Tuesday, August 1, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 1, 2017: Are PA Schools Holding Too Much in Reserve?

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
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 1, 2017:

Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events

Are PA Schools Holding Too Much in Reserve?
Temple University Center on Regional Politics July 14, 2017
policy brief published by the Center on Regional Politics in July 2017 provides data on the status of fund balances for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts at the end of fiscal year 2015-16. Although the data show that total reserve funds have increased by about $800 million since 2012-13, from $3.9 billion to $4.7 billion, they also show that the flexible reserves of most districts (439 of 500) are within or even below the minimum standards recommended by bond raters and government finance professionals and allowed by state law.

“The substitute teacher shortage is one of the ripple effects from the wider teacher shortage afflicting Pennsylvania. With fewer people seeking teacher certification, the pool of substitutes has shrunk considerably as well.  According to data provided by the state Department of Education, 6,215 people were newly certified in 2014-15 compared with 16,361 in 2012-13. Local superintendents and state officials say layoffs and the pressure of high-stakes testing as well as public bashing of teachers could be to blame for less interest in the profession.”
Suburban schools increase substitute teacher pay to combat shortage
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call July 31, 2017
The substitute teacher shortage has taken the biggest toll on urban districts, but a few of the Lehigh Valley’s suburban districts are taking steps to ensure they stay ahead of the problem. Northwestern Lehigh and Northampton Area school districts hiked the pay rate for their substitute teachers in the hopes of keeping classrooms filled during teacher absences. Salisbury Township made the move over the course of the 2016-17 school year.  Suburban substitute fill rates — the percentage of times a district is able to get a qualified teacher into a vacant classroom, — are usually higher than in many urban districts. But district leaders say any amount of time without instruction exacts a toll.   “The main concern is the loss of continuity of learning during the regular classroom teachers absence,” said Joseph Kovalchik, superintendent of the Northampton Area School District. “Without a pool of qualified substitute teachers, instructional time may be lost which obviously affects the students.”

“It’s about transparency and accountability.  Charter schools are not private schools. They are taxpayer-funded institutions, and they are accountable for how they spend that public money and the results they produce.”
EDITORIAL: Demand full accounting from all involved in Thackston decisions
The York Dispatch Editorial Published 3:55 p.m. ET July 31, 2017
As Helen Thackston Charter School officials prepared for a fight to keep its charter, the state Department of Education recently told The York Dispatch that it hasn’t received required annual reports from the school since the 2011-12 school year.  Why is that important?  These reports — which are supposed to include financial audits, meeting dates, leadership changes, certification status of staff members and fundraising activities, among other information — are tools for determining if charter schools are fulfilling their missions and following all laws.

Barletta to seek US Senate seat held by Bob Casey
WITF Written by Marc Levy/Associated Press | Jul 31, 2017 1:21 PM
(Harrisburg) -- Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, who was elected as a crusader against illegal immigration and helped cheerlead Donald Trump to victory last year, has told GOP officials and activists that he has decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Bob Casey.  A person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press that Barletta began telling party officials of his decision last week, several months after he began considering it. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because Barletta has not yet made his plans public.  In a text message Monday, Barletta said that his conversations have been "very positive" and that he will announce his decision in a few weeks.  "Continuing to go through process. Been talking to a lot of people," Barletta wrote.  Barletta, 61, is in his fourth term representing a House district that stretches from south-central Pennsylvania's rolling farms through northeastern Pennsylvania's anthracite coal fields.  Barletta, a staunch Trump supporter in Congress, would quickly become the most recognizable name in a field of a half-dozen would-be challengers to Casey, the 57-year-old son of a late ex-governor and a fierce critic of the Republican president.

PA Senate Budget: EITC increase out, severance tax in
Education Voters PA Blog Posted on July 28, 2017 EDVOPA Posted in blog
Speaker Mike Turzai called the PA House to Harrisburg on Saturday, July 23 in the hopes of securing enough votes in his party to pass a revenue package to fund the 2017-2018 budget without new recurring revenues.  He failed.  After members of his own party rejected Turzai’s reckless plan, he sent the House home and called on the Senate to propose its own revenue package.  The PA Senate took up this challenge and passed a package on Thursday, July 27th.  It is noteworthy that in the current anti-government, anti-tax environment in Harrisburg, Senate Republican leaders acknowledged that PA does not have a spending problem, but instead has a revenue problem.  Senate Republican leaders refused to support a cuts-only budget or an irresponsible budget that relies exclusively on one-time revenues and borrowing. Instead, they took seriously the government’s responsibility to educate children and to provide critical human services. They raised new revenues in order to fund things that matter to our quality of life and our futures.  This plan is a compromise and a product of our divided government. It is not a plan many will be excited about, but it may be the best we can hope for this year.

Pennsylvania schools rated 16th in nation in new study
Times Leader By Mark Guydish - mguydish@timesleader.com July 31, 2017
Pennsylvania schools ranked 16th among all 50 states in a new study, with the Keystone State getting a higher ranking (10th) for safety and a lower ranking (28th) for “quality.”  The study released by WalletHub looked at 21 “relevant metrics” and broke them into two groups, one used for a “quality” score that made up 60 percent of the overall ranking and one for “safety” which accounted for 40 percent. The bulk of the data came from federal databases, but the report also used the “Top 700 Best U.S. Schools” rankings by U.S. News & World Report and scores for the ACT and SAT tests.  While the report looks at some data for elementary grades, including reading and math test results for grades 4 and 8, the bulk of the data relates only to high schools.

US News and World Report Best Pennsylvania High Schools
Pennsylvania students take end-of-course exams in English, math, social studies and science subjects, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania students who show financial need may be eligible for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, which provides funding to attend many colleges and universities in the region.  Many Pennsylvania schools are in the 2017 rankings of U.S. News Best High Schools. The highly ranked Julia R. Masterman Secondary School, which is located in the School District of Philadelphia, is roughly 100 miles from the state capital of Harrisburg.

The deadline to submit cover letter, resume and application is August 25, 2017.
PSBA seeking experienced education leaders: Become an Advocacy Ambassador
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

September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Reading
Berks County Community Foundation
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.

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