Thursday, August 18, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 18: Seeking accountability, states revise charter school laws

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PA Ed Policy Roundup August 18, 2016:
Seeking accountability, states revise charter school laws

The Ed Policy Roundup will not publish tomorrow, Friday August 19th.
See you back here on Monday

The Fair Funding Lawsuit is moving forward!  Join us Sep. 13th at Philly City Hall.  Info & RSVP: 
Tweet from Education Law Center ‏@edlawcenterpa  August 17, 2016

"We have tolerated bad schools and con artists for too long," Richmond wrote in an essay in The Huffington Post. "... Some for-profit companies running charters engage in self-serving real estate deals, hide their financial practices from public view, claim they own assets purchased with public monies, and spend large sums to influence state legislators."
Seeking accountability, states revise charter school laws
Keystone Crossroads/Newsworks BY CONNIE LANGLAND AUGUST 18, 2016
Gary Miron, a researcher at Western Michigan University, can still recall the heady early days of the charter school movement, now a quarter-century ago.  "Charter schools were supposed to be small, locally run public schools. They were going to be open to all," Miron recalled.  "This was a movement to create schools that would be highly accountable to parents and the public. But 20, 25 years later, there are not that many schools left that embody that original intent."  Accountability now appears to be the issue that states, charter authorizers (such as local school boards), and even advocates are still grappling with.  The stakes — both in terms of student outcomes and public money spent — are exceedingly high. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charters are a multibillion-dollar industry now, with nearly 3 million children enrolled in more than 6,800 charter schools in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), an advocacy group, made a frank assessment of the national landscape in early May, calling out what he termed "bad actors." 

Moody’s Upgrades Pennsylvania’s Intercept Program
Governor Wolf’s Blog August 17, 2016
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf today announced that Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Pennsylvania’s school district pre-default enhancement program, or intercept program. Moody’s also revised its outlook on the program to stable from negative. This will allow school districts to issue debt at lower costs and save taxpayers money. Moody’s upgrade follows the rating agency’s recent announcement that it has revised Pennsylvania’s overall financial outlook to stable from negative as a result of the successful completion of a balanced 2016-17 budget that includes sustainable, recurring revenue to reduce the structural budget deficit.  “As a result of the bipartisan, compromise budget that is balanced and includes sustainable and recurring revenue, the commonwealth’s financial outlook continues to improve,” said Governor Wolf. “We still have work to do, but when I came into office Pennsylvania was facing a structural budget deficit of more than $2 billion, and working together we have made significant progress reducing it. I look forward to continuing to work with Republicans and Democrats in the legislature to fix the commonwealth’s structural deficit and move Pennsylvania forward.”

Pennsylvania's fiscal situation sees good, bad news
WITF Written by Tim Lambert, witf Multimedia News Director | Aug 17, 2016 12:42 PM
 (Harrisburg) -- There's good news and bad news for the commonwealth's state government finances.  The New York-based Moody's credit rating agency is upgrading the battered rating of a state program that helps school districts get more favorable loan terms by giving a guarantee to repay bondholders.    Moody's cited a July law that strengthened the program, even during a budget stalemate like the one that dragged 10 months into the state government's 2015-16 fiscal year.   However, an entrenched deficit is still plaguing state finances, and the state Treasury Department says it's providing a $2.5 billion credit line to prevent the state's main bank account from being overdrawn.   A draw of $400 million was immediately made.  It's the seventh time since the recession it has provided such assistance. 

Proposal aims to curb Pennsylvania gerrymandering
A measure proposed in the Pennsylvania House is aimed at changing how the state draws its legislative and congressional districts.  The bill's sponsor, Rep. David Parker, said the measure would cut down on gerrymandering.  Gerrymandering — the practice of drawing legislative maps to benefit a political party — is prevalent in Pennsylvania.  Parker said the ultimate results don't benefit constituents.  "When these districts become so large and kind of snake around and are odd shapes, it's difficult for them to truly represent everybody in the whole district," said Parker, R-Monroe.  House Bill 1835 would amend the state's constitution and seek to decrease party influence on districts by creating an independent "citizens commission" to oversee drawing of legislative and congressional boundaries.

Limits on SRC Contract Cancellation May Impact Distressed Schools
Max Mitchell, The Legal Intelligencer August 17, 2016
The state Supreme Court's decision to side with the Philadelphia teachers' union in holding the Philadelphia School Reform Commission could not cancel an expired collective bargaining agreement may presage the treatment of similar contract disputes in other distressed school districts and municipalities, education and labor attorneys say.  A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday in Philadelphia Federation of Teachers v. School District of Philadelphia that collective bargaining agreements for the teachers' union fit into an exception to the commission's contract-cancellation powers. The ruling, which affirmed a decision by the Commonwealth Court, hinged on the meaning of the term "teachers' contracts" in Section 693(a)(1) of the School Code, according to Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor, who wrote the opinion.

Rethinking school turnaround: A familiar story takes a new turn
The notebook by Helen Gym August 17, 2016 — 1:58pm
Helen Gym is the mother of two public school students and is an at-large member of Philadelphia City Council. She is also among the founders of The Notebook more than 20 years ago.
In May, Scholar Academies – a charter management organization – suddenly announced it was abandoning its contract to manage Kenderton Elementary, a struggling school in North Philadelphia that was part of the School District's Renaissance program. The charter company was expanding in Memphis, Tennessee, and said it could no longer afford its financial commitments here, such as legally mandated special education services.  “They were full of excuses,” an outraged Kenderton parent told WHYY-NewsWorks. “The children are going to be devastated.”  Earlier in the year, I had called for a moratorium on the Renaissance schools program. In what had become an all-too-familiar story, a charter company bailed on or failed a public school under its control, leaving students, parents, and school communities in the lurch.   This time, though, rather than expose Kenderton families to the mercy of the charter market — where charters effectively pick and choose what schools they want to manage — the School District took the unusual step of bringing the school back under District control.  This rethinking of a signature reform effort marks an important step forward in recognizing the limitations of charters and setting a new direction for Philadelphia’s public schools during a turbulent reform period.

Social worker says Phoenix Academy is 'more like a detention center' in case against School District of Lancaster
Lancaster Online by KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer August 17, 2016
EASTON — Anyemu Dunia, 18, completed his senior year of high school in one week at Phoenix Academy in Lancaster.  And he didn't even know it.  Dunia, who lived in a refugee camp in Mozambique for most of his life and knew little English upon arriving in Pennsylvania, finished American high school in just 16 months.  He received his diploma Tuesday night.  "It's a little hard to understand, and that's why I'm anxious to hear the rest of testimony," U.S. District Judge Edward G. Smith said in federal court Wednesday after hearing about Dunia's progression at Phoenix Academy.  Dunia is one of six refugee students who are suing the School District of Lancaster for the education that they have — and haven't — received in their new home.

Columbia residents question hiring of former school board president
Lancaster Online MARILU GAROFOLA | LNP Correspondent August 17, 2016
Columbia Borough School District residents fired questions at their school board last week over a new contract with Eastern Lancaster County School District to provide Columbia with administrative services.  At issue is Elanco’s hiring of former Columbia school board president Tom Strickler as director of operations in Columbia, a position created under the shared leadership contract. Elanco hired Strickler Aug. 8.  Strickler reports to Elanco Superintendent Bob Hollister, and the director of operations position is based entirely in Columbia.  Columbia school board had no say in the hiring process, and district residents are struggling to understand the details.   Eight Columbia residents Aug. 11 asked the board about Strickler’s job description, his integrity in acquiring the position and the absence of both Strickler and Hollister from the meeting.

Editorial: Waiting for answers in Upper Darby
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 08/18/16, 4:49 AM EDT
The Rick Dunlap Era is over in Upper Darby schools.  But the question remains.  Why?
Ending weeks of intrigue surrounding the superintendent’s status, the Upper Darby School Board announced Tuesday night that Dunlap will retire from the district Sept. 7.  Until then he’s officially on vacation. He apparently had been on paid leave since he was last seen in the district July 21. His resignation, according to the board, was submitted just prior to Tuesday night’s much anticipated school board meeting, which is why it was not listed on the board’s public agenda.  What we don’t know, frankly, is a lot.  We don’t know why Dunlap is leaving, or if this is of his own accord.  At least one person is not buying the district’s story. That would be state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164. The Upper Darby Democrat was at the meeting Tuesday night and made it clear she has her doubts.

West Shore teacher contract negotiations continue
York Dispatch by Alyssa Jackson, 505-5438/@AlyssaJacksonYD10:48 p.m. EDT August 17, 2016
West Shore School District's teachers will not have a new contract between the district and the teachers union by the start of the school year, the district announced. The district and the West Shore Education Association have been negotiating the contract since January 2014.
The WSEA represents teachers, counselors and other specific employees at West Shore School District. According to documents found on the district's website, the last agreement between the district and WSEA ended on Aug. 31, 2014, but the two parties have been discussing a new contract since January 2014. Since no agreement has been reached, the district currently operates under the terms of the old contract.

The clock is ticking.  We are nearing “Back to School” time in Philadelphia, which means that it’s more urgent than ever to:
·         end unabated misfeasance from the School Reform Commission (SRC), an unelected and, so far, an unaccountable body and
·         create laser-like focus back on our core  Public Schools for all Philadelphians.
Commissioners of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) continue making “lawful” decisions, which directly harm children in our public schools.   The SRC is ignoring their “duty of care” for those children.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 8/17/2016

REGISTER NOW for the 2016 PA Principals Association State Conference, October 30 - November 1, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.
The Early Bird Discount Deadline has been Extended to Wednesday, August 31, 2016!
PA Principals Association website Tuesday, August 2, 2016 10:43 AM
To receive the Early Bird Discount, you must be registered by August 31, 2016:
Members: $300  Non-Members: $400
Featuring Three National Keynote Speakers: Eric Sheninger, Jill Jackson & Salome Thomas-EL

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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