Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch November 12, 2017 //
For the fifth year in a row, not one cybercharter in Pennsylvania achieved a passing school performance score of 70. When will these scams be held accountable for their poor performance? When will the State close down these failing schools? These “schools” drain hundreds of millions of dollars away from real schools and get poor results, year after year. Two different cybercharter operators were indicted for stealing millions from state taxpayers. One was convicted, the other was tried but the trial ended in a hung jury.
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa November 10, 2017
Proposed changes to the federal tax code unveiled by Republican lawmakers at the start of this month would affect teachers' tax burden, private and charter schools, and significant amounts of funding for public schools. Two different versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act were introduced in the House and Senate this week. The bills don't represent a direct increase or decrease for federal spending on schools. However, it could affect both K-12 funding systems and educators' pocketbooks in several ways. If the bill passes Congress and is signed into law by President Donald Trump, it would be the biggest shift to the federal tax system since 1986. Republicans are aiming to pass the legislation by the end of the year, and the House Ways and Means Committee passed its version of the legislation this week. But the proposals face a long and potentially difficult road ahead in Congress.
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch November 12, 2017 //
The latest GOP Tax Plan Offers a generous break for wealthy families that send their children to private schools, worth up to $30,000 a year in tuition. What happened to the middle class? Forgot about them. This tax break will cost taxpayers up to $600 Million. “That number is the potential net new tax savings, under the House tax plan, for parents who deposit a large amount of money when their kids are born. They would get that benefit by using the money for children starting private school in kindergarten and attending through high school. “Buried in Section 1202 of the tax bill are a number of proposals to consolidate and simplify various tax breaks for education savings. Part of the section in effect would neuter something called a Coverdell account, which families have used for years to save for both private school and college…. “But then comes the big change: Elementary and high school expenses of up to $10,000 per year would become “qualified” expenses for 529 plans. Translation? You could pull $10,000 each year out of your 529 account for private school and avoid paying taxes on any previous growth. There are no income limits on who can use 529 plan
A final report card for schools: ‘Performance’ scores to be replaced in 2018
Johnstown Tribune Democrat By David Hurst firstname.lastname@example.org November 12, 2017
Pennsylvania’s School Performance Profile scores probably should have included an asterisk since the first results were compiled nearly five years ago. This year, they include an obituary. The Department of Education has, for the final time, released the statewide profile scores, which originally were unveiled as a standardized test-based report card to see how schools across the state measure up. After a five-year span that saw the state introduce – and then back away from – passing grade-style results, and saw overall scores climb and fall due to major changes to the standardized tests themselves, Pennsylvania is scrapping the School Performance Profile for a more “holistic” measuring stick that many poor and rural schools have been seeking. For now, Pennsylvanians are able to compare schools one last time through this month’s School Performance Profile scores, which use a 100-point scale that relies heavily on standardized test results, including Pennsylvania’s Keystone Exam, and year-to-year academic growth.
Our view: Erie schools move forward from crisis
GoErie By the Editorial Board Posted at 2:01 AM November 11, 2017
For the better part of a decade, Erie School District leaders have spent endless time and energy fixating on money, specifically how to keep the system running without enough cash coming in to pay its bills and adequately meet its obligations to students. Now that it will receive an annual infusion of additional state cash as a result of the recently completed budget process in Harrisburg, schools Superintendent Brian Polito and the Erie School Board must turn to putting that money to the best possible use. They’ll do that with the state looking over their shoulders. A condition of the $14 million in additional funding is oversight by a state-appointed financial administrator who will develop a financial improvement plan for the district. The administrator will develop that plan, without required input from the School Board, to submit to the state secretary of education for approval. The administrator will not oversee educational policy. That fiscal oversight is a reasonable trade-off for the extraordinary relief coming from Harrisburg. We hope the administrator, while holding the district financially accountable, will be respectful of the work done to date and open to input from and collaboration with Polito and the School Board.
“Thanks to the monumental efforts of Sen. Dan Laughlin, Gov. Tom Wolf and Reps. Pat Harkins, Flo Fabrizio, Ryan Bizzarro and Curt Sonney, on Oct. 25 our state Legislature passed House Bill 674, which provides for an annual increase of $14 million in education funding to Erie’s public schools. While this increase will not be the silver bullet for all of the district’s challenges, it does provide a level of stability and fiscal security that we haven’t seen in nearly 10 years. “
Schools crisis response shows Erie’s resolve: Brian Polito
GoErie Opinion by Brain Polito November 11, 2017
Brian Polito is superintendent of the Erie School District.
We all know Erie is a great place to live. It boasts beautiful sunsets, a low cost of living and is a stable place to raise a family. But the real thing Erie has going for it — the thing I think we sometimes underestimate — is our sense of community. When there is a need, big or small, people in this community step up to help. Charles Buki described this trait in the transmittal letter accompanying Erie’s comprehensive plan last year where he wrote that “in the community itself, we found a willingness to do what’s required, if asked, and if mobilized.” His letter and subsequent remarks at the Metro 100 conference were a call to action. Since then, there has been a lot of debate about whether or not Erie can heed that call, and whether we have what it takes to turn the region around. Based on the overwhelming support the Erie School District has received since we began our quest for fair funding in 2015, the answer to these questions seem obvious. Put simply, I have no doubt that Erie is moving in the right direction and that, together, we can make Erie a competitive, thriving, future-focused community.
“It amazes me, the difference between public school in other parts of the state compared to public school in Philadelphia,” said Sambra Townsend, a member of Parents United. “We as the people of Philadelphia need to hold whatever body comes out of this accountable, whatever that board looks like … and there needs to be a parent voice on that board.” And that point — that board members need to be community members with a personal stake in the outcome — was echoed by practically everyone who spoke.”
Philly Residents want elected school board members with skin in the game
Councilwoman Bass is holding town halls on replacing the SRC.
The notebook by Greg Windle November 12, 2017 — 5:43pm
Parents and activists at a town hall last week — held by councilwoman Cindy Bass at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia — offered opinions about the kind of school board they want to replace the School Reform Commission, which has run the city’s school system since 2001. First and foremost, they want board members with skin in the game, especially people who have children in public schools. Bass answered some questions, but mostly collected concerns to relay to Mayor Jim Kenney. The town hall was the first of five Bass is holding in her district, largely consisting of Northwest Philadelphia. The most prominent topic Wednesday was an elected school, which most participants favored, versus an appointed school board — the next step in the process after the SRC is gone.
Will the new school board reflect the kids who go to Philly schools? | Opinion
Inquirer Letter Updated: NOVEMBER 10, 2017 — 3:01 AM EST by
Tomanel Williams, mother and grandmother, Mastery Cleveland Elementary
Laura English, parent, Mastery Prep Middle School and Mastery Clymer Elementary
Dahn Dennis, parent, Mastery Hardy Williams Academy
Leslie White, parent, Mastery Clymer Elementary
Vanika Henderson, parent, Gratz High School
Millicent Williams, parent, Mastery Cleveland Elementary
Dear Mayor Kenney,
We’re not sure you saw us. We were sitting up in the balcony of the City Council Chambers when you laid out your vision for education in Philadelphia. Hopefully, you heard us. We were the ones applauding when you said your goal was “ensuring that every child has access to quality schools no matter where they live or no matter what they look like.” We share your vision. We believe every child matters. Our children matter. We are mothers and fathers and grandmothers. We live in North Philadelphia and Southwest Philadelphia. Our kids go to their local neighborhood schools – Cleveland, Clymer, and Gratz Prep. Just a few years back, these schools were all considered some of the worst schools in the city. They were the “chronically failing” schools and, in some cases, the “persistently dangerous” ones. Not anymore. In fact, they are now some of the best neighborhood schools in the city. This change happened when Mastery Charter Schools started to run and manage them. They are still our neighborhood schools, but now they are excellent, safe schools, with amazing teachers and classrooms filled with love.
“Joseph Neubauer, whose family foundation underwrites the fellowship, is a former top executive at Aramark. He explained that coming back from an overseas trip and catching up on the news a few years ago, he was appalled to learn that two of the city’s flagship public schools were losing their librarians to budget cuts. In trying to do something about that, he visited schools and began to realize how crucial leadership is to making them work.”
Academy is training Philly principals to be stronger leaders
The Neubauer Fellowship in Educational Leadership has trained 62 city principals from District, charter, and faith-based schools.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa November 10, 2017 — 2:52pm
We have all heard about a dynamic principal who singlehandedly transforms a school from chaos to order, from malaise to excitement, from mediocre performance to stunning academic gains. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan knows those stories, too. But personal dynamism is not enough, he says — great leadership is necessary at scale. “Leadership matters,” said Duncan, who spoke Thursday night at an event sponsored by the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders. “If you are going to make Philadelphia the fastest-improving city, it won’t happen with just one great principal. I want to hear stories of 100 great principals.” That is the idea behind the Academy of School Leaders, whose Neubauer Fellowship in Educational Leadership has so far trained 62 Philadelphia principals from District, charter, and faith-based schools. During the fellowship, the principals spend two years learning the best leadership techniques, while also creating a professional support network.
Cloaking Inequity Blog Posted on November 10, 2017 by Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig
Did you know that Muhammed Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi (pictured), an Imam that was kicked out of Turkey and is sequestered in rural Pennsylvania, is operating the second largest network of charter schools in the United States? (Yes, this is the same Gülen that Michael Flynn allegedly was trying to have extradited from the United States) In the past I have blogged about the Gülen-affiliated charter schools in the posts Bad Charters, Bad Charters, “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you” and Gulen-affiliated charter schools are bad apples? and Empire of Deceit says charters squandering taxes and violating immigration laws. When I watched the film Killing Ed, I was skeptical, as I am paid to be. So when I was in Houston to give a talk at Rice University, I ran into a former Gülen Harmony student and asked a few questions.
Q: Was it true that the Gülen schools were populated with many teachers from Turkey who had difficulty speaking English
Q: Was it true that some students didn’t actually do their own science projects as alleged in the film Killing Ed.
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The notebook October 2, 2017 — 10:57am
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