Wednesday, July 29, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 29: Pocono Record Editorial: Call your legislators today

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 29, 2015:
Pocono Record Editorial: Call your legislators today

Wednesday, July 29 is Call to Action for Public Education Day
Pennsylvania students are going back to school in just a month and state lawmakers still have not passed a budget.  Please set aside 5-10 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. 

Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500
Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

Pocono Record Editorial: Call your legislators today
Posted Jul. 28, 2015 at 6:33 PM
Recent news reports indicate that Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders from the Republican-led state General Assembly continue meeting over state budget issues. Those same accounts indicate the two sides still aren’t making much progress.  How about lighting a fire under them?  
The Education Policy and Leadership Center in Harrisburg is encouraging Pennsylvania citizens to do just that by calling their state lawmakers today to support improved funding for public education. As the EPLC notes, it’s time for the General Assembly to hear from voters.  But lawmakers need to hear about more than education and school property taxes. Pension reform and a severance tax on natural gas drilling are other issues that divide the governor and legislators. With the budget now nearly a month overdue, citizens should be voicing their displeasure and letting their elected officials know that their interests are every bit as important as lobbyists.  Yes, lobbyists. While most Pennsylvanians are enjoying a break from school, a week or so of vacation or more time with their family, the special interests remain whispering in the ears of legislators. They know that millions of dollars in taxes and funding are at stake.
Lobbyists’ concerns don’t necessarily reflect those of parents of young children who want to make sure those children receive a strong pre-K education or good programs through high school. Lobbyist may include charter school advocates who want to funnel money away from the public education on which millions of families rely. Or tobacco lobbyists determined that cigars and chewing tobacco exempt from the sensible taxes that cigarettes carry. They may represent oil and natural gas drillers who don’t want to pay the severance taxes that nearly every other gas-producing state levies. They may represent another part of the state that doesn’t suffer the punishingly high school taxes Monroe County has lived with for so long, and oppose the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission’s improved funding formula that would address unfair funding disparities.

Education Voters PA: Join our Call to Action on Wednesday, July 29th!
While the rest of the world moves forward, Harrisburg is stalled. At this point - the people of Pennsylvania must push to get things moving. We invite you to be part of an "all hands on deck" moment on Wednesday, July 29th as we join together with dozens of organizations throughout the Commonwealth to call our legislators to urge them to adopt a budget that supports strong public schools. Please take 5-10 minutes on Wednesday, July 29th to make 2 phone calls. We need the General Assembly to hear from voters and to go back to Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania students will begin going back to school in less than a month and state lawmakers still have not passed a budget.
Please set aside 5-10 minutes on Wednesday, July 29 and 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.

Education Law Center: Call In Day July 29th - Urgent: Budget stalemate hurting schools. Contact your legislators.
Education Law Center July 22, 2015
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!

Organization: Wolf, GOP offer similar property tax relief plans
By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 07/28/15, 11:22 PM EDT 
A Harrisburg, Pa.-based economic analysis group has evaluated the property tax relief proposals of Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republicans, and determined they are close enough for compromise to occur.  The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center compared Wolf’s property tax plan as presented in his budget proposal released in March with HB 504, the Republican-supported property tax relief bill passed in May, and found a variety of parallels. Among them are the plans to distribute more than $4 billion in revenues to alleviate the burden of property owners.  “There is a lot of similarities between these two findings,” said Stephen Herzenberg, economist, executive director of the Keystone Research Center and co-author of the “Follow the Property Tax Money: The Wolf Plan and HB 504 Compared” report. “Most districts get similar homeowner relief ... This should be an area right for bipartisan compromise.”  The report found that about two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s school districts, or 327, would receive more money under the House proposal. That includes 13 districts in Delaware County. The statewide average for the rebate would be $1,076, it found.  The study also indicated that Wolf’s proposal would benefit those more in the lower-wealth, lower-income districts, and expand rent relief for seniors and low-income families. In Delaware County, two districts — Chester Upland and Upper Darby — fare better in this scenario. The statewide homestead average relief would be $968, according to the report.

Follow the Property Tax Money: The Wolf Plan and HB 504 Compared
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Posted by Mark Price on July 28, 2015
A new three-part report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center suggests that similarities between the Wolf and House (HB 504) property tax relief proposals should make this a logical area of compromise between the Governor and General Assembly. PBPC, a project of the Keystone Research Center, also provides the first comparative numbers on how much tax relief the Wolf and House plans would provide to typical homeowners in each school district, results which may surprise many supporters of HB 504.
  • Follow the Property Tax Money: The Wolf Plan and HB 504 Compared Press Release
  • Follow the Money, Part 1: The Wolf Property Tax Plan (read more)
  • Follow the Money, Part 2: The House Bill 504 Property Tax Plan (read more)
  • Follow the Property Tax Money: The Wolf Plan and HB 504 Compared  (read more)
  • Download the Technical Appendix To See How These Plans Compare For Homeowners In Each School District (XLS / PDF)

Follow House Ed. hearing on State Assessments, July 29 at 10 a.m.
PSBA website July 28, 2015
State assessments have become a hot topic in Pennsylvania education with the rise of high-stakes testing and the Keystone Exams.  On Wednesday, July 29 at 10 a.m. the Pennsylvania House Education Committee will be holding a public hearing on state assessments, and we want you to be a part of it. PSBA will be providing coverage and commentary via Twitter during the hearing using #PAassessments. We also want to hear from you regarding state assessments. Simply add #PAassessments into your tweets and you will be part of the conversation. You can also search #PAassessment to follow along with the hearing.

Impoverished county schools score low on academic performance profile
Republican Herald BY MARK GILGER JR. Published: July 26, 2015
Among the 55 elementary, middle, high and charter schools in Schuylkill County, buildings filled mostly with economically disadvantaged students tend to have the lowest scores on the fairly new state Department of Education grading system, a Times-Shamrock Newspapers’ analysis found.  The state’s latest academic measure for 2,947 schools statewide gives a score of 0-100 based on a complex formula that includes standardized test scores, graduation and attendance rates, yearly academic growth and other data.  The state launched the School Performance Profile in the 2012-13 school year to address new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education after the federal agency approved Pennsylvania’s waiver from No Child Left Behind Act requirements.

Veto override 'an option' Turzai says as Democrats dig in: Tuesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 28, 2015 at 8:50 AM, updated July 28, 2015 at 8:52 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
State House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny,  used a Monday appearance before the Pennsylvania Press Club to sound a combative note in the ongoing #PaBudget standoff, telling a crowd of lobbyists, business types and reporters that overriding Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of the GOP-authored spending plan was "an option."  "I can assure you my Democratic colleagues are not interested in Gov. Wolf's tax package,"Turzai said, according to The Tribune-Review.  
A veto override is "a direction we'd consider, and it has to be an option," he added.  More astute readers will recall that Wolf, a York Democrat, vetoed not only the $30.2 billion budget bill that Republicans sent him on June 30, but also a liquor divestitutre and pension reform bill as well.

"But when he says we rank high among states in per-pupil spending (13th) he fails to note we rank low among states (44th) in state share of spending.  And he argues that Wolf's budget "does not have the support of the citizens of Pennsylvania," but ignores a Franklin & Marshall College poll last month showing a majority (58 percent) supporting Wolf's budget.
That's the same majority that supported it when it was introduced in March.
The poll also shows the voters' top budget priority is the same as Wolf's, "increasing state funding for public education."
Lowest item on the list? Below "other things"? With just 1 percent of voters calling it their top priority? Privatizing liquor stores."
Messages from the state budget mess
WHAT HAPPENS when both sides of an argument have decent points but neither side is willing to acknowledge the other's merit?  In Pennsylvania, you don't get a budget.
One reason the budget is nearly one month late - and certain to be much later - is Gov. Wolf and Republican lawmakers make pretty sound pitches.  At least they sound like sound pitches.  House Speaker Mike Turzai, a GOP hard-liner, made some Monday at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg.  He noted, for example, that while Democrat Wolf won last year, Republicans didn't lose a single seat; in fact, they gained in the House and Senate.  The House has the largest GOP majority since Dwight Eisenhower was president.  The clear implication is the no-tax budget passed by Republicans but vetoed by Wolf better represents Pennsylvania than the new-tax budget Wolf wants.
Yet Wolf won running on taxing shale to pay for schools (even though many Republicans say he won because of Gov. Corbett's unpopularity).

Wolf pushes for more education spending during visit to Montco
Pottstown Mercury By Dan Clark,,, @danclark08 on Twitter POSTED: 07/27/15, 5:28 PM EDT | UPDATED: 44 SECS AGO
ABINGTON >> Gov. Tom Wolf stood with local officials outside of Willow Hill Elementary School on Monday to stress the importance of making changes to the way public education is funded and why he’s holding out for it during the budget impasse.  Monday marked the 27th day without a budget in Pennsylvania and Wolf made a brief speech reiterating the need for the state to play a larger role in funding education.  “The budget I got on June 30 did not have what I think we need to have the future we deserve as Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said, reiterating why he vetoed the budget passed by Republican lawmakers.

Gov. Wolf stumps for school funding in Phoenixville
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt @PottstownNews on Twitter POSTED: 07/28/15, 3:44 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 MIN AGO
PHOENIXVILLE >> Pennsylvania’s budget battle moved to Phoenixville Area Middle School Tuesday with Gov. Tom Wolf touting the benefits of his budget plan and a local Republican state legislator taking aim at Wolf’s claims.  With the state budget impasse now stretching into its fourth week, Wolf said he believes his Democratic administration and the Republican-controlled General Assembly are “making some progress” in trying to reach an agreement.  But if comments made moments after Wolf spoke by state Rep. Warren Kampf, R-157th Dist., are any indication, there’s still a lot of ground to cover before a budget gets adopted.

Gov. Tom Wolf visits Phoenixville to promote his budget
Reading Eagle By Matt Carey  Wednesday July 29, 2015 12:01 AM
With Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf unable to come to an agreement on the state budget, Wolf appeared here on Tuesday to tout his proposal to add $1 billion in new education funding.  “We have two paths ahead of us, and we have to decide which path to take,” Wolf said outside Phoenixville Middle School in Chester County.  “I'm here to say we need to take the path that invests in education.”  wolf's plan includes adding the new education funding through a severance tax on natural gas drilling. The Democratic governor said that while the state needs to make smart investments in education, lawmakers also must reverse past cuts to school funding.  “You simply can not throw money at any problem, even the most important problem, and hope to get a good result,” he said. “We have to have accountability, and we have to invest wisely.   “But I think we need to understand, as citizens of Pennsylvania, that we cannot keep taking money out of education and hope to get to a good place.”

Dems support Wolf, urge end to impasse
York Dispatch By GREG GROSS 505-5433/@GGrossYD 07/28/2015 08:04:46 PM EDT
As the state budget stalemate nears the one-month mark, Democratic lawmakers in York City on Tuesday reiterated their support for Gov. Tom Wolf and his budget proposal.  They also stood firm as they decried the Republican-drafted $30.2 billion budget that was vetoed by Wolf in June.  Since then, Republican legislators and Wolf's administration have been at an impasse with little progress made toward reaching a compromise.  One Democrat said the governor, who hails from Mount Wolf, shouldn't budge when it comes to property tax relief and increasing funding for education.  "I don't think we should compromise when we have a (Republican) budget that includes a structural deficit," Mike Sturla, a Democrat who represents part of Lancaster County, said during a press conference in front of the York City Schools administration building.  Sturla was referring to a $2.3 billion structural state deficit.

State auditor calls for education reform in light of Pa. schools bond downgrade
Penn Live By Rachel Bunn | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 28, 2015 at 3:02 PM
Pennsylvania school districts are among the worst off in the nation, and for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said it continues to highlight the need for reform in the education system.  Moody's Investor Service downgraded eight Pennsylvania school districts to a junk bond rating category in a July 20 report. This means that the bonds would be a higher risk to default and may have difficulty acquiring capital for an inexpensive cost. According to Moody's 20 percent of "speculative grade school districts" are in Pennsylvania.  "This is troubling news for school districts and for residents because when bond ratings are downgraded it drives up the costs when schools need to borrow money to repair or upgrade their facilities," DePasquale said in a news release. "Simply increasing funding is not enough. We need to stem the hemorrhaging of school district finances and look for long-term, systemic changes."

Auditor General DePasquale Says Dire Financial Report Underscores Need for School Reform in Pennsylvania
Moody’s says PA home to 20 percent of financially worst rated schools in nation
Auditor General Press Release July 28, 2015
HARRISBURG (July 28, 2015) – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today said a recent report by a credit rating service that ranks several Pennsylvania school districts among the financially worst in the nation underscores the need for fundamental reform of the commonwealth’s education system.   Moody's Investors Service issued a report this week that classified eight Pennsylvania school districts as downgraded to a junk bond rating category, primarily because of a host of financial stresses including charter school tuition mandates. According to Moody’s, “Pennsylvania school districts now comprise 20 percent of all of our speculative grade school districts.”   “This is troubling news for school districts and for residents because when bond ratings are downgraded it drives up the costs when schools need to borrow money to repair or upgrade their facilities,” DePasquale said. “Simply increasing funding is not enough. We need to stem the hemorrhaging of school district finances and look for long-term, systemic changes.

School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
Trib Live By Katelyn Ferral Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 11:06 p.m.
The credit ratings of several school districts in Western Pennsylvania are considered junk in the eyes of Moody's credit rating agency, underscoring systemic problems in the way the state funds public schools, say school leaders and government officials.  Moody's Investors Service highlighted six area districts in a report last week as struggling financially amid growing pension obligations and a weak tax base.  Credit ratings for three Allegheny County districts — McKeesport Area, East Allegheny and Penn Hills — were downgraded to junk bond category since March, making it more difficult for them to borrow money. West Mifflin Area School District was downgraded to the lowest investor rating, one step away from junk, according to Moody's. Trinity Area in Washington County and Frazier in Fayette County also were downgraded to junk status.  “It really should be a wake-up call to all of Pennsylvania that this is happening,” state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Tuesday. “...There will either be less service for more money or more money for less service.”
Pennsylvania Law Makes Cyberbullying of a Child a Third-Degree Misdemeanor
This law will help Northern York School District crack down on the issue, as reports from students on such issues could end up being a criminal matter.
(TNS) -- The face of a bully has changed over the years.  Technology has come to replace the glaring student who pushes others down on the playground or the mean girl who uses word of mouth to spread her gossip.  Smartphones and social media have opened an entirely new door for classroom bullies, who are no longer limited to the classroom.  "A lot of these social media issues are occurring when students are not at school," said Pennsylvania's Southeastern School District Superintendent Rona Kaufmann. "And oftentimes what happens through social media comes into the school in one way, shape or form, just because of the sheer amount of people who have access to it."  Taking action: Northern York School District recently implemented rules for online behavior — for students, athletes and staff — to combat cyberbullying.  Superintendent Eric Eshbach echoed Kaufmann's concerns about cyberbullying.  "It is a daily effort because a large majority of it doesn't go on in the school building; it goes on after school hours," he said. "We are definitely having conversations and encouraging students to report on any issues."  Those reports could end up being a criminal matter under a new state law, Act 26, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed on July 10 and which takes effect in September.

Saucon Valley heads to nonbinding arbitration
By Kayla Dwyer Of The Morning Call July 28, 2015
A more than three-year series of negotiations between the teachers union and school board in the Saucon Valley School District is entering the next phase.  A nonbinding arbitration hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at which the Saucon Valley School Board and the education association will present information including the terms and conditions of employment for union members and the results of negotiations leading up to each side's best contract offers.  Both sides released their last offers in June, the school board going with a less generous version than was presented in October 2014.  Following his analysis of the information, attorney Timothy Brown will make a recommendation for a new contract by August 19., Both sides must vote in favor for it to be valid.

Pa. early-childhood programs stretched to the budget limit, study finds
Common sense might suggest that the best early-childhood programs would do better financially.  But a new study finds that providers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have little fiscal incentive to reach for high quality.  A Nonprofit Finance Fund study of nearly 150 early-care and education programs in the Philadelphia area found that all of them – no matter their quality rating – operate on razor-thin margins.  So for operators, it's more of a moral choice than a fiscal one to offer robust programming run by college-educated, certified teachers.  "There's a lag between the resources required to support the provision of high quality and actually what it costs to do it. There's an operating gap," said Ann O'Brien, CEO of Montgomery Early Learning Center.

New Report Examines Financial Barriers to Delivering High-Quality Early Education in Philadelphia
Source: William Penn Foundation Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015
Nonprofit Finance Fund Releases Recommendations for Expanding Access to Quality Programs in Advance of Convening with Policymakers and Early Education Leaders
PHILADELPHIA – July 27, 2015 – High-quality early care and education (ECE) programs have been proven to create positive outcomes for children—especially among those living in poverty. Yet many children from low-income families have a hard time accessing high-quality child care and miss the critical developmental growth and foundation needed for academic and life success. Today, Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) released a new report that examines the financial challenges program providers face, and offers recommendations about actions to increase access to quality care.  The report, Overcoming Financial Barriers to Expanding High-Quality Early Care & Education in Southeastern Pennsylvania, is based on NFF's work with more than 147 nonprofit child care centers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The William Penn Foundation funded the study and will host a convening tomorrow with policymakers and early education stakeholders in Philadelphia to discuss NFF’s findings and the implications for child care providers, children and families.  “Despite proven, long-term benefits to children, there are still many financial barriers to operating quality programs and giving more children a stronger start in life,” said Elliot Weinbaum, Program Director at the William Penn Foundation. “As our city, state, and nation seek to expand access to high quality early childhood education, it is essential that we understand the financial and other barriers that currently impede our progress, and how those barriers might be ameliorated in order to create an equitable system in which all of our young learners have access to quality education.”

"An earlier amendment by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., would have been a bigger step. It would have raised cigarette taxes to provide more than $30 million in new funding to support early education programs for children from birth to age 5. But that amendment was rejected.  Although the proposals for early education are somewhat limited, Molly Tafoya, senior communications manager with Early Edge California, said that momentum is building.  “Senators from both sides of the aisle realize that getting children ready for success in school is a critical issue,” she said."
Early education gets noticed in proposed revise of No Child Left Behind
EdSource Jul 24, 2015 | By Susan Frey
The latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, that’s before Congress more formally addresses early education and adds a competitive grant program to help states align their early education system with K-12 schools.  The U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, which passed with bipartisan support (81-17), “ensures that federal funds can be used for early education,” including support for preschool teachers and English learners. In the past, districts were able to use funds for low-income students, referred to as Title I funding under the ESEA, to provide programs for children from birth to age 5, but that ability was never formally stated in the law.  The ESEA, which is one of the primary sources of federal funds for education, was first passed in 1965. The most current version is referred to as No Child Left Behind.  Helen Blank, director of Child Care and Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center, said the Senate’s version is a step forward because it explicitly recognizes early education as important. But the new version does not address the need for more funds to meet the overwhelming demand across the country for access to quality child care and preschool, she said.

ESEA Conference: Accountability vs. Title I Portability
Network for Public Education July 28, 2015
As Senate and House leaders begin the process of merging their respective bills into a single piece of coherent legislation that can be signed into law by President Obama, there are some crucial issues for public education supporters to consider. Not only are there key differences between the two bills, there are competing agendas between the two parties.
But first, let’s start at the beginning.

An Achievement School District Primer
Mitchell Robinson's Blog 17Jul 2015
"Achievement School Districts" are a recent phenomenon in the corporate education reform movement. These "school districts" are designed to guarantee "rapid improvement in the state’s low performing schools", although specific methods, techniques and strategies to accomplish this goal are rarely mentioned. ASDs have sprung up all across the nation, under various names and guises, from the "Education Achievement Authority" in Detroit, to the "Recovery School District" in New Orleans, to "Achievement School Districts" in Tennessee and Nevada--and Georgia and North Carolina have recently announced plans to form their own ASDs. These experimental school systems usually target the "bottom 5%" of low-performing schools in a state or region for governmental takeover, with the promise of quickly improving student learning.  The one thing all of these experiments have in common is that they've been crashing failures. In spite of incredible amounts of publicity, spin and hoopla, not one of these educational petri dishes has resulted in any appreciable improvement in student learning, accountability, or curricular reform.

"For eight hours of work per week, TFA chair Wendy Kopp drew a 2013 salary of $176,657. Co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard drew salaries of $381,946 for 42 hrs/wk (Kramer) and $342,134 for 40 hrs/wk (Beard)."
Teach for America Seeks Help Promoting Itself on Capitol Hill
July 28, 2015
Teach for America (TFA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 by Princeton graduate and noneducator, Wendy Kopp. TFA was granted nonprofit status in June 1993. According to its 2013 990, TFA’s end-of-year total assets were $494 million, with $73.5 million of its 2013 revenue designated as “government grants” and $31.6 million of its 2013 revenue earmarked as “service fees revenue.”  Interestingly, TFA’s 2013 990 also includes $4.7 million tagged as “bad debt expense” as part of its total functional expenses.  For eight hours of work per week, TFA chair Wendy Kopp drew a 2013 salary of $176,657. Co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard drew salaries of $381,946 for 42 hrs/wk (Kramer) and $342,134 for 40 hrs/wk (Beard).
TFA began as a Peace Corps-like temp agency that sends college graduates outside of the field of teaching into classrooms for usually two years. However, by 2001, TFA had established a second goal: To move former TFA corps members into positions of influence in education, business, and politics in order to solidify and expand TFA’s influence over public education.

N.C. Voucher Program Expected to Double Following Court Ruling
By T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer, North Carolina (MCT) Published Online: July 28, 2015
The number of North Carolina children using tax dollars to attend private schools will at least double this fall and could climb much higher now that the school voucher program has been declared constitutional by the N.C. Supreme Court.  State officials have already awarded 2,642 scholarships for the 2015-16 school year – compared to 1,216 last year – and could issue more than 1,700 additional vouchers once the state budget is finalized. With some state lawmakers talking about expanding both the funding and the eligibility for the vouchers, public-school advocates are urging a go-slow approach on the program’s expansion.  “We’re talking about a major transfer of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to untested, unaccountable private schools, many of whom are religious oriented,” said Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of Public Schools First NC. “This should give the public great pause.”

Early Education and Teacher Preparation?…..
Next Move? Parsing What Bill and Melinda Said About Education Funding
Inside Philanthropy by AuthorL.S. Hall July 28, 2015
Bill and Melinda Gates are obsessed with impactful grantmaking and evaluating the outcomes of their foundation's giving. Recently, the heads of the world's largest foundation discussed the impact of their funding activity with New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof.  The couple highlighted a number of accomplishments in the areas of global health and child mortality, but acknowledged that the billions they have poured into education reform haven't had quite the same impact.  "There's no dramatic change," Bill Gates told the columnist. "It’s not like under-five mortality, where you see this dramatic improvement.” However, Bill and Melinda Gates say they are not discouraged by this inertia and that they remain committed to sweeping change in the nation's K-12 and higher education systems.  This is significant for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that the Gateses still have not tapped the bulk of their personal fortune for philanthropy, as we've discussed in the past. While the Gates Foundation lists assets of $43 billion, Forbes pegs Bill Gates' personal fortune at nearly $80 billion—most of which will likely go to philanthropy eventually. 

Nominations for PSBA's Allwein Advocacy Award now open
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 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 14-16, 2015 Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
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.

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