Wednesday, April 12, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 12, 2017: OLD 97: 2017 PA Charter Reform Train is on the Tracks as HB97

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PA Ed Policy Roundup April 12, 2017:
OLD 97: 2017 PA Charter Reform Train is on the Tracks as HB97

Monday April 17th is the last day to register to vote in the May 16th primary election

Blogger note: Rep. Reese’s cosponsorship memo provides an overview of the Charter Reform bill that was introduced as HB97 this week.  We are hearing that the bill may move as early as next week.
HB97 is over 70 pages long; we will be covering analyses/commentary as they become available.
House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda Comprehensive Charter School Reform
House of Representatives Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session
Posted: April 7, 2017 09:33 AM
From:    Representative Mike Reese
To:        All House members
Subject:            Comprehensive Charter School Reform
I am preparing to introduce legislation that will reform the nearly 20-year-old Charter School Law by making necessary improvements including a change to the funding formula for cyber charter schools. My bill is built upon HB 530 (2015-2016 session), which passed the House in March 2015 by a vote of 117-78, and passed the Senate (with amendment) in December 2015 by a vote of 40-10.  As with HB 530, the goals of my new legislation are two-fold. First, my bill seeks to generate financial savings for school districts and local taxpayers by making sensible changes to the formula for funding cyber charter schools. Second, my legislation will improve school choice by strengthening the law under which charter, regional charter and cyber charter schools (together, “charter school entities”) are established and operate. My bill will accomplish these goals by doing the following:  For the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years, allowing school districts to make the following additional deductions from their per-student expenditures when calculating their cyber charter school payments:tax assessment and collection services; 30% of operation and maintenance of plant services; and the actual total amount the district of residence paid to cyber charter schools under this section for the prior school year.
Establishing a funding commission to consider and make recommendations concerning funding and other matters related to charter school entities.
Making critical ethics, transparency, governance and auditing reforms.
Providing for a streamlined payment dispute resolution process.
Setting limits on charter school entities’ allowable unassigned fund balances, and providing for the refund of excess fund balances to tuition-paying school districts.
Monitoring and improving academic quality through the following:

PA House Bill 97; Regular Session 2017-2018
Short Title: An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, in terms and courses of study, further providing for agreements with institutions of higher education; in opportunities for educational excellence, further providing for definitions, for responsibilities of school entities and for concurrent enrollment agreements; and, in charter schools, extensively revising and adding charter school provisions.
Actions: Referred to Education April 10, 2017

Pension debt clock keeper's desire to crusade for reform may be winding down
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on April 11, 2017 at 7:30 AM, updated April 11, 2017 at 10:31 AM
After 940 days since he embarked on what has proven so far  to be an unsuccessful pension reform crusade, Barry Shutt is seriously thinking about calling it quits. The retired state employee-turned-citizen activist had hoped that the digital electronic clock tabulating the public pension debt he keeps on display in the state Capitol's East Wing Rotunda would be a visual reminder that would jar lawmakers into action.  It hasn't worked.  On Monday, his clock showed the combined unfunded liability of the state's two major pension systems topping $75 billion - and growing $172 by the second.  Shutt, 69, of Lower Paxton Township, met last week with House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Jefferson County, to discuss the issue that brings him to the Capitol on most days to talk to anyone who approaches him about what his clock represents. That meeting with Reed, in his view, was so unproductive that he said his only regret coming out of it was not asking Reed if his caucus wanted to buy the $1,000 pension clock.

The Independent Fiscal Office has released new projections regarding school property tax elimination
Tweet from IFO April 11, 2017
The IFO has released new projections regarding school property tax elimination. The document is available here: .

Smethport school district looking at half-million budget shortfall
Bradford Era By FRAN DE LANCEY Era Correspondent April 11, 2017
SMETHPORT — In his report to the school board Monday, District Superintendent David London invited directors' comments about the preliminary 2017-18 budget after he reviewed some critical areas in the document, which now shows a deficit of $583,000.  "Several areas we're watching carefully are the declining numbers in the kindergarten registrations, which now stand at 42, and could force a reduction of one teacher. The athletic budget is another area for potential belt tightening, especially by looking at the needed and used athletic insurance."  According to London, the district will consider changes to the alternative education program and could consolidate some bus runs due to declining enrollment.  Like many other Pennsylvania school districts dealing with critical financial decisions, Smethport is faced with rising healthcare costs and increased contributions to the Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System, which are not slated to average out for the next several years.  "The district's quarterly payment to PSERS is now $429,000, and this is projected to increase," said Business Manager Sue Jordan.

“The surprise here isn't the content, but rather the audience.
Engleman is a ninth-grade physics and chemistry teacher in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and he is one of thousands of teachers who've received this primer on climate science. The Heartland Institute said it's sending one of these books to every public school and college science teacher in the country — about 300,000 copies, according to spokesman Jim Lakely.”
Changing climate and flattening Earth: Teaching science in a 'fake news' world
A glossy booklet with an intriguing title recently turned up in Patrick Engleman's mailbox. "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming," it proclaimed.  A cover letter packaged with the book told recipients to "consider the possibility that the science in fact is not 'settled'" when it comes to the causes of climate change. Further, "students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is, and whether or not we should be worried about it."  The letter was signed by Lennie Jarratt of the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that disputes the mainstream scientific theory that human-caused climate change poses a serious planetary threat.

Focus on: Tackling trauma in the classroom
The notebook series of articles on theme of tackling trauma in the classroom April 2017

Beyond the bathroom: Report shows laws' harm for transgender students
York Daily Record by Susan Miller , USA TODAY12:05 a.m. ET April 11, 2017
It is not just about the bathroom.
Singling out transgender students to use certain restrooms sends a signal that they aren’t valued in the public education system — and can cause devastating physical and psychological harm, a report out Tuesday says.  “It’s a rejection of who they are in the most core way,” said Naomi Goldberg, policy director for the Movement Advancement Project and co-author of the report, which lands amid a contentious debate over LGBT rights and bathroom bills.  In February, the Justice and Education departments reversed guidance the Obama administration had issued that said Title IX protected the rights of transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. In March, the Supreme Court removed from its calendar the case of high school senior Gavin Grimm, who is battling for the right to use the restroom that matches his gender ID.  And two weeks ago, North Carolina lawmakers announced a deal to repeal the state’s controversial and costly bathroom bill, but critics say the law that replaced it still engenders discrimination.

Last week, we wrote about #blackdegreesmatter. A public school principal weighs in by calling on schools to do more
Philadelphia Citizen BY HILDERBRAND PELZER III APR. 10, 2017
The true cost of failing to meet the needs of black male students hit me several years ago, when I was principal of a Philadelphia public school inside Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility. One day, I met a former student from a public high school I had led several years earlier. I remembered that I had repeatedly suspended the young man from school for repeatedly cutting class. I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, for the sake of the school. But he was now an inmate, and still had not graduated from high school. I felt I had contributed to his circumstance.
And, in a way, I had. The rate of school suspensions has doubled in the last decade or so, most dramatically for students of color. In fact, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights says black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled—even as young as preschool. Meanwhile, a large-scale study out of Texas found that students who were suspended or expelled were three times more likely to encounter the juvenile justice system than those who stayed in school—a direct link in the schools-to-prison pipeline.

Central York students experience STEM hands-on
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez , 505-5439/@JuniorG_YDPublished 5:11 p.m. ET April 11, 2017 | Updated 12 hours ago
Walking on eggs, using air as a cannon and absorbing career advice were among the activities Central York High School freshmen engaged in as part of a two-day summit focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.  The event was brought to the school by Junior Achievement of Southern York County and had students switch through nine sessions of simulations, games and career insight.  “You never know what you’ll find, what you’ll see and what you’ll hear today that will inspire you,” said Kim Zech, director of the JA STEM summit.
She said the summit, the organization's 100th so far, was not to convince the students to pursue any one career field but instead to inspire them to “follow their passion,” whether in STEM or not.

“But there’s a catch. By accepting the vouchers, families may be unknowingly giving up their rights to the very help they were hoping to gain. The government is still footing the bill, but when students use vouchers to get into private school, they lose most of the protections of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.”
Special Ed School Vouchers May Come With Hidden Costs
New York Times By DANA GOLDSTEIN APRIL 11, 2017
For many parents with disabled children in public school systems, the lure of the private school voucher is strong.  Vouchers for special needs students have been endorsed by the Trump administration, and they are often heavily promoted by state education departments and by private schools, which rely on them for tuition dollars. So for families that feel as if they are sinking amid academic struggles and behavioral meltdowns, they may seem like a life raft. And often they are.

Ravitch: Why the Supreme Court should not force the public to pay for religious schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss April 11 at 2:46 PM 
If you don’t know what the Blaine Amendments are, it’s time to learn, because they may be gone soon, and that would affect the United States in a major way.  The Blaine Amendments are provisions in a majority of U.S. state legislatures that prohibit or limit the use of public funds for religious schools, helping maintain a separation of church and state that has long been seen by many Americans as a central tenet of U.S. democracy.  Some school choice supporters, however, oppose these amendments. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has long advocated for using public funds to pay for private and religious school tuition and other education expenses. And the Trump administration may propose a federal tax credit to support programs that encourage and facilitate the use of public funding for religious school.  Last year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. PauleyThe case involves the appeal of a Lutheran church in Missouri and its preschool that had sought a grant from a state program to use scrap tires for a playground but was denied because of the 1875 provision in the state constitution — known as a Blaine Amendment — that forbids using any public money “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination or religion.”  The church and preschool sued the state, citing the First Amendment, but lost in a federal district court and a federal appellate court upheld the decision by the state.  Now the Supreme Court will hear the case, with arguments set to begin April 19, and the decision could determine the fate of Blaine Amendments across the country. The high court just returned to a full complement of justices, with President Trump successfully placing his first nominee, the conservative Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, on the court to take the seat of Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch may well be the deciding vote in this case.

Some States Look Beyond Reading, Math in ESSA Accountability
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on April 11, 2017 8:15 AM
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, students in Delaware will be held accountable for social studies and science. Massachusetts and Vermont are also incorporating science into their systems, and Illinois is hoping to add it down the line.    Both Connecticut and Vermont also want to add physical education into their accountability systems. Educators and advocates in Vermont "felt that including the physical fitness assessment would support schools in attending to the whole child and supporting school nutrition programs and instruction that will promote a life time of healthy living," according to the state's ESSA plan, which hasn't yet been approved by the feds.    Schools in the Green Mountain State won't immediately be held accountable for how many jumping jacks their students do&mdmash;the state is piloting a physical assessment and will officially incorporate it into the system if it's proved to be valid and reliable.  The incorporation of these other subjects addresses one of the key criticisms of ESSA's predecessor—the No Child Left Behind Act—which some educators said put too much stock in reading and math test scores, to the exclusion and detriment of other subjects. States were allowed to add more to the mix when the department offered waivers from the NCLB law. But few states took the feds up on that flexibility. 

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill APR 24, 2017 • 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the fourth annual Advocacy Forum on April 24, 2017, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Hear from legislators on how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
“Nothing has more impact for legislators than hearing directly from constituents through events like PSBA’s Advocacy Forum.”
— Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Senate Appropriations Committee chair

PSBA Spring Town Hall Meetings coming in May!
Don’t be left in the dark on legislation that affects your district! Learn the latest from your legislators at PSBA Spring Town Hall Meetings. Conveniently offered at 10 locations around the state throughout May, this event will provide you with the opportunity to interact face-to-face with key lawmakers from your area. Enjoy refreshments, connect with colleagues, and learn what issues impact you and how you can make a difference. Log in to the Members Area to register today for this FREE event!
  • Monday, May 1, 6-8 p.m. — Parkway West CTC, 7101 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA 15071
  • Tuesday, May 2, 7:30-9 a.m. — A W Beattie Career Center, 9600 Babcock Blvd, Allison Park, PA 15101
  • Tuesday, May 2, 6-8 p.m. — Crawford County CTC, 860 Thurston Road, Meadville, PA 16335
  • Wednesday, May 3, 6-8 p.m. — St. Marys Area School District, 977 S. St Marys Road, Saint Marys, PA 15857
  • Thursday, May 4, 6-8 p.m. — Central Montco Technical High School, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
  • Friday, May 5, 7:30-9 a.m. — Lehigh Carbon Community College, 4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, PA 18078
  • Monday, May 15, 6-8 p.m. — CTC of Lackawanna Co., 3201 Rockwell Avenue, Scranton, PA 18508
  • Tuesday, May 16, 6-8 p.m. — PSBA, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
  • Wednesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m. — Lycoming CTC, 293 Cemetery Street, Hughesville, PA 17737
  • Thursday, May 18, 6-8 p.m. — Chestnut Ridge SD, 3281 Valley Road, Fishertown, PA 15539
For assistance with registration, please contact Michelle Kunkel at 717-506-2450 ext. 3365.

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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