Tuesday, April 12, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 12: Perhaps we should trust in God to fully fund our schools…

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 12, 2016:
Perhaps we should trust in God to fully fund our schools…

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

Bill lets 'God' back in public schools
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 11, 2016 at 3:02 PM, updated April 12, 2016 at 2:13 AM
Legislation to encourage public schools to post the national motto, "In God We Trust," inside their buildings is once again on the move in the state House.  The House Education Committee voted 19-6 on Monday to approve the legislation that would allow schools – but not mandate them – to post the motto in classrooms, the library, cafeteria, or anywhere in their buildings.  The House passed a similar bill in the last legislative session by an overwhelming 172-24 vote but the measure died due to inaction in the Senate.  Rep. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, who is sponsoring the legislation, said it is his hope that schools that post the 60-year-old motto might inspire some students to ask questions about its origin.  But Rep. Jim Roebuck, D-Philadelphia, questioned the need for the legislation since nothing prevents schools from posting the motto now.

“While I continue to advocate for the Basic Education Commission’s funding formula to be applied across the commonwealth, we must restore cuts first so that we do not work from a baseline that locks in decades of inequitable school funding in Pennsylvania.”
Haywood: Education Funding Formula Must Start from Equitable Baseline
Senator Art Haywood April 11, 2016
State Senator Art Haywood issued the following statement in advance of a Pennsylvania Senate vote on school funding:
HARRISBURG, 11 April 2016: “This week, the Senate will decide whether or not to continue allowing unfair funding for our children’s schools. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Pennsylvania was the worst in the nation in fairness of funding to high poverty schools. This week we will vote to distribute school funding in a way that either continues or puts an end to these inequalities.  Governor Wolf recognizes that we must reverse the decades long inequitable funding of schools in Pennsylvania. U.S. Education Secretary Duncan has said that Pennsylvania is a state where low-income families in districts like Philadelphia are “being shortchanged when it comes to state and local education funding.” In Pennsylvania, the difference between high poverty and no poverty districts is 33% – the highest in the nation and more than double the national average.  Governor Wolf’s funding formula is aimed at restoring the deep cuts from the Corbett years in order to begin to reverse Pennsylvania’s unjust school funding scheme that discriminates against high poverty students.

Blogger comment:  I’m not certain I would call these “rewards”.
To the best of my knowledge the following numbers are accurate; please do not hesitate to correct me if that is not the case.  If Pennsylvania were providing adequate funding to school districts we would not be pitting districts and kids against each other.
Statewide total education budget cuts in 2011-2012 were $1,079,971,607
Philadelphia school district’s share of that was $291,150,546
Pittsburgh school district share was $34,096,531
Chester Upland school district share was $18,616,518
Gov. Wolf rewards 3 school districts, snubs the rest | Opinion
By Mario Scavello  Express-Times guest columnist on April 11, 2016 at 10:40 AM
Taxpayers in Monroe and Northampton counties are painfully familiar with the effects of unfair and inequitable state education funding.  Unfortunately, despite his promises of "schools that teach," Gov. Tom Wolf has unilaterally decided to continue this trend of underfunding and to ignore the educational needs of our students.  For years our growing schools have been shortchanged as urban school districts have received a wealth of new funds under an outdated school funding formula.  Recognizing the severe disparity among schools, a bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission was established to develop a new, fairer funding formula to equitably distribute new education dollars. After months of public hearings and cooperation between lawmakers, school administrators, education advocates, teachers and parents, a new formula was established.

Lancaster County schools get $4.5 million less in Wolf's distribution than commission's formula
Lancaster Online KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer April 11, 2016
The 2015-16 state budget fight is not over. The battlefield has merely shifted.  And the casualties on the sidelines are school officials who say they can’t plan if they can’t trust the numbers they’re hearing.  Last month Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf allowed a budget to pass without his signature. At the same time, he vetoed a bipartisan plan that Republican legislators proposed to use for divvying up education funding among schools.  This week, Wolf announced his own plan for distributing the money.  “Normally, when a budget got approved, (the Department of Education) would send out a spreadsheet so everybody knew what they were getting,” Hempfield Chief Operating Officer Dan Forry said. “We have not seen any of that yet.”  What school officials have seen are competing spreadsheets from Wolf’s office and GOP legislators.  The governor says money will be distributed through his “restoration formula.” Republicans, who say Wolf doesn’t have the authority to do that, are considering a lawsuit to stop him.

Governor's funding plan disses Lebanon
Lebanon Daily News by John Latimer, johnlatimer@ldnews.com10:23 p.m. April 11, 2016
After campaigning to restore the education cuts made by his predecessor and engaging in a futile nine month budgetary stalemate with the Republican-controlled legislature, Gov. Tom is now supporting an education funding formula that could cost the Lebanon School District $850,000 this year.  Wolf’s education funding formula, part of his pledge to restore the cuts made by Gov. Tom Corbett, is directing millions of dollars to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chester Upland school districts this year at the expense of Lebanon and other smaller urban districts, like York, Lancaster and Allentown, Superintendent Marianne Bartley told the school board Monday night.  “While we understand that these (larger) cities need that money, there is no question that the rest of the urban schools need that money and it isn’t coming at this point,” Bartley said.

State funds for schools less than districts anticipated; concern numbers may change
By CARA MORNINGSTAR (cmorningstar@sungazette.com) , Williamsport Sun-Gazette April 10, 2016
School funding numbers have been released by the state, and while more money will be heading to local districts than what was received last year, it appears to be less than local officials anticipated when they adopted budgets in June.  Moreover, a letter from the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials sent to school districts this past week, just after the governor released the funding amounts, states: "Please be aware that there is a good potential that ... this amount will change."  At least two school officials here in Lycoming County believe the calculations contained errors.  Meanwhile, local officials again are having to review their budgets that were passed in June and based on higher numbers than the ones released this past week.

Hanover Area School Board will have to borrow money
By Camille Fioti - For Times Leader First Posted: 5:30 pm - April 9th, 2016
HANOVER TWP. — The Hanover School District will have to borrow money to make ends meet, district Business Manager Tom Cipriano said on Friday.  “We may need to borrow, but at least we know the money is coming,” he said.  The district may not see $210,000 in promised state reimbursements for construction work performed more than a decade ago until the 2016-17 school year.  “We don’t want to borrow now,” Cipriano said. “It’s not fair to the current taxpayers to pay the fees (associated with borrowing) because Harrisburg is not sending the money quick enough or regular enough. There is no timetable that we can find that says when we’re going to get the next allotment of basic education funding. We don’t know when these next payments are coming.”  Cipriano said the district has received basic education funding “forever” five times a year at very regular intervals.  “This doesn’t help districts like ours that have increased poverty, English language learners and an over reliance on school property taxes because we get less from the state,” he said.

Baer: Pa.'s tax burden — meh
by John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist Updated: APRIL 11, 2016 — 8:55 AM EDT
As we approach the April 15 noxious annual taxpayers' deadline and as Harrisburg gets set for its equally noxious annual battle over taxes and spending, now comes a new report on how Pennsylvania stacks up against the other states in terms of state tax burden.  And guess what? The findings provide grist for those, such as Gov. Wolf, arguing that a little more taxes wouldn't be so bad; and for those, such as the entire Republican-controlled Legislature, arguing enough is enough, we got it just about right.  That's because the financial website WalletHub on Monday released data measuring each state's take on property taxes, income taxes and sales and gross receipts taxes. Pennsylvania's ranked right smack dab in the middle at 25th most noxious.

PCN On the Issues: Education Funding with Nathan Mains of PA School Boards Association, Wednesday at 9 pm
Nathan Mains is the Executive Director of the PA School Boards Association.  The group met recently to talk about the damage that had been done to schools by the state budget impasse.  At the same time, Governor Wolf had announced that he had distributed overdue education funding to school districts according to his own "restoration formula."  But Republicans say he's not authorized to do that.

“Petrosky and other Democrats also cite redistricting, which was controlled by Republicans after the 2010 census, as creating districts that consolidated political support for one party over another.  “It's been a deterrent to finding good candidates,” Petrosky said. “They think, ‘Why bother? I don't have a chance.' ”….. But G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political scientist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said the extreme polarization both in the Legislature — and among voters — cannot be discounted. There are fewer pragmatists today than there were in 2006, he said.  “The polarization has weakened personal relationships. They don't like each other, and they don't trust each other,” Madonna said. “Now if the other party wins, they feel the future of the republic is at stake.”
Political frictions dissuade candidates for open seats in Pa. Legislature
Trib Live BY KARI ANDREN  | Monday, April 11, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Retiring state Rep. Nick Kotik said a legislative session in Harrisburg now feels like his own version of the movie “Groundhog Day.”  Each day the fiscally conservative Democrat wakes up and goes through the same routine: Shower, get dressed, go to the state Capitol and get voted down.  “The majority party votes you down on just about every issue you promote,” said Kotik about contending with a 35-seat Republican advantage in the House.  After three or four days of that routine, he goes home to Coraopolis for a few days before returning to Harrisburg to repeat the whole thing.  “It kind of wears you down to a point, mentally,” said Kotik, 65.

Philly District offering summer school for students who lacked certified teachers this year
City Council grills officials on their spending priorities.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa April 11, 2016 — 6:19pm
The School District will offer more than 2,500 kindergarten through 7th-grade students three weeks of reading and math enrichment in July because they did not have a highly qualified teacher for at least two-thirds of the year.  The lack of qualified substitutes and a high teacher vacancy rate this year were one of the main topics at a City Council hearing Monday about conditions in the District, convened by the Committee on Children and Youth and the Education Committee.  Councilwoman Helen Gym, chair of the Children and Youth Committee, framed the issue in the cash-strapped District as one of “basic human rights,” in which many schools – most serving the most vulnerable students – lack essential services, including enough counselors and nurses, updated curricula, modern classrooms, and safe buildings.

Education officials, City Council focus on state of education in Philly public schools
Philadelphia public schools are supposed to have more nurses and counselors next year.  
At a City Council hearing, school district officials said they can't make promises beyond that that.  Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym led the Monday hearing, saying education suffers when every school doesn't have a nurse and there aren't enough counselors.  "The shocking loss of counselors in schools has had a very devastating impact on students," she said.  Marjorie Neff, who leads the School Reform Commission, had some good news and bad news for Council.  "We're not coming to City Council this year asking for money from the city," she said. "But there's a point at which we will no longer be able to sustain what we are doing with the funds we are receiving and that has to be addressed."  The district officials can afford nurses and counselors for next year, but after that funds might not be there.

Phila. School District still struggling to fill teacher vacancies
Inquirer by Mensah M. Dean, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 12, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
With little more than two months remaining in the academic year, more than 100 teacher vacancies remain across the Philadelphia School District, resulting in thousands of students' being taught by uncertified teachers, it was disclosed during a City Council hearing Monday.
Following the joint hearing of the Education Committee and the Children and Youth Committee, a district spokesman said there are 139 vacancies, which represents 1.6 percent of the district's 8,443 teacher positions.  "Our goal is to seek zero vacancies. We know we have a lot of work to do," said spokesman Fernando Gallard.  In the meantime, the district will offer a variety of summer classes to help those students who did not have a regular teacher for more than one-third of the school year.

Keeping misbehaving students off the streets, but not off the hook
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 11, 2016 — 1:07 AM EDT
The incident was a classic teen Romeo caper: A Chester High School senior sneaked on a bus for a field trip he wasn't supposed to take, all because he wanted a girl's "digits" - her phone number.  He told administrators he expected to be suspended, the usual punishment for breaking the rules. But they had a surprise for him. Instead of getting booted out, he'd have to perform school service, whether helping out with maintenance, sorting books, organizing closets, even working events such as the senior girls' tea.  "We used to be a place where, quite frankly, children were treated like criminals. It wasn't just the norm, it was the expectation," said Chester Upland Superintendent Gregory Shannon, who before taking the helm of the Delaware County district in 2013 was deputy chief of student discipline for the Philadelphia schools.  Shannon and his team have tried to toss that expectation out the window in the poverty-plagued district. Chester Upland has joined a growing number of districts across the state, and the nation, in abandoning the "zero tolerance" policies that proliferated in the wake of the deadly mass school shooting at Columbine in 1999. At first intended to keep weapons out of schools, the policies were broadened to include lesser violations, becoming the norm in the 2000s.

CPI students serve Gov. Wolf a gourmet meal
  • Students from Bellefonte, Bald Eagle Area and Penns Valley cooked dinner at the Governor’s Residence
  • Centre County legislators, educators attended
  • First students to cook for governor
Centre Daily Times BY CATE HANSBERRY chansberry@centredaily.com  April 11, 2016
A group of high school students from the culinary program of the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology went to the Governor’s Residence on Monday to cook dinner for the governor, first lady and guests from their home county.  Students from Bellefonte, Bald Eagle and Penns Valley area high schools came prepared to put their best dishes forward.  And Centre County educational administrators and legislators came to try them.  CPI President Richard Makin said he was excited, proud and “maybe a little nervous” to see his students prepare dinner for the governor.  But at the end of the dinner, all he had to say was, “Job well done!”  The students prepared a Waldorf salad with an entree of rack of lamb, minted couscous and roasted spring asparagus — not to mention the hors d’oeuvre and dessert.  “This is a milestone in your career,” Makin said to the students. “This is something you’re going to look back on. We are so proud of you.”  Hank Yeagley, chairman of the CPI board of trustees, said in his 19 years on the board, this was the first time CPI students have come to the Governor’s Residence.  “It’s really awesome,” he said. “It’s such a great opportunity to show off our students.”

SAT to the rescue? Why Delaware and other states are embracing a new role for an old test
On April 12, Delaware’s high school juniors will take a standardized test. That in itself isn’t remarkable. Every year millions of kids across the country take statewide standardized tests. It’s a fact few students enjoy, and some adults decry.  Delaware, however, is one of five states trying a new exam that many hope will combat the anti-testing malaise. And in this case, that new exam is actually an old one: the venerable SAT.  Delaware, Maine, Connecticut, Michigan and New Hampshire will all require schools to administer the SAT this spring--and will then judge those schools based on how their students perform. Three states will do the same with ACT. Three others will use either the PSAT or its ACT equivalent, a test called ACT Aspire 10.  The moves mark a new era in high school assessment and establish a new front in the decades-old battle between SAT and ACT for testing supremacy. They also figure to appease students, parents, and staff frustrated with the purpose and volume of federally-mandated standardized tests.  But a larger question lingers:  Will any of this help states better gauge how much their kids know?

ESSA Negotiators Dig Into Regulatory Details
Proposed new rules cover tests, spending
Education Week By Alyson Klein Published Online: April 11, 2016
Much of the federal education policy community got behind the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act.  But that doesn't mean it will be easy to get a diverse group of educators, advocates, and experts—as well as the U.S. Department of Education—to agree when it comes to regulations on testing and a funding issue known as "supplement-not-supplant."  A panel charged with writing regulations on those pieces of the law has met for six days over two separate sessions and had not yet reached agreement on proposed new regulations.  The issues under discussion are deep in the policy weeds, but many of them—including how testing for students in special education and English-learners should work under ESSA—could have major implications for implementation of the law for years to come.

“APEC isn’t just new to Tondo or Manila. It’s a different kind of school altogether: one that’s part of a for-profit chain and relatively low-cost at $2 a day, what you might pay for a monthly smartphone bill here. The chain is a fast-growing joint venture between Ayala, one of the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates, and Pearson, the largest education company in the world.  In the US, Pearson is best known as a major crafter of the Common Core tests used in many states. It also markets learning software, powers online college programs, and runs computer-based exams like the GMAT and the GED. In fact, Nellie already knew the name Pearson from the tests and prep her sister took to get into nursing school.
But the company has its eye on much, much more. Investment firm GSV Advisors recently estimated the annual global outlay on education at $5.5 trillion and growing rapidly. Let that number sink in for a second—it’s a doozy. The figure is nearly on par with the global health care industry, but there is no Big Pharma yet in education. Most of that money circulates within government bureaucracies.
Pearson would like to become education’s first major conglomerate, serving as the largest private provider of standardized tests, software, materials, and now the schools themselves.”
FOR DECADES, THE major landmark of Balut, Tondo, a densely populated slum squeezed against Manila’s North Harbor, was a monumental pile of often-smoldering trash nicknamed Smokey Mountain. “It used to be sort of pretty, actually,” says Nellie Cruz, a lifelong resident. She points to the spot, now bulldozed, across a reeking, garbage-strewn canal from where we stand with her 13-year-old son, Aki.  The scene is humble, yes, but Nellie, a single mother, isn’t destitute or desperate. She’s a modern, upwardly mobile megacity dweller, the kind you’re equally likely to meet in Shanghai or São Paulo, except with better English skills—the legacy of the Philippines’ history as a US colony and one key to its current economic growth.  APEC is a different kind of school—one that’s part of a for-profit chain and relatively low-cost at $2 a day.  Both Nellie and Aki carry iPhones, for example, though the devices were given to them by Nellie’s sister, a nurse, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Cruzes’ immaculate, doll-size family compound has a caged rooster in the front yard, Christian inspirational wall decals, and a strong Wi-Fi signal. In contrast to the screen-time panic among US parents, Nellie is OK with her only child spending time in his attic bedroom, gaming and browsing science pages on Facebook, rather than out on the street exposed to the pounding sun, the omnipresent filth, and the drug gangs on the corner.

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.

Electing PSBA Officers – Applications Due by April 30th
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee during the month of April, an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by April 30 to be considered and timely filed. If said date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, then the Application for Nomination shall be considered timely filed if marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed and postmarked on the next business day.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than two and no more than four letters of recommendation, some or all of which preferably should be from school districts in different PSBA regions as well as from community groups and other sources that can provide a description of the candidate’s involvement with and effectiveness in leadership positions. PSBA Governing Board Policy 108 also outlines the campaign procedures of candidates.
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.

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.

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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