Tuesday, November 29, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 29: Another Roundup Devoted to DeVos

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 29, 2016
Another Roundup Devoted to DeVos

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)

Pennsylvania Every Student Succeeds Act Public Tour
First in a series of Public Events:
Friday, December 2- Pittsburgh- 9:30 am- Community College of Allegheny County
Community College of Allegheny County Main Campus in the Tom Forester Student Service Center Auditorium 808 Ridge Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15212

“Fly-by-night voucher schools have popped up in corner stores and rundown strip malls to take advantage of school-voucher money in Wisconsin. This educational dystopia is the plan Betsy DeVos would like to take nationwide.  When Wisconsin expanded Milwaukee's voucher program to the city of Racine, half of all new voucher recipients were students who had never attended public school.
Lutheran and Catholic schools saw their enrollment jump when Wisconsin eliminated caps on the number of students who could get vouchers and raised the income cap to 300 percent of the federal poverty line.
The bottom line: Families that never used the public schools, that are neither poor nor living in a neighborhood with a "failing school," can get taxpayer dollars to reduce their tuition, even as the public schools are facing a budget crisis.
Forget the school privatizers' misleading catch phrase, that school choice is "the civil rights issue of our time."  The real question is whether we will continue to have public schools, or a pay-as-you-go system that means you get the education you can afford.  This fundamental question is being debated right as Trump attempts to appoint Betsy DeVos.”
Oped: Betsy DeVos' war on public schools
York Dispatch by Ruth Conniff, Tribune News Service 12:43 p.m. EST November 28, 2016
Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of Education, has spent a lifetime fighting to siphon public money into private schools.  Described as "the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement," she — along with her husband, Dick DeVos, who is heir to the Amway fortune — has poured millions of dollars into lobbying for school voucher programs across the country.  Since 2009, Betsy DeVos has been the chair of the American Federation for Children, or AFC, the nation's leading school-choice advocacy group.  Billing itself as "the nation's voice for educational choice," the American Federation for Children has an electoral arm that supports pro-school-choice politicians. The group's 2012 Election Impact Report featured charming photos of black and Latino kids, as though these kids were the beneficiaries of its lobbying work. But the politicians the group supports are not exactly heroes of the civil-rights movement.  The biggest recipients of AFC funds are Republican state legislators who are busy enacting plans to slash funding for public schools and, at the same time, redirecting tax dollars to private-school families — many of whom have kids who have never attended public school.

Blogger note: Have an opinion about the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?  Call these three senators today.
1. Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
2. 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
3. Senator Casey’s Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-6324
Toll Free: (866) 802-2833

“According to NPE Executive Director, Carol Burris, “The enormous initial response to our campaign reinforced what we at NPE have always believed—Americans love their community public schools. They respect their school boards, nearly all of whom are unpaid public servants elected by their community. De Vos’s Michigan system is a disaster caused by profiteers swooping into an unregulated school “market.” Americans want their community schools, not K-12 versions of Trump University, on the corner.”
NPE begins campaign to oppose DeVos
The Network for Public Education (NPE) Press Release November 28, 2016 by Carol Burris
More information contact: Carol Burris (718) 575-3276; cburris@networkforpubliceducation.org
Diane Ravitch’s Network for Public Education’s campaign to oppose Betsy DeVos begins
Over 70,000 supporters sent letters to their senators opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education this weekend.
Network for Public Education ranks swell, with over 56,000 joining in less than 48 hours.
Kew Gardens, New York — Today, the Network for Public Education, a national nonprofit education advocacy organization, announced its campaign to stop the approval of Betsy DeVos, as U.S. Secretary of Education.  NPE President and NYU education historian, Diane Ravitch, said the following in opposition to DeVos: “Betsy DeVos’s hostility to public schools makes her unfit to be Secretary of Education. She has a long record of supporting private and religious schools, not public schools. Those of us who believe that public education is a public responsibility, not a consumer good, must resist her nomination. Police departments, firefighters, public libraries, public parks, public beaches, public schools: these belong to all of us. DeVos should continue her privatization campaign in the private sector, not as the Secretary of Education.”  NPE Board member, Mark Miller (who is also the President Elect of Pennsylvania School Boards Association) noted that his state has some of the worst charter laws in the nation. Miller said, “My largest concern about Betsy DeVos in the office of Education Secretary is her ability to advance her personal war to privatize public schools while having the force of the Federal Government behind her. This could push school districts like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Bethlehem and Erie over the brink, while endangering others for financial ruin. Our students deserve better.”

“The Notebook reports that, “DeVos is both responsible for authoring pro-privatization legislation and funding the campaigns of local politicians who present that legislation in their own states, and whose committees pass it through the state legislature.”  Right here in Pennsylvania, DeVos’s pro-privatization PAC, the American Federation for Children, has contributed $1.25 million to fund pro-school choice candidates in the commonwealth.”
Education Voters PA: Trump’s appalling pick for Secretary of Education
Education Voters PA Posted on November 28, 2016 by EDVOPA
Donald Trump’s pick of billionaire Betsy DeVos to run the US Department of Education signals that the Trump administration will be focused on privatizing public education instead of on strengthening our public schools or expanding opportunities for all students.  Donald Trump made a campaign promise to funnel $20 billion in existing federal funding out of school districts and into charter schools and unaccountable private and religious schools.  Betsy DeVos, an ideologue who has no experience with public education either as a student or parent, is uniquely qualified to carry out this promise.  DeVos has spent her career and millions of dollars from her family fortune supporting candidates and lobbying lawmakers throughout the United States to support school vouchers, tax credits for corporations that provide scholarships to private schools, and the expansion and deregulation of charter 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.”
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. 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.

Blogger note: In Campbell Browns’ school choice news organ, The 74, a recent analysis by 74 writer Matt Barnum included this note: “The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation provides funding to The 74, and the site’s Editor-in-Chief, Campbell Brown, sits on the American Federation for Children’s board of directors, which is chaired by Betsy DeVos. Brown played no part in the editing of this article. The American Federation for Children also sponsored The 74’s 2015 New Hampshire education summit.”
The 74: Another news site wrestles with a potential Trump conflict of interest
Washington Post By Paul Farhi November 28 at 9:22 AM 
Former network TV anchor Campbell Brown has always said she wanted her education-news site, The 74, to be perceived as a nonpartisan source for improving the nation’s primary- and secondary-school education.  But Donald Trump may have just dumped a major conflict of interest right into Brown’s, and The 74’s, lap.  By naming billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos as his pick for secretary of education on Wednesday, Trump put Brown in the awkward position of covering one of her closest allies.  A foundation headed by DeVos was among the wealthy education-restructuring advocatesthat funded Brown’s website when it launched last year. DeVos and Brown — formerly an NBC News anchor and the host of a prime-time show on CNN — are also on the board of the American Federation for Children, which promotes charter-school and government-funded vouchers to subsidize private education. The AFC and The 74 co-sponsored a forum involving Republican presidential candidates last year.  All of which means The 74 would be covering the policy pronouncements and initiatives of one of the people to which it owes its existence.

Campbell Brown: On Betsy DeVos
The 74 by CAMPBELL BROWN November 27, 2016 campbell@the74million.org campbell_brown
Campbell Brown is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The 74.
Social media attacks aren’t famous for accuracy, but it’s a pity that Betsy DeVos has been so misleadingly caricatured since Donald Trump asked her to serve as secretary of education last week.  Not just because she’s a friend. Also because her attackers needlessly reopen late-NCLB fault lines and deepen the clamor that follows Trump everywhere.
It will be harder than ever to be heard above the noise.

Why Trump’s Education Pick Won’t Be Able to Privatize U.S. Schools
New York Times Kevin Carey NOV. 23, 2016
Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican philanthropist, whom Donald J. Trumpselected on Wednesday as the next secretary of education, has spent her career promoting a market-based, privatized vision of public education. If she pursues that agenda in her new role, she is quite likely to face disappointment and frustration.  Market-based school reforms generally come in two flavors: vouchers andcharter schools. They differ in both structure and political orientation. Charter schools are public schools, open to all, accountable in varying degrees to public authorities, and usually run by nonprofit organizations. Vouchers, by contrast, allow students to attend any school, public or private, including those run by religious organizations and for-profit companies.  While charters enjoy support from most Republicans and some Democrats, vouchers have a narrower political base, those who tend to favor free markets to replace many government responsibilities.  Working primarily in Michigan, Ms. DeVos has been a strong advocate of vouchers, and her charter work has often focused on making charter schools as private as possible. The large majority of Michigan charters are run by for-profit companies, in contrast with most states. The DeVos family donated more than $1 million to Republican lawmakers earlier this year during a successful effort to oppose new oversight of charters.

Betsy DeVos: Fighter for kids or destroyer of public schools?
Lori Higgins, Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press 10:38 a.m. EST November 25, 2016
Betsy DeVos named Trump's education secretary
Betsy DeVos, the wealthy Republican activist appointed to be the next secretary of education for the U.S., will either be a strong fighter for the education of kids or destroy public education.  That about sums up the strong opinions about President-elect Donald Trump's decision Wednesday to appoint DeVos to the highest education role in the nation. School choice and charter advocates praised her appointment. Union officials, Democratic activists and public school advocates slammed it.  DeVos is "an inspired choice," Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, a charter school advocacy group, said in a statement.  "Betsy DeVos has been a champion for schoolchildren for decades, always putting their needs ahead of everything else," Quisenberry said.  John Austin, the president of the State Board of Education in Michigan, disagreed on DeVos' record.  "It's like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse, and hand-feeding it schoolchildren," he said. "Devos' agenda is to break the public education system, not educate kids, and replace it with a for-profit model."

Concerns grow over Trump's education nominee
Philly Trib by Ryanne Persinger Tribune Staff Writer Nov 26, 2016
Charter school advocate, billionaire and Republican Betsy DeVos was nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Department of Education.  “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 word-class education and school choice to all families,” Trump said during last week’s announcement.  However, Ron Whitehorne, part of the 215 People’s Alliance, a multi-racial collaborative dedicated to fighting for equity and justice in Philadelphia, called the the appointment a major setback for the struggle of equal education for all children, especially since DeVos has no experience in public education and believes in vouchers and expanding charter schools.  “She is a spokesperson for a false ‘school choice’ narrative that offers a good education for the lucky few that have a winning lottery ticket while leaving the overwhelming majority of children in high poverty communities in chronically under funded, under resourced neighborhood public schools,” Whitehorne told The Tribune. “What is needed is a massive federal and state investment in public education that will allow schools in cities like Philadelphia to achieve educational equity with the surrounding affluent suburbs.”

Trump Moves To Destroy Public Education
Huffington Post by Alan Singer Social studies educator, Hofstra University 11/28/2016
In the last two weeks Donald Trump has backtracked, charmed, fudged, modified, and hedged on positions he took during his campaign for president. Some critics, like the New York Times, even start to hope a Trump presidency might not be as bad as they initially feared. Trump will probably never “build the wall” and Hillary seems to be safe from criminal prosecution. But for children and schools in the United States the situation looks worse than expected as Trump quickly moved with plans to tear apart public education in this country. It is going to be a long and difficult fight to try to stop him.  During the campaign, Candidate Trump endorsed a vastly expanded “charter school” system and pledged to divert $20 billion in federal funds away from public schools. It would end up financing Southern segregation academies, religious schools, and private and for-profit ventures. To do this Trump was going to tie federal dollars to individual children, so wherever they went, the dollars would follow.  Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education could hardly be worse. Right-wing billionaire Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos has spent decades and millions of dollars in campaigns to privatize, defund, and destroy public education in her home state of Michigan and in the United States. Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association declared “By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators, and communities.”  DeVos is a product of Christian education and she and her family members are involved across-the-board in right-wing activities including anti-gay marriage efforts and covert for-profit military operations. DeVos never worked in public education in any capacity and her children all attended Christian academies.

The New Yorker By Dana Goldstein  NOVEMBER 23, 2016
Last Wednesday, Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Academy charter-school network, met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, in Manhattan. Moskowitz’s schools are known for their stratospheric test scores and strict discipline. Trump was said to be considering her for the job of Secretary of Education.  The next day, Moskowitz held a press conference, where she announced that she would not be joining Trump’s Administration but that she nevertheless felt hopeful about his Presidency. “I’m troubled by what I see as a sort of rooting for Trump’s failure, because that is rooting for our own failure,” she told reporters assembled in front of New York’s City Hall. “There are many positive signs that President Trump will be different from candidate Trump.”  What does a leader in the self-described progressive, anti-racist education-reform movement see in Trump to feel positive about? Success Academy schools serve fourteen thousand children in New York City, the majority of whom are black, Latino, or low income. Moskowitz herself voted for Hillary Clinton. After Election Day, Moskowitz sent a letter to her staff acknowledging that many of the families of students in their schools “will feel very deeply and very directly that they are the target of the hatred that drove Trump’s campaign.”

Donald Trump’s Cabinet Is On Track To Be The Least Experienced In Modern History
The president-elect may believe that’s a good thing. But governance experts are alarmed.
Huffington Post by Travis Waldron, Sports Reporter, The Huffington Post and Daniel Marans , Reporter, Huffington Post 11/24/2016 11:54 am ET
President-elect Donald Trump shocked many observers when he tapped Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education.  DeVos quickly accepted the nomination, which continues a trend that officials involved in previous transition teams say is concerning because, like many of Trump’s other early picks, she has no previous experience in government.  “When we were in the Obama transition, one of the big concerns we had that there were a lot of people coming into government who did not necessarily have federal government experience,” said Norman Eisen, a former ambassador who worked on President Barack Obama’s White House transition team in 2008. “The Trump transition has that problem on steroids.”  Indeed, Trump’s roster of key White House advisers and Cabinet officials could, in the end, rank among the least experienced in recent presidential history.

As Trump Heads to the White House, a Primer on Vouchers and a Reality Check
Education Week By Lesli A. Maxwell on November 28, 2016 5:10 PM By Lesli A. Maxwell and Arianna Prothero
Many school choice advocates are ecstatic that President-elect Donald Trump has tapped billionaire Betsy DeVos to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education—their visions for expanding voucher programs and charter schools on a grander scale seeming more likely than ever.  On the flip side, opponents of charters and other taxpayer-supported forms of school choice are predicting the destruction of traditional public schools under DeVos' leadership.  Here's a reality check for both sides.  Most of the nation's 50 million K-12 schoolchildren will stay where they already are—in neighborhood public schools.  There's every reason to believe that DeVos—who has a robust track record when it comes to supporting (with her own money) an array of school choice issues, especially in her home state of Michigan—will embrace and push for Trump's campaign proposal to spend $20 billion in federal money on school vouchers for poor kids. That plan calls for allowing low-income families to choose a school for their children, be it private, magnet, charter, or traditional public.

Love of languages starts early at SCASD
Centre Daily Times BY CHRIS ROSENBLUM NOVEMBER 28, 2016 8:53 AM
David Strock is a Park Forest Middle School German teacher, but for a few moments, he seems more like the host of a zany game show.  Images of various objects — a leaf, a strawberry — fill a screen, part of a lesson about “die farben,” or colors. Prompted by Strock to find a color, sixth-graders rush to the screen with a fly swatter.  “Was ist grün?” Strock says.  Swatting the green leaf earns a bell ring and a “sehr gut” or “very good.”
During the lively, fast-moving period, Strock’s students also name colors in their clothes, hear about Halloween in Germany and discuss the colors of items such as the German flag.  “I learn new ways of teaching and adapt my lessons from the responses of my students,” Strock said later. “They show me what they need in order to effectively learn German and I find creative ways of bringing that to them.”  He and his Park Forest and Mount Nittany middle school colleagues share the same goal: instill a love for languages with engaging, interactive lessons.  State College Area School District’s middle school world languages program allows sixth-graders to sample French, German and Spanish with 12-week units. They then pick one for seventh and eighth grades. At the Delta Middle Level, Spanish is offered.

Rep. Ryan Costello meets with Pottsgrove High School students
POSTED: 11/28/16, 12:34 PM EST | UPDATED: 14 HRS AGO
LOWER POTTSGROVE >> Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., visited Pottsgrove High School recently to meet with students, teachers, and administrators as part of the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Principal for a Day program and in recognition of National Principals Month.  Costello visited the Social Studies and Civics classes at Pottsgrove High School to share with students his experience as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a township supervisor, and a county commissioner.  He urged students to get involved in their local government and also suggested they seek information that challenges their worldview.  Rep. Costello ended his school day on “bus duty” with Pottsgrove High School Principal William Ziegler, who was named Pennsylvania Principal of the Year and visited Rep. Costello in his Washington, D.C., office earlier this year.

Council told that teaching is tough in Philly and getting tougher
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 29, 2016 1:07 AM EST
Philadelphia needs to do a better job of recruiting and retaining teachers, a panel of educators and experts told City Council's education committee on Monday.  More than 6,000 Philadelphia students lack a permanent teacher, despite aggressive recruitment efforts, City Councilwoman Helen Gym said.  "We need to create a different culture for our teachers," Gym said.  Gym and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers say there are more than 600 oversize classes in the district and 117 teaching vacancies.  Philadelphia School District officials dispute the number of vacancies - they say there are 94 - and note that 99 percent of teaching jobs have been filled.  "People want to teach in Philadelphia," said Uri Monson, the district's chief financial officer. The district has hired more than 1,000 teachers this year, he said. "This is an incredible accomplishment for any business or school district of our size."
But it's not enough, PFT president Jerry Jordan said.

Does Philadelphia have a teacher vacancy problem? It's multiple choice answer
Does the School District of Philadelphia has a staffing problem? And if so, what can be done to solve it?  Those were the primary questions zipping around City Hall Monday as Philadelphia City Council’s Education Committee held a hearing on teacher retention and recruitment in the city’s public schools.  The topic has clear political implications.  Philadelphia’s teachers have been without a contract for more than three years as they have gone without raises or cost-of-living adjustments. Because the union cannot strike under state law, it has little leverage beyond public pressure. The union has routinely drawn attention to teacher hiring woes and cited them as evidence that the ongoing negotiations have weakened city schools.  Mayor Jim Kenney and Councilwoman Helen Gym — who provided much of the rhetorical punch during the Monday hearing — both benefited from union support during their campaigns and have pushed hard for a new contract.  District officials, meanwhile, said they’ve put a solid offer on the table and cannot stretch much further due to long-term money woes

Pa. House candidate, 18 votes ahead, takes ballot fight to court
Inquirer by Michaelle Bond, Staff Writer Updated: NOVEMBER 29, 2016 — 1:07 AM EST
The Democratic challenger who is 18 votes ahead of the Republican incumbent in the race for a state House seat in Chester County has a court date Thursday to press her case that 15 provisional ballots thrown out by county officials last week should count.  West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta said that even though the election results currently are in her favor, her appeal to Chester County Court was a move "to make sure every valid ballot is counted.  "And we believe these remaining 15 ballots are valid," she said.  Comitta's attorney, Samuel Stretton, filed the appeal Wednesday. Her opponent, three-term incumbent State Rep. Dan Truitt, has not filed a similar appeal but has said he is open to pursuing a recount.  With a potential recount and a court proceeding over the provisional ballots, it could be weeks before the county declares a winner in the 156th District.

 “The Education Department findings have been echoed by other organizations. According to a new report by the Independent Media Institute, the privatization of charter schools—particularly through for-profit charter school management firms—has led to a “national track record of fiscal management and self-dealing involving more than $200 million in wasted or stolen taxpayer subsidies.” 
Waste, Fraud, Abuse, And Charter Schools… Shocked? No.
Right now, charter schools are not meeting the need they were created to fill.
Huffington Post by Thomas J. Gentzel  Executive Director & CEO, National School Boards Association 11/20/2016 09:52 pm ET | Updated Nov 21, 2016
In Casablanca, Captain Renault says to Rick Blaine, owner of Rick’s Café Américain, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here,” after learning German soldiers are on their way to the nightclub. His attempt to bring law and order to the establishment is driven by his concern about being discovered as complicit in several illegal activities taking place.  Some policymakers and people in the education community were similarly “shocked” at the results of the recent charter school audit by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education. Many of us are not surprised that public funds distributed to charter schools are at risk of “waste, fraud and abuse,” as stated in the audit. Sadly, some in the education community are playing the role of Rick and the Education Department is dutifully carrying out its responsibility as was Captain Renault.

A Big Win Against Partisan Gerrymandering in Wisconsin
The Brennan Center by Thomas Wolf November 22, 2016
The Supreme Court first recognized the possibility of a partisan-gerrymandering claim more than three decades ago in Davis v. Bandemer. But, since then, courts have struggled to develop a workable standard for deciding when a map becomes unconstitutional. As a result, since Bandemer, courts have not invalidated a single redistricting plan on the basis of excessive partisanship.  That changed Monday afternoon when a three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin issued a ruling in  Whitford v. Gill, holding that Wisconsin’s 2011 state assembly redistricting plan violated both the First and the Fourteenth Amendments. In a 2-1 opinion, the panel described the gerrymander as “an aggressive [one]” that guaranteed a Republican majority in the state assembly “in any likely electoral scenario.” The panel’s extensive 117-page opinion marks a break from the federal judiciary’s long-standing reluctance to intervene in partisan-gerrymandering disputes, and could give the U.S. Supreme Court its first opportunity to weigh-in on the merits of a partisan-gerrymandering claim since it badly deadlocked on the question of a “manageable standard” more than a decade ago.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 11/29/2016

ESSA: Feds give states more time to bolster struggling schools
Inquirer by JENNIFER C. KERR, The Associated Press Updated: NOVEMBER 28, 2016 1:27 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) - States will have more time to identify failing schools as part of new Obama administration rules aimed at supporting troubled public schools and students who are struggling.  The rules, released Monday, provide a broad framework for states as they design new accountability systems to evaluate schools, to improve ones that aren't adequately educating students and to narrow achievement gaps. It's a key part of the bipartisan education law passed almost one year ago and signed into law by President Barack Obama to replace the widely criticized No Child Left Behind Act.  Under the law, states may design accountability systems that consider measures beyond test scores and high school graduation rates. They may decide how much weight to give to each of those indicators of success - and others such as school climate, advanced coursework and chronic absenteeism - as long as they measure the performance of all students, including "sub-groups of students" such as racial minorities, children from low-income families, and special education students.

Final ESSA Accountability Rules Boost State Flexibility in Key Areas
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on November 28, 2016 8:45 AM
The Obama administration's final accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act, issued Monday, give states greater flexibility on school ratings, schools with high testing opt-out rates, and in other areas than an earlier draft version, released in May.  But, with President-elect Donald Trump set to take office in January, the regulations face an uncertain future.   The U.S. Department of Education sought to address some of the chief complaints about its draft regulations, which state officials and some lawmakers said went overboard on federal authority andexpected states to make key decisions on compressed timelines and hold schools accountable for their performance before new ESSA systems take effect.  To address those concerns, states will now have until the 2018-19 school year to pinpoint their lowest-performing 5 percent of schools—those identified for so-called "comprehensive improvement" under the law—as opposed to the 2017-18 school year under the draft regulations.   The department had also originally told states to get their plans in by March 2017 or by the summer. That's been moved to April 3 or Sept. 18. That gives states a longer window to craft their plans and the incoming Trump administration greater opportunity to get key players in place to review them.

Pennsylvania Every Student Succeeds Act Public Tour
The Department of Education (PDE) is holding a series of public events to engage the public on important education topics in Pennsylvania.  The primary focus of these events will be the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in late 2015. A senior leader from the department will provide background on the law, and discuss the ongoing development of Pennsylvania’s State Plan for its implementation, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2017.  Feedback is important to PDE; to provide the best avenue for public comment as well as provide an opportunity for those who cannot attend an event, members of the community are encouraged to review materials and offer comments at www.education.pa.gov/Pages/Every-Student-Succeeds-Act
Upcoming Public Events:
Friday, December 2- Pittsburgh- 9:30 am- Community College of Allegheny County
Community College of Allegheny County Main Campus in the Tom Forester Student Service Center Auditorium 808 Ridge Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Thursday, December 8- Erie- 2:30 pm- Tom Ridge Environmental Center (room TBA)

Friday, December 9- Lock Haven- 1 pm- Lock Haven University

Time and specific locations for the following events, TBA
Friday, December 16- Philadelphia
Wednesday, January 4- Quakertown
Tuesday, January 10- Scranton

“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 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

PSBA Virtual New School Director Training, Part 1
JAN 4, 2017 • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
The job of a school board director is challenging.  Changing laws, policies, and pressures from your community make serving on your school board demanding, yet rewarding at the same time.  Most school directors – even those with many years of experience – say that PSBA training is one of the most important and valuable things they have done in order to understand their roles and responsibilities.  If you are a new school board director and didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of PSBA’s live New School Director Training events, you can now attend via your computer, either by yourself from your home or office, or with a group of other school directors.
This is the same New School Director Training content we offer in a live classroom format, but adjusted for virtual training.
Part 1
·         Role and responsibilities of the school board director.
·         How to work with PSBA’s member services team.
·         Your role as an advocate for public education.
·         The school board’s role in policy.
(See also: Part 2, Jan. 11Part 3, Jan. 18)
Fee: $149 per person includes all three programs. Materials may be downloaded free, or $25 for materials to be mailed to your home (log in to the Members Area and purchase through the Store/Registration link).
Register online: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6607237329490796034

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, https://www.psba.org/members-area/store-registration/)

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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