Thursday, April 14, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 14: Community schools: ‘We want to build this together’

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 14, 2016:
Community schools: ‘We want to build this together’

Rally in Harrisburg with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding on May 2nd 12:30 Main Rotunda!
Public schools in Pennsylvania are a far cry from the “thorough and efficient” system of education promised guaranteed under our state constitution. That’s why we want YOU to join Education Law Center and members of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding in Harrisburg on May 2nd! Buses of supporters are leaving from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - please register below so we can help you arrive on time for the 12:30 press conference in the Main Rotunda! Questions? Email for more details.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Quest for on-time FY 2016-2017 budget begins
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, April 13, 2016
 “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
The famous quote uttered by Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone in the otherwise rather flat Godfather III could be applied to Pennsylvania’s current budget Sitz im Leben.
As the General Assembly put the finishing touches on a revised Fiscal Code that contains controversial education funding components—a move Republicans at least claim will put the final touches on the FY 2015-2016 budget—a budget vehicle for FY 2016-2017 was put in place by the House Appropriations Committee that sets the stage for the slog toward what is hoped to be an on-time budget plan.  With the Fiscal Code, the Senate early Wednesday afternoon voted 37-11 to move the budget spending blueprint back to the House with changes they made on Tuesday that provide for the use of the Basic Education Funding Commission formula in the current year and allows a $2.5 billion bond to pay for PlanCon costs.  While the governor noted these two provisions as being some of the reasons why he vetoed a similar plan in March, Senate Republicans were insistent on the provisions and were joined by more than a handful of their Democratic colleagues in advancing the proposal along a veto-proof majority.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) underscored the importance of the bill becoming law, particularly as it relates to PlanCon, in setting the stage for FY 2016-2017.

House, Senate cast veto-proof majority votes on school funding bill
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on April 13, 2016 at 6:53 PM, updated April 13, 2016 at 6:55 PM
The House and Senate sent a clear message to Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday that his way of distributing $150 million in new basic education funding in the2015-16 state budget using a formula his administration invented is not going to fly with them.  Both chambers cast veto-proof majority votes on Wednesday to pass a fiscal code bill that would require those dollars be distributed using the Basic Education Funding Commission-recommended formula that will result in 473 school districts receiving more money than they would under the governor's formula.  Additionally, the legislation includes borrowing $2.5 billion to pay school districts money that had been promised to them by the state for school construction projects.
The Senate's 38-11 vote was followed a few hours later by the House's 149-45vote.

Could a two-year budget cycle prevent another impasse in Pennsylvania?
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 13, 2016 at 4:57 PM
In the wake of last year's protracted budget impasse, a bipartisan group of lawmakers are considering the virtues of a two-year budget cycle.  "I came to the Senate to solve problems, not create them, and it is our duty to work together to make things better, not worse," said Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster County, who introduced a biennial budget law in the Senate.  Twenty states have adopted a two-year budget cycle that generally puts a halt to the constant maneuvering that Pennsylvania saw with its 2015-16 budget, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).  In theory, such a move would cut such budget wrangling in half.

“It is important to note that with the governor’s distribution, every district in Schuylkill County is more than 91 percent restored from the 2010-11 cuts. Currently, only 4 percent of districts in Pennsylvania have seen their funding fully restored to 2010-11 levels and the commonwealth is currently over $370 million short from fully restoring the cuts,” Sheridan said.  “For Republicans to push around their plan in comparison to the governor’s plan, and compare dollar amounts, conveniently ignores the reality of the devastation they were complicit in causing five years ago when $1 billion was cut from education disproportionately affecting the poorest school districts. Many of the poorest districts have not had their funding restored. In fact, the Republican plan would have taken money back that has already been allocated from some of the poorest districts,” Sheridan said.”
Wolf's office responds to Argall's concerns
Republican Herald BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK Published: April 14, 2016
In response to a press release issued by state Sen. David G. Argall, R-29, on Tuesday, the governor’s press secretary said Wednesday every public school district in the state will receive more funding under the governor’s funding formula than they had in 2014-15.
“Governor (Tom) Wolf has been pushing for a fair funding formula to end Pennsylvania’s inequitable distribution of education dollars, one of the most inequitable in the country. The new fair funding formula, which again, he supports and begins to implement in the current distribution of funding, cannot truly be fair unless the cuts are fully restored,” Jeffrey Sheridan, the governor’s press secretary, said in a statement to the newspaper Wednesday.  Sheridan urged the public to read the governor’s April 5 announcement regarding education funding, which has been posted on his website,  “Under the governor’s restoration formula, every single school district in Schuylkill County, and every district in the commonwealth receives more than they received in 2014-15. Under the governor’s distribution, the combined increase for all districts in Schuylkill County is nearly $1.9 million. But the amount of total funding in the Republican budget is only half of what the governor proposed in his original budget, and $177 million less in basic education funding than what was included in the bipartisan budget that Republicans jettisoned before the New Year,” Sheridan said.

Corman: Wolf playing politics with school funding
Centre Daily Times Opinion by BY JAKE CORMAN April 13, 2016
Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, is state Senate majority leader.
When Gov. Tom Wolf finally relented and allowed one of the four state budgets passed by the legislature to become law in March, there was a sense of relief that school districts would finally receive the funding that been held hostage for so long.  But that relief was short-lived when the governor implemented his own formula for distributing money for public education — one that picks a only a few winners while providing less money to most areas of the state — including my Senate district.  Rather than using a distribution formula established by a bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission, the governor created his own politically driven plan that cut millions of dollars from rural and suburban districts and directs that money to his political allies.  This distribution is anything but fair and it could result in higher taxes and cuts in school programs here in my district and many other areas of the state.

STATEMENT: PSBA encouraged by legislation to ensure uninterrupted education for children
PSBA Press Release April 13, 2016
Schools would no longer live in fear of a budget impasse if proposed legislation is passed that would require the timely release of school funding starting on Aug. 15 of each year even if a state budget is not passed. The goal of the legislation is essentially the same as a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) in January 2016.  “The nine-month budget impasse has been devastating to school entities throughout Pennsylvania,” said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains. “Senate Bill 807 would put an end to the hostage situation schools lived through during this year’s budget impasse. It is unfortunate that such a law is necessary. Such legislation would have prevented the need this year for schools to borrow more than $1 billion, cut programs, delay payments, and draw down fund balances just to keep doors open.”

“The losses are even greater for a school district for students who transfer directly from a private or parochial school to a charter school. Because these students were never part of the student count by the local school district, the district never received money for them. However, when the student enrolls in a charter school the school district is still required to pay the charter school for the student. The result is that the school district loses money even though there is no reduction in the number of students in a classroom.  The School District of Philadelphia estimates the costs associated with these students at approximately $10,000 per student. In addition, approximately 30 percent of the district's charter school students - more than 20,000 - previously attended private or parochial schools before transferring to the charter school. Students in these circumstances cost the school district and taxpayers $200 million annually, even though they've never attended a Philadelphia public school.”
Commentary: Time to fix state's broken charter school finance law
Philly Daily News Opinion by Sen. Vincent J. Hughes Updated: APRIL 13, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
PENNSYLVANIA'S charter school finance law is broken. Written in 1997, the law's funding provisions have had a staggering impact on school district finances. Without repair, the amount of taxpayer dollars gushing out of our children's classrooms into the pockets of some not-so-well intentioned profiteers will continue to grow until school districts, and taxpayers, are financially ruined by this coming tidal wave.  School districts receive money to educate students on a per-student basis. So imagine a class of 30 kids and five leave to go to a charter school. The taxpayer dollars used to educate those five students is paid by the school district to the charter school. However, the school district's costs to educate the remaining 25 students don't change.  Despite having five fewer students, the school district must still pay to keep the lights and heat on, to put teachers in classrooms, and to cover other costs associated with educating kids. These costs are referred to as "stranded costs," and they don't change when a student leaves the public school for a charter school. However, the money a school district has to pay these fixed obligations is reduced considerably.  How big of an issue is this? According to Superintendent William Hite, even though the School District of Philadelphia has closed about 30 schools in recent years, the district still loses $490 million in stranded costs each year. This is unacceptable and must be fixed.

Pennsylvania auditor general calls for oversight of charter schools By Evan Grossman  /   April 13, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments
Following his examination of the School District of Philadelphia, the state auditor general is calling for increased oversight of Pennsylvania’s charter schools.  State Auditor Eugene DePasquale continues to bang the drum for the creation of a state charter school board he says will address challenges created by lethargic lawmakers and murky regulations.  CHARTER OVERSIGHT: Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the state needs an oversight board to better run charter schools.  Published this week, his Philadelphia audit includes four major findings:

Community schools: ‘We want to build this together’
The city officials coordinating the effort in Philadelphia talk about last week’s national community schools conference in New Mexico and their plans.
The notebook by Paul Socolar April 13, 2016 — 9:38am
Susan Gobreski and Holly Gonzales were among more than a dozen Philadelphians who traveled to Albuquerque last week for the three-day national conference of the Coalition for Community Schools.  They joined more than 1,700 participants from around the country involved in the strategy of building schools as community hubs. These schools forge partnerships to address academics but also health and family services as well as youth and community development and engagement.  Gobreski and Gonzales are director and deputy director for community schools in the Mayor’s Office of Education. Under Chief Education Officer Otis Hackney, they are charged with launching and managing Mayor Kenney’s initiative to implement the community schools approach at 25 public schools in the city over the next four years. Last month, the office began to lay out its implementation planAppointed in February, Gobreski previously led the advocacy group Education Voters of Pennsylvania. Gonzales recently moved to Philadelphia from Baltimore, where she worked for the Family League of Baltimore, a nonprofit that coordinates 55 community schools there.  They spoke with former Notebook editor and publisher Paul Socolar at the close of the conference. Here is an edited version of the conversation.

William Penn gets support from Upper Darby in state funding lawsuit
Delco News Network By Kevin Tustin @KevinTustin on Twitter Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Upper Darby School District is lending their support to William Penn School District in their lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  The Upper Darby Board of School Directors Tuesday night unanimously passed a resolution backing the neighboring district as plaintiffs in a statewide suit that calls for a “thorough and efficient system of public education” as called for by the state’s constitution.  The suit, William Penn School District et. al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education et. al., claims that the state has failed to provide enough funding for its academic standards and that the current method of funding has created “significant resource disparities” between rich and poor school districts.  “The William Penn School District is very grateful for the support from Upper Darby School District in our funding lawsuit,” William Penn School Board President Jennifer Hoff said in an email Wednesday morning. “Hopefully, this lawsuit will lead to the funding resolution our state’s public schools so desperately need.”  Filed on behalf of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia in 2014,William Penn is a plaintiff along with five other districts, parents and state organizations who are suing PDE, the governor, State House and Senate leaders, and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera.
An application for a May oral argument was submitted to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on April 1, but has yet to be approved as of April 13.  The School District of Haverford Township passed a similar resolution in support of William Penn in March.

Fair formula needed to fund education
Lancaster Online Letter by Ann Martin Lancaster Apr 12, 2016
I agree with the Feb. 24 commentary by Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. She said that in a time when state leaders seem to disagree on everything, they should at least be able to agree on investing in the health and education of our children.  Instead of making strides, our schools are taking steps back because they have to cut programs and staff due to state funding shortfalls and the failure of the state to adopt a fair funding formula.  Our elected officials must come together and agree to a significant increase in basic education funding and a new formula to distribute those dollars fairly so that all children have a chance to succeed no matter where they live.  According to the American Institutes for Research, school districts in Pennsylvania with the largest funding shortfalls have average SAT scores approximately 200 points lower than the most financially advantaged districts, as well as lower math and reading proficiency on state assessments.  Districts with high numbers of children experiencing homelessness, children who are English language learners, and children living in poverty have been especially impacted by our state’s inability to chart a fair, long-term public education funding strategy.  The state needs to invest more in public education because research shows that putting more resources in the classroom produces better results for our children, which in turn boosts our economy. The stakes for our children are too high to stay divided on this.

West Chester Area superintendent's message on PSSAs has parents everywhere applauding
Y102 Blog Posted April 10th, 2016
Parents from all over are praising a message from an area superintendent about his thoughts on the PSSAs.  West Chester school district's superintendent sent an email to parents in his school district.   Here is the full message posted on West Chester's website:

Hundreds attend Shaler Area board meeting to protest suggested teacher cutbacks
Post Gazette By Rita Michel April 13, 2016 11:37 PM
There were tears for teachers at the Shaler Area school board meeting Wednesday night.
Hundreds of students and their parents entered emotional pleas and declarations of support for many of the approximately 30 Shaler Area School District teachers being considered for possible furlough as administrators consider “right sizing” the staff in the face of declining enrollment and funding delayed by the state government.  Superintendent Sean Aiken had set a special question and answer session for Tuesday, May 3, in the middle school auditorium but district families decided not to wait and attended the school board’s committee of the whole meeting, which was moved to the auditorium to seat all the concerned citizens.

Students, residents ask Shaler SB to halt potential staff cuts
Trib Live BY TONY LARUSSA  | Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 10:06 p.m.
Dozens of the nearly 200 residents and students who attended the Shaler Area School Board meeting Wednesday night implored district officials to reconsider a plan that could eliminate as many as 30 full-time staff positions.  District officials announced late last month that cuts might be needed to “right size” the staff to more accurately reflect the declining student population, which has dipped from nearly 5,600 pupils in 2002 to about 4,400 this year.  Superintendent Sean Aiken, who emailed a letter to parents on Tuesday outlining how the staff reductions might be achieved, reiterated that furloughing teachers would be a last resort.

The connection between trauma and the dropout crisis
The notebook by Connie Langland April 13, 2016 — 7:45am
When reflecting on the factors that derailed them academically, Quad’ir Ford and Nalik Lark-Hightower didn’t mention living in poverty or exposure to trauma as factors. But experts have said that these two distinct yet intertwined conditions in children’s lives can go far in explaining the root cause of the dropout crisis.  “Trauma is not a singular event; neither is poverty,” said Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, executive director of the Philadelphia Youth Network and co-chair of Project U-Turn. There is a “cycle of experiences,” she said, that can vary from homelessness to the unexpected death of a family member to food insecurity to experiencing a high level of violence in the neighborhood.  “Poverty and trauma are mutually reinforcing and negatively correlated,” Fulmore-Townsend said. "Young people living in poverty are more likely to experience trauma … and the psychological effects of trauma make it harder to overcome poverty. It’s an unwieldy, challenging problem.”  Research supports this view. Using brain scans, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that poverty can slow the rate of growth in two key brain structures in small children. According to Seth Pollack, a lead researcher, brains of infants from different economic backgrounds look similar at birth. But by age 4, children in poor families showed deficits that help explain behavioral and learning problems.

Highlands teachers strike; more picketing set for Thursday
Trib Live BY BRIAN C. RITTMEYER AND LIZ HAYES | Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 8:00 a.m.
Highlands School District teachers weren't interested in avoiding a strike, the district's solicitor said Wednesday, the first day of teachers walking picket lines.  A union representative, however, says that's not true.  Highlands teachers went on strike after last-minute talks Tuesday night failed to reach an agreement.  The strike could last up to 10 days, with schools reopening on April 27 if it does. District officials were still awaiting word from the state on how long the strike can last. Both sides reported earlier that the strike could last no more than eight days; some contend it should be only four.

LGBT protection legislation garners opposition in Pennsylvania
Lancaster Online by HEATHER STAUFFER | Staff Writer Apr 12, 2016
Proposals that would grant statewide protection to transgender Pennsylvanians who want to use bathrooms that match the gender with which they identify are garnering opposition in the state. A petition opposing the idea has gotten the support of at least 3,000 residents, according to Defend My Privacy Coalition, a Pennsylvania group of conservative organizations that have come together in light of the issue.  Protection of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is back in the national spotlight after North Carolina recently passed a law requiring bathroom use to be based on the gender listed on the user’s birth certificate, prompting a flurry of similar bills in several other states.

“We support the sugary drink tax, not because we are anti-soda or even anti-sugar - though the health costs of an oversugared population are staggering - but because pre-K has proved to be an effective program that could give children an educational boost that could last for years. It is a program that has value and substance . . . and, unlike soda, no empty calories..”
DN editorial: Soda tax would benefit kids, which is why we support it
Philly Daily News Editorial Updated: APRIL 13, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
THE ONLY WAY to avoid the debate about Mayor Kenney's sugary drink tax would be to move at least 200 miles from Philadelphia.  The advertising campaign against Kenney's proposal is virtually everywhere in local media market: in the newspapers, on TV, even in commercials in movie theaters.  The ads, sponsored by the American Beverage Association, insist on calling Kenney's proposal a grocery tax. That's like calling the cigarette tax a grocery tax because cigarettes are sold in supermarkets and grocery stores.  If you don't buy cigarettes at your local supermarket, your grocery bill won't go up a dime. The same is true of the sugary drink tax.  If passed, you can avoid paying the tax by not buying sugary drinks, a list that includes not only sodas, but also iced tea and sports drinks.

Philly Pre-K commission votes to support soda tax
by Julia Terruso, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 14, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
The city's commission on universal pre-K voted Wednesday to support a 3-cents-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks to fund education for 3- and 4-year-olds, as part of a final report due to the mayor Friday.  The vote serves as an endorsement of the very tax Mayor Kenney has proposed for the same purpose.  While the vote was expected - some commission members were appointed by Kenney, and most are advocates of early childhood education - it was not easy or unanimous.  The three-hour meeting included spirited, and at times tense, debate over whether it was the commission's role to recommend a sole funding stream.  In the end, 13 commissioners voted to recommend the tax. Three, including City Council members Jannie L. Blackwell and Blondell Reynolds Brown, voted against it. Blackwell and Reynolds Brown favored listing several funding options in the report and letting Council decide. A representative from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce abstained.

Letters: E.W. Rhodes Elementary School needs help
Inquirer Letter by Cliff Thomas, policy manager, Philadelphia School Partnership Updated: APRIL 13, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Rhodes Elementary needs help
After his visit to E.W. Rhodes Elementary School, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan proclaimed that the school "doesn't need to be turned around again" ("Union opposes plan to turn around school," Thursday). Katie McGinty, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, called the North Philadelphia school an "inspiration."  The data tell a different story. In the 2014-15 school year, only 9 percent of its students were rated at least "proficient" on the state reading exam, and 1 percent - three students - were proficient in math.  Low test scores aren't the only source of concern. Rhodes ranked 135th of 139 schools citywide, and 41st of 45 peer schools, on the district's school-climate metric. Additionally, 75 percent of students and 40 percent of teachers were absent for at least 10 school days.  In short, Rhodes isn't meeting the needs of its students and families.  If our city and state leaders believe that Rhodes is a success, I would implore them to reevaluate their expectations for our children.

Garnet Valley takes national Hi-Q crown
Delco Times By Anne Neborak, on Twitter
POSTED: 04/13/16, 9:16 PM EDT | UPDATED: 50 SECS AGO
MORTON >> Nathan Katragadda looked down at his shoes, exclaiming that he had worn his lucky sneaks. Lucky or just well prepared, the Garnet Valley Hi-Q Team took home the national championship on Wednesday.  The team competed with two other teams — Henry M. Jackson High School in Washington and Peshtigo High School in Wisconsin — via video conferences. The questions covered all types of academia from art history to science. The final scores for the competition were: Garnet Valley, 48; Wisconsin, 46 and Washington, 33.

Nebraska Legislature Sends Redistricting Reform Bill to Governor’s Desk
Common Cause Posted on April 13, 2016 
Today the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature passed LB 580, a bill that would create a nine-person independent citizens commission tasked with redrawing congressional and state legislative districts after each census. The final tally was 29-15 in favor. Currently, legislators are responsible for drawing their own districts and congressional boundaries. The bill will land on Gov. Pete Ricketts’ desk no later than Tuesday, April 19. He has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.  The commission would include five individuals who are a member of the party whose gubernatorial candidate won the previous election and four individuals whose party came in second. This legislation would put in place strong conflict-of-interest provisions that prohibit from the commission individuals with a personal or professional stake in the drawing of districts.

The plan to get every California kid into preschool
Los Angeles Times By Sonali Kohli April 13, 2016
Three billion dollars may sound like a lot of money to spend on preschool -- but maybe it isn't enough.  That's what a group of advocates, former policymakers, researchers and business executives is saying in its push to remake the state's early childhood education landscape.
The $3-billion figure is an estimate of the state and federal dollars that California spends on preschool and childcare each year -- but the group of 12, called the Right Start Commission, is calling for the state to increase that expenditure by at least $5 billion each year.
The goal is to get every 4-year-old in the state into a good, free preschool, and to enable every family to send its younger children to an affordable daycare on a sliding pay scale based on family income.  Common Sense Kids Action, an arm of the nonprofit advocacy group Common Sense Media, convened the commission. Common Sense made its name vetting television content for children.   n Wednesday, the commission is releasing a report that calls for universal childcare and preschool, as well as the creation of a single online portal where parents can access childcare options, instead of navigating the confusing maze of providers.

Survey: Nearly 53 percent of LI students opt out of math tests
Newsday By Joie Tyrrell Updated April 13, 2016 10:31 PM
More than 71,000 elementary and middle school students refused to take the state Common Core math test Wednesday in 80 of Long Island’s 124 school districts that responded to a Newsday survey — nearly 53 percent of those eligible for the exam in those systems.
Wednesday’s exam administration marked the first of three days of math testing for nearly 200,000 Long Island students in grades three...

Testing Resistance & Reform News: April 6 - April 12, 2016
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on April 12, 2016 - 1:36pm 
Moving into the peak weeks of the 2016 standardized exam season, the assessment reform movement continues to notch more victories as test-opt outs and other forms of protest accelerate in many states.

“A group of organizations — including the the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of States Boards of Education and the two largest teachers unions in the country — just sent King a letter warning his department  “to refrain from defining terms and aspects of the new law that Congress gave communities the flexibility to determine.” (See the letter below.)”
Didn’t take long: New education secretary starts butting heads in nation’s capital
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss April 13 at 3:40 PM  
This didn’t take long: The new U.S. education secretary, John King, is already butting heads with people in Washington, D.C.  Just a month after being approved by the U.S. Senate as education secretary (he had been acting secretary for a few months), King has sparked the ire of none other than Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee,  chairman of the Senate education committee, who had pushed President Obama to nominate him.  What’s more, it isn’t just Alexander who isn’t thrilled with King, the former commissioner of education in New York state. King led a series of reforms in New York for 3½ years that were so badly administered that he abruptly left his position in late 2014 amid a tornado of criticism and moved to Washington to become No. 2 to then-education secretary Arne Duncan, who didn’t seem to mind King’s controversial N.Y. tenure.

Sen. Alexander to John King: Rethink Your Draft ESSA Spending Rules, Or Else
Education Week Politics K-12 By Andrew Ujifusa on April 12, 2016 12:37 PM
The federal requirement that federal dollars supplement state and local spending on education is proving to be one of the thorniest issues under the Every Student Succeeds Act.  In a testy Senate education committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. that he believed the U.S. Department of Education's proposal for regulating that spending requirement violates the language and spirit of ESSA.   "Not only is what you're doing against the law, the way you're trying to do it is against another provision in the law," Alexander told King in his opening remarks.  And Alexander said he'd use every power available to him, including the federal appropriations process, to overrule the regulations King's department comes up with. He also said he'd encourage a lawsuit against the Education Department if it does not reconsider its proposed language.   But King denied that his department was overstepping its authority. He said the agency is merely trying to ensure that districts are using an appropriate approach to following federal requirements for accessing federal funds.

Blogger comment: The Walton Family Foundation has spent tens of millions of dollars funding this “emperor has no clothes” organization that is based on putting college grads with just 5 weeks training into our toughest school environments.  To my knowledge, the Waltons have yet to fund early childhood education or early reading programs that might actually help kids in high poverty school districts.
Teach for America CEO blames 'toxic debate' about education after applications plummet by 35% in 3 years
Business Insider Abby Jackson April 13, 2016
Applications for Teach for America (TFA), the venerated yet polarizing teacher recruitment and training organization, have plummeted for the third year in a row, The Washington Post reported.  The 37,000 applications in 2016 were down from 57,000 in 2013, marking a 35% dip over the period.  It's sobering news for an organization that was at the forefront of innovative education policy in the 1990s, with its unique approach to funneling recent college graduates into two-year stints in schools.  Elisa Villanueva Beard, chief executive of TFA, pointed to the financial incentives of employment in other sectors as a potential explanation for decreasing applications.
And in a nod to some of the critics TFA, she said negative attacks on TFA discourage new teachers from applying.

“Questioning the work of megaphilanthropists is a tricky business. Many readers of this article will be fuming in this way: Would you rather let children remain illiterate, or allow generous people to use their wealth to give them schools? Would you rather send more money to our bumbling government, or let visionary philanthropists solve society’s problems? Here is a counterquestion: Would you rather have self-appointed social engineers—whose sole qualification is vast wealth—shape public policy according to their personal views, or try to repair American democracy?”
Charitable Plutocracy: Bill Gates, Washington State, and the Nuisance of Democracy
Nonprofit Quarterly By JOANNE BARKAN | April 11, 2016
Once upon a time, the super-wealthy endowed their tax-exempt charitable foundations and then turned them over to boards of trustees to run. The trustees would spend the earnings of the endowment to pursue a typically grand but wide-open mission written into the foundation’s charter—like The Rockefeller Foundation’s 1913 mission “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.” Today’s multi-billionaires are a different species of philanthropist; they keep tight control over their foundations while also operating as major political funders—think Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, or Walmart heiress Alice Walton. They aim to do good in the world, but each defines “good” idiosyncratically in terms of specific public policies and political goals. They translate their wealth, the work of their foundations, and their celebrity as doers-of-good into influence in the public sphere—much more influence than most citizens have.  Call it charitable plutocracy—a peculiarly American phenomenon, increasingly problematic and in need of greater scrutiny. Like all forms of plutocracy, this one conflicts with democracy, and exactly how these philanthropists coordinate tax-exempt grantmaking with political funding for maximum effect remains largely obscure. What follows is a case study of the way charitable plutocracy operates on the ground. It’s a textbook example of the tug-of-war between government by the people and uber-philanthropists as social engineers.

“The case is being supported by Partnership for Education Justice, a New York-based advocacy group that receives its primary funding from the foundations of the Walton family, the founders of Walmart, and the Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad. Students for Education Reform, a group that also receives funding from the Broad and the Walton Family Foundations, is also backing the suit.”
Teacher Tenure Is Challenged Again in a Minnesota Lawsuit
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH APRIL 13, 2016
Opening a new front in the assault on teacher tenure, a group of parents backed by wealthy philanthropists served notice to defendants on Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s job protections for teachers, as well as the state’s rules governing which teachers are laid off as a result of budget cuts.  Similar to cases in California and New York, the plaintiffs, who are filing the lawsuit in district court in Ramsey County in St. Paul, argue that the state’s tenure and layoff laws disproportionately harm poor, minority children because, they say, the most ineffective teachers are more likely to be assigned to public schools with high concentrations of those children.

Rally in Harrisburg with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding on May 2nd 12:30 Main Rotunda!
Public schools in Pennsylvania are a far cry from the “thorough and efficient” system of education promised guaranteed under our state constitution. That’s why we want YOU to join Education Law Center and members of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding in Harrisburg on May 2nd! Buses of supporters are leaving from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - please register below so we can help you arrive on time for the 12:30 press conference in the Main Rotunda! Questions? Email for more details.

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 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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