Wednesday, January 3, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 3: Rural Pa. public schools look to break cycle of struggle, welfare, and addiction in the Northwest

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.

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Keystone State Education Coalition

Help A Kid Find Their Smile!
Have you ever had a toothache?  1 in 7 young children get toothaches, and too many of them go without any dental care.  These kids are in pain, can have trouble eating and paying attention in school – in fact children with poor oral health are nearly 3 times more likely to miss school due to dental pain. But you can change things for children in the Philadelphia area. You can help relieve a child’s pain, give the gift of a dental appointment and a boost to their health and confidence by donating to Public Citizens for Children and Youth’s “Give Kids a Smile” event. Our goal is to raise $25,000 by January 5th in order to make 1,000 kids in the greater Philadelphia area free dental appointments.  

Equitable School Funding—A Must For Pennsylvania’s Economic Competitiveness
Looming workforce skills gap demand adequate funding for all schools
Council for a Strong America ReadyNation Report October 2017

“The headlines in coverage of Pennsylvania public schools tend to revolve around action in Harrisburg or issues in the state’s largest urban districts. In much of the state, though, many small and rural districts like Titusville face challenges similar to their urban counterparts, just on a different scale. There, too, educators stress over student poverty, school funding and how to better prepare students for a 21st century economy.”
Rural Pa. public schools look to break cycle of struggle, welfare, and addiction in the Northwest
WHYY/Keystone Crossroads By Kevin McCorry January 3, 2018
Listen to part 1 of 4 in this series about schools in rural Pennsylvania
They contorted their faces in a howl. With eyes bulging, mouths twisted, veins popping, the Titusville High School senior class, cheerleaders screeching out orders, filled the gymnasium with frenzied intensity as they bellowed out the name of their school mascot, letter by letter — rattling the grandstands and reaching for their maximum decibel. “What’s that spell?” a girl screamed. “Rockets!” the seniors answered. “Rockets! Rockets!” Homecoming week had come to Titusville, Pennsylvania, and students across the small rural Northwestern Pennsylvania town were going bonkers, a mob scene of Rocket yellow and brown. Seniors strutted the halls wearing war paint and letterman jackets. Multiple marching band parades were led through the streets. And injured middle linebacker Luciano DeRose gave a rousing speech of heartfelt violence before the Friday night football game. “Make them think you are not human,” barked DeRose, a senior, in the pre-game huddle. “Because I promise you, if you keep hitting them, if you have that look in your eyes, they’re gonna break. And this is going to be a good night.”

Public Interest Law Center Website January 2018 
On December 29, Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson issued his Recommended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in Pennsylvania’s redistricting lawsuit, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, et al., v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al.
In his opinion, Judge Brobson concluded that the petitioners, 18 voters representing each of Pennsylvania’s U.S. House districts, and their legal team, established that the 2011 map intentionally discriminates, “so as to grant Republican candidates an advantage in certain districts within the Commonwealth.” In other words, Judge Brobson found, “the 2011 Plan was drawn to give Republican candidates an advantage.”  He also found that all four of the petitioners’ expert witnesses are credible, while rejecting the analyses and opinions of the legislative respondents’ only two witnesses. In sum, Judge Brobson concluded, “A lot can and has been said about the 2011 Plan, much of which is unflattering and yet justified.” While he determined that petitioners did not present a manageable standard for deciding if the map had been excessively gerrymandered, he found that “partisan considerations are evident in the enacted 2011 plan such that the 2011 plan overall favors the Republican party in certain congressional districts.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered expedited briefing and will hear oral argument in the case on January 17.

5 things in Pa. politics to watch in 2018 | John Baer
Philly Daily News by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST Updated: JANUARY 2, 2018 — 4:22 PM EST
Believe it or not, the normal state of Pennsylvania politics – a swamp of sameness and despair – could see systemic change in 2018. I know, I know, wishful thinking. Still. Signs are there. Stuff could happen. I surveyed a half-dozen insiders for five things that bear watching. Thing one: that gerrymandering case. Last week, one (Republican) Commonwealth Court judge said our congressional districts, ranked among the nation’s most partisan, should stay as drawn. Ah, but the case is now before the (5-2) Democratic state Supreme Court; oral arguments Jan. 17. We all know judges don’t (cough) play politics. But imagine if the high court rules the other way and orders the legislature to redraw lines for future elections, maybe even this year’s. That could alter the face of our 18-member delegation to Washington: currently 13 Republicans, five Democrats, no women – which, if you think about it, sort of reflects the socio-cultural landscape of most of Pennsylvania.

“The shining star in last month's revenue report was the personal income tax. It generated $1.1 billion which was $70 million above estimate. About that, the IFO said it could be from taxpayers wanting to qualify for the uncapped state and local tax deduction before the federal tax reform law took effect that caps that deduction at $10,000.
December tax collections far and away better than what Pa. took in last December
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated 1:30 AM; Posted Jan 2, 6:45 PM
December overall proved to be not as strong a revenue month as was expected but far better than December a year ago. According to the state Department of Revenue, general fund tax collections to support the state's $32 billion budget came in at $2.8 billion which was $30.1 million less than was anticipated. That brings the general fund collections for the first half of the fiscal year to $14.2 billion - or $4.1 million below estimate. In November, the department reported that revenues were running $26.1 million above estimate. But still last month's collections represented an increase of $198.1 million or 7.6 percent, over what was collected in December 2016, according to the state's Independent Fiscal Office.

Blogger note: Senator Eichelberger currently serves as chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
“PoliticsPA reported that Republicans, state Sens. John Eichelberger of Blair County and Pat Stefano of Fayette County are considering a run for the seat, along with Art Halvorson who challenged him in 2014 and again in 2016, when he came within 1,300 votes of beating Shuster in the primary. Eichelberger confirmed to PennLive that he is thinking about running for the seat. He noted this is a re-election year for him in the state Senate so he is faced with a decision as to whether to run for Congress or seeking another term in the Senate. He said he has been encouraged by others to consider running and has spoken with  Senate colleagues as well as folks in D.C. about it. "I 'm considering it and expect to make up my mind in the next couple weeks," Eichelberger said. “
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster will not seek re-election in 2018
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated Jan 2, 4:31 PM; Posted Jan 2, 3:25 PM
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster is the latest in among Pennsylvania's Republican congressmen who plan to leave office this year. Shuster, 56, of Bedford County, announced on Tuesday he will not seek re-election to his Ninth Congressional District seat which covers all or parts of 12 counties from Franklin County in southcentral Pennsylvania to Fayette County in the western part of the state. "As I look forward to the future, I have had a lot to contemplate as to how to best serve my constituents and the American people over the next year. With much deliberation, consultation with my family, and prayer over the last several weeks, I have decided not to seek election for a 10th term," Shuster said in a statement.   Shuster was elected to Congress in 2001, to fill a vacancy created when his father, Bud Shuster, resigned shortly after winning election to a 15th two-year term. Shuster joins U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta and Charlie Dent, who previously announced their intention not to seek re-election.

Lehigh Valley's newest lawmaker sworn-in
Pennsylvania state Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, was sworn into office Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, replacing her late husband Dan.
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter January 2, 2018
The Lehigh Valley’s newest state lawmaker — and one with a familiar last name — was sworn into office Tuesday in the state Capitol. Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, took the oath from Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty in a House floor ceremony overseen by Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny. Jeanne McNeill, 57, of Whitehall, won a special election in December to fill the remaining term of her late husband Dan. He died on Sept. 8 while in his third term representing the 133rd District. “I know Dan is looking down on you and your family with great pride,” Turzai said. Jeanne McNeill beat Republican David Molony, 64, of Catasauqua and Libertarian Samantha X. Dorney, 35, of Salisbury Township. McNeill’s term expires Nov. 30. If McNeill hopes to keep the seat, she will have to run for a full two-year term, along with the rest of the House, in the May 15 primary election, and if she wins there the Nov. 6 general election

Here we're not outcasts: A three-part series on the Pa.'s Lakeside School and innovative approaches to trauma-informed education
The notebook by Paul Jablow, video by Melanie Bavaria January 3, 2018

EDITORIAL: As we enter new year, York City School District shows some promising signs
York Dispatch Editorial Published 7:23 a.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018
The York City School District has become an easy target over the years, especially for those who reside outside the city limits. If you’ve lived in York County for more than a few weeks, you’ve almost certainly heard the barbs. The kids are troublesome, the teachers are passionless and the administrators are clueless. Or so the stereotypes go. On more than a few occasions, in this space, we’ve taken the city district to task for its failures. We believe those criticisms were justified then, and remain justified now. For instance, the district’s overall financial oversight has often been lacking, and its poor handling of the Helen Thackson Charter School situation was especially troubling. That school is now scheduled to close after the 2018-19 school year. While the city school district is far from perfect and still faces some huge challenges, there are a few reasons for optimism as we enter a new year.

Guest Column: Pa. can do more to upgrade STEM education
Delco Daily Times By Jeff Remington, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 12/29/17, 8:42 PM EST
Jeff Remington is a science educator and National STEM Teacher Ambassador at Palmyra Middle School in Palmyra, Pa.
As a practicing Pennsylvania classroom science teacher for more than 30 years and a National STEM Teacher Ambassador, I appreciate the good work Gov. Tom Wolf has done for education and his advocacy to increase resources for education. His recent Op-Ed “Why it’s essential for Pennsylvania to invest in education” points out how far the state has come in regard to education. I agree we have come a long way, but there are two significant impediments that state lawmakers and leadership could be addressing in regard to the state of STEM education in Pennsylvania. Our science and technology standards were conceived in the 1990s and adopted in 2002. They were birthed in an age where VHS tapes were common and adopted five years before the first iPhone was rolled out! These standards do not emphasize engineering, they teach subject disciplines as unrelated silos and lack the innovation and 21st century content or practices that STEM jobs require.

2017 BEST EDUCATION ARTICLES for Black male educators
By Tremaine Johnson, Policy Advisor- The Fellowship

Settling for Scores
Why are schools still judged by the results of standardized tests?
The New Republic BY DIANE RAVITCH December 27, 2017
In 1979, the psychologist Donald Campbell proposed an axiom. “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making,” he wrote, “the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” He also wrote: “Achievement tests may well be valuable indicators of general school achievement under conditions of normal teaching aimed at general competence. But when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”

David Berliner Offers Advice to the Citizens of Philadelphia About Their Public Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch December 21, 2017 
David Berliner, Regents Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, and one of the natuon’s Most distinguished researchers of education, asked me to pass along his advice to the citizens of Philadelphia.
Dear Diane,
A few weeks ago, I was heartened by your column about the return of the public schools to the citizens of Philadelphia. Since then, I’ve been mulling over four things that I wish I could communicate to them. Perhaps you can do so if you think it appropriate. I don’t know the folks there. First, it will be difficult for teachers to show that they can turn Philadelphia’s schools into higher-achieving institutions. Teachers may help their students become stronger and more engaged learners, but they probably won’t be able to demonstrate student learning in the way that most people understand it, namely, through higher standardized achievement test scores.
The education research community clearly knows what politicians and the media don’t fully grasp: teachers simply don’t account for much of the variance in standardized tests scores. A reasonable estimate is that teachers account for about 10 percent of the variance in standardized achievement test scores. Research also suggests that outside-of-school factors account for 6 times more of that variance! We even have a Philadelphia based study corroborating these estimates.

Trump, Congress, and Education in 2018: Eight Big Questions
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on January 1, 2018 2:45 PM
There's plenty of suspense heading into President Donald Trump's second year in office when it comes to education, and some big issues on the horizon for the GOP-controlled Congress as well. What will be the fate of the U.S. Department of Education's budget? Will U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos get to applaud any new school choice initiative? And will Congress prevent hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers" from being deported? Here's a rundown of what to watch for in Washington over the next 12 months when it comes to K-12:

Testing Resistance & Reform News: December 20 - 26, 2017
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on December 26, 2017 - 12:40pm 
We hope you've enjoyed receiving Testing Resistance & Reform News and consider it a valuable tool for staying informed about the national movement against testing overkill. Please help FairTest support assessment reform campaigns with tools like this by clicking here now:
Happy New Year from all of us at FairTest!

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 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. 6, Haverford Middle School (This session is full)
·         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.

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