Monday, June 12, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 12: Avg full time cyber student loses 180 days/year in math. Avg K12, Inc. 2016 Exec compensation $2.69 million; OK with .@BetsyDeVosED? OK with .@PALegis?

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 June 12, 2017:



Nominations for PSBA Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16th
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.



Please note that the PA Ed Policy Roundup will not publish on Tuesday morning; we’ll be in DC going to Capitol Hill with PSBA.  We’ll be back online Wednesday.

Philly 4th grader: `Why does the color of the students' skin matter how much money we get for our school?'
Inquirer by Michael Boren, Staff Writer  @borenmc |  mboren@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 10, 2017
Ten-year-old Chelsea Mungo was blunt about the conditions at her school when she recently wrote a letter to State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), pleading for more equality in the state’s funding of low-income, black schools vs. wealthier, white schools.  “Every day I go to school, I feel like I’m in a prison or a junkyard,” Mungo, who is black, wrote about Lewis C. Cassidy Academics Plus School in West Philadelphia, where she is in the fourth grade. “Why does the color of the students’ skin matter how much money we get for our school?”  Mungo, whose class plans to meet Tuesday with Hughes to discuss funding, was among dozens of students across the Philadelphia School District who presented projects Saturday on quality-of-life issues ranging from school funding to littering to bullying.  The presentation at Girard College was part of the National Liberty Museum’s Young Heroes Outreach Program.  Mungo, whose letter to Hughes was presented with her school’s project, said she believes the problems at Cassidy — leaky pipes, mold, overflowing bathrooms — gain less attention because she and other students are black.

Blogger notes: “Stanford University researchers said their analysis showed severe shortfalls in reading and math achievement. The shortfall for most cyber students, they said, was equal to losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days in math during the typical 180-day school year.”  “Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.  Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.  Most PA cybers never made “Adequate Yearly Progress” under No Child Left Behind.”
Ed Sec’y Betsy DeVos is slated to address the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Their education task force is headed by K12, Inc., which helped write the enabling legislation for cyber charters and lobbied extensively to get that enacted into law.

Pennsylvania senator wants failing students out of cyber charter schools
By Logan Hullinger Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau June 11, 2017
Cyber charter schools are meant to be an accessible alternative to traditional schooling, but one state senator wants to make them a privilege that can be revoked at any time.  The bill, proposed by Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, would require students who are consistently underperforming in a cyber charter school to return to a brick-and-mortar school, according to a May 31 memorandum.  The bill is in its very early stages and is far from making it to a vote, according to Argall.  "The idea came up in town hall meetings in Berks County," he said. "We did a little research, and realized there aren't currently any rules on struggling students. So how do we define failure?"  A task force would be created to do just that, according to the memorandum. It would be responsible for developing and issuing minimum achievement requirements for the state's 35,477 cyber charter school students.  There were about 1.77 million students enrolled in all types of public schools in the 2015-16 school year, the last full year of records at the state Department of Education. That total includes 132,860 charter school students, 26 percent of whom attend cyber charters.

A requirement of school districts to pay a certain percentage of their total payroll into the Public School Employees Retirement System is reimbursed by the state for less than half of the costs. Since 2009-10, the required employer contributions have risen from 4.78 percent of payroll to 30.03 this year.  “Those costs are consuming all available property tax revenue and school districts are forced with finding the rest of school budget from state dollars or continued cuts in programs to reduce personnel costs,” Himes said in a phone conference this week.
“We’re at the same place we’ve been before, we’re marching backwards,” he said.
Area school districts fighting uphill battle
By Rick Kauffman, rkauffman@21st-centurymedia.com@Kauffee_DT on Twitter
POSTED: 06/10/17, 4:51 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Despite tax increases among a number of Delaware County school districts, the trend across the state is that despite additional revenue from residents, the school districts cannot overcome the difference in pension and charter school contributions.  Through a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) of two-thirds of schools in Pennsylvania, three increases in Basic Education Funding and Special Education Funding since 2011 from the state were offset by rising pension costs, special education costs, health insurance and tuition contributions to charter schools.  “We can’t do anything different than we have the last seven state budgets beyond cuts of programs and personnel to reduce costs and property taxes increases,” said Jay Himes, PASBO executive director. “Districts are spending their reserves and will be until we get to a point where we don’t see local contributions overwhelmed by additional mandated resources we face.”

Wolf expresses support for House Bill that makes opioid education mandatory in schools
FOX43 POSTED 12:41 PM, JUNE 8, 2017, BY KEITH SCHWEIGERT
HARRISBURG — Governor Tom Wolf today voiced his support for House Bill 1190, which proposes a school-based substance abuse prevention and intervention program for all students in grade kindergarten through 12.  “The measures outlined in House Bill 1190 will take the fight against heroin and opioid abuse to the next level – the classroom, where education plays a key role in prevention,” Wolf said in a press release. “I support this legislation because we know that even with the progress we have made in attacking the heroin and opioid crisis head on, we must do more – and education of our young people can lead them to make the smart decision to not use drugs now or for the rest of their lives.”

“Only 4.2 percent of Pennsylvania charter schools’ revenue comes directly from state funds, while 84.1 percent of charter funding is pulled from local school districts, according to the LBFC’s data. Only 2.6 percent of charters’ funding comes from nonpublic sources.  Contrast this with a state like Delaware, where nonpublic funding, such as charters’ own endowments and donations, constitutes 15 percent of the total funding stream. The state pays 63.8 percent of charters’ costs directly, and only 12.3 percent of charter funding is skimmed from local school budgets.  … in order to create a buffer for scalability and for previously unaccounted-for students, Pennsylvania provided a reimbursement fund for school districts through the 2010-11 fiscal year. That year, $225 million was provided, reimbursing roughly 30 percent of the funds districts lost to charter school remittances.  But the entire reimbursement program was cut under Gov. Tom Corbett.”
Breaking down funding for charter schools in Midstate
Local school districts say they feel many of the financial burdens caused by Pennsylvania’s charter school funding system, the subject of a report issued last week by the state’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.  Although not to the extent of schools in urban areas, Cumberland County’s schools are still subject to a number of the issues identified in the LBFC report — most of which are driven by a simple lack of state funding, which forces the expense of charter schools onto the local tax base.  “If you look at budget drivers that we think of as unfunded mandates from the state — cost increases that are outside of our control — the first is PSERS [the state pension system], and a close second is cyber charters,” said Dr. Richard Fry, superintendent of Big Spring School District.  Locally, access to brick-and-mortar charters is comparatively limited. Some students may commute to charter institutions in Harrisburg, but the vast majority of charter enrollment is in cyber charters — online programs that allow students to work from home.  “We may have one or two students at CASA [Capital Area School for the Arts], but at any given time we have 120 to 140 students from the district on the charter list, and that’s almost all cyber,” said Shawn Farr, finance director for Carlisle Area School District.  That body of students, however, requires Carlisle to remit roughly $1.5 million per year to charter schools.

“Consider that the proposed 2017-18 state budget includes $100 million in new money toward education, while the increase in the pension payment for school districts is $144 million.”
Pension reform strikes right balance on benefits, predictability
Inquirer Opinion by Jake Corman Pat Browne Updated: JUNE 11, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
 (R., Centre) is majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate
(R., Lehigh) is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
For more than a decade, Pennsylvania's pension crisis has inflicted severe wounds on schools and taxpayers alike.   The commonwealth's contributions to school district pensions increased from $290 million to a whopping $2.1 billion in the last 10 years - a 618 percent increase. The result has been a crowd-out effect for tax cuts or other areas of state government where we would like to invest money - such as education. Consider that the proposed 2017-18 state budget includes $100 million in new money toward education, while the increase in the pension payment for school districts is $144 million.  Under Senate leadership, the General Assembly took historic action this past week to restructure the state's two public employee pension systems, which we believe will lead to a stronger pension system, budget stability, and taxpayer relief. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association has already said the plan provides the "stability our school districts have been calling for and need."

“When it comes to the public school employee’s retirement system the turning point is projected to be 2034. Until then, school district and state contributions will continue to increase at an alarming rate: from $4 billion today to $8 billion in 2033-34.  The state and local districts split the costs 50-50. Still, making these additional payments could break the back of local districts, as a bigger and bigger share of their budgets go to pension contributions. It will means less spent on education and higher local tax increases.  When it comes to public pensions, we are facing a solution in the long run.  In the short run, we are facing a disaster.
The governor and the Legislature now need to find a way to ease the pain of local school districts.”
Editorial: Pension reform plan is just that - genuine reform
Editorial by The Daily News Editorial Board Updated: JUNE 9, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
The Pennsylvania Senate and House this week passed a pension reform bill for state and school district employees that is, believe it or not, a genuine reform.  Over time, it replaces the state’s current pension system – called defined benefit by the experts – with a new system that relies on 401(k)s.  It sounds technical, but it is significant:  Under a defined benefit plan, pensions are determined by a formula that takes into account final salary and years of service. If the pension fund comes up short, the difference must be made up by taxpayers.  The state employee and state teachers’ pension funds have come up short. Combined, they have long-term liabilities that total in the billions.  Under the new bill, Senate Bill 1, employees hired in 2019 will no longer be eligible for a defined benefits plan.  They will have to choose among three hybrid plans, all of which include 401(k)s as a central component.  To put it simply, the bill shifts the risk from the employer to the employees.  Today, if the stock market tanks and the state pension fund investments miss their mark, the taxpayers must make up the difference. Under SB1, a stock market downturn will lower the employee’s 401(k).

Editorial: Senate Bill 1: Finally, pension reform begins
TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Friday, June 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Passed by the Legislature and supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, Senate Bill 1 represents long-overdue action to address Pennsylvania's more than $70 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities.  But it's just the first of many necessary steps.  SB 1 provides new public employees with “hybrid” plans combining aspects of traditional defined-benefit and 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans, along with an entirely 401(k)-style plan. Though SB 1 won't quickly resolve pension-cost spikes that drive school-tax hikes, Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre County, its prime sponsor, told PennLive it will protect taxpayers if state plans miss their assumed 7.25-percent rate of return — as they have for several years. If returns fall short by 1 percent over 30 years, taxpayers will save about $6 billion, the state's Independent Fiscal Office says. Most public-sector unions, long opposed to any pension reform, stayed notably silent on SB 1. Some Democrats and union leaders see its passage as helping Mr. Wolf's 2018 re-election prospects. But as Mr. Corman said regarding SB 1 and more sweeping legislation that has failed, “this is what can get the two chambers to pass and the governor to sign. And that's the most important thing because the other bills couldn't, so therefore they don't save anything.” A beginning, not an end, SB 1 must pave the way for further reforms to reduce unfunded liabilities. Getting to this point has taken far too long. But at least pension reform in Pennsylvania finally is underway.

Lawmakers got pension reform: Will they accept a cut to their retirement?
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY  jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated on June 8, 2017 at 8:00 PM Posted on June 8, 2017 at 2:47 PM
The pension bill on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf for enactment on Monday presents a possible pension predicament for sitting lawmakers and judges if they remain in office come 2019.
Those who accept pension benefits will have to decide whether to remain in the guaranteed pension system or switch to one of the newer slightly less-expensive options that will be offered to future state government and public school employees.  But unlike current state and school employees who will face the same decision including elected officials in the executive branch, the public's eyes will be watching closely what their elected officials decide to do.  "Each individual person's financial situation and personal situation is going to play into what their decision is," said Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill County. "But I think lawmakers have an added consideration because the public is going to be taking a look at what their decision will be."

“It is a prudent first step.  But that also is part of the problem. It is only a first step, a needed measure to rein in future costs. But it does nothing to address the current deficit, and experts say it will not stop the rising pension obligation payments that are threatening to cause cataclysmic fiscal woes for local school districts.  The answer, most experts suggest, is to attack the pension deficit by paying it down with equal dollar contributions over the next 15 or 20 years.”
Editorial: Pa.’s pension time bomb still ticking
Delco Times POSTED: 06/10/17, 5:09 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 MIN AGO
Tick … Tick … Tick.  It sounds like Harrisburg has finally heard what has been called by one governor after another the “ticking time bomb” in the state’s budget mess.  We refer, of course, to the state’s two massive public employee pension plans, the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS), which cover the bulk of state government employees as well as Keystone State public school teachers. Combined the two systems have 863,000 active, vested and retired members.  Both funds are hemorrhaging red ink, to the tune of some $62 billion. All that red ink trickles down, first eating up more and more of the state budget, and also creating monstrous headaches for local school boards, which are facing skyrocketing costs in their pension obligations.  This week the state Legislature finally did something about it – or at least decided to try to rein in future costs.

Editorial: New pension plan for PA is a good start, but it's only that: a start
Editorial by Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: JUNE 11, 2017 — 7:59 AM EDT
Gov. Wolf is scheduled to stand in the capitol rotunda Monday to sign a sweeping pension reform bill. When he does it will be with the understanding that this is only a start; a good start, but nonetheless short of what must be done to stop the system’s $70 billion unfunded liability from crushing state and local budgets.  In a rare show of bipartisanship, the legislature last week gave final passage to a bill that cuts costs by raising participants’ retirement age from 65 to 67. It also gives school and other public workers the option to invest 7.5 percent to 8.25 percent of their salaries into retirement funds, depending on the plan’s quality.

“Bullock suspects that the number of school districts in Pennsylvania that haven’t opted in is alarmingly high. CEP provides funding for local education agencies, which include school districts, but also charter companies. Pennsylvania has almost 850 of them. Nonpublic schools, following requirements from the state Department of Education’s Food and Nutrition Division, are able to apply as well. There are nearly 300 eligible LEAs in Pennsylvania. Half aren’t participating in the program.”
Half of eligible PA public school agencies haven’t opted into free lunches
Schools shame kids who fall behind on lunch fees, but districts aren’t opting into a federal program.
CASSIE OWENS JUN 09 2017  ·  8:00 AM
Pennsylvania lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are pushing to end lunch shaming. This refers to in-school policies for students who’ve fallen behind on their lunch payments to replace their hot lunches with alternative food, or take away their lunch entirely. Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Philadelphia, held a press conference around the issue this week. Her bill, introduced last month, would require that schools give children reimbursable meals, unless a guardian permits the school to skip providing them food. The bill also bans assigning kids chores when they owe or giving these students hand stamps or wrist bands to denote their lunch debt.   Last September, a Washington County elementary school cafeteria worker resigned over her school district’s lunch policy. She claimed that she was ordered to take hot meals away from two children. The school district’s superintendent disputed her claims. Still, the district did have a new policy that if a student owed $25 or more, to replace hot lunches with sandwiches for grades K-6, and to withhold lunch entirely for students older than that.  “It sat in my head for a while,” Bullock told Billy Penn. “I actually thought it was just an isolated incident, but I kept hearing continuous stories.” Billy Penn analyzed data from the state Department of Education for the coming school year. There are 148 eligible LEAs and private education providers across the state that aren’t receiving the funds. These institutions have a total enrollment of nearly 215,000 students. Another 225 non-participating LEAs are near-eligible. The deadline for CEP applications is June 30. Here is a list of districts that haven’t opted in:

At Philly panel discussion, fiery calls to rally black support for charter growth
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT JUNE 9, 2017
Pennsylvania state Reps. Jordan Harris and Joanna McClinton urged the black community to rally for expanded school choice and charter-friendly policies at a Center City forum Thursday evening.  Hosted by Educational Opportunities for Families, a charter advocacy group, the panel was billed as a discussion on race and equity in education. It comes as a charter-overhaul bill backed by EOF and other school-choice groups works its way through the state Legislature.  Harris and McClinton, Democrats who represent adjacent swaths of Southwest Philadelphia, hit on familiar themes for charter advocates — including the need for black families to have options outside traditional public schools in struggling neighborhoods.  "People have told me that I've been trying to dismantle public education," said Harris. "No! I just know what it's like to grow up in a neighborhood without options."

Philly district seeks to close troubled Khepera Charter School
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda |  martha.woodall@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 8, 2017 — 3:42 PM EDT
Amid reports of staff layoffs and overdue bills at the Khepera Charter School, the Philadelphia School District’s charter office Thursday called for the school’s operating charter to be revoked.  The office said it had been monitoring the school’s operations and would urge the School Reform Commission to vote Thursday to begin the process of revoking the charter of the school in Logan because of concerns about its finances and management.  “I am deeply concerned by what appears to be a gross misuse of both the public trust and the trust of students, parents and staff,”  SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson said in a statement.  “Our focus is on ensuring the best possible outcome for the students, family, and staff of Khepera who find themselves in this difficult situation.”  The charter school enrolls 450 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
“We take revocation very seriously, and it is reserved for those instances where there is evidence of egregious violations of applicable laws and the charter.” DawnLynne Kacer, executive director of the charter office, said in a statement.

Charter Schools Office recommends nonrenewal for Eastern University Charter
The notebook June 9, 2017 — 6:44pm
The Charter Schools Office has recommended that another charter not be renewed, citing academic and operational issues.  Eastern University Charter School in East Falls did not meet academic standards in either its middle or high school, according to  the charter office's  metrics, although its graduation rate is relatively high.  Test scores on both the PSSA and Keystone exams were almost uniformly low.    "The Charter School approached the standard for graduation by having a graduation rate that exceeded two of three comparison groups in all three years of the charter term for which data is available but having the actual graduation rate itself decline over the course of the charter term," the charter office report said.  Also, its reported attendance in grades seven and eight plummeted in 2015 and 2016, according to the report, with only 15 and 16 percent of students attending school more than 95 percent of the time. High school attendance also went down those two years, although not as dramatically.  The school, with about 330 students in grades 7 through 12, opened in 2009 and students are able to take courses at Eastern University and Community College of Philadelphia.    The report also cited some operational and financial issues, including noncompliant policies for special education and English learners, as well as concerns regarding "student health services, school safety practices, teacher certification, employee checks and clearances, and untimely submission of annual reports."  Principal Owen Barlow told the Inquirer: “I just don’t see how you justify closing a school when our college acceptance rate is better than some of our peer schools, and when we have a great college matriculation rate.”  Earlier this week, the charter office recommended that Khepera Charter also close.   Charter schools can appeal nonrenewal recommendations to the state, and the process for shutting them down can take years.

Another Philly charter school could close
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 9, 2017 — 4:13 PM EDT
The Philadelphia School District’s charter school office has recommended that another charter school possibly be shut down.  Eastern University Academy Charter School in East Falls was recommended for non-renewal.  The charter schools office on Friday made public its guidance to the School Reform Commission. The school will remain open while a final decision is made — a process that could take years.  Eastern, a school for students in grades seven through 12 that enrolls 332 pupils, was cited for problems with academics and operations. It opened in 2009.  Omar Barlow, Eastern’s principal and CEO, said that the recommendation was surprising, “upsetting and disappointing,” and that the school would fight it.  “I just don’t see how you justify closing a school when our college acceptance rate is better than some of our peer schools, and when we have a great college matriculation rate,” said Barlow.

What $300K-$400K can buy you in the region's best school districts
Inquirer by Caitlin McCabe, STAFF WRITER  @mccabe_caitlin |  cmccabe@philly.com Updated: JUNE 8, 2017 — 10:25 AM EDT
When Realtor Laurie Murphy listed the quaint, almost cottage-like, house in Ardmore for sale on May 31, she had no hesitation in believing the property would fly off the market.  After all, the number of homes for sale across the Philadelphia region, and across the nation overall, has reached astonishingly low levels. Demand remains high. And with three bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, more than 1,200 square feet, and a park just down the street, Murphy believed, her listing, priced at $289,000, would be considered a steal.  Yet despite the new backyard deck, the stainless-steel kitchen appliances, and a driveway that accommodates two cars, there was one thing Murphy thought might prevent the property from selling for more than $300,000: Located on the 2800 block of Oakford Road, it’s in the Delaware County section of Ardmore, not in Montgomery County. Meaning that whoever purchases it will miss out on the highly coveted Lower Merion School District — by merely a few blocks.  “It’s so crazy what a difference it makes,” said Murphy, based in Bryn Mawr with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach. “If this was in Lower Merion, it would probably be going for at least $350,000. I’ve already gotten a million calls asking, is this home in Haverford or Lower Merion?”  To be sure, the Haverford Township School District is nothing to knock. According to the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile prepared by the state Department of Education, Haverford High School has an academic score of 94 out of 100 and a graduation rate of more than 97 percent.


“The cuts came. But the growth never did. As the rest of the country was growing at rates of just above 2 percent, Kansas grew at considerably slower rates, finally hitting just 0.2 percent in 2016. Revenues crashed. Spending was slashed, even on education: In March, the State Supreme Court ruled that state-level school spending was unconstitutionally low. The court is ideologically mixed, but its ruling was unanimous.”
Finally, Something Isn’t the Matter with Kansas
New York Times By MICHAEL TOMASKY JUNE 12, 2017
The most momentous political news of the past week? For my money, it wasn’t James Comey’s Senate testimony, riveting as it was. It was the Kansas Legislature’s decision to defy the governor and raise income taxes — a move that could well be the first step in a transformation of American politics much more far-reaching than anything that could come from Russiagate.  Hear me out. Kansas, under Gov. Sam Brownback, has come as close as we’ve ever gotten in the United States to conducting a perfect experiment in supply-side economics. The conservative governor, working with a conservative State Legislature, in the home state of the conservative Koch brothers, took office in 2011 vowing sharp cuts in taxes and state spending, except for education — and promising that those policies would unleash boundless growth.  The taxes were cut, and by a lot. The cumulative cut was forecast to be $3.9 billion by 2019. A fellow at a right-leaning Missouri think tank said in 2015 that Mr. Brownback’s cuts were “the biggest tax cut of any state, relative to the size of its economy, in recent history.”

DeVos Says More Money Won't Help Schools; Research Says Otherwise
NPR by KAYLA LATTIMORE June 9, 20176:00 AM ET
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made it clear, appearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, that she sees no connection between school funding and school performance. As evidence, she criticized the Obama Administration's $7 billion grant program to improve struggling schools, an effort that yielded no significant impacts in test scores or graduation rates.  "The notion that spending more money is going to bring about different results is ill-placed and ill-advised," DeVos said in an exchange with Louisiana Republican John Kennedy.  This is a decades-old debate in education.  To be sure, spending more in troubled schools won't automatically lead to better student outcomes. But, when the dollars are spent wisely and consistently, research suggests, they can have a profound effect in the classroom.  Last year, as part of the School Money project, the NPR Ed Team collaborated with 20 reporters across the country to explore how states pay for their schools and to answer some fundamental questions, including this one: "Can More Money Fix America's Schools?"  With that very question back in the headlines, we thought we'd revisit what we came up with.

“Public neighborhood schools — the vast majority of schools in this country — were hardly present in the billionaire’s childhood or adult life.  Critics say this lopsided exposure fueled Ms. DeVos’s staunch support of privately run, publicly funded charter schools and voucher programs that allow families to take tax dollars from the public education system to private schools.”
To Understand Betsy DeVos’s Educational Views, View Her Education
New York Times By ERICA L. GREEN JUNE 10, 2017
HOLLAND, Mich. — The students formed a circle around the Rev. Ray Vanderlaan, who draped himself in a Jewish ceremonial prayer shawl to cap his final lesson to graduating seniors in his discipleship seminar at Holland Christian High School.  “We’re sending you out into a broken world, in part because of my generation,” the minister told the students. Referring to God, he exhorted them to “extend his kingdom.”  Mr. Vanderlaan could not have missed his lesson’s echoes of Holland Christian’s most famous graduate, Betsy DeVos, who proclaimed in an audio recording that surfaced in December that her education advocacy would “advance God’s kingdom.” Last month, in her first commencement address as education secretary, Ms. DeVos again reflected her own education when she told graduates at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., that “my generation hasn’t done a great job when it comes to dealing with one another in grace.”  She continued, “You have an opportunity to do better.”  Holland Christian is one of several western Michigan nonpublic schools that have helped shape Ms. DeVos’s views of elementary and secondary education, and that her critics fear she will draw from to upend the nation’s public schools. The private Christian school that she attended, another that she sent her children to and a hardscrabble private religious school that she has long supported have dominated her time, money and attention.

Charter school union votes to join CTU; Chicago union to vote in fall
Chicago Sun Times by Sam Charles @samjcharles | emailCHICAGO 06/09/2017, 09:17pm
The Chicago Teachers Union and ChiACTS — the union representing teachers at the city’s charter schools — moved one step closer to unifying Friday.  The union representing Chicago charter school teachers voted overwhelmingly — 671 to 130 — to join the Chicago Teachers Union. The CTU plans to take its own vote on bringing in ChiACTS in the fall.  “This vote for unification is a vote for educators with both ChiACTS and the CTU to speak with a stronger collaborative voice for real educational justice for all of our students,” Chris Baehrend, President of ChiACTS Local 4343, said in a statement issued Friday night.  Should the two unions come together, contracts for CPS-employed teachers and those hired by publicly funded, privately managed charters still would be separate, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last month.


Principal Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 19, 2017 at The Capitol in Harrisburg
PA Principals Association Website Wednesday, June 7, 2017 10:03 AM
The PA Principals Association is holding its second annual Principal Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 19, 2017 at The Capitol in Harrisburg, PA. Once again, a rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at clapper@paprincipals.org before Friday, June 9, 2017.
Click here to view the Principal Advocacy Day Save The Date Flyer.

Apply Now for EPLC's 2017-2018 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2017-2018 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants. Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 14-15, 2017 and continues to graduation in June 2018.

The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators.  The 2017 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 15, 2017. The application due date is July 16, 2017 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.

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

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA


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