Thursday, August 17, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 17: Pols, advocates debate property tax relief efforts

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 17, 2017:



I requested the following info from PSBA.
Charter Schools
In 2015-16, Pennsylvania school district costs for charter tuition were broken down like this:
Cybers -                     $   463,584,396
Brick and Mortar -     $1,085,859,769
TOTAL -                      $1,549,444,165
That represented 5.5% of all school district spending and was up 4.2% from 2014-15.

Tax Credit Programs
The OSTC and EITC numbers are harder to come by. The PA Budget and Policy Center issued a report on the lack of accountability in those programs and they list the total contributions in 2014-15 as follows:
EITC -                          $   65,163,395
OSTC -                        $   59,283,958
TOTAL -                      $124,447,353



Blogger note: at this event I asked the joint Senate Policy Committee and panel members how many other states have successfully eliminated property taxes.  The answer is none.  If the state fully funded the new Basic Education Funding Formula it would go a long way towards addressing the property tax issue.
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 08/16/17, 8:40 PM EDT
UPPER DARBY >> In a state where about two-thirds of public school budgets are funded by local taxpayers, homeowners in Delaware County have long griped that they pay too much in taxes to educate the children that reside in their districts.  Some see a solution in Senate Bill 76, which would eliminate property taxes but increase other state taxes to fully fund all public schools.  The bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Argall, R-29 of Schuylkill County, had a bipartisan roundtable discussion with over a dozen other lawmakers, agency leaders and community advocates in Upper Darby on Tuesday night to delve deeper into the 155-page bill, also known as the Property Tax Independence Act. The attendees brought praise, questions and concerns on the bill to each other and the public to develop a “solution to terribly unfair school property taxes” in the state.  “We may disagree on how we achieve on the ultimate goal of fixing our school property tax problem,” said Argall at the roundtable opening. “Tonight, we’re here to learn about solutions. Don’t just tell us what’s wrong with the plan, give us some alternative solutions.”

“The president seemed intent on throwing a lifeline to those drawn to Charlottesville for what was billed as a “Unite the Right” rally. While acknowledging there were “some very bad people” among the throngs drawn to the home of Thomas Jefferson, he added, “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Editorial: Trump gives credence those who hate
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 08/16/17, 8:42 PM EDT | UPDATED: 17 SECS AGO
That didn’t take long.  It took less than 24 hours for President Trump to have second thoughts about his position on the events that transpired over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.  Remember that on Saturday the president said merely that blame for the violence that culminated in a man slamming his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and leaving another 19 injured, was “shared by many sides.”  After a weekend of withering criticism, the president took another swing at the issues that has gripped the country Monday. He condemned the groups who took part in the protest, specifically naming the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi groups and white nationals as “criminals and thugs.”  Trump appeared to carefully read the message from the teleprompter, just as he had Saturday, with the sole exception of that “many sides” ad lib.  We wonder who wrote the Monday statement, because less than 24 hours later, the president descended from his gilded lair atop Trump Tower in Manhattan and promptly reversed course.  The president doubled down on his original quip, insisting that blame must be shared by “both sides” for the weekend violence.

'Very fine people'? That's simply not the truth, President Trump [opinion]
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board August 16, 2017
THE ISSUE: On Saturday, in the hours after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed by a reported Nazi sympathizer who drove his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump blamed the violence at a “Unite the Right” rally “on many sides.” On Monday, Trump issued new remarks in which — bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans — he specifically condemned the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who instigated the violence that culminated not only in Heyer’s death but in the deaths of two Virginia state troopers. On Tuesday, he took to the podium again.
Let’s be clear here: The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was not a gathering of good-hearted Southerners from the local historical society upset over the planned removal of a vestige of Southern history.  This was a rally promoted by former KKK grand wizard David Duke and Nazi-saluting alt-right leader Richard Spencer. The rally’s posters were emblazoned with Confederate flags and fascist imagery.  “They will not replace us” was the rally’s slogan — “they” meaning Jewish people and people of color and probably gay people, too, if the profanities that were shouted are any indication.  But at his Tuesday afternoon press conference, President Trump suggested that the news media had unfairly and dishonestly painted all of the rally participants as extremists. And, outrageously, he once again equivocated on the question of whom was to blame for Saturday’s violence.

“you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Blogger note: News site Vox.com had a reporter spend the weekend with the leaders of the rally.  This is a “must-watch” report that is stark and disturbing.
Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News Tonight on HBO
YouTube Video Published on Aug 14, 2017 Runtime 22:04
On Saturday hundreds of white nationalists, alt-righters, and neo-Nazis traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally. By Saturday evening three people were dead – one protester, and two police officers – and many more injured. 

Coming soon to Philly schools: 22 city-paid social workers
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com  Updated: AUGUST 16, 2017 — 3:05 PM EDT
Mayor Kenney announces a pilot program to put full-time social workers in 22 city schools. He was joined by David T. Jones (left), commissioner of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health, and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. of the School District.  At Southwark Elementary, there is one counselor for 800 students, many of whom have behavioral and emotional challenges.  When principal Andrew Lukov got news that the school was getting a full-time social worker — and eventually other professionals to address students’ emotional needs — he cheered. In 19 years as a Philadelphia School District employee, he’s found that students’ biggest obstacle to academic progress is often not about curriculum or supplies, but about things happening to them outside the classroom.  “To have another team member to help triage, to support kids emotionally, to be proactive, that’s huge,” said Lukov. “We all know the correlation between students’ feeling comfortable and supported, and academic success.”  The city will spend $1.2 million to put full-time social workers in Southwark and 21 other schools beginning this fall, Mayor Kenney announced Wednesday. The pilot program, which officials hope eventually will roll out to schools districtwide, will introduce behavioral consultants, case managers, and family peer specialists in later years.

Senator Eichelberger: We can do better for our kids
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Eichelberger posted on August 15, 2017
I had more office appointments today and made it to the Blair County Jr. Livestock Auction where I bought another pig.  They had their usual big crowd and the kids did a good job raising the animals for market.  I saw a story today on the Education Savings Account, or ESA, bill sponsored by Senator DiSanto.  It pointed out how many students were in the worst performing schools in the state as defined by their standardized test scores: 220,000.  This bill would give these students the opportunity to get out of a failing government school and into a private school of their choice.  These kids not only are robbed of a good K-12 education, many can’t make it in college.  As I was told this week from someone who talked to a girl from Claysburg-Kimmel who failed out of college, she said that not only was she too far behind in her lack of knowledge to keep up with other students, she said that she never learned how to study and didn’t have much of a chance to catch up.  We can do better for our kids.

Editorial: Charters' positive influence: The power of competition
TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
The argument that charter schools drain resources from traditional public schools is decimated in a peer-reviewed statistical analysis that shows the exact opposite.  Most telling is that the study by Temple University professor Sarah Cordes doesn't pit charters against traditional schools. Rather, it shows the direct benefit to public schools when charters are in close proximity — the closer the better.  The study of 900,000 children in New York City public schools from 1996 to 2010 found test scores in English language arts and math increased in the public schools after charters opened in the same neighborhoods, according to media reports. Public schools that shared the same buildings with charters saw the largest gains. Additionally, public school students were 20 to 40 percent less likely to be left back in traditional schools and school attendance showed some improvement with charters nearby.  And contrary to claims that charters divert funding, Ms. Cordes' research showed per-pupil spending actually increased in neighboring public schools — up nearly 9 percent in those schools that shared space with charters.  What's clear from Cordes' research is the positive force of competition, despite the hue and cry against charters from the nation's largest teacher unions and, most recently, from the NAACP, which urges states to restrict charter-school growth and focus instead on traditional schools.  Here's hoping more research on this intriguing topic adds focus where it's warranted.

Strike averted at Keystone Oaks after school district, teachers union reach tentative agreement
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE 6:49 AM AUG 17, 2017
The Keystone Oaks Education Association said a strike has been averted after the teachers union and school district reached a tentative agreement.  The union issued a brief statement late Wednesday night.  Details of the new contract have not yet been released. The full union membership is scheduled to vote on the agreement on Tuesday. The union represents 160 teachers, counselors and nurses at four school district locations.  The union had notified the district earlier this week that it had planned to strike Aug. 24 — the first day of school — if the union and the school district didn’t reach an agreement.


Betsy DeVos is wrong about accountability for schools of choice
Fordham Institute Flypaper Blog by Chester E. Finn, Jr. August 16, 2017
Accountability for schools of choice is a topic forever in the news—and in dispute. The latest combatant is none other than Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who made clear in a recent interview with the Associated Press that she favors letting the market work its will and trusting parents to judge whether a school is worth attending. In this context, she was referring specifically to private schools insofar as they participate in publicly financed voucher or tax-credit-scholarship programs. (Yes, yes, I understand the argument that if it’s done via tax credits it’s not actual public financing. But that begs the political and policy questions that dog such programs and those who want more of them.)  When it comes to charter schools, the Secretary acknowledged that authorizers play a role alongside parents, though she picked the dubious case of Michigan, her home state, to illustrate the point. The Wolverine State certainly has some top-notch authorizers, and they have indeed closed down some failing charter schools, yet the overall track record of Michigan charters is too spotty—at least in the eyes of those who value academic achievement and fiscal probity—to warrant citing it as a stellar example of quality control via authorizing.


PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA Website August 2017
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2017, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 17 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person's name with an asterisk (*).

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

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 16: How much are we spending on school choice in Pennsylvania?

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 16, 2017:



I requested the following info from PSBA.
Charter Schools
In 2015-16, Pennsylvania school district costs for charter tuition were broken down like this:
Cybers -                     $   463,584,396
Brick and Mortar -     $1,085,859,769
TOTAL -                      $1,549,444,165
That represented 5.5% of all school district spending and was up 4.2% from 2014-15.

Tax Credit Programs
The OSTC and EITC numbers are harder to come by. The PA Budget and Policy Center issued a report on the lack of accountability in those programs and they list the total contributions in 2014-15 as follows:
EITC -                          $   65,163,395
OSTC -                        $   59,283,958
TOTAL -                      $124,447,353



Pocono Record Letter by Merlyn Clarke Stroud Township Posted Aug 12, 2017 at 6:00 PM
A block of legislators appears determined to undermine public education. Their efforts include the promotion of for-profit charter schools, vouchers, private school tax credit schemes, education savings accounts, and property tax elimination.
All of these efforts are based on the flawed proposition that there should be taxpayer-funded “choice” when deciding how a child should be educated. In no other public policy area do we subsidize choice, whether it is the roads, sewers or the police. We don’t ask taxpayers to pay for a private golf-club membership because we prefer it to the municipal course.
The proposition that taxpayers should fund school choice, along with the gimmicks to facilitate it, is a manufactured principle originating with the 1954 Brown Supreme Court decision that required integrated schools. Southern states scrambled for ways to avoid integration. School vouchers became the answer. While the motives have changed little over the years, the justifications have proliferated, including the notion that somehow an education “market” would produce better schools. It has not done so, but the argument is bolstered by the existence of failing schools, especially in urban districts.
What choice proponents seldom acknowledge is that the reason schools fail is the inequitable funding policy that virtually insures that some schools will fail. Philadelphia schools, for instance, are underfunded by some $333 million every year below what the state’s fair-funding formula would provide. Districts here in Monroe are shorted almost $50 million a year — a shortfall made up by taxpayers unwilling to see schools fail.
A fair and equitable distribution of existing state funding is the solution to fixing failing schools, as well as solving the property tax burden. With such an obvious fix at hand, one is obliged to ask, “What are the motives driving those promoting gimmicks as a solution to public education?”

Poll: Support for charters drops markedly over past year
Trib Live by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, 6:42 a.m.
WASHINGTON — Expanding charter schools around the country is losing support among Americans, even as President Donald Trump and his administration continue to push for school choice, according to a survey released Tuesday.  Trump campaigned on a promise to dramatically improve school choice — charter schools and private school voucher programs — and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made it a priority. But so far the message does not appear to have hit home with the public.  About 39 percent of respondents favor opening more charters — schools that are funded by public money, but usually operated independently of school districts — according to the survey by Education Next, a journal published by Harvard's Kennedy School and Stanford University. That's down from 51 percent last year.

Blogger note: about 100 people attended last evening’s joint public forum held by the Senate Majority and Minority Policy Committees.  Thanks to Senator McGarrigle for bringing this event to Upper Darby, to Majority Policy Chair Argall and Minority Policy Chair Boscola and to Senators Killion and Folmer who also attended. The forum included an extensive presentation on SB76 which would abolish the property tax as a means of funding education in Pennsylvania, followed by a roundtable discussion.  To my knowledge, no other state in the county has successfully abolished the property tax.
Alternative Solutions to our Existing School Property Tax System
PA GOP Website Posted on Aug 14, 2017
Senate Majority Policy Committee PUBLIC FORUM 

“No one seems particularly excited about the annual battery of state exams, not students, teachers, not parents.  It’s long past time for Pennsylvania to de-emphasize high-stakes standardized tests that, while not without some merit, fail to engage students on an individual level. There’s so much more to education than test-taking.”
State Department of Education makes the right move in de-emphasizing standardized testing
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board August 16, 2017
THE ISSUE:  In its recently released Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated State Plan, the Pennsylvania Department of Education proposes to reduce the time students spend taking standardized tests. It also aims to lessen the importance of high-stakes tests when assessing schools, as LNP's Alex Geli reported Sunday.The commonwealth’s plan calls for reducing testing time for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests starting in spring 2018. Long-term goals  include increasing the four-year graduation rate, bolstering college and career readiness, and slashing in half the number of students not proficient on PSSAs and Keystone Exams.  Remember learning? American history, civics, art and music, career preparation? They were all squeezed into a corner of the classroom while students and teachers cleared a space for the World Series of standardized tests.  “Standardized testing has a place in education — but not the place,” Manheim Central School District Superintendent Peter Aiken told LNP. “We need to get kids excited about learning. I (have) yet to see a student get excited about PSSA or Keystone testing.”  Well said.

“Keep in mind, this administration continues to forge full-steam ahead in pouring significant sums of money into and requiring schools to dedicate days of vital classroom learning time to the Keystone Exams, while they can’t even tell us what the purpose is. It’s not for graduation, as we’re creating alternative pathways to get a diploma. It’s not for remediation because nowhere in the ESSA is there such a requirement and typically, Keystone Exam results are not received until the next school year – after the students have moved on – anyway.”
Dinniman critical of PSSA changes, Ed. department conduct
Unionville Times Aug 15th, 2017
WEST CHESTER – State Senator Andy Dinniman, Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee, released the following statement in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement Monday on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and the administration’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan:  “While I’d be the first to welcome any real reduction in required standardized testing and their exorbitant expenses on our schools, both Governor Wolf and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera either glossed over or outright ignored a number of crucial points in their press conference.  “First, remember that students in grades 4 through 8 will still spend six days on mandated PSSA testing and students in grade 3 will still spend an entire school week on them! In addition, the notion that such a minimal cut in test taking will result in a large reduction to test preparation is clearly flawed, since teacher evaluation is still based on test results. As was explicitly mentioned in the press conference, our schools and teachers spend days and weeks not just teaching to this test, but teaching to multiple layers of redundant testing imposed on our students. This morning’s announcement and the state ESSA plan do nothing to amend that.

What white supremacy sounds like in Philadelphia: How to talk about Charlottesville in your classroom
The notebook Commentary by Fatim Byrd, Keziah Ridgeway and Tyra Washington August 15, 2017 — 11:45am
We all have the images in our minds. The torch-lit faces of white supremacists out in the open for all the world to see. The bravery and commitment of protesters seeking to disrupt a rally based on hatred and exclusion. And the horror of bodies thrown in all directions by a vehicle seeking to destroy human life – and succeeding.  As humans, we all understand the tragedy that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. But as educators, how should we respond? Unfortunately, national events that happen over the summer can be easy to ignore at the start of the school year. Teachers seek to create a “positive culture” as students return, and that can encourage them to avoid topics that seem difficult.  But make no mistake, as a school district with a majority non-white population, Philadelphia public school students deal with the impact of racism every day.

FairDistricts PA will fight gerrymandering with week of educational events and campaign for voting reform
Pittsburgh City Paper Posted By Rebecca Addison on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 5:35 PM
According to a report released in May, Pennsylvania is among the three worst gerrymandered states in the country. And others say Pennsylvania is the most gerrymandered it has ever been.  But what is gerrymandering, and how does it impact elections and local politics? Next week, local organizers will attempt to answer these questions and more with a series of events around the city.  "Gerrymandering is a little complicated, a little wonky," says Kitsy McNulty, coordinator of the Pittsburgh Local Group of FairDistricts PA. But essentially the term refers to the practice of manipulating voting-district boundaries in order to benefit a particular political party or candidate.

Eyes on the SRC: August 17, 2017
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools by Karel Kilimnik August 14, 2017
The August resolutions include contracts and grants for over $14 million in district spending. A regular feature of Eyes is showing the history of spending on one program or company. The public’s ability to know about these issues has been compromised by the district’s decision to erase the history of SRC resolutions, minutes, amendments and actions on charters prior to last year. For reasons yet to be explained, the Communications Office put up a new website with missing information, but has not kept the previous website up (and since the Director and Assistant Director of that office went on vacation just after the change, answers have been in short supply). This is a simple technological matter. The City of Philadelphia has done exactly that so that the public still has access to public information. We do wonder whether the replacement of the previous website with an incomplete one signals a decision by the SRC to limit public access to district information. The SRC must rectify this matter and make sure that the people of the district can find all of the information they need.

Schools in Allegheny County look to texting to help tackle student attendance problems
MOLLY BORN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mborn@post-gazette.com 7:45 PM AUG 15, 2017
Local schools will soon be tackling chronic absenteeism using a tool familiar to students themselves: texting.  The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh will introduce a pilot program as part of its Be There Attendance Initiative. The Be There program is expanding to more schools this fall with a $30,000 gift from Pitt and the same amount in matching funds.  Participating schools will encourage parents to sign up for the texting platform, which will send an automated message once a month updating parents on their child’s attendance. Pitt’s Office of Child Development created the program.  “The family member can text back if they’re having any issues with child getting to school,” and a real person from the 211 helpline will follow up, said ​Shauna McMillan​, United Way manager of Programs for Children and Youth, United Way.  According to a Pitt study, housing instability is the top reason students are chronically absent, which means missing at least two days of school a month. Those students are more likely to be suspended or drop out of school, research suggests.

Comcast expands reach of Internet Essentials
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa August 15, 2017 — 1:01pm
In its effort to bridge the digital divide, Internet Essentials, Comcast's six-year-old program for helping low-income families get online, has reached the milestone of connecting one million households and four million individuals to broadband service, company officials announced Tuesday.  Philadelphia ranks third among the nation's cities in the number of households connected to the internet through Internet Essentials, and Pennsylvania ranks fourth among the states. In the city, 31,000 families, comprising about 125,000 people, receive the $9.95-a-month service. For the greater Philadelphia area, the number is 47,000 families, or about 190,000 individuals. In Pennsylvania, 68,000 households – or about 272,000 people – use the program.  In a press call on Monday, David L. Cohen, Comcast's senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer, said that Internet Essentials has reached "more homes than all other similar programs combined by several orders of magnitude."  "When we launched this six years ago, we had no idea how it would be received," Cohen said.  A Comcast survey of users indicated that 98 percent said their children used the internet service for schoolwork, and 93 percent said they thought the program had a positive impact on their child's grades.

Keystone Oaks Education Association prepared to go on strike
ANDREW GOLDSTEIN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agoldstein@post-gazette.com 12:03 AM AUG 16, 2017
The Keystone Oaks Education Association said it plans to go on strike later this month if the union and the school district can’t agree on a contract.  The association, which represents 160 teachers, counselors and nurses at four Keystone Oaks School District locations, issued a strike notice Tuesday to the school board. The association said it will strike Aug. 24, the first day of school, if it does not reach an agreement with the district during a bargaining session Thursday. “Bargaining sessions are currently scheduled for Aug. 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.,” union president Kevin Gallagher said in a statement Tuesday night. “We are establishing at deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 17 to finalize a tentative agreement. This deadline is being established to allow all staff, parents and students to plan accordingly for the beginning of the school year.”

Several school districts in Bucks and Montgomery counties named among best in the state
Intelligencer by By Chris English, staff writer Aug 10, 2017
Fifteen school districts in Bucks or Eastern Montgomery counties are in the top 100 of the Niche.com 2018 list of the best districts in Pennsylvania.  Area districts making the grade are North Penn at No. 11, Central Bucks (12), Council Rock (18), Lower Moreland (19), Upper Dublin (24), New Hope-Solebury (33), Abington (43), Pennsbury (46), Souderton Area (56), Jenkintown (59), Pennridge (62), Hatboro-Horsham (70), Centennial (89), Neshaminy (90) and Palisades (96).  Niche.com staffers looked at all 500 school districts in the state and, according to the website, rankings are based on "rigorous analysis of academic and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with test scores, college data and ratings collected from millions of Niche users."  Among many factors considered were survey responses from students, teachers and parents; student and teacher absenteeism; test scores; expulsion rates and participation in extracurricular activities, the website said.


Public Support for Charter Schools Plummets, Poll Finds
Education Week By Arianna Prothero August 15, 2017
President Donald Trump’s vocal support for charter schools and private-school vouchers has had some school choice supporters wringing their hands over whether it will have a negative impact on the policies they champion. This is particularly true for charter school backers who, over time, have built up bipartisan support.  Now a new public opinion poll from Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is providing insights into whether the president—as well as the broader political dynamics in play—have swayed the public’s views on school choice.  Support for charter schools has fallen 12 percent from last year, the largest change in opinion that EdNext saw on any single policy from last year. The steepest drop-off came from white participants. At the same time, the survey found that opposition toward school vouchers and other similar policies that direct public aid toward private schools has softened.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: August 9 -15, 2017
FairTest National Center for Fair and Open Testing on August 15, 2017 - 12:43pm 
A broad range of voices -- from parents and teachers to scholars and researchers to legislators and governors -- continue to speak out against testing overuse and misuse. As the assessment reform movement grows, it has an ever-increasing impact on public policy, particularly at the district and state level.


PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA Website August 2017
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2017, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 17 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person's name with an asterisk (*).

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

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017