Friday, February 5, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 5: Walton Family Foundation, patron saints of charter school funding, backing off on cyber charter support

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup February 5, 2016:
Walton Family Foundation, patron saints of charter school funding, backing off on cyber charter support

RSVP Today for One of EPLC’s Education Policy Forum Series on Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 State Budget Proposal
Thursday, February 11, 2016 – Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - Philadelphia
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - Pittsburgh

"The results are, in a word, sobering. The CREDO study found that over the course of a school year, the students in virtual charters learned the equivalent of 180 fewer days in math and 72 fewer days in reading than their peers in traditional charter schools, on average.

This is stark evidence that most online charters have a negative impact on students' academic achievement. The results are particularly significant because of the reach and scope of online charters: They currently enroll some 200,000 children in 200 schools operating across 26 states.

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. 

Funders, educators, policymakers, and parents cannot in good conscience ignore the fact that students are falling a full year behind their peers in math and nearly half a school year in reading, annually.

For operators and authorizers of these schools to do nothing would constitute nothing short of educational malpractice."
Walton Family Foundation: We Must Rethink Online Learning
Education Week Commentary By Marc Sternberg & Marc Holley January 26, 2016
Marc Sternberg is the director of education giving at the Walton Family Foundation. Marc Holley is the foundation's evaluation-unit director. Education Week receives grant support from the foundation for news coverage of issues related to school choice.
By its very definition, innovation will always lead to some failed starts. And when that innovation involves educating children, it's especially important to learn from mistakes and adjust quickly.  The Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $385 million in creating new charter schools over more than two decades to seed educational innovation and improve U.S. education at scale. The foundation has allocated a small fraction of that investment—about $550,000—to virtual charter schools, which teach full-time students exclusively online.  We remain strong believers in creating educational options and opportunities. We have provided startup dollars to about a quarter of the charter schools in the United States, all with the goal of creating opportunity for high-needs students, and we recently committed to investing another $1 billion over the next five years to expand access to high-quality educational choices. In recent years, we have hoped that online charter schools could provide a lifeline for some students. But while we were enthusiastic about supporting online education entrepreneurs, our first priority is always making sure that students are served well.

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Cyber Charter School Performance Profile Scores
for 2013, 2014 and 2015

A score of 70 is considered passing.  No PA cyber charter has achieved a score of 70 in any year.  Additionally, most cybers never made AYP under No Child Left Behind during the period 2005 thru 2012.
Here are the 2013, 2014 and 2015 SPP scores for Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools:

School                                                               2013                 2014                 2015

21st Century Cyber CS                                    66.5                 66.0                  69.2
Achievement House CS                                   39.7                 37.5                  44.8
ACT Academy Cyber CS                                 30.6                 28.9                  36.1
Agora Cyber CS                                              48.3                 42.4                  46.4
ASPIRA Bilingual CS                                      29.0                 39.0                  38.4
Central PA Digital Lrng Foundation CS          31.7                 48.8                  39.3
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS    54.6                 52.2                  48.8
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS                59.0                 50.0                  N/A
Esperanza Cyber CS                                       32.7                  47.7                  31.7
Pennsylvania Cyber CS                                  59.4                  55.5                  65.3
Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS               54.7                  50.9                  49.2
Pennsylvania Leadership CS                          64.7                  59.3                  54.7
Pennsylvania Virtual CS                                  67.9                  63.4                  64.6
Solomon Charter School Inc.                         36.9                   N/A                   N/A
Susq-Cyber CS                                               46.4                  42.4                  45.5

"Cyber charter is not a “tuition-free public education.” Your tax dollars are spent on an education that is under-performing. After all, the marketing and lobbying budget for cyber charters is also paid by you and me."
Reprise March 2015: Pa. should make cyber charter school funding reform a priority
The Phoenix Reporter By State Sen. Sean Wiley, Guest Columnist POSTED: 03/19/15
Pennsylvania State Sen. Sean Wiley is a Democrat representing District 49 in Eire County. For more information about Senate Bill 128, please visit
Schools that teach. A very basic concept, yet one that has more complicated layers — with one layer costing about $426 million annually.  Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget included a new $1 billion cumulative investment in education as well as a four-year commitment of $2 billion in new money for basic education, special education and Pre-K. The governor focused on “schools that teach” because “for our children to succeed tomorrow, every child must have access to a great education, and teachers must have the resources they need to deliver a great education.”  Students and families have the choice of the type of education they want: traditional public school, tuition-based school, charter school, cyber charter school or a hybrid. I am an avid supporter of public education and I believe in innovation. I strongly believe we should use tools and mechanisms to educate each student in the way that is best for that child. I am not proposing abolishing methods that can reach children; rather, I believe it critical that we hold education providers to heightened standards of accountability and equity and feel it only fair as taxpayer’s dollars are at issue.
There are many challenges that school districts must overcome. One of those obstacles is the staggering cost of cyber charters.

July 2015 PSBA Special Report: The Critical Need for Charter School Reform

Gov. Tom Wolf asking for $90 million more for preschool programs
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on February 04, 2016 at 2:51 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf plans to ask the General Assembly to invest another $60 million into state funding for preschool programs in 2016-17 on top of $30 million more that he didn't get in this year's unfinished budget.  At an event in Philadelphia on Thursday, Wolf made a pitch to try to gain support for this proposed investment that would raise the current state funding for preschool programs of $166.5 million to $256.3 million next year if fully realized.  An increased investment of that size would allow 14,000 more children access to  preschool, based on information released by the Wolf Administration earlier this year.  "We have a choice in Pennsylvania. We must choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track," Wolf said. "I believe that Pennsylvania should be among the many states that provide universal pre-kindergarten for children and I will work to make this a reality."

Visiting Philly school, Wolf says he'll seek $60 million more for early childhood education
With this year's budget still sitting on the table in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf says next year, he wants to increase spending on early childhood education by $60 million.  That's on top of the $60 million he asked for in the current year's budget. The partial deal he signed in December provides $30 million for early childhood education.  Wolf said his new proposal would cover the costs of enrolling about 14,000 more Pennsylvania children in pre-K.   But what about the fact this year's budget still isn't completed? The governor is assuming the state will have a budget in place by June — just in time for next year's deadline.  "I understand you cannot just throw money at education or any problem and hope to come to a good result," he said. "But you can't keep taking money away from something this important and expect to get to a good place."

10 numbers behind Pennsylvania's spike in homeless students

Editorial: A road map for the schools
Bucks County Courier Times Editorial Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2016 12:15 am
When those big, fat school tax bills begin landing in mailboxes in a few months, they won’t go down any easier knowing that Pennsylvania schools are doing a rather poor job, at least according to an organization known as the Network for Public Education.
According to the NPE’s latest report, “Valuing Public Education: A 50 State Report Card,” schools in the commonwealth earned an overall grade-point average of 1.5 (on a four-point scale). That translates into a solid D, a grade few if any kids want to bring home to mom and dad. The state tied for 27th place among the states, along with Delaware, Michigan and Utah.  The highest score, achieved by Iowa, Nebraska and Vermont, was only 2.5, a C, which tells us that schools everywhere have a lot of room for improvement. Eight states received a grade of F.  Interestingly, in one of the six criteria used to grade each state (and the District of Columbia) — “Spend Taxpayers Resources Wisely” — Pennsylvania received a D. Apparently, financial resources are available in many school districts but are being wasted. The state also received a D for “Resistance to Privatization” (charter schools) and a big one, “Chance for Success.” Pennsylvania received a C for “No High Stakes Testing” and “Professionalism of Teaching.” The testing grade indicates that, as controversial as mandated tests are, the problem could be much worse.  In coming up with its grades, NPE did not score states against each other but rather ranked them “against the values we hold and research supports.”

Seven months later, optimism on Pennsylvania budget
Pennsylvanians may be fed up with the state budget impasse, but the people sitting at the negotiating table aren't betraying any such disgust.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is set to give his budget proposal next week for the upcoming fiscal year — even as the current year's spending is the subject of tense talks with the GOP-led Legislature.  But Wolf said he feels good about progress made toward a bipartisan budget deal last year, even though the agreement collapsed just before Christmas.  "I'm really proud of that. Yes, I'm a little frustrated that it didn't reach my desk, but that frustration, that sense of frustration, is more than offset by a sense of achievement and accomplishment with the good things we accomplished in promoting that compromise," he said.  Dave Reed, the state House's GOP leader, echoed Wolf's sanguine outlook. The major issues at stake with budget talks have bedeviled lawmakers for decades, he reasoned.

Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015 campaign finances
York Daily Record by Flint L. McColgan, fmccolgan@ydr.com4:24 p.m. EST February 4, 2016
Campaign finance reports for local elections shouldn't take much longer than a couple of hours to sort through once you get the documents. But a statewide election, especially one for governor, is a beast of a different kind. So, I offer you this, my data dump of all noteworthy contributions contained in Gov. Tom Wolf's annual campaign finances for the entire 2015 year.  This year followed the 2014 election, so every one of these contributions were made while a campaign was not going on.  I will sort through this and present you a polished story later, but this condenses the 421 PAGE REPORT into its base essentials for all political enthusiasts to munch on while I work. You can view the entire document at the bottom of this page.  I bold any single contributions that are more than $10,000. Some contributors may have also crossed that threshold but through multiple contributions, so I'll be looking for those as I continue to look at the data.

"Since 2007, King Frack has distributed more than $8 million in campaign funds to various political campaigns.  The king gave more than $660,000 to support the campaigns of leaders such as House Speaker Mike Turzai, and the House Republican campaign committee.  He gave more than $846,000 to support Senate President Joe Scarnati, Majority Leader Jake Corman, and the Senate Republican campaign committee."
Letter to the Editor: How King Frack rules Harrisburg
Delco Times Letter by Albert Eelman, Chadds Ford POSTED: 02/04/16, 10:19 PM EST
To the Times:
Pennsylvania is in a state of crisis with Democrats and Republicans feuding over the state budget. Democrats are desperately looking for sources of income, while Republicans are looking for places to cut funding from in order to save enough money to meet budget requirements. Neither side is giving an inch and the governor is refusing to sign an inadequate budget bill.  In the meantime our schools are borrowing money at exorbitant rates in order to continue the education of our children and some school districts are reaching the point of having to close due to lack of funds.  PennDOT is reeling under winter conditions, road and bridge repair, and equipment failures, unable to dig out from under due to lack of funding. It makes no difference to the people who are supposed to represent our interest. They just continue to squabble and take stands against each other while the citizens of this great state continue to travel to somewhere in a handbasket.  There is, however, a huge gorilla in the state house, one whose size dwarfs King Kong.  His name is King Frack and his long arms reach into the House and Senate of Pennsylvania.  He dispenses campaign money to any who will accept it, but with one command.

Chester Upland’s finances looking sturdier
By Alex Rose, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 02/04/16, 10:38 PM EST
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> Finances are beginning to look up for the perpetually underfunded Chester Upland School District, according to the managing director of consulting firm Public Financial Management.  “Things have changed substantially since (December) to the benefit of the district,” said Dean Kaplan during a status hearing before Delaware County President Judge Chad Kenney on Thursday.  The district was facing a $26.5 million structural deficit and a negative fund balance of $50 million at the end of 2015, said Kaplan, but the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf were able to agree on a temporary budget that injected an additional $100 million into schools. It was not the $337 million in additional funding the governor wanted, but it was enough to keep Chester Upland and other districts that rely on state funding afloat.

Suit: Main Line school district way too taxing
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, STAFF WRITER. Updated: FEBRUARY 4, 2016 — 5:26 PM EST
A suit filed by a Main Line attorney argues that the Lower Merion School District, one of the region's wealthiest and most highly regarded, has misled the public about its finances and should remit its $55 million surplus to taxpayers.  The class-action suit, filed Monday in Montgomery County Court by Arthur Wolk, a lawyer who lives in Gladwyne, seeks a long list of remedies, including a five-year moratorium on tax increases.  It says that the district has misappropriated funds and that its large surplus was "ill-begotten."  "That's all money that never should have been collected," Wolk said in an interview.  In a statement Thursday, the district called the suit "baseless" and "offensive."  Lower Merion spokesman Doug Young said the district carries a nearly $56 million fund balance, with more than $45 million of that committed to paying for pensions, retirement benefits, and capital projects.

Ridley celebrates School Director Recognition month
Delco News Network by Leslie Krowchenko Digital First Media Correspondent Published: Wednesday, February 03, 2016
RIDLEY >> The Ridley School Board celebrated School Director Recognition month a day after its traditional Jan. 31 ending with a visit from Pennsylvania State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D-161).  Describing education in Delaware County as “a bi-partisan issue,” Krueger-Braneky referenced the incomplete state budget and said she relies on individuals such as Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel when making decisions.    “I have her on speed dial from the house floor,” she added. “I value her opinion.”  Krueger-Braneky read the proclamation from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and presented each director with a citation from the state house.  “School boards give hours and hours of their time without pay,” she said. “Thank you for all you do for the students of our community.”

District's teacher vacancy problem persists; sub fill rate inches up
the notebook by Dale Mezzacappa February 4, 2016 — 7:02pm
Midway into the school year, the School District’s teacher situation is still a mess.
For one thing, it has nearly 184 teacher vacancies, more than twice the number at this time last year.  Though the company hired to provide substitute service is gradually improving its daily “fill rate,” it is still struggling to reach the levels it promised last summer when it was retained by the School Reform Commission.  Throughout January, Source4Teachers had daily “fill rates” ranging from 35 to 45 percent. On most days, it was above 40 percent.  But Source4Teachers had promised a 70 percent fill rate in September and a 90 percent fill rate by January.  Spokesman Owen Murphy said that the company is ratcheting up its hiring for Philadelphia and said that the fill rate for Thursday was 57 percent. The Notebook could not immediately confirm that number with the District.  If that number is is accurate, that means Source4Teachers has finally reached the fill-rate level that the District mustered when it handled the substitute pool. That performance, officials said, was poor enough to lead to the outsourcing in the first place. 

Leaked audio: Manheim Township school board conspired to deliberate privately on superintendent search
Lancaster Online by Kara Newhouse and Susan Baldridge February 4, 2016
The Manheim Township school board conspired to deliberate privately on its search for a new superintendent even as it promised greater transparency in the wake of earlier violations of the Sunshine Act, an audio recording obtained by LNP reveals.  Board President Bill Murry arranged a series of one-on-one telephone conversations with members late last week in a deliberate attempt to avoid public scrutiny and circumvent the open-meetings law, the audio recording of a closed-door meeting held Thursday night, Jan. 28, reveals.  “Tonight we are not going to deliberate the search firms. I want you to go home and think about it. I will discuss your particular feelings or which one you want on an individual basis. One by one. Part of this is to keep our butts out of a wringer,” Murry is heard on the recording telling board members.  Half a minute later, he said: “If we don’t deliberate, the meeting isn’t subject to Sunshine. OK? That’s the point.”

Gerrymandering, Citizens United divide nation
Morning Call Opinion by Martha Machado South Whitehall Township February 3, 2016
The Jan. 29 headline shows how disgusted Pennsylvanians are with Harrisburg. They blame not only the Republican-controlled Legislature but also Gov. Wolf. The same can be said about our nation, and blame goes to the GOP-controlled Congress and President Obama.  The polarization of our country is bringing our democracy to a halt and destroying our nation. This began with Ronald Reagan's trickle-down, voodoo economics and then continued with Citizens United and gerrymandering. Citizens United gave the rich and powerful the power to control our legislators into voting for their agendas, not for all the people, thus potentially wiping out the middle class. Gerrymandering has given our legislators safe districts so they no longer have to listen to and do the best for their constituents. If we want to fix our state and nation, we have to repeal Citizens United and draw straight district lines to stop gerrymandering.  As the rich get richer and our middle class disappears, we will continue to flounder. You can't have a good economy if people can't afford to buy anything.  As Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."

This is actually what America would look like without gerrymandering
Washington Post By Christopher Ingraham January 13, 2016
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called on lawmakers and the public to take a number of steps "to change the system to reflect our better selves" for "a better politics." The top item on that list was to end partisan gerrymandering: "we have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around," Obama said.  In most states, state legislatures draw the district boundaries that determine how many delegates the state sends to the U.S. Congress, as well as the general partisan make-up of that delegation. State legislatures are partisan beasts, and if one party is in control of the process they can draw boundaries to give themselves a numeric advantage over their opponents in Congress.This process is called gerrymandering.

Vote Jerry Mandering
OneVirginia2021 Published on Jan 18, 2016 YouTube runtime: 1:24
Ok…we’ll admit it. Jerry Mandering isn’t a real political candidate.
The team at OneVirginia2021 created this video to highlight the absurdity of the process behind having elected officials draw their own lines to their advantage – a manipulative practice known as “gerrymandering.”

"that in some cases the differences were substantial enough to raise concerns about whether scores on the exam — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test — are valid and reliable enough to be used for teacher evaluations or school accountability decisions."
Report: Kids who took Common Core test online scored lower than those who used paper
Washington Post By Emma Brown February 4 at 11:28 AM  
Five million students took the new Common Core exam known as PARCC last year, most of them by logging onto a computer. But about one in five took the exam with paper and pencil, and those students — who tested the old-fashioned way — tended to score higher than students who took the tests online, according to Education Week.  It’s not clear whether the score differences were due to the format of the testing, or due to differences in the backgrounds of the students who took the two different types of test, according to the Feb. 3 Education Week report. But the publication reported that in some cases the differences were substantial enough to raise concerns about whether scores on the exam — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test — are valid and reliable enough to be used for teacher evaluations or school accountability decisions.  As Ed Week reporter Benjamin Herold wrote:  In December, the Illinois state board of education found that 43 percent of students there who took the PARCC English/language arts exam on paper scored proficient or above, compared with 36 percent of students who took the exam online. The state board has not sought to determine the cause of those score differences.

School Counselor Week: Access to School Counselors in PA Schools
Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis FEBRUARY 4, 2016 ~ DR. ED FULLER
K-12 school counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools to help improve student cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes such as grades, enrollment in challenging courses, socio-emotional health, personal development, and college- and career-readiness, including enrollment in post-secondary institutions of education.[1] They also promote equity in student outcomes and assist in the development of healthy and supportive school climates.[2] Indeed, a growing body of research concludes school counselors are crucial to student outcomes, including both socio-emotional health and academic success.  While the primary duties of counselors involve working directly with students, many counselors also serve as testing coordinators and perform other additional duties that have historically not been associated with the job of counselor.[3] Unfortunately, these additional roles dilute the amount of time counselors can spend with individual students in the role of counselor. Further, the rapid increase in the number of economically disadvantaged students and the number of students desirous of entering post-secondary education have also placed additional demands on the time and attention of counselors.  For school counselors to effectively assist students, the American Association of School Counselors recommends a maximum ratio of 250 students for every full-time counselor. Moreover, research suggests that reducing the student-counselor ratio has positive effects on a variety of student outcomes[4].
In this brief, we examine student access to school counselors by analyzing the schools that have school counselors and the ratio of students to counselors in schools. Before reviewing the results of our study, we provide a brief review of the research that has established the impact of counselors on various student outcomes.

This is how Bernie or Hillary wins: The speech that would seal the nomination
We're days from New Hampshire and the battle keeps tightening. Here's how either candidate could gain separation by BERTIS DOWNS THURSDAY, FEB 4, 2016 07:57 AM EST
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have decided to start talking about the state of K-12 public education in recent weeks.  This is a very positive, if overdue, development, with both of them questioning the efficacy and priority of charter schools in the national dialogue on educating our children; and Sanders recently proposing a new, equity-focused approach to funding education in the United States.   Still, the candidates’ words don’t seem to resonate with many of the largely untapped public education parents and teachers who are in search of a candidate. Neither candidate really has a grasp on the varied and complex issues that have to be addressed when considering the changes and reforms our schools and children truly need.  Let’s help their campaigns by outlining the speech that at least one of them ought to give — and soon.  Which campaign wants to lay claim to public schools supporters? Easy. Whoever embraces these ideas first. Just imagine:

Ed. Dept. Kicks Off Process for Writing Every Student Succeeds Act Rules
Education Week By Alyson Klein on February 3, 2016 10:13 AM
Attention, teachers, principals, state chiefs, civil rights advocates, district superintendents, board members, and others who care about federal K-12 policy: The U.S. Department of Education wants your help in crafting regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Specifically, the Education Department wants nominations for a "negotiated rulemaking" committee, according to a notice slated to be published in the Federal Register Thursday. (More on just what "negotiated rulemaking" means below).  Under ESSA, the department must use this process for three different areas of the law: standards, assessments, and "supplement-not-supplant" (a financial portion that deals with how federal dollars can be used relative to local spending).
The department will appoint at least one representative from each of these groups to the "negotiated rulemaking" committee: state administrators and state boards of education; local administrators and local boards of education; tribal leadership; parents and students (including historically disadvantaged kids); teachers; principals and other school leaders (including charter leaders); paraprofessionals;  the civil rights community (including representatives of students with disabilities, English-language learners and others); the business community; and federal administrators.

Louisiana Voucher Program Leaves Students Behind, One Study Shows
Participation in Louisiana's voucher program increased the likelihood of a failing score by 24 to 50 percent, study shows.
US News and World Report By Lauren Camera Feb. 3, 2016, at 5:25 p.m.
Students who won publicly funded vouchers to escape their failing public schools and enroll in private schools are doing worse academically than those who weren't awarded vouchers and remained in low-performing schools.  That's the startling new finding from a working paper that analyzed Louisiana's private school voucher program.  The team of researchers from University of California, Berkley, Duke University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that attendance at a private school significantly lowered students' math, reading, science and social studies scores, and, in particular, it increased the likelihood of a failing score by 24 to 50 percent.  The negative impacts, the paper notes, are consistent across income groups, geographic areas, and private school characteristics, and are larger for younger children.  "These results suggest caution in the design of voucher systems aimed at expanding school choice for disadvantaged students," the researchers wrote.

Let's talk about science: Space Station visible Friday night (Pittsburgh)
Post Gazette By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory February 4, 2016 12:00 AM
If the weather cooperates, go outside and look up at the sky Friday night. You will get a great opportunity to see the International Space Station. It will be seen as a steady white pinpoint of bright light moving slowly across the sky. All you need to view the orbiting outpost are your eyes and a clear view of the horizon.  The ISS will be visible Friday night for about six minutes, starting at 6:08:47 p.m. It will move from the west-southwest to the northeast. The station will be only 10 degrees above the west-southwest horizon when it first becomes visible, but it will reach a maximum elevation of 63 degrees at 6:12 p.m. in the northwestern sky. When the ISS disappears at 6:15 p.m., it will be only 10 degrees above the northeastern horizon.

Public Interest Law Center: Discipline, Truancy and More
Philadelphia, PA Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
This seminar is designed to address disciplinary issues. The presentation will include disciplinary rights of students not yet identified for special education services or 504 plans; the disciplinary rights of students with IEPs and 504 plans, and an advocate’s view of assisting families with truancy issues.  Tickets range from $50 (webinar) to $200 (private attorneys), and there is a "Pay What You Can Option" so that no one is turned away from this important program. 
CLE credit is available for attorneys licensed in Pennsylvania that attend the seminar in person.
Questions? Contact Michael at or call 267.546.1303.

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.

PSBA call for volunteers: ESSA Study Group; Respond by Feb. 5th
On March 2 and 3, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association will convene an ESSA Study Group to examine the federal statute and provide recommendations on how best to implement the law in Pennsylvania. The group will include four workgroups to draft a white paper for submission to PDE and the General Assembly. The group will divide their work into the following areas:
  • Schools identified as falling in to the “bottom 5%”
  • Assessment
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • Charter school issues and solutions
The ESSA Study Group will be chaired by PSBA President Kathy Swope and each subgroup will be led by a team of co-facilitators.
Each subgroup will consist of:
  • 10 school directors
  • 3 superintendents (1 rural, 1 suburban and 1 urban)
  • 3 school principals (1 HS, 1 MS and 1 elementary)
  • 2 representatives from district staff (business manager, guidance, curriculum, etc.)
  • 2 representatives from other public education groups (EPLC, PASA, charter school, etc.)
  • Support/content experts as identified
Our two-day meeting will take place at the Harrisburg Hilton beginning at 10 a.m. on March 2 and concluding at approximately 2 p.m. on March 3. PSBA will provide all participants with a travel stipend, all meals and overnight accommodations.
Please send an email stating your interest in serving to PSBA Executive Director Nathan G. Mains ( by this Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Selected group participants will be notified next week.

"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
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
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

"Capital Region Forum Series" Thursday, February 11, 2016
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Harrisburg Hilton Hotel - Two North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
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:
Dr. Brian Barnhart, Executive Director, Lancaster-Lebanon IU #13
Thomas Gluck, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units
Representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.
RSVP for Harrisburg Forum on-line at 

PSBA New School Director Training Remaining Locations:
  • 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

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

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.

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

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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