Friday, May 27, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 27: Thanks to all PA legislators who overwhelmingly voted to enact a permanent Basic Ed Funding Formula

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 27, 2016:
Thanks to all PA legislators who overwhelmingly voted to enact a permanent Basic Ed Funding Formula

Blogger Note: The PA Ed Policy Roundup may be late and/or intermittent next week while I pretend to be on vacation.

PA House Roll Call Vote on HB 1552 183-3

PA Senate Roll Call Vote on HB 1552 49-1

Thanks to all of the members of the Basic Education Funding Commission:

Pat Browne (R) - Co-Chair
Jay Costa (D)
Andrew Dinniman (D)
Mike Folmer (R)
Lloyd Smucker (R)
Robert Teplitz (D)

House of Representatives
Mike Vereb (R) – Co-Chair
Stan Saylor (R) – designee, Bernie O’Neill (R)
Mark Longietti (D)
Donna Oberlander (R)
James Roebuck (D)
Mike Sturla (D)

Governor's Administration
Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Education
Randy Albright, Secretary of the Budget

“For most of the last 25 years, the governor and legislature funded public education based on the practice that school districts would not receive less money than the prior year.      But the legislation doesn’t scrap that practice. The formula only applies to additional funding above the previous budget’s appropriation for basic education.  “That’s why advocates are continuing to push for money to go through the formula, because obviously the formula is only as good as it is used,” Dowd said. “So this is a solution that will take time to achieve its full effect. So this is a long-term solution.”
Pennsylvania Nears Funding Formula For Public Schools
WESA NPR Pittsburgh By KEVIN GAVIN  May 26, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign a bill that would establish an education funding formula for the state's public schools.  Pennsylvania is one of just three states without funding formulas. North Carolina and Delaware are the other two, according to the Education Law Center.  The Pennsylvania House voted Wednesday 188-3 to approve HB 1552 to permanently enact the Basic Education Funding formula. The Senate last week overwhelmingly approved the legislation that according to Patrick Dowd, executive director at Allies for Children, “removes politics from school funding decisions.”  The formula will include factors such as enrollment, student need and each district's ability to raise revenues from property taxes.  “It’s absolutely essential the state consider how many students are there and what sort of condition they’ve come from," Dowd said. "Are they in poverty or are they English language learners? And to really have a much better understanding of the capacity of local school districts to provide the resources for their own kids, and to the extent of how they’re using that capacity.”

Editorial: Two big steps for the ‘Land of Giants’
Delco Times POSTED: 05/26/16, 10:11 PM EDT | UPDATED: 30 SECS AGO
The “Land of Giants” actually took a couple of huge steps forward this week.
Yes, we like to poke fun at the folks in Harrisburg, in particular those we send out there to represent us. That’s what happens when you engage in a nine-month budget standoff.
But today we come to hail a couple of things that happened this week in the state capital.
One is undoubtedly more important than the other; both show progress in bringing Pennsylvania out of the Dark Ages.  First and foremost, we offer a giant thumbs up to the Legislature for passage of a fair funding formula for education.  The House Wednesday got in line behind the Senate in passing the measure, which is rooted in the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission put in place a few years back by the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett, not exactly a stranger to the education funding wars.

Exclusive: Gov. Wolf sees constructive budget talks, wants pension reform and more spending on education
Lehigh Valley Business By Brian Pedersen, May 26, 2016 at 10:29 AM
With last year's budget impasse still fresh in everyone's minds, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said this year's upcoming budget talks are expected to be more constructive.  “I think people really, having gone through an impasse, it’s uncomfortable,” Wolf said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon, exclusive to reporters from Lehigh Valley Business and the Central Penn Business Journal. “I don’t think they want to go through that again. People really want to get things done.”  Among those things they want to get done is tackling the mounting public sector pension crisis, which has a massive effect on the business community.  The state’s public pensions represent a $50 billion to $63 billion unfunded liability, and the state government has no agreement on pension reform.

Budget, booze and Donald Trump: CPBJ chats with Gov. Wolf
Central Penn Business Journal By CPBJ Staff, May 26, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Calling last year's extended budget impasse an "uncomfortable" situation for both sides, Gov. Tom Wolf said he's willing to consider more compromise in this year's budget talks.
That includes public-sector pension reform, which he called a top priority for the administration.  It's been top of mind for many in the business community for several years, especially as the unfunded liability of the two state-sponsored retirement systems pushes $60 billion.  Whatever reform looks like, the problem could take time to fix as leaders grapple with pension promises made under previous administrations.

“Sincere thanks to Rep. O'Neill (R-Bucks) and to commission chairs Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) for their determination and good work in getting that formula done.”
Lawrence Feinberg: Pa. now able to close funding gap between wealthy, poor school districts
How will new funding formula affect Pa. school districts?
Morning Call Opinion by Lawrence A. Feinberg May 26, 2016
Pennsylvania has the largest school spending gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Per-pupil spending in our poorest districts is 33 percent less than in the wealthiest — $12,529 vs. $9,387 per student. For a class of 25 students, the wealthiest districts spend $78,000 more per classroom.  In 1974, Pennsylvania funded 54 percent of public education. For the 2012-13 school year, only 36.1 percent of public education in Pennsylvania was funded by the state — almost 10 percent lower than the national average of 45.6 percent. Pennsylvania ranked 46th in the nation this school year for state funding, trailing only Illinois, Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota.  Our state simply does not provide enough resources to educate all students to meet our state academic standards. In addition, Pennsylvania also has the dubious distinction of being one of only three states that creates education budgets without using a statewide funding formula.

Views on 'equity' clash in new Pa. school funding formula
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY MAY 27, 2016
Education advocates across Pennsylvania are celebrating the fact that the state is about to commit to a new student weighted formula for distributing state aid.  But not everyone is happy.  One advocacy group says proceeding as planned will continue to shortchange many school districts.  For the past few weeks, Kelly Lewis has been crisscrossing the state trying to help certain school districts understand just how unfairly they've treated by the state for the past 25 years.  At an Irish bar on the main drag in Wilkes-Barre, he spoke to a smattering of parents and business leaders.  "What happened is, districts that saw population increases, like the Poconos — Pocono Mountain, East Stroudsburg, Stroudsburg, they grew tremendously over the last 25 years — they didn't get one red cent," he said. "City school districts saw poverty levels go up tremendously; they didn't get one red cent for an increase in poverty."  Lewis is a former Republican state representative from the Pocono Mountain area who is now chairing an organization called Citizens for Fair School Funding, which has been pushing an advocacy campaign called "Support Equity First."

New School Funding Formula Await's Governor's Signature
York Daily Record by  Alyssa Jackson, 505-5438/@AlyssaJacksonYD10:10 p.m. EDT May 26, 2016
On Wednesday afternoon, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to pass the amendments to House Bill 1552, which would put in place a new funding formula for schools in the commonwealth.  The amendments add to the Public School Code to allow for a student-weighted formula to distribute funds to schools throughout the state. This formula would take into account student population, poverty, number of non-English speaking students and the tax strength of the local community.  House Bill 1552 now awaits Gov. Tom Wolf's signature before it can be implemented in the upcoming budget cycle.  "We think the legislation is a historic moment in providing adequate equitable school funding for Pennsylvania," said Steve Robinson, Senior Director of Communication for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). "We are very excited and look forward to him signing it."

Pa's schools have changed - why do we keep funding them the same way? Art Haywood
PennLive Op-Ed  By Art Haywood on May 26, 2016 at 11:00 AM
School funding debates in the Pennsylvania legislature embody both comedic and tragic elements of the great movie Groundhog Day.   Every year, some members demand a re-enactment of the education funding battle of 1991 with hopes of a different ending. 
Others, including myself, seek to reclaim more recently lost ground from 2011 when hundreds of millions of dollars for schools disappeared.   Still others foment a revolution focused on eliminating school property taxes.  It may seem odd to think that anyone in the legislature is demanding a "do over" from 1991, but they have a point.   At that time, to balance the state budget, the legislature distributed education funds based on an artificial cap on the number of students counted as enrolled in districts, ending the practice of allocating state funds on the actual number of students enrolled.   It was a bad idea that wreaks havoc to this day. 

Opposing views on teacher seniority bill [audio]
WHYY Newsworks MAY 25, 2016 LISTEN (runtime 6:02)
A hot-button education issue in Pennsylvania is a proposal to change the way school districts can determine teacher layoffs.  Currently the only allowable deciding factor is seniority, the "last hired, first fired" rule.  Last week, the Pennsylvania House passed, and Governor Wolf vetoed the "Protecting Excellent Teachers Act," a bill that would permit districts to use the results of the new teacher evaluation system to determine which teachers to lay off.  This evening, NewsWorks Tonight features two commentators who offer opposing viewpoints on the issue.   NewsWorks contributor Solomon Jones writes "The Philadelphia Experiment" blog for NewsWorks, and is a Philadelphia School District parent. Click through to read Solomon's featured commentary 'Pennsylvania seniority bill advances the war on teachers'.  Jonathan Cetel is a former teacher, community organizer, and charter school administrator, and currently the executive director of the education advocacy group PennCAN: The Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now.   Listen to both sides of this polarizing topic on Soundcloud, below.

“They tell you, of course, that wisdom comes with experience but offer no explanation as to why that doesn’t work for teachers.  So if lawmakers really want to purge seniority as the primary determinant of teacher layoffs, they should set a good example. They should establish a reliable impartial evaluation system for themselves beyond the vote totals in the districts that they gerrymander for the own advantage. And they should use the results to determine committee chairmanships and other legislative assignments.  Once that is in place, it should be relatively easy to convert it to purge the apparent evil of seniority rights from other aspects of public governance and employment.”
Editorial: Lawmakers should set the example on seniority rights
Citizens Voice by THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: May 27, 2016
Republican lawmakers who recently attempted to outlaw seniority as the sole parameter for laying off unionized teachers had a point. There is no question that some teachers mail it in and then rely on their longevity for protection.  Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the measure. He said it relied on a teacher evaluation process that was not designed to be converted into a tool to determine layoffs. And, he noted, layoff parameters already are subject to negotiations at the school district level.  And, of course, Pennsylvania’s famously apolitical school boards never would use the elimination of seniority protection to make layoff decisions based on political preferences — which remain not only legal but predominant just about everywhere in the commonwealth.  It is remarkable that the same legislators who assessed the damaging impact of seniority on school districts did not realize, in the process, the role that seniority plays in the conduct of the state legislature itself.  Regardless of whether they are diligent or competent, legislators continue to rise to powerful committee chairmanships predominantly on the strength of how many times they have managed to get re-elected and build seniority.

“The final budget increases by $11.7 million over the current one, but roughly 70 percent of that is due to the unfunded mandates, which includes state pensions, special education and charter schools, according to district officials. Of the $11.7 million increase, $8.5 million of that covers the mandates.  “The rest of the budget went up about $3.2 million,” Scanlon said. “That includes all the salary and benefit contracts, all of our transportation costs, all of our supply costs and all of our heating and fueling costs. Those were the things that we worked within that we had a lot of control over and that is way under Act 1 increase in terms of managing that.”  The budget also taps into the district’s fund balance, using $7.9 million, leaving roughly $15.1 million in an undesignated fund balance.”
West Chester Area School District passes final budget with 2.7-percent tax increase
Daily Local By Candice Monhollan, cmonhollan@, @CMonhollanDLN on Twitter POSTED: 05/26/16, 5:01 PM EDT | UPDATED: 9 HRS AGO
WEST GOSHEN >> It has seemed like a more arduous road than usual for the West Chester Area School District when figuring out the budget for the 2016-17 school year.  The guessing game of a state budget did no favors, but with it passed before the proposed final budget and allowing a month to fine tune more, the school board approved its final budget of $237.4 million Wednesday night.  The budget comes with a tax increase of 2.7 percent in Chester County and 5.8 percent in Delaware County, or roughly an increase of $97 for residents in Chester County, and $230 for those in Delaware County.  The final tax increase dropped significantly from the preliminary and proposed budgets, which featured a 4.1-percent increase and 3-percent increase, respectively.

“The 2016-17 budget includes a $3.8 million spike in personnel costs — a 6.2 percent increase that brings total personnel costs to $66,356,746. That expenditure hike is largely due to a 4.19 percent state mandated escalation in the district’s contribution to PSERS that totaled $2 million, Krumrine said. However, the district was prepared for that increase.  As with all school districts in the state, Owen J. Roberts’ contribution to PSERS has been rising steadily each year, and will continue to do so for the next several years. In the 2009-10 school year, the district’s contribution to PSERS was less than 5 percent. For 2016-17 it will rise to 24.84 percent. To cover those costs, the district has set aside a portion of its fund balance specifically to handle the annual PSERS increases, thereby lessening the impact on taxpayers.”
$98.6M Owen J. Roberts budget includes 2.8 percent property tax hike
Daily Local By Laura Catalano, For Digital First Media POSTED: 05/26/16, 3:55 PM EDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO
SOUTH COVENTRY >> The Owen J. Roberts School Board unanimously approved a budget for the 2016-17 school year that raises district property taxes by 2.8 percent.  The newly approved general fund budget totals $98,627,641 and represents a $4.1 million increase over the current year’s 2015-16 budget.  In order to balance the budget, the board approved a .8 mill tax hike that raises the taxes levied by the district to 29.6305 mills, or about $2.96 per 100 dollars of assessed property value. For the average homeowner with a property assessed at $190,000, that equates to an additional $111 in taxes to the district each year, according to district Chief Financial Officer Jaclin Krumrine.  The 2.8-percent tax increase is slightly above the state’s Act 1 index, which is 2.4 percent for the Owen J. Roberts School District.

Moon Area school board announces multi-year series of tax hikes
Beaver County Times By Katherine Schaeffer May 23, 2016
MOON TWP. -- The Moon Area school board at its Monday meeting unveiled a plan to balance its budget with a series of tax increases and budget cuts over the next several years, starting with the 2016-17 budget.  The board voted unanimously to adopt a proposed final budget that would raise taxes to the maximum state-granted exception in order to offset years of overspending that will leave the district with a $5 million deficit at the end of the 2016-17 school year.  The tax increase is as part of a “multi-year plan” to restore the district’s financial health, Board President Jerry Testa said.  “Even though we’re approving a (proposed) budget tonight, this is really just the beginning,” Testa said.  The proposed budget shows district revenues at $70,472,625 and district expenditures at $75,755,425, leaving the district with a $5 million deficit at the end of the 2016-17 school year. That net deficit will ultimately be funded with a loan.

Freeport Area residents likely to see tax increase
Trib Live BY TOM YERACE | Thursday, May 26, 2016, 11:15 p.m.
The proposed 2016-17 real estate tax increase for Freeport Area School District residents is likely to become reality.  That's the opinion of school board President Dan Lucovich.  “I think so because this is the last year for ‘exceptions,' and we want to take advantage of that so we don't fall further behind,” Lucovich said.  He was referring to the exceptions to the tax state's Act 1, passed in 2006 under which districts can claim certain reasons for increasing local real estate taxes beyond the state's inflation-based index.  Otherwise, the district has to undertake a referendum to increase taxes beyond its index and put the decision to the voters. Statewide, that's happened only a handful of times.

No tax hike expected in NK-Arnold
Trib Live BY GEORGE GUIDO | Thursday, May 26, 2016, 11:15 p.m.
There will be no real estate tax increase next school year for New Kensington-Arnold School District property owners.  The school board Thursday night approved a preliminary budget of $37.4 million that keeps the tax rate at 83.27 mills.  A shortfall of $2.3 million will be mostly covered by reserve funds, but there remains a deficit of $628,000.  Officials said the deficit will be whittled down by June 23 when the school board is expected to finalize the budget.  The sale of the former Greenwald Memorial School for $525,000 will go a long way in closing the unfunded gap, along with furloughs and other possible retirements of veteran teachers. 

“The school district's operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is slight decrease from this year's, about $3 billion, which received a boost from a late infusion of state funds. The 2016-17 budget includes $121 million more for charters and $35 million additional for employee-pension payments, school district financial chief Uri Monson said.  Charter-related expenditures increased from 18 percent of the budget in 2011 to a projected 31 percent; while retirement contributions are expected to grow by 18.7 percent, officials said.”
SRC approves budget, fails again to vote on charters
Inquirer by Mensah M. Dean, STAFF WRITER Updated: MAY 26, 2016 — 11:28 PM EDT
The School Reform Commission Thursday night adopted a $2.8 billion budget for the 2016-17 academic year that includes a modest surplus, but hefty expenditure increases for charter schools and employee pensions.  The commission also once again put off taking action on the fates of two charters run by Aspira Inc., the North Philadelphia-based Latino education nonprofit.  The five-member school district governing body had been expected to act on a recommendation from its charter staff not to renew Aspira's contract.  Instead, commission members voted to table the non-renewal resolutions, saying they needed more time to assess Aspira's stewardship of Olney Charter High School and John B. Stetson Charter School.  This marked the third time the commission delayed voting on the Aspira schools. Last week it also failed to take action on staff's recommendation not to renew the operating agreements of two charter schools run by Universal Companies.  Officials from the charter-school office have told the commission Aspira should be ousted from managing its schools due to a host of financial, governance, and academic problems.

Imani Education Circle Charter to close next month
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: MAY 26, 2016 — 10:59 PM EDT
Another embattled Philadelphia charter school has elected to close in June.
Imani Education Circle Charter School in Germantown notified the School District's charter office that it would close when the academic year ends next month, rather than continue to fight in the courts to stay open.  District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Imani told the district after the charter's board voted at a special meeting Monday evening. Parents were informed by letter on Wednesday, he said.  The move affects 455 students from kindergarten through eighth grade who had expected to attend the school in the fall, including some students who were selected in Imani's admissions lottery last month.

Update: SRC tables non-renewal resolutions for Olney, Stetson
It also passes a fiscal 2016-17 budget with money for at least one nurse and counselor in every school.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa  May 26, 2016 — 4:20pm UPDATED 8:30 p.m.
The School Reform Commission tabled action Thursday that would have set in motion the process of not renewing the charters for Stetson Middle and Olney High, both run by ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania.  The SRC voted 3-1 to table the resolutions, which cited "substantial grounds for nonrenewal" and detailed numerous operational, financial, and academic deficiences in the running of the two schools.   Both are Renaissance charters -- former low-performing District schools turned over to outside organizations given the charge of rapidly improving their performance.   Feather Houstoun, the commissioner who moved to table, said that the SRC wanted to more closely review reams of information that has been presented by ASPIRA. She said there was no timetable yet for scheduling reconsideration.   "We didn't have enough time or sufficient documentation...we realized we were unready to make a judgement,  " she told reporters afterwards.  The vote was 3-1 to table, with Houstoun, Bill Green, and Sylvia Simms voting in favor. Chair Marjorie Neff voted no and Farah Jimenez recused herself.

Uber, Lyft Regulation Means A Hit For Philly School District
CBS Philly May 24, 2016 4:23 PM By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It appears Uber X and Lyft will soon be legal in Philadelphia, under a bill in a Pennsylvania House committee. But public school advocates are angry because the bill strips out contributions to the school district that were included in an earlier version.  A quirk in state law gives the Parking Authority control over hired vehicles in the city, but Uber X and Lyft confounded it, says executive director Vince Fenerty.  “They really didn’t want to be regulated. They have a reputation of not wanting to be regulated and running all over everyone,” he said.
Fenerty says it’s taken nearly a year of negotiation to work out a bill that will ensure driver background checks and vehicle inspections, but it will cost $4 million to execute. So, the Authority will keep all fees up to that amount, instead of sharing them with the school district.
That angers school advocates such as Councilwoman Helen Gym, who spoke at the monthly board meeting.  “There is no place in this world where $4 million of new revenue should go to the Parking Authority ahead of our school children,” she said.

Inquirer editorial: A callous bill would make it harder for schools to feed hungry children
Inquirer Editorial Updated: MAY 27, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
It's ironic that the high proportion of students from low-income families in Philadelphia's public schools should inoculate them from misguided legislation that threatens to make millions of children ineligible for free and discounted school breakfasts and lunches.  The misnamed Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act, which has already passed a congressional committee, would make proper nutrition harder for children who get their only decent meals at school. The bill would end a "community eligibility" policy that originated in Philadelphia. By eliminating the individual application process in schools where most students qualify for free meals, the policy ensures that eligible children aren't denied meals just because their parents didn't fill out paperwork. Ending the application process also means needy children don't have to endure any stigma because the meals are available to all.  Unfortunately, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R., Ind.), the bill's sponsor, doesn't seem to care about that. He is more concerned that children who can afford to pay for meals don't have to under a federal law that mimics Philadelphia's "universal feeding" policy.  The federal law, passed in 2010, says a school may offer free meals to all its students when at least 40 percent of them come from families that receive poverty assistance. Rokita's bill would raise that threshold to 60 percent.

Commentary: 1,000 days and still no contract for city teachers
Philly Daily News Opinion by George Bezanis Updated: MAY 26, 2016 — 9:51 PM EDT
FRIDAY marks a sad anniversary for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers: the 1,000th day that the hardworking women and men of the PFT have gone without a contract.
For 1,000 days, the educators in this city have had their financial stability shattered, working conditions ignored, legal rights trampled upon and livelihood marred by a cloud of uncertainty.  During this time, many of us have seen our classrooms swell to 60 students per class each September because the School Reform Commission refuses to hire enough teachers. We have witnessed Superintendent William Hite's dismal outsourcing of our substitute system as we are forced to give up our lunches to cover for substitute teachers who never show up. We have seen our non-teaching assistants, who provide hallway security, fired. Practically all of our librarians were laid off, as school libraries remain shuttered. Our secretarial numbers have been slashed, putting even more of a burden on our already overworked school-based administration. The ranks of our counselors have been decimated to the point at which they can hardly handle their caseloads. Our nurses are stretched so thin that we even witnessed the tragic death of two precious young children.  And yet, for 1,000 days, we have continued to faithfully serve the students.

Education Department proposes rules for judging schools
Washington Post By Emma Brown May 26 at 4:09 PM 
The Education Department on Thursday released draft regulations outlining how states should judge which schools are succeeding and which are in need of intervention, a key point of contention, with civil rights activists on the one side and teachers unions and Republican lawmakers on the other.  Federal officials drafted the regulations to spell out in detail what states must do to comply with the Every Students Succeeds Act, the federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind when it passed with bipartisan support last year.  The law requires states to continue administering standardized math and reading tests to students in Grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But it also gave states a new opportunity to include other non-test measures, such as access to advanced coursework and rates of chronic absenteeism, in judging schools.  Under the regulations released Thursday, states would be required to wrap all of those various indicators into one simple rating, such as a letter grade, to provide parents with clear, easy-to-understand information about school performance.

Education Department Releases ESSA Accountability Rules
Education Weel Politics K-12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on May 26, 2016 8:41 AM
The U.S. Department of Education has released a draft version of accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act that would require "comprehensive, summative" ratings for schools, but would not dictate or encourage states to set any particular weight, or a range of weights, for individual accountability measures.   The proposed regulations, released Thursday, would also clarify that states can choose their own indicators of school quality or student success that move beyond traditional accountability measures based on test scores and graduation rates. Both school quality and student success remain key portions of accountability under the federal education law.  And the regulations would not prescribe an "n-size," or minimum number of a particular group of students at a school, for that group of students to be included for accountability purposes. More on that below.

"The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit"
Education Week REPORT ROUNDUP Published Online: May 16, 2016
Many of the laws that regulate charter schools do not go far enough to prevent conflicts of interest, according to a report released by Bruce Baker and Gary Miron of the National Education Policy Center.  Board-selection processes can lead to conflicts of interest for both for-profit and nonprofit charter management organizations, the report argues. That's because board members may stand to profit from the acquisition of public resources—such as land, buildings, and equipment—from the boards and districts with which they work.  The higher cost of debt for charters and lax oversight of these often-complex deals, the report says, have previously led to some agreements in which third-party managers bought property, then charged the charter school high rental fees that were indirectly passed on to taxpayers.

The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit
National Education Policy Center by Bruce D. BakerGary Miron December 10, 2015
This research brief details some of the prominent ways that individuals, companies, and organizations secure financial gain and generate profit by controlling and running charter schools. To illustrate how charter school policy functions to promote privatization and profiteering, the authors explore differences between charter schools and traditional public schools in relation to three areas: the legal frameworks governing their operation; the funding mechanisms that support them; and the arrangements each makes to finance facilities. They conclude with recommendations for policies that help ensure that charter schools pursue their publicly established goals and that protect the public interest.

The Education System Is Rigged Against Low-Income Students, Even In Kindergarten
The government’s annual “Condition of Education” report shows disparities continue through high school and college.
Rebecca Klein Editor, HuffPost Education05/26/2016 12:01 am ET
Students born into poverty enter kindergarten at a disadvantage to more affluent peers. As they advance through the grades, they receive lower test scores. They’re more likely to drop out and less likely to enter higher education.   The all-too-familiar cycle, in some ways, is getting worse, according to data in a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report, titled, “The Condition of Education 2016,” is the 42nd of its kind, produced under congressional mandate by The U.S. Department of Education’s data branch, the National Center for Education Statistics. It outlines the latest data on everything from public school enrollment to the median earnings of degree recipients. 

“The root of the problem of school performance is that we do not know how to effectively respond to the impact of poverty on a child’s readiness to learn or how to provide more effective instruction to accelerate progress for low-income students who find themselves behind their peers.  Children born into poverty must overcome significant obstacles to their educational success before ever stepping a foot into a classroom or school. And once they do enter school, they encounter a system designed to provide instruction to groups of children that are expected to learn in the same environment and at the same pace. For children in poverty who began their formal schooling already behind other children, this uniform pace and structure assures that they will never catch up to their peers.  To disrupt this dynamic, the nation’s whole approach toward school improvement needs to change.”
Student Success Comes Down to Zip Code
Huffington Post by Mark A. Elgart President/CEO of AdvancED, the world’s largest educational community. 05/25/2016 04:54 pm ET
Politicians and the public concerned about how our society perpetuates inequality often assert that “no child’s future should be determined by their zip code.” But anyone living in a well-heeled neighborhood can look across the street at the new family moving in and know that this is precisely what happens.  A study recently released by sociologist Ann Owens of the University of Southern California showed that access to good schools in the nation’s 100 largest cities continues to exacerbate income inequality between neighborhoods. Income disparities in communities increased by 20 percent from 1990 to 2010, largely because of the desire people have to live within the boundaries of top-performing schools. The study also indicates that income segregation between neighborhoods was nearly twice as high among households that have children compared to those without.  Equally disturbing, how the nation identifies and treats low-performing schools perpetuates the reality that where a child lives is still the most reliable predictor of student success.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 5/27/2016

EPLC's 2016 Report:  High School Career and Technical Education: Serving Pennsylvania's Workforce and Student Needs
Allegheny Intermediate Unit - 475 East Waterfront Dr., Homestead, PA 15120
Coffee and Networking - 9:30 a.m.  Program - 10:00 a.m. to Noon   
 RSVP by clicking here. There is no fee, but a RSVP is required. Please feel free to share this invitation with your staff and network. Similar forums will be held later in the Philadelphia area and Harrisburg. 
An Overview of the EPLC Report on High School CTE will be presented by:
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By
Dr. Lee Burket, Director, Bureau of Career & Technical Education, PA Department of Education
Jackie Cullen, Executive Director, PA Association of Career & Technical Administrators
Dr. William Kerr, Superintendent, Norwin School District
Laura Fisher, Senior Vice President - Workforce & Special Projects, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
James Denova, Vice President, Benedum Foundation

Nominations now open for PSBA Allwein Awards (deadline July 16)
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. The 2016 Allwein Award nominations will be accepted starting today and all applications are due by July 16, 2016. The nomination form can be downloaded from the website.

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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