Wednesday, April 20, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 20: Follow the Students First PAC Money

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3900 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 20, 2016:
Follow the Students First PAC Money

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.

2016 Campaign Contributions by Students First PAC
PA Department of State Campaign Finance Website
Recipient                                                 Date              Amount
CEPHAS, MORGAN FRIENDS FOR      4/12/2016          $1,000.00
CITIZENS ALLIANCE OF PA PAC         3/18/2016      $100,000.00
DISANTO FOR SENATE                        2/5/2016             $5,000.00
EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY PAC        2/8/2016          $62,500.00
EXCELLENT SCHOOLS PA                  3/11/2016         $52,000.00
KILLION, THOMAS VICTORY COM       3/28/2016          $5,000.00
KILLION, THOMAS VICTORY COM       3/28/2016          $5,000.00
MCGINNIS, JOHN FRIENDS OF            3/22/2016          $5,000.00
REGAN, MIKE FOR SENATE                3/10/2016        $10,000.00
REGAN, MIKE FOR SENATE                4/18/2016         $10,000.00
TORSELLA, JOE FRIENDS OF              2/8/2016          $10,000.00
WILLIAMS FOR SENATE                      3/9/2016           $25,000.00

Building Philly's community schools from the bottom up
Kenney initiative seeks to remove barriers to effective learning
BY HAYDEN MITMAN PhillyVoice Staff APRIL 19, 2016
Susan Gobreski has her work cut out for her. 
The newly appointed director of the community schools initiative for the city's Office of Education is tasked with bringing a potentially transformative citywide program to Philadelphia.  With a proposed budget of about $39.6 million over the next five years, Gobreski and her team plan to transform 25 city schools into "community schools" over the next five years – at a pace of about five to seven a year. In an interview Thursday we chatted with Gobreski about the program:
So what's a "community school"?
The initiative has been promoted as a way to transform schools into community hubs to boost student performance and revitalize neighborhoods by providing access to basic programs and services. It would involve a coordinated effort by parents, educators and community members.  Right now, the education office, in conjunction with the school district, is gathering feedback from students, parents, school administrators and staff, and service providers to learn about the communities, the potential for community partnerships, and assess the needs of schools. 

Sign-up to stay informed on the City's strategy to increase community schools throughout Philadelphia. Find out about community roundtables and town hall meetings so you lend your voice to the planning and development of this important initiative! 
Philly Community Schools 

Brown Bag Discussion Series on Community Schools with the Mayor's Office of Education
Want to learn more about #CommunitySchools? Join us for a Brown Bag Discussion with @sgobreski.
Select one (or more!) *
Thursday, May 5 at 12pm
Thursday, May 19 at 4pm
Thursday, June 2 at 12pm
Thursday, June 16 at 4pm

Philly School budget hearing this week focus on possible closings
Philly Trib by Wilford Shamlin III Tribune Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 12:00 am
The School Reform Commission is set to hear from the public this week as it formulates its spending plan for the next school year.  The SRC, a state-controlled body that administers city public schools, will hold a budget hearing 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the school education center, 440 N. Broad St.  At a meeting last month, Superintendent William Hite has mentioned the possibility of closing up to three schools, starting in fiscal year 2018, to compensate for increased operating costs. Officials anticipate higher pension costs and potential losses from the city’s real-estate property assessment —called actual value initiative (API) — and a state tax on cigarette pack sales. The financial impact could exceed $400 million in the next five years, according to the school district’s projections.

“Now, due to the way education is funded in Pennsylvania, each new charter seat costs the District money and forces cutbacks in District-run schools, a situation that some have likened to "cannibalization" or a "Hunger Games" approach to school funding.   Wolf replaced Green shortly after he voted to approve five new charter schools out of 39 applications. Neff voted no on all of them.”
Green sues to regain SRC chairmanship
His suit says that Wolf replaced him for ideological reasons and due to the opposition of the PFT to his pro-charter views.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa April 19, 2016 — 6:04pm
School Reform Commissioner Bill Green said Tuesday that he was filing suit to regain his position as chair of the SRC, a position he lost a year ago when Gov. Wolf replaced him with former Masterman principal Marjorie Neff.  Green and his attorney, David Osborne, said Wolf, a Democrat, was "meddling" with the SRC for ideological reasons – primarily his opposition to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and his pro-charter views. They said Wolf overstepped his authority in removing Green, who was appointed chair by Wolf's predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett.  ​SRC members can only be removed from office for wrongdoing or malfeasance. Green and Osborne said that the SRC chairmanship constitutes an "office." Green remains a member of the SRC.  Green is being represented by the Fairness Center, based in Harrisburg. On its website, it describes itself as a "nonprofit public interest law firm offering free legal services to those facing unjust treatment from public employee union leaders." Osborne said it is the organization's policy not to release its funders, but one of its trustees is Matthew Brouillette, head of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation.

Green files suit to get SRC chairmanship back
Inquirer by Jeff Gammage and Martha Woodall, STAFF WRITERS Updated: APRIL 20, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Bill Green believes he knows a way to help the beleaguered Philadelphia schools: restore him to his job as chairman of the School Reform Commission.  On Tuesday, he formally announced the filing of a lawsuit that aims to lift him from the ranks of commission membership and place him back at its head.  State legislators "might have more confidence in sending the district money" if he were in charge, he said after a news conference at School District offices.  His main purpose in suing to overturn his ouster by Gov. Wolf, Green said, is to prove a point of law, and protect the independence of the SRC and the office of chairman.  Not everyone saw it that way.  The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, an advocacy group, said Green's "pointless power grab" diverts attention from the SRC's inability to provide safe and effective city schools.  It called on Green to drop his suit, filed in Commonwealth Court.  In a statement, Wolf asserted his legal right to replace Green.  "Gov. Wolf will continue fighting for more funding for education and to provide a new path forward for Philadelphia's schools," the statement said.

Baldwin-Whitehall school board hears details of cuts needed to balance budget
Post Gazette By Margaret Smykla April 20, 2016 1:08 AM
Details on $2.1 million in proposed professional and operations staff reductions to help balance a proposed $62.3 million budget for the 2016-17 school year in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District were presented at Tuesday’s special meeting of the board.  A 0.83 mill tax increase, which would generate an additional $1.5 million, is also required for a balanced budget.  No academic programs would be eliminated.  The budget presentation was conducted by superintendent Randal Lutz and business manager Mark Cherpak.  Mr. Lutz called it a “bare bones budget.”

Spring-Ford budget deficit drops, tax hike still likely
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 04/19/16, 4:06 PM EDT | UPDATED: 8 HRS AGO
Royersford >> As the school year winds down, Spring-Ford Area School District officials have begun ramping up budget talks. So far the district has managed to cut its projected budget deficit in half, but the hope of a zero-percent tax increase still may not be in the cards this year, officials say.  The finance committee is set to outline the proposed budget during its May 10 meeting before it makes a recommendation to the board likely during the May 16 work session. When the board approved the 2016-17 preliminary budget of $150 million this past January, it was grappling with a $4.3 million deficit. Through various line item changes and by utilizing different funds, the district has managed to cut that deficit down to somewhere between $2 million and $2.3 million, board President Tom DiBello said Monday.

Transparency is key when undergoing major construction project
Lancaster Online by LNP Editorial Board Apr 19, 2016
THE ISSUE: The School District of Lancaster plans to renovate or rebuild at least three schools for a price tag of around $75 million. In January, architects proposed a plan that would make changes to nine schools for $157 million. The school board will likely vote in May on which of the nine will be renovated. The Pennsylvania Legislature on Wednesday passed a plan to borrow up to $2.5 billion to help fund school construction projects through PlanCon, the planning and construction workbook, which is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement for major school construction projects.
When ceiling tiles are falling inside classrooms, when there is no functioning heat or air conditioning, when a school goes an entire century without renovations — you know it’s time for a change.  In situations like these, we’re sure it’s easy for a school board to become hasty or impatient, spend beyond their means and raise property taxes on their constituents. The School District of Lancaster has chosen not to go down that road. And we appreciate their thoroughness and thoughtfulness throughout this process.

Highlands students, teachers return to class after strike
Trib Live BY TOM YERACE | Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 9:21 a.m.
There will not be a second strike by Highlands School District teachers this year, according to a state teachers union official.  Matt Edgell, of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and spokesman for the teachers in the Highlands Education Association, said there would not be enough time for a second strike.  The first strike, which lasted four days, ended when the HEA's 190 teachers returned to their classrooms Tuesday.  A second strike is allowed under state law, with the stipulation that the required 180 days of instruction for students be completed by June 30.  The law's requirement for non-binding but mandatory arbitration before a second strike is the main obstacle.  “There is not a plan to do a second strike,” Edgell said. “The window would be too tight to do non-binding arbitration and then do a second strike.”  The strike by the Highlands Education Association began April 13 and kept 2,574 students — from Brackenridge, Harrison, Fawn and Tarentum — out of class after the union and school board couldn't reach an agreement.

“Catasauqua Superintendent Robert Spengler said his district expects to pay about $12,000 a year for a regular education student and $25,000 for a special education student to attend.  The district has taken a hit in the last few years as charter school offerings have ballooned in the Valley, according to Spengler. As of February, the state Department of Education said there were three charter schools operating in Northampton County and nine in Lehigh County.  Spengler said the district is adjusting to how the burgeoning charter school options have forced the district to dole out tuition payments. In the 2014-15 school year, Catasauqua paid $801,378 in tuition to charter schools. That number jumped to more than $1 million in the span of a year.”
New charter school to open doors in Catasauqua this fall
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call April 20, 2016
CATASAUQUA — A new charter school in Catasauqua will join the growing ranks of the alternative education options in the Lehigh Valley with classes starting in September.  The Innovative Arts Academy Charter School will share space with the Medical Academy Charter School at 330 Howertown Road when it opens this fall. The charter school will occupy space previously filled by the Lehigh Valley Christian High School, now located on Winchester Road in South Whitehall Township.  Kelly Bauer, vice president of the school's board of directors, said the charter school serving students from 6th through 12th grades will specialize in graphic design, journalism, culinary arts and fashion design.  "What we're doing differently is preparing students for the workforce while they're still in high school. It's a challenging market out there," Bauer said. "This school is meant to expand the thoughts of what a school can be."

85 Best Pa. High Schools: U.S. News Rankings 2016
U.S. News & World Report has released its annual ranking of high schools. Here are the top schools in Pennsylvania.
Newtown Patch By KARA SEYMOUR (Patch Staff) -  April 19, 2016 10:40 am ET 
Perhaps the most respected of publications that surveys the top high schools in the nation came out with its 2016 list this week.  U.S. News evaluated more than 28,000 schools to determine the top public high schools nationally, and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  All schools in the 2016 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings have graduating students who get exposure to college-level work by passing at least one AP or IB exam, according to the publication.
U.S. News also looked at the following criteria:
  • Overall student performance on state-required tests;
  • How effectively schools educated their disadvantaged students – those of black, Hispanic and low-income backgrounds;
  • High school graduation rates (new this year);
  • How well they prepared students for college based on participation in and performance on AP and IB exams.
Read the full methodology here.
Here is the list of top schools in Pennsylvania. (Schools in the top 500 nationally were so noted):

ESSA rulemaking committee concludes negotiations
NSBA on April 19, 2016 by Michelle Healy
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) negotiated rulemaking committee completed its third and final session today coming to consensus on the assessment (testing) issues but failing to reach agreement on supplement, not supplant (ESSA provisions requiring that federal Title I funds be used in addition to state and local education investments and not as a substitute for such).  The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) is bound to the agreement on the assessment regulations. However, because consensus was not reached on supplement, not supplant issues, the Secretary of Education can proceed in publishing those regulations without being bound to the negotiations or the draft regulations discussed during negotiations.

ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Agrees on Testing Issues
Education Week By Alyson Klein on April 19, 2016 4:34 PM
After eight days of negotiations and countless proposals, a panel of educators, advocates, and officials from the U.S. Department of Education came to agreement on assessment regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Those rules are now on their way to becoming official, after they've been published in the fedral register.   But the panel was unable to come to accord on a sticky spending issue called "supplement-not-supplant" which essentially deals with how federal funds are supposed to be used relative to local and state spending. That means the department will write its own rules on this issue.   The toughest part of the assessment negotiation was on tests for students with severe cognitive disabilities. Under ESSA, states are only supposed to give those tests to 1 percent of their students overall, or about 10 percent of students in special education. Individual districts, however, can exceed that cap. And states can get a waiver from the department if they need to go over the 1 percent.  After hours of back-and-forth, the negotiators eventually rejected an attempt to define "severe cognitive disabilities." Instead they agreed to require states to define the term on their own.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Defends Arts Education in Viral Video
Education Week By Stacey Decker on April 19, 2016 9:20 AM
"If there is a country without art, that's not a country I want to live in." - Neil deGrasse Tyson
A clip from StarTalk, a late-night talk show on the National Geographic Channel hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, has generated buzz lately.
Originally posted to Facebook by the National Geographic Channel this past December, it's since surpassed 2 million views.  The video, which includes Tyson's co-hosts Maeve Higgins and guest Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, shows him interviewing musician David Byrne (former frontman of the Talking Heads). The question they answer jointly? "How important is arts education?"  Both argue—very eloquently—that the arts contribute to the betterment of scientific pursuits by encouraging creativity, and that art programs shouldn't be cut from the school curriculum.
"Bringing different worlds together has definite tangible benefits and to cut one or separate them is to injure them or cripple them," says Byrne.  Others—like proponents of the effort to add arts to STEM, making it STEAM—have been making similar arguments for years.  What resonates about this clip, though, is that an astrophysicist can make such an impassioned case for protecting the arts. "We measure the success of a civilization by how well they treat their creative people," says Tyson.

Teachers talk back: The effect of being evaluated by student test scores
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss April 17  
Just about every time you turn around, you can find, somewhere, a new survey or report or brief or poll that includes “teacher voices.” They are usually funded by a foundation that has some small or, often, huge investment in corporate school reform, and the reports somehow find a way to validate some reform tenets. Here is a new survey that includes the voices of teachers from an entirely different source — with different results.  Anthony Cody, a veteran educator who co-founded the nonprofit Network for Public Education with education historian and activist Diane Ravitch, assembled a team of teachers and administrators from across the country to write a report on the effect of teacher evaluation systems that require student standardized test scores to be a factor.  The team created a survey and received nearly 3,000 responses from teachers and administrators in 48 states. Based of the responses, the team wrote a report, titled “Teachers Talk Back: Educators on the Impact of Teacher Evaluation.” The report, released this weekend at the national conference of the Network for Public Education in Raleigh, N.C., finds widespread dismay at how test-based evaluation systems have affected students, teachers and schools.

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.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.