Tuesday, November 24, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 24: Nailbiter on SB76 decided by Lt. Gov's NO vote; Wolf says budget deal in 'deep peril; House approves 2 year delay in Keystones' Grad Requirement; What will Dorothy June Brown do with that $6.3 million?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup November 24, 2015:
Nailbiter on SB76 decided by Lt. Gov's NO vote; Wolf says budget deal in 'deep peril; House approves 2 year delay in Keystones' Grad Requirement; What will Dorothy June Brown do with that $6.3 million?



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How did your state senator vote on SB76 (amendment to HB683)?
Pennsylvania State Senate Roll Call Vote November 23, 2015

 “The sales tax is the most regressive tax we have which means the poorer you are, the higher the tax rate,” said Leach. “At a time of the greatest income inequality in 100 years, raising taxes on poor people doesn’t seem like a sound strategy.”  Pileggi said the numbers proposed by Senate Bill 76 “simply do not add up”. He noted that according to the Independent Fiscal Office, a gap between expected future property tax collections and expected revenues through new taxes proposed in this bill could be as much as $1 billion within three years.  “The bill represents bad tax policy,” said Pileggi late Monday afternoon. “All 50 states depend in part on property taxes because it is a stable tax, which does not fluctuate from year to year.”  Pileggi noted that even if Senate Bill 76 did pass the Senate, he did not expect it to be supported by a majority of the House of Representatives. Leach noted that if the House approved it, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would undoubtedly veto it as he has done to most budget proposals by the Republican-dominated General Assembly."
SB76: Scrap the property tax? Not so fast, Delco reps say
By Patti Mengers, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 11/23/15, 9:59 PM EST | 
As state senators were awaiting a possible vote Monday night on Senate Bill 76 that would eliminate property taxes to fund schools but increase other taxes, three Delaware County legislators already had their minds made up.  “I am a no vote on SB 76,” said state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester.  State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion, who represents Haverford and Radnor townships in Delaware County, also did not expect to support Senate Bill 76 even with amendments it might have when brought to a vote.  “It relies far too heavily on sales tax to replace the property tax,” said Leach late Monday afternoon.  Last week state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, of Springfield, said he was so disenchanted with its evolution, that he withdrew cosponsorship of what is known as the Property Tax Independence Act that was proposed by state Sen. David Argall, R-29, of Schuylkill and Berks counties.  McGarrigle noted that he had counted on the enactment of a natural gas extraction tax when originally supporting the bill and without it, the bill is just shifting his constituents’ tax burden.  “Without the shale tax you’re shifting $14 billion to a personal income tax and a sales tax. I can’t do that to the hard-working people of my district,” McGarrigle said last week.

"The proposal was rejected by a 25-24 vote with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack casting a rare tie-breaking vote. It called for the elimination of most school property taxes and shifting that funding burden primarily on to higher state income and sales tax rates.  Specifically, it called for a 61 percent increase in the state's 3.07 percent personal income tax to 4.95 percent. It also called for raising the state's 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent and expanding the list of items subject to that tax. In addition, it would rely on gambling tax revenue to help round out the dollar-for-dollar tax shift."
SB76: Defenders of property tax elimination bill see defeat as near-miss, vow fight will continue
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 23, 2015 at 10:18 PM, updated November 23, 2015 at 10:31 PM
By Jan Murphy and Charlie Thompson | PennLive.com
Supporters of a proposal to transform the way public schools are funded were crestfallen by its narrow defeat in a Monday evening vote but conceded nothing.  Sen. Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill County, the proposal's prime sponsor of the proposal, said that he was disappointed that some members he believed would support the measure ended up voting no.  Argall couldn't offer reasons as to why that happened following the vote or how he intends to revive the fight to eliminate this nearly two century-old tax to fund schools, "but what I do know is the problem [of high school property taxes] doesn't go away, and I'm not giving up."  "We'll regroup and fight again," agreed Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks County, the leader of the pro-elimination forces in the Senate Democratic Caucus.

SB76: School district property tax elimination measure fails in Senate
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, November 23, 2015
Hopes of passing what sponsors believed would be a measure to put a stake in the heart of Pennsylvania’s school district property taxes were dashed Monday night, as their proposal failed along the narrow margin of 24 to 24, with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack voting in the negative to break the tie.  The proposal was voted on as an amendment to House Bill 683.  Prime sponsor of the measure, Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) said the school district property tax system in effect today is the “same, stupid, unfair” tax that has existed since 1834.  “Again and again we have tried, but we have not succeeded [in eliminating the tax],” he said. “Today is the day and it’s long overdue.”  Another sponsor of the proposal, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) noted the elusiveness of obtaining a final solution to property tax elimination due to what it takes to get $13 billion in replacement income to make up for the funding provided by the property tax.

Bigger school property tax cuts, higher state sales tax dropped from Pennsylvania budget talks
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 23, 2015 at 4:59 PM, updated November 23, 2015 at 5:35 PM
In different forums and tones, Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders of Republican majorities in the state House and Senate declared dead Monday any effort in the current budget talks to use higher state sales taxes to cut local property taxes.  Both said they continue to put a premium on trying to address longstanding complaints about using property tax as Pennsylvania's main funding source for schools.  But getting there right now, the GOP leaders said, is legislative quicksand that's blocking progress on other issues that need attention in order to quickly deliver a state budget for fiscal 2015-16 that is already five months overdue.  They expressed hope that scrapping that part of the Nov. 10 "framework" agreement will hit a re-set that allows them to complete a compromise package by Dec. 4.

Wolf says budget deal in 'deep peril,' GOP lacks tax votes
Associated Press By MARK SCOLFORO and MARC LEVY Published: Today
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday a proposal to end a five-month budget standoff was in "deep peril" despite the framework he announced with top Republican lawmakers earlier this month.  He said at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon that Republican leaders told him late last week they were having trouble lining up their share of votes for an element of the deal that would cut the property taxes that fund public schools.  "We cannot allow ourselves to get stuck trying to work out the details of a framework we all agreed to," Wolf said.  The budget stalemate has highlighted the division of power in Harrisburg, where the first-term Democrat has struggled to reach a deal with Republicans that hold commanding majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.  School districts, counties and social services organizations have struggled to get by without state revenue.  Wolf said the sides have to "end this nonsense," and urged lawmakers to get some version of a full-year budget - as opposed to a temporary deal while real talks continue - to his desk by Dec. 4. Asked if that meant he would sign anything that gets to him by that deadline, he replied: "I think we need a reasonable budget" and that "people have been holding out for too long."

"Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said Republicans told the governor Friday night that there was a lack of support among rank-and-file members for the way the administration was proposing to distribute property-tax relief.  He said Wolf favored a formula that would spread money more heavily to poorer districts - one in which Philadelphia, in particular, would benefit. Republicans championed a plan that would factor in student population numbers in determining funds for school districts.  Corman said that because the divide on that issue was so wide and stubborn, he would suggest abandoning the property-tax piece of the agreement and focusing on it later."
Wolf: Budget deal in 'deep peril'
by Angela Couloumbis and Chris Palmer, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau Updated on NOVEMBER 24, 2015 — 1:07 AM EST
HARRISBURG - Acknowledging that the plan to resolve the five-month budget impasse is in "deep peril," Gov. Wolf on Monday blamed Republican legislators for the potential collapse of a tentative agreement and urged a new effort to save the deal.  At the same time, GOP leaders said they were trying to salvage other parts of the so-called budget framework, even as they were positioning legislation for a vote that could have imploded it.  In the end, the sides could not even agree on why their deal was falling apart, let alone how to save it. That sowed new confusion and uncertainty about the stalemate, which has stalled critical funding for schools, counties, and nonprofit organizations.  Speaking at a Harrisburg luncheon, Wolf said Republican leaders made a deal they simply couldn't close. He urged them to work harder to revive the deal or deliver a new proposal by Dec. 4.  "We need to end this nonsense," Wolf said.

Gov. Wolf fears property tax discord has derailed tentative budget framework
By Kate Giammarise and Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau November 23, 2015 11:16 PM
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders acknowledged Monday that they have not reached agreement on how the state should lower local property taxes under a framework intended to end Pennsylvania’s five-monthlong budget impasse.  They differed on another point, as well: Whether the property tax disagreement has derailed the entirety of the budget talks.  Speaking Monday at a luncheon near the Capitol, Mr. Wolf said the framework appears to be in “deep peril.” He cited votes Republicans prepared or held on proposals that conflict with the framework, and said GOP leaders had told him they could not muster the votes “to deliver on property tax relief.”  “In other words, the framework was not going to become a budget,” Mr. Wolf said. “I deeply regret this. We had within our grasp a budget framework that would have been transformational for Pennsylvania.”  Not long after the governor’s remarks, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, told reporters that he does not have the votes to distribute property-tax relief according to a formula supported by Mr. Wolf, which Mr. Corman said would deliver “a disproportionate share of the property tax money to Philadelphia.”

"In his remarks, Gov. Wolf gave lawmakers three options.  "As I see it, they have three logical choices. They can run a budget that adheres to our framework with the level of support we need to assure passage. They can block such a budget and continue this wasteful impasse. Or they can present me with any full year spending plan that can pass by next Friday."
Budget framework in peril? Depends on who you ask
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, November 23, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf made no bones about it. Speaking at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon Monday, he said the budget framework announced just a few short weeks ago is in serious jeopardy.  "Unfortunately, that work looks it is in peril. Deep peril," he said. "The Republicans have been unable to muster the votes they need to transform this agreed-upon framework into a real budget."  The votes he was talking about concern the component of the framework that would raise the state sales tax an additional 1.25 percent across the Commonwealth, to be dedicated to providing property tax relief to homeowners and farmers.  As part of that exchange, the property tax and rent rebate program currently in place using gaming revenues for funding would be eliminated, and the gaming funds—to the tune of $600 million—would be dedicated to the General Fund to offset rising public pension costs. 

“Their perspective is we’re wasting money,” when the reality is the districts are reducing local expenses in their budgets to offset increases in pension and charter school obligations."
Editorial: Pa. budget compromise fails local schools
Pottstown Mercury Editorial POSTED: 11/22/15, 2:00 AM EST |
For the past 4½ months, since the July 1 start of a new fiscal year, editorial boards have been urging Gov. Tom Wolf and state legislators to come up with a compromise that would produce agreement on a state budget.  The largest sticking point has been education funding and the need in Pennsylvania to shift some of that burden off the local property tax.  Now, it seems with a potential compromise agreement on the table, the folks in Harrisburg have missed the point. Instead of crafting a budget that will truly reform how public schools are funded, they are pitching a plan that shifts the onus for high property taxes without addressing the inequities or tax burden.  And, local school officials are predicting disastrous results.  The compromise, as it stands now, proposes raising the state sales tax and using revenue to provide property tax relief to homeowners – next year.

Blogger note: The Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council is comprised of board members from each of the 15 school districts in Delaware County and seeks to represent the interests of our 135 elected school board members, over 74,000 public school students, their families, and our taxpayers through a frank, open and ongoing dialogue with our state and federal elected officials
Letter to the Editor: Don’t impose referenda on school budgets
Delco Times Letter by Lawrence A. Feinberg, Haverford, Chairman, Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council POSTED: 11/23/15, 9:33 PM EST 
To the Times:
This is a letter to Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee Chairman state Rep. William F. Adolph Jr., R-165 of Springfield.
Thank you for your longtime public service for the residents of Delaware County and Pennsylvania. As Delaware County’s only legislator who is at the table in the budget process, I am writing to you on behalf of the members of the Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council to strongly urge you not to support any measure that would impose backend referenda on our school districts.  Our budgets are driven by increasing PSERS and charter school costs. These costs together have increased by about 25 percent each of the past few years, while all other expenditures — including salaries — have increased incrementally or have decreased over this same time period. Eliminating the Act 1 index and exceptions leaves our school districts without the ability to cover mandated costs short of making significant cuts.  We look forward to continuing to work with you on pension reform, charter reform, restoration of funding cuts to our high-poverty districts and the implementation of the basic education funding formula for the benefit of our students, our schools and our taxpayers.  Good luck bringing home a budget before Thanksgiving!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if we might provide any information as the session proceeds.

Money woes
Erie Times-News By ERICA ERWIN erica.erwin@timesnews.com 23 Nov 2015
DeAnna Kedzierski's kindergarten classroom at Lincoln Elementary School, with its peeling plaster on the walls and the water stain on the ceiling, is an upgrade.
Two years ago the teacher was stationed in a classroom on the other side of the building that had a hole in the floor, one she had to stuff with paper wrapped in duct tape and cover with a rug.  It was a safety issue to be sure, as well as an aesthetic one in a nearly 100-year-old building that has many.  But problems like the ones in Kedzierski's current and former classrooms -- and in the classrooms of teachers at other schools throughout the Erie School District -- also send a powerful message to students, Lincoln Assistant Principal Colleen Holmes said.  "The environment that you're in creates the sense of how much you're valued," Holmes said during a recent tour of the East 31st Street school. "It's subliminal, but it's very real."  The Erie School District isn't the only district in the region that has to grapple with old buildings and maintenance needs.  But the old plaster, the mismatched classroom furniture, and the auditoriums that double as gymnasiums and triple as cafeterias -- the gym teacher at Lincoln is forced to teach kindergartners in their classrooms during lunch periods -- is very visual evidence of a great divide between some districts when it comes to per-student spending.
Wealthy districts have the means to address their needs.
Poorer districts, including Erie, do not.

Charter founder Brown has dementia, charges dismissed
by Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer Updated on NOVEMBER 24, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
Charter school founder Dorothy June Brown suffers from Alzheimer's-like dementia and is incompetent to be retried on fraud charges, a federal judge has found.  In an order entered Monday, Judge R. Barclay Surrick granted a motion from the U.S. attorney and dismissed the indictment charging that Brown had defrauded the schools she founded of $6.3 million. Defense attorneys concurred.  Based on reports of four medical experts, Surrick found that a preponderance of evidence showed that Brown could not stand trial because she "is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her and to assist properly in her defense."  Brown, 78, who founded three small charter schools in Philadelphia and a cyber school in the suburbs, had been charged with scheming to defraud the schools and conspiring with four other administrators to cover up the alleged crimes.

"Community schools concentrate social services and other supports inside school buildings, allowing educators to focus more on instruction by removing students' barriers to learning. The model counts on nonprofits, businesses, and universities to cover most of the costs of the services. In Philadelphia, a number of city resources would also be repurposed inside district schools.
Kenney has pledged 25 community schools in four years."
Community Schools: City leaders picture full-service schools
by Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer Updated on NOVEMBER 24, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
Speaking with one voice Monday, the city's education leaders said Philadelphia School District buildings ought to be crowded with essentials for urban children and their families: social services, health care, job training.  Actually, Council President Darrell L. Clarke said, that sort of full service is already happening. In Philadelphia's jails.  "You can't tell me that we can deliver these services in a prison and we can't deliver them in schools," Clarke said.  Fresh off a school-visiting trip to Cincinnati, Clarke, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, and others underscored that political support for "community schools" has coalesced, and that the model is headed for Philadelphia - fast. 

Community Schools: Mayor-elect Kenney pushes plan to create 25 community schools
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY NOVEMBER 23, 2015
In his first major policy announcement since winning election, Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney formalized a campaign promise to create 25 "community schools" over the next four years.  Before a sea of schoolchildren and television cameras in the gymnasium of North Philadelphia's Tanner Duckrey Elementary, Kenney told students Monday that the initiative would help give them "the ability to reach your potential in your life."  The event comes on the heels of Kenney's trip to Cincinnati last week, where he and Council President Darrell Clarke took a first-hand look at a district that's prioritized a community school model that includes health and social services in neighborhood schools.  Kenney and Clarke aim to replicate that model in Philadelphia, creating "school-based family service centers." They envision schools as hubs of health care – with access to primary care physicians, vision and dental services, as well as behavioral health and counseling supports.  These schools would also offer child care and after-school services.
Kenney says his goal is achievable with a relatively small investment – estimating an $8 million annual price tag.

Keystone Exams: Graduation testing requirement delay wins House passage
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on November 23, 2015 at 6:41 PM
The Classes of 2017 and 2018 may soon breathe a sigh of relief as it is looking less likely that they will have to pass three Keystone Exams, or a state-approved alternative, to graduate.   The state House by a vote on Monday of 196-0 supported legislation delaying that controversial graduation requirement until 2019 instead of 2017 when it is to take effect.  The Senate passed a similar version of the bill by a 49-0 vote in June. The only difference is a House-added provision directing the state Department of Education to investigate alternatives to the use of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement and issue its finding and recommendation within six months.  A Senate-passed bill to impose a two-year moratorium on the state's requirement to pass Keystone Exams to graduate was amended by the House Education Committee to call for a study on what should happen with this requirement once the moratorium period ends.  House Education Committee Chairman Stan Saylor, R-Red Lion, who proposed that change, said he saw a study as necessary to help inform the discussion about what should happen in 2019 when the two-year moratorium expires.  Because of that change though, it now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.   If the measure reaches Gov. Tom Wolf's desk, it likely will win his signature. He is supportive of the two-year delay of this graduation testing requirement, said his spokesman.

My opinion: Where students, standardized tests, and money intersect in PA
EducationVotes By guest blogger Peter Greene Posted November 23, 2015
Many years ago, I was part of the volunteer corps of teachers who scored standardized writing tests for the state of Pennsylvania. We spent a weekend scoring a small ton of essays in exchange for two nights at a hotel and meals (well, one year we got a pin that said “I scored 500 times in Harrisburg”).  Still, state officials bemoaned the fact that students didn’t take these no-stakes exams seriously. The teacher corps was let go, the scoring farmed out to some subcontractor.  Next came the PSSA tests, which students were still uninterested in taking. The state tried many motivators, including stickers for diplomas of Most Excellent Test Taking students. Anyone who has ever met a teenager will be unsurprised that students were unmoved.  Looking back, it strikes me as an odd parallel—turning away teacher volunteers while desperately trying to recruit students to voluntarily take the tests seriously. And of course paying people to produce and score the test.  Because for things that really matter, we pay money.

5 things to know about the financial cost of testing
the notebook By Paul Jablow on Nov 23, 2015 11:09 AM
The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming edition due out this week.
1. Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf has requested a total of $58.3 million for testing in the current budget.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) contracts with Data Recognition Corp. (DRC) for the PSSAs and the Keystones. Both contracts run through June 2016 and cover test development, administration, scoring, and reporting. In 2014-15, the company received about $30 million for the PSSAs – about $39 per student tested – and $27 million for the Keystones.
DRC also provides classroom diagnostic tools and other preparatory materials through theeDirect website.
2. The  actual costs of testing to districts and schools – including staff time, prep, and materials – are hard to estimate.  Districts and schools generally don’t separate out these costs. In the Philadelphia School District, for example, assessment, curriculum, and instruction are combined in one department.  PDE also does not break out separate testing administration costs.

Where have all the teachers gone?
Citizen's Voice BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER Published: November 22, 2015
The number of new teachers in Pennsylvania is declining significantly statewide.  In the last three years, the number of new teaching certificates issued by the state dropped by 66 percent. In state universities, the number of education majors fell by 36 percent during the last decade.  “It’s a very big problem,” said Darryl DeMarzio, associate professor and chairman of the education department at the University of Scranton. “We’re losing a potential generation of excellent teachers.”  A sharp decline in available teaching jobs in Pennsylvania has had an impact on how many students in Pennsylvania are majoring in education, said Robert Gardner, Wilkes University associate professor of education. Since the state significantly cut education funding to local school districts in 2010, about 10,000 teachers lost jobs statewide, Gardner said.  “I have talked to students who said to me in tears, ‘my father says I have to choose another major because I can’t ever get a job,’” Gardener said.  Other factors, such as emphasizing standardized test scores and increasing class sizes, have contributed to the decline, Gardner said.

Who's leading the class? Area school districts can't find enough substitute teachers
Penn Live By Christine Vendel | cvendel@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 20, 2015 at 7:30 AM, updated November 20, 2015 at 8:01 AM
HARRISBURG- When teachers are absent in the Central Dauphin School District, administrators find substitutes to lead those classrooms 64 percent of the time.  That means they cannot find a qualified teacher to fill the role more than one-third of the time, according to statistics for this school year.  Meanwhile in Harrisburg, administrators have filled teacher absences about 75 percent of the time this year, leaving them scrambling 25 percent of the time to figure out who will teach students.  The substitute shortage has hit many districts across the state, including the Susquehanna Township and Cumberland Valley school districts. In the township, the substitute fill rate varies from 50 to 80 percent, while Cumberland Valley's rate averages about 80 percent.
The problem started with deep state budget cuts in the 2011/12 school year that slashed educational jobs, according to Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.  The pool of qualified substitutes shrunk, he said, because of low pay, fewer full-time teaching positions and a drastic reduction in college students graduating with degrees in education.

Teachers deserve thanks, not blame: Tom Staszewski
GoErie.com By TOM STASZEWSKI Contributing writer August 30, 2015 01:01 AM
As our public schools begin another school year, it's time to stop blaming and criticizing teachers and start thanking and acknowledging them.  Our schools reflect society, and society has undergone a dramatic shift from previous generations. A typical classroom today consists of many students with severe behavioral problems, limited knowledge of English usage, emotional and psychological difficulties, learning disabilities and attention-deficit disorders. And many suffer from abuse and other adverse home and socioeconomic conditions.


"The new funding and the foundation’s focus on teacher prep raises — yet again — questions about just how powerful private philanthropists should be in the K-12 public education space.  Bill and Melinda Gates have spent a fortune on school reform efforts they thought sounded promising — despite a lack of evidence that they would actually work, and critics complained loudly that the money would have better spent on practices with a deep research base.
There are already excellent working models for just about everything that Gates has funded in public education in the last 15 years — how to design and operate small schools, quality standards, fair and reliable teacher evaluation, and now, teacher prep.  How many times do educators need to attempt to reinvent the wheel just because someone with deep pockets wants to try when the money could almost certainly be more usefully spent somewhere else?"
Gates Foundation put millions of dollars into new education focus: Teacher preparation
Washington Post ANswer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 23 at 3:50 PM  
You can say this about Bill and Melinda Gates: They are persistent. They poured a few billion dollars into various school reform efforts in the past 15 years — but when things didn’t go quite as planned, they didn’t give up. They always came up with something else to try. That’s just what the are doing now (again).  In the early 2000s, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put hundreds of millions of dollars into the creation of small schools on the theory that breaking up large high schools with high dropout rates would help increase the graduation rate. When things didn’t go as well as they wanted, they switched their education philanthropy focus to teacher quality by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help some school districts develop teacher assessment systems that, among other things, incorporated the controversial method of using student standardized tests as one of the measures. That effort did not produce the hoped-for results. Hundreds of millions of more Gates dollars went into the creation, implementation and marketing of the Common Core State Standards. Now, the foundation has found a new focus in regard to teacher quality: how to train teachers.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 11-24-15


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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