Wednesday, September 7, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 7: News: 130K Philly Kids Start School Today with Nurses, Counselors & Textbooks

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 7, 2016:
News: 130K Philly Kids Start School Today with Nurses, Counselors & Textbooks

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

“Public schools educate all who knock at their doors. They are obligated to and do provide free appropriate public education and create and implement programs for all students regardless of their ability and condition. That is the historic role of public education, which is a bedrock of our democracy. Charter schools get a free pass on these requirements yet they are funded at the per pupil cost of the public school districts. Is there something wrong here? You bet!”
Pa.’s law on charter schools needs to be changed
Post Gazette Letter by IRA WEISS Oakland September 6, 2016 12:00 AM
The writer is the solicitor for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Your editorial “Charter School Caper” (Aug. 27) hit some of the marks on the charter school debacle in Pennsylvania but misses others. The shortcomings and inadequacies of the charter school law are the root of the “caper “ and “callow plunder” referenced in the editorial. In my representation of school districts in Western Pennsylvania, I have worked with this legislation, which was created by Tom Ridge and his cadre of charter advocates and lobbyists. They put in place a system that permits charter schools to operate in virtual secrecy. Only when situations like PA Cyber and Urban Pathways of Pittsburgh are revealed by law enforcement or diligent reporters do we learn of the excessive expenditures of some of the charter operators. Beyond that, this law, written by the charter lobby, permits charter schools to screen students for enrollment, summarily dismiss those students who “don’t fit” and exploit a funding and payment system that loots public schools of desperately needed funds. Added to all of this is an inadequate and biased appeals system overseen by a charter appeals board that is constricted by both the enabling legislation and its members, several of whom have active charter ties. It is, in fact, a charter assistance board.  Charter schools use scarce tax dollars to advertise, sponsor promotions at public gatherings and museums such as the Carnegie Science Center and fund advocacy groups that make millions in campaign donations to friendly candidates who will further their ongoing assault on public education coffers.

Here’s the Post Gazette editorial referenced above….
Charter school caper: Trombetta finally admits guilt, but mess remains
By the Editorial Board August 27, 2016 12:00 AM
Pennsylvanians struggle with high property taxes, yet school districts still labor to make ends meet because of inadequate state funding and the encroachment of nontraditional charter schools. Every penny counts. By diverting public money for personal use, Nicholas Trombetta hurt the state’s schoolchildren, taxpayers, school districts and the charter school movement he helped to create.   Trombetta, founder of the Beaver County-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to a count of tax conspiracy. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The U.S. attorney’s office alleged that he diverted $8 million of taxpayer money for personal use, spending the money not on education, U.S. Attorney David Hickton said, but on “condos and airplanes.” Trombetta didn’t even have the decency to fold when the jig was up. He fought the charges for three years before entering his guilty plea, wasting resources the authorities could have devoted to other cases. The case is sad partly because PA Cyber had given wind to the charter movement and brought attention to Beaver County.  Charter schools offer innovative educational opportunities that serve some students well. However, they have earned the enmity of traditional public schools by luring away their students and funding and by operating with what some regard as little oversight. 

Ruling on PA charter school could set a precedent
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 2, 2016 8:25 PM
 (Pennsylvania) -- The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled a virtual charter school in Pennsylvania should be classified as a private corporation, not a public institution. The decision only directly impacts that one school, but it could have farther-reaching legal implications.  That ruling, which affected Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School, was prompted by unionization efforts by its employees. Private organizations are subject to National Labor Relations rules, while public ones are subject to state labor regulations.  These decisions are highly individual. And the board's distinctions between private and public organizations are so specific they're dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  But Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said the ruling isn't entirely insular.

Blogger note: interesting concept in this proposed legislation from Senator Wiley…
Senate Bill 1308 − Cyber Charter Funding Reform
Senator Sean Wiley’s Website
 It is irresponsible of the General Assembly to not address costs to school districts as well as ongoing investment in public education funding. A leading cost driver for Erie’s Public Schools and districts across the Commonwealth is cyber charter education. Currently, school districts are responsible for paying tuition on behalf of those students residing in their district, whether they choose to attend a brick-and-mortar or cyber charter school. Cyber tuition currently has no relationship to the cost of providing an online education, but instead represents the per-student expenditure of each student’s home district which ranges widely from $6,600 per year to $17,000 per year for non-special education students. Given that cyber charter schools benefit from a very different cost structure than that of brick-and-mortar schools, we need a more equitable way to pay for their services.  SB 1308 that would use private market forces to determine a more accurate rate. Senate Bill 1308 would increase competition among cyber charter education providers, including licensed cyber charters and school district cyber programs. Through competitive bidding, PDE would determine the primary cyber charter school for each of eight designated regions throughout Pennsylvania. Bids would be offered for proposed cyber tuition per student, with the designation of a primary regional cyber charter going to the lowest responsible bidder. A student’s parent or guardian may enroll the student in an online educational program that is not provided by his or her local district, intermediate unit, or primary regional cyber charter, provided the cost of that education would be borne by the student’s parent or guardian – just as it would be if a student attended school in a district other than the home district. This proposal will help ascertain the true cost of educating a child online while encouraging open competition among online education providers.

“The Pa. School Boards Association is pleased to provide its membership and the general public a closer look into candidates’ views on public education for the 2016 general election for the Pa. Senate and House of Representatives.”
Learn where your candidates stand on the important issues
ABOUT THIS SITE” The Pa. School Boards Association is pleased to provide its membership and the general public a closer look into candidates’ views on public education for the 2016 general election for the Pa. Senate and House of Representatives.  Following the April 2016 primary elections, PSBA sent out a six-question questionnaire to all Pa. House and Senate candidates of seats in the November elections. To see how the candidate responded, simply click on the candidate’s image or name.  Candidates are listed by House, Senate and County. If you are unsure of your district please visit FIND MY LEGISLATOR to locate your district.
·         Candidates images are shown if provided
·         Candidates are tagged by political party, seat for which they are running
·         Candidate who did not respond are indicated by “Responses not available”
Candidates wishing to complete the questionnaire before election day may do so by contacting  Sean Crampsie (717-506-2450 x-3321).

PA Public School Building Construction & Reconstruction Advisory (PlanCon) Committee September 7, 2016 – 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Donegal High School
PA Senate website September 6, 2016
9:30 – 9:35 AM: Opening Remarks Senator Aument
9:35 – 9:50 AM: Susan Ursprung, Ed.D. Superintendent Donegal School District
9:50 – 10:30 AM: Panel Discussion
Daniel L. Forry, PRSBA, Chief Operating Officer, Hempfield School District
Christopher Johnston, PRSBA Business Manager, Penn Manor School District
Matt Przywara, PRSBA, CPA, Chief Financial and Operations Officer, School District of Lancaster

“The effort is a collaboration among the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that links private investments to the District; American Reading Co., the Children’s Learning Initiative, READ! by Fourth, the William Penn Foundation and the Lenfest Foundation.”
New books arrive to help improve literacy in young students
The notebook by Darryl Murphy September 6, 2016 — 5:21pm
At George W. Nebinger Elementary School, Tuesday was one for the books.
Nebinger is one of 53 schools in the School District that will receive new children’s books to help kindergarten through 3rd-grade students learn to read. The books are categorized by reading level. The 130,000 books will be placed in 650 classrooms led by instructors who received extensive literacy training. They’ll also receive support from literacy coaches provided by the Children’s Literacy Initiative. The teachers will create reading programs tailored to individual student’s literacy levels and learning abilities.  Nebinger principal Anh Nguyen-Brown was joined by Superintendent William Hite and Donna Frisby-Greenwood, president/CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, to unpack the new books.  “These books are designed to help our youngest readers,” said Hite, “and to provide them with the confidence they need to get them reading on grade level. If we give children a book not matched to their reading level or learning style, [then] they’ll think they don’t have what it takes to be good readers.”

“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.”
Philly schools Superintendent Hite optimistic about new school year
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 — 1:07 AM 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.

Despite progress, teacher vacancies linger as Philly schools open
Despite an aggressive hiring spree, the School District of Philadelphia will start the year with scores of teacher vacancies, although there are fewer openings than last year.  That means thousands of students will have at least one class without a permanent teacher when school starts on Wednesday.  As of late Tuesday, 84 full-time openings remained across 58 district schools, according to the district’s official vacancy tracker.  In late June, with just 45 vacancies, district officials called a press conference to announce they were on track to fill every teaching position. The district had originally said it would fill all open positions by June 30. Teacher vacancies have plagued the district for years, and officials waged a well-publicized hiring campaign over the summer to eradicate the problem.

Past needles and pitbulls, Edison's teachers walk the walk
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, STAFF WRITER Updated: SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 — 1:47 PM EDT
Dena Bassett-Scott stepped over a discarded hypodermic needle and glanced at a pitbull barking urgently against a chain-link fence inches away.  "I'm thinking of our younger students - they're walking all this way, and they're seeing all this, and they're scared," said the math teacher at Edison High.  On Wednesday, 1,200 pupils are scheduled to report to Edison for the first day of school. On Tuesday, more than 100 staffers walked the North Philadelphia streets that most of their students will travel to get to class.  It was a way to declare to the community their commitment to kids in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods on the eve of a new term for the Philadelphia School District. But, perhaps even more, it was a way to visualize some of the challenges their students face.

Homeless students get more attention under new education law
Post Gazette By Carolyn Thompson / Associated Press September 6, 2016 12:08 AM
BUFFALO, N.Y. — School administrators this year are being pushed to get better at recognizing homeless students — those “hidden” in other people’s homes or whose families are staying in places like campgrounds, motels and cars — and to keep them in school even if they’re missing paperwork or move around.  The count of homeless students enrolled in American schools, now more than 1.3 million, is nearly double what it was a decade ago. The number is expected to grow — or rather, become more accurate — as schools relax enrollment barriers and strengthen the role of district liaisons charged with identifying and connecting homeless students with services.  The provisions take effect Oct. 1 under an expansion of homeless services in a new education law, which also will require states to break out achievement and graduation rates among the homeless. Homeless children are especially vulnerable to chronic absence and poor grades.

Boeing sends $100G to Ridley Schools for enrichment program
Delco Times By Barbara Ormsby, Times Correspondent POSTED: 09/06/16, 9:56 PM EDT
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP >> The Ridley School District has received a $100,000 grant from the Boeing Corp. to enhance STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) experiences for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.  According to Dana Pinketti, director of staff and program development, the grant will allow the expansion of the district’s STEAM curriculum by creating makerspaces at the district’s seven elementary schools, providing Ridley Middle School students with innovative enrichment activities, and establishing a Digital Design Lab at Ridley High School.

In Lancaster, girls get their own coding club
Lancaster Online by ERIN NEGLEY | Staff Writer September 6, 2016
The number of jobs in the tech industry are growing fast and these jobs pay well, yet women aren’t part of the boom.  A majority of girls in elementary school show interest in computer programs, but by the time they’re in high school, that interest is cut in half, according to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit working to close the tech gender gap.  A Girls Code Club in Lancaster will give girls a chance to learn how to design their own website, video game or computer program. They’ll start Sept. 17, meet monthly and finish their coding club with a week-long summer camp next year. Lancaster Science Factory is offering the club in partnership with Lancaster CoderDojo and Ladies Technically Speaking.

In 2005, Pennsylvania school doors were opened to home-schoolers for extra-curriculars. How'd That Work Out?
Penn Live “Filmstrip” by Charles Thompson | September 7, 2016

How Much Heft Will the Next President Really Wield on K-12?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on September 6, 2016 8:15 AM
We've told you over and over again: education is not a front-burner issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. And with the Every Student Succeeds Act on the books, many folks believe the next president simply won't be in a position to put a significant stamp on federal K-12 policy.  But is that sentiment right?  We talked to two education policy wonks about that question. One, Chad Aldeman of Bellwether Education Partners, said it's not. The other, Texas attorney and No Child Left Behind Act architect Sandy Kress, said there may be some truth to it—but he's not sure what difference that will ultimately make.

Chester Finn, the Death of Democracy, and Opposites Day
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene  Tuesday, September 6, 2016
So today, conservatives hate tradition, and democracy is increased by taking away the vote.
Behind the paywall at Wall Street Journal, Chester Finn (honcho emeritus of the Thomas Fordham Institute), Bruno v. Manno (Walton Foundation), and Brandon Wright (Fordham) are happy to announce the death of one more piece of democracy in this country. 
The trio reports that charter schools are spearheading a "quiet revolution" in local control. Because,like Reed Hastings (Netflix), they are happy to see the local elected school board die.

“ECOT says it doesn’t have to provide the state with detailed attendance records of any kind. The school says it only has to give students the “opportunity” to receive five hours a day of learning material, and show whether or not students logged into the computer systems. It says there’s no requirement to show evidence that students are actually spending time in its virtual classrooms every day and engaging with their teachers.  ECOT claims that requiring online schools to prove their students are attending class five hours a day would “likely force us and other e-schools to close our doors altogether,” according to the school’s superintendent, Rich Teeters.”
Online K-12 School Fights Attempt To Check If Students Really Show Up
Are the 17,000 students at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow really logged in and studying? The school is resisting government attempts to find out.
Molly Hensley-Clancy BuzzFeed News Reporter posted on Sept. 2, 2016, at 12:33 p.m.
One of the country’s largest online charter schools is locked in a legal battle over whether it should be required to prove its students actually spend time in its virtual classrooms in order to collect taxpayer funding.  The Ohio-based Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow claims that tying its funding to whether or not its students attend class could put the 17,000-student school — and the state’s many other online charters — out of business.  Its lawsuit against the state of Ohio offers a glimpse into the murky world of online charter schools, which have been resisting government attempts to more closely track their students and hold the schools accountable for poor results. Critics claim that at some of the country’s largest online schools, students get credit for going to class if they log in for just a minute a day.  ECOT took in $100 million in public money last year to educate more than 17,000 Ohio students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, using its online classrooms. 

N.Y. attorney general investigates Mylan over EpiPen
Trib Live BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, 2:27 p.m.
ALBANY, N.Y. — The state Attorney General's Office is investigating whether Mylan Pharmaceuticals unfairly limited competition for its em  rgency allergy treatment EpiPen, which has been criticized for recent steep price increases.  A preliminary review showed the drug company “may have inserted potentially anticompetitive terms” into sales contracts with many school systems, Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday.  “If Mylan engaged in anti-competitive business practices, or violated antitrust laws with the intent and effect of limiting lower cost competition, we will hold them accountable,” Schneiderman said. “Allergy sufferers have enough concerns to worry about. The availability of lifesaving medical treatment should not be one of them.”

Testing Resistance & Reform News: August 31 - September 6, 2016
fAIRtEST Submitted by fairtest on September 6, 2016 - 1:34pm 
With school doors opening across the country, there's a surge of stories critiquing the value of test scores and examining potential assessment reforms. If you have colleagues or friends who would benefit from receiving these weekly news clip summaries, please encourage them to sign up at:

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.

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

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   (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.
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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