Wednesday, February 14, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 14, 2018 Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: 'I Trust Parents'

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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Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: 'I Trust Parents'

Save the Date: PA School Funding Lawsuit Wed. March 7, 2018 9:30 A.M.
Commonwealth Court Public Hearing on Legislative leaders motions to Dismiss the Wm Penn SD challenge to state funding.
Court Room No. 1 Ninth Floor, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, One South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Wolf rejects GOP congressional map as deadline looms
Delco Times By Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo, Associated Press POSTED: 02/14/18, 4:59 AM EST | UPDATED: 38 SECS AGO
HARRISBURG >> Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will not submit a new Republican-drawn map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts to the state’s high court, saying Tuesday that it uses the same unconstitutionally partisan tactics as the 6-year-old boundaries struck down in a gerrymandering case. Wolf’s move came six days before the deadline set by the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court to impose new boundaries for Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts, routinely labeled as among the nation’s most gerrymandered. Wolf’s office, which has not publicly released the governor’s own proposal, said it remained possible that Wolf would submit one to the court. He also left open the possibility of working with the Legislature to submit a consensus map by Monday’s deadline.

Sen. Scarnati, Rep. Turzai Respond To Gov. Wolf’s Rejection Of Redistricting Map: “Your Pronouncements Are Absurd”
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates FEBRUARY 13, 2018
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) responded to Gov. Wolf’s action Tuesday rejecting the revised Congressional district map they produced in a letter to the Governor.  The Associated Press is also reporting the Republicans are threatening a federal lawsuit and say Gov. Wolf didn't offer his own redistricting map. The text follows--  We are in receipt of your letter of February 13, 2018 regarding the map we provided to you and the public on February 9, 2018.  As you know, we received the order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on January 22, 2018.  As you recall, we met on February 6, 2018 at our request.  In that meeting, you told us that you did not have a map and requested that we provide one for your review in accordance with your understanding of the order. The Court issued its opinion on February 7, 2018.  This opinion was delivered on day 16 of an 18 day deadline.  Working together in a short time period, we produced a map that meets the Court’s order and opinion.  It is constitutional and meets the criteria set out by the Court of compactness, contiguity, and respecting political subdivisions. With all due respect, your pronouncements are absurd:

DeVos seeks cuts from Education Department to support school choice
Washington Post By Moriah BalingitDanielle Douglas-Gabriel and Valerie Strauss February 12 at 2:50 PM Email the author
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos want to spend more than $1 billion on private school vouchers and other school choice plans.
More than $1 billion would be spent on private school vouchers and other school choice plans under the budget proposal released Monday by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The proposal also calls for slashing the Education Department’s budget and devoting more resources to career training at the expense of four-year colleges and universities. The proposal would cut $3.6 billion — about 5 percent — from the Education Department by eliminating several discretionary programs, including one that funds after-school activities for needy children and another that covers teacher training. It contains many of the same ideas that DeVos pitched in her budget proposal last year, large portions of which were rejected by Congress. “So many of America’s poorest children — especially African American and Hispanic children — attend failing public schools that afford them little hope of fulfilling their great potential,” Trump said in his budget summary. “That is why families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school option that is right for them. The budget empowers parents, especially of our disadvantaged youth, to choose the very best school for their children.”

“The main issue at stake in the fight is this: Virtual schools' test scores and graduation rates have, consistently, been very low. So low that their performance, along with, at times, disputes over attendance, have led them to be shut down or placed at risk of closure in states including Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. The travails of virtual schools have split the charter school movement. The national organizations representing traditional charter schools have sought to put daylight between themselves and virtual schools, going so far as to question "whether virtual schools should be included in the charter school model at all," in the words of NACSA.”
Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: 'I Trust Parents'
NPR by ANYA KAMENETZ February 13, 20186:00 AM ET
A free day at the aquarium! For Marcey Morse, a mother of two, it sounded pretty good.
It was the fall of 2016, and Morse had received an email offering tickets, along with a warning about her children's education. At that time, Morse's two kids were enrolled in an online, or "virtual," school called the Georgia Cyber Academy, run by a company called K12 Inc. About 275,000 students around the country attend these online public charter schools, run by for-profit companies, at taxpayers' expense. The aquarium wouldn't be something they could ordinarily afford. So Morse, her husband, a friend and their children took the day off and drove downtown to an Atlanta hotel for what was billed as a "day of fun at the aquarium and learning how to best protect our kids and their educational options." But what happened, she says, was very different. "They were trying to usher us, step by step, in kind of a sneaky way, into a protest," she says. "It was a trick. A basic, classic hustle."

Republicans warn of constitutional crisis if court imposes new House districts
Penn Live Reporter Charles Thompson explains congressional redistricting case By The Associated Press Updated Feb 13, 3:13 PM; Posted Feb 13, 2:32 PM
Republicans are threatening a federal lawsuit and say Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf didn't offer solutions when he rejected their proposal to replace the GOP-drawn of map of Pennsylvania's congressional districts struck down in a gerrymandering case. The state Senate's Republican majority leader, Jake Corman, warned Tuesday that the state Supreme Court will create a constitutional crisis if it imposes new boundaries for the state's U.S. House districts. Corman says the U.S. Constitution gives lawmakers the power to draw congressional boundaries. But Corman says there's no time under the court's deadlines for Pennsylvania's Legislature to pass a new map.

Pa. congressional map stalemate edges closer to court-imposed deadline
Penn Live By Charles Thompson Updated 1:54 AM; Posted Feb 13, 9:43 PM
There was action on the issue of setting new lines for Pennsylvania's 18 Congressional districts Tuesday, but nothing that brought an end to this bitterly partisan struggle any closer. Here's a recap of what went on, what could come next, and where its leaves us as candidates in all other races start the process of gathering signatures to get themselves on the ballot. (The start of the petition period for the Congressional races has been delayed to Feb. 27.) 

Who is the Stanford professor tapped to redraw Pa.'s congressional districts?
Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School, likely will draw Pennsylvania's congressional district map for the state Supreme Court.
Morning Call by Laura Olson Contact Reporter Call Washington Bureau February 13, 2018
Top of Form
 Unless Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Legislature hammer out a last-minute compromise, a new congressional map for Pennsylvania’s 18 U.S. House districts will be drawn by a Stanford Law School professor who has become the go-to redistricting expert for courts across the country. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tapped Nathaniel Persily in a Jan. 26 order that expanded on its determination days earlier that the 2011-drawn congressional map “plainly and palpably” violated the state constitution because it unfairly favors Republicans. The order identified Persily as an adviser to assist the court if the Republican-controlled Legislature failed to submit a revised map, or if Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, rejected its map, which he did Tuesday. The court’s instructions don’t give Persily much time to do his work. A new map is to be publicly available by Monday, according to the justices’ order.

The secret history of the map that destroyed Pa. politics - and how to fix it | Will Bunch
Philly Daily News by Will Bunch, STAFF COLUMNIST  @will_bunch |  Updated FEBRUARY 13, 2018 — 12:06 PM EST
Ever hear of something in Philadelphia called “the Arlen Specter library”? Me neither. But the small facility on the Philadelphia University campus in East Falls — near the longtime home of the late U.S. senator, officially called the Arlen Specter Center for Public Service — played an oversized role in creating Pennsylvania’s bad legislative map, which in turn has created a decade of lousy policies and lousier politicians and is now threatening a constitutional crisis involving the legislature, Gov. Wolf, and the state’s highest court. The secret history begins in 2010, when Democrats were politically besotted with Barack Obama’s newish presidency and thus had no idea what was about to hit them, here or around the country. In suburban locales like the Bucks County district represented by then-State Rep. David Kessler, a Democrat, most lawmakers had grown used to a) political obscurity and b) easy reelection.

Pa. House (again) flees the chopping block
Philly Daily News by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST Updated: FEBRUARY 13, 2018 — 4:16 PM EST
I owe you an update, and you’re probably not gonna like it.
Last month, I wrote about an effort to reduce the size of the legislature. I wrote about it because it reached a critical point where one more vote could send the issue to a statewide ballot question this year. I wrote about it because legislative veterans, on background AND on the record, were saying, yep, this time it’s happening, we’re going to cut our size, save lots of money, increase efficiency, and show that reform is on the horizon. And in the second sentence of that column, I wrote, “I’m skeptical.” Someday, I’d love to have my skepticism regarding politicians proven wrong. Today is not that day. If you missed it – since it clearly was timed to be missed – the GOP-run House last week dropped a poison pill into a bill to cut the House from 203 to 151. I’ve occasionally mentioned Pennsylvania’s got the largest, most expensive, full-time legislature in America, costing you $300 million-plus annually for care and feeding, and giving taxpayers in return — well, you tell me.

Hamlet says Pittsburgh Public Schools, union too close to agreement for strike
Trib Live by BOB BAUDER  | Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 5:24 p.m.
Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet on Tuesday said contract negotiations between the district and teacher's union are stalled over two main issues, but he's confident the sides can avert a strike. Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers union President Nina Esposito-Visgitis disagreed, saying “there are some other very important issues that were not resolved at our last meeting.” The district's 3,000 teachers have been working without a contract since June. On Monday, they overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike if negotiations continue to stall. The two sides are next scheduled to negotiate Friday. Hamlet described the strike vote as “part of the process.” “I don't think there's going to be a strike,” Hamlet said. “We're too close not to come to an agreement.”

The School District Of Philadelphia & Baltimore City Public Schools Say Goodbye To Polystyrene In Cafeterias
NEWS PROVIDED BY Urban School Food Alliance  Feb 12, 2018, 09:01 ET
NEW YORK, Feb. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The School District of Philadelphia and Baltimore City Public Schools are the latest school districts in the Urban School Food Alliance (Alliance) to say goodbye to polystyrene serving items in schools for better environmental practices.  Both Philadelphia and Baltimore have started the process of rolling out the use of compostable round plates designed by the Alliance in lunchrooms – with the two districts diverting 19 million polystyrene food service items from landfills. "One of the reasons we joined the Urban School Food Alliance last fall was not only to be able to provide the best quality food for our students, but to also implement sound environmental practices," said Elizabeth Marchetta, executive director of the Food and Nutrition Department at Baltimore City Public Schools. "With more and more cities striving for zero waste, we wanted to become proactive in making a change for the betterment of our community." The Urban School Food Alliance is a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Orange County in Orlando, Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Clark County in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston.  In 2014, the original six members of the group (NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, Dallas and Orange County) challenged industry to develop an innovative and affordable environmentally-friendly round plate to replace 225 million polystyrene trays across their six schools districts each year. 

Eyes on the SRC: February 15, 2018
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools by Karel Kilimnik February 11, 2018
As we count down the final days of the SRC, we continue to examine the policies implemented by the Broad Academy-trained Superintendent, Dr Hite. Eli Broad is one of many uber-wealthy “philanthropists” pushing their corporate education agenda public school systems across the country, including ours.  Broad is a firm believer in free-market policies and in the role of competition in education.Experience and degrees in education are secondary. Self-proclaimed innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit will suffice. Two themes emerge in this edition of Eyes on the SRC. First, the determination of both the District and the SRC to outsourcing services traditionally performed by District staff.  Second,  the increasing use of data to inflict real damage on district schools at the same time the District fails to provide data justifying its decisions to overhaul certain neighborhood schools.  Where is the data to the Transformation Schools, Turnaround Network Schools, Redesign Schools, Priority Schools—all sold by the Hite administration as that year’s remedy for struggling schools? Magic Data is about as valuable as Magic Money. There is an Education Industrial Complex at work dipping into education funds and enriching edu-vendors at the expense of our children.  Some examples from this month include Resolutions A-2 and Resolution A-11, which will enrich the owners and stockholders of The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and Jounce Partners, respectively, with little expectation that it will provide a better learning experience for students.

No tests, no homework, no grades … no problem at unschools
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer  @Kathy_Boccella | Updated: FEBRUARY 13, 2018 — 6:15 PM EST
Sapphire Srigley, now 16, was halfway through the ninth grade at Ewing High School in central New Jersey when she realized she wasn’t cut out for “the social pressures and academic stress” of public education. “English pushed it over the edge — they were constantly teaching things that were not pertinent to literature and that took away from what I was really interested in, which was French,” said Sapphire. So she was thrilled to find a radical alternative: An unconventional program called the Bucks Learning Cooperative run out of an old white schoolhouse in Langhorne where a teen’s interests set the curriculum. Now in her third year, Sapphire still studies French but focuses on art history, interning on Wednesdays at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and even teaching a Western art course to other kids. Her passion for “self-directed learning” and distrust of traditional classrooms is shared by the two veteran teachers who have opened BLC. “A lot of kids don’t look at high school as a way to learn and grow – it’s putting in time, a four-year sentence,” said Joel Hammon, 39, who spent seven years at Neshaminy High School before teaming with Solesbury School’s Paul Scutt to open the first of their alternative schools – the Princeton Learning Cooperative – in 2010.

“The first cut is the deepest. Trump’s budget would significantly reduce the federal footprint in public schools, said Anne Hyslop, an education-policy analyst who worked for the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration. Discretionary spending by the Education Department would be cut by 5.3 percent, about $3.6 billion off a $63 billion pot. Two programs would see the steepest cuts: Title II—used in part to recruit and retain teachers and support principals—and the 21st Century Learning Centers block grants, which pay for enrichment programs during non-school hours, particularly in high-poverty communities.”
Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?
A president’s proposal often looks very different from what Congress ultimately approves, but Trump’s spending priorities could offer insight into his broader agenda.
The Atlantic by EMILY RICHMOND
Bottom of Form
President Trump’s proposed federal budget, unveiled Monday, calls for major cuts to existing education programs and a huge increase for school-choice initiatives. The first question stemming from his blueprint is this: How seriously will Congress take his administration’s plan, even with Republicans controlling both chambers? If history is any indicator, the answer could well be “not very,” as presidential budgets and what Congress ultimately approves can be farther apart than Norway and Tonga in the Winter Olympics medal count. Lawmakers already have their own budget deal (albeit one that still needs to secure a final vote) setting general parameters for spending, including on both K-12 and higher education. While the fine print needs to be hammered out by Congress amid fierce lobbying by special-interest groups, so far it doesn’t reflect much of what Trump is proposing. That being said, what a president lays out as his priorities can inform debate on education spending. And since Trump doesn’t spend much time talking about education, this is also one way to gauge what’s on his administration’s agenda.

AASA Responds To President Trump's FY19 Budget Proposal
President Trump released his proposed budget for federal fiscal year 2019 (FY19). 
AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech released the following statement in response to the proposed budget: “One year ago, in my response to the FY18 proposed budget, I reflected on my practice and belief as a school superintendent that our budget reflected our mission; that we funded what we supported and we supported what we funded. By that metric, President Trump’s proposed FY19 budget falls short of the simple willingness and ability to prioritize support for strengthening and supporting our nation’s public schools and the students they serve. With today’s FY19 budget proposal, as well as the infrastructure proposal details which lack an explicit role for public education, we continue to wonder not only if the administration supports our nation’s public schools, but also why their policy proposals remain so willing to make deep, damaging cuts and omissions. As we head to Nashville for AASA’s National Conference on Education, where we will highlight the continued great work and opportunity of our nation’s public schools, we will work with superintendents from across the county to explain why we #LovePublicEducation and to advocate for improved federal education policies that remain committed to equitable educational opportunity for all students.”
You can read AASA's full analysis and response here.
“But he concedes the same level of progress didn't happen in the U.S. with their strategy of chasing equity through education reform. U.S. education initiatives are a distant second funding priority for the foundation, but the $450 million the Gateses spend annually on the issue makes them the top funders of schools reform in America. They've been major supporters of charter schools and also pushed common-core education standards, teacher-evaluation systems that factored in student test scores and a smaller schools model—highly polarizing education policy reforms that didn't dramatically change student outcomes but made the Gateses deeply unpopular in some communities. "It's in taking all of those lessons and saying, 'OK, but did they reach the majority of the school districts? Did they scale and change the system for low-income and minority kids writ large, at scale?' And the answer when we looked at it, it was no," Melinda Gates said.”
Bill, Melinda Gates Turn Attention Toward Poverty in America
Education Week By The Associated Press February 13, 2018
Bill and Melinda Gates, as the world's top philanthropists, are rethinking their work in America as they confront what they consider their unsatisfactory track record on schools, the country's growing inequity, and a president they disagree with more than any other. In an interview with The Associated Press, the couple said they're concerned about President Donald Trump's "America first" worldview. They've made known their differences with the president and his party on issues including foreign aid, taxes, and protections for immigrant youth in the country illegally. And they said they're now digging into the layers of U.S. poverty that they haven't been deeply involved with at the national level, including employment, race, housing, mental health, incarceration, and substance abuse. "We are not seeing the mobility out of poverty in the same way in the United States as it used to exist," Melinda Gates said.

Save the Date: PA School Funding Lawsuit Wed. March 7, 2018 9:30 A.M.
Commonwealth Court Hearing on Legislative leaders motions to Dismiss the Wm Penn SD challenge to state funding.
Before the Court en banc sitting in Court Room No. 1 Ninth Floor, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, One South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107
All members of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court will hear oral argument on motions to dismiss filed by legislative leaders in the school funding lawsuit William Penn School District, et al. v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, et al.  The Legislators are arguing that the Petition challenging the inadequacy and inequity of Pennsylvania’s funding of schools is moot because the new school formula has supplanted the funding scheme existing when students and school districts filed their Petition in 2015.  In addition, Legislators also contend that the Petition failed to allege that insufficient state funding caused any harm such as poor PSSA results or lack of sufficient instructional resources.   In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to hold a trial on whether state officials are violating the state’s constitution by failing to adequately and equitably fund public education.  The Legislators objections have delayed efforts to bring this case to trial.   

Snooze or Lose: Promoting Sleep Health in Adolescents
Dr. Wendy Troxel Mon., March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Radnor High School auditorium 
The Radnor Township School District Adolescent Sleep & School Start Time Study Committee will welcome licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist Dr. Wendy Troxel for a presentation to the Radnor community on Mon., March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Radnor High School auditorium (130 King of Prussia Road, Radnor). Dr. Troxel is a Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Adjunct Faculty in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. A licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Troxel been widely cited by the media, including The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Financial TimesABC World News TonightCBS Sunday Morning, NPR and BBC. Dr. Troxel was also one of the featured sleep experts in the National Geographic documentary “Sleepless in America.” Her TED talk on the impact of school start times on adolescent sleep has received more than 1.4 million views.

Help draft a plan to implement a statewide vision for the future of public education in PA!
PSBA Member Roundtables/Receptions – February and March Dates
Join your PSBA Member Roundtable and Reception to hear the public education advocacy and political updates affecting your school district. Take this opportunity to network, learn and develop your leadership skills. Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres and networking with fellow school directors in your area, then provide your input on the future vision for public education in PA. Roundtable Discussion: Help draft a plan to implement a statewide vision for the future of public education in PA! PSBA would like to capture your thoughts on what education should look like in the coming decades. We will compile your expertise with the perspectives of others from across the state to develop the Commonwealth Education Blueprint. The Blueprint will then serve as our guiding resource and will set milestones for creating the best public education experience for future generations of students. Don’t miss your opportunity to weigh in!
·         6:00 -6:15 pm – Association update
·         6:15 -7:00 pm – Governor’s budget address recap
·         7:00 -7:45 pm – Networking Reception
·         7:45 -8:30 pm – Member Round Table Discussion

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 

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Join the PA Principals Association, the PA Association of School Administrators and the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools for PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA.  
A rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at before Friday, June 8, 2018.
Click here to view the PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2018 Save The Date Flyer (INCLUDES EVENT SCHEDULE AND IMPORTANT ISSUES.) 

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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