direct threats of violence. "We investigated them all and some were unfounded, some were founded," Harney said. Those investigations, and the follow-up that comes along with it — meeting with the student, the student's parents,  teachers, guidance counselors and psychologists — is time-consuming and the people whose times is most consumed are a building's principal and assistant principal.”
Threat tip line taxing Pottsgrove Middle School resources
UPPER POTTSGROVE — When Pennsylvania became the first state to mandate a school threat reporting system, the response was overwhelming. "The Safe2Say Something program" began in January, "and that's when everything changed," said Pottsgrove Assistant Superintendent Robert Harney.  The program requires public and private schools adopt the violence prevention initiative. Safe2Say Something allows anonymous tips to be submitted to a reporting system when students or parents see signs that someone could be a threat to themselves or others. "Warning signs could include bullying, bragging about an upcoming attack, depression, social isolation or substance abuse," according to USA Today. Two months after being put into place in January, USA Today reported that Pennsylvania schools had received more than 6,200 tips.
And in the Pottsgrove School District, where 40 tips were logged in six months, that presents a significant workload. That's particularly true at Pottsgrove Middle School, the school board was told last week. "We got about 40 reports, and a lot of them were from the middle school," Harney said. "It was a quite a lot more than we expected."

PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison August 20, 2019
As nearly 2 million children across Pennsylvania return to school this month, thousands will do so from behind computer screens. Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools — taxpayer-funded, privately managed schools that offer their curriculum online — enrolled close to 39,000 students in the 2018-19 academic year, according to a Capital-Star analysis of state Department of Education data. More likely than not, those students come from poorly funded districts where adults have low levels of education, recent research shows.  A study of enrollment trends in Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools between 2002 and 2014, published in the American Journal of Education, found that poor districts disproportionately funded the state’s cyber charter sector, which reliably produces low test scores and graduation rates for its students. 
Researchers David Baker of Penn State University and Bryan Mann of the University of Alabama say the trend jeopardizes public school quality across the state, since the districts losing the most students to cyber charter competitors are also the least able to afford it.  In the face of mounting concerns over charter school funding in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf announced in early August a slew of executive actions to increase charter school accountability, including an executive order allowing districts to limit enrollment at low-performing cyber charter schools. 
While locally elected public school boards grant charters to brick-and-mortar schools, the state Education department grants charters to cyber schools, giving the agency greater regulatory power over the sector. But in both cases, public school districts must pay charters a per-pupil tuition rate for each of their students that decides to enroll there.

A Republican lawmaker wants to eliminate Pa.’s property tax by targeting retirement income. Will his bill gain traction this session?
PA Capital Star By  Stephen Caruso August 20, 2019
A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday officially released his plan to address the evergreen issue of local property tax elimination, with one new twist — a tax on retirees’ income. Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, held a Capitol press conference to roll out his bill, which would also increase income and sales taxes to replace the estimated $15 billion that state property owners currently pay. “If we don’t resolve this problem this session, it’s not going to end,” Ryan said. The plan would establish a 1.85 percent local income tax, on top of the Pennsylvania’s current 3.07 percent income tax. Ryan’s plan also calls for a 2 percent local sales tax, on top of the current 6 percent state sales tax.  Both of these new funding streams would go directly to schools without entering the state government’s coffers. Most controversially, the plan also calls for a nearly 5 percent tax on retirement income — 3 percent of which would go to the state, and 1.85 percent to schools.

Lawmaker aims to tax retirement income and food as a way to eliminate school property taxes; 'This is not going to be an easy sell’
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated Aug 20, 3:23 PM; Posted Aug 20, 3:00 PM
Rep. Frank Ryan is looking to move Pennsylvania in a direction it has resisted for decades in order to eliminate school property taxes. He wants to tax retirement income and he wants to make food and clothing subject to a sales tax. The Lebanon County Republican discussed his proposal at a Capitol news conference on Tuesday. It calls for replacing the $15 billion that was raised from school property taxes this year – a tax deemed the most hated in Pennsylvania by far – with an assortment of new taxes. The most radical aspect of Ryan’s proposal entails placing a 4.92% personal income tax – with 3.07% going to the state and 1.85% going to the local school district – on retirement plan withdrawals excluding whatever portion the employee contributed to the plan. Social Security benefits also would be excluded. Ryan’s plan also would provide for a 2% local sales tax on the same items already subject to the state sales tax, plus food and clothing. Currently, food and clothing are exempt from the state’s sales tax. Under Ryan’s plan, those receiving public assistance would be exempted from the tax on food. His plan also includes a 1.85 percent local personal income tax, which would be in addition to the 3.07% rate the state charges.

Retirement tax still on table to lessen property tax load, Pennsylvania lawmaker says
By FORD TURNER THE MORNING CALL | AUG 20, 2019 | 5:05 PM | HARRISBURG
State Rep. Frank Ryan, author of a controversial proposal to eliminate the school property tax by increasing other taxes and instituting a new tax on retirement income, said Tuesday he will continue to promote the concept despite stiff resistance in the Lehigh Valley. Ryan held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda to field questions about the concept, which was publicized about a month ago even though the Lebanon County Republican has not formally filed a bill. Ryan said he will drop the proposal if he does not get significant support from senior citizens. Feedback he has received to date, he said, indicates about half of seniors have a favorable view of the concept, but the percentage of seniors who are opposed is greater in the Lehigh Valley than elsewhere. Ryan has attributed that pushback in part to misunderstanding of the proposed retirement income tax, which he said will exclude Social Security and the original amount contributed to a retirement plan, taxing only the earnings on the original contributions. One component of his tax-shift scheme is a local personal income tax of 1.85% to be paid directly to the local school district, in addition to the 3.07% personal income tax already paid to the state.

“Gamble said $67.9 million has been spent from the city’s general fund through June. Of that, $56.8 million has gone to pre-K, $8.1 million has been spent on community schools, and $3 million has gone to the Parks and Recreation Department for the Rebuild program for libraries, recreation centers, and parks. During the current fiscal year, the city is increasing the number of community schools from 12 to 17 and adding 1,050 preschool seats, expanding that program to a total of 3,300 slots.”
Philly soda tax: Here’s how much money it has raised, and how it’s been spent
Inquirer by Laura McCrystal,  August 21, 2019
Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened beverages has been in effect for 2½ years, withstanding legal challenges, continued opposition by the beverage industry, and Democratic primary challenges to Mayor Jim Kenney as he seeks a second term. The amount of money it will raise has also been a bit of a moving target, as the city has made a few reductions to its revenue estimates. The latest adjustment is reflected in the city’s preliminary total for fiscal year 2019: $76.9 million, a revenue official said last week. That amount is a bit less than the $78 million that the city had initially budgeted for the year — an estimate that Kenney’s administration adjusted down before the year ended, attributing the difference to a lack of available data about similar taxes and a decline in soda consumption. Meanwhile, the programs that the tax funds — pre-K, community schools, and improvements to parks, recreation centers, and libraries — are growing.
Here’s an update on the tax, the money it has raised, and where that money is going.

A tax-rate typo created savings for parents and headaches for officials in a Bucks school district
Inquirer by Vinny Vella, Updated: August 20, 2019- 2:13 PM
A slip of a finger, a single keystroke, is saving taxpayers in one Bucks County school district $32 each in property taxes this year. But the typo also cost the school district about $895,000. Officials at Pennsbury — a 10,000-student school district based in Falls Township — said late last week that a June 20 school-board resolution incorrectly set the millage rate for this school year at 170.076 mills. It should have been 171.076, one digit accidentally substituted for another by an interim business administrator while drafting the resolution’s language. No one caught the error in time, because the actual millage rate was not read aloud during the June meeting. But technically, the language of the resolution is binding, according to Christopher Berdnik, the district’s current chief financial officer. Berdnik said he discovered the typo after starting his position July 1. By then, it was too late: Tax bills had been mailed, and the district’s solicitor felt a retroactive change would open the door to litigation.

Blogger note: nice coverage of May 2019 charter school hearing by Norristown High School students in their school newspaper. The applicant, Norristown Academy Charter, affiliated with Vahan Gureghian’s CSMI, is expected to continue efforts to locate in Montgomery County.
Norristown Academy Charter School Withdraws Application after Tense Public Hearing
Norristown Area High School Wingspan by Gabrielle DeFrangesco and Christinna Longenecker May 7, 2019
The Norristown Academy Charter School withdrew its application to develop a new charter school in Norristown on Monday, May 6th, at 9:15pm during a public hearing for the approval of the addition of said charter school. Norristown Academy Charter (NACS) wants to open as a new charter school in Norristown, and it is required by PA Charter School law to hold a public hearing.The NACS board previously withdrew an application from March 1st but re-submitted the same application on March 29th. The public hearing began around 6:30 but members of the community and the school board congregated around 6:00 pm in order to get proper seating.  Eventually, the boardroom of the administration building became jam-packed, parents and faculty spilling into the main office. The large number of bodies accumulated very high temperatures, increasing the tension within. The hearing started off right away with Alan Kessler, representing NACS, requesting to discuss a “..threatening…” email from a member of the community to Greays Mendoza, a member of the NACS School Board. Kessler read from the email aloud, “…I just know what you’ll be facing next Monday. I hope you take a strong stand against the people who will be coming after you.” Attorney, Peter Amuso, representing Norristown Area School District, established that this letter came from an individual in the community, and not a representative of the Norristown Area School District School Board legal team. Amuso then questioned the involvement of CSMI, a for-profit educational management and consulting firm that, is working with NCAS. It was noted that founder and CEO of CSMI, Vahun Gureghian, was included in the chain of the letter received.

Here’s a rerun of Diane Ravitch’s piece on Gureghian’s CSMI…
Pennsylvania: The State’s Largest Charter School—Low-Performing But Profitable
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch July 23, 2019 //
Chester Community Charter School is the largest brick-and-mortar charter school in Pennsylvania, with more than 4,000 students. It is a for-profit charter school owned by a wealthy lawyer named Vahan Gureghian, who was the largest individual contributor to former Governor Corbett. It is hard to know how much money CCCS makes, because its books are not open to the public. It must be doing very well, because his 36,000 square-foot oceanfront house in Palm Beach was recently sold for $60 million. But his profits are less important than the fact that CCCS now enrolls 70% of the primary students in the Chester-Upland school district. And it is not because the charter is an academic success. Its test scores are very low. Only 16.7% were proficient in English language arts, compared to a state average of 63%. Only 7% were proficient in mathematics, compared to a state average of 45%. By most metrics, this charter school is a failing school, yet it gets preferential treatment. The scores in the charter school are below those of the remaining public schools in the district. The district, one of the poorest in the state, is in receivership, and the receiver—who exercises total control over the district—decided in 2017 to take the unprecedented step of extending the charter to 2026. No charter in the state has ever had a nine-year extension. The receiver said he did it in exchange for a promise by the charter that it would not open a high school to compete with the Chester High School, but would remain satisfied to enroll 70% of its primary students. Why might the receiver make this unusual decision? Surely it would not be because he was treasurer of Governor Corbett’s campaign. So, from 2017 to 2026, there is no accountability for this low-performing for-profit charter school. The charter corporation is now recruiting young students from Philadelphia with an aggressive marketing campaign. Currently, more than 1,100 students from Philadelphia ride a school bus that takes from 2-3 hours to reach the school in the morning and another 2-3 hours to return home each day. 

Elizabeth Forward classes delayed until next week due to bus contract dispute
Judge sets three-week deadline to reach agreement
MATT MCKINNEY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mmckinney@post-gazette.com AUG 20, 2019
Elizabeth Forward School District will open classes a few days late as it aims to resolve a bus contract dispute that affects more than 2,300 students who were set to return to school this week. Students are now set to start school next Monday instead of this Thursday, as had been planned. Pennsylvania Coach Lines and the district have three weeks to agree on a contract, and the company will transport students while they negotiate, according to a ruling Tuesday by Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Ward. Bus service will end if they do not reach an agreement within three weeks. The stopgap measure comes after the district and company debated the legitimacy of a contract extension the school board approved last year. The McKeesport-based company said that it never agreed to the contract renewal approved by the board last October, and that the district owed it more than $1 million for past service. The company notified the district on Aug. 2 that it would not abide by the contract to transport students.

“In 2018, Baylor University researchers published a study showing Pennsylvania is among a dozen states that have seen an increase in the number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children against measles and other infectious diseases. In May, the first official measles outbreak in Pennsylvania in a decade was recorded, including five cases in Allegheny County.”
Parents who don’t vaccinate children would get yearly medical counseling under proposed state law
Trib Live by PAUL GUGGENHEIMER  | Tuesday, August 20, 2019 6:57 p.m.
State Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, and Bridget Kosierowksi, D-Lackawanna, announced Tuesday the introduction of legislation to increase the vaccination rate of Pennsylvania children. The bill would require parents who seek nonmedical exemptions for their children meet with a doctor every year to learn about the risks of not getting vaccinations. It also would mandate that Pennsylvania schools publish online the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated students. In Pennsylvania, if a parent wants to exempt a child from getting a vaccination, he or she is required only to sign a waiver acknowledging a philosophical or religious objection. Frankel said his legislation will make sure that accurate information gets into people’s hands. “There is an enormous amount of inaccurate information that’s being pushed out on the internet that is playing on people’s fears and making them question their confidence in traditional health care,” Frankel said. “That’s playing out most with this vaccination issue. People are opting not to have their children vaccinated because of this misinformation and that’s putting many other families and their children at risk.”

Republican David Rowe wins special election for state House seat formerly held by U.S. Rep. Keller
PA Capital Star By  Stephen Caruso August 20, 2019
Republican David Rowe won a three-way special election for an open seat in the Pennsylvania House on Tuesday. Rowe garnered 63 percent of the vote in the 85th District, according to unofficial results from the Department of State.  Rowe, a Crossfit gym owner and township supervisor, bested Democrat Jennifer Rager-Kay, a UPMC doctor, and write-in candidate Clair Moyer, a registered Republican, to represent the Susquehanna River Valley district in Harrisburg. Rager-Kay received roughly 37 percent of the vote.  The district includes most of Union and Snyder counties, including Lewisburg, home of Bucknell University, as well as Mifflinburg and Selinsgrove. Rowe will replace former state Rep. Fred Keller, a Republican who is now serving in Congress after winning a special election in May.  Running as a conservative’s conservative, Rowe earlier told the Capital-Star he is the “pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-business” candidate who favors keeping taxes low and cutting regulations. Tuesday’s election means the lower chamber will be back at its full complement of 203 lawmakers when Rowe is sworn in. Republicans hold a 110-seat majority.

Democrats spending millions to try to take back statehouses
WHYY By Associated Press Brian Slodysko and Paul J. Weber August 20, 2019
Democrats still shaken by the 2010 tea party wave that netted Republicans six governors’ offices, flipped 21 statehouse chambers and drove nearly 700 Democratic state legislators from office are mounting a comeback, pouring millions of dollars into state-level races. In a longtime Republican district covering a wealthy enclave of Dallas, Democratic challenger Shawn Terry has raised $235,000, an eye-popping amount for a statehouse race that’s more than a year away. In Virginia, where the GOP holds a slim majority, Democrats have outraised Republicans for the first time in years. Democrats are even putting some money in deeply Republican Louisiana. The cash deluge shows how the consequences of next year’s elections run far deeper than President Donald Trump’s political fate. The party that controls state legislatures will take a leading role in the once-in-a-decade redistricting process that redraws congressional maps. Newly empowered Republicans used that process to their favor following the tea party victories, and Democrats want to use the same playbook.

Guest Column: Yes, there are limits to your Second Amendment rights
Delco Times Opinion By Rep. Mike Zabel Times Guest Column August 21, 2019
State Rep. Mike Zabel represents the 163rd Legislative District (Havertown, Upper Darby, Clifton Heights, and Aldan).
One of the greatest obstacles to enacting meaningful laws addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The misapprehension lies on all sides, whether it is a recent op-ed in the local paper about the need to repeal the Second Amendment in order to pass gun laws (we don’t) or a constituent who came to me concerned that an assault weapons ban would violate his constitutional rights (it wouldn’t). This debate needs to end. We can take on gun violence with a broad range of legislation that fully comports with the Second Amendment.
The individual right to bear arms, enshrined in the Second Amendment and recognized by the United States Supreme Court in the case District of Columbia v. Heller, is a limited right. As Justice Scalia explained in the Heller majority opinion, it is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
Other constitutional rights work the same way For example, the right to free speech - a constitutional right as revered as any other - is subject to all sorts of qualifications. You cannot threaten someone’s life or actively incite others to violence and you cannot knowingly publish lies about someone else. Our right to free speech does not give us license to injure other people or put them in danger. Neither does our right to bear arms.

NASCAR team owner Richard Childress resigns from NRA, the sixth board member to exit since May
Inquirer by Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post and Bet Reinhard, Washington Post, Updated: August 20, 2019- 3:21 PM
A prominent board member resigned from the National Rifle Association this week, the sixth to step down in recent months, deepening the upheaval at the longtime gun rights powerhouse. The departure of Richard Childress, a well-known NASCAR team owner based in North Carolina, came after he and then-NRA President Oliver North privately urged the group's leaders in a letter this year to more carefully review spending decisions under chief executive Wayne LaPierre, particularly legal fees totaling tens of millions of dollars. In his resignation letter Monday, Childress made no mention of those issues and emphasized that he had chosen to leave the NRA board to focus on his private business. He said he was resigning from the board and all NRA committees he served on effective immediately, "with great regret and a heavy heart." Childress wrote that he had "reached the point" where he could no longer fully commit his time to the organization.


Adolescent Health and School Start Times:  Science, Strategies, Tactics, & Logistics  Workshop Nov 13, Exton
Join school administrators and staff, including superintendents, transportation directors, principals, athletic directors, teachers, counselors, nurses, and school board members, parents, guardians, health professionals and other concerned community members for an interactive and solutions-oriented workshop on  Wednesday, November 13, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm 
Clarion Hotel in Exton, PA
The science is clear. Many middle and high school days in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, start too early in the morning. The American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other major health and education leaders agree and have issued policy statements recommending that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 am to allow for sleep, health, and learning. Implementing these recommendations, however, can seem daunting.  Discussions will include the science of sleep and its connection to school start times, as well as proven strategies for successfully making change--how to generate optimum community support and work through implementation challenges such as bus routes, athletics, and more.   Register for the workshop here: 
https://ssl-workshop-pa.eventbrite.com Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to offer early bird registration for $25, which includes a box-lunch and coffee service. Seating is limited and early bird registration ends on Friday, September 13.
For more information visit the workshop website 
www.startschoollater.net/workshop---pa  or email contact@startschoollater.net

EPLC/DCIU 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates Sept. 14th
The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates at the DCIU on September 14, 2019.
Target Audience: School Board Directors and Candidates, Community Members, School Administrators
Description: Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates. Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. The workshop will include Legal and Leadership Roles of School Directors and School Boards; State and Federal Policies: Implications for School Boards; School District Finances and Budgeting; Candidates and the Law; Information Resources; "State and Federal Policies" section includes, but is not limited to:
K-12 Governance
PA Standards, Student Assessment, and Accountability
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
K-12 State Funding
Early Education
Student Choices (Non-Public, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, Career-Technical, and more)
Teacher Issues
Linking K-12 to Workforce and Post-Secondary Education
Linking K-12 to Community Partners
***Fee: $75.00. Payment by Credit Card Only, Visa or Mastercard, PLEASE DO NOT SELECT ANY OTHER PAYMENT TYPE*** Registration ends 9/7/2019

Join @RepBrianFitz and @CongBoyle at this complimentary focus meeting to talk about the critical need to modernize and fully fund the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
Register for Federal Focus: Fully funding IDEA at William Tennant HS Wednesday August 21st, 7-9 pm
PSBA News July 30, 2019
Join U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-01) and other IDEA Act co-sponsors at this complimentary focus meeting to talk about the critical need to modernize and fully fund the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Learn about bipartisan efforts now in the U.S. Congress to ensure that special education funding is a priority in the federal budget, and how you can help bring this important legislation to the finish line. Bring your school district facts and questions. This event will be held Aug. 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Centennial School District in Bucks Co. There is no cost to attend, but you must register through myPSBA.org. Questions can be directed to Megan McDonough at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3321. This program is hosted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and the Centennial School District. 

“Each member entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 23 – Oct. 11, 2019).”
PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2019, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 15th at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).

In November, many boards will be preparing to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This event will help attendees create a full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Register now:
PSBA: Start Strong: Developing a District On-Boarding Plan for New Directors
SEP 11, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
In November, many boards will be faced with a significant transition as they prepare to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This single-day program facilitated by PSBA trainers and an experienced PA board president will guide attendees to creating a strong, full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Grounded in PSBA’s Principles for Governance and Leadership, attendees will hear best practices from their colleagues and leave with a full year’s schedule, a jump drive of resources, ideas for effective local training, and a plan to start strong.
Register online at MyPSBA: www.psba.org and click on “MyPSBA” in the upper right corner.

PSBA: Nominations for The Allwein Society are open!
This award program recognizes school directors who are outstanding leaders & advocates on behalf of public schools & students. Nominations are accepted year-round with selections announced early fall: http://ow.ly/CchG50uDoxq 

EPLC is accepting applications for the 2019-20 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Education Policy & Leadership Center
PA's premier education policy leadership program for education, policy & community leaders with 582 alumni since 1999. Application with program schedule & agenda are at http://www.eplc.org 

2019 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-18, 2019
WHERE: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16 to Friday, October 18, 201
Registration is now open!
Growth from knowledge acquired. Vision inspired by innovation. Impact created by a synergized leadership community. You are called upon to be the drivers of a thriving public education system. It’s a complex and challenging role. Expand your skillset and give yourself the tools needed for the challenge. Packed into two and a half daysꟷꟷgain access to top-notch education and insights, dynamic speakers, peer learning opportunities and the latest product and service innovations. Come to the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference to grow!

NPE Action National Conference - Save the Date - March 28-29, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA.
The window is now open for workshop proposals for the Network for Public Education conference, March 28-29, 2020, in Philadelphia. I hope you all sign on to present on a panel and certainly we want all to attend. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NBCNDKK

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.