Tuesday, October 18, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 18: Charter Reform: "If you were not allowed to find out the salary of your superintendent, what would be the outcry in your district?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup October 18, 2016
Charter Reform: "If you were not allowed to find out the salary of your superintendent, what would be the outcry in your district?

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.

High school graduation rate hits record high of 83.2 percent
Post Gazette By Kevin Freking / Associated Press October 18, 2016 12:10 AM
WASHINGTON — The nation’s high school graduation rate has reached a record 83.2 percent, continuing a steady increase that shows improvement across all racial and ethnic groups, according to federal data released Monday.  President Barack Obama welcomed the higher rate as good news, but the gains come against a backdrop of decreasing scores on national math and reading tests.  Education Secretary John B. King Jr. acknowledged worries about sagging achievement. “A higher graduation rate is meaningful progress, but certainly we share the concern that we have more work to do to make sure every student graduates ready for what’s next,” he said.

The High School Graduation Rate Reaches A Record High — Again
NPR by ANYA KAMENETZ CORY TURNER October 17, 201611:47 AM ET
The high school graduation rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 83 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, President Obama announced today, marking the fifth straight record-setting year.  Achievement gaps have narrowed even as all boats have risen. Graduation rates range from 90 percent for students who identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 64 percent for students with disabilities.  In remarks at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., the president used the good-news announcement as an opportunity to tout his education initiatives, from Preschool for All through the America's College Promise free community college partnership.

Challenging Charter School Profits from Students with Disabilities
Chester City Blog Date: October 15, 2016 Author: SERoots
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Public education advocates are asking legislators to fix a state law that currently gives charter schools more special-education funding than they spend on students with disabilities. The amounts the charter schools receive for special education are based on an average of what local public schools spend to provide services to students with disabilities. Susan Spicka, the executive director of the group, Education Voters of Pennsylvania, cited a report from the Pennsylvania School Board Association that found charters are taking students with relatively mild disabilities, then using some of that funding on other programs.  “Charters should not be taking funding intended for students with disabilities and spending it on whatever else it is that they want to spend it on,” she said. “And we’re talking $100 million. That’s a lot of money.”  Spicka said there is an easy fix, and Education Voters has launched a campaign to raise public awareness and encourage legislators to act when they return to Harrisburg in January.

"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.


Pennsylvania releases public schools' report cards
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 14, 2016 12:00 AM
Technically, the latest state report card scores for the majority of elementary and middle schools across Pennsylvania were lower than the ones in 2014, the most recent year the School Performance Profile data was collected for K-8 schools.  But don’t call it a “drop,” warned Matthew Stem, the state Department of Education’s deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education.  “We want to caution against comparing the K-8 scores with the scores that they would have last received in 2014 because they’re [based on] two different tests. So it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison,” he said.  Allegheny Intermediate Unit executive director Linda Hippert echoed those remarks: “Looking back to SPP scores two years ago is best described as irrelevant because we are looking at something new this year.”

“Robert Fayfich has heard it all before.  As executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, he's well aware of the concerns leaders of traditional schools have.  And, in what many in the world of public education may find shocking, he tends to agree.
Fayfich said the odd funding formula for cybercharters is due to the fact that the original legislation that permitted charter schools didn't differentiate between online and brick-and-mortar programs.  The cybercharter community, he said, is willing to look at changes to that formula.  "The cyberposition on this is they are willing to look at creating a funding commission to look at actual cost," he said. "It's not the same as in districts."
Cyber charter schools take a toll on Berks public schools
Reading Eagle By David Mekeel Sunday October 16, 2016 12:01 AM
For the past decade, leaders of Pennsylvania's public school districts have had a collective thorn in their sides.  And despite their pleas, and promises time and time again it would be examined, the thorn remains and it is increasingly painful.  Last year, the 18 school districts in Berks County spent a combined $24 million to send roughly 1,500 students to cybercharter schools. And, leaders of the districts say, that sum doesn't represent what it actually costs to educate those students.  "I just look at that over years and it's just a lot of money being sent to these external cyberschools based on a funding formula that isn't based on true costs," said Dr. Steve Gerhard, Gov. Mifflin superintendent.  It's a common refrain from district superintendents, and one that has been repeated ever since cybercharter schools were introduced in the Commonwealth. And, perhaps surprisingly, it's one the cyberschool community seems to understand.

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.

The New York Times should do its homework: NAACP wants a moratorium on new charter schools — and for good reason
The Times and The Washington Post slammed the NAACP, even though the civil rights organization has a point
On successive days last week, editorials in two of America’s most influential daily newspapers slammed the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, for considering a proposed resolution calling for a nationwide moratorium on charter school expansion.  The New York Times called the NAACP’s proposal “misguided,” while The Washington Post snidely declared, “Maybe it should do its homework.”  But both newspapers are misguided and uninformed about what the charter school industry is doing to America’s public schools. Their attempt to influence the NAACP board’s vote this weekend reveals that they don’t understand or care to understand how the industry is dominated by corporate franchises with interstate ambitions to privatize K-12 schools.

NAACP formally calls for hold on charters
After a summer of fierce debate with pro-charter advocates, the NAACP ratifies a resolution on a moratorium.
The notebook by Darryl Murphy October 17, 2016 — 12:33pm
The NAACP ratified a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools at its national meeting in Cincinnati over the weekend.  The civil rights organization introduced the moratorium resolution in July, citing as its reasons the diversion of funds from public schools in need and the lack of transparency and community involvement. According to the NAACP, which is more than 100 years old, the current charter school system “puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education.” 
“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections, and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools,” said Roslyn M. Brock, chair of the NAACP national board of directors. 
“Our decision today is driven by a long-held principle and policy of the NAACP that high-quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.”   According to a statement issued by the NAACP on Saturday afternoon, the new policy will remain in effect until:
§  Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools. 
§  Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system. 
§  Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate.
§  Charter schools 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 ambassadors are expected to greet and inform parents and families of the importance of attendance, and maintain communication as the year progresses. Parents and families of students with a history of chronic absence or those showing the patterns will receive focused attention to address the challenges preventing good attendance.”
Read by 4th aims to improve attendance with a new community ambassador program
The District has partnered with the group to put 10 community ambassadors in six North Philadelphia elementary schools.
The notebook by Darryl Murphy October 17, 2016 — 1:59pm
Philadelphia is one of five cities where more than a third of its students are reported as being chronically absent. Attendance Works, a school attendance advocacy group, recently revealed this startling statistic in a report that examined absenteeism in districts across the country, including those in Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Detroit.    In these cities, chronic absenteeism — when students miss 10 percent or more of the school year — is often the result of systemic issues such as poverty, poor health care, and under-resourced schools. According to numerous reports, there is a direct connection between attendance and academic achievement. As part of an effort to improve attendance, the District partnered with Read by 4th to put 10 community ambassadors in six North Philadelphia elementary schools to address chronic absenteeism and lateness among students.

Immigrant student finds his place in Philadelphia
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa October 17, 2016 — 11:23am
Three summers ago, Mingwang Jiang was given a shock. He had studied hard – “worked my butt off,” he explained in his newly acquired idiomatic English – for an exam that would get him into one of China’s best high schools, a school that was a five-hour trip from his home in Fuzhou. But now he couldn’t go.  “I don’t want to show too much pride in myself, but I was a top student in elementary and middle school,” Ming said. “I got acceptance letter in summer. In June, my mom told me, 'You have to move to America Aug. 31.' I was so mad.”  Ming is among the hundreds of teenagers who arrive in Philadelphia each year, not speaking English and expecting to enroll in school. These students place huge demands on the system, especially the people in the Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs, which has been struggling to offer as much opportunity to each of them as possible.  Ming's case is one in which they succeeded. His is a hopeful story, one of adjustment, achievement and self-discovery. And it is still being written.

Op-ed: Why we need to invest in keeping the lights on after school
Every October, millions of people across the country come together to shed light on an education issue that receives relatively little attention both here in Philadelphia and throughout the country. One October evening every year, students, families, teachers and youth development professionals host a series of events called Lights on Afterschool that highlight local after-school programs and their growing importance to students' academic and career outcomes. The growing academic achievement gap that separates rich and poor students is being exacerbated by unequal access to tutoring, coaching, and extracurricular activities. Income-based differences in extracurricular participation are on the rise and are contributing to differences in student success both in school and in later life. The need for schools to keep the lights on and doors open for after-school programs has never been more critical.

“The tyranny of big dollar fundraising has taken us away from the principal of one man, one vote. It gets us away from equality. If you can give me $25,000, you’re more important than someone who can give me $25. It shouldn’t be that way.”
On the eve of the U.S. Senate debate, former upstart candidate John Fetterman says dialing for dollars is killing democracy
Philadelphia Citizen BY LARRY PLATT OCT. 17, 2016
During the Democratic National Convention, Braddock, PA Mayor John Fetterman took part in a  far-ranging Citizen discussion about innovation in local government. But it was his comments on the perversity that passes for how we fund our political campaigns that has stayed with me ever since.  Fetterman, you’ll recall from his surprising showing during the U.S. Senate Democratic primary, is an atypical politician. In fact, he abhors being referred to by the term. “I consider myself a social worker who holds a public office,” he says. Nor does he—6’10”, tattooed, shaved head, goateed—look like the prototypical chief executive. But he has a Master’s in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and he’s spent the last 11 years fighting to bring his distressed city back from the economic abyss. He is, in short, what the electorate says it wants in its leaders: authentic, smart, committed. To wit: Those tattoos? They mark the dates of every murder victim in his city.

Norwin teachers and school board agree on contract
Post Gazette By Anne Cloonan October 17, 2016 11:33 PM
The Norwin school board approved and district teachers ratified a five-year teachers’ contract in separate meetings Monday night.  The last contract expired Aug. 31. The new contract is retroactive to Sept. 1 and will run until Aug. 31, 2021. Eight of nine school directors voted in favor of the contract, while school director Al Lynn couldn’t be reached by phone for the contract vote. The teachers agreed to an annual health care insurance premium contribution of $2,364 for family coverage and $1,956 for individual coverage during the first year of the contract.  According to a district press release, premium contributions will increase $300 per year for family coverage and $180 per year for individual coverage throughout the life of the contract.  District spokesman Jon Szish said the teachers’ wage and step increases during each of the five years of the contract will be available today.

Accountability in Schools Must Extend Beyond Test Scores, Study Says
Mathematica Policy Research Oct 17, 2016
With federal and state education laws in the midst of change, policymakers must now embrace more comprehensive methods for improving school performance rather than relying solely on high-stakes testing, according to a new study by researchers from Mathematica Policy Research and Harvard University.   High-stakes student testing—a form of outcome-based accountability—has served as policymakers’ primary tool for holding schools accountable since the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002. The intensive focus on test scores ultimately produced a backlash, and last December Congress replaced NCLB with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives states substantially more flexibility to design their own accountability systems. 
The new study, “Reimagining Accountability in K–12 Education,” published in Behavioral Science and Policy, argues that a more multifaceted and evidence-based approach—one that incorporates professional accountability—would prove more successful for improving public school performance. The authors draw on extensive evidence in social psychology and behavioral economics that identifies many different types of accountability and their effects on performance.   “Policymakers have an opportunity to use the evidence from behavioral science to craft comprehensive systems that use a wider range of accountability tools, providing educators with the means to improve their practice at the same time that they promote constructive incentives,” said Mathematica Senior Fellow Brian Gill, who conducted the study with Jennifer Lerner and Paul Meosky from Harvard. 

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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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