Monday, August 24, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 24: $40,316 per speech/language special ed child: Two possible reasons special ed funding reforms that would have addressed this outrageous charter tuition rate were not adopted in 2014

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 24, 2015:
$40,316 per speech/language special ed child: Two possible reasons special ed funding reforms that would have addressed this outrageous charter tuition rate were not adopted in 2014

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

Poll: Most Americans oppose key tenets of modern school reform
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 23 at 7:00 PM  
What do Americans think of key aspects of modern school reform? Not much, according to the findings of a respected annual poll.   Not only do most Americans think kids are subjected to too many standardized tests, but a majority reject holding teachers, students and schools accountable based in part on test scores, the survey found. And there’s this: The No. 1 problem Americans said their local schools are facing isn’t bad teachers or unions but insufficient funding, a finding that has remained consistent for the past 10 years.  The findings of the 47th annual PDK-Gallup poll, the longest continuously running survey of American attitudes toward public education, were released Sunday. PDK International is a global association of education professionals and is headed by Joshua Starr, a former superintendent of the Montgomery County Public School District. PDK has conducted this poll with Gallup every year since 1969. Some of the survey was conducted by phone, and some, for the first time, by Web. Results from both are said be nationally representative of Americans as a whole and subgroups, such as public school parents. The poll is being published by PDK’s Kappan magazine.

Blogger's note:  In spring of 2014 the bipartisan PA Special Education Funding Commission had completed good work and recommended charter funding reform that would have created three different levels of severity and funding for special ed students based upon actual costs.  It would have addressed issues in the current funding formula that permit charter schools to receive an outrageous $40,316 per special ed child, even when the child has a relatively minor speech and language disability.

Why weren't the recommendations of the Special Ed Commission adopted?

IMHO, here are two possible reasons:
According to Pennsylvania's Campaign Finance website, on March 18th, 2014 Vahan Gureghian, CEO of Charter School Management, Inc. which manages the Chester Community Charter School, contributed $75,000 to the PA House Republican Campaign Committee.  

On May 5th, 2014 Michael Karp, founder of Belmont Academy Charter School, contributed $50,000 to the PA House Republican Campaign Committee.  BTW, both were members of Governor Corbett's initial education transition team.  The charter reform bills died…..

"Chester Upland is a logical battleground: More than half of all of its students attend charters.  And the troubled district is now slated to pay charter schools $40,316 per special-ed child, nearly 75 percent more than Philadelphia does. Critics say that's because of unanticipated loopholes and bad assumptions in the formula, not because special education costs more in Chester Upland."
….Since 2012, the reimbursement rate for a special-ed student from Chester Upland has skyrocketed 63 percent.  Public school proponents say that high rate has particularly benefited the largest charter school, Chester Community Charter School, because it enrolls children with speech and language disabilities at a rate roughly 80 percent higher than the statewide average, and those students cost less to teach than others in special education."
Battle brews over charter school compensation for special education students
When it comes to the way charter schools are paid for teaching children in special-education classes, critics say Pennsylvania has been flunking basic math for years - and unfairly subtracting hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers' wallets.  Last week, the Wolf administration took the first step in a case observers say could bring the issue to a head - a bid to block $24.7 million in charter payouts in the cash-strapped Chester Upland School District.  Public school advocates say large charter school payouts are the result of faulty calculations that lawmakers and state officials have had a hard time erasing. Charter operators counter that the money is needed to offer a quality alternative to failing public schools.  Lawyers on both sides of the argument are set to clash Monday in Delaware County Court.

Protesters target guv’s plan for Chester Upland schools
Delco Times By Loretta Rodgers, Times Correspondent POSTED: 08/20/15, 10:40 PM EDT
CHESTER >> The number of people in attendance at Thursday’s Chester Upland School Board meeting exceeded room capacity, making it necessary to postpone the meeting and reschedule it for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Chester High School auditorium.  Parents and students of the Chester Community Charter School and the Chester Upland School District were on hand to protest Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to restore the district to fiscal health which, among other things, would cut special education reimbursements for charter school students.  “There were hundreds of unhappy people here tonight,” said Dr. David E. Clark, Jr., CEO of Chester Community Charter School. “Charter schools in Chester have an enrollment that equals 55 percent of the student population in the city. We only receive 45 percent of the revenues, so do the math. Now you are talking about taking away 10 percent of the 45 percent.”  Chester Upland pays $40,000 per special ed student at Chester Community Charter School, an amount state officials say wildly exceeds costs in other districts. Wolf’s plan would cut that to $16,000 per student — and the $20 million in annual savings would virtually wipe out the school district’s deficit.  In addition to a reduction in charter school special education reimbursements, Wolf’s proposed plan calls for a forensic audit of all district spending over the past five years. The plan also calls for a cap on the reimbursement to cyber charter schools at just below $6,000 per student.
A hearing on the proposal is scheduled in Delaware County Court on Monday.

"Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney will decide Monday whether to implement a plan put forth by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and state appointed Chester Upland School District receiver Francis Barnes to overhaul the district's finances."
As Delco judge ponders Chester Upland schools' fate, parents left in the lurch
Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney will decide Monday whether to implement a plan put forth by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and state appointed Chester Upland School District receiver Francis Barnes to overhaul the district's finances.  At a school board meeting Thursday, parents got together to vent their frustrations about being told that their school might not open at all if more money can't be found.  Latrice Williams said she had already pulled her son, who is entering the 11th grade, out of the district after hearing that money problems were brewing a couple of weeks ago.  "I was told that they were going to start having problems with the funding," she said. "How do you start having problems with the funding? You either having problems with the funding or you don't."  Williams said she's still weighing her options for her two daughters, ages 6 and 7, who are enrolled at Chester Upland School of the Arts.

Wolf's plan to salvage the Chester-Upland schools is off the mark: Robert Fayfich
PennLive Op-Ed  By Robert Fayfich on August 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Robert Fayfich is the executive director of the  Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed amended recovery plan for the financially-distressed Chester Upland School District, which was introduced on Tuesday, would not only usurp the power of the General Assembly, destroy parental school choice and maintain the status quo in a failing district.  It may also be illegal.  The plan's fundamental premise is to blame the demise of the school district on the increasing number of parents selecting charter schools for their children.That logic is like blaming the rescue crew of the Carpathia for sinking the Titanic.  Chester Upland was first to be declared in financial distress four years before any charter schools existed in the district.  Proposed per pupil funding caps on cyber charter schools and special education students enrolled in charter schools are arbitrary, in conflict with state legislation and potentially illegal, according to the coalition.

Inky Editporial: School needs are pressing
Editorial by INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Sunday, August 23, 2015, 1:08 AM
At first glance, Gov. Wolf's decision last week to go to court to change how Chester's charter schools are funded appeared to mimic President Obama's strategy of seeking alternatives to a gridlocked legislative process.  The legislative stalemate blocking passage of Wolf's proposed budget, which boosts funding for education, may have been a factor in his decision. But the Chester Upland School District's decades-old flirtation with fiscal disaster was what led Wolf to take legal action to ensure its schools open on time.  The Republican-controlled legislature did move closer to passing a budget last week by agreeing to increase education funding if Wolf puts more state workers in a 401(k)-style pension plan. But the sides remain divided on taxes, in particular a levy on shale gas, which Wolf would use to give more money to schools.

Charter schools, districts have different views on Wolf's proposed budget
Bucks County Courier Times By GEMA MARIA DUARTE Staff writer
Posted: Monday, August 24, 2015 4:00 am | Updated: 6:25 am, Mon Aug 24, 2015.
If Gov. Tom Wolf gets his way, charter schools in Pennsylvania would have to return any money not used for yearly expenses to tuition-paying school districts — and all charters would be paid the same tuition rate.  That’s just part of the governor’s plan involving charter school funding. Wolf also wants to end the practice of charters receiving more than 100 percent of the costs for pension payments, mandate audits, and have the state reimburse districts roughly 10 percent of their charter school tuition payments.  Over the years, charter schools have been keeping unspent tuition.  Charter schools receive per-pupil tuition that varies by district, but averages $9,500. Under the governor’s proposal, the tuition rate would be set at $5,950 per child.

New school year to begin with some question marks
Bucks County Courier Times By Joan Hellyer Staff Writer Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2015 12:00 am | Updated: 6:19 am, Sun Aug 23, 2015.
Public educators throughout Lower Bucks County are preparing for the start of the 2015-16 school year and at the same time keeping an eye on Harrisburg as the budget stalemate drags on between Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Legislature.  “The state budget is significant for Morrisville,” Superintendent Mike Kopakowski said Friday. “Our ability to address some of the district’s concerns regarding (standardized test results) is almost always related to staffing issues. Until the Legislature and the governor decide on a budget, we do not know if we will receive any additional state aid. (The budget stalemate) is hindering our ability to meet the needs of our students.”  The standardized test results are of special concern to district officials this year, because the education department has notified them that there are “significant” drops in statewide scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests administered to students in third- through eighth-grade and the Keystone Exams administered to high school students, officials said.

Philly schools could be broke by mid-October without state money
When I was a child, the start of the school year was a time of giddy anticipation. It was a time of new clothes, new books, new friends, and the chance to outshine the accomplishments of the year before.  That was many years ago, before perpetual deficits and the slow erosion of public trust made books, and then students, and then dozens of underutilized schools disappear.  Sadly, the excitement that should accompany the start of a new school year in Philadelphia has been replaced with a nagging sense of anxiety. That's especially true this year, because the state budget impasse has created a situation in which Philadelphia's schools could be broke as early as mid-October, according to Philadelphia School Superintendent Dr. William Hite.  "Without monies coming from the state ... we will have cash to operate and open schools, but at some point that runs out," Hite told me in a radio interview.  "And that runs out because the [money] that we would normally get from the state between August and September is not coming. That means that the district has to run on its own cash flow—not just the district, charter schools—so this could impact all 203,000 children who are being educated in public schools here in Philadelphia."

Nathan Mains: State budget impasse puts politics above the needs of students
Morning Call Opinion by Nathan Mains August 22, 2015
Nathan Mains is executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Students and educators may be ready for the return to the classroom, but it appears that the Pennsylvania state budget will be tardy when the bell rings. Despite weeks of negotiations, the budget is almost two months late — a major cause of concern for school districts that must figure out how to cover operational costs before knowing what funding they will receive.  As the budget impasse continues, school districts' expenses continue to rise for pensions, health care and utilities — all costs that are out of districts' control. Total employer pension contributions for 2015-16 equal 25.84 percent of school expenses, marking the fifth year of planned increases under Act 120 of 2010. And those numbers are slated to climb to a staggering rate of 32.2 percent by 2019-20.  Our school districts work hard to be fiscally responsible and save for projected and unexpected needs. But once the school year begins, cash reserves will quickly run dry. With increasing costs threatening already fragile budgets, more schools will need to consider taking out loans to make payroll and keep doors open, adding interest accrual to those overall expenses.

Legislative Republicans look to override Gov. Tom Wolf's budget veto, one line at a time
By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on August 21, 2015 at 5:30 PM, updated August 21, 2015 at 5:31 PM
Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are planning a series of budget veto override votes Tuesday in what they say is the quickest and most efficient way to drive out state funds to human service programs that arestarting to feel the pinch of the eight-week budget stalemate in Harrisburg.  The in-your-face strategy drew immediate and sharp reactions from Gov. Tom Wolf and his Democratic allies in the Legislature, who called it unconstitutional and said it called into the question the legislative leaders' sincerity in the budget negotiations.  The next round of face-to-face talks between Wolf and the legislative leaders is set for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.  Wolf then, is scheduled to make his response to aGOP proposal tying increased school funding to new public pension reforms. It has the potential to be a major moment in the negotiations.

GOP plans override votes on Pa. budget bill, despite constitutionality questions
Morning Call By Mark Scolforo Associated Press August 21, 2015
Pa GOP announces plan to override Gov. Wolf's budget veto
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania House Republicans said Friday they will force votes next week to override the Democratic governor's budget bill veto, one piece at a time, despite questions about the constitutionality of what they plan to do.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed told members of his caucus that he will call up elements of the vetoed budget bill that would authorize funding at a similar level to what Gov. Tom Wolf supports.  "An override vote on these lines would be the quickest and most efficient way to get agreed-to, needed funds to these schools and agencies without additional costs," wrote Reed, R-Indiana.  Republicans will hold a 119-to-84 majority after five newly elected members are sworn in, which means they would need at least 17 Democrats for the two-thirds majority required to send an override to the Senate.  House Minority Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, predicted few, if any, of his members will cross lines, even if "no" votes could be used to argue the Democrats were against funding for educational and human services programs they actually support.  "This is a political move, is all it is," Dermody said. "They think they can make some political hay by making us vote against some of these folks."
Dermody and a Wolf spokesman called the line-item veto override unconstitutional, and a law professor who teaches a course on the state constitution agreed.

Budget stalemate at key junction
Republican Herald BY ROBERT SWIFT Published: August 24, 2015
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s long-running budget stalemate is reaching a fork in the road that could lead either to a breakthrough agreement or efforts by Republican lawmakers to override Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of their budget bill.  The direction may be clearer this week once Wolf responds to a new offer by GOP leaders to link several hundred million dollars in new education spending with a shift to a 401(k) style pension benefit for future state government and school district employees.  Education funding and pensions aren’t the only issues dividing Wolf and the GOP-controlled Legislature, but bridging differences over that could spur more compromise on other issues.  The stalemate has reached its 55th day with public schools, counties and nonprofit social service agencies coping with missing state aid payments. State agencies are operating while spending for medical assistance and welfare programs continues with existing state tax revenue. The House will attempt a veto override Tuesday of selected spending items in the vetoed budget as a way to restore funding to service agencies, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-62, Indiana, said.

Democrats call coming GOP veto override attempt unconstitutional, irresponsible
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Friday, August 21, 2015
As the House returns to voting session Tuesday, Democrats are calling a planned GOP attempt to override certain agreed-to lines of the budget unconstitutional and irresponsible.  In a memo to House Democrats sent Thursday afternoon, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) tried to get out ahead of Tuesday’s action by rallying members.  "Attempting an override on parts of a bill that was vetoed in total is unconstitutional," the memo reads. "Just as importantly, it’s an irresponsible approach to resolving the current budget impasse. Pennsylvania needs a real budget, not more grandstanding and gamesmanship."  He told members Republicans decided to suspend “productive budget negotiations” in June to focus on passing their own budget that did not include Democratic support or input.

Letters: GOP's offer a load of manure
Philly Daily News Letter by REP. DWIGHT EVANS POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2015, 12:16 AM
State Rep. Dwight Evans, D- Phila., is a former chair of the House Appropriations Committee
THERE'S THE STORY about the farmer who finds a boy in his pasture digging furiously into a huge pile of horse manure.  "What in tarnation are you doing?" the farmer asks.
"With all this manure I figure there's gotta be a pony under there somewhere," the boy answers.  I wish I could find the pony under all the manure emanating from Republicans' "one-time offer" Wednesday on the state budget.  Initial reports sounded promising: The GOP leadership in the House and Senate offered $300 million more in basic education funding in return for diverting future state workers and public school employees to 401(k)-style retirement benefits.
But the offer proves to be more ultimatum than negotiation - all manure, no pony.

OP-ED: Gov. Wolf’s tax numbers don’t add up
Pottstown Mercury Opinion by State Rep. Tom Quigley and State Rep. Warren Kampf POSTED 08/23/15, 2:00 AM EDT |
State Rep. Tom Quigley is a Republican who represents the 146th House District in parts of Montgomery County. He was first elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature in 2004. State Rep. Warren Kampf is a Republican who represents the 157th House District in parts of Chester and Montgomery counties. He was first elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature in 2010.
Gov. Tom Wolf recently visited Montgomery County to blast the budget plan that he vetoed, along with the much-needed pension reform bill. His main argument is that the budget passed by the Legislature doesn’t add up. He used the term “bad math.”  The governor also continues to perpetrate the myth that a severance tax on the Marcellus Shale industry is holding up a budget deal and the revenue raised from such a tax would fund the bulk of his initiatives.  A closer look at the governor’s budget plan reveals that his math is not adding up.  He is using the severance tax to play a shell game, diverting attention from where the real revenue will come from to fund his budget; the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.  Let’s look at the numbers.

New superintendents face challenges, stress
Scranton Times Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL AND KATHLEEN BOLUS, STAFF WRITERS Published: August 23, 2015
Six area school districts are welcoming new superintendents with a chalkboard full of word problems.  How do you budget for a new school year without knowing how much state funding you will receive?  How do you make sure rising pension costs don’t squeeze out funding for school programs?  While juggling a tightening budget, how do you push teachers and students to meet more rigorous academic standards?  The new superintendents in Scranton, Mid Valley, Forest City Regional, Blue Ridge, Mountain View and Western Wayne school districts won’t be able to rely on many of their peers for years of advice, either. In Lackawanna County, only three of 10 superintendents have been in the position for more than five years — a statistic that mirrors statewide trends.  Sixty percent of Pennsylvania superintendents have been in their districts less than five years. More than half are in their first contract, according to the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. Many new superintendents have replaced retiring baby boomers, or leaders who have faced the increased pressure of the job.  “The role of superintendent is so stressful now,” said Jim Buckheit, the association’s executive director. “We can’t keep having the turnover. If we really want schools to improve, we need the continuity.”

Changes in store for Erie, Crawford school districts
ERIETIMES-NEWS By Erica Erwin  814-870-1846 Erie Times-News August 23, 2015 01:59 PM
ERIE, Pa. -- The calendar says summer is still going strong.
But the season of relaxation and freedom ends for thousands of students throughout the Erie region this week as they head back to school, where they'll be met by new administrators, new classes and programs and -- a common theme -- new technology.  Here's a look at what changes to expect in Erie-area school districts in the 2015-16 school year.

Pa. lawmakers consider offering legislation to protect student privacy
By Rich Lord and Megan Henney / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 24, 2015 12:20 AM
State Rep. Dan Miller used to be a history teacher, and he didn’t think much of it when his son’s school invited him to sign up for a mobile phone application that helps teachers and parents to communicate.  If a school or teacher suggests an app, “The typical parent is going to download that app, assuming it’s at a reasonable price, and check that out,” said Mr. Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, a member of the House Education Committee.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s findings on student data privacy, he said, showed him “that information can also get into certain hands, certain places, where one has to question the why and the how.”  Mr. Miller said he has begun drafting legislation to protect the state’s students from abuses that could occur when their data flows into the new world of education technology applications and websites.

Shadyside-based mines surveys, data for school ratings
Trib Live By Natasha Lindstrom Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, 10:30 p.m.
Substitute Superintendent Robert Scherrer of North Allegheny School District pursues public input on how his schools are performing.  He hosts monthly forums with parents, convenes regularly with business professionals and faith-based leaders, and asks committees of students, parents and community members to guide major decisions such as a plan to equip 2,100 students this year with iPads or laptops.  “When you start to talk to kids and parents,” said Scherrer, who oversees 12 schools centered in the McCandless area, “then you see it through their eyes, and it allows us to get better at what we do.”  That's why Scherrer and his administrative team recognize the value in a nationwide K-12 school ranking by Shadyside-based Inc.

Defending the Opt-Out Movement
New York Times Letters AUG. 21, 2015
 “Opting Out of Tests Isn’t the Answer” (editorial, Aug. 15) does not speak to the reasons our family opted out, or why the vast majority of the families at our school did. I am not opposed to testing, or difficult tests; for better or worse, being good at taking tests helped me at every point of my educational career. But these tests are being used inappropriately. Opting out allows the growing number of parents dissatisfied with the direction of so-called education reform to act directly against it, and, we hope, compel policy makers to forge new directions.
My primary concerns are the linking of teacher evaluations to test results and the high-stakes use of these exams for school ranking and funding. Studies have shown the weakness of these tests for evaluating teacher effectiveness. The state tests inevitably lead teachers and schools to teach to the test and spend inordinate time on test prep. This robs children of effective and creative pedagogy and rich curricular content. Majority poor and nonwhite schools that tend to have lower test results are even more likely to organize around test prep, at the expense of a broader curriculum.

Phi Delta Kappa Press Release on Annual Poll: Public Opposes Standardized Testing and Vouchers, Splits on Opt Outs
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch August 23, 2015 //
This is the press release about the annual PDK-Gallup public opinion poll about U.S. education. As usual, most people think highly of their local public schools but not of American education, which is not surprising in light of the well-financed corporate reform campaign to undermine confidence in American public education. Since 1983, the public has heard that our public schools are “failing, declining, broken,” yet our nation continues to lead the world by most measures of productivity and economic stability, technological innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth.  The big takeaway in the poll is that the public is disillusioned with the emphasis on standardized testing in their local public schools. Amazingly, nearly half the public supports opting out of mandated standardized tests, which until recently was a very controversial idea. This show of support is great news for the Opt Out movement, which is likely to grow in the future.  54% don’t want their public schools to implement the Common Core standards; only 24% of the public support the Common Core standards and 25% of public school parents.  The idea of school choice (among public schools) has grown acceptable to a majority, but only 31% support vouchers (that number is in the body of the report).
A few notable findings: one, the public “strongly opposes any federal role in holding public schools accountable.” This is no doubt a response to 13 years of No Child Left Behind, along with six years of Race to the Top, both of which have produced angst and few benefits.

"But the New Orleans miracle is not all it seems. Louisiana state standards are among the lowest in the nation. The new research also says little about high school performance. And the average composite ACT score for the Recovery School District was just 16.4 in 2014, well below the minimum score required for admission to a four-year public university in Louisiana.
There is also growing evidence that the reforms have come at the expense of the city’s most disadvantaged children, who often disappear from school entirely and, thus, are no longer included in the data."
The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover
New York Times By ANDREA GABOR AUG. 22, 2015
WAS Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,” as Education Secretary Arne Duncan once said? Nearly 10 years after the disaster, this has become a dominant narrative among a number of school reformers and education scholars.  Before the storm, the New Orleans public school system had suffered from white flight, neglect, mismanagement and corruption, which left the schools in a state of disrepair. The hurricane almost literally wiped out the schools: Only 16 of 128 buildings were relatively unscathed. As of 2013 the student population was still under 45,000, compared with 65,000 students before the storm. Following the storm, some 7,500 unionized teachers and other school employees were put on unpaid leave, and eventually dismissed.  Two years before the storm, the State of Louisiana had set up a so-calledRecovery School District to take over individual failing schools. After Katrina, the district eventually took over about 60 local schools; about 20 well-performing schools remained in the Orleans Parish School Board, creating, in essence, a two-tier system. Nearly all the schools in both parts of the system have since been converted to charters.

10 years after Katrina, New Orleans offers lessons about childhood trauma
the notebook By Laine Kaplan-Levenson for NewsWorks on Aug 21, 2015 11:45 AM
Kendall Booker stands on the roof of the New Orleans Healing Center in the city's Marigny neighborhood. Behind him is the edge of the skyline and the Crescent City Connection Bridge.   Ten years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, much of the physical damage the storm caused in the city of New Orleans has been repaired. Neighborhoods and communities have been rebuilt. Schools, hospitals, businesses, and restaurants have re-opened.  But a deeper, invisible wound brought by the storm remains. Thousands of residents, and especially children, were traumatized by the storm and the displacement and struggle that followed.  In late August 2005, Kendall Booker was in 5th grade, watching cartoons. All of a sudden, the program blacked out, and then President George W. Bush appeared on screen. Annoyed, Kendall flipped through the stations in search of another cartoon. But all he saw was the president.  "And my mind just snaps," Booker remembers. "Something really is going on and it's serious to where, like, this man is on 50 channels. So I decided to listen but at that time I couldn't comprehend everything."

PCCY: Get on the Bus to Harrisburg August 25th
As parents, teachers and advocates, you know first hand how difficult it is to get the resources needed to support our students. Harrisburg continues to be mired in political gridlock and has failed to pass a budget for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. 
Teachers, parents and students have no idea what they will be walking into come September for the start of school. We say enough is enough.
We are contacting you because on August 25th the PA House is scheduled to return to the Capitol—and we want to be there to meet them. Could you give us a few hours of your day and help make it clear that we demand a budget? 
  • Join your neighbors and other concerned citizens who believe that investing in our kids is  non-negotiable
  • We’ll provide: FREE Transportation to and from the Capitol and lunch; a brief training on the bus, materials, and day of schedule
  • Scheduled visits with elected officials  
Kids are off from school so bring them with you – after all, it concerns their future!
  • Bus will depart from in front of the United Way Building at 7:45am at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
  • We will return to Philly by approximately 4:30pm.  (Discounted parking ($8) available at the Sheraton Hotel at 17th & Race)
  • If you plan to drive yourself, we will meet at the Capitol between 10am and 10:30am.

INVITATION: Twitter Chat on Pennsylvania Education Funding
Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m.
The next Twitter chat with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. Use hashtag #FairFundingPA to participate and follow the conversation.  On the last Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., the following organizations go to Twitter to discuss timely topics, ask questions and listen to the public’s responses:
  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA);
  • The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA);
  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO);
  • The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS); and
  • The Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units
Join the conversation. Share your ideas, lurk, learn and let us know what you think about the state of support for public schools. It’s a simple, free and fast-paced way to communicate and share information. If you’ve never tweeted before, here are directions and a few tips:

The John Stoops Lecture Series: Dr. Pasi Sahlberg "Education Around the World: Past, Present & Future" Lehigh University October 8, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Baker Hall | Zoellner Arts Center | 420 E. Packer Avenue | Bethlehem, PA 18015
Free and open to the public!  Ticketing is general admission - no preseating will be assigned. Arrive early for the best seats.  Please plan to stay post-lecture for an open reception where you will have an opportunity to meet with students from all of our programs to learn about the latest innovations in education and human services.

Register now for the 2015 PASCD 65th Annual Conference, Leading and Achieving in an Interconnected World, to be held November 15-17, 2015 at Pittsburgh Monroeville Convention Center.
The Conference will Feature Keynote Speakers: Meenoo Rami – Teacher and Author “Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching,”  Mr. Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Heidi Hayes-Jacobs – Founder and President of Curriculum Design, Inc. and David Griffith – ASCD Senior Director of Public Policy.  This annual conference features small group sessions focused on: Curriculum and Supervision, Personalized and Individualized Learning, Innovation, and Blended and Online Learning. The PASCD Conference is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for innovative change in your school or district.  Join us forPASCD 2015!  Online registration is available by visiting <>

Nominations for PSBA's Allwein Advocacy Award close Aug. 28th
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

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online
PSBA website July 31, 2015
The slate of candidates for 2016 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online, including bios, photos and videos. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openAug. 17 and closes Sept. 28. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in August or September. Each person authorized to register the school entity's votes has received an email on July 16 to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to register the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

Register Now 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 is live at:

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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