Friday, January 15, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 15: 82% of Philly's 140K 3rd thru 8th graders qualify for free/reduced lunch; national avg. is 48%

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3800 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup January 15, 2016:
82% of Philly's 140K 3rd thru 8th graders qualify for free/reduced lunch; national avg. is 48%

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf still hopes for budget deal as next proposal nears
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 01/14/16, 3:33 PM EST
HARRISBURG >> Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he’s hoping to finish a budget deal for the half-finished fiscal year before he delivers a spending proposal for the year starting next July 1.  Wolf said Thursday he’s not ready to buy the idea that sealing a budget deal is politically impossible until after lawmakers get through the April 26 primary election. Wolf says lawmakers would be better served politically to point to a completed budget package.  However, top Republican lawmakers say there are still big differences over priorities that they’re insisting on before they pass a tax increase Wolf supports to boost education funding and wipe out a budget deficit. Wolf vetoed billions of dollars for schools last month to keep pressure on lawmakers.  Wolf is scheduled to deliver his next budget proposal Feb. 9.

2016 priorities: Senate Republican caucus
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, January 14, 2016
Continuing our vignettes on 2016 legislative priorities, this feature spotlights Senate Republicans, a caucus looking at 2016 as a way to get many of their 2015 priorities across the finish line while trying to find governmental efficiencies and opportunities to create jobs in Pennsylvania.  “Many of the priorities that were priorities at the beginning of 2015 continue to be at the top of the list,” said caucus spokesperson Jenn Kocher.  At the top of that list is public pension reform legislation.  “We passed historic legislation last year that would’ve really revamped the system and we’ve compromised along the way to get us to something that is more palatable to others who may need it and we understand that’s what, to achieve reform, we need to be able to compromise and lead us forward,” she said.  She also noted the caucus is hoping to push forward other things that swirl in and out of budget conversations, like alcohol sales reform and property tax reform.

Gov. Wolf, Senate Republicans Outline Some Of Their 2016 Priorities
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates January 15, 2016
PA Legislative Services is in the middle of a series of articles outlining the 2016 budget and non-budget priorities of Gov. Wolf and each of the four legislative caucuses.  Here’s a quick summary of the priorities the Governor and Senate Republicans identified so far--

Blogger note: The PA House is in recess until January 25th
Letter: Another recess for lawmakers?
Bucks County Courier Times Letter by Lorna Bearn Friday, January 15, 2016 12:15 am
When I read that the Pennsylvania House was recessing until the end of January, I called my representative's office with some questions and was told that the Speaker's Office could better answer the questions. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Jeannie in the Speaker's Office said she did not have the answers and could not direct me to anyone who might have the answers. The questions were:
1. Why is the House recessing until the end of January when it just arrived back in Harrisburg after a long Christmas break and the budget has yet to be completed?
2. Gov. Corbett was voted out of office with the expectation that there would be funding for education and that the Marcellus Shale would be the source of revenue, considering that we're the only state that does not sufficiently tax our energy resources. Why does the Legislature continue to refuse to tax the Marcellus Shale?
3. How much money do Republicans receive from energy companies?
4. If the Legislature wants to change the rules for pensions for teachers and other public employees, does this include changing the rules for legislators and those who work in their offices?

"The inability to reduce funding in districts with declining enrollments, coupled with the current school funding formula’s failure to take into account student population, penalizes growing regions of the commonwealth such as York County, the Lehigh Valley and Poconos. The only recourse these districts have for making up lost revenue is to raise property taxes.  How much have we as a county been penalized? By not taking into account student enrollment, York County has been shortchanged more than $727 million since 1994-95. Central York, Dallastown Area and Red Lion Area school districts alone would each be owed more than $91 million. Nearly every school district in the county has been undercut by at least $18 million over that timeframe."
We need fair funding for York County schools
York Daily Record by Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, Guest Writer 12:01 p.m. EST January 14, 2016
State Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill is a Republican from York Township.
The governor’s preference is to send 36 percent of available school funding to Philadelphia.
You own a business, and I am one of your employees. At the end of the year, you give me a bonus, something extra in my paycheck that is clearly above and beyond my normal salary. The following year, bonuses are not handed out. My response is to tell everyone you are cheating me. I even ask for a raise to make up for having to take a “pay cut.”  That logic is the basis of Gov. Tom Wolf’s demand that school funding increases atone for the “Corbett funding cuts.” Truth is, when Gov. Ed Rendell doled out federal stimulus dollars to our public schools in 2009, he told educators, “We will invest these stimulus funds in a fiscally responsible manner that prepares for the disappearance of funding in just two short years.”  Gov. Tom Corbett then took office following two years of education funding that was padded by the federal government. Making up the “difference” would have required massive tax increases. The governor simply and responsibly increased the amount of actual state dollars for basic education. Responsible school district administrators recognized the two-year “gift” they had received and used it for expenses that were not recurring, such as library materials, tutoring and upgrading school facilities.  Fast forward to the 2015-16 fiscal year. Numerous education increases have been laid on the negotiating table. For the Wolf administration, sending as much as $400 million more to our schools than in 2014-15 doesn’t make up for what Corbett “did.”

Pew: No magic from local or state school control
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer. Updated: JANUARY 15, 2016 — 1:08 AM EST
Local control of large urban school systems is no magic bullet to improve academic performance, research released Thursday indicates.  Then again, neither is state control of such districts.  The conclusions from the Pew Charitable Trusts come amid a growing local push for an end to the School Reform Commission, which has controlled the beleaguered Philadelphia School District since 2001.  Opponents of the SRC - created during the state's takeover of the district, amid financial crisis and academic distress - say it has outlived its usefulness and ought to be replaced by some sort of locally appointed or locally elected board. Prior to the SRC, Philadelphia had a school board with members appointed by the mayor.  But "there really is no consensus about whether any particular form of governance leads to better student performance or fiscal management in an urban setting," said Larry Eichel, director of Pew's Philadelphia research efforts.  Though some academic progress has been made in the 15 years under the SRC, the Philadelphia district remains on shaky ground financially and has miles to go academically.  Pew examined the governance structures of big-city districts nationwide.

"And schools in Philly do serve a disadvantaged population: 82 percent of the 140,000 public school students in grades 3 through 8 qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, well above the national average of 48 percent."
Calling attention to excellence among Phila. schools
Inquirer Opinion By Jacob Vigdor and Josh McGee Updated: JANUARY 15, 2016  3:01 AM EST
Jacob Vigdor is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the Daniel J. Evans professor of public affairs at the University of
Josh McGee is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the vice president of public accountability at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
The school wars never seem to end in Philadelphia. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.'s recently announced intention to close several schools and convert them into charters has met opposition. One might be tempted to conclude that providing outstanding public education is impossible in this climate, but there are beacons of excellence.  According to a new school rating system we've developed - found at - half the elementary and middle schools in Philadelphia receive an F grade, putting them on par with the average performance of schools in countries at the bottom of international education rankings, like Serbia and Thailand, and well below the national average.  However, there are 21 schools - a mix of charters, "selective admissions," and traditional public schools - in Philadelphia that receive an A grade, on par with schools in countries at the top of the international rankings, like South Korea and Finland.

"Benitez’s quest to find a high-quality center for her 4-year-old is representative of Philadelphia’s wanting supply — only 20 percent of children have access to high-quality early education."
The long drive to higher-quality child care
the notebook by Fabiola Cineas January 14, 2016
Every weekday morning, Rosaida Benitez makes an almost hour-long drive from her home in the Northeast to her son’s child care center in North Philadelphia.  This is her son Gabriel’s second year at Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, a community child care center located near Temple University’s campus. They make this trip each morning because APM was the only high-quality center with open seats that could meet Gabriel’s needs.  “When I started looking for centers in the Northeast, they were very limited [in number],” said Benitez, “And by the time I filled out applications, they were all full.”  Benitez’s quest to find a high-quality center for her 4-year-old is representative of Philadelphia’s wanting supply — only 20 percent of children have access to high-quality early education.

State lawmakers announce retirements amidst budget impasse, WITF reports
Lancaster Online by Sam Janesch Staff Writer January 14, 2016
As the budget stalemate lingers in its seventh month, multiple state lawmakers recently announced their intentions to retire.  WITF’s Mary Wilson reported Thursday that more than a dozen members of the state Legislature, most of whom have been in their positions for more than a decade, will not seek re-election.  "Let me put it this way: the impasse didn't convince me to stay," Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, told WITF.  Other Republican lawmakers, who describe themselves as more moderate, expressed frustration that gridlock has halted progress in Harrisburg.  State Sen. Patricia Vance, R-Cumberland, and Reps. Nick Kotik, D-Allegheny, and Chris Ross, R-Chester, also spoke to WITF about leaving their elected seats.  "Many of them are totally frustrated," Vance said. "There's nothing wrong with compromise. It's not a bad word."

Pocono Mountain preliminary budget holds taxes flat
The district is hoping it can have another decrease
Lynn Ondrusek  Pocono Record Writer Posted Jan. 14, 2016 at 9:50 AM Updated Jan 14, 2016 at 10:11 AM
Pocono Mountain School District residents are looking at no tax increase for the 2016-17 school year.  According to the district’s preliminary budget, expenses and revenues are balanced for the $216 million budget, resulting in a “zero tax increase,” and the district hopes a tax decrease could be on the way down for the fourth year in a row.  But estimated state funding is hard to pinpoint for that to happen, the district said.  “It is much more difficult to try to recommend a tax decrease in this budget proposal because we are trying to estimate state funding levels for 2016-17, without knowing what our actual state funding levels are for the fiscal year under which we are currently operating,” said district spokeswoman Wendy Frable.

Opt-Out Activists Aim to Build on Momentum in States
Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: January 14, 2016
Activists driving the resistance to state exams are attempting to build on their state-level momentum over the past year, while also venturing into a new political landscape that will test whether the energy behind their initial victories will last.  And they say they’re forging ahead with their plans regardless of how much support they get from traditional education advocacy groups, including teachers’ unions.  Several leaders within the so-called testing opt-out movement, which has gained considerable traction in New York and also found a foothold in states like Colorado and Connecticut, say they will continue to push parents to refuse to allow their children to take standardized exams, particularly state tests, for as long as it’s necessary.  They’ll stop, they say, when states adopt accountability policies that prevent tests from being used to rank, sort, and impose what opponents consider unfair consequences on students, teachers, and schools.  Some groups also are looking to extend their influence beyond testing fights to push in states for higher and more equitable levels of school funding and changes to K-12 governance to increase what they say is more local and more democratic control.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 6 - 12, 2016
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on January 12, 2016 - 2:03pm 
Building on the strength of last year's successful opt-out campaigns and assessment reform movement, grassroots activists are already pressing state and local policy makers to use their increased power under the new federal education law to continue rolling back testing overkill in the first weeks of 2016.

Netflix chief announces $100 million fund for education
Washington Post By Emma Brown January 13 at 7:51 AM  
Netflix founder and chief executive Reed Hastings, a longtime supporter of charter schools, is creating a $100 million foundation for education, he announced on his Facebook page Tuesday.  The Hastings Fund launched with grants totaling $1.5 million to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and UNCF scholarship funds, donations meant to help minority students access college.  “Currently, too many children do not have access to amazing schools. Our aim is to partner with communities to significantly increase the number of students who have access to rich and holistic educational experiences,” the new fund says on its website.  The fund’s chief executive is Neerav Kingsland, a charter-school proponent who previously led New Schools for New Orleans. The nonprofit played a key role in shaping the city’s post-Hurricane Katrina educational system, in which more than 90 percent of children attend charter schools.

2014: Netflix’s Reed Hastings has a big idea: Kill elected school boards
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 14, 2014  
 (adding reaction from California School Board Association)
There seems to be no end to the expertise that America’s billionaires possess and are happy to share with the rest of us about public education. Apparently making a fortune in the business world makes them experts on how to educate children.  Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg, various Waltons — these are just some of the prodigiously wealthy who have decided that they know how public education can be “fixed” and have plowed big money into it. And after billions of their dollars have been spent for their pet projects, the real problems facing public schools remain.  The newest bit of “wisdom” for public education comes to us from Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, who is a big charter school supporter and an investor in the Rocketship Education charter school network. At a meeting of the California Charter Schools Association on March 4, he said in a keynote speech that the problem with public schools is that they are governed by elected local school boards. Charter schools have boards that are not elected and, according to his logic, have “a stable governance” and that’s why “they constantly get better every year.”

From Walton to Zuckerberg: How Education Philanthropy Has Changed
Education Week Charters & Choice By Arianna Prothero on January 15, 2016 5:50 AM
Netflix CEO and prominent charter school-supporter Reed Hastings announced this week that he plans to create a $100 million philanthropic fund devoted to education.  It's the latest in a string of announcements and reports that have made for a busy last few months in the realm of education philanthropy.  A $490 million plan by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to dramatically expand the number of charter schools in Los Angeles was leaked to the LA Times in September.  Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan, revealed at the beginning of December that they plan to give away 99 percent of their company's shares(currently valued at $45 billion) to improve education, among other initiatives. Zuckerberg and Chan have made a handful of other investments in education, including perhaps mostly notoriously,$100 million to retool struggling Newark, N.J., public schools.  The couple also announced plans in October to open a tuition-free private school in East Palo Alto, Calif., for low-income students, which will also include health-care services for the children and their families.   Last but certainly not least, the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the decedents of Walmart founder Sam Walton, pledged last week to spend $1 billion over the next five years on expanding school choice, in particular, charter schools.   That's roughly equal to what the foundation has spent on education over the past 20 years.

Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association Summer Internship
The deadline to apply for the 2016 summer internship is March 15.
The Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association offers a summer internship program at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.  The 12-week program for two interns consists of two-week rotations at publications such as The Allentown Morning Call, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-GazettePittsburgh Tribune-ReviewPennlive/Patriot-News, and  Interns will assist reporters covering the state budget and report on committee hearings and other political and policy stories in a fast-paced news environment. Interns are expected to pitch their own ideas as well as take assignments on a variety of subjects. We are seeking candidates who can produce their own stories, whether writing quickly for the web on a breaking news event or turning around longer enterprise pieces.  Applicants should be college juniors or seniors or graduate students.  Start dates are flexible, but interns are expected to complete the full 12-week program.

Remaining Locations:
  • Allentown area — Jan. 16 Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville
  • Central PA — Jan. 30 Nittany Lion Inn, State College
  • Delaware Co. IU 25 — Feb. 1
  • Scranton area — Feb. 6 Abington Heights SD, Clarks Summit
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield
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

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.

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Thursday, February 11 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17 - 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania)
Thursday, February 25 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Pittsburgh
Invitation and more details in January

Save the Date | PBPC Budget Summit March 3rd
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
The 2015-2016 budget remains in a state of limbo. But it's time to start thinking about the 2016-17 budget. The Governor will propose his budget for next year in early February.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will hold our annual Budget Summit on March 3rd. Save the date and join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2016-17 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, the environment and local communities.  And, of course, if the 2015-2016 budget is not complete by then, we will also be talking about the various alternatives still under consideration.
As in year's past, this year's summit will be at the Hilton Harrisburg.  Register today!

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.

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.