Monday, August 15, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 15: "democracy has a responsibility of thinking about all children, not merely franchising opportunity for some children"

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup August 15, 2016:
"democracy has a responsibility of thinking about all children, not merely franchising opportunity for some children"

"Certainly the advocates and opponents of public education and advocates and opponents of charter schools fundamentally have in mind the well-being of our children and students," he says. "It's not an easy conversation to have. But going back to the days of John Dewey, if a purpose of education is to create not merely scholars but citizens, democracy has a responsibility of thinking about all children, not merely franchising opportunity for some children."
A House Divided
Calls to curb charter school growth are placing would-be allies at odds.
US News By Lauren Camera | Education Reporter Aug. 12, 2016, at 6:00 a.m.
At the NAACP's national convention last month in Cincinnati, the gathering of more than 2,000 delegates approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools, equating them with "the privatization" of the traditional public education system.  Days later, more than 50 African-American and social justice advocacy groups, including the Black Lives Matter network, unveiled a new policy agenda that also called for a moratorium on charter schools, arguing they represent a "systematic attack" on communities of color.  Charter schools have always represented a flashpoint in the education space. But the demands from the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter-affiliated groups highlight a new wrinkle: After years benefiting from a reform-friendly K-12 agenda that allowed its schools to flourish through the elimination of caps and increased funding at the state and federal levels, the charter sector now finds itself in the crosshairs of a burgeoning and wide-scale debate over who truly holds communities of color in their best interest.  "The issue of charter schools has become a very complicated one, especially for our community, the black community," says Hiram Rivera, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union, one of the dozens of groups that helped craft the second policy agenda.

“In 2016-17, districts must contribute 30 percent of payroll to pensions; five years ago, it was 9 percent. Yes, pensions again. You know, the issue the Pennsylvania Legislature has treated like a grenade with the pin pulled. Toss it back and forth as much as you want, eventually it’s going to explode.  Taxes rise so you can fund the state’s broken pension system, and what do you get for your hard-earned money at the local level?  As LNP reported, in Warwick for example, two retiring language arts teachers will not be replaced. In the School District of Lancaster, four vacant high school teaching positions have been eliminated.  This is what Pennsylvania’s underfunded liability — its $50 billion pension debt — and the Legislature’s failure to do much of anything about it means in real-people, real-money terms. (By the way, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, Pennsylvania has the second-most-underfunded pension plan in the nation. Thank you, New Jersey.)”
Editorial: A taxing issue for Lancaster County residents
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board Aug 14, 2016
THE ISSUE - All but one of Lancaster County’s school districts raised taxes in 2016-17. In some cases, tax increases were accompanied by cuts in staff and services. Pensions remain a big reason for school district budget issues. In the fall, the Pennsylvania Legislature will, once again, attempt to address the longstanding pension problem.
In the hierarchy of unwelcome mail, your school tax bill stands alone, high above your dental reminder card, credit card statements and electric bill, and perhaps only a tick below an envelope full of scorpions.  As much as you hate your tax bill, at least it’s predictable.  In 15 of 16 Lancaster County public school districts this year, school tax bills are higher than they were a year ago. Cocalico was the only local district that did not raise taxes. Penn Manor had the biggest increase of a robust 7 percent, though a significant portion of that will help pay for an $87 million high school renovation.  Even taking Penn Manor out of the mix, increases ranged from 1.9 percent in Lampeter-Strasburg to 4.7 percent in Conestoga Valley.  Over the last decade, local districts have raised taxes about 33 percent. Do yourself a favor and don’t do the math, not if you want to sleep at night.  Worse, ask yourself this question: For what exactly are we paying?
The answer is likely to infuriate you.

Long past time for Pa. to act on pensions
Inquirer Opinion by Dan White Updated: AUGUST 14, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Dan White is a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester and an adviser on pensions to the National League of Cities
In the back-and-forth drama of Pennsylvania's budget woes, nothing has been more ever-present than pension reform. The compromises involved in true reform have put the concept out of reach for several years, but now the legislature and Gov. Wolf have put an ambitious emphasis on reform for the fall. This is laudable, long overdue, and essential for getting us back on a more sustainable budget track.  However necessary, it won't be painless, and voters should be prepared for the possible economic implications of reform. The bottom line is that the commonwealth has made promises to the tune of roughly $60 billion over the next 30 years that it cannot keep under current law.  The good news is that the solution is undeniably simple from a fiscal standpoint. We need to come up with at least $60 billion, almost double our current annual budget, over the next 30 years. The bad news is the solution is extremely complex from a political standpoint. Where does that money come from?

“Trump got a lot of attention last week for his ill-considered remark about "2nd Amendment People." I saw, over this weekend of media madness, somebody made a joke about "1st Amendment People" -- but is that really such a joke? We need an army of people who are just as alarmed at the eroding rights and stature of those who write and report as the "2nd Amendment People" are about their notion the government is taking their guns. (Especially considering which of two things is actually happening.) We don't have an NJA spending millions to elect and woo politicians like the NRA does for the 2nd Amendment. We just have People Like You. It's clear that America's leaders won't respect a free press -- unless you demand it of them. To paraphrase Trump, 1st Amendment People...who knows?”
When a right-wing radio host reveals the truth
Philly Daily News Attytood by Will Bunch, Daily News Columnist  @will_bunch Updated: AUGUST 14, 2016 — 9:46 PM EDT
I've always felt you can't write about American politics in the 21st Century without writing about the media. We live in a media age -- how else to explain a reality-show star with no political experience (or expertise, it would seem) getting to within one giant step of the Oval Office? But this weekend, it felt different. Never in modern times has the nation have two general election candidates who've pinned so much of their hopes on hostility, if not outright hatred, for the work of a free press.

“The eye-popping sum reflects the escalating arms race in political spending, much of it fueled by super-PACs and nonprofits that have thrived since a 2010 Supreme Court ruling paved the way for them to accept donations of any size.
Six- and sometimes seven-figure checks to such outfits now blow away the $5,400 maximum an individual can give directly to a candidate.  So independent groups account for at least $27 million spent in Pennsylvania on this election - more than the total spent by candidates.  Only Ohio's Senate race has seen more outside spending, $33 million.”
Money talks loudly in attack ads for Pennsylvania's Senate campaign.
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau  @JonathanTamari Updated: AUGUST 15, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
WASHINGTON - Big money is pouring into the Pennsylvania race for U.S. Senate.
The conservative Freedom Partners Action Fund early last week launched a new television ad, backed by $2 million, accusing Democrat Katie McGinty of enriching herself at the public's expense and amplifying a key talking point from her Republican opponent, Sen. Pat Toomey.  The Democratic Senate Majority PAC hit back Thursday, announcing $1 million worth of ads painting Toomey as a friend of the National Rifle Association. And then the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a major labor union, launched a costly TV spot, assailing Toomey's ties to Wall Street - echoing McGinty's attacks.  It will all add to the most expensive Senate race in America. It's only August, but more than $52 million has already been spent on the general and primary election, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Candidates, super-PACs pushing the boundaries?
Watchdog targets McGinty’s tactics
Post Gazette By Tracie Mauriello / Post-Gazette Washington Bureau August 15, 2016 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON — As Senate candidate Katie McGinty pulled ahead of Pennsylvania Republican incumbent Pat Toomey in several recent polls, a right-leaning watchdog group filed a complaint alleging she broke federal election law by using her campaign website to cue super-PACs on what political messages to send.  McGinty aides shot back that Mr. Toomey’s campaign — which they claim is behind the allegation — does the same thing.  The complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust alleges that “through obscure postings on her website, McGinty is instructing organizations, with which she is not permitted to coordinate, to run advertisements beneficial to her campaign.”  The complaint sheds light on ambiguity created when the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the doors to unlimited spending by independent groups so long as they don’t coordinate their messages with campaigns.

Education advocates call for investigation of Philly charter schools
City and State PA By: RYAN BRIGGS AUG 12, 2016 AT 6:31 AM
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, an educational advocacy group, has called for the city’s Inspector General and Chief Integrity Officer, Board of Ethics and the Mayor’s office to investigate the relationship between School Reform Commission members and the troubled ASPIRA charter school organization.  The charter operator has been flagged by the School District of Philadelphia’s charter office for repeated academic and financial failings, but has remained in operation for more than a year due to the repeated postponement of a charter renewal vote.   The letter accuses School Reform Commission members of engaging in a “private appeals process” to benefit the charter at the public’s expense.    APPS President Lisa Haver accused SRC members Bill Green and Sylvia Simms in particular  of colluding with school operators to keep the school in operation through “ex parte” negotiations held outside of SRC meetings

“Cyber schools have been under increased scrutiny following a national study published last year that found students taking classes online through cyber charter schools do not perform as well as students in traditional bricks-and-mortar schools.  The study was released jointly by the National Study of Online Charter Schools, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research.  It used data from online students in 17 states, including Pennsylvania, plus Washington, D.C. The report found 88 percent of cyber charter schools had weaker academic growth than similar traditional schools.”
East Penn seeks to improve performance of cyber students with new vendor
Margie Peterson Special to The Morning Call August 14, 2016
Hoping to improve the performance of its cyber school students, East Penn School District is planning to change vendors and offer in-school tutoring to those who are struggling.  Since 2010, the district has been part of the Lehigh Valley Cyber Consortium with other local school districts, including Parkland and Whitehall-Coplay, that use VLN Partners of Pittsburgh. VLN Partners helps school districts transform their own curriculum into online classes for cyber school students.  East Penn administrators last week told the school board they think their cyber students could be more successful through a program called eLearn21 that uses three vendors, EdisonLearning, Accelerate Education and Apex Learning. The new program was created through the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21 for use by the member districts.

Cost of Pittsburgh Public Schools' superintendent search raises concerns
Trib Live BY ELIZABETH BEHRMAN  | Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, 10:20 p.m.
A consultant conducting his first search for a school district superintendent billed Pittsburgh Public Schools for more than $91,000 but did not provide the district with details about how the money was spent, records obtained by the Tribune-Review show.  Five invoices dating from Dec. 31 to April 30 list 18 charges totaling $91,690, below the $100,000 maximum the board set in his contract.  Brian Perkins, the New Haven, Conn.-based principal of Perkins Consulting Group, charged either $1,990 or exactly twice that amount — $3,980 — for every task he performed except two. He charged exactly $15,000 for both of those, according to the documents, obtained with a Right To Know request.  No receipts or descriptions of the charges accompanied the invoices; the district has no information about how much of the money was for search-related expenses or how much of it paid for Perkins' consulting services.

“Better known as YEA! Philadelphia, it is one of more than 100 chapters nationwide, but Pennsylvania's first. It is the only one serving the Greater Philadelphia market, including South Jersey and Delaware. Its mission is to teach entrepreneurial skills to students in grades six through 12 with an after-school program rare in its scope and structure. The new economy demands it, Fisher says.”
At YEA! Philadelphia, kids are on a mission to be entrepreneurs
by Diane Mastrull, Staff Writer  @dmastrull Updated: AUGUST 14, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Just two years ago, Shreyas Parab was such a shy, unassuming teenager that it pained him to make eye contact. Now the 15-year-old from Aston, Delaware County, wears ties declaring himself a chick magnet and a stud muffin.  And he's running a company that has sold nearly 600 of those novelty ties for close to $17,000 in its first 14 months of business, tapping into a market where whimsy is popular.  Parab also makes pitches to investor panels, and has met with Sam's Club executives in Bentonville, Ark., hoping to get his Novel Tie line in their stores. A decision is pending.

In Philadelphia, teaching entrepreneurship through hip-hop
The program, called the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship, won nearly $309,000in the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge.   The man behind the project is Tayyib Smith, founder of the creative agency Little Giant Creative. Smith, 45, is a third-generation Philadelphian and serial entrepreneur who used to manage artists for Axis Music Group. "I feel really fortunate that I escaped poverty and I've been able to be a serial entrepreneur," Smith said. "I want to offer people an opportunity to gain fiscal literacy or financial independence."  He's using hip-hop as a means to that end. He says he knows many successful entrepreneurs who used hip-hop as a gateway to opportunity. "If you look at the ethos of hip-hop, it's usually someone trying to take what they have, take their own narrative, their own life experience, and make it into something larger," Smith said. 

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost wants Ohio to reform how online charter schools are paid
By Catherine CandiskyThe Columbus Dispatch  •  Friday August 12, 2016 12:14 AM
Ohio’s e-schools should be funded based on what their students learn rather than attendance or time spent online, Auditor Dave Yost proposed Thursday.  Opening the state’s first statewide charter-school summit, the Republican contended that there is too much ambiguity in current law.  “Learning-based funding — course completion — would mean schools get paid when they deliver a piece of education,” Yost said at the event hosted by his office.  “The unit could be as large as a year’s work or as little as an approved unit — believe me, I understand the pressures of cash flow, and smaller goals may well be better.”

 “These reports and Auditor Yost’s proposal echo what the National Alliance is seeing in full-time virtual charter schools across the nation. In partnership with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now, our June 2016 report entitled A Call to Action to Improve the Quality of Full-Time Virtual Charter Schools found that the breadth of the underperformance by full-time virtual charter schools convinces us that states need to change the policy framework within which these schools can operate. The report recommends that states should explore funding models for full-time virtual charter schools based upon the progress schools make toward interim and yearly goals, including funding based upon course completion. The National Alliance is pleased to see Auditor Yost making a similar recommendation and working to ensure that Ohio’s full-time virtual charter schools become more effective and accountable to the students they serve.”
National Alliance Commends Ohio State Auditor David Yost’s Full-Time Virtual Charter School “Learning Based” Funding Proposal
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 8/11/2016
Washington, D.C. – The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools president and CEO Nina Rees released the following statement today in response to Ohio State Auditor David Yost’s proposal to fund the state’s full-time virtual charter schools based upon performance:
“We commend Ohio State Auditor David Yost for recommending that Ohio change how it funds full-time virtual charter schools. His proposed move to a ‘learning-based’ funding model, aligned to the unique environments represented by the full-time virtual model, would help promote quality and accountability, and ensure the students of such schools are receiving the high-quality education they deserve.  “While recognizing that some full-time virtual charter schools are providing an effective and innovative education to students with specialized needs, the National Alliance believes that changing to a learning-based funding model is appropriate given the unique problems that have emerged among too many full-time virtual charter schools. We urge Ohio lawmakers to work with Auditor Yost and the state’s charter school community to design and implement learning-based funding for full-time virtual charter schools in a way that leads to improved results in these schools

“The paper is the latest in a series of reports over years that have urged caution in the use of standardized test scores to make high-stakes decisions about students, teachers, principals and schools — but policymakers at the federal and state levels have for years ignored the warnings.”
Student test scores: How they are actually calculated and why you should care
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 12 
If you think that determining scores on standardized tests is a simple matter of figuring out how many answers each student got right, you are wrong. In fact, scores are derived through statistical models and scaling practices that can be misleading about student achievement — and this can have an effect on education policy, according to a newly released paper.  The study, titled “Student Test Scores: How the Sausage Is Made and Why You Should Care,” was written by Brian A. Jacob, a professor at the University of Michigan and a nonresident senior fellow at the nonprofit Brookings Institution in D.C. Jacob explains the sophisticated and complex way test scores are determined and then details why they are misleading to people — which includes pretty much everybody except psychometricians.  This includes those federal and state policymakers who don’t understand how the scores are achieved and/or their limitations but still have elevated standardized tests to an all-important measure of how much students have learned in school and how well their teachers are doing their jobs.

Blogger note: Jamie Casap is the PSBA/PASA School Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker · Sat., Oct. 15, 9:30 a.m.
Jaime Casap: From Tough Childhood to Google's Global Education Evangelist
NBC News by ESTHER J. CEPEDA August 11, 2016
NAME: Jaime Casap; AGE: 48
HERITAGE: My mother is from Argentina and my father is from Syria
HOMETOWN: Hell's Kitchen, NY now living in Phoenix, AZ
OCCUPATION/TITLE: Global Education Evangelist at Google, Inc.
At Google, Casap evangelizes the power and potential of the web, technology, and Google tools. During his eight years at Google, Casap has been part of the original team that launched Google Apps for universities, launched Google Apps into K through 12 schools, and helped get Chromebooks off the ground and into schools. Today Casap is responsible for working across all internal teams that impact education, and he works with educational organizations around the world, helping them find ways to improve the quality of education through the use of technology.

2016 National Anthem Sing-A-Long - September 9th
American Public Education Foundation Website 
The Star-Spangled Banner will be sung by school children nationwide on Friday, September 9, 2016 at 10:00am PST and 1:00pm EST. Students will learn about the words and meaning of the flag and sing the first stanza. This will be the third annual simultaneous sing-a-long event created by the APEF-9/12 Generation Project. The project aims to bring students together – as the world came together – on September 12, 2001.

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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