Wednesday, June 15, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 15: "Neither D’s nor R’s want the narrative to be, 'We are partying at our convention, even though we don't have a budget”

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 15, 2016:
"Neither D’s nor R’s want the narrative to be, 'We are partying at our convention, even though we don't have a budget”

Everything you wanted to know about Pennsylvania’s new education formula but were too afraid to ask

"I think they are desperately trying to avoid a repeat of last year," G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College and a longtime Capitol observer, said Tuesday. "I'm not suggesting that they are suddenly enamored with each other, but they are trying to be pragmatic."  … But, Madonna said, elected officials will be motivated this year by their national party conventions and the fall election.
"Neither Democrats nor Republicans want the narrative to be, 'We are partying at our convention, even though we don't have a budget,' " he said.
Could pension reform vote help pave the way to Pa. budget deal?
Inquirer by Karen Langley and Angela Couloumbis, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JUNE 15, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
HARRISBURG - Last week, it was the state's infamously restrictive alcohol laws that got an unexpected revision. This week, it was pension reform's turn.  On Tuesday, the House easily passed a bill that would change the retirement benefits for future state and school workers. Gov. Wolf said the measure could save the state billions of dollars, and urged the Senate to consider it.  Together, the passage of both bills carried a potentially bigger message: In two weeks, lawmakers worked at a surprisingly swift pace to tackle major issues that complicated last year's budget talks - and could have become roadblocks as talks intensify on next year's spending plan. 

Blogger note: this pension reform legislation does absolutely nothing to address school districts’ leading cost driver – increasing PSERs contributions.  It also does nothing to address the $60 billion outstanding pension obligation.
Pa. State House passes pension reform bill; fate in Senate is uncertain
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 14, 2016 at 7:35 PM, updated June 14, 2016 at 9:32 PM
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives gave final passage Tuesday to a new set of reforms to the state's major public employee pension funds, but its immediate future in the state Senate is unclear.  The House vote, at 136-59, was strong and bipartisan, with "yes" votes coming from from 103 Republicans and 33 Democrats.  And Gov. Tom Wolf quickly signalled he would sign the bill as is.  But leading pension reform proponents in the Senate continued to push Tuesday for changes they say would shift more retirement cost for future state and public school employees from the current "defined benefit" system to 401(k)-style plans.  Senate Republican leaders say their approach offers greater long-term protection to taxpayers from future cost spikes due to circumstances like a recession that drives down pension fund investment returns.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said Tuesday there's little chance his Republican caucus would accept the House-passed plan as is, but he promised a good-faith negotiation.

Does the new Pa. House pension reform bill actually reform anything?: Wednesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on June 15, 2016 at 7:22 AM
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
You may have heard by now that theRepublican-controlled state House has given its approval to a new pension reform bill that proponents hope will cut benefit costs and start eating away at a multi-billion dollar unfunded liability.  The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill, says the so-called "stacked hybrid" approach, which would apply to state and school district employees hired after 2018, is a good first step toward tackling the state's pension problem.  The proposal would put the first $50,000 an employee earns into a traditional pension plan, with a 7.5 percent employee contribution. Any income beyond $50,000 would go into a 401(k)-style retirement plan, with a 4 percent employer match.  But does Tobash's bill, which cleared the House on a 136-59 vote, and now heads to a skeptical state Senate, really reform anything?  One House Republican says "no."  "People will say, 'well, it's a step in the right direction'," Rep. John McGinniss, R-Blair, tells our pal, Dennis Owens, of  ABC-27. "But it's like bringing a squirt gun to a house that's fully enflamed. It's not gonna do anything of consequence."

“The legislation does not shift the burden from taxpayers. It is certain not to produce any short-term savings and doesn’t guarantee any long-term savings. It simply alters benefits for a constituency that does not yet exist — future school and state employees.”
Pension bill feigns reform
As the runaway costs of school and state employee pension plans continue, pressure increases on legislators to do something in this election year.  Unfortunately, it’s obvious that legislators think anything is good enough.  The state House passed a pension bill Monday on a bipartisan 150-41 vote. Among the majority were 46 Democrats, most of whom steadfastly have opposed any pension reforms that would diminish their own benefit and those of key Democratic constituencies — unionized teachers and state workers.  Those Democrats’ acquiescence to the “reform” is telling.

“A significant factor in the growing expenditures figure is the statewide public school employee retirement package.  The Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) “has climbed significantly over the last several years,” said Sampson.  In the next school budget, which is due June 30, PSERS will be a nearly $4 million hit to the district’s general fund, with an additional $500,000 of committed fund balance set aside for just this occasion several years ago.  The retirement program is now roughly 12 percent of the district’s total budget.”
School directors hear draft $31M budget
By Joshua Sterling Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 3:00 am
Titusville Area School District’s contribution to the state retirement program for school employees has skyrocketed over the years, and now stands at $4 million.  Fortunately for Titusville Area School District (TASD), board members of years past got out ahead of the rate increases and are not facing the same crisis with which so many other districts are now wrestling.  District Business Manager Shawn Sampson reported to the board of directors at Monday’s meeting that a draft $31,589,065 budget for the 2016-17 school year has been recommended by the Finance Committee.  And, while revenues are up 1.8 percent, expenditures have gone up 2.6 percent.   “So, if you go back, just six years, it was down around $800,000,” said Sampson. “So, you know, over a $3 million increase the last six years.”

How the new Pa. school funding formula sees districts' needs
For the small part of aid driven by the calculation, the state recognizes the various burdens that educators face.
NewsWorks/WHYY June 13, 2016 — 11:13am
NewsWorks created an interactive map to show how the state's new funding formula will affect districts.
Pennsylvania's new education funding formula acknowledges that 74 school districts across the commonwealth face burdens so expensive, it's as if they must serve more than double their actual student populations.  The formula takes into account student poverty, English language fluency, median household income, local tax capacity, and other factors that require more resources.  For 10 districts, the formula says, it's as if they must serve more than four times actual enrollment.  For 151 districts, according to the formula, their financial need is as if they serve fewer students than they actually enroll.  The new formula gives directions for how to divide state education dollars — no matter the size of the pot.  It does not gauge need based on how much funding would be adequate to ensure that all students can meet state expectations.  Advocates say that all districts need more funding in order to reach that goal.

 “Pennsylvania has about 35,000 students attending online charter schools, nearly 18 percent of the national total, making it the state with the second-highest cyber charter population.  And cyber enrollment shows no signs of abating in Pennsylvania, despite the schools’ consistently poor performance. In the commonwealth, 11 out of 14 cyber charter schools have a graduation rate below 67 percent (the federal cutoff point for a “low graduation rate high school”), according to a recent national study by America’s Promise Alliance. The same number have a substandard academic performance score on the state's School Performance Profile, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.”
Why cybers? Safety, individual learning, second chances
The notebook by Melanie Bavaria June 14, 2016 — 3:16pm
Like most parents, Clea Jones starts her day by waking up her children and getting them ready for school. But instead of putting them on a school bus, navigating public transportation, or carpooling with other students, Jones’ children only have to walk down the stairs of their Southwest Philadelphia home. Jones’ three school-aged children – 10th grader Muhammed, 5th grader Aaliyah, and 1st grader Jameel Burgess — are students at Agora Cyber Charter School, one of Pennsylvania’s 14 cyber charters.  The option to attend school completely online is relatively new, but the number of cyber charter schools and the number of students attending them have increased dramatically over the last few years. About 200 cyber charter schools serve 200,000 students nationally, according to a series of reports published in October by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Mathematica Policy Research, and the Center for Reinventing Public Education. Half of the national cyber charter population is concentrated in the three states where enrollment is highest: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

Own a school? Or rent? For charters, it’s complicated
The state reimburses charters for leasing costs, but not for construction or renovation. Many schools work around this.
The notebook by Dan Hardy June 14, 2016 — 10:42am
Pennsylvania’s charter law makes no provision for the reimbursement of construction and renovation costs, leaving the schools to come up with other ways to pay for buildings.  School districts, on the other hand, are repaid by the state for a portion of their costs for educational buildings. Payments are made over the life of the building. The annual statewide payout is about $300 million.  Charters do get state reimbursements for leasing costs: $160 per pupil for elementary schools and $220 per pupil for secondary schools, multiplied by their aid ratio, meaning that those in wealthier districts get less than charters in poorer ones. More than 90 charters applied for lease reimbursement, totaling about $9.5 million, in 2014-15.  When schools rent, however, the landlord retains ownership and payments can be increased or leases terminated. To avoid such unexpected disruptions, many charters buy their buildings. According to a 2015 report, by the end of 2014, charters or associated groups statewide had floated 31 public bond issues worth about $578 million to buy properties. More buildings were purchased through private lending.

Cuts mean no paper, rodents in classrooms
The consequences of inadequate school funding affect students and teachers daily.
The notebook by Melanie Bavaria June 13, 2016 — 1:52pm
“Our principal was running around the whole school looking for paper,” recalled Leah Hood, a parent at Lingelbach Elementary in Germantown. “And he couldn’t find paper anywhere in the school.”  Instead, she said, the principal used their local city councilman’s office to print the materials he needed that day.  As in many Pennsylvania districts, schools in Philadelphia are suffering from an inadequate and inequitable state education funding system. Perennial austerity and budget cuts under the administration of former Gov. Tom Corbett are having a lasting impact on students in the state’s largest city.  Amy Roat, who teaches English language learners at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences, said that the responsibility to provide basics like paper has fallen on parents and teachers.  “We have not had workbooks in years, so everything we use has to be printed on paper that is not provided,” said Roat, also a leader of the Caucus of Working Educators , an activist group that challenged the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers leadership this year.

School alarms: En masse, districts must raise revenue (i.e., taxes)
Post Gazette By the Editorial Board June 11, 2016 12:00 AM
Hundreds of financially challenged school districts are planning tax increases and staff cuts next school year, according to a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. The results should prod lawmakers as they head into budget season, reminding them of their duty to construct a budget that adequately funds schools, to pass the spending plan on time and to address pension reform, crucial to school district stability.  According to various stories in Friday’s Post-Gazette, the shoe already has dropped in some local districts: Gateway is eyeing the elimination of five teachers and a nurse. While planning a 3.1-mill increase, Seneca Valley also may may raise money by seeking scoreboard sponsorships and selling advertising space on banners and programs. North Hills is increasing taxes by 0.4 mills, and Steel Valley plans an increase of 0.7 mills.

PSERS's new board member won with 4% support
Inquirer by Joseph N. DiStefano, Staff Writer  @PhillyJoeD Updated: JUNE 13, 2016
The underfunded Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System says it has a winner:  After voiding its previous poll for "minor irregularities," PSERS late Friday named Virginia Lastner as trustee, representing Pennsylvania's 500 regional school boards, who will pay more than $1.5 billion from local property taxes this year to keep PSERS from getting more insolvent. She got the most votes of 12 candidates.  But was this an election, or a sampling survey? Lastner received just 189 votes out of 4,500 eligible elected school directors at the state's 500 school districts, according to the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards. Only 1,022 eligible votes were received by PSERS. So more than 80% of directors didn't vote; less than 20% of those who did vote, chose Lastner.  Ms. Lastner certainly sounds fiscally qualified: a retired CPA (Coopers & Lybrand) and investment banker (Macquarie), she chairs both the Finance and the Facilities committees at Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, which ranks among the wealthiest and highest-regarded in the country. The board also includes lawmakers, teachers' reps and Gov. Wolf appointees.

School District of Lancaster adopts guidelines on transgender student names, bathroom use and sports teams
Lancaster Online by KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer June 14, 2016
Under new guidelines at the School District of Lancaster, transgender students will be called by their preferred names, allowed to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity and participate in sports teams according to their gender identity.  “We need to have something in place. ... We don’t need to have more discrimination at this point,” said board member Fanny Castellanos just two days after a gunman killed at least 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  Director of Pupil Services Arthur Abrom, who led a staff committee in developing the transgender guidelines, said at the board’s committee of whole meeting Tuesday that gay and transgender students experience higher rates of bullying and suicide than other students.  The Obama administration last month told schools they must allow students to use facilities and participate in activities consistent with their gender identity.  The city school district is the first in Lancaster County to issue official language on the issue. Octorara Area School District is creating a board policy, which could be adopted as early as August.

Wiley introduces bill to help Erie schools
By Nico Salvatori  814-870-1714 Erie Times-News June 15, 2016 05:34 AM
The distressed Erie School District would receive a one-time emergency payment of nearly $16 million this year if a bill that state Sen. Sean Wiley, D-49th Dist., of Millcreek Township, introduced Tuesday becomes law.  Wiley's proposal comes as the 12,000-student district, the region's largest, is considering passing a budget with a $4.3 million deficit, in addition to closing its four high schools in the near future.  The district could face fines from the state if it passes a budget that is out of balance. The Erie School Board in May approved a proposed final budget for 2016-17 with the deficit, and the board has until June 30 to pass a final budget.  State legislators representing Erie County have said they would vote for Wiley's bill, but some said they do not think it would find enough support in either legislative chamber to pass.  The legislation, SB 1304, singles out 13 school districts dealing with serious financial difficulties and allocates a portion of a $150 million appropriation to each.

“Drayer is part of a growing population in York County: families, many of them working, who struggle to make ends meet. It means more children might go to school hungry or worried about other basic needs at home. It can affect how they learn and what schools have to do to help them.”
Data shows rise in low-income families at York Co. schools
Angie Mason, amason@ydr.com10:58 a.m. EDT June 14, 2016
The rate of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch has increased in school districts all around York County.
When bills come rolling in, Rosanna Drayer has decisions to make.  The single mother of three, who works 40 hours a week, can't pay all of her bills in full. She makes sure the rent, car payment and insurance are paid up, but the rest get whatever she can afford each month. If she pays at least something to the electric company, her power won't be shut off, she said. Her mom helps by paying her cellphone bill.  Drayer, 33, works as a personal care assistant in a nursing home, making almost $11 an hour. Her income alone supports the family, who live in Monaghan Township.  "It's hard. I was thinking about getting another job," she said. But her work is mentally and physically exhausting, and she comes home each day to cook dinner and taxi kids to baseball practice and activities. "I don't even know when I'd fit it in."

Baer: Money for education is there - in school districts' reserves
Philly Daily News by John Baer, Political Columnist Updated: JUNE 13, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
LET'S TAKE A WALK on the twisted trail of Pennsylvania school finance.  This, for me, is an annual stroll to note how green our education system is - and question constant cries of crisis and calls for higher taxes.  The subject is public-school reserve funds held by 96 percent of our 500 school districts in three interchangeable accounts, for use pretty much as they wish.  State Department of Education data show reserves total more than $4.6 billion for the 2014-15 school year; your tax dollars in interest-bearing accounts.  That's $200 million more than in 2013-14.
This isn't operating dollars. It's reserve money.  Totals grow every year: $3.5 billion in 2010-11; $3.8 billion in 2011-12 when then-Gov. Corbett "cut education by $1 billion;" $4.2 billion the next year, and so on.  Philadelphia, of course, has nothing. In fact, it's got negative reserves of $10 million, which is much better than its prior-year negative of $120 million.

Philly district urged to recruit more black men to teach
A group of area teachers has detailed a plan to increase the number of black men in the profession.  The Black Male Educators Report, compiled by a new organization called the Fellowship, calls for the Philadelphia School District to increase its recruitment of black men, incorporate more black men as paraprofessionals, and establish summer job opportunities for black men interested in education.  The Fellowship also announced it will help pilot five elective courses in Philadelphia high schools intended to attract more students to the profession and establish a residency program for black men interested in becoming teachers.  The group’s goal is to recruit 1,000 black men as teachers in Philadelphia public schools by 2020.

With Philly pre-K money near, a renewed focus on roll out
With a final vote on Philadelphia’s sugary-drinks tax slated for Thursday, there is little doubt Mayor Jim Kenney will get much of the money he requested to expand pre-K in the city.
Now the focus shifts to how the money will be spent, which is part what brought the mayor to the Little Learners Literacy Academy in South Philadelphia Tuesday.  Little Learners is a minnow in the child care ecosystem. Operated out of a one-room storefront on Jackson Street, the center enrolls just 12 students and employs only four teachers. And yet it finds itself smack in the middle of the present pre-K conversation — largely because of the rating it received from the state’s Keystone STARS system.

Here's what they're not telling you about property tax reform: Randy L. Varner
PennLive Op-Ed  By Randy L. Varner on June 13, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Randy L. Varner is an attorney at McNees Wallace & Nurick where he chairs its State and Local Tax Practice Group. He is also a member of the South Middleton School District board.
Eliminating property taxes is a popular pledge on the state and local campaign trail.   But the promise is only half the story. Citizens need to ask:  "And then what?"  Like a climbing wall, eliminating property taxes may take you half way up, but you are still far from the top.  In fact, you are suspended in mid-air.  Pennsylvania cannot wipe out the tax without replacing it with something else.  Our schools are funded almost entirely from property tax revenues, to the tune of $14 billion annually.   As a citizen, tax attorney, and member of South Middleton School District's board, I understand the need to find a tax system that is stable, reliable, consistent, and fair.  It's a tough recipe to find, and one which centuries of American leaders have sought without success.

Commentary: Soda tax will invest in city, address poverty
Inquirer Opinion By Darrell L. Clarke, Bobby Henon, Blondell Reynolds Brown, and Bill Greenlee
Updated: JUNE 14, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
On Thursday, City Council will pass a progressive budget that makes historic investments in our children, public spaces, and long-term economic vitality, and demonstrates that cities can rise above the political paralysis gripping state capitals and Washington.  We commend Mayor Kenney and his staff for a bold first budget and for a collaborative and productive process. Communication with Council was key to building consensus and producing a final budget that is fiscally responsible and equitable. We also thank and congratulate our Council colleagues, particularly those new to the body, for exercising due diligence on behalf of taxpayers.  After much healthy debate, Council arrived at a 1.5-cent-per-ounce levy on both naturally and artificially sweetened soft drinks to raise sufficient funds to expand pre-K, add social and health services to schools in struggling neighborhoods, and reinvest in parks, recreation centers, and libraries. We wholeheartedly agree with the mayor that these investments will help address poverty in Philadelphia, and we broadened the beverage tax base to include "diet" drinks so that more people will contribute to a stronger future for all.

Pressure building for renewing Pittsburgh superintendent search
By Molly Born and Adam Smeltz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 14, 2016 3:13 PM
After four civic organizations Tuesday jointly called for the Pittsburgh Public Schools board to start anew in its search for a superintendent, a second school board member said publicly that she couldn’t support Anthony Hamlet.  In interviews, leaders of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Hill District Education Council, the Black Political Empowerment Project and A+ Schools agreed that the new schools chief should not, as one of them put it, “begin with a pretty serious cloud over his head.”  “I am not happy that we’re in this situation, but we would be remiss if we did not say honestly what we felt. We thought that our opinions need to be on the record for all to see,” said Tim Stevens, BPEP chairman and CEO.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week that Mr. Hamlet’s “educational philosophy” in his resume included a sentence almost identical to one in a Washington Post editorial from February 2015 — minus one word. He repeated the phrasing, again without attribution, during an introductory news conference last month. That report followed earlier stories that the document included claims about his record that were at odds with data filed by the Palm Beach County school district.

No tax hike for eighth straight year in Saucon Valley School District
Daryl Nerl Special to The Morning Call June 14, 2016
LOWER SAUCON TOWNSHIP — There will be no property tax increase in the Saucon Valley School District for the eighth consecutive year.  The school board voted Tuesday night to adopt a $45.4 million budget that keeps the real estate tax rate at 51.74 mills.  In the 6-2 decision, Directors Ralph Puerta and Sandra Miller were the dissenters while Edward Inghrim was absent. Miller said she thought the board should follow the advice of district Business Manager David Bonenberger and raise taxes.  It appeared the board was headed in that direction a month ago, when it adopted a preliminary final budget with a 2.4 percent tax increase on a 6-3 vote.  But in a board meeting two weeks later, a few directors said they thought the district should lean more on its operating budget surplus, estimated at about $14 million, and reduce the tax increase.

Catasauqua Area School District passes budget with property tax increase
Kevin Duffy Special to The Morning Call June 14, 2016
School directors in the Catasauqua Area School District approved a budget for the next academic year that represents the highest tax increase allowed under Pennsylvania's Act 1.  The 3.1 percent real estate tax increase passed Tuesday was the highest the district could go without seeking exceptions, which it did not pursue.  The measure takes the district's millage rate to 16.8 mills for property owners within Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and 53.4 mills in Catasauqua. A mill represents one dollar for every $1,000 of assessed value.  While property owners at the average assessed value of $131,000 on the Lehigh County side will see their taxes increase by about $73 next year, those in the district who live in North Catasauqua, Northampton County, with an average assessment of $45,386 will pay about $13 less due to changes in assessed values, board solicitor David Knerr said.

Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board approves proposed tax hike; final vote slated for June 20
By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 06/14/16, 9:35 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> By a 6-3 vote, the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board approved a proposed $82.4 million budget for the 2016-17 school year, which calls for a tax hike of 2.7 percent for Chester County homeowners, and a 3.06 percent tax hike for Delaware County homeowners. It represents a weighted average increase of 2.77 percent.  The board earlier this year had considered a weighted 2.88 percent increase, but district Superintendent John Sanville said extra revenue has since been realized, including an increase in state funding through the basic education formula, interest earnings savings of $50,000 and additional savings from retirements, among others. Because of this the board considered a proposed weighted average increase of 2.47 percent, but school board member Gregg Lindner said the district should not bank the savings.

Dueling Remarks on ESSA by Education Secretary, Key Republican Senator
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 13, 2016 7:33 PM
The Every Student Succeeds Act may have passed in a flurry of bipartisan love and good feelings—but that doesn't mean that the fights over the federal role in K-12 education are over.
That dynamic was apparent Monday at the National School Boards Association conference here, where U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee and a key architect of ESSA gave back-to-back speeches.  King, who spoke first, said the proof of whether the new law strikes the right balance between state and federal control will be whether schools use it to further equity for all students. 
"We have to acknowledge how we got here," King said. In the past "there were some communities that weren't attending to the needs of English-language learners in their accountability systems .... There are high schools today where students can't take the very courses that will be necessary for" success in college.   Alexander, on the other hand, told the school board members that he needed their help in ensuring that the U.S. Department of Education doesn't become a national school board.

Diane Ravitch to Obama: ‘I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss June 13 
Diane Ravitch has been the titular leader of the grass-roots movement against corporate school reform since 2010, when her book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” was published and quickly became a bestseller. (In fact, readers of the the pro-reform journal Education Next named it the most important book of the first decade of the 2000s.) In the book, she explained why she dropped her support for No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of former president George W. Bush and standardized test-based school reform. Now she has updated the book and explained why she has again changed her view on at least one important issue. This post is a Q&A I had with Ravitch about her book and the state of the public education.
The reason Ravitch’s change of position mattered was because of her position in the education world. A well-respected education historian and author, she worked from 1991 to 1993 as assistant secretary in charge of research and improvement in the Education Department of President George H.W. Bush and served as counsel to then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander (who is now the chairman of the Senate education committee). She was a supporter of No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of President George W. Bush, and was at the White House as part of a select group when Bush first outlined No Child Left Behind, a moment that at the time made her “excited and optimistic” about the future of public education.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: June 8 - 14, 2016
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on June 14, 2016 - 1:35pm 
Another week of standardized exam foul-ups leads more states to de-emphasize test scores or, at least, question their assessment policies.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 6/15/2016

Apply Now! EPLC’s 2016-2017 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program

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:

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