Wednesday, December 28, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 28: DeVoses: public schools have displaced the Church as the center of communities; school choice a way to reverse that trend.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 28, 2016
DeVoses: public schools have displaced the Church as the center of communities; school choice a way to reverse that trend.



Confirmation hearing for @BetsyDeVos tentatively scheduled for Jan. 11, @khefling of @PoliticoPro reports

In a constituent response letter regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos dated December 2, 2016, Senator Toomey stated: “I believe she is a great pick.”  His Washington, D.C. Phone number is (202) 224-4254



“Higher spending is not the cause of our budget crises. Measured by the share of the state GDP that flows through state government, general fund spending has been declining. From 1994 to 2011, under both Democratic and Republican governors, the spending averaged 4.7 percent of GDP. During the Corbett years that fell to 4.3 percent as spending on education and human services were sharply cut. And while the state has been able to restore some of those cuts under Gov. Wolf, overall spending remains at the same level as in the Corbett years.”
Commentary: Is this the year Pa. resolves its perennial budget crisis?
Inquirer Commentary By Marc Stier Updated: DECEMBER 28, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
Marc Stier is the director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. 
Many of us who write about budget politics have a keyboard shortcut to enter "Pennsylvanian Budget Crisis" into a document. Year after year, we write in December about the upcoming crisis and again in July (or sometimes far later) about how the crisis has been temporarily averted.  It is crisis time again. But perhaps this is the year we can change the script. There are new ways to do something that has eluded us in the past - solve the crisis on a long-term basis without imposing harsher new taxes on working people and the middle class.  Before coming to our long-term solution to the crisis, first a word about its dimension and cause.  The Independent Fiscal Office has projected that the deficit for the current fiscal year, ending June 30, will be $500 million while the deficit for the next fiscal year will be $1.7 billion. Those numbers do not include the cost of higher caseloads for medical assistance and long-term care than were projected last in July. Including those costs, and other likely shortfalls in revenue, the total deficit to be closed by June is roughly $3 billion.

21“The two also lament that public schools have “displaced” the Church as the center of communities, and they cite school choice as a way to reverse that troubling trend.”
"Kingdom Gain" Through School Vouchers: It's Already Working
Jersey Jazzman Blog Monday, December 26, 2016
Why do our new Secretary of Education and her husband support school vouchers? Back in 2001, they were quite candid about it:  The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to "advance God's Kingdom."   Trump’s pick, Betsy DeVos, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.   Her comments came during a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual conference of some of the country’s wealthiest Christians. DeVos and her husband, Dick, were interviewed a year after voters rejected a Michigan ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to allow public money to be spent on private and religious schools, which the DeVoses had backed.   In the interview, an audio recording, which was obtained by POLITICO, the couple is candid about how their Christian faith drives their efforts to reform American education.  School choice, they say, leads to “greater Kingdom gain.”   The two also lament that public schools have “displaced” the Church as the center of communities, and they cite school choice as a way to reverse that troubling trend.

Charter schools are a drain on the public education system
Post Gazette Letter by CARYL BEAL, Mt. Lebanon December 28, 2016 12:00 AM
Charter schools do not improve public education. In fact they drain money and students from the traditional public system.  Charter schools are an attempt to privatize public education, removing education from the standards and oversight of elected school boards.  It reminds me of the old terrible idea that “separate but equal schools” would solve segregation.  Education in our country should be available to everyone and controlled by elected school boards.

NEIGHBORHOODS JUST ARE NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT HIGH-QUALITY SCHOOLS
YoPhillyEd Blog by Quibila A. Divine December 27, 20160
For three years, as the Director of Education and Community Resources at Women’s Christian Alliance (WCA), I collaborated with Meade Elementary School to provide after-school and summer programs for many of its kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Dozens of the children transitioned into kindergarten upon leaving the Early Childcare Center at WCA so, I became very familiar with the children and their families.     In December 2012, the district announced that it would close 37 schools and Meade was on the list.  An overwhelmingly, large number of school closures was proposed for North Philadelphia and the district announced plans to move students from Meade, Morris and Reynolds to the new, Vaux Elementary School. Thanks in part to recommendations from the North Philadelphia Collaboration, Meade and Reynolds remained opened and Vaux closed in June 2013. As an active participant in this piece of Philadelphia history, I was amused at the December 15, 2016 School Reform Commission meeting when I heard that the district and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) have entered into an agreement to allow Big Picture Schools to open Vaux as a high school accepting graduating students from Meade and Morris Elementary Schools.


We Learned A Lot In 2016 About How Preschool Can Help Kids
NPR by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ December 27, 20166:00 AM ET
One of the most controversial questions in education has been whether preschool — and specifically Head Start — helps kids succeed as they move through elementary school.  Critics have long noted, and research has supported, that the benefits of Head Start fade in a few years. It's an important question for an $8 billion federal program that provides support for nearly a million low-income children and their families.  This year brought several new studies, however, that found that — when done right — Head Start and other programs can give low-income students lasting benefits. It's not only through elementary school: At least one study we wrote about found the benefits of preschool paying off for individuals, and society, into adult life.  All this research, however, was no blanket endorsement. Some of this year's findings reinforced earlier studies showing the uneven quality of Head Start programs around the country.  And so the lessons from 2016 seem to reinforce the emphasis — by President Obama and others — on quality.

 ‘School choice’ or ‘privatization’? A guide to loaded education lingo in the Trump era
Washington Post By Emma Brown December 27 at 6:47 PM 
Some people — including President-elect Donald Trump — believe that to improve U.S. education, the nation should stop spending so many tax dollars on public schools and instead invest in alternatives, including charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.  They say they are part of a movement for school choice, for empowering all parents, regardless of income, to select the best learning experience for their children.  Others believe that fixing American education will require bolstering the public school systems that are obligated to serve every child.  To them, “school choice” is a code. They call it “privatization.” The education world has been feuding for years across this semantic divide. But it has deepened as the movement toward choice — or privatization — has accelerated during the past decade, giving rise to charter schools and voucher programs nationwide.  And now the battle is headed toward political center stage: School choice has gained perhaps its most powerful proponent ever in Trump, who has called it “the civil rights issue of our time” and pledged to spend $20 billion to push for an expansion of charters and vouchers.

For Indiana special-education students, choice comes at a cost
Washington Post By Mandy McLaren December 26
Indiana’s school voucher program gave private and religious schools more than $1.3 million in special education funding last year, but state law does not require oversight for the quality of services provided with those funds, according to the Indiana Department of Education.  Indiana’s public school districts must meet stringent requirements under federal special-education law, but the state’s private schools can be designated as special-education service providers — and receive associated state funding — without employing a single licensed special-education teacher.  “If the money is going to follow the child, then the laws should follow them also. Period,” said Mary Burton, president of the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education. “And that does not happen.”  With the support of Gov. Mike Pence (R), Indiana’s voucher program is one of the nation’s largest school-choice initiatives, an education reform approach that President-elect Donald Trump favors. As Pence prepares to assume the vice presidency, the Hoosier State’s voucher program offers some insight into the kind of policies the Trump administration might promote.


The NPE Toolkit: Stop Betsy DeVos
Network for Public Education December 16, 2016 by admin
The more we learn, the more we are certain that Betsy DeVos is bad for public schools and for kids.
When De Vos has to choose between quality schools and “the free market,” she chooses “the free market” of privatized choice every time. The best interests of children take a back seat.
And we know the DeVos endgame–shut down our neighborhood public schools, and replace them with a patchwork of charters, private schools and online learning.  We can’t let that happen and we need your help. Present and future generations of children are depending on us to act now.  We now know that some Senators have grave doubts. It is our job to make those doubts grow into active resistance to DeVos. Our senators are in district offices from 12/17 – 1/2.
Here are our three toolkits to help you do your part.
Toolkit 1. Call your senators’ offices. The toolkit with numbers and a phone script can be found here. It includes a link to phone numbers.
Toolkit 2. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can find a model here.
Toolkit 3. Visit your senators’ offices. If you cannot get an appointment, hand deliver a letter. Our toolkit, which you can find here has a model to use, and directions to find local offices. If you cannot hand deliver it, send your letter in the mail.


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 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:
  
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: 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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