Friday, August 4, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 4: over the course of the next 17 years, it will be worth remembering that the first $93 million of any increase covers rising pension costs

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 4, 2017:

State ESSA plan available for public comment until Sept. 2

PDE Powerpoint: The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Pennsylvania’s Proposed Consolidated State Plan August 2, 2017
PA Department of Education Website Powerpoint

Pa. plan for every student to succeed: Fewer standardized tests, more accountability
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated on August 4, 2017 at 6:36 AM Posted on August 4, 2017 at 6:30 AM
The 144-page draft plan detailing Pennsylvania's roadmap for raising student achievement and complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act is a lot to wade through. But here are five highlights that identify some of its goals.  The entire plan is available on the Department of Education website. The public is invited to review and comment on the plan through Aug. 31- not Sept. 2 as the department originally indicated - using the online survey provided on the website.  The department intends to begin implementing parts of the plan in the coming school year with a full rollout planned for 2018-19.

Gov. Tom Wolf: 'I believe that the House will support the Marcellus Shale tax'
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated on August 3, 2017 at 11:43 AM Posted on August 3, 2017 at 11:31 AM
Despite House Republican's strong resistance to imposing an extraction tax on natural gas drillers to help balance the budget, Gov. Tom Wolf remains confident that he will deliver on a promise he made during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign to tax drillers.  Wolf said he was "very satisfied" to see the Senate-passed revenue package included a severance tax as part of its plan to fully fund the $32 billion spending plan enacted last month.  He added, "I believe that the House will support the Marcellus Shale tax as well."  Gov. Tom Wolf is confident Pa. will impose a shale extraction tax  Wolf shared that comment on Thursday's edition of WITF's Smart Talk with host Scott LaMar that was broadcast live from the state Capitol Rotunda.

Senate GOP Leaders: Difficult Decisions Made To Avoid Negative Budget Ramifications
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates AUGUST 3, 2017
Senate Republican leaders Thursday offered the following statements on the announcement by the state Treasurer the Commonwealth needed a $750 million line of credit in order to keep the General Fund from falling into negative territory at the end of the month.
-- Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson): “Senate Republican Leadership understood the gravity of the 2017-18 state budget that was supported by most House and Senate members. The Commonwealth’s revenue situation is dire and the Senate worked efficiently to address it. Difficult decisions were made and we certainly did not come to the components of the revenue package lightly.”
-- Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre): “We understand the severity of the Commonwealth’s finances. It’s this reason that the Senate acted quickly last week to adopt a reasonable revenue package to fund the spending plan approved by the House and Senate. We have an obligation to govern and make the difficult decisions that will move toward steadying our financial footing.”
-- Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh):  “The Treasurer’s report today confirms what Senate Leadership has been saying for months regarding the dangerous financial situation facing the Commonwealth without a balanced budget. That is why it was critical and urgent for the Senate to act last week on a fiscally responsible revenue package. Without it, as the Treasurer also highlighted, the state’s financial position will quickly deteriorate, putting at risk private sector job creation and vital state programs and services.”

“If localities hope to cover these costs based on increased state revenue, that would mean that, on average, the state would need to boost education funding by at least $93 million each  year during that time.  So in the state budget battles that will occur over the course of the next 17 years, it will be worth remembering that the first $93 million of any increase covers rising pension costs.”
Pension costs dominate Pa. education conversation in Harrisburg, amid other competing priorities
Much of the debate in Harrisburg this summer has been centered on how Pennsylvania should overcome its $2.2 billion deficit.  But, as usual, there has also been a great deal of focus on issues related to public school funding and policy.  The summer began with fanfare in the capitol rotunda. On June 12, a compromise on a long debated effort to overhaul the retirement system for teachers and state workers was made official.  Governor Tom Wolf and the legislature agreed on a plan affecting new hires only that eliminates what workers currently get: a full, guaranteed pension payout upon retirement. Instead, those hired after July 1, 2019 will have the choice of a few options which will give them a split between a pension and the type of 401(k) that most have in the private sector.  "Simply put this bill is a win for Pennsylvania taxpayers; it's also fair to Pennsylvania's workforce, and I will be proud to sign it," Wolf said, standing before a large crowd of lawmakers.  The measure goes a long way to protect taxpayers decades into the future, who will now avoid carrying the full risk of the stock-market. In a downturn, new hires will shoulder a chunk of those losses instead of leaving state government and school districts fully on the hook.

Will private funding save public music education?
Inquirer by Peter Dobrin, Culture Writer  @InquirerPeter | Updated: AUGUST 3, 2017 — 7:08 AM EDT
Is a restoration of serious arts education to the lives of our children finally within reach? A lot is riding on the answer. Ask any arts leader why getting audiences is so hard and you’ll get the same response: Lack of arts in schools.  Children today aren’t growing up with the sound of an orchestra in their heads, so, naturally, they aren’t becoming ticket buyers, the mantra goes.  I’m not convinced that the return of arts to schools will repair the pipeline to concert halls, but that doesn’t mean that every child shouldn’t be getting a sustained, sequential education in the arts. After all, what about simply wanting our children to have access to a cultural tradition that contributes to the common good by turning out well-rounded human beings?  Whatever the motivation, there are signs that music education in the city may be on the way back up.

Charter schools are public agencies funded by tax dollars, but how transparent are they?
Public Source By Mary Niederberger and Stephanie Hacke AUG. 3, 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.
Imagine your kid keeps missing school because the bus doesn’t show up. Or you want to know if your school has tested water fountains for lead. Or your taxes go up. Where do you go to ask questions and get them answered? Your local school board meeting.  School district board members regularly face residents and their questions or complaints on school operations and district use of taxpayer money.  Constituents line up at the microphone, and board members are put in the hot seat. Public school district budgets are primarily composed of real estate tax dollars paid by local homeowners. And, for that reason, it is every taxpayer's right to question those budget allocations.  But exercising that right proves a bit more difficult when it comes to the 15 brick-and-mortar charter school organizations in Allegheny County and the 14 cyber charter schools that operate in the state — all of which are also funded by taxpayer dollars.

Pa. treasurer extends $750M line of credit to pay state bills
Inquirer by Liz Navratil, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: AUGUST 3, 2017 — 8:14 PM EDT
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, fresh off signing a short-term line of credit Thursday to help the state pay its bills, urged legislators to quickly balance the budget or risk placing the commonwealth in a precarious financial position.  The $750 million line of credit, signed by Torsella and DePasquale, both Democrats, covers the 10-day stretch from Aug. 14 to 23. Without it, Torsella said, the state’s primary bank account, known as the general fund, would dip into negative numbers.  While some transfers are normal, Torsella said, the timing of this one — six weeks into the fiscal year — is “extraordinary and without precedent.”

State Senators Propose Education Savings Accounts for Students
Victoria Hudgins, The Legal Intelligencer July 13, 2017
Sens. John DiSanto, Joseph B. Scarnati III and John H. Eichelberger Jr. published a memo announcing their plan to create education savings accounts to help students attending low-achieving schools obtain nonpublic schooling.  The ESAs would be held by the state Treasury. The accounts would receive the average state funding per pupil—and would be deducted from the local district’s state education subsidies of that student. Special education students would get, according to the memo, that amount multiplied by the “appropriate category weight as specified in the special education funding formula.”  ESA users would not be allowed to enroll in any public school. ESA funds would be used to pay Department of Education-approved education providers and expenses the student chose.  Proposed expenses, under the memorandum, include tuition and fees at participating private schools; payment for a licensed or accredited tutor; fees for tests and exams; industry certifications; textbooks; and special education occupation, speech and behavioral therapies.

Senate of Pennsylvania Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session MEMORANDUM
Posted: July 7, 2017 09:21 AM
From:   Senator John DiSanto, Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati, III, Sen. John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
To:       All Senate members
Subject: Education Savings Accounts for Students in Underperforming Schools
Too many Pennsylvania children are relegated to persistently underperforming schools based on nothing more than a home address. Pennsylvania’s existing school choice programs—charter schools and scholarship tax credits—are vital lifelines for many of these children. But demand for these options greatly outpaces supply, as evidenced by heartbreaking stories of charter lotteries and scholarship organizations forced to turn away thousands of deserving applicants every year.
Chronic low performance and abysmal graduation rates fail to prepare our students for college or careers. Clearly, there is an urgency to serve families who do not have the means or the good fortune to enroll in a high-quality school.
In the near future, we will be introducing legislation to help students attending low-achieving schools through the establishment of education savings accounts. Families approved to participate in the ESA program agree to withdraw their students from public school and receive the average state funding per pupil—deducted from the local district’s state education subsidies—as a grant in an account held by the Department of the Treasury. Special education students will receive this amount multiplied by the appropriate category weight as specified in the special education funding formula.

PP4C: State of the Child by County
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children August 2017
Do you know how your county compares to Pennsylvania counties when it comes to child poverty, health insurance coverage, educational opportunities and other important measures of children’s well-being?  To help you get answers, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children has created county-based "State of the Child" profiles. These profiles provide a snapshot of each county's data, alongside statewide data and information on counties with similar demographic profiles. For each county, you can find:
·         Child population and poverty statistics
·         Information on how many children are uninsured, and how many benefit from coverage through Medicaid or Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program
·         Data on how many children benefit from subsidized child care and publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs
·         The number of children in foster care or receiving other child welfare services
·         Academic performance data for school districts, charter schools and cyber charter schools
We also have put together a statewide profile to supplement the county-based profiles.

School District of Philadelphia Directory of Charter Schools
Philadelphia is home to 84 brick-and-mortar charter schools, serving approximately 70,000 students. The Charter Schools Office (CSO) monitors performance for those schools, and helps families who are exploring their public school options make informed decisions.

School pensions: What does the future hold?
Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer August 3, 2017
While future teachers might not receive as lucrative a pension as those guaranteed to today's school employees, experts who make a living providing clients with financial advice contend the plan remains attractive.  "When somebody walks into my office and has any kind of pension, I shake their hand and I say 'congratulations,'" said Mark Fried, president of TFG Wealth Management of Newtown Township. "The happiest retirees I know have a pension."  A defined benefit is still part of two of the three options school hires will get to choose from beginning July 1, 2019. Two of the plans include a defined benefit plan combined with a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. The third option is a solo 401(k)-style plan, similar to retirement offerings in the private sector. Defined contribution plans in the public sector are called 403(b) plans, and are essentially the same as a 401(k).  The defined benefit, a traditional pension, is calculated according to length of service and salary earned. It is guaranteed and paid to the retiree in a monthly check. The defined contribution, the retirement plan most private companies employ, is not guaranteed. It is determined by how well the employees' investments perform. Unlike in the private sector, employees will not be able to increase or decrease the percentage of their contribution.

Congress recessing, leaving much undone, tensions with Trump
Inquirer AP Updated: AUGUST 4, 2017 — 2:59 AM EDT
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram contributed.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers have scattered for their summer recess, leaving behind a slim record of achievements and a steaming President Donald Trump. The president is angry about what the Republican-led Congress couldn't do - repeal Obamacare - as well as one of the few things it did: approve a Russia sanctions bill he detests.  So Republican senators leave Washington with simmering tensions between them and the White House now out in public for all to see. They'll face voters back home who have cause for frustration about an unproductive Congress led by a party given over to infighting.

ALEC’s Attack on Public Education: A Report from the Frontlines
The Progressive by Rep. Chris Taylor August 1, 2017
I arrived earlier this month to the forty-fourth annual conference of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Denver to the best possible greeting—scores of protesters marching around the host hotel. Yellow tape and police barricades blocked all visible entrances. I joined the protesters for a while before I ducked under some yellow tape and entered the hotel.  I did not sneak in; I was a registered guest. As a Democratic member of the Wisconsin state Assembly, I have been going to ALEC conferences for years—to see for myself how this rightwing group crafts model legislation to advance the interests of its corporate and ideological funders.  The issue of the moment for ALEC is public education—that is, undermining it. ALEC members are foaming at the mouth for the now-endless opportunities to further privatize public schools, long a central goal. When he was governor of Wisconsin in the early 1990s, Tommy Thompson implemented the first state voucher scheme in the nation—an idea he acquired from an ALEC conference.  Fittingly, the keynote speaker at ALEC’s July 19-21 conference was school privatization czarina Betsy DeVos. DeVos has spent most of her life using her billions to push privatizing public education through charter and voucher school schemes.

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
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 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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