Wednesday, August 10, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 10: “Words matter. Thoughts matter. And they matter even more when you're running for President of the United States.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup August 10, 2016:
“Words matter. Thoughts matter. And they matter even more when you're running for President of the United States.”

“Words matter. Thoughts matter. And they matter even more when you're running for President of the United States.”
With Clinton 'assassination' remarks, Trump crosses the final line: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on August 10, 2016 at 7:13 AM, updated August 10, 2016 at 7:21 AM
Donald Trump knew what he was doing Tuesday afternoon. Make no mistake. 
"Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment," a smiling Trump said of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during a rally in Wilmington, N.C. "By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know. But I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day." 
Read that last sentence again:  "But I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day."
What else could he have meant?
In a nation awash in weapons, at a time when every city street in America, including those in Harrisburg, reverberates almost daily with the sound of gunfire, Trump sounded a dog whistle so loud and so clear, that there could be no mistaking its meaning.

Why this school director is fired up about charter school ads
By Sara K. Satullo | For Email the author | Follow on Twitter on August 09, 2016 at 11:17 AM, updated August 09, 2016 at 6:51 PM
Bethlehem Area School Board member Dean Donaher wants the public to know that charter schools aren't really free.   While parents don't have to pay tuition to enroll a child in a Pennsylvania public charter school, tax dollars are funneled from a home school to the charter for each child that enrolls.  "They're not free. They do cost money," Donaher said Monday night during a school board meeting. "People don't work there out of the goodness of their own heart. They get paid and that money comes from the local school district." Donaher said he was aggravated to turn the page in the Sunday edition of The Morning Call and see a full-page color ad for the Innovative Arts Academy Charter School, proclaiming the Catasauqua school is free for grades 6-12.

As one door closes in Pa., another opens for cyber charter company
If you’ve watched television in the Philadelphia area recently, you’ve probably met Madison. The precocious computer science major used to be a spokesperson for Commonwealth Connections Academy, Pennsylvania’s second-largest cyber charter school.  In the 30-second spot, Madison demonstrated the benefits of online learning by chatting with a seventh-grade version of herself. The commercial is still airing, but now at the end of her spiel an announcer directs parents to enroll in Reach Cyber Charter, the first new cyber charter to open in Pennsylvania since 2012.  The similarities between the commercials speak to the similarities between the schools.  Reach is managed by Connections Education LLC, a for-profit cyber charter management company with 34 schools across 28 states and a long-time player in the Pennsylvania cyber charter scene. Connections used to run Commonwealth Connections Academy, but the two split earlier this year. A few months later, Reach earned state approval and suddenly Connections had a brand new cyber charter to promote.

Report offers Pennsylvania public schools a path to international best practices
In Pennsylvania, attempts to change education policies or practices are often long, drawn-out slogs.  So what would it take to revolutionize the entire system to compete with top performers in the world?  A new report from the National Council of State Legislatures, a bipartisan think tank, suggests a clear path forward — urging lawmakers to fast-track international best practices in order to improve the United States' mediocre standings on the world's education stage.  "What surprised me, and I think them, the most was the consensus that came on some very fundamental principles that have played out very differently in the states," said Julie Bell, the group's program director for education policy.  Bell helped write the report with 22 state lawmakers from across the country, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.  So what's the magic formula?  Analyzing best international practices, specifically highlighting Finland, Singapore, and Ontario, the group found a few commonalities of success.

“Moody’s Investors Service has revised the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s outlook to stable from negative… Still, the 2017 budget fight represents some improvement: the legislature and governor agreed on a budget, and a government that had been unable to pass new revenues in 2016 was able to do so in 2017.”
After Balanced Budget with Sustainable Revenues, Moody’s Revises Commonwealth Outlook to Stable
Governor Wolf’s Blog August 09, 2016
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that Moody’s Investor Service has revised Pennsylvania’s outlook to stable from negative. This follows the final enactment of the commonwealth’s 2016-17 budget that is balanced and includes sustainable, recurring revenue.  “The 2016-17 budget was an important step forward, and Moody’s revision of Pennsylvania’s outlook to stable from negative reflects that fact,” said Governor Wolf. “Working with Republicans and Democrats in the legislature, we completed a budget that is balanced and includes sustainable, recurring revenue. When I came into office, following years of unbalanced budgets, the commonwealth faced a structural deficit of more than $2 billion. Now, we have made significant progress in reducing the deficit, but we still have more to do and I look forward to continuing to work with the legislature to fix the commonwealth’s deficit.”

A pension fix has to be the Legislature's top priority this fall: Mike Turzai
PennLive Op-Ed By Mike Turzai on August 09, 2016 at 12:30 PM
State Rep. Mike Turzai, a Republican, is speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He represents the Allegheny County-based 28th House District.
Everyone involved in the debate over Pennsylvania's public pension crisis needs to understand one, vital truth:  Pension reform isn't simply about saving money. It's about saving the pensions — benefits earned by thousands of public school teachers and state workers.  If we don't find a way to reduce the expanding debt around our public pensions, no contract will overcome the unforgiving laws of mathematics. It's this plain: without meaningful reform, both taxpayers and our retirees could be at risk.  Pennsylvania's crisis has its roots in a succession of imprudent and poorly-timed decisions that stretch back decades.  Our major error as a state was one shared by countless other government entities: We assumed that lavish returns on investments would never end.  Fifteen years, a major recession and countless changes in the financial markets, and we are headed toward a fiscal cliff.  No succession of accounting maneuvers and fiscal sleights of hand can hide the fact that our two largest public pension systems have an unfunded liability — a projected debt — of $60 billion.

Editorial: A fairer way to fund the schools
Intelligencer Editorial Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:15 am
Funding public education at adequate levels has always been a somewhat contentious issue among Pennsylvania lawmakers. More controversial than the total amount of dollars, however, has been the way those dollars have been divvied up among the state's 500 school districts.  Said state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, Horsham: "For more than two decades, taxpayers in my (eastern Montgomery County) school districts have been shortchanged by an unfair school funding formula." The same could be said for school districts in Bucks County. The tax money being sent to Harrisburg from suburban school districts in our region was not coming back in fair proportion. One of the major reasons: the so-called "hold harmless" rule, which has meant a school district's aid could not be cut even if the student population declined.  As a result, state Rep. Bernie O'Neill, R-29, Warminster, said, "Many districts have become cash cows," receiving ever more in state subsidies even though enrollment figures couldn't justify it.  Finally, however, thanks to the work of O'Neill and others on a bipartisan commission charged with reviewing the outdated and unfair school funding formula, a new formula is in place that should gradually give each school district the amount of state funding to which it is entitled. No more, no less.

Pennsylvania's political 'glass ceiling' intact for now
Carley Mossbrook Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau August 8, 2016
HARRISBURG — For the first time in U.S. history, a woman sits atop the ticket of a major political party.  While Hillary Clinton described her nomination at the Democratic National Convention as "shattering a glass ceiling" for women and girls, Pennsylvania's gender ceiling remains very much intact.  Pennsylvania ranks 40th in the country for female representation in government, with women representing 18.6 percent of the Legislature, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.  No woman has ever sat at the governor's desk or represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate, and there are currently no women representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives. The commonwealth didn't elect a female Supreme Court justice until 1995.  Dana Brown, director of the center, said the trend of unequal representation isn't likely to change soon. "We see it as a plateau that will probably continue to hang around 18 and 19 percent," she said.

This week in schools: New source for substitute teachers
York Daily Record by Angie Mason, amason@ydr.com1:18 p.m. EDT August 9, 2016
Schools in Pennsylvania will soon have a new resource for finding substitute teachers. Read about that and more in the weekly education news roundup.
College students can be substitutes - Recently approved changes to the school code allow for college students studying to be teachers to serve as substitutes in schools.  The new law says that a student who is enrolled in a teacher preparation program at an accredited school and who has at least 60 credits finished can serve as a substitute. The student must also meet state-required background check requirements.  In recent years, school districts have been struggling to find enough substitutes to meet their needs. State education committees held hearings on the subject last year.  The new law takes effect mid-September.

Philly schools to look for revenue from undervalued properties
Inquirer by Susan Snyder, STAFF WRITER Updated: AUGUST 9, 2016 — 5:46 PM EDT
The cash-strapped Philadelphia School District will begin trolling for more tax dollars from city properties that have been significantly under valued, officials announced Tuesday.  The district will seek proposals from law firms, real estate appraisers and other professionals to help identify properties that are assessed at least $1 million under their actual value and appeal those assessments.  District officials aren't sure how much money the effort will bring in, but said the district needs all tax revenue to which it is entitled. Every $1 million in taxable value is worth $7,500 to the district.  "Our goal is to ensure all taxpayers and properties are fairly assessed and taxed so taxpayers across the city are equitably providing funding for the school district," Uri Monson, chief financial officer, said in a statement. "This three-year pilot program will assess the degree to which certain properties might be undervalued across the city of Philadelphia."

Lawsuit over Ten Commandments monument at school reinstated by The Associated Press Updated: AUGUST 9, 2016 — 5:22 PM EDT
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (AP) - A dispute over a Ten Commandments monument outside a Pennsylvania public school is heading back to federal court and may end up the topic of a trial.  The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday a federal appeals court ruled a woman has standing to sue the New Kensington-Arnold School District on claims the monument violates the constitutional separation of church and state.  A federal judge threw out the case last year, saying Marie Schaub and her daughter had minimal contact with the monument. The daughter wasn't enrolled in Valley Junior-Senior High when the case was filed.  The court ruling says people have standing if they can show "direct, unwelcome contact" even if that contact is infrequent.  The plaintiffs want the monument taken down.  The school district superintendent hasn't returned a message seeking comment.

Third New Poll Shows Clinton Has 10 Point+ Lead Over Trump In PA
PA Capitol Digest August 9, 2016 by Crisci Associates
An NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll released Tuesday afternoon is the third poll in a week to show Clinton with a 10 point or more lead over Trump in Pennsylvania-- 48 to 37 percent-- with registered voters.   In a four-way race Clinton gets 45 percent to Trump’s 36 percent, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson gets 9 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein receives 3 percent.  A  Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday shows Clinton leading Trump 52 to 42 percent in Pennsylvania among likely voters.  With the complete slate of candidates on the Presidential ballot, Clinton leads Trump 48 to 39 percent, followed by Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3 percent.  Don’t nos are at 3 percent.   A Franklin & Marshall Poll released last Thursday has Clinton leading Trump 49 percent to 38 percent among likely voters.

Bipartisan group of state lawmakers calls for big changes to improve U.S. public schools
Washington Post By Emma Brown August 9 at 12:11 PM 
What will it take for U.S. schools to improve — not incrementally, but dramatically?  That’s the question that a bipartisan group of state lawmakers from around the country set out to answer two years ago, when they embarked on a study of the world’s highest-performing school systems. They compiled their answers in a report released Tuesday at the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  “The bad news is most state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons,” says the report. “The good news is, by studying these other high-performing systems, we are discovering what seems to work.”  The group examined 10 nations that fare well on international comparisons, including China, Canada, Singapore, Estonia, Japan, Poland and Korea, and discovered common elements: strong early childhood education, especially for disadvantaged children; more selective teacher preparation programs; better pay and professional working conditions for teachers; and time to help build curriculum linked to high standards.

The Best Schools In The World Do This, Why Don't We?
NPR by CORY TURNER August 9, 20167:00 AM ET
For a moment, let's pretend.  That everything you know about America's public education system — the bitter politics and arcane funding policies, the rules and countless reasons our schools work (or don't) the way they do — is suddenly negotiable.  Pretend the obstacles to change have melted like butter on hot blacktop.  Now ask yourself: What could — and should — we do differently?  This question drove a bipartisan group of more than two dozen state lawmakers and legislative staffers on an 18-month journey. Their mission: study some of the world's top-performing school systems, including those in Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Ontario, Poland, Shanghai, Singapore and Taiwan.  Today the group, part of The National Conference of State Legislatures, released its findings, entitled No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State.  The report is full of takeaways. Here are three of the biggest:

Obama administration accused of trying to dictate education policy to states — again
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 9 at 5:00 PM 
The U.S. Education Department solicited public comment on draft regulations it has created for states to implement the school “accountability” and data reporting provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act — and, boy, did it get feedback, some of it scathing.  When Education Secretary John B. King Jr. announced the proposed rules in May, he said they were designed to “give states the opportunity to work all of their stakeholders … to protect all students’ right to a high-quality education,” and that they “give educators room to reclaim for all of their students the joy and promise of a well-rounded educational experience.”  King was referring to the mess created by No Child Left Behind, the K-12 education law that ESSA was passed last December to replace. NCLB, with accountability goals literally impossible to meet, had led to a severe narrowing of the curriculum and an over-emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing. Congress finally replaced No Child Left Behind — eight years late — because of NCLB’s flaws and because of criticism from across the political spectrum that the Obama administration had become too prescriptive and heavy-handed in education policy.  Now, the deadline for public comment of the proposed regulations has just passed, and education officials in some states as well as teachers, superintendents and others have told the Obama administration that it is still overreaching with its proposed ESSA regulations — and in at least one instance, went further and blasted the Education Department. Here’s a taste of a letter from the Vermont Board of Education, signed by chairman Stephan A. Morse (and you can see the full text below):

Tour of Ten Key ESSA Issues, From Teachers to Tests, Provided in New Report
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on August 9, 2016 12:03 PM
Still studying up on important policy changes made by the Every Student Succeeds Act? The Education Commission of the States has put out short overviews of ten important issues that state education departments and others will face as they shift to the new federal education law.  The ECS report touches on topics such as how to improve struggling schools, the thorny issue of testing opt-outs, and other matters.   "The new law maintains many of the same basic components as past iterations, such as state plans and report cards, but the bipartisan bill also responds to many of the common complaints about NCLB by offering states greater flexibility and control over education policy," the ECS report states.  But it also makes it clear that there's still a ways to go before policymakers have total clarity on important issues. For example, the Education Department released proposed regulations for accountability and state plans under ESSA, but after public feedback, those draft rules could change significantly. 
Here are the ten issues ECS examines and what ESSA means for them:
• Assessment Flexibility
• Assessment Participation and Opt-Outs
• Innovation Assessment Pilot
• Indicators of School Quality or Student Success
• English Learners and Accountability
• Supporting Low-Performing Schools
• Teachers and School Leaders
• Title I's Supplement-Not-Supplant Provision
• Title IV - 21st Century Schools
• State Plans

Trump: Daughter Working On Education Reform Plan
NBC MON, AUG 08 Video runtime: 1:01
GOP nominee Donald Trump says that his daughter Ivanka, along with a group of experts is devising a plan for education reform, which will include parents being able to choose schools for their children.

Trump’s Ambiguous Wink Wink to ‘Second Amendment People’
New York Times Opinion by Thomas L. Friedman AUG. 9, 2016
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.
His right-wing opponents just kept delegitimizing him as a “traitor” and “a Nazi” for wanting to make peace with the Palestinians and give back part of the Land of Israel. Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible.  But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.  And that’s what the Jewish extremist Yigal Amir did to Rabin. Why not? He thought he had permission from a whole segment of Israel’s political class.
In September, I wrote a column warning that Donald Trump’s language toward immigrants could end up inciting just this kind of violence. I never in my wildest dreams, though, thought he’d actually — in his usual coy, twisted way — suggest that Hillary Clinton was so intent on taking away the Second Amendment right to bear arms that maybe Second Amendment enthusiasts could do something to stop her. Exactly what? Oh, Trump left that hanging.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins: Why I cannot support Donald Trump
Centre Daily Times BY SUSAN COLLINS The Washington Post AUGUST 9, 2016 6:50 AM
I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican. But Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.
When the primary season started, it soon became apparent that, much like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Trump was connecting with many Americans who felt that their voices were not being heard in Washington and who were tired of political correctness. But rejecting the conventions of political correctness is different from showing complete disregard for common decency. Trump did not stop with shedding the stilted campaign dialogue that often frustrates voters. Instead, he opted for a constant stream of denigrating comments, including demeaning Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., heroic military service and repeatedly insulting Fox News host Megyn Kelly.  With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize. But it was his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing – either because they do not share his power or stature or because professional responsibility precluded them from engaging at such a level – that revealed Trump as unworthy of being our president.

The GOP must dump Trump
Washington Post Partisan Opinion By Joe Scarborough August 9 at 11:03 PM
Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, hosts the MSNBC show “Morning Joe."
The Muslim ban, the David Duke denial, the “Mexican” judge flap, the draft dodger denigrating John McCain’s military service, the son of privilege attacking an immigrant Gold Star mother and the constant revisionism and lying about past political positions taken are but a few of the lowlights that have punctuated Donald Trump’s chaotic chase for the presidency.  Any one of these offenses would have disqualified any other candidate for president. But the Republican nominee remained competitive against a historically weak Democratic nominee on the promise of bringing radical change and dramatic disruption to Washington.  That appears to be changing. Post-convention polls show Trump falling behind by double digits both nationally and in must-win swing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Virginia.  And the political ride will only get rockier for Trump in the coming days after he suggested that one way to keep a conservative Supreme Court after Hillary Clinton got elected would be to assassinate her or federal judges. Trump and his supporters have been scrambling wildly all day to explain away the inexplicable, but they can stop wasting their time. The GOP nominee was clearly suggesting that some of the “Second Amendment people” among his supporters could kill his Democratic opponent were she to be elected.

HBO's John Oliver causes stir locally and nationally with newspaper segment
Inquirer by Tommy Rowan, Staff Writer  @tommyrowan AUGUST 10, 2016 — 6:25 AM EDT
In just over two days, John Oliver's funny yet poignant segment on his HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight that offered a defense of the beleaguered newspaper industry has racked up more than 3 million views.  The 19-minute spot concisely laid out the perils facing the newspaper industry, including weighing the difficult balance between producing aggregated content and digging for hard-hitting investigative journalism, as well as surviving on an outdated business model.  “A big part of the blame for this industry’s dire straits is on us," Oliver said on Sunday, "and our unwillingness to pay for the work journalists produce."  While scores of journalists and pundits alike applauded Oliver's tough love, some others took offense.

How privatization of schools works: An infograph
Seattle Education Blog August 8, 2016

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 8/10/2016

Registration for the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 13-15 is now open
The conference is your opportunity to learn, network and be inspired by peers and experts.
TO REGISTER: See   (you must be logged in to the Members Area to register). You can read more on How to Register for a PSBA Event here.   CONFERENCE WEBSITE: For all other program details, schedules, exhibits, etc., see the conference

PSBA Officer Elections Aug. 15-Oct. 3, 2016: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than April 30, 2016, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 24 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).  Each school entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 15-Oct. 3, 2016). Voting will be accomplished through a secure third-party, web-based voting site that will require a password login. One person from each member school entity will be authorized as the official person to cast the vote on behalf of his or her school entity. In the case of school districts, it will be the board secretary who will cast votes on behalf of the school board.
Special note: Boards should be sure to include discussion and voting on candidates to its agenda during one of its meetings in September.

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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