Tuesday, March 7, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 7: How much of a difference could it make if the generation that is willing to go to bat for bike lanes or pop-up beer gardens decided they wanted to fight for public schools?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 7, 2017:
How much of a difference could it make if the generation that is willing to go to bat for bike lanes or pop-up beer gardens decided they wanted to fight for public schools?

The PA Department of Education Appropriations hearings are:
March 6th 10:00 AM House Hearing Majority Caucus Room, Main Capitol 140
March 7th 10:00 AM Senate Hearing Hearing Room 1, North Office Building

Also, on March 20th at 10:30 AM a joint Public Hearing by the PA House and Senate Education Committees is scheduled regarding the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Hearing Room #1, North Office Building

“What if Philadelphia managed to retain a significant percentage of this workforce beyond their family formation, instead of seeing them flee to the suburbs? How much of a difference could it make if the generation that is willing to go to bat for bike lanes or pop-up beer gardens decided they wanted to fight for public schools?”
Commentary: Let's make Philly schools the better choice
Inquirer Opinion By Stephanie King Updated: MARCH 7, 2017 — 3:01 AM EST
Stephanie King is president of Kearny Friends and a member of the Home and School Association at Gen. Philip Kearny School in Northern Liberties. 
When my daughter was 4, her preschool class vanished.  Over a six-month period, each and every one of her classmates either moved to the suburbs, or enrolled in the private pre-k that served as a feeder to their chosen private school.  Now, imagine what the economic impact might have been if those families had stayed in Philadelphia, paying their property, wage, and sales taxes. Imagine how much the local economy might have been boosted by the goods and services those parents would have purchased, instead of paying tuition.  Philadelphia will never realize the true potential of its economy until it fixes its public schools. Public education is not just a moral imperative, but an economic one.  Public schools have been the greatest equalizing force in our nation. And by "public" I don't mean charter school where you and 1,000 other parents cross your fingers in a lottery." I'm not talking about the ability to filter out students who don't contribute to your metrics. I mean the school down the street, the one where you can walk or drop your child off with minimum hassle.

“Rivera said he wants the legislature to make changes in a few areas--particularly school funding equity.  Despite a new funding formula becoming law last year, Pennsylvania's wealthiest public schools still get more than twice the money of poorer schools.”
Education secretary: this is a tough budget year
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 7, 2017 3:40 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- State House members kicked off their third and final week of budget hearings with an all-day Q&A with education officials.  Governor Tom Wolf's proposed plan includes a $100 million boost for general education funding, which returns the allocation almost to its 2011 peak.  But talk has centered on what's getting cut.  With the commonwealth facing a nearly $3 billion structural deficit, the 2017-18 budget proposal is significantly leaner than Wolf's last two.  Education Secretary Pedro Rivera noted, that put his department under some pressure.  "This was an extremely difficult budget year," Rivera said. "The governor is looking for an additional two billion dollars in efficiencies."  Many of the cuts to education spending were borne out of the McKinsey Report--an analysis by a third-party contractor Wolf hired to help him find savings.  Rivera says some of the measures--like completely axing state funding for the University of Pennsylvania's Veterinary School--were tough to make, but allowed the department to place high priority on funding preschool, K through 12, and special education.

House committee focuses on education spending during budget hearings
Trib Live JAMIE MARTINES  | Monday, March 6, 2017, 1:48 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Questions lingered Monday after daylong House Appropriations Committee hearings to probe Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal for 2017-18 education spending.  On top of increases to basic education, special education and early childhood education programs, such as Pre-K Counts and Headstart, the governor's proposal includes a $50 million cut to state transportation funding and changes to how it is paid in the future.  “It's an old formula,” said Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, noting that the transportation funding formula has not changed since 1972. Changes in fuel costs and advancements in efficiency must be considered and could yield savings, he said.  In working with the governor's office, Rivera said the Education Department determined that school districts could save money on transportation through more competitive bidding processes and by improving fleet management and making bus routes more efficient.  The Education Department does not have a timeline for developing a new funding formula, Rivera said.

Speaker Turzai’s House Bill 700 would force Philly to add 3000 charter seats and Pittsburgh 500 seats
Cosponsorship Memorandum Posted: January 27, 2017 10:57 AM
From:    Representative Mike Turzai
To:        All House members
Subject: Charter School Seats in School Districts of the First Class and First Class A
I am preparing to introduce legislation to reduce the number of children on waiting lists for charter school enrollment by requiring an increase in available charter school seats in school districts of the first class and first class A.  Charter schools are a lifeline for children who otherwise would be forced to attend poorly performing schools based solely on their residence. Particularly in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the number of available charter school seats has not kept up with the high demand for enrollment. As a result, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 students sit on waiting lists in these cities, hoping for an opportunity to enroll in a charter school that meets the needs of these students and their families.  To reduce the number of children on charter school waiting lists in the School Districts of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, my proposed legislation will require the following, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year and continuing through the 2021-2022 school year:  An expansion of available charter school seats above the number authorized for the immediately preceding school year, either by approval of new charter applications, expansion of permitted enrollment at existing charter schools or a combination of both, by a minimum of 3,000 new seats in a school district of the first class and by a minimum of 500 new seats in a school district of the first class A. New seats established in any school year that exceed the required number of new seats may be applied toward the requirement for the following year.
For each charter revoked or not renewed in a school district of the first class or in a school district of the first class A, establishment of an equivalent number of new charter school seats in another charter school, either by approval of new charter applications, expansion of permitted enrollment in existing charter schools or a combination of both.  Through this legislation, we can help ensure that families who seek to choose a charter school education for their children are not prevented from doing so due to enrollment constraints and long waiting lists. Every family should have the opportunity to exercise school choice and not be denied educational opportunities solely because of their address.

Auditor General says taxing marijuana could yield $200 million for state
Post Gazette By Karen Langley / Harrisburg Bureau March 6, 2017 3:06 PM
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, says he knows where the state could find money to help close its budget gap: by allowing the recreational use of marijuana and taxing it.  At a Capitol news conference Monday, Mr. DePasqule said he estimates Pennsylvania could bring in $200 million a year by regulating and taxing marijuana. That projection is based on the model of marijuana regulation used in Colorado, which Mr. DePasquale said generated $129 million in a year with a population less than half that of Pennsylvania’s.  “I wasn’t necessarily convinced Pennsylvania should be the first, but now that we have actual results and data from other states, the evidence is clear that this can be both good socially and fiscally,” Mr. DePasquale said.  In 2016, taxing marijuana brought in $220 million in Washington, $129 million in Colorado and $65.4 million in Oregon, according to Mr. DePasquale’s office.  Eight states and the District of Columbia allow small amounts of marijuana for recreational use by adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In November 2016, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada approved recreational use by adults. Alaska also allows recreational use.  Pennsylvania has a budget shortfall projected at nearly $3 billion over this year and the next. In February, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed closing that gap through a combination of spending reductions and new taxes.

“Pennsylvania Department of Education deputy communication director Casey Smith said in a statement Monday that the department is reviewing the Trump administration guidance. The department is working closely with Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to ensure the protection of all students in schools across the commonwealth, no matter their race, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, she said.  “Gov. Wolf is committed to ensuring Pennsylvania remains a place where everyone feels welcome, and those protections must extend to our classrooms and schools,” Smith said, adding that a bias and discrimination prevention planning toolkit is being finalized and will be shared in the coming weeks.”
Local school administrators trying to deal with transgender bathroom issue
By Dawn Goodman For the Observer-Reporter newsroom@observer-reporter.com March 3, 2017
Area school district administrators say they are working to determine what bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students should use after the Trump administration last week reversed guidance by the Obama administration about the issue, removing federal protections that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.  The reversal will allow states and districts to determine how to handle what has become a controversial issue and led to multiple lawsuits.  Belle Vernon Superintendent John Wilkinson said the district started to investigate the matter about six months ago, but does not yet have a policy in place.  “It’s a delicate situation,” he said. “We care about every single kid in our district and want to do right by all of them.”  Wilkinson said the district would welcome guidance from the state Department of Education about how to handle the issue, but has not received any yet.
Canon-McMillan School District is also waiting for guidance from the state.

Philly, suburban high schools dominate list of best SAT scores in Pennsylvania
Pa. Department of Education released data for 2016 college admissions test
The 2016 average SAT scores for each of the public high schools in the state were released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education last week.   Nineteen of the Top 25 highest-scoring schools on the college admissions test are located in the five-county Philadelphia region, and for the 16th consecutive year, Julia R. Masterman High School students posted the highest average SAT score – 1978 – in the state. (The education department has reports on its website dating back to 2001.)  Masterman is a public magnet school where students are admitted based on their academic performance – as are the other six School District of Philadelphia schools ranking in the Top 10 in the city.  The average results for 647 high schools across Pennsylvania were included in the report. An additional 31 high schools were listed in the data without scores because fewer than 11 students took the college admissions test.  In addition to the number of students who took the SAT in 2016, the complete report lists each high school's average reading, math and writing score. On each of those three tests, students score between 200 and 800 points, for a maximum total score of 2400.  The complete report can be downloaded from the department of education's website.

Erie School District fires back at state
Badams 'perplexed' over denial of recovery plan.
Go Erie By Ed Palattella Posted at 12:01 AM Updated at 5:25 AM March 7, 2017
The Erie School District is pushing back over the state Department of Education's rejection of the district's $31.8 million financial recovery plan.  In a sharply worded four-page letter sent on Monday, Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams reiterated to Education Secretary Pedro Rivera that the district is sinking toward insolvency and needs an infusion of state cash to survive without slashing programs to unfair levels.  "No matter how many hoops we are made to jump through, no matter how many spreadsheets we are asked to furnish, that basic underlying fact is that we need additional state funding," Badams wrote in the letter, which he signed along with Erie School Board President Frank Petrungar Jr. and the district's chief financial officer, Brian Polito.  "We ... can only say that we are perplexed," Badams wrote about Rivera's rejection of the plan.  The Erie Times-News obtained a copy of the letter through a request under the state's Right-to-Know Law.

It's time for property tax independence
Why Property Tax Independence Act should be adopted
Morning Call Opiniion by Ed Kihm, Quakertown March 6, 2017
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association continues to issue its edict to school boards across the commonwealth to oppose legislation that will completely eliminate school property taxes and shift the way schools are funded through an increased income and sales tax. School boards are also crafting resolutions against it because they want to keep the same system that holds your home as ransom.  In 1949 public school boards were given authority to levy taxes, and since then we have public schools that overestimate budgets, underestimate revenues, project deficits, raise taxes every year and are perpetually in debt while they build Taj Mahal-like school buildings and sports stadiums with artificial turf fields that sit empty most of the time. And these same people who are more than happy to throw you out of your home want you to think that eliminating school property tax is a bad idea.

What the numbers really tell us about America’s public schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 6 at 2:28 PM 
If you care about education and don’t know who David C. Berliner is, you should. He is an educational psychologist who is one of the clearest thinkers in the education world about teaching, teacher education, educational policy and the effects of corporate school reform on schools.  His résumé  is too long to recite, but here are some highlights: He is a former dean of the school of education at Arizona State University and a past president of both the American Educational Research Association and the Division of Educational Psychology of the American Psychological Association.  He has written or co-written more than 400 articles, chapters and books. Among his best known works are the six editions of the text “Educational Psychology,” co-written with N.L. Gage; “The Manufactured Crisis,” co-written with B.J. Biddle; “Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools,” co-written with Sharon Nichols; and “50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools,” co-written with Gene V. Glass. He co-edited the first “Handbook of Educational Psychology” and the books “Talks to Teachers, Perspectives on Instructional Time,” and “Putting Research to Work in Your School.”  Here is a new post by Berliner about what is really happening in America’s public schools today as opposed to what some school reformers and news organizations say is happening. It was first published on the Equality Alliance blog, and Berliner gave me permission to publish it.

Supreme Court’s decision to pass on transgender bathroom case leaves schools, parents without answers
Washington Post By Emma Brown and Moriah Balingit March 6 at 1:09 PM 
For months, students, parents and school officials awaited a ruling from the Supreme Court on the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager from Virginia fighting for the right to use the boys’ bathroom at his high school.  But the high court on Monday decided to remand the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, leaving those grappling with this emotionally-charged issue without the answers they had sought.  “We’re disappointed,” said Bob Farrace, spokesman for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Farrace said the group, in a friend-of-the-court brief backing Grimm, had “highlighted that school leaders need clarity on policies that support the rights of transgender students. Kicking it back to states only exacerbates that need.”  The decision comes after the Trump administration revoked federal guidance issued by its predecessor, the Obama administration, that directed public schools to permit transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The 4th Circuit had relied on the Obama administration’s position on transgender student rights when it sided with Grimm in his battle with the Gloucester County school board. Now that the federal position on the issue has changed, the high court said the appeals court must reconsider the case.

National Voucher Program Could Bleed Many School Districts Dry, Report Says
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on March 6, 2017 8:24 AM
If President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos get a national voucher program approved by Congress, it could be a crippling if not fatal blow to many of the small and medium-size school districts around the country, according to a new Center for American Progress report.  The left-leaning Washington think tank issued a report last Friday, "Vouchers Are Not a Viable Solution for Vast Swaths of America," that examined the impact of a nationwide voucher program on three different classifications of districts based on the number of schools. In 85 percent of the 11,200 districts the report considered (excluding regional education agencies and charter schools), specifically those where there are eight or fewer schools, vouchers are either "highly unlikely" to work or "may not work," the report states. Even just slight changes in enrollment triggered by vouchers, according to the report, could "dramatically destabilize" districts and communities while ignoring the real problems these districts, especially ones in rural areas.

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. 

Briefing: Public Education Funding in Pennsylvania March 15, from 5:30-7:00 p.m.,
On March 15, from 5:30-7:00 p.m., join attorneys Michael Churchill, Jennifer Clarke and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg for a briefing on public education.
Topics include:
·         the basics of education funding
·         the school funding lawsuit
·         the property tax elimination bill and how it would affect school funding
1.5 CLE credits available to PA licensed attorneys.

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 #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 http://www.pasa-net.org/ev_calendar_day.asp?date=3/29/2017&eventid=63

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 https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. 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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