Thursday, January 11, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 11: Pa. charter schools struggling; more oversight needed, report says

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, charter school leaders, 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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition

Senate Bill 2 specifically allows private & religious schools that accept ESA voucher dollars to discriminate against children on the basis of gender, religion, and disability status. Students with disabilities, if they are permitted to enroll in a private school, must give up their rights under Federal law to an appropriate education.

“Coverage beyond February is most at risk for approximately 1.7 million children in 21 of the 24 states with separate CHIP programs. These states, in order of size of enrollment, are: NY, PA, FL, GA, CA, VA, AL, CO, WA, NV, MO, KY, MT, UT, ID, CT, AZ, LA, SD, MN, and DC.”
When Will States Run Out of Federal CHIP Funds? (January 2018 Update)
Georgetown University Health Policy Institute January 10, 2018 Tricia BrooksJoan Alker
A new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families estimates that if Congress does not approve funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in January, an estimated 24 states (including D.C.) could face CHIP funding shortfalls. Coverage beyond February is most at risk for approximately 1.7 million children in 21 of the 24 states with separate CHIP programs. These states, in order of size of enrollment, are: NY, PA, FL, GA, CA, VA, AL, CO, WA, NV, MO, KY, MT, UT, ID, CT, AZ, LA, SD, MN, and DC. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired on September 30, 2017. States were able to continue to operate their programs in the short term with leftover CHIP allotment funds from fiscal year 2017. If these funds ran out, they were supplemented by a proportional share of unused funds from prior fiscal years reserved in a “redistribution” pool. Just before the December recess, Congress approved $2.85 billion in CHIP funding in a so-called “patch” as part of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on January 19. The CR also changed the way that redistribution funds are awarded to states, no longer guaranteeing a specific share of these emergency shortfall funds to any state.

“The report also examined how charters and districts fare under the state’s school-performance tool. The “School Performance Profile” uses test scores, graduation, and promotion rates and attendance to grade schools. Schools that score 70 or above are considered “good” schools. Statewide, 21 percent of Pennsylvania’s charters scored 70 or above, while 54 percent of traditional district schools hit that mark. (The state’s cyber charters performed especially poorly, with none scoring 70 or above.) And while charter performance is uneven, charter costs keep rising – in 2016, the state’s public districts spent $1.5 billion to run charters. “
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: JANUARY 10, 2018 — 11:29 PM EST
Many Pennsylvania charter schools are lackluster, and the law that governs them is among the nation’s worst. So says a report to be released Thursday by Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the Philadelphia-based child-advocacy organization. The analysis concluded that despite often being seen by parents as having stronger schools than traditional public schools, the charter sector typically underperforms when compared with such schools. The Inquirer and Daily News reviewed “Expanding High Quality Charter School Options: Strong Charter School Legislation Matters,” the report scheduled to be discussed Thursday by a panel of local and national charter experts in the city. “Charter school students are not outperforming their traditional school peers; results are mixed at best and extremely subpar at worst,” the report concludes. “Passing stronger legislation to link growth and charter renewal to student performance will encourage schools to strive for better student outcomes.”

Give every child a good start for learning
Bucks County Courier Times Opinion By Shawanna James-Coles Posted Jan 9, 2018 at 6:00 AM
When I welcome kindergartners on the first day of school, I don’t see them only as little ones eager to learn. I also picture them 13 years later, attired in cap and gown, proudly accepting their hard-earned and well-deserved high school diplomas. However, I worry that the road ahead is rocky for some of our most vulnerable children. Through no fault of their own, they have not been exposed to the tools they need to learn, and that’s why I’m speaking up for high-quality prekindergarten that prepares all children for academics even before they enter school. For two decades, Pennsylvania leaders in government, business, law enforcement and the military have supported public investments in high-quality pre-K. Now, elementary school principals have joined the chorus. In a 2017 survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Principals Association in conjunction with the Pre-K for PA Campaign, nearly 99 percent of us agreed that publicly funded, high-quality pre-K is an important tool in preparing at-risk children for kindergarten. This nearly unanimous show of support is remarkable but hardly surprising. As a principal, I see the difference that early learning makes. Children who have had an opportunity to attend high-quality pre-K come ready for school. They already know the basics of reading, mathematics, getting along with others, building friendships and sharing. Unfortunately, some children who do not attend high-quality pre-K programs do not have the readiness skills 

Senate Bill 2 would siphon more tax money from public schools
Chambersburg Public Opinion Published 11:44 a.m. ET Jan. 9, 2018
Who wants to pay higher school property taxes in order to fund students’ private school tuition? It’s time to get on the phone and tell Senator Richard Alloway to oppose Senate Bill 2, legislation that would bring a new generation of school vouchers known as education savings accounts (ESAs)  to Pennsylvania. Just before the holidays, Sen. Alloway was appointed to the Senate Education Committee. He replaced a lawmaker whose opposition to Senate Bill 2 kept it from passing out of the committee. Corporate lobbyists and anti-public education lawmakers in Harrisburg appear to be hoping that Alloway will provide the single vote needed to pass Senate Bill 2 out of committee. Senate Bill 2 would create a new and costly program that would remove state funding from public schools and put these taxpayer dollars into separate accounts (education savings accounts or ESAs) for families to spend on private school tuition.

“The day before the judges’ ruling in Philadelphia, a panel of federal judges in North Carolina ruled that state’s congressional map unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to redraw it this month. The judges said Republicans had drawn it to their advantage. It was the first time federal judges had ruled that a congressional map was unconstitutional because of gerrymandering. U.S. Supreme Court justices have said they will render a decision in gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and Wisconsin in the coming months. Also in Pennsylvania, a group of 18 Democratic voters filed a state gerrymandering lawsuit against state officials in June. That case is the one to watch, said Michael Li, a gerrymandering expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.”
Federal judges rule in favor of Pennsylvania Republicans in gerrymandering case
Inquirer by Michaelle Bond, Staff Writer  @MichaelleBond | Updated: JANUARY 10, 2018 — 4:45 PM EST
A panel of federal judges Wednesday effectively upheld Pennsylvania’s often-criticized congressional district map, declining to take up a novel challenge that sought to have it declared unconstitutional as gerrymandered to favor the party in power. In a 2-1 decision Wednesday, the judges said that specific challenge was not for them to decide. Plaintiffs in Agre v. Wolf, led by a Democratic ward leader from Philadelphia, had hoped to use the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution to argue that any amount of partisanship in drawing the state’s congressional maps was illegal. The congressional boundaries in question were drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 after the 2010 census. “Although there may be a case in which a political gerrymandering claim may successfully be brought under the Elections Clause, this is not such a case,” wrote Judge Patty Shwartz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Pa. Senate leader Scarnati applauds ruling in federal redistricting case
Penn Live By Charles Thompson Posted Jan 10, 7:43 PM
Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati on Wednesday praised a federal three-judge panel's ruling upholding Pennsylvania's current map of Congressional districts. Scarnati, a Republican from Jefferson County, also said the latest decision only "serves to further strengthen my view that the plaintiffs (in this and other remaining cases) should abandon their costly legal actions and allow the legislature's examination of reforms to move forward." Scarnati's comments came on the heels of a Senate GOP leadership release earlier this week that noted taxpayer-funded legal costs from a still-pending redistricting case pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have crossed the $1 million mark. Proponents of redistricting reform have said they don't place a lot of trust in pledges to take up reforms now, noting no hearings have been held on any of the bills in this or prior legislative sessions.

Redistricting reform proponents make last ditch arguments ahead of Pa. Supreme Court proceedings
By Emily Previti, WITF January 10, 2018
Next week, the state Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit claiming Pennsylvania’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Top state Democrats chimed in Wednesday in an attempt to sway the court in favor of the plaintiffs. In a press conference held in the capitol, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack offered an alternative map he referred to as the “Stack map.” It wasn’t drawn by Stack, though. Instead, it’s the first in a series of 1,000 prototypes generated by Jowei Chen, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota who testified earlier in the case, during proceedings in Commonwealth Court nearly a month ago. “There were a number of possible maps that could meet legitimate districting goals: creating compact districts and respecting political subdivisions. One in particular really highlighted what a better map could look like,” Stack said. Stack believes this version is fairer than the current one because it divides fewer communities.

If you're interested in serving on the new Philly Board of Education, the application form is now open. You can learn more, apply, or nominate someone here:
City of Philadelphia Board of Education job description
January 10, 2018  Jim Kenney  Mayor’s Office of EducationOffice of the Mayor 
Job Description:  The Board of Education will govern over all public schools, district managed, and charter schools in Philadelphia. As part of the Board of Education, each member will be expected to work collectively to oversee all major policy, budgetary, and financial decisions for the School District. The Board of Education will appoint and evaluate the Superintendent of Schools, adopt the annual operating and capital budgets, authorize the receiving or expending of funds, and authorize charter schools. In addition, Board of Education members will be expected to attend regular monthly public meetings, biannual meetings with members of City Council and the Mayor, hearings, committee meetings, and regular visits to public schools. This is an unpaid position which demands many hours of dedicated service each month, both at in person meetings and in preparation for meetings.

Upper Darby will not raise property taxes over state limit
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter
POSTED: 01/10/18, 8:57 PM EST | UPDATED: 34 SECS AGO
UPPER DARBY >> With no budget to be seen, the Upper Darby School Board committed to not raise taxes higher than the state-issued maximum rate. The board unanimously approved at its Jan. 9 meeting a resolution that enters an accelerated budget process. It holds the district to not raising its property taxes higher than the Act 1 index level of 3.4 percent for the 2018-19 school year. This “opt-out” option allows the district to forego the preliminary budget process with certainty that it will not have to raise taxes higher than 3.4 percent. The board has taken this accelerated option for the past two years. Board members did not comment on the resolution before voting, but Superintendent Dan Nerelli commented on the continued financial woes of the district and its state funding. “As an administration, we know that this community cannot sustain or afford continued tax increases,” Nerelli said during his superintendent report. “Nonetheless, we will have to develop a plan to maintain as many of our current programs as possible as we strive to meet the needs of our students.”

Ridley votes to stay within state tax hike guidelines
Delco Times By Barbara Ormsby, Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/10/18, 8:56 PM EST 
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP >> The Ridley School Board approved a resolution at its January meeting stating that the district will not increase local property taxes in excess of the Act 1 Index set by the state Department of Education for the 2018-2019 school year. The index has been set at 3.1 percent. By taking this action, the district will not be eligible to apply for Act 1 exceptions, for which the district qualifies and would allow it to exceed the index. The Act 1 Index of 3.1 percent means the school board cannot raise taxes above that percentage without voter approval. The current budget was approved last June with no tax increase. A preliminary budget for 2018-2019 will be presented in May with final adoption in June.

Early York Suburban budget sees $2.4M budget gap
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez, 505-5439/@EducationYD Published 8:53 a.m. ET Jan. 10, 2018 | Updated 10:14 a.m. ET Jan. 10, 2018
·         The district is looking at $55 in revenue and $57.5 in expenditures.
·         The $2.4 million budget gap can be closed by increasing taxes and dipping into savings.
·         There are no plans, as of yet, to increase taxes above its state-assigned tax cap of 2.8 percent.
An early budget for the York Suburban School District indicates a budget gap of $2.4 million that, even with taxes raised to its state-assigned limit, will still leave the district with a $1.3 million shortfall. District Director of Finance Corinne Mason updated the school board at its Monday, Jan. 8, meeting about the preliminary $57.5 million budget. She said while the current figures could give an indication of what to expect, the budget consists of "moving numbers from now until the board actually adopts the budget in May." The budget anticipates revenues of about $55 million and expenditures of $57.5 million, leaving around a $2.4 million budget gap. Both figures are up from the $54.7 million in revenue and $55 million in expenditures budgeted for the 2017-18 school year.

Charter School Discussion in Philly Jan 11, 2018 8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
PCCY Email December 26, 2017
Serious flaws in Pennsylvania’s charter school law put the quality of charter schools on the back burner.  Join PCCY for a discussion of how other states’ laws are doing a better job and explore what makes sense in Pennsylvania. January 11, 2018 from 8:00 - 9:30 a.m., at the United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 19103
Featured speakers include:
·         Representative James Roebuck (D), PA General Assembly, Democratic Chairman - Education Committee
·         Representative Jordan Harris (D), PA General Assembly
·         Veronica Brooks-Uy, Policy Director, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
·         Sharif El-Mekki, Principal, Mastery Charter Schools
·         Jeff Sparagana, Ed.D, Former Superintendent Pottstown School District
·         Doug Carney, Former Springfield School Board Member (24 years), SVP Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
·         Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth
·         Tomea Sippio-Smith, Education Policy Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)

Register now for PSBA Board Presidents Panel 
PSBA Website January 2018

School board leaders, this one's for you! Join your colleagues at an evening of networking and learning in 10 convenient locations around the state at the end of January. Share your experience and leadership through a panel discussion moderated by PSBA Member Services team. Participate in roundtable conversations focused on the most pressing challenges and current issues affecting PA school districts. Bring your specific challenges and scenarios for small group discussion. Register online.

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 remaining locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         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.

NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4 - 6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Register Now
Come a day early and attend the Equity Symposium!
Join hundreds of public education advocates on Capitol Hill and help shape the decisions made in Washington D.C. that directly impact our students. At the 2018 Advocacy Institute, you’ll gain insight into the most critical issues affecting public education, sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Whether you are an expert advocator or a novice, attend and experience inspirational keynote speakers and education sessions featuring policymakers, legal experts and policy influencers. All designed to help you advocate for your students and communities.

Local School Board Members to Advocate on Capitol Hill in 2018     
NSBA's Advocacy Institute 2018 entitled, "Elected. Engaged. Empowered: Representing the Voice in Public Education," will be held on February 4-6, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. This conference will convene Members of Congress, national thought-leaders, state association executives and well-known political pundits to provide local school board members with an update on key policy and legal issues impacting public education, and tactics and strategies to enhance their ability to influence the policy-making process and national education debate during their year-round advocacy efforts.
·         Confirmed National Speaker: Cokie Roberts, Political Commentator for NPR and ABC News
·         NSBA will convene first ever National School Board Town Hall on School Choice
·         Includes General Sessions featuring national policy experts, Members of Congress, "DC Insiders" and local school board members
·         Offers conference attendees "Beginner" and "Advanced" Advocacy breakout sessions
·         NSBA will host a Hill Day Wrap-Up Reception
Click here to register for the Advocacy Institute.  The hotel block will close on Monday, January 15
Registration is now open for the 2018 PASA Education Congress! State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018
Don't miss this marquee event for Pennsylvania school leaders at the Nittany Lion Inn, State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018.
Learn more by visiting 

SAVE THE DATE for the 2018 PA Educational Leadership Summit - July 29-31 - State College, PA sponsored by the PA Principals Association, PASA, PAMLE and PASCD.  
This year's Summit will be held from July 29-31, 2018 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA.

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.