WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 14, 2017 7:04 PM
(Harrisburg) -- With a little over two weeks until the state budget is due, House and Senate Republicans have been holding closed meetings to hash out details. Few concrete plans are available, but GOP leaders say they're on roughly the same page on spending. A few months ago House Republicans released their budget proposal, which would spend about $800 million less than Democratic Governor Tom Wolf's blueprint and not raise taxes. The Senate's GOP majority hasn't released its own plan yet, and it's unclear if they will. Caucus spokeswoman Jenn Kocher said senators agree with much of the House's early April plan, though with this year's budget shortfall having since grown to well over a billion dollars, she added that it needs some updates.
SRC delays vote on $36 million contract for special ed school
City Council had passed a resolution urging rejection. At contentious meeting, SRC also hears calls for it to vote itself out of existence.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa and Avi Wolfman-Arent Newsworks June 15, 2017 — 8:20pm
The School Reform Commission Thursday postponed a vote on a $36 million contract for Catapult Learning, Inc. that would have set up new special education programming in the city to serve students with multiple disabilities who are now sent to private institutions. The action came at a contentious, nearly five-hour meeting during which speakers repeatedly called on the SRC to disband itself and pave the way for a return of the District to local control. Superintendent William Hite asked for a delay to revise the motion for the special education school so it “more clearly reflects the intent of what we created this resolution to do.” He said that one urgent purpose is to move students from a school run by Wordsworth, which lost its operating license for a residential treatment facility last fall when one of its students died after an encounter with staffers. The death was ruled a homicide. That program had housed between 75 and 100 Philadelphia students, who were moved elsewhere -- including to a day program run by Wordsworth in Fort Washington, because there is an acute shortage of appropriate placements for students with complex mental and emotional needs . “Wordsworth is a school where we have children, and we have to get children out of that school,” Hite said. “We are trying to develop a program to move those children to a more supporting educational program.” The District’s contract with Wordsworth expires on June 30. Hite later told reporters that there is an acute shortage of appropriate programs in the area to meet the needs of hundreds of city students with multiple disabilities.
Wolf awards $1.5 million to N. Phila. schools for health initiative
Philly Trib by Layla A. Jones Tribune Staff Writer June 15, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf awarded four North Philadelphia community schools $1.5 million for a pilot health program, connecting the schools to local children’s health services. The funding seeks to improve health, attendance and academics at James Logan Elementary, William Cramp Elementary, Edward Gideon Elementary and Middle school and Bethune Elementary. “Governor Tom Wolf continues to be a strong partner in restoring the education cuts of the Corbett years,” state Rep. Donna Bullock (D-195) said in a release about the school funding. “I and my Democratic colleagues will keep working with him to reinvest in our kids.” Each of the four schools receiving funding are within the North Philadelphia Health Enterprise Zone, a partnership between the Department of Education, the city, area hospitals and other entities created to address health disparities in the North Philadelphia community. The area in the zone include zip codes 19120, 19126, 19130, 19132-19134, 19138, 19140, 19141 and 19144.
Nearly 300,000 Medicaid recipients reside in the area covered by the health enterprise zone and 31 percent of the residents in the zone live below the poverty line. Children within the zone are also expected to live 20 years shorter than children in more affluent zip codes.
Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth to support its first cohort of musicians
The notebook by Ariel Censor June 15, 2017 — 2:32pm
The Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) named 75 rising 5th- through 12th-grade musicians in its first cohort of PMAY Artists on Wednesday. The students, who are mostly from communities that are underrepresented in classical music, were honored at a gathering at City Hall with Mayor Kenney and Chief Cultural Officer Kelly Lee. The PMAY Artists’ Initiative strives to increase diversity in the professional classical music field. Today, less than 5 percent of musicians in professional U.S. orchestras are African American or Latino, with similarly low statistics for South Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives. Joseph Conyers, who is music director of the District’s All City Orchestra, executive director of Project 440, and assistant principal bass in the Philadelphia Orchestra, stressed the importance of diversity in classical music during his remarks at Wednesday’s event. “Classical music is for everyone. Access to music should be universal,” Conyers said. “With programs like the PMAY Artists’ Initiative, it won’t be long until orchestras across the country will be reflections of the diverse group of musicians before me today. The diversity of your experiences makes the music better.” In an effort to provide these students with the tools they need to become professional classical musicians, PMAY will provide them financial support for lessons, music classes, youth orchestra participation, and summer music camps. They will also have the opportunity to attend free college and career preparation workshops and receive mentoring from PMAY teachers and staff.
Saucon Valley teachers land contract peacefully for 1st time in decade
BY SARA K. SATULLO email@example.com, For lehighvalleylive.com Updated on June 15, 2017 at 2:32 PM Posted on June 15, 2017 at 2:06 PM
Saucon Valley School District parents can let out a sigh of relief. They don't have to worry about teacher contracts or strikes for a long time. Following years of bruising and contentious teacher contract negotiations that divided the school community, the teachers union and school board have quietly agreed to a two-year contract extension. The current contract expires in July of 2018 and, like earlier contracts, it took more than four years to reach. The new deal expires June 30, 2020. "We are pleased that we can begin this new era free from the distractions that contract negotiations have historically brought our school district," Saucon Valley Education Association President Robert Kachmar said. "We consider this a fair agreement for this time." Saucon Valley gained a reputation throughout the region for its arduous negotiations that lasted years, often resulting in state mediation, fact-finding, non-binding arbitrations and several teacher strikes.
MY ANTI-SCHOOL CHOICE FRIENDS ARE HYPOCRITES WHEN IT COMES TO EDUCATING BLACK CHILDREN
Philly’s 7th Ward Blog by SHARIF EL-MEKKI JUNE 14, 2017
I have many friends who are staunchly “anti-choice” when it comes to educating Black children. They are awesome people, folks you would trust with your children or money, but I find their hypocrisy alarming. They can be broken up into different categories. However, one trait they all share is that they consistently exercise choice for their children, yet they expect Black families to only exercise patience. My friends are hypocrites based off of stories they have shared with me over the years. None of them could be considered anything less than middle-class economically. Many of them not only choose their children’s schools, they exude an inordinate amount of energy to choose their children’s classrooms! I have heard more stories about my middle-class friends exerting pressure to ensure their children get the best teachers as they matriculate throughout schools. Some have even threatened to pull their children out of a particular school if they don’t get their wishes. Seems like choice to me.
Letter: Teens need more sleep and later school start times
Teens need more sleep and later school start times
Main Line Times Letter by Amy Norr, LMSD Interschool Council Sleep Study Committee
Ellen Keefe, LMSD Interschool Council Sleep Study Committee
Sigal Ben-Porath, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Indira Gurubhagavatula M.D., University of Pennsylvania Sleep Medicine
Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., Saint Joseph’s University, Pediatric Sleep Council
To the Editor: My mind does not function at 7:30 in the morning. I am in a constant state of sleep deprivation. I feel miserable most of the time... I get grueling headaches...I feel sort of sick most days. (Lack of sleep) makes every single task twice as difficult and eats away at my energy, effort and motivation. - Lower Merion and Harriton High School students, Sleep Survey responses We are parents (including two sleep professionals) in Lower Merion School District (LMSD) who have been advocating for later high school start times for several years. We appreciate your recent article on Radnor parents and students urging their school board to consider later middle and high school start times (Main Line Suburban Life, June 4, 2017). Locally, kudos are in order for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, which recently became the first local PA school district to vote for later high school start times for the health and well-being of its students. Hopefully this action will spur other local districts to make similar decisions. Major national medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine have recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later in order to optimize student health and learning.
“Last month, DeVos told Congress that Washington would need to spend $30 billion on special education in order to meet that 40 percent authorization level. “
Full Funding for Special Education? Lawmakers Try for Fifth Straight Congress
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 15, 2017 4:42 PM
Like clockwork in recent years, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to "fully fund" federal spending on special education. The IDEA Full Funding Act, introduced Thursday, would ramp up Washington's budget for students with special needs. The legislation calls for the feds to pick up 40 percent of the extra cost of educating a student in special education. That's the share Congress is authorized to spend under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which passed back in 1975. Congress hasn't come close to that level in years. And right now, the federal government pays for just 15.3 percent of those expenses, leaving the rest to states and school districts. Current federal spending under the IDEA stands at $12.8 billion. The proposal "would ensure our schools have the resources they need to support students with disabilities, and that Congress finally meets its commitments to all students," Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., a lead author of the legislation, said in a statement announcing the bill. Special education has gotten more of the spotlight ever since Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' controversial comments about IDEA during her January confirmation hearing. The Trump administration's proposed budget would cut a relatively small amount, about, $100 million, from IDEA spending. DeVos' recent comments about special education services with respect to school choice proposals in the budget have also caused a stir.
Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement
Learning Policy Institute Authors Jeannie Oakes, Anna Maier, Julia Daniel JUN 05 2017
This brief examines the research on community schools, with two primary emphases. First, it explores whether the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens the possibility of investing in well-designed community schools to meet the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. And second, it provides support to school, district, and state leaders as they consider, propose, or implement a community school intervention in schools targeted for comprehensive support. Community schools represent a place-based school improvement strategy in which “schools partner with community agencies and local government to provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement.” Many operate year-round, from morning to evening, and serve both children and adults. Although the approach is appropriate for students of all backgrounds, many community schools serve neighborhoods where poverty and racism erect barriers to learning, and where families have few resources to supplement what typical schools provide. Community schools vary in the programs they offer and the way they operate, depending on their local context. However, four features—or pillars—appear in most community schools:
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