Monday, February 20, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 20: Charter Advocacy Groups Want Higher Standards for Online-Only 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, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 20, 2017
Charter Advocacy Groups Want Higher Standards for Online-Only Schools

Gerrymandering: @FairDistrictsPA will be featured on @WITF's Radio Smart Talk on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 9 am, rebroadcast at 7 pm.

"If traditional public schools were producing such results, we would rightly be outraged," the report introduction reads, in part. "We should not feel any different just because these are charter schools."
Reprise: Charter Advocacy Groups Want Higher Standards for Online-Only Schools
Education Week By Corey Mitchell on June 16, 2016 5:45 AM
Three of the nation's leading charter school advocacy groups are calling for a complete overhaul of state policies governing online-only charter schools.  A new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now (50CAN) outlines the challenges facing the online-only, or virtual, schools and offers recommendations to hold their authorizers accountable for student performance and financial decisions.  The three groups largely crafted the report's recommendations in response to sweeping research findings released last fall that showed that students who took classes through virtual schools made dramatically less progress than their peers in traditional schools. It was the first national study of the cybercharter sector and was conducted by the Center for Research and Educational Outcomes at Stanford University, the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and Mathematica Policy Research.
In a review of online charter school performance, the charter school advocacy groups found that:
·            On average, full-time virtual charter students make no gains in math and less than half the gains in reading of their peers in traditional brick-and-mortar public schools.
·            All subgroups of students, including those in poverty, English-language learners, and special education students, perform worse in full-time virtual charters than in traditional public schools.
·            Students who leave full-time virtual charter schools are apt to change schools more often after they leave cyber charters than they did before enrolling.

Tweet at your own risk
Bucks County Courier Times Editorial February 19, 2017
Whatever comes along to replace Twitter — much as Myspace fell out of favor with the rise of Facebook — can't happen too soon for anybody hoping to engage in a thoughtful exchange of ideas.  It's nearly impossible to convey a serious thought on a complicated issue in 140 characters. This is part of the reason why our new president, Tweeter-in-Chief Donald Trump, finds himself in hot water pretty much daily. Please, Mr. President, put down the smartphone.  That's what Centennial school board member Mark Miller should have done. Instead, the veteran school director and now ex-president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association tweeted a response to Quakertown Community School District Superintendent William Harner, who in a recent interview said it costs more to educate a student at a cyber charter school than a regular school.   "Shocking news ...," Miller mocked in his tweet. "Cyber charters cost more than they should."  Miller's words weren't so awful. It's no secret that school boards and public school administrators across the state would be happy to see charter schools go away. Charters, which are alternative public schools, siphon state money from school districts for every student they attract. The more students, the more money school districts lose.  But Miller didn't just restate that longstanding grievance. He attached to his tweet a picture of chimpanzees staring at a computer screen. Not smart! It was like throwing chum in the water. Charter school people, their supporters and other opportunists went on a feeding frenzy. Working up as much phony indignation as they could muster, they accused Miller of depicting charter school students as monkeys.  
Said Robert Fayfich, executive director of the charter school coalition: "For the leader of the school boards in Pennsylvania to suggest that children are monkeys and state that the leaders of their schools are monkeys is beyond the pale of rational thought." 
Well, so is Fayich's accusation. And he knows it.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 19, 2017
“money misspent pushing minority students from high school into college instead of into vocational programs”

For democracy to work properly, our representatives need to hold open town halls: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on February 17, 2017 at 2:22 PM, updated February 18, 2017 at 8:08 AM
To govern effectively, those who represent us must engage us after elections, especially when there is a seismic shift in ideas and plans for governing.  Between Labor Day and Election Day, you, the voter, were the apple of every candidate's eye.  They sent postcard after postcard. They called often. They made sure you knew that they were on your side with television commercials, Facebook posts, internet, radio and newspaper ads. Yard signs bloomed across the landscape like roses for wooing.  Today? Not so much. In PennLive comments and letters to the editor this Thursday alone: "has anyone heard from senator casey (sic) lately?", "Why will [Sen. Pat] Toomey not hold a Town Hall meeting?" and "I would love to hear a response from Rep. Lou Barletta....".These comments from you ring as true to us as anything we could have written.

Journalists can't save a free press in Trump's America. Only you can
Philly Daily News Attytood by Will Bunch , Daily News Columnist @will_bunch  Updated: FEBRUARY 19, 2017 — 10:38 PM EST
Americans are funny about their constitutional rights, I've noticed. They're not all created equal, at least not in the public eye. Of the first 10 amendments -- the Bill of Rights -- none has a fan base quite like the 2nd Amendment, which establishes a right to carry firearms. Ask anyone who's ever suggested that the right to bear arms might have a few small limitations and then watched 2nd Amendment enthusiasts -- even folks who couldn't tell the difference between a "Saturday Night Special" and Saturday Night Live -- pour out of the woodwork. The 2nd Amendment -- at least as interpreted by gun enthusiasts -- has its own powerful and well-funded lobbying group, the National Rifle Association, that always causes a majority of U.S. politicians to do what politicians do best, which is cower in fear.  If only the 1st Amendment had that kind of love. You'd think the 1st Amendment would be the most popular one, not just because of numerical superiority but because it covers so much stuff -- the right to speak freely, the right to a free press, free assembly, freedom of movement, and even the right to worship. Even the right to petition the government with grievances is covered by the 1st Amendment, meaning this is the amendment that makes Festivus possible. Who doesn't support that?

Betsy DeVos could bring radical changes to public schools. PA’s top education official is not changing his approach.
Public Source by Mary Niederberger  | February 17, 2017
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera is not letting uncertainty at the U.S. Department of Education derail any of the plans his department has set in motion for improving education in the state.  Newly installed U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has talked about abandoning the Common Core and promoting school vouchers and charter schools over traditional public school districts.  But Rivera, in an interview this week with PublicSource, said the current education agenda will remain in place. The priorities have included implementing the Pennsylvania Core standards, aligning state tests and curriculum to those standards, revising the system for assessing quality in schools, creating new high school graduation requirements and working to increase equity among public schools.  “We are not going to reverse course at all,” Rivera said. “We are going to move in the direction we are moving.”

Rough First Week Gives Betsy DeVos a Glimpse of the Fight Ahead
New York Times By YAMICHE ALCINDOR FEB. 19, 2017
By the end of her first full week as the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos had already sparred with a middle school and a former schools chancellor in Washington, accused some of the school’s teachers of passively awaiting instruction and said she would be pleased if the department she currently runs did not exist in the future. She encountered an immediate display of the type of fierce resistance she will face as she tries to set new policies for the Education Department.  On Sunday, she received a somewhat warmer welcome from the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, who said in a radio interview that she was ready to work with Ms. DeVos. Even as she urged Ms. DeVos not to cut funding for the city’s public schools, Ms. Fariña said that despite their ideological differences, the two could make sure that children are properly educated. “I work with everyone,” Ms. Fariña said. “I will have conversations with anyone and everyone to ensure that the work we’re doing here is being celebrated and recognized, and we’ll see what time will bring.”

Stand Up for PA's Public School Students!
Sign up for Education Voters PA email list
Join activists throughout Pennsylvania as we fight to ensure that ALL students have access to educational opportunities in their public schools that will prepare them for graduation and success in life.  Add your voice to thousands of others who are standing up against efforts to privatize and weaken our children’s public schools. Help us create strong public demand for a strong system of public schools that will offer an opportunity to learn for ALL students.

The PASA-PASBO report on School District Budgets, January 2017

Public Education Funding Briefing; Wed, March 8, 2017 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM at United Way Bldg in Philly
Public Interest Law Center email/website February 14, 2017
Amid a contentious confirmation battle in Washington D.C., public education has been front and center in national news. But what is happening at home is just as--if not more--important: Governor Wolf just announced his 2017-2018 budget proposal, including $100 million in new funding for basic education. State legislators are pushing a bill that would eliminate local school taxes by increasing income and sales taxes. And we at the Law Center are waiting on a decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as to whether or not our school funding lawsuit can go to trial.   How do all of these things affect Pennsylvania's schools, and the children who rely on them? Come find out!   Join Jennifer Clarke, Michael Churchill and me for one of two briefings on the nuts and bolts of how public education funding works in Pennsylvania and how current proposals and developments could affect students and teachers. (The content of both briefings will be identical.) 
The briefings are free and open to the public, but we ask that you please RSVP. 

NSBAC First 100 Days Campaign #Ed100Days
National School Boards Action Center
There is no time like the present for public education advocates to make their voices heard. Misleading rhetoric coupled with budget cuts and proposals such as private school vouchers that divert essential funding from our public schools are threatening the continued success of our 50 million children in public schools. We need your voice to speak up for public schools now!
The first 100 days in the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration present a great opportunity to make sure our country’s elected leaders are charting an education agenda that supports our greatest and most precious resource -- America’s schoolchildren. And you can make that happen.

New PSBA Winter Town Hall Series coming to your area
Introducing a new and exciting way to get involved and stay connected in a location near you! Join your PSBA Town Hall meeting to hear the latest budget and political updates affecting public education. Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and networking with fellow school directors. Locations have been selected to minimize travel time. Spend less time in the car and more time learning about issues impacting your schools.
6-6:35 p.m.         Association update from PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains
6:35 -7:15 p.m. Networking Reception
7:15-8 p.m.         Governor’s budget address recap
Monday, February 20     Forbes Road Career and Technology Center, Monroeville
Tuesday, February 21    Venango Technology Center, Oil City
Wednesday, Feb 22       Clearfield County Career and Technical Center, Clearfield
Thursday, February 23   Columbia Montour AVTS, Bloomsburg
Monday, February 27     Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, Jamison
Tuesday, February 28    PSBA, Mechanicsburg
Wednesday, March 1     Bedford County Technical Center, Everett
Thursday, March 2         West Side CTC, Kingston

Ron Cowell at EPLC always does a great job with these policy forums.
RSVP Today for a Forum In Your Area! EPLC is Holding Five Education Policy Forums on Governor Wolf’s 2017-2018 State Budget Proposal
Forum #1 – Pittsburgh Thursday, February 23, 2017 – Wyndham University Center – 100 Lytton Avenue, Pittsburgh (Oakland), PA 15213
Forum #2 – Harrisburg Area (Enola, PA) Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – Capital Area Intermediate Unit – 55 Miller Street (Susquehanna Room), Enola, PA 17025
Forum #3 – Philadelphia Thursday, March 2, 2017 – Penn Center for Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, 3440 Market Street (5th Floor), Philadelphia, PA 19104
Forum #4 – Indiana University of Pennsylvania Tuesday, March 14, 2017 – 1011 South Drive (Stouffer Hall), Indiana, PA 15705
Forum #5 – Lehigh Valley Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit #21, 4210 Independence Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078
Governor Wolf will deliver his 2017-2018 state budget proposal to the General Assembly on February 7. These policy forums will be early opportunities to get up-to-date information about what is in the proposed education budget, the budget’s relative strengths and weaknesses, and key issues.  Each of the forums will take following basic format (please see below for regional presenter details at each of the three events). Ron Cowell of EPLC will provide an overview of the Governor’s proposed budget for early education, K-12 and higher education.  A representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will provide an overview of the state’s fiscal situation and key issues that will affect this year’s budget discussion. The overviews will be followed by remarks from a panel representing statewide and regional perspectives concerning state funding for education and education related items. These speakers will discuss the impact of the Governor’s proposals and identify the key issues that will likely be considered during this year’s budget debate.
Although there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.
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

PASBO 62nd Annual Conference, March 21-24, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh.
Register now for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference March 25-27 Denver
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.

Register for the 2017 PASA Education Congress, “Delving Deeper into the Every Student Succeeds Act.” March 29-30

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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