Monday, November 2, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 2: Checkout our special edition focusing on the PA Supreme Court race

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3785 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 November 2, 2015:
Checkout our special edition focusing on the PA Supreme Court race

See our special edition October 31 postings focusing on  the Supreme Court race
School Funding Lawsuit: Why Tuesday’s PA Supreme Court Election Is Absolutely Crucial

Did you catch our weekend posting?
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 1: Study on online charter schools: ‘It is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year’

Woe spreads in Pennsylvania’s 4-month budget standoff
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 11/01/15, 6:09 PM EST
HARRISBURG >> State-subsidized pre-kindergarten programs are shutting down, domestic violence shelters are closing their doors and Pennsylvania’s school districts are begging for more time to pay their bills — all because of a four-month budget stalemate that shows no signs of ending.  County governments and local school boards waiting on billions in state aid are burning through loans and emptying reserves. Some social services organizations are shuttering programs and laying off hundreds of workers who care for the state’s most vulnerable populations.  Even for Pennsylvania — a state that’s seen its share of knockdown, drag-out partisan fights — this one is particularly worrisome.  “It’s a bunch of crap, to be honest with you,” said Kathy Moyer, who was told her 4-year-old son Jake would attend his last day of pre-kindergarten Friday at the Growing Place in Brodheadsville, before other nonprofits came to the rescue to keep it open — for now.  The governor, Tom Wolf, is a first-term Democrat and former businessman unaccustomed to political deal-making who wants a multibillion-dollar tax increase to correct a long-term deficit and narrow a funding disparity between rich and poor school districts considered to be among the nation’s widest.

"Before his remarks in Erie, he told reporters that both sides in the impasse are making progress for a compromise.  "I believe  that there's real movement. I see in individual members, and I  believe  the leadership too, of the other side, of recognizing  that we have to get to common ground," Wolf said."
Governor Wolf Speaks in Erie
Erie News Now by John Last Posted: Nov 01, 2015 10:28 PM EST
Governor Tom Wolf was in Erie Sunday night to speak at  the Jefferson Educational Society's Global Summit.  Wolf spoke to a respectful crowd at the Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy auditorium.   The audience gave him a standing ovation as he arrived at the podium.
Pennsylvania is in its 125th day of a state budget impasse. Wolf spoke about the importance of education and why he is holding out for, what he feels, is  proper funding for school districts. Wolf said education has such importance, that citizens of the state have to invest in it. He said Pennsylvanians did exactly that to fix roads and bridges, and they need to do the same thing to fix the problems our school districts are facing. Wolf called for a billion dollar increase in public education funding in the budget he proposed to the state legislature.

Governor Wolf addresses Erie at Global Summit
Wolf talks 'Priorities for Pennsylvania' By JESSICA DOUDRICK | Published 11/01 2015 11:06PM
ERIE, Pa. - Governor Tom Wolf addressed the Erie community Sunday night as part of the Jefferson Educational Society's annual Global Summit.  Governor Wolf took the podium to address his 'Priorities For Pennsylvania.' Wolf's top priority he says is proper funding for education for the long-term.  "We need a budget, but we need a budget that actually addresses the issues we are talking about here tonight: education," Governor Wolf said.  As the 124th day of the budget impasse has come and gone, Governor Wolf says he's made his sacrifices, that now it's time for the 'other side' to do the same.  Wolf says one of his top priorities, something he won't stop fighting for is proper education funding for the long-term. He says even if that means temporary hardship.  "The short-term pain that everybody like places like Erie you're feeling right now, I get that, and that's a problem," Governor Wolf said. "I am just concerned, I'm sure actually, that is even a bigger problem if we don't fix this."  That pain is very familiar to the entire Erie School District as it's debated closing its doors. Soon the district will need to take out a 30 to 40 million dollar loan to continue operating. 27 districts statewide have already done so totally $431 million.

Some may skip Pa. political rite if budget talks drag on
An annual Pennsylvania tradition may take a backseat to state budget negotiations.  Every December, the commonwealth's top politicians head to New York City to see and be seen at a long weekend of fundraisers, parties, and one swanky gala collectively referred to as Pennsylvania Society. But some are already talking about skipping the trip if the state doesn't have a budget by the Dec. 12 main event.  "There's no way we should be going to New York City, and going and celebrating Pennsylvania Society week, unless we have a budget done," said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. "I mean I've been someone who's gone there many years, I will not be there unless we have this budget completely resolved."  "It would look like what it is – out of touch with where Pennsylvanians are," said Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia. "You're going to a big old party in New York City and schools are closing."

Millions from special interest groups pour into Pa. Supreme Court justice race
Peter Hall and Eugene Tauber Of The Morning Call November 2, 2015
Pennsylvania's seven-way race for three open seats on the state Supreme Court has generated campaign contributions that surpassed $11 million last week, and much of it is from a handful of interest groups, a Morning Call analysis shows.  Lawyers gave more than $2.1 million to the three Democratic candidates, with two receiving more than half their contributions from January to mid-September from attorneys, law firms and political committees aligned with the legal industry. Labor unions also gave heavily to the Democrats, handing out more than $1.7 million.  The three Republican candidates meanwhile collected significant shares of their campaign spending money from a more diverse group of sources including other Republican campaigns and political action committees, the medical profession and the insurance and financial industries. The legal profession was still a significant contributor to each of the Republicans, donating nearly $150,000.

LGBT-friendly high school among slate of Philly charter school hopefuls
The Philadelphia School District, which will accept applications for new charter schools through Nov. 15, already has received 22 letters of intent.  One of them is from James Baldwin Charter High School – which would stress lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender inclusion.  Named for the gay 20th century African-American author, Baldwin Charter would be built on anti-bullying principles in hopes of providing a safe atmosphere for all. It would also feature LGBT awareness in its curriculum.  Quincy Riley-Greene, founder of the LGBT youth group Q Spot, is making the pitch for the charter. He said he hears from students all the time who feel marginalized in school.

School district's fill rate for temp staff remains low
THE CHERRY HILL firm that places substitute teachers and other temporary staff inside Philadelphia schools has had a tough time of it since the start of the school year.
The company, Source4Teachers, hasn't been able to make good on its promise to reach a 75 percent fill rate on Day One in September. Instead, it began the first week of school by filling just 11 to 12 percent of the district's daily vacancies, which can number from 500 to 800 per day.  The rate had inched up to 24 percent as of last Thursday, according to the school district - but the district has been including its own staff in the rate.

Charters grapple with admission policies, question how public they should be
Washington Post By Michael Alison Chandler October 31  
At Achievement Prep, the test scores of low-income African American children rival those at wealthy neighborhood schools. Over at D.C. Prep, middle school graduates routinely go on to top high schools. And at Latin American Montessori Bilingual, the combination of instructional approaches is so attractive to parents that more than 800 names filled the school’s waiting list for pre-kindergarten classes last spring.  Such high-performing public charter schools in the District are in constant demand. But their policies of limiting new enrollment to certain grades and times of the year have been causing their class sizes to dwindle to less than half of their original size by the upper grades.  The enrollment cutoffs — which leave seats at some of the city’s most successful urban schools empty — put the charters in the middle of a debate that has divided advocates across the country.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: October 21 - 27, 2015
Submitted by fairtest on October 27, 2015 - 12:20pm 
To understand why President Obama and Secretary Duncan were compelled to admit that there is too much standardized testing in U.S. public schools, scan this week's news clips with stories from fully half the 50 states. Across the country, parents, teachers, education administrators, school boards and community leaders have built powerful campaigns to roll back test overuse and misuse. Growing support for assessment reform is forcing politicians to act. Even if their first moves are largely symbolic, more tangible victories will follow if political pressure continues to escalate. (Back issues of these weekly updates are archived at:

Job Announcement – Publisher, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook
Application deadline is now November 7th
Founded in 1994, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook is an independent, nonprofit news organization serving thousands of readers who strive for quality and equality in Philadelphia’s public education system. A pioneering resource and voice for the parents, students, teachers, and other members of the community, the Notebook is Philadelphia’s go-to source for news, information, and conversation about its public schools. With six annual print editions and a website updated daily with news and commentary, the Notebook is among the few resources of its kind in the U.S.

WESA Public Forum: Equitable Education Funding Nov. 9, 7 pm  Pittsburgh
WESA By EBAISLEY  October 27, 2015
Governor Tom Wolfe has proposed spending 6.1 billion dollars on basic education, yet Pennsylvania is one of just three states that does not use a formula to distribute funding to local school districts. What is the best and most equitable way to allocate state education funding? How can educators and lawmakers ensure a fair education for all students?
90.5 WESA will convene a "Life of Learning" community forum November 9 at the Community Broadcast Center on the south side.  to discuss the Basic Education Funding Commission’s proposed funding formula as well as strategies used in the state’s history.  Doors open at 6:30; forum starts at 7. It will be recorded for later broadcast. The event is free, but space is limited; registration is recommended.Register online to attend.
Panelists include State Senator Jay Costa, member of the Basic Education Funding Commission; Ron Cowell, President of the Education Policy and Leadership Center;  Linda Croushore, Executive Director of the Consortium for Public Education; and Eric Montarti, Senior Policy Analyst for the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy; and Linda Lane, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. 90.5 WESA’s Larkin Page-Jacobs will moderate.
WHAT: Community Forum on Equitable Education Funding
WHEN: November 9, 2015, 7 PM
WHERE: Community Broadcast Center, 67 Bedford Square, Pittsburgh PA 15203
COST: Free. Register to attend.

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 <>

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 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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