Tuesday, October 25, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 25: School Board President Offers 8 Good Reasons to Vote NO on HB530 Charter Expansion Bill

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3950 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup October 25, 2016
School Board President Offers 8 Good Reasons to Vote NO on HB530 Charter Expansion Bill

Blogger Update: Last evening the Senate considered legislation concerning rules for distribution of beer and the House considered legislation regarding plastic shopping bags.  The Independent Fiscal Office issued an actuarial report considering pension reform plan design options.  HB530 was not brought out of the House Rules Committee; that could happen at the drop of a hat anytime today.  An amendment to HB530 for the Rules Committee did not contain any substantive changes to charter school provisions.

Please keep up your advocacy efforts encouraging your legislators to vote no on HB530. Two more days – Keep it up!

How 25 years of changing enrollment has created winners and losers in Pa. school funding
The notebook/WHYY Newsworks by Kevin McCorry October 24 — 11:00am
Eighty-six school districts have seen their student populations grow by 25 percent since 1991.

Charter School Reform: House Bill 530
By Scott C. Jelinski  President, Souderton Area School Board
I write to you today to urge your support to defeat a piece of legislation being discussed in Harrisburg that would have a serious negative effect on Souderton. House Bill 530 is a charter school expansion bill that is not taxpayer or public education friendly.  The House of Representatives is going to discuss, and possibly vote to approve, this bill within the next two days! Here are the reasons why it is a bad bill:
·         It does nothing to address the fact that charters continue to be overpaid for special education costs.
·         It does nothing to address that fact that charter tuition payments continue to drain our budget.
·         It creates an advisory committee to study charter school funding. You might think this is a good thing – except that it excludes school board members, the folks that YOU elect to represent you and that approve your local budget.
·         It allows charter schools to have significantly higher fund balances than school districts (and they are already hoarding money).
·         It does nothing to address fraud, waste and abuse by charter management companies.
·         Believe it or not, all of this would make charter schools less accountable than they already are.
·         Most importantly in SASD, this bill would allow charter schools to expand without any school board approval.
·         Although there are a few good changes in the bill, including minimal savings for cyber schools, but that pales in comparison to what charter school expansion would cost us in their unchecked enrollment increase. We cannot afford a bill that takes away even more control over the Charter School...it is already next to impossible to get them to be transparent and accountable!
The School Board is committed to safeguarding your tax dollars while providing an excellent traditional public school education. That is why I am personally asking you to contact your House member either Representative Godshall or Representative Toepel and Senator Mensch and Senator Greenleaf and tell them to vote "no" on HB 530 because it is bad for our community. Below is the contact information that you will need.

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:

Third & State Blog Posted by Marc Stier on October 24, 2016 9:09 am
HB 530, a revision of the laws that govern charter schools, has reared its ugly head again. We continue to oppose it.  School districts in Pennsylvania contain a mix of traditional public schools and charter schools. Some local school districts want to add charters schools. Many do not. All of them should be empowered to evaluate the best way to educate students in their respective districts.   Unfortunately, provisions in HB530 will remove much of the supervisory and decision-making authority from local school districts in every corner of the state. Since charter schools receive funding from local school districts, the creation of new seats in charter schools without school board supervision and control diminishes the ability of school districts to establish and manage their budgets. That could result in the underfunding of traditional schools or significant local tax increases. That is why we oppose this legislation, which that permits charter schools to enroll new students, add grade levels, and recruit students from outside the school district without the approval of the local school board.

Beware, Pennsylvania: Charter Lobby Pushing for More $$ and Calling It “Reform”
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch October 24, 2016 //
Lawrence Feinberg, a veteran school board member and head of the Keystone State Education Coalition, warns here that the charter industry is trying to slip a bill through the legislature that would vastly expand charters while reducing accountability.  Pennsylvania currently has one of the most corrupt charter sectors in the nation. The number of prosecutions for theft and misappropriation of funds is rivaled only by the rapacious charter industry in Ohio.  But the charter industry wants more charters and less regulation.  Feinberg warns that HB 530 is a trick on the public and a treat for the charter lobby.

"Legislators, regardless of political affiliation and ideology, should be very concerned about key provisions in HB 530, which are bad for taxpayers, bad for school districts and bad for students. For these reasons, we oppose HB 530, and we believe legislators of both parties should do the same."
STATEMENT: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on HB 530
Press Release October 24, 2016 Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement about HB 530, being considered in the House this week:
"HB 530, being considered once again in the House this week, has a number of harmful provisions for Pennsylvania taxpayers, school districts and students, and we strongly oppose its passage. These harmful provisions allow charters to escape from the control of local school districts, draining money from our public schools; to amass bloated fund balances; to avoid accountability for failing to adequately educate students; and to avoid state oversight when they commit fraud.  "It’s important to remember that passing HB 530 would be harmful to school districts all over the state—not just Philadelphia.   "Specifically, the bill would allow charters to escape from agreements they have made with school districts, allowing them to expand enrollment, add grade levels, and permit out of district students to enroll with consulting with the school district. This would be an economic disaster for school districts across the state, many of which are already struggling to make ends meet. It also still allows charter schools to profit from taxpayer funding that is supposed to go to educating students with disabilities. 

HB530: Pennsylvania Legislators Want You to Foot the Bill for Unimpeded Charter School Growth With Little Accountability
Gadfly On the Wall Blog July 5, 2016 stevenmsinger 
Fund my charter school.  Come on, Pennsylvania.
Let me just swipe tax dollars you set aside to educate your children and put them into my personal bank account as profit.  Please!
I’ll be your best friend. Or at least I’ll be your legislator’s best friend.  Chances are, I already am. That’s why lawmakers in Harrisburg are once again looking to pass a school code bill (House Bill 530) that would let charter schools expand exponentially almost completely unchecked and without having to do any of that nasty, sticky accountability stuff you demand of your traditional public schools.  Sure there are a few provisions in there to make charters fill out more paperwork, but the benefits for privatization and profitization of your child’s education are huge!

Independent Fiscal Office Actuarial Note Reviewing Three “Pension Reform” Plan Design Options in Amendment to Senate Bill 1071, October 24, 2016

PA Secretary of Education Discusses Importance of Investment in Quality Afterschool Programs at PSAYDN Retreat
NEWS PROVIDED BY Pennsylvania Department of Education  Oct 24, 2016, 14:18 ET
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro A. Riveraaddressed attendees at the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) retreat in Grantville. Secretary Rivera highlighted the work the commonwealth is doing to create "schools that teach," a priority of the Wolf Administration and a commitment made to the commonwealth's schools by restoring critical funding and supporting all students from pre-k to postsecondary programs. As part of his commitment to creating "schools that teach," Governor Tom Wolf has secured funding increases for students in all grade levels over the past two years. The bipartisan 2016-17 budget granted an increase of $200 million in funding to basic education and a$20 million increase for special education, a $30 million increase for early childhood education, and a more than $10 million increase for early intervention.  Secretary Rivera also spoke to the value and impact of quality afterschool programs for Pennsylvania's children and youth.

The Keystone Exam error: The larger lesson
Editorial BY THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
With all the emphasis placed — and classroom time spent — on standardized testing in Pennsylvania, you'd think the state Education Department at least would ensure that the results are as useful as possible. Think again.  The department pulled 2016 data from its School Performance Profile website this month because of what it called a contractor error involving school-level Keystone Exam results. Those SPP scores went online Oct. 13, but state officials didn't learn of the error until Oct. 18 and couldn't tell school administrators when corrected data would be posted.  The department should have known much sooner — and must hold contractor SAS accountable.

Numbers of Hispanic students soar in York City
York Daily Record Angie Mason , amason@ydr.com12:14 p.m. EDT October 24, 2016
Elsie Soto listened one recent evening as a teacher explained words like "attendance" and "pupil."  On a worksheet, Soto jotted down their equivalent in Spanish.  Soto was in an English class at Goode K-8 School, offered by the York City School District, just one of the ways the district is trying to reach a changing city population.  In the past 20 years, the number of Hispanic students in the district has doubled. In the past several years, those students have become the largest ethnic group in the schools.

Even in the iPhone age, school librarians are a vital link to learning:
PennLive Op-Ed By Allison Burrell on October 24, 2016 at 1:00 PM, updated October 24, 2016 at 6:03 PM
Allison Burrell is president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and a K-12 librarian in the Southern Columbia Area School District. This op-Ed was originally presented as testimony before the House Education Committee.
As both the president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) and the K-12 librarian of a rural PA school district, I know how absolutely vital school librarians are to our students' futures.  Librarians play an instrumental role, shaping the development of young, eager children into productive adult citizens in an ever-changing world and preparing them for careers that may not yet exist.  Librarians help students learn to love reading. They provide opportunities for students to question, experiment and explore new worlds outside the confines of classroom lessons and traditional research projects.  Librarians develop collaborative classroom inquiry projects through which students develop their information literacy skills.  Perhaps most importantly, librarians help students develop a drive for personal growth that will extend well beyond the end of their K-12 school career. 

Letters: DN letters: Attack on Mastery Charter Schools is inaccurate
Philly Daily News  Letter by Scott Gordon, CEO Mastery Charter Schools Network Updated: OCTOBER 25, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
LISA HAVER'S recent attack (Opinion, Oct. 3) on Mastery Charter Schools and the school district's Renaissance program to turn around persistently low-performing schools is inaccurate and wildly misleading.  Contrary to Haver's assertions, Renaissance Charter Schools give parents more choice, not less.  Here are the facts: Wister Elementary School served 370 students as a district neighborhood school. This fall, after Wister became a Mastery school, enrollment increased to 520 students - that's 150 neighborhood families choosing to return their local school.

Ex-astronaut offers inspiration to Pittsburgh Public Schools students
Trib Live BY TOM FONTAINE  | Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, 5:57 p.m.
University Prep senior class president Taylor Naylor, wearing a tan sweater and black slacks, said she was glad she dressed “professionally” for school Monday instead of wearing more casual clothes like jeans and a T-shirt.  Naylor, 18, discovered after getting to school that she would greet Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first black woman to travel to space, when the former astronaut arrived at University Prep in the afternoon.  “Mae Jemison really is an inspiration,” Naylor said as she waited for Jemison outside the entrance to the school, a 6-12 magnet school in the Hill District.  Naylor, who lives in Lincoln-Lemington, said she feels a strong connection to Jemison given the latter's rise from Chicago's South Side to a place in history.  “I want to become the first African-American woman to be president,” Naylor said. “(Jemison) makes me believe that anything is possible.”

Stargazing: Planets haunt the Halloween sky
Post Gazette By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory October 25, 2016 12:00 AM
Trick-or-treaters are in for a scare on Halloween this year as three of nature’s ghoulish natural decorations — Venus, Mars and Saturn — haunt the evening sky.  Venus is a hostile world with a dense toxic atmosphere of carbon dioxide and clouds of corrosive sulphuric acid. The surface of our wicked sister is the hottest in the solar system at a scorching 900 degrees.  Cold and barren Mars has captivated our imagination and inspired intense interest since the ancient sky watchers first noted that the blood “red star” traveled backward. Mars first appears in literature as Nergal, god of the underworld, and death star of ancient Babylon.  Saturn is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, with no solid surface. A layer of methane hides many of its cloud features. However, powerful lightning storms occur in huge, deep thunderstorm columns nearly as large as the entire Earth.  Look for Venus and Saturn 10 degrees above the southwestern horizon, while the “death star” is hanging 25 degrees above the southern horizon.

The big problems with the Obama administration’s new teacher-education regulations
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss October 24 at 6:01 PM 
The Obama administration recently published long-awaited regulations for programs that prepare new K-12 teachers.  The U.S. Education Department had attempted to do this several years ago, but that effort was notable for several controversies, one of them a suggestion that teacher-preparation programs be evaluated in part by the standardized test scores of the students being taught by program graduates. Now we have the final regulations — and critics of the original draft remain unsatisfied.  For one thing, the new regulations, as this story by my colleague Emma Brown explains, require states to issue annual ratings for teacher-prep programs, an effort, supporters say, to separate the successful programs from the failures. They still also require each state  to evaluate teacher-training programs based on student learning, but this time leaving it to the states to decide how to measure academic growth and how much it should weigh in an overall rating.  That means that the department will permit states to use test scores for evaluation — a method that is not used to evaluate any other professional preparation program.

What Are The Main Reasons Teachers Call It Quits?
NPR by ERIC WESTERVELT October 24, 20166:00 AM ET
For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment.  Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the "I'm outta here" rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.  The teaching force is "a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age," says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute.

Conservative ESSA-Focused Group Led by Bill Bennett Expands Reach
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on October 24, 2016 7:15 AM
Amidst various players like the teachers' unions looking to influence the Every Student Succeeds Act at the state level, a group led former Secretary of Education William Bennett is seeking to make its mark.  Conservative Leaders for Education, which formed last July to push for accountability, high academic standards, local control, and school choice under ESSA, officially announced Monday it had signed up four state lawmakers and a state school board as new members in five new states: Alabama, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

“how it works, what it measures and why it’s important for Pennsylvania’s school districts”
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.

Share your interest in volunteering with PSBA
Complete this form to share your interest in volunteering with PSBA

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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