Thursday, December 8, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 8: The notebook: Focus on School District Governance/SRC

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4000 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 Dec 8, 2016
The notebook: Focus on School District Governance/SRC

In 1974 Pennsylvania provided 54%of education funding. Now it provides just 37%, exacerbating local property tax burden.

“Vouchers on the horizon?: Wagner insisted that he believes people should have a choice when it comes to deciding what school their children should attend. He wasn't around the last time the Legislature attempted the tough sledding of trying to pass a voucher bill so he couldn't say what's changed. But he said, "Every parent, I don't care what your income level is, you should have the choice of where you want to send your child."
Sen. Scott Wagner has a lot on his mind: layoffs, complaints about Gov. Wolf, pension woes
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 06, 2016 at 5:54 PM, updated December 06, 2016 at 6:30 PM
The scheduled layoffs of 520 state Department of Labor & Industry employeesisn't the only state government issue on Sen. Scott Wagner's mind these days. There's a whole slew of others topics that he wants to tackle.  Wagner, R-York County, covered several of them on Tuesday when he sat down with PennLive's editorial board. The entire interview can be viewed on PennLive's Facebook page but the following are some highlights, starting off with the looming layoffs at L&I's call centers:

Final rules for K-12 standardized testing released
Inquirer by JENNIFER C. KERR, The Associated Press Updated: DECEMBER 7, 2016 4:34 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Aiming to reduce test-taking in America's classrooms, the Obama administration released final rules Wednesday to help states and school districts take a new approach to the standardized tests students must take each year.  It's part of the bipartisan education law, signed by President Barack Obama a year ago, that returned substantial control over education policy back to the states, including the role test scores play in evaluating schools, teachers and students.  "Our final regulations strike a balance by offering states flexibility to eliminate redundant testing and promote innovative assessments, while ensuring assessments continue to contribute to a well-rounded picture of how students and schools are doing," said Education Secretary John B. King Jr. "Smarter assessments can make us all smarter."  The idea is to focus more time on classroom learning and less on teaching-to-the test - something critics complained the administration had encouraged with grants and waivers that placed too much of an emphasis on standardized testing.

Sentencing pushed back for PA Cyber founder
Beaver County Times Staff reports Dec 6, 2016
PITTSBURGH -- Sentencing for Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta has been pushed to March 2017, according to online court records.  Trombetta, of East Liverpool, Ohio, pleaded guilty in August to tax conspiracy. His sentencing, originally scheduled for Dec. 20, has been moved to March 3.  Trombetta was indicted in August 2013 on 11 counts, including mail fraud, theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, tax conspiracy and filing a false tax return.  The Midland-based cyber charter’s founder pleaded to committing tax conspiracy from January 2006 to July 2012 as part of a scheme that involved funneling more than $8 million to his sister and four “straw owners” of Avanti Management, a company he created to mask earnings from the IRS.  The scheme involved a web of entities including Lincoln Learning Solutions, formerly known as National Network of Digital Schools (NNDS).  Trombetta faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both, according to a press release from then United States Attorney David J. Hickton.

Blogger note: At Drexel University in Philly tonight, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Media Network -- owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and, and Drexel University's School of Education are hosting a public forum on school governance and the SRC.
The Notebook has put together a collection of related articles focusing on this topic, several of which are included in today’s Ed Policy Roundup.

“In the months after the SRC was set up in 2001, there was lots of shouting, too. The move was a compromise between then-Mayor John Street and the Republican-controlled legislature, which had wanted to turn over management of the District to a private company.  The District got $75 million from the state, $45 million from the city and a $317 million bond issue to weather an ongoing financial crisis. In return, the city’s nine-member school board, appointed by the mayor, was disbanded and replaced by the SRC. Three members were appointed by then-Gov. Mark Schweiker, a Republican, and two by the Democratic mayor.
The body now oversees a $2.8 billion annual budget, with 55 percent state funding.”
SRC: Should it stay or go?
Some say it's time to abolish the controversial School Reform Commission and switch to local control.
The notebook by Connie Langland December 5, 2016 — 10:46am
Gov. Wolf endorsed the abolition of the School Reform Commission in his 2014 campaign. Education advocates have been pushing for a return to local control since 2001.
Like three dozen other speakers, Antione Little had just three minutes to speak his mind at a recent meeting of the School Reform Commission.  And soon enough, he got to his main point — the very existence of the SRC.  “We want local control,” said Little, a public schools advocate and laborers’ union official.   “We want a voice like people in every other community in this state have. No more colonial rule. The 15 years of state control have seen our schools go from bad to worse. Enough is enough!”  Dozens of teachers, parents and activists joined in, shouting: “Enough is enough! Enough is enough! Enough is enough!” 

Former SRC members offer their views
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa December 5, 2016 — 2:29pm
Twenty-one people have served on the School Reform Commission over its 15-year history. Among them have been a college president, a former school principal, a former city councilman, and a former ambassador. There have been attorneys, community activists, and people who had served previously on the Philadelphia Board of Education. We talked to a few about their experiences.
Wendell Pritchett (2011-2014), an attorney and law professor who has been chancellor of Rutgers-Camden and deputy chief of staff and director of policy to former Mayor Michael Nutter. He is now the Presidential Professor of Law and Education at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  “The two big responsibilities of the SRC are – and were then – to try to maintain the financial viability of the School District while continuing to improve education. Those are the two things we spend all our time on.”  “I agree with the assertion that the job of the SRC was to reform the educational system and produce greater buy-in and money from the state. In the first 10 years, that happened. Under Govs. Ridge and Rendell, the state did provide more funding than it had in the past, and as a result, the School District did make significant progress. There were increased graduation rates, lower dropout rates, increasing test scores, and increasing the number of quality schools by generally accepted measures. And then Gov. Corbett came, and state funding was cut significantly. … What we talked about constantly was where we can cut that is going to cost the least amount of pain.”

Setting up the SRC did not solve city’s clash with state
Tensions remain over fairness in funding. Privatization was not a silver bullet.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa December 7, 2016 — 8:06am
The School Reform Commission was established in 2001 to govern the Philadelphia School District during a period of especially bitter political acrimony between the state and city over education policy.  The superintendent through most of the 1990s, David Hornbeck, repeatedly declared that the state’s system for allocating education resources was racially discriminatory. Hornbeck vowed to spend what he felt was needed to give children a quality education and then close the schools when the money ran out. And he pressed his argument with a federal discrimination lawsuit.  This outraged then-Gov. Tom Ridge and fueled the prevailing view among Harrisburg legislators that the Philadelphia School District was not the victim of underfunding, but rather, it was a “wasteful money pit.”  Debra Kahn, who was Mayor John Street’s chief education officer during this period, said, “It was a very, very charged environment.”  At the same time, Ridge and state Secretary of Education Charles Zogby were eager to embark on an experiment to bring “sound business practices” to Philadelphia by turning over many of the poorly achieving schools – and, it soon became clear, management of the District itself – to private firms. These two Republicans found as allies several local Black Democratic lawmakers, most prominently State Rep. Dwight Evans.

SRC’s deadlock leaves 4 charters in limbo
The District recommended non-renewal in April, but commissioners haven’t had enough votes to act. The situation shows their wide leeway in overseeing the schools.
The notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. December 5, 2016 — 2:29pm
In April, the Charter Schools Office recommended non-renewal for two schools run by ASPIRA Inc. and two schools operated by Universal Companies. The School Reform Commission postponed any vote on the schools that month and each month since.  After yet another SRC meeting passed in November without any action on the issue, Commissioner Bill Green had a simple explanation: democracy in action.  “It didn’t come up because there weren’t the votes for it,” Green said after the session. “I was on City Council, and some bills sat there for two and a half years until there were enough people to vote it up [or] vote it down. I’m confident that we’ll do that here.”  To critics of the SRC, the long delay reveals evidence that the five-member appointed board can’t hold charters accountable and that it should be shut down.  “It’s a very good example why the public voted overwhelmingly in a referendum last May that it’s time for the SRC to be dissolved and an elected board take its place,” said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.  How exactly the SRC should respond to the stalemate is a matter of opinion.

How other districts govern
In some cities, parents have more clout.
The notebook by Connie Langland December 6, 2016 — 11:29am
Consider these responsibilities: approving attendance boundaries; reviewing educational programs; holding hearings on proposed school closings; and getting a say in the allocation of school funds and resources.  Sound like your typical school board?
These decisions are made in part by public school parents in several large cities across the country. The New York, Boston, and Chicago districts are among those that have given parents and community members platforms to weigh in on the issues of school governance.
In New York, one Community Education Council is debating ways to address overcrowding and a desegregation effort in Upper West Side schools. The council can’t redraw school zones, but it gets final say-so in whatever the city puts forward.  “We intend to control our own fate,” the council president said in a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña that has been published online. And the local councilwoman praised the group’s proposal, calling it an “organic” solution developed by the community, according to Chalkbeat, an education news website.  School Advisory Councils are gaining traction in Philadelphia schools, winning a nod from Research for Action in its 2014 brief looking at issues related to school governance. The report’s authors called on policymakers to “remember the role of governance in local school buildings closest to where learning takes place.” Parent and community advisory groups in New York, Chicago, and Boston vary in format and influence, but they all have influence on policy and governance.

Parent activists don’t feel respected by the SRC
They may disagree on the best way to govern the School District, but they all see a need for more community involvement in decisions.
The notebook by Darryl Murphy December 7, 2016 — 11:54am
Nina Bryan, who said she sympathizes with the limits imposed on the School Reform Commission members due to bureaucracy, isn’t quick to call for an end to the panel.
The monthly School Reform Commission meetings are known for passionate testimony from frustrated parents seeking solutions for their children’s schools. It is not unusual for parents’ comments to go over the allowed time, because three minutes isn’t enough for them to get their points across.  Parents are dissatisfied – angry, even. And they say they don’t feel valued by the Philadelphia School District or its governing body, the SRC.  Kendra Brooks, 44, began her work as a parent organizer in 2013 after she noticed major changes happening in city schools. Before that, her involvement as a parent in the District didn’t go beyond bake sales and fundraisers. But once the District began closing schools and pulling significant resources from those that remained, Brooks switched her focus.  “That’s what made me take more interest in the administrative portion,” said the mother of three public school students. “[I focused on] how the money was being spent around schools, not just being coffee and tea mom. Doughnuts and muffins. I realized we need to pay attention to more than just bringing desserts to the school.”
What she learned when she paid attention led Brooks to join Parents United for Public Education. As an organizer, Brooks mobilizes parents to advocate for their children and their schools. Earlier this year, she tried unsuccessfully to help parents fend off a takeover of John Wister Elementary School by Mastery Charter Schools.  Her advocacy often puts her before the SRC. It is rarely a pleasant experience.

Super PACs and school reform
A pro-charter group – started by Trump’s nominee for education secretary – has given millions to Pennsylvania lawmakers.
The notebook by Greg Windle December 5, 2016 — 2:30pm
Betsy DeVos established Students First PA and still runs its national parent organization American Federation for Children.
There's an old saying for those who want to understand political influence: Follow the money.
In the case of Harrisburg’s interest in the governance of Philadelphia’s schools, that trail leads from pro-charter political action committees to the millions of dollars they donate to support the campaigns of state legislators and leaders.  Super PACs – political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of money for causes but cannot donate directly to a campaign – play key roles in decisions that affect Philadelphia’s school system, from input on the wording of proposed legislation to financial support for pro-reform candidates, . The pro-charter super PAC called Students First PA – which was started by President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos – drew attention during the 2014 election cycle by donating a total of $7.6 million to groups supporting at least 10 Republican and Democratic candidates around the state. Students First PA raises most of its money from just four local millionaires and American Federation for Children, an organization run by DeVos’ out-of-state billionaire family.

Charter Schools Office steps up its role
With a new leader and more staff, it has added annual evaluations for each school to its duties.
The notebook by Dan Hardy December 5, 2016 — 2:29pm
In the contentious debate about charter school expansion in Philadelphia, one key player is the Charter Schools Office, a relatively unheralded department that serves as the nexus connecting the School Reform Commission and District administration to the city’s 86 brick-and-mortar charters and their 64,396 students.  The office evaluates and makes recommendations about applications for new charters and renewals. That’s a big undertaking: Five new charter applications this school year, if granted, would eventually expand charter enrollment by 3,279. And 26 charters are requesting renewals for five more years of operation.  The office also annually evaluates each charter, reporting on everything from demographics to academic performance. It serves as the day-to-day liaison between charters and the District administration, coordinating and facilitating charter access to District resources. And it manages parent and community engagement activities for the District’s 21 Renaissance charter schools – schools that the District has turned over to charter management, but that mainly serve the neighborhoods around them, rather than selecting applicants from a citywide lottery.  For all its importance, the charter office has at times appeared to be a somewhat neglected body. Until the hiring in August 2015 of its current executive director, DawnLynne Kacer, it was without a permanent leader for more than two years. And its staffing was down to six at one point, drawing criticism that it was too small to do its job properly. Now it has 11 staffers.

Letters: Mixed views on charters
Philly Daily News Letters by State Senator Anthony Williams and by Gloria Endres Updated: DECEMBER 8, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
I WAS RECENTLY reminded that the one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind while reading Will Bunch's column on the "disastrous" nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education ("Trump's new ed chief is a disaster for Philly"). To believe Bunch, DeVos represents an implicit threat to public education in Philadelphia. Everyone can see that Philadelphia's public schools are in a perpetual state of crisis and fail to meet the most basic educational needs of the city's young people. And, unfortunately, they were in this state before charter schools, and even when they had historic funding under Gov. Rendell.  While lambasting DeVos and her support of charter schools across the country, Bunch failed to address the immediate well-being of Philadelphia's students, teachers and parents who have long suffered in a broken education system. Instead, he reverted to the same special-interest hyperbole that has plagued Philadelphia for far too long. Rather than focus on the "education wars," let us actually work together to bring a quality education to children throughout the city.

Central York students share Hour of Code with community
York Dispatch by  Alyssa Pressler , 505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD1:18 a.m. EST December 8, 2016
Throughout the world this week, students are celebrating Hour of Code by doing events in their schools.  Not every group of students is opening their activities up to the community, though. Central York High School's iTeam hosted an Hour of Code event open to the community Wednesday in celebration of the worldwide learning event. Hour of Code occurs each year during Computer Science Education Week in hopes of exposing more students to computer science. Central York's iTeam is a club of students that provides technical support for other students. iTeam works in the Maker Space, where students can create using a number of different science- and computer science-related tools and work on programming. This is the second year the team has held the Hour of Code workshop.  The event is designed to reach families, especially younger kids, through a number of activities, said iTeam member and Central York senior Omkar Kane.

U.S. Rep. Costello visits 2 Downingtown schools to support STEM programs
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News POSTED: 12/07/16, 8:21 PM EST
DOWNINGTOWN >> U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello recently visited two Downingtown schools in support of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – education.  Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, visited the Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus where students asked him to help support their STEM programs with H.R. 5168. Costello attended a ceremony honoring TCHS Brandywine local robotics team “Out of the Box.” At that time, the students presented him with a hard-copy of the bill to read. He signed it.  “This isn’t the official bill signing but I want to let you know that this is something I will plan on co-sponsoring once I get back to Washington,” Costello said during his visit.  He made good on his promise and co-sponsored the bill.  H.R. 5168 proposes to have the Department of the Treasury print a dollar silver coin in memory of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was onboard the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded in 1986. A portion of the proceeds raised from the memorial coin would go toward FIRST, a nonprofit organization helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology and math.

What might school choice look like under Trump?
Supporters of charter schools, vouchers, and other forms of school choice anticipate a friendlier climate with President-elect ’s selection of school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos to serve as secretary of Education.
Christian Science Monitor by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo @StacyTKhadaroo
DECEMBER 7, 2016 —Supporters of charter schools, vouchers, and other forms of school choice anticipate a friendlier climate with President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos to serve as secretary of Education.
Q: In what ways can the government support school choice?
Vouchers offer a portion of public education dollars for qualifying students to use at private (religious and nonreligious) schools.  Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are run independently and that fill their seats through a lottery of interested students. About 13 percent are run by for-profit companies, with the remainder run by a wide variety of nonprofits. In exchange for independence, they have to meet requirements set by a charter-authorizing body in their state or local area.  Tax credits, tax deductions, and education savings accounts (ESAs) are other ways that states can channel public money to parents for educational expenses.

 “For Mrs DeVos this has meant support for two causes. The first is the rapid expansion of charter schools, fee-free schools that are publicly subsidised but independently run. Her activism is one reason why charters in Michigan, her home state, have less oversight than almost any of the 43 states that allow them. And about 80% of Michigan’s charters are run for profit, compared with 13% nationwide. The second cause is school-voucher schemes, which typically give public funds to poor parents to pay for the cost of places at private schools. Though Michigan voted against adopting vouchers in 2000, Mrs DeVos has helped to elect more than 120 Republicans across the country who are in favour.”
Long-haul charters
Betsy DeVos’s appointment has given the school-reform movement a shot in the arm. Yet she may end up splitting it
The Economist Dec 3rd 2016
IN 1983 the Reagan administration published “A Nation At Risk”, an apocalyptic report into the state of American schools. It ushered in 33 years of uneven yet enduring bipartisan support for presidents’ efforts to raise school standards. George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), share more than quixotic names. Both were backed by majorities of both parties in Congress. Unfamiliar with such harmony, Barack Obama called ESSA, signed into law last December, a “Christmas miracle”.  That sort of collaboration could soon become a rarity. On November 23rd Donald Trump, the president-elect, nominated Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist, as the next secretary of education. For three decades Mrs DeVos has used her family foundation and her leadership of conservative groups to lobby for “school choice”, a broad term that can divide Republicans even from moderate Democrats.

Betsy DeVos Helped Create Michigan's Charter Sector. Here's How It's Doing
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Arianna Prothero on December 7, 2016 2:15 PM
Before Betsy DeVos was nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the U.S. Secretary of Education, she played a significant role in shaping Michigan's charter school sector as a long-time advocate and philanthropic-backer of school choice in the state.  With the support of the DeVos family, Michigan was quick to jump on the charter school bandwagon in 1993—just two years after the nation's first charter law was enacted in Minnesota.  In many ways, Michigan embodies a popular philosophy of the early days of the charter movement often described by advocates as "let a thousand flowers bloom." It's the idea that states should encourage the growth of lots of schools—as well as different kinds of schools and management structures—and let parents, through the choices they make, regulate the market and weed out the bad options.
This attitude is echoed in the DeVos philosophy toward school choice.  "We are proponents of all forms of choice," says Gary Naeyert, the executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, an advocacy and public action committee tasked with carrying out the DeVos' education reform goals.  "We don't make a distinction between cyber versus brick and mortar, we don't make a distinction between management companies that are for-profit or nonprofit ... What matters to us is, are the kids learning?"

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

EPLC's "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - this Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. 
Part 1: Guests will be:
Larry A. Wittig, Chairman, Pennsylvania State Board of Education
Karen Molchanow, Executive Director, Pennsylvania State Board of Education

Part 2: Guests will be:
Kathy Swope, President, Pennsylvania School Boards Association

School Board President, Lewisburg Area School District

Mark B. Miller, President Elect, Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Assistant Secretary, Centennial School Board

Barbara L. Bolas, Member, Upper St. Clair School Board
Past President, Pennsylvania School Boards Association

All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell.
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to education and school funding issues.

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:
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 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.

Public Forum: Who should run Philadelphia's schools? Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-7:30 p.m. Drexel University - Behrakis Grand Hall
Join us for a public forum featuring state, city and civic leaders sponsored by Philadelphia Media Network, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Drexel University's School of Education.
Creese Student Center 3210 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104
It's been 15 years since the state took control of Philadelphia's schools and created the School Reform Commission. Since then, the SRC has been a polarizing presence in the city.
With the recent resignation of two members of the commission and the term of a third expiring soon, the future of the SRC and the issue of school governance is once again at the forefront of the civic dialogue. Is the SRC the only model to consider?  Should Philadelphia create an elected school board, or should the governing body be controlled by the Mayor? Are there models in other cities that could help us rethink our own school governance?   The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Media Network -- owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and, and Drexel University's School of Education are hosting a public forum on this critical issue.
RSVP - Admission is free, but you must register in advance. Register now, and find out more about the panelists and other details at our registration page.

PSBA 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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