Thursday, September 15, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 15: Success Starts Here Live Kickoff Today 10:30 am

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 15, 2016:
Success Starts Here Live Kickoff Today 10:30 am

Southeastern PA Regional 2016 Legislative Roundtable: William Tennent High School (Bucks Co.) SEP 22, 2016 • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Auditor General DePasquale slated to be Keynote Speaker
School Leaders from Northampton, Lehigh, Bucks, Montco, Chesco, Delco and Philadelphia Counties encouraged to attend.

Success Starts Here Live Kickoff Today at 10:30 am
Public education success is the new black
A new public awareness campaign called Success Starts Here makes its official launch on Sept. 15. The campaign will kick off with a news conference at Central Dauphin East Middle School that will be streamed live at 10:30 a.m. through Facebook Live at Don’t miss out on the launch of this exciting, multi-year campaign! Over the next several weeks, you will see and hear TV and radio ads promoting public education success. The campaign website is now live at Browse the success stories and share your own through the online submission form. Review the Fast Fact data on your school entity’s page and let us know if anything needs to be updated by emailing

“All of that leads us back to the elephant in the room, the state’s reliance on property taxes to fund public education. As anyone from a poor district can attest, that puts their children at an immediate disadvantage simply because their tax rates don’t rase the same revenue as property taxes in wealthier districts.
The results are not exactly surprising. Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap between rich and poor districts in the nation.  The funding formula is a step in the right direction, but it’s not yet a cure.  Right now the plaintiffs are simply asking for the opportunity to make their case at trial.
We believe they deserve that chance.”
Editorial: Fair funding still elusive goal in Pa. education
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 09/14/16, 6:43 PM EDT
First the good news.  It has not exactly been a secret for some time now that the system Pennsylvania uses to fund public education has been a mess.  It’s pretty simple. The state was shortchanging education by failing to adequately fund public schools, and the money it did pony up was being unfairly doled out.  To the surprise of absolutely no one, those most in need were the ones getting the short end of the stick. The state had created an uneven playing field, where students were accorded a lesser education for no other reason than their zip code. It was Pennsylvania’s very own version of the haves and have-nots. Districts in areas with struggling economies, unable to raise revenue through tax hikes as their more well-to-do neighbors did, lagged.  To the surprise of just about everyone, the Legislature finally got around to doing something about it.  Last spring they signed off on a fair funding formula and made it a permanent part of the Pennsylvania School Code.

“Affluent districts with strong local tax bases are able to more easily raise revenue than poorer districts with relatively weak tax bases. And while maintaining widely disparate funding, the plaintiffs contend, the state has adopted common goals and standards that all districts must meet.  As as practical matter, the plaintiffs are correct. Pennsylvania has the widest per-student-spending differential among the states between affluent and poor districts, primarily because most state governments provide a much higher overall percentage of education funding.”
Editorial: Voters drive real reform
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has preferred, over its long history, to leave questions of government funding and policy to the political branches rather than dictating reforms.
So it was significant indeed when the court decided to hear arguments Wednesday in a case brought by public education advocates. They contend that the state government, by relying more than any other state on local funding for public schools, has violated state constitutional provisions requiring adequate public education funding and equal treatment under the law.  The plaintiffs are six relatively poor school districts and seven parents. They contend that by leaving more than 65 percent of school funding to local property taxes, the Legislature has created vast funding disparities across the state’s 500 school districts.

Beaver County school officials: New state funding formula doesn't help enough
Beaver County Times Online By Katherine Schaeffer September 13, 2016
For the first time this year, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education distributed part of its education funding through a student-weighted formula, but Beaver County school officials say the effort hasn't helped offset increasing state-required expenses.  The new fair-funding formula, championed by Gov. Tom Wolf, takes into account school district-specific factors such as the number of students living in poverty, how many students are learning English and the district’s ability to cover costs with local tax revenue.  But lawmakers have decided to use the new formula only to disburse new increases to school funding. For the 2016-17 school year, that’s $200 million -- or about 3 percent -- of a $5.8 billion pool.  Locally, school officials say their districts don't receive enough funding from the state and are forced to rely too much on local tax revenue. Efforts like the fair-funding formula are a step in the right direction, they say, but haven't done much to remedy their struggle to balance stagnant state funding with steadily increasing state-mandated contributions to employee pensions, charter school funding and special-education programming.

Philly’s 7th Ward Blog BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI SEPTEMBER 14, 2016
A group of citizens and child advocates brought a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Legislature and the Governor.  Both want the Supreme Court to ignore the current and stubborn inequity in our schools so they can continue to play sandbox politics with our children’s future.  It is well documented that in most places in America, if you are poor, you will have far fewer  opportunities than if you are wealthy. It plays out in access to healthy food, air, good healthcare and schools, etc.  PA has the ignoble distinction of being the most inequitable state when it comes to school funding. And, as education is a key determining factor in a student’s future quality of life, our General Assembly has damned millions of students to a lower quality of life because they choose to deliberately ignore and further cement the inequities that exist.

America has teacher shortage and it could get worse, study finds
Morning Call by Joe HeimThe Washington Post September 14, 2016
The United States is facing its first major teacher shortage since the 1990s, one that could develop into a crisis for schools in many parts of the country, according to a new study by the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank.  The shortfall is a result of increased demand for teachers as schools reinstate classes and programs axed during the Great Recession. It has been compounded by a dramatic decrease in the supply of new teachers entering the profession. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped from 691,000 in 2009 to 451,000 in 2014, a 35 percent decline, according to the study, "A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand and Shortages in the U.S."  "Our analysis estimates that U.S. classrooms were short approximately 60,000 teachers last year," Leib Sutcher, the study's co-author, told reporters Tuesday ahead of the study's release. "Unless we can shift these trends, annual teacher shortages could increase to over 100,000 teachers by 2018 and remain close to that level thereafter."

Have school districts saved too little, enough or too much?
York Daily Record by Angie Mason, amason@ydr.com5:16 p.m. EDT September 14, 2016
How much money should a school district have set aside for a rainy day?
It's not an exact science, according to business managers and financial experts. Have too much, and it can seem like a school district is hoarding taxpayer money. Have too little, and there's a chance the district won't be prepared for some unexpected expense — or, say, an extended state budget impasse when state revenue stops flowing.  The state auditor general recently flagged Eastern York School District's rapidly decreasing unassigned fund balance — essentially, money left after expenses, not designated for any specific use — raising concern that without enough, the district could be unprepared or face higher borrowing costs in the future.  Eastern's unassigned fund balance had fallen to less than 5 percent of its expenses. Four other York County districts have hit that point, too, in recent years, according to fund balance records available from the state.

Philadelphia educator figures in 'School of the Future'
Wednesday at 9 on WHYY-TV, “Nova: School of the Future” reimagines the future of education for children in America. As part of the effort to prepare kids to compete, the PBS program touts the work of Simon Hauger, founder and principal of The Workshop School in West Philadelphia.  Hauger and one of his students, junior Khandace Mitchell, discuss the school’s unique, project-based and collaborative program with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller.

Soda industry challenges Philly sweetened beverage tax in court
Groups including the American Beverage Association are trying to knock down Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's sweetened drinks tax in court before it is supposed to take effect in January.  The association and other plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit in state court alleging the 1.5-cents-per-once levy on regular and diet soda and other sweetened drinks is unconstitutional and should be immediately blocked.  In June, City Council passed Kenney's tax on sweet drinks, one of the mayor's cornerstone policies intended to generate revenue to pay for expanded pre-kindergarten for children around the city and improvements to parks and recreation centers.

Gov. Wolf visits Ferguson K-8 STEAM classes
York Daily Record by Alyssa Jackson, 505-5438/@AlyssaJacksonYD9:15 p.m. EDT September 14, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf spent time with several STEAM classes in York City’s Ferguson K-8 school Wednesday, taking the opportunity to highlight some of the education initiatives he has worked on as governor.  In the York City School District, the STEAM program — which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — is offered only in Ferguson K-8 and only to students in a few grades. Wolf spent time in a number of classes before giving a brief news conference.

Agora Cyber Charter Board Meetings
The Agora Board of Trustees retains ultimate responsibility for the full operation of the Agora Cyber Charter School. Board meetings will be held on the first Monday of each month unless otherwise noted. These meetings are open to the public. Individuals who are interested in attending a Board of Trustees meeting but are unable to do so in person may attend virtually by clicking the link below.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2016 AT 7:00PM
590 North Gulph Road King of Prussia, PA 19406

Blogger note: I could not find any info on public board meetings on the CCCS website.  This is the state’s largest brick and mortar public charter school, managed by GOP mega-donor Vahan Gureghian’s Charter School Mgmt. Co.
Chester Community Charter School

2016-2017 Board of Trustees Meeting Schedule
  • September  26, 2016 at 6:30 pm*
  • November 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm
  • January 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm
  • March 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm
  • May 22, 2017 at 6:30 pm
  • You can join the meeting via Collaborate Link, or via phone (866-398-2885 Passcode: 252501).
    Draft Agenda

Reach Cyber Charter (formerly Connections Academy) School Board
Meeting Dates and Agendas 2016-17 Reach Cyber Board Meetings

PA Cyber's Board of Trustees public meeting
PA Cyber's Board of Trustees public meeting is held on the third Monday of each month. The meeting starts at 6:00pm and is held at 652 Midland Avenue, Midland, PA 15059. For additional information, contact Roxanne Leone-Bovalino at

Trombettta's legacy a complicated one
Beaver County Times By The Times Editorial Board Aug 28, 2016
The legacy of Nick Trombetta will be a complicated one to document for future generations.
His supporters will tell you the man saved the dying steel town of Midland, transforming it into a state-of-the-art education complex that created hundreds of jobs and became home to his creations -- the PA Cyber Charter School, the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, several spinoff entities, and the crown jewel of his empire, the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center.  His critics will point out that he is a convicted felon, having pleaded guilty to siphoning off some $8 million in taxpayer funds for his own benefit and that of family and friends. They will tell you he created a spider web of connected companies that he controlled, directly or indirectly, and that his every move was self-serving, done to build his own personal wealth and wield incredible power over the people who owed him their livelihoods.  If you were to try to summarize Trombetta’s contributions to Midland, and to public education in general, it would come down to this: The man did some very good things, and the man did some very bad things.
On Wednesday, Trombetta pleaded guilty to a tax conspiracy charge as part of a scheme that involved funneling more than $8 million to his sister and four “straw owners” of Avanti Management, a company he created to mask earnings from the IRS. He will be sentenced on Dec. 20 and faces a maximum of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
His plea came nearly three years after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 charges of mail fraud, theft and bribery concerning a federal program, tax conspiracy and filing false tax returns, a charge to which his sister, Elaine Neill, has already pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Money For Charter School Ballot Question Hits $18.8 Million, A Record, As Outside Donors Mobilize
WGBH Boston by ISAIAH THOMPSON September 12, 2016
With just eight weeks to go until the November election, groups advocating for and against a ballot measure to lift the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts have raised a combined nearly $19 million.  That’s more money than has been raised fighting over any ballot initiative in the last decade, almost all of it raised in just a few months.  And a remarkable amount of those donations, especially in support of lifting the state’s charter school cap, have come from outside Massachusetts: roughly four-fifths of the $12 million in donations supporting the measure; and half from large donors in New York alone.

Arkansas Residents Jim And Alice Walton Pony Up $1,835,000 To Raise Charter Cap In Massachusetts
HUFFINGTON Post by Mercedes Schneider  Public school teacher, education activist, PhD 09/11/2016 09:16 pm ET
According to the September 09, 2016, filing of the Massachusetts ballot committee, Yes on 2, billionaire Arkansas resident Alice Walton is one of two individuals providing the $710,100 in funding to promote MA Question 2, raising the charter school cap.  Alice Walton provided $710,000.  A second contributor, Massachusetts resident Frank Perullo provided $100 in order to establish the committee.  And then, the Alice Walton cash was moved to another Question 2 ballot committee: $703,770.29 of Alice Walton’s Yes on 2 committee money was expended to fund Question 2 ballot committee, Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools, where it was combined with billionaire Arkansas resident Jim Walton’s contribution of $1,125,000, thus making the total Walton contribution to the two committees $1,835,000 (and total Walton contribution to the latter committee, $1,828,770.29).  The Campaign for Fair Access total on its Sept 09, 2016, filing was $2,292,183 for 43 contributors– with 79 percent of that money ($1,828,770 / $2,292183) arriving from two out-of-state billionaires.  In other words, 95 percent of contributors (41 out of 43) provided only 21 percent of the total funding on the Campaign for Fair Access Sept 2016 report.

$100 Million Awarded in Contest to Rethink U.S. High Schools
New York Times By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS SEPT. 14, 2016
An organization announced on Wednesday that it had chosen the winners of $10 million grants in a competition to rethink the American high school.  The organization — the XQ Institute, which is backed by Laurene Powell Jobs — is funding 10 schools, for a total of $100 million.  One of the winners, the Somerville Steam Academy in Somerville, Mass., will operate without standard class periods and without separating students by age.  Rise High in Los Angeles will be designed for students who are homeless or in foster care. It will share locations around the city with service providers, like medical or mental health centers, and will have a mobile classroom to teach or tutor students wherever they are.  And in New York City, at the Brooklyn Laboratory Charter High School, the school day will last from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.  “Each of these represent schools that don’t exist today,” said Russlynn H. Ali, chief executive of the XQ Institute and a former assistant secretary for civil rights at the federal Education Department.  Ms. Powell Jobs, chairwoman of the XQ Institute’s board of directors, was the wife of Steven P. Jobs, the Apple co-founder who died five years ago next month.

Chronic Absenteeism Is Most Severe in Poor Communities
Education Week By Lovey Cooper September 13, 2016
The vast majority of the nation's school districts struggle with students who are chronically absent, but the problem is especially concentrated in school systems that serve large numbers of poor students, a new analysis of federal data has found.  While 9 out of 10 school districts experience some chronic absenteeism, around half the 6.5 million students who were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year were enrolled in just 4 percent of the nation's districts, according to researchers Robert Balfanz and Hedy N. Chang.

Where and when to see migrant raptors in central Pa.
Centre Daily Times BY JON KAUFFMAN September 15, 2016
Each fall, volunteer watchers put in countless hours sitting on scenic vistas that provide excellent views of the ridges and valleys and a clear line of sight for oncoming raptors in order to count the birds migrating south. Starting in early September, multiple locations in our region are available to observe avian behavior at its finest.  Most raptor migration occurs along “leading lines” — geographic features such as mountain ranges, coastlines, or barriers like oceans — to guide their journey south.  Since raptors are soaring migrants, they need uplift or thermals to travel great distances to conserve energy. Uplift is a term that refers to wind hitting a mountain range perpendicularly, causing the wind to deflect up and over. Thermal soaring takes place when raptors circle in warm pockets of rising air caused by the increase of the Earth’s ground temperature by the sun. Once a raptor soars high enough, it will exit the thermal and glide until it reaches another thermal farther down ridge. Central Pennsylvania’s terrain and geographic location make this area well-known for viewing migrant raptors.

Pat Metheny Lyle Mays September Fifteenth
YouTube Runtime 7:48 71,638 views Published on Oct 8, 2012
From : "As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls" 1981
Lyle Mays - piano, synthesizer, organ, autoharp
Pat Metheny - electric and acoustic six and twelve string guitars, bass

Education Law Center: Join us September 19: UC-Berkeley economist Rucker Johnson in Philadelphia
September 19: Please join us at 4:30 PM in the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall where economist and UC-Berkeley professor Dr. Rucker Johnson will discuss his recent national research which finds that sustained investment in education produces long-term economic benefits for communities. Mayor Kenney and Dr. Hite will also make brief remarks. This event is sponsored by the Education Law Center, The Mayor’s Office of Education, and Council President Darrell Clarke. Please spread the word and join us on the 19th! RSVP to Caitlyn Boyle:
To download the full invitation to the event, please click here.

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!

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 5:30 PM
The Crystal Tea Room, The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia, PA
Honoring: Pepper Hamilton LLP, Signe Wilkinson, Dr. Monique W. Morris
And presenting the ELC PRO BONO AWARD  to Paul Saint-Antoine & Chanda Miller
of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

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

The Sixth Annual Arts and Education Symposium – October 27, 2016
The 2016 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on October 27 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg Convention Center.  Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Arts Education network and EPLC, the Symposium is a Unique Networking and Learning Opportunity for:
·         Arts Educators
·         School Leaders
·         Artists
·         Arts and Culture Community Leaders
·         Arts-related Business Leaders
·         Arts Education Faculty and Administrators in Higher Education
·         Advocates
·         State and Local Policy Leaders
Act 48 Credit is available.
Program and registration information are available here.

REGISTER NOW for the 2016 PA Principals Association State Conference, October 30 - November 1, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.
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.

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

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