Part one - What a difference a two hour drive can make.
Students in Erie, Pa. attend a public school district that’s teetering on the brink of collapse.
Staffing has been downsized to bare-bones levels. Many of the schools are badly in need of repairs. And the superintendent has proposed shuttering all high schools. The city district, though, is surrounded on all sides by better-resourced suburban schools that serve less needy children. This is the hallmark of Pennsylvania’s K-12 landscape: stark resource discrepancies between schools in different zip codes. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education labeled Pa.’s system “the most inequitable in the nation.” But if those students in Erie were born just two hours north in the Canadian province of Ontario, they’d have a completely different outlook. That system — though close geographically, and similar in terms of size and overall levels of diversity — offers a distinctly different vision of public education. In this five-part Keystone Crossroads’ series, with input from stakeholders on both sides, we study that divide.
With another Pennsylvania Society weekend officially over, we thought now was a good time to cull through our copious notes from the weekend and take the measure of the emerging field of 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidates. At least a half-dozen Republicans are lining up to challenge Gov. Tom Wolf in less than two years' time. And while it's still early days, a strong presence at the annual bash in Midtown Manhattan is considered critical for building legitimacy. "This is going to end up a battle between the outsider and the establishment figure," Jim Broussard, a veteran Society-goer and political science professor at Lebanon Valley College, said of the eventual primary fight. While in numerical order below, our list is, by no means based on the statistical likelihood of these various and sundry Republicans actually winning their party's eventual nomination. Rather, we base it on how pithily evasive they were.
By Dan Majors / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 12, 2016 11:23 PM
Huffington Post 12/05/2016 11:26 pm ET | Updated 6 days ago
To the dismay of teachers unions nationwide, President-elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos, a Michigan school reformer, to be the next education secretary. The day Ms. DeVos’s selection was announced, the president of the American Federation of Teachers,Randi Weingarten, called her “the most ideological, anti-public-education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.” But as it often goes, what is bad for the teachers unions is good for the school kids. Ms. DeVos has a strong record of fighting for the latter here in her home state. Her history of promoting charter schools goes back to 1994, when she worked closely with former Republican Gov. John Engler to pass Michigan’s charter law. These alternative public schools, free from union constraints, have flourished—especially in Detroit, where more than half of students attend charters. Only New Orleans has a higher percentage of students in charter schools. But time and again, Michigan has resisted comprehensive reform. In 2000, Ms. DeVos and her husband funded a ballot initiative that would have created vouchers for students to use state funding at private schools. But the measure was defeated 69-31. In 2003, a retired industrialist named Bob Thompson tried to give Detroit $200 million to establish a network of high-quality charter schools. His generous offer was originally accepted by then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Gov. Jennifer Granholm. But the Detroit teachers union protested and the politicians withdrew their support. In frustration, Mr. Thompson also changed his mind. But despite facing backlash, Ms. DeVos hasn’t given up. In 2011 a Republican-controlled legislature voted to lift the cap on the number of charters, which had been set at 150 university-authorized schools. This has helped them flourish further.
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
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 www.PHLprek.org
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 http://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/tour.aspx#tab-1
Upcoming Public Events:
Community College of Philadelphia
Bonnell Building, Bonnell Auditorium, Room BG-20
1700 Spring Garden Street Philadelphia, PA 19130
Bucks County Free Library Quakertown Branch
401 West Mill Street Quakertown, PA 18951
Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
3201 Rockwell Avenue Scranton, PA 18508
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.
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/)
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.
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.