Friday, July 8, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 8: NACSA CEO: Online Charters Mostly Don’t Work

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PA Ed Policy Roundup July 8, 2016:
NACSA CEO: Online Charters Mostly Don’t Work



Budget? The PA House has scheduled session for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday



Since 1980, spending on prisons has grown three times as much as spending on public education
Washington Post By Emma Brown and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel July 7 at 1:18 PM 
State and local spending on prisons and jails has grown three times as much over the past three decades as spending on public education for preschool through high school, according to a new analysis of federal data by the U.S. Education Department.  The analysis, released Thursday, comes amid growing bipartisan agreement about the need for criminal justice reform, and argues that taxpayers and public safety would be better served by redirecting investments from incarceration to public schools.  “A variety of studies have suggested that investing more in education, particularly targeted toward at-risk communities, could achieve crime reduction without the heavy social costs that high incarceration rates impose on individuals, families, and communities,” it says.  From 1980 to 2013, state and local spending on public schools doubled, from $258 billion to $534 billion, according to the analysis. Over the same period, the number of people incarcerated in state and local prisons more than quadrupled, and spending also increased by more than four times, from $17 billion to $71 billion.  “These findings should give us all a reason to pause and provide a lens through which we can examine our values as communities and as a country,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said in a call with reporters Thursday.

Editorial: Education reform is key to reducing prison spending
Citizens Voice by THE EDITORIAL BOARD / PUBLISHED: JULY 8, 2016
Each government budget is the most definitive of policy statements. What politicians say does not define their priorities as well as what they fund.  As Pennsylvania lawmakers fumble another state budget, the U.S. Department of Education points out that in the commonwealth, as in every other state, public spending on corrections has risen at a far faster rate than spending for basic and higher education.  From the 1980 through 2013 fiscal years, public basic education spending rose by 107 percent nationwide — from $258 billion to $534 billion — while state and local corrections expenditures nationwide rose by 324 percent, from $17 billion to $74 billion. Nationally, per-student spending rose by 73 percent over the period while per-inmate spending rose by 185 percent.  Over the same period, the adult population of the United States rose 49 percent but the incarceration rate rose 345 percent. The number of school-aged children increased 13 percent and public school enrollment increased 20 percent. In Pennsylvania over the period, the rate of increase for corrections spending was 247 percent higher than for education spending.

Blogger commentary: hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been diverted to PA cyber charters from all 500 school districts, even though most of those districts never authorized a charter school.  Not one PA cyber has achieved a passing School Performance Score of 70 in the three years that the measurement has been in place.  Most never made adequate yearly progress during the time that No Child Left Behind was in effect.
Online Charters Mostly Don’t Work
Forum: The Promise and Pitfalls of Virtual Charter Schools
Education Next By Greg Richmond 07/06/2016
Greg Richmond is the President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
Nearly every study of virtual school performance has found their performance to be lacking. The most recent and definitive study was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in 2015. CREDO controlled for the unique characteristics of students enrolled in virtual charter schools by comparing their performance to a “virtual twin,” a student with the same demographic characteristics and similar prior achievement enrolled in a traditional public school. CREDO declared.  Across all tested students in online charters, the typical academic gains for math are -0.25 standard deviations (equivalent to 180 fewer days of learning) and -0.10 (equivalent to 72 fewer days) for reading.  Considering that a typical school year consists of 180 days of instruction, many have observed that it’s almost as if these students had no schooling whatsoever. As a colleague of mine remarked, “They could have learned just as much playing video games for a year.”  Now, not all virtual schools are charter schools, but many are. According to the National Education Policy Center, virtual charter schools make up approximately half (52 percent) of all virtual schools in the United States, and together they accounted for 84 percent of full-time virtual school enrollment.

“The latest Super PAC accounting for the upcoming presidential election indicates that Super PACs have already raised a staggering $700 million and spent more than $300 million in the primary races of the candidates of both political parties.
The majority of Super PAC money to date has come in six-figure or larger checks from corporations and aristocratic Americans (about 158 very wealthy families). Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign.”
Guest Column: Why we need limits on money in politics
Delco Times By Joseph Batory, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 07/07/16, 10:22 PM EDT
Joseph Batory, a former superintendent of schools in the Upper Darby School District, has written extensively on the issues of politics and education
In 2010, the Supreme Court handed down a controversial 5-4 decision which has opened the doors for the unprecedented influence of money in elections in the United States.  In that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, the Supreme Court majority ruled that political spending is protected under the First Amendment. As a result, a deluge of cash has now poured into Super PACs which are theoretically independent from the candidates.  But this is Supreme Court doublespeak nonsense. It is true that candidates do not receive money directly from the Super PACs, but these same candidates can be bankrolled into office by these Super PACs. Millions of dollars are now spent by these Super PACs to run a myriad of favorable ads about a candidate they support and/or negative ones about a candidate they oppose. And many of these ads sponsored by super PACs often take liberties with the truth.  It gets worse. The PACs are required to release the names of donors; however, a technicality in the disclosure rules allows donors to remain anonymous for months. Disclosure can also be completely circumvented by Super PACs that create affiliated nonprofit 501(c) (4) organizations, which are not required to release the names of donors.

Erie to pilot community school model
By Erica Erwin  814-870-1846 Erie Times-News July 1, 2016 06:04 AM
ERIE, Pa. -- Four Erie School District schools will be turned into hubs for social services for their students under a new pilot program launching this fall.  The district plans to try the "community schools" model at McKinley Elementary School, Pfeiffer Burleigh School, Wayne School and Edison Elementary School with the help of $60,000 from the United Way of Erie County to get started.  The model, used successfully in other districts across the country, brings social services -- services like health care, dental care, mental health services, after-school and family programing -- directly into school buildings, making the services more easily accessible and available to students in one place.  That's critical in a high-poverty district in which some students have very difficult lives, Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams said.  "I want to do this yesterday," Badams said in a meeting of business, government and community leaders at Blasco Library on Thursday.

Budget negotiations continue on as Monday deadline approaches
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | WMckelvey@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 07, 2016 at 4:52 PM, updated July 07, 2016 at 4:56 PM
The Pennsylvania Capitol remained quiet Thursday as budget negotiators continued to work privately toward a revenue agreement to pay for the $31.5 billion spending plan currently sitting on Gov. Tom Wolf's desk.  With the clock counting down to a Monday deadline for Wolf to sign, veto or let the spending bill pass unsigned, some lawmakers believed it was increasingly likely — although not yet guaranteed — that a weekend session was in the offing.  "For us, it will depend on what we have to vote on," said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans. "It costs taxpayer dollars to bring members into town and we don't want to do that unless we're absolutely sure we have something to vote on."

“The next deadline is Monday at midnight, when the governor has to sign, veto, or let the budget bill that lawmakers passed lapse into law.”
Close, but not there yet, negotiators say of Pa. budget
ABC27 By Dennis OwensPublished: July 7, 2016, 6:29 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – They’ve agreed to spend $31.6 billion.
They’ve agreed to give more to K-12 public schools.
They’ve agreed to spend more in the fight against opioid abuse.
All of the parties around the budgetary table were on board when their plan passed the legislature last Friday.  Kumbaya continued at the Capitol.
“Everybody was high-fiving last week and they were ready to go home,” Senator John Wozniak (D-Johnstown) said. “I said, ‘we’re not done yet,’  and obviously we’re not done yet.”  Sources say the sides are about $300 million short of balancing the $31.6 billion dollar plan, which Representative Steve Bloom (R-Cumberland) insists spends way too much.  “I voted no on that and now here we are a week later and we still don’t know the answer to where’s the money gonna come from?” Bloom said. He doesn’t like that the spending increase is five percent, well above the one percent rate of inflation.  The constitutionally mandated June 30 budget deadline came and went.

Pa.'s spend first, tax later approach is bad budgeting: Nathan Benefield
PennLive Op-Ed  By Nathan Benefield on July 07, 2016 at 8:00 AM, updated July 07, 2016 at 1:38 PM
Last June, Gov. Tom Wolf sparked a fiasco by vetoing the General Assembly's budget in its entirety.  The resulting 9-month impasse crippled nonprofits and threatened to shutter schools across the state. To avoid the political fallout of a repeat performance this year, the Legislature passed a spending plan Wolf says he'll sign.  One problem: Lawmakers never said how they'll pay for it.  Strangely, that was part of the plan. One legislative leader bluntly stated, "We want to agree on a general appropriations bill, and then we'll get to work on how to pay for it." That's not how budgeting should work—just ask any family or business. It's easy for the Legislature to say they'll spend 5 percent more this year than last. It's harder deciding how to make those ends meet.  Almost certain to come, though, are tax increases.

Here's a smoke-and-mirrors free way to balance the state budget: Marc Stier
PennLive Op-Ed  By Marc Stier on July 07, 2016 at 1:00 PM, updated July 07, 2016 at 2:57 PM
Election years bring out the con-artist in Pennsylvania politicians, as they try to balance the budget without raising taxes.  But this year, legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf can balance the budget without pulling a fast one on working Pennsylvanians by adopting the proposal put forward by a state lawmaker from Philadelphia.  Sen. Art Haywood, a Democrat, wants to slightly increase the tax on personal income from wealth — dividends, capital gains, profits, royalties, and other similar sources.  The bill is now before the Senate Finance Committee, where it has sat since its introduction in May.  As Wolf and legislative leaders try to lock down the revenues needed to balance the appropriations bill approved by the House and Senate last week, the difficulty of the task, and the importance of completing it honestly, has increased.   Talks hit a stalemate Friday on taxes and revenues to pay for $31.5 billion spending plan.  The basic problem is that Governor Wolf and three of the four legislative caucuses believe that we need a little more than $1.3 billion in revenue to balance the budget. House Republicans are looking for less revenue.

Cigar tax smoldering to help balance Pennsylvania's $31.6 billion budget
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau July 7, 2016
Cigar tax idea smoldering as possible revenue source in Pa's $31.6 billion budget
HARRISBURG — Smoke 'em if you got 'em, and then buy more before they are taxed.
Cigars could lose their tax-free status in Pennsylvania under the latest tax and revenue package being mulled to help pay for the state's $31.6 billion budget.  Legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Wolf had been eyeing a $1 tax increase to a pack of cigarettes. But now all tobacco and vapor products could be taxed under a plan that emerged Tuesday evening. It calls for enacting the state's first-ever levies on cigars, smokeless chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.  Tobacco taxes are being considered, but it is unknown whether any or all will remain in the final revenue package lawmakers could start voting on next week, said Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana.  "Pennsylvania is one of the only states not to have a cigar tax," Miskin added.

Bill Analysis: Key provisions of House Bill 530 as amended by the House Rules Committee, June 28-30, 2016
PSBA website July 1, 2016

Letters: #HB530 Charter-school proposal would not hamstring Philly school district
Inquirer Letter by Mike Wang, executive director, Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners Updated: JULY 7, 2016 — 3:00 AM EDT
SOME BALANCE is needed on the facts about House Bill 530, a proposed charter-school reform measure and the subject of your editorial on Wednesday ("Cloudy, Chance of Crisis).
HB 530 does not, as you claim, "eliminate enrollment caps for charters." In fact, enrollment caps already are forbidden by current state law, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made clear last winter: "Enrollment of students in a charter school . . . shall not be subject to a cap or otherwise limited by . . . any other governing authority." HB 530 does not change current law.
But it does provide significant steps to improve the operation of charter schools in Pennsylvania, especially when it comes to holding low-performing charters accountable:
* It creates a performance matrix to ensure that schools get charters renewed only if they demonstrate good performance.
* It creates a long-needed funding commission to examine and fix charter school funding, including special-education funding, within the next year.
* It increases Educational Improvement Tax Credit funding, which will help local educational organizations serving low-income students.
* It creates a uniform enrollment form for charter schools, so that schools cannot game the admissions process.
* It institutes necessary ethics reforms to prevent conflicts of interest among charter school board members.
HB 530 does nothing to harm the School District of Philadelphia, despite the district's protests to the contrary. The district's power to regulate low-performing charter schools derives not from capping enrollment, but rather from its willingness to authorize good schools and shut down bad ones. The School Reform Commission has begun doing just that, and HB 530 does nothing to prevent it from continuing to do its job in closing low-performing charters.

Philadelphia School District withholds money from Del Val Charter; charter calls move 'catastrophic'
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: JULY 8, 2016 — 1:07 AM EDT
The Philadelphia School District told the troubled Delaware Valley Charter High School in Logan on Thursday that the school will not receive any payments this month for students and only a partial payment in August - a loss of more than $820,000 that threatens the operation's payroll.  Uri Monson, the district's chief financial officer, said the charter's interim CEO was told that the district would be withholding the payments to recover money the charter owes for overbilling for students in past years and failing to make required pension contributions for teachers.  The school, which ended the academic year with 550 students and said it was expecting more than 600 students in the fall, had been slated to receive $551,622 from the district this week.  Monson said that in addition to receiving no payments in July, Delaware Valley would receive no more than $283,054 of its monthly payments for student tuition in August.  Harold Kurtz, the charter's interim CEO, called the district's decision "catastrophic" and said the school would not be able to make payroll.  He said that he notified the school's 73 staffers that they would not be paid on Friday.

Breakthrough Philadelphia helps students go to college
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa July 7, 2016 — 8:38am
When Derrick McLean was in 6th grade at A.B. Day Elementary School in Mount Airy, his mind wasn’t focused on whether he would ever attend college.    But that changed one day when a someone came to his school to talk about a special program being offered to the students. Sure, it would require him to give up part of his summer and one day a week after school. But the idea appealed to him.   “I was excited to do it,” he said. “I wasn’t necessarily the best student at the time, but I wanted to better myself so I could excel and become more advanced.”  McLean, barely 12 years old at the time, became the only student at Day that year to sign up for a program called Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia. Begun in 1995 at Germantown Friends School as a branch of a national program called Summerbridge, it recruits promising middle school students in disadvantaged schools and supports them to complete their education and enroll in college.

“The majority of the hike is due to the rising costs of health care benefits and increase in the retirement rate from 25.8 percent to 30 percent, which equates to an additional 24 percent in retirement expenditures, according to the discussion at the May finance committee meeting.  Revenue for the upcoming year is estimated at $87.7 million, with the discrepancy to be financed with a $5.3 million transfer from the fund balance. School director Jim Cunningham, who cast the lone nay vote, did not concur with the strategy.”
Rose Tree Media hikes taxes 2.4 percent in new budget
Delco Times By Leslie Krowchenko, Times Correspondent POSTED: 07/07/16, 10:18 PM EDT
MIDDLETOWN >> Choosing an increase equal to its Act 1 index, the Rose Tree Media School Board voted to adopt the 2016-2017 final budget of $93 million and corresponding tax hike of 2.4 percent.  The increase set the new rate at 24.4 mills. Based on the average assessment of $207,330 for homes within the district, the typical tax bill will be $5,054, or an additional $129. Revenue will also be provided by one-half of 1 percent real estate transfer tax, $5 per capita tax and $10 local services tax.  The directors also approved an assessment reduction for the homestead exclusion, providing a $218 property tax reduction for those who qualify.  Approximately 57 percent ($52.8 million) of the budget is allocated for instruction, 32 percent ($29.4 million) for support services, 9 percent ($9 million) for other financing services and 2 percent ($1.8 million) for non-instructional services.

Greensburg Salem School District, teachers resume contract negotiations after 4 months
Trib Live BY JACOB TIERNEY  | Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Greensburg Salem School District has resumed contract negotiations with its teachers after a four-month pause.  Representatives from the district and the Greensburg Salem Education Association met twice last week. They have a meeting scheduled for next week.  “I think both parties are really interested in getting things wrapped up before the new school year begins, so I think they're going to use the summer months to meet as often as it takes to see what we can do,” Superintendent Eileen Amato said.  Amato does not take part in negotiations except to provide information during the bargaining sessions.  The previous round of negotiations lasted more than a year and left teachers without a contract for about eight months.


School's Out, And For Many Students, So Is Lunch
NPR by AVERY LILL July 7, 20167:00 AM ET
Summer break for many students is a time to kick back, play outside, and hang out with friends. For a significant portion of public school students in the United States, however, the end of school also brings a familiar question—what's for lunch?  During the school year, about 30.3 million children receive free or reduced-price lunches at their public schools. But in the summer, only 2.6 million of those students receive a free or reduced lunch. That's fewer than 10 percent.  When school is out, free lunches are only offered at select locations through each school district, not at every school, so transportation is often the biggest barrier between kids and lunch.

Proposed Block Grants for School Meals Trouble Child-Nutrition Groups
Education Week Rules for Engagement Blog By Evie Blad on July 6, 2016 3:35 PM 
Child nutrition groups and Democrats in Congress say a proposal to offer blanket block grants to fund school meal programs in up to three states may threaten equity and lead to inadequate nutrition for low-income children who often rely on school food more than their wealthier peers.   The House plan to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which sets rules for school meals, would offer the block grants in exchange for lifting federal meal program rules in participating states. In exchange, the states, which would have to apply to participate in the block grant option, would have to offer at least one "affordable" meal a day. Supporters of the plan, including sponsor Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), say it would allow for flexibility at the state and local level and allow for innovative use of federal funds to feed students.  But anti-poverty groups, House Democrats, and the School Nutrition Association have vowed to fight the proposal, which is not included in the Senate's Child Nutrition Act bill. Here's why.

Early educators are among the lowest paid in the U.S.
Marketplace By Donna Tam July 07, 2016 | 3:24 PM
The median wage of child care workers in the U.S. is $9.77 an hour, and nearly half of those workers receive welfare in some way, according to a reportreleased Thursday.  These findings indicate that child care employees are some of the lowest paid people in the country, according to the Early Childhood Workforce Index, which analyzed the policies and working conditions affecting child care workers and preschool teachers on a state-by-state basis.  The report found that 46 percent child care workers are part of families that are on welfare, like Medicaid or food stamps. Preschool teachers earned a little more than child care workers. But with a median wage of $13.74, they still made less than $17.40 — the median wage for all U.S. jobs in 2015.   The research, conducted by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California, Berkeley, covers the jobs of two million people. According to the report, 12 million children are in child care and preschool.   The importance of early education is often stressed in discussions and studies about the development of children.

A surprising truth about American education
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 7 at 11:23 AM 
In 2010, prominent education historian Diane Ravitch published “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” an account of the evolution of her views about public schools. Ravitch, assistant secretary in charge of research and improvement in the Education Department of then-President George H.W. Bush, had been a supporter of standardized, test-based school reform. She was also an early backer of No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative during George W. Bush’s presidency.  But after seeing the effects of these reforms on students and teachers, Ravitch changed her mind and wrote about her conversion. The book helped start an anti-reform movement of which she has been the titular leader, and which has grown significantly among parents, educators, advocates and others. Now she has updated the book — and changed at least one position she had when she wrote the first edition.

Part two in Kansas school funding debate is headed to court in September
Kansas City Star BY HUNTER WOODALL hwoodall@kcstar.com July 6, 2016
The school finance debate in Kansas will pick up again in September.
The adequacy of school funding will come front and center before the Kansas Supreme Court just a few weeks before November’s election. Oral arguments over the adequacy of funding are set to start at 9 a.m. Sept. 21.  Kansas City, Kan., is one of the school districts suing Kansas over the amount of money that school districts receive from the state. Wichita, Dodge City and Hutchinson are the others. The adequacy portion of the lawsuit addresses hundreds of millions of dollars in school funding, said Alan Rupe, one of the attorneys representing the schools in the case.  “Every school district currently struggles given the increasing demands because of demographic changes and the increasing demands of $511 million in cuts,” Rupe said. “Everybody struggles with that.”  State lawmakers gathered in Topeka last month to address the equity portion of the litigation. The solution was a bill that totaled $38 million in funding to help poorer school districts. That legislation passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support on the second night of the special session. The equity solution came just days before a June 30 deadline set by the court. Had the lawmakers’ solution not satisfied the court, schools could have closed.


Appointment of Voting Delegates for the October 15th PSBA Delegate Assembly Meeting
PSBA Website June 27, 2016
The governing body boards of all member school entities are entitled to appoint voting delegates to participate in the PSBA Delegate Assembly to be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. It is important that school boards act soon to appoint its delegate or delegates, and to notify PSBA of the appointment.
Voting members of the Delegate Assembly will:
1.     Consider and act upon proposed changes to the PSBA Bylaws.
2.     Receive reports from the PSBA president, executive director and treasurer.
3.     Receive the results of the election for officers and at-large representatives. (Voting upon candidates by school boards and electronic submission of each board’s votes will occur during the month of September 2016.)
4.     Consider proposals recommended by the PSBA Platform Committee and adopt the legislative platform for the coming year.
5.     Conduct other Association business as required or permitted in the Bylaws, policies or a duly adopted order of business.
The 2016 Delegate Assembly will meet on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the conclusion of the regularly scheduled events of the main PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference.

Nominations now open for PSBA Allwein Awards (deadline July 16)
PSBA Website POSTED ON MAY 16, 2016 IN PSBA NEWS
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.

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:

PA Supreme Court sets Sept. 13 argument date for fair education funding lawsuit in Philly
Thorough and Efficient Blog JUNE 16, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI LEAVE A COMMENT

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