Tuesday, March 22, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 22: Dems confident they can withstand veto override attempt; Community schools plan begins to take shape in Philly

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 22, 2016:
Dems confident they can withstand veto override attempt; Community schools plan begins to take shape in Philly

PASBO will be holding a press conference on Wednesday at 9 am at the Capitol to present the deteriorating financial situation of schools.

PSBA Advocacy Forum & Day on the Hill APR 4, 2016 • 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the third annual Advocacy Forum on April 4, 2016, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. 

The #voterregistration deadline for the #PaPrimary is 3/28
Online PA Voter Registration here:

Hundreds attend meeting on state budget impasse in Luzerne County
Citizens Voice BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER Published: March 22, 2016
HANOVER TWP. — Frustrated taxpayers and concerned parents of school children came out to vent Monday at a meeting to address the ongoing state budget impasse.  More than 300 went to the Hanover Area High School auditorium to hear state legislators and local education officials talk about the budget impasse.  The situation could force some area schools to close unless the state releases more education funding.  “Why didn’t we hear this from you four years ago?” a woman shouted out to state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre.  Pashinski was telling the crowd that Republicans for years have been underfunding education, which has forced local school boards to raise property taxes. Pashinski also blamed Republicans for rejecting proposals to raise revenue with a severance tax on natural gas drilling.  “With all due respect, we have been proposing a severance tax since 2009 ... check the newspapers,” Pashinski said, responding to the woman who shouted at him.  “Not everyone reads the paper. ... Some don’t have time to read the paper,” she replied.  “Four years ago, my children were in daycare,” a man in the crowd added. “This is something I came into, and now you’re telling me that my children might be screwed ... Why are we just getting the letter this week?

Pennsylvania Schools Still Required To Meet Budget Deadline
CBS Philadelphia March 21, 2016 4:00 AM By Jim Melwert
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s budget is now 265 days overdue. But, even without a state-budget in place, school districts are still required by law to have their budgets in place by June 30th.  Under normal circumstances, school districts still have to guess at some numbers as they have to put budgets together before the state budget is finalized:  “This year it’s doubly challenging because of the fact that they don’t know what they’re getting this year or next year,” said Steve Robinson with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.  As for what to base a budget on, Robinson says some districts are looking at what they received for 2014-15, then looking at the governor’s and the legislature’s proposals, and trying work down the middle.
Bottom line, Robinson says: “I think that parents need to reach out to their legislators and say, ‘It’s time – well past time to get a budget passed.’”

Norwin school board votes to take out $20 million line of credit
Post Gazette By Anne Cloonan March 21, 2016 9:57 PM
Norwin school board on Monday night voted to take out a $20 million line of credit to be used as needed during the state budget impasse.  School directors chose First National Bank of Hermitage as the bank to provide the line of credit. Superintendent William Kerr said district administrators are still negotiating the interest rate on the credit line.  School board President Bob Perkins confirmed that for now, the district will continue to provide all of its usual programs and services.  “I think the governor and the (state) legislature both need to give, or they’re not going to get a budget passed,” Mr. Perkins said.

Highlands officials juggle budget as districts aren't given deadline leeway
TribLive BY TOM YERACE | Monday, March 21, 2016, 11:05 p.m.
In calculating Highlands School District's 2016-17 school budget, Superintendent Michael Bjalobok said district officials have to use their imaginations.  “We are now expected to build our school budget for next year based on the imaginary numbers from last year and imaginary numbers for next year,” Bjalobok told the school board Monday night.  He was speaking of the state's budget impasse that began last July when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature failed to reach an agreement on a budget by July 1.  The impasse is in its ninth month and, in three months, Wolf and the Legislature will face another state budget deadline.  Bjalobok said much of his time lately has been consumed by “the state budget or lack thereof,” attending numerous meetings with fellow school officials. He said the state Department of Education is not cutting the school districts any leeway in meeting their budget deadline, which is the same as the state's.

“The leaders apparently told Wolf Monday they are confident they can withstand an override attempt by majority Republicans should Wolf veto the package designed to carry state and school operations through June 30.  But they also acknowledged sustaining a veto still leaves public schools under-funded; zero state aid released to Pennsylvania's major public universities; and important agricultural services headed for a summer shutdown.
A momentary pause: At Democratic leaders' request, Gov. Wolf agrees to delay threatened budget veto
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 21, 2016 at 5:43 PM, updated March 21, 2016 at 11:16 PM
This post was updated at 11:15 p.m., Monday with some comments from Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday he has agreed, at state Democratic legislative leaders' request, not to veto the state budget closure package on his desk "today."  That's apparently to provide space for one more, last-ditch effort at a negotiated settlement to the parties' remaining fiscal 2015-16 differences before another outbreak of open budget warfare.  Wolf's very short-term pronouncement came after a late-morning meeting with House Minority Leader Frank Dermody and Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, both Democrats from Allegheny County.  The pause, the governor said, will "give them (legislative Democrats) time to think about what they want to do, and give me time to do further due diligence" in his review of the plan.

Democrats urge Wolf to relent on veto threat in budget fight
AP State Wire By MARC LEVY March 21, 2016
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers said Monday that they are urging Gov. Tom Wolf to approve enough aid to keep schools and agricultural extension offices across Pennsylvania from closing and to back off his threat to veto Republican spending legislation he opposes.  Wolf met privately with House and Senate Democratic leaders in the Capitol on Monday amid doubt over whether the Democratic governor's veto of a $6.6 billion package could withstand an override vote in a gridlock-weary Legislature.  Rather, Democrats say they have urged Wolf to do a "blue line," or partial, veto.  "A lot has been happening in the last 72 hours, lots of conversation, lots of back and forth, lots of urging on our part to do maybe a blue-line of some items, keep things going," said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. "I think the best way to characterize it is to be more responsible on this."

Democratic leaders discuss other-than-veto budget options with Gov. Wolf
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, March 21, 2016
Leaders of the Democratic caucuses in both the House and the Senate held a closed-door budget planning session with Gov. Tom Wolf Monday morning where they said the governor’s options over what to do with the supplemental appropriations that landed on his desk last week were discussed.  While they left the meeting saying the governor is still committed to the option of a full veto of the $6 billion-plus budget supplemental bill, other options were explored.  “They’re strategy conversations that we’re trying to figure out what to do going forward,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). “We want to make sure we’re in a position to help schools get the resources they need, make sure they stay open and get money to other areas that needs support.”  That being said, Sen. Costa indicated the leverage of not closing out of FY 2015-2016 on the terms currently before the governor in the form of the supplemental appropriation is key to getting to a workable solution for the FY 2016-2017 budget that addresses the structural deficit and reflects the priorities of Gov. Wolf and Democrats as a whole.

Corman: “Every day we wait, is a day that is lost”
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, March 21, 2016
Reiterating the effect of the governor not acting on the supplemental appropriation bill the General Assembly sent to his desk last week, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) noted the inaction has a real effect on those relying on state funds and the coming push to finish a FY 2016-2017 budget by June 30th.  “Every day we wait, is a day that is lost,” he told a small group of reporters following a Senate Republican caucus session Monday. “We’re prepared to do what is necessary to move things forward in one way or another.”  He added that the governor not acting one way or another is also having an impact on school districts and other entities that rely on state funds.  “The longer we delay, the longer schools are going without funding,” he said. “Each school district has its own impact with that and some are in more desperate need than others. So, I would hope he’d be able to make a decision a decision sooner rather than later—hopefully he signs it—so we can forward to 16-17 which we need to get to, or if he vetoes it in totality or some version of it, then we have to react to that fairly quickly.”  Sen. Corman also said the lack of a FY 2015-2016 budget has been a problem for school districts currently working on their budgets for the next fiscal year and questioning what money they will have.

VIDEO: Reed on the budget: "The ball is in the governor’s hands right now"
Author: Alanna Koll/Monday, March 21, 2016  Video Runtime 1:11
House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) spoke with The PLS Reporter about the future of the state budget. 

School districts grapple with tough choices as Gov. Wolf threatens budget veto
Trib Live BY ELIZABETH BEHRMAN  | Monday, March 21, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Teachers in the East Allegheny School District will be getting their last paycheck this week, unless the district can secure more funding.  Superintendent Donald Mac Fann said he is scrambling to get a second loan, while also consulting with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to see which payments — retirement contributions, for instance — can be delayed without incurring a penalty from the state.  “Our doors will remain open, our teachers will come to work,” he said.  Pennsylvania has been operating without a completed budget since last summer, depriving school districts of the majority of the money they receive annually from the state.  As Democratic leaders in Harrisburg talk about gaining “leverage” for negotiations, some schools in Western Pennsylvania are looking at long-term cuts, including textbooks, teacher development and technology.

Community schools plan begins to take shape in Philly
WHYY Newsworks by Kevin McCorry March 21, 2016 — 10:16am
Mayor Kenney plans to begin implementing a community school model in five to seven schools by September.  Each one will add programs specifically tailored to the social, emotional and physical needs of not just students, but also the surrounding neighborhoods.  The schools haven't yet been selected, but officials confirm that they will be traditional public schools, not charters. The plan is contingent on City Council approving $4 million for it, as the mayor proposed in his budget address earlier this month.  Kenney wants to pay for this, as well as pre-K expansion and upgrades to parks, recreation centers and libraries, with a 3-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages.  In an exclusive interview with NewsWorks, the Kenney administration detailed its still-developing plans to create 25 community schools over the next four years.

“Gobreski said this is the right time for the initiative.  "The politics of disruption have not worked," she said. "We've spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to avoid spending a lot of time and money to actually meet the needs of children."
Kenney moving ahead on community schools
Inquirer by Julia Terruso, Staff Writer Updated: MARCH 22, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Mayor Kenney's administration will select from five to seven schools this summer to become community schools, with the city and private sector providing health, social, emotional, and after-school services.  Kenney wants to establish 25 such schools citywide in the next four years. They would be funded with $40 million, paid for by Kenney's proposed sugary-drinks tax as well as contributions from nonprofits and the business community.  Schools would not be selected until after City Council approves a budget by June 30, said Susan Gobreski, Kenney's director for community schools.  "I'm very confident we're going to be looking at a developing community-schools program in the fall," Gobreski said in a briefing about the plan with reporters Monday. She said the mayor's full agenda - which includes pre-K and rec center upgrades in addition to community schools - will benefit every child in the city, and "I think there's a lot of support for it."

Seven Generations Charter School weighs closing middle school for not meeting its mission
Jacqueline Palochko and Andrew Wagaman Of The Morning Call March 21, 2016
Facing discipline problems, low test scores, Seven Generations weighs closing its middle school
EMMAUS — Seven Generations Charter School is looking at closing its middle school next academic year, citing a need to restructure its curriculum for sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  But the school on East Minor Street in Emmaus has been grappling with discipline problems and low test scores among those students, most of whom come from the Allentown School District.  Parents said some students have been bullying other students. Other parents said they've had good experiences at the middle school and are not getting a clear answer as to why the school might close.  The school held an information meeting Monday night. The board of trustees will vote on whether to close the middle school Thursday night.  Seven Generations Principal Paul Hunter said the middle school is not giving students the project-based learning and environmental curriculum it set out to give them. Hunter attributed that to most of the middle school students' not being at the school since elementary level.

No, great schools can’t close achievement gaps all by themselves
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss March 21 at 2:05 PM  
The basic premise underlying school reform today is that great schools can perform wonders, lifting students out of poverty and closing achievement gaps. They can’t. Research and practice prove that schools can’t do it alone in any systemic way, though policymakers continue to pretend that they can. Here is a new infographic about the issues involved, with an explainer, by Kevin Welner, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education who specializes in educational policy and law. He is director of theNational Education Policy Center at UC Boulder, which produces high-quality peer-reviewed research to inform education policy. The NEPC produced the infographic, below, with the non-profit Schott Foundation for Public Education, which works to improve public policy to achieve equity and opportunity in education and child care.

Rosa, new head of New York education policy: As a parent, ‘I would opt out’
ChalkBeat.org By Monica Disare @monicadisare mdisare@chalkbeat.org PUBLISHED: March 21, 2016 - 11:46 a.m. EDT
The newly elected head of New York state’s education policymaking body said if she were a parent, she would likely opt her child out of the state tests — and would not say if she hopes the boycotts shrink in number this year.  Instead, Betty Rosa spoke about the need to retool the tests to rebuild trust with parents, and said that families have the right to choose what is best for their children.  “If I was a parent and I was not on the Board of Regents, I would opt out at this time,” Rosa told reporters Monday, shortly after she was elected chancellor of the Board of Regents.  Rosa’s statements underscore the striking nature of Monday’s leadership shift. Former Chancellor Merryl Tisch was a staunch defender of the exams, which grew more difficult to pass under her leadership as they incorporated the Common Core standards. Last year, frustrations about testing led to one in five eligible students not taking the tests statewide.

Teach for America to cut national staff by 15 percent
Washington Post By Emma Brown March 21 at 7:53 PM  
Teach for America, the nonprofit known for placing idealistic and inexperienced teachers in some of the nation’s neediest schools, is cutting 15 percent of its national staff in what the organization described as an effort to give more independence to its more than 50 regional offices around the country.  The organization will cut 250 jobs and add 100 new ones, making for a net loss of 150 jobs.  “Our regions will have more autonomy to adapt and innovate on our program in ways that meet the unique and varied contexts in which we work,” Teach for America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard wrote in a letter to TFA corps members and alumni.

In Shakeup, Teach For America to Lay Off Staff
Education Week Teacer Beat By Stephen Sawchuk on March 21, 2016 3:21 PM
Teach For America is laying off some of its national staff and regional staff as part of its transition to a less centralized business model, Education Week has learned.  The group informed staff and partners about the cuts on Feb. 29. Some employees will stay until at least mid-April and some until the end of May, depending on when they're notified.  It isn't the first year the controversial teacher-training organization has had layoffs. Some 200 or so employees were laid off last year. But the most recent round appears to have targeted some fairly senior executives, and to have blindsided quite a few staffers. (So much so that one of them turned to TFA critic Diane Ravitch to break the news, which says a lot.)  TFA sources say the basic outline of what was reported on Ravitch's blog is correct. Some 150 jobs will be lost in all, a reduction of 15 percent.

Big trouble at Teach For America?
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss March 22 at 4:00 AM  
Teach For America has been treading in some rocky waters recently.
The long-popular organization, which won millions in federal funds from the Obama administration and much more in private philanthropy, has had trouble meeting recruitment goals in the face of growing criticism of its longtime practice of recruiting new college graduates, giving them five weeks of summer training and placing them in classrooms in some of America’s most needy schools.  Now, my Post colleague Emma Brown reports, is cutting 15 percent of its national staff in a move the organization says is an effort to allow its regional offices to have more autonomy. (No doubt.)

Insider: Big Trouble Inside TFA
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch March 21, 2016 //
I received the following article from a current high-level administrative employee at Teach for America. The organization is undergoing a major shake-up. He wanted us to know what was happening behind the scenes. He must remain anonymous, for obvious reasons.
Turmoil at Teach For America: Rounds of layoffs, leadership exodus imminent
March 17, 2016
Teach For America (TFA) is laying off employees from its national and regional staff.
CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard announced on February 29 that 250 TFA staff positions will be eliminated, calling the cuts “painful” in an internal TFA employee webcast. She said 100 new positions will also be created, leaving the net job loss at 150.  Despite the flashy celebration at TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit held in Washington D.C. last month, TFA did not meet its recruiting target for the second year in a row.  2015 was the first time in its history that TFA laid off employees, and now it’s happening again.

TFA’s Diversity Paradox
TFA alum and scholar Terrenda White says that TFA’s diversity gains have come at the expense of teachers of color, whose numbers have declined drastically in the very cities where the organization has expanded. 
EduShyster Blog MARCH 21, 2016 by EDUSHYSTER2012  Jennifer Berkshire
EduShyster: You have a new paper out examining TFA’s initiative to become more diverse. You use the word *paradox,* but don’t you mean ‘success’? I just read this TFA tweet that *The TFA corps more closely reflects the public-school population than any other large teacher-provider.* What’s paradoxical about that?
Terrenda White: When I was first writing about TFA, I was complaining about the lack of diversity in the corps, especially when I was there in the early 2000s. And so a part of me is really happy that TFA seems to care about diversity and improving their numbers, and I think I’m fair in my piece about acknowledging that. But while TFA may be improving their diversity numbers, that improvement has coincided with a drastic decline in the number of teachers of color, and Black teachers in particular, in the very cities where TFA has expanded.

Philly Teacher Information Session with Dr. Hite March 22 4 pm
Thank you for your interest in The School District of Philadelphia's Teacher Information Session with Dr. Hite. The event will be held on March 22nd from 4pm-5pm at 440 N Broad St. Please fill out the short form below to confirm your attendance.

Join the Pennsylvania Principals Association at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at The Capitol in Harrisburg, PA, for its second annual Principals' Lobby Day.
Pennsylvania Principals Association Monday, March 21, 2016 9:31 AM
 To register, contact Dr. Joseph Clapper at clapper@paprincipals.org by Tuesday, June 14, 2016. If you need assistance, we will provide information about how to contact your legislators to schedule meetings.
Click here for the informational flyer, which includes important issues to discuss with your legislators.

PSBA Advocacy Forum & Day on the Hill April 4th
APR 4, 2016 • 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the third annual Advocacy Forum on April 4, 2016, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. This year’s event will have a spotlight on public education highlighting school districts’ exemplary student programs. Hear from legislators on how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill. Online advanced registration will close on April 1, 4 p.m. On-site registrants are welcome.

Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) 2016 Education Congress April 6-7, 2016
professional development program for school administrators
Focus: "The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies Generate Great Ideas"  Featured Presenter: Dr. David Burkus
April 6-7, 2016 Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill
The program will focus on how school leaders can develop and utilize creativity in education management, operations, curriculum and leadership goals. The second day will allow participants to select from multiple discussion/work sessions focusing on concepts presented by Dr. Burkus and facilitated by school leaders who have demonstrated success in creative thinking and leadership in schools across the commonwealth.
Deadline for hotel accommodations: March 15
See the PASA website for more information at: www.pasa-net.org/2016edcongress.

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:

Briefing: Public Education Funding in Pennsylvania
Join attorneys Michael Churchill, Jennifer Clarke and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg for a briefing on:
  • the current budget impasse
  • the basics of education funding
  • the school funding lawsuit
  • the 2016-2017 proposed budget
 1.5 CLE credits available to PA licensed attorneys.  Light breakfast provided.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM (EDT)
WHERE: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey - 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway 1st Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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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