Tuesday, May 9, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 9: Yes, we need charter school reform. #HB97 isn't the way to do it

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 9, 2017:
Yes, we need charter school reform. #HB97 isn't the way to do it


Editorial: Demand state change school funding inequities
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 05/07/17, 11:12 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Brandt reported on two recent studies which analyzed school funding under the current application of the so-called fair funding formula. The results paint a startling picture of discrimination.  Not only were poorer districts getting less than their fair share, the less white a poor district was, the worse the inequity.  “On average, the whitest districts gets thousands of dollars more than their fair share for each student, while the least white districts get thousands less for each student than their fair share,” said David Mosenkis, a data researcher and volunteer who put together one of the studies last year for POWER, a Philadelphia-based faith advocacy group.  The issue goes much deeper than just the effect of race on the fair funding formula. A number of factors have contributed to Pennsylvania’s standing as having the worst funding inequality in the nation, according to The Campaign for Fair Education Funding.  A project of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the Campaign is one of several grass-roots efforts trying to fix school funding by pressuring legislators to change laws.  Part of the problem, citizens advocates point out, is that if the fair funding formula was applied uniformly, many districts particularly in the middle of the state would lose state money. Many of those districts are represented by the leaders who control the legislative agenda.  And the elected officials who represent the districts that would benefit from change may not have the political clout to fix it.
http://www.delcotimes.com/opinion/20170507/editorial-demand-state-change-school-funding-inequities

#HB97: Yes, we need charter school reform. This House bill isn't the way to do it: Lawrence A. Feinberg
PennLive Op-Ed  By Lawrence A. Feinberg on May 08, 2017 at 10:00 AM
After 20 years, it is long past time for meaningful reforms to Pennsylvania's charter school law that will benefit students and parents while also protecting our taxpayers.  But in its present form, reform legislation (HB97) sponsored by Rep. Mike Reese, R-Somerset, is not the legislation to do that.  The bill would significantly diminish local oversight and control by elected school boards who have a fiduciary responsibility to represent the taxpayers who pay for these publicly funded but privately managed schools.  Reese's bill also encourages expansion of the charter sector without appropriate measures to ensure that they are of high quality.   Our costly and chronically underperforming cyber charters, authorized by the state, are a prime example of that approach.  Charter operators have no accountability to the taxpayers footing the bill. Their funding comes "shrink-wrapped', based on local school district spending, with no local press coverage of charter board meetings; no public budget process; no public check registers.  For charters that are run by private management companies, like Chester Community Charter, the state's largest brick and mortar charter, taxpayers know virtually nothing about how their money is spent.  The founder of PA Cyber, the state's largest cyber charter, used taxpayer funds to buy an airplane and houses for his girlfriend and mother.  It is considerably more difficult to siphon off $8 million when there are nine pairs of elected eyes reviewing check registers
Read More: http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2017/05/yes_we_need_charter_school_ref.html#incart_river_index

Charter school rally at Capitol draws hundreds
Stacy M. Brown Tribune Harrisburg Correspondent May 8, 2017
HARRISBURG — Students at the Global Leadership Academy — a charter school in West Philadelphia that’s comprised mostly of African Americans — have learned firsthand while touring the world, visiting places like Africa, the Far East and Canada.  Dr. Naomi Booker, the CEO of the academy, said the charter school’s goal has always been to provide a solid education program that’s been developed through global studies because the world is much bigger than Philadelphia and the United States.  Those reasons were among the many that Booker and other school officials along with students joined hundreds at a rally at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Monday.  “We’re about choice and promoting the charter movement,” Booker said to those participating in the rally which filled the Rotunda inside the Capitol.  “We are here to continue our fight with districts who’ve been trying to halt the charter program. We are here so that they can recognize our relevance,” Booker said.  The Keystone Alliance for Public Charter Schools hosted the rally and were joined by Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, parents, supporters and lawmakers who have attempted to beat back challenges and rhetoric directed toward charter schools.  “Public charter schools are a vital part of the education system in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Democratic state Sen. Anthony Williams, also among the many to join the rally.
http://www.phillytrib.com/news/charter-school-rally-at-capitol-draws-hundreds/article_7b430d77-c9a9-5405-b2c4-01cb8a0ea19f.html

“Should local taxpayers pay for low-performing cyber and charter schools? If local taxpayers don't like how the cyber or charter school is operating, how do they vote to remove a school board director? This seems to me like the classic constitutional premise of taxation without representation. In an age of high accountability and transparency, how can we continue to support spending school tax dollars without the same scrutiny required for a public school district?”
Public schools and choice
Gettysburg Times Posted: Saturday, May 6, 2017 12:05 am (paywall)
Recently I had a high school student approach me and ask if he could ride an Uber to school instead of the school bus. He didn't like that the big yellow bus came to his house so early and he said it took too long to get the school. I didn't respond until I got the bill from the Uber service. When I asked the family why I was getting the bill for school transportation, they responded, I have school choice. While this is a fictional story, this is the root of school choice: a family, with or without cause, can send me the bill for cyber school tuition, charter school tuition and transportation costs and I can't say no. These costs are incurred under current PA Cyber and Charter School Laws, by groups that have no publicly elected school boards to evaluate the quality and efficiency of educational services.
Should local taxpayers pay for low-performing cyber and charter schools? If local taxpayers don't like how the cyber or charter school is operating, how do they vote to remove a school board director? This seems to me like the classic constitutional premise of taxation without representation. In an age of high accountability and transparency, how can we continue to support spending school tax dollars without the same scrutiny required for a public school district? How many people would love to go into Kennie's Market, select a bag of groceries and pass the bill to the next customer in line? Why do we let school choice go on unchecked?
http://www.gettysburgtimes.com/life_entertainment/columns/article_45dfe744-57e8-5674-939d-81a0ab0aa8b1.html

"Shifting risk," which many pension reformers often say is a requirement, will not pay down the debt any faster than current reforms and will not lower school district and taxpayer payments for a very long time. Current "reform" proposals in play would also not prevent politicians from borrowing against the retirement systems again.   While a new retirement benefit structure may save a little bit of money decades from now, the reality of switching to a 401K-style system is it will cost money to establish.”
This is the pension reform issue no one's talking about: Miriam Fox
PennLive Op-Ed  By Miriam Fox on May 08, 2017 at 8:00 AM, updated May 08, 2017 at 8:03 AM
Miriam Fox is the Democratic executive director of the state House Appropriations Committee. She writes from Harrisburg.  
As a long-time public servant on the House Appropriations Committee, I have worked to remind legislators about the unshakeable truth behind the numbers related to proposed policy changes.  But as the pension reform conversation for teachers and state employees is once again moving towards a bad result, it is very important to share our heightened concern about this with you.  For the past six years, policy makers have been talking about shifting investment risk away from taxpayers and moving employees into a new retirement savings program. Unfortunately, many people and many editorial pages have adopted this notion without considering an important pension element: the debt.  New retirement benefit plan structures and the shifting risk conversation dangerously miss the point.  Retirement savings programs are not the problem. Pennsylvania has a large debt to repay and it needs a guarantee that politicians will never again use the kind of creative financing that got us into this place to begin with. While "shifting risk" sounds good, it doesn't address the core issue; it circumvents hard choices.
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2017/05/the_pension_reform_issue_no_on.html#incart_river_index

Wolf pushes for more early childhood education funding
Sharon Herald By JOHN FINNERTY CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf was joined by advocates for early childhood education Monday to defend his plan to boost Pre-K funding by $75 million.  Wolf’s budget proposals include $2 billion in cuts where he thinks the state government can manage them. But, he stressed Monday, he thinks the state needs to target increased spending in some areas, including early childhood education.  “It is proven that children who participate in high quality Pre-K perform better in school later on,” Wolf said. “They graduate at higher rates, they learn more now, and they earn more later. Good early childhood education levels the playing field for high- and low-income students.”  Wolf, a Democrat, said the investment pays off in the long run because the societal costs of not preparing children for school far exceed the upfront costs of preschool programs.  It was a point backed up by Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, a Republican.  Freed said that he won’t suggest the state should increase its total budget spending, but he thinks that the government ought to put its money on efforts that are worth the investment.  About half the inmates in Pennsylvania’s prison system dropped out of school, he said.  “That’s the reason so many in law enforcement support this,” he said. “Studies show the programs work.”
http://www.sharonherald.com/news/local_news/wolf-pushes-for-more-early-childhood-education-funding/article_b0fec578-dadb-5700-a688-0d02dea1929f.html

Pre-K Should be a Top Budget Priority
PA Partnerships for Children Press Release Early Learning May 8, 2017
PPC Report Shows States Outpacing PA in Pre-K Investments
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) released a report today in its role as a principal partner of the Pre-K for PA Campaign that commends Pennsylvania for making increased state investments in publicly funded, high-quality pre-k but highlighting that the commonwealth is lagging behind many other states, including economic competitors, in its per capita investment. PPC President and CEO Joan L. Benso was joined at a state capitol press conference by Governor Tom Wolf, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, York County business leader Michael Smeltzer and other partners in the campaign.  The report, "Prioritizing Pre-K in Pennsylvania: A State Comparison," indicates that Pennsylvania joins 27 other states and the District of Columbia having made the wise choice to invest in high-quality pre-k, but only ranks 20th among the cohort in per capita investments. This places Pennsylvania behind many of our economic competitors and neighboring states including Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia.  "Countless research studies have proven time after time that pre-kindergarten works. The question is no longer does high-quality pre-k work, but how much is the commonwealth investing in high-quality pre-k to build a solid foundation for academic success," said Joan Benso, President and CEO of PPC.  "Sixty-four percent of eligible preschool children in our state still cannot access this critical intervention as we have failed to invest enough resources," she said.
http://www.papartnerships.org/news/pre-k-should-be-a-top-budget-priority/

Editorial: Time for lawmakers to face reality about Pa. budget
Citizens Voice EDITORIAL BOARD / PUBLISHED: MAY 8, 2017
State legislators facing re-election in 2016 passed a farcical state budget to avoid a tax increase, and declared victory. The result is that the budget will end the fiscal year in June more than $1 billion short of its constitutionally required balance, thus driving the accumulated state government deficit to more than $3 billion.   In April alone, tax collections came in $537 million, more than 13 percent, below the budget’s projection for the month. Part of that is due to a change in state tax law shifting reporting on the state corporate net income tax from April to May. But the maximum difference of that change is about $200 million, only about 37 percent of the April shortfall.  Other parts of the overall deficit simply are part of the Legislature’s pretending that it balanced the budget. It includes a $100 million projection of new revenue from expanded gambling, for example, though gambling did not expand. But don’t worry, lawmakers plan to cover that piece of the shortfall this year with ... expanded gambling.  The burgeoning shortfall demonstrates that it’s time for lawmakers to face reality and end the charade.
http://citizensvoice.com/news/time-for-lawmakers-to-face-reality-about-pa-budget-1.2190010

State budget season brings angst, long negotiations
Philly Trib by Stacy M. Brown Tribune Harrisburg Correspondent May 6, 2017
HARRISBURG — While the capitol sat quiet this week, budget activity and all its negotiations, arguments, lobbying and sometimes painstakingly long hearings are expected to resume Monday.  Typically, budget discussions heat up at the start of the new calendar year when lawmakers in both houses anticipate the governor’s proposal.  This year has been no different, as senators and state representatives digest Gov. Tom Wolf’s $32.3 billion spending plan, which contains a $3 billion deficit.  Last month, Republicans approved legislation that pared down the budget bill, calling for $31.5 billion in spending – or about $800 million less than Wolf’s proposal.  Human services and prisons face significant cuts under the budget passed by House Republicans.  “The months leading up to the passage of a budget are very busy, especially when there is divided government such as the governor and majority of the legislature are members of opposing political parties,” said Kyle C. Kopko, the assistant dean for Academic Achievement and Engagement and an associate professor of political science at Elizabethtown College.
http://www.phillytrib.com/news/state-budget-season-brings-angst-long-negotiations/article_18a18d5f-21c9-5f80-a100-fd1582bd4a4c.html

State College school board OKs final budget proposal with tax hike
Centre Daily Times BY LEON VALSECHI lvalsechi@centredaily.com May 8, 2017
The State College Area school board on Monday approved the final budget proposal for the 2017-2018 school year.  The budget calls for a 1.55 percent tax increase, an additional tax of $49 per taxpayer who owns property with an assessed value of $72,239 and a millage rate of 44.1468.  Under the budget, the district will generate about $150 million in revenue, which includes about $27 million dollars in state money and about $1 million in federal money.  The budget development process will move forward with a board Finance and Audit Committee meeting on May 18 and a budget hearing on June 5. The board will vote to approve the final budget on June 12.
http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/education/article149423804.html

Penn-Trafford OKs preliminary budget with tax hike
Trib Live by PATRICK VARINE  | Monday, May 8, 2017, 9:09 p.m.
The Penn-Trafford school board approved a $55.2 million preliminary budget for the 2017-18 school year with a proposed 2.6 mill tax hike.  The proposed tax increase is equivalent to roughly $60 per year for the average district resident, according to school board secretary Brett Lago.  The board voted 6-3, with members Dallas Leonard, Richard Niemiec and Toni Ising voting no.  The final budget will be adopted at the board's June voting meeting.
http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/12277118-74/penn-trafford-oks-preliminary-budget-with-tax-hike

Norwin expects to avoid teacher layoffs
Trib Live JOE NAPSHA  | Monday, May 8, 2017, 8:48 p.m.
Norwin officials said Monday the school district does not anticipate furloughing any teachers for the coming school year.  Board President Director Robert Perkins told an audience of about 150 people that, as result of attrition through retirements and resignations, the district's does not intend to initiate any layoffs.  “It looks like we will squeak through,” Perkins said.  Teachers in the audience of the high school auditorium applauded the news.  Superintendent William Kerr said two teachers have taken an early retirement incentive proposed by the Norwin Education Association. They have until Friday to accept the offer.  Furloughs were discussed in a closed-door executive session prior to Monday's meeting, Kerr said, noting the district may freeze professional staff hires for the next school year.
http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/12277125-74/norwin-expects-to-avoid-teacher-layoffs

No state lawmaker deserves $200,000 pension
Beaver County Times Letter by Glenn Bauernfeind Conway May 8, 2017
Perhaps we are outraged at the wrong thing.  Everyone rightfully should be outraged that former state Sen. Robert Mellow has the gall to demand his pension after he was convicted on corruption charges, but are we missing the bigger picture?  The very fact that anyone in Harrisburg should be getting anything near $200,000 a year for a pension, plus lifetime medical insurance, while the rest of Pennsylvania residents struggle to save a few dollars for retirement is truly outrageous. What did anyone in Harrisburg do to deserve that kind of retirement?  Maybe they all should be arrested for stealing that kind of money from the taxpayers.
http://www.timesonline.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/no-state-lawmaker-deserves-pension/article_612c573a-340a-11e7-999e-53b9b8a92bb2.html

Putting public in the know
Bill requires posting of state, school labor deals
Sharon Herald By JOHN FINNERTY CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent May 8, 2017
HARRISBURG – A state bill awaiting a final vote in the Senate would require labor contracts for state workers and school employees to be released to the public before they are approved.  Supporters call it a win for transparency.  Critics call it an unfair attack on public sector unions.  The measure would require any proposed collective bargaining agreement to be made available on the public employers’ publicly accessible website within 48 hours.  “Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent on contracts that are negotiated behind closed doors,” said state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette County, the author of the bill. “Providing greater openness is a core tenet of good government.”  An agreement would have to be posted online two weeks prior and 30 days following the signing of the collective bargaining agreement.  Similar legislation has been introduced in the state House, but has not moved out of committee in that chamber.  “Public employers across the Commonwealth currently negotiate contracts costing billions of dollars without any public review or oversight,” Stefano said. “I believe taxpayers have the right to know how their hard-earned money is being spent.”  Under Stefano’s legislation, information posted would include a statement of the terms of the proposed collective bargaining agreement and an estimate of the costs to the public employer associated with the agreement.
http://www.sharonherald.com/news/state/putting-public-in-the-know/article_abeced47-89d5-5dab-84f6-fb2c525a147b.html

Education: A Comprehensive Look At Charters And What They Mean For Philadelphia’s Education
Philadelphia Neighborhoods May 8, 2017
It is 4:20 p.m. and the security line at the school district’s Education Center was beginning to grumble with agitation. A mother clutched a poster-board using it as a fan as she stood in line in the heavy humid air. The small crowd took steps forward almost in unison, rushing to the auditorium hoping to get one of the limited seats.  As the group entered, the tension in the room could immediately be felt, sticking to everyone like that heavy humid air outside. The School Reform Commission budget meeting started and the agitation only grew.  Students, teachers, education advocates and community members filled the seats of the auditorium while the presiding board ushered through the meeting’s presentations. The room would erupt in cheers one second then a wave of groans and sighs would roll through the back of the hall.  Filling up four rows of chairs were members from Memphis Street Academy, a charter school recommended for closure by the school district board. They wore bright orange shirts holding up signs saying “Save Our School” when speakers of their group were up at the podium.  Memphis Street Academy is one of two charter schools at risk of closing its door due to a non-renewal contract recommendation
https://philadelphianeighborhoods.com/2017/05/08/education-a-comprehensive-look-at-charters-and-what-they-mean-for-philadelphias-education/

Cheltenham High School parents, teachers ask that something be done about recent violence
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer  @Kathy_Boccella |  kboccella@phillynews.com Updated: MAY 8, 2017 — 9:47 PM EDT
More than 300 parents, residents, teachers, and students packed Cheltenham High School's auditorium Monday night to press for answers on the recent violence that has rocked the school district — but the student body president stole the show with her penetrating questions for administrators.  Paige Kytzidis drew several standing ovations during an impassioned speech, in which she charged that students have been begging leaders at Cheltenham High for more aggressive action on unruly conditions in the corridors going back to 2014.  “Why now?” she asked, referring to Monday’s meeting and promises by district officials to address the problems that exploded Wednesday with a student brawl that injured 10 adults and led to the arrests of four students. She asked why it took injured teachers and TV news reports to get action:  “Why not before? Why wasn't anything done when clearly students  have needed services or interventions in our schools?”
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/Cheltenham-parents-.html

Viral video puts spotlight on Cheltenham High as students now speak out
Avi Wolfman-Arent / WHYY Newsworks MAY 8, 2017
A student brawl at Cheltenham High School that led to four arrests and left 10 staff members injured continues to weigh heavily on the collective minds of this suburban community just north of Philadelphia.  On Friday, Philly.com published an anonymous teacher survey that documented festering staff concerns over school climate and safety  On Sunday, it was students' turn to address the issues facing their beleaguered school. At a special teen town hall, about 30 students discussed safety concerns, lack of discipline, and racial tensions laid bare by the fight and reaction to it.  "We are under the impression that there are no consequences," said Cheltenham senior Valerie Melecio. "And that's where we think we can do whatever we want."  During the forum itself, held at Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, students were asked not to share their names as a way to facilitate open conversation. Several spoke afterward, however, about the painful week that has followed Wednesday's fight.
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/homepage-feature/item/103716-viral-video-puts-spotlight-on-cheltenham-high-as-students-now-speak-out?linktype=hp_impact

Educators discuss inclusivity and social justice at annual Teacher Action Group event
The notebook by Darryl Murphy May 8, 2017 — 10:08am
More than 100 educators, community members, and students came together Saturday to celebrate Teacher Action Group’s  8th annual Crawl Spaces for Liberation event.   
The event, which was held at Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School, consisted of workshops and conference panels exploring the ways educators and community members can capitalize on opportunities to draw a connection between the classroom and social justice movements.  Chris Rogers, a TAG member, said that given the political climate this year, there has been a resurgence of activism and more groups are working together.  “That’s going to really help us as we move forward,” he said. “I feel that convergence this year.”  Representatives from the interfaith organization POWER, the activist Youth United for Change, TUFF Girls, an advocacy group for Philadelphia girls, and the Attic Youth Center, an organization for LGBTQ young people,  participated in the opening panel, before the teacher-led workshops.  There were 12 workshops, each focusing  on different ways to promote diversity and inclusivity in Philadelphia education.

http://thenotebook.org/articles/2017/05/08/tag-hosts-its-8th-annual-crawl-spaces-for-liberation-event

Activist group asks: Why did Bill Green leave SRC meetings?
Says bylaws were violated, may question validity of votes
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa May 4, 2017 — 4:01pm
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools is asking why Bill Green left for large portions of the last two School Reform Commission meetings, suggesting that the behavior "calls into question" his ability to serve on that body and saying that he should consider resigning.
At both the April 27 and May 1 meetings, Green, who reportedly has back problems, left during the public speaking portion, then rejoined the meeting by telephone in time to vote on resolutions. Both meetings were marathon sessions lasting several hours.  Lisa Haver, APPS co-founder, said that Green's absence clearly violates the SRC's own policies and that APPS is not ruling out legal action to question the validity of the votes taken at the two meetings.  "Does the SRC make rules and say they don't have to follow them?" Haver asked. "Those are their bylaws, that is their speakers' policy. Mr. Green wasn't there for the whole meeting, it's spelled out what the requirement is."
http://thenotebook.org/articles/2017/05/04/activist-group-asks-why-did-bill-green-leave-src-meetings


How the health-care bill could sideswipe special education
Less known to many Americans is the fact that Medicaid helps pay for special education in the nation's public schools. 
Christian Science Monitor by Ben Rosen Staff |  @Benji_Rosen and Josh Kenworthy Staff writer |  @joshkenworthy
MAY 8, 2017 —All Alicia Buono wants for her 10-year-old son, diagnosed with autism, she says, is for him to grow up to be independent. To prepare Connor for adulthood, the school district he attends – Contoocook Valley in southern New Hampshire – has him work with a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist, and a part-time paraprofessional.  But Ms. Buono worries her son and millions of other American children with special needs will be on the losing end of a Republican proposal to repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act. Included in the bill, which squeaked by the House on Thursday, is an $880-billion cut in funding for Medicaid, $4 to $5 billion of which goes to elementary and secondary schools to pay for special education services and equipment.  “When there’s less money, who loses?” Buono, a member of ABLE NH, a New Hampshire-based advocacy group for people with disabilities, asks in a phone interview. “Ultimately, our goal is for [Connor] is for him to become independent as an adult.... The more we can invest in him being successful in school, the better his chances are of independence.”  Much of the backlash over the proposed health-care legislation has focused on the possibility of lost or reduced health coverage for millions of adult Americans and their families. Less known to many, however, is the degree to which Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, also funds special education in elementary and secondary schools.
http://www.csmonitor.com/EqualEd/2017/0508/How-the-health-care-bill-could-sideswipe-special-education?pmid=pushBR

Special Education To Get Boost Under Federal Budget Deal
Disability Scoop by Michelle Diament | May 2, 2017
Special education is set to see a rise in federal funding under a bipartisan agreement to avert a government shutdown.  Grants to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will go up $90 million to reach $12 billion as part of the deal reached over the weekend, which still must be voted on by Congress.  The increase comes as part of a $1 trillion agreement to fund the federal government through September.  The gains for special education are relatively small overall, advocates say.  “It’s always good news to see an increase,” said Katy Beh Neas, executive vice president for public affairs at Easterseals. “However, if you divide $90 million by 6 million kids, it’s basically an increase of $15 per kid.”  Nonetheless, Kim Hymes at the National Center for Learning Disabilities said that even though the federal contribution will only account for 16 percent of special education costs — far short of the 40 percent Congress promised when IDEA was originally authorized — any growth in spending on kids with disabilities sends a message.
https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2017/05/02/special-education-boost-budget/23649/

College Board Reports Score Gains From Free SAT Practice
Education Week High School and Beyond Blog By Catherine Gewertz on May 8, 2017 4:08 PM
The College Board released new data Monday showing that students who used its free online practice course through Khan Academy for as little as six to eight hours gained 90 points on average between their PSAT and SAT scores.  Students who used the College Board's "Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy" for 20 to 22 hours averaged improvements of 115 points over their PSAT scores, company officials said. That's nearly double the 60-point average gain of students who didn't use the free test preparation.   The new data come from a College Board analysis of the redesigned 1600-point SAT, which made its debut in March of 2016. The assessment company studied test administrations over the next year, and examined the impact of Khan Academy practice on 250,000 students' scores.  The correlation of higher scores with more use of the practice system led the College Board to praise it as an important opportunity for students who can't afford the high pricetags of many test-prep courses.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/high_school_and_beyond/2017/05/college_board_reports_score_gains_from_free_sat_practice.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-twitter

Your Friends in Public School
The lengths they’ll go to deny kids and parents an education choice.
Wall Street Journal May 7, 2017 4:41 p.m. ET
A California appellate court has unanimously rejected an attempt by the Anaheim Elementary School District to throw out a petition by parents to convert a failing school into a charter using the state’s parent trigger law. The district wasted two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting parents. Can the parents sue for damages?  California’s 2010 parent trigger law allows a majority of parents whose kids attend a failing school to catalyze reforms. In January 2015, Palm Lane Elementary School parents with the help of the law’s author Gloria Romero and education activist Alfonso Flores filed a petition with the school district. The teachers’ union abetted by district officials then used dirty tricks to thwart parents, including accusations of bribery. When intimidation failed, district officials tried to reject the petition on technical points, every one of which was dismissed by the appellate court.  The district claimed Palm Lane didn’t qualify as failing because California had obtained a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that exempted schools from Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks for the 2013-2014 school year. Yet Palm Lane had failed to meet those benchmarks for nine of the prior 10 years.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/your-friends-in-public-school-1494189665?mod=e2two


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:
·         2017-19 Central Section at Large Representative – includes Regions 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12  (for the remaining two years of a three-year term)
·         2018-20 Western At Large Representative – includes   Regions 1, 2, 3, 13 and 14 (three-year term)
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:
o    One from superintendent or school director of home entity
o    One from a school director from another school district
o    Other individuals familiar with the candidate's leadership skills
PSBA Governing Board Policy 108 also outlines the campaign procedures of candidates.
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.
https://www.psba.org/about/governance/electing-psba-officers/

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 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!

Pennsylvania Education Leadership Summit July 23-25, 2017 Blair County Convention Center - Altoona
A three-day event providing an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together
co-sponsored by PASA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, PASCD and the PA Association for Middle Level Education
**REGISTRATION IS OPEN**Early Bird Registration Ends after April 30!
Keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics, and district team planning and job-alike sessions will provide practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit and utilized at the district level.
Keynote Speakers:
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 
Breakout session strands:
*Strategic/Cultural Leadership
*Systems Leadership
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership 
CLICK HERE to access the Summit website for program, hotel and registration information.

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017
Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township, PA


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