Sunday, July 3, 2016

PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup July 3: PA lawmakers leave town without plan to pay for $31.5B budget; HB530 still pending

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PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup July 3, 2016:
PA lawmakers leave town without plan to pay for $31.5B budget; HB530 still pending

On Tuesday morning, call your State Rep’s office and ask them to oppose HB530

On Tuesday morning, call your State Senator’s office and ask them to oppose HB530

More info on HB530 here:

STATEMENT: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on HB530
CONTACT: John Neurohr,, 724-903-0077 July 1, 2016
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement about HB530, being considered in the House today.
"While we agree that HB 530 includes a handful of policy improvements regarding oversight of charter and cyber charter schools, their inclusion in the bill does not offset the harmful sections of the bill that enable charters to escape from the control of local school districts and drain money from our public schools; to amass bloated fund balances; to avoid accountability for failing to adequately educate students; and to escape from state oversight when they commit fraud.   "Passing HB530 would be harmful to school districts all over the state — not just Philadelphia.   "Specifically, the bill would allow charters to escape from agreements they have made with school districts and expand enrollment, add grade levels, and permit out of district students to enroll. This would be an economic disaster for schools districts across the state, many of which are already struggling to make ends meet.  "Legislators, regardless of political affiliation and ideology, should be very concerned about key provisions in HB530, some of which are hastily-written and some of which seem to contradict other provisions in the same bill. For these reasons, we oppose HB530, and we believe legislators of both parties should do the same."

Third and State Blog Posted by Marc Stier on June 29, 2016 3:22 pm
As this dispiriting budget season ends, advocates for education could at least be grateful that the General Assembly seems poised to increase basic education funding by $200 million. This is far less than the $400 million necessary to put us on a path towards overcoming massive cuts and the most unequal education funding in the state. And it does little more than help school districts keep up with costs. But at a time when so many legislators are unwilling to find the revenues to invest in anything, it is better than nothing.   Yet, at least as Philadelphia is concerned, it will all be for nothing if HB530 passes in its current form. That bill would undermine the ability of the School District of Philadelphia to control the growth of charter schools. Yet, under the present rules, every charter school enrollment disproportionately reduces the funds available in district schools. The result will be that much, if not all, of the new funding for basic education in Philadelphia will be eaten up by payments to charter schools. Students in district schools will never see the benefit of new basic funding.  Other school districts around the state may suffer in a similar way from unlimited charter expansion. 

HB 530: Hite speaks out against state bill
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa July 1, 2016
….Before the SRC took any of the charter votes, Superintendent William Hite spoke out against Pennsylvania House Bill 530, which, in its current form, would overhaul charter regulation and make it easier for charters to add grades.   Hite said that the bill would severely restrict Philadelphia's ability to manage its own charters and would hurt the District financially if charters could add enrollment without getting prior approval. Philadelphia has more than half the charter schools in the state.  The proposed legislation, among other provisions, would create a state performance evaluation matrix for charter schools and nullify any local efforts to do something different. Philadelphia's charter office has spent years working on "quality authorizing," or setting clear standards for charter approvals and continued operation.  "There is a shift in 530 of practices and policies that Philadelphia has worked to put in place to the statewide level," said Kacer. "New charter applications, renewal applications and evaluations, all of them would be dictated at the state level without the ability for us to amend or modify." For instance, the District would not be allowed to ask for additional information beyond what the state specifies, she said.

Philly’s 7th Ward Blog BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI JUNE 30, 2016
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.
For many years, the School District of Philadelphia, anti-charter groups, and even high performing charter schools, demanded that charters be held accountable for student achievement. They are right to demand this. Just as citizens should demand accountability for all public schools in our city and state. And, the entity that we should all expect to lead the way in holding all schools accountable for students’ achievement levels is the state government. After all, providing a quality education for the citizens of Pennsylvania is a Constitutional (and a moral) obligation.  Right now, Pennsylvania’s representatives are poised to vote on an important bill (HB530) that would, amongst other things, differentiate between high-performing and unsuccessful charter schools. This bill also addresses a lot of other issues that anti-charter folks have highlighted as their reason for resisting charter schools in the first place.  So, help me to understand our current situation.  We hear complaints about how charters are funded, how they are held accountable, how they grow. And, now there is a bill that our state Representatives are considering that would address these issues.

REPRISE: PA Charter Law: Lots of complaints, but few solutions
Many agree that the charter law should be changed. But political gridlock, powerful lobbies, and scarce funds make that difficult.
The notebook by Dan Hardy June 6, 2016 — 3:36pm
Nearly 20 years after Pennsylvania lawmakers established charter schools, serious concerns about the law’s fairness are still stirring debate. But few prospects for changing it are in sight, even as many school districts’ finances deteriorate steadily, partly due to charter growth.
Problematic consequences of the 1997 law that are widely acknowledged include:
·         The continued financial drain on school districts caused by the growth of charters, which are funded from school district budgets.
·         A charter funding formula that districts say pays charters too much because some parts of it do not reflect actual district or charter expenses.
·         A charter funding formula that charters say pays them too little because it lops off 30 percent of a district’s costs – such as transportation and pre-K that charters don’t incur – before calculating the per-pupil payment.
·         A  formula that doesn’t explicitly provide funds or reimbursements for building purchases and renovations, so charters have to pay for those projects out of operating expenses.
·         An authorizing system considered flawed by charter advocates and school boards, but for different reasons. The advocates find it flawed because only local school boards, which compete with charters for students, can vote to create these schools. The school boards consider it flawed because they are prevented from considering the financial impact of new charters on their districts.
·         Vague criteria for charter renewal and lengthy appeal processes, leading to protracted disputes about closing charters for poor academic performance or mismanagement.
·         A financial formula that gives cyber charters, which are authorized by the state, the same amount per student as brick-and-mortar schools, which results in widely varying per-pupil payments by districts to cyber charters for providing the same educational services to all students.

Some work, few developments on Pa. budget over holiday weekend
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 02, 2016 at 7:35 PM, updated July 02, 2016 at 9:20 PM
It looks like Pennsylvania lawmakers will be home for the 4th of July... but without that completed budget they'd hoped for after a surprisingly sturdy season of bipartisanship this spring.  While a $31.5 billion spending plan is ready for Gov. Tom Wolf's signature, there is no agreement on a tax and revenue package needed to pay for it.  So it's another round of state budget limbo for Pennsylvania.  Few expect this logjam to be anything like the impasse that stretched into a nine-months last year, but for the moment schisms on taxes and the scope of a proposed gambling expansion bill are keeping the sides from completion.  Sources close to the ongoing talks said there were no significant breakthroughs to report Saturday, though staffers in the House and Senate were expected to continue to trade ideas through the weekend.  In the meantime, there is a Plan B.

Lawmakers’ deep divide over taxes drags out Pa. budget talks
Delco Times By Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press POSTED: 07/02/16, 5:25 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> The Pennsylvania Legislature’s deep divide over tax increases dashed hopes in the Capitol on Friday for a quick end to state budget negotiations, and leaders sent rank-and-file lawmakers home while they worked to find a solution with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.  The prospect of a new impasse arose barely two months after the end of a record-breaking stalemate in the first budget go-around between Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature.  The House and Senate finalized a $31.5 billion spending plan Thursday and sent most of it to Wolf’s desk. But that momentum petered out Friday, the first day of Pennsylvania’s 2016-17 fiscal year.  Budget negotiators vowed to work over the weekend to seek agreement on more than $1 billion needed to balance Pennsylvania’s deficit-plagued finances. But Democrats and Republicans feuded over the precise amount of money necessary to balance the budget.

Pa. legislators leave Capitol with no deal on how to pay for budget
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis and Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JULY 2, 2016 — 1:07 AM EDT
HARRISBURG - The Republican-controlled House and Senate left the Capitol building Friday - possibly for the entire holiday weekend - without having resolved how they are going to pay for the $31.5 billion budget they have sent to Gov. Wolf.  After hours of closed-door talks, leaders in the chambers sent their members home, a sign that they are still wrangling among themselves and with the Democratic governor over how much in new revenue is necessary - and what taxes are needed to raise it - to bolster the spending plan they approved with impressive majorities earlier in the week.  Although no one appeared panicked that talks were breaking down Friday afternoon, several officials expressed concern about allowing rank-and-file legislators to return to their districts.  "The danger is losing the momentum that has been building over the last few days for a bipartisan, consensus solution," said Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democrats.
It was not immediately clear when leaders, who said that they would continue talking Friday night and Saturday, might ask their members to return.

Legislature, Gov. Tom Wolf stalled on a tax and revenue package
Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG — Lobbyists milled in the Rotunda. House leaders scurried in and out of meetings. Senate leaders and then House leaders sent rank-and-file lawmakers home to await an emergency call that would summon them back to vote on the last pieces of a 2016-17 budget.  That was the Capitol political scene Friday, a day after the Republican-controlled Legislature gave Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf a $31.6 billion budget without an accompanying revenue and tax bill to cover the spending.  The earliest the Legislature is expected to be called back is Sunday, July 3. So, without a revenue and tax bill package, the state began the new fiscal year Friday without the ability to cover a 5 percent increase in spending.  Passing a spending plan without a tax plan is nothing new. Lawmakers and governors often pass a budget first and then haggle over how to pay for it. The trick is finding enough common ground among five groups of negotiators — House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, and the governor — to make a deal work for all.
And, just like last year, the trickiest part of making a deal appears to be getting the Republican-dominated House to accept what the four other groups want: a tax increase that affects enough people and businesses to pay for rising costs, and some discretionary spending in corrections, education, health, human services, law enforcement, parks and more.

Disagreements over taxes, gambling expansion leave state budget unfinished as holiday weekend begins
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on July 01, 2016 at 9:24 PM, updated July 02, 2016 at 8:14 AM
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers once sang:"The waiting is the hardest part."  But when public policy meets politics in an election year, it is truly the taxes that are the hardest part.  Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania lawmakers proved the point Friday, when, they failed to come to agreement on a tax plan to fully fund the $31.5 billion general fund spending bill passed earlier this week.  Although the 2016-17 state general fund budget is not yet finalized, some winners and losers are beginning to take shape. Have a look at who they may be.  The disagreements may feel a little like deja vu:  House Republicans are balking at a proposal being pushed by the other parties to the talks, in this case a new gross receipts tax on natural gas sales that would be paid by gas utility customers.  "There is no doubt it's kind of four-on-one on that particular equation," said House Majority Leader David Reed, R-Indiana County. "We are probably the only caucus that has said no on that particular proposal, and it's not just a matter of public policy, it's a matter of votes.

Pennsylvania lawmakers leave town without plan to pay for $31.5B budget
Trib Live BY BRAD BUMSTED  | Friday, July 1, 2016, 5:27 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Negotiations on how to pay for a $31.5 billion budget stalled Friday with lawmakers leaving town for the long holiday weekend.  They could be called back if there's an agreement among Republican and Democrat legislators and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, officials said.  The General Assembly approved a spending plan for 2016-17 on Thursday night, but critics said there was no plan to pay for it. The budget, among other things, boosts basic education spending by $200 million.  “The governor is hopeful we can work through the weekend to finalize this budget that moves the commonwealth forward, and ensure that we have the revenue necessary to pay for it,” said Wolf's spokesman, Jeffrey Sheridan.

When is a finished budget really a finished budget? The answer will matter in 2018: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 01, 2016 at 10:00 AM, updated July 01, 2016 at 10:02 AM
Here's how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "Budget:"
1. An amount of money available for spending that is based on a plan for it will be spent.
2. A plan used to decide the amount of money that can be spent and how it will be spent.
3. An official statement from a government about how much it plans to spend during a particular period of time and how it will pay for the expenses.
After definitions one and two taking pole position for the last couple of years, it's that third meaning that's come to define the debate over Gov. Tom Wolf's second proposed spending plan.
In the wake of a state House vote on Thursday night that sent a $31.5 billion spending plan to Wolf's desk, some Republicans -- and Wolf himself -- were quick to point out that their work wouldn't be finished until they'd figured out a way to pay for all those ones and zeroes in the general appropriations bill.

Campaign for Fair Education Funding statement on final passage of 2016-17 state budget
Campaign for Fair Education Funding July 1, 2016
HARRISBURG – The Campaign for Fair Education Funding released the following statement in response to final passage of the proposed state budget for the 2016-’17 fiscal year:
“The increase of $200 million for basic education in the budget is a crucial investment in our public schools. We appreciate the work of the Governor and the General Assembly to secure this funding increase and for their work to adopt a fair funding formula last month.  “But the work to improve educational opportunities for Pennsylvania students is far from done. This year’s increase does not reach the level we believe is needed, and Pennsylvania’s share in funding schools will remain one of the lowest in the country. To truly fund our schools fairly and adequately, the state should increase its investment through the new fair funding formula by $3 billion over the next six to eight years.  “We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the General Assembly to achieve further educational investments in future years to support Pennsylvania’s students and close the state’s achievement gaps.”

Joanne Barnett, CEO of the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School in King of Prussia
What virtual ed advocates are urging
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO JULY 2, 2016 12:37 AM
STATE COLLEGE - When a PA Cyber office was opened in State College, the mission was to better serve central Pennsylvania-area families who have children in the cyber charter school.  The State College regional office, 1700 S. Atherton St., opened late last year with three full-time staff members.  The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School offers online learning and has 77 students enrolled from Centre County, Executive Coordinator Casie Colalella said.  Colalella said the new space was a relocation of an office that was in Bellefonte.  The facility is used to help with enrollment, student orientation, parent information events, academic and social enrichment opportunities, workshops, state testing and more.  “The decision to relocate to State College was made easy due to the increased accessibility and more convenient location for our families,” PA Cyber Deputy Chief Operating Officer Eric Woelfel said in a statement.

SRC approves new Belmont Charter High School for Mantua
The 3-2 vote rejected the recommendation of the charter office.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa July 1, 2016 — 4:25pm
The School Reform Commission on Friday approved the creation of a new, 300-student Belmont Charter High School, rejecting the recommendation from the District charter office that the application be denied.  A resolution to deny the charter had been prepared and distributed at the meeting. But Commissioner Bill Green had another "walk-on" resolution at the ready to approve it, with conditions. The resolution to deny never received a second, and Green's resolution passed by a 3-2 vote.   The SRC also voted to revoke the charter of World Communications Charter, but took no action (through a 2-2 tie) on a request from Harambee Institute, one of the city's oldest charters, to increase its enrollment by 50 students.  DawnLynne Kacer, head of the charter office, told SRC members before the Belmont vote that she had concerns about the new school's governance structure, which would involve a coalition with the K-8 Belmont Charter School and the K-2 Inquiry Charter School.  "The exact nature of the responsibilities of the proposed school, its partner Belmont schools (via the Coalition Agreement), and a non-profit back-office service provider (Community Education Alliance of West Philadelphia, or CEAWP) remain unclear," reads the charter office evaluation. "Although the applicant has taken some steps to restructure board membership among the various entities mentioned above, significant concerns remain." 

SRC takes step to close World Communications Charter
Inquirer by Mensah M. Dean, Staff Writer Updated: JULY 2, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
The School Reform Commission on Friday voted to begin the process of shutting down one of the oldest charter schools in the city, and gave its blessing for another charter to add high school grades.  Citing years of low test scores, a declining graduation rate, and a host of other academic and administrative deficiencies, the commission voted, 4-1, to revoke its operating agreement with World Communications Charter in Center City.  The next step for World Communications is an Aug. 15 hearing, then another SRC vote. The school, which has 556 students in sixth through 12th grades, was among the first four charters to open in Philadelphia, in the fall of 1997.
There are currently 83 independently run, publicly funded charter schools, enrolling 63,441 students, according to the School District's website.

State budget increase still leaves Pottstown among most under-funded schools
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 07/01/16, 6:08 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Although Pottstown schools will see the largest funding increase among nine area school districts under the $31.5 billion budget adopted by the state Legislature Thursday, it will remain among the top 20 most under-funded school districts in the Commonwealth.  On Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf praised the bipartisan compromise effort to adopt a budget — particularly for the $245 million in additional public education funding it includes.  But he has indicated he will not sign the budget until adequate revenues are produced to balance it.  Should the budget become law in the next 10 days, Pottstown will see its state funding increase at least $672,000, which includes as 6.3 percent increase in basic education funding and a 2.9 percent hike in special education funding, the second highest in the area.

Survey: Linda Darling-Hammond, Ben Carson Most Likely Ed. Secretary Picks
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on May 9, 2016 7:10 AM
Education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond and former Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson are the most likely picks to be U.S. Secretary of Education for White House candidatesHillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, according to an "Education Insiders" survey by Whiteboard Advisors released Monday. And who's second on the list for Clinton? American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, say these insiders.
The survey of roughly 50 to 75 current and former White House and U.S. Department of Education leaders, current and former congressional staff members, state education officials, and think tank leaders also found that a slight majority of them believe that over the next two years, more states will stop participating in two consortia (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) that were originally funded by Washington and create tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. 
And these "insiders" are generally pessimistic about the extent to which both the media and presidential politics will focus on education, although there's some belief that higher education could be an exception.

Don’t use test scores to judge teacher quality
Boston Globe By Diane Ravitch   JUNE 30, 2016
The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill repealing the mandate to use test scores in evaluating teacher quality. The approval of the House is needed to enact the bill. The Legislature should act promptly to endorse this bill. Test-based teacher evaluation has been discredited everywhere it has been tried and has been rejected by knowledgeable scholars. Massachusetts should abandon this harmful policy (as Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Houston recently did). The public needs to learn more about why this policy consistently fails.  The idea that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students was a central tenet in former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top program. Massachusetts won a federal grant of $250 million in 2011 and agreed to follow Duncan’s wishes, including this untried method of evaluating teachers. The US Department of Education handed out $5 billion to states to promote test-based evaluation and privately managed charter schools. In addition, the Gates Foundation gave away hundreds of millions of dollars to five urban districts to use test scores to evaluate teachers.  Evaluating teachers by test scores has not raised scores significantly anywhere. Good teachers have been fired by this flawed method. A New York judge ruled this method “arbitrary and capricious” after one of the state’s best teachers was judged ineffective.

“If you want to do something for me other than say “happy birthday” (which is also nice), please join and/or make a gift of any size to the Network for Public Education or the NPE Action Fund, which engages in political action. I co-founded these groups with Anthony Cody, and we hope NPE will be the meeting place for all those who are sick of attacks on public schools and teachers, for all those who want to sing the praises of a great democratic public education system that is required by law to provide equal opportunity for all students. We want a transformation, not the status quo. We want great schools for every child, not just for the few. And we won’t tolerate the naysayers who pick on the people, institutions, and values we hold dear.  And if you have the time and resources to join me, come to Washington on Friday, July 8, for the Save Our Schools March. Walk arm in arm with your friends and allies.”
Ravitch: Today is My Birthday! Guess What I Want?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch July 1, 2016 //
Dear Friends,
Today is my birthday. I am 78 years old. I was born at 12:05 a.m. in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, to Walter and Ann Silvers. I was their third child. Five more would follow. Eventually we were five boys and three girls. My dad was born in Savannah and dropped out of high school. My mother was born in Bessarabia, came to the U.S. at age 9, and graduated from the Houston public schools, one of the proudest achievements of her life. She prided herself on her perfect English. She was an American and a Texan.

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)
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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