Wednesday, March 30, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 30: Requests to opt out of PSSA tests increase

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 30, 2016:
Requests to opt out of PSSA tests increase

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. 

Campaign for Fair Education Funding - Rally for Public Education
Save the date: May 2nd at the Capitol

BLOG: Financial Institutions Agree – PA is Facing a Fiscal Cliff (ROUND-UP)
Governor Wolf’s Blog March 29, 2016 By: Eryn Spangler
Governor Wolf announced last week that he would allow the general appropriations and non-preferred appropriations bills sent to him by Republicans to become law, as is, without his signature. However, we still face enormous problems that this budget does not even pretend to address. The math in the Republican budget still does not work and the massive multi-billion dollar deficit is left unaddressed.  One day after Governor Wolf’s announcement, PNC released a statement warning of a potential credit downgrade due to the deficit the budget failed to begin fixing. “We do not expect the budget to come close to solving Pennsylvania’s fiscal pressures, including its structural budget gap, which is sizable and growing,” PNC stated.  The following day, S&P and Moody’s also provided statements stating their concerns that Pennsylvania is on track for a fiscal catastrophe. In their statement, Moody’s said the looming deficit “only brings to the fore a likely new stalemate over the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and ongoing questions over the state’s progress toward structural balance over the long term.”  “The outlook is negative,” S&P’s statement read. “By failing to address long-term structural balance in fiscal 2016, lawmakers have pushed difficult fiscal decisions to the fiscal 2017 budget…Our negative outlook rather reflects our view that the state’s fiscal issues lie in lack of political will to solve them in a timely manner.”  Take a look at the additional coverage below:

BLOG: You Support These Issues. Why Doesn’t Your State Representative?
Governor Wolf’s Blog March 29, 2016 By: Sarah Galbally, Secretary of Policy and Planning
What do education funding, the minimum wage, a severance tax, and medical marijuana all have in common?
They all have the support of the majority of Pennsylvanians. Take a look at the stats:
We know what Pennsylvanians highlight as their priorities. And we know almost nothing is accomplished in Harrisburg.  Governor Wolf came to Harrisburg to change the status quo, bring a fresh start, and fight for what Pennsylvanians actually care about each and every day.  The only way we can bring change to Harrisburg is to change how it works. And changing how Harrisburg works starts with reforming the influence special interests have on government.  Special interests still wield too much power and influence in Harrisburg, which is one of the reasons why it has been, and continues to be, broken.

“The bulk of the affected school funding in the fiscal code, $289 million, stems from Wolf's veto of promised state reimbursements for school construction projects (commonly referred to as "PlanCon" in legislative circles).  …Republicans also took aim at what they said what was the freezing of $150 million in additional school funding that would have been distributed according to recommendations put together by the state's Basic Education Funding Commission.”
As Wolf's fiscal code veto takes full effect, Republicans spoil for a fight: Tuesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 29, 2016 at 8:31 AM, updated March 29, 2016 at 8:32 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
As you've probably heard by now, Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed the "Fiscal Code," a piece of legislation that pretty much provides the formal instructions on how to spend the money appropriated by the General Fund budget.  On Monday, as the effects of the veto officially set in, Senate Republicans released a statement blistering Wolf for running his veto pen across what they said was more than $400 million in funding for public education.  As a reminder, the $6 billion appropriation bill approved by the House and Senate lapsed into law on Sunday night without Wolf's signature, a rare executive action that came in the face of escalating tensions between the York County Democrat and the Republican-controlled House and Senate. 

Pa. Budget Battle: Gov. Wolf blinked
Times News Monday, March 28, 2016 by Bruce Frassinelli 
After being a record 271 days late, Pennsylvania finally has a 2015-16 budget, now that Gov. Tom Wolf blinked.  While the freshman Democratic governor from York believed he had right on his side throughout this nasty nine-month stalemate, the Republicans prevailed by showing that they had might on theirs. With commanding leads in both houses, Republicans refused to yield to Wolf’s call for an increase in the state income tax and an extraction tax on drillers in the Marcellus Shale area.  In the end, Wolf was caught between a rock and a hard place. His threat to veto the latest GOP budget was likely to be overridden with support from weary Democrats who were hearing the cries of angry school officials. Schools, welfare agencies and other institution desperately need the money to, in some cases, keep their doors open.  Wolf did not sign the budget; instead, he tried to save as much face as possible — and it wasn’t much — by letting the budget measure take effect at 12:01 a.m. today,10 days after arriving on his desk.  The Democratic leadership told Wolf it could no longer hold party members in line in the face of enormous pressure. In the process, they laid out the facts of political life for Wolf: If Wolf vetoed this part of the budget again, it is likely that enough Democrats would vote to override the veto.

Education secretary: There is always concern another budget impasse may be in the offing
Matthew Ulmer is worried history may repeat itself and saddle school districts across Pennsylvania with yet another state budget crisis.  “I’m a first-year business manager,” he told Pedro Rivera before asking the state secretary of education. “Are you concerned there may be just as long of an impasse next year?”  “It’s always a concern,” Rivera responded, adding how the 2015-2016 budget stalemate was about as bad as it gets. That crisis was only recently resolved after funding shortfalls reached the point where some school districts were looking to close their doors.

On "Schools that Teach" Tour, Secretary Rivera Discusses the Future of Education in Pennsylvania
PR Newswire Mar 29, 2016, 16:09 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education
BOILING SPRINGS, Pa., March 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today during a "Schools That Teach" tour stop, Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera met with officials at Boiling Springs High School to talk about the need for a robust state investment for Pennsylvania's 500 school districts and other educational institutions.  "Chronic underfunding for several years continues to have a negative impact on classrooms across the commonwealth," Rivera said. "In order to meet their critical mission of educating our students, schools need a significant investment. Pennsylvania is facing two paths: fund our schools and fix the deficit or see additional damaging cuts to education. We can't leave our schools behind; we must choose the path that provides the needed resources for schools without the reliance on property tax increases."

Requests to opt out of PSSA tests increase
Republican Herald BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL Published: March 27, 2016
When more than 750,000 students take state exams next month, Zachary and Connor MacBain will not be filling in any answer sheets.  Like thousands of other parents, the Tunkhannock Area students’ mother is opting her children out of the test.  With concerns that schools have become too focused on testing, a growing number of parents statewide are attempting to prompt change by keeping their children from taking standardized exams.  Requests to “opt out” of taking Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests nearly tripled from 2014 to 2015, and is expected to climb even higher for the tests that will begin in April. Just in five years, parental requests grew from 624 in 2011 to 7,890 in 2015.  Using a three-step process to opt out, the parents claim the PSSA is against their religious beliefs, which forces the school to excuse their child from the test.  “Something is broken here,” said Holly Arnold, the mother of the Wyoming County students — and a member of the district’s school board. “We’re over testing and have gotten away from inspiring kids to learn. We’re more focused on coaching kids to perform.”

“Every one of these politicians from Obama to Duncan to Emanuel to King have had their children enrolled in schools outside the wrath of their own education policies. These progressive institutions have resolutely rejected corporate school reforms. We have politicians who lobby for high-stakes standardized testing, the busting of teachers unions, school closures, value-added teacher evaluations, drill-kill-bubble-fill instruction, and authoritarian classrooms, yet would never send their own kids to a school with such practices. In their worldview, small class sizes, play, experiential, hands-on learning opportunities, qualified, unionized teachers, lavish resources and facilities, and little to no standardized testing are only appropriate for the offspring of the rich and powerful.”
These Politicians Think Your Kids Need High-Stakes Testing—but Not Theirs
These politicians send their own kids to progressive schools that eschew rote learning.
The Nation By Nikhil Goyal March 29, 2016
President Obama’s two daughters attend Sidwell Friends School, a private elite Quaker school in Washington. Vice President Biden’s grandchildren are also students there. And Chelsea Clinton and former vice president Al Gore’s son Albert Gore are alumni of the institution. Tuition is $37,750 for the lower, middle, and upper schools and a hot lunch is even included in the price. Class sizes are small and the student-teacher ratio is 10-12 students for each teacher. The educational philosophy of the school is progressive and child-centered: “We are committed to the joys of exploration and discovery.” Students neither sit for any standardized tests nor are teachers’ evaluations tied to test scores. In the upper school, the school’s site explains, “The curriculum provides a broad foundation in the humanities and sciences, develops critical and creative thinking, stresses competence in oral and written communication and quantitative operations, and stimulates intellectual curiosity.”

Testing Resistance & Reform News: Mach 23 - 29, 2016
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on March 29, 2016 - 1:56pm 
As the standardized exam season gets underway in many states, this week's "Testing Resistance & Reform News" includes many excellent examples of testing resistance campaign materials from across the nation. Also, be sure to check-out and use FairTest's tools for getting involved in assessment reform --

Sen. Scott Wagner wants Senate GOP to do more than hold on to the seats it has: Election 2016
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 29, 2016 at 11:48 AM, updated March 29, 2016 at 11:49 AM
As Senate Republican Campaign Committee chairman, Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York County, is not looking just to keep the 13 Republican-held seats up for election this year in the GOP's hands. He wants more.  "I'm working on getting more [Republican] senators. We're going to get a supermajority," Wagner told PennLive.  The GOP will have to flip at least four Democratic seats to achieve that 34-seat goal and Wagner knows which four he wants.  "I'm focused on the Teplitz seat," referring to the 15th state senatorial district representing parts of Dauphin and Perry counties held by Sen. Rob Teplitz, who was elected in 2012 and was the first Democrat to win that seat in 76 years.  He also has his eye on getting Republicans elected to the 19th senatorial district seat representing part of Chester County held by Sen. Andy Dinniman for the past 10 years; the 49th senatorial district seat held by Sen. Sean Wiley who is completing his first four-year term representing part of Erie County; and the 35thsenatorial district seat representing Bedford, Cambria and part of Clearfield counties held by five-term incumbent Sen. John Wozniak.

Penn Hills school board approves furloughs for 43 teachers
Of the 43 positions, 23 are special education teachers
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 29, 2016 10:54 PM
In a 7-2 vote, the board of the Penn Hills School District on Tuesday approved furloughing 43 teachers at the end of the school year.  What was bound to be an already tense meeting was made worse when Penn Hills police turned away several people -- including three special education teachers -- at the door over capacity concerns.  More than 175 people crammed into the Linton Middle School music room, and nearly 20 listened outside through cracked windows for the first 20 minutes before they were allowed in.  Parents, students, alumni and others addressed the board in a sometimes-emotional public comment period on the plan, which also will cut more than 20 classes. Of the 43 teachers to be furloughed, 23 are in the district's special education department.  The changes follow a series of financial struggles at the district. Leaders had to borrow $20 million last year and expect a nearly $9 million cumulative deficit by the end of this school year.

Bethlehem school's water 'safe for use,' district says
By Kurt Bresswein | For Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 29, 2016 at 8:08 PM, updated March 30, 2016 at 12:40 AM
The Bethlehem Area School District on Tuesday declared the tap water safe for use at Northeast Middle School.  District officials on Monday closed off the building's water fountains and said the water there would not be used for cooking following a media report about a purportedly high lead reading.  Working with a Lehigh University professor known for his work on water purity, WFMZ-TV 69 published a report alleging lead levels above acceptable federal levels in the water at Northeast and two Allentown schools: Allen High and Union Terrace Elementary.

"I have no problem with charter schools. I have friends who send their kids there and I've known people who graduated from charter schools. I believe parents should have choices, however my issue is with charter school funding," Pintabone said. "The state is allowing public schools to be decimated to fund charter schools and it's not right."
Charter school proposed for former newspaper building in Easton
Christina Tatu Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 29, 2016
Charter school for the arts proposed for former Express-Times building in Easton.
EASTON – An elementary charter school for the arts has been proposed for the former Express-Times building on North Fourth Street in Easton.  The kindergarten-through-fifth-grade charter school would occupy all three floors of the former newspaper office, said Thomas Lubben, who has shepherded arts charter schools in Bethlehem, Allentown and Salisbury Township. He hopes to open the Easton site by September 2017.  The property is owned by developer Lou Pektor, who plans to build the city's new, 29,765-square-foot police station next door. Lubben said he is under agreement to lease the building from Pektor. As of Tuesday, plans for the charter school have yet to be submitted to the city, Lubben said.

“A recent study, conducted by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, part of UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, found that Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter and Esperanza Academy Charter School were among the nation’s 10 public charter schools with the largest discipline gaps when it comes to suspending students with learning disabilities.”
2 Philly charters cited for disproportionately suspending students with learning disabilities
The notebook by Greg Windle March 29, 2016 — 1:39pm
Two Philadelphia charter schools have been cited in a national report for suspending students with disabilities at a far higher rate than those without disabilities.  A recent study, conducted by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, part of UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, found that Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter and Esperanza Academy Charter School were among the nation’s 10 public charter schools with the largest discipline gaps when it comes to suspending students with learning disabilities.  Looking at the country’s more than 95,000 public schools and 5,250 charter schools, researchers analyzed disciplinary data for disparities in how charter schools suspend students. Overall, they found that charters suspended students at a slightly higher rate than traditional public schools.  The data focused on out-of-school suspensions during the 2011-12 school year, when all schools were required to report that information. The data included more than 70 charter schools in Philadelphia.

Local charter school network approves 2 Muslim holidays
PhillyTrib by Wilford Shamlin III Tribune Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12:00 am
Mastery Charter Schools, one of the region’s largest charter school operators with 20 schools in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., has voted to permanently add two Muslim holidays of Eid to the academic calendar, starting in September 2016. Those two days are considered to be among the most holy for Muslims.  City Councilman Curtis Jones has been a strong advocate for adding the holy days to all Philadelphia public schools. Josh Cohen, a spokesperson for the councilman, said Jones introduced a nonbinding resolution to recognize the Eid holidays, which was approved by the Council earlier this year. Negotiations must take place between the unions and the school district before the Eid becomes an official holiday for city employees and school district employees.

“The charter has been led by new administrators and a new board after the school's founding CEO and board president were indicted on federal fraud charges.  Ina Walker, the founding CEO, and Hugh Clark, the founding board president, went to federal prison in 2012 after admitting they stole $522,000 in taxpayer money to prop up a restaurant, a health-food store, and a private school they controlled, and for defrauding a bank.”
New Media Technology Charter to close in June
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, STAFF WRITER Updated: MARCH 29, 2016 — 12:57 PM EDT
New Media Technology Charter School, which has had a troubled history, has announced that it will close in June rather than continue to fight to remain open in the face of allegations of poor test scores and financial problems.  The school, located at 8034 Thouron Ave., enrolls 481 students from sixth through 12th grades.  The board that oversees the school had voted at its most recent meeting to dissolve the school as of June 30th and surrender its operating charter.  A notice posted on the school's website informs parents of the transition plan that the district's charter school office had developed with New Media officials to help students find new placements for the fall.  The school's top administrator did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Supreme Court deadlocks over public employee union case; Calif. teachers must pay dues
Washington Post By Robert Barnes March 29 at 11:45 AM  
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it was unable to resolve a major challenge to organized labor, and the result was a defeat for a group of California teachers who claim their free speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.  The court said it was split 4 to 4 on the issue, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. It was the most important case yet in which the eight-member court was unable to reach a decision.  At oral argument, the court’s conservatives appeared ready to junk a decades-old precedent that allows unions to collect an “agency fee” from nonmembers to support collective-bargaining activities for members and nonmembers alike.  Organized labor considered it the most vital Supreme Court case of the year, and one of a clutch of politically charged cases that puts the justices in the spotlight as the nation turns its attention to the elections of 2016.

Tied 4-4 after Scalia's death, high court gives unions a win
Inquirer by SAM HANANEL, The Associated Press Updated: MARCH 29, 2016 — 1:40 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - In the clearest sign yet of the impact of Justice Antonin Scalia's death, U.S. labor unions scored a major victory Tuesday with a tie vote in a high-profile Supreme Court case they had once seemed all but certain to lose.  The 4-4 split, in a case that sharply divided the court's liberal union supporters and their conservative opponents, demonstrated how much is riding on President Barack Obama's effort to replace Scalia with a judge who could tilt the balance on the high court for years to come. Senate Republicans say they won't consider any nomination until a new president takes office.  The vacancy helped the liberals this time. The deadlocked vote came in a case that considered whether unions representing government employees can collect fees from workers who choose not to join. California teachers backed by a conservative group said being forced to pay union fees violated the free-speech rights of nonmembers who disagree with the union's policy positions.  The split vote left in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the collection of "fair share" fees from nonmembers.

New Education Secretary: Bold Agenda. Just 10 Months To Get It Done
NPR by ERIC WESTERVELT March 26, 201610:00 AM ET
John B. King Jr was recently confirmed by the Senate as the new U.S. Secretary of Education for the remainder of President Obama's term, succeeding Arne Duncan.  With a slew of pressing issues from pre-K to college debt, I wanted to find out what King thinks he can get done in such a short window of time. Here's our conversation.
You've got just 10 months left in President Obama's term to help close the equity and achievement gaps, promote access and opportunity, and implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. Good luck with that! 
We definitely have an ambitious agenda for the next 10 months. But, you know, the president often tells us big things happen in the fourth quarter. I think that's exactly right. So we expect to get a lot done over the next 10 months.

 “Preparing students for today's entry-level careers and freshman-level college courses is among the goals of the new Every Student Succeeds Act. The role education needs to play in making for a functioning democracy, one Thomas Jefferson saw as crucial, is not mentioned. The Common Core State Standards appear silent on the skills and knowledge needed to have informed views on issues such as economic policy, global warming, the clash of civilizations, globalization, immigration, technological change, and the risks of terrorism.”
Creating Informed Citizens Should Be Education's Goal
Education Week COMMENTARY By Arnold Packer Published Online: March 15, 2016
In his final State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Barack Obama told the audience: "[F]ix our politics ... uphold your duties as a citizen ... vote ... speak out." Halt our "downward spiral," former Senate majority leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle urge in a recent Washington Post op-ed. "Democracy requires active engagement, mindfulness, and tolerance," they write. Active engagement surely includes voting, even in nonpresidential years and on local matters. It may include serving in public roles. It also includes staying abreast of local, national, and international issues and, perhaps, communicating with elected officials.  Many observers, here and abroad, warn that the United States cannot meet its domestic and international responsibilities unless more Americans are better informed on the issues and exercise their right to vote.

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst will merge with education advocacy group 50Can
Los Angeles Times Joy Resmovits Contact Reporter March 29, 2016
Just several years after its glitzy launch, StudentsFirst, the Sacramento-based education group started by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, is merging with another education advocacy organization, 50Can.  Some of StudentsFirst's remaining chapters will be absorbed into 50Can, which has similar goals. The most well-known objective of Rhee's group was to become a counterweight to teachers unions. StudentsFirst expects to cut its staff significantly but will maintain a small presence in its national office. Jim Blew, the group's president, confirmed the news Tuesday morning.    “The cause goes on, we are moving ahead and we have a lot to do in the next several years,” Blew said.   Blew will step aside from the national organization, and the merged group will be called 50Can, though each group's local offices will retain their own names. Blew will lead StudentsFirst California, the merged group's state presence, and will focus on litigation and issues such as school accountability. The combined group will be led by 50Can Chief Executive Marc Porter Magee.

News! Michelle Rhee is Merging StudentsFirst with 50CAN
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch March 29, 2016 //
The world of rightwing corporate reform is ever-changing. It seems like only yesterday that Michelle Rhee announced her intention to challenge teachers’ unions, destroy tenure, and take away due process from teachers across the nation. She said she would raise $1 billion in a year and gather 1 million members for her new organization, which she called StudentsFirst, because (she said) teachers don’t care about students, only billionaires really care. She did raise some money–only $7 million or so, far from $1 billion–and she spent it trying to elect Tea Party Republicans and others who support charters and vouchers. Her organization turned into the public voice of anti-teacher, anti-public school activism. But in 2014, she stepped back from the national stage to help her husband Kevin Johnson, the Mayor of Sacramento (whom she married in 2011), and joined the board of Scott’s Miracle-Gro. She also assumed the chairmanship of her husband’s charter chain, St. Hope.

"Portfolio" approach shifts decision-making away from local leaders
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice March 29, 2016
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 29, 2016) — A new concise policy brief considers the research evidence of "portfolio" districts. According to the brief, the approach shifts decision-making away from local school district leaders. Despite concerns, the approach is now being used in several large urban districts across the country.  The brief, The "Portfolio" Approach to School District Governance, is part of a series of short policy briefs produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. William J. Mathis and Kevin Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, author the brief.  According to Mathis and Welner, there exists a very limited body of generally accepted research about the impact of "portfolio" district reform. However, they do find that research evidence does exist for four reform strategies associated with the model: (1) school-level decentralization of management decisions; (2) reconstitution or closing "failing" schools; (3) expansion of school choice, primarily through charter schools; and (4) performance- or test-based accountability.  After investigating the available research on these portfolio-related strategies, the authors concluded that there is little promise of meaningful benefits associated with the governance changes.

“In sum, the schools subject to the state’s turnaround program exhibit worse or no better student outcomes than comparable untreated schools,” the researchers said.”
Some NC schools in ‘turnaround’ program declined, study finds
The program was funded by a federal Race to the Top grant
Research co-author was Helen Ladd of Duke
In a separate study, a researcher concluded that the program worked overall
The News & Observer BY LYNN BONNER March 26, 2016
An effort to improve struggling schools in North Carolina – funded by a federal Race to the Top grant – did not work in some of them, two researchers have concluded.  Jennifer A. Heissel of Northwestern University and Helen F. Ladd of Duke University analyzed results from some of the schools in the state’s “turnaround” program under Race to the Top. The state assigned schools that were in the bottom 5 percent to the program.  The analysis concluded that the schools in the turnaround program ended up worse than comparable schools that weren’t in it, the researchers wrote. The study looked at the best elementary and middle schools that were in the turnaround program and at comparable schools that were just above the cutoff point for entry.  Reading and math test scores for the schools in the turnaround program declined, the researchers wrote. They also found evidence that student suspensions increased in the turnaround schools in 2012. The analysis looked at results from 2012 to 2014.

Trump (Possibly, for a Moment) Names Education as a Top Federal Priority
Education Week Politics K-12 By Andrew Ujifusa on March 29, 2016 11:32 PM
Remember when several education policy advocates said that they were largely uncertain about how Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would handle federal education policy? During a GOP town hall event in Milwaukee on Tuesday hosted by CNN, Trump threw what many people might think is a real K-12 curveball.   The real estate developer was asked by a voter what he thinks are the top three functions of the federal government. After naming national security, Trump also cited education and health care as the top priorities.   When CNN moderator Anderson Cooper subsequently reminded Trump that he'd previously expressed opposition to the federal government's role in education (more on that in the moment), Trump seemed to shift his position. He said that he wants education policy power to devolve to the states, and added that he saw education as a top issue for the nation.
So what's the broader context for Trump's statements at the town hall?

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:

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.

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 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.

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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