Friday, April 17, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 17: Senate Education Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan ESEA Rewrite

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3550 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, 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 and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 17, 2015:
Senate Education Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan ESEA Rewrite



Lehigh Valley Forum on School Funding April 22, 7:00-8:30 
Penn State Lehigh Valley, 2809 Saucon Valley Rd, Center Valley, PA 18034 
The entrance is at the back of the building and parking is available in lots by the school. 
Confirmed panelists include:
Dr. Bill Haberl, superintendent, Pen Argyl Area SD
Dr. Joe Roy, superintendent, Bethlehem Area SD
Mr. Rich Sniscak, superintendent, Parkland SD
Mr. Russ Giordano, school board director, Salisbury Township SD
Dr. Russ Mayo, superintendent, Allentown SD
Ms. Stacy Gober, CFO, Bethlehem Area SD
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Moderator:  Roberta Marcus, School Board Director, Parkland SD
Register HERE to attend the Lehigh Valley education forum.



Voters wishing to cast ballot in May 19 primary must register by Monday
By The Tribune-Review Thursday, April 16, 2015, 2:42 p.m.
Voters wishing to cast a ballot in the May 19 primary election must register by Monday.
People can register in person at their county's election office or by mail using a form available online atwww.votespa.com or many state and county government agencies, military recruitment centers and post office branches. Mail must be postmarked by Monday.  Voters who have moved, changed names or switched party affiliations must notify their county election officials of the changes by Monday.  Voters can confirm their registration at www.votespa.com.
State legislators see possible increase in education funding this year, but questions linger
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 16, 2015 10:15 PM
No promises were made and no specific amounts were mentioned, but a group of state legislators who gathered Thursday night to discuss public education said they believe an increase in education funding could come this year.  “I am optimistic. I really believe we will get something done,” said Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, at a legislative forum hosted by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.  State Rep. Hal English, R-Shaler, also expressed optimism but warned that Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to increase basic education funding by $400 million and special education funding by $100 million is “the high-water mark.”  “We will see where the real numbers are,” Mr. English said.  Members of both political parties said the question they must answer before any commitments to increased funding can be made is where the money would come from.

Many More Philly Students Are Opting Out of State Exams
486 students have opted out of testing this year. Only 20 did last year. The opt-out movement is growing exponentially.
Philly Mag BY JOEL MATHIS  |  APRIL 15, 2015 AT 4:50 PM
It would appear the opt-out movement has momentum: Philadelphia School District officials said this week that the families of 486 students in grades 3 through 8 have asked to be excused from taking standardized tests — a dramatic increase over the mere 20 who opted out last year.
That growth is “remarkable,” said Kelley Collings, a teacher and activist with the Caucus of Working Educators who has helped lead efforts to encourage Philadelphia parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.  “The numbers are still growing,” she said via email. “As more parents and students understand they have the right to opt out, word is spreading.”
Students in grades 3 through 8 are taking the Pennsylvania Standardized System of Assessment tests this week. A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education said today her department would not have statewide data on opt-outs available until July, but that about 1,000 students across the state opted out last year.  The movement doesn’t appear to be limited to PhiladelphiaNewsWorks reports that roughly 200 students in the Lower Merion district have also opted out.

What would proposed budget increases buy Philadelphia Schools?
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF APRIL 16, 2015
Four years after Pennsylvania state budget cuts reduced recurring funding for Philadelphia classrooms by $294 million dollars, Mayor Michael Nutter and Gov. Tom Wolf propose to put nearly that much money back into the Philadelphia School District.  For its part, the school district is showing — not telling — what the added $264 million dollars would do, by holding a series of community budget meetings at neighborhood schools.  Nearly three-quarters of the money would go directly to schools, according to Matt Stanski, the district's  chief financial officer. 
"The change that we want to see is going to happen at the school, and that's where the resources need to go," Stanski said at the first meeting, held at Northeast High School.
Around 20 parents, teachers and students joined school district officials in the Northeast auditorium, where Stanski laid out the District's budget numbers.

Which of these Philly mayoral candidates will best improve city schools?
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY APRIL 16, 2015
Philadelphia's future depends in large part on developing a public school system that can serve the city's large economically disadvantaged population while attracting middle-class families that will expand its tax base.  So, for good reason, education has been the forefront issue in this year's mayor's race.  This year's candidates for the Democratic primary are: state Sen. Anthony Williams, former city councilman Jim Kenney, former city district attorney Lynne Abraham, former common pleas court judge Nelson Diaz, former state Sen and convicted tax evader Milton Street, and former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver.  Each has spoken voluminously about what he or she can do to improve the city's schools.  But there's often a chasm between what candidates say on the campaign trail and the realities of what a mayor can accomplish.
There's a few concrete things to zero in on.

"The approval of this resolution was a response to presentations given during the April 7 work session by Montgomery County Intermediate Unit Legislative Services and Grants Development Director Tina Viletto and Lawrence Feinberg, a member of The Circuit Riders — a group that is campaigning for fair education funding in the state.  The pair talked about the education funding dilemma in the state, the Campaign for Fair Education Funding and encouraged the board to contact legislatures about the issue. The campaign is an initiative being spearheaded by about 50 educational, religious and business organizations working to develop their own funding formula proposal."
North Penn School Board approves resolution in support of basic education funding formula
North Penn Reporter By Jarreau Freeman, jfreeman@21st-centurymedia.com, @JarreauFreeman on Twitter POSTED: 04/16/15, 10:23 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Lansdale >> The North Penn School Board doesn’t seem to be shy about wanting a new basic education funding formula, and at Thursday night’s action meeting the board unanimously approved a resolution urging the Pennsylvania General to do just that.  Pennsylvania currently has no funding formula.  “We need a funding formula, instead of them taking a dart and throwing it at a wall,” Board President Vincent Sherpinsky said prior to the vote.  Pennsylvania’s contribution to basic education funding went from being more than 50 percent of the budget in the mid-1970s to less than 35 percent today. Pennsylvania ranks 47th among the 50 states in the amount of state subsidies it gives to support elementary and secondary education. The state ranks eighth regarding its reliance on taxpayer dollars to fund education, according to the resolution.  On average, other states contribute 44 percent of their budget to education funding, the resolution said.

"The biggest increase in the budget is the contribution to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System, a hike of $905,000 next year, which equals a 24.02 percent increase from this year. The PSERS rate will be 25.84 percent, compared to 21.40 percent this year."
Northern York board approves tentative budget with 2.4 percent tax increase
By Tricia Kline | Special to PennLive on April 16, 2015 at 9:02 PM
DILLSBURG--The proposed 2015-16 budget for Northern York County School District includes a 2.4 percent increase in taxes.  The school board on Thursday night unanimously approved, with a vote of 6-0, the $45,620,419 tentative budget, which equates to about a $56 increase for properties with a value of $150,000.  Absent from the meeting were board members Elisabeth Grinder-McLean, Michael Barndt, and John Price.  The millage rate increases from 15.6296 to 16.0047.  The expenditure amount represents a more than $3 million, or 7.09 percent increase over this year's budget, and the 2.4 percent tax increase is within the Act 1 index allowed by the state.  With revenues totaling $43,172,789, fund balance money will be used to pay for the deficit of just under $2.5 million, leaving a projected fund balance of $6.1 million as of June 30, 2016.

Valley View School District facing $1 million budget gap
Scranton Times Tribune JON O'CONNELL, STAFF WRITER Published: April 16, 2015
ARCHBALD — Valley View School District’s first look at its 2015-16 budget brought a bleak outlook with a near-$1 million funding shortfall.  District Business Manager Corey Castellani gave his initial budget presentation to the board of directors during Wednesday’s work session, estimating next school year’s expenses at $30.6 million. Anticipated revenue is $29.7 million.  Aside from cutting costs, which Mr. Castellani said would dramatically affect how the district operates, the district that serves students from Archbald, Blakely and Jessup has several options to balance the budget.

Carlisle looking for ways to cut an expected $3 million budget deficit
By Elizabeth Gibson | Special to PennLive on April 14, 2015 at 2:47 PM
In its second comprehensive discussion on a proposed 2015-16 spending plan,Carlisle Area School Board members considered new ways to close the revenue shortfall.  At the same time, board members agreed to sign on to a Pennsylvania Schools Boards initiative to call for action from state lawmakers to improve school funding.  The board likely will vote this week in favor of three resolutions that call on the General Assembly to change school funding formulas.

More funding, less ideology would help Pa.’s public schools
Lancaster Online Opinion by STEVEN HEFFNER |SPECIAL TO LNP April 16, 2015
Steven Heffner, a McCaskey High School teacher, is president of the Lancaster Education Association, the union representing teachers in the School District of Lancaster.
Earth to Harrisburg …  The most recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll reveals that Pennsylvania registered voters’ No. 1 priority is an increase in the state’s share of education funding. The finding isn’t terribly surprising, given the steady drumbeat of research over the past year showing that Pennsylvania has one of the nation’s most inequitable school funding systems and one of the nation’s lowest shares of state spending on education.  Unfortunately, Sen. Ryan Aument’s recent column (“Protecting effective teachers to promote quality education,” Op-Ed, April 1), unless a clever April Fools’ Day joke, demonstrates the distance that remains between voters and some Harrisburg politicians.  After a five-year span that saw Pennsylvania’s education workforce decline by more than 20,000, Aument argues that a new approach to teacher furloughs will “improve educational outcomes for our children.” After record state disinvestment in public schools, he notes that “more government spending serves only to mask problems and deter genuine reform.”

Letter: The Revolt Over Standardized Tests in New York Schools
New York Times LTE APRIL 17, 2015
To the Editor:
Re “Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing in Principle, but Not in Practice” (news article, April 14):  On April 15 and 16, the days after a record number of students “opted out” of New York State standardized tests in English language arts, not a single word in this paper was dedicated to this groundswell of grass-roots opposition to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s testing and evaluation scheme.  While statistics are difficult to compile, it is clear that parents, in large numbers, are openly protesting what they see as state political leaders eroding the quality of public schools and siphoning local control away from them. It is also an example of politically strange bedfellows, liberal and conservative, acting in concert.

Senate Education Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan ESEA Rewrite
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Lauren Camera on April 16, 2015 3:01 PM
In a calculated and largely fireworks-free markup of a bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act rewrite, members of the U.S. Senate education committee approved the measure 22-0 Thursday amid much back-slapping and promises to continue working across the aisle.  "The vote today is about how we conducted this markup," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman and co-author of the bill, who worked closely in crafting the measure with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member. "I can tell Sen. Murray was a preschool teacher ... [because] she plays well with others."

Senate Committee Makes Progress On Updates To Education Law
Huffington Post by KEVIN FREKING Posted: 04/15/2015 6:59 pm EDT Updated: 04/15/2015 10:59 pm EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Senate committee made progress Wednesday on a bipartisan update to the No Child Left Behind education law with a final vote expected Thursday afternoon.  In all, the committee has passed 24 amendments and defeated six. Dozens more amendments were debated but withdrawn as lawmakers sought to find common ground and leave some of the tougher fights for later.  Lawmakers are intent on ensuring that schools continue to use annual standardized tests to measure student performance. But they are moving toward letting states determine how much weight to give the tests in evaluating school performance. The move is in response to frequent criticism that the federal government is playing too great a role in shaping what is taught in the classroom.

National School Boards Association Calls ECAA Vote 'A Great Victory'
NSBA Press Release April 16, 2015
Alexandria, Va. (April 16, 2015) - By unanimous vote, the Senate HELP Committee today reported out the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), as amended. The three-day mark-up of the Senate’s legislation to modernize and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allowed committee members to consider and debate more than 50 amendments, with 29 adopted, 8 defeated, and 20 withdrawn.  Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) encouraged a ‘yes’ vote on ECAA due to its bipartisan approach and “because the process was fair,” stating that “if you like the fact that we have the Department of Education running schools through waivers in 42 states, vote no.” Moments later, the Committee’s final vote was 22 to 0.
“Today marks a great victory for local and community leadership in public education,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association. “Though there is much more work to be done, today’s powerful vote demonstrates that we are one step closer to rewriting the broken No Child Left Behind Act and modernizing ESEA.”
Selected highlights from this week’s mark-up of interest to local school board members include:


You're invited to our 2015 YEA!  Philadelphia Investor Panel Competition on April 22nd at Rosemont College! 5:30 meet & greet; 6:30 Presentations
Young Entrepreneurs Academy - Philadelphia and suburban middle schoolers make presentations to a panel of local investors to obtain funding for their business/social movements.  We hope you can join us for this fun and inspiring event. Registration is FREE:

DISTRICT TO HOLD SEVEN COMMUNITY BUDGET MEETINGS
PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with local organizations, will host seven community budget meetings. District officials will share information about budget projections and request input on school resources and investments.  Partnering groups include the Philadelphia Education Fund, POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild), Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local clergy and community advocates. All meetings will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:
 Wednesday, April 15
Northeast High School, 1601 Cottman Ave.
 Wednesday, April 22
Bartram High School, 2401 S. 67th St.
 Tuesday, April 28
West Philadelphia High School, 4901 Chestnut St.
 Wednesday, May 6
Dobbins High School, 2150 W. Lehigh Ave.
 Tuesday, May 12
South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St.
 Thursday, May 14
Congreso, 216 West Somerset St.
 Wednesday, May 20
Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Ave.

Nominations for PSBA offices closes April 30
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA. The positions open are:
  • 2016 President Elect (one-year term)
  • 2016 Vice President (one-year term)
  • 2016 Eastern Section at Large Representative - includes Regions 7, 8, 10, 11 and 15 (three-year term) 
Complete details on the nomination process, including scheduled dates for nominee interviews, can be found online by clicking here.

Please join Education Voters, school officials, community leaders and guest legislators at upcoming community forums in the Lehigh Valleycentral PA, and Southeastern PA to discuss school funding and state funding policy. Click HERE for more details. Pre-registration for the forum is recommended, but not necessary.
Lehigh Valley Forum April 22, 7:00-8:30
Penn State Lehigh Valley, 2809 Saucon Valley Rd, Center Valley, PA 18034
The entrance is at the back of the building and parking is available in lots by the school. 
Confirmed panelists include:
Dr. Bill Haberl, superintendent, Pen Argyl Area SD
Dr. Joe Roy, superintendent, Bethlehem Area SD
Mr. Rich Sniscak, superintendent, Parkland SD
Mr. Russ Giordano, school board director, Salisbury Township SD
Ms. Stacy Gober, CFO, Bethlehem Area SD
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Moderator: Roberta Marcus, School Board Director, Parkland SD
Register HERE to attend the Lehigh Valley education forum.

Central PA education forum Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-8:30
Grace Lutheran Church (in Harkins Hall), 205 S. Garner Street, State College
Panelists
Dr. Cheryl Potteiger, superintendent, Bellefonte Area School District
Ms. Kelly Hastings, superintendent, Keystone Central School District
Mr. James Estep, superintendent, Mifflin County School District
Mr. Sean Daubert, CFO, Mifflin County School District
Dr. Robert O’Donnell, superintendent, State College Area School District
Mr. David Hutchison, school board member, State College Area School District
Ms. Cathy Harlow, superintendent, Tyrone Area School District
Mrs. Linda Smith, superintendent, Williamsburg Community School District
Register HERE to attend the central PA education forum.

Southeastern PA Regional Meeting on School Funding
Wednesday April 29th 7:00 pm Springfield High School Auditorium, 49 West Leamy Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064
Local school district leaders will discuss how state funding issues are impacting our children’s educational opportunities, our local taxes and our communities.
Hosted by Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council, Education Voters of PA, the Keystone State Education Coalition and Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Panelists:
Mr. Frank Agovino, school board president, Springfield School District and Board of Directors, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
Dr. James Capolupo, superintendent, Springfield School District
Dr. Wagner Marseille, Acting Superintendent, Lower Merion School District 
Mr. Joe Bruni, superintendent, William Penn School District
Dr. Richard Dunlap, superintendent, Upper Darby School District
Mr. Stanley Johnson. Executive Director of Operations, Phoenixville Area School District
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Moderator: Mr. Lawrence Feinberg, Chairman, Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council
Registration info to be provided soon.

All are invited for a screening of the documentary:
STANDARDIZED: Lies, Money & Civil Rights—How Testing is Ruining Public Education Monday, April 27, 7-9PM
The Saturday Club, 117 West Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA
Standardized testing has long been a part of public education. Over the last ten years however, education reform has become an increasingly heated political issue and seemingly a highly profitable target market for private enterprise resulting in expanded and high-stakes testing. While some hold the view that testing is an effective assessment of student ability and teacher and school effectiveness, many feel these exams are instead undermining our students, teachers and schools.   Daniel Hornberger’s STANDARDIZED documentary raises issues about this model of  education reform and the standardized testing that goes along with it. The film includes interviews with prominent educational experts and government officials who take aim at the goal of standardization that is being promoted and imposed by our federal and state governments. It sheds light on the development, nature and use of these assessments, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and the ostensible private enterprise and government agendas behind them. 
A Q&A session with a panel of informed parents, teachers and experts will follow.
This screening is made possible through a collaboration of Radnor, Tredyffrin/Easttown and Lower Merion concerned parents and PTOs.
For questions and to RSVP, contact RTSDPTOPTSA@gmail.com

Your Right to a Fair Shot: Discrimination Claims, Post-Secondary and the Professions

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, April 21, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Attendees will learn about discrimination claims, post-secondary schools and the professions in this session. You'll learn how federal law aids students with disabilities who do not qualify for special education services, hear about recent cases, and understand strategies for getting students services.  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.  
Tickets: Attorneys $200       General Public $100      Webinar $50   
"Pay What You Can" tickets are also available

Who will be at the PSBA Advocacy Forum April 19-20 in Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg?
  • Acting Ed Sec'y Pedro Rivera
  • Senate Ed Committee Majority Chairman Lloyd Smucker
  • House Ed Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne
  • Diane Ravitch
  • House Majority Leader Dave Reed
  • House Minority Leader Frank Dermody
  • 2014 PSBA Tim Allwein Advocacy Award winners Shauna D'Alessandro and Mark Miller
How about You?
Join PSBA for the second annual Advocacy Forum on April 19-20, 2015. Hear from legislative experts on hot topics and issues regarding public education on Sunday, April 19, at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg. The next day you and fellow advocates will meet with legislators at the state capitol. This is your chance to learn how to successfully advocate on behalf of public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
·         Registration is only $25! We don't want cost to be a factor. That's how important public education advocacy is!
·         Can't make the two days? Register and come to either day that works into your schedule.
Details and Registration for PSBA members (only $25.00) https://www.psba.org/event/advocacy-forum-day-hill-2015/

Register for the April 18 Education Voters Advocacy Summit in Harrisburg
Education Voters of Pennsylvania will be holding a half-day advocacy summit for public education advocates on Saturday April 18 from 10:00-2:00 in Harrisburg, PA.
During the summit we will:
  • Get an update on Governor Wolf’s budget from John Hanger, secretary of planning and policy,
  • Develop successful advocacy techniques and strategies to maximize our impact on public policy,
  • Receive organizing and communications training
  • Network with other advocates from throughout the state, and
  • Leave prepared to support fair and adequate state funding for schools this year!
Event Location: Temple University Harrisburg 234 Strawberry Square Harrisburg, PA 17101
Lunch will be provided. Please register today! Space is limited.

Join NPE in Chicago April 25-26
Curmuducation Blog Saturday, March 21, 2015
I don't get out much. I'm a high school English teacher in a small town, and kind of homebody by nature. When I leave town, it's for family or work. But in just over a month, on the weekend of April 25-26, I am taking a trip to Chicago for neither.   The Network for Public Education is the closest thing to an actual formal organization of the many and varied people standing up for public education in this modern era of privatizing test-driven corporate education reform. NPE held a conference last year, and they're doing it again this year-- a gathering of many of the strongest voices for public education in America today. Last year I followed along on line-- this year I will be there.

Beyond a New School Funding Formula: Lifting Student Achievement to Grow PA's Economy
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM (EDT) Harrisburg, PA
7:30 am: Light breakfast fare and registration; 8:00 am: Program
Harrisburg University Auditorium, Strawberry Square 326 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
Opening Remarks by Neil D. Theobald, President, Temple University

SESSION I: THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF ACHIEVEMENT GAPS IN PENNSYLVANIA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS with introduction by Rob Wonderling, President, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and Member, Center on Regional Politics Executive Committee.            
Presentation by Lynn A. Karoly, Senior Economist, RAND Corporation 

SESSION II: WHAT CAN PENNSYLVANIA LEARN FROM THE WORLD’S LEADING SCHOOL SYSTEMS? with introduction by David H. Monk, Dean, Pennsylvania State University College of Education
Presentation by Marc S. Tucker, President and CEO, National Center on Education and the Economy 
Sessions to be followed by a response panel moderated by Francine Schertzer, Director of Programming, Pennsylvania Cable Network 
Program presented by the University Consortium to Improve Public School Finance and Promote Economic Growth

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