Tuesday, August 30, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 30: PDK Poll: Vast Majority of Americans Want Failing Schools Fixed, Not Closed

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup August 30, 2016:
PDK Poll: Vast Majority of Americans Want Failing Schools Fixed, Not Closed

Southeastern PA Regional 2016 Legislative Roundtable: William Tennent High School (Bucks Co.) SEP 22, 2016 • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Philadelphia City Council

What you need to know about the Sept. 13th oral argument before the PA Supreme Court for the school funding lawsuit and how you can be part of it
Education Voters PA  Posted on August 29, 2016 by EDVOPA
On Tuesday, September 13, the PA Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the landmark school funding lawsuit in its Philadelphia courtroom and we invite you to be part of this important event.  The lawsuit argues that PA’s school funding system is so inadequate and inequitable that it violates provisions in the state constitution that require a “thorough and efficient system of public education” and equal treatment under the law.  At the argument on September 13th, the plaintiffs will ask the PA Supreme Court to allow the case to go to full trial  and allow students and their families to have their day in court.  The plaintiffs will be asking for the opportunity to share their stories in order to prove that PA’s broken system for funding education is so broken that the courts must intervene in order to guarantee that all children in PA will have adequate resources to learn,  no matter where they live or what school they attend.  Six school districts – William Penn, Panther Valley, Lancaster, Greater Johnstown, Wilkes-Barre Area and Shenandoah Valley – the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS), and the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Commentary: Take a look at what's working in Philly charter schools
Inquirer Opinion By Laurada Byers Updated: AUGUST 30, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Laurada Byers is board chair of Philadelphia Charters for Excellence.
Philadelphia's public pools are closing this week and back-to-school sales are everywhere, but the first day of school is still a ways off for the 140,000 students in the School District of Philadelphia.  Students in many of the city's public charter schools, however, are already in class. In fact, some - such as KIPP and Global Leadership Academy - opened in early August. This is because charter schools have more autonomy than traditional public schools over their academic calendar as well as their curriculum, staffing, and budget decisions.  That autonomy - specifically the freedom to spend dollars differently than traditional district schools - is the focus of a new report from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), an advocacy group of traditional school districts, criticizing charter school spending.

Will embattled charter school open on time?
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call August 30, 2016
CATASAUQUA — The Innovative Arts Academy Charter School is on a tight deadline if classes are to begin in time for much-discussed Sept. 6 opening date.  The logistics of opening after two weeks of turmoil at the Catasauqua charter will be discussed during tonight's 6 p.m Board of Trustees meeting, according to Kelly Bauer, trustee president.  The meeting will be the first since interim Chief Executive Officer Steve Gabryluk, former high school administrator and basketball coach, took the helm of the school, serving students from 6th through 12th grade. Former CEO Loraine Petrillo, who resigned a week ago but agreed to stay on until a replacement was found, abruptly left the post Thursday.  The charter school was embroiled in a controversy after an unauthorized mailer was sent to Bethlehem-area homes, promoting the school while casting Liberty High School as a public school rife with drug problems. Innovative Arts leaders maintain they do not know who sent the direct mailer.

State Department of Education focuses on charters
York Dispatch  Alyssa Jackson, 505-5438/@AlyssaJacksonYD7:03 p.m. EDT August 28, 2016
Charter schools were a hot topic in Pennsylvania last week.
John Oliver recently posted a video discussing charters in the state, and on Wednesday Gov. Tom Wolf announced the Pennsylvania Department of Education will be creating a new Division of Charter Schools to improve the quality and accountability of charter schools.  The following day, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an audit of charter schools, calling the state's charter school law faulty.  Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera said in an interview that the creation of the new Division of Charter schools is just one of many steps the Education Department, along with Wolf, has taken in the past year to improve the accountability and oversight of charter schools.  Rivera said first and foremost the division's concentration will be on how to best educate children in charter schools, but fiscal and operational oversight also will be the department's specialty. The division will fall under the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, which is struggling to provide necessary support for charter schools.

Refugee students win order to let them attend high school
Washington Times By - Associated Press - Monday, August 29, 2016
LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Refugee students who accused a central Pennsylvania school district of diverting them into an alternative school have won a court ruling allowing them to attend the regular high school.  U.S. District Judge Edward G. Smith on Friday ordered the School District of Lancaster to enroll the students at Lancaster’s McCaskey High School instead of Phoenix Academy, if they so choose. The plaintiffs said district officials have steered at least 30 students in the past three years to the alternative high school.  Six refugee students aged 17 to 21 who came to the U.S. from Myanmar, Sudan and other war-torn countries sued the district last month over their placement, saying it was “impossible” to learn there because of language barriers. The suit also alleged delayed and denied enrollment.  District officials argued that Phoenix Academy was better suited to older refugee students than the larger and more traditional high school.
The judge also ordered that the district provide instruction to allow the students to become proficient in English and ensure equal access “to the full range of educational opportunities provided to their peers, including curricular and non-curricular programs and activities.”

How Pa. compares in education funding
Opinion by Sen. Mike Folmer, For The Lebanon Daily News6:01 a.m. EDT August 30, 2016
In 2006, a Costing-Out Study called for a 50 percent increase in Pennsylvania’s basic education spending: at least $3.17 billion more (to $6.02 billion). Funding that year was boosted to $4.78 billion (a 18.3 percent increase) with total education spending of $9.93 billion.  Advocates continued to cite the Costing-Out Study to increase education spending — even though they couldn’t fully explain the study’s use of “hypothetical school districts” and why it didn’t focus on low cost/high performance schools.  Over the past 10 years, education funding has grown from $9.93 billion to $11.78 billion (nearly a 17 percent increase). Today, this translates to $32,277,643.84 spent a day, $1,344,901.83 an hour, $22,415.03 a minute, and $373.58 a second (not counting local and federal moneys).

A quick look at who applied for Philly's pre-K money
The race for Philadelphia’s new flood of pre-K money is on.
The city announced earlier this week that 85 private child care providers have applied for a shot at the roughly $23 million Philadelphia will dole out during phase one of its pre-K expansion. By January, the city plans to have 2,000 new high-quality pre-K seats.  At full implementation — five years from now — that number is expected to be 6,500.  It's not known yet how many of these 85 applicants the city will select in its first go-round. Officials will say only that the city expects to have “dozens” of partners.  The 85 applicants, representing 168 sites, seek funding for more than 4,000 seats. The city, of course, can only support 2,000 new slots right now. The average provider, officials say, is asking for an expansion of just 30 slots.

Department of Justice investigating Upper Darby School District?
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 08/29/16, 9:29 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 SECS AGO
Upper Darby>> A new school year, a new controversy for Upper Darby School District this week.  Following the quick departure of Superintendent Rick Dunlap Jr. from the district, allegations of federal and local investigations into racial inequalities in one of the most diverse districts in the state have come about.  Claims have been circulated since mid-August that the Department of Justice is looking into why students, particularly those at Walter M. Senkow Elementary School, are bussed 6 miles outside of the district to be taught in a Glenolden school building the district rents from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Senkow students come from the Cardington and Drexel Hill sections of the township, with students from the latter abutting the boundary for Garrettford Elementary, a school that is 56 percent white and 30 percent black.  “The district has not heard from the NAACP or the Department of Justice,” wrote district spokeswoman Dana Spino Monday afternoon. “The district believes the allegations are not credible.”  A representative of the DOJ did not deny or confirm any investigations Monday afternoon.  Joan Duvall-Flynn, president of the NAACP’s Media branch, did not return a request for comment.

Highlands teachers approve contract, await school board vote
Trib Live BY MARY ANN THOMAS AND TOM YERACE | Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, 3:39 p.m.
The Highlands School Board is scheduled to vote on the new teachers contract at a special meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the high school library.
Members of the Highlands School District teachers union approved a new labor contract Monday.  “We wanted to get back to school and back to our kids,” said Randy Rybak, president of the Highlands Education Association.  Teachers who came to cast ballots at the Brackenridge American Legion declined comment.  The Highlands school board will vote on the labor pact during a special meeting Wednesday.  “We're hopeful,” said Matt Edgell, communication representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association in Allegheny County. “We have to see what happens after Wednesday.”  At least 50 percent plus one vote from teachers was needed to approve the contract. Rybak declined to release the final vote tally.

The 48th Annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

Vast Majority of Americans Want Failing Schools Fixed, Not Closed, Poll Finds
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on August 29, 2016 8:38 AM
A new survey of public opinion about education has found that by a ratio of six to one, the American public wants schools that are falling down on the job to remain open instead of being closed.  Results of the annual Phi Delta Kappa International poll about K-12, released Monday, reported that 84 percent of Americans want officials to overhaul those struggling schools in some fashion, while just 14 percent say they prefer those schools to be shut down. However, the poll also found that doesn't necessarily mean the public doesn't want major changes at those schools.  The survey also found that nearly half of those surveyed gave their local public schools an A or B grade, but that fewer than one-quarter of respondents would give the same high marks to the nation's public schools as a whole. Those figures are roughly consistent with the findings of another public-opinion poll about education released by the Education Next policy journal last week.  So on that question of schools that are falling down on the job: The PDK poll asked people about the popularity of closing them versus keeping them open, but then asked about the best strategies in each of those scenarios. Here's what it found:

“In an essay that is part of the survey, Starr said the results show that Americans are not especially satisfied with the direction of school reform in the No Child Left Behind Era under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Noting that the public doesn’t want failing schools closed despite that being a key part of the NCLB reform agenda, he wrote:
 This finding, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies the divide between the reform agenda of the past 16 years and the actual desires of the American public. When asked whether a failing school should be closed or improved, there is a 70-point divide between those who want to see closure (14 percent) and those who want to see it stay open (84 percent). If decreased enrollment isn’t driving a school consolidation and closing effort, school system leaders and policy makers should pay heed to what the public actually wants regarding failing schools.”
Why do kids go to school? Americans are divided on the answer, a new PDK poll shows.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 29 at 8:27 PM 
What is school for? A new poll released Monday night shows that Americans are divided on the issue. And in an era when public education has been under attack, most public school parents still think highly of their children’s schools — and an overwhelming majority of Americans do not want failing schools to be closed down but would rather see them improved.  The 48th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, the longest continuously running survey of American attitudes toward public education, was commissioned by PDK International, a global association of education professionals that is headed by Johua Starr, former superintendent of the Montgomery County Public School District.

Poor Parents Understand Importance of Reading, School Readiness, Survey Says
Education Week early Years Blog By Lillian Mongeau on August 25, 2016 2:04 PM
It turns out that in the lower-income neighborhoods of Oakland, Calif., 70 percent of parents read to their young child at least three days a week. That fact is one of dozens of fascinating tidbits gleaned from a survey of 420 parents conducted last spring by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, a local philanthropy.  Having reported extensively in Oakland, I was especially interested in the survey, which I was tipped off about by New America's early-education newsletter. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that while the gap in education-focused parenting behaviors between college-educated, white, middle class parents and their less advantaged peers is notable, it's not as big as you might think. 

Back to School With Budgets Still Tight
New York Times Editorial By THE EDITORIAL BOARDAUG. 29, 2016
The children entering kindergarten and first grade this school year were not yet born when the Great Recession ended in mid-2009. Incoming high school seniors were not yet in middle school.  But in many states and localities, the wounds to school budgets from recession-era cutbacks are still large, leaving schools with more students and less money. Recent data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that as of last year, 25 states were still spending less per student than before the recession, adjusted for inflation, and cuts in seven states exceeded 10 percent. In 31 states, local government spending per student fell between 2008 and 2014, the latest data available (adjusted for inflation). It is safe to assume some improvement in recent years, but even so, there is clearly a long way to go before overall spending catches up with enrollment and inflation.

 “The battle over this ballot question is not between teachers unions and low-income and minority families. On one side are those who believe that we must stop defunding the public schools that educate 96 percent of our students. On the other are those who support the diversion of billions of dollars of education resources to publicly funded, privately managed, selective, separate, and unequal charter schools.”
Massachusetts: NAACP Opposes Charter Expansion
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch August 29, 2016 //
Massachusetts will vote in November on Question 2, which would expand the number of privately managed charter schools, a dozen a year forever. The promoters of charters claim to be “saving” poor minority children. But the NAACP for New England sees through the propaganda.  The Chairman of the Education Committee of the New England Area Conference of the NAACP weighed in at the Boston Globe:

10 Reasons Why the NAACP Is Absolutely Right About a National Moratorium on Charter Schools
The venerable civil rights lobby has come under attack.
Alternet By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet August 29, 2016
As the 2016-2017 school year begins, champions of privatizing traditional public schools appear to be launching a new round of political and media campaigns to defend charter schools, despite growing criticism of their academics, business models and calls for a charter moratorium.  The latest media volleys from the pro-charter establishment are typified by a recent editorial at The Washington Post,which slammed a proposed resolution now before the NAACP — and one passed by Black Lives Matter organizers — that says the privately run takeover of traditional K-12 schools should be halted nationally until its negative impacts are reversed.  As is often the case with pro-charter forces, the argument framed by the Post’seditorial writers is cast as doing what’s best for the children, in this case non-white youths from the poor cities. “The thought of denying school choice to these families — something that middle- and upper-class parents blithely take for granted — is simply maddening,” fumes the Post.  No, what’s maddening is their wholesale dismissal of the substantive complaints laid out in the NAACP’s draft resolution, which cites unaccountable private boards running schools, segregated student bodies, psychologically harmful environments, diversion of limited taxpayer resources, fiscal mismanagement and corruption, and more. The NAACP wants state and federal civil rights and education regulators to end the litany of harmful practices.

Growing Segregation of Latinos in Public Schools Poses Challenge for Academic Success
Education Writers Association AUGUST 29, 2016 FERMIN LEAL OF EDSOURCE FOR EWA
More than six decades since the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision declared that segregated schools are “inherently unequal,” Latino students from low-income backgrounds are becoming increasingly isolated in public schools across the country.  The most-segregated schools Latinos attend often have fewer resources, including less access to Advanced Placement courses and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs, compared with schools with high populations of affluent and white students.  But while segregation prior to the Brown decision was legally enforced, segregation today is more a socioeconomic issue that requires creative and challenging solutions, educators and experts have said.  The panel “A Closer Look at Segregation” during EWA’s recentseminar for Spanish-language media focused on the growing number of poor Latino students attending segregated schools.

Donald Trump Taps Indiana Lawmaker's Staffer to Craft School Choice Plan
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on August 29, 2016 6:58 AM
Republican nominee Donald Trump's presidential campaign has tapped Rob Goad, who has worked for Indiana GOP Rep. Luke Messer in Congress, to work on school choice issues in the real estate executive's bid for the White House.  Goad is on leave from Messer's office and for the past two weeks has been in New York City working for the Trump campaign as a policy adviser, according to sources. He's the first adviser for Trump to focus specifically on education issues. The campaign's aim is to have Goad flesh out Trump's previously stated support for school choice, specifically choice programs that have been successful in states, and possibly work on other K-12 education issues as well.  Goad may also work on higher education policy for Trump, whose campaign approached Goad about joining the campaign team.

A federal court just allowed the case that could end partisan gerrymandering to proceed
Daily Kos By Stephen Wolf  Wednesday Aug 24, 2016 · 12:59 PM EDT
One Wednesday, a three-judge federal panel ruled two-to-one that a lawsuit brought by Republican voters against Maryland’s Democratic-drawn congressional map on First Amendment grounds can proceed to adjudication. The case, Shapiro v. McManus,could set the stage for a national precedent restricting partisan gerrymandering if it makes its way to the Supreme Court, as seems likely. Although this lawsuit opposes a Democratic map, a Supreme Court ruling against Maryland would nonetheless be excellent news for both Democrats and democracy because of how widespread Republican gerrymandering is nationwideShapiro is especially important because of how it tries to contest partisan gerrymandering by identifying a harm to voters’ First Amendment rights. A 2004 Supreme Court case, Vieth v. Jubelirerpreviously held that partisan gerrymandering could potentially be unconstitutional. But in that decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy refused to strike down the particular maps at issue for lack of a manageable legal standard to determine when exactly the use of partisanship crosses the line to harm constitutional rights. Shapiro and a pair of related cases in Wisconsin and North Carolina​ seek to test that notion by supplying a standard that might be judicially manageable.  This case shows just how paramount it is for Democrats to win the presidency and regain the Senate in 2016. Should they do so, they could appoint a fifth liberal-leaning justice by the time any appeals of these three cases reach the Supreme Court, making Kennedy’s wavering moot. And even with Kennedy, the court could set new standards against partisan gerrymandering.

Constituents crowd Bethlehem church over redistricting reform
Lou Gombocz, Jr. , WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com Posted: 10:01 AM EDT Aug 28, 2016 Updated: 11:04 AM EDT Aug 28, 2016
Bethlehem, Pa. - A standing-room only crowd of nearly 70 concerned citizens filled the auditorium of Bethlehem's Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley Friday evening for a brief video followed by a panel discussion entitled "Gerrymandering and How to Create Fair Districts in Pennsylvania" sponsored by the church's social action committee and the League of Women Voters of Lehigh County. The video explained the meeting's goal was to increase the awareness of gerrymandering---the manipulation of legislative district lines to benefit one political party or group. According to Fair Districts PA, a coalition of citizens and organizations that believes elections should represent the will of all the people, once every decade following the national census, districts are redrawn and it is from within those boundaries national, state, and local legislators, representatives, and officials are elected. And in Pennsylvania, all legislative districts are determined by the state house and senate. However, the coalition says a conflict of interest occurs because current gerrymandering allows the politicians to chose their voters rather than voters making the decisions. The result is votes secured through the drawing of "weird redistricting" lines by politicians who are elected or reelected even before a single ballot is cast.
Read more from WFMZ.com at: http://www.wfmz.com/news/news-regional-lehighvalley/constituents-crowd-bethlehem-church-over-redistricting-reform/41406864#.V8RybdvuswA.twitter

Why Farm-to-Institution Sourcing is the Sleeping Giant of Local Food
Strategists are following the money to schools, corporate cafeterias, and hospitals in hopes of rebuilding local economies and bringing healthy food access—literally in through the back door.
Civil Eats Blog By Leilani Clark on August 29, 2016
The next time someone points to the need for more farmers’ markets as a way to help move local food from a trend to a substantive cultural shift, you might consider telling them about the power of institutional purchasing. It may sound less interesting and, on the surface, it certainly is. (Who doesn’t love buying purple carrots to the sound of a didgeridoo?) But bear with us.  
You see, public and private institutions spend billions of dollars each year on food.Schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, corporate cafeterias, and senior care facilities share one thing in common—they prepare, cook, and serve thousands of meals every day. Now, a rising national movement wants to persuade these institutions to source a higher percentage of food from regional producers—with an emphasis on farms, fishermen, and and ranches that follow ecologically sound, socially just, and humane practices. It’s called institutional food procurement, and, while it might not have quite as much romance as some other elements of today’s Good Food Movement, some say this follow-the-money strategy could hold the key to transforming the American food system

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 8/29/2016

NEW: Southeastern PA Regional 2016 Legislative Roundtable: William Tennent High School (Bucks Co.) SEP 22, 2016 • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
PSBA website August 25, 2016
Take a more active role in public education advocacy by joining our Legislative Roundtable
This is your opportunity for a seat at the table (literally) with fellow public education advocates to take an active role in educating each other and policymakers.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, along with regional legislators, will be in attendance to work with you to support public education in Pennsylvania.  Use the form below to send your registration information!

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.

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

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 https://www.psba.org/members-area/store-registration/   (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 website:www.paschoolleaders.org.

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

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.

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