Monday, November 28, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 28: DeVos Family spent $25K/day for 7 weeks to defeat legislation that would have added oversight to Michigan charters

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 28, 2016
DeVos Family spent $25K/day for 7 weeks to defeat legislation that would have added oversight to Michigan charters

Regional Basic Education Funding Formula Workshops
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)

U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander’s Statement on Selection of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
MARYVILLE, Tenn., November 23 — Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on President-elect Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos to become the next United States Secretary of Education:
“Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice. The Senate’s education committee will move swiftly in January to consider her nomination. Betsy has worked for years to improve educational opportunities for all children. As secretary, she will be able to implement the new law fixing No Child Left Behind just as Congress wrote it, reversing the trend to a national school board and restoring to states, governors, school boards, teachers, and parents greater responsibility for improving education in their local communities. I also look forward to working with her on the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, giving us an opportunity to clear out the jungle of red tape that makes it more difficult for students to obtain financial aid and for administrators to manage America’s 6000 colleges and universities.”

Ranking (Minority) Member Sen. Murray’s Statement on Nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
(Washington, D.C.) — Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
“Few things are more important in our work to expand opportunities and grow our economy than making sure that every student has access to a high-quality education no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make. We’ve taken some strong steps in the right direction in recent years to support students and make sure teachers and schools have the tools they need to succeed, but we have a whole lot more work to do, and our children absolutely cannot afford for us to move backwards.   “I look forward to meeting with Betsy DeVos and talking to her about her vision for the Department of Education and whether and how it includes expanding access to educational opportunities for students across the country. This is a critical leadership position in our federal government that impacts the lives, civil rights, and futures of millions of students and families—so I plan to scrutinize her record closely and ask her important questions about her qualifications and experience, values and priorities, work and financial history, and plans for the Department. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure that the voices of students and parents in Washington state and across the country are heard loud and clear in this process. 

Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators
New York Times By DANIEL VICTOR NOV. 22, 2016
Kara Waite, an English teacher at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, Mass., made a rule for herself: For every political rant she posts on Facebook, she must pick up the phone and call a legislator.  “It’s kind of a swear jar for political action,” Ms. Waite said recently. Ms. Waite, who volunteers for liberal causes and who created a widely shared document last week to teach others her methods, figures that a phone ringing off the hook is more difficult for a lawmaker to ignore than a flooded inbox.  Activists of all political stripes recommend calling legislators, not just emailing — and certainly not just venting on social media. Several lawmakers, along with those who work for them, said in interviews that Ms. Waite is right: A phone call from a constituent can, indeed, hold more weight than an email, and far outweighs a Facebook post or a tweet.  To understand why, it helps to know what happens when someone answers the phone at a legislator’s office.

U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Membership
Lamar Alexander (TN) Michael B. Enzi (WY) Richard Burr (NC) Johnny Isakson (GA) Rand Paul (KY) Susan Collins (ME) Lisa Murkowski (AK) Mark Kirk (IL) Tim Scott (SC) Orrin  Hatch (UT) Pat Roberts (KS) Bill Cassidy, M.D. (LA)
Patty Murray (WA) Barbara Mikulski (MD) Bernie Sanders (VT) Robert P. Casey, Jr (PA) Al Franken (MN) Michael F. Bennet (CO) Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) Tammy Baldwin (WI) Christopher S. Murphy (CT) Elizabeth Warren (MA)

Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944

Senator Toomey's Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-4254

Senator Casey is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Casey’s Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-6324
Toll Free: (866) 802-2833

Did you catch our Thanksgiving Special Edition focusing on coverage and reaction to the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?
Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 24, 2016: Thanksgiving Special Edition - Trump Flips the Bird at American Public Education

“DeVos believes that the market solves all problems, and she and her husband’s foundation spent nearly 1.5 million dollars to persuade the Michigan legislature to kill a bill to regulate charter schools in the state.  Thanks to her efforts, 80% of the charters in Michigan operate for profit, without accountability or transparency.”
NPE: Tell Your Senator to Vote NO for Betsy DeVos
Network for Public Education November 24, 2016 by Carol Burris
The Network for Public Education is appalled, but not surprised, by Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. DeVos is a long-time advocate for the Trump/Pence education privatization agenda. She, like the Trump/Pence team, favors vouchers that would give public funds to private and religious schools. Her family’s foundation has promoted vouchers in many states. The Trump/Pence/DeVos plan, long supported by the extreme right, would take Title I funds from districts and allow parents to “shop” with those dollars among private schools, charters and online schools. DeVos believes that the market solves all problems, and she and her husband’s foundation spent nearly 1.5 million dollars to persuade the Michigan legislature to kill a bill to regulate charter schools in the state.  Thanks to her efforts, 80% of the charters in Michigan operate for profit, without accountability or transparency.  Send a clear message to the Senate that Betsy DeVos should not be confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education. Her hostility towards public schools disqualifies her. Send your letter today. We make it easy.

“It is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump’s pick as the cabinet secretary overseeing the nation’s education system.”
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Pick, Has Steered Money From Public Schools
New York Times By KATE ZERNIKE NOV. 23, 2016
It is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump’s pick as the cabinet secretary overseeing the nation’s education system.  For nearly 30 years, as a philanthropist, activist and Republican fund-raiser, she has pushed to give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend private and parochial schools, pressed to expand publicly funded but privately run charter schools, and tried to strip teacher unions of their influence.  A daughter of privilege, she also married into it; her husband, Dick, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan a decade ago, is heir to the Amway fortune. Like many education philanthropists, she argues that children’s ZIP codes should not confine them to failing schools.  But Ms. DeVos’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in her home state of Michigan and across the country have focused little on existing public schools, and almost entirely on establishing newer, more entrepreneurial models to compete with traditional schools for students and money. Her donations and advocacy go almost entirely toward groups seeking to move students and money away from what Mr. Trump calls “failing government schools.”

Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools
New York Times Opinion By DOUGLAS N. HARRIS NOV. 25, 2016
NEW ORLEANS — President-elect Donald J. Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education has sent shock waves through the educational establishment. Understandably so, since this is a clear sign that Mr. Trump intends a major national push to direct public funds to private and charter schools. But this is more than just a political or financial loss for traditional public schools. It will also most likely be a loss for students.  The choice of Ms. DeVos might not seem surprising. Mr. Trump has, after all, proposed $20 billion to finance “school choice” initiatives and Ms. DeVos supports these ideas. Yet of all the candidates the transition team was apparently considering, Ms. DeVos has easily the worst record.  As one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, she is partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country. At least some of the other candidates for education secretary, like Michelle Rhee, the former District of Columbia schools chancellor, led reforms that were accompanied by improved student results.

School Choice Advocate Betsy DeVos Named Ed. Sec.: What Does That Mean?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on November 23, 2016 3:34 PM
By Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa
UPDATED President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Betsy DeVos, a longtime school choice advocate and Republican mega-donor, to be his education secretary, he announced Wednesday.   DeVos is best known in the school choice world as the chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, an advocacy and research organization that champions school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. And just hours after her selection, DeVos sent a tweet making it clear that she adamantly opposes the Common Core State Standards, which Trump also has denounced.    "Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate," said President-elect Trump in a statement announcing the pick, which is still subject to U.S. Senate confirmation. "Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families."

In Pence, Trump finds school choice advocate
Stephanie Wang and Chelsea Schneider , IndyStar 7:02 p.m. EST November 26, 2016
As governor, Mike Pence strongly advocated for education reforms, overseeing a vast expansion of the state’s private school voucher program and a boost in funding for charter schools.  Now as the incoming vice president, Pence has the chance to promote those same policies on the national stage.  And his boss is on board.  Consider this: Donald Trump has hinged his education plans on a $20 billion federal voucher program that would allow low-income families to send their children to the public or private school of their choosing. Details on how the program would work and how it would be funded are  few. But Trump has pledged to be “the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice.”  With Pence as his No. 2 and Betsy DeVos, a Michigan philanthropist and staunch voucher advocate, set to head the U.S. Department of Education, school choice policies that have come to define Indiana's educational landscape could gain an unprecedented prominence on the federal level.

Trump could open door to expanding D.C. school voucher program, advocates say
Washington Post By Emma Brown and Perry Stein November 27 at 5:47 PM 
The District is home to the nation’s only federally funded school voucher program, and for the past eight years, advocates for the program have been on defense, fighting to keep it alive under a president who opposes the notion of using taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private and religious schools.  But then Donald Trump, voucher supporter, was elected president. Now advocates see an opportunity to go on offense, not just to maintain but to expand the D.C. program, which pays for about 1,500 low-income children to attend private and parochial schools.  Trump’s pick for education secretary, announced Wednesday, cemented the notion that he intends to make good on his campaign-trail promise of using federal dollars to expand voucher programs, including the one in the District. Trump’s nominee, Michigan billionaire and conservative activist Betsy DeVos, has quietly helped introduce vouchers in many states nationwide, spending millions of dollars to support candidates who agree with her and to unseat those who do not.

Blogger note: This 54-minute audio or video of a 2002 speech by Dick DeVos for the Heritage Foundation provides background on the Devos’s school choice policy and strategy
Dick DeVos: The Battle for Education Reform Continues: What Are The Next Battles And Where Will They Be Fought?
The Heritage Foundation website
Recently the Supreme Court ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that the Cleveland voucher program is Constitutional, opening the door for other states to enact parental choice programs. Though a great victory for school choice, it was not the end of the battle. It was merely the end of the beginning and much work remains both in the courts and in the court of public opinion.  State legal barriers remain. Over half of the states have Blaine Amendments that prevent public funds from passing to religious institutions. Fueled by anti-Catholic bigotry over a century ago, these provisions make it difficult, although not impossible, to enact choice programs.  Politics and public opinion remain in play. In state houses, well-funded unions and other groups continue to oppose parental choice. Although the choice movement is growing --10 states have publicly sponsored private school choice programs, from vouchers to tax credits, and 39 states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school laws -- the opposition has dedicated millions to prevent new gains and roll back existing programs. Fortunately, public support for parental choice in education continues to grow.  Where will the next battle play out?

Betsy DeVos: Families don’t need DPS retread
The Detroit News Letter by Betsy DeVos 11:37 p.m. EST February 22, 2016
While the state Legislature continues to debate whether Michigan taxpayers should fund a $715 million bailout of the Detroit Public Schools, we must acknowledge the simple fact that DPS has failed academically and financially – for decades. We need to retire DPS and provide new and better education options that focus on Detroit schoolchildren.  Rather than create a new traditional school district to replace the failed DPS, we should liberate all students from this woefully under-performing district model and provide in its place a system of schools where performance and competition create high-quality opportunities for kids. We shouldn’t create a new district that is nothing more than a DPS retread. Absent urgent and serious reforms, the new district will only continue the downward spiral of poor academic performance, declining enrollment and financial instability we’ve seen for decades from DPS.

What’s the worst that could happen under New Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos? Some Scenarios
Huffington Post by AARON PALLAS November 25, 2016
Aaron Pallas is Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
New York—Thanksgiving is, of course, about giving thanks, while being mindful of an America that has not always treated people fairly. This year, there is a lot to take stock of, as President-elect Donald Trump, in the midst of populating his cabinet, selectedElisabeth (Betsy) DeVos to be his Secretary of Education.  I’ve been joking that Ben Carson – Trump’s pick to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – primary qualification is that he grew up in a house. But Betsy DeVos attended private schools and sent her children to them. Her qualification to be Secretary of Education? She doesn’t even have that going for her.

Opposing DeVos
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Friday, November 25, 2016
The edubloggochatosphere have pretty much itself up over the designation of Betsy DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education. Oppositions runs across the spectrum, from progressives who are upset by a super-privatizer taking over responsibility for public education to conservatives who thought they were promised an outsidey, drained-swamp, Common Core smasher and instead are looking at an old-swamp, Bush-buddy, Common Core apologist (for what it's worth, I don't see DeVos making any real attempt to defend the Core).  So what can you do?  First, you can remember that this appointment is not a done deal and is, in fact, subject to the approval of Congress, that other branch of government that is not run by the President.  Second, you can take some easy options. For instance, here's a link to the Network for Public Education, which has once again provided a simple and handy form for contacting your Congressional representative and saying, "Please don't!" The form will provide you with a perfectly swell text, but if you want to add complaints of your own, consider any of the following:

Trump's team of gazillionaires
The self-styled champion of the working class assembles an administration that could be worth as much as $35 billion.
Politico By BEN WHITE and MATTHEW NUSSBAUM 11/24/16 12:54 PM EST
Donald Trump campaigned as a champion of the “forgotten man” and won the White House on the strength of his support among the white working class.  So far, he’s stacking his administration with masters of the universe.  Beyond Trump himself, who claims a net worth of more than $10 billion, the president-elect has tapped businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion, and is said to be considering oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), investor Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), private equity investor Mitt Romney ($250 million at last count), hedge fund magnate Steve Mnuchin (at least $46 million), and super-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars) to round out his administration. And Trump’s likely choice for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, comes from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs.  Even retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who’s up for the job of secretary of housing and urban development, has an estimated fortune of $26 million, while White House adviser Steve Bannon has likely earned millions off his stake in the show “Seinfeld” alone. Andrew Puzder, a possible labor secretary, is no slouch, either — he made more than $4.4 million in 2012 as CEO of the holding company that owns restaurant chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
Put together, Trump’s Cabinet and administration could be worth as much as $35 billion, a staggering agglomeration of wealth unprecedented in American history.
The median household income in the U.S.? About $55,000.

Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. says Trump asked him to be education secretary
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 28 at 1:44 AM 
President-elect Donald Trump announced last week that he was tapping Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos to be his education secretary — but, apparently, she wasn’t his first choice.
Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Virginia’s Liberty University, the largest evangelical university in the United States, told the Associated Press that he had met with Trump in New York earlier and was offered the job of U.S. education secretary. He turned it down, he said, for personal reasons.  The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a query about Falwell’s comments. It has not publicly said that anyone other than DeVos was offered the job.  Falwell, a lawyer, has led Liberty since the 2007 death of his father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded the university.

Falwell says Trump offered him education secretary job
Inquirer by The Associated Press Updated: NOVEMBER 27, 2016 — 7:41 AM EST
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says President elect-Donald Trump offered him the job of education secretary, but that he turned it down for personal reasons.  Falwell tells The Associated Press that Trump offered him the job last week during a meeting in New York. He says Trump wanted a four- to six-year commitment, but that he couldn't leave Liberty for more than two years.  Falwell says he couldn't afford to work at a Cabinet-level job for longer than that and didn't want to move his family, especially his 16-year-old daughter.  Trump announced Wednesday he had selected charter school advocate Betsy DeVos for the job. Falwell says he thinks DeVos is an "excellent choice."  Trump spoke at the Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, in January and Falwell later endorsed him.

'You've got to give him a chance' U.S. Rep Lou Barletta says of bumpy Trump transition: Wednesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By  John L. Micek | on November 23, 2016 at 7:35 AM
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta has found the Well of Trump and drank deeply of it.
The national media? Dishonest. Washington's swamp? Badly in need of draining. Obamacare? Repealed and replaced faster than you can say "Affordable Care Act." Tax reform? You betcha and in the first 100 days.  The talking points come unhesitatingly and with great enthusiasm.  But when you ask him him if he's in line to become the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation? The 11th District Republican smiles that wide smile with his impossibly white teeth and dodges with equal enthusiasm.  "I'm just happy to working on the Trump team," says Barletta, one of two members of Pennsylvania's GOP congressional delegation who jumped on board the Trump train early and rode it all the way to Election Day.  Republican Congressman Lou Barletta, an early Donald Trump supporter, was on Friday named to the president-elect's executive transition team.
Now, along with U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10th District, Barletta has found himself a member of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, giving him unique access to a transfer of power that's already riveted public attention.  Barletta, a former three-term mayor of Hazleton, made a national reputation for cracking down on illegal immigration in his Rust Belt town. It was Trump's tough talk that pulled Barletta into his orbit.  Together, he and Marino crack up GOP gatherings, doing a two-man show they bill as "Thunder and Lightning." Think Abbott & Costello-meet-The National Review, and you'll get some idea of their shtick.

Rep. Lou Barletta in line to meet Donald Trump; transportation secretary post on agenda?
Penn Live By Ivey DeJesus | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 25, 2016 at 7:12 PM, updated November 25, 2016 at 7:31 PM
Rep. Lou Barletta, who is rumored to be in line for the post of Transportation secretary under in the incoming Trump Administration, is scheduled to meet with the president-elect on Monday, according to a report in PoliticoPro.  Barletta, a Republican from the 11th congressional district, sits on the House Homeland Security and Transportation committees. He was an early Trump supporter who became a campaign surrogate and was eventually tapped to serve in his transition team.  "I'm just happy to working on the Trump team," Barletta said as recently as last week when asked about the possibility of being tapped for the nation's top transportation post.

“Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, who as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has had a role in the development of state budgets, said that serving in the House taught him about the broad diversity of Pennsylvania. At home in Delaware County, he said, he has many universities and hospitals nearby, but no coal mines or gas wells.  “There’s a big difference in the way people’s lifestyles are across the commonwealth,” said Mr. Adolph, who took office in 1989. “That was the biggest thing I had to learn, the diversity. It’s what makes Pennsylvania great. It also sometimes makes it a little bit difficult to govern.”
State Legislature losing long-time figures
Post Gazette By Karen Langley / Harrisburg Bureau November 25, 2016 12:46 AM
HARRISBURG — Among the legislators who have said farewell to the House and Senate in recent weeks are a few who have served in the General Assembly for longer than some of their youngest colleagues have been alive.  There’s Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, who has served in the House for more than 42 years, ever since a special election in 1974. There’s newly elected U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, who served in the House from 1981 until shortly before he was sworn into Congress on Nov. 14.   From Western Pennsylvania, there’s Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown, who joined the House in 1981 and went on to the Senate in 1997. And Rep. Pete Daley, D-California, who served the 34 years since he was sworn in in 1983.  That’s a lifetime to the handful of legislators listed in the official Pennsylvania Manual or on the legislative websites as having birthdates in the mid- to late-1980s.

11 Pa. politicians who took more than $1 million from special interests in 2016
Penn Live Filmstrip November 23, 2016

It pays more to be a Pa. state legislator in 2017
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on November 23, 2016 at 11:24 AM, updated November 23, 2016 at 11:28 AM
Pennsylvania lawmakers – already the second highest paid in the nation – will receive their first pay raise in two years, starting next month.  A 1.34 percent increase in the legislative salary will increase the rank-and-file member's annual pay by $1,140, to $86,478.50 for 2017. This increase will boost legislative leaders' pay to between $98,609 to $134,998, depending on their position.  A state law provides automatic cost-of-living adjustments for the members of the Legislature, top executive branch officials and state judges that is based on the year-over-year percentage change in the U.S. Department of Labor-determined Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers for Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.  These annual adjustments are relatively small and only twice rose above 3 percent over the past 10 years.  When the cost-of-living adjustment shows no change or a negative change, the state law provides for these state officials' salaries to be frozen. Last year was only the second time in 21 years that their pay remained stagnant.

DN editorial: Emboldened by Trump win, rural Pa. lawmakers may go after cities
Philly Daily News Editorial Updated: NOVEMBER 28, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
PHILADELPHIANS should brace themselves for what's coming in the next four years. It is going to be a bumpy ride.  For starters, there is President-elect Donald Trump. Forget about his tweets; he can't help himself.  We should be more worried about tax and budget cuts the president and Republicans in Congress are eager to make, which are sure to impact federal spending on everything from food stamps to housing to Medicaid to ... you name it (except defense).  But the clear and present danger is closer to home - 100 miles away in Harrisburg. There, the newly fortified Republicans in the House and Senate await. Not only are some of them rabid opponents of spending, many of them are against big cities - which, to them, represent all that is wrong with Pennsylvania. Too many poor. Too many people of color. Too many immigrants. Too many Democrats. Sinkholes that consume far too much state money.  In the past, those of us who live in places such as Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Allentown and Scranton have had a buffer against these beliefs. The legislature was led by Democrats from these cities or by moderate (often sympathetic) suburban Republicans.  The November election did away with that buffer. Rural and small-town voters were the key to Trump winning and also increased the Republicans' numerical edge in the state House and Senate.

Beverage tax suit leaves Philly pre-K future in limbo
by Julia Terruso, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 26, 2016 — 1:07 AM EST
Mayor Kenney is betting big on a courtroom victory this winter.  As a judge weighs whether to uphold Philadelphia's sweetened-beverage tax, the city has already spent nearly $12 million on a prekindergarten program that the levy is designed to support. Hundreds of families have signed up to send kids to classrooms in January, coinciding with the tax's debut.  About 85 providers, including small, family-owned pre-K centers as well as larger operations, have started expanding and upgrading facilities in preparation for 2,000 more children.  City officials - previously mum on what happens if the tax is struck down - said this week that the first group of children would enroll next year with or without the tax. The future of the program beyond spring 2017 is unclear.

Hate wave: Post-election incidents reported in region
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 24, 2016 — 9:09 PM EST
Swastikas and anti-gay scrawling in the girls' room. A student brandishing a Confederate flag image on his laptop. Kids passing "White Power" and N-word graffiti on their way to school. A child coming home to report her teacher said to "stop bitching about being black."  These are just some of the incidents reported in or around the region's schools in the two weeks since Donald Trump was elected president, part of a tide of alleged bullying and hate crimes that has washed over the country.  The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking hate crimes across the United States for decades, reported several incidents locally among the roughly 700 nationally that center officials say have left them stunned.

Philly teachers offered contract deal worth $100M
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 28, 2016 1:07 AM EST
After months of no progress, talks between the Philadelphia School District and its largest union have inched forward, with the school system putting an offer worth about $100 million on the table this month.  The deal would include restoration of "step" increases, or pay bumps for years of experience. It would also include incentive bonuses over the life of the four-year pact for teachers in hard-to-staff schools, and it would give raises to teachers now at the top of the pay scale, according to sources familiar with the talks.  Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan confirmed the outlines of the offer, but said he would not take it to his members.  Under the proposed deal, teachers would get no retroactive pay for the years they have gone without raises or step increases, and they would receive no cost-of-living increases.

Erie schools need $30 million
School Board leans toward small tax hike in recovery plan
By Ed Palattella Erie Times-News Posted Nov 22, 2016 at 9:49 PM Updated at 6:00 AM
The Erie School District is estimating it needs about $29.9 million more a year to stay solvent and improve its buildings and educational programs to acceptable levels.  To try to get possibly that much money from the state, the School Board is considering asking Erie residents to pitch in.  The board on Tuesday night tentatively agreed to include, in the district's state-mandated financial recovery plan, a tax increase of a half a percent a year in each of the next five fiscal years, beginning in 2017-18, which starts July 1.  The hike, if the board ultimately approves and implements it, would raise about $189,000 a year and add another $8.31 to the annual tax bill for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000, district officials said.  The amounts, though small, are meant to show the state that the Erie School District is willing to bear some of the financial burden needed for the district to fix its finances, board President Robert Casillo and other board members said.  At the same time, they said, they did not want the proposed hike to be too high and risk driving more people out of the city to avoid paying the highest overall tax bills in the region.

Dallastown Elementary named National Title 1 school
York Dispatch by Alyssa Pressler , 505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD 12:43 a.m. EST November 28, 2016
Dallastown Elementary is one of two schools in Pennsylvania to be named a National Title 1 Distinguished School.  Each year, every state names two schools that have had exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years, have worked to close the achievement gap between student groups or have excellence in serving special populations of students. Schools are selected by their state education agency, in this case the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  According to the National Title 1 Association's website, the association has been selecting schools like Dallastown Elementary since 1996. It particularly focuses on schools that have achieved student gains as a result of innovations they have tried in their buildings.  

New Schools section lauds scholars, artists, kind students
Lancaster Online by BARB HOUGH RODA | Executive Editor Nov 27, 2016
Four Solanco High School students earned coveted spots in the upcoming county chorus festival. Three of these talented young vocalists will also participate at the district level.  Meanwhile, just as Lancaster County Christian School seniors returned from a mission trip to Peru this month, Veritas Academy was already deep into preparations for a December madrigal dinner.  And since the school year’s start, students at Denver Elementary are enjoying a newly painted playground that fosters purposeful and peaceful play.  If all of this is news to you, then you probably missed the debut of the monthly Schools section in Saturday’s LNP.  Its eight pages were chock-full of the names and faces of our children, those from the southernmost stretches of Lancaster County to the edges of Cocalico in the north.  Our newspaper provides extensive coverage of education, and always has: graduation rates, standardized test scores and the debate over them, building improvements, administrative changes, curriculum, school taxes. We’ve long chronicled students’ athletic proficiency on the Sports pages. And we’re there for the culmination of it all, one prom and spring commencement at a time.  Yet there’s more. A lot more. Namely, the academic, artistic and character accomplishments of our kids. We think it’s worthy of our attention, and believe you will too.

Tracking the Rise of Online Charter Schools Through the Ed Week Archives
Education Week By Arianna Prothero on November 22, 2016 10:15 AM | No comments
By Assistant Librarian Maya Riser-Kositsky and Benjamin Herold. This story originally appeared on the Digital Education blog. 
Education Week recently published a major investigative report on full-time online charter schools, a niche sector of K-12 schooling that has come under significant scrutiny for poor performance and widespread mismanagement.  Included in Rewarding Failure is an interactive map detailing dozens of media reports about cyber charters in 22 states. From California to Ohio to Tennessee to Maine, local and state news outlets have been documenting problems in the sector for well over a decade.  We've been covering the full-time online charters for just as long. Here, Education Week's Research Library pulls together 10 of our most significant stories on the sector.

Preschool Benefits Last
Education Week By Walt Gardner on November 23, 2016 7:08 AM
Preschool has been controversial in large part because of the 346-page final report by the Department of Health and Human Services about Head Start that was issued on Christmas Eve 2012.  It concluded that the $200 billion or so spent over 47 years did not produce lasting results.  But the disappointing outcome was due to the uneven quality of preschool programs across the country.  The latest study of nearly 1 million North Carolina students who attended state-funded early childhood programs between 1995 and 2010 underscores the importance of maintaining high quality ("A Lesson For Preschools: When It's Done Right, The Benefits Last,", Nov. 17).  It found that the benefits lasted or grew through fifth grade for all racial and socioeconomic groups.  That's highly encouraging.  But I think the real test will be what happens in middle school.  I say that because middle school is notorious for the negative effects the onset of adolescence tends to have on student performance. It will be interesting to see if the gains reported in the earlier grades persist.  Even if they don't, however, I regard preschool as a worthwhile investment as long as quality is maintained.

The results from Georgia— Victory in the Battle Against a State Takeover District
Network for Public Education by Bertis Downs – Athens, GA parent and Network for Public Education Board Member and Janet Kishbaugh – Atlanta, GA parent and Public Education Matters- Georgia Member  November 22, 2016 by admin
For those of us who support public education, a real bright spot in the November 2016 election was the defeat of Amendment 1 in Georgia. Amendment 1 proposed to allow the state to create a state-wide “Opportunity School District” (OSD) that would take over and privatize so-called “failing schools,” patterned after similar districts in Louisiana, Tennessee and Michigan.  The Amendment was backed by dark money from wealthy education reformers and companies seeking to do business in Georgia, all hidden behind a legal structure created at the Governor’s behest. The ballot measure itself was so deceptively worded that the opposition filed a class action suit on behalf of all Georgia voters claiming it effectively disenfranchised voters. From the start, it was clear that if the tricky ballot language was all voters read and knew when they entered the voting booth, we would lose badly.

Trump’s latest Cabinet-level picks mark a move to diversify his administration
Here’s a look at Trump’s administration so far
Washington Post By Karen Tumulty and Jerry Markon November 23 
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday began to follow through on a pledge to put together a diverse administration — not only expanding its makeup along ethnic and gender lines, but also inviting aboard former critics and adversaries.  Trump named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to be his United Nations ambassador, tapped billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos as education secretary and appeared to be nearing an announcement of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In choosing two women — one the daughter of immigrants from India — and possibly an African American man for ­Cabinet-level appointments, Trump has cast more broadly than he did with his first five picks for top jobs in his Cabinet and White House. All of those initial selections were white men.

“The “Success Starts Here” campaign is a multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education through advertising, web, social media, traditional media and word-of-mouth with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania. The campaign is lead by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, but relies on the support of a wide variety of participating organizations.”
Share Your School’s Story: Success Starts Here Needs You!
Success Starts Here needs you! Show your support by sharing stories, using social media and applying window clings to all of your school buildings. Below are some links to resources to help you help us.
Not sure where to start? This simple tool kit will provide to you everything you need to get involved in the campaign, including ways to work with the media, social media tips, a campaign article to post, downloadable campaign logos, and photo release forms.
We know you have great stories, and it’s easy to share them! Just use our simple form to send your success story to be featured on our website. Help spread the word about how Success Starts Here in today’s public schools.
All school entities have been sent a supply of window clings for school building entrances. Need more? No problem! Just complete the online order form and more will quickly be on their way to you.

CCIU to host documentary screening and educational discussion
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News POSTED: 11/21/16, 3:25 PM EST 
DOWNINGTOWN >> Joining a worldwide campaign to re-imagine education, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) will host a screening and discussion of “Most Likely to Succeed.”
The documentary screening will be on Nov. 30 from 5:45 – 8 p.m. at the Technical College High School Brandywine Campus at 455 Boot Road. It will feature a student panel, round-table dialogue and an open forum discussion following the screening. Complimentary dinner will be served at 5 p.m.  “Most Likely to Succeed” offers an innovative look at the current educational system and asks audiences to consider a new vision. The film examines the history of education in the United States, revealing the growing shortcomings of conventional education methods in today’s technology-driven world, according to film-makers. They added that the film offers an “inspiring look at what students and teachers are capable” of with a vision and the courage to transform their schools.

Webinar: PSBA Board President’s Forum DEC 7, 2016 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Join fellow board presidents and superintendents for the latest topics affecting public education in this new webinar series hosted by 2016 President Kathy Swope.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

PASBO is seeking eager leaders! Ready to serve on the board? Deadline for intent letter is 12/31.
PASBO members who desire to seek election as Director or Vice President should send a letter of intent with a current resume and picture to the Immediate Past President Wanda M. Erb, PRSBA, who is chair of the PASBO Nominations and Elections Committee.

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)

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.

PSBA Third Annual Board Presidents Day
JAN 28, 2017 • 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Nine Locations Statewide
Jan. 28, 2017 (Snow date: Feb. 11, 2017)
Calling all school board presidents, vice-presidents, and superintendents — Join us for the 3rd Annual PSBA Board Presidents Day held at nine convenient locations around the state.
This is a day of meeting fellow board members from your area and taking part in thought-provoking dialogue about the issues every board faces.  PSBA Past President Kathy Swope will start things off with an engaging presentation based on her years as board president at the Lewistown Area School District.  Bring your own scenarios to this event to gain perspective from other districts.  Cost: $109 per person – includes registration, lunch and materials. All-Access Package applies.  Register online by logging in to the Members Area (see the Store/Registration link to view open event registrations,

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

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.

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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