Friday, January 23, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 23: "the amount of intensely segregated PA schools, where over 90% of students are minorities, have more than doubled in the past two decades"

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 23, 2015:
"the amount of intensely segregated PA schools, where over 90% of students are minorities, have more than doubled in the past two decades"

Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearings scheduled in Mercer County, Montgomery County and Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10 am Greenville Junior/Senior High School 9 Donation Road, Greenville, PA 16125
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10 am Montgomery County, location TBA
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA

PA House Education Committee Members List

PA Senate Education Committee Members List

The Past, Present And Future Of High-Stakes Testing
After a long stretch as the law of the land, annual standardized tests are being put to, well, the test.  This week, the Senate education committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and, specifically, on testing. The committee's chairman, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has released a draft bill offering a lot more leeway to states in designing their own assessment systems.  But Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, have dug in their heels to say that annual tests should remain mandatory.  All this comes as parents, students and educators around the country are asking serious questions about the number of tests children are taking and the reasons they're taking them.

"…the amount of intensely segregated schools, where over 90% of students are minorities, have more than doubled in the past two decades. Further, a staggering 85% of all Pennsylvania students attending these intensely segregated schools are low income, showing the acute overlap between race and poverty, which we call double segregation."
Decades of Inaction Lead to Worst Segregation in Pennsylvania Schools in Two Decades
Civil Rights Project; 310/267-5562 Date Published: January 16, 2015
Using statewide public school enrollment data from 1989 to 2010, a new report examines changes in school enrollment and segregation at the state-level as well across Pennsylvania’s two largest metropolitan areas –Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
LOS ANGELES—A report released today by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project finds that segregation by race and poverty in Pennsylvania is worsening and that there has been little action in recent decades to address this harmful pattern. Is Opportunity Knocking or Slipping Away? Racial Diversity and Segregation in Pennsylvania, co-authored by Stephen Kotok and Katherine Reed, finds that the amount of intensely segregated schools, where over 90% of students are minorities, have more than doubled in the past two decades.

Central Susquehanna Superintendents Letter: Campaign for Fair Education Funding
Sunbury Daily Item Letter Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 1:40 pm
By Joseph Casarella, Superintendent, Benton Area School District
Cosmas Curry, Superintendent, Bloomsburg Area School District
Harry Mathias, Superintendent, Central Columbia School District
Kevin Singer, Executive Director, Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit
Cheryl Lattore, Superintendent, Danville Area School District
Mark DiRocco, Superintendent, Lewisburg Area School District
David Campbell, Superintendent, Line Mountain School District
Richard Musselman, Superintendent, Midd-West Area School District
Daniel Lichtel, Superintendent, Mifflinburg Area School District
Cynthia Jenkins, Superintendent, Millville Area School District
Cathy Groller, Superintendent, Milton Area School District
Bernard Stellar, Superintendent, Mount Carmel Area School District
Chad Cohrs, Superintendent, Selinsgrove Area School District
James Zack, Superintendent, Shamokin Area School District
Patrick Kelley, Superintendent, Shikellamy School District
Paul Caputo, Superintendent, Southern Columbia Area School District
John Kurelja, Superintendent, Warrior Run School District
Area superintendents from the Central Susquehanna Region are joining our statewide associations representing school boards, superintendents, finance officers and intermediate units to support the efforts of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to change the way we fund our local school districts. Area school districts have struggled with the lack of an adequate state funding commitment in recent years that has led to significant financial deficits at the local level. Many districts have raised revenue through additional property taxes to offset their deficits. We know this places a significant burden on many of our residents and is not desirable. Unfortunately, our only other option to balance our budgets is continuing to cut programs, positions, and use reserve funds.

Franklin County schools vent on inequity in state funding
A "community conversation" on public school funding in Pennsylvania, especially as it affected Franklin County schools, drew 100 people to First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chambersburg.
By PAT FRIDGEN, Greencastle Echo Pilot Posted Jan. 22, 2015 @ 4:39 pm
A "community conversation" on public school funding in Pennsylvania, especially as it affected Franklin County schools, drew 100 people to First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chambersburg on Thursday. Panelists included school superintendents Greg Hoover from Greencastle, Joe Padasak from Chambersburg, Jim Duffey from Fannett-Metal, Beth Bender from Shippensburg, Charles Prijatelj from Tuscarora, Sherian Diller from Waynesboro, and executive director of Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools Joe Bard.  The event was hosted by Susan Spicka, a co-founder of Campaign for Fair Education Funding. The year-old organization had about 50 agency members representing business, industry, educational advocacy groups, unions, chambers of commerce, churches, non-profits and legal centers.  "We're here tonight to give our state lawmakers a chance to learn about how the state funding system is impacting school districts, and to connect voters with them," Spicka said.

Gov. Tom Wolf reviewing York City School District receivership
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 22, 2015 at 1:30 PM, updated January 22, 2015 at 1:54 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf was sworn in two days ago and he's already looking into York City School District's fight to remain a public institution.  "Governor Wolf, Acting (education) Secretary (Pedro) Rivera and appropriate parties are reviewing this matter," Jeff Sheridan, the governor's press secretary, said Thursday.  The district has been in recovery status for two years and recently gained attention during a court battle in which the state Department of Education's former leadership petitioned to strip the power of the elected school board and hand it over to local businessman David Meckley.

"It is somewhat of a paradox that poverty challenges our ability to provide quality education, even as quality education for all is ultimately the only solution to poverty."
Mayor Bracey & Rep. Schreiber: Meeting with Gov. Wolf requested to address York school issues (letter)
York Daily Record Letter By Mayor C. Kim Bracey and Rep. Kevin Schreiber UPDATED:   01/21/2015 03:55:00 PM EST
As two individuals elected to represent our City of York and two city residents, we are jointly and respectfully requesting a meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and any designated members of his Cabinet, as well as York City School District Recovery Officer Dave Meckley, Supt. Dr. Eric Holmes, and a representative of the York City School Board. The purpose of such a meeting will be to develop a forward-looking plan for the future of our school district.  A copy of this letter is being directed to these parties, and we think it is important to provide this letter to the public so all are apprised of our goal. We look forward to a productive meeting on behalf of the over 8,000 students living in York city.

Here's why charter schools are a fresh start for troubled York schools: James Paul, Commonwealth Foundation
PennLive Op-Ed  By James Paul on January 22, 2015 at 1:00 PM
James Paul is a senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg.
The future of public education in York City has reached a fork in the road, and the consequences of a wrong turn could hardly be greater for York students. One approach is to stubbornly double down on a system that's earned York City School District infamy as the second-worst performing district in Pennsylvania.  The other option is to forge a new path—under new management—and make a fresh start.  As fate would have it, Gov. Tom Wolf—will have the chance to provide that fresh start for students and families in York City.  But it will require standing up to Pennsylvania's largest, most powerful teachers' unions, many of which heavily contributed to his election campaign.

Dismantling distressed school districts best bet for recovery, analysts say
Moody’s report favors radical moves to stabilize public education in struggling communities.
If the Commonwealth’s poorest, worst-performing districts want to improve education, they should pay other people to handle it.  That seems to be the takeaway from the report released Wednesday by Moody’s Investors Service.  Analysts scrutinized recovery plans for York, Duquesne, Chester-Upland and Harrisburg school districts. Those districts are the four involved in the state’s Act 141,  a state oversight program to assist distressed school districts.

Philly School District lacked authority to cancel teachers' contract, court rules
the notebook By David Limm on Jan 22, 2015 10:33 AM
In a decision Thursday morning, Commonwealth Court has ruled that the School District of Philadelphia lacked the authority to cancel the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' contract when the School Reform Commission voted last fall to do so and to impose new health care terms on the union.  The ruling, a victory for the PFT, bars the District from restructuring the collective bargaining agreement between the teachers' union and the School District and sends the issues back to the negotiating table.  "This Court is cognizant of the dire financial situation which the District currently faces and the SRC’s extensive efforts to achieve the overall goal of properly and adequately meeting the educational needs of the students," said Judge Patricia A. McCullough, who wrote the court's opinion.  "However, despite these earnest efforts by the SRC, we cannot find that the legislature has provided the means expressly required to pursue the current path chosen by the SRC."  The judge said that despite special powers granted to the SRC under the state takeover law, elements of state labor law still apply to the District and the union.

Court: SRC cannot impose terms on teachers
SCORE ANOTHER one for the teachers union.
The Commonwealth Court ruled yesterday that the School Reform Commission does not have the authority to cancel the expired contract of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and impose terms, dealing a costly blow to the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District.
The SRC swiftly voted Oct. 6 to unilaterally cancel the contract and impose changes to health-care benefits on teachers after 21 months of negotiations. The changes would have required PFT members to contribute between 5 and 13 percent toward their benefits while eliminating the district's contribution to the PFT Health and Welfare Fund, saving the district about $44 million annually for the next four years.  In its ruling, the court rejected the SRC's argument that provisions in the School Code gave it the power to impose terms. According to the court, the sides would have to declare an impasse, which has not happened.

Anthony Williams makes his pitch to be Philly's next mayor
With the departure of lawyer Ken Trujillo from the Philadelphia mayor's race, three Democratic candidates remain.  One of them is state Sen. Anthony Williams.  Williams is the son of the late state Sen. Hardy Williams — a political force in the 1970's and 80's who helped usher in a generation of black leaders in the city.  Anthony Williams has spent 26 years in the legislature — 10 in the state house, and 16 in the senate. He spoke with WHYY's Senior Reporter, Dave Davies. Williams has historically been known for pushing for charter schools in Philadelphia, though he says he believes simply in school choice.  "I don't believe that there's a panacea out there relative to any menu of options," said Williams.  "Charters may be great in some areas and may not be so great in other areas.  Neighborhood schools may perform well in some areas and may not perform well in other areas, but the bottom line is we have to get to a system that serves all."

Turzai expects multiple charter schools to be approved in Philly
STATE HOUSE Majority Leader Mike Turzai said yesterday he expects a number of new charter schools to be approved in Philadelphia.  Speaking outside a roundtable discussion he hosted for charter parents, the representative said 27 of the 40 applications for new schools are from charter operators who are outperforming the average district-run school, according to the state's School Performance Profile. He cited a strong demand for more charters, with as many as 40,000 kids on waiting lists in Philly.  The School Reform Commission is expected to vote on the applications next month.

Expect a court battle over Wolf's Day 2 firing of Office of Open Records director
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 22, 2015 at 5:58 PM, updated January 22, 2015 at 9:19 PM
It only took to two days into Gov. Tom Wolf's administration for him to pick a political fight with Senate Republicans who are now questioning his commitment to bi-partisanship that was part of his inaugural address on Tuesday.  At issue is whether Wolf holds the authority to fire Erik Arneson. Arneson was appointed as executive director of the state's Office of Open Records 11 days before former Gov. Tom Corbett left office.  A letter was hand-delivered to Arneson by a messenger from Wolf's office early Thursday afternoon advises him, in essence, he was out of a job immediately.

Letter: Stability of leadership is a key factor in Pittsburgh and other school districts
Post Gazette January 23, 2015 12:00 AM by Lawrence Ehrlich, Chairman, North Side
Leadership Conference Education Committee
Wanda Henderson’s Jan. 14 letter (“Stay Focused on Correcting Educational Inequities”) and a Jan. 4 article (“A+ Schools Looking to Strengthen Advocacy Role”) both attribute Pittsburgh Public Schools’ student failures and racial inequality to ineffective teacher performance.  As a retired teacher, I do agree that teachers are a critical component in the educational experience. But I wonder why A+ Schools and Ms. Henderson choose to ignore the real elephant in the room, the lack of administrative stability in so many of our schools.  A+ Schools’ own analysis indicates that over just the last four years, 30 of 49 district buildings have experienced two or more principal changes. Eight schools have had three changes in four years.

Rose Tree Media teachers protest for new contract
By Leslie Krowchenko, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/22/15, 11:27 PM EST 
MEDIA >> Walking two-by-two and carrying signs reading, “We Love and Support the Students of Rose Tree Media,” and, “Penncrest High School — One of America’s Top High Schools,” more than 125 members of the Rose Tree Media Education Association took to the streets Thursday afternoon to protest the lack of a new collective-bargaining agreement.  Marching along State Street from Media Elementary School to the Media Courthouse, representatives of the six buildings in the district alerted passers-by to their situation. They provided a sheet of talking points and were joined by parents and teachers for the informational picketing and rally.

College enrollment rates of 18 to 24 year olds increased from 26% to 41% over the past 3 decades
National Center for Education Statistics table:

College enrollment rates increased for white, black and hispanic 18 to 24 year olds
US News Graph:

Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

INVITATION: Twitter Chat on Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.
The first monthly Twitter chat of 2015 with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. The January chat will focus on a fair, predictable public school funding formula and the ongoing work of the state’s basic education funding commission. Use hashtag#PAEdFunding to participate and follow the conversation.
On the last Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., the following organizations go to Twitter to discuss timely topics, ask questions and listen to the public’s responses:
·         The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA);
·         The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA);
·         The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO);
·         The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS); and
·         The Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units

January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

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