Monday, October 24, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 24: #HB530: Stop this last minute attempt to push bad charter expansion bill in the final week of session

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup October 24, 2016
#HB530: Stop this last minute attempt to push bad charter expansion bill in the final week of session

House Bill 530:  Stop this last minute attempt to push bad charter expansion bill in the final week of session
The General Assembly is preparing to push charter expansion legislation under House Bill 530 all the way through in this final week of voting for the 2015-16 legislative session and send this bad bill to Gov. Wolf.  Conversations in the House and Senate are happening now to fast-track this bill to the governor’s desk by the end of the week.
Between Monday and Wednesday, House Bill 530 is expected to be moved out of the House Rules Committee and sent to the House floor for quick passage. The bill will then move directly to the Senate Floor for a concurrence vote.  Final action could occur within 48 hours, so your action against this bill now is critical.

Legislative Alert – Please Call Your Legislators Today Asking Them to Oppose HB530, the Charter School Expansion Bill
Please ask your colleagues to do the same.  Bill could be fast-tracked and run through the legislature in as little as 48 hours.
House Members Contact info:
Senate Members Contact info:

Charter expansion bill #HB530 is all tricks, no treats for Pennsylvania taxpayers
The notebook Commentary by Lawrence A. Feinberg October 21, 2016 — 11:47am
Halloween is just around the corner, but there is something far scarier in the halls of the Pennsylvania State Capitol than any zombie that comes knocking on your door. While private charter operators could potentially get a big treat in the form of House Bill 530, the rest of us will be holding a bag full of tricks. And sadly, the ones who will suffer are our kids.
With only a few days left on the legislative calendar, lawmakers are trying to push through charter expansion with HB 530. Those in favor are dressing it up in the best costume they have and passing it off as charter school reform. It is anything but. The state’s most recent School Performance Profile scores show that only 22 percent of charters achieved a score of 70 or higher, the level that state education officials view as acceptable. So why are legislators so quick to allow unchecked expansion of these schools, wasting of tax dollars?
There are many good charter schools out there. They serve as a valuable piece of the education puzzle in our state. But the lack of accountability and transparency is something that taxpayers should not tolerate.

The Truth About Pennsylvania’s House Bill 530
PSBA Video Published on Oct 21, 2016 Runtime 2:14
The Pennsylvania legislature is considering House Bill 530 which is being labeled by some as a “charter school reform” bill. This video takes a deeper dive at the impact and implications of the legislation.

Contact your lawmakers now! Bad charter legislation will move on Monday.
Education Voters PA
Lawmakers are expected to vote terrible charter legislation, HB 530, out of committee on Monday. It would then just need a vote in the House and a concurrence vote in the Senate before going to Governor Wolf for his signature.
HB 530 fails to address financial transparency and accountability issues in the current law that allow charter operators to siphon money away from schools and into their pockets out of the public eye.
HB 530 allows charters to continue to reap more than $100 million in profits off overpayments for students with disabilties every year.
HB 530 fails to protect taxpayers and strips control from local communities by enabling the expansion of charter schools with less accountability and without the approval of local school boards.
Tell your state senator, representative, and Governor Wolf to oppose HB 530.
Pennsylvanians don't need lawmakers to sneak through terrible legislation in the last few days of the legislative session. We need real charter school reform that will fix the flaws in the current law, protect taxpayers and strengthen public education.

PA: Bad Charter Bill Still Not Dead
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Friday, October 21, 2016
Like that bad enchilada that you just can't keep down, Pennsylvania's HB 530 just keeps coming back. In fact, it appears it will be back this Monday.  I wrote about this damn thing last summer, and it has ben kicking around since early 2015. The bill was floated by Mike Reese, who was actually trained to be a history teacher before landing in admissions offices on the college level. Nevertheless, his bill is a terrible bill for public education in Pennsylvania. He states that his bill has two goals:
1) Save taxpayers money by changing the cyber funding system
2) Improve school choice.
Those are unimpressive goals, both disconnected from an desire to maintain strong public schools, and certainly not addressing issues with "the worst charter law in the country."

How 25 years of changing enrollment has created winners and losers in Pa. school funding
Keystone Crossroads/WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY OCTOBER 24, 2016
School district enrollment levels have dramatically shifted in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years. Many rural districts in the western part of the state have seen steep declines, while many urban, suburban, and eastern districts have grown. In all, more than a third of the state's 500 districts have either grown or shrank by more than 25 percent since 1991.  That was the year the state implemented a "hold harmless" policy, which dictated that enrollment fluctuations would not affect state funding allocations. So, for decades, all districts received the same inflationary boost to funding no matter if, for instance, they gained or lost hundreds of students from year to year.  Over time, this has greatly affected the equity of the state's school funding. And for those on the losing end, this contributed to decades of strife.  As detailed in a previous Keystone Crossroads analysis, "hold harmless" has been a major boon for districts where student population has declined, and has been a major challenge for many of the districts where enrollment has spiked.

Letter to the Editor: Why we need fairness in education funding
Delco Times Letter POSTED: 10/20/16, 5:33 PM EDT | UPDATED: 3 DAYS AGO
Dawn Boyce, parent, Bell Avenue Elementary School; Lisa Y. Richardson, WPSD parent and President of the Penn Wood High School Band Boosters; Marie-Luise Faber, parent, Ardmore Avenue Elementary School, and Biosafety Officer at the University of Pennsylvania; Dawn Hobbs, parent of three, Band Booster and Home and School Parent, Director of Health, Wellness and Connections of the Community YMCA
To the Times: As parents of students in a “have-not” school district, we are compelled to make our case for school funding increases so that community members and lawmakers understand why we and thousands of parents across the state are calling for more money for our schools.  Pennsylvania needs to increase its support for education because too many students – in Delaware County and across the state – are not getting a fair shot. For students in the William Penn School District, which is a plaintiff in the fair school funding lawsuit whose fate the state Supreme Court is determining, that is not because the district is mismanaging its budget.  To skeptics, the question too often is, “Will it ever be enough?” The answer is yes. When every school district can provide the same kind of education to low-income students as the more affluent school districts they border, that would be enough funding. That would be progress. That would be fair.  But that is not the reality in Pennsylvania, and certainly not in the William Penn School District. Collectively we are parents of children in elementary, middle and high school and we have watched programs, services and staff levels fall by the wayside.

“If I said to you, you may be the cause of the failure and eventual closing down of 15 school districts, how would you feel about that?” he asked one charter school CEO.  More than 150 brick-and-mortar charter schools, nearly half in Philadelphia, enroll 128,000 students across the state. Fourteen cyber charters operate in Pennsylvania. None of the schools have elected school boards and only some have teachers unions.”
Charter schools face state action in 2017
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 24, 2016 12:00 AM
State Sen. Jim Brewster unveiled a cluster of proposed overhauls this month centered on addressing “transparency, fiscal solvency and accountability issues” in charter schools.
But with Pennsylvania’s General Assembly wrapping up its work for this session, his spokesman said the proposals won’t show up in bill form until the Legislature reconvenes in 2017 — the 20th anniversary of the state’s charter school law that practically everyone with a stake in the matter agrees needs changing.  Mr. Brewster, D-McKeesport, and three members of the Senate Democratic policy committee heard testimony from charter schools executives, traditional school district representatives and state officials on the topic at a hearing Oct. 13 in Monroeville. Mr. Brewster left little doubt about his position on Pennsylvania’s public schools run by private entities.

Schools struggle to find substitute teachers
Each day across Northeast Pennsylvania, a growing number of people without education degrees teach in area classrooms.  The statewide substitute teacher shortage, caused by a drastic drop in the number of new teachers, has school districts scrambling to cover absences, leading the districts to outsource subs and accept emergency certifications for those without teaching degrees.  “It’s getting tougher and tougher every day,” said David Cerra, interim superintendent for Carbondale Area. “Sometimes we’re short three or four (subs) in a day.”  Since 2010-11, the number of new teaching certificates issued by the state decreased by 64 percent, from 21,294 to 7,676.

Erie School District sees one way out - state help
The district's state-mandated financial recovery plan will include at least four scenarios of how the district can stabilize its finances.
By Ed Palattella Erie Times-News Posted Oct 23, 2016 at 2:00 AM Updated Oct 23, 2016 at 5:58 AM
Crunch time has arrived at the Erie School District.  It is dealing with two inescapable realities as it prepares one of the most important financial plans in its history.
·         A quarter of the district's annual expenses are for pensions and charter school costs — two areas beyond the district's control.
·         The district, already reluctant to raise property taxes, has virtually no power to increase local tax revenue beyond 3.8 percent.
Those two factors are driving what the 11,500-student district will include in its state-mandated financial recovery plan, which Superintendent Jay Badams wants to submit by the end of November.  The proposal will go to the state Department of Education, which will use it to help deal with the district's chronic budget crisis.

As achievement gap widens, Phoenixville schools seek ways to close it
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer Updated: OCTOBER 24, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Roger Salguero's ascent from a 7-year-old Spanish-speaking immigrant to a 22-year-old engineering major with a university degree in his reach is a testament to the Phoenixville Area School District's crusade to boost student achievement.  Salguero credits a high school teacher who "saw potential in me that I hadn't seen" and challenged him to take the Advanced Placement math course, putting him on the path to Penn State.  That kind of guidance has helped elevate the Phoenixville system to third place in a U.S. News & World Report ranking of college readiness among Chester County's 12 districts - even though it has more economically disadvantaged students than many of the others.  More than feel-good stories, though, Phoenixville administrators see Salguero and successes like him as evidence that, ultimately, they can conquer a problem that has worsened in the district in the last several years: the achievement gap between a growing number of high performers and students, typically from less privileged households, whose test scores and grades are, at best, mediocre.

City school's transition brings chaos
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, STAFF WRITER Updated: OCTOBER 21, 2016 — 11:11 PM EDT
Shereda Cromwell stood in front of an auditorium, tears in her eyes. She didn't know where else to turn.  She wanted people to know what was happening at Kenderton Elementary, the North Philadelphia school her three children attend: the fights and the children walking the hallways, even first graders. The mess. The deep academic problems.  "Our school needs help," Cromwell told the School Reform Commission. "These kids need help."  Kenderton has ping-ponged between operators multiple times in the last two decades, a product of the Philadelphia School District's myriad reform initiatives. For a time in the early 2000s, it was operated by Edison Schools, a for-profit education firm. In 2013, the Philadelphia School District gave it to Scholar Academies Inc. to run.  But the charter operator abruptly abandoned Kenderton in June, blaming the high cost of educating the school's large special-education population. For a time, Mastery Charter Schools was in talks to take over Kenderton, but Mastery was unable to handle the full school population, and it reverted to district control.

Matt Damon takes on Philly schools in new documentary
The School District of Philadelphia’s money struggles are well documented. And now they have their own documentary.  A film opening this weekend focuses on education reforms in the Philly schools, positing that they’ve bankrupted the district.  "Backpack Full of Cash" premieres at the Philadelphia Film Festival Saturday with a 5:10 p.m. showing at the Prince Theater. A second showing is set for Oct. 29.  Narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Matt Damon, the film wastes little time revealing its point of view. Damon, a well-documented skeptic of what critics call “corporate” education reform, begins the documentary with an dark warning: “A battle is underway over who should control public education,” he says. “Parents, teachers and activists are up against a well-organized coalition headed by business leaders and conservatives.”

“We are not anti-charter ideologues. We applaud the 20 percent of charters that outperform traditional public schools. We are not advocating the mass shutdown of charters, because closing schools harms children.  What must be acknowledged is the ample evidence that charters as a whole have discriminatory discipline practices, serve fewer English-language learners and children with special needs, and are struggling with the excessive expulsion of their students, who are overwhelmingly black and Latino.  The call by the N.A.A.C.P., Black Lives Matter and the Journey for Justice Alliance for a moratorium on charters and school privatization is in the best civil rights tradition.”
Charter Schools and Civil Rights
New York Times Letters To the Editor: OCT. 19, 2016
Re “A Misguided Attack on Charter Schools” (editorial, Oct. 13):
The N.A.A.C.P. should be applauded for ratifying a resolution calling for a halt to the expansion of charter schools.  You say charters give children in poor communities their only opportunity for a superior education. Actually, equity gives children an opportunity for excellent education. Here in Chicago, there are public schools that offer Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish and that support every teacher with a classroom aide.  In the same city, same district, there are schools with one teacher aide in the entire building, no world language classes and no librarian. These schools are not failing: They have been failed.

Reminder: November Workshops and Webinar on the New PA 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.

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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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