Tuesday, November 15, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 15: In-district cyber ed costs Erie taxpayers $1670 vs $9114/$16614 for cyber charter tuition

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 Nov 15, 2016
In-district cyber ed costs Erie taxpayers $1670 vs $9114/$16614 for cyber charter tuition

Blogger note:  Capitolwire reports that the PA House GOP Caucus elections are expected to begin sometime around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, and could take until noon, maybe later depending on Appropriations Chair and Caucus Administration elections.

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 a regional workshop 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.
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

“Trump said he would take $20 billion in federal funding — though he didn’t make clear where he would get it — to establish block grants that states can use to help children in low-income families enroll at private and charter schools. In a somewhat mixed message, he said that although states would be able to use the money as they see fit, he would push them to use it for school choice. And the names of potential candidates for education secretary that have been floated by Trump’s team are avid choice and privatization supporters, including Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Williamson Evers and Kevin Chavous.”
Will Donald Trump destroy U.S. public education?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 14 at 3:27 PM 
There’s a reason that people who care about public education in the United States are mightily worried about President-elect Donald Trump. There are, actually, a number of reasons — all of which lead to this question: Will Trump’s administration destroy U.S. public education?  The short answer is that he can’t all by himself destroy America’s most important civic institution, at least not without help from Congress as well as state and local legislatures and governors.  State and local governmental entities provide most of K-12 public school funding. And there is no appetite in the country for intense federal involvement in local education, which occurred during the Obama administration at such an unprecedented level that Congress rewrote the No Child Left Behind law — eight years late — so that a great deal of education policymaking power could be sent back to the states.

Who Could Be Donald Trump's Education Secretary?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on November 15, 2016 6:56 AM
President-elect Donald Trump doesn't have a track record on education, which means that his choice of education secretary will send a really important signal on where he wants to go in terms of policy on the Every Student Succeeds Act, higher education, and more.  So who is on the short list? Tough to say, but here are some names making the rounds inside the Beltway:

What’s Next?
Education Voters PA Website Posted on November 12, 2016 by EDVOPA
The recent national election portends a significant shift in the direction of federal education policy in the United States and raises serious concerns for those of us who care about equity and an opportunity to learn for all students.  Our work has never been more important.
Donald Trump’s education transition leader has indicated that Trump’s administration will focus on expanding school choice by redirecting billions of dollars in existing federal funding to charter and private schools.  He also signaled that the Trump administration could significantly limit the role of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education. The mission of the OCR is, “to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.”  Given the incendiary rhetoric from the Trump campaign about immigrants, Muslims, and people of color, the prospect of our federal government limiting the role of the OCR and abandoning its commitment to protect students from discrimination is chilling.  And we must stand up for them.

“The outcome raises questions about demand in communities of color for more charter schools, potentially undermining a key argument of charter school advocates that thousands of families want out of the Boston school system.”
In Boston, charter vote reflected racial divide
Boston Globe By James Vaznis GLOBE STAFF  NOVEMBER 14, 2016
The organizers of a ballot campaign to expand charter schools who spoke passionately about the need to provide better educational options for students of color failed to deliver victories in minority precincts throughout Boston, according to a Globe analysis of election results.  Even in neighborhoods that have among the lowest-achieving schools in the state, opposition to Question 2 ran deep.  In Mattapan, for instance, more than 1,000 voters poured into the Mattahunt Elementary School, which is teetering on the brink of state receivership, and overwhelmingly rejected the measure, 64 percent to 36 percent.  Of the city’s 255 precincts, the ballot question passed in only 14 — mostly located in a largely white swath of the city that extends from the West End through Beacon Hill and the Back Bay. The more diverse precincts to pass it were in the South End.

“More than 440 students who live within Erie School District boundaries are enrolled this fall in cyber charter schools based outside the district, including Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. The district is required by law to pay their tuition.  Approximate cost to the Erie School District in 2016-17: $3.8 million, or about $9,114 per student, $16,614 for each special education student.  The district pays much less per pupil enrolled in its own cyber program, about $1,670 for each of the 135 students enrolled, for computers, internet access, classes and teacher salaries and benefits, said Neal Brokman, coordinator of alternative programming for the Erie School District and principal of the district cyber school.”
Erie cyber school program could recoup students, tuition dollars
by VALERIE MYERS, The Associated Press Updated: NOVEMBER 12, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
ERIE, Pa. (AP) - It's not a typical classroom.  Students work on laptops at tables set up in an open area at the junction of two main hallways at Erie's Central Career and Technical School.  Three teachers stationed at desks beside and behind them are available for help when the students need it. Most of the time, teachers monitor other students working online at home.  The makeshift classroom is home base for the Erie School District's cyber school, created in 2012. High school students work mainly online at home but come to the class if they need one-on-one help from teachers. Middle school students new to the cyber program this school year are required to go to class at least weekly.  The Erie Public Schools Online Campus, as the cyber school is formally known, caters to students who don't thrive in traditional classrooms. School officials hope that it will also cater to Erie students enrolled in outside cyber charter schools.

“However, my recommendation is not to add social studies to the existing battery of state tests, but to cease standardized testing altogether, allowing our local schools the flexibility to thoughtfully address the causes and effects of American social discord without the distraction and contrivance of test-tiered academic prominence.    Given the state of civic exchange in America, discontinuing standardized testing would be a beneficial example of addition by subtraction.”
Discontinue standardized testing; restore social studies to prominence: PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor by SCOTT BONNER, Mechanicsburg on November 13, 2016 at 10:30 AM, updated November 14, 2016 at 10:04 AM
Daily we are bombarded with repeated news stories describing what appears to be a diverse America's growing inability to treat one another with respect and civility.  Although America has experienced periods of deep discord before, radical changes in electronic media have created the impression that this current version of instantly revealed civic discord presents unique and complex challenges for traditional American institutions.  One such institution is education. About fifteen years ago the era of standardized testing began, and in Pennsylvania these tests are the PSSAs and the Keystones. The subjects assessed are math, reading, and science; each of which are absolutely vital to a well-rounded education.    But because they are subjects that we administer standardized tests for, they have come to occupy a position of greater public and bureaucratic prominence than the other subjects that are not tested. What is increasingly clear is that no academic subject in 2016 America ought to be valued more than social studies.  
For evidence to support this claim all we need do is bring up Pennlive on our computers.

The next legislative session offers new opportunities for change: Scott Wagner
PennLive Op-Ed By State Senator Scott Wagner on November 14, 2016 at 1:00 PM, updated November 14, 2016 at 1:01 PM
State Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican, represents the York County-based 28th Senate District.
The historic 2016 general election is behind us, and a new year awaits us.  That includes a new two-year legislative session beginning in January.   Just as you may look at a new year as a chance to make positive changes through resolutions, I am looking at the new session as a clean slate for the legislature to effect real change for Pennsylvanians.   The opportunities that await us are numerous.  I remain focused on important reforms like reining in spending, addressing the pension crisis, and ultimately, eliminating property taxes.   However, there are additional ways to reform Pennsylvania and set us on a more successful path.  One area of opportunity and a continued priority for me is workforce development.  While we often hear about job creation efforts, we cannot forget that plenty of jobs are going unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the necessary skills.   As a business owner, I am very aware of the ever-growing skills gap in the labor force being created by retiring baby boomers, the push for students to pursue four-year colleges rather than trade schools, and advancing technology.    A strong workforce results in a strong economy, which results in Pennsylvania heading down a more successful path. 

Hundreds listen to Erie Collegiate Academy charter school plans
By Gerry Weiss Erie Times-News Posted Nov 14, 2016 at 9:05 PM Updated Nov 14, 2016 at 9:05 PM
Michael Easly had a look of uncertainty on his face Monday night as the Erie resident sat with his teenage daughter in the back rows of Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy's auditorium.  Emma, 14, a freshman at the prestigious city high school, was just as interested as her father in hearing from the Collegiate Academy's dean, who announced on Friday he is leading a group that is applying to make the school a charter school if the Erie School District decides to close it.  Monday evening's meeting at the school, 2825 State St., was attended by about 250 parents and students, and gave many of the school's concerned families the chance to hear more about the alternative plan for the school's 770 students if Collegiate Academy is closed to offset the district's multimillion dollar budget woes.  "(Charter) might be a good idea," Emma said. "Then we wouldn't have to live with the fears that the school may close."  The district, which founded Collegiate Academy in 1996 at the former Academy High School, still is considering closing Erie's four high schools to offset a projected $10 million budget deficit in 2017-18 and more deficits in the coming years.

Why Lehigh Valley Academy's still hammering out its charter extension
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on November 14, 2016 at 6:57 PM, updated November 14, 2016 at 8:09 PM
Lehigh Valley Academy's five-year charter extension is still being negotiated with the Bethlehem Area School District.   But Bethlehem schools Superintendent Joseph Roy hopes that the two sides can reach an agreement by the school board's voting meeting next Monday.   About 1,013 of the school's 1,689 students are Bethlehem Area kids. The district expects to pay the school $11 million in tuition this year.  Charter schools are independent public schools funded by taxpayer dollars funneled from an enrolled student's home district. The K-12 charter school is located in leased office space off of Valley Center Parkway in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

West Shore teachers vote in favor of new contract with school district, some health-care concessions made
Penn Live By Steve Marroni | smarroni@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 14, 2016 at 8:05 PM, updated November 15, 2016 at 1:41 AM
The teachers of the West Shore School District have been without a contract for 806 days.
Negotiations went back and forth for two-and-a-half years. There was even atalk of a strike at one point.  But on Monday, it all came to an end.  The West Shore Education Association, which is the union representing the district's 576 educators, voted to ratify the proposed agreement with the West Shore School Board.  The board had unanimously approved this agreement on Thursday.

York schools receive PlanCon reimbursements
York Dispatch by Alyssa Pressler , 505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD9:23 p.m. EST November 13, 2016
School districts in York County will receive back payments for construction programs through the Planning and Construction Workbook (PlanCon) dating to the 2014-15 school year, according to state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township.  PlanCon is a program that documents a school district's planning process for construction, provides justification to the public, ensures that districts are in compliance with state laws and establishes a level of reimbursement to the school for the construction, according to its website.  The payments total $12.6 million in York County and are reimbursements for projects in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. According to a news release sent on behalf of Grove, the PlanCon reimbursements were removed from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 state general-fund budgets.

Pine-Richland seeks to dismiss lawsuit over transgender bathroom policy
BY THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, 10:54 p.m.
Lawyers for the Pine-Richland School District asked a federal judge on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three transgender students over the district's restroom policy.
Until Sept. 13, the students were allowed to use restrooms that conformed with their gender identities.  But the Pine-Richland board voted 5-4 on Sept. 12 to adopt a policy that requires students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their biological sex or use a unisex facility. The district implemented the policy the next day.  The students sued the district in October and asked for a preliminary injunction to block the district's restroom policy while it's challenged in court.  They argue it is unlawful for school officials to force them to use restrooms that don't match their outward appearance.

“The increase in tax revenue, in large part, is being driven by higher employee retirement costs, which Abraham said would be close to $1 million in the 2017-18 school year.”
Norwin School District considering real estate tax hike
Trib Live BY JOE NAPSHA  | Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, 10:15 p.m.
Property owners in the Norwin School District are likely to face a real estate tax hike as high as 2.49 mills, equal to a 3.3 percent increase, to finance operations for the 2017-18 school year, school officials said Monday.  The school board is expected to vote Nov. 21 on a measure to allow the school district to raise taxes in the upcoming fiscal year to the state-permitted maximum of 2.49 mills to 77.69 mills in North Huntingdon, Irwin and North Irwin, which would generate about $870,000 in revenue, Jude Abraham, the district's interim director of business affairs, said at the board's workshop meeting.

School districts weigh pros, cons of artificial surfaces for athletics
Altoona Mirror by SEAN SAURO Staff Writer ssauro@altoonamirror.com NOV 13, 2016
Often, many months will pass without a single word spoken during Tyrone Area School Board’s public comment period, but that wasn’t the case only a few months ago, when about a dozen parents  gathered to voice concerns.  Among them, one man spoke, describing the issue in basic terms.  “When you’re a kid, you dream about playing there,” local resident Kerry Naylor said, talking about Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, where football is played on a deteriorating surface.  To some, including Naylor, the clear fix for its uneven surface and drainage problems is installing artificial turf.  “We are saying, ‘Look, the turf is so bad that you can’t fix it at this point,'” Naylor said last week.  But while several area districts have seen artificial turf as an investment and community asset, others have found it difficult to justify the expense, which is often well over half a million dollars.

Council Rock School leaders listens to parents about racist graffiti, other incidents
About 50 parents and residents turned out last night for a meeting with the Council Rock School District superintendent to discuss racist and other offensive graffiti that were found at Council Rock North High School last week. They also talked about a note put in the bag of a Latino student telling her to go back to Mexico.   The school district in Bucks County held the first of two meetings Monday night to listen to residents weigh in about swastikas and an anti-gay slur that were found written on bathroom walls at one high school. They also heard residents talk about racially-charged incidents dating back years, even decades in the district.

Philly district's first middle college high school to open in 2017-18 school year
The notebook by Lane Whitman November 14, 2016 — 12:00pm
Parkway Center City High School will soon take on a new name – Parkway Center City Middle College High School. Starting in the 2017-18 school year, the special admission school will offer incoming ninth-graders the opportunity to graduate with high school diplomas, associate’s degrees, and up to two professional certifications each.  Middle colleges are still fairly new, with about 50 operating throughout the country. Parkway Center City will be the first middle college to open in Philadelphia.  Over four years of high school, students will be able to earn up to 61 college credits, which is the equivalent of two years of college. Each graduate will be awarded an associate’s degree in liberal arts. Students interested in attending four-year universities will be able to apply these credits toward bachelor’s degrees.  Parkway Center City Middle College will provide certification programs in Entrepreneurship as well as Computer Programming and Software Development. These designations are industry-recognized. An Arts Futures program and inquiry-based science and social studies learning projects will also be offered.

“There are charter schools in Philadelphia. And then there’s the Mastery Charter School network. Mastery is massive. It educates more than 10,000 students across the city. And unlike most charters, Mastery doesn’t start new schools. Rather it takes over struggling ones from the Philadelphia School District and tries to revive them.  Many charter operators have shied from the school turnaround model. That’s because it’s difficult. Taking over schools creates tension and invites burdens. Plus, it requires the charter educate any child in the school’s catchment area who wishes to attend, and therefore disallows the kind of enrollment practices that allow some traditional charters to avoid teaching the most disadvantaged students.   But Mastery has embraced school turnaround with gusto, earning a national reputation for its willingness to take on some of the toughest schools in Philadelphia. “
Has Mastery lost its mojo? (The quest to fix Philly's biggest charter network)
UPDATE: Mastery Schools CEO Scott Gordon responded to NewsWorks. See his comments at the end of the story below.
….The quest to fix Mastery Charter Schools, the biggest, most successful charter network in Philadelphia, hinges on a choice between old and new — between what’s worked in the past and what students need for the future. How Mastery navigates that choice could well determine its fate as a charter operator, as well as the fate of charter-driven education reform in Philadelphia.  That’s because after years of excellent, some might even say stunning, test scores, Mastery has hit a wall. The network is changing the way it teaches math in hopes of scaling that wall, and surmounting perhaps the most significant challenge it has faced in 15 years at the forefront of Philadelphia education.

“Wright said the post wasn’t supposed to be political. She knew, however, that her students were feeling a bit uneasy at the end of such a contentious campaign. She wanted to reassure them and refocus them.  "These children live in the same world we do,” she said. “They watch the same TV shows we do. They watch the same news channels we do.”
Philly third-grade class wins at Facebook with viral video responding to election unease
There’s been a lot of attention the past week on how schools, teachers, and students are handling the results of the presidential election. But on that topic, no one has gotten as much attention as Philadelphia third-grade teacher Jasmyn Wright.  Last Wednesday, Wright filmed her students reciting a self-affirmation mantra they repeat every day before class. She posted it shortly thereafter on Facebook, where it has since racked up millions of views.  In a call-and-response pattern, Wright asks her students a series of questions, to which they respond emphatically:  "I’m gonna push through!”  Then Wright rattles off a list of prominent thinkers and political activists, to which the students say: "He pushed through” or “She pushed through.”  Underneath the short video, Wright posted a caption:  "Teaching my 3rd grade black and brown babies to #PushThrough today. Due to unwelcoming, unsettling, and uncomfortable election results, this was our lesson for the day.” Wright teaches at the Douglass Campus of the Mastery Charter Schools network. The school, located just west of Temple University in North Philadelphia, is 94.2 percent black.

Earlier school year on horizon for Philly
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 15, 2016 — 1:08 AM EST
Kids in Philadelphia public schools will soon start classes before Labor Day - and finish earlier in June - if proposed changes are adopted by the School Reform Commission.  Cheryl Logan, the Philadelphia School District's chief academic support officer, is scheduled to introduce calendars for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years at Tuesday's SRC meeting.  If the calendars are adopted, students would start school Sept. 5 and finish June 14 in 2017-18. By 2018-19, school would start Aug. 27 and finish June 4.  Teachers would report earlier, too - Aug. 28 in 2017-18 and Aug. 20 in 2018-19.  This year, the first day of school for students was Sept. 7, and students are scheduled to complete the term June 20.  The changes are proposed with academics in mind, Logan said.  "This is a way for us to get more instructional time during what I call 'prime time,' " she said. "The more instructional time we get in before Memorial Day, the better."

In Philly schools, a robotics reboot
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 15, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
The RoboLancers, Central High School's acclaimed robotics team, want to win. They have traveled to world championships before, and they'd like to return.  Still, they are encouraging competition. They are even creating it.  To that end, the team has landed tens of thousands of dollars in grants to relaunch robotics programs - and, in some cases, start new ones - at schools around the city.  Enter the team's newly formed Central Robotics Coalition, which has already attracted $25,000 in funding for this year and up to $100,000 more in total over the next two years from the Neubauer Family Foundation.  The coalition has already restarted robotics teams at six Philadelphia School District schools, and hopes to raise more money and double the current number of teams.  To date, the Workshop, Edison, Frankford, Girls', Lincoln, and Parkway Center City all got $3,000 in seed money to field teams. Each team will also be paired with mentors to aid the teens in their robotics challenges.

Education Town Hall Seeks to Learn Community Priorities for Schools
PHILADELPHIA—Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) will host her fifth education town hall tonight at Paul Robeson High School. Parents, students, teachers, and community members will speak about obstacles and opportunities in their schools.  Last session’s town halls resulted in key policy advances including the installation of three water hydration stations in each school, a District commitment to restore one nurse and counselor per school, and the elimination of split grades as a cost-saving measure. This town hall is a continuation of Gym’s promise to bring a community-driven education agenda to City Hall.
WHOCouncilmembers Helen Gym (At Large) and Jannie Blackwell (3rd Dist.)
WHAT: Education Town Hall
WHEN: 5:30 – 7:00pm
WHERE: Paul Robeson High School, 4125 Ludlow St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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.
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 philly.com, 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.  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/who-should-run-philadelphias-schools-tickets-28926705555
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 Jamie.Zuvich@psba.org. Learn more about the Advocacy Institute at https://www.nsba.org/events/advocacy-institute.

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 https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.

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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