Wolf signs bills to balance Pa. budget with gambling and borrowing, hints of possible veto of education bill
Inquirer by Liz Navratil, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: OCTOBER 30, 2017 — 2:22 PM EDT
HARRISBURG – Gov. Wolf on Monday signed most of the remaining legislation needed to balance Pennsylvania’s $32 billion budget, except for one piece that outlines the details of education funding. The Democratic governor left open the possibility that he could veto that bill, called the education code. It contains a few controversial provisions, including one that would allow school districts, when laying off teachers for economic reasons, to forgo seniority considerations and instead use teacher evaluation scores to determine who goes and who stays. Wolf did not outline which provisions of the bill gave him pause. “There are a couple of things I’m not real comfortable with,” he said Monday after an early afternoon speech at the month press club luncheon in Harrisburg. It was typical of the enigmatic communications style Wolf has employed throughout budget negotiations. Signed Monday by the governor were several budget-related bills, including one authorizing borrowing $1.5 billion against the state’s landmark settlement with tobacco companies; applying the sales tax to more goods sold online; and taxing fireworks. Wolf also signed legislation that greatly expands gambling in the state.
“In addition to that provision, the school code bill includes a $10 million increase in funding for the scholarship portion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, banning lunch shaming, mandating training for school board members, mandating opioid abuse prevention education, and more.”
Gov. Tom Wolf has yet to act on teacher furlough reform bill
Penn Live By Jan Murphy email@example.com Updated on October 30, 2017 at 2:25 PM Posted on October 30, 2017 at 2:00 PM
With all the budget-related bills that the House and Senate sent to Gov. Tom Wolf last week, only one remains on his desk. It is the school code bill that contained the controversial provision that would allow school boards to furlough teachers for economic reasons and those decisions would not be made on a seniority basis. Wolf told reporters following his remarks to the Pennsylvania Press Club on Monday where he announced he has signed all of the other bills in the revenue package to fund the enacted $32 billion budget including ones that expand legalized gambling, borrows $1.5 billion against future payments from the multi-state tobacco settlement, and approves $500 million in fund transfers. He hinted that there were "a couple things I'm not real comfortable with" in the bill and may want to go back to the drawing board. It should be noted that he vetoed a standalone bill last year that would have allowed for teachers to be furloughed for economic reasons based on their performance ratings instead of seniority. The economic furlough provision would only allow seniority to be the basis for determining which teachers get laid off if two teachers had the same performance rating. Reinstatement of furloughed teachers would be done in reverse order in which they were suspended.
“Out of the 116 charter and cyber charter schools that received academic performance scores, 20 – or 17 percent – achieved scores of 70 points or higher.
Some like to see a comparison to traditional public schools. For those who do, 51 percent – or 1,386 district schools – out of the 2,710 that received scores attained 70 or higher. “
Eight observations gleaned from Pa.'s 2017 school report cards
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | firstname.lastname@example.org Posted October 31, 2017 at 05:50 AM | Updated October 31, 2017 at 05:50 AM
Some schools found reason to cheer when they saw their academic performance score for 2016-17 rose on the School Performance Profiles that the state Department of Education released on Friday. That score reflects a cumulative tally for performance on state exams, efforts to close the achievement gap between subgroups of students, and an assortment of other measures. Others may be discouraged that their overall score declined but with the plethora of data displayed in a school profile, perhaps they too found some morsels of good news. In looking over the statewide data and taking a closer look at information about schools in six southcentral Pennsylvania counties, here are eight observations of note.
The state’s School Performance Profile era ends: How did we do?
Times Leader By Mark Guydish - email@example.com | October 28th, 2017 8:42 pm
Pennsylvania’s “School Performance Profile” scores, designed to show how well public schools were doing academically, lasted only five years, from 2013 through this week. The scores released Friday were the final ones, as the state will transition to the new Future Ready PA Index next year. That means this is the last year SPP results can be compared to prior years. So, how did area schools do under the system which had replaced the previous “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) created under the 2002 “No Child Left Behind” federal law? As far as overall improvement goes, not so well. Comparing the 2012-13 SPP scores with 2016-17, only five Luzerne County public schools saw improvement, and only two of those saw double-digit increases.
Referendum on November ballot opens door to property tax elimination
Penn Live By Jan Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Updated on October 31, 2017 at 6:16 AM Posted on October 31, 2017 at 6:15 AM
Voters who show up at the polls on Nov. 7 will have an opportunity to vote on amending the state constitution to open the door to provide for property tax elimination for Pennsylvania homeowners. But here's the catch. If the majority of voters vote yes on this referendum, it doesn't mean property taxes will suddenly go away. What it would do is provide a mechanism to target greater property tax relief to residential properties. But before that can happen, state laws need to change to provide for replacement revenue sources to fund school districts, municipalities and counties. "It is a confusing issue," said Hannah Barrick, advocacy director for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. "This is just step one in the process." Specifically, what the proposed amendment to Article VIII of the constitution would do is increase the exclusion level to up to 100 percent of the value of each "homestead," or primary residence, in a municipality, county or school district.
Empire of Deceit: An Investigation of the Gülen Charter School Network
Quick Facts on Pennsylvania Gulen Charter Schools
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Former Philly District CEO: Latest school governance plan is Einstein's definition of insanity | Opinion
Opinion by Phil Goldsmith, For the Inquirer Updated: OCTOBER 30, 2017 — 11:39 AM EDT
Phil Goldsmith served as interim chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia, 2000 and 2001.
With the School Reform Commission and the Kenney administration about to disband the School Reform Commission for yet another school governance structure, I am mindful of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Since the School District was created, it’s had more governance structures than Zsa Zsa Gabor had husbands. Here is a quick recap: Originally, each ward had its own elected school board; in time the elected boards became advisory and a 21-member Board of Education was selected by the Board of Judges. At one point the School District was a department of city government, but later it became an independent agency and the 21-member board was reduced to 15 members. In 1965, city voters reduced the number of members to nine, with members serving staggered six-year terms, and for the first time gave appointing power to the mayor. In 1999, the voters acted again, this time granting the incoming mayor the authority to select the nine-member board, whose terms would be concurrent with his.
Philly needs local school control, with a mayor-appointed board | Opinion
Inquirer Opinion Updated: OCTOBER 30, 2017 — 11:38 AM EDT
Let's create a true People's School Board to undo the damage of the SRC | Opinion
Inquirer Opinion Updated: OCTOBER 30, 2017 — 11:32 AM EDT
Getting Into High School in Philadelphia
The workings of a complicated system
The Pew Charitable Trusts Philadelphia Research Initiative September 14, 2017
Overview - In the School District of Philadelphia, students are not required to attend a particular high school. A wide—and potentially bewildering—variety of choices confronts eighth-graders and their parents. To go anywhere other than their neighborhood high schools, they must identify the options they think fit their needs and apply to them. Counting charter schools, Philadelphia has 98 publicly funded high schools, some of which offer multiple programs. These include 24 neighborhood schools, the majority of which are rated as low-quality under the district’s accountability system. Most eighth-graders apply to other programs that get better ratings and are more selective, including 21 highly competitive “special admission” programs—all of which have academic standards for admission—and 121 less competitive programs categorized by the district as “citywide admission.” Also available are 43 charter high schools, which are publicly funded but not operated by the school district. The Pew Charitable Trusts, working with data provided by the School District of Philadelphia, analyzed the process of matching students who were eighth-graders in 2014-15 with district-run high schools for the subsequent school year. The analysis sought to shed light on two central topics: How the application, admission, and enrollment process worked for students applying to ninth grade—and who attended the special admission schools, presumably the most desirable of the district-run institutions.
Ears on the SRC: October 19, 2017
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools by Diane Payne October 27, 2017
Chair Joyce Wilkerson and Commissioners Estelle Richmond, Chris McGinley and Farah Jimenez were present for the entire meeting. Missing in action once again was Commissioner Bill Green. Green has been exhibiting a disdain for his position by failing to be present for part or all of five meetings since April. No other commissioner has had such an abysmal attendance record. Green has come in at the tail end of two meetings this year, after staff presentations and public speakers, but was still permitted to vote. He has left two other meetings early only to call in by phone much later, again, just in time to vote. This time he never showed, and no explanation was given by the Chair. Resolution B-1 Donation: $2,700,000 Ratification of Acceptance of Donation of Services and Resources from Temple University had to be withdrawn by staff because McGinley and Wilkerson abstained due to their Temple employment. That left the vote an unpassable tie of 2-2. This resolution was to accept “the donation of professional development services from Temple University to improve leadership, instruction and parent engagement of English Learners valued at $2,700,000 for the period commencing September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2021”
House GOP Leaders Announce Children’s Health Insurance Vote
Roll Call by Sandhya Raman Posted Oct 26, 2017 2:34 PM
Arguments erupted on the House floor Thursday between Republican and Democratic leaders over the prospect of a vote next week on a GOP-only bill to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced the bill would be debated next week — a plan opposed by Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. Democrats have pushed to delay the House bill until an agreement is reached on a bipartisan solution to pay for it. “CHIP and community health centers, as the majority leader pointed out, have always been a bipartisan priority. Unfortunately, this bill did not come out of the committee as a bipartisan bill,” said Hoyer. “Negotiations were not fruitful.” McCarthy shot back: “Let me set the record straight. Yes, it did come out of committee, and, yes, we did hold it up three times because your side of the aisle asked us to.” McCarthy said the reason the bill must be done next week is because Minnesota is about to run out of funds. Federal funding for CHIP was exhausted Sept. 30, but nine states and territories including Minnesota received redistribution funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that are left over from previous fiscal year allotments.
How the Kochs are trying to shake up public schools, one state at a time
The push by Libre represents a new front in the fight by targeting Hispanic families.
Politico By KIMBERLY HEFLING 10/30/2017 02:00 PM EDT
With school choice efforts stalled in Washington, the billionaire Koch brothers’ network is engaged in state-by-state battles with teachers’ unions, politicians and parent groups to push for public funding of private and charter schools. One of the newest campaigns is the Libre Initiative, a grassroots drive targeting Hispanic families in 11 states so far, under the umbrella of the Charles and David Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, a powerful conservative and libertarian advocacy group. While the Koch network has long been involved in school choice battles, the push by Libre represents a new front in the fight by targeting Hispanic families — and a recognition that with Congress gridlocked, it’s on the ground at the state level where the network can disrupt the educational status quo. The Koch message on schools is shared by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a longtime ally.
Webinar: Get the Facts on the Proposed Constitutional Amendment
OCT 31, 2017 • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Registration Required
Recently passed through the General Assembly as House Bill 1285, Joint Resolution 1 proposes to amend the constitution by authorizing the General Assembly to enact legislation allowing local taxing authorities (counties, municipalities and school districts) to exclude from property taxation up to the full assessed value of each homestead/farmstead property within the taxing jurisdiction. If approved, what does this change mean for schools in PA? In this complimentary webinar, learn about the legislative history, facts and implications of the amendment so you can make the decision that is right for you on Nov. 7.
Register online here: GoToWebinar.com
The 2017 Pennsylvania Arts and Education will be held on Thursday, November 2, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg Convention Center in Camp Hill. See the agenda here.
Early Bird Registration ends September 30.
Monday, November 6 – Capital Area I.U. 15 (Summerdale)
Tuesday, November 7 – Luzerne I.U. 18 (Kingston)
Wednesday, November 15 – Berks County I.U. 14 (Reading)
Thursday, November 16 – Midwestern I.U. 4 (Grove City)
Friday, November 17 – Westmoreland I.U. 7 (Greensburg)
Take advantage of this great opportunity – at NO cost to you!
REGISTER TODAY at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SchoolLeaderTraining.
Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, October 14, 2017 NOTICES - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Support the Notebook and see Springsteen on Broadway
The notebook October 2, 2017 — 10:57am
Donate $50 or more until Nov. 10, enter to win – and have your donation doubled!
"This music is forever for me. It's the stage thing, that rush moment that you live for. It never lasts, but that's what you live for." – Bruce Springsteen
You can be a part of a unique Bruce Springsteen show in his career – and support local, nonprofit education journalism! Donate $50 or more to the Notebook through Nov. 10, and your donation will be doubled, up to $1,000, through the Knight News Match. Plus, you will be automatically entered to win a pair of prime tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway! One winner will receive two tickets to the 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, show at the Walter Kerr Theatre. These are amazing orchestra section seats to this incredible sold-out solo performance. Don't miss out on your chance to see the Boss in his Broadway debut. Donate to the Notebook today online or by mail at 699 Ranstead St., 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017