Tuesday, September 19, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 19: no definitive study or agreement on how charters hold up against traditional public schools

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 19, 2017:
no definitive study or agreement on how charters hold up against traditional public schools



Our Schools at Risk: How to Stop Funding Cuts, Bensalem HS, October 3 at 7 PM - 9 PM
Public Meeting Hosted by Education Voters PA Tuesday, October 3 at 7 PM - 9 PM
Bensalem HS, North Wing Audion, 4319 Hulmeville Rd., Bensalem 19020
Learn about the threats to our public schools and how YOUR advocacy efforts can make a difference. Join Education Voters of PA to learn about how state policies and school funding are impacting your local schools and how you can come together in your communities to stand up for public school students.



“Though charters are popular with parents, overall charter achievement is a black box. Some schools perform well. Many don’t.   But there is no definitive study or agreement on how charters hold up against traditional public schools.  It’s as though the state has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars with its eyes closed,  saying: “Don’t tell us how our investment is doing.”
For 20 years.”
Editorial: The true cost of charter schools
Charter schools are having a costly effect on Pennsylvania school districts.
Inquirer by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
Two studies were released last week that at first glance have nothing to do with each other.   The first was a report by Research for Action, a Philadelphia educational research firm, that measured the fiscal impact of charter schools on six school districts around the state, including Philadelphia’s. RFA’s model accounts for variables like rates of charter growth, size of districts, and short- and long-term impact.  The bottom line:  the burgeoning charter system, which now numbers more than 130,000 students (70,000 in Philadelphia) has hit districts around the state hard.   In Philadelphia, the report found, charters cost the district $8,000 per student initially and $4,000 each subsequent year, even after five years. This is the first time fiscal impact has been measured so rigorously, though the news that charters have been costly is not altogether surprising. Districts pay tuition for every student enrolling in a charter school — about equal to the per-pupil allotment the state issues for education. The more students who go to charters, the more money flows from district schools.
http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/sandra_shea/charter-school-cost-public-education-20170919.html

“On Tuesday, Pennsbury’s board is poised to approve plans for an ambitious school-based drug-intervention program. Beyond increasing training, school programs and adding full-time staffers from a drug treatment facility, the district hopes to offer after-school individual and family therapy, a possibly unprecedented step for an area public school.”
As heroin deaths pile up, one Bucks school district weighs unusual step
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer  @Kathy_Boccella |  kboccella@phillynews.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 — 6:58 PM EDT
In June, a woman approached the podium at the Pennsbury School Board meeting to tell a story rarely heard at such gatherings. Maureen Johnson revealed that her son, Luke, a 2013 graduate of the Lower Bucks County school district, was dead. He had battled pills since his student days, graduated to heroin, and overdosed in his Florida apartment. Johnson said she’d been shocked to watch an untold number of  Pennsbury graduates die from drug addiction or suicide. Within two weeks of Luke’s death, five others succumbed to drugs. The next generation of Pennsbury students faced a similar fate, she warned, if the schools didn’t launch a massive intervention. Some wept as Johnson spoke that night. No one seemed more moved than board member Jacqueline Redner. What few knew at the time was that Redner and her husband were in their own hellish struggle with a son hooked on heroin.
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/pennsbury-heroin-deaths-overdoses-treatment-plan-bucks-20170919.html

Speaker educates Valley Progressives about gerrymandering
By Rick Dandes The Daily Item September 18, 2017
SUNBURY — The leader of a statewide movement determined to change the way redistricting is done in Pennsylvania spoke to 15 Valley activists at a Monday night meeting at the Degenstein Library, where strategies were discussed and ideas shared among the attendees. Carol Kuniholm, co-founder and chair of Fair District Pa., noted that "almost every district in the state has been gerrymandered to keep incumbents in power, to maintain the power of the leadership. And the people of Pennsylvania — their concerns are not important at all. If you think the 10th and 11th districts are the most gerrymandered in the state, I can show you a map that says almost all of the districts in the state are." Pennsylvania, Kuniholm said, "has the worst gerrymandered districts in the U.S., by a long shot." Kuniholm was invited to the meeting by Nicole Faraguna, of Herndon, the co-founder of the Susquehanna Valley Progressives group. "We are in this fight for the long haul," Faraguna said. "Carol is here to show us what other groups are doing across the state to organize and gain influence with our legislators." Faraguna is working with Kuniholm to bring her group into the North Central Region of Fair Districts Pa, which is divided into six regions.
http://www.dailyitem.com/news/local_news/speaker-educates-valley-progressives-about-gerrymandering/article_938d91f4-a3d3-5756-8f63-92cd954ec8fe.html

Stark differences persist as Senate returns to budget talks
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 19, 2017 6:14 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- The state Senate is back in session, and is gearing up to respond to a budget package the House passed last week. Senate leaders aren't revealing much about their plans--though they indicate they have fundamental disagreements with House leaders. Meanwhile, the standoff is prompting credit rating agencies and budget experts to put the commonwealth on their watch lists. The Senate initially passed a revenue package in July. It balanced the $2.2 billion budget deficit on a combination of borrowing and new taxes--including ones on Marcellus Shale gas drilling and utilities. Senate GOP leader Jake Corman noted, that wasn't anyone's preference. "The Senate voted the plan that we did because we thought that was really the only way out of this," he said. But House Republicans have rebuffed it; their own proposal includes essentially the same borrowing, but no new taxes. It uses internal fund transfers to make up the difference. The whole plan creates very little recurring revenue. Senate Appropriations Chair, Republican Pat Browne, said that's a big disagreement the GOP-controlled chambers will have to work through.
http://www.witf.org/state-house-sound-bites/2017/09/stark-differences-persist-as-senate-returns-to-budget-talks.php

Governor Wolf sees downgrade without budget deal soon
WITF Written by The Associated Press | Sep 19, 2017 4:27 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- Democratic Governor Tom Wolf says it's urgent that he and state lawmakers end a fight over patching a $2 billion budget deficit to avoid a downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating. Wolf said in a statement that, without a responsible budget deal, state government also will face more disruptions in programs and payments. Wolf and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature spoke by telephone over the weekend, amid a three-month stalemate over how to fully fund a $32 billion budget bill lawmakers approved June 30. Senate Republicans say they're considering changes to the House GOP's no-new-taxes plan that passed last week. In July, the Senate passed a $500 million-plus tax package that hits utility customers and natural gas production. The chamber's ranking senator, Republican Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, says the state will continue to be unable to pay its bills in the future if it doesn't get more money.
http://www.witf.org/news/2017/09/governor-wolf-sees-downgrade-without-budget-deal-soon.php

“Where we’re at financially is not good,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, the chamber’s ranking senator. “We’re out of money. I don’t know by any means you can put lipstick on that or spin that any way to make it look better or sound better. But we’re out of money and we’ve never been in this position before, being out of money.”
Pennsylvania Senate GOP confronts no-tax package in 80-day budget fight
By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 09/18/17, 3:41 PM EDT 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> The Pennsylvania Senate returned to Harrisburg on Monday, Day 80 of an increasingly ugly budget stalemate, as senators began picking apart the House’s no-new-taxes plan and raising questions about whether huge parts of it are realistic. The Senate’s Republican majority was divided over going along with the House’s GOP-penned plan, as lawmakers grapple with how to resolve state government’s largest cash shortfall since the recession, now a projected $2.2 billion gap in a $32 billion budget. After a two-hour closed-door meeting in the Capitol, Republican senators said they will seek changes to the House GOP’s plan, saying it would worsen the state’s long-term finances. Senate Republicans also say the House GOP plan to borrow to plug part of the deficit is unduly expensive, and it otherwise has holes of hundreds of millions of dollars in it. Top Senate Republicans continued to make the case to find hundreds of millions of more dollars for the budget — such as a tax increase of some sort — to give the deficit-riddled state government the ability to pay its bills farther into the future.
http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/20170918/pennsylvania-senate-gop-confronts-no-tax-package-in-80-day-budget-fight

"Engagement" is the theme of the day for Pa. budget talks, as pillars of agreement take shape
Penn Live By Charles Thompson cthompson@pennlive.com Updated on September 18, 2017 at 9:21 PM Posted on September 18, 2017 at 9:20 PM
Welcome to the stretch run! (And, apologies if you've read that here before.)
But just as the state of Pennsylvania has started delaying payments to some creditors, it appears all sets of legislative leaders are ready for what they hope are close-out talks with Gov. Tom Wolf on a $2.2 billion revenue package needed to support the 2017-18 budget. We arrived here after the House Republican caucus put its marker down last week on a no-new-taxes, almost all one-time-fixes plan last week, carried by a starkly partisan majority. While the House plan won't be the final answer, it did help set the stage for talks that many around the Capitol said Monday could get things finished. Wolf was leading the new chorus of optimism. "I believe we can reach a compromise in the coming days," the governor said in a statement released by his press office after a series of contacts with legislative leaders this weekend. 
http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/09/engagement_is_the_theme_of_the.html#incart_river_index

Editorial: Looking for answers in Harrisburg
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 09/18/17, 9:05 PM EDT | UPDATED: 24 SECS AGO
Unlike most of us, some of our state legislators spent this long, languorous weekend enjoying the last days of their summer vacation. That’s right, our fine elected representatives of the Pennsylvania will head back to work at the state Capitol in Harrisburg today. It’s not as if the state faces any pressing issues or anything. When we last left you on Friday, an increasingly perplexed Gov. Tom Wolf was moving to withhold payment on nearly $1.2 billion in payments to Medicaid providers. It’s not that the governor holds any grudge against the crucial program that delivers health care to the state’s neediest children, elderly and the disabled. It’s that the state is flat broke. As in, “Boing!” Next up is a $581 million payout for the state’s share of the massive pension plan heaped on the state’s two large public employee pension plans. And if a resolution is not reached soon, funding for the state’s universities, schools and roads may wind up on the chopping block. That’s what happens when you pass a state budget – but don’t bother to implement a funding package to pay for it.
http://www.delcotimes.com/opinion/20170918/editorial-looking-for-answers-in-harrisburg

REP. MUSTIO: Pennsylvania has a solution to balance the budget, will we use it?
Pottstown Mercury Opinion By State Rep. Mark Mustio, Guest Columnist POSTED: 09/18/17, 9:39 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO
Rep. Mark Mustio is a Republican who represents the 44th House District, which includes portions of Allegheny County, in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Pennsylvania finds itself amidst a budget impasse. To put the severity of the situation into perspective, we are dealing with a $2.2 billion budget gap. We must all work together to help fill this hole, while at the same time helping local, small businesses. What’s most frustrating and concerning is that the Governor and some in the General Assembly have blatantly overlooked arguably the most common sense option for substantial, recurring revenue. Legalization of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) would bring in $300 to $400 million annually for Pennsylvania’s state budget while at the same time generate millions of dollars for our local municipalities. Thus, keeping all of our taxes from being increased.
http://www.pottsmerc.com/opinion/20170918/rep-mustio-pennsylvania-has-a-solution-to-balance-the-budget-will-we-use-it

Budget plan does not move Pa. forward (letter)
York Daily Record Opinion by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans (D-York) Published 12:56 p.m. ET Sept. 18, 2017
On Sept. 13 night, the House of Representatives passed a “revenue” plan to go with the spending package agreed upon earlier in the summer. That might sound like progress, but the plan that was approved does not move Pennsylvania forward, nor does it address Pennsylvania’s chronic structural deficit. Instead the plan relies on one-time sources of funding, which only continues to kick the can farther down the road. I did not vote for the plan, and neither did any of my Democratic colleagues – along with 15 Republicans who joined us in opposing this short-sighted proposal. We didn’t support it because we know there’s much we could have done to responsibly address our budget crisis – and it is a crisis.
http://www.ydr.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/09/18/budget-plan-does-not-move-pa-forward-letter/677489001/

“On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest county-level economic estimates for the nation. The figures show poverty is on the rise in Bucks County, with Hispanic and Latino residents among the most likely to fall below the federal poverty line. One in five Hispanic and Latino residents in Bucks — or 6,538 people — was considered poor, according to census data.”
U.S. Census: Bucks County poverty rate at 10-year high
Intelligencer by James McGinnis, staff writer September 19, 2017
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Our Lady of Guadalupe is among the first to arrive for the passion of Spanish Mass on Sunday at Queen of the Universe Church in Middletown. The patron saint of Mexico spends each week in the home of a family from the parish. The 4-foot statue returns to the church on Trenton Road as its parishioners, many of them natives of Mexico, strum guitars and sing traditional Spanish hymns through the early afternoon.  "These men and women are hard-working people, but many of them are undocumented and they live in fear," explained the Rev. John Bednarik. "Many of them also send money home to Mexico." And many of them might also be living below the poverty line. 
http://www.theintell.com/news/local/u-s-census-bucks-county-poverty-rate-at--year/article_98e3faa2-3f39-5517-8d03-055c67ce0d10.html

One in four Beaver County residents who didn't graduate high school live in poverty
Beaver County Times By Daveen Rae Kurutz dkurutz@timesonline.com September 19, 2017
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Fewer Beaver County residents lived in poverty in 2016 than a decade prior, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, if you don’t have at least a high school diploma, you’re more likely now to live in poverty. According to one-year estimates on poverty, 1 in 4 Beaver County residents who don’t have at least a high school diploma lived in poverty in 2016. That’s an increase from 2006, when 1 in 6 residents without a high school diploma lived in poverty. “I think you can look at those numbers in so many ways,” said Mike Rubino, executive director of the United Way of Beaver County. “It used to be that people thought the mill jobs and labor jobs, that you didn’t need a degree for, would always be here.” In 2006, a family of four was considered to be in poverty with a household income of $20,000 or less. In 2016, that family had to earn less than $24,250. In 2016, it’s estimated that 8.2 percent of the population lived in poverty. That’s about 5,000 fewer people than 10 years prior, when 10.2 percent of the population lived in poverty. In nearby Lawrence County, the percentage of people living in poverty increased slightly during the past 10 years, from 12.3 percent to 12.8 percent.
http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/one-in-four-beaver-county-residents-who-didn-t-graduate/article_8eab76ee-9c9e-11e7-ba2d-3f78c56ffb20.html

Pennsylvania submits its Every Student Succeeds Act plan to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
Pennsylvania's plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday. Now state officials wait for the feds' reaction to it.
Penn Live By Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated on September 18, 2017 at 7:09 PMPosted on September 18, 2017 at 6:51 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on Pennsylvania's roadmap for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act on Monday and submitted it to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for her approval. The plan, which was made public at 4:59 p.m. Monday, establishes what the department describes as "ambitious yet attainable" goals of raising student performance, increasing graduation rates and having English learners move toward achieving English language proficiency. It responds to the oft-heard complaints about too much class time spent on testing by shortening the state exams that third through eighth graders take in English language arts and math. It also establishes a new school report card that expands the indicators used to measure performance, placing less emphasis on state test scores which educators had sought. The indicators chosen include academic progress, graduation rates, English language proficiency, chronic absenteeism, and career exploration and preparation rates of fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders.
http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/09/pennsylvania_submits_its_every.html#incart_river_index

Pa. turns in its plan to comply with federal Every Student Succeeds Act
MOLLY BORN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mborn@post-gazette.com 5:53 PM SEP 18, 2017
The Pennsylvania Department of Education turned in one of its most important homework assignments Monday: A new school accountability plan for the state's more than 1.7 million students. Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on the plan required under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was then sent to federal education officials for review. Passed with bipartisan support in 2015, ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind, the controversial former federal education law. Pennsylvania's blueprint “represents the culmination of more than 18 months of collaboration between PDE and a diverse group of stakeholders from around the state,” education Secretary Pedro Rivera said in a news release. “We are proud of the plan that resulted and our efforts to provide all students with a world-class education and the opportunity to succeed after graduation.” The state education department released a draft in early August and received more than 400 comments from the public, some of which were incorporated into the final version. State plans across the country were due today.
http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2017/09/18/Pa-turns-in-its-plan-to-comply-with-federal-Every-Student-Succeeds-Act/stories/201709180173

Pennsylvania submitted its ESSA Consolidated State Plan to the United States Department of Education on September 18, 2017.
Pennsylvania Department of Education Website
http://www.education.pa.gov/K-12/ESSA/Pages/Consolidated-State-Plan.aspx#tab-1

Has soda tax led to job cuts in Philly? It depends who you ask
Inquirer by Laura McCrystal, Staff Writer  @LMcCrystal |  lmccrystal@phillynews.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 — 5:36 PM EDT
Mayor Kenney’s administration sought to claim a victory Monday in the ongoing fight over Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax: Wage tax collections suggest that the beverage industry has not lost jobs due to the drink levy, officials said. Hours later, Controller Alan Butkovitz fired back with criticisms of the so-called soda tax — and the city’s assessment of its own wage tax data. The numbers were not detailed enough to prove that jobs weren’t lost, he said, and the beverage tax would not have even been necessary if the city had not decreased the wage tax. The exchange marked the latest skirmish over the controversial tax. Since the 1.5-cents-per-ounce levy on sweetened beverages went into effect in January to fund pre-K, community schools, and other programs, its supporters and detractors have been scrambling for statistics to bolster their positions. In addition to analyzing wage tax data Monday, both the mayor’s office and Butkovitz released reports about the economic impact of the beverage tax.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/has-soda-tax-led-to-job-cuts-in-philly-it-depends-who-you-ask-20170918.html

Pennsylvania budget limbo could put schools in danger: 5 things to know today
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES  | Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 10:42 a.m.
The Emmys were Sunday and it looks the Washington, D.C. public school system was the unexpected star of the evening. The hashtag #DCPublicSchools was trending on Twitter Sunday night after comedian Dave Chappelle—a former student of D.C. schools—gave the school system a shout-out as he started to read from the teleprompter. Later in the show, fellow comedian John Oliver—not a former D.C. schools student—joined in.
http://triblive.com/news/education/12748237-74/pennsylvania-budget-limbo-could-put-schools-in-danger-5-things-to-know

School Start Times: SCASD teachers contract requires extended day proposal to be implemented by next school year
Centre Daily Times BY LEON VALSECHI lvalsechi@centredaily.com SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 11:34 PM
The proposal to extend the State College Area School District’s elementary school day is a possibility under the contract with the teacher’s union. When the school district and the State College Area Education Association negotiated its current teacher contract, which began on July 1, 2015, and ends June 30, 2020, and addition was added to address the possibility of extending the elementary school day. That resulted in an agreement between the two sides that requires the district to implement its extended day proposal, which adds 44 minutes to the elementary school day and pushes back the start time for middle and high school students, prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year. Last week, district administrators presented the school board with its most recent version of the proposal. The elementary school start time would move from 8:44 a.m. back to 8:10 a.m. and the day would end at 3 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m. Middle and high school students would start at 8:40 a.m. instead of 8:10 a.m. and their day would end at 3:42 p.m. and 3:40 p.m., respectively, instead of 3:12 p.m. and 3:16 p.m..
http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/state-college/article174073756.html

“At secondary schools, starting later would meet teenagers’ research-documented sleep needs, allowing for healthier, alert students to be able to learn fully.”
School day change vital for students
Centre Daily Times Letter by BOB O’DONNELL, STATE COLLEGE SEPT. 18, 2017 10:15 PM
The writer is superintendent of schools at State College Area School District.
As shown by the State High referendum in 2014, our community places a premium on education. Overwhelmingly, voters approved a new high school that will serve students well for decades to come. Reflecting local values, the State College Area School District is considering a change that would be even more vital for students. We’re proposing to extend our shorter-than-average elementary school day by 44 minutes, and to begin the middle and high school days 30 minutes later while keeping their overall length. Starting in the fall of 2018, both would improve school experiences and enhance learning for all students, reinforcing our daily commitment to helping them develop and preparing them for lifelong success. For example, we’re adding time for core elementary subjects — not to increase the material taught but to provide more opportunities with our present curricula for enriched learning and responsive teaching. The proposal also incorporates a fifth specials period, as well as additional teacher planning time for collaborating on innovative lessons. At secondary schools, starting later would meet teenagers’ research-documented sleep needs, allowing for healthier, alert students to be able to learn fully. We appreciate our teachers formally approving a contract change that endorsed our proposal. Information meetings are coming up — Tuesday at Park Forest Middle School and Sept. 27 at Mount Nittany Middle School, each at 7 p.m. — and we welcome public comment. The bottom line: We believe this change would support our community’s desire for all students to learn, grow and thrive.
http://www.centredaily.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article174068786.html

Editorial: There is room in school to talk about race
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board Sep 17, 2017
THE ISSUE - Though Lancaster County is increasingly diverse, teaching about race “isn’t a priority at most schools here and around the country, and some educators say that’s a problem if high school graduates are going to find their way in a multicultural world,” Jeff Hawkes reported in the Sept. 10 Sunday LNP. He interviewed students in the class of Penn Manor High School history teacher Todd Mealy, who is offering a seminar on race, ethnicity and gender this year. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that 11 a.m. Sunday is the most segregated hour in America. He would be disappointed to see some local high school cafeterias over the lunch hour 57 years later. Race remains a thorny subject in the United States, and in schools, too. Ignoring the subject is not going to make it go away. Failing to equip our young people to talk about it openly isn’t going to help, either. As Nakeiha Primus Smith, assistant professor of educational foundations at Millersville University, told LNP’s Hawkes, the reason we wrestle with race is because we’re not facing it squarely. “You have students who are not being confronted with values or perspectives that are not similar to their own,” she noted.
http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/there-is-room-in-school-to-talk-about-race/article_6d549674-9a3c-11e7-89d6-c355103aae96.html

Methacton teachers on strike; other districts in Philly region without contracts
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT SEPTEMBER 18, 2017
School bells didn't ring Monday morning for children in Methacton, a district of nearly 5,000 students in Montgomery County Pennsylvania. That's because of the district's first teacher strike since 1985. Methacton teachers followed colleagues from the Scranton-area Abington Heights School District who had already walked out. Pennsylvania is among a small handful of states where teachers strikes are legal — although teachers in the state's largest district, Philadelphia, cannot walk off the job. But where Pennsylvania teachers can strike, they do so with greater frequency than educators in other states. A 2015 analysis by the publication Education Week found strikes were more common in the Keystone State than anywhere else. Potential explanations for that include the fact that Pennsylvania has 500 school districts.
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/107269-methacton-teachers-on-strike-other-districts-in-philly-region-without-contracts-?_topstory


Darling-Hammond: Where have all the teachers gone?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 18 at 2:10 PM 
Where are all the teachers? That’s what education expert Linda Darling-Hammond asks and answers in this post about the teacher shortage in many parts of the United States — and what can be done to finally end it. While teacher shortages are not new, they are getting worse in many parts of the country. A report by the nonprofit Learning Policy Institute found that teacher education enrollment dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35 percent reduction, between 2009 and 2014 — and nearly 8 percent of the teaching workforce is leaving every year, the majority before retirement age. Darling-Hammond is founder and president of the Learning Policy Institute, which conducts independent, high-quality research to improve education policy and practice. She is also professor of education emeritus at Stanford University,  where she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and former executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, whose 1996 report “What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future,” was named one of the most influential reports affecting U.S. education in that decade. In 2008, she served as the leader of  President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team. Her book, “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future,” received the coveted Grawemeyer Award in 2012.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/09/18/where-have-all-the-teachers-gone/

Q&A: One-on-One with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 18, 2017 3:36 PM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has faced some big challenges in her more-than six months in office—setbacks in Congress on her school choice proposals, difficulty staffing her department, protestors greeting her at every turn, not to mention the political stickiness of serving a controversial president.  She's also come into the agency at a consequential time, with every state filing a plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first update to the main federal K-12 law in over a decade. And she may well be at the department when Congress next considers an update to special education laws. We talked about all of that and much more in a wide-ranging interview Friday, the final day of the secretary's "Rethink School" tour, which kicked off last Tuesday and covered six states.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/09/betsy_devos_transcript_special_education_ESSA_choice.html


Our Schools at Risk: How to Stop Funding Cuts, Bensalem HS, October 3 at 7 PM - 9 PM

Public Meeting Hosted by Education Voters PA Tuesday, October 3 at 7 PM - 9 PM
Bensalem HS, North Wing Audion, 4319 Hulmeville Rd., Bensalem 19020
Learn about the threats to our public schools and how YOUR advocacy efforts can make a difference. Join Education Voters of PA to learn about how state policies and school funding are impacting your local schools and how you can come together in your communities to stand up for public school students.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1735449410093965/

CONSIDER IT: SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE CASES FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Doubletree Reading
Berks County Community Foundation
Panelists:
Carol Corbett Burris: Executive Director of the Network for Public Education
Alyson Miles: Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the American Federation for Children
Jonathan Cetel: Founding executive director of PennCAN
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig: Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento
Karin Mallett: The WFMZ TV anchor and reporter returns as the moderator
School choice has been a hot topic in Berks County, in part due to a lengthy and costly dispute between the Reading School District and I-LEAD Charter School. The topic has also been in the national spotlight as President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have focused on expanding education choice.  With this in mind, a discussion on school choice is being organized as part of Berks County Community Foundation’s Consider It initiative. State Sen. Judy Schwank and Berks County Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach are co-chairs of this nonpartisan program, which is designed to promote thoughtful discussion of divisive local and national issues while maintaining a level of civility among participants.  The next Consider It Dinner will take place Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, 701 Penn St., Reading, Pa. Tickets are available here.  For $10 each, tickets include dinner, the panel discussion, reading material, and an opportunity to participate in the conversation.


Education Law Center’s 2017 Annual Celebration
ELC invites you to join us for our Annual Celebration on September 27 in Philadelphia.
The Annual Celebration will take place this year on September 27, 2017 at The Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. The event begins at 5:30 PM. We anticipate more than 300 legal, corporate, and community supporters joining us for a cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner presentation.  Our annual celebrations honor outstanding champions of public education. This proud tradition continues at this year’s event, when together we will salute these deserving honorees:
·         PNC Bank: for the signature philanthropic cause of the PNC Foundation, PNC Grow Up Great, a bilingual $350 million, multi-year early education initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life; and its support of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, which enables new lawyers to pursue careers in public interest law;
·         Joan Mazzotti: for her 16 years of outstanding leadership as the Executive Director of Philadelphia Futures, a college access and success program serving Philadelphia’s low-income, first-generation-to-college students;
·         Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr., PhD: for his invaluable service to ELC, as he rotates out of the chairman position on our Board of Directors. Dr. Campbell is an Arcadia University Associate Professor in the School of Education; and
·         ELC Pro Bono Awardee Richard Shephard of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP: for his exceptional work as pro bono counsel, making lasting contributions to the lives of many vulnerable families.Questions? Contact Tracy Callahan tcallahan@elc-pa.org or 215-238-6970 ext. 308.

STAY WOKE: THE INAUGURAL NATIONAL BLACK MALE EDUCATORS CONVENING; Philadelphia Fri, Oct 13, 2017 4:00 pm Sun, Oct 15, 2017 7:00pm
TEACHER DIVERSITY WORKS. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.  Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response.  Come participate in the inaugural National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome.

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017 Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township, PA

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA

Registration now open for the 67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/PASCD-Conference-Registration-is-Now-Open.html?soid=1101415141682&aid=5F-ceLtbZDs

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Monday, September 18, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 18, 2017: Billionaires gaining too much influence on public education

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 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, Instagram and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 18, 2017:
Billionaires gaining too much influence on public education


“No one elected these billionaires, and they are accountable to no one.  We can’t call our members of Congress to object to their policies. While Americans continue to condemn the power of the very rich to influence elections, we must also fight to stop them from having more influence over the future of our young people than the constituents of democratically elected school boards.”
Billionaires gaining too much influence on public education | Opinion
Inquirer Opinion by Lisa Haver Updated: SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 — 9:24 PM EDT
Lisa Haver is a retired Philadelphia teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.
When President Trump nominated Betsy DeVos, a woman with no degree or experience in education, as U.S. Secretary of Education, defenders of public education organized an unprecedented effort to fight her confirmation. Unfortunately, her stunning display of ignorance about education and the rights of public school students was not enough to stop the Senate from confirming her.  But we now know who DeVos is and what her agenda is: advancing the privatization of public education under the guise of  “choice.”  She is a government official, accountable to the American people. We can call our elected officials when she fails to uphold the rights of all schoolchildren. But whom can we call to stop Priscilla Chan from imposing her will on public education?  Or Laurene Jobs? Priscilla Chan is a physcian and wife of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, now the world’s fifth wealthiest person. Laurene Jobs is the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and the world’s fourth wealthiest woman. Neither has a degree in education or any experience teaching in public schools, but both have embarked on massive projects to impose their ideological visions of education on schoolchildren across the country.
http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/billionaires-gaining-too-much-influence-on-public-education-opinion-20170917.html

“In theory, the state's adoption of the new formula should be a huge boon to Erie. The formula uses objective need factors like poverty levels to allocate state money, and Erie ranks highly on those factors. But because lawmakers have decided to use the formula only to distribute new funding increases — which so far account for about 7 percent of the state's largest pot of public school money — the outlook for Erie remains grim.”

Fair funding advocates decry Pa. leaders for playing politics with specialty school money
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY SEPTEMBER 18, 2017
For years in Pennsylvania, school funding coming from state government was criticized as being irrational, unpredictable, and too-tied to backroom politics. That's a large part of why many celebrated last year when the state adopted a new student-weighted school funding formula built entirely on objective data. But there are still times when lawmakers throw that objectivity out the window. Take for instance the $23 million lawmakers agreed to funnel into what they call a "educational access program" in this year's budget, $14 million of which is earmarked for the Erie School District. Erie has had it rough for many years. It serves a large population of poor, needy students, it has a weak local tax base to draw from, and it suffers from a state government that, on the whole, prioritizes funding other relatively better-off districts. "For us, we're in the bottom 2 or 3 percent as far as state and local revenue per pupil," said Erie superintendent Brian Polito. "So we're still on the losing end."

Editorial: It’s budget business as usual in Harrisburg
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 09/16/17, 10:31 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Only in Pennsylvania.
Yes, we have a budget in place, one calls for our friends in Harrisburg to spend $32 billion of your hard-earned tax dollars. It’s been in place since the state-mandated deadline of July 1. What we don’t have is a way to pay for it. Still, two and a half months later. Actually that’s not technically correct. We actually have two of them. That’s right. There are now two funding plans floating around the state Capitol. At this point we might remind you that Republicans control both the House and Senate, so why is it that they have yet to agree on a way to fund the budget? One word: Taxes. The Senate version calls for some new levies, including something many people have been calling for now for years — a new severance tax on the state’s natural gas drillers. But Republicans in the House, under the thumb of Speaker Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, chafe at the idea of any new taxes.
http://www.delcotimes.com/opinion/20170916/editorial-its-budget-business-as-usual-in-harrisburg

Yo, Harrisburg, snap out of it!
Philly Daily News by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST  baerj@phillynews.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 — 1:07 PM EDT
I have a suggestion. Send your state House and/or Senate member a rubber band. Tell him or her to put it on his or her wrist and snap it. And keep snapping it. It’s worth a try. If they do it long enough, maybe they’ll snap out of it. Don’t know your lawmakers? Google “PA General Assembly,” go to “Find My Legislator,” and type in your address. Oh, and send Gov. Wolf one, too: Office of the Governor, 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pa. 17120. It might take him several snaps, but maybe it’ll wake him up. Maybe he’ll snap out of it. The “it,” of course, is Harrisburg’s locked-in lunacy of doing the same things over and over. For lawmakers (the same party runs both chambers), it’s their failure to meet their one responsibility — enacting an annual balanced state budget —  then collect their automatic annual pay raises and run for reelection.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/yo-harrisburg-snap-out-of-it-20170917.html

"We've been told it's going out next week," said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. "After that, we've been told, 'Don't hold your breath.'" John Callahan, of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said the organization was relieved that Wolf's administration would be able to make the pension payment to districts, but it worried about the fate of a bigger payment, in excess of $1 billion for public school operations, that is due from the state in October.”
Pennsylvania delays $1.7B in payments amid budget stalemate
AP By MARC LEVY Published: Sep 16, 2017
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania state government will delay more than $1.7 billion in payments due largely to Medicaid insurers and school districts, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday, amid an unprecedented cash crunch and a fight in the Republican-controlled Legislature over how to plug a projected $2.2 billion budget hole. Wolf's office issued the brief statement acknowledging the delays on the day the state's main bank account was projected to dip below zero. Wolf did not make a public appearance to discuss the payment delays, but his office said he would speak with top lawmakers by telephone over the weekend to discuss the budget stalemate. The payments are reimbursements for medical care, addiction treatment and mental health counseling under Medicaid and for the state's share of pension obligation payments to Pennsylvania's school employees pension fund. The Medicaid reimbursements, due Friday, will be delayed for at least a week, Wolf's office said. School districts expected the pension obligation reimbursements to be delayed by a matter of a few days, although state officials expect rolling delays of payments, at least until spring, for as long as the budget stalemate goes on.
http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268748/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=pVgFS2p8

Wolf says budget impasse forcing him to withhold nearly $1.2 billion in Medicaid payments
Post-Gazette by LIZ NAVRATIL AND ANGELA COULOUMBIS Harrisburg Bureau 3:11 PM SEP 15, 2017
HARRISBURG — With the state still mired in a stubborn budget impasse, Gov.Tom Wolf on Friday said he is being forced to withhold nearly $1.2 billion in payments to Medicaid program providers across the state. In a short statement, the governor said his administration will be unable to pay out $1.16 billion to managed care organizations for at least week, possibly longer. Those organizations are private health insurers that provide insurance plans to the state's Medicaid recipients, many of them children, elderly and disabled. Mr. Wolf also said that come next week, his administration will also have to delay a $581 million payout to cover the state's share of pension obligations for the fund that covers the state's public school teachers and employees. The governor has also warned that without a completed budget, other funding may be in jeopardy, including for schools and roads.
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2017/09/15/Wolf-says-budget-impasse-forcing-him-to-withhold-nearly-1-2-billion-in-Medicaid-payments/stories/201709150180

Pennsylvania's ugly budget fight gets personal and regional
Penn Live By Marc Levy The Associated Press Updated on September 16, 2017 at 2:55 PM Posted on September 16, 2017 at 2:37 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The feel-good bipartisan spirit that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf tried to instill last year in Pennsylvania's Capitol is gone, stomped to bits in an increasingly ugly budget stalemate. Now, the Capitol seems gripped by a feud that is perhaps less partisan than it is regional and personal. To a significant degree, that feud is between the huge Republican majorities that run the House and the Senate. It is also inside of those majorities, pitting southeastern Pennsylvania moderates against anti-tax conservatives who hail from much of the rest of the state. "There's so many factions, just so many factions," said Sen. Don White, R-Indiana. "Everybody from the southeast. It's geographical. It's about commitments made. It's a real mess and I've never seen anything like it in my 17 years." Nearly three months into the fiscal year, lawmakers are grappling with how to resolve state government's largest cash shortfall since the recession, now a projected $2.2 billion gap in a $32 billion budget.
http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/09/pennsylvanias_ugly_budget_figh.html#incart_river_index

Pa.'s budget stalemate causes payment delays but no urgency visible at Capitol to address it
Penn Live By Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated on September 16, 2017 at 7:57 AMPosted on September 15, 2017 at 7:44 PM
Pennsylvania's incomplete 2017-18 budget is now starting to cause a pinch in the way the state conducts its business. It can no longer pay all of its bills on time. The state's top financial officers who are empowered to authorize stopgap loans won't do it any more due to not having a revenue plan in place to fully fund the enacted $32 billion budget. And this stranglehold continues to hold up $600 million in state funding for Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln universities and Penn's vet school. "It's a pretty serious situation," said Gov. Tom Wolf's spokesman J.J. Abbott. But that wasn't obvious at the Capitol on Thursday and Friday.
http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/09/pas_budget_stalemate_causes_pa.html#incart_2box_politics

80 days without a complete state budget
GoErie September 18, 2017 Posted at 2:01 AM
The state Legislature is more than 11 weeks past its constitutional deadline to pass a complete 2017-18 budget. Lawmakers in late June approved a $32 billion spending plan but no revenue package to balance it. The Senate on July 27 passed a $2.2 billion revenue package that is meant to cover a $1.5 billion deficit from the 2016-17 budget and a projected $700 million gap in this year’s budget. That measure is now before the House for consideration. You can call the offices of Gov. Tom Wolf or our state legislators to discuss this issue.
http://www.goerie.com/opinion/20170918/80-days-without-complete-state-budget

State Budget Battle May Hit Poor School Districts
Sanatoga Post by Joe Zlomek | September 18, 2017
By Andrea Sears, Public News Service, and The Post Publications
HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania state senators are due to return today (Monday, Sept. 18, 2017) from their summer vacations, but it’s unlikely they’ll find anything relaxing in the status of the $32 billion 2017-2018 budget. A revenue plan passed in July to support its funding remains in disarray, and the state treasurer announced he would not authorize more short-term borrowing to keep cash flowing. Checking accounts were empty by Friday (Sept. 15), according to state Treasurer Joe Torsella, leaving Pennsylvania unable to pay its bills. On the same day, Gov. Tom Wolf reported he would delay almost $1.2 billion in Medicaid payments, and an almost $600 million payment due to the state’s School Employee Retirement System. Dolores McCracken, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, predicted public schools could be among casualties of the budget crisis. “If the House (of Representatives) doesn’t act soon, our schools could miss $1 billion in state funding payments in September and October,” she claimed. School funding in Pennsylvania depends heavily on local property taxes. Its probable that poorer school districts – under state guidelines, their ranks include Pottsgrove and Pottstown – may feel the most immediate impact, McCracken said. “We have districts that will actually worry about whether or not they can make payroll,” she added.
http://sanatogapost.com/2017/09/18/schools-may-hit-state-budget-battle/

Berks County schools anxiously await state spending plan
Reading Eagle Written by David Mekeel Friday September 15, 2017 12:01 AM
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there. The state has passed the two-month mark without a way to fund the 2017-18 budget and the impacts of the delay are starting to show. Notably, public school districts are unsure when they'll get state funding they're due. Money has been trickling in. Local districts have reported getting some special education funding and funds for the state's property tax relief program. And the state has released the first installment of basic education payments, the largest stream of state money to schools. The payments were the result of Gov. Tom Wolf transferring $700 million from PennDOT's Motor License Fund to the state's general fund to cover them, along with state police costs. But if and when future payments will come is unclear. The state House did pass a spending plan Wednesday night, but it has yet to pass the state Senate and head to the governor's desk for signature. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he opposes the plan. Further delays could leave districts across the state at least a bit short on cash, much like they were two years ago when the state budget itself was eight months late.
http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/berks-county-schools-anxiously-await-state-spending-plan

Gerrymandering: Folmer puts redistricting reform on hold due to lawsuit
York Dispatch by Jason Addy, 505-5437/@JasonAddyYD Published 2:09 p.m. ET Sept. 14, 2017
Efforts to change the way Pennsylvania’s congressional district maps are drawn will have to wait, with state Sen. Mike Folmer postponing hearings on the issue until a gerrymandering lawsuit against legislative leaders is resolved. Advocates from Fair Districts PA, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and other good-government groups rallied in the state Capitol Tuesday, Sept. 12, to call on Folmer to reschedule a hearing on Senate Bill 22, which aims to establish an independent redistricting commission through an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. As chairman of the Senate’s State Government committee, Folmer has “hit the pause button” on holding any hearings on redistricting reform because of the League of Women Voters’ lawsuit filed in June, Fred Sembach, the senator's chief of staff, said Wednesday, Sept. 13. 
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/14/folmer-puts-redistricting-reform-hold-due-lawsuit/663904001/

Can a school transform this North Philly neighborhood?
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 — 2:03 PM EDT
In a crime-scarred section of the poorest big city in the U.S., Sharswood still sticks out.
Once dominated by high-rise housing projects, this North Philadelphia neighborhood sees   high school graduation rates that have hovered around 35 percent. Trauma touches nearly everyone. So when city housing officials promised $500 million to remake Sharswood into a place where people wanted to live, they knew there had to be a school. Four years ago, citing dwindling enrollment and lagging academics, the school district shuttered two schools: Reynolds Elementary and Vaux High School. This month, with a multimillion dollar boost from the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the school system reopened the school at 23rd and Master Streets — now known as Vaux Big Picture High School — featuring or soon to feature medical and dental clinics, after-school programs, and a team of “resilience specialists.”
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/can-a-school-transform-this-north-philly-neighborhood-20170915.html

Pa.'s public schools must protect transgender students | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Cooper Toothman Updated on September 16, 2017 at 8:32 AM Posted on September 16, 2017 at 8:30 AM
Cooper Toothman is a tenth-grade student at McConnellsburg High School in Fulton County. She is also a transgender youth leader with the Pennsylvania Youth Congress.
Transgender students in Pennsylvania's public schools want an educational environment that is safe, free from harassment, and nurtures learning. That's why the recent federal court decision in favor of the Boyertown Area School District's practice of recognizing and respecting its students' gender identity was so important. I know this from personal experience as a transgender student at McConnellsburg High School in Fulton County. It's hard to explain to a cisgender person - that is, someone who identifies with the gender that they were assigned at birth - just how liberating it is to be able to go about my day being recognized by school administrators, staff, and my classmates as a girl.
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2017/09/pas_public_schools_must_protec.html#incart_2box_opinion

Crowd pleads for Philadelphia SRC to abolish itself
FOX29 WTXF By: Shawnette Wilson POSTED: SEP 14 2017 09:43PM EDT UPDATED: SEP 14 2017 10:31PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Crowds packed the first School Reform Commission meeting tonight. They are saying time is up. "Harrisburg said they had a fix to make our schools alright.  15 years later no solution is in sight," the crowd sang as community leaders, teachers and parents packed the first SRC meeting of the school year to send a strong message. "Closing schools and budget cuts and many other woes," the crowd continued to sing. They came to tell the School Reform Commission that its time is up. "Tick, tick, tick, tick," the crowd chanted while holding clocks.   The SRC was put in place 16 years ago to take control away from the Philadelphia School District and put it into the hands of the state. The Coalition of Our City Schools wants the SRC abolished.
http://www.fox29.com/news/crowd-pleads-for-philadelphia-src-to-abolish-itself#/

'You build your imagination': Minecraft draws hundreds of kids to Philly schools fundraiser
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT SEPTEMBER 18, 2017
Standing before a room of 100 kids on 100 laptops, Donna Cooper, executive director of the nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), made what should have been an exciting announcement. "If you want to take a short break to see the fire truck that's outside you're welcome to go do that," Cooper said amid a chorus of key clacks and mouse clicks.
That's right, a bright, red fire truck — with real, live firemen waiting to give tours. Could there be anything more alluring? "I just wanna let you know it's right outside this door," Cooper said. "Ok? Alright kids..." As the kids remained firmly in place, it became clear there is something more alluring. And that something is Minecraft. "We have a time limit on making this challenge and I've seen a firetruck before," explained Ellie Zdancewic, 12, as she glanced down at her computer screen. Minecraft has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. It is, very simply, one of the most popular computer games ever created. The Block By Block Party, held this weekend at the University of the Sciences, offered a glimpse inside that popularity. Over two days, hundreds of kids gathered -- in person, in the actual flesh -- to play Minecraft together. The event's stated purpose was to raise money for Cooper's organization. With the cash, PCCY plans to start a fund that will give grants to Philly public schools who need better tech.
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/homepage-feature/item/107235-15awmine?linktype=hp_impact

Methacton teachers will strike Monday; district cancels classes
Inquirer by Linda Loyd, Staff Writer  @LoydLinda |  lloyd@phillynews.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 — 10:10 PM EDT
The Methacton School District in Montgomery County has canceled classes for Monday after failing to reach a contract agreement with teachers. Bargaining talks began at 2 p.m. Sunday between the school board and the union representing the district’s 403 teachers. Talks broke off a little after 8:30 p.m. Teachers said a strike would begin at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The teachers’ union notified Methacton school officials Friday of its intent to walk off the job Monday morning.  Teachers have been working without a new contract agreement since January. Support staff are bargaining separately. The Methacton Education Association said it was “disappointed” that it was unable to reach an agreement. “The school board’s position of dramatically increasing the employees’ share of the health-care premium, while not adequately increasing salaries, is unacceptable,” the union said. The teachers’ association said it was “willing to increase premium share by over 23 percent in three years, but that was not sufficient to the district.”
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/methacton-teachers-will-strike-monday-district-cancels-classes-20170917.html

North Penn board approves new teacher, support staff contracts
Intelligencer By Chris English Staff Writer Sep 16, 2017
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
North Penn School District teachers and others in their union will get base salary increases totaling 5.4 percent under a new, four-year contract recently approved by the school board.
Also approved was a new, three-year deal for the support staff union that has base salary increases totaling 6.75 percent. Base increases for teachers are 1.3 percent, 1.2 percent, 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent a year. When accounting for step movement — an employee's movement on a salary matrix based on years of service — actual increases are 2.97 percent, 2.98 percent, 3.04 percent and 2.88 percent. Support staff base salary increases are 2 percent the first year, 2.25 percent the second and 2.5 percent in the final year.  Actual pay hikes are 2.74, 2.89 and 3.03 percent when accounting for step movement.  After 16 years, employees no longer get additional pay based on step movement, district officials added. Both contracts are retroactive to July 1, when the previous deals expired. The deal with the North Penn Education Association teachers union extends through June 30, 2021. The North Penn Educational Support Professionals Association's contract runs through June 30, 2020.
http://www.theintell.com/news/local/north-penn-board-approves-new-teacher-support-staff-contracts/article_e9040eb2-9a32-11e7-8264-c3f143b4974a.html?hp=top-mainstory


“There’s an argument to be made that we should cut back on his activities or make him go to bed earlier so that he gets more sleep. Teens aren’t wired for that, though. They want to go to bed later and sleep later. It’s not the activities that prevent them from getting enough sleep — it’s the school start times that require them to wake up so early. More than 90 percent of high schools and more than 80 percent of middle schools start before 8:30 a.m.”
The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later
New York Times by Aaron E. Carroll THE NEW HEALTH CARE SEPT. 13, 2017
Many high-school-age children across the United States now find themselves waking up much earlier than they’d prefer as they return to school. They set their alarms, and their parents force them out of bed in the morning, convinced that this is a necessary part of youth and good preparation for the rest of their lives. It’s not. It’s arbitrary, forced on them against their nature, and a poor economic decision as well. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that teenagers get between nine and 10 hours of sleep. Most in the United States don’t. It’s not their fault. My oldest child, Jacob, is in 10th grade. He plays on the junior varsity tennis team, but his life isn’t consumed by too many extracurricular activities. He’s a hard worker, and he spends a fair amount of time each evening doing homework. I think most nights he’s probably asleep by 10 or 10:30. His school bus picks him up at 6:40 a.m. To catch it, he needs to wake up not long after 6. Nine hours of sleep is a pipe dream, let alone 10.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/upshot/the-economic-case-for-letting-teenagers-sleep-a-little-later.html

Confidence in U.S. Public Schools Rallies
Gallup.com by Valerie J. Calderon, Frank Newport and Nate Dvorak SEPTEMBER 14, 2017
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
·         36% of Americans are confident in U.S. public schools
·         Highest level of confidence since 2009
·         Republicans, Democrats both more confident in public schools
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the nation's public schools edged up in 2017. The 36% of U.S. adults who express "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public schools is a six-percentage-point increase from 2016 and marks the highest confidence rating in eight years.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/219143/confidence-public-schools-rallies.aspx#pq=hJegji

“Compare that investment of time, talent and philanthropy in successful charter schools with the approach taken by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) online schools and the White Hat family of schools — arguably Ohio’s worst charters. Rather than investing in kids, their owners mastered the use of Ohio’s weak charter-school regulation to make personal fortunes. The networks of schools they established technically are nonprofit, but they also operate for-profit companies that sell management services, educational software and the like to the schools they control. It’s a handy setup; ECOT founder William J. Lager was broke in 2000, when he persuaded a sponsor to back his idea for an online school. By 2016, ECOT had collected more than $1 billion from taxpayers, $170 million of which went to Lager’s for-profit companies. ECOT students haven’t fared so well. Very few of them are able to pass state proficiency tests and fewer than 40 percent graduate from high school. ECOT now proposes to refashion itself as a dropout-prevention school, allowing it to meet even lower standards.”
Editorial: At KIPP, a charter puts kids first
Columbus Dipatch Editorial Posted Sep 13, 2017 at 12:01 AM Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 6:17 AM
KIPP Columbus is a happy example of what can happen when charter-school operators view their work as an investment that enriches the future of children, rather than themselves. KIPP Columbus — part of the Knowledge is Power Program nationwide charter network — has advantages that many other charter schools don’t. It was brought to Columbus by community leaders, and benefactors have donated tens of millions of dollars to give the school gleaming new buildings. The school this year added grades 9 and 10 in a new high-school building and opened a standalone life-sciences lab with a grant from Battelle. But the investment that really makes KIPP special began in 1994, when two former teachers started a fifth-grade program in a Houston elementary. They believed that high expectations, more time with students, and intense commitment from teachers could help even the most-deprived, furthest-behind students achieve. They were right. The KIPP middle schools they opened in Houston and New York achieved such striking results that investors have helped the program to grow to nearly 200 schools, with grades K-12. Every KIPP teacher invests heavily in the school’s success, by signing on for longer school days, including some Saturdays and summer days, and promising to be available to students by cellphone after hours. KIPP students are expected to invest time, attention and hard work into their education.
http://www.dispatch.com/opinion/20170913/editorial-at-kipp-charter-puts-kids-first

Betsy DeVos Waiting for 'Right Time,' Circumstances for a Choice Initiative
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 17, 2017 7:47 PM
Indianapolis - U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has spent decades advocating for private school vouchers and charter schools, came to Washington  with one item at the top of her agenda: to push for a new federal school choice initiative. Her vision is running into trouble on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers in both chambers have failed to fund either of the school choice proposals in the president's budget. And it's looking less and less likely that the White House will push to include a federal tax credit scholarship program in a sweeping tax overhaul package that's slated to be unveiled soon. So where does that leave the secretary? She is not giving up, she said in a wide-ranging interview with Education Week last week. And she wants to make sure the administration pursues the best possible school choice policy. "I think what's most important that—whatever is done or originated at the federal level—that it not be a new and expansive program to be administered at the federal level, and secondly that we do it at the right time and under the right circumstances," she told me as we rolled past strip malls on the outskirts of Indianapolis to rural Charlottesville, Ind., the final stop on the secretary's "Rethink School" tour. 
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/09/betsy_devos_school_choice_essa_interview.html

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' 163-foot yacht docked in Milwaukee
Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 12:16 p.m. CT Sept. 17, 2017 | Updated 4:30 p.m. CT Sept. 17, 2017
Boats this big always get attention in Milwaukee, and even more so when they belong to a member of President Donald Trump's cabinet. SeaQuest, a 163-foot, $40 million yacht, belongs to Dick and Betsy DeVos of Michigan. Betsy DeVos is the U.S. secretary of education. A Department of Education spokesperson said DeVos is not in Milwaukee and has no plans to be in the area, and that some other family must be using the boat. The department's website shows that last week she was scheduled to visit six Western and Midwestern states as part of her Rethink School tour.  There was no activity around the boat, and no clear sign anyone was on board Sunday morning. Websites that track yachts show the SeaQuest arrived in Milwaukee on Saturday and had spent last week at Harbor Springs, in the far northwestern corner of Michigan's lower peninsula. According to several sites, the SeaQuest sleeps 12 guests in six cabins, and a crew of 12 in six more cabins. It was built by Westport in Port Angeles, Wash., and delivered to the DeVoses in 2008. It is registered in the Cayman Islands.
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2017/09/17/u-s-education-secretary-betsy-devoss-163-foot-yacht-docked-milwaukee/674959001/


CONSIDER IT: SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE CASES FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Doubletree Reading
Berks County Community Foundation
Panelists:
Carol Corbett Burris: Executive Director of the Network for Public Education
Alyson Miles: Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the American Federation for Children
Jonathan Cetel: Founding executive director of PennCAN
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig: Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento
Karin Mallett: The WFMZ TV anchor and reporter returns as the moderator
School choice has been a hot topic in Berks County, in part due to a lengthy and costly dispute between the Reading School District and I-LEAD Charter School. The topic has also been in the national spotlight as President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have focused on expanding education choice.  With this in mind, a discussion on school choice is being organized as part of Berks County Community Foundation’s Consider It initiative. State Sen. Judy Schwank and Berks County Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach are co-chairs of this nonpartisan program, which is designed to promote thoughtful discussion of divisive local and national issues while maintaining a level of civility among participants.  The next Consider It Dinner will take place Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, 701 Penn St., Reading, Pa. Tickets are available here.  For $10 each, tickets include dinner, the panel discussion, reading material, and an opportunity to participate in the conversation.


Education Law Center’s 2017 Annual Celebration
ELC invites you to join us for our Annual Celebration on September 27 in Philadelphia.
The Annual Celebration will take place this year on September 27, 2017 at The Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. The event begins at 5:30 PM. We anticipate more than 300 legal, corporate, and community supporters joining us for a cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner presentation.  Our annual celebrations honor outstanding champions of public education. This proud tradition continues at this year’s event, when together we will salute these deserving honorees:
·         PNC Bank: for the signature philanthropic cause of the PNC Foundation, PNC Grow Up Great, a bilingual $350 million, multi-year early education initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life; and its support of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, which enables new lawyers to pursue careers in public interest law;
·         Joan Mazzotti: for her 16 years of outstanding leadership as the Executive Director of Philadelphia Futures, a college access and success program serving Philadelphia’s low-income, first-generation-to-college students;
·         Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr., PhD: for his invaluable service to ELC, as he rotates out of the chairman position on our Board of Directors. Dr. Campbell is an Arcadia University Associate Professor in the School of Education; and
·         ELC Pro Bono Awardee Richard Shephard of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP: for his exceptional work as pro bono counsel, making lasting contributions to the lives of many vulnerable families.Questions? Contact Tracy Callahan tcallahan@elc-pa.org or 215-238-6970 ext. 308.

STAY WOKE: THE INAUGURAL NATIONAL BLACK MALE EDUCATORS CONVENING; Philadelphia Fri, Oct 13, 2017 4:00 pm Sun, Oct 15, 2017 7:00pm
TEACHER DIVERSITY WORKS. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.  Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response.  Come participate in the inaugural National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome.

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017 Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township, PA

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA

Registration now open for the 67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/PASCD-Conference-Registration-is-Now-Open.html?soid=1101415141682&aid=5F-ceLtbZDs

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017