Thursday, January 12, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 12: From 11-12 thru 15-16, taxpayers in Senator Wagner’s 11 districts paid over $55M to chronically underperforming cyber charters that they never authorized

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 12, 2017
From 2011-12 through 2015-16, taxpayers in Senator Scott Wagner’s 11 York County school districts have had to pay over $55 million to chronically underperforming cyber charters that they never authorized. 

“When the Legislature prefers appropriating what is convenient rather than what schools need, it pushes the problem onto local taxpayers.”
Pa. schools need more revenue, not cost myths (column)
Stop the myth that the solution to an unfair school property tax system is to control education spending.
York Daily Record Opinion by Michael Churchill1:06 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2017
Michael Churchill is an attorney at the Public Interest Law Center.
It is time for Pennsylvania politicians to deal with real needs for revenue and stop peddling the myth that the solution to our budget crisis is “controlling” spending.  And stop the myth that the solution to an unfair school property tax system is to control education spending and eliminate property taxes. These myths ignore the magnitude of the budget deficit for current services, and the actual needs of our children’s schools.  Pennsylvania already has fewer government employees on a per capita basis than all but four other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center reports that state general fund spending has declined as a proportion of the state’s economy and is lower now than it was in the 1990s. Even Gov. Corbett’s Secretary of the Budget Charles Zogby declared that the budget could no longer be balanced on the basis of cuts. And while there are undoubtedly savings from elimination of waste and inefficiencies, no legislator has identified enough savings to close the $1.7 billion deficit identified by the Independent Fiscal Office.

Wagner becomes first Republican to launch bid against Wolf
Inquirer by Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JANUARY 11, 2017 11:42 AM EST
MANCHESTER, Pa. - Standing in the truck shop of the waste management company he founded, Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner of York County on Wednesday declared his candidacy for governor in the 2018 election.  "Governor Wolf is a failed governor," Wagner said. "That's why today I am officially announcing my candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania."  The state, he said, is at a crossroads.  "Pennsylvania has a pension crisis. Property owners across Pennsylvania are choking on ever-increasing school taxes on their properties," Wagner said. "Unemployment is up. Pennsylvania's economy is stalled."  As long as Republicans control the General Assembly but the state's Democratic governor is in office, he said, "We're going nowhere."  Wagner, 61, who took office after winning a 2014 special election as a write-in candidate, has become a prominent figure in the state Capitol, where he has argued that public-sector unions have too much influence.

From 2011-12 through 2015-16, taxpayers in Senator Scott Wagner’s 11 York County school districts have had to pay over $55 million to chronically underperforming cyber charters that they never authorized.  Not one cyber charter has achieved a passing School Performance Profile score in any of the four years that it has been in effect.

School District
total cyber spending 11-12
total cyber spending 12-13
total cyber spending 13-14
total cyber spending 14-15
total cyber spending 15-16
Central York SD
Dallastown Area SD
Eastern York SD
Red Lion Area SD
South Eastern SD
South Western SD
Southern York County SD
Spring Grove Area SD
West York Area SD
York City SD
York Suburban SD

Thanks to PCCY for compiling these figures from data on the PDE website.

Chester Upland teachers reject contract offer
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, STAFF WRITER Updated: JANUARY 11, 2017 — 4:28 PM EST
Chester Upland teachers have overwhelmingly vetoed a contract offer from the school district that would have given veteran educators smaller raises than less experienced staffers and, for the first time, required union members to pay for health insurance.  Michele Paulick, president of the 234-member Chester Upland Education Association, said teachers voted 123-54 on Monday to reject the three-year pact. She is surveying members "to see what needs to be changed in order for them to accept it."  Teachers in the Delaware County district, one of the most distressed school systems in Pennsylvania, have worked without a new contract for more than three years and have not gotten a raise in five. The average salary is about $75,000, according to union officials.  Chester Upland's offer would have increased the number of steps - annual built-in pay hikes - from 13 to 15 to reach the top of the salary scale. Most teachers would have gotten a $2,100 raise in each of the next three years, but those at top-scale would have received a $1,000 bonus each year plus a smaller raise in years two and three, according to someone familiar with the offer.  Teachers also would have to buy into the Delaware County Consortium health care plan; for those with families, the annual cost could be as high as $1,300.

Editorial: A familiar face returns to Chester Upland
Delco Times POSTED: 01/11/17, 9:37 PM EST | UPDATED: 6 SECS AGO
The perennially struggling Chester Upland School District found itself in a familiar dilemma recently.  They were looking for a new leader.  Instead they found an old one.  They could have done a lot worse.  Dr. Juan Baughn is back.  The veteran educator was named interim superintendent during a special meeting of the Chester Upland School Board Monday night.
He will fill the considerable void created by the departure of Dr. Gregory Shannon, who is leaving the district to take a “chief of schools” position with an as yet unnamed organization.  Shannon is credited, perhaps first and foremost, with stanching the hemorraghing of students from the troubled district. Shannon literally went do to door along with then state-appointed district receiver Joe Watkins.  Shannon should be noted for two other things: Under his leadership the district showed some academic gains, and the buildings themselves became safer.  But he leaves with the district facing the same problem it has faced for decades. That, of course, would be facing a river of red ink.

Unionville school director resigns, cites bullying and intimidation in schools
Delco Times By Fran Maye, on Twitter POSTED: 01/11/17, 5:45 PM EST | UPDATED: 8 HRS AGO
AST MARLBOROUGH >> Saying administrators are not doing enough to prevent bullying and intimidation in schools, Unionville-Chadds Ford School Director Michael Rock resigned abruptly Monday night.  “I fear our silence on this issue will only breed more intolerance,” Rock said. “I urge the board and the district to speak now and speak out forcefully to defend diversity and tolerance before it is too late, but I have little to no faith that (the school board) will do so.” Last month, Rock told the board it is not doing enough to prevent intimidation of minority students since the election of Donald Trump in November. Of the more than 4,000 students in the district, 92.6 percent are white.   Rock said a minority parent approached him just after the election telling him about bullying and intimidation. However, Rock never disclosed the name of the parent, and it could not be otherwise verified.

Want to be a school board member?
York daily Record Angie Mason , amason@ydr.comPublished 11:43 a.m. ET Jan. 11, 2017 
Do you want to be a school board member? There's an event coming up for you. Read about that and more in this week's education news roundup.
So you want to be a school board member
The York Suburban School District will hold a presentation Jan. 24 for community members interested in learning about running for school board in York County.  The event will include a panel discussion with South Western School District Supt. Barbara Rupp and school board members from two area districts, according to a news release.  The program starts at 7 p.m. at Valley View Elementary School, 850 Southern Road, Spring Garden Township.

“Statewide, 112,900 3- and 4-year-olds who qualify for publicly funded, high-quality prekindergarten are not served. That’s more than 64 percent of eligible children, according to “A Path Forward: Publicly Funded High-Quality Pre-K in Pennsylvania,” from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. In 11 out of the 16 school districts in York County, fewer than 20 percent of qualifying prekindergarten children were served. In Red Lion Area School District there is only one high-quality publicly funded classroom – despite nearly 600 eligible children in the district. And while 245 children qualify in the Spring Grove Area School District, there are no publicly funded high-quality pre-k providers.”
Make high-quality prekindergarten a 2017 priority (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Chris Reilly12:19 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2017
Christopher B. Reilly is a York County commissioner
Movements gain their strength when many people from differing walks of life unite for a single cause. Over the past three years, I have supported an effort known as Pre-K for PA, which is urging meaningful state investments in high-quality prekindergarten.  Why high-quality pre-K? Because it works, and because all children, especially those who start life at disadvantages due to no fault of their own, deserve a chance to succeed. For these kids, high-quality early learning helps to build the foundation for academics, proper social behavior and emotional health. Neuroscientists have proved that the human brain develops most rapidly from birth to 5, and most effectively with the proper kind of enrichment.  Those findings have influenced state policy makers and resulted in high-quality, enriching prekindergarten being available to thousands more eligible children.  However, new data show there’s much more work to be done.

Kenney creates advisory board to oversee pre-K
Inquirer by Julia Terruso, Staff Writer  @JuliaTerruso Updated: JANUARY 11, 2017 5:19 PM EST
 Mayor Kenney signed an executive order Wednesday creating a 13-member board to oversee the expansion and finances of the newly created pre-K program.   The board will include up to seven members, including a chair, appointed by Kenney and up to six appointed by Council President Darrell L. Clarke.    All the appointees have experience in early childhood education, philanthropy, child welfare, childhood development, childhood behavioral health, medicine, or higher education or represent critical stakeholder or community interests, according to the city.
 The members, who serve 2-year terms, are as follows: 

Pennsylvania Department of Education launches Pinterest page By Chelsea Friedman | Published 01/11 2017 08:44PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today announced that it has launched a new Pinterest page aimed at providing educational resources to students, teachers, and parents. “By engaging students, families, and educators digitally, the Department is using new and innovative ways to meet communities where they are,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “Pinterest is a powerful planning tool that provides significant value to users. The Department is proud to offer this new platform to residents of the commonwealth, and hopes that Pennsylvanians will engage with the helpful resources provided.”  The Pinterest page, operating under the handle @PADeptOfEd, will include both original and shared content on boards including, STEM, Music, Art, Reading and Writing, Fitness, College & Career Readiness, Food and Nutrition, Physical Fitness, Educational Apps, Driver Safety, Classroom Ideas, Resources, Crafts, Summer Reading, Back to School, and Quotable Quotes.

Supreme Court may boost public schools’ responsibilities to children with disabilities
Post Gazette By David G. Savage / Tribune News Service January 12, 2017 12:09 AM
WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices were seen as ready Wednesday to clarify and strengthen the rights of the nation’s 6.7 million children with disabilities, perhaps by requiring public schools to offer a special education program that will ensure they can make significant progress.  The case of a Colorado boy with autism, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, could have a far-reaching impact on millions of children and their parents as well as the budgets of school districts nationwide.  At issue is a long-standing federal law that says children with disabilities have a right to a “free appropriate public education.” Schools, courts and parents have been divided over what this promise means in practice.  Does it mean, for example, that a school must merely offer a minimal special program that may offer “some educational benefit” to the child, as a federal appeals court in Denver ruled? Or instead, do these children have a right to “make significant educational progress,” as lawyers for the outgoing Obama administration contend?

Justices Face ‘Blizzard of Words’ in Special Education Case
New York Times By ADAM LIPTAKJAN. 11, 2017
WASHINGTON — In a case that could affect the education of 6.7 million children with disabilities, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled to decide whether it should require public schools to do more under a federal law that calls for them to provide a free education that addresses the children’s needs.  Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the court was being asked to choose among several finely shaded formulations. “What is frustrating about this case and about this statute is that we have a blizzard of words,” he said.  The court appeared uneasy with a standard used by many appeals courts, which have said that providing a modest educational benefit was enough. But some of the justices indicated that they were concerned about the costs that any changes could impose.

DeVos Confirmation Will Shine a Spotlight on Dark Money
Education Week By Charles Taylor Kerchner on January 10, 2017 2:53 AM | No comments
Betsy DeVos is likely to be confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education.  Those who call themselves educational "reformers" are licking their chops. The Wall Street Journal applauded her trench warfare fights for charters and vouchers, and editorialized that one of her "tasks will be leveraging her bully pulpit and federal dollars to extend this progress to the states, where most education money is spent."  Money is the operative word. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, wrote that DeVos was a great candidate for secretary because she already had a lot of money.  Because DeVos is a successful businesswoman she "doesn't need a job now, nor will she be looking for an education job later."   In Romney-think, people who work in education are tainted because they are willing to organize and express their economic as well as their professional interests.

Five Cabinet Nominees Who Could Affect Education
The U.S. Department of Education is not the only office with power over student-related policy.
The Atlantic by HAYLEY GLATTER JAN 11, 2017
Control of school-related issues is spread across a number governmental agencies, and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. education secretary, Betsy DeVos, won’t be the only member of his cabinet to have a say in student-facing policy. The Michigan philanthropist and billionaire will face her Senate confirmation hearing next Tuesday, and many of her fellow nominees already have education records of their own. We examined five of the potential cabinet members who could influence America’s schools and what their past actions might mean for students around the country.

Pennsylvania Education Letter
Education Policy News, Analysis, and Commentary
Email By Ronald Cowell, President The Education Policy and Leadership Center January 10, 2017
Welcome to our new EPLC e-publication, Pennsylvania Education Letter, which will be sent to subscribers only in electronic format. The Letter will highlight significant education policy issues, events and personalities with a focus on Pennsylvania, but will include some coverage of national activities as well. The Letter will be published at least once a month and replaces the Education Notebook previously published by The Education Policy and Leadership Center. We want the Pennsylvania Education Letter to be without cost to our readers, but we will welcome donations and advertising support.

DeVos’s hearing, originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning, has been rescheduled for Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.

We had reports from western PA of a telephone campaign by DeVos supporters asking voters to contact their senators to support her nomination.  If you have not already done so, please consider calling Senators Toomey and Casey as noted below.

DeVos’s hearing has been rescheduled for Jan. 17 at 5 p.m., according to a joint statement from the HELP committee chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and ranking member, Patty Murray (D-Wash).

Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing is officially set for Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. in 430 Dirksen

Over the past three weeks, I have been unable to find any press coverage of her ever having visited a traditional public school.  She would be welcome to come visit my school district.

In a constituent response letter regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos dated December 2, 2016, Senator Toomey stated: “I believe she is a great pick.”  His Washington, D.C. phone number is (202) 224-4254  You can find phone numbers for his Pennsylvania offices here

Senator Casey is a member of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee that will be holding the confirmation hearing.  His Washington, D.C. phone number is (202) 224-6324  You can find phone numbers for his Pennsylvania offices by clicking on the “Regions” link at the bottom of this “Contacts” page

NPE Pennsylvania alert: Betsy De Vos
Network for Public Education January 2, 2017 by Carol Burris
The confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos will happen shortly. Please call your senators this week and let them know you oppose her appointment as Secretary of Education. If you called already, please call again.  It is most effective to call a local office. Below is the list of local office locations to drop off a letter, and local numbers to call your senators.  If you want a script for your call, you can find it here.  Please pick up the phone and call.
You can share this alert with friends and family in your state by posting this link:

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

Tuesday, January 24,  6:00pm - 7:30pm
Community College of Philadelphia 1700 Spring Garden Street 19130
Bonnell Building (Large Auditorium BG-20) Entrance Between Spring Garden and Callowhill  on  N. 17th
Hosted by:
Councilmembers Helen Gym, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, Jannie Blackwell
Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent, Philadelphia School District
Faculty and Staff Federation, Community College of Philadelphia
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
United Voices for Philadelphia
For more info, or to reserve free childcare for ages 3 and up,
Contact: Office of Councilmember Helen Gym 215-686-3420

Register for the 2017 PASA Education Congress, “Delving Deeper into the Every Student Succeeds Act.” March 29-30
Offered in partnership with PASA and the PA Department of Education March 29-30, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg - Camp Hill, PA .    Approved for 40 PIL/Act 48 (Act 45) hours for school administrators.  Register online at

PSBA Governing Board seeks nominations for position of At-Large Representative (Central) Nominations are due by 9 a.m. on January 16. 
PSBA Website
Because no one ran for the open seat of At-Large Representative (Central) on the PSBA Governing Board during the 2016 elections, this position is currently vacant. According to PSBA Bylaws (Article III, Section 4), the Governing Board shall fill the vacancy.  The Governing Board is currently seeking nominations for this position from individuals in the Central Section, including Regions 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12, (see map). The selected person will fill the position for 2017, and the seat will be open for election for the remaining two years (2018-19) of the three-year term, according to PSBA Bylaws (Article III, Section 4, Part B, 2). The selected person may run for election for the remaining two years.

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!

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

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