Tuesday, January 3, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 3: Taxpayers in the 12 school districts in Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s 34th Senatorial District were required to spend over $5 million on chronically underperforming cyber charters during the 15-16 school year, up from $4.4 million in 11-12. None of the school districts ever authorized any cyber charter schools.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 3, 2017
Taxpayers in the 12 school districts in Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s 34th Senatorial District were required to spend over $5 million on chronically underperforming cyber charters during the 15-16 school year, up from $4.4 million in 11-12.   None of the school districts ever authorized any cyber charter schools.

Taxpayers in the 12 school districts in Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s 34th Senatorial District were required to spend over $5 million on chronically underperforming cyber charters during the 15-16 school year, up from $4.4 million in 11-12.   None of the school districts ever authorized any cyber charter schools.

A June 2016 study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now (50CAN) found that online charter students lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math during the course of a 180-day school year, the study found. That is, in math, it’s as if the students did not attend school at all.

Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools has achieved a passing School Performance Profile score of 70 in any of the four years that it has been in effect.

Most cyber charters never made Adequate Yearly Progress during the years that No Child Left Behind was 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
Bald Eagle Area SD
Bellefonte Area SD
Greenwood SD
Huntingdon Area SD
Juniata Valley SD
Keystone Central SD
Mifflin County SD
Mount Union Area SD
Penns Valley Area SD
Philipsburg-Osceola Area SD
State College Area SD
Tyrone Area SD

Thanks to PCCY for compiling the above figures from cyber charter enrollment and tuition data on the PA Department of Education website

School Performance Profile Scores for PA Cyber Charters
Source: PA Department of Education website
A score of 70 is considered passing
Cyber Charter School Name
21st Century CS
Achievement House CS
ACT Academy Cyber CS
Agora Cyber CS
ASPIRA Bilingual CS
Central PA Digital Learning Fdn CS
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS
Esperanza Cyber CS
PA Cyber CS
PA Distance Learning CS
PA Leadership CS
PA Virtual CS
Solomon CS
Susq-Cyber CS

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

More than 90% of all American children attend public schools.

DeVos would be the first Secretary of Education who has not been a public school parent or student; she has never worked in a public school, attended one, or sent her children to one.  She has never served in any educational or governmental capacity.

Thus far, I have been unable to find any press coverage of her ever having visited a traditional public school.

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

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

Happy New Year.  Here are a few of our postings from the holiday break in case you missed them:
PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 2: What would it take to adequately fund PA’s Basic Education Funding Formula?

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 30: Eichelberger to chair PA Senate Education Committee

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 29: Ed Sec’y Nominee .@BetsyDeVos - Uniquely Unqualified

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

Pa. lawmakers ready for new term with swearing-in ceremonies on tap in Harrisburg
Delco Times by The Associated Press POSTED: 01/03/17, 5:27 AM EST
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> The newest class of Pennsylvania state lawmakers, their family members and supporters are headed to the state Capitol for swearing-in ceremonies that will kick off the Legislature’s two-year session.  Separate events in both chambers will be held on Tuesday, leaving both the House and Senate with substantial Republican majorities.  The House will consist of 121 Republicans and 82 Democrats, although one Democratic member who’s pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges but was re-elected says she plans to resign Tuesday. The Senate’s margin is 34 Republicans and 16 Democrats.  The coming year is shaping up as a repeat of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s first two years, when tight finances and partisan disputes bogged down business and led to delays in passing annual state budgets. Wolf’s budget address is Feb. 7.

PA Senate Democrats Announce Committee Chairmanships for 2017-18 Legislative Session
Harrisburg, December 29, 2016 − Senate Democrats today announced committee chairmanships for the upcoming 2017-18 legislative session, set to begin on Jan. 3, 2017.
“Our Senate Democratic committee chairs have the breadth and depth of experience, expertise and institutional knowledge necessary to address issues important to and affecting Pennsylvanians and their families,” Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said.  “We recognize the challenges in front of us in the upcoming session and look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate and the House on policy issues and legislation that will move Pennsylvania forward.”  Members assigned as Democratic chairs for standing committees are as follows:

Blogger note: FOLLOW The MONEY.  According to the PA Dept. of State Campaign Finance website, on March 18, 2016 the school privatization Students First PAC (Yass, Dantchik, Greenberg) contributed $100,000 to the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania PAC.  On September 29, 2016 they contributed another $200,000.
First GOP challenger to Wolf emerges
Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, is readying a challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018.
By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 3, 2017 12:13 AM
Two nights before Christmas, there may not have been a single creature stirring in the state House. But a state senator, York County’s Scott Wagner, was readying a challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018.  The “Scott Wagner for Governor” committee was registered with the Department of State on Dec. 23, providing Mr. Wagner, a Harrisburg powerhouse despite still serving his first full term, a vehicle to receive and spend campaign dollars on a gubernatorial bid.  “I did file, and my campaign is imminent,” Mr. Wagner said Monday. “I will be formally announcing next week. We’ve got a large team assembled, we’re well-funded, and we expect to come out of the gate hard.”
That team includes campaign chairman John Kennedy, a former state legislator who also chairs the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania. The conservative advocacy group backs policies that include ending property taxation and the ability of public teachers to strike.

Commentary: Let Pa.'s resolution for 2017 be expanded access to pre-K
Inquirer Opinion By Pedro Ramos, Jim Cawley, and Sharmain Matlock-Turner Updated: JANUARY 3, 2017 — 3:01 AM EST
Pedro Ramos is president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation.
Jim Cawley is president and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
Sharmain Matlock-Turner is president and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition.
Resolutions - proactive measurable goals that pave the way for future success - help us launch the new year with purpose and direction.  Let's resolve to build on the growing consensus for the wisdom of quality universal pre-K in Pennsylvania.  For our children, it's essential to propel their path to learning through programs that lay solid foundations for achievement in education and in life.  A child's brain is 90 percent developed by age 5. Falling behind during this critical time could mean a lifetime of having to run faster to try to catch up - or worse, never catching up.
A person who has a preschool education is less likely to drop out of high school, get arrested, repeat grades, and require remediation services. Research shows that children enrolled in pre-K programs can go on to earn incomes as much as 23 percent higher than what they'd earn had they not participated.

Pennsylvania think tanks battle over remedies for $1.7B state budget deficit
Lancaster Online by TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer January 2, 2017
A left-leaning Pennsylvania think tank is calling for higher state taxes on "income from wealth."  Its conservative counterpart, meanwhile, wants the state to hold the line on taxes, toughen welfare requirements, promote charter schools and shift public-sector workers into 401(k)-style retirement programs.  The position statements by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Commonwealth Foundation come on the eve of what promises to be yet another bitter state budget fight.  Pennsylvania is heading into fiscal 2017 with a structural deficit of at least $1.7 billion, or more than 5 percent. The number is projected it to climb to $3 billion by 2021, according to the Independent Fiscal Office.  The Budget and Policy Center blames the deficit on reductions in corporate taxes enacted under Govs. Ed Rendell and Tom Corbett.  The state's top taxpayers are getting a bargain, the center says: Households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution pay less than half the tax rate of households in the middle.  The problem isn't excessive spending, the center said: Spending as a percentage of state GDP is down by 11 percent since the mid-1990s. Further cuts would hurt critical education, human services and educational programs, the center argues.  Instead, "it is time to fix our upside-down tax system," Marc Stier, the center's director, wrote in an op-ed touting the center's "Fair Share" tax plan.
The plan calls for splitting the state's personal income into two rates: A lower one (3.25 percent) for wages, salaries and interest income, and a higher one (4.5 percent) for what the center calls "income from wealth": Dividends, capital gains, net income passed through from a business and so on.

Editorial: Taxpayers should not be held responsible for failed charter schools
Lawmakers and the public school community have struggled for a decade with the intricacies of public charter school financing.  Charter schools are public schools, funded primarily through tuition paid by the school districts where each charter student lives.  Due to scandals and even criminal charges involving a few charter schools’ use of that public money, in ways that could not have been anticipated by the Legislature, financing remains controversial even as the charter school system becomes more firmly established.  Last week, the state Supreme Court reached a sensible decision that not only resolves the question of public school districts’ responsibilities for charter school liabilities in one specific case, but establishes broader guidance.

Pensupreme smokestack coming down for York charter school
York Dispatch by Alyssa Pressler , 505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD12:16 p.m. EST January 2, 2017
·         The Pensupreme smokestack will come down in January to make room for a high school.
·         York Academy has been working toward approval for a new high school for several months now.
York Academy officials are moving forward with plans to construct a new high school, and the first step is to tear down a prominent piece of York City's past in January.  Michael Lowe, supervisor of instructional development at York Academy Area Charter School, explained a study was done to see if the school could keep the Pensupreme smokestack along the north bank of the Codorus Creek as part of their future high school building, but it wasn't feasible.  The school used a drone to inspect the sides, top and inside of the smokestack. The money needed for repairs would have taken away from making the new high school the best possible education center it could be, Lowe said.

House Republicans Make Surprise Move To Gut Congress’ Independent Ethics Watchdog
In a secret ballot on Monday night, the House GOP moved to absorb the independent watchdog into the House Ethics Committee, severely limiting the Office of Congressional Ethics’ powers and ability to make its findings public.
Sarah Mimms BuzzFeed News Reporter posted on Jan. 2, 2017, at 9:49 p.m.
WASHINGTON — On the eve of the official start of the new Congress, Republican members of the House moved to gut Congress’ independent ethics office, raising questions among ethics watchdogs about the GOP’s commitment to make good on Donald Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” and hold Washington officials accountable.  In a vote conducted by secret ballot in the House’s Rules Committee Monday night, members voted in favor of an amendment that would absorb the independent Office of Congressional Ethics into the House’s Committee on Ethics, putting the group directly under a committee of members of Congress, whom the office is expected to investigate.

Congress: House GOP votes to gut independent ethics office
Post Gazette By Donna Cassata / Associated Press January 3, 2017 6:03 AM
WASHINGTON — House Republicans Monday night voted to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent body created in 2008 to investigate allegations of misconduct by lawmakers after several bribery and corruption scandals sent members to prison.  The ethics change, which prompted an outcry from Democrats and government watchdog groups, is part of a rules package that the full House will vote on Tuesday. The package also includes a means for Republican leaders to punish lawmakers if there is a repeat of the Democratic sit-in last summer over gun control.

Op-ed: Trump nominee would dismantle American public education
The Salt Lake Tribune By Melanie Agnew, Kristi Jones, Marilee Coles-Ritchie, Jamie Joanou, Joyce Sibbett, Janet Dynak and Shamby Polychronis First Published Dec 31 2016 03:00PM
Melanie Agnew is dean of the Westminster College School of Education. Kristi Jones and Marilee Coles-Ritchie are professors. Jamie Joanou is an assistant professor. Joyce Sibbett and Janet Dynak are professors emeritus. Shamby Polychronis is an associate professor.
Now is the time to contact your members of Congress to proclaim — unequivocally — that the hope for the future of our children is directly connected to support for public education. President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Betsy DeVos as the next secretary of education delivers a severe blow to the future of public education. While her statements indicate a desire to provide all parents the opportunity to choose the best schools for their children, a deeper look into her promotion of unregulated, for-profit charters and vouchers indicates a very different agenda.  From the Reagan administration through the Obama administration, a market-based agenda has spread an often-inaccurate narrative — leading Americans to believe that our public schools, teachers and students are failing miserably. This story was used to steamroll the country with privatization mandates while shifting billions of tax dollars to those who manufactured the narrative.  A November 2016 Stanford Research and Policy Brief, "Privatization or Public Investment?" demonstrates that students, families and communities are "better served by a public investment approach that supports" every child than by a market-based approach in which some win and some lose. When education becomes a market-based commodity, we risk placing children's learning in competitive "survival of the fittest" contexts.

The right kind of school choice for Trump to promote
Washington Post Editorial By Fred Hiatt Editorial Page Editor January 1 at 7:04 PM 
For most Americans, school choice is an undisputed right.
Millions of parents choose to send their children to parochial or other private schools. Millions more decide where to rent or buy a home based on the quality of the local public schools. The only people who do not enjoy this right are those who are too poor to move out of neighborhoods where public schools are failing. A disproportionate number of these are people of color.  This is the distinction to keep in mind as the incoming Trump administration prepares to make “school choice” its rallying cry. Education secretary-designate Betsy DeVos is a passionate advocate of vouchers and charter schools. Teachers unions are passionate opponents of both, and they will accuse DeVos of wanting to destroy public education.  In fact, the federal government can neither save nor destroy public education, because most school funding comes from states and localities. But it can play an important role — and what it should do is encourage choice for the children who today have none, while not diverting resources to people who do not need the help.

Betsy DeVos’s appointment has given the school-reform movement a shot in the arm. Yet she may end up splitting it
The Economist Dec 3rd 2016
IN 1983 the Reagan administration published “A Nation At Risk”, an apocalyptic report into the state of American schools. It ushered in 33 years of uneven yet enduring bipartisan support for presidents’ efforts to raise school standards. George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), share more than quixotic names. Both were backed by majorities of both parties in Congress. Unfamiliar with such harmony, Barack Obama called ESSA, signed into law last December, a “Christmas miracle”.   That sort of collaboration could soon become a rarity. On November 23rd Donald Trump, the president-elect, nominated Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist, as the next secretary of education. For three decades Mrs DeVos has used her family foundation and her leadership of conservative groups to lobby for “school choice”, a broad term that can divide Republicans even from moderate Democrats.

DeVos a blessing to students, parents
Trib Live Opinion by PHIL HANDY | Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Phil Handy is a member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education's board of directors and was chairman of the Florida Board of Education for six years. He wrote this for the Orlando Sentinel.
It's fair to say that the nomination of Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of Education is creating some controversy.  And the reason for that is simple. She is a longtime advocate for the decentralization of education decisions to the family level. That makes her a pariah to the education establishment and a blessing to children trapped in failing schools.  I've known DeVos for 10 years. Her primary focus always has been on low-income children, a cause to which she has donated considerable time and resources.  She is smart, determined and a strong leader. She was chosen to be a disruptive change agent in a public education system that for decades has failed America's most disadvantaged students and perpetuated cycles of poverty.

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: http://wp.me/p3bR9v-2aO

Blogger note: Have an opinion about the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?  Call these three senators today.
1. Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
2. Senator Toomey's Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-4254
Senator Casey is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
3. Senator Casey’s Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-6324
Toll Free: (866) 802-2833

PHLpreK Now Enrolling!
Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Education
Did you know that quality early childhood education sets our children up for success? It reduces the need for special education, raises graduation rates, and narrows the achievement gap. These benefits ripple throughout our schools, neighborhoods, and local economy.
That’s why the City of Philadelphia is expanding free, quality pre-K for 6,500 three- and four-year-olds over the next five years. In fact, the first 2,000 pre-K seats are available now. Families should act fast because classes begin on January 4th at more than 80 locations.
Please help us spread the word. Parents/caregivers can call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735) to speak with a trained professional who will help them apply and locate quality pre-K programs nearby.  For more information, visit www.PHLprek.org

Pennsylvania Every Student Succeeds Act Public Tour
The Department of Education (PDE) is holding a series of public events to engage the public on important education topics in Pennsylvania.  The primary focus of these events will be the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in late 2015. A senior leader from the department will provide background on the law, and discuss the ongoing
development of Pennsylvania’s State Plan for its implementation, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2017.  Feedback is important to PDE; to provide the best avenue for public comment as well as provide an opportunity for those who cannot attend an event, members of the community are encouraged to review materials and offer comments at http://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/tour.aspx#tab-1
Upcoming Public Events:
Wednesday, January 4- Quakertown- 5:30 pm- Bucks County Free Library
Bucks County Free Library Quakertown Branch
401 West Mill Street Quakertown, PA  18951
Tuesday, January 10- Scranton- 4:00 pm- Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
3201 Rockwell Avenue Scranton, PA  18508

“The “Success Starts Here” campaign is a multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education through advertising, web, social media, traditional media and word-of-mouth with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania. The campaign is led by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, but relies on the support of a wide variety of participating organizations.”
Share Your School’s Story: Success Starts Here Needs You!
Success Starts Here needs you! Show your support by sharing stories, using social media and applying window clings to all of your school buildings. Below are some links to resources to help you help us.
Not sure where to start? This simple tool kit will provide to you everything you need to get involved in the campaign, including ways to work with the media, social media tips, a campaign article to post, downloadable campaign logos, and photo release forms.
We know you have great stories, and it’s easy to share them! Just use our simple form to send your success story to be featured on our website. Help spread the word about how Success Starts Here in today’s public schools.
All school entities have been sent a supply of window clings for school building entrances. Need more? No problem! Just complete the online order form and more will quickly be on their way to you.

PSBA Virtual New School Director Training, Part 1
JAN 4, 2017 • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
The job of a school board director is challenging.  Changing laws, policies, and pressures from your community make serving on your school board demanding, yet rewarding at the same time.  Most school directors – even those with many years of experience – say that PSBA training is one of the most important and valuable things they have done in order to understand their roles and responsibilities.  If you are a new school board director and didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of PSBA’s live New School Director Training events, you can now attend via your computer, either by yourself from your home or office, or with a group of other school directors.
This is the same New School Director Training content we offer in a live classroom format, but adjusted for virtual training.
Part 1
·         Role and responsibilities of the school board director.
·         How to work with PSBA’s member services team.
·         Your role as an advocate for public education.
·         The school board’s role in policy.
(See also: Part 2, Jan. 11Part 3, Jan. 18)
Fee: $149 per person includes all three programs. Materials may be downloaded free, or $25 for materials to be mailed to your home (log in to the Members Area and purchase through the Store/Registration link).
Register online: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6607237329490796034

PSBA Third Annual Board Presidents Day
JAN 28, 2017 • 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Nine Locations Statewide
Jan. 28, 2017 (Snow date: Feb. 11, 2017)
Calling all school board presidents, vice-presidents, and superintendents — Join us for the 3rd Annual PSBA Board Presidents Day held at nine convenient locations around the state.
This is a day of meeting fellow board members from your area and taking part in thought-provoking dialogue about the issues every board faces.  PSBA Past President Kathy Swope will start things off with an engaging presentation based on her years as board president at the Lewistown Area School District.  Bring your own scenarios to this event to gain perspective from other districts.  Cost: $109 per person – includes registration, lunch and materials. All-Access Package applies.  Register online by logging in to the Members Area (see the Store/Registration link to view open event registrations, https://www.psba.org/members-area/store-registration/)

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2017 -- Jan. 29-31, Washington, D.C.
Join school directors around the country at the conference designed to give you the tools to advocate successfully on behalf of public education.
  • NSBA will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy to help you in Washington, D.C. and at home.
  • Attend timely and topical breakout sessions lead by NSBA’s knowledgeable staff and outside experts.
  • Expand your advocacy network by swapping best practices, challenges, and successes with other school board members from across the country.
This event is open to members of the Federal Relations Network. To find out how you can join, contact Jamie.Zuvich@psba.org. Learn more about the Advocacy Institute at https://www.nsba.org/events/advocacy-institute.

Register now for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference 
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public EducationAre you a member?
The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding

The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of Fair Districts PA, Working to Ensure Fair Districts & Fair Elections for Every PA Voter

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