Monday, October 17, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 17: With 2016 scores released, not 1 of PA’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the 4 years that SPP has been in effect.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup October 17, 2016
With 2016 scores released, not one of PA’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.

Reminder: Workshop on the New Funding Formula - PASA, PSBA, PAIU, PARSS, the PA Principals Association and PASBO have scheduled nine on-site workshops across the commonwealth and one webcast to provide an in-depth discussion of the new basic education funding formula: how it works, what it measures and why it’s important for Pennsylvania’s school districts. The workshops, funded through a grant from the William Penn Foundation, will be offered at IUs 3, 4, 8, 10, 15, 17, 18, 20 and 24 beginning in November. Click here for workshop dates and details and information about registration. Capacity is limited at all locations, so registration is required and is first come, first served.

State lawmakers have handful of voting days before Election Day
Inquirer by Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: OCTOBER 17, 2016 1:08 AM EDT
HARRISBURG - Pension reform, gambling, and even the controversial issues of abortion, immigration, and guns could be on the legislative agenda as state lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for a handful of voting days before the Nov. 8 election.   The three days this week and three days the following week could be the last chance for legislation in the 2015-16 session, which ends Nov. 30.  "These next six days of session are our last opportunity to get something done in this session," Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said.  An effort to reduce future risk to taxpayers from the retirement plans for state and public school workers was one of the major issues left unresolved earlier this year, after the Senate in December approved one version of changes to retirement benefits for future employees and the House in June approved another.  Both Corman and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) said last week that they have been engaged in talks about a potential proposal. They said they were not sure whether pension legislation could be brought up for a vote this week.

With 2016 scores released, not one of PA’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.
Keystone State Education Coalition October 16, 2016
While the state authorizes cyber charter schools, tuition comes from tax dollars paid to local school districts.  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.

"When you have the larger management companies running a broad chunk of schools, we view that as a major issue," he said. "If you were not allowed to find out the salary of your school district superintendent, what would be the outcry in your district?...There would be pitchforks at that meeting. In many of the management companies, we don't even get to see the salaries let alone the costs."… DePasquale says the report validates his view that the state's charter law is badly in need of revision — especially because it leaves these management organizations outside the purview of right-to-know laws and allows them to forgo audits.”
Federal report on charter schools elicits more calls to revise Pa. law
Some charter schools operate like islands — day-to-day they run independently of any higher or centralized power.  Others contract with a management organization — sometimes part of a big network, sometimes not. Sometimes for-profit, sometimes not.  It's these charter management organizations, or CMOs, that have been criticized recently by the Office of the Inspector General inside the U.S. Department of Education.  In a September report, the OIG warned that CMOs pose a "significant risk" to both taxpayer dollars and performance expectations.  The report studied 33 CMOs in six states and found that two-thirds were cause for concern, with internal weaknesses that put federal tax dollars at risk.   Pennsylvania was one of the states investigated, and the report echoed much of what Pa. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has already flagged about CMOs in the state.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
NAACP ratifies controversial resolution for a moratorium on charter schools
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup October 16, 2016

“In its entirety, the resolution calls for a freeze on the expansion of these schools until charter schools are subject to the same accountability as traditional public schools and develop a funding system that does not hurt other schools. It also calls for charter schools to end harsh discipline practices that push out students and segregate high-performing children “from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.”
The NAACP Takes A Major Stand Against The Growth Of Charter Schools
The nation’s oldest civil rights group is taking a critical look at the state of education.
Rebecca Klein Education Editor, The Huffington Post 10/16/2016 02:56 pm ET
The NAACP board of directors voted Saturday to confirm a resolution that recommends an end to the expansion of charter schools, which currently educate about 6 percent of the nation’s public school students. The controversial move has angered charter school activists and faced criticism from the editorial boards at The New York Times and The Washington Post.  Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated. Minnesota passed a law creating the first legislated charter school in 1991, and since that time, the number of charter schools has ballooned to about 7,000 all over the country, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In recent years, these schools have faced criticism for their sometimes harsh discipline practices, lack of oversight and accountability and for siphoning resources away from traditional public schools. At the same time, studies have shown that students ― especially disadvantaged students ― who are educated in charter schools make slightly larger gains in reading than their peers, although results vary widely depending on the school and state.

WSJ: The NAACP’s Charter-School Test
The venerable civil-rights group may sell out poor black children.
Wall Street Journal Updated Oct. 13, 2016 7:31 p.m. ET
The national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will vote this week on a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools. If they vote yes, they should also change their storied name because they will be voting to leave black children behind.  Delegates to the NAACP national convention this summer passed a resolution to halt charter-school expansion. Most of the resolution’s complaints against charters, such as that they perpetuate segregation, are spurious. The NAACP’s main gripe seems to be that charters are threatening the union-run public-school monopoly.  The resolution claims that privately operated charters are “targeting low-income areas and communities of color,” thereby putting traditional public schools “at great risk of loss and harm.” Further, the NAACP complains that public funding of charters is creating “shortages of resources and space” at traditional schools.

The NAACP resolution is actually pretty restrained. The NAACP hasn't rejected charters (they specifically state they aren't doing this because of charter opposition), or called for a roll back. They've called for four issues to be settled before the charter train gets rolling again:
1) Charters should be subject to the same transparency and accountability as public schools
2) Public funds should not be diverted to charters at the expense of public schools
3) Charter schools should stop suspending and ejecting students that a public school is obligated to serve
4) Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.
The NAACP: Ignorant Dupes?
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Sunday, October 16, 2016
They probably had their press releases ready. Despite the full-court lobbying, the charter fans had to have an idea which way the wind was blowing. And so when the NAACP announced the official, full-throated adoption of the call for a charter moratorium, charter fans were ready to explain why it should be ignored.  As always, nobody leapt in with less nuance or modulation than Jeanne Allen at theCenter for Education Reform. In an email subject-lined "NAACP Caves To Union Pressure," Allen made it clear that the NAACP has been pressured, duped, and kept in the dark about The Truth.  This is yet another case of a group being intimidated by unions, and being misinformed about how opportunities for poor children, in particular, and minorities, are best served by the kinds of choices that charter schools offer.  This theme runs through most of the charter-flavored responses to the NAACP resolution. Take Jondre Pryor, a KIPP principal who once met an actual NAACP person thereby allowing him to see just how ignorant the NAACP is of What Is Really Going On.

A Misguided Attack on Charter Schools
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD OCT. 13, 2016
The N.A.A.C.P., the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, has struggled in recent years to win over younger African-Americans, who often see the group as out of touch. The N.A.A.C.P.’s board will reinforce that impression if it ratifies an ill-advised resolution — scheduled for a vote this weekend — that calls for a moratorium on expansion of public charter schools, which receive public money but are subject to fewer state regulations than traditional public schools. These schools, which educate only about 7 percent of the nation’s students, are far from universally perfect, and those that are failing should be shut down. But sound research has shown that, when properly managed and overseen, well-run charter schools give families a desperately needed alternative to inadequate traditional schools in poor urban neighborhoods.

GREAT NEWS! NAACP Board Opposes Charter Expansion!
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch October 15, 2016 //
The national board of the NAACP endorsed the resolution passed by its 2016 annual convention calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion!  So-called reformers, who falsely claim to be in alliance with the civil rights movement, should read the resolution with care. They should stop closing schools, they should abandon privatization, they should turn their efforts and money to helping improve public schools. They should help to foster desegregated schools and communities. They should insist on health care facilities and fully funded services at every school. They should support social justice for all children and families, not privatization of public services, which generates segregation and inequity.

Early bilingual studies will help tomorrow's grads | Editorial
Editorial By Express-Times Letters to the Editor on October 16, 2016 at 6:00 AM, updated October 16, 2016 at 9:32 AM
In post-war America, public schools began looking outward in many respects — among them, requiring students to learn a foreign language. For many baby-boom kids, this meant a high school choice among Spanish, French, Latin, German. The space race of the 1950s and 1960s kindled an interest in Russian. Some school districts with the resources to expand curriculum began offering courses in Japanese and other "new" languages. Today's global economy has sparked an interest in teaching Mandarin Chinese in many schools and colleges.  While the relevance of specific languages tends to follow the shifting demographics of globalization, one principle of language instruction has remained constant: The sooner kids get involved in a second language, the more likely they are to pick it up in a useful, retainable way, whether in an immersion program or a less-intense, continuing exposure in elementary grades.  The Bethlehem Area School District is looking at the latter — a plan to teach Spanish to students in grades K-5 as part of a rotating group of subjects once every six days.

Pre-K: A step in the right direction
Centre Daily Times Letter by EILEEN WISE, PORT MATILDA OCTOBER 16, 2016 8:18 PM
The writer is president of the Nittany Kiwanis Club.
As a longtime advocate for early learning opportunities for our region’s children, I was very excited to learn that more than 6,000 additional children throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be enrolled in high-quality pre-K programs this fall due to increased funding in this year’s state budget.  Locally, this will allow almost 50 more children ages 3 and 4 in Centre County to attend preschool. Although more than 1,300 of the county’s eligible children remain unserved due to funding constraints, this is a step in the right direction.  I am proud of state Sen. Jake Corman, who has supported greater access to high-quality early education. I hope greater access to pre-K and Head Start is a consistent theme of our state’s budgets in the years to come.

Making over that old-school mindset in Philly District
Inquirer Editorial Updated: OCTOBER 17, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
NEIGHBORHOOD high schools have been the orphans of public education in Philadelphia.
The number of adult graduates of schools such as Germantown High, Edison, Frankford and Martin Luther King number in the thousands. Enrollment of 2,000 or more students was once the norm.  Those days are gone. For many parents, neighborhood high schools are their last choice. They prefer charters; the district's array of special admission schools, such as Central and Masterman; Catholic and private high schools - almost anything except that big school in their own neighborhood.  As a result, in recent years, enrollment in neighborhood high schools has plummeted. Five years ago, these schools enrolled nearly 30,000 students. This year, the number is 17,500.  Some of the high schools, such as Strawberry Mansion, Overbrook and South Philadelphia, are operating at 70 percent below their capacity. Overbrook High, which had 1,600 students in 2010, has 645 students this year.  Last year, Public Citizens for Children and Youth released a study that underlined the dire conditions in neighborhood high schools - also called comprehensive schools by the district.

$100 billion question: Who will be Pa.'s next treasurer?
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: OCTOBER 17, 2016 1:08 AM EDT
HARRISBURG - Amid the noise surrounding this year's increasingly divisive presidential and senatorial campaigns, the low-key race for state treasurer has struggled to gain traction among voters.  No glossy mailers, slick campaign commercials, or rousing speeches. Not even a debate. But the candidates vying for the $158,764-a-year job to replace current state Treasurer Timothy A. Reese say voters would be paying more attention if they realized the office's sweeping power over taxpayer money.  The next treasurer will inherit a department that oversees more than $100 billion in state assets, manages an additional $20 billion in investments, and processes $90 billion in payments every year. The treasurer also sits on the boards of Pennsylvania's two large public employee pension agencies.

Penn Manor school director Rich Frerichs receives PSBA Timothy M. Allwein advocacy award
PSBA Website October 13, 2016
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) awarded Dr. Richard Frerichs, school director from Penn Manor School District (Lancaster Co.), with the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 13.  The award was established in 2011 by PSBA in memory of Tim Allwein, the association’s former assistant executive director for Governmental and Member Relations. It is presented annually to an individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  A nominator praised Frerichs for being “a leader, a mentor, a team builder and an advocate for a just cause.”  State Senator Lloyd Smucker said, “Over the course of his career, Rich has contributed to a wealth of advocacy efforts aimed at promoting policies and advancing initiatives that benefit students, instructors and all education staff in Pennsylvania.”

Graduation Rate Hits Record High of 83.2 Percent: Should Obama Take Credit?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on October 17, 2016 6:00 AM
High school graduation rates inched up for the fourth year in a row, by nearly one percentage point to 83.2 percent in the 2014-15 school year, the Obama administration announced Monday.  And while there are still significant graduation gaps between black, Hispanic, and Native American students and their white and Asian peers, those gaps are slowly closing. Graduation rates have now risen for students overall from 79 percent in the 2010-11 school year—the first year all states used the same method to calculate graduation rates. But over that same period graduation rates for black students rose even faster, by 7.6 percent.  And graduation rates for Hispanic students grew by 6.8 percent. What's more, the rates for English-language learners, students in special education, and disadvantaged students also grew faster than for students overall.    Check out the table below for a full breakdown.

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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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