There's a great truism in politics: Until you have the votes - you don't have the votes.
A vote to repeal the ACA could happen TODAY, jeopardizing Medicaid coverage for Pennsylvania schoolchildren. Pennsylvania public schools are currently at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding to help pay for mandated services for students with special needs.
A PSBA Closer Look March 2017
Find their phone number here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
“The special ed funding formula’s intricacies are infamous. But the problem in a nutshell is this: when the neediest students concentrate in district schools, that drives up the per-pupil payments that districts must pay charters. It’s a paradox that can drain the budgets of traditional school districts while infusing charters with cash. And it creates incentives for districts like Chester Upland to do what they can to keep special ed students from migrating to charters and cyber-charters.”
Pennsylvania: How the State’s Charter Law Cripples Public Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch May 3, 2017 //
I don’t begin to understand the complexities of Pennsylvania’s formula for allocating dollars to public schools and charter schools, but this article explains how the formula cripples public schools. Chester Upland School District keeps raising taxes to overcome its deficit but it can’t keep up.
Chester Upland spends about $16,000 a year on average for each special ed student in its traditional district schools. But the state’s formula has forced it to pay more than $40,000 per student to charters, regardless of the child’s level of disability. Those payments crippled Chester Upland so badly that Gov. Tom Wolf and the courts stepped in. But this is far from just an issue in Chester Upland. Newly analyzed state data show that a combination of quirks in the charter law have caused a statewide problem, because charters across Pennsylvania are enrolling a greater share of the least needy, least costly special ed students.
Charter Reform: Public money, public interest
Standard Speaker OPINION / PUBLISHED: MAY 4, 2017
Pennsylvania’s embrace of publicly funded charter schools is so great that, two decades along, state lawmakers refuse to enact reforms to correct problems that adversely affect conventional public schools. Republican legislative leaders recently approved some modest reforms while establishing a study commission, which apparently will discover what 20 years of experience have failed to reveal. The goal should be simple — to ensure that conventional and charter publicly funded schools are on equal footing regarding funding, operations, performance and evaluation. Despite the recent modest reform package, that continues not to be the case. The first and most obvious reform should be to ensure that charter schools are funded based on their actual costs-per-student. Instead, local conventional districts pay charters based on the home districts’ cost-per-student, which most often is higher than charters’ costs.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the tuition paid by conventional districts to charters ranged from $6,865 to $18,750. That particularly makes no sense for cyber charter schools, which do not have the same physical plant costs as conventional schools that pay the cyber tuition.
Lawmakers also should eliminate disparities in special education funding for conventional and charter schools. Those payments are based on average rather than actual costs. In 2015-2016, charters were paid $294.8 million for special education, whereas they reported special education costs of $193.1 million.
East Marlborough officials urged to stand against gerrymandering
Daily Local By Matt Freeman, For Digital First Media POSTED: 05/03/17, 4:46 PM EDT
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Proponents of a push to curb gerrymandering came to East Marlborough Township’s monthly supervisors’ meeting Monday looking for support.
Supporters of Fair Districts PA urged the supervisors to say they supported legislation currently being considered in the Pennsylvania Legislature that would take redistricting out of the hands of the dominant political party and give it to an independent citizens’ commission. Supporters of the idea say the centuries-old practice of “gerrymandering” — drawing electoral districts to favor one political party over another — has only gotten more sophisticated in the information age, with detailed information about voters and where they live available to the parties. The new law aims to have future redistrictings done in a more even-handed way that would help elections better reflect changing views among the electorate, rather than continuing one party’s lock on power.
Kennett Square’s borough council and the Kennett Township supervisors have both already voted unanimously to support the independent commission, the Fair Districts PA supporters said, and asked the East Marlborough supervisors to support it as well.
Race is key issue in underfunding of Pottstown and Reading school districts, study says
Reading Eagle By David Mekeel Thursday May 4, 2017 12:01 AM
POTTSTOWN, PA - The fact that Pennsylvania has a school-funding problem is no secret.
Over the last few years, the state has been featured in reports highlighting the significant gap in per-student spending between the state's richest and poorest districts. State dollars, the reports show, are not leveling the playing field. A new funding formula, one that takes into account poverty levels, has been put in place. But because it applies only to new funding, its impact will be slow. A report released last month highlighted another wrinkle in the issue. A study by the Education Law Center - echoing a report done by the group POWER last summer - says Pennsylvania's inequitable school funding isn't just a matter of low-income versus high-income, but of race. The reason for that, the report states, is that Pennsylvania schools are some of the most segregated in the nation, with high concentrations of black and Latino students attending urban districts and the state's suburban and rural districts predominantly white.
'Stay the Hell out of Philadelphia,' Philly Dem tells House Speaker Turzai: Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | firstname.lastname@example.org Email the author | Follow on Twitter on May 04, 2017 at 7:47 AM, updated May 04, 2017 at 8:09 AM
THE MORNING COFFEE
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There are few things more hard-fought (or more entertaining, for that matter) than a good, old-fashioned political turf war. Thus do we turn our attentions to Philadelphia this Thursday morning, where state Sen. Vincent Hughes, a city Democrat, has a pretty clear message for state House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, after the latter inserted himself into a beef between the city's charter schools and the School Reform Commission. According to our friends at The Inquirer, Turzai mused that the reform commission was skirting state law through "overreach."
That prompted Hughes, who generally has two volume levels, loud and ear-splittingly loud (when provoked) to shoot back: "Fix the school-funding issue, or stay the hell out of Philadelphia."
Even with progressive education funding, 'fairness' eludes Berlin schools
Part one by Kevin McCorry Published in Keystone Crossroads May 2017
When it comes to fairness in public education, advocates put much of the emphasis on the resource disparities between school districts. And this is a hallmark of Pennsylvania’s school system, where leaders allow school funding to be based largely on zip code. In Pa., the state’s wealthiest districts spend an average of $3,000 more per student compared to the poorest districts. But imagine a system where school funding is not only equalized, but progressive — where the greatest resources are spent in the schools facing the toughest challenges. Would issues of fairness be solved? In this three-part special series, Keystone Crossroads travels to Berlin, Germany to explore such a system, where, in short, the answer is ‘no.’
Mayor Kenney joins mayors from five cities to discuss community schools
The notebook by Darryl Murphy May 2, 2017 — 4:28pm
The city of Philadelphia hosted the National League of Cities’ Mayors’ Institute on Community Schools Tuesday, an event in which mayors from six cities met for an intense private problem-solving session about how community schools can improve health and educational outcomes for children. Before the discussion, visiting mayors listened to opening remarks from Mayor Kenney and local education administrators. The mayors met at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Center City. Among them were Sylvester Turner from Houston, Texas; Paula Hicks-Hudson from Toledo, Ohio; Garret Nancolas from Caldwell, Idaho; Dennis Michael from Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Tim Willson from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Philadelphia’s chief education officer Otis Hackney also attended. “We’re looking to thought leaders like all of you here today to help us learn the best practices so that we can be as successful as we possibly can be,” said Kenney during his opening remarks. Through Philadelphia’s community schools initiative the mayor plans to transform 25 schools into neighborhood centers that will not only educate children, but also act as community hubs for a variety of medical and social services. The purpose is to help low-income children whose academic achievement is hindered by outside factors in their community.
“After his decades of service, Mellow was entitled to $246,000 a year. “
Pa. weighs restoring $20,000 monthly pension for convicted Senate leader
Inquirer by Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU @karen_langley | email@example.com Updated: MAY 4, 2017 — 5:00 AM EDT
HARRISBURG — Nearly five years after a longtime leader of Pennsylvania's Senate went to prison on a federal corruption charge, state officials are weighing the unusual step of restoring his $20,000-a-month pension. The 11 board members who oversee the State Employees’ Retirement System are in the process of voting on the long-fought appeal by Robert Mellow, the Scranton-area legislator who lost the retirement benefit when he pleaded guilty in May 2012. It’s unclear how long their decision will take or if it will be made public; the SERS board's next public meeting is June 14. “The board will deliberate for as long as it needs to,” said its spokesman, Jay Pagni.
Editorial: Governing in private
Times Tribune BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD / PUBLISHED: MAY 4, 2017
The Scranton School Board has built the district’s $34 million (and climbing) deficit largely on a foundation of secrecy. It conducts few public debates and convenes behind closed doors before meetings to privately discuss public business. Fortunately, Superintendent Alexis Kirijan, Ed.D., has discovered the key component for the board to dig out of the hole: even more secrecy. “People need privacy to be able to talk about the things they feel could be contributing factors” to the district’s woeful economic condition, she said, a week after she and three directors met in an unadvertised meeting with a district financial consultant. Contributing factors like, you know ... secrecy. “The public has nothing to do with this,” she added. “Having a public meeting has nothing to do with information-gathering.” No, the public just pays based on whatever the board does with that information.
Fritz Elementary students gear up for this month's Odyssey of the Mind world finals
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer May 4, 2017
Trying to stop a sinister Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompas from transforming the world into candy happens to be an arduous task. Ask seven Fritz Elementary School students, whose spin on the story “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has earned them a spot in the Odyssey of the Mind world finals this month. They have spent hundreds of hours over the past several months attempting to perfect their presentation, which earned them first place in their division at the regional level, then again at the state level. Now, they’re putting the final touches on their project for the world finals, scheduled for May 24 to 27 at Michigan State University. “I’m really happy and also excited that we’ve been able to make this,” Fritz Elementary student Garrett Daniels said. “It makes me feel really good.”
Students need stability and our teachers deserve contract
Inquirer Letter by by Nicole LePore Jackson Updated: MAY 3, 2017 — 4:25 PM EDT
Nicole LePore Jackson is a kindergarten teacher at Bayard Taylor Elementary. She has been a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia for eight years.
THE SYSTEMATIC dismantling of public education in the city of Philadelphia is happening right in front of our eyes, and no one is choosing to stand up and fight for what is right. Our elected officials are allowing both the city and state to starve the school system of necessary resources. On April 20, the School Reform Commission met to present the newest version of the budget, after an additional $65 million dollars was allocated for the School District. Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, labor leaders and elected representatives expected that a substantial portion of these funds would be used to finalize a contract with the teachers union. This was not the case. Not a single penny was set aside to resolve the five-year stalemate between the School District of Philadelphia and the teachers union.
Pre-K: Decades Worth Of Studies, One Strong Message
NPR by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ May 3, 20176:00 AM ET
Some of the nation's top researchers who've spent their careers studying early childhood education recently got together in Washington with one goal in mind: to cut through the fog of studies and the endless debates over the benefits of preschool. They came away with one clear, strong message: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don't. The findings come in a report "The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects," and the authors include big names from the early childhood world: Deborah Phillips of Georgetown University, Mark W. Lipsey of Vanderbilt, Kenneth Dodge of Duke, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution and others.
“Amendments in the state budget bill would prevent the Ohio Department of Education from forcing academically failing charter schools to close — particularly online schools that have some of worst test scores in the nation and the most influential donors and lobbyists in Ohio.”
Ohio House plan gives charter school sponsors rated ‘effective’ today a perpetual pass on new and failing e-schools
By Doug Livingston Beacon Journal staff writer Published: May 3, 2017 - 10:24 PM | Updated: May 4, 2017 - 07:40 AM
Amendments in the state budget bill would prevent the Ohio Department of Education from forcing academically failing charter schools to close — particularly online schools that have some of worst test scores in the nation and the most influential donors and lobbyists in Ohio.
The House passed the $63.7 billion budget bill on Tuesday. It is now being considered by the Senate. The package of charter-school-friendly changes specifically benefit online or e-schools and the handful of educational service centers that sponsor them now or in future. Under the proposals, educational service centers rated “effective” in the state’s new evaluation system could sponsor any charter school anywhere in the state. And no prior experience with e-schools would be necessary to take on a statewide online charter school. Plus, getting an effective score would be easier than before partially because flunking part of the evaluations will no longer result in an overall failing grade. And, ultimately, the evaluations could be meaningless as an educational service center rated “effective” would be allowed to keep sponsoring academically failing charter schools “regardless of whether [the sponsor] later receives an overall rating lower than ‘effective’.”
Three big problems with school ‘choice’ that supporters don’t like to talk about
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss May 3 at 12:21 PM
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been quite clear that expanding school choice is their top education priority. On Wednesday at a White House event, Trump said, according to a White House transcript:
During my campaign for president, I promised to fight for school choice — very important. It was featured in my joint address to Congress. And today, I’m calling on all lawmakers to work with us to help extend school choice to millions more children all across the United States of America, including millions of low-income Hispanic and African American children who deserve the same chance as every other child in America to live out their dreams and fill up their hearts and be educated at the top, top level. But one thing Trump, DeVos and many other choice advocates don’t talk publicly about are the negative consequences that have come with the implementation of school choice in states throughout the country. …. Here is a piece on some of the negative consequences of school choice that supporters don’t like to talk about. It was written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy group. She has been chronicling problems with corporate school reform efforts for years on this blog. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013 the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year.
Trump pushes school choice, making good on campaign promise
Inquirer by MARIA DANILOVA, The Associated Press Updated: MAY 3, 2017 — 4:11 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked Congress to work with him on extending school choice programs nationwide to benefit millions of students, including low-income African-American and Hispanic children. While Trump gave no specifics on what legislation he is proposing, the statement was the clearest indication yet that he intends to follow through on his campaign promise to fund a $20 billion school choice program. "During my campaign for president, I promised to fight for school choice," Trump said. "Very important."
Speaking at a White House event attended by about two dozen children, including some participating in a federally funded voucher program in the nation's capital, Trump said, "Every child has the right to fulfill their potential, and, if we do our jobs, then we will never have to tell young, striving Americans to defer their dreams for another day or for another decade."
Trump touts ‘winning’ D.C. school voucher program but ignores new study slamming it
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss May 3 at 3:39 PM
President Trump appears at an education event with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the White House on May 3. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Trump on Wednesday surprised a group of young D.C. students who were at the White House to meet the vice president and education secretary, and he touted the “winning” federally funded school voucher program in Washington. He failed to mention a new Education Department study that found that students in the program get lower standardized test scores than those in what he called “failing” public schools. Trump called the event, scheduled during National Charter Schools Week, “beautiful” and “very exciting.” Students from public and private schools and family members were there to meet Vice President Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Both DeVos and Trump have criticized traditional public schools while praising alternatives, including charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, and voucher/voucher-like programs that allow public money to be used for private and religious school. Their support for the latter is in contrast with the Obama administration, which backed charters but not vouchers.
Electing PSBA Officers; Applications Due June 1
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.
- 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
Thomas Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership