Thursday, July 21, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 21: Crackdown on Educators in Turkey Continues After Coup Attempt

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 21, 2016:
Crackdown on Educators in Turkey Continues After Coup Attempt



Taking a Break Until August 1st
The PA Ed Policy Roundup will be taking a break starting tomorrow until Monday August 1st.  If you need a daily ed policy fix please consider joining the 1000+ tweeps following us on Twitter at @lfeinberg




Philly Councilwoman Gym’s Office Seeking Student Interns
Councilwoman Gym's Office July 19, 2016
We are excited to offer a few young students the opportunity to work closely within City Council of Philadelphia throughout the 2016-17 school year.



“Mr. Conti became CEO in June 2012 when founder and former CEO Nicholas Trombetta left the Beaver County-based school. Mr. Trombetta was indicted two months later by a federal grand jury on a variety of fraud and tax charges and is expected to go to trial in September. He has pleaded not guilty.”
PA Cyber's COO to become acting chief executive
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 20, 2016 11:19 PM
Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School’s chief operating officer will take over as acting CEO following the resignation this week of CEO Michael J. Conti.  Nicole Granito will serve in that role “as the board assesses appropriate means to appoint a full-time replacement,” PA Cyber’s school board said in a statement. She has held several positions, including chief operating officer and senior administrator, during her 10-plus years at the state’s largest cyber charter school.  Mr. Conti has “captained our ship through smooth and rough waters, and kept us on course for the past several years,” school board president Brian Hayden said in a statement.  Reached by phone Wednesday, Mr. Conti said he doesn’t have another job lined up yet and is enjoying the downtime.  “I just kind of want to de-stress my life a little bit. I think it’s a good time to move on. The school is in a good place,” he said.

Letter to the Editor: School tax increases are out of control
Delco Times Letter by David D. Waltz, President, Rutledge Borough Council POSTED: 07/20/16, 9:43 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
To the Times:  Well, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board did it again. I invited the board to a council meeting here in Rutledge a couple of months ago to explain the proposed 3.9 percent tax increase. The answer was that more money was needed for special education and pension funds. I would like to thank them for only increasing our taxes 3.4 percent - that will cost the average home owner $253 out of their pockets, some of which are empty already.  So when does it stop? Seniors on fixed income are losing their houses and many people are still out of work and have trouble making their mortgage payment each month. Only one school board member, Dr. Robert Reiger, abstained from the vote because he disagreed with the increase … but why didn’t he vote “no” to the increase? We have voted the board members into office so, unless you like paying these high and increasing taxes, maybe it is time that the residents of Neither Providence, Swarthmore, Rose Valley and Rutledge vote them out at the next election. It is true that we have a good school district but the increases have to stop.  The state has limits as to how high taxes can be raised in any one year, but apparently there are exceptions to the rule. If we can’t get property tax reform then at a minimum the exception should be taken out of the law.

Tax and spend state budget not working (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Sen. Scott Wagner 4:31 p.m. EDT July 20, 2016
Harrisburg has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.  How many times have I made that statement in the last two years?  I could probably do some back-of-the-napkin math to calculate an estimate, but let’s just say too many.  Regardless, I will continue saying it until something changes with how our state government budgets your money.  On June 29, the Legislature approved a $31.53 billion spending plan, which increased spending by $1.406 billion or 4.7 percent. Once it was determined how much to spend, it was time to figure out how to pay for it. Is that how you budget in your household?  That certainly isn’t how I budget for my businesses.  I realize no one wanted a repeat of last year’s budget impasse.  However, I have stood firm on my promise not to vote for a tax and spend budget, and that is exactly what we have, yet again.  The revenue package for this year’s budget, contained in House Bill 1198, calls for $600 million in new taxes, including a $1-per-pack cigarette tax increase, taxes on tobacco and e-cigarettes, a new sales tax on digital downloads such as books and apps, and an expansion of the income tax to lottery winnings. One-time revenues from fund transfers are also heavily relied on. Unfortunately, transfers from the $4.3 billion that schools have in their reserve funds is not one of them. Instead, Pittsburgh School District, which a recent audit found to have a $129 million surplus, is getting an increase of more than $3 million in this year’s budget.

THE WAR WAGED WITHIN (OUR SCHOOLS) AGAINST OUR BLACK BOYS
Philly’s 7th Ward Blog BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI JULY 20, 2016
“An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor.” –Lerone Bennett, Jr.
There is a war going on. When war is mentioned, most folks will immediately think about what is happening overseas or in our streets. But, the war I am talking about is the war against Black boys. In our classrooms. The carnage is real.  When you reflect on the number of Black boys who are not finding even mediocre success in our schools, it is alarming and infuriating. And, the worst part isn’t just that our youth, our very future, are being academically maimed and stunted, it is that so many so called experts and educators are okay with the current results. Sure, folks will pander for votes or positions by claiming they are committed to the cause. But, their cause and our community’s cause are not one and the same.  The Black male enrollment in our city’s public schools is a little over 34,000. That equals about 26% of the total student population in Philadelphia (not including charter schools). Yet, 47% of the students suspended are Black boys. As far as academics, 80% struggle with passing the state reading exams. Black boys graduate at paltry rates.

Unionville student pushes hard for delayed school start
By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 07/20/16, 6:15 PM EDT UPDATED: 8 HRS AGO
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Matt Daniels remembers when one of his friends got into a car accident while driving to school one morning. He knew right away that lack of sleep played a huge factor.  Daniels, a senior at Unionville High School, is pushing hard to delay the start of school for those in high school and middle school. He said students should get a little more than nine hours of sleep to perform optimally, but often only get four or five hours.  “The misconception is students can stay up late because they want to and get up early,” he said. “This is a systemic issue seen all across the country and all around the world. Everyone agrees on the science that students are not getting enough sleep and school should start later.”  Daniels has been on the forefront of the problem for several years. He, along with other members of the Chester County Intermediate (CCIU) Student Forum, have launched an initiative to study school start times at school districts in Chester County, and examine ways the school day can start later with minimal interruptions.


Vice-Presidential Nominee Pence Says Trump Will Embrace School Choice
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 20, 2016 11:57 PM
Cleveland Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, the Republican nominee for vice president, vouched for the man at the top of the ticket when it comes to expanding educational options, in his speech to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night.  Pence, who has made bolstering vouchers and charter schools a centerpiece of his tenure at the helm of the Hoosier State, said GOP nominee Donald Trump "will fight for equal educational oppportunity and loves school choice"—echoing a theme two other high-profile speakers, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also hit during their speeches Wednesday.   Pence also gave a quick nod to his own K-12 experience, saying that as governor, he's been able to grow Indiana's economy while "making record investments in education." Trump made a similar claim about Pence when introducing him as his No. 2 on Saturday—the increase of about $480 million in the current two-year budget was indeed the largest dollarwise, according to a fact check by the Associated Press. But percentagewise, it isn't nearly as impressive; it amounts to 2.3 percent, compared to the increases of 2.7 percent from 2000 to 2008, AP found. 

Pre-K Drops From Republican Platform, School Choice Praised
Education Week By Christina Samuels on July 19, 2016 6:33 PM
A plank criticizing prekindergarten as intrusion into the family dropped from the final Republican platform that was released Monday, along with any other specific reference to early-childhood education.   The Dallas Morning News had reported that a member of the 211-person draft committee wanted to oppose prekindergarten because it "inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child's life." That language was subject to approval by all the delegates.  Though prekindergarten did not come up for censure, it also was not praised or even mentioned. Nor was child care. The platform did say that "Parents are a child's first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children's education, care, and upbringing. We support a constitutional amendment to protect that right from interference by states, the federal government, or international bodies such as the United Nations."

“Turkey alleges that the Harmony schools are part of a network of more than 160 charter schools in more than 25 states started by Turkish men, all said to be inspired by Fethullah Gulen, the preacher who lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania. The complaint in Texas alleges, among other things, that the schools have abused public funds, funneled money to Gulen’s movement — known as Hizmet (or Service) — violated legal requirements surrounding open and competitive bidding, and discriminated against employees on the basis of national origin and gender.”
Turkey seeks probes of American charter schools it says are linked to Fethullah Gulen
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 20 at 5:47 PM 
The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked education officials in Texas and California to investigate publicly funded charter schools in those states that it says are linked to a Muslim cleric living in the United States, a man the government alleges was the mastermind of a coup attempt this month. The Turkish government also is planning to bring more complaints in other parts of the U.S.  The Erdogan government, through the international law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP, recently filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency against a charter network called Harmony Public Schools, which operates 46 math, science and technology campuses in Texas and has received more than $250 million in federal and state funds.

“In 2011, more than 100 members of Congress and their staff accepted private trips from different non-profit groups. But an ethics investigation last year revealed evidence that a Turkish religious movement was hiding the true source of funding for many trips provided to lawmakers and their staff. That probe, by the Office of Congressional Ethics, was leaked to The Washington Post in May 2015. USA TODAY later found about 200 congressional trips that appeared to have been improperly funded.”
Congress stops traveling to Turkey after ethics probes, political turmoil
Fernanda Crescente and Paul Singer, USA Today 7:11 p.m. EDT June 21, 2016
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress have abandoned privately funded trips to Turkey, once a favorite destination for such junkets, after investigations by House ethics panels and USA TODAY indicated many of these trips had been illegally funded.  No lawmakers have accepted a privately sponsored trip to Turkey since May 2015, with the exception of one congressman who made an August trip sponsored by a Norwegian group, according to data compiled by the Clerk of the House.  That wasn’t always the case.

Crackdown in Turkey Continues After Coup Attempt
Educators and university officials have been particularly targeted Wednesday.
US News By Curt Mills | Staff Writer July 20, 2016, at 2:51 p.m.
The Turkish government is closing down schools, firing academics and university deans, and banning international travel for professors, in the latest measures in response to last week's coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Reports vary, but the crackdown in Turkey appears to be widespread across professional fields, as the government seeks to root out opposition and more fully determine the perpetrators of last weekend's coup attempt.  [READ: Erdogan Works to Cleanse Security Forces After Failed CoupThe Guardian reports the Erdogan government has now fired more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry, 257 officials at the prime minister's office, and 492 clerics at the directorate for religious affairs, while demanding the resignation of 1,500 university deans.  The private NTV broadcaster says at least 262 military judges and prosecutors were suspended. The press credentials of at least 34 Turkish journalists have been revoked, the Washington Post reports, and a "temporary measure" has been put in place banning travel by university academics.  Additionally, Turkish State Media says 626 private schools and other establishments will be closed down.


Philly Councilwoman Gym’s Office Seeking Student Interns
Councilwoman Gym's Office July 19, 2016
We are excited to offer a few young students the opportunity to work closely within City Council of Philadelphia throughout the 2016-17 school year. This internship will expose interns to Council office operations, policy, communications, and research.  As an office, we are passionate about equity, education, child welfare, juvenile justice reform and many other issues involving children and youth in Philadelphia.  Applications should display a strong interest in equity and justice and a strong familiarity with Councilwoman Gym's story and platform. Applicants should be eager to work and receptive to constructive criticism as you learn the workings of the office. As this is a paid internship, it is expected that interns be punctual and dependable.
Here is the link to sign up and for instructions:

“EdPAC empowers education advocates to strengthen public education in the commonwealth through its dedication to supporting the election of pro-public education leaders to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”
EdPAC: Imagine the impact of a pro-public education legislature!
EdPAC is a newly formed political action committee whose membership is comprised of school directors, school administrators, parents and public education advocates who want to support state- level candidates that do what’s right for our students and schools.  Pennsylvania school districts are directly impacted by the actions of our elected officials. Every year, the state legislature spends months considering proposed legislation that affects how public schools in the commonwealth are funded and the rules by which they must operate. EdPAC supports those elected officials who promote local control in education, oppose mandates, and support the work of our school districts. EdPAC is organizing the efforts of individual and school district advocates across Pennsylvania, to raise funds for more effective political action, and to make contributions from those funds for the benefit of the candidates that help our students the most.

PSBA 2016-17 Budget Update JUL 22, 2016 • 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Please join PSBA’s Assistant Executive Director of Public Policy and Chief Lobbyist John Callahan for an in-depth dive into Pennsylvania’s budget. In this complimentary member webinar, see what is behind the numbers, get the trends and analysis for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Find out what is in the school code and policy changes to come. Participate in a question and answer period.  Register online with PSBA’s webinar host GoToWebinar at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7915829886509395715

Apply Now for EPLC's 2016-2017 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2016-2017 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With nearly 500 graduates in its first seventeen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 15-16, 2016 and continues to graduation in June 2017. Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program, or here to see the 2016-2017 program calendar.
Applications are being accepted now.

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.

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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