Monday, November 7, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Nov 7: Vote Tomorrow! Clinton/Trump Positions on K12 Education

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 7, 2016
Vote Tomorrow! Clinton/Trump Positions on K12 Education

PA voters: Your Uber or Lyft ride to the polls is free this Tuesday.
Just enter Promo Code: VOTEPA

Trump-Clinton? Charter Schools Are the Big Issue on Massachusetts’ Ballot
BOSTON — The television ads are relentless, fueled by a historic surge of campaign spending. Fliers are clogging mailboxes. Both sides are knocking on doors across the state.  But in deep blue Massachusetts, the contentious campaigning is not for president but for a ballot question on whether to expand charter schools.  The pitched battle in this state, known as a bellwether on education policy, reflects the passions that charter schools arouse nationwide, particularly regarding a central part of the debate: If they offer children in lagging traditional public schools an alternative path to a quality education, do they also undermine those schools and the children in them?  Because Massachusetts’s charter schools rank among the nation’s best, advocates say a yes vote to allow more of them would send a strong signal that they have a crucial role to play in improving student learning and closing the achievement gap between white and black students.  But opponents say a no vote would show that even in a state where charter schools have been successful, most voters believe the schools — privately run but publicly financed — undermine traditional public schools, drain resources and perpetuate inequities, and should be curtailed.

Schools That Work
New York Times Opinion by David Leonhardt NOV. 4, 2016
…..Charter schools — public schools that operate outside the normal system — have become a quarrelsome subject, of course, alternately hailed as saviors and criticized as an overrated fad. Away from the fights, however, social scientists have quietly spent years analyzing the outcomes of students who attend charter schools.  The findings are stark. And while they occasionally pop up in media coverage and political debates about charter schools, they do not get nearly enough attention. The studies should be at the center of any discussion of educational reform, because they offer by far the clearest evidence about which parts of it are working and which are not.  The briefest summary is this: Many charter schools fail to live up to their promise, but one type has repeatedly shown impressive results.

“K12 Inc. and the Baltimore-based Connections Education—the two largest national virtual school management companies—spend millions of dollars on well-connected lobbyists to convince lawmakers to see things their way.  …Since 2007, the companies together spent $1.8 million to lobby lawmakers in Pennsylvania”
Outsized Influence: Online Charters Bring Lobbying 'A' Game to States
By Arianna Prothero Education Week Nov. 3, 2016
For five years in a row, the Hoosier Academies Virtual School had been failing.
The school, where students take all of their classes online while at home, had been assigned an "F" grade from the state of Indiana every year it had been open except its first, when it had garnered a "C." That troubled track record had finally made the virtual school of nearly 4,000 students a candidate for state regulators' chopping block.  In September, Hoosier Academies representatives appeared before the Indiana board of education to make their case for giving the school another chance.  There, they revealed their strategy: the creation of a second virtual school—one to which they had siphoned students who were most behind. Those students, they argued, would get more support and specialized services.  Glenda Ritz, the state schools chief in Indiana, bluntly noted that shifting the neediest students would raise the original school's grade and possibly spare it from being shut down.  It was another close call for a virtual charter school run by K12 Inc., a national company based in Herndon, Va.  K12 Inc. is the country's largest for-profit operator of full-time, online charter schools and runs effective lobbying efforts in more than 20 states, including Indiana, where it has spent nearly $1 million dollars lobbying Indiana lawmakers and donating to their campaigns and political parties since 2007.

Problems With For-Profit Management of Pa. Cybers
Education Week By Benjamin Herold November 3, 2016
To understand how the problems with for-profit management of cyber charters have persisted over time, just look at Pennsylvania.  In 2002, the Morning Call newspaper of the Lehigh Valley reported on the "cautionary tale" of a cyber called Einstein Academy Charter. Almost immediately after launching Einstein, founder Mimi Rothschild reportedly contracted with a company called Tutorbots Inc., which she and her husband owned. The school quickly collapsed, but not before passing $2.3 million in taxpayer dollars on to Tutorbots, the Morning Call reported.  Fast-forward 14 years, and Pennsylvania papers were reporting that the founder of the 15,000-student PA Cyber Charter had admitted to a similar arrangement, but on a much grander scale. In pleading guilty to federal tax-fraud charges, Nicholas Trombetta acknowledged funneling $8 million in taxpayer funds from the cyber school he led to a network of private companies and organizations that he controlled. Federal prosecutors said Trombetta used the money to buy a Florida condo, houses for his girlfriend and mother, and a $300,000 airplane.

Rewarding Failure: An Education Week Investigation of the Cyber Charter Industry

Hillary Clinton Campaign Website on K12 Education

Donald Trump Campaign Website on K12 Education

Ballotpedia: 2016 presidential candidates’ positions on education

Chart: Where do the presidential candidates stand on education?
Kids are back at their desks. Parents are back at checking homework. But the education system has never really left voters’ minds as a top issue. As part of our determined effort to keep focused on candidates’ pledges, beliefs and what they mean, this week we turn to how Americans teach and learn.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton approach the issue from opposite angles. His plan centers around expanded school choice for K-12. She focuses on universal preschool and dramatically lowering college tuition.  Here is where they stand, along with the current policy and White House perspective under President Obama. Positions are in order of the political spectrum from most progressive to most conservative.

The Washington Post asked Clinton, Trump for their education vision. Here’s what they said.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss October 13 
The Washington Post asked the two major presidential candidates — Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — to respond to an identical series of questions about their vision and plans for public schools should they become president of the United States.
Public education is one of the most important issues the country faces, but there has been little discussion about it during this campaign cycle. The Post’s education team asked questions about a number of topics, including school funding, school choice, standardized testing, early-childhood education and the Common Core State Standards. And we asked some personal questions, including whether they ever cheated in school.
Trump’s campaign declined requests to answer the Post’s questions and instead provided the following comment and said it preferred “to direct voters to Mr. Trump’s plan” on his website. Here is Trump’s response as provided by Jessica Ditto, the candidate’s deputy communications director:  “As your president, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice. I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice. I understand many stale old politicians will resist. But it’s time for our country to start thinking big once again. We spend too much time quibbling over the smallest words, when we should spend our time dreaming about the great adventures that lie ahead.”
Clinton’s campaign responded to the questions. Here are the questions we asked of both candidates, with Clinton’s responses:

Presidential Candidate’s Positions on Special and Gifted Education
Council for Exceptional Children Website September 14, 2016
Education and disability issues have received nominal coverage during this year’s Presidential Election, and with final voting taking place in just two months, there is still much to learn about the four leading 2016 presidential candidates. That’s why the Council for Exceptional Children encourages voters to access the individual campaign websites for Hillary ClintonDonald TrumpJill Stein andGary Johnson for information about what the candidates and their respective party platforms have to say about issues such as special and gifted education, school spending, early-childhood education and testing, among others. Voters may also access an overview of each nominee’s positions here. And be sure to ask your candidates, at the national, state, and local level, where they stand on education of children with exceptionalities.

Where The Presidential Candidates Stand On Education Reform
Here & Now WBUR Boston October 14, 2016 Audio Runtime 05:53
K-12 education has not been a major issue in the presidential campaign, but Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have different ideas on how to reform education.
Trump has focused on providing school choice. Clinton is supportive of non-profit charter schools, but doesn't support school voucher programs.  Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with NPR lead education blogger Anya Kamenetz about the candidates' positions on education.

Donald Trump's Plan For America's Schools
NPR by CORY TURNER and ERIC WESTERVELT September 25, 2016 6:00 AM ET
"I'm a tremendous believer in education."
So begins a campaign ad for Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.
But what does that mean?  What does Trump believe about how we should fund and fix our schools, train and pay our teachers, and, most importantly, educate every child whether they're rich or poor, fluent in English or anything but, learning disabled or two grades ahead?  To these questions the candidate has offered few clear answers.  "Donald Trump's policy positions are performance art." That criticism comes not from the left but from Rick Hess, who studies education policy at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. And, Hess says, "it is an immense mistake to take any of it all that seriously."  Hoping to flesh out Trump's education ideas ahead of tomorrow's big presidential debate, we asked his campaign for help. They never got back to us.  We also reached out to the two men who, as reported by Education Week, have been named to the candidate's presidential transition team for education. Both said they could not talk without permission from the Trump campaign, permission that was not granted.  And so, in trying to get a picture of his education platform, we're left mostly with the candidate's own words.

What Would a Clinton or Trump Presidency Mean for Teachers?
Education Week Politics K12 By Alyson Klein on November 3, 2016 7:27 AM
Both Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, and her GOP opponent, Donald Trumphave sketched out bare-bones plans to improve the teaching profession. But neither has offered hard-and-fast details.   Clinton says teachers need more time to collaborate, more opportunities for professional development, and oh yeah, much better pay. She's also said she wants to launch a national campaign to improve the teaching profession, but hasn't really said what that would look like, or how much it would cost.   And in his one big speech on education, earlier this fall, Trump, gave the thumbs-up to paying teachers who can improve student outcomes—a key Obama-era policy that Clinton isn't a fan of. Other than that, he hasn't said much about teachers beyond denouncing "education bureaucrats" in his nomination acceptance speech. That could be a reference to teachers' unions—or not.

Baer: My 11 Election Day hopes
Philly Daily News by John Baer, Political Columnist Updated: NOVEMBER 7, 2016 3:01 AM EST
THIS MIGHT surprise you: Despite my view that we are an ungovernable nation run by moneyed interests, I confess a hope for better days.  Why? Because positive change occurs only after horrible things, and by horrible things, I mean Campaign 2016.  Trump v. Clinton and, in Pennsylvania, Toomey v. McGinty, are soul-sucking contests, demeaning to democracy, feeding voters versions of candidates as dark, dangerous, shady and shallow.  And they make us want to turn off our TVs.  Inspiration? Forget it. What they say is go out and vote against someone.
Still, I have Election Day hopes: 11 of them.

If You Want To Understand Politics in 2024, Watch Statehouse Races Next Tuesday
They're not sexy, but they're more important than you realize. Republicans can thank state-level races for their congressional majority. Blog By Eric Boehm Nov. 6, 2016 10:35 am
State legislative elections don't get much attention, even in years when the presidential race isn't the only thing anyone talks about for months on end. But those local races do more than simply determine which lawmakers get a desk in the state capitol.  In more ways than one, state legislative races shape the foundation of government—and not only in faraway places like Harrisburg, Springfield, and Raleigh. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House but Republicans hold their majority in the U.S. House (as is likely), it will be in large part because of the victories Republicans have won in state-level races over the past decade. In most states, controlling state legislatures means controlling the ability to redraw congressional districts and giving your own party an electoral advantage before any voters line-up at the polls. The massive advantage that the GOP holds at the state level is something Democrats will have to reverse if they want a realistic shot at winning full control of Congress any time before 2030.
They've got a lot of work to do.

Editorial: Waiting for the right pension reform
York Dispatch Editorial 6:24 p.m. EDT November 5, 2016
Daily deadlines, weekly deadlines, even hourly deadlines are a normal part of life for everyone, no matter what the job is.  And everyone has also been in position of procrastinating, whether it's waiting until the last minute to write a term paper or frantically cleaning the house before guests show up.  But waiting until the last two days of a session of the Legislature before tackling a topic as complex as pension reform? That's pushing it too far.   Republicans in the state House and Senate waited until Oct. 25 to take up a bill to change the pension system for new state employees.

“Data indicate an alarmingly low number of Pennsylvania students are becoming teachers, which could turn into a crisis if districts can't meet the demand for teachers. Already the decrease has taken a toll on the substitutes pool, which has become so shallow in the Lehigh Valley that city districts in particular are having a hard time finding enough subs to meet the daily demand.  In the 2014-15 school year, the most recent on record, the state issued 6,215 in-state certifications, which are issued to Pennsylvania college students getting certified to teach in the state. That was a 62 percent drop from the number issued in 2012-13. One of the hardest hit subjects was math, with only 204 new secondary math teachers certified in-state in 2015.”
Pennsylvania state colleges try to stave off teacher shortage as fewer decide to major in education.
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call November 5, 2016
Could Pennsylvania be on the verge of a teacher shortage?
When Caleb Pettis told his parents and teachers he wanted to be a teacher, they worried about his career choice.  They read stories about teachers' receiving pink slips during the Great Recession, having their salaries frozen and dealing with high-stakes standardized tests. His parents and teachers told him being a teacher didn't seem like a stable job.  "They were all saying it was going to be hard to get a job," said Pettis, now a junior at Kutztown University. "They told me I might not be picking the best field."  Despite the cautionary advice, Pettis, of Boyertown, decided to study education at Kutztown because he wanted to make an impact on children, he said.  When Pettis, 20, hits the job market, he will find less competition than those who graduated a decade earlier. But once he's hired, he may have bigger classes and more duties than he anticipated because there are fewer like him in the work force.

PlanCon: Millions in back payments headed to York County schools
Angie Mason , amason@ydr.com12:01 p.m. EDT November 4, 2016
School districts around York County will receive millions in back payments from the state for construction reimbursement, according to a news release.  In November, the state is expected to release more than $200 million in back payments due to school districts through PlanCon, the state's construction reimbursement program. York County districts will receive about $12.6 million due to them from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 fiscal years, according to a news release from state Rep. Seth Grove's office.  Payments were not included in the most recent state budgets, but a subsequent law allowed the state to issue bonds in order to start making the payments owed to schools.

130,000 Philadelphia kids living in poverty
Philadelphia's rate of children in poverty has increased since the Great Recession, despite the city rebounding economically, according to a new report from Public Citizens for Children and Youth.  In 2008, roughly 30 percent of children in Philadelphia were living in poverty.  By 2014, that rate stood closer to 40 percent.  With more than 130,000 children living in poverty, Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of youth in poverty among the country's biggest cities.  "There's kind of an American tragedy that's happening right in front of us, but it's hard to see," said Donna Cooper, executive director of PCCY.  Cooper and other advocates contend the only way to turn around this trend is through meaningful policy change.  "Not for one year, three years or five years, but for the next two, three decades, because that's how long it's going to take to ensure that we see that poverty rate moving in the right direction," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

School buildings should be as high-performing as we expect our students to be
Philadelphia Citizen BY HILDERBRAND PELZER III NOV. 04, 2016
Many Philadelphia neighborhood schools struggle with negative reputations because of poor instructional quality and school climate, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. But the most pressing daily challenge that they face is the poor physical condition of their school buildings. Meanwhile, studies have consistently shown that high quality school buildings have a measurable impact on student learning. I once led a high school inside a prison system—and some of the prisons looked and felt better than schools.  All over Philadelphia, students go to class in dirty, dilapidated and unhealthy buildings, which the District estimated in February would cost $5 billion to fix. Consider my school, Laura H. Carnell. Carnell was constructed in an earlier era and looks it: long hallways, rectangular classrooms shaped to accommodate rows of desks, a featureless gymnasium, a small cafeteria, narrow stairways, little natural light, and cement campus grounds with little or no grass. The school has outgrown its original learning space because of an increase in the student population. Despite the building engineer’s best efforts, the range of maintenance needs is substantial, including boiler replacement, plumbing repairs, interior painting, and electrical and lighting upgrades.

“The dueling legal opinions are just one sign of what has become one of the most fiercely contested national issues in education. Though it receives far less attention than the Common Core State Standards, testing or charter schools, the Education Department’s proposal has the potential to dramatically reshape how school districts nationwide allocate money and teachers among campuses.”
Civil rights group makes legal case for controversial Education Dept. regulation
Washington Post By Emma Brown November 7 at 5:00 AM 
A chorus of opponents has accused the Obama administration of overstepping its legal authority with a proposal to regulate the spending of billions of dollars meant to help educate children from poor families.  The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service bolstered that criticism, finding in May that the proposed regulation appeared to “go beyond what would be required by a plain reading of the statute.”  But a new analysis — conducted by attorneys at WilmerHale at the request of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and provided to The Washington Post — comes to a different conclusion, finding that the Education Department has “ample” legal authority to move forward with its proposal.

Vimeo from Stone Lantern Films 5 days ago
Narrated by Matt Damon, Backpack Full of Cash explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. This 90-minute documentary takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013–14 school year, into the world of what is now called education “reform.” In Philadelphia and other big cities, public education – starved of resources – hangs in the balance.  The filmmakers are part of the team that made the award-winning 4-part PBS series, SCHOOL: The Story of Public Education, narrated by Meryl Streep.

Diminished roles, lack of respect frustrate black teachers, national study shows
Washington Post By Joe Heim November 6 at 5:02 PM 
Black teachers nationwide are frustrated by their experiences in the classroom, saying that they feel pigeonholed, lack opportunities for advancement, often are expected to teach only black students and aren’t listened to by their peers and supervisors, according to a new study.  The disillusionment with the profession is a leading factor for why so many black teachers leave the field early compared with their white counterparts, according to the study by the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization. Black teachers are just 7 percent of the teaching workforce, and districts are finding it increasingly difficult to retain them.  The report, “Through Our Eyes: Perspectives and Reflections from Black Teachers,” surveyed 150 teachers in public traditional and charter schools in seven states about their classroom and school community experiences. Eighty percent of the participants were women; nearly a third had more than 15 years of teaching experience.

The Burden On Black Teachers: 'I Don't Belong At Your Table'
NPR by CORY TURNER November 4, 20166:00 AM ET
Students need many things, from visionary principals to sharp pencils. Somewhere near the top of that list should be these two words:  Black teachers.
As of 2012, 16 percent of public school students were African-American, while just 7 percent of teachers were black. To make matters worse, according to the U.S. Department of Education, black teachers are leaving their classrooms at a higher rate than any other group.  To better understand the needs of these educators, researchers at The Education Trust, a national nonprofit that advocates for vulnerable students, went on a listening tour, convening focus groups of black teachers across seven states.  "To provide voice to an often unheard group," says Ashley Griffin, interim director of K-12 research at The Education Trust. "We wanted to make sure, if we were trying to recruit teachers, that we understood why they were leaving the workforce."

EdWeek: How Virtual Charters Evade Accountability by Lobbying and Campaign Contributions
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch November 6, 2016 //
Ariana Prothero writes in Education Week about the “Outsized Influence” of lobbyists for the virtual charter industry.  The virtual or online charter industry is a sham and a fraud. Readers of this blog have read many articles and research studies demonstrating that these “schools” survive by the power of their lobbying and campaign contributions, not because they have any educational value. Studies, even by charter-friendly organizations like CREDO of Stanford, have repeatedly demonstrated that virtual charters have high dropout rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates. This doesn’t seem to bother state officials because…well, lobbying and campaign contributions.

Fewer monarch butterflies in southern New Jersey this year by MICHELLE BRUNETTI POST, The Associated Press Updated: NOVEMBER 5, 2016 — 10:27 AM EDT
CAPE MAY POINT, N.J. (AP) - The number of monarch butterflies migrating through the Point fell by more than half this year, according to an annual hourly census study, but it may be more because of the weather than a population change.  "We had strong easterly winds for much of September," Monarch Monitoring Project Director Mark Garland told The Press of Atlantic City ( this week.  That may have pushed butterflies farther west, rather than staying at the coast, he said.  New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory has been running the project for 25 years, counting monarchs three times daily in five-mile routes around the Point from Sept. 14 through Oct. 31.

Mayor's Office of Ed ‏@PHL_MOE – Community Schools and PreK
Tweet from Philly Mayor’s Office of Education
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Regional Basic Education Funding Formula Workshops
PASA, PSBA, PAIU, PARSS, the PA Principals Association and PASBO are traveling around the state to conduct regional workshops for school leaders to provide them with more information on the new basic education funding formula. Register below to attend one of 8 regional workshops to learn more about the new formula and what it means for your school district and for the state. Please note that capacity is limited at each location and registration is required. A webcast option is also available. These regional workshops are being supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
Monday, November 14, 2016 @ 6:00 pm: Colonial IU 20
(6 Danforth Drive, Easton, PA 18045)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 @ 9:00 am: Luzerne IU 18
(368 Tioga Ave, Kingston, PA 18704)
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 @ 6:00 pm: Chester County IU 24
(455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335)
Wednesday, November 16, 2016 @ 9:30 am: Webcast

Public Forum: Who should run Philadelphia's schools? Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-7:30 p.m. Drexel University - Behrakis Grand Hall
Join us for a public forum featuring state, city and civic leaders sponsored by Philadelphia Media Network, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Drexel University's School of Education.
Creese Student Center 3210 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104
It's been 15 years since the state took control of Philadelphia's schools and created the School Reform Commission. Since then, the SRC has been a polarizing presence in the city.
With the recent resignation of two members of the commission and the term of a third expiring soon, the future of the SRC and the issue of school governance is once again at the forefront of the civic dialogue. Is the SRC the only model to consider?  Should Philadelphia create an elected school board, or should the governing body be controlled by the Mayor? Are there models in other cities that could help us rethink our own school governance?   The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Media Network -- owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and, and Drexel University's School of Education are hosting a public forum on this critical issue.
RSVP - Admission is free, but you must register in advance. Register now, and find out more about the panelists and other details at our registration page.

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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!

Register now for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference 
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2017 -- Jan. 29-31, Washington, D.C.
Join school directors around the country at the conference designed to give you the tools to advocate successfully on behalf of public education.
  • NSBA will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy to help you in Washington, D.C. and at home.
  • Attend timely and topical breakout sessions lead by NSBA’s knowledgeable staff and outside experts.
  • Expand your advocacy network by swapping best practices, challenges, and successes with other school board members from across the country.
This event is open to members of the Federal Relations Network. To find out how you can join, contact Learn more about the Advocacy Institute at

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