Wednesday, September 16, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 16: More districts considering delaying PSERS and charter payments as PA budget impasse continues

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 16, 2015:
More districts considering delaying PSERS and charter payments as PA budget impasse continues

PSBA Education Action Day scheduled for  Sept. 21 in Harrisburg has been cancelled

"We don't feel the General Assembly intended the Charter School Law to exempt charters from bearing a share of the fiscal impacts the current budget impasse is causing traditional public schools, or force school districts to hand over hypothetical subsidies that we are currently not receiving," board President Roberta M. Marcus said.
Without money from state, Parkland won't pay tuition for charter students
By Kevin Duffy Special to The Morning Call September 15, 2015
With state lawmakers now well past the deadline to pass a budget, Parkland School District will not be making tuition payments for its students who attend charter schools.  Citing the absence of state subsidies coming into the district, the school board voted unanimously Tuesday to withhold payments for the 226 students who attend brick-and-mortar charter schools and cybercharter schools.  "We are taking fiscal responsibility within our district regardless of the fiscal irresponsibility of our state legislators," Director Robert Cohen said.  Last year, Parkland paid the equivalent of approximately $2.4 million, or $200,000 per month, to cover the tuition of 126 students at brick-and-mortar charter schools and 100 who are home-schooled through cybercharters.  That amount does not account for transportation costs associated with busing students to charter school campuses within a 10-mile radius of Parkland's district boundaries — Lincoln Leadership Academy and Roberto Clemente Charter School, both in Allentown.  School districts are required to make 12 monthly payments equal to the amount owed per year for a resident student attending a charter school. If districts opt not to pay, that amount is deducted from their state subsidy.  "We're just saying deduct it from our subsidy," Superintendent Richard T. Sniscak said.  With the pipeline of state aid having run dry, Parkland has decided to pull the plug on paying into the charter system.

"In the third item, the board decided to pay 30 percent of the charter school tuition otherwise owed that represents the proportion of total budgeted revenue received from the Commonwealth until a state budget is in place and subsidies begin to arrive. Seventy percent of the payments are to be delayed.  All three measures passed on 8-0 votes."
Smethport school district taking measures during state budget impasse
Bradford Era By FRAN De LANCEY Era Correspondent Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 10:00 am
SMETHPORT — The lack of a state budget influenced the Smethport Area School Board's action on three financial measures Monday.  First, the directors authorized the administration to make transfers from the Designated Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System Fund Balance, as necessary, until the state has a new budget in place. According to business manager Sue Jordan, "This transfer will come from the money the district has set aside to cover increased contributions to PSERS, with the obligation to return the funds once the state has approved a state budget."  In the second case, the board approved delaying the full amount of the employer contribution to PSERS until the receipt of the state reimbursement following the OK of a new state budget. The board could have delayed paying the entire or the net amount.
Jordan noted that opinions from the district solicitor and Pennsylvania School Boards Association agree with the legality of the decision.

"As for charter school payments, Superintendent Alan Fegley said he would be speaking to various superintendents across the county to see how they would be making payments, and would inform the board of those discussions at the next meeting this Thursday."
Phoenixville School District to pay half of pension obligations
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 09/15/15, 6:09 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Phoenixville >> Pennsylvania’s budget impasse is being felt in all corners of the state including in the Phoenixville Area School District.  Last week, school officials discussed the district’s plan to pay 50 percent of what’s owed for the Public School Employees’ Retirement System until the state approves a new budget. The district is still deciding what to do about charter school payments. Additionally, officials say the district will be able to remain afloat financially until next spring, should the impasse continue into 2016.  Stan Johnson, executive director of operations, said Thursday the district faces two issues: PSERS payments and charter school payments.  “The normal method for that and the requirement by law is that the state of Pennsylvania pays us 50 percent of the obligation, we pay the other 50 percent,” Johnson said of the PSERS system. “Within five days of the receipt of funds from the state, we then put our money with the state’s money and give that money to PSERS.”  However, now without the state’s 50 percent share, the question becomes when does the district owe its share of the bill?  “Lawyers have taken the position that we don’t owe anything to PSERS until we receive the state’s share,” Johnson said. “That is a big unknown at this point with no state budget.”  Most school districts in Chester County that Johnson has spoken say they are planning to pay their 50 percent share for PSERS on the normally scheduled due date “but only the 50 percent. Not the full amount.” Phoenixville then will follow suit.
“We will not pay the state’s share until we receive it from the state,” Johnson emphasized.

Budget impasse cash flow measures: PSBA guidance on legality of delaying employer contributions to PSERS and non-local portion of charter school tuition
PSBA website

Wolf, lawmakers need to know that Pa. schools are in crisis without a budget: As We See It
By PennLive Op-Ed on September 15, 2015 at 1:00 PM
The authors of this piece are: Jim Buckheit, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; Nathan Mains, Executive Director, Pennsylvania School Boards Association; Jay Himes, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials; Paul Healey, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals, and Joseph Bard, Executive Director, of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools.
A crisis is building in communities throughout our state as each day passes without a budget.  Like flood waters rising, an increasing number of districts are making plans to take on more debt to make payroll and pay bills as they continue to educate more than 1.8 million children in their local public schools.  School districts have not received any funding from the state for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  The number of school districts negatively impacted surged at the end of August when more than $1 billion in state education funding normally paid to schools was missing.   By October, school districts will be operating with a shortfall of more than $3 billion in state funding.

What's the sound of two sides negotiating? Whatever it is, it's not happening in budget talks: Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 15, 2015 at 3:53 PM
This is just getting weird now.
In a Pittsburgh radio interview on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf set down the "conditions" under which he'd consider the stopgap budget plan currently being cooked up by majority Republicans in the state Senate.  It was just another head-scratching moment in a season full of head-scratchers.  Wolf told KDKA-AM on Tuesday that he'd only sign a stop-gap plan if he has a general budget agreement with the GOP; wouldn't consider a stop-gap as an alternative to the budget; and would only consider a "reasonable" bill after he sees what the GOP has thrown into it, The Associated Press reported.  "If we get to a point where we have a general agreement on what the budget looks like and it's going to take some time to actually get the details in place," then "I'd be in favor a stopgap then," Wolf told KDKA. "But only in that case."

"I think what we need is a budget, that's what I'm working for," Wolf said. "A real budget, a budget that is balanced, a budget that has a severance tax, a budget that invests in education, a budget that has property tax relief. That's what the people of Pennsylvania want. That's what I'm working for."
Wolf puts down markers for signing short-term spending bill by MARC LEVY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 4:41 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf appeared to be in no mood on Tuesday to break Pennsylvania's 11-week-old budget stalemate by signing onto a short-term spending plan that the Legislature's big Republican majorities are preparing to advance.  The first-term Democrat said during a regular appearance on Pittsburgh radio station KDKA-AM that he would sign a "reasonable" stopgap spending plan. But he went on to say that he had no drop-dead date in mind for signing a short-term plan to release funding to school districts and an array of safety-net services, and that he would sign such a plan only if he already had a general budget agreement with lawmakers.

Pennsylvania Senate returns to move short-term spending plan
Pottstown Mercury By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 09/16/15, 5:34 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> The Pennsylvania Senate is returning to Harrisburg for the first time in two months as majority Republicans look to start advancing a short-term spending package to break a budget stalemate.  The Senate’s Wednesday session was scheduled to include procedural votes on the spending package.  Republicans say the package would release about $11 billion, or four months of money retroactive to July 1, plus billions more in federal money that’s being held up.  However, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is signaling that he won’t sign a stopgap spending plan unless he has a general budget agreement with lawmakers and it would take some time to finish the details.  With the state’s spending authority curtailed, Pennsylvania’s school districts, counties and nonprofit social services providers are searching for ways to scrape by.

Stop-gap budget to be modeled on GOP-agreed to/vetoed budget plan
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The stop-gap budget plan likely to be taken up by the Senate as soon as Wednesday will be modeled on the previously passed and then vetoed GOP-agreed to budget plan encompassed in House Bill 1192, according to Steve Miskin, spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus.  He said the proposal—which has yet to be made public—will likely be one-third of the $30.2 billion in state spending encompassed in the spending plan that was passed and vetoed on June 30th. It will also allow pass-through federal funding to flow to those organizations reliant on that money.  The proposal is expected to provide funding retroactive to when the fiscal year began July 1 and provide funding at least through October.  If the Senate passes the plan by week’s end, the House—according to Miskin—is on track to get the measure to the governor by next Friday.

Guest Column: Pa. Legislature has betrayed schools in the commonwealth
Delco Times Opinion By Joseph Batory, Times Guest Columnist 09/15/15, 10:13 PM EDT
Joseph Batory is a former superintendent of schools in Upper Darby and author of numerous articles on politics and education.
Pennsylvania’s 253-member General Assembly is the second-largest state Legislature in the nation and the largest full-time state Legislature in the USA. It is also America’s costliest state Legislature per capita. But in spite of its size and its legislative salaries (base pay of $85,356 + $157 per diem for members), the Pennsylvania Legislature continues to be woefully ineffective.  If an ordinary citizen ignored financial obligations and job responsibilities, he or she might be in big trouble. Yet incredibly, Pennsylvania is now two months beyond the constitutional deadline for budget adoption. It has been a summer when too many legislators seemed to be prioritizing politics rather than finalizing a 2015-2016 budget for Pennsylvania. And it is financially irresponsible and unfair that Pennsylvania’s school districts have obeyed the legal deadline for budget adoption by July 1 without knowing what amounts of funding the state will provide. This is a recipe for disaster, government at its worst.  One key factor that has delayed the budget process is that too many legislators are refusing to face the reality that Pennsylvania’s constitution mandates that the state “thoroughly and efficiently support public education.” The Legislature did put forward a budget in late June (vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf) that came nowhere near addressing this obligation.

PA-BGT: Leach, Wagner Engage in War of Words
PoliticsPA Written by Nick Field, Managing Editor September 15, 2015
Well, at least we have a good debate going.
For months now, we’ve been locked in a stalemate over the budget. This impasse has not only been rather interminable but also seemingly silent. There have been very little theatrics given the important subject matter.  Today, however, State Sen. Scott Wagner sought to change the narrative by issuing an open letter to editorial writers throughout the commonwealth to stop blaming the legislature.  “It appears that newspaper editorial departments across the state are offering their opinion on the state budget,” Wagner wrote. “Let me set the record straight — the legislature met its obligation to pass a balanced budget by the constitutionally required deadline.”  “Gov. Wolf chose to veto a budget that was balanced, did not raise taxes, and provided increased education funding.”  State Sen. Daylin Leach responded with a letter of his own.  “As we in government struggle to enact a budget, people are weighing in with their opinion,” Leach began. “Recently, my colleague Senator Scott Wagner sent a letter to media outlets across the state offering the Republican Party line. In the interests of balance, I offer this competing view.”
“It is true that the Republican majority in the legislature passed ‘a budget.’ But Governor Wolf did not campaign for Governor promising to sign literally anything the legislature passed, no matter how poor and inadequate it is.”  When viewed together, Wagner’s and Leach’s comments form an intriguing debate between two State Senators over the budget. A debate that is helped by the fact that they are arguably the most conservative and progressive Senators in the chamber and clearly the most entertaining.

BASD feels budget impasse pinch, limits non-essential spending
Bradford Era By COLIN DEPPEN Era Reporter | 0 comments Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 10:00 am
Three weeks into the year and school officials in Bradford are reporting a strong start, while continuing to closely monitor a state budget stalemate, one with strong implications for public education, now in its third month.  Monday’s meeting of the Bradford Area School Board included mention of the state budget stalemate, one that has left shares of state education funding up in the air.  Superintendent Katharine Pude said district efforts to curb spending on non-essentials will continue absent a resolution between lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf, with both sides at odds on everything from taxes to education spending, and public pensions to liquor sales.  “We have asked our building administrators to curtail expenses and to order only items that are immediately necessary so that we can weather the budget impasse,” Pude said, adding, “hopefully some agreements will be reached in the near future.”  
Early media reports out of the capital on Monday reported no tangible progress.

Republican Stopgap Budget Worth About $11 Billion Out Of $30.2 Billion Budget
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates September 16, 2015
The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet today off the floor to consider Senate Bill 1000 General Fund Stopgap Budget Bill and Senate Bill 1001 Fiscal Code Stopgap Bill.
The stopgap budget is about $11 billion of the $30.2 billion General Fund budget passed by Republicans in June and included in the so-called "agreed-to" budget bill-- House Bill 1192. It will also allow the pass-through of federal funding to state agencies and organizations reliant on that money.    The Fiscal Code bill has special project funding legislators put in the original Fiscal Code bill-- Senate Bill 655-- vetoed by Gov. Wolf in June.

Charter schools have 'borrowed nearly $500m on taxpayers' dime,' report: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 15, 2015 at 8:33 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If there's a flash point debate over education reform, the role of charter schools is surely one of the top contenders for the title.  Just last week, the state of Washington's Supreme Court ruled that charters were not public schools under the state Constitution, and were thus not eligible for public funding.  In Pennsylvaniacharter reform and how to make sure school districts are properly compensated for the cost of charters has been at the center of debate for several years.  This week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Philadelphia's "booming" charters, revealing that schools have borrowed nearly $500 million to finance a rapid expansion.
But the "bond financing behind the mountain of money gets little scrutiny on whether the debt is a smart use of Pennsylvania's limited educational dollars," the newspaper reported.

"Rivera has been working “aggressively” with legislative leaders and others in Harrisburg to change how the profiles are calculated altogether, he said Monday. He didn’t provide much detail on what a new profile would look like, but said standardized test scores would be one-third of the measure, rather than the biggest factor.  “If we change nothing else, if I can change how we measure school performance to be much more holistic, that changes how we focus on teaching and learning,” Rivera said."
Pa. Secretary of Education: School ratings should be 'much more holistic'
Lancaster Online by Kara Newhouse Staff Writer September 15, 2015
If Pedro Rivera has his way, Pennsylvania schools not only will get a break from state ratings this year, but the criteria for those ratings will change significantly moving forward.  The state secretary of education and former superintendent of Lancaster schools talked about the work he’s doing to change School Performance Profiles during a visit to Columbia High School on Monday afternoon.  At a roundtable with 11 teachers and administrators, Rivera also maintained his optimism that financially struggling districts like Columbia would receive more funding under Gov. Tom Wolf — even as a two-and-half-month budget impasse has delayed state payments to schools.

State files new Chester Upland recovery plan
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 09/15/15, 10:18 PM EDT 
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> A new recovery plan for the Chester Upland School District has been filed in Delaware County Court of Common Pleas seeking to eliminate the district’s structural deficit and its negative fund balance.  The amended plan, filed Tuesday, again seeks to alter the charter school tuition reimbursement formula for special education students, a proposal that was denied by President Judge Chad F. Kenney last month. In this plan, the tuition changes are paired with yet another cash infusion from the state.  At a hearing last week before Kenney, district business administrators and attorneys said that without a new plan, Chester Upland will end the 2015-2016 school year with a $50.9 million deficit, more than double the deficit at the end of the previous school year. Kenney denied efforts to alter the charter school funding formula, calling the measure inadequate to address the whole budget shortfall, which district and state leaders say is caused by those tuition reimbursements. Kenney did approve the hiring of a financial turnaround specialist and the performance of a forensic audit for the last five years.
“Modifying the special education charter school tuition rates, in conjunction with the initiatives to eliminate the district’s negative fund balance, is wholly adequate to restore the District to financial stability,” attorneys for the district and the Pennsylvania Department of Education wrote in the court filings Tuesday.

State expected to decide this week on Washington Township petition to switch districts
Board should vote this week on petition to move municipality to Northern schools
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   09/15/2015 10:47:14 AM EDT
A years-long fight over moving Washington Township to a different school district could see an end soon.  The state board of education is expected to make a decision this week on the Washington Township Education Coalition's petition to move the township from the Dover Area School District to the Northern York County School District.  The petition was filed in 2012, spurred on by the Dover district's closure of Kralltown Elementary, the only school in the township. The coalition, which gathered the signatures of the majority of township residents, has asked to move districts, citing better test scores in Northern, better truancy and graduation rates, plus a lower tax rate. Plus, with Kralltown closed, many residents live closer to Northern's schools.  The potential move was opposed by a group called KIDS, or Keep us in Dover Schools, made up of parents who want their children to remain in the district, as well as by the school district and its teachers union. Members of KIDS have maintained that the differences between the districts are not significant and that petitioners just want the lower taxes offered by Northern.

Protesting teachers, Main Line school to talk
The Radnor Township School District and its teachers, who are withholding college-recommendation letters for seniors to protest a rancorous contract stalemate, plan to resume talks next week for the first time since Aug. 27.  The Delaware County district's 320 teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 31, and their union leader, David Wood, said their action was aimed at drawing attention to the dispute.  The protests by teachers, however, has drawn other protests -- from parents and students.  In a letter distributed Tuesday night, three seniors asked the union "to drop its protest strategy."  Saying students were being "thrown into the cross-fire," they called upon the district and teachers to settle their differences.
On Tuesday, administration officials assured students at a morning assembly that guidance counselors were prepared to write the letters and that no deadlines would be missed.

Q & A with Superintendent Hite
His thoughts on the new school year, the teachers contract, charter schools, and more.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 15, 2015 05:51 PM
Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa interviewed Superintendent William Hite for an article in our Fall Guide the week before school opened. Here are additional excerpts from the interview, which occurred before the problems with outsourcing substitute service became evident. The interview was edited for length.
Notebook: What do you hope will be different this year and what are you most excited about?
Hite: So, I’m excited about a couple of things. Number one, I’m excited that we’re talking about opening schools without having to reduce something or eliminate something, cut something, close something. I’m also very excited about the fact that with all of the principals that we hired over the last several years, that now there’s over 90 percent retention rate of those individuals who have taken on the leadership roles of their schools.  The work this year that is most exciting to me [is] ensuring equity. As I talk about equity, I’m thinking about defining equity as great schools close to where children live. We have some children now who may have aptitudes for the arts or may have AP potential, who don’t have access to those opportunities simply because of where they live. We’re working so that zip code no longer defines destiny for our children.

De Blasio to Announce 10-Year Deadline to Offer Computer Science to All NYC Students
To ensure that every child can learn the skills required to work in New York City’s fast-growing technology sector, Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce on Wednesday that within 10 years all of the city’s public schools will be required to offer computer science to all students.
Meeting that goal will present major challenges, mostly in training enough teachers. There is no state teacher certification in computer science, and no pipeline of computer science teachers coming out of college. Fewer than 10 percent of city schools currently offer any form of computer science education, and only 1 percent of students receive it, according to estimates by the city’s Department of Education.  Computer science will not become a graduation requirement, and middle and high schools may choose to offer it only as an elective. But the goal is for all students, even those in elementary school and those in the poorest neighborhoods, to have some exposure to computer science, whether building robots or learning to use basic programming languages like Scratch, which was devised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to teach young children the rudiments of coding.

"Within five years, Booker promised, they would emerge with a model for turning around any failing urban school district - one that Zuckerberg could then "scale up" through philanthropy in one city after the next, solving the education crisis in urban America."
In Newark, a school reform plan gone awry by DALE RUSSAKOFF POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 1:08 AM
Five years ago this month, Mark Zuckerberg, Cory Booker, and Chris Christie announced on The Oprah Winfrey Show that the young founder of Facebook was pledging $100 million to transform the debilitated Newark school system into "a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation."  It was a spectacular kickoff, with extravagant expectations. In his first act as a philanthropist, the then-26-year-old Zuckerberg was setting out to revolutionize urban education, much as he had reshaped global communication from his Harvard dorm room. As Booker laid out the plan, the then-Newark mayor and New Jersey Gov. Christie would use Zuckerberg's largesse to bring all the ideas of the national education reform movement to Newark: vastly expand charter schools, close failing district schools, replace the weakest teachers with top talent from around the country, relax tenure protections, and build a state-of-the-art data system through which to hold everyone accountable for student performance. 

Watch Out, 1%! The Students Are Taking Action!
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch September 15, 2015 //
I have often written that high school students have the power to stop the bad policies that are ruining their education. When they realize they are being cheated, when they organize to fight for equitable funding and against the misuse of testing, it’s game over for the corporate reformers.
Two high school students in Texas have written a brief to demand adequate funding for their schools, in a case now in the courts.
Valerie Strauss writes: “Two Texas teenagers representing a group of students in the Houston Independent School District have taken an unusual action: They wrote and submitted to the Texas Supreme Court a 35-page brief siding with more than 600 school districts suing the state for underfunding public education in violation of the Texas constitution.

Texas students ask state Supreme Court to force adequate funding of public schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 13, 2015
Two Texas teenagers representing a group of students in the Houston Independent School District have taken an unusual action: They wrote and submitted to the Texas Supreme Court a 35-page brief siding with more than 600 school districts suing the state for underfunding public education in violation of the Texas constitution.  The court justices recently held a hearing about the suit, which the state is seeking to have dropped. The school districts — about two-thirds of the total in Texas — are arguing that state authorities rely on an outdated funding mechanism that does not provide schools with enough resources to meet the needs of the growing number of high-needs students in the state and provide an adequate education as required by the constitution.  The suit was originally filed in 2011 after the state legislature cut nearly $5.5 billion from public education, and though most of it has since been restored, the districts still say they are being underfunded. A year ago, a Texas district judge agreed and threw out the state school funding system as unconstitutional.

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against Charter Schools in Operator Case
State Impact Ohio BY KAREN KASLER SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 | 1:15 PM
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled against 10 charter schools that sued their operator over school property that was purchased with state funds.  The ruling said that schools are obliged to buy back computers, desks and other equipment that their operator White Hat Management had bought with money it received from the state.  In the majority opinion, Justice Judith Lanzinger noted the schools hadn’t performed well under White Hat’s management, but that the contracts the schools had with White Hat were entered into voluntarily and were enforceable.

Ohio: Charter School Equipment Belongs to Private Manager, Not the Public
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch September 15, 2015 //
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that property purchased by the for-profit charter management corporation White Hat using public funds belongs to White Hat, not the public.  I’m no lawyer, but this decision says to me that the schools’ stuff does not belong to the public, but to a private entrepreneur. I take that to be an acknowledgement that White Hat privatized the assets of the school. More evidence that charter schools are not public schools. If they were, their stuff purchased with public funds would belong to the public.  White Hat was sued by the boards of 10 of its charter schools, all of which have closed for poor performance.  “A charter school operator – not the schools themselves – own the classroom desks, computers and other equipment purchased with state-provided tax dollars, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

Why I Opted Out Of The TFA Alumni Survey
Gary Rubenstein's Blog Posted on September 15, 2015 by garyrubinstein
As a Teach For America alum (Houston 1991), I am invited each year to participate in the annual TFA alumni survey.  This year I decided to ‘opt out’ of it since I don’t need them misusing my information to help them gain any more money and power that they have already undeservedly secured.  For example, just a few days ago TFA released a ‘research’ paper in which they contradict everything we know about TFA attrition and claim that, what do ya know?, TFA teachers don’t have low attrition at all.  According to their new analysis, about half of TFA alumni teach for more than 7 years!  (I’ll analyze this report in a future post.  I’m first awaiting some relevant data from TFA if they’re willing to share.)  Perhaps the most ubiquitous statistic that TFA infers from the annual alumni survey is the one that says that 2/3 of all alumni are still in eduction.  Here it is quoted as far back as 2004.  For the past ten years this number hasn’t budged one way or another.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: September 9 - 15, 2015
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on September 15, 2015 - 12:38pm 
It's still very early in the 2015-2016 school year, but the rapidly growing assessment reform movement is already winning more victories, pressuring policymakers in a number of states to cut back testing overkill and high-stakes consequences.

SCHOOL PLAY - It's a touchy subject
Suzanne Roberts Theatre Philadelphia Wed. Sept. 16th 7:00 p.m.
School Play explores our attitudes toward public education using the real voices of Pennsylvanians from across the Commonwealth
The performance will be held next Wednesday, September 16th at 7:00 pm at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad St., Philadelphia).  Tickets are free.  People can go to this link to RSVP:

Help fund the statewide tour of a live documentary play about the struggle to save public education in Pennsylvania.
After standing-room-only shows at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center in April, we’re taking this compelling play about the precarious state of public education back to the people who lent us their voices and stories. This October, we’re traveling across the state, putting on free performances to spark conversations and engage citizens.  School Play is a work of grassroots theatre, woven from the narratives of hundreds of Pennsylvanians affected by our state’s school funding crisis. The play is entirely crowd-sourced; the script is derived from the words of students, parents, educators and legislators, and is available online for anyone to perform.  Artists Arden Kass, Seth Bauer and Edward Sobel created School Play out of our personal concern for our kids and our communities. The result is a funny, sad, straight-talking documentary theatre piece, told through the words of real people.  You can read more about School Play here, here, here and here.

Register Now for the Fifth Annual Arts and Education Symposium Oct. 29th Harrisburg
Thursday, October 29, 2015 Radisson Hotel Harrisburg Convention Center 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Act 48 Credit is available. The event will be a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about important policy issues and the latest news from the field. The symposium is hosted by EPLC and the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network, and supported by a generous grant from The Heinz Endowments.

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 <>

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 open Aug. 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:

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

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