Thursday, October 22, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 22: Campaign asks Governor, General Assembly to make students a top priority in budget negotiations; PSBA files lawsuit on use of Gaming Funds to pay charter school tuition

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3750 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 October 22, 2015:
Campaign asks Governor, General Assembly to make students a top priority in budget negotiations; PSBA files lawsuit on use of Gaming Funds to pay charter school tuition



"The Campaign for Fair Education Funding today submitted a formal request to Gov. Tom Wolf and members of the General Assembly, urging them to promptly reach a budget agreement that enacts the funding formula adopted by the state Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) and increases basic education funding by at least $410 million.  Leaders from more than 50 organizations signed a letter delivered to state lawmakers, warning that failure to sufficiently fund public schools and correct glaring disparities in the way public education is funded will shortchange children and continue to hold back the state's economy."
Campaign asks Governor, General Assembly to make students a top priority in budget negotiations
Campaign for Fair Education Funding October 21, 2015
HARRISBURG (OCTOBER 21, 2015) – The Campaign for Fair Education Funding today submitted a formal request to Gov. Tom Wolf and members of the General Assembly, urging them to promptly reach a budget agreement that enacts the funding formula adopted by the state Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) and increases basic education funding by at least $410 million.  Leaders from more than 50 organizations signed a letter delivered to state lawmakers, warning that failure to sufficiently fund public schools and correct glaring disparities in the way public education is funded will shortchange children and continue to hold back the state's economy.  Of all the states, Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts and is one of only three without a school funding formula. In its letter, the Campaign asks for leadership so that "Pennsylvania can shift from being a case study in unpredictable and inequitable public school funding to setting the standard for delivering fair funding that meets the needs of every child."
"We know that you and all Pennsylvania lawmakers want the brightest future possible for every child in the state," Campaign members wrote. "Please move quickly to resolve your differences and make our children a top priority in any agreement so that this long delayed budget is worth the wait for them." 
  
Read the Campaign for Fair Education Funding's Letter to the Governor and General Assembly
October 21, 2015 To the Governor and Members of the General Assembly:
We, the undersigned organizations and community leaders from across Pennsylvania, urge you to keep the needs of Pennsylvania’s school students at the forefront by promptly coming to a budget agreement that enacts the funding formula adopted by the state Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) and invests significant new dollars in our public schools. Since the budget impasse began more than 100 days ago, the state has missed three significant payments to our public schools, with another large payment due in just eight days. The state will be behind by more than $3 billion by then, and school districts already have been forced to borrow funds, delay payments to vendors, or suspend tuition payments to charter schools in order to meet payroll and keep the doors open.

State treasurer to withhold payment of gambling revenues from charter schools
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 21, 2015 2:06 PM
State Treasurer Timothy Reese will withhold the payment of $45 million in property tax gaming revenues slated to be released to charter schoolstomorrow.  The action came in response to a letter from Senate Democrats asking the treasurer to stop the payment, which had been initiated by the state Department of Education.  "We have received the letter and we are withholding payments as we review the issues raised," said treasurer's spokesman Scott Sloat.  Moments after the treasurer's office announced it would withhold the funds, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association announced it had filed suit in Commonwealth Court against the state treasurer and the Department of Education asking to stop the diversion of the gaming funds to charter schools and instead sent it to school districts.

PA to halt charter school payments amid budget impasse
The Associated Press Of The Morning Call October 21, 2015 5:59 pm
PA Treasury halts charter school payments as school boards file lawsuit
The state Department of Treasury has decided to stop giving money to charter schools that appealed to the state when some school districts began withholding tuition payments amid the budget impasse.  Treasury spokesman Scott Sloat said Wednesday that the agency wants to review the legality of the diversions.  The announcement came the same day that the Pennsylvania School Boards Association filed a lawsuit, alleging that such payments are illegal. Likewise, state Senate Democrats on Wednesday called on the state Treasurer Tim Reese to stop funding charter schools, saying the decision was based on one legal opinion.  The treasury had been scheduled to dole out $45 million to charter schools on Thursday, based on 312 school districts withholding funds, the Senate Democrats said.  Several charter schools have been petitioning the state Department of Education for relief after some school districts began withholding state-mandated tuition payments while the budget battle rages on. Parkland, Bethlehem Area, Salisbury Township and Northampton Area are among the districts.  Districts feel if they aren't receiving state funding during the stalemate, charter schools shouldn't either. They also want to hold onto as much cash as they can to get through the deadlock.

"In a statement issued the following day, PSBA staff attorneys said, “It is outrageous that the administration would resort to diversion of funds intended for taxpayers in order to immunize charter schools from the fiscal pain all other public schools are experiencing, and put charter schools in line ahead of other public schools for available state funds.”
PSBA files lawsuit with Commonwealth Court on use of Gaming Funds to pay charter school tuition
Today, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) filed in the Commonwealth Court a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the state Treasurer challenging the unlawful diversion of Property Tax Reduction Allocation funds from the Gaming Fund/Property Tax Relief Fund that were due to be paid to school districts on October 22 for the benefit of taxpayers. PDE requested the Treasurer to stop payment of those allocations and instead pay them to charter schools claiming they had not been fully paid for tuition.  The suit further asks the Court to order that the full amount of the property tax reducation allocations be paid to school districts as scheduled. Joining PSBA as named Petitioners are the Phoenixville Area School District and the Eastern Lancaster County School District.  In separate correspondence, PSBA sent a formal request to Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale asking for a full investigation into the diversion.  Due to the cash flow crunch created by the current state budget impasse, many school districts have delayed paying that portion of charter school tuition which reflects the state revenue they have not received yet. On Oct. 15, PDE issued an email notification to school district superintendents and business officials that it intended to cause the October payment of property tax reduction allocations from the Gaming Fund/Property Tax Relief Fund to be intercepted for the purpose of paying amounts claimed by charter schools to be due from school districts that had paid less than the charter school believed to be owed.

Pa.'s Senate Democrats attempting to block release of gaming funds for charter schools
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 21, 2015 2:06 PM
The state Senate Democrats are calling on Treasurer Timothy Reese to stop payment on the scheduled release of $45 million in property tax gaming revenues to charter schools slated for tomorrow.  The state budget impasse has prevented school districts from receiving their state subsidies, which they usually use to pay their charter school bills. As a result, some districts have not paid the charter school tuition, prompting the schools to appeal to the state Department of Education.  Last week, the education department said it would divert gaming revenues earmarked for property tax relief in school districts to charter schools, a move that prompted outrage among school district officials and some legislators. The education department’s plan would affect 312 of the state’s 500 school districts.

"The Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a coalition of more than 50 organizations, on Wednesday urged the governor and members of the General Assembly to reach a budget agreement that enacts a funding formula adopted by the state Basic Education Funding Commission.  They argued that failure to fund schools adequately and fairly will short-change children and hold back the state's economy.  The commission says that Pennsylvania is one of only three states that doesn't have a school-funding formula and that of all the states, Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poorer school districts."
Budget impasse, Wolf comments worry Pa. schools
KATHY BOCCELLA AND MATTHEW NUSSBAUM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 6:14 PM
The Coatesville Area School District is considering a line of credit. Garnet Valley might curtail or eliminate programs. Morrisville might not have enough money to pay all its bills.  With Gov. Wolf this week saying he won't advance funds to struggling school districts as the state budget impasse drags on, those that rely heavily on state funding are taking increasingly desperate measures to make ends meet.  Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association filed a Commonwealth Court suit against state officials who have been withholding portions of gambling revenue from cash-strapped district that have stopped making payments to charter schools because of the money crunch.

How long can school districts weather the Pa. budget impasse?
Christina Tatu and Sarah M. WojcikContact Reporters Of The Morning Call October 21, 2012
How long can school districts weather the Pa. budget impasse?
As the state budget stalemate threatens to drag into a fifth month, school districts in the Lehigh Valley have been poring over budgets, trying to figure out how long they can go before they must borrow millions of dollars.  Most Valley districts said they should be able to weather the impasse at least until the end of the year, using cash reserves. But the Allentown School District, like most urban districts that heavily rely on state funding, is starting to feel the crunch.  Either way, the deadlock is testing the patience of school officials in the Valley and across the state.  "I've never seen anything like this before," said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.

"Badams said Wednesday he is focused on building a coalition of other districts that are -- or soon will be -- in the same precarious financial situation as Erie. The district currently has enough money to operate through mid-November.  Badams, along with other superintendents and school board members from throughout the state, on Tuesday participated in a videoconference to discuss the effects of the impasse and possible remedies, including legal actions against the state.  "We left there with a collective resolve to figure out how we can formalize a coalition of districts," Badams said.  But parents and taxpayers need to speak up and voice their concerns, too, he said. He urged the public to put pressure on legislators."
No state advance for Erie district
By ERICA ERWIN erica.erwin@timesnews.com22 Oct 2015 — Erie Times-News
The Pennsylvania Treasury will not advance the Erie School District the money administrators say is needed to keep schools operating as the state budget impasse continues.  In a letter to Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams on Wednesday, the chief counsel for the Treasury said the department does not have the legal authority to issue any payment without the approval of the state agency.  Even if an advance were possible, the kind of no-interest advance requested by the district would violate the Treasury's fiduciary duty, Christopher Craig wrote.  "Though Pennsylvania Treasury is sympathetic to Erie's Public Schools' struggle to maintain operations during the current state budgetary impasse, a zero interest loan to the school district would not be appropriate under the current circumstances," Craig wrote.  Badams, who traveled to Harrisburg with other district officials on Monday to request the $47 million advance, said he was not surprised by the response but added that political support is growing for such a resolution. Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday said he wouldn't allow the state Department of Education to issue payments to individual districts.

Erie school officials unwilling to take no for an answer to their loan request
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on October 21, 2015 at 4:28 PM, updated October 21, 2015 at 4:46 PM
While disappointed over the denial of his district's $47 million loan request from the state Treasury, Erie City School District Superintendent Jay Badams is unwilling to give up on this idea to help his cash-strapped district, which will run out of money in a few weeks unless a state budget is soon finalized.  He figures maybe if he enlists the support of other districts and backs up the request with statistics about the borrowing costs they'd incur if they use a private lender, it might produce a different response from Treasury.  "I just think there is a way forward and I thought this idea would at least give a mechanism to prevent districts from becoming insolvent," Badams said.  Officials from Erie schools caused quite a stir this week by coming to Harrisburg and submitting a request for a $47 million no-interest loan from the state Treasury, which they would repay when a state budget is finally enacted.

Carbondale Superintendent considers suing the state or shutdown over budget impasse
Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 21, 2015 3:18 PM
Carbondale Superintendent Joseph Gorham says the district has spent all $5 million of its reserves, and at one point after September's payroll, had $11,000 in its bank account.
Local tax revenue is keeping the school open for now, but it's expected to run out by mid- to late-November.  So Gorham says it's time for districts across the state to talk about a symbolic shutdown to get the attention of Governor Tom Wolf and Republican legislative leaders.  "Maybe that'll spur people on both sides of aisles to really see the impact that it's having on students. You know, it sounds cliche, but it's the reality. What we are doing by digging our heels into the ground is directly impacting the psychology of a student."
Or, he says he's considering a lawsuit against the state.

Philly schools forced to borrow more because of Pa. budget impasse
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY OCTOBER 21, 2015
As Pennsylvania's budget impasse creeps towards its fifth month, the Philadelphia School District will need to borrow additional money to cover payroll beyond October.  In August, the district borrowed $275 million to get through the first two months of school because of the logjam in the state Capitol – a move that will ultimately cost an additional $1 million in debt service.  Now, district officials say, they need to borrow again – as first-year Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and the Republican-held Legislature continue their stalemate.  District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Wednesday he doesn't yet know how much the school system will need to borrow or how much the debt service will cost to cover expenses through the calendar year.  The details have yet to be worked out.

Near-broke Philly schools must borrow to make payroll
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 5:28 PM
Close to broke, the Philadelphia School District will soon have to borrow money to make payroll through the end of the year, officials confirmed Wednesday.  The School Reform Commission is to meet in the coming days to authorize temporary borrowing that will allow the district to function until a state budget stalemate resolves.  Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said that if there was no Pennsylvania budget by the end of the calendar year, he could not keep schools open, even with the temporary borrowing.

"What is even more troubling is how difficult it is to find essential information on how some charters have spent federal and state tax dollars, even as governments continue to increase funding for charters while slashing funds for traditional public schools. Unlike truly public schools that have to account for prospective and past spending in public budgets provided to democratically elected school boards, charter spending of tax monies is too often a black hole. This is the largely due to the way the charter industry has been built by proponents, favoring "flexibility" over rules. That flexibility has allowed an epidemic of fraud, waste, and mismanagement that would not be tolerated in public schools. Charters are often policed—if they are really policed at all—by charter proponents, both within government agencies and within private entities tasked with oversight as "authorizers" of charters."
Why Pennsylvania Has a Serious Charter School Problem
It's apparently state law that the charter schools get money or nobody does.
Esquire BY CHARLES P. PIERCE October 21, 2015
​As we noted, Kevin Johnson, husband of education "reform" hustler Michelle Rhee, has decided he doesn't want to be mayor of Sacramento anymore because the world has grown cold and mean. This, of course, does not mean the education "reform" grifting gravy train that has made the missus so wealthy doesn't roll merrily on in places like, oh, say Pennsylvania, where new Governor Tom Wolf is facing plaintive appeals from various public school districts that have no more money.
During a stop in Pittsburgh, Wolf told reporters that while he understands school districts are struggling financially, he cannot authorize payments to them until a new spending plan is in place, said spokesman Jeff Sheridan. The state has been operating without a fiscal blueprint since July 1, holding up critical state aid to public schools, counties, and nonprofits that provide social services. "We'd like to get them a final budget that fully invests in education," Sheridan said Tuesday. Wolf's comments came a day after the Erie school district asked the governor's office for a $47 million, no-interest advance so that it could keep its doors open without taking out bank loans.
​Wolf is still trying to dig out from the sinkhole left where Pennsylvania used to be before it elected his predecessor, Tom Corbett, and is trying to do so with a Republican state legislature. There have been budget proposals and vetoes, and the mess has now dragged on for five bloody months with no end in sight. What does this all have to do with education "reform"? Glad you asked.​

National GOP group's ad attacks Pennsylvania judge's record
AP State Wire by PETER JACKSON October 21, 2015
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A national Republican group is airing a TV attack ad to kick off what it says is a two-week blitz to influence the campaign for a record three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  The Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on electing Republicans to state-level offices, is the first out-of-state group to spend heavily in the seven-way race. It said its "initial investment" exceeds $1 million, including a second TV ad.

More negative ads airing in state Supreme Court race
By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 21, 2015 10:54 PM
In the latest sign that outside money may be swamping the state Supreme Court race, a political group backed by the controversial Koch family launched a $1 million advertising campaign Wednesday. And Democratic candidate Kevin Dougherty is squarely in its crosshairs.  In a TV ad airing across much of the state, the Republican State Leadership Committee charges that as a Philadelphia family judge, Judge Dougherty “shockingly allowed a young girl to be placed in the custody of a convicted murderer. … Tell Kevin Dougherty no more excuses. Keep our children safe.”

Stink bombs in Supreme Court race, and Chaka's broke
WHYY Newsworks DAVE DAVIES OFF MIC  A BLOG BY DAVE DAVIES OCTOBER 19, 2015
The first negative ads have appeared in the high-stakes race for three posts on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. They come from an independent group calling itself Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform.  The ads attack all three Republican candidates. They slam Adams County Judge Michael George as being soft on crime (see above),  Superior Court Judge Judith Olson as being anti-abortion rights, and Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey as lacking integrity.  The ads drew a sharp rebuke from the watchdog group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.  "Negative ads like these serve no purpose other than to discourage voters from seriously evaluating judicial candidates by using scare tactics such as selective editing and ominous voice overs," said Executive Director Lynn Marks. "All Supreme Court candidates should publicly and immediately denounce the ads and their content and ask Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform to remove the ads."  As we've reported, Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform is funded mostly by trial lawyers and unions, which are the strongest backers of the three Democratic candidates in the race. The group had raised about $360,000 as of Sept. 14.

"The spots from Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform criticizing the three Republican candidates were the first attack ads released in the race. The first buy totaled more than $56,000 across Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Scranton. The group is largely funded by labor unions and the political action committee of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association."
Richard Sprague demands recall of attack ad against Supreme Court candidate Covey
Trib Live By Melissa Daniels Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, 3:30 p.m.
One of the most prominent trial attorneys in Pennsylvania is demanding a special interest group take down an attack ad against Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey, a Republican Supreme Court candidate.  Richard Sprague sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mark Singel, chairman of Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform, regarding an ad claiming Covey lied about authoring published legal articles. He called the claim “demonstrably false and defamatory.”


How did Pennsylvania's Congressional Delegation vote on the DC Voucher Bill?
All 13 Republican Congressmen voted in support of vouchers; all 5 Democratic Congressmen voted  against the bill.

"Though reauthorization of the program still faces hurdles in the Senate and opposition in the White House, a piece of Boehner’s legacy was cemented Wednesday evening as the House approved the program."
House Approves Boehner’s D.C. Vouchers Bill
Roll Call By Bridget Bowman Posted at 6:57 p.m. on Oct. 21
House Republicans rallied around outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner Wednesday evening to approve one of his pet projects: a school voucher program for the District of Columbia.
The House approved reauthorizing the program, known as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, by a mostly party-line vote of 240–191.  Before the vote, Boehner took to the floor to make a rare speech, his voice breaking as he discussed the children who benefited from the program.  “Yes, this issue is personal to me and has been for along time, but frankly it ought to be personal to every single member of this body,” Boehner said. “We owe these kids a chance, a fighting chance, for success.”  Eight Republicans voted against Boehner’s bill, including veteran appropriator Mike Simpson of Idaho. The District’s representative in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., sat as members voted, as she does not have voting privileges on the House floor. Democrats whipped against the bill, and had two defections: Reps. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, who co-sponsored the bill, and John Delaney of Maryland.  The bill, known as the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results or SOAR Act, would reauthorize the program for five years. And though funding is authorized through fiscal 2016, the House has moved quickly on the bill, voting on the legislation just more than two weeks after it was introduced.

House Votes to Reauthorize D.C. SchoolVoucher Program
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on October 21, 2015 7:22 PM
The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to reauthorize the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR), which creates vouchers for a certain number of K-12 students in the District of Columbia. But what will happen after the House's passage of H.R. 10 is unclear.  The Opportunity Scholarship program is a political favorite of House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and he's intent on making sure his name stays with the program even after he leaves Congress. As my colleague Alyson Klein noted last month, H.R. 10 was approved by the House even though the program isn't technically up for renewal this year. (Remember, at one time Boehner was chairman of the House education committee, and fought unsuccessfully for the inclusion of a voucher program during negotiations over what became the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.)  Six other lawmakers co-sponsored H.R. 10, including Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who now leads the House education committee, and one Democrat, Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski. 

Keeping Black Men In Front Of The Class
Of all the teachers in the U.S., only 2 percent are black and male. That news is bad enough. But it gets worse: Many of these men are leaving the profession.  Just last month, a new study found that the number of black teachers in the public schools of nine cities dropped between 2002 and 2012. In Washington, D.C., black teachers' share of the workforce dropped from 77 percent to 49 percent.  Now, a researcher at Stanford, Travis Bristol, is trying to figure out why black men are leaving the profession. Bristol himself taught high school English in New York City public schools; there he grew interested in designing policies that would support his male students, particularly boys of color. As a Ph.D. candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, he noticed a disconnect: While lots of attention was being paid to hiring more black male teachers, relatively little was being done to hold onto them.

Jesse Hagopian: At a school with a history of social protest, this teacher is leading an opposition to ‘excessive testing’
NPR by Gwen Ifill October 20, 2015 at 6:25 PM EDT
In Seattle, protest against the Common Core test is catching on. Meet one high school teacher who has led a boycott against standardized tests as educational assessment, and who educates his students on their right to opt out. Gwen Ifill reports.
GWEN IFILL: Not long ago, I traveled to Seattle to talk with Bill and Melinda gates, the Microsoft billionaires who have become leading philanthropists for a school reform movement that champions testing for students and teachers.  But not everyone agrees with that approach, not even in the Gates Foundation’s home town. While in Seattle, I talked with one of the teachers leading the opposition.  The report is part of our American Graduate series, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Whose Choice? Student Experiences and Outcomes in the New Orleans School Marketplace
Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) October Newsletter
Research shows that New Orleans school reforms have created a set of schools that are highly stratified by race, class, and educational advantage. While some students have choice; others do not: both access and educational quality differ substantially, with the most vulnerable students least likely to experience the stability and supportive environments they need. Research report and brief by SCOPE’s Frank Adamson, Channa Cook-Harvey, and Linda Darling-Hammond.

"Alum Catherine Michna, now a professor of education at Tulane, has said that she won’t write recommendation letters for students who want to join the program. “TFA members do not work in service of public education,” shewrote in Slate. “They work in service of a corporate reform agenda that rids communities of veteran teachers, privatizes public schools, and forces a corporatized, data-driven culture upon unique low-income communities with unique dynamics and unique challenges.”
Teach for America’s biggest problem isn’t green teachers or failing schools. It’s that it can’t take criticism.
The organization spends millions defanging its critics without ever listening to their ideas.
Washington Post By T. Jameson Brewer October 20 
T. Jameson Brewer is a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
If you’ve taught your way through Teach For America like I have, you know that feedback is part of the job. Not only do new teachers receive critiques from principals, fellow educators and students, they’re also deluged with weekly and monthly reports on their success from the organization itself.  Although the amount of feedback varies from region to region, the message is clear: With enough data, anyone can become a champion educator, able to lift students’ reading and math scores many years in a single leap.  Unfortunately, TFA does not apply a similar philosophy to its own organization. Not only is TFA notoriously unwilling to listen to outside orinternal critics (one former TFA manager decried its “inability and unwillingness to honestly address valid criticism” in The Washington Post). The organization has also spent millions of dollars on a press shop built to promote its brand while aggressively and proactively discrediting critiques.  This is bad for the organization, and it’s bad for students. TFA has real problems — its teachers are largely unprepared and fare no better than regular educators. It has a high drop-out rate, and the number of applicants has plummeted. Additionally, TFA sends its volunteer teachers to school districts in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, places now facing teacher layoffs and hiring freezes. Some school districts have even rescinded contracts with TFA, citing teachers’ lack of preparation and low retention rates.


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.

SCHOOL CHOICE: THE ROLE OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE COURTS IN IMPROVING EDUCATION
Constitution Center, Philadelphia Monday, November 2, 2015 at 4 p.m.
Free for Members • $7 teachers & students • $10 public
Become a Member today for free admission to this program and more!
Click here to join and learn more or call 215-409-6767.
Does the Constitution guarantee an “equal education” to every child? What do the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions say about school choice, teacher tenure, standardized testing, and more? The Constitution Center hosts two conversations exploring these questions.
In the first discussion, education policy experts—Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Mark Gleason of the Philadelphia School Partnership, Deborah Gordon Klehr of the Education Law Center, and Ina Lipman of the Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia—examine the state of Philadelphia public education, what an "equal education" in Philadelphia would look like, and their specific proposals for getting there. They also explain what, if anything, the Pennsylvania state constitution says about these questions, and how state government interacts with local government in setting education policy.
In the second discussion, James Finberg of Altshuler Berzon and Joshua Lipshutz of Gibson Dunn—two attorneys involved in Vergara v. California, a landmark dispute over the legality of teacher retention policies—present the best arguments on both sides and discuss what's next in the case. They also explain what the U.S. Constitution and major Supreme Court cases like Brown v. Board of EducationSan Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 say about education and our national debates.

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 www.pascd.org <http://www.pascd.org/>

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2016; January 24 - 26 in Washington, D.C.
Housing and meeting registration is open for Advocacy Institute 2016.  The theme, “Election Year Politics & Public Schools,” celebrates the exciting year ahead for school board advocacy.  Strong legislative programming will be paramount at this year’s conference in January.  Visit www.nsba.org/advocacyinstitute for more information.

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

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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