Monday, July 31, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 31: Root of the tension between charters & other public schools - Money

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 31, 2017:



Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events



“…It explains why 20 years after the passage of legislation that allowed for the creation of charter schools — envisioned as entities aimed at developing educational innovation — there is little-to-no sharing of successes, strategies or synergy between the sides.  The division appears to be all about money.  Between the 2003-04 and 2015-16 school years, the most comprehensive data available from the state Department of Education, charter school tuition payments made by Allegheny County School Districts increased from $21.3 million to $148.6 million annually.  On one side of the divide are charter proponents who maintain charter schools offer a chance at better educational opportunities for students stuck in struggling districts.  On the other side are district officials who have long complained that the charter law is stacked in favor of charter schools largely because tuition costs are based on districts’ costs rather than the actual cost of education in charter schools.”
Public Source By Mary Niederberger JULY 25, 2017
PART OF THE SERIES The Charter Effect|
Traditionally, the 20th anniversary is celebrated with china but we are marking the 20th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s charter school law with transparency and depth. While other local media outlets have reported on the sweeping change charter school choice has had on students and traditional school districts, our series will expand on that by teasing out the root of the tension between charters and other public schools: money and what appears to be differing standards of accountability.  This series will expose and explain the data and records behind the charter schools operating in Allegheny County.

“Around 40,000 Pennsylvania students, or about 3 percent, are now enrolled in cyber charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a proponent of virtual schools, and the Trump administration has proposed funding to expand public charter schools. But as virtual schools have grown here and around the country, so have concerns about their performance and oversight. Last year, PA Cyber's founder pleaded guilty to tax fraud for siphoning millions of dollars from the school. The nonprofit school is under new management.   While there are individual success stories, “every time they do a study that looks purely at academics, the cyber charter schools underperform compared to the traditional public schools,” said Bryan Mann, an assistant professor of education policy at the University of Alabama. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on Pennsylvania cyber charter schools.
One national study from Stanford University found that, compared to similar students at traditional schools, cyber students were 72 days behind in reading, on average. They fell 180 days, or a full school year, behind in math. In Pennsylvania, cyber charters consistently perform worse than brick-and-mortar schools on state accountability measures.”
More kids are logging on to learn at cyber schools
Marketplace By Amy Scott July 27, 2017 | 3:24 PM
From the outside, it would be easy to mistake the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School for a place to get your taxes done or mail a package. The downtown Erie branch is tucked away in a strip mall, across from a Big Lots discount store and a U-Haul storage center. But inside, a dozen or so kids are gathered around tables, making colorful sun catchers to understand how a liquid becomes a solid.  “Basically, you make Jell-O, but no clumps in it, and then put it on a plate and then let it dry,” explained third-grader Jakob Pandolph.  Most school days, Jakob and his older brother and sister log on from school-issued laptops at home in rural Union City, Pennsylvania, outside Erie. But on Tuesday afternoons, the family drives 30 miles for this face-to-face Science Explorers class.  “Everything that a traditional public school does, we essentially do that — just in a slightly different manner,” said Brian Hayden, CEO of PA Cyber, the largest and oldest online public school in the state.

Too early to call Pa. state budget talks at an impasse? That's how some state House members see it
Penn Live By Charles Thompson cthompson@pennlive.com By CHARLES THOMPSON & JAN MURPHY Updated on July 29, 2017 at 2:36 AMPosted on July 28, 2017 at 5:01 PM
This is a strange state budget cycle.  The $32 billion spending bill for 2017-18 is now law, but out of balance.  The state Senate on Thursday voted on and passed $530 million in new taxes with no pre-vote buy-in from the House of Representatives - something that no one working in the Capitol now remembers happening before.  And the biggest gaps to bridge appears to be between the two majority Republican caucuses in the General Assembly.  But whatever you do, don't call it an impasse just yet. The budget is not completely built yet, that's true. But it's not like all the workers have laid down their tools and gone home.  Here's some reasons why this all might work out before football season starts:

House alarm: The state budget needs lower chamber action
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by THE EDITORIAL BOARD  12:00 AM JUL 31, 2017
The state Senate has passed a revenue package, and the House needs to vote on it or come up with its own. Until then, the state gets closer each day to running out of money to pay all of its bills. Despite the risk in pushing the budget stalemate to the brink — service cuts anyone? — the House seems in no hurry to act.  House leaders must understand that Pennsylvanians want the budget matter settled sooner rather than later. They should recall members to Harrisburg as soon as possible and work with the Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf to close the deal. Otherwise, House members will exacerbate a dysfunctional budget process.   In a replay of previous budget sagas, the fiscal year got off to a rocky start. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a budget of nearly $32 billion on June 30, but it lacked a revenue package, meaning lawmakers delivered a spending plan but no means of covering those expenses. Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, allowed the budget to become law without his signature. 

Editorial: The math did not lie in Harrisburg
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 07/27/17, 9:14 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO
Even in the fantasyland of state finance that is par for the course in Harrisburg, the math was inescapable.  That’s what happens when you pass a budget that calls for $32 billion in spending, but only contains $30 billion in revenue.  You do the math.  Yep, it does not add up. Wednesday night the state Senate - led by moderates from southeastern Pennsylvania, including Delaware County Sen. Tom McGarrigle - hammered out a revenue plan that contains something for everyone.  In other words, everyone is going to pay more.  But for the first time, that will include the state’s natural gas drilling business.  Thursday morning it passed by a razor-thin margin, 26-24.  McGarrigle is one of those who has long been in favor of a severance tax on natural gas, as opposed to the impact fee finally settled on by former Gov. Tom Corbett, in part so he could uphold a pledge not to raise taxes.

Pa. House members prepare for severance tax fight
WHYY Newsworks BY KATIE MEYER, WITF JULY 30, 2017
The state Senate's revenue package includes a perennially-controversial severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling — just one surprise in a proposal that turned out to be brimming with unexpected, tax-related components.  It took a lot of compromising to get to this point. And as the House considers the plan, it’s clear a lot of lawmakers are far from convinced this shale tax is a good idea.  Democratic Representative Greg Vitali of Delaware County has been backing a severance tax on Marcellus Shale longer than most lawmakers.  But he thinks concessions Democrats made on the deal outweigh any benefit that the new levy — which is projected to fill $100 million of the $2.2 billion budget hole — could provide.  “It’s the most damaging set of environmental provisions I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.  Environmental advocates are contesting changes to Department of Environmental Protection regulations that would let third parties review and approve permit applications.  There’s no language on how to avoid conflicts of interest with those contractors.

House GOP vows to fight budget plan passed by Pa. Senate
Trib Live by STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS | Thursday, July 27, 2017, 10:27 a.m.
House Republican leaders told members Thursday they won't support a Senate-crafted revenue package to cover Pennsylvania's new budget.  “The amendments to these bills were neither agreed-to, nor shared with the House in advance of the committee meetings, so we certainly have no intentions to rubberstamp these bills,” the House GOP leadership team told members in a memo.  “From the beginning, when we passed a full and balanced budget on April 4, our goal was to protect the wallets of taxpayers. Make no mistake; that is still where our caucus stands,” the memo continues. “With respect to the process moving forward, it is going to take some time to review what is actually contained in each of these proposals — for both our caucus and the Democrats.”  The state Senate narrowly approved a revenue package Thursday to eliminate a $2.2 billion budget deficit that includes borrowing and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases, including on Marcellus shale drilling, consumer utility bills and online purchases.

“The multi-faceted bill is a near-mirror image of the school code bill the House was considering with one exception, according to Senate Education Committee executive director Lee Derr. The Senate-passed measure doesn't include an increase for the popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit program like the House proposal does.  The House was looking to jack up funding for this program that gives tax breaks to companies that donate to preschool and private school scholarships and innovative public school programming by $20 million for a total of $145 million.”
Senate-passed education bill tries again to eliminate seniority-based teacher layoffs
Penn Live By Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated on July 27, 2017 at 8:10 PMPosted on July 27, 2017 at 3:55 PM
A renewed effort to have Pennsylvania begin to eliminate seniority-based teacher layoffs won Senate approval on Thursday as part of a multi-faceted education bill.  The budget-related legislation, which passed by 34-16 vote, would allow school districts to lay off teachers and administrators for economic reasons.   In those situations, the bill spells out that furloughs must be based on performance evaluations unless teachers have the same performance rating when seniority would serve as the basis for determining which one gets laid off. Reinstatement of furloughed teachers must be done in reverse order in which they were suspended.

Improving schools and bottom line
Intelligencer Editorial Jul 31, 2017 Updated 6 hrs ago
Labor unions played a critical role in this nation and this state. Against difficult odds and a powerful elite, they won rights and benefits for workers as well as much improved workplace conditions that we now take for granted. They not only improved lives, they saved lives. So their historical importance is significant.  But over time, much like the industrial giants they battled, the unions grew powerful. And with that power came an unwillingness to yield to the practical needs of employers. This single-mindedness, perhaps narrow-mindedness, became counterproductive for the workers unions represented as businesses and, in some cases, entire industries could not remain competitive due in part to climbing labor costs. And so many had to downsize and shed workers. The steel and automotive industries come to mind.    What might not come to mind are the workers represented by public unions, among them school teachers. It has long been mandated in Pennsylvania that school districts cannot lay off teachers for economic reasons — a stipulation driven by teachers unions. A district has to be losing students in order to justify thinning its teaching staff. Or it has to eliminate an educational program in order to lay off a few educators. Even then the layoffs have to be seniority-based: last in, first out, regardless of record or ability.  

Complaint: District fails to address bullying of disabled students
In a filing with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the Education Law Center says that the students are being denied their right to a free and appropriate education.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa July 27, 2017 — 1:53pm
Bullying of disabled students in the Philadelphia schools is "pervasive and severe," and the District fails miserably in addressing the incidents, according to a complaint that the Education Law Center filed Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The 30-page complaint details incidents such as special education students being pushed down stairs, kicked and punched, and called names like "retard" and "idiot," usually without consequence for their bullies. As a result, the complaint alleges, students who once loved school "cried, shook, and begged not to go to school." Parents who sought transfers were refused, the complaint alleges.  Special education students are more likely to be bullied than others, according to research cited in the complaint. The District's behavior constitutes discrimination and is depriving these students of their rights under federal law to a free and appropriate public education, said ELC senior attorney Maura McInerney.

Philly schools ignore pervasive bullying of special ed students, federal complaint says
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: JULY 27, 2017 — 5:48 PM EDT
Advocates say the Philadelphia School District has downplayed or ignored pervasive bullying of special education students in classrooms throughout the city, and they want federal education officials to open an investigation and order changes.  The Education Law Center-PA filed its complaint to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on behalf of one district parent, but described bullying against four children. In announcing the action Thursday, the center said the problem is systemic and amounts to system-wide discrimination against children with disabilities, a group that includes thousands of Philadelphia students.  In some cases, it contends, the district failed to respond to or investigate instances of bullying, despite parent complaints over months and years.  A spokesman for the School District declined to discuss the allegations, but defended the district’s policy and response to bullying.

#HB97 aims to protect education
Altoona Mirror LETTERS TO THE EDITOR by Senator John Eichelberger JUL 27, 2017
In a July 22 op-ed titled “Late-night charter vote suspect,” Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA, attempted to distort the work of the Senate and wrongly attacks me for my vote on legislation to improve the educational system.  The legislation Spicka referenced is House Bill 97.  Spicka tries to paint senators as protecting so-called “special-interests” and argued the bill does not address any of the concerns related to traditional government and charter schools.  She first criticized an amendment passed in the Senate Education Committee, which did three things: removed the arbitrary funding cut to cyber charters, balanced the membership of the proposed Charter School Funding Commission, and focused the purpose of the Commission to reflect its original intent of establishing a fair funding formula.  Her argument that a $27 million state-wide cut should be made to cyber charter schools before the Funding Commission issues its findings speaks to her motives.  She and her organization are committed to eliminating any opportunities parents have to find an alternative path for their children’s academic success.  She is entitled to her opinion, but not entitled to misrepresent the good work many people have put into this reform legislation.  She criticized me for voting against amendments that had no basis in the law, like requiring private companies to be subject to Right-to-Know requests and shutting down a charter school if it was convicted of fraud.

“HB 97 does not address the continued abysmal academic performance of the state’s cyber charter schools — none of which have met the minimum proficiency standard on the state’s school performance profile.
HB 97 strips local control from school districts and ties the hands of school boards. If HB 97 becomes law, local school boards would be prohibited from requesting any information from charter applicants beyond the information in a state-created application form; local school boards would be subjected to the whim of charter operators to amend their charter; and local school board decisions regarding charter applications and renewals would be at the mercy of the state’s Charter Appeal Board, which would be stacked with charter school supporters.”
#HB97: Senators protect charter schools at expense of local districts
Public Opinion Online Opinion by Susan Spicka Published 9:32 a.m. ET July 20, 2017
Susan Spicka is Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
At 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 9, while many Pennsylvanians were asleep, the PA Senate passed a controversial charter school bill with the support of Franklin County Senators Alloway and Eichelberger.  HB 97, a bill backed by the deep-pocketed charter school industry, is touted by its supporters as “reform.” However, this bill offers no benefit to taxpayers or students in Franklin County and fails to fix many of the most egregious problems in Pennsylvania’s charter school law.
In Franklin County, taxpayers spend more than $6.6 million on cyber charter school tuition bills every year. Under PA law, school districts (i.e., local taxpayers) are responsible for 100% of charter school tuition payments.  The original version of HB 97 would have reduced school district overpayments to cyber charter schools by using a formula to more accurately calculate the actual cost of cyber education. This recalculation would have offered $27 million in immediate relief to cash-strapped school districts that have been forced to make deep cuts and raise local property taxes to balance their budgets.

Thackston's overdue audits await approval; not enough board members show up to vote
York Dispatch by David Weissman, 505-5431/@DispatchDavid Published 1:24 p.m. ET July 28, 2017
Facing the revocation of its operating charter, the Helen Thackston Charter School board was set to address one of the most glaring deficiencies during its first meeting of the school year — but only three of the seven board members showed up to finalize three years’ worth of overdue financial audits.  The York City school board voted unanimously in June to initiate hearings to revoke Thackston's charter.  In a resolution written to begin the process, the district cited concerns at Thackston such as declining student performance, inadequate staffing certification and a failure to acquire child-abuse background checks from all employees.  However, chief among these concerns was the charter board's failure to file independent audits for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

La Academia Charter School, Spanish American Civic Association defend financial ties against critics
Lancaster Online by JEFF HAWKES | Staff Writer Jul 30, 2017
La Academia Charter School’s financial relationship with the Spanish American Civic Association is being questioned by some educators worried it undercuts the mission of teaching poor, at-risk kids.  SACA led the charge to launch publicly-funded La Academia 19 years ago and continues as its landlord and fiscal manager. Some La Academia educators see the arrangement as a potential conflict of interest.  "There’s a dysfunctional and incestuous relationship between SACA and that school," said Diane Hurst, La Academia’s former director of curriculum and instruction. She said she resigned out of frustration after this past school year and has become the K-8 director at the 260-student Linville Hill Christian School in Paradise.  Richelle Reed, a special education teacher who resigned to grow a business opportunity, said, "I honestly don’t think the school is going to get where it needs to be because I don’t think SACA has its interests at heart. I think they are a business and look at the school as a business."

Pennsylvania State Education Association's next president isn't a teacher
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT JULY 31, 2017
This September, Pennsylvania's teacher's union will have a new leader. And she won't be a former teacher.  Dolores McCracken took an unusual route to the top of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), and her story begins in Philadelphia.  The Mayfair native attended Catholic school--on her grandmother's orders, she said — and after graduating took some classes at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences (now Thomas Jefferson University). After high school, McCracken worked as to the chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney's office and later as a paralegal.  McCracken put her career on hold after having kids, assuming she'd at some point re-enter the legal profession. While she was waiting, McCracken became president of the Home and School Association at Churchville Elementary School in lower Bucks County, where her kids were enrolled.  "My history has been to get involved," she said.

NAACP calls for charter reform, and elimination of for-profit charters
The civil rights organization issued a new report that discusses improving charters, and eliminating those that are for-profit.
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy July 27, 2017 — 11:43am
A year after igniting controversy with a call for a moratorium on charter schools, the NAACP followed up with a new report that lists strategies for charter school reform, including a ban on for-profit charters and improvements in accountability and transparency.  “Too many students of color living in central cities are being deprived of the educational opportunities they deserve and need if they are to succeed in a world where education is the key that unlocks the door to the future,” wrote the report’s authors, who are members of the group's Task Force on Quality Education. The NAACP is maintaining its position on a moratorium on new charters, but is now looking into ways to reform them. The 108 year-old civil rights organization held hearings in seven U.S. cities and listened to education experts, community members, parents, teachers, and students share their thoughts on charter schools. The cities the group visited were: New York, New Haven, Memphis, Detroit, New Orleans, Orlando, and Los Angeles.

NAACP sticks by its call for charter school moratorium, says they are ‘not a substitute’ for traditional public schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 26 
Last fall, the NAACP, the country’s oldest civil rights organization, called for a moratorium on expanding public charter schools until the charter sector, troubled in a number of states, is reformed and steps are taken to ensure that traditional public school districts are not financially harmed by the spread of charters. It was a controversial position for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was blasted by charter school supporters, including other civil rights groups, but praised by public education advocates.  The NAACP then created a 12-member task force to travel to seven cities to take testimony about charters, which are publicly funded but privately run, as well as about the quality of education for children of color in inner-city schools. The task force report, released Wednesday (see below), sticks by the organization’s recommendation while also talks about problems in traditional inner-city public schools.  In the report, which includes recommendations for moving ahead, the panel’s 12 members stuck by the recommendation, setting out the issue early in the report:
“Charter schools were created with more flexibility because they were expected to innovate and infuse new ideas and creativity into the traditional public school system. However, this aspect of the promise never materialized. Many traditional inner city public schools are failing the children who attend them, thus causing parents with limited resources to search for a funded, quality educational alternative for their children. …  With the expansion of charter schools and their concentration in low-income communities, concerns have been raised within the African American community about the quality, accessibility and accountability of some charters, as well as their broader effects on the funding and management of school districts that serve most students of color.”  Ultimately, the task force said, “while high quality, accountable and accessible charters can contribute to educational opportunity, by themselves, even the best charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable investments in public education in the communities that serve our children.”

6 problems the NAACP has with charter schools — and 5 of its ideas for how to reshape the sector
Chalkbeat BY MATT BARNUM  -  JULY 27, 2017
fter calling for a temporary ban on new charter schools last year, the NAACP has revealed what would it would take to get the civil rights group to support the privately run, publicly funded sector. The lengthy report, released Wednesday, allows for the fact that some charters are doing well, but also relates an exhaustive list of concerns. About 5 percent of the country’s public school students attend charters, with an even larger share of black students, the focus of the NAACP report.  To address the concerns, the group offers a set of recommendations that could dramatically curb the sector if adopted. The recommendations are aligned with the country’s two major teachers unions, which have ramped up their criticism of charter schools amid U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s advocacy for them. Here’s what the NAACP is worried about, what we know about those issues, and what the group’s recommendations could mean for the charter school world.

NAACP: School choice not the answer to improving education for black students
Washington Post By Emma Brown July 26 
Education for black students in the United States has long been unequal and inadequate, but the solution to that problem does not lie in the school choice movement, NAACP leaders said at the organization’s national conference Wednesday.  The nation’s oldest civil rights group called for tighter regulation of existing charters and an outright ban on those operated for profit, as well as greater investment in traditional public schools, particularly those where students struggle most. “While high-quality, accountable, and accessible charters can contribute to educational opportunity, by themselves, even the best charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable investments in public education,” wrote members of the NAACP’s task force on quality education in a report released Wednesday.  The report comes as the Trump administration has put expanding school choice at the center of its education agenda, and a year after the NAACP — long skeptical of charter schools — dove headlong into the education policy fight with a resolution supporting a moratorium on new charter schools.  That stance underlined a deep rift in the black community over how to improve education, particularly in urban centers where many children are faced with bleak opportunities.

What Has Betsy DeVos Actually Done After Nearly Six Months in Office?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein July 25, 2017
When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came into office, many in the education community were terrified the billionaire school choice advocate would quickly use her new perch to privatize education and run roughshod over traditional public schools.  Maybe they shouldn’t have been quite so worried. Nearly six months into her new job, a politically hamstrung DeVos is having a tough time getting her agenda off the ground.


CALL FOR SESSION PROPOSALS
2017 Pennsylvania Arts and Education Symposium
November 2, 2017 - Radisson Harrisburg Hotel & Convention Center
Submission Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 28, 2017
The Pennsylvania Arts Education Network Steering Committee invites arts educators, artists, and arts advocates to submit education and advocacy session proposals for the 7th Annual Pennsylvania Arts and Education Symposium to be held on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at the Radisson Harrisburg Hotel & Convention Center.   Proposed Sessions should be for 60 minutes.  Presenters may express a preference for a morning session (starting approximately 10:00 am) or afternoon session (starting approximately 2:00 pm).
The Symposium Planning Committee will review all proposals. The final decision for inclusion in the Symposium will be made by the Committee.  If invited to present, Session presenters must register for the Symposium at the "Very Early Bird Rate" ($50.00) by September 15, 2017.

The deadline to submit cover letter, resume and application is August 25, 2017.
PSBA seeking experienced education leaders: Become an Advocacy Ambassador
POSTED ON JUL 17, 2017 IN PSBA NEWS
PSBA is seeking applications for six Advocacy Ambassadors who have been involved in day-to-day functions of a school district, on the school board, or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders through the advocacy leadership of the ambassadors. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be an active leader in an assigned section of the state, and is kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA position based on PSBA priorities to accomplish advocacy goals.  PSBA Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors representing PSBA, and serve as liaisons between PSBA and their local and federal elected officials. Advocacy Ambassadors also commit to building strong relationships with PSBA members with the purpose of engaging the designated members to be active and committed grassroots advocates for PSBA’s legislative priorities.  This is a 9-month independent contractor position with a monthly stipend and potential renewal for a second year. Successful candidates must commit to the full 9-month contract, agree to fulfill assigned Advocacy Ambassador duties and responsibilities, and actively participate in conference calls and in-person meetings

CONSIDER IT: SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE CASES FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Reading
Berks County Community Foundation
Panelists:
Carol Corbett Burris: Executive Director of the Network for Public Education
Alyson Miles: Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the American Federation for Children
James Paul: Senior Policy Analyst at the Commonwealth Foundation
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig: Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento
Karin Mallett: The WFMZ TV anchor and reporter returns as the moderator
School choice has been a hot topic in Berks County, in part due to a lengthy and costly dispute between the Reading School District and I-LEAD Charter School. The topic has also been in the national spotlight as President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have focused on expanding education choice.  With this in mind, a discussion on school choice is being organized as part of Berks County Community Foundation’s Consider It initiative. State Sen. Judy Schwank and Berks County Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach are co-chairs of this nonpartisan program, which is designed to promote thoughtful discussion of divisive local and national issues while maintaining a level of civility among participants.  The next Consider It Dinner will take place Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, 701 Penn St., Reading, Pa. Tickets are available here.  For $10 each, tickets include dinner, the panel discussion, reading material, and an opportunity to participate in the conversation.


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.

Using Minecraft to Imagine a Better World and Build It Together.
Saturday, September 16, 2017 or Sunday, September 17, 2017 at the University of the Sciences, 43rd & Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia
PCCY, the region’s most influential advocacy organization for children, leverages the world’s greatest video game for the year’s most engaging fundraising event for kids. Join us on Saturday, September 16, 2017 or Sunday, September 17, 2017 at the University of the Sciences, 43rd & Woodland Avenue for a fun, creative and unique gaming opportunity.

Education Law Center’s 2017 Annual Celebration
ELC invites you to join us for our Annual Celebration on September 27 in Philadelphia.
The Annual Celebration will take place this year on September 27, 2017 at The Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. The event begins at 5:30 PM. We anticipate more than 300 legal, corporate, and community supporters joining us for a cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner presentation.  Our annual celebrations honor outstanding champions of public education. This proud tradition continues at this year’s event, when together we will salute these deserving honorees:
·         PNC Bank: for the signature philanthropic cause of the PNC Foundation, PNC Grow Up Great, a bilingual $350 million, multi-year early education initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life; and its support of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, which enables new lawyers to pursue careers in public interest law;
·         Joan Mazzotti: for her 16 years of outstanding leadership as the Executive Director of Philadelphia Futures, a college access and success program serving Philadelphia’s low-income, first-generation-to-college students;
·         Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr., PhD: for his invaluable service to ELC, as he rotates out of the chairman position on our Board of Directors. Dr. Campbell is an Arcadia University Associate Professor in the School of Education; and
·         ELC Pro Bono Awardee Richard Shephard of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP: for his exceptional work as pro bono counsel, making lasting contributions to the lives of many vulnerable families.Questions? Contact Tracy Callahan tcallahan@elc-pa.org or 215-238-6970 ext. 308.

STAY WOKE: THE INAUGURAL NATIONAL BLACK MALE EDUCATORS CONVENING; Philadelphia Fri, Oct 13, 2017 4:00 pm  Sun, Oct 15, 2017 7:00pm
TEACHER DIVERSITY WORKS. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.  Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response.  Come participate in the inaugural National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome.

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

Registration now open for the 67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/PASCD-Conference-Registration-is-Now-Open.html?soid=1101415141682&aid=5F-ceLtbZDs


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