Friday, January 5, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 5: David Berliner’s open letter to the people of Philly about their schools

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

The Brennan Center found that Pennsylvania is one of three states with the most-distorted congressional redistricting maps. In each of the elections (2012, 2014 and 2016) since Pennsylvania’s current redistricting map was adopted, Democrats received about half the votes for Congress but obtained only five of the 18 seats allocated to the Commonwealth.”
A new approach to redistricting in Pennsylvania and beyond | Opinion
Inquirer by Steve Kimbrough, Peter Miller & Fred Murphy, For Updated: JANUARY 4, 2018 — 3:01 AM EST
Steve Kimbrough is a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a computational decision scientist. His recent book (with HC Lau),Business Analytics for Decision Making, explores solution pluralism for applied decision making.
Peter Miller received his Ph.D. in political science at the University of California at Irvine. He specializes in redistricting. After a post-doctoral position at Penn, he has competed a Fulbright Fellowship and is now a researcher at UC
Fred Murphy has been involved in public policy development and analysis for over 40 years. He is an Emeritus Professor at Temple University, and has long had an interest in redistricting.
Redistricting is the political buzzword for 2018. A groundswell of recent actions — lawsuits in Pennsylvania and in other statespending Supreme Court cases, bills introduced in state legislatures and Congress — could transform American politics by changing how legislative redistricting is done. Redistricting greatly influences who wins elections, which party is in the majority, and which bills become laws. We have ideas for doing it better. In most states, the legislature controls the redistricting process, which allows the party in power to redraw legislative and congressional maps in ways that sweeten election prospects for their “team” while punishing the opposition party and independent members of their own party. This is called gerrymandering and it isn’t new to American politics. Gerrymandering reached its peak in the wake of the 2010 elections. Typically, in most states, redistricting is done by the legislature, passed as a bill and signed by the governor. There are, however, many variations. In Pennsylvania, this is the process for congressional redistricting. Legislative redistricting, for the Commonwealth House and Senate, is done by a five-person political commission. So, partisanship easily arises.

Public Interest Law Center Website January 2018
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear oral argument in our redistricting lawsuit on Wednesday, January 17 at 9:30 a.m. in Harrisburg. The argument will take place in the Supreme Court Room on the 4th Floor, East Side, of the Main Capitol Building located at 501 N 3rd Street. We need your help to fill the courtroom and stand with our petitioners to show the Court that this is an important case that has support from all Pennsylvanians.
RSVP here.

“Some of the letter is technical, but the details are important to understand this observation of his: …[T]he good citizens of Philadelphia will probably not find whatever important things teachers might be accomplishing in their classrooms reflected in the standardized test scores routinely used in Pennsylvania. Instead, they should now think about other credible ways to judge teacher effectiveness.”
An open letter to the people of Philadelphia about their schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss January 4 at 4:50 PM 
Come  July 1, Philadelphia will regain control of its public school system for the first time since it was taken over by the state in 2001. The district has been controlled by the state-appointed School Reform Commission, which was nothing if not controversial. It implemented unpopular “reform” plans that included closing schools, opening and supporting charter schools with little or no accountability, evaluating teachers by student standardized test scores, and a “doomsday” budget that zeroed out funding for things such as paper, counselors, and art and music programs. The reform commission recently voted to dissolve — at the request of Mayor James Kenney (D) and to the delight of parents and activists who been working toward a return to local control for years. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera agreed to the plan late in December, and local control will return this summer. Now Kenney is forming a nine-member appointed school board, a structure that city voters had previously approved. As Philadelphia residents prepare to take back their school district, they may want to consider some advice from one of the country’s most distinguished education researchers. Below is a letter from David Berliner, Regents’ Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, with some thoughts about what they probably will be able to accomplish and what they can’t do — lessons that transcend the specifics of Philadelphia. It was written to education scholar and public school advocate Diane Ravitch and posted on her blog. (She and Berliner gave me permission to publish it.)

“The candidates supported school choice, blaming teachers' unions for resisting reform. They called for fewer mandates and more training to prepare students for jobs. They said they each support the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides insurance for kids in families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but may still struggle to pay for health insurance.”
4 Republican candidates for governor air their views
Trib Live by WES VENTEICHER  | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, 10:45 p.m.
Little distance emerged between the four Republican candidates for governor on issues ranging from gun control and abortion to education and pension reform Thursday night during a question-and-answer forum in Hollidaysburg. Candidates shared stories of owning their first guns, greeting their newborn children and selecting schools for them at the forum held in advance of the May 15 primary election. The candidates railed against incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf's leadership and called for cutting spending to balance the state's budget, lambasting Wolf and other elected officials for relying on liquor, gambling, smoking and borrowing to fund state spending. Participants were Laura Ellsworth, a Pittsburgh-based attorney with the law firm Jones Day; retired Pittsburgh health care consultant Paul Mango; state House speaker Mike Turzai, R-Marshall; and state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York.

With high profile Congressional retirements, Pa. loses clout on Capitol Hill, but Republicans might lose seats | Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek Updated Jan 4, 1:17 PM
It probably wasn't the news that Pennsylvania Republicans wanted to hear. When veteran U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, announced this week that he wasn't going to seek re-election, it made his the fourth head in a high-profile quartet of retirements that will seriously dilute Pennsylvania's clout and influence on Capitol Hill. Shuster, of Bedford County, joined U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, R-15th District; Lou Barletta, R-11th District; and Tim Murphy R-18th District, the former of whom have announced they will not seek re-election. Murphy abruptly resigned last fall amid allegations of sexual impropriety. And while it's hard to precisely quantify what those retirements might mean for the state in lost federal revenue or the passage of beneficial legislation, it's clear that "seniority matters in Congress," one veteran observer said.

W. Pa. Special Congressional Election: Can Democrats win in Trump country? | Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek Updated Jan 4, 8:18 A.M.
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Reminding us that it's never too early to plan ahead, along come veteran Pa. political prognosticators G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young, who remind us that a special election in western Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District is only weeks away. Voters in the sprawling district formerly held by GOP U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy head to the polls on March 13 to pick someone to fill out the balance of Murphy's term. And in a new op-Ed, Madonna and Young take a look at some of the ground-level factors that will influence the race. Murphy, more astute readers will recall, was forced to resign last fallafter it was revealed that he'd pressured a former mistress to have an abortion, even as he led the crusade on Capitol Hill for some of the most restrictive anti-choice legislation to come down the pike in years. 

Rep. Will Tallman will not seek re-election, saying 'it's time to turn over the torch'
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated Jan 4, 4:09 PM
A seat in the state House of Representatives representing a portion of Cumberland and Adams county is opening up with Rep. Will Tallman's announcement that he is not seeking re-election this year. Tallman, 70, said he began considering whether to seek a sixth term in the spring and a few days ago, finally made his decision. "I just think it's time for me to hand over the torch to someone who is going to follow through with the values that the 193rd District will support," he told PennLive on Thursday. He becomes the second lawmaker in a week who represents a portion of Cumberland County who announced plans to step down at the end of this year. U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., also announced earlier this week that he was not seeking re-election after 17 years of serving the Ninth Congressional District.

Republican super PACs surge into Pennsylvania special election
Morning Call by David Weigel The Washington Post Januarry 4, 2018
Two Republican super PACs have started spending money in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, a once-safe seat for the party where Democrats have grown bullish on their chances. Ending Spending Inc., funded in large part by the billionaire Ricketts family, announced a $1 million ad buy Thursday in the district - beating both Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone to the airwaves ahead of the March 13 special election. In the 30-second biographical spot, Ending Spending presents Saccone, a conservative state representative, as a veteran who would "support tax reform that cuts middle-class taxes." On Friday, the congressional Leadership Fund - a PAC closely aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. - will dive into the district, opening two campaign offices with hopes of getting at least 50 canvassers to knock on 250,000 doors. In an interview, CLF Executive Director Corry Bliss said that there would be "boots on the ground by this weekend," and that the campaign would portray Saccone as a conservative leader and Lamb as a vote for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pa.'s Right to Know Law being used and not a burden for most government agencies, survey shows
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated 10:13 AM; Posted 10:00 AM
With a few exceptions, state and local agencies are finding they can live with the now 10-year-old law that enhanced the public's access to government records. That's the conclusion that the state's Office of Open Recordsexecutive director Erik Arneson reached from the first-ever statewide survey of state and local agency open records officers responsible for responding to Right to Know requests. The short survey drew nearly 1,300 responses out of the approximate 5,000 state and local agencies that exist in Pennsylvania.

Trauma Informed Education Part 2: At this school, it's personal
The notebook by Paul Jablow, video by Melania Bavaria January 4, 2018 — 8:05am
Pep talks, "brain breaks," and morning exercise are among the ways that Lakeside differs from traditional schools.

What you need to know about the tax law and education
PBS Newshour Jan 2, 2018 6:25 pm EST
The new tax law’s education-related changes include allowing parents to use up to $10,000 from their tax-free 529 college savings account to help pay for private or religious schools for any grade. Alyson Klein of Education Week and Anya Kamenetz of NPR explore this and other changes.

Expanding High-Quality Educational Options for All Students: How States Can Create a System of Schools Worth Choosing
The Learning Policy Institute Report Linda Darling-HammondRobert RothmanPeter W. Cookson, Jr. DEC 14 2017
For many years, states and the federal government have been creating a range of schooling options for students, and the focus of the new administration on expanding choice is likely to accelerate this trend. Although the term “choice” is often associated with privately governed charter schools or private school voucher proposals, the vast majority of schools of choice are operated by public school districts. Expansions of choice have produced many positive opportunities for children, but evidence shows that simply providing choices does not automatically provide high-quality options that are accessible to all students or improve student learning. This report examines the status of current educational options for U.S. students and what state policymakers can do to create high-quality opportunities that offer each family a system of schools worth choosing.

Trump’s school choice victory is just the beginning
Parents and others will have a new tax-advantaged way to save money for their children to attend the public, private or religious school of their choice under the tax reform plan recently adopted by the U.S. Congress with President Trump’s support. Under the new law, the popular 529 college savings accounts will be expanded to allow parents to use these accounts to save tax-free for K-12 public, private and religious tuition. The measure affects 50 million students across the United States. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the idea’s champion, notes that the reform amounts to “the most significant school choice victory ever adopted.” An earlier Cruz amendment to the Senate tax plan provided the language ultimately used in the final bill. A grassroots coalition of more than 70 organizations across the nation assembled by the #EdTaxCredit50 Coalition, my organization, supported this monumental reform.

Charter Schools Are Reshaping America’s Education System for the Worse
High faculty turnover, high student attrition, and booming funding are making charters into the perfect weapon to destroy our public school system.
The Nation By Michelle Chen Twitter TODAY 10:00 AM
Charter schools have been hailed as the antidote to public-school dysfunction by everyone from tech entrepreneurs to Wall Street philanthropists. But a critical autopsy by the advocacy group Network for Public Education (NPE) reveals just how disruptive the charter industry has become—for both students and their communities. Charter schools are technically considered public schools but are run by private companies or organizations, and can receive private financing—as such, they are generally able to circumvent standard public-school regulations, including unions. This funding system enables maximum deregulation, operating like private businesses and free of the constraints of public oversight, while also ensuring maximum public funding.  According to Carol Burris of NPE, charter schools “want the funding and the privilege of public schools but they don’t want the rules that go along with them.” She cites charter initiatives’ having developed their own certification policies, as well as disciplinary codes and academic standards—a tendency toward “wanting the best of both worlds” among both non- and for-profit charter organizations.

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. 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.


  1. We provide you with help on your coursework assignments, we give you the opportunity to relax, recoup, and gather up your energy. In the meantime, we finish your challenging daily assignments so that you can attend to your other obligations. While we are doing this, you can work on other homework assignments, study for upcoming exams, spend time with your family, or work that extra shift you need to pay your bills. If you want to, you can even spend that time resting, relaxing, and catching up on your social life.

  2. We provide you with help on your coursework assignments, we give you the opportunity to relax, recoup, and gather up your energy. In the meantime, we finish your challenging daily assignments so that you can attend to your other obligations. While we are doing this, you can work on other homework assignments, study for upcoming exams, spend time with your family, or work that extra shift you need to pay your bills. If you want to, you can even spend that time resting, relaxing, and catching up on your social life.


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