PSBA July 7, 2015
Friday, July 24, 2015
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 24: PA Cyber teachers get contract as Pennsylvania's only cyber union
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3700 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
These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 24, 2015:
PA Cyber teachers get contract as
's only cyber union Pennsylvania
Once more, with feeling: Just where is the money to reform PA education coming from?
I get tired, sometimes, of saying the same thing over and over and over and over again.
I mean, I’m used to it, I have kids. But there are also things you have to repeat over and over and over and over again when it comes to public policy – maybe not because people don’t hear it, but because they don’t want to hear it. Such is the case today, with this (very good) op-ed at Philly.com about school funding in Pennsylvania. Adam Schott and David Lapp make the case that even before
Pennsylvania passes reforms to try and come
up with a better way for the state to take over – and hopefully turn around –
struggling school districts, those school districts need more money:
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 07/23/15, 5:46 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Pottstown educators stepped into the state budget
battle Thursday, calling on local legislators to adopt a budget that
significantly increases funding for public education.
In a press conference staged on the front steps of
Superintendent Jeff Sparagana was joined by school board member Kim Stillwell
and teachers’ union president Beth Yoder in supporting the budget initiatives
that Gov. Tom Wolf first proposed this spring. “The budget that the
Legislature passed calls for a $300 million decrease, or 75 percent less, than
the basic education funding proposed by the governor, resulting in a loss of
over $365,000 of the projected increase for the Rupert Elementary School ,”
Sparagana said. Sparagana’s math jibes
with a Mercury analysis published Sunday that found a
$3 million difference in basic education funding for nine area school districts
between Wolf’s proposed budget and the one passed by the Legislature — enough
to pay 45 teachers the average salary in the area. Pottstown School District
Wolf taps insider as new chief of staff
ANGELA COULOUMBIS, INQUIRER
BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Thursday, July 23, 2015, 12:10 PM
POSTED: Thursday, July 23, 2015, 11:06 AM
Musical chairs for the governor's staff
WITF Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 23, 2015 1:57 PM
Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday said goodbye and good luck to his chief of staff for the past six months and turned to his legislative liaison, Mary Isenhour, to step in as his top aide.
Katie McGinty resigned Wednesday and is expected to launch a bid for U.S. Senate in 2016 after being courted intensively by national Democrats. She would not confirm Thursday that she intends to run. "Today's not about that," McGinty said, all smiles as she stood next to the governor. "I am resigning in order to give due and appropriate consideration to potentially a
Senate run, potentially other public
service." Sliding into McGinty's
chair is Isenhour, a longtime Democratic campaign consultant in Pennsylvania. Her
promotion comes as Wolf is trying to negotiate a deal with the GOP-controlled
Legislature on a state budget that's already more than three weeks late. "Katie has built a tremendous foundation
for the governor's administration," said Isenhour, visibly less
comfortable in the spotlight than her predecessor. "I hope to build on
that administration." Republicans
lauded the governor's selection of Isenhour as someone who had cultivated
relationships across the aisle. "She
has done a tremendous job since the transition in meeting with legislators,
meeting with the leaders, and working through issues and problems," said
Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House GOP majority leader.
Republicans see Isenhour’s replacement of McGinty as a positive development
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, July 23, 2015
Shortly after Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday formally announced the resignation of his Chief of Staff, Katie McGinty, and announced Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mary Isenhour as her replacement, Republicans praised the move as a positive development in terms of ongoing budget negotiations. “Mary Isenhour is a great pick and probably should have been his pick from the beginning,” said House GOP spokesperson Steve Miskin. “It’ll be good to have someone who actually factors in these meetings.” Miskin praised Isenhour’s consistent efforts to work with members of the legislature and listening to their concerns in an attempt to work through issues. Senate Republicans were of the same opinion.
PA Cyber teachers get contract as
's only cyber union Pennsylvania
Post Gazette by Associated Press July 23, 2015 10:52 AM
Teachers at the
have their first
contract. Pennsylvania Cyber Charter
Lon Valentine, president of the PA Cyber Education Association, said the 140 online instructors approved the deal earlier this month. PA Cyber’s teachers are the only unionized online instructors in the state. The school earlier this week announced it is cutting 43 jobs — including 21 teachers — out of roughly 700 full- and part-time positions as it deals with declining enrollment and increased competition from other online programs. The four-year contract, retroactive to last year, contains a 15 percent first-year raise, plus 2 percent in subsequent years. That’s meant to bring PA Cyber teachers’ salaries more in line with others in
Valentine says PA Cyber teachers with a bachelor’s degree earn $41,000
to $67,000 annually. As a charter
school, PA Cyber is a public school to which the home school district of each
student pays a fee set by the state. Based in Beaver County Midland,
Cyber is open to students from throughout
the state. Beaver County, PA
PA Cyber teachers union rep 'very disappointed' in layoffs
Rejection of charter school appeal favors
district New Castle
By Debbie Wachter New Castle News Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 5:00 am
The state Charter School Appeal Board has denied a charter school's appeal to open in
New Castle. The board following a June 9 hearing ruled
Thursday by a 4-2 vote against the appeal filed by the . The New Castle
Area School Board had previously rejected the charter school's application. Principals of the charter school have been
eying the site of the former Days Inn property in downtown New Castle Arts
Castle as its location, within the . Acting secretary of education, Pedro A.
Rivera, is chairman of State Charter School Appeal Board. Debra Rice, an organizer of the New Castle Area
School District ,
said yesterday that the avenues are not exhausted, and the charter school has
other options. "There are a couple
of ways that we can move forward with this," Rice said. The group is waiting for written denial from
the charter school appeal board, she said. Then the members will review it and
make a decision. She declined other comment, meanwhile, about the board's
ruling until decisions are made of how to proceed next. New Castle Arts Academy
Charter Schools: Tracking PSBA's May 15th Right-to-Know Requests
PSBA filed a Right-to-Know request with
174 charter and cyber charter schools on May 15, 2015. PSBA is tracking the response
from each charter in the table below and updating it on a weekly basis.
According to Right-to-Know Law, public entities have five days from receipt of
an open records request by the agency’s open records officer to either 1)
provide the requested records (indicated by a green check); 2) deny the request
and give reasons for the denial (indicated by a red X); or 3) invoke a 30-day
extension for specific legal reasons (indicated by an (E)).
Congressman Costello: Bill improves the outdated status quo policies
Ryan Costello is a freshman congressman representing the 6th District
This month, the House took action to pass legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) through H.R. 5: the Student Success Act (SSA). ESEA, the nation’s primary federal K-12 education program, was first enacted in 1965 and was last reauthorized through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002. While the intentions of NLCB were genuine, the flaws in the program caused it to expire in 2007 without reauthorization. This opened the door for federal bureaucrats to impose the Common Core agenda on students across the country. With only 26% of high school seniors proficient in math and 38% proficient in reading, it is clear this top-down and one-size-fits-all approach did not adequately address the needs of many students. The good news is the SSA would replace the current national accountability scheme based on high-stakes tests, and aims to replace it with accountability systems that are controlled by states and school officials. The SSA puts the responsibility of measuring student and school performance back where it belongs – in the in the hands of local school officials and states. The SSA includes several provisions that put students, parents and educators first.
Mailers target Sen. Smucker, other Republicans in budget battle
Residents of state Sen. Lloyd Smucker’s district have been receiving mailers this month blasting his budget stance. “LLOYD SMUCKER is blocking progress,” they proclaim. “Lloyd Smucker’s budget is bad news.” The mailers give the number of the Republican lawmaker’s
office. Call him and “tell him to support Governor Wolf’s balanced budget!”
PSEA seems to have forgotten what matters in school funding debate - students: Mike Folmer
PennLive Op-Ed By State Senator Mike Folmer on July 23, 2015 at 1:00 PM
One of the key differences in the ongoing budget impasse between the Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly is the issue of education funding. Thirty-eight percent of the budget that Wolf vetoed on June 30 would have spent $11,515,925,000 of state moneys in support of education: $31,550,479.45 a day, $1,314,603.31 an hour, $21,910.06 a minute, and $365.17 a second. When you factor in federal and state tax money in support of education, the Commonwealth spends about $27 billion to support education: $74 milion a day, $3 million an hour, $51,369 a minute, and $856 a second. Wolf wants another $620 million for education. This would be in addition to the $1,3 billion needed to close the structural deficit facing this year's state budget (another $2 billion will be needed to again balance the Commonwealth's spending next year).
ALEC: Group wants answers about conservative lawmakers' conference
Penn Live By Sam Janesch | Special to PennLive on July 23, 2015 at 11:31 AM
A controversial meeting of the nation's lawmakers is happening this week in
San Diego and government reform group Common Cause Pennsylvania is
keeping tabs on what's on the agenda.
The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council brings
together thousands of legislators and business leaders from across the country
to discuss policy in an effort to "advance the common goals of limited
government, free markets and federalism, "according its website. But the organization has come under fire in
recent years for lack of transparency and conservative agendas. "It's a gathering whereby some of the
most powerful corporations in America get together with legislators to draft
legislation and create joint strategies for moving it to passage,"
said Barry Kauffman,
Common Cause Pennsylvania executive director. "Legislators and
corporations have equal votes and some of them behind closed doors and the
public is not permitted to see or know what they're doing." Kauffman said the meetings and events held at
the ALEC conference are activities defined as lobbying under Pennsylvania's lobbyist disclosure law but
ALEC does not register or report to the state.
Two more Philly educators disciplined in cheating investigation
the notebook By David Limm on Jul 23, 2015 03:55 PM
have been disciplined in the multiyear investigation into cheating on the
state's standardized tests. Darlynn L.
Gray, 54, a former principal of , and Ellen Berson, 45, a former assistant
principal at McDaniel, surrendered their educator's licenses earlier this
year. They are alleged to have
"violated the integrity and security of the PSSA exams," according to
the Pennsylvania Department of Education's list of teacher certification
actions. Both Gray and Berson
voluntarily retired from the District on June 30, 2013, according to Chanice
Savage, a Delaplaine
School School District spokesperson. Gray,
a 20-year veteran of the District, and Berson, a 12-year veteran, were both at
McDaniel when they retired. McDaniel
Elementary in South Philadelphia was one of 53
District schools targeted for investigation of suspicious erasure
patterns after a forensic analysis discovered near-impossible gains on the
Here's a related set of KEYSEC postings….still no word on any pending legal action
PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 26, 2014: "the odds that erasure patterns were random … were between one in a quadrillion and one in a quintillion. …But the state left the charter to investigate itself."
New Philly school administrator has past controversies
ERIC BECOATS was very dedicated to his administrator job in
He was also equally committed to his consulting business, Queen Educational Planning LLC, whose client was the
Little Rock School District in Arkansas. Once Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
officials found he made at least 17 calls from district phones to Little Rock, he was
censured and suspended for a day. Becoats,
now a newly hired top school district administrator in Philadelphia,
has resigned from two previous jobs, including Charlotte, following accounts of his alleged
misuse of public resources, the Daily News has learned. Becoats, who has a business and
financial-planning background, was forced to resign after a series of missteps
that included underestimating the rainy day fund by $15 million and using a
public school bus to ferret around friends and loved ones. District officials, however, stood behind
Becoats yesterday, saying in a statement that he was fully vetted and brings a
"deep skills set" to Philadelphia.
New Philly district hires have lengthy charter backgrounds
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903 POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2015, 12:16 AM
IN ADDITION TO Eric Becoats, several of the district's recent hires for senior positions come from the growing charter-school sector:
* Jeff Rhodes, assistant superintendent of Learning Network 9, spent two years as director of school quality at Michigan-based National Heritage Academies, a charter-management operator with about 51,000 students.
* Christina Grant, assistant superintendent of the Opportunity Network for district-run and contracted alternative education programs, worked for 2 1/2 years at the Great Oaks Foundation, a charter-management organization with five schools, where she was superintendent. Prior to that, she was founding executive director of the New York Campaign for Achievement Now, a pro-charter education advocacy group, which is part of a national network.
* Jack Perry, deputy chief of Academic Enrichment, was previously founder and executive director of
Prestige Academy Charter
School in ,
which opened in 2008. Wilmington, Del.
* James Harris, executive director of operations, spent a year as director of operations at Project GRAD
a nonprofit college-access program. Prior to that, he worked as associate head
of school for one year at Citizens Leadership Academy,
a part of Citizens Academy Schools, which runs K-5 charters in Cleveland.
Today’s newest teachers face tough job odds, high turnover
PBS Newshour July 22, 2015 at 6:20 PM EDT
Is it a good time to become a teacher? Salaries haven't kept up with inflation, tenure is under attack and standardized test scores are being used to fire teachers. And that's if you get a job. Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on the struggles for today's newly trained educators to find work and stay in the classroom.
We bought it twice but we no longer own it: The bad public policy behind charter school real estate deals
School Finance 101 Blog by Bruce D. Baker Posted on July 21, 2015
I’ve been spending much of my spring and summer trying to get a handle on the various business practices of charter schooling, the roles of various constituents, their incentives and interests – financial and otherwise – in the operations of charter schools. Throughout this process, I also try to consider how or whether similar practices and incentives exist for traditional district schools and private schools and how these markets intersect. There will be much more forthcoming on this blog, and in academic papers and reports in the next few months and year. But one issue really struck me as particularly ludicrous as I spent more and more time drawing pictures and mapping out business relationships. I had avoided for the longest time digging into the weeds of charter school land deals and facilities financing. It’s messy and there are certainly plenty of fun scandalous news reports on the topic. But when I see this kind of stuff, I ask myself – what policies enable – or perhaps even encourage these things? Where’s the boundary between legally permissible and not… and between good policy and bad?
Here, I provide an example of something that’s just bad public policy. I can’t really say… except in one piece of this puzzle (as I’ve laid it out), that there are any truly bad, unethical, or illegal actors in this scenario. But the outcome is still bad… bad… patently… amazingly stupid public policy.
Call In Day July 29th - Urgent: Budget stalemate hurting schools. Contact your legislators.
On Wednesday, July 29, the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding and Education Voters-PA, will be participating in a statewide call-in day to contact our legislators.
Pennsylvania students will begin going back to school in
just a month and state lawmakers still have not passed a budget. Please set aside 10 minutes on Wednesday, July 29 to call your
state legislators to tell them that we need them to go back to Harrisburg and put Pennsylvania's children
first by passing a budget that begins to solve the school funding
crisis. To find your legislators, follow this link.
We know that just 10 calls in a day to one legislator can make a difference in what he or she does. Please make two phone calls and make a difference for children this year!
Nominations for PSBA's Allwein Advocacy Award now open
PSBA July 7, 2015
PSBA July 7, 2015
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. The 2015 Allwein Award nomination process will close on Aug. 28, 2015. The 2015 Allwein Award Nomination Form is available online. More details on the award and nominations process can be found online.
Save the Date for
Leadership Conference Oct. 14-16,
2015 Hershey Lodge & Convention Center PASA-PSBA School
Save the date for the professional development event of the year. Be inspired at more than four exciting venues and invest in professional development for top administrators and school board members. Online registration will be live soon!
Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno). Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:
Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders. State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants. Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.