Tuesday, September 20, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 20: Over $1.2 billion in cyber charter tuition 2013 thru 2015; not one school had a passing SPP score of 70 in any year

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 20, 2016
Over $1.2 billion in cyber charter tuition 2013 thru 2015; not one school had a passing SPP score of 70 in any year



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.



School Performance Profile Scores for PA Cyber Charters 2013, 2014 and 2015
Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.
Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the three years that the SPP has been in effect.

“Trombetta pleaded guilty Aug. 24 to diverting about $8 million in public money from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, Beaver County, to several other businesses he created or controlled. He faces up to five years in prison at his scheduled sentencing Dec. 20.”
Accountant postpones expected guilty plea in cyber school funds diversion
Trib Live BY BRIAN BOWLING  | Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, 12:24 p.m.
The accountant for former Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School CEO Nick Trombetta apparently decided not to plead guilty Monday as expected to helping Trombetta divert $8 million in public money.  Neal Prence of Koppel and his attorney showed up for the hearing before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti but, following a private conference between Prence and his lawyer, Stanton Levenson, the hearing was canceled.  “We need additional time to consider,” Levenson said afterward. He declined further comment. Conti rescheduled the hearing for Sept. 28.
Prence is charged with aiding Trombetta in a tax conspiracy.

Philadelphia Education Fund receives $3 million grant to support college readiness
The notebook by Darryl Murphy September 16, 2016 — 12:19pm
The Philadelphia Education Fund announced this week that it received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the fund’s College Access Program in five District high schools.  PEF is one of 459 nonprofit organizations across the nation sharing a $144 million pot committed to improving college readiness for disadvantaged youth. The TRIO Talent Search grant, as it is called, will help create a college-going culture at the schools and provide resources to prepare students for post-secondary education.  "This funding will open new doors for our high school students, as they dream big,” said Farah Jimenez, PEF's president and CEO. Jimenez is also a member of the School Reform Commission.   “And now [they] have the opportunity to realize those dreams. The College Access Program is a strong supplement to the good work of our teachers and administrators in this city.”  The College Access Program will continue to help more than 1,200 students at Kensington Creative & Performing Arts (Kensington CAPA), John Bartram, ASPIRA Olney Charter, Roxborough, and Strawberry Mansion High Schools. The program has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education since 1990, helping more than 75,000 students  graduate from high school and enroll in college. 

“Since the formula as enacted applies only to funding increases, leaders of some of the lowest-income communities in the state have estimated it will take several decades before their districts reach the levels of funding deemed equitable by the BEFC.”
Pennsylvania School Tax Burden
Policy Brief September 2016 by Gregory J. Collins, Penn Graduate School of Education Consortium for Policy Research in Education
After operating without a systematic school district funding mechanism for most of the past twenty-five years, Pennsylvania recently enacted a state funding formula. Act 35 of 2016 codified the formula recommended by the state’s bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), directing future state spending increases to be allocated according to district needs and ability to pay. Since the formula as enacted applies only to funding increases, leaders of some of the lowest-income communities in the state have estimated it will take several decades before their districts reach the levels of funding deemed equitable by the BEFC. This has sparked calls to expedite the implementation of the formula. Advocates of accelerating the formula claim it would serve two main purposes— increase access to resources in districts with low per-pupil spending levels and ease inequitable local school tax burdens in the state. This policy brief examines the second of these purposes, specifically the claim that differences exist in local school tax burdens across Pennsylvania’s 500 districts.

Pennsbury teachers ratify tentative contract; details released to public
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English, staff writer September 19, 2016
Pennsbury will have labor peace with its teachers for half a decade if a proposed new five-year contract is approved by the school board at a special meeting Wednesday night.  The teachers union, called the Pennsbury Education Association, ratified the deal Monday afternoon. Details of the proposed contract were presented to the public at a special board meeting Monday night.  The deal would be retroactive to July 1 and run through June 30, 2021. It would give teachers and other professionals in their union who are at the top step either $1,000 or $2,000 raises this school year, depending on what instructor classification they are in.  All PEA members would get $1,000 raises in each of the last four years of the deal, plus column and step movement in years two through five. There would be no step movement in year two of the proposed deal.  Employee contributions to their health insurance premiums would stay at 12 percent this year and next, increase to 13 percent the next two years and increase again to 14 percent in the last year of the contract. Contributions are capped at $2,250 in the first two years, $2,350 in the third year and $2,450 in the final two years.

Allegheny Valley district, union reach agreement
Trib Live BY BRIAN C. RITTMEYER | Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, 10:57 p.m.
An outstanding issue didn't get in the way of the Allegheny Valley School District and its teachers union coming to early agreement on a new five-year contract.  The school board unanimously approved the agreement Monday. Its vote followed the 87-member union accepting it on Friday.  About 80 percent of union members voted, approving it by a vote of 65 to 4, said Jennifer Novich, president of the Allegheny Valley Education Association.  Teachers will get an average annual pay increase of 3.1 percent under the contract running from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022.  The average salary for all teachers will increase from $64,896 now to $75,883 in the new contract's final year, an almost 17 percent increase, according to the district.  Teachers will pay more toward health care premiums. The contribution will increase by 1 percent in the first year of the contract, to 8 percent. It will then go up by one-half percent each year after, reaching 10 percent in the fifth and final year.

Norwin board urged to let transgender students choose bathroom
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 19, 2016 10:48 PM
A transgender student urged Norwin school board members Monday night to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.  Student Liam Lindsay said he was told not to use either the boys’ or girls’ restrooms, but to use a private restroom in the nurse’s office. He said it would be “right” for him to be allowed to use the boys’ restroom, because that is the gender he identifies with.  Liam said he doesn’t have a gym class this year, so the issue of which locker room to use has not come up.  Superintendent William Kerr said district solicitor Alfred Maiello has advised administrators not to pass a policy on bathroom use by transgender students, because the courts have not ruled on the issue. Mr. Maiello spoke at the school board’s workshop meeting last week.  Mr. Kerr said the district has been working on a transgender policy since last September.


Opioid epidemic encourages states to open recovery high schools
Washington Post By Teresa Wiltz September 19 at 11:09 AM
This summer, Melvin Matos did something that he once thought he would never do: graduate from high school.  He’d started drinking at 14 and quickly moved on to pills and pot. By the time he turned 16, Matos could see where his life was heading: Some of his buddies already had died because of drugs and drink.  After a stint in rehab, Matos enrolled at the William J. Ostiguy High School in Boston, one of five public “recovery high schools” in Massachusetts. There, in addition to his academic classes, he participated in group therapy and 12-step meetings, submitted to regular drug tests and formed friendships with kids facing struggles similar to his.

Frustration. Burnout. Attrition. It's Time To Address The National Teacher Shortage
NPR by ERIC WESTERVELT September 15, 20169:38 AM ET
The good news: There's an uptick in the hiring of new teachers since the pink-slip frenzy in the wake of the Great Recession.  The bad news: The new hiring hasn't made up for the teacher shortfall. Attrition is high, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen some 35 percent over the past five years — a decrease of nearly 240,000 teachers in all.   Parts of most every state in America face troubling teacher shortages: the most frequent shortage areas are math, science, bilingual education and special education.  We've covered many sides of the shortage issue, including the disconnect between training and districts' needs; how the accountability obsession and paperwork aredriving some good veteran teachers away; what factors help teachers stick around; as well as efforts to improve training for special-ed teachers to stem that field's attrition and chronic shortage.

Kansas Supreme Court asked to order boost in aid for schools
Chron by John Hanna, AP Political Writer Updated 10:16 am, Saturday, September 17, 2016
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four local school districts are asking the Kansas Supreme Court to order the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more per year on public schools, in a legal dispute that is shaping state politics and threatening Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's tax-cutting legacy.  The justices plan to hear arguments Wednesday from attorneys on whether the Legislature is fulfilling a duty under the state constitution to finance a suitable education for every child. The districts' attorneys argue that Kansas could afford to boost its aid if lawmakers reversed big income tax cuts enacted in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging as an economic stimulus.
Previous high court rulings against the state have been strongly criticized by conservative GOP legislators and have helped fuel an effort to oust four of the seven justices in November. The high court's decision on school funding isn't expected until after the election.
What to know about school funding in Kansas:

Equity in funding public schools still eludes Georgia policymakers
Atlanta Journal Constitution by Maureen Downey 12:00 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016
At least seven commissions have attempted to remedy school funding inequities in Georgia without success, a record not atypical for school finance reform across the country.  In most states, school funding relies on property taxes, which hinge on local will — how much a local community is willing to tax itself for education — and local capacity — how much those taxes will raise — rather than how much it actually costs to educate a child.  As imperfect as the approach may be, Americans seem reluctant to break with it, likely because it works for higher-income communities. Those communities contend they should be able to provide greater resources for their schools if their taxpayers are willing to do so. States attempt to equalize disparities in high- and low-wealth areas, but a gap remains.

See Who's Been Tapped to Lead Trump's Transition Team for Education
Education Wekk Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on September 19, 2016 7:21 AM
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has picked Williamson M. Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and Gerard Robinson, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, to be on his presidential transition team for education, according to multiple sources.  Evers served as an assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Education from 2007 to 2009, and also was an adviser to former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in 2007 under President George W. Bush. Robinson served as Florida's education commissioner from 2011 to 2012, and has also served as Virginia's education secretary and as the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Half of "Top 100" National Liberal Arts Colleges Do Not Require ACT/SAT
FairTest Press Release September 19, 2016 - 7:40 am 
MORE THAN 240 “TOP TIER” SCHOOLS IN 2017 U.S. NEWS GUIDE
NOW HAVE TEST-OPTIONAL OR TEST-FLEXIBLE ADMISSIONS POLICIES
A record number of colleges and universities now have test-optional admissions policies. Half of the national liberal arts schools ranked in the “Top 100” by the recently published U.S. News “Best Colleges” guide do not require all or many applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) released the new tally.  “Top 100” liberal arts colleges with test-optional policies include Bowdoin, Smith, Wesleyan, Bates, Bryn Mawr, Holy Cross and Pitzer. Test-flexible policies, which allow applicants to submit scores from exams other than the ACT or SAT, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate results, are in place at Middlebury, Colby, Hamilton and Colorado College.  U.S. News lists more than test-optional and test-flexible 240 colleges and universities in the top tiers of their respective categories, according to FairTest. For example, the top three regional universities in the north, Providence College, Fairfield University, and Loyola University, are test-optional. So is the number two university in the south, Rollins, the third ranked school in the Midwest, Drake, and Mills College, fifth ranked among western regional universities.

“The pharmaceutical industry in general has been tremendously greedy in recent years,” he said. “Many congresspeople are looking for someone to hold up as an example, and Mylan is it.”  The best move for Mylan and its image would be for Ms. Bresch to come to the hearing and announce that executives were rolling back their “excessive” salaries, Mr. Haley said. Ms. Bresch alone was paid some $19 million last year.  “I can’t think of anything else they could do that would have an effect on the perceptions of Mylan or the pharmaceutical industry,” he said.”
Mylan CEO to face grilling on Capitol Hill
By Patricia Sabatini / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 20, 2016 12:00 AM
A marketing professor has some advice for Mylan CEO Heather Bresch when she appears on Capitol Hill Wednesday to explain the skyrocketing cost of the EpiPen: Get out of the room as quickly as possible.  Ms. Bresch is set to testify before the House Oversight Committee amid a firestorm of criticism and accusations of price-gouging by the drugmaker, which has raised the price of the potentially life-saving allergy treatment more than 500 percent in recent years.
Such hearings generally are viewed as an opportunity for lawmakers to vent. And participants will be primed to do so on Wednesday, said George Haley, a pharmaceutical industry expert and professor of marketing at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, who has been following the EpiPen furor.

“Washington was euphoric. In a barren time for bi-partisan cooperation late in 2015, both Democrats and Republicans were happy to get rid of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  The K-12 education law was almost universally excoriated as being a failure — particularly in that most important goal of closing the achievement gap. Looking at long-term trends from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, gains were seen in some areas but the achievement gap was stuck.  NCLB provided no upward blips on the charts.  Thus, it is stunning that the successor law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed by Congress last December, is basically an extension of NCLB.  Fundamentally, ESSA maintains the same philosophy and direction. It is still a standardized test-driven system that is punitive in nature.”
School reform: What went wrong, what went right, and what we should do in the future
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss September 19 at 11:35 AM 
For years the United States has embarked on an effort to reform its public education system, a civic institution, that has been based on market principles and the belief that standardized testing is the best way to assess students, teachers, principals, schools, districts and states. The results? Not exactly what market reformers had hoped.  A new book edited by William J. Mathis and Tina M. Trujillo takes a look at, as they write in the post below, “what went wrong, what went right, and what we should do in the future.” The book is titled “Learning from the Federal Market-Based Reforms: Lessons for the Every Student Succeeds Act,” and was published by the National Education Policy Center, a think tank at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mathis and Trujillo asked a number of scholars to assess key aspects of the reform agenda and they assembled the work in a smart, wide-ranging book.

Don't Believe the Charter School Hype
In the end, it's about profits.
Esquire BY CHARLES P. PIERCE SEP 19, 2016 
The people seeking to blow up the cap on the number of charter schools here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) have turned on the afterburners in recent weeks, as we get closer to balloting in which a referendum on lifting the cap will be placed before the voters. The airwaves are thick with commercials about how lifting the cap on charter schools will provide more money to public schools, which is a dodge, because charter schools are not in any important sense public schools.  There is no public oversight. There is little public input. They are privately run and funded with public money. This is the same principle that has worked out so well with prison food.
In New York on Monday, Jonathan Chait jumps into the issue with both feet. (To his credit, Chait is quite clear that his wife works for a charter company.) He argues no less a case than that the referendum is "one of the most important tests of social justice and economic mobility of any election in America this fall." Glorioski! And, of course, he characterizes the opposition to lifting the charter cap as wholly influenced by the all-powerful teachers union, which he casts as a thoroughgoing villain, and which he comes dangerously close to accusing of enabling racism—or, at the very least, as heedless to the concerns of the poor and disadvantaged.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 9/19/2016


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!

EDUCATION LAW CENTER invites you to our ANNUAL CELEBRATION
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 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.

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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