Monday, December 12, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 12: Editorial: If our public schools aren't broken, please don't fix them

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 12, 2016
Editorial: If our public schools aren't broken, please don't fix them

Editorial: If our public schools aren't broken, please don't fix them
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board Dec 11, 2016
THE ISSUE: In last Sunday’s LNP, local education leaders expressed the hope that President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education is a signal that the federal government will have a limited role in education, as Trump promised during the campaign. DeVos, a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, has been along with her husband, Dick — heir to the Amway fortune — that state’s biggest supporter of charter school expansion.
Our public schools are doing a good job.  That’s the view of Penn Manor School District Superintendent Mike Leichliter and other education leaders here.  And it’s a view we share.
We are fortunate in Lancaster County to have an array of public, private and parochial schools that do an excellent job of educating our children and instilling in them the values of community service and academic achievement.  For evidence, we submit our recently launched Schools section, which last month offered eight pages filled with the names of Honor Society members, honor roll winners, chorus and orchestra members and other achievers at county schools. (Music For Everyone founder John Gerdy writes about the Schools section in today’s Perspective.)  So, to Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for education secretary, we’d say this: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it (the word “ain’t” generally appears in that saying, but this is an editorial about education so we cleaned up the grammar in case teachers are reading).

New pre-K study finds ambitious programs bring big returns on investment
Pre-K advocates in Philly and elsewhere often argue that government investment in early childhood education pays societal dividends in the long run.  New research by a prominent academic puts a number on those dividends, and it's a big one.   In a study published today, Nobel-Prize-winning economist James Heckman from the University of Chicago and colleagues broke down decades of data from a group of 30-somethings who attended two North Carolina early childhood programs in the 1970s. They found that every dollar spent on this cohort of kids created $6.30 in return on investment. Or to put it in terms a stockbroker might understand, the childcare program produced annual returns of 13 percent — the kind of figure that tends to make Wall Street types swoon.  Part of what distinguishes this study — other than the fact that it comes from an academic heavy-hitter — is that it factors in a wide range of perceived benefits. The researchers used data detailed enough to calculate whether placement in one of the two child care programs increased the future earnings of participants, boosted their parents' earning potential, improved participants' health, and reduced the likelihood participants would commit crimes.  The final return-on-investment figure took all of those benefits into account and spit out a composite number.

Bad signs on the state budget horizon
Beaver County Times By Calkins Media December 12, 2016
As its name indicates, Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office is supposed to be a nonpartisan agency.  Its function is to prepare revenue projections for the governor and state lawmakers to review in preparing the state budget. The agency specifically stays away from supporting policies, only giving the facts and figures of its revenue projections.  In other words, taxpayers should be able to trust the numbers in its reports since the office is not supposed to be influenced by politics.  If that is indeed the case, then all Pennsylvanians should sit down and take a good, hard look at some recent numbers compiled by the office.  In a special five-year outlook, Matthew Knittel, the director of the office, noted that the state could face a budget deficit of $500 million by the end of the current fiscal year next June.  He added that budget deficit could expand to $1.7 billion the following year and $3 billion by 2022 if there’s no change in the state’s current financial plans.  In the short term, Knittel said the deficit could be blamed on the state relying on optimistic revenue projects, a slowdown in the economy in the first quarter and the General Assembly not following through with plans to raise $150 million by enacting an internet gaming bill and selling a second casino license in Philadelphia.  In the long term, he said the state will face a number of challenges related to the deficit, including:

"We know that as human beings ... if there's one measure you're being judged by, that's all you focus on," he said.”
Pa. education leader stops at Dover school
York daily Record by Angie Mason , amason@ydr.com3:47 p.m. EST December 8, 2016
Pennsylvania's top education official offered a look at how performance scores for schools could change and become less reliant on a single standardized test as he visited Dover Area High School on Thursday.  Education Secretary Pedro Rivera visited Dover as part of the state's "Schools that Teach" tour and fielded questions on a broad range of subjects, from pension reform to teacher recruitment. Here's a look at some of the discussion he had with educators, students and state legislators.
The future of school scoring
Rivera talked about the Future Ready PA Index, which the state is recommending as a potential replacement for the School Performance Profile (SPP), a score of 0-100 assigned to schools. While based on a number of measures, the SPP still relies heavily on standardized tests — the PSSA and Keystone exams.

At Pa. Society, a bit of nostalgia, some healthy ambition and a whole lot of Donald Trump: Analysis
By  John L. Micek | on December 10, 2016 at 2:15 PM, updated December 10, 2016 at 2:16 PM
MANHATTAN -  Charlie Gerow, Republican consultant and old school Pennsylvania Society bon vivant, was getting positively misty eyed.  When the last of the champagne was uncorked and the last toasted was toasted late Saturday night or sometime in the disreputable early hours Sunday morning, a profoundly silly and anachronistic Pennsylvania tradition that dates to the Gilded Age came to an end.  Or at least it one form, in any case. And Gerow was among those mourning it.
That's because this weekend marked the final weekend that the gala round of dinners, cocktail parties and receptions where elbows are rubbed, hobs are nobbed and hands are shook will be held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Park Avenue.

Commentary: Past time to provide affordable college in Pennsylvania
Philly Daily News Commentary by Kate Shaw Updated: DECEMBER 9, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
Kate Shaw is executive director of Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit education research organization. She served for three years as the deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education in the Pennsylvania Department of Education in the Rendell administration.
WITH THE ELECTION of Donald Trump, any national effort to create a pathway to an affordable college education is likely a distant dream. At the same time our economy requires a college credential to obtain a living-wage job, the cost of college makes earning a degree increasingly out of reach. The imperative of a college degree is deeply felt, as students across our country mortgage their futures by taking out ever-larger loans in their quest to obtain this holy grail. Indeed, research conducted by Temple's Sara Goldrick-Rab and summarized in her new book Paying the Price documents the appalling truth that many college students choose to spend their dollars on education, rather than food. And many drop out altogether.  Yet states have the power to act. In Pennsylvania, it is past time. As documented in a research brief written by my Research for Action colleagues, the cost of college in Pennsylvania is among the highest in the country and is certainly the highest in our region. Fully 70 percent of our students graduate from college with debt, which is on average nearly $34,000.  The reasons for our skyrocketing college costs are myriad. Historically, Pennsylvania has chosen not to invest directly in its public colleges and universities, and state investments per student have fallen 50 percent since 1990. As a result, in 2003, the tuition and fees paid by students and families surpassed state appropriations as the largest source of institutional revenue.

Despite what you may have heard, charter schools aren't the enemy: Angel Figueroa
PennLive Op-Ed  By Angel Figueroa on December 09, 2016 at 11:30 AM, updated December 09, 2016 at 11:32 AM
Angel Figueroa is the chief executive officer of I-LEAD Charter School in Reading.
This holiday season, one family in Reading, Pa., has a lot to be thankful for.  Jaritza Rodriguez is set to graduate from high school, where she serves as student government president.  By this time next year, she'll have become the first in her family to go to college.  She wants to be a radiologist and is applying to Penn State.  Just a few years ago, such a bright future was anything but certain for Jaritza.  If the Reading School Board gets its way, hundreds of other students won't get the same chance she's had to get their education back on track at the public charter school called I-LEAD Charter School For nearly three years, the school board has been trying to revoke I-LEAD's charter, in spite of having renewed it just five months before starting the revocation action.  School board officials have rejected offers of free mediation and instead are pursuing costly legal efforts to lock I-LEAD's doors to the many students who have no other options.
This kind of education isn't easy, but it's giving students like Jaritza a second chance. 
And they're embracing it with great enthusiasm.  To cite but one measure, I-LEAD students' truancy rate is barely half that of high school students in the city's other public schools.

The friction between teachers’ union and the SRC
The notebook by Paul Jablow December 9, 2016 — 3:14pm
Then-State Sen. Vincent Fumo (D., Phila.)  angrily stood up on the floor of the legislature in April 1998 and, with his typically colorful language, said what he thought of a bill that would pave the way for a state takeover of the Philadelphia School District.  “Those of you who hate labor unions and think that they’re a plague on society,” Fumo said, “this is your orgasmic bill.”  Act 46 passed shortly afterward with a vote that mostly followed party lines. It potentially replaced the locally appointed school board with the School Reform Commission and severely constrained the rights of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT).  If put into effect, Act 46 would ban teachers’ strikes and deny the PFT the power to bargain over scheduling, teacher assignments, and prep time.  Both District Superintendent David Hornbeck and Gov. Tom Ridge predicted that the takeover would never happen. Less than three years later, it did.  At that point, both men might have been surprised at the way relations between the PFT and the District would evolve over the 15 years that followed.

Ed Palattella: Badams deftly expands scope of schools crisis
GoErie by Ed Palattella Posted Dec 11, 2016 at 2:00 AM
The Erie School District's state-mandated financial recovery plan, sent to Harrisburg on Tuesday, includes impassioned statements from Superintendent Jay Badams and his staff.
Among them: The Erie School District "is in the top 3 percent among Pennsylvania school districts for poverty, English language learners, and charter school enrollment. Despite this, the district's per-pupil funding is among the lowest in the state. As a result, Erie is one of the most economically disadvantaged and underfunded school districts in the entire Commonwealth."  But statements from other Erie County superintendents could be just as crucial for the 11,500-student Erie School District as it pursues an annual increase in state funding of $31.8 million.  Six of the county's 12 other superintendents wrote letters that the Erie School District attached to the financial recovery plan. The letters support Badams' efforts to strengthen Erie's public schools. The letters also detail how the other districts would suffer if Erie closed its four high schools - an option Badams said he would reconsider in 2018-19 if the state fails to provide enough aid to keep the Erie School District solvent and improve its programs and buildings.

“Budget preparations for the 2017-18 school year are to begin this month, according to Superintendent David London.”
Smethport school board re-elects Dennis, Funk
Bradford Era By FRAN DE LANCEY Era Correspondent December 8, 2016
SMETHPORT — The Smethport Area School Board re-elected its two top officers Wednesday during the annual reorganizational meeting.  Director Dan Wertz was temporary president for the elections that saw president Larry Dennis and vice-president Bill Funk returned to office for one-year terms.  The board adopted a resolution stating the district will not increase property taxes for the following fiscal year by more than the index as indicated by Act 1 of 2006, which was passed by the state legislature.  The index is the state's measure for calculating property tax increases by wage inflation. All proposed tax increases for 2017-18 will be kept within the district's adjusted index of 3.7 percent, which is determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
By limiting its tax rate by adopting this resolution, the district certifies that it has sufficient funds to balance its final budget.

Judges orders provisional ballots counted in close Pa. House race, report: Friday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 09, 2016 at 8:13 AM, updated December 09, 2016 at 3:44 PM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
In the Pa. recount that few outside suburban Philadelphia are talking about, a Chester County judge has ordered that 14 of 15 disputed provisional ballots be opened in a closely contested race for the state House of Representatives.  As The Philadelphia Inquirer reportsWest Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, a Democrat, currently leads incumbent GOP state Rep. Dan Truitt by 18 votes in the fight for the 156th House District seat.  Comitta had argued that the county should count every vote cast in the contest, which included 15 provisional ballots.

“There were always financial challenges, he said. “Challenges like the No Child Left Behind initiative. But the greatest challenge every single day, every single year, is how do you take the resources you have and the people that you have and make sure kids are getting the best education possible. That is part of the artistry of being a good leader; how you develop your people so that they are inspiring kids, unleashing the human potential in kids, and doing everything they can to make kids successful, no matter what your resources are.” 
Retiring superintendent is most proud of people, not buildings
Daily Item by Rick Dandes Dec 9, 2016
LEWISBURG — On his last full day on the job as Lewisburg Area School District superintendent, Mark DiRocco waxed nostalgic.  “It was an emotional day for me,” he said Thursday afternoon, “so I took time to walk through every building and watched teachers and kids and what they are doing. That’s what I’ll miss, watching teachers work with kids.”  People think DiRocco’s crowning achievement is building the new high school.  “Actually,” he said, “I consider that one of my lesser achievements. It was something that needed to be done and it took up a lot of my time and energy to make it happen, but buildings don’t teach kids, people do. The new building is the proper venue to teach kids that the old building couldn’t. But really, any leader’s legacy is the people and the culture that he or she puts in place. And as you move on, does that culture maintain itself?  Does it build on to even greater success? Hopefully five years down the road, people will be able to say the district is even better than it was when I stepped out the door.”

Midstate school district’s infrastructure woes highlight statewide problem
Abc27 By Chris Davis Published: December 9, 2016, 6:17 pm  Updated: December 9, 2016, 6:23 pm
HALIFAX, Pa. (WHTM) – A Dauphin County school board learned this week just how massive the need to renovate or rebuild two schools is, without a clear path to pay for it.  We first reported on this in February when the Halifax Area School District started looking at its infrastructure needs. A far more in-depth study from architectural firm KCBA presented to the school board this week paints a dire picture, one facing districts across the state.  “Certainly, it has presented us with some challenges here,” superintendent Dr. Michele Orner said Friday while giving ABC27 a tour of Halifax Elementary School.

Why Easton's schools superintendent is getting rave reviews
By Rudy Miller | For Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 11, 2016 at 6:59 AM, updated December 11, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Easton Area School District's superintendent will do whatever it takes to help children stay in school.  That's why Superintendent John Reinhart is this year's Champion of Education for the nonprofit Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley.  "If there were a blueprint for a superintendent, John is part of that blueprint," said Lehigh Valley Communities in Schools President & CEO Timothy Mulligan. "He's a deeply caring person, passionate about education."  Communities in Schools is the nation's largest dropout prevention organization, according to its website. This year Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley will help 20,000 children, including intensive case management for 2,000, according to Mulligan.

Superintendent-sharing deal is worth a look
Beaver County Times By The Times Editorial Board Dec 11, 2016
The agreement between the Blackhawk and Western Beaver school districts to share a superintendent will certainly have its detractors, but we believe this is the type of innovative thinking that more public school districts need to utilize.  Robert Postupac had been temporarily serving as Blackhawk’s superintendent since June, while continuing in his full-time position at Western Beaver. Last week, Blackhawk’s school board voted to make the arrangement permanent.  Postupac’s new contract with Blackhawk will run until June 2022 and his contract with Western Beaver, which expires June 30, 2018, will likely be extended by that school board so that it lines up with the Blackhawk arrangement. Under the proposed terms of the deal, Postupac will be paid $120,000 annually in salary and benefits, with the two districts splitting the cost. The state Department of Education will have to approve the arrangement as well.  Postupac said he will continue to split his time between the two neighboring districts and plans to spend time at both nearly every day.  The arrangement is certainly unusual, and there will undoubtedly be logistical issues to work out along the way, but the plan makes sense if you consider the ongoing public school enrollment declines throughout Beaver County.

A local take on Trump's education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos
York Dispatch by Alyssa Pressler , 505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD7:45 p.m. EST December 11, 2016
There are mixed local feelings about President-elect Donald Trump's choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.  DeVos is a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman who leads the American Federation for Children, which seeks to improve education in the nation by offering parents more education choices.  Trump has been a staunch supporter of school choice, which essentially means that students and parents would have alternative options to public schools in their area, such as charter schools or private schools. He also has said he hopes to add a federal investment of $20 billion toward school choice. His choice of DeVos, announced Nov. 23, might further the initiative.

New York Charters Enroll Fewer Homeless Pupils Than City Schools
New York Times By KATE TAYLORDEC. 9, 2016
Mosaic Preparatory Academy, which shares a building with the upper grades of Success Academy Harlem 3. Last year, 42 percent of Mosaic students were in temporary housing, compared with 10 percent at Success.CreditAlex Wroblewski for The New York Times
On East 111th Street, the upper grades of Success Academy Harlem 3, acharter school, share a building with Mosaic Preparatory Academy, a traditional neighborhood elementary school.  In many ways, the children who attend the two schools in Harlem are similar. They are mostly black and Hispanic, and a majority come from low-income families.  But there is one big difference: At Mosaic, 42 percent of students last year were in temporary housing, according to New York City data, meaning that they were living in a shelter, doubled up with relatives, in a hotel or in other transient circumstances. At the Success school, which draws from across District 4, only 10 percent of students were living in such conditions.  The contrast, while unusually extreme, reflects a trend across the city: With a record number of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, charter schools are serving fewer homeless students, proportional to their total enrollment, than traditional public schools.

'SNL' goes after Trump's Cabinet picks - by introducing Walter White as the head of DEA
Inquirer by Elahe Izadi , (c) 2016, Washington Post Updated: DECEMBER 11, 2016 12:46 PM
This weekend's "Saturday Night Live" didn't begin with its familiar construction of Alec Baldwin impersonating President-elect Donald Trump, but the show still brought in some outside star power for its cold open.  In a sketch focusing on Trump's controversial Cabinet picks, Bryan Cranston reprised his "Breaking Bad" character Walter White to play the incoming president's nominee to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration.  "Walter is amazing, he came highly recommended by Steve Bannon," Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) says.

Inquirer Editorial: Trump's cabinet picks so far aren't very reassuring
Updated: DECEMBER 11, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
President-elect Donald Trump is packing the Trojan horse he calls a cabinet with nominees lacking minimal requisite experience, temperament, and discipline, or who are callously antagonistic toward the missions of agencies they would head.  Take retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, whom Trump has picked as national security advisor. Flynn has recklessly spread internet garbage that reflects his prejudices. He has called "Islamism" a cancer all Muslims have; repeated anti-Semitic remarks on social media; and circulated fake news that the FBI had evidence Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in a pedophilia ring and a money launderer. No security advisor should be blinded by such biases or in thrall with fake news, especially one who will be advising a president with zero foreign policy experience.

Teacher to Trump’s education pick: Let’s ‘address the elephant in the room.’ It’s you.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss December 10 
The selection of Betsy DeVos by President-elect Donald Trump as his education secretary nominee has been attacked by public school advocates who see her longtime support for school “choice” and private Catholic education as evidence that she does not support America’s public education system. In this post, that sentiment is explained by an educator who has written an open letter to DeVos.  He is Patrick Kearney, facilitator for Teacher Leadership in the Johnston Community School District in Iowa. He spent 25 years as a band director in private and public schools of Iowa, and is a past-president of the Iowa Bandmasters Association and past co-chair of the Iowa Jazz Championships. He was also a founding board member of the Jazz Educators of Iowa.  His wife teaches in the Des Moines Public Schools and his son is studying education at Drake University.   Here’s the letter, which first appeared on Huffington Post. Kearney gave me permission to republish it.

Would Donald Trump's Giant Voucher Proposal Work For Rural Students?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on December 12, 2016 8:03 AM
Most people have taken President-elect Donald Trump's decision to tap billionaire GOP donor and school choice champion Betsy DeVos as his education secretary as a sign that he wants to make good on his campaign promise to create a massive new school choice program.  One problem? School choice, at least in the form of vouchers or brick-and-mortar charter schools, isn't easy to do in the rural states and communities that played such a large part in Trump's victory in the electoral College.   Just ask Don German, the executive director of the Arizona Rural Schools Association. His state has embraced school choice, both in the form of education savings accounts and charter schools. But, for the most part, those options haven't reached isolated districts.  "There's very few charters that want to set up in the very small and rural communities in Arizona," he said. In fact, nationally, just 7.5 percent of charter school students live in rural areas, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. About 57 percent live in urban areas. 

Dueling Editorials Over Detroit Charters
Education Week By Walt Gardner on December 12, 2016 7:55 AM
It's quite common for editorials to differ about controversial issues in education, but I've not often seen two that differ so sharply about the same issue in the same school district ("How Trump's Schools Chief Helped Turn Around Detroit," The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 10; "We don't need a charter-school lobbyist as education secretary," USA Today, Dec. 6).  I'm referring now to the selection of Betsy DeVos by President-elect Donald Trump as the next education secretary.  To Ingrid Jacques, the deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News, DeVos is just what the city needs.  She cites DeVos's success in promoting charter schools as early as 1994 that has resulted in nearly 100 opening in Detroit, and the finding in 2015 by Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes that students in those charters gain three months of extra learning a year compared with their peers in traditional schools.  But to Stephen Henderson, the editorial page editor of The Detroit Free Press, the pick is a disaster.  He says that DeVos is in essence a lobbyist, with no relevant credentials or experience in public education. He doubts that DeVos is qualified to help set standards, guide accountability and oversee research.  In fact, Henderson questions if she is even interested in any of these things.

Betsy DeVos's Michigan legacy
Betsy DeVos's resume includes education reform efforts that reshaped Michigan schools. But student test scores have gone down in the past two decades.
By Ron French | Bridge Magazine on December 06, 2016 at 1:00 PM, updated December 07, 2016 at 1:03 PM
It's clear how Betsy DeVos wants to change public education.  It's equally clear how hard Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education will push, and how much she'll spend, to make those changes.  What's less clear is whether her remedies for public education -- unveiled in Michigan over more than two decades -- actually help students learn.  The academic rank of Michigan students compared with peers in other states has dropped dramatically since DeVos's biggest policy victories: the expansion of charter schools (most run by for-profit companies), and breaking down barriers to students attending schools outside their home district, known as school choice.  Even her critics laud DeVos for her guiding principles -- that all students deserve access to a quality education and shouldn't be trapped in a failing public school.  But DeVos' dogged commitment to policies that have yielded, at best, mixed results in Michigan raises questions about what lessons she would take to Washington, as well as about her willingness to listen to viewpoints outside her free-market ideology.

Betsy DeVos at Trump Michigan Rally: Time to ‘Finally Put an End to Federal Common Core’
Breitbart by DR. SUSAN BERRY9 Dec 2016
Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos joined him for a “Thank You” rally in her home state of Michigan, where she told the crowd making education great again means “finally putting an end to the federal Common Core.”  Trump’s pick is the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and one of the party’s most influential donors. DeVos is a proponent of charter schools and school vouchers.  “In deference to the U.S. Senate confirmation, I’m not giving interviews, but just between us let me share this,” DeVos said to the crowd, speaking from prepared remarks. “It’s time to make education great again in this country.” reports DeVos initially had planned to skip Trump’s stop in Grand Rapids. The report states:

DeVos says media is spreading ‘false news’ about her
Politico By MICHAEL STRATFORD 12/09/16 09:29 PM EST
President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, pushed back against criticism of her selection today — accusing the media of spreading false stories about her.
“There’s a lot of false news out there,” DeVos said on stage with Trump at a rally in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. “All I ask for is an open mind and the opportunity to share my heart.”
DeVos doesn't have a conventional background in education, such as working as a teacher or schools superintendent. But the billionaire philanthropist has long donated to "school choice" advocacy groups and politicians who are supportive of school vouchers and charter schools.
DeVos told the Michigan crowd she has “the experience, the passion and the know-how to make change happen” in the nation’s education system.  “I’ve been involved in education issues for 28 years, as an activist, a citizen-volunteer and an advocate for children,” she said.

Last 5 New Orleans public schools expected to become charter operations
By Danielle Dreilinger, | The Times-Picayune Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on December 09, 2016 at 6:19 PM, updated December 09, 2016 at 7:37 PM
New Orleans may soon be the first city to have an all-charter school system -- a landmark in U.S. history.  Orleans Parish Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. announced Friday (Dec. 9) he had "received informal expressions of interest from current school and charter leaders to convert some or all of our remaining five network elementary and high schools to charter schools authorized by OPSB." The five schools currently under school board control this would affect: Ben Franklin Elementary, Eleanor McMain Secondary, Mahalia Jackson Elementary, Mary Bethune Elementary, and McDonogh No. 35, comprising a middle and high school. Charters are publicly funded but run by independent boards, held to benchmarks set by an authorizing party -- in this case, the Orleans Parish School Board.

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

PHLpreK Now Enrolling!
Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Education
Did you know that quality early childhood education sets our children up for success? It reduces the need for special education, raises graduation rates, and narrows the achievement gap. These benefits ripple throughout our schools, neighborhoods, and local economy.
That’s why the City of Philadelphia is expanding free, quality pre-K for 6,500 three- and four-year-olds over the next five years. In fact, the first 2,000 pre-K seats are available now. Families should act fast because classes begin on January 4th at more than 80 locations.
Please help us spread the word. Parents/caregivers can call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735) to speak with a trained professional who will help them apply and locate quality pre-K programs nearby.  For more information, visit

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
Upcoming Public Events:
Friday, December 16- Philadelphia- 11:00 am- Community College of Philadelphia
 Community College of Philadelphia
 Bonnell Building, Bonnell Auditorium, Room BG-20
 1700 Spring Garden Street  Philadelphia, PA  19130
Wednesday, January 4- Quakertown- 5:30 pm- Bucks County Free Library
Bucks County Free Library Quakertown Branch
401 West Mill Street Quakertown, PA  18951
Tuesday, January 10- Scranton- 4:00 pm- Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
3201 Rockwell Avenue Scranton, PA  18508

“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 led 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.

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.

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:

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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