Friday, September 16, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 16: PA Public Schools: Success Starts Here

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3900 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, School Solicitors, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 16, 2016

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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.

Robots in first grade? New schools PR campaign touts 'positive'
PennLive By Barbara Miller | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on September 15, 2016 at 12:22 PM, updated September 15, 2016 at 1:09 PM
Robots in first grade is one of the stories being shared in a new Success Starts Here campaign that education groups statewide launched Thursday.  Nathan Mains, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, introduces the Success Starts Here campaign to foster a positive image of public education.  The campaign, organized by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and others, will share positive stories about public education through advertising across all forms of media and social platforms.  At the campaign kickoff Thursday at Central Dauphin East Middle School, first grade teacher Tiffany Hogg of Northern Lebanon School District described the benefit her students are getting from learning basic computer programming to control a robot.  Hogg's class will be in the first Success Starts Here commercial that will start airing today.

New public awareness campaign launches for public education
PSBA Sept. 15, 2016 – Educating nearly 2 million students. More than 130,000 graduates a year. Those are the big numbers in Pennsylvania public education. But behind those statewide statistics are thousands of success stories taking place every day in school districts, career and tech centers and intermediate units across the commonwealth. That’s the idea behind a new campaign called Success Starts Here, which officially launched Sept. 15 with a news conference and the start of television, radio and out-of-home advertisements.  The public awareness campaign is supported by several public education associations, including PA Association of Intermediate Units, PA Association of School Administrators, PA Principals Association, PA School Boards Association, PA School Public Relations Association, and PA State Education Association.  The Success Starts Here campaign is a multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education through advertising, web, social media, traditional media and word-of-mouth with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania. It is not an advocacy campaign.

If you were not able to view the oral argument this past Tuesday, you can watch a recorded version on PCN this Friday, September 16, at 1 p.m.
Fair Education Funding Lawsuit Oral Argument Recap
Thorough and Efficient Blog SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI
On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, school districts, parents and advocates stood before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and urged the court to get involved in reviewing the state’s education funding system. Hundreds of people from across the state of Pennsylvania waited in line at Philadelphia’s City Hall to fill up the Supreme Court room, an overflow court room and then some.  The question before the court was simple: do Pennsylvania families and school districts get their day in court to prove our system of education funding is inadequate, inequitable, and unconstitutional? Or, should courts leave such matters to the political process? The seven justices of the state’s highest court were very engaged in the argument. They asked counsel for the petitioners, Brad Elias, what they envision as possible remedies for Pennsylvania’s broken school funding system and what the court’s role might look like in crafting and monitoring potential fixes. They asked the state if there were any circumstances under which the Education Clause of the state constitution could be enforced by the courts.

“Education Department data tell us that the top 10 districts spend an average of $25,743 per student, while the bottom 10 spend an average $11,094 per pupil. (Philadelphia, which ranks 338th out of the 500 districts, spends $13,458 per pupil.)”
DN editorial: Court needs to step in, level educational playing field
Philly Daily News Editorial Updated: SEPTEMBER 16, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
THIS WEEK, a group of public-interest lawyers spent hours in a courtroom trying to convince the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the state is failing to meet its obligations in funding public schools.  The justices didn't seem convinced. Lawyers on the other side of the issue - representing the state and the Legislature - argued that the courts had no business getting involved: It was strictly a matter for the Legislature to decide whether Pennsylvania meets the constitutional requirement that it provide a "thorough and efficient system of education." That was a convincing argument for some of the justices. In comments from the bench, some expressed an unwillingness to have the courts step into the Big Muddy that is the debate over education funding.  We believe those justices are wrong. The central question isn't whether the state provided financial support for the public schools. It is whether the financial aid is used to help achieve equitable funding among the state's 500 local districts. Clearly, it does not.

Editorial: Funding formula still unfair
Bucks County Courier Times September 15, 2016
The often-tainted image of state government took another self-inflicted hit this week when a state attorney told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that students have no constitutional right to a specific level of education quality.  All the state constitution requires of districts, John Knorr of the state Attorney General's Office said, is to open schools.  If that jaw-dropping argument didn't elicit a heated reaction from the justices — and it didn't — it did from some observers. Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym was among the offended. She called the assertion that students have no right to education quality "deplorable." The Rev. Gregory Holston, a pastor involved with an interfaith group that targets social issues, had an even angrier reaction.   "Racism is at the core of the fair-funding issue," he said.    The fair funding of public schools was before the court as the result of a lawsuit filed by school districts and parents who argue that the state's funding formula violates the equal-protection provision of the state constitution. The plaintiffs also allege that Pennsylvania fails to provide a "thorough and efficient system of education" as guaranteed by the constitution. 

Testimony from PA House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Graduation Requirements and High Stakes Testing
Held at Northley Middle School, Aston PA on September 12, 2016

SRC stalls again on four contested charter schools
The notebook/Newsworks by Avi Wolfman-Arent & Darryl Murphy September 15, 2016 10:39pm
Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission has again delayed action on four turnaround charter schools--schools the district has recommended for non-renewal.  This is the second time Philadelphia’s top education officials have tabled decisions on the quartet of schools, which are all part of the city’s Renaissance Schools initiative.  Olney Charter High School and John B. Stetson Charter School of the ASPIRA network, and Audenried Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School and Vare Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School of the Universal Network were recommended for non-renewal by the District’s charter school office in May. The District cited poor academic performance, as well as financial and organizational instability in its calls for non-renewal.  The four schools have been in limbo since then, with a majority of the SRC’s five members unable to reach consensus on the fate of the four schools. It appeared initially there might be some definitive action on the schools during Thursday’s SRC meeting. All four were listed on the commission’s resolution agenda.  Instead, after a brief public discussion, board chair Marjorie Neff withdrew all four resolutions.

School district assessment appeals vital to tax fairness | Guest column
By John E. Freund III and Jonathan M. Huerta By Express-Times guest columnist  on July 27, 2015 at 2:11 PM, updated July 27, 2015 at 4:04 PM
Pennsylvania homeowners are facing a $2 billion tax increase over the next decade — the shocking estimated loss in property tax revenue predicted by thePennsylvania School Boards Association if special interests and their political action committees, such as the Pennsylvania Apartment Association, have their way with lawmakers in Harrisburg. They have targeted legislators seeking to change an 80-year-old law that permits taxing authorities, including school districts, to file assessment appeals on large, highly profitable commercial properties that are severely undertaxed. When properties such as large shopping centers, apartment buildings and casinos are significantly underassessed, local residents are forced to subsidize those property owners in the form of unnecessary property tax increases or painful cuts to school staff and educational programs, police and fire protection, senior programs or  other important services.

Lancaster school district wants to limit refugee enrollment order
The school district of Lancaster was court-ordered recently to let refugees over the age of 16 into its International School program for students with limited English proficiency.  But just a couple weeks later, the school's attorneys are trying to get the order suspended.
Vic Walczk is the legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, one of the organizations behind the lawsuit.  "The school district is refusing to put them in a school, in a program designed for students just like them. It makes no sense," Walczak says.  The district has followed the order for students already enrolled when it was issued a couple weeks ago, and they won't be affected by any ruling on the motion for a stay filed earlier this week, according to spokeswoman Kelly Burkholder.

Pine-Richland eyed as target of federal lawsuit for transgender bathroom protocol
By Karen Kane / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 16, 2016 12:00 AM
A national law firm that advocates for the LGBT community said a federal suit will be filed against Pine-Richland School District for putting into place this week a "sex-specific" protocol that requires transgender students to use bathrooms that match their biological gender or, as an alternative, to use a unisex bathroom.  "We'll see them in court," said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, an attorney with Lambda Legal, based in New York City.  He said the school district distinguished itself Monday by becoming the only district in Pennsylvania to have adopted such a "discriminatory" resolution — one that was passed on a 5-4 vote.  "They created a problem where none existed before,"  Mr. Gonzalez-Pagan said.  The new resolution overturns a longtime practice that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which the student identifies.

Here are the central Pa. school districts with the biggest tax increases
Penn Live Slideshow September 15, 2016

 “Thus, the promotion and expansion of these independent teacher education programs rests not on evidence, but largely on ideology. The lack of credible evidence supporting these claims of success is particularly problematic given the current emphasis on evidence-based policy and practice in federal policy and professional standards.”
The problem with the growing effort to ‘disrupt’ teacher preparation in the United States
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 15 at 1:45 PM 
One of the most contentious areas of school reform in recent years has been how best to educate students to be effective teachers. Traditional schools of education have come under attack — in some cases for good reason and in some cases not. Independent alternative programs have become popular, sometimes without evidence that they work.  In this post, Kenneth Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, writes about why today’s criticisms of traditional programs to train teachers are different from the past and why he is concerned about the growing effort to “disrupt” the teacher education system in the United States. This piece was taken from a policy brief he wrote, titled “Independent Teacher Education Programs: Apocryphal Claims, Illusory Evidence,” that was published by the National Education Policy Center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder and is available here.

Analysis Projects Growing National Shortfall of Teachers
Education Week By Madeline Will September 14, 2016
Already faced with worrisome hiring gaps, the country is on the precipice of a dramatically widening shortfall of teachers, a new analysis warns.  In a package of reports released Wednesday, the Learning Policy Institute, a California-based think tank led by Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, digs into federal data sets to gauge the state of teacher supply and demand, and what it means for school staffing and diversity in the near future. The trend lines are far from encouraging, according to the group, though not all education experts are convinced of an impending widespread national shortage.  During the 2015-16 school year, there was a national shortage of about 60,000 teachers, the LPI estimates. The shortage was most pronounced in special education, with 48 states and the District of Columbia reporting a shortage in that field to the U.S. Department of Education.

Connecticut to Appeal Decision in Schools Funding Case
New York Times By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS SEPT. 15, 2016
The State of Connecticut said on Thursday that it would appeal a sweeping ruling in a schools funding case that ordered it to re-examine virtually the entire education system.  “There are strong arguments that the trial court exceeded its authority and the standards articulated by the Connecticut Supreme Court, and so today we are asking that court to review this ruling,” Attorney General George C. Jepsen said in a statement.  In the long-running case, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford found last week that Connecticut was “defaulting on its constitutional duty” to give all children an adequate education because the state was allowing students in poor districts to languish while those in wealthy districts excelled.  Judge Moukawsher gave the state 180 days to revamp teacher evaluations and compensation, school funding policies, special education services and graduation requirements.

I, Too, Sing America
THE SMITHSONIAN’S National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on Sept. 24 in Washington after a long journey. Thirteen years since Congress and President George W. Bush authorized its construction, the 400,000-square-foot building stands on a five-acre site on the National Mall, close to the Washington Monument. President Obama will speak at its opening dedication.  Appropriately for a public museum at the heart of Washington’s cultural landscape, the museum’s creators did not want to build a space for a black audience alone, but for all Americans. In the spirit of Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too,” their message is a powerful declaration: The African-American story is an American story, as central to the country’s narrative as any other, and understanding black history and culture is essential to understanding American history and culture.

Another Unrealistic Trump Policy Proposal: Homeschool Vouchers
Trump recently proposed billions in spending to allow the nation’s poorest students to leave public schools and enroll elsewhere, including by using homeschooling. Except the plan won’t work for the poorest students.
by Jessica Huseman ProPublica, Sep. 14, 2016, 2:54 p.m.
GOP nominee Donald Trump has said he plans to spend billions of dollars on so-called school choice programs. The $20 billion in federal funds would be available only to what he says are 11 million children living in poverty who are also “trapped in failing schools.” Families will be eligible for vouchers to send their children to charter, magnet or even private religious schools. Last Friday, he announced the policy would include homeschooling as well.  “School choice is at the center of this civil rights agenda, and my goal is to provide every single inner-city child in America that is trapped in a failing government school the freedom to attend the school of their choice,” he said at a conservative voters conference. “School choice also means that parents can homeschool their children. Hundred percent.”  But there’s one problem with Trump’s homeschooling plan: Impoverished homeschoolers mostly don’t exist.

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

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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