Tuesday, September 6, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 6: Sen. Dinniman: Get Ready to Sue PA Dept. of Ed Over Common Core Testing

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 6, 2016:
Sen. Dinniman: Get Ready to Sue PA Dept. of Ed Over Common Core Testing

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.

Philadelphia City Council

“If you know parents or organizations who might want to take PDE to court or file amicus briefs, let me know…  This is a matter of great importance. A number of us have been working for years against excessive testing and have serious concerns about Common Core.”  He will hold an open meeting for those concerned about the issue on Monday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 pm in his district office along One North Church Street in West Chester.”
State Senator: Get Ready to Sue the PA Department of Education Over Common Core Testing
Gadfly on the Wall Blog September 4, 2016 stevenmsinger 
Pennsylvania State Sen. Andrew Dinniman is mad as Hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.  The West Chester Democrat is furious at the state Department of Education (PDE) over the Keystone Exams.  In February, the legislature unanimously passed a law to delay for two years using the Keystones as a graduation requirement for public school students. The exams will still be given to high school students in Algebra I, Biology and English, but passing them is not necessary to receive a diploma. During this time, the legislature is supposed to investigate alternate assessments above and beyond standardized testing.  However, Dinniman sent out an email to supporters this week claiming PDE is “blatantly ignoring the law and issuing directives to local school districts to use the exam if they want to for graduation.”  This goes against the delay, says Dinniman. The legislature is unsure requiring the Keystone Exam is a good idea, yet the state Senator contends the current administration is advising districts to move forward anyway.

Did you catch our holiday weekend posting?
PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 4: It's harder to steal $8M when there are 9 pairs of elected eyes approving check registers in public meetings…

“So when Hite and Mayor Kenney ring bells to mark the start of a new term this week, the schools they open will have things not recently seen in city classrooms - not just new textbooks, but new technology, a nurse and counselor in every building, more assistant principals in comprehensive high schools, more music teachers.”
Hite bullish on new school year
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, STAFF WRITER Updated: SEPTEMBER 5, 2016 — 5:33 PM EDT
When 130,000 students report to Philadelphia public-school classrooms Wednesday, they will be greeted by a novelty in city schools: brand-new textbooks.  For the first time in years, the Philadelphia School District is providing fresh reading and math materials for students citywide. That $35 million investment is no small thing for the system routinely rocked by financial crises.  "This is the most optimistic I've been since I've been superintendent," William R. Hite Jr. said of the 2016-17 school year. "It's kind of nice to be without some looming disaster or catastrophe."  A state budget deal struck this summer gave Philadelphia $50 million in new money and a permanent extension of a cigarette tax that guarantees ongoing revenues. And the city has spent money on community schools and prekindergarten seats.

Inquirer Editorial: Plan to change schools' racial makeup may have cost Upper Darby chief his job
Inquirer Editorial Updated: SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Not too long ago, the Upper Darby school board couldn't say enough nice things about its superintendent, Richard F. Dunlap Jr. It wrote in his 2014-15 school year evaluation: "Performance is superior, far exceeding expectations." A year ago, he got an 8 percent pay raise, bringing his salary to $194,866, and a fresh five-year contract.  Now Dunlap is out, having spent the last six weeks on paid leave before officially retiring on Wednesday. Since July 12, he's apparently been the subject of six executive sessions of the board, including one meeting in which 24 staffers were brought in to testify.  His crime? The school district skirts that question, noting that personnel matters can be legally discussed in closed session. Further, Dunlap did not seek to confront his accusers and has not responded to media inquiries. Still, clues abound along the road that runs through the eighth-largest school district in Pennsylvania.

'You are not alone': A look at the rising trend of teacher 'onboarding'
It’s a steamy summer morning in early August. Scott Gordon--CEO of the Mastery Charter School network--strides up and down the aisle of a packed school cafeteria in Germantown. About 250 teachers stare back at him from long laminate tables. Each of these teachers started with Mastery about 10 minutes ago. It’s been an intense 10 minutes.  “About one in ten kids who enter kindergarten will actually go on and get a bachelor’s degree,” Gordon says, pointing to a slide stuffed with grim statistics about the educational landscape in Philadelphia.  He pauses. A vacuum silence envelops the room, interrupted only by the the squeak of Gordon’s leather shoes as he paces.   “ONE in ten.”

Radnor increases daily rate paid to substitute teachers
Delco Times By Linda Stein, lstein@21st-centurymedia.com@lsteinreporter on Twitter POSTED: 09/04/16, 6:01 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Radnor >> As a new school year begins, the Radnor Township School Board hopes to improve the district’s odds of finding substitute teachers.   At its August business meeting, the board voted to increase salaries for subs to $110 per day from $100 per day. Extended term substitutes (15 to 89 days) receive $150 per day. Long-term substitutes are paid on scale as per the teachers’ contract. This past spring the board also hired a firm that specializes in finding substitutes, Source for Teachers, to help with the shortfall.  At the August finance committee meeting, board member Patricia Booker asked administrators to keep track of how many substitutes are used and “how many classrooms are without a teacher. I know that was a heightened concern for parents toward the end of the year.”

Crowdfunding: Teachers solicit online
05 Sep 2016 — Erie Times-News The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - Paper? Pencils? Laptops? Robots? Teachers are increasingly relying on crowdfunding efforts to stock their classrooms with both the mundane and sometimes big-ticket items.  Contributions to education campaigns have climbed on GoFundMe and DonorsChoose, collectively, from just more than $31.2 million in 2010 to nearly $140 million in 2015, the do-it-yourself fundraising sites report. Both sites are on pace to eclipse that in 2016.  GoFundMe has collected $58 million in just the last 12 months, and DonorsChoose saw more than 50,000 campaigns live on the site for the first time this back-to-school season.  In her first year as an elementary school teacher in Kingman, Arizona, Shannon Raftery raised $340 through crowdfunding to supplement the money she took out of each paycheck to pay for classroom supplies. Now in Philadelphia, she's looking to raise $500 for her new kindergarten classroom at Roosevelt Elementary School.

“The new school year marks the launch of the county-wide “Focus on Attendance” initiative, which county officials say is the result of years of study and collaboration aimed at addressing truancy in Allegheny County. Almost 12,000 students in 2014-15 were truant — meaning they had more than three unexcused absences at school. That number has remained about the same for the past three years, state data show.”
New partnership aims to combat school absenteeism in Allegheny County
Trib Live BY ELIZABETH BEHRMAN  | Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, 10:36 p.m.
Samantha Murphy can rattle off tales about all the truant kids her team has come across over the years.  There was the 15-year-old heroin addict. There was the girl who skipped her morning classes because she struggled so much in math. There was the boy whose grandmother didn't have a car and couldn't get him there during the winter months.  Murphy, the resource services manager and education liaison for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, said there are any number of reasons a student might miss school. She hopes a new partnership between her office, the juvenile probation department, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and school districts can help find a solution for them.  “A lot of it is helping people identify that root cause and offering some sort of support for resolving it if we can,” Murphy said.

Westmoreland school districts to pilot mental health, drug, alcohol initiative
Trib Live BY JEFF HIMLER  | Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, 10:51 p.m.
Three Westmoreland County school districts are piloting an enhanced Student Assistance Program to promptly provide behavioral, mental health or drug and alcohol counseling and an array of other services this year.  “It will be more like one-stop shopping,” said Christine Oldham, superintendent at Ligonier Valley schools, which is introducing the program along with the Franklin Regional and Jeannette districts.  “We are really excited about this,” Oldham said. “We see this as an opportunity for a lot of our families to get connected to services.”  The program is operated through Westmoreland County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, which provides each district with a liaison from subcontractor Westmoreland Casemanagement and Supports Inc. The liaison will work with core teams at schools to assess the needs of referred students and match them with related services.

Lehigh Valley city districts have low graduation rates, large class sizes
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call September 5, 2016
Valley city districts have lower graduation rates, larger class sizes
The Lehigh Valley's urban school districts have the lowest graduation rates and tend to have a higher student-teacher ratio, while wealthy suburban districts are able to spend more money on per student instruction and have higher graduation rates.  Those revelations may not be all that startling, but in a snapshot of how schools are doing in numbers provided by the state Department of Education for the 2014-2015 school year, it's readily apparent.  The state's average for graduation rate is 87 percent which all Lehigh Valley districts met except Easton, Bethlehem, Pen Argyl and Allentown, in descending order. While the three city districts had some of the largest graduating classes in the Valley, Pen Argyl had one of the smallest with just 112 in 2015.

Gerrymandering: Voters must regain control of election outcomes
Morning Call Opinion by Bill White Contact Reporter September5, 2016
Pennsylvania voters must seize control from gerrymanderers
Former state House Speaker John Perzel ended up going to jail for spending millions in taxpayer dollars on outside consultants who helped him better predict voting patterns to draw up safe Republican districts, including his own.  By going street by street in search of Republican voters as he gerrymandered his Philadelphia district, Perzel went from winning an election by fewer than 100 votes in 2000 to slaughtering his opponent in 2002.  Disturbing as those advances in voter mapping were, they were primitive compared to the computer software and huge financial commitment that helped Republicans grab control of Congress in the wake of a brilliant 2010 campaign to seize majorities in critical state legislatures just in time to control the post-census redrawing of their congressional and legislative districts. Gerrymandering has so insulated them that their U.S. House majority looks safe, even if there's a huge anti-Trump backlash this fall.
One of the states the GOP targeted was Pennsylvania, where the state's 7th Congressional District became a national model for insane gerrymandering. The Washington Post, which included the 7th District in its collection of America's Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts, called this one "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck."

The Failing Grade for Tests
This is the seventh—and final—installment in our series about school in a perfect world. Read previous entries oncalendarscontenthomeworkteachersclassrooms, and classifications.
We asked prominent voices in education—from policy makers and teachers to activists and parents—to look beyond laws, politics, and funding and imagine a utopian system of learning. They went back to the drawing board—and the chalkboard—to build an educational Garden of Eden. We’ve published their answers to one question each day this week. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.  Today’s assignment: The Evaluation. How are schools held accountable?

Researchers have found a cheap, easy trick that really helps poor kids learn to read
Washington Post By Max Ehrenfreund September 2, 2016
There are all kinds of reasons that kids have trouble learning to read. Figuring out what those obstacles are can be a challenge, and helping children overcome them can be expensive.  Almost 20 years ago, however, officials in Rhode Island took on a major project to improve children's overall health that also happened to help them read. Identifying the children who needed help was straightforward. The plan was cheap. The results were real.  The trick was taking action to protect children growing up in old homes from exposure to lead. Reducing the amount of lead in the average toddler's blood by just 0.01 milligrams per liter reduced her chances of being unable to read proficiently in third grade by more than a quarter, according to a new study.  The study, published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, corroborates previous work suggesting that even minimal exposure to lead can poison children's brains. It also shows that the problem is easy to address.

“But I’ve just been reading a new study by a team of economists and health experts confirming the growing consensus that even low levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams have significant adverse effects on cognitive performance. And lead exposure is still strongly correlated with growing up in a disadvantaged household.”
Black Lead Matters
New York Times Paul Krugman SEPT. 2, 2016
Donald Trump is still claiming that “inner-city crime is reaching record levels,” promising to save African-Americans from the “slaughter.” In fact, this urban apocalypse is a figment of his imagination; urban crime is actually at historically low levels. But he’s not the kind of guy to care about another “Pants on Fire” verdict from PolitiFact.  Yet some things are, of course, far from fine in our cities, and there is a lot we should be doing to help black communities. We could, for example, stop pumping lead into their children’s blood.  You may think that I’m talking about the water crisis in Flint, Mich., which justifiably caused national outrage early this year, only to fade from the headlines. But Flint was just an extreme example of a much bigger problem. And it’s a problem that should be part of our political debate: Like it or not, poisoning kids is a partisan issue.  To be sure, there’s a lot less lead poisoning in today’s America than there was back in what Trump supporters regard as the good old days. Indeed, some analysts believe that declining lead pollution has been an important factor in declining crime.

Obama’s Education Law Rewrite
The feds won’t leave even a year-old bipartisan statute untouched.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Sept. 5, 2016 6:41 p.m. ET
President Obama plans to leave office with no law left unaltered to progressive specifications, and so the legislators in the White House are now rewriting even last year’s Every Student Succeeds Act in defiance of Congressional intent.  Last week the Education Department proposed a rule that supposedly aims to clarify a requirement in the law that Title I funds for low-income students supplement rather than supplant local and state spending. Congress intended to devolve federal control over education, but the Administration’s new rule would do the opposite.
The “supplement, not supplant” requirement has been federal policy since 1970. Most local school districts have complied by documenting that each individual service or item was supplemental—that is, every pencil bought with Title I dollars would not otherwise have been purchased. This led to an avalanche of paperwork and misallocation of resources.

Charter Schools Are Reinventing Local Control in Education
Charters are supplanting the union-dominated school board model. The big winners are students.
Wall Street Journal Opinion by By CHESTER E. FINN JR., BRUNO V. MANNO and BRANDON L. WRIGHT Sept. 5, 2016 6:53 p.m. ET
America’s devotion to local control of schools is dying, but it is also being reborn as a new faith in charter schools. These independently operated public schools—nearly 7,000 across the country, and counting—provide a much-needed option for almost three million youngsters in 43 states.  As students return to school, the enterprise responsible for educating them is changing in ways that few people are aware of. Charters are fomenting a quiet revolution in governance in public education.  The prevailing arrangement in America’s 14,000 school systems starts with an elected board. The board appoints a superintendent, who manages more-or-less uniform public schools staffed by a unionized workforce of government employees. This setup functioned well for an agrarian and small-town society in which people spent their entire lives in one place, towns paid for their own schools, and those schools met most of the workforce needs of the local community.

Stargazing: Moon passes celestial triangle
Post Gazette By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory September 6, 2016 12:00 AM
Every two years or so, stargazers anticipate the return of Mars to the evening sky when it goes into opposition. The red planet brightens dramatically then appears to change direction and move east to west. This occasional westward or backward movement is called retrograde motion and is actually an illusion caused by the way Earth and Mars orbit the sun.  Mars halted its eastward motion and began creeping westward through Scorpius and Libra in April. It reached its western stationary point at the end of June then resumed its direct motion (west to east) against the background of stars. Mars moved back into Scorpius last month and passed Saturn on Aug. 23. Tonight stargazers can find Mars about 8 degrees to the east or left of Saturn.  Look for the celestial triangle of Mars, Saturn and Antares Thursday night as the approaching first-quarter moon joins the trio. The moon will continue to pass the celestial triangle over the weekend before moving into Sagittarius.

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

2016 National Anthem Sing-A-Long - September 9th
American Public Education Foundation Website 
The Star-Spangled Banner will be sung by school children nationwide on Friday, September 9, 2016 at 10:00am PST and 1:00pm EST. Students will learn about the words and meaning of the flag and sing the first stanza. This will be the third annual simultaneous sing-a-long event created by the APEF-9/12 Generation Project. The project aims to bring students together – as the world came together – on September 12, 2001.

PA Supreme Court sets Sept. 13 argument date for fair education funding lawsuit in Philly
Thorough and Efficient Blog JUNE 16, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI LEAVE A COMMENT

Registration for the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 13-15 is now open
The conference is your opportunity to learn, network and be inspired by peers and experts.
TO REGISTER: See https://www.psba.org/members-area/store-registration/   (you must be logged in to the Members Area to register). You can read more on How to Register for a PSBA Event here.   CONFERENCE WEBSITE: For all other program details, schedules, exhibits, etc., see the conference website:www.paschoolleaders.org.

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.
The Early Bird Discount Deadline has been Extended to Wednesday, August 31, 2016!
PA Principals Association website Tuesday, August 2, 2016 10:43 AM
To receive the Early Bird Discount, you must be registered by August 31, 2016:
Members: $300  Non-Members: $400
Featuring Three National Keynote Speakers: Eric Sheninger, Jill Jackson & Salome Thomas-EL

PSBA Officer Elections Aug. 15-Oct. 3, 2016: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than April 30, 2016, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 24 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).  Each school entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 15-Oct. 3, 2016). Voting will be accomplished through a secure third-party, web-based voting site that will require a password login. One person from each member school entity will be authorized as the official person to cast the vote on behalf of his or her school entity. In the case of school districts, it will be the board secretary who will cast votes on behalf of the school board.
Special note: Boards should be sure to include discussion and voting on candidates to its agenda during one of its meetings in September.

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