Wednesday, November 4, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 4: Day 127 - PA GOP Legislature had 1460 days to reach an agreement with a GOP Governor on pension reform and liquor privatization

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup November 4, 2015:
Day 127 - PA GOP Legislature had 1460 days to reach an agreement with a GOP Governor on pension reform and liquor privatization

Contact your legislator now!  Demand your state legislator and Governor Wolf take action to resolve the budget stalemate now and provide adequate state funding to our public schools.
PA School Boards Association, PA Association of School Administrators, PA Association of School Business Officials, PA Principals Association

Voters give Dems control of Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Delco Times By Peter Jackson, The Associated Press POSTED: 11/03/15, 10:54 PM EST 
HARRISBURG >> Democrats swept all three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Tuesday’s election, locking in a majority on the state’s highest court for at least a decade that could help shape the legislative redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.  The winners of the seven-way race were Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court judges David Wecht and Christine Donohue of Allegheny County.  The Democratic takeover was fueled by cash provided largely by organized labor and Philadelphia trial lawyers to help sustain TV advertising. Of the record $11.5 million contributed to the seven candidates, Democrats raised three times as much as the Republicans.  It was the first time so many seats on the high court seats were open in an election.

Democrats sweep Pa. judicial races, including Supreme Court
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 03, 2015 at 11:16 PM, updated November 04, 2015 at 12:27 AM
Pennsylvanians have elected three Democrats to the state Supreme Court in one of the most expensive judicial elections in U.S. history.  Tuesday's election could alter the direction of Pennsylvania's highest appellate court for many years to come, as the justices elected Tuesday won't face reelection for another ten years.  With more than 70 percent of precincts reporting, AP called the race late Tuesday evening. The election of Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court judges David Wecht and Christine Donohue, both of Allegheny County, would give Democrats a 5-2 majority on the state's highest appellate court.

"That could happen if Republicans can recruit a veto-proof number of Democrats to help them pass a so-called stop-gap budget so schools and the social-service agencies that depend on state funding can get paid. It will be hard to resist the Republicans’ argument with the Erie School District threatening to close shop and Philadelphia schools trying to borrow $250 million to keep their doors open."
Pennsylvania budget fight about mandates
Harold Jackson, Inquirer Opinion Columnist POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2015, 5:11 PM
Forgive Pennsylvanians for not realizing that the most important election in the state last year was not the one that Gov. Wolf won. In hindsight it’s clear that the public should have paid more attention to who Republicans were choosing to be their legislative leaders. They’re the engineers of the five-month stalemate that has blocked Wolf’s proposed budget.  Wolf was confident when asked during his campaign if he could handle a legislature with Republicans in control of both chambers. But that was before the governor had actually experienced the lack of leverage that he and his Democratic colleagues have in Harrisburg. His veto of an alternative GOP budget doesn’t mean they won’t try to pass another one.

Blogger note: Day 127 - PA GOP Legislature had 1460 days to reach an agreement with a GOP Governor on pension reform and liquor privatization
Pa. Republicans should meet Wolf halfway on state budget
A third of the fiscal year is over, and we still have no state budget. Every day there is a new report of a school district that is worried about how to stay open. And social service providers, who take care of the most vulnerable members of our community are searching for the funds necessary to keep helping the infirm, the aged and the challenged.  It's critically important that we understand why the budget is delayed and who is responsible. And the truth is that in Harrisburg, no less than in Washington, D.C., some Republicans are willing to hold government hostage in order to nullify the results of the last election and implement their own agenda.

"Right now, there are approximately 861 school police and school resource officers, as well as 983 school security officers working in Pennsylvania.
But there are no state requirements that any of these officers receive any training requirements particular to interacting with students.  And there is no evidence anywhere that school-based law enforcement makes schools or students safer. In fact, there is ample evidence that their presence in schools actually escalates situations that are better handled by trained guidance counselors and educators."
After S.C. dragging case, it's time to take a second look at cops in our schools: Deborah Gordon Klehr
PennLive Op-Ed   By Deborah Gordon Klehr  on November 03, 2015 at 1:00 PM, updated November 03, 2015 at 7:29 PM
Deborah Gordon Klehr is the executive director of the Education Law Center. She writes from Philadelphia.
The recent video that shows a school police officer in Columbia, South Carolina, dragging a young female student across the floor is deeply troubling, principally because the officer in question was a public servant paid to protect, not attack, the young people under his watch. 
Columbia is a long way from Harrisburg but this video should serve as a wake-up call for Pennsylvania lawmakers.  Our students are put at risk as a result of the large number of school police and resource officers lacking training specific to interacting with students.  Our schools are focused on exclusionary discipline and police presence in place of evidence-based prevention and support services. It is time that Harrisburg pay attention to this alarming situation.

"Data have repeatedly shown that Black students and other students of color are disciplined in school at far higher rates – and given harsher penalties for the same offenses – than White students. The result has been a rise in student arrests and what is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline, in which the path to prison starts with school infractions, like truancy and defiance, that are not in themselves criminal."
The role of police in schools: A discussion on 'Radio Times'
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 3, 2015 03:11 PM
Notebook board chair Harold Jordan, senior policy analyst with the Pennsylvania ACLU, appeared on WHYY's Radio Times this morning with Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel to discuss the role of police officers in schools. The topic recently got renewed attention after video went viral showing a sheriff's deputy in South Carolina throwing to the floor and arresting a Black high school girl who would not leave her classroom.  Jordan wrote the recent report "Beyond Zero Tolerance: Discipline and Policing in Pennsylvania Public Schools." Bethel, who is retiring, will spend the next three years as the first Diana A. Millner Youth Justice Fellow at the Stoneleigh Foundation. He will work from Drexel University's Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab to expand a successful pre-arrest diversion program for young people who have not had previous juvenile justice involvement.

Charter schools file to intervene in court case to stop diversion of gaming funds
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 3, 2015 11:08 PM
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools is seeking to intervene in the Commonweatlh Court case filed recently by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association asking that gaming revenues be redirected from charter schools to public school districts.  The school boards association, along with two school districts, filed suit in Commonwealth Court on Oct. 21. The suit was an attempt to stop the state Department of Education and state treasurer from redirecting property tax reduction funds, which come to districts through gambling revenues, to pay charter school tuition in districts that can’t pay their charter school bills as a result of the state budget impasse.  Because of the impasse, public school districts are not getting their basic education subsidy from the state. As a result, some have maintained they don’t have the money to pay charter bills.

KEYSEC Congratulations to tireless public ed advocate Helen Gym on her election to Philly City Council!!
Kenney, Gym change the education conversation
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 3, 2015 09:46 PM
With the election of Democrats Jim Kenney as mayor and Helen Gym to City Council on Tuesday, there is a new dynamic at City Hall regarding education policy.  Kenney has promised to work toward universal preschool and has thrown his support behind community schools as the primary reform strategy for the District. That is a departure from Mayor Nutter's approach. Throughout his administration Nutter supported the strategy that relied heavily on closing low-performing schools and expanding charters with the goal of having "a great school" in every neighborhood.  Gym rode to Council on the strength of her education activism, in which she has been severely critical of the dominant District and city policy of closing schools, growing charter enrollment, and primarily using test scores to decide which schools are candidates for turnaround and privatization.  Kenney captured about 85 percent of the mayoral vote, handily defeating Republican Melissa Murray Bailey. Gym was the leading vote-getter among Council at-large candidates with nearly all of the vote counted.

KEYSEC Congrats to new Shippensburg school board member Susan Spicka, tireless public ed advocate and advocacy coordinator for Education Voters of PA!!!
Spicka takes school director seat from incumbent in Shippensburg
Jake Austin The Sentinel November4, 2015
SHIPPENSBURG — Democratic candidate Susan Spicka took the single open school director seat from incumbent Dwayne Burt in a tight race in Shippensburg Area School District’s District C region for the school board.  Spicka, public education advocate and advocacy coordinator for Education Voters of Pennsylvania, defeated Burt with 234 votes. Burt received 221 votes, according to unofficial results from the Cumberland County Bureau of Elections Tuesday. There were only two write-in votes in the race, but absentee ballots have yet to be counted.

KEYSEC Congrats to new West Chester Area school board member Kate Shaw, public ed advocate and Executive Director of Research for Action!!!
Tiernan, Shaw, Tabakin, Hermann win in West Chester
West Chester Daily Local November 4, 2015
WEST CHESTER >> Incumbent Democrat Sue Tiernan will remaining on the West Chester Area School Board after taking 3,411 votes in election Tuesday. Joining her from Region 1 of the district is fellow Democrat Kate Shaw, who received 3,282 votes, beating out Republicans Vince Paul with 2,201 votes and Debra Maccariella with 2,273…

Massachusetts: Ambitious school funding plan faces significant roadblocks
Boston Globe By David Scharfenberg GLOBE STAFF  NOVEMBER 02, 2015
A bipartisan commission of lawmakers and educators recommended hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending on the state’s K-12 education system Monday, unveiling one of the most ambitious school finance blueprints in a generation.  The plan, which could cost a half-billion dollars or more per year, faces substantial fiscal and political hurdles. But proponents framed it as a vital response to years of school budget cuts and persistent academic achievement gaps separating wealthy from poor students and whites from blacks and Latinos.  “Until now, there has been a vague agreement that there is a problem, but not about the scope of it or about what to do about it,” said state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat who cochaired the commission, at a news conference Monday. “Today, that is different. Today, that changes.”  Lawmakers who served on the Foundation Budget Review Commission, however, acknowledged that education is one of many competing priorities on Beacon Hill. And finding the money for substantial new spending will be challenging.

California’s Attorney General Is Investigating The Online Charter School Industry
Students at virtual charter schools lag significantly behind their peers in brick-and-mortar classrooms, sparking big worries among education advocates.
Molly Hensley-Clancy BuzzFeed News Reporter posted on Nov. 2, 2015, at 6:23 p.m.
The for-profit online charter school industry is the target of an investigation by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, according to a filing by K12 Inc., the country’s largest online charter management company.  K12 received a subpoena in late September from the Bureau of Children’s Justice at the California Attorney General’s office, the company said in its quarterly earnings report. The subpoena, K12 said, was part of an industry-wide investigation. There are 14,500 students enrolled in virtual schools run by K12 Inc., up from just 650 in 2002.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: October 28 - November 3, 2015
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on November 3, 2015 - 12:46pm 
Two major stories dominated the week's news. President Obama's belated recognition of standardized exam overkill and another federal government report documenting academic stagnation during the "test-and-punish" era provided more ammunition for the country's rapidly growing assessment reform movement. In many states parents, educators, local officials and community leaders are gearing up for major campaigns to significantly reduce testing volume, eliminate high-stakes, and open the door to better ways to assess student learning.

PSBA Members: Register and Join us for Budget Action Day in Harrisburg on Monday, Nov. 16
For more than four months Pennsylvanians have gone without a state budget, and school districts are feeling the pain. Join school directors and administrators at the Harrisburg Capitol on Monday, Nov. 16 to take action. Let the governor and our legislators know that a state budget is critical to the education of our public school children in Pennsylvania.  We will meet at 9 a.m. in the Majority Caucus Room, Room 140, of the State Capitol for a briefing and distribution of information packets. PSBA asks that you contact your legislator to schedule your visits. This is the most effective way to reach your legislator, and it lets them know that their constituents are making the effort to visit at the Harrisburg Capitol.
Mark your calendars now. Register online or send your name, school entity and email address to Angie Garcia. For additional information, please contact Angie at or by calling (717) 506-2450, ext. 3435.

PSBA: Stay connected after school board service
Former school directors can stay connected to public education issues through the PSBA Alumni Network! You have valuable experience and insight into the workings of public education and school boards. Legislators value your opinion as a former elected official. Put your knowledge to work for the benefit of public education. For a nominal yearly fee of $25, or $100 for a lifetime membership in the Alumni Network, you will receive:
  • Electronic access to PSBA Bulletin, the leading public education magazine in Pennsylvania
  • Access to legislative information pertaining to public education and periodic updates via email
To join, register online. For more details or questions, contact Member Engagement Director Karen Devine at or (800) 932-0588, ext. 3322.

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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