Wednesday, August 3, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 3: Former PA Cyber CEO takes position at rival Agora charter

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PA Ed Policy Roundup August 3, 2016:
Former PA Cyber CEO takes position at rival Agora charter

Advocates Heading to Court Over School Funding
Public News Service August 2. 2016
PHILADELPHIA - A lawsuit claiming that state school funding levels violate the state constitution is set to go to court next month. Pennsylvania has the most inequitable school-funding system in the entire country. Although passage of the fair funding formula and a modest increase in state funding for this coming school year is a step in the right direction, advocates say it isn't enough.  According to attorney Michael Churchill, with the Public Interest Law Center, they looked at the standards set by the formula, and what poor districts need now to meet them.  "We just applied the median statewide average costs that are currently being spent and it comes out to $3.1 billion that is needed in additional state funding," he said.   The lawsuit was filed almost two years ago. Next month the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to determine whether the courts can intervene and hold the Legislature accountable.

Auditor General DePasquale to Discuss How Millions in Education Funding Pays Questionable Charter School Leases
Tweet from @PAAuditorGen August 2, 2016
What: Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will discuss how the Pennsylvania Department of Eduction (PDE) is spending millions of dollars to reimburse some charter schools for questionable real estate lease payments. He will highlight findings from charter schools in nine counties.
When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 3, 2016
Where: Media Center, East Wing, Capitol, Harrisburg
Why: Since 2013, the Department of the Auditor General has cited nine charter schools for collecting millions of dollars in questionable real estate lease reimbursements.  The millions of dollars in questionable real estate lease payments to some charter schools is money that would be better used in classrooms for student education.

“PA Cyber and Agora, respectively the state’s largest and second-largest virtual charter schools, have confronted controversies in recent years. PA Cyber’s founder, Nick Trombetta, faces nearly a dozen charges, including fraud, filing false tax returns and conspiracy in federal court. Critics spotlighted the charter’s poor test performance and questioned its relationship with Lincoln Learning Solutions, an independent curriculum provider affiliated with the publicly funded online school.  …PA Cyber enrolled more than 10,000 students last year, compared to about 8,500 at Agora.”
Former PA Cyber CEO takes position at rival Agora charter
Beaver County Times By Katherine Schaeffer August 2, 2016
MIDLAND -- Former Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School CEO Michael Conti has taken the helm of yet another embattled virtual charter school, this time on the other side of the state.  The board of trustees for Agora Cyber Charter School -- PA Cyber’s main competitor -- hired Conti Monday as CEO for the school, headquartered in King of Prussia.  Conti resigned his post at Midland-based PA Cyber on July 18 after four years as the school’s CEO. Conti’s departure was amicable, and he did not indicate he was leaving PA Cyber to take another position, board President Brian Hayden said Tuesday.  Conti requested a letter of recommendation from PA Cyber last week, but the board did not know he had applied to the rival organization until it was announced early this week, Hayden said.

Lots of changes in top echelons of Philly District
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa August 2, 2016 — 5:15pm
There is a big shakeup going on at top levels of the School District, with the latest departure being Jura Chung, the Director of Performance.   Chung's last day was Friday.  Her departure comes on the heels of the resignations of Chief Counsel Michael Davis and Deputy Chief of Communications Fernando Gallard. Davis, who led the general counsel's office for six years, left last month. Miles Shore will temporarily lead the office.  Gallard, who spent 13 years in the District's communications office, is leaving Friday, Aug. 5. Raven Hill, the Communications Director who worked with Gallard,  left in July to become Communications Officer in the Prince George's Public Schools. She joined the District in 2012.  Although there was no announcement, Kevin Geary was hired in the spring as the Director of External Relations. Among other responsibilities, Geary was hired to oversee the communications office. The District is seeking to hire communications personnel to work with Geary and deal directly with media.

1 in 5 California charter schools 'illegally' screens applicants, report says
KPCC by Kyle Stokes  August 01 2016
California law lays out a straightforward admissions process for charter schools: charters, like all public schools, essentially must admit any student who wants to enroll so long as there’s space.  But "at least” 253 of the state’s 1,200 charter schools ask students and their families to jump through extra hoops before letting them in, according to a report the ACLU and Public Advocates released Monday.  For instance, 22 charter schools in California ask students to prove they have strong grades or test scores before letting them in. In other cases, students must prove they meet a minimum level of English proficiency or participate in entrance interviews or essays. Sometimes schools ask families to donate money or volunteer hours.  For vulnerable student populations — low-income kids, immigrants, English Learners and students with disabilities — such policies erect onerous barriers to admission in charter schools, the report's authors conclude. In some cases, they argue the policies may even be against the law.

See Our Updated Clinton and Trump Comparison With DNC and RNC Material
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on August 2, 2016 1:31 PM
The Democratic and Republican conventions last month didn't produce a ton of fresh education policy talk—but the respective nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump still gave us some more K-12 material to work with.  We've just updated the interactive comparison between Clinton and Trump that we published last month.  The two major party candidates didn't dramatically break with any of their previous positions, or dish out hugely detailed policy plans. But Trump did work a line or two about school choice into his acceptance speech. And Clinton did briefly allude to a plan to make college more affordable. 

Where the Vice-Presidential Nominees Stand on Education Issues
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa August 2, 2016
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine
Supporters of career and technical education have reason to be pleased with the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
Kaine, who served as Virginia’s governor from 2006 to 2010, gave CTE new prominence in the Every Student Succeeds Act. He introduced an amendment to a Senate version of the bill that eventually became ESSA that would have designated CTE as a “core subject.”  ESSA does away with the term “core subject,” but the list of disciplines that now make up a “well rounded education” under the law includes CTE, along with 16 other subjects. In his first official appearance as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s running mate on July 23, Kaine, the son of a welder, talked about his own experience as a career-tech educator. While serving as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, Kaine taught carpentry skills to children there. (They, in turn, taught him to speak Spanish, he said.) Introducing himself with Clinton, Kaine gave many shoutouts to education. He talked about how his father-in-law, former Virginia Gov. Abner Lindwood Holton, a Republican, integrated schools in the Commonwealth, and how his wife was among the first to attend them. He spoke about how he and his wife sent their own children to those same, integrated public schools.

Testing Resistance & Reform News July 27 - August 2, 2016
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on August 2, 2016 - 1:36pm 
Believe it or not, summer vacation is already over for students in several states. For example, the public school year began across Oklahoma and in Indianapolis on August 1. Many Florida districts re-open next week. With the start of classes, controversies over testing policies accelerate. At the same time, scores from last year's exams and opt-out statistics are being released. The result is a spate of assessment reform stories from more than a third of the 50 states.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 8/1/2016

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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