Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 4: Taxpayers in PA House Speaker Mike Turzai's school districts had to pay $1.89M to chronically failing cybers in 15-16. SPP scores for both of his high schools were 93.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 4, 2017
Taxpayers in PA House Speaker Mike Turzai's school districts had to pay $1.89M to chronically failing cybers in 15-16.  SPP scores for both of his high schools were 93.


Rep. Mike Turzai re-elected to second term as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 03, 2017 at 12:51 PM, updated January 03, 2017 at 2:24 PM
Allegheny County State Rep. Mike Turzai has just been re-elected to a second term as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Turzai's return to the presiding officer's chair was expected, uncontested, and unanimous. It came on the largely ceremonial, opening day of the 2017-18 legislative term. Most newly-elected House and Senate members were publicly sworn in, but there was no action on legislation.

Blogger Rant:
Taxpayers in PA House Speaker Mike Turzai's school districts had to pay $1.89M to chronically failing cybers in 15-16. School Performance Profile scores for both high schools in Speaker Turzai’s district were 93.   Neither of the school districts ever authorized any cyber charter schools
Along with increasing pension costs, charter school tuition payments are one of the top two cost drivers for Pennsylvania’s school districts.  While brick and mortar charters have to be authorized by a school board, cyber charters are authorized by the state, with virtually no input by taxpayers who must foot the bill.

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






North Allegheny SD
$1,322,988.92
$1,094,484.96
$1,071,940.70
$1,182,865.22
$1,344,557.28
Pine-Richland SD
$426,925.66
$455,804.36
$498,036.24
$491,836.38
$551,119.10

$1,749,914.58
$1,550,289.32
$1,569,976.94
$1,674,701.60
$1,895,676.38


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.

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
2013
2014
2015
2016
21st Century CS
66.5
66.0
69.2
62.2
Achievement House CS
39.7
37.5
44.8
54.5
ACT Academy Cyber CS
30.6
28.9
36.1
40.7
Agora Cyber CS
48.3
42.4
46.4
37.6
ASPIRA Bilingual CS
29.0
39.0
38.4
41.9
Central PA Digital Learning Fdn CS
31.7
48.8
39.3
46.7
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS
54.6
52.2
48.8
47.5
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS
59.0
50.0
67.9
Esperanza Cyber CS
32.7
47.7
31.7
50.7
PA Cyber CS
59.4
55.5
65.3
51.0
PA Distance Learning CS
54.7
50.9
49.2
53.9
PA Leadership CS
64.7
59.3
54.7
57.5
PA Virtual CS
67.9
63.4
64.6
49.7
Solomon CS
36.9
Susq-Cyber CS
46.4
42.4
45.5
49.3



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



Blogger note: Increased pension costs are probably the largest cost driver for school districts, but none of the legislation being proposed would provide any relief from short or near term increases.  It would take 20 or 30 years for any fiscal impact.
Sen. Jake Corman: Stark choices for the state budget
We can raise taxes — or reform programs to reduce growth. Republicans prefer the hard work of reform.
Post Gazette Opinion by State Sen. Jake Corman January 3, 2017 12:00 AM
We have reached the time of year when we reflect on the time that has past and look forward to the fresh start the New Year brings. The same holds true for the Pennsylvania Senate.  The 2015-16 legislative session began with a new governor determined to impose an agenda out of touch with ordinary Pennsylvanians, including massive government growth and the largest tax increase in commonwealth history. Bolstered by the support of an electorate that sent a large Republican majority to Harrisburg, we stood firm. For two consecutive budgets, Senate Republicans rejected the Wolf administration’s efforts to enact massive, broad-based tax increases.  During that same two-year session, we also passed three historic pension reform bills, beginning with a series of sweeping reforms, which was vetoed by the governor. 

Sen. Joe Scarnati returned as Pa. Senate President Pro Tempore for 10th year
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 03, 2017 at 2:38 PM
Following the swearing-in of six new members and 19 returning members, the Pennsylvania Senate re-elected Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, to serve as the chamber's president pro tempore for 2017.  In nominating Scarnati for the chamber's highest office, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa of Allegheny County, spoke of the veteran lawmaker's track record of being fair and his steadfast leadership. "Senator Scarnati has set the example for all of us by building consensus, encouraging civility and bringing common sense and integrity to this chamber," Corman said. "Most importantly he has proven to be an effective leader. Something that is critical as we begin this new session with so many challenges facing us."  Costa agreed that no doubt these are uneasy times but they also present opportunities to show Pennsylvania's state government can operate effectively and in a bipartisan way.

Wolf says he's ready for fiscal, political challenges
WHYY Newsworks BY DAVE HELLER JANUARY 3, 2017 NEWSWORKS TONIGHT
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf enters the second half of his term in office facing some tall fiscal challenges — and looming challengers to his re-election in 2018.  The state's independent fiscal office predicts a budget deficit in the current fiscal year of more than $500 million, and a shortfall in the coming budget year of as much as $1.7 billion.  Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner of York County has already declared his intention to run in the 2018 Republican primary, and other GOP heavyweights are considering their options.  In an interview at our studio, Wolf told WHYY's senior reporter Dave Davies he's made historic gains in education funding, and will fill the gaping holes in the state budget without broad-based tax increases.  And he said any Republican lawmakers who seek to torpedo his agenda in order to boost their own candidacies risk a backlash from voters.  "If they believe somebody in the Legislature has consciously tried to undermine the working of the government, for whatever reason, I don't think they're going to give that candidate much credit for that," Wolf said.  You can hear our interview with the governor by playing the audio above.

Wolf: Property tax relief part of approach to aiding distressed cities
Citizens Voice BY ROBERT SWIFT / PUBLISHED: JANUARY 4, 2017
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s distressed cities can be helped by a three-pronged approach of providing school property tax relief, targeting state economic aid and easing municipal pension debt, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday.  The Democratic governor discussed urban issues, the importance of state education aid and his pending Feb. 7 state budget address during a wide-ranging interview in his Capitol office.  Wolf said there’s real interest in Harrisburg in achieving property tax relief and the key to success is getting a bill in the right form. It would help cities like Scranton by cutting the biggest tax bill that residents pay.

Freshmen lawmakers take office with ambitious goals and optimism for 2017-18 legislative session
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 03, 2017 at 4:10 PM, updated January 03, 2017 at 6:53 PM
Seven new midstate lawmakers were among the 28 representatives and senators who took the oath of office on Tuesday, the official start of the 2017-18 legislative session.  State Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Allegheny County, with his daughter Elissa, raises his hand to take the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives swearing-in ceremony is held in the state Capitol House Chambers, Tuesday, January 3, 2017. The ceremony marks the convening of the 201st legislative session of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. They come with goals in mind - pension reform, regulatory reform, getting a budget done, property tax reform, to name a few.  The newest members of the southcentral Pennsylvania legislative caucus include Sens. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster County and John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County, along with Reps. Dawn Keefer, R-York County; Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon County; Tom Mehaffie, R-Dauphin County; and Carol Hill-Evans, D-York County.  Sen. Mike Regan, R-York County, is new to the Senate but has been a part of the southcentral caucus for the past four years as a state representative.  In this video, the freshmen representatives and senators share what they hope to accomplish in the 2017-18 legislative session.

“Pensions by no means are the only drain on tax dollars that will get more scrutiny in 2017.  Charter school rules written in the late 1990s have become so outdated that Auditor General Eugene DePasquale describes them as the worst in the country.  Lawmakers were unable to fix the law in 2016 but hope to try again in the new year, said Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Dave Reed.  The charter law covers brick-and-mortar schools and cyber schools. In Philadelphia, brick-and-mortar charters are the most controversial. In rural Pennsylvania, where brick-and-mortar charters are less common, cyber schools are the lightning rods.  Administrators in traditional schools complain that charters often fail to meet the state’s academic standards, while draining tax dollars.”
Pension reform on tap for 2017?
The Daily Item By John Finnerty CNHI Harrisburg Bureau  Jan 1, 2017
HARRISBURG — Could 2017 be the year that pension reform actually gets done?
It’s a big ask, say lawmakers and those who’ve been lobbying for a pension law rewrite, but it’s also a big problem.  State Rep. John McGinnis, R-Blair County, noted that while the state’s spending gap of $1 billion to $2 billion will be front and center early next year, that problem is dwarfed by the challenges facing pensions for retired state workers.  The pension’s earnings haven’t been meeting targets, he said, which means it’s in worse shape than people realize. “The consequences of pension insolvency are dire, extensive and irreversible,” said McGinnis in a statement.  A clock showing the state’s pension liability on display in the Capitol is ticking close to $70 billion.  The clock was installed by Barry Shutt, who has been staging a pension protest vigil, initially outside the governor’s residence when Tom Corbett was in office.

With new session started, lawmakers turn to budget deficit
Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 4, 2017 2:15 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- New members have officially been sworn into the Pennsylvania legislature.
The first day of the new session saw further entrenchment of Harrisburg's partisan divide. Republicans shored up their majorities in the House and Senate, where they've often clashed with Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.  Now, lawmakers are turning their attention to legislative priorities in the new session.  Both parties name similar goals--battling the commonwealth's structural deficit and balancing its lopsided budget. But despite early shows of unity, Democrats and Republicans already seem opposed on how to accomplish them.
Wolf and Democratic lawmakers have long favored broad tax increases to balance the state budget.  But Republicans renewed their pledge to avoid any type of hikes.

Has time finally come to eliminate school property taxes?
Debate over school property taxes in Pennsylvania is expected to return to the Legislature in 2017.
Morning Call by Marc Levy Of The Associated Press January 3, 2017
HARRISBURG (AP) — Debate over school property taxes in Pennsylvania is expected to return to the Legislature in 2017.  Senate supporters say the Nov. 8 election provided the necessary votes to eliminate school property taxes entirely and replace them with other revenue streams. That would mean shifting about $14 billion in taxes from property owners, including businesses, to Pennsylvania consumers and workers through sales and personal income taxes.  An Associated Press analysis of state data found that more than 70 percent of school property taxes were collected by the wealthiest half of school districts in 2014-15.  Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, will introduce the leading proposal, which would increase the income tax rate by 60 percent and hike the state sales tax rate by 17 percent while applying it to a wider range of goods and services, such as groceries, clothing, basic TV and funeral services.  In late 2015, the Senate defeated Argall's legislation by a 25-24 vote with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack casting the tie-breaker. The vote split both parties and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association opposed it.
But proponents say a pair of incoming Harrisburg-area senators elected in November are replacing two opponents.  "We believe that gets us to the magic number of 26," Argall said.

Drive to kill school property tax headed back to Legislature
WFMZ By: 69 News & Associated Press  Posted: Jan 03, 2017 12:34 PM EST Updated: Jan 03, 2017 12:34 PM EST
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Debate over school property taxes in Pennsylvania is expected to return to the Legislature in 2017.  Senate supporters said the November 8 election provided the necessary votes to eliminate school property taxes entirely and replace them with other revenue streams. That would mean shifting about $14 billion in taxes from property owners, including businesses, to Pennsylvania consumers and workers through sales and personal income taxes.  An Associated Press analysis of state data found that more than 70 percent of school property taxes were collected by the wealthiest half of school districts in 2014-15.  One leading plan would increase the income tax rate by 60 percent and hike the state sales tax rate by 17 percent while applying it to more goods and services, such as groceries and basic TV.

State task force working to change Pa.'s property assessment rules in 2017
Keystone Crossroads/WHYY Newsworks  BY EMILY PREVITI, WITF JANUARY 3, 2017
Some counties in Pennsylvania go without updating their property values for decades, far longer than the six-year maximum wait recommended by the International Association of Assessing Officers.  Almost everywhere else, revaluation is either handled at the state level or required at a set interval by state law, according to IAAO surveys.  So Pennsylvania's become known for having the least regulated — and most antiquated — property assessment system in the country.
This dubious distinction among policy wonks also has tangible impacts.  Revaluation can be expensive. But the longer governments wait, the higher the costs — and not only for the process itself.  Some property owners end up paying more taxes than they really should, for example, and many go to court to fix  it. This adds legal defense fees to the millions of taxpayer dollars revaluations required even in counties with a relatively small number properties.

Baer: Yo, Harrisburg, how about some real New Year's resolutions?
Philly Daily News by John Baer, Political Columnist Updated: JANUARY 4, 2017 12:16 AM EST
AH, JANUARY, month of self-improvement, time to strive for betterment.
Time of hope. Time for positive change.  Hey, Guv, it's time for some belt-tightening.
Take Pennsylvania's legislature (please!). It's back to start a new two-year session, or, as I like to call it, 24 months of perfidy on parade.  And, of course, Pennsylvania faces another budget crisis, with another big ($604 million) deficit, a $60 billion pension problem, bad bond ratings, no reserves and a national ranking from financial publication 24/7 Wall St. as one of the country's worst-run states.  But come on. It's a new year. Have some faith.  Certainly the largest full-time legislature's ready to bring brighter days to the bleakness that are politics and government. House GOP Majority Leader Dave Reed, for example, who may or may not run for governor or senator or something other than the job he has, wants to "restructure," as in, "Do we need every state agency?"

“GOP House members quickly learned that the American people weren't the compliant sheep they had imagined. Their sleazy ploy on ethics wasn't overlooked. To the contrary, news of their treacherous vote became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in a matter of minutes. That alone would have made it similar to 7,437 other social media frenzies, but then something truly remarkable happened.   People actually picked up a telephone.
"We have got just a tremendous number of calls to our office here and district offices concerned about this," Rep. Walter Jones, the North Carolina Republican, told Bloomberg News. By noon today, the effort to strip the Independent Office of Congressional Ethics of its power -- which still required approval of the full House -- was officially dead. And many members said the reason was the outpouring of raw anger from constituents.”
People 1, Congress 0, in a rousing start to 2017
Philly Daily News Attytood by Will Bunch, Daily News Columnist  @will_bunch pdated: JANUARY 4, 2017 — 5:23 AM EST
Some words are really well-suited for their purpose. Consider the word "norm" -- sounds reassuring, doesn't it? It is any surprise that that the writers of TV's Cheerscalled their amiable, beer-loving Everyman, "Norm." There was supposed to be something soothing and, um, normal about the way patrons sang out "Norm!" every time this average guy bellied up to the bar. That's the definition of a "norm," the way things are supposed to be.  I don't need to tell you that America's norms have been under attack recently. Especially democratic norms -- the honest and regular way that the people's business is supposed to be conducted. And yes, in fact, it was Donald Trump who did start a lot of this. It was Trump who refused to release his income tax returns, refused to deal with his massive conflicts of interest by liquidating his assets, refused to follow the rules of acceptable behavior in his dealings with women and refused to back down when caught telling blatant lies. And he paid no penalty for violating those norms. To the contrary, he was elected 45th president of the United States.

Philadelphia, once a pioneer in bilingual education, now lags
Part of the reason is state policy. But several schools have adopted the dual-language immersion model.
The notebook by Melanie Bavaria January 3, 2017 — 4:51pm
For Evelyn Nunez, Philadelphia’s recent progress in bilingual education is personal.  Nunez, who says she is a product of the Philadelphia School District, recalled her first day of kindergarten when she walked into the classroom not knowing a single word of English. Her teacher didn’t know any Spanish.  “I remember my mother, for many years, not being able to speak to my teachers or the principal and always finding a neighbor to translate,” she said. “I experienced the need for bilingual education very early in my life.”  Now Nunez is the principal of Lewis Elkin Elementary in Kensington, one of six elementary schools in the Philadelphia School District that have implemented Spanish-English dual-language immersion programs in the last three years. Five of those programs – at Elkin, Cayuga, Alexander McClure, Muñoz-Marin and Bayard Taylor — are located in North Philadelphia neighborhoods that have historically been home to large Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. These neighborhoods are still predominantly Latino and the strong Puerto Rican and Dominican populations remain, and now they have the added diversity of other Spanish-speaking populations, including Mexicans and Central Americans.  Philadelphia, where 12 percent of public school students are English learners, has had a long history of experimenting with bilingual education. And recently, the city has seen a boost in enthusiasm for more comprehensive dual-language immersion programs.

Bill Green and Helen Gym discuss the SRC on 'Radio Times'
by the Notebook January 3, 2017 — 9:24am
The future of the School Reform Commission has caused great debate. In fact, many education advocates, parents, and others are asking whether it's time to dissolve the five-member appointed panel, perhaps in favor of an elected school board and more local control. The big question has become: Who should run Philadelphia's schools?  SRC Commissioner Bill Green and City Councilwoman-at-large Helen Gym debated the pros and cons of the SRC, its future, and other models of school governance today on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane. If you missed the live broadcast today at 10 a.m., you can still listen to the audio online, which will be available at 1 p.m.  

Dr. Ruth Neild to Join Research for Action
Research for Action January 3, 2017
Research for Action (RFA) is pleased and proud to announce that Dr. Ruth Curran Neild will be joining the organization to serve as Director of its Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC). PERC, an initiative of RFA launched with a grant from the William Penn Foundation in 2014, is an innovative research-practice partnership serving Philadelphia’s public education sector.  Dr. Neild currently serves as the Delegated Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. Since joining the agency in 2011, Neild has instituted a wide range of reforms that have strengthened the utility and accessibility of highly rigorous educational research. Under her leadership, the Regional Educational Laboratory program introduced researcher-practice partnerships that have served as laboratories of innovation for knowledge utilization. She has also greatly improved the utility of federal educational research databases and launched a new IES website.  Neild’s appointment is a homecoming of sorts, notes Kate Shaw, RFA’s Executive Director. “Ruth has deep roots in Philadelphia. She received her BA from Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Education. Using Philadelphia as a laboratory for much of her research, she has published extensively on topics such as the importance of early warning systems for high school dropout, career and technical education, and small schools. Moreover, a multi-year collaboration with RFA led to a series of seminal reports on the importance of recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers in Philadelphia. We are excited to welcome her back to RFA, and to Philadelphia.”

Former Aspira principal alleged misuse of federal funds
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, STAFF WRITER Updated: JANUARY 3, 2017 — 5:32 PM EST
A former charter school principal alleged in a lawsuit, since withdrawn, that Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania misused $1.2 million in federal funds meant for laptops, after-school programs, and employee bonuses, and falsified reports about how the money was spent.  Renato Lajara, who was principal of John B. Stetson Charter School in Kensington from September 2010 until the summer of 2015, sued the charter school operator, its top officials, and related entities in federal court in 2014.  The complaint, only recently unsealed, charged that since 2010, Aspira had made "repeated false representations" to the U.S. and state Departments of Education about how federal grants were used "in an effort to defraud the United States of taxpayer dollars, under the guise of providing quality education to some of the nation's neediest children."  Lajara filed the suit under seal as a whistle-blower action in the hope that the federal government would join in the complaint. When the government declined to join the suit, Lajara ceased his efforts, and the suit was dismissed Sept. 30.  Kevin Feeley, an Aspira spokesman, denied the allegations in Lajara's suit.


Donald Trump and K-12 Education: Five Things to Watch in 2017
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on January 3, 2017 7:56 AM
Happy New Year! It's officially time to start writing 2017 on your checks.
The presidential transition means an especially busy start to the year. President-elect Donald Trumpmay not have talked much about education on the campaign trail, but the first part of the year will tell us a lot about the direction he wants to go and how much of a priority he places on the issue. What's more, we'll get a glimpse of how well he's able to work with Congress on K-12, not to mention early and higher education.   Here are five things to watch in the months ahead:
Betsy DeVos' confirmation process - Trump's education secretary-designate and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos still needs to get the seal of approval from the U.S. Senate before she can start her new job. Ultimately, the GOP megadonor will probably get confirmed. She has donated to a number of Republicans on the Senate education committee, which will oversee her confirmation. Plus, she only needs a majority of the Republican-controlled Senate to sign off on her appointment.  But don't expect her confirmation hearing, which could be held on or around Jan. 11, to be smooth sailing. Democrats told the Washington Post that DeVos is one of four cabinet nominees they intend to oppose most vehemently. Expect scrutiny around the $5.3 million in unpaid fines and late fees that All Children Matter, DeVos' now-shuttered political action committee, owes Ohio. There will also likely be a close examination of her controversial record on school choice in Michigan, as well as opposition to her nomination in the civil rights community and among educators. And she could be asked about whether she has a plan to end the Common Core State Standards, something she's not legally able to do under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. 

I Can charter schools could be sold to Accel network run by former CEO of K12 Inc.
By Patrick O'Donnell, The Plain Dealer Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 02, 2017 at 12:00 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The I Can charter school network, one of the strongest in the city, is discussing turning its schools over to the growing Accel network.  Run by Ron Packard, the founder and former CEO of K12 Inc., the nation's largest operator of online schools, Accel has taken over 23 Ohio schools in the last two years and has made strong initial academic improvement in several.  I Can has five schools in Cleveland, with additional schools in Akron and Canton and one in Indiana. Founded by former leaders of the well-regarded Breakthrough charter schools, I Can schools have scored comparatively well on state tests and are formal partners of the Cleveland school district.

Schools Test Medical Model With ‘Teacher Residencies’
Programs put aspiring teachers in classrooms from the start to improve training, reduce turnover and help districts overcome shortages in qualified faculty
Wall Street Journal By LESLIE BRODY Updated Dec. 28, 2016 12:08 p.m. ET (paywall)
Lauren Hudak, a 22-year-old studying to be a teacher in Manhattan, read an assignment one night this fall about how to squeeze an answer out of a student trying to dodge a question.
The next day she used the technique on a reticent seventh-grader. To her delight, she got him to talk by calling on a second student, and then going back to the first boy to build on his classmate’s response.

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

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

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

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


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