Friday, November 20, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 20: Kenney heading to Cincinnati to study Community Schools

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup November 20, 2015:
Kenney heading to Cincinnati to study Community Schools


Community Schools: Kenney heading to Cincinnati to study schools
by Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer NOVEMBER 19, 2015 12:31 PM EST
Mayor-elect Jim Kenney is hitting the road to learn more about one of the key tenets of his education platform: expanding community schools.  Kenney, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and others will travel to Cincinnati on Friday to explore that city's acclaimed community schools model, which concentrates social and health services inside school buildings.  Clustering community partners and city services inside schools is a way to boost student achievement and engage families, proponents say. Cincinnati has done so at very little cost to its school system, with the bulk of costs paid for by nonprofit partners who either bill Medicaid for services or dip into their own coffers.  Kenney has pledged 25 community schools in Philadelphia by the end of his first term.  Also making the trip will be Otis Hackney, current principal of South Philadelphia High and Kenney's newly-named Chief Education Officer. Hackney was part of a team that also traveled to Cincinnati in September; what he has assembled at "Southern" during his five-year tenure is the closest thing Philadelphia currently has to a community school.

Need some background on Community Schools?

National Center for Community Schools

On state budget, 'devil's in the details'
19 Nov 2015 — Erie Times-News
Pennsylvania's Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf say they have agreed to a framework for a compromise on the state budget.  With a Republican-controlled Legislature and a Democratic governor, the need for compromise should have been apparent and compelling well before the June 30 budget deadline. Now legislators will have to act in haste to pass bills that will change the state's tax structure, without sufficient time to figure out how those tax changes will affect our most vulnerable citizens.  We agree that it's necessary to increase spending on public education, a move that could have been accomplished by some combination of increasing the state income tax and the state sales tax to more equitably distribute the burden of higher taxes.  Instead, the proposed framework raises the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7.25 percent in exchange for reductions in property taxes. The increase in the sales tax will hit poor people the hardest. And that tax would hit Erie's poor just as community efforts to make more families self-sufficient and to reduce our high poverty rate are starting to see some success.  High property taxes are decimating Erie and other Pennsylvania cities. But it's unclear at this stage how and where property taxes will be reduced. Urban areas clearly need substantial relief.

School officials warn of fiscal peril
Republican Herald BY ROBERT SWIFT, HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF Published: November 17, 2015
HARRISBURG — School district officials warned Monday of greater fiscal peril ahead amid signs that a December resolution to the state budget stalemate is more likely than one by Thanksgiving.  Craig Butler, D.Ed., superintendent of Hazleton Area School District, and Anthony Ryba, district business manager, were among educators and school advocates from across Pennsylvania lobbying at the Capitol for action to break the five-month stalemate.  Hazleton Area plans to obtain a $30 million line of credit while waiting for a budget enactment and payment of delayed state aid, Ryba said. He said this is a proactive move considering it could take weeks for missed subsidy payments to arrive once a budget is enacted.  State aid under the new budget should be distributed in a fair and equitable manner based on recommendations made by a bipartisan panel earlier this year, Butler said.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-34, Bellefonte, indicated in separate radio interviews Monday it may take until December to enact the budget package. This could involve passing up to 40 separate bills of varying degrees of complexity.

Pa. Districts Anxiously Await End to Budget Standoff
Education Week By Daarel Burnette II Published Online: November 18, 2015
Pennsylvania school administrators are hoping a five-month budget standoff that’s held up state education funding will end soon, even as they tally the toll of the belt-tightening measures they’ve been forced to endure since the 2015-16 school year began.  Already, districts around the state have pulled most of the money left from their reserves and borrowed millions of dollars in emergency loans from banks, withheld paying essential bills, and shuttered dozens of preschool and after-school programs. At least one charter school has gone to holding classes just four days a week, and a handful of districts say they soon won’t be able to make payroll.  “This forces us to live on very thin money because we’re so reliant on state revenue,” said Jay Badams, the superintendent of Erie’s school district, which has 12,000 students. His board recently gave him authority to borrow up to $30 million to pay its staff members. “We’ve been able to hold off from borrowing, but we can’t put it off for much longer. We’re already in a precarious financial situation. To take on additional debt is just bad management. This diverts resources that we desperately need in the classroom.”

C-L board concerned about bill to freeze tax
Lisa Chenoweth, For The Lebanon Daily News3:58 p.m. EST November 17, 2015
The proposed bill would freeze property tax increases at the local level and instead put any tax increases to a referendum vote by residents.
The Cornwall-Lebanon School Board and administration voiced concern Monday night regarding proposed state legislation that includes freezing property tax increases at the local level and instead putting any tax increases to a referendum vote by residents.  As the state budget stalemate is coming to a close, said director Richard Weiss, the board’s representative to the Pennsylvania School Board Association, an alert has been issued urging concerned citizens to contact their senators. There are many reasons to be concerned, he said. Chief among them – schools would be underfunded and school boards would lose control of the budgeting process.  Superintendent Philip Domencic, accompanied by board members Glenn Achey, Susan Dieffenbach and Ruth Schlegel, and business manager Kurt Phillips  joined a rally in Harrisburg Monday sponsored by the PSBA and the Secondary Schools Principals Association, and took the opportunity to speak with locally elected state representatives.

Fitzpatrick, Chaput call on Wolf to resolve budget issues
Intelligencer By Peg Quann, staff writer Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015 7:00 pm
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput are calling on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to stop the budget impasse.  Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Middletown, wants Wolf to release all federal funding the state is holding for education as the budget impasse continues.  "I am calling on Gov. Wolf to immediately release all federal education funding appropriated by Congress. Those funds have been disbursed to Pennsylvania and it's improper for the governor to hold federal education funding hostage," said Fitzpatrick, whose district encompasses Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County. "He's not hurting the politicians in Harrisburg. He's hurting our children by denying them their due educational opportunities."  Fitzpatrick made his comments as school districts said they are using local funds to cover budgetary shortfalls created by the federal and state funds not being disbursed due to the impasse.  Chaput said the state Department of Community and Economic Development "is currently unwilling to issue authorizations to firms ready to make contributions to qualified scholarship organizations."

Audit faults Infinity Charter School for preferential enrollment policy
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 19, 2015 at 6:05 PM
An audit of Infinity Charter School in Penbrook uncovered a policy that gave preferential enrollment to children and grandchildren of its employees and board members last year and this year.  That created an unfair advantage to those students which violates the letter and intent of the state's charter school law, said state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.  "The reason why that law is there is basically it's supposed to be a fair enrollment process for anyone to get into a charter school," DePasquale said on Thursday.

Outsourcing: N.J. sub firm won't lose Phila. schools contract
by Kristen A. Graham and Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writers Updated on NOVEMBER 20, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
Despite months of missing goals and leaving classrooms unstaffed, the Cherry Hill firm charged with handling city schools' substitute-teaching services will keep most of its Philadelphia School District work and not have its contract canceled, officials announced Thursday.  Going forward, Source4Teachers will staff only short-term substitute jobs; the district will again manage long-term substitute staffing. Many had called for the contract to be canceled outright.  On any given day in October, Philadelphia had more than 500 short-term absences and vacancies for the firm to fill. At its high point, this week, Source4Teachers filled roughly 30 percent of the jobs.  It had promised to staff 70 percent of vacancies on the first day of school, and 90 percent by January.

Black male educators seek to offer support, inspiration in Philly
by SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903 Updated on NOVEMBER 20, 2015 — 3:01 AM EST
WHEN SHARIF El-Mekki was looking for ways to get involved with at-risk black youths about 20 years ago, he looked at obvious career choices such as social work and counseling.
Not once did teaching cross his mind until a friend's mother suggested it. He initially balked at the idea.  "Both my parents were Black Panthers, my mom was a retired teacher. Being in that proximity it never dawned on me to use the classroom as a vehicle to freedom-fighting," said the principal at Mastery Charter's Shoemaker campus in West Philadelphia.
"I just didn't look at it that way."  The ability to engage students and help shape their thinking resonated with El-Mekki, an educator for 22 years, a journey that began at the former Turner Middle School. He has now taken on the role of trying to change the lens of other young black men regarding the profession.  "We encourage young men to become doctors and lawyers. We don't necessarily say, 'Guess what's a way you can impact [social justice],' " said El-Mekki, 44.  Research shows black males only represent about 2 percent of public-school teachers in the U.S., despite accounting for about 6 percent of the total population. Experts say the lack of diversity not only hurts students of color, but also their white counterparts.

Fund for School District kicks off early literacy, classroom library campaign
the notebook By Fabiola Cineas on Nov 19, 2015 12:21 PM
The city is fueling its mission to put kids on track to reading on grade level by 4th grade.
On Tuesday, Superintendent William Hite, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, and 30 other city leaders convened at Clara Barton Elementary School to launch the $3.5 million Right Books Campaign that aims to place leveled libraries in classrooms and comprehensive literacy coaches in every public elementary school in Philadelphia.  “We have until 2017 to raise [the money], but we know with the generosity of Philadelphians that we will do that much sooner,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, the president and CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, which heads the campaign.  The Fund is an independent, not-for-profit organization that channels investments from the private sector to the initiatives of the Philadelphia public education system in early literacy, school safety, and high school redesign. 

Carlisle's school board president resigns
Penn Live By Elizabeth Gibson | Special to PennLive on November 19, 2015 at 7:40 PM, updated November 19, 2015 at 9:08 PM
Nancy Fishman's school director seat was vacant last night, and the Carlisle Area School Board president won't be returning.  Interim President Linda Manning was at the helm, instead.  Fishman resigned saying that her job duties as the new deputy director for the Washington, D.C., nonprofit, ReadyNation, demand that she be available at times that she would normally be involved with school activities.  Fishman had served three terms on the board and was elected, this month, to a fourth, four-year term. When she was hired by ReadyNation in September, Fishman learned that it was too late to remove her name from the election ballot


Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 20 at 6:00 AM  
Teacher shortages around the country have been big news in the education world this year, as has Teach For America’s recruitment issues and stories about fewer applicants to some college of education. What’s going on? In this post, Stephen Mulcher, who directs the Bard College Master of Arts Teaching Program in Los Angeles, looks at the declining interest among college students in going into the teaching profession and suggests how to turn that around. He assesses the impact that the modern school reform movement — which has put teachers in the crosshairs — is having on this dynamic and makes suggestions about how to turn it around.


PSBA New School Director Training
School boards who will welcome new directors after the election should plan to attend PSBA training to help everyone feel more confident right from the start. This one-day event is targeted to help members learn the basics of their new roles and responsibilities. Meet the friendly, knowledgeable PSBA team and bring everyone on your “team of 10” to get on the same page fast.
  • $150 per registrant (No charge if your district has a LEARN PassNote: All-Access members also have LEARN Pass.)
  • One-hour lunch on your own — bring your lunch, go to lunch, or we’ll bring a box lunch to you; coffee/tea provided all day
  • Course materials available online or we’ll bring a printed copy to you for an additional $25
  • Registrants receive one month of 100-level online courses for each registrant, after the live class
Nine locations for your convenience:
  • Philadelphia area — Nov. 21 William Tennent HS, Warminster (note: location changed from IU23 Norristown)
  • Pittsburgh area — Dec. 5 Allegheny IU3, Homestead
  • South Central PA and Erie areas (joint program)— Dec. 12 Northwest Tri-County IU5, Edinboro and PSBA, Mechanicsburg
  • Butler area — Jan. 9 Midwestern IU 4, Grove City (note: location changed from Penn State New Kensington)
  • Allentown area — Jan. 16 Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville
  • Central PA — Jan. 30 Nittany Lion Inn, State College
  • Scranton area — Feb. 6 Abington Heights SD, Clarks Summit
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield

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

The Network for Public Education 3rd Annual National Conference April 16-17, 2016 Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Network for Public Education is thrilled to announce the location for our 3rd Annual National Conference. On April 16 and 17, 2016 public education advocates from across the country will gather in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

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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