Tuesday, April 28, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 28: Finding 1 formula for all schools a hard job, panel told

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 28, 2015:
Finding 1 formula for all schools a hard job, panel told


Central PA education forum Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-8:30
Grace Lutheran Church (in Harkins Hall), 205 S. Garner Street, State College
Info and Registration: HERE

Southeastern PA Regional Meeting on School Funding
Wednesday April 29th 7:00 pm Springfield High School Auditorium, 49 West Leamy Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064
Info and Registration: HERE

Finding 1 formula for all schools a hard job, panel told
State commission tasked with revising funding for K-12
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 27, 2015 11:24 PM
As the state Basic Education Funding Commission wrestles with creating a new state formula for K-12 education, comments at the panel’s final hearing pointed to the difficulty of devising a formula that considers the varying needs of school districts.  The commission established by the Legislature is expected to recommend a formula by June 10. Monday’ssession at the student union at the University of Pittsburgh was its 15th hearing. The panel also is getting financial data from about 100 school districts to consider as it draws up the proposal for the Legislature’s consideration.

Pennsylvania Acting Education Secretary Pedro Rivera urges education investments now
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 27, 2015 at 4:30 PM, updated April 27, 2015 at 4:47 PM
Pennsylvania's Acting Education Secretary Pedro Rivera Monday stressed that investing in education now will reap dividends in the future.  Rivera visited Lehigh University's campus at an event organized by the College of Education, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Council. He then headed to Nazareth Area Middle School for a visit.  Rivera touted highlights of Gov.Tom Wolf's budget proposal, which would invest more than $1 billion in public education. The department is advocating heavily to elected officials in hopes of making it a reality, he said.

Wolf's education chief vows to advocate for schools
By Jacqueline PalochkoOf The Morning Call April 27, 2015
What did Pa's education chief tell Lehigh Valley school leaders?
When Gov. Tom Wolf tapped Pedro Rivera, former superintendent of the Lancaster School District, to be the state's education chief, Rivera was in shock.  "Are you sure?" Rivera said he asked the governor. "The guy who has been a pain the neck for the last few secretaries of education?"  Rivera, who also has worked in Philadelphia schools, had a reputation of being an advocate for urban, poverty-stricken school districts. He was one of the leading forces in a lawsuit against the state over fair funding.  But Rivera is who Wolf wanted.  When he spoke to Lehigh Valley school leaders Monday at Lehigh University, Rivera stressed that he is still a fighter who will advocate in Harrisburg for districts that faced budget cuts and an increasing number of state mandates over the last few years.  During a talk hosted by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Rivera touted Wolf's proposed budget, which calls for a $400 million increase to basic education subsidies in 2015-16, bringing the total to $6.1 billion.
"If we don't invest now, it's going to cost us a whole heck of a lot later," he said, referencing communities with high incarceration levels and lack of job skills.

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks about connecting education, industry in Hatboro
Publci Spirit Willow Grove By Eric Fitzsimmons efitzsimmons@montgomerynews.com @efitzsimmons08 on Twitter Published: Monday, April 27, 2015
Hatboro >> Gov. Tom Wolf visited Hatboro on Tuesday, discussing education and workforce redevelopment as part of his “Jobs That Pay” tour.  Wolf took was shown around M&S Centerless Grinding Inc., a company that provides precision grinding for medical, aerospace and tech industries. He spoke with the owner of M&S, John Shegda, and representatives from the Souderton Area School District about the importance of relationships between education and industry.

First lady visits East Pennsboro school on 'Schools That Teach' tour
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 27, 2015 at 4:31 PM
First lady Frances Wolf made a stop on Monday on her "Schools That Teach" tour at West Creek Hills Elementary School to hear from teachers and administrators about how state funding cuts have impacted East Pennsboro Area School District.  Along with reading to kindergartners, she also took the opportunity to make a pitch for district officials to support Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed investment in public education.  East Pennsboro schools would receive nearly $474,000 in additional funding in basic and special education next year if the GOP-controlled General Assembly approves the $500 million increase that the Democratic governor has proposed for those budget lines next year.

John Hanger: Gov. Wolf's budget a good deal for Pennsylvanians
Morning Call Opinion by John Hanger April 28, 2015
John Hanger is secretary of policy and planning in the office of Gov. Tom Wolf.
Gov. Wolf has proposed a bold and comprehensive budget that aims to create fairness, provide tax relief for seniors and families, and make the necessary investments in education that will benefit all of Pennsylvania.  Further, it closes the $2.3 billion structural deficit and ends our commonwealth's fiscal crises through sustainable budgeting practices. Elizabeth Steele's recent Your View("Elderly, working families suffer under Gov. Wolf's Pa. budget") inaccurately disparages crucial elements of the governor's historic proposal.  Under Gov. Wolf's plan, 270,000 seniors will have their school property taxes eliminated, while others will receive substantial relief. This much-needed property tax cut will bring much-needed relief to seniors on fixed incomes, some of whom have been forced to give up the very home they have lived in their entire life simply because they cannot afford to pay their property taxes.

Report: Getting rid of racial bias in Pa. school funding will take more than money
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF APRIL 27, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed education budget calls for increasing Pennsylvania spending on education by 7 percent -- and it starts by dividing that projected $400 million among the state's 500 districts.  These increases, however, won't change how existing funds are allocated.  "It's a relatively small amount being added onto a base that has these gigantic racial disparities built into it," according to data scientist David Mosenkis, who analyzed Wolf's proposed budget distribution in a new report for Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild -- known as POWER, a faith-based social justice organization.

Poverty is growing in Derry Township, school superintendent reports
By Monica Von Dobeneck | Special to PennLive on April 27, 2015 at 9:12 PM
Derry Township is wealthy, right? At least that's what most people think.
But Derry Township School District superintendent Joseph McFarland shared some surprising statistics on the district's changing demographics with the school board Monday night.  In 2000, the number of students getting free and reduced lunches in the district stood at 4 percent, earning the township its wealthy reputation. But by 2015, that number had risen to 19 percent. And while it stands at 14 percent for the high school, it is 21 percent at the elementary school.  McFarland also shared some figures he received from Robert Jarvis, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has been studying poverty across the state.  According to those figures, some pockets of populations in Derry Township have poverty rates approaching 40 percent. That is more than any other district in Dauphin County shows except for Harrisburg, Steelton-Highspire, and small sections of Susquehanna Township and Middletown.

Fighting crime with preschool: Law enforcement leaders advocate for pre-k funding
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Monday, April 27, 2015 7:00 pm
As district attorney, Craig Stedman deals with some of the worst criminals in Lancaster County.  But it hasn't made him cynical.  "Most of the people that we end up prosecuting, they're not inherently evil people," he said Monday morning.  "There's a few of them, and we can take care of them, but most of them, if they're given the right direction, wouldn't turn to a life of crime."  The key to that direction, Stedman said, is education, and the earlier society provides it, the better. That's why the district attorney and Lancaster County Sheriff Mark Reese are advocating for increased state funding for early childhood education.

Prevailing wage reform proposed in Pa. House
Herald Mail Media Posted: Monday, April 27, 2015 7:00 am | Updated: 1:41 pm, Mon Apr 27, 2015. by Jennifer Fitch
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pa. Rep. Jesse Topper is pushing for prevailing-wage reform that would allow school districts to pay market rates for construction, rather than adjusted rates determined by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor & Industry.  Prevailing-wage laws mandate that public entities pay what the majority of trade workers would be paid in larger communities. For instance, school and municipal boards in Waynesboro, Pa., are required to pay what workers make in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., or Harrisburg.  That tacks on extra costs of 25 to 30 percent, according to Thomas Dick, Waynesboro Area School District’s business administrator.

Delco teachers to rally before meeting
Philly.com by Kathy Bocella LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 1:08 AM
DELAWARE County - Teachers to rally before meeting
GLEN MILLS Garnet Valley district teachers, who have worked without a contract this year, are planning an informational picket and rally at Concord Elementary School, 114 Station Rd., Glen Mills, Tuesday night before the start of a school board meeting at the school.  The sides have been working since January to secure a new deal, including going to a state mediator. But the union says that under the district's proposal, some teachers would be making less money next year than they did in 2012-13 due to increased health care costs.

Thirty school directors accepted into inaugural cohort of Fellowship in School Governance
PSBA NEWS RELEASE April 27, 2015
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) has created a new Fellowship in School Governance program and accepted 30 school directors from across the state into the inaugural cohort class. The Fellowship is a capstone program for interested school board members who wish to go “above and beyond” in their commitment and professional preparation.  It is an approximate 35-hour time commitment over the course of a program year (January-October). Individual board members apply, and upon successful admittance, join a cohort of board members.  Applicants are asked to actively participate and contribute to the work of the cohort for the entire program year, and also are asked to attend that year’s annual PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference where cohort teams will be recognized and deliver an education session outlining the findings of a team project.

NJ, PA among 10 Smartest States for Educating Your Kids Before College
Philly.com The Street Written by: Laurie Kulikowski 04/25/15 - 10:13 AM EDT
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With education being an essential step on the path to financial security these days, wouldn't you want to live in a state where your kids can get the best education?  It's a given that when you become a parent, you want the best possible advantages for your children.  The good news is that plenty of states place priority on their school districts. New Jersey might be the best example. It tops a list of states that provide the best education for kids, kindergarten through high school, according to WalletHub, a Web site with personal finance tools and information.  The findings are one portion of a new study that measured "taxpayer ROI," or, the quality of services provided by the government compared with the amount paid in taxes. (Check out states with bestand worst taxpayer ROI.) Quality of schools was one of six factors considered.

Legislators talk pensions, education funding at North Penn School District forum
North Penn Life By Jarreau Freeman jfreeman@montgomerynews.com @JarreauFreeman on Twitter Published: Monday, April 27, 2015
Lansdale >> No topic seemed to be off limits at an education funding forum in the North Penn School District.  More than a dozen residents and North Penn School District officials gathered April 23 in the Penndale Middle School auditorium for a panel discussion on basic education funding.  Some of the main topics that the panelists discussed were charter schools, property taxes, pensions, the “hold harmless” provision and the state funding formula.  Moderated by North Penn Superintendent Curtis Dietrich, the goal of the forum was to educate and raise awareness among residents and legislators regarding education funding concerns.

Pottsgrove officials: Transparency, attendance matter
Pottstown Mercury Opinion POSTED: 04/28/15, 2:00 AM EDT |
In Pennsylvania, township and borough officials are paid a small stipend, but school board members are not paid.  School board members and municipal board members typically put in hours in meetings, reading reports, educating themselves about issues and talking to constituents.  Some may say it’s a thankless job.  The motivation to serve on a school board is not unlike that of a Little League coach or a PTA president or the head of a church council. People are driven by the opportunity to make a difference for our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, our schools and our towns.  Some may say that opportunity is priceless.  Priceless or thankless, the role of a school board member or township official is important, both to those who seek and obtain it and to those represented. An elected official becomes the voice and the decision-maker for the hundreds of people he or she represents in office — the vote that determines tax rates, policies, procedures, school building plans and where to make budget cuts.  In that representative role, officials owe it to their constituents to be transparent and above-board in their dealings and to actively participate in the functions of government.

Just how big is opt out in Delaware?
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT APRIL 28, 2015
Delaware's parent opt out movement may be young, but it has already generated media buzz and legislative bickering.  Just last week, advocacy groups, lawmakers, and citizens lined up to debate House Bill 50, a measure attempting to clarify that parents have the right to opt their children out of the new, Smarter Balanced assessment. Testimony lasted hours, and that was just to determine whether the bill should be released from committee. It was, by an 8-6 vote.  But has the stormy mood in Dover spurred real-world action?

Education Justice Platform
GPS Town Hall Forum this Wednesday! April 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Hicks Memorial Chapel 
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey April 27, 2015
Our coalition, Great Public Schools Pittsburgh, has just released an important education justice platform. See below for the short version, or click here for the full version. The six organizations of the coalition worked together to develop this platform to help educate and inform school board candidates and other education advocates about the specific issues facing our schools in anticipation of this spring’s primary election – when four of nine school board positions will be on the ballot.
The GPS education justice platform calls on candidates running for school board to commit to the following:
  • full funding for the PPS schools our children deserve
  • charter school accountability
  • sustainable community schools
  • welcoming and inclusive teaching and learning environments
  • support for educators who help our children learn and grow
  • universal early childhood education
  • less testing, more learning
  • transparency, accountability and collaboration
Do you care about these issues? Please come to our GPS Town Hall Forum this Wednesday! April 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Hicks Memorial Chapel (616 N Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206).

Hear Me
Campaign for Fair Funding PA
Many schools in Pennsylvania and around the country are struggling to provide basic student programs and services. Some do not have the resources they need to provide all students with a quality education, and students are suffering because of this lack of resources. To address this problem, more than 40 organizations throughout Pennsylvania have joined together to form The Campaign for Fair Education Funding. This coalition wants to hear from students across Pennsylvania to find out what resources are missing from schools and what it would mean to have those resources for all of our public school students. #fairfundingpa For more information, visit http://fairfundingpa.org/

“The pendulum might be swinging to the idea that maybe kids actually do need a well-balanced education.”
Prioritizing the Arts Over Test Prep
The Atlantic by SARA NEUFELD April 27, 2015
In an age when public education has become synonymous with high-stakes exams, an inner-city charter-school network is using culture and creative expression to teach the Common Core standards.   Fourteen-year-old Zarria Porter spends her days surrounded by fine works of art. On her way to dance and computer classes, she passes through a sun-drenched lobby showcasing Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Brooklyn Bridge,” Albert Bierstadt’s “In the Mountains,” and—her personal favorite—“Song of the Towers” by Aaron Douglas.  This is Zarria’s middle school. It is modeled after elite private prep schools and filled with high-quality reproductions of famous paintings from around the world. But Zarria is a student in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of New York City’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods, and her school is a public charter.
Ascend Learning, a network of seven charter schools in Brooklyn, is going to great lengths to ensure students living in the world’s cultural capital aren’t deprived of art—as so many poor, minority kids in urban America are. Inside renovated buildings that could pass for high-end galleries, students are not only taking art and music classes, but teachers also incorporate art into academic subjects.

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: PART III OF AN EDUCATION BUDGET PREVIEW
Third and State Blog Posted by Waslala Miranda on April 24, 2015 12:15 pm
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on March 30 to discuss the proposed 2015-16 education budget with Acting Education Secretary Pedro Rivera.  There were three topics discussed at the committee hearing that will be key to understanding the upcoming budget process:
  • How well public schools are doing and whether all children are given a fair chance to succeed;
  • The role of unfunded pension costs in budget concerns; and
  • Property tax reform.
Today, we’ll be looking at the last topic: property taxes.

Charter Schools’ Latest Innovation: Keeping Teachers Happy
Slate By Alexandria Neason April 27, 2015
NEW ORLEANS—One Wednesday afternoon last fall, teachers at Success Preparatory Academy gathered for a professional-development session on an unlikely subject: their grocery lists.  Principal and co-founder Niloy Gangopadhyay had enlisted a nutritionist to talk about healthy eating. On the agenda: healthy, easy-to-make dishes; coping mechanisms for work stress, like going for a walk instead of opening a bottle of wine; and how to shop for protein- and fiber-rich foods, like Louisiana crawfish or flame-grilled meatless burgers. The information was designed to send two important messages to the twenty- and thirtysomething teachers, many of whom work more than 60 hours a week: Take care of yourself. And we want you to stay.
As the charter school movement comes of age, school leaders are realizing that good teachers aren’t widgets that can easily be replaced.  As charter schools have proliferated New Orleans and the country, many schools, including Success Prep, have largely relied on young, inexperienced teachers who tend to leave the classroom sooner than their peers at traditional public schools—an approach to hiring sometimes described as “churn and burn.” Charter supporters like Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp have even insisted that strong schools with an emphasis on good training can survive the constant loss of teachers.

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

Common Core Forum: A Closer Look at the PA Core Standards
Thursday, May 7, 6:30 - 8:00 pm Radnor Middle School
150 Louella Avenue, Wayne, 3rd floor
Presented by the Leagues of Women Voters of Chester County, Haverford,  Lower Merion, Narberth and Radnor.  Supported by the Radnor School District
Panelists Include:
Fred Brown, K-12 Math Supervisor, School District of Haverford Township
Jon Cetel, Education Reform Agent, PennCAN
Mary Beth Hegeman, Middle School Teacher, Lower Merion School District
Cynthia Kruse, Delaware County Intermediate Unit
Susan Newitt, Retired Elementary Teacher, Lower Merion School District
Wendy Towle, Supervisor of Language Arts & Staff Development, T/E School District
Larry Wittig, Chairman of the State Board of Education

PHILLY DISTRICT TO HOLD COMMUNITY BUDGET MEETINGS
PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with local organizations, will host 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:
 Tuesday, April 28
West Philadelphia High School4901 Chestnut St.
 Wednesday, May 6
Dobbins High School2150 W. Lehigh Ave.
 Tuesday, May 12
South Philadelphia High School2101 S. Broad St.
 Thursday, May 14
Congreso, 216 West Somerset St.
 Wednesday, May 20
Martin Luther King High School6100 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.

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