Saturday, February 13, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 13: Allentown schools to take out second loan because of #pabudget impasse

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3850 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup February 13, 2016:
Allentown schools to take out second loan because of #pabudget impasse



RSVP Today for One of EPLC’s Education Policy Forum Series on Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 State Budget Proposal
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - Philadelphia
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - Pittsburgh



EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, Feb. 14 at 3:00 p.m. 
A Discussion on Governor Wolf's 2016-2017 state budget proposal for education, featuring:
Jodi Askins
, Executive Director, PA Association for the Education of Young Children
Tom Gluck, Executive Director, PA Association of Intermediate Units
Marc Stier, Director, PA Budget and Policy Center
Kathy Swope, President, PA School Boards Association
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell.
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to education and school funding issues

Allentown schools to take out second loan because of budget impasse
The Allentown School District is looking at taking out a $50 million loan — again — to stay afloat during the state budget impasse.
"It's beginning to have nothing but nightmarish consequences," Allentown superintendent says of budget impasse
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call February 12, 206
ALLENTOWN – The Allentown School District is looking at taking out a $50 million loan — again — to stay afloat during the state budget impasse.  At Thursday's school board finance committee meeting, the district discussed taking out a second loan because the district could run out of money in April if no state budget is passed by then.  The district took out a loan in October for $50 million, but only used $1 million of that in December because district officials were told funding from the state was going to start coming in. The $1 million was paid back, and the district paid about $1,800 in interest, Chief Financial Officer Jack Clark said.  The district received about 47 percent of its total 2015-16 allocation in late January from the state. But the district says it's not enough, which is why it needs to take out another loan.  School director Robert E. Smith Jr. asked if the district should take out more than $50 million. Clark said the district is exploring if it could borrow as much as $65 million.  "We have money to take us until March, but we're going to come up short in April," he said.

District official: Erie schools headed for 'bankruptcy'
By Erica Erwin 814-870-1846 Erie Times-News February 11, 2016 12:21 PM
ERIE, Pa. -- The Erie School District could enter the equivalent of bankruptcy and be subject to state takeover in the next couple of years if the way school districts are funded isn't changed, district administrators said.  Chief Financial Officer Brian Polito on Wednesday laid out a worst-case scenario of the district's financial future that shows the district ending the 2015-16 school year $3.4 million in the red and with a $2.8 million negative fund balance once its current fund balance is exhausted.  That negative fund balance would grow as annual expenses continued to exceed revenues, up to $11.7 million in 2016-17 and $20.8 million in 2017-18. By 2019-20, the district would have a negative fund balance of $39.5 million, according to district figures.   "If something doesn't happen for us in Harrisburg, we're probably looking at bankruptcy in the next couple of years," Polito said.  For public school districts, bankruptcy means being identified by the state as a financial recovery district. Once a district is identified as financially distressed -- triggers include not being able to make payroll and requesting advances on state subsidies -- the state appoints a three-person Board of Control that has power over the local school board, and a chief recovery officer who is charged with designing and executing a financial recovery plan.

Fairfield School Board supports lawsuit against commonwealth
By Ashley Andyshak Hayes For the Gettysburg Times Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016 12:02 am | Updated: 10:39 am, Fri Feb 12, 2016. (paywall)
The Fairfield Area School Board voted Monday to formally show its support for six Pennsylvania school districts involved in a lawsuit against the commonwealth over inadequate education funding.  The plaintiffs include William Penn, Panther Valley, Lancaster, Greater Johnstown, Wilkes-Barre, and Shenandoah Valley school districts, along with parents of children enrolled in Philadelphia city schools.

"But here we are, with alleged adults, each saying they want to find a solution to the state's fiscal problems, acting less mature than a group of well-behaved 9-year-olds who had the presence of mind to call out cyber-bullying for the immature nonsense that it is.  We have long recognized that politics is hardly for the faint of heart. It's a game of sharp elbows and pointed words with very little tolerance for the weak.  But even in the context of that openly adversarial relationship, there's a right way and a wrong way to set the tone for the negotiations that one hopes will unravel a very difficult to unravel problem.
So, y'know, grow up. Stop the stupid bickering. Get off the Internet. And get back to work. You have one job and, frankly, you all stink at it right now."
The Twitter feud that proves we're never going to have a budget: Friday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on February 12, 2016 at 8:12 AM, updated February 12, 2016 at 8:16 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The Wolf administration is keeping up the pugilstic tone it set during Tuesday's budget address, as it continues to hector Republican lawmakers to return to work to finish the state's incomplete 2015-16 budget, and to get to work on the new 2016-17 spending plan.  The administration took to Twitter on Thursday, launching a #ThrowBackThursday - but with a decided edge:  So, yeah, that happened ... And the weird thing is, it's a totally unforced error. The administration has been known to bristle when it's accused (and justifiably so) of never having transitioned from campaign mode (which requires a pugilistic approach) to one of governing (which requires a touch more finesse).  It's instances like this that provide additional fuel for that fire.  Naturally, the GOP responded. And things just escalated. And it's part of a pattern. The administration (or one of its dark money surrogates) shoots its mouth off on Twitter or in an email statement and lawmakers (or, in this case, the state party) feel obligated to respond.

Gov. Wolf visits Philly school, warns of 'train wreck'
Inquirer by Patricia Madej, STAFF WRITER. Updated: FEBRUARY 12, 2016 — 5:49 PM EST
Gov. Wolf stopped by Penn Treaty School on Friday as a part of his "Schools that Teach" tour, hoping to drum up support for his proposed 2017 budget, one that a Pennsylvania GOP spokesman calls a "fantasy."  Wolf also warned of an incoming "train wreck" and a $2 billion deficit if last year's budget isn't agreed upon soon. He warned of tens of thousands of layoffs, higher property taxes and bigger classrooms.  The governor visited for about an hour, stopping in a number of classrooms before heading into the library where he reiterated his fight for education funding increases. Penn Treaty was Wolf's last stop of the day - he'd spoken at schools in Hazleton and Easton earlier in that morning.

"Otto-Eldred School District Superintendent Matt Splain represented rural Pennsylvania at the state capitol in June, joining the fight for fair education funding. He rallied with hundreds of parents, students, clergy, community leaders, teachers, other educators and members of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to encourage state legislators to put in place a basic education funding formula.  Splain is also a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools, and so is Northern Potter School District (Ulysses) Superintendent Scott Graham, who has also fought for a sustainable, predictable funding formula.
What’s more, last year, Sasala focused on a basic education funding formula when he spoke during a Basic Education Commission hearing in Mercer County.
We may not be as populated as Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, but education is clearly taken seriously in northwestern Pennsylvania, and it shows."
Where is our ‘education governor’?
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS February 12, 2016
Northwestern Pennsylvania is being ignored by Harrisburg –– again.
This time, Gov. Tom Wolf is off on a “Schools that Teach” tour across the state. Well, pretty much everywhere except our neck of the woods.  On Wednesday, Wolf visited Clairton Elementary School in the Clairton School District and Altoona Area Junior High School in the Altoona Area School District, where he talked about two paths Pennsylvania can take.  “We have a choice in Harrisburg,” he said. “We can choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track. But if we choose to continue to ignore reality, we will be forced to make drastic cuts to education and in turn face billions in local property tax increases.”  Also on Wolf’s tour are the more-populous areas, including around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The only school districts closer to us that are part of his journey are a school near Erie –– General McLane High School –– and Robb Elementary School at the Keystone Central School District in Clinton County.  But what about school districts in McKean, Potter, Cameron and Elk counties? Local school districts are more than deserving to be among Wolf’s tour stops.

Compared with other states, Gov. Tom Wolf's budget comes in on the high side
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on February 12, 2016 at 7:15 AM, updated February 12, 2016 at 10:01 AM
America could now look at Pennsylvania and say: 'Hey, Big Spender."
Because setting aside for a moment all the policy differences on what's a "want" and what's a "need" and whether tax increases are required, here's a truism about the state budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday.  Its projected 7.1 percent spending increase would clearly be one of the highest rates of state government spending growth in the nation this year.  It's quite a culture shock from the "I'll-cut-school-spending-before-I-raise-state-taxes" days of former Gov. Tom Corbett.  And it's one of the reasons why Republicans who control the state legislature skipped over the usual budget day niceties this week and went right to declaring Wolf's plan - with it's $2.7 billion tax increase - dead on arrival.  "We are all concerned about the imbalance in revenue and expenditures in this Commonwealth," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, said Tuesday. "But you can't promote fiscal balance when you're spending at an unsustainable level."

PSBA Budget Webinar Powerpoint Presentation, Feb. 12, 2016
Download the PowerPoint presentation by PSBA’s John Callahan, Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy/Chief Lobbyist here:

Philly: SELLING THE SELLER
Can giving realtors tours of neighborhood schools bring more parents back to the public option?
Philadelphia Citizen BY MELANIE BAVARIA FEB. 12, 2016
Imagine a school with a computer lab filled with new Apple desktops. Full kindergarten to 8th grade services for students with autism spectrum disorders. A nationally recognized rock band. A two-way Spanish immersion program that produces kids who are bilingual and biliterate by second grade.  You’d have to move to the suburbs, or send your kid to a charter, or pay a small fortune for private school. Right? That’s the story everyone tells, anyway, from news reports to (often) fellow parents to realtors, the first encounter many Philadelphians have with a prospective neighborhood.  But a group of about 40 realtors last week came away with a very different story after touring five South Philly elementary schools that many of them—though they also live in the neighborhood—had never seen before: Andrew Jackson, George W. Nebinger, Vare-Washington, Eliza B. Kirkbride, and Southwark. What they learned is what organizers of the tour hope they’ll pass on to their clients: Each of those schools, and others like them, are worth a look.
“A lot of real estate agents, by and large, don’t actually know anything about the catchment schools in the neighborhoods where they are selling homes,” says Mollie Michel, one of the organizers of the tour. “If you spend enough time reading the newspaper you know about this terrible thing, or you know that the state is running the schools, or you know that we have no budget, or you know that Corbett stripped funding from our schools. Based on demand, it’s clear that these real estate agents are hungry for more information about the schools.”

Gov. Wolf's budget shortchanges charter students: Mary Steffey
PennLive Op-Ed  By Mary Steffey on February 12, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Mary Steffey is the board president of the Agora Cyber Charter School, based in King of Prussia, Montgomery County.
In his 2016-2017 budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a dream for our state. A promise of more basic education funding for next year, based on the non-existent budget of this year.  Wolf claims he wants to choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track. What everyone once again ignores, is that his plan is to only fund some of our schools.  Digging deeper into the numbers behind Tuesday's speech, roughly $488 million would be diverted away from charter school students.  The anti-charter stance taken by this administration has tried time and time again to reduce or eliminate funding for charter and cyber charter schools in the state.  While the promises add up, without a current budget in place and cash flowing to our students, the increases start to feel a bit like monopoly money.  Please, Governor, stop pitting taxpayers against students. Stop hiding behind doom and gloom numbers you have created.  Schools are struggling to prepare their own budgets for 2016-2017, but our budgets are about math too - what difference will an extra $200 million make if the students of Pennsylvania never see it?

Here's a prior KEYSEC posting that focuses on cyber charter performance and the incredibly lucrative business opportunities/compensation they have provided for K12, Inc and Pearson executives.  K12 Inc. provided management services for Agora up until last year.  Agora was a major source of revenue for them; your tax dollars at work - don't miss the Morningstar Executive Compensation link for K12…..
PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 28: Cyber Charters Have 'Overwhelming Negative Impact,' CREDO Study Finds

Online Public Schools Are a Disaster, Admits Billionaire, Charter School-Promoter Walton Family Foundation
A new political strategy: throw online charters overboard to save the rest of the school privatization industry.
By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet February 11, 2016
For the second time in three months, the Walton Family Foundation—which has spent more than $1 billion to create a quarter of the nation’s 6,700 public charter schools—has announced that all online public school instruction, via cyber charter schools, is a colossal disaster for most K-12 students.  “If virtual charters were grouped together and ranked as a single school district, it would be the ninth largest in the country and among the worst performing,” co-wrote Walton’s Marc Sternberg and Marc Holley, respectively the foundation’s director of educational giving and its evaluation unit director, in a recent Education Week commentary. “Online education must be reimagined. Ignoring the problem—or worse, replicating failures—serves nobody.”
Last fall, the giant foundation, which has pledged to spend its second billion to expand charter public schools nationally between now and 2020, simultaneously released three detailed comissioned studies finding more than two-thirds of America’s 200,000 charter students receiving all of their instruction over the Internet were barely learning the basics.

"There’s an element of this rage at bad teachers that’s hard to talk about, and so it’s often avoided: the dismaying truth that we don’t know how to educate poor inner-city and rural kids in this country. In particular, we don’t know how to educate African-American boys, who, according to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, graduate high school at rates no better than fifty-nine per cent."
Stop Humiliating Teachers
The New Yorker BY DAVID DENBY FEBRUARY 11, 2016
A necessary commonplace: Almost everyone we know has been turned around, or at least seriously shaken, by a teacher—in college, maybe, but often in high school, often by a man or a woman who drove home a point or two about physics, literature, or ethics, and looked at us sternly and said, in effect, You could be more than what you are. At their best, teachers are everyday gods, standing at the entryway to the world. If they are fair and good, they are possibly the most morally impressive adults that their students will ever know. For a while, they are the law, they are knowledge, they are justice.  Everyone celebrates his or her personal memory of individual teachers, yet, as a culture, we snap at the run-down heels of the profession. The education reporter Dana Goldstein, in her book “The Teacher Wars,” published in 2014, looks at American history and describes a recurring situation of what she calls “moral panic”—the tendency, when there’s an economic or social crisis, to lay blame on public-school teachers. They must have created the crisis, the logic goes, by failing to educate the young.  We have been in such a panic for more than a decade, during which time the attacks on public-school teachers have been particularly virulent. They are lazy, mediocre, tenaciously clinging to tenure in order to receive their lavish pay of thirty-six thousand dollars a year (that’s the national-average starting salary, according to the National Education Association). As Goldstein put it, “Today the ineffective tenured teacher has emerged as a feared character, a vampiric type who sucks tax dollars into her bloated pension and health care plans, without much regard for the children under her care.” Because of this person, we are failing to produce an effective workforce; just look at how badly we’re lagging behind other nations in international standardized tests. Our teachers are mediocre as a mass; we have to make a serious effort to toss out the bad ones before they do any more damage. And so on. It’s not just Republicans who talk this way. Democrats, too, are obsessed with ridding the system of bad teachers. From the President on down, leaders have been demanding “accountability.”

Group Aims to Boost Advocacy Skills for Parents of Students With Disabilities
Education Week By Christina A. Samuels Published Online: February 9, 2016
A Pennsylvania town roiled by a controversy that led to the resignation of its superintendent three years ago has found an unusual path back to trust between the community and its school district: a volunteer effort that so far has helped support dozens of parents of students who have disabilities.  The chain of events began in 2013, when the then-superintendent of the Coatesville Area School District, 40 miles west of Philadelphia, was found to have exchanged dozens of sexist and racist text messages with a district staff member.  Meetings held in the wake of that scandal revealed other deep-rooted problems in the 7,000-student school system, including allegations that district officials discriminated against students with disabilities and minority students.  Cathy Taschner, an administrator in another district, stepped into the maelstrom when she was hired as Coatesville's permanent superintendent in June 2014. The former superintendent, Richard Como, resigned in September 2013.

PRESS RELEASE from United Opt Out National for Immediate Release: February 12, 2016: Fifth Annual Event in Philadelphia, Feb. 26th – 28th
Posted on February 12, 2016 Email: unitedoptoutnational@gmail.com
United Opt Out National is hosting their fifth annual event.  This year’s sold- out conference, “Transcending Resistance, Igniting Revolution,” takes place in Philadelphia from February 26th to 28th. Keynote speakers include  Antonia Darder, Chris Hedges, Bill Ayers, Stephen Krashen, and Jill Stein. In an effort to include the greater Philadelphia community, a pre-conference United Opt Out Town Hall will take place on Thursday, February 25th. Place and time will be posted on the website.  United Opt Out, vehemently opposed to the components of the Every Student Succeeds Act ( ESSA) that are tantamount to a Black Friday sale of public education,  will take this opportunity to voice concerns and refine plans to push back against the privatization efforts this bill attempts to secure.  Unfortunately, it continues the failure to secure an equitable learning environment for all children as it continues the damaging ranking, sorting, and maligning of children.  During this conference, attendees will dig into each component of the bill, clarify its purpose for the public, and brainstorm demands and direct actions to advocate the changes needed to end the continued punitive and exploitive aspects of the federal law. 

PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM
"Southeastern Region Forum Series"Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Networking and Coffee - 9:30 a.m. Program - 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Penn Center for Educational Leadership (5th Floor)
University of Pennsylvania - 3440 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104-3325
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
SPEAKERS:
An Overview of the Proposed 2016-2017 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director, Education Law Center
Mark B. Miller, President-Elect, Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Dr. George Steinhoff, Superintendent, Penn Delco School District
One or more representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
RSVP for Southeastern Forum on-line at

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
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

Attend the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia February 26-28
United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Reform will hold its annual conference on Philadelphia from February 26-28.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Thursday, March 3, 2016 9:00 - 3:30 at the Hilton Harrisburg.
PA Budget and Policy Center website
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, and local communities. The Summit will focus on the leading issues facing the commonwealth in 2016, with workshops, lunch, and a legislative panel discussion.  Space is limited, so fill out the form below to reserve your spot at the Budget Summit.
Thursday, March 3, 2016 Hilton Hotel, Harrisburg Pennsylvania
The event is free, but PBPC welcomes donations of any size to help off-set costs.

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

PenSPRA's Annual Symposium, Friday April 8th in Shippensburg, PA
PenSPRA, or the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association, has developed a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your district's brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends.  Join us the evening before the Symposium for a “Conversation with Colleagues” from 5 – 6 pm followed by a Networking Social Cocktail Hour from 6 – 8 pm.  Both the Symposium Friday and the social events on Thursday evening will be held at the Shippensburg University Conference Center. Snacks at the social hour, and Friday’s breakfast and lunch is included in your registration cost. $125 for PenSPRA members and $150 for non-members. Learn more about our speakers and topics and register today at this link:

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

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