Saturday, April 23, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 23: Ten Months Later, $200 Million Lighter, We Have a Budget

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 23, 2016:
Ten Months Later, $200 Million Lighter, We Have a Budget



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 smalloy@elc-pa.org for more details.



Governor Wolf Statement on Fiscal Code
Governor Wolf Press Release April 22, 2016
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf released the following statement regarding the fiscal code:
“Over the past several days, I have worked with Republicans and Democrats in the legislature to finalize the 2015-2016 budget. I will let the fiscal code become law without my signature, and I look forward to working with the legislature in the coming weeks to address our challenges and meet the needs of distressed school districts so that they will remain solvent. As we enter 2016-2017, I look forward to coming together to reach a long-term solution to fix our deficit and to fund education at all levels. I remain adamant that we must take additional steps to restore the cuts from the previous administration.  “We still have a long way to go to restore the cuts to education at all levels, Pre-K through higher education.  “I am eager to get to work immediately with Republican and Democratic leaders to discuss a responsible 2016-2017 budget that is balanced, fixes the deficit, continues to make important investments in education and prevents Pennsylvania from going over a fiscal cliff that will have serious implications for our long-term future.”

 “Wolf had initially sought $400 million extra for public school instruction and operations, a 7 percent increase to $6.1 billion, to begin wiping out cuts to school aid under his Republican predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett. Those post-recession budget-balancing cuts, enacted in 2011, swiped about $860 million from public schools, most of it from the state’s poorest districts. The cuts dramatically widened the gap in per-student funding between the state’s wealthiest and poorest districts. That gap is the nation’s largest, according to federal statistics.”
Wolf lets last budget bill, money for schools, become law without his signature
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 04/23/16, 5:36 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Legislation directing the distribution of $200 million to Pennsylvania’s public school districts and authorizing up to $2.5 billion in borrowing for the state share of school construction costs will take effect Monday, the governor’s office said.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday in a brief statement that he would allow the bill to become law without his signature, after a fight with the Republican-controlled Legislature over which school districts should benefit most from the money. It is the same approach he took last month after a long fight with the Republican-controlled Legislature toward a $6.6 billion spending package, part of an overall $30 billion budget that he viewed as inadequate to fairly fund schools and wipe out a long-term deficit.
The law takes effect barely two months before the 2016-17 fiscal year begins July 1.

"This legislation implements a fair, reliable school funding formula that would provide financial predictability to school districts across the state as recommended by the extensive research of the Basic Education Funding Commission in 2014-15," PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains said in a prepared statement.  "Additionally, the bill establishes a funding mechanism to pay schools for construction reimbursements due to them as part of the PlanCon process. This will right the PlanCon ship and make districts whole for money some have been anticipating for years."
Ten months overdue, 2015-16 budget-related bill to quietly become law
Penn Live By PennLive staff and wire reports  on April 22, 2016 at 6:46 PM, updated April 22, 2016 at 6:47 PM
A final piece of Pennsylvania state budget-related legislation will become law, nearly 10 months after it was due and about two months before the next fiscal year begins.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday he would allow a companion budget bill that passed the House and Senate with veto-proof majority votes to become law without his signature. That's the approach he took last month toward the main 2015-16 budget bill after a long fight with the Republican-controlled Legislature. It'll become law Monday.

Gov. Wolf refuses to sign legislation on school funding
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau April 23, 2016 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said Friday that he will allow a bill affecting the distribution of K-12 education funds to become law without his signature.  The so-called fiscal code legislation provides for an increase in the main K-12 education line to be distributed according to a formula developed by a bipartisan commission. Mr. Wolf had said he wanted to distribute the money differently in order to restore previous cuts to education funding.  The legislation also provides for the state to borrow $2.5 billion to reimburse school districts for construction projects.  The Pennsylvania School Boards Association praised the announcement.  “This legislation implements a fair, reliable school funding formula that would provide financial predictability to school districts across the state as recommended by the extensive research of the Basic Education Funding Commission in 2014-15,” said executive director Nathan Mains.  Representatives of the House and Senate Republican majority leaders said the enactment of the legislation will bring the 2015-16 budget to a close.  The bill passed the Senate, 37-11, and the House, 149-45, wider margins than the two-thirds that would be needed to override a veto.  In his statement, Mr. Wolf said he is eager to work with Republican and Democratic leaders on the 2016-2017 state budget due June 30.

STATEMENT: PSBA pleased fiscal code to become law
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is pleased that the fiscal code, which contains language that will distribute education money to school districts through the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) formula and implement a PlanCon borrowing program will be enacted. House Bill 1589 will automatically become law at the end of this weekend after Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement today that he will neither sign nor veto the legislation.  “This legislation implements a fair, reliable school funding formula that would provide financial predictability to school districts across the state as recommended by the extensive research of the Basic Education Funding Commission in 2014-15,” said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains.  “Additionally, the bill establishes a funding mechanism to pay schools for construction reimbursements due to them as part of the PlanCon process. This will right the PlanCon ship and make districts whole for money some have been anticipating for years.”
Enactment of the fiscal code on April 25 will bring the 2015-16 budget to a close and end this ugly chapter. PSBA encourages the governor and General Assembly to work together and move quickly on enacting the 2016-17 state budget by the June 30 deadline. We thank school districts for their efforts to bring the budget stalemate to an end.
Several items of importance still need to be addressed in order to provide school districts with financial stability, and PSBA also calls on the legislature and the governor to:
  • Reimburse districts for any and all interest payments they have or will have to make as a result of borrowing money due to the state’s lack of fiscal responsibility
  • Pass both short- and long-term pension reform that would provide cost control and saving measures for school employers.

The Top Priority for Pennsylvanians? Education Funding
 2015 POLLS SHOW OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FOR MORE BASIC EDUCATION FUNDING, NEW FUNDING FORMULA
Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Sharon school officials welcome listening ear of education secretary
Sharon Herald By MELISSA KLARIC Herald Staff Writer Apr 22, 2016
SHARON – “We’re working on it,” was uttered more than once by Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera, who stopped at Sharon High School on Thursday on his Schools That Teach Tour.  ”Right now we’re dealing with the aftermath of lots of really heavy policy, so almost everything we do right now has to go through the (state education) board and also the general assembly,” Rivera said. “Our greatest frustration is how long it takes to go through the process before something is changed.”  Michael Calla, Sharon City School District superintendent, was not expecting him to have all the answers, but was grateful that Rivera listened to concerns.  “It was good to hear what the plans are for the next several years so that we can plan,” Calla said. “In the past they were not a very easy agency to work with, they would just throw a lot of things at us. It was an honor to have him here in our building listening to our questions and concerns.”  Rivera became a part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Cabinet in June 2015. He has served in public education as a school superintendent, a principal, an assistant principal and a classroom teacher.  Rivera shared with Sharon administrators, board members and teachers the Wolf administration’s vision for the future of education in Pennsylvania. 

Lawsuit: Reinstate Green as School Reform Commission chair
Philly Trib by Wilford Shamlin III Tribune Staff Writer Posted: Friday, April 22, 2016 12:00 am
An attorney representing former School Reform Commissioner William Green in the lawsuit seeking his reinstatement as the commission’s chair suggested this week that local and national teachers unions who contributed thousands of dollars to Gov. Wolf’s election campaign are now cashing in.  Green, who resigned from City Council to serve as Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s appointee to lead the Philadelphia SRC, was removed shortly after Wolf, a Democrat, took office last year. Marjorie Neff, a former city school principal, was tapped by Wolf to take Green’s place as the chairman of the state-controlled administrator of city public schools.  “Office of chairman is an office, that’s a violation,” said David Osborne, legal counsel and executive director of The Fairness Center, a Harrisburg public interest law center that says it represents clients harmed by public sector unions. The nonprofit law center filed the suit April 19 in Commonwealth Court.

Two Chester Upland students win prestigious Gates scholarships
WHYY Newsworks BY SARA HOOVER APRIL 22, 2016
Two seniors from the Chester Upland School District are going to college for free, thanks to a highly competitive scholarship that covers all costs through graduation.  For the fourth year in a row, students from Chester Upland have won a Gates Millennium scholarship awarded to 1,000 students nationwide.  Autumn Bey and Edward Nelson Jr., both seniors at STEM Academy at Showalter, were selected from of 50,000 applicants.  Assembled for the ceremony (from left) are Edward Nelson Sr.; Venus Nelson; scholarship winner Edward Nelson Jr.; volunteer application coach Jean Arnold; STEM Academy Principal Jonas Crenshaw; Claudia Averette, school district chief of staff; scholarship winner Autumn Bey; and Bey’s mother, Carolyn Sherman. (Sara Hoover/for NewsWorks)  The scholarships from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation cover tuition, books, room and board through graduate school at any accredited college or university. The program was established in 1999 to eliminate financial barriers to higher education for high-achieving minority students from low-income communities.


Walton Foundation stops funding Chicago charters
Catalyst Chicago By Melissa Sanchez | 32 mins ago
When the Walton Family Foundation began doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to launch charter schools in cities across the country, Chicago soon headed to the top of the list.  Just a few years ago, Walton spent more money to help start charters here than anywhere else in the nation. In large part, the money flowed in because of the presence of a powerful pro-charter mayor who controlled the city’s school system.  “We’re very confident in the city’s leadership, particularly the mayor, to help expand and strengthen the charter sector in Chicago,” the foundation’s then-deputy director of education reform said in 2013.  But now, a deep and seemingly intractable financial crisis, an unprecedented wave of public backlash against privately run charters and the district’s own slowdown of charter expansion have made Walton shift its course.

“When it comes to public education, the Walton Family Foundation is the largest philanthropic donor in the U.S. after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates also supports charter schools, but the Walton Family Foundation ($164 million in education grants in 2013) stands out because of its uncompromisingly ideological approach to public education and its strong support for policy advocacy in line with that approach. And as the tower of cards began to shake, it is the Walton Family Foundation that—more than any other—should take the blame.”
Brought To You by Wal-mart
How the Walton Family Foundation’s Ideological Pursuit is Damaging Charter Schooling
Cashing In on Kids website
There was a sour breeze blowing through the nation’s charter schools in 2014.
Twenty-five years into our nation’s experiment with independently operated, publicly funded charter schools, the news didn’t look good: In May, a new report revealed more than $100 million in fraud, waste and abuse in just 15 of the 43 states that allow charters. (A year later, the report was updated, and the figure rose to $200 million.) Some of the stories defy belief: a school in Philadelphia that was doubling as a nightclub after hours; school operators embezzling millions to pay for high-flying lifestyles; real estate developers cashing in by using public funds to leverage sweet deals on millions of dollars’ worth of property. One after another, the stories emerged. And public officials around the country began to call for change.  In Connecticut, the state Department of Education announced new policies to govern oversight of the state’s charter sector.1 In New York, the charter lobby continued a seven-year fight to prevent the state comptroller from auditing charter schools.2 In Pennsylvania, the auditor general called the charter sector “a mess.”3
How did an idea that promised small-scale innovation as a way to improve the education outcomes of disadvantaged children become a massive industry of more than 6,000 schools, spending upward of $20 billion from taxpayers a year, despite demonstrating no significant academic gains for students?
A significant share of the blame lies at the feet of the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), the Arkansas-based philanthropic arm of the family that brought us Wal-Mart.

New Report Critical of Virtual and Blended Schools
The Journal By Richard Chang 04/21/16
A new national report finds that participation in online and blended learning schools is increasing, despite evidence that students are struggling in them and performance and school outcomes are consistently below traditional public schools.  The National Education Policy Center’s fourth annual report, released this month, finds that students enrolled in virtual and blended schools are performing poorer in key subject areas – such as English Language Arts and math – than their counterparts at brick-and-mortar schools.  Also, students at blended (or hybrid) schools, which combine face-to-face instruction in classrooms with virtual instruction, scored the same or worse on performance measures than those at virtual schools full-time, the report finds. This may be due to the higher number of low-income students in blended schools, compared to virtual schools, the report says.  Despite the poor results, the study finds that enrollment has increased in virtual and blended schools over the past few years. The authors of this year’s “Virtual Schools Report 2016: Directory and Performance Review” argue that the enrollment growth has been caused by vigorous advertising campaigns, corporate lobbying and favorable legislation.


Join Great Public Schools at the Pittsburgh Public Schools April 25 Public Hearing this Monday to support Community Schools in Pittsburgh.
The School Board has begun to develop a district policy to support Community Schools. We want them to know that parents, educators, students and community members support this important initiative! Please sign up to speak by calling: (412) 529-­3868 between 9:00 am - 4:00 pm this week or on Monday, April 25, before noon. Each speaker is limited to three minutes. If you cannot speak, you can still attend to show your support or send the board an email at boardoffice@pghboe.net.

Education INC, film screening and panel discussion - Drexel University April 27th, 6:30 pm
Public schools in America are under attack.  Reformers seek to turn our public education system over to private investors.  Communities are catching on and fighting back.  Education INC tells the story of what happens when a local public school district is turned over to corporate ED reformers and how a community fights back to keep control.  Following the documentary film, Drexel University School of Education Professor, Dr. Erin McNamara Horvat will moderate a talk on issues raised in the film.  The talk will feature State Rep James R. Roebuck, Education Committee, Democratic Chairmen, Philadelphia Councilwoman, Helen Gym, councilwoman-at-large and Mark B. Miller, School Board Director, Centennial School District.  The event is free and open to the public.
When: Wednesday, April 27th | 6:30 pm Film, discussion immediately after
Where: Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University
Film Screening Annex: 3401 Filbert St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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 smalloy@elc-pa.org 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 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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