Monday, August 8, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 8: Community Schools: To Teach a Child to Read, First Give Him Glasses

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup August 8, 2016:
Community Schools: To Teach a Child to Read, First Give Him Glasses

“It is not by chance that so many charter chain boards are filled with the elite. The disdain for democratic governance by charter advocates is common. In the words of KIPP Board member, Hastings: “The school board model works reasonably well in suburban districts.” In cities, where it takes thousands of dollars to run, school board seats attract the politically ambitious. “They use the school board as a stepping-stone to run for higher office.”
The prejudice inherent in that statement is astounding. To paraphrase, suburban communities can self-govern; but urban residents should not because they would have self-serving motives, unlike altruistic billionaires, who should be on charter boards.”

“Here’s a post about the resolution and why it matters in the school reform debate. It was written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, explains why putting the word “public” in front of “charter school” — which are funded with tax dollars — is “an affront” to people for whom public education is a mission. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year in 2013. She has been chronicling botched school reform efforts in her state for years.”
NAACP members call for ban on privately managed charter schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss August 7 at 12:25 PM 
The NAACP has long expressed concern about charter schools, but now its members are taking a tougher stance. At their recent annual national convention late last month, members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People approved a resolution that included language calling for a moratorium on the expansion of privately managed charters.  For years, resolutions at annual national conventions of the historic organization have raised issues about charters, but the 2016 resolution uses stark language. The new resolution (see text below) notes that “charter schools with privately appointed boards do not represent the public but make decisions about how public funds are spent,” and it cites a number of problems with some charters, including punitive disciplinary policies, fiscal mismanagement and conflicts of interest.

“The main explanation, says the principal, Matthew Mazzaroppi, is that Morris Academy is among the 130 schools that have been converted into “community schools,” a cornerstone initiative in the crusade by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, to improve public education.  A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships with local organizations intended to deliver health, social and recreational supports for students and their families. The idea of a school that serves as a neighborhood hub holds widespread appeal, and 150 school districts, including Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Albuquerque, Tulsa, Okla., and Lincoln, Neb., have bought into the idea.”
To Teach a Child to Read, First Give Him Glasses
New York Times by David L. Kirp AUG. 6, 2016
Half a dozen police cars ring the entrance to the Morris Educational Campus in the Bronx. To enter this venerable Gothic-style building, I have to make my way through a phalanx of policemen and be scanned by a metal detector.  But the show of force doesn’t signal that the high school students inside pose a threat. It is intended to protect the students, who fear getting mugged, or worse, in a high-crime neighborhood situated in the nation’s poorest congressional district.  No one could confuse the Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies, one of four small schools that share this building, with the powerhouse Bronx High School of Science, just five miles away. Some students who arrive at Morris Academy for the ninth grade are reading at the third-grade level. A quarter of the 463 students are classified as special-needs students and a fifth are learning English as a second language. Eighty-seven percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.  But compared with demographically similar high schools, Morris Academy is doing well. The rate of chronic absenteeism — students who miss more than 10 percent of school days — dropped to 41.1 percent from 56.5 percent in one year. The graduation rate is 67 percent, an eight percent increase in the past two years, and the school is closing in on the citywide average. In the context of the neighborhood and its cohort of schools, Morris Academy feels like another world.

Capitol recap: changing who gets to request an analysis of pension changes
Pennsylvania lawmakers recently passed a law that changes the way potential modifications to state pension plans are evaluated. This concerns state pensions, which cover state and public school employees. Gov. Wolf signed it into law last week.  Pennyslvania's state pensions are underfunded by about $50 billion, the second-worst level of underfunding in the U.S.  The law, Act 100, spells out which legislators are allowed to request an "actuarial note" when there is a proposed change to state pension law. An actuarial note analyzes the short and long term impacts of the proposed changes. The note is important because even the smallest of suggested tweaks to how pensions work might mean billions of dollars over decades, with thousands of retirees affected.  Before the law took effect, any of the 253 state lawmakers could request an actuarial note. Now, far fewer. Ten, to be exact.

“Trump's tanking poll numbers in such key electoral battlegrounds as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, which also both boast competitive U.S. Senate races, have national Republicans sweating their Senate majority.  That's because a decisive Clinton win would, almost by definition, result in Democrats flipping the five seats they need to regain control of the 100-member chamber.   And with the future composition of the U.S. Supreme Court at stake, among other key issues, that's a fate that Republicans are hoping to avoid.”
Trump's plunging poll numbers are a warning shot for Pat Toomey: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on August 05, 2016 at 10:00 AM, updated August 05, 2016 at 10:04 AM
There are two sets of numbers, both related and intertwined, that should keep Pat Toomey awake at night.  The first one: 49-38 percent. That's Democrat Hillary Clinton's current advantage over Donald Trump among likely voters in Pennsylvania in a new Franklin & Marshall College poll.   The second one: 39-38 percent. That's the statistically meaningless lead that Democrat Katie McGinty has (also among likely voters) over GOP incumbent Toomey in their hard-fought race for the United States Senate.  It's a truism by now that Republicans see their road to the White House running through Pennsylvania, a state that the GOP has not carried since the election of President George H.W. Bush in 1988.

In tight Senate race, Toomey teetering in support of Trump
Trib Live BY TOM FONTAINE  | Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, 10:30 p.m.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is playing an increasing role in pivotal U.S. Senate races across the country, including Pennsylvania's, as GOP candidates face mounting pressure from Democrats to disavow the controversial businessman after his recent missteps.  But the Republicans risk alienating many voters if they come out too strongly against Trump, who won primary elections in nearly all of the key states. The stakes are particularly high as Republicans look to maintain control of a Senate chamber that will confirm Supreme Court nominees of the next president.  “It's a tough dance,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College's Center for Politics and Public Affairs.  Perhaps no one knows that better than U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley.

“Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, in a conference call with reporters the same day, was less subtle. “Donald Trump is in a category unto himself,” Mr. Toomey said, predicting that his state’s voters “will make a completely separate decision” between the top of the ticket and the Senate campaign this year.”
As Donald Trump Incites Feuds, Other G.O.P. Candidates Flee His Shadow
After a disastrous week of feuds and plummeting poll numbers, Republican leaders have concluded that Donald J. Trump is a threat to the party’s fortunes and have begun discussing how soon their endangered candidates should explicitly distance themselves from the presidential nominee.  For Republicans in close races, top strategists say, the issue is no longer in doubt. One House Republican has already started airing an ad vowing to stand up to Mr. Trump if he is elected president, and others are expected to press similar themes in the weeks ahead.  In the world of Republican “super PACs,” strategists are going even farther: discussing advertisements that would treat Mr. Trump’s defeat as a given and urge voters to send Republicans to Congress as a check on a Hillary Clinton White House. The discussions were described by officials familiar with the deliberations, several of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity about confidential planning.

Pottstown board toys with ignoring standardized tests
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 08/06/16, 10:20 AM EDT | UPDATED: 16 HRS AGO
POTTSTOWN >> The Pottstown School Board debated taking a bold step toward making a statement against an over-reliance on standardized testing.  But then it didn’t.
Last month, the school board unanimously passed a resolution calling for a reduction in the amount of testing endured by Pennsylvania students.  But when school board member Thomas Hylton suggested creating a committee with teachers to consider an official change in policy de-emphasizing the tests in Pottstown schools, things were not so clear cut.  As the resolution had noted, the testing creates stress for students and demoralizes teachers, so Hylton suggested the board put its policy where its resolution is and study the idea of largely ignoring them.  “We’ll still give them, that’s a state requirement, but the curriculum is already aligned with the tests, so if we’re teaching the curriculum, the students should do fine,” said Hylton. “I’m in favor of giving the teachers maximum flexibility.”  “We all know what standardized tests will tell you, they tell you how poor your school district is,” Hylton said. “Most experts acknowledge that the level of poverty in your home is a better indicator of how well you will do on a standardized test than what kind of teacher you had.”  “Frankly,” said Hylton, “I would rather have them spend time on things we think are more important.”

Pa. faults Chester Community Charter for lease payments
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter POSTED: 08/05/16, 9:53 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
Chester >> A report from the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office has put the spotlight on Chester Community Charter School once again as one of nine charter schools in the state receiving questionable lease reimbursements.  Initially a report on the completed audit of the Propel Charter School System in Allegheny County, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has spent $2.5 million to reimburse charter schools for the properties they lease; $1.27 million was sent to Chester Community Charter School.  DePasquale called these reimbursements questionable due to potential conflicts of interest and related-party transactions between the landlord and charter school, citing one of the school’s founders transferred the buildings to a related nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to support the school.

“The owner is a trust linked to Philadelphia lawyer and charter-school entrepreneur Vahan Gureghian and his lawyer wife, Danielle. Three years ago, she told town officials the house was the couple’s dream home, but their plans appear to have changed.”
Palm Beach North End mansion listed at $84.5M
Under-construction house has bowling alley, 242 feet of beachfront
Listed at $84.5 million, a mansion under construction at 1071 N. Ocean Blvd. has entered the market as the most expensive property for sale in Palm Beach, according to the local multiple listing service.
Palm Beach Daily News By Darrell Hofheinz Daily News Real Estate Writer Updated: 5:50 p.m. Monday, March 30, 2015 | Posted: 5:03 p.m. Monday, March 30, 2015
Priced at $84.5 million, a direct-oceanfront mansion under construction on the North End has entered the market as the island’s most expensive property, according to the local multiple listing service.  Sporting its own bowling alley, the French-style house is rising on the double lot – expansive even by Palm Beach standards – that measures about 2 acres with 242 feet of beachfront at 1071 N. Ocean Blvd.  With about 35,000 square feet of living space, inside and out, the house should be ready for occupancy some time next season, according to listing broker Christian J. Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate.  Angle’s sales listing showed up Friday in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors MLS. The roughly H-shaped floor plan includes six bedrooms in the main part of the house plus a pair of two-bedroom guest apartments with ocean views. The house stands a third of a mile north of the Palm Beach Country Club.

U.D. called Dunlap ‘superior’ before putting him on leave
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter POSTED: 08/05/16, 9:54 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
Upper Darby >> While the Upper Darby School Board withholds its annual evaluation of Superintendent Rick Dunlap Jr. after placing him on leave for undisclosed reasons, board members had no problem giving him top marks in their first two evaluations of the first-time superintendent.  In six objective performance standards, the same nine members of the school board – six of them currently still on the board – gave Dunlap the evaluation’s highest rating, distinguished, in the areas of professionalism, communication and community relations, and organizational leadership.  Proficient marks, the next highest rating on the evaluation, were given to Dunlap in the areas of human resources management, district operations and financial management, and student growth and achievement.  Overall, he was awarded a proficient rating both years, with last year being given a proficient+ evaluation.  “Performance is superior, far exceeding expectations,” read the end of the 2014-15 evaluation, which was signed by both Dunlap and school board President Judy Gentile.

“Wolf says he’s particularly proud of restoring funds for education.
 “$415 million new dollars for basic education, $60 million in new dollars for early childhood education, $50 million in special education, lots of new money in higher education — last year a 5 percent increase, this year a 2 percent increase,” he lists.”
Despite Rocky Start, Wolf Says Last Six Months Have Been Good For Pennsylvania
KDKA August 4, 2016 6:45 PM By Jon Delano
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf admits he had a rocky first year as the state’s chief executive.  “The first year was a little difficult.”  Wolf says no one should be surprised by that. After all, he ran to change things in Harrisburg.  “I didn’t want to be student council president. I wanted to change things. I ran on a platform of being a different kind of governor,” Wolf told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday.  In a sit-down interview, the governor says the last six months have seen real pay-offs to Pennsylvanians, including:
·         More funding for public education
·         Expanding Medicaid to 650,000 Pennsylvanians
·         Legalizing medical marijuana
·         Modernizing the liquor system to sell wine in grocery stores and beer in convenience stores
·         Bipartisan attack on the opioid crisis
·         Progress in eliminating the structural budget deficit
“I’m feeling pretty good,” says Wolf these days.

Guest teachers fill gaps in local schools
ABC27 By Christina Butler Published: August 4, 2016, 6:14 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A substitute teaching shortage in Pennsylvania has districts employing a program called guest teaching.  Through the program, anyone who passes a background check and has a four-year degree in any subject can take a six-hour online course and become a guest teacher.  There are 30-plus districts in our area who use Substitute Teacher Services to find guest teachers. JR Godwin is a vice president of business there.  “If someone wanted to make this full time, they could,” he said.  Godwin says in the last two and a half years, the number of graduates with a teaching degree or certificate has dropped 62 percent. That means the need for subs has jumped.

In the Spotlight: Deputy education secretary is jazzed about improving schools
Lancaster Online KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer August 7, 2016
Matthew Stem did well in high school, but he admits he could have done better.
It wasn't until he enrolled in teacher preparation classes at Millersville University that "everything clicked."  "That's where the passion and the energy kicked in, because I could see the direct connection between what was happening in the college classroom and what I felt called to do," says Stem, a Lancaster County resident who now serves in one of the top education jobs in the state. As deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education, Stem wants to ensure that Pennsylvania students reach their full potential sooner than he did.   "I believe that schools should be helping students get clear on what their life goals are and identifying their natural gifts and talents to help them map out a pathway," he says.  Stem landed in Harrisburg in 2015, after three years as an assistant superintendent in Berks County. Before that, he spent 19 years at the School District of Lancaster — first as a sixth-grade teacher, then as a building principal and later in central administration.

 ‘Ashamed’ of Trump, Harvard Republican Club won’t endorse top GOP nominee for first time since 1888
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss August 5 
The Harvard Republican Club was founded in 1888, and is the oldest College Republican chapter in the country. Its website says the club exists to “promote Republican principles, policies and candidates” and members are “proud” of their “rich history of Republican advocacy.”  At least, until Donald Trump won the 2016 Republican Party’s presidential nomination.  The Harvard Republican Club has issued a statement (read in full below) saying that for the first time in its history, it will not endorse their party’s presidential candidate. Why? Because the club is “ashamed” of Trump. He is, the statement says, a “threat to the survival” of the United States.  The Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper, reported that the club polled members this week to see who they were supporting for president. Ten percent said they would support Trump, while 80 percent said they would not. Another 10 percent were undecided.

Pro-charter Tennessee school group sees its candidates lose local races
Knoxville News Sentinel By Dave Boucher, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee Updated: Yesterday 11:46 p.m.
More than $750,000 buys plenty of campaign mailers and advertisements. But it doesn't necessarily buy election wins.  Stand For Children, an education advocacy organization, found that out the hard way Thursday night. After spending a small fortune, all four candidates it backed in the Metro Nashville school board election and a handful of state GOP primary challengers lost their races.  "I think Nashville has become a model of how you defeat an obscene amount of dark money in local school board elections. At the end of the day, there's a certain sanctity between public school parents and their locally elected school board. And it's not for sale to the highest bidder," said Jamie Hollin, a former Metro councilman and political operative.  Noting he's a proud public school parent, Hollin added, "I am particularly proud to put the nail in the coffin of the charter school movement in Nashville."

“What is perhaps most astonishing is that by cherry-picking select stories of schools’ failure, we completely obscure the data-driven fact that graduation rates for America’s high school students stand at a record high, 82 percent. It’s been several decades since graduation rates rose to this level, with the National Center for Education Statistics citing rates at 75 percent or below from the mid 1970s until 2008. Yet this strong and significant sign of progress is often widely unreported.”
The RNC’s ‘Great Lie’ About K-12 Education
Huffington Post by David A. Pickler  07/22/2016 01:21 pm ET | Updated Jul 22, 2016
It is troubling to watch the Republican National Convention, and hear the ‘great lie’ around K-12 education repeated, over and over again.  In his eloquent and powerful speech in support of his father, Donald Trump Jr. said it. Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) said it. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich echoed it. That ‘great lie’ is the ruse of school “choice.”  There is great appeal in the word itself — but when it comes to education, it is a misnomer. What “choice” really means for K-12 education takes school funding, resources and services away from high-poverty students. How? By reducing the allocation of Title I funding — federal funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families — by as much as 30 percent. And that’s not all.  The myth of “choice” must be debunked. Dig beneath the surface, and what you learn about “choice” is that it dismantles our nation’s ability to provide every child — regardless of zip code — with a high-quality public education, while lining the pockets of private (and often unregulated) enterprise. “Choice” is the commercialization of education — good, bad and indifferent.

In campaign first, Republican Congressman backs Libertarian candidate over Donald Trump
Inquirer by Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post Updated: AUGUST 7, 2016 — 8:12 AM EDT
Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia, will vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson for president, adding to the list of Republicans breaking with GOP nominee Donald Trump.  Rigell, who is retiring at the end of his term after six years in office, is the first member of Congress to support the third-party candidate, according to the New York Times, which first reported the endorsement Saturday.  Rigell's spokeswoman, Kaylin Minton, confirmed the Times's report but declined further comment.  The congressman said in March that he would not vote for Trump.  "I believe that Republican voters have got a reason to be upset and angry, but I'm submitting to them that the solution is not Donald Trump in any respect," he told CNN at the time.

Chicago Public Schools laying off more than 1,000 teachers, staff
Chicago Sun Times by Tina Sfondeles @TinaSfon | emailCHICAGO 08/05/2016, 10:45am
Chicago Public Schools on Friday sent layoff notices to 508 teachers, including 262 tenured teachers, and another 521 support staff, although all teachers and staff will be able to reapply for positions within CPS.  CPS says the layoffs are part of the annual process in which principals set their school budgets. Some schools are closing positions due to declining enrollment, while other schools are increasing the number of positions.  The district says most of the teachers receiving layoff notices on Friday will be hired into open positions in other schools. All affected teachers are from district schools, not charter schools.

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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