Thursday, November 2, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 2: Mayor Kenney To Propose Ending Philly School Reform Commission

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 Nov. 2, 2017:

“Plan puts teachers in 1 of 4 categories:
Under House Bill 178, a new, economic layoff process would divide teachers into four classes based on their performance evaluations from the most recent two years.
• Class 1 teachers — those who have been rated “unsatisfactory” for two straight years — would be the first to which districts might turn for economic layoffs.
• The second group at risk of layoffs would fall into Class 2, which would include teachers who have received one “unsatisfactory” rating and one “satisfactory” one.
• Class 3 teachers would be those deemed “proficient” or “distinguished” during one year and “needs improvement” during the other.
• The teachers most protected from layoffs for economic reasons would be Class 4 teachers — those who are rated “distinguished” in both years or “distinguished” in one year and “proficient” in the other.
The proposed law would require school districts to give advance notice of economic furloughs and mandates the furloughing of an equal number of administrators and teachers.”
HB178: Pennsylvania teachers unions urge veto of School Code bill that would weaken seniority
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, 6:21 p.m.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf did not indicate Wednesday whether he would sign or veto an omnibus school code bill over a controversial provision regarding teacher layoff rules.
Teachers unions statewide are urging Gov. Tom Wolf to veto an omnibus school code bill over a controversial provision that could strip teachers with subpar performance ratings of their job security — no matter how long they've been teaching. The proposed Pennsylvania School Code awaiting action on Wolf's desk contains a provision that would give financially struggling school districts the power to lay off teachers based on evaluations as opposed to seniority. Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis said Wednesday that she fears the proposed changes would spur school boards statewide to increase class sizes and further exacerbate teacher shortages. “I worry that districts would manufacture an economic crisis to lay off highly effective teachers, and we know that experience matters in teaching, like it does in a lot of fields,” Esposito-Visgitis said. “We don't want a revolving door of less-experienced teachers.”

Tweet from Speaker Turzai Regarding House Bill 178
Speaker Mike Turzai‏ @RepTurzai  22h22 hours ago
Governor Wolf should sign the School Code bill, which passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support! 

HB 178: School Code Bill Summary
PASA Website by By Hannah Barrick, PASA Legislative Liaison

Pennsylvania GOP leaders seek stay of redistricting lawsuit
Morning Call by the Associated Press November 1, 2017 
Republican leaders in Pennsylvania's General Assembly on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put on ice a federal lawsuit challenging the state's congressional districts approved after the 2010 census. House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati asked Justice Samuel Alito in a filing for a stay of the lawsuit by five Pennsylvania voters against the governor and elections officials. The request said a trial in the case could occur in about a month, as the justices are considering a Wisconsin gerrymandering case with what they call "substantively identical claims." A lawyer for the plaintiffs said Wednesday they oppose the request to Alito and said they were prepared to respond. The Republican leaders, who were granted a request to intervene in the federal case, want it stopped until a similar Commonwealth Court lawsuit over the districts is resolved — and that case is mostly on hold pending a decision in the Wisconsin lawsuit. Lawyers for Turzai and Scarnati argued the Wisconsin decision could render the Pennsylvania lawsuit moot, or narrow its issues.

Kenney to propose ending SRC and returning to a local school board
Kenney to make speech Thursday before Council
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa and Avi Wolfman-Arent November 2, 2017 — 12:00am
Mayor Jim Kenney plans to replace Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission with a local school board appointed by him and approved by City Council. Kenney will outline his proposal in a speech Thursday morning, according to a handful of his advisors. It is the clearest sign yet that the SRC -- a 16-year experiment in state control over Philadelphia’s public schools -- will end soon. According to documents released Wednesday and the statements from city officials, it appears likely Kenney will also outline a plan Thursday to raise more city money for schools. “The District is now in a situation in which it has already made painful cuts and one of its two primary funders, the Commonwealth, is mired in budget stalemates,” says a document outlining the city’s plans shared with reporters Wednesday evening. “This makes the other major funder, the city of Philadelphia, the only realistic source of substantial new funding for the School District. Mayor Kenney believes that the City can and must commit to this investment to protect and accelerate the District’s progress. In return, Philadelphians deserve the greater accountability which local control will provide.”

Mayor Kenney To Propose Ending School Reform Commission
CBS Philly KYW November 1, 2017 9:57 PM By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will call for the dissolution of the School Reform Committee (SRC), and a return to local control, in an address to city council on Thursday. The mechanics of the long-anticipated move were outlined in a briefing by the mayor’s policy director Jim Engler, late Wednesday. It begins with the SRC, at its next meeting, November 16, recommending to the state education secretary that it be dissolved. The secretary has until the end of the year to consider the recommendation but it is expected he will accept it and the SRC will cease to exist on June 30, 2018, at which point a nine-member Board of Education appointed by the Mayor would take over. “For too long we have had a system that is unaccountable,” the mayor writes in his presentation to council, noting the SRC’s structure– three state-appointed members and two locally appointed members – diffuses responsibility. “With a return to local control the people of Philadelphia will finally be able to hold one person accountable for their school system, the mayor.”

“On Nov. 16, the five-member SRC will consider a vote to dissolve itself, and Kenney is confident that it will be approved. The state Secretary of Education would certify the dissolution by Dec. 31, a move that seems a given with Gov. Wolf on record supporting local control for Philadelphia schools. The SRC would cease to exist on June 30.”
Mayor to seize control of Philly schools - and pay for them
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: NOVEMBER 2, 2017 — 5:10 AM EDT
Mayor Kenney is set to announce that the city is taking back its public schools — and is promising to pay for them. In an address to City Council planned for Thursday morning, the mayor will outline the end of the state-dominated School Reform Commission and a path to local control of the Philadelphia School District by July 1, administration officials confirmed Wednesday night. He will also pledge to have the city cover much of the $1 billion deficit the school system is projecting over five years. Kenney has made education the centerpiece of his administration, and seizing control of the schools after 16 years of state takeover would cement that. The mayor, in a letter to the public to be released Thursday, said the SRC has made for a system with no accountability. The commission also has presided over cycles of stability and investment in schools followed by instability and deep cuts that officials said must end. “With a return to local control, the people of Philadelphia will finally be able to hold one person accountable for their school system, the mayor,” Kenney wrote.

Here's how regular folks can buy basketball hoops and computers for city kids
by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: NOVEMBER 1, 2017 — 2:16 PM EDT
Muñoz-Marin Elementary kids play on a big stretch of blacktop that has two backboards but no basketball hoops. Principal Ariel Lajara wants to buy them, but that costs $650 he doesn’t have. At Overbrook Educational Center, a Philadelphia School District school where nearly 100 blind and visually impaired children are educated, principal Meredith Foote dreams of buying Braille printers and other technology that will help level the playing field for her kids. Price tag: $42,500. And at Francis Scott Key Elementary, principal Pauline Cheung hopes for $5,000 to buy musical instruments for her new music program. The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, the philanthropic arm of the school system, on Wednesday unveiled an online platform that allows the public to fund such projects directly, bypassing the school system bureaucracy and allowing for maximum impact.

Want to donate to Philly schools? New system makes it easy
Philly FUNDamentals allows anyone to easily find a school and project to support, said Mayor Kenney.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa November 1, 2017 — 3:59pm
Pauline Cheung is principal of Francis Scott Key Elementary School in South Philadelphia, which is housed in a building that dates to the presidency of Chester Arthur (1881-1885). But it still reverberates daily with the sound of 500 K-6 students, many of whom come from families from such places as Nepal and Burma and Mexico. Collectively, the students speak more than 20 languages, and half are still learning English. Her heart's desire is a library with children's books from her students' countries and cultures – not just written in their home languages, but also telling stories "that reflect their experiences and journeys," as she put it.  "Some grew up in refugee camps," she said. She is seeking $15,000 for this project. Chueng was one of several principals attending the kickoff of a new initiative of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia called Philly FUNDamentals, which allows potential donors to find a school and a project that appeals to them so they can contribute to it directly.

Notebook board member honored at literacy event
The notebook by Staff report November 1, 2017 — 4:35pm
Eli Goldblatt is a professor at Temple University and a member of the Notebook board of directors.
Tree House Books is honoring Notebook board member Eli Goldblatt as a champion of literacy at a Nov. 1 event. This literary group is working to put a book in the hands of every child in Philadelphia, in addition to sparking “a lifelong love of reading and writing in children from their earliest moments, through high school, and beyond.”  Located just a few blocks from Temple University, the group promotes literacy, and with the help of volunteers, it puts on activities designed to encourage reading and writing outside of the classroom.  According to a news release, the award is given to people that “believe inside every child is a reader, writer, and thinker. Champions of Literacy believe it takes all of us, working together, to provide the tools for our children to become who they are meant to be, with every opportunity to pursue their dreams.” Goldblatt, a professor of English and writing at Temple, was one of the founding board members at Tree House Books and has worked extensively with the organizations for the last 12 years. 

Rules changed for Philly school volunteers
They will no longer be "mandatory reporters" of suspected child abuse.
The notebook by Greg Windle November 1, 2017 — 3:31pm
School volunteers are no longer legally liable for failing to report signs of child abuse to authorities, they learned in an email from the District on Monday. Officially, volunteers are now considered “permissive reporters,” people who are encouraged to report but who can’t be charged criminally for failing to report signs of child abuse or neglect. Their former role was as “mandatory reporters,” like teachers, who potentially face criminal charges if they fail to report signs of child abuse or neglect. “Volunteers are not classified as mandated reporters by the state, and after receiving strong feedback from families, staff members, and community members about the potential negative and legal implications of making volunteers mandated reporters, the District decided to make volunteers permissive reporters instead,” said District spokesman Lee Whack in a statement. “The District is still providing volunteers with an overview of child abuse recognition and reporting procedures, along with their role as permissive reporters, through the mandatory Volunteer Orientation.”

Berwick High School named Blue Ribbon school
Berwick Area High School is one of four public high schools in the state to be recognized as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. It’s the first time a school in the Berwick Area School District won a National Blue Ribbon, often considered the most prestigious recognition given to schools in the U.S. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Sept. 28 recognized 342 schools — 18 in Pennsylvania — as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The district says on its website that the “National Blue Ribbon is the culmination of five years of progress in moving the entire student body forward through increased rigor, remediation for struggling students and an emphasis on bolstering the Advanced Placement and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum.”

Betsy DeVos’ Unexcused Absences
The education secretary’s publicly released schedule contains just a fraction of her daily events and meetings.
US News By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter |Oct. 31, 2017, at 5:37 p.m.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the public schedule of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that's posted to her department's website had not been updated for more than a week, showing events on dates that ranged from Monday, Oct. 16 through Friday, Oct. 20. The schedule reads for each day that week, "There are no public events scheduled at this time." If civically engaged citizens wanted to keep tabs on what the secretary was doing on a day-to-day basis – and since DeVos' confirmation, many are watching closely – there would have been no way for them to know, for example, that she was scheduled to give remarks at the 2017 National Future Farmers of America Convention in Indianapolis on Oct. 27 at 8 a.m.. There was also no notice that week of a roundtable that DeVos convened on Oct. 25, at which parents, advocates from the disability community and at least one member of Congress discussed how the Education Department could best serve students with disabilities.

Save the Date: Pitt Johnstown to host Funding Lawsuit Panel at Murtha Center on campus November 15th at 7:00 pm

November School Leader Advocacy Training
PASA, PASBO, PSBA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, the PARSS and PAIU are offering five, full-day School Leader Advocacy Training sessions at the following locations:
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!

Cyber Charter School Application; Public Hearing November 20
Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, October 14, 2017 NOTICES - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
The Department of Education (Department) has scheduled one date for a public hearing regarding a cyber charter school application that was received on or before October 2, 2017. The hearing will be held on November 20, 2017, in Heritage Room A on the lobby level of 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126 at 9 a.m. The hearing pertains to the applicant seeking to operate a cyber charter school beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The purpose of the hearing is to gather information from the applicant about the proposed cyber charter school as well as receive comments from interested individuals regarding the application. The name of the applicant, copies of the application and a listing of the date and time scheduled for the hearing on the application can be viewed on the Department's web site at Individuals who wish to provide comments on the application during the hearing must provide a copy of their written comments to the Department and the applicant on or before November 6, 2017. Comments provided by this deadline and presented at the hearing will become part of the certified record. For questions regarding this hearing, contact the Division of Charter Schools, (717) 787-9744,

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education Cyber Charter School Application for Commonwealth Education Connections Cyber Charter School 2017
Charter School Application Submitted: September 27, 2017

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 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.

Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 10 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

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

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