Wednesday, April 18, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 18: PSBA Issues 2018 State of Education Report

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PSBA Issues 2018 State of Education Report

2018 State of Education highlights successes, challenges facing public education
PSBA Website April 16, 2018
Representatives of several education leadership associations today released the 2018 State of Education report ( highlighting the many successes and challenges facing public education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This comprehensive report includes a vast array of statistics gathered from publicly available data sources as well as December 2017 survey responses from school principals and school districts, career and technology centers, and intermediate unit chief school administrators. The report delves into school finances, student achievement, budget pressures and educational equity, to name a few.
Some key findings: Survey respondents identified the top three challenges facing education as budget pressures (83%), implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (24%) and school construction/maintenance (22%). While pension costs (82%), charter school payments (52%) and special education costs (37%) were identified as the top budget pressures. Mandatory pension costs have increased more than 450% between 2009-10 and 2015-16 and now account for more than 10% of all school district spending. Initial forecasts for pension contributions made at the time of last year’s pension reform legislation (Act 5 of 2017) predict pension increases until 2036, so school districts will not see any relief from pension costs for another 17 years.

At A Glance: PSBA 2018 State of Education
The State of Education report is intended to be a barometer of not only the key indicators of public school performance, such as standardized test scores and school finances, but also the timely challenges that public schools are facing and how they are coping with them. Data for the report comes from publicly available data sources and from surveys of chief school administrators and building principals.

'I had test-itis': While kids are taking PSSAs, this teacher might be writing subversive poetry
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: APRIL 17, 2018 — 7:10 PM EDT
As a proctor for Pennsylvania’s standardized tests, teacher Jesse Gottschalk knew the drill: He couldn’t have his phone out while his fourth graders were taking the state exams. He couldn’t read a book or have any personal items handy. But there was no prohibition on writing sly poetry about how much he believes over-testing is affecting students. So Gottschalk, a teacher at a public school in West Philadelphia, used a piece of scratch paper and a No. 2 pencil he had handy for his students and went to work: “These tests make the brightest minds feel not-so-bright/Which answer’s least wrong?/(Instead of most right?),” Gottschalk wrote in a poem he called “Bright.” ‘Tis the season for more poetry.  One million students across the state are taking PSSAs, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, and Gottschalk, who teaches at Lea Elementary, is in the thick of it. Frustrated by the effects of the testing culture, Gottschalk has written a book of poetry to highlight what he sees as the absurdity of the exams.

Teacher who served pancakes during PSSAs won’t be fired, is scheduled to return to classroom
Lancaster Online by  ALEX GELI | Staff Writer  Apr 17, 2018
A teacher who said he was suspended pending termination last week for serving pancakes during the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment will return to work Thursday, according to School District of Lancaster. Kyle Byler, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Hand Middle School, said Monday he was suspended without pay after being disciplined for making whole-grain pancakes for his students while they took the exam. A vote on his termination, Byler said, was expected at Tuesday night's school board meeting. Contacted Tuesday afternoon, an SDL spokeswoman said there was never any "dismissal action" on the school board's agenda. “In any event, no teacher can be dismissed without the School Board first approving a written notice that offers the opportunity for a School Board hearing, and that step has also not occurred," Kelly Burkholder said in an email to LNP. "Nor will it occur in this situation, as the personnel matter has been resolved with the employee, who is scheduled to return to work.” The school board on Tuesday did not vote on Byler's termination, but that didn't stop about 100 concerned residents from showing up in support of a man who parents said is like the "eighth-grade dad."

Rep. Charlie Dent, moderate GOP voice, to resign in May
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau  @JonathanTamari | Updated: APRIL 17, 2018 — 11:10 AM EDT
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.) will leave office in May, he announced Tuesday morning, hastening his planned departure from Congress. Dent, regularly sought out by national media outlets as one of Congress’ leading centrist voices and a frequent critic of President Trump, had already said he was not seeking reelection this year. A busy primary effort was underway to replace him in his Allentown-based district. But his departure next month will remove his voice from the daily fray even sooner and trigger another special election, potentially under confusing circumstances. Dent said he was pursuing multiple job possibilities in the private sector, and did not rule out moving into a role on television or lobbying, after a one-year “cooling-off” period for former members of Congress. “Nothing is final yet, I’m still working on it. But it just seemed like the right time for personal reasons, and I hope to be able to deal with my future when I’m out of Congress,” Dent said. He plans to leave between May 7 and Memorial Day, he said.

“On education, Wolf touted his signature on the fair funding formula bill that redid how Pennsylvania sets school budgets on the state level.   “The formula accounts for factors such as the wealth of the district, the district’s current tax effort, the ability of the district to raise revenue, the number of children in the district who live in poverty, the number of children enrolled in charter schools, and the number of children who are English language learners. I will continue to fight to make sure that low income districts are getting their fair share of funding to help them succeed,” Wolf said.”
Gubernatorial Candidates Respond to United Way Survey
PoliticsPA Written by Paul Engelkemier, Managing Editor April 17, 2018
The United Way of Pennsylvania released the responses it received from Governor Tom Wolf and Republican candidates Laura Ellsworth and Scott Wagner.  Republican Paul Mango declined to respond to the The nine question survey covered the state budget, financial stability, education, community strengthening, and health.    On the budget, United Way asked if the candidates would support an amendment to state law that would allow federal and state money that “directly impact[s] the health and safety of Pennsylvanians” to be paid during an impasse and what they would do to avoid an impasse.

Local school districts strive to diversify and add flexibility to high school offerings
By Joseph Cress The Sentinel April 17, 2018
The perception of higher earnings has fueled a philosophy where educators and parents push youths to attend college in pursuit of job security, social mobility and financial prosperity. But this push may lack the pull the college graduate had hoped for when he or she enters a shrinking job market where there is already an oversaturation of certain college majors. The result has been an increase in underemployed graduates who shoulder heavy debt and are forced to take jobs that do not require the education that they received. In the midst of the recession 10 years ago, local school districts started to develop plans within their curriculum to balance the college pathway with technical skills to keep students relevant going forward, Richard Fry said. “We all have the same challenge — how do we diversify what we have to offer to make sure our students come out career and college ready,” he said. Fry, of Big Spring School District, was one of three superintendents who briefed business leaders Tuesday during the annual State of Education Breakfast presented by the Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce. He was joined by colleagues from the Carlisle and Cumberland Valley school districts in showcasing programs that offer high school students hands-on practical experience, college-level academic credit and professional certificates before they graduate.

Easton High to host dueling Second Amendment rallies
Michelle Merlin Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call April 17, 2018
On Friday, students from around the country will again take to sidewalks, athletic fields and gymnasiums to bring attention to the need for safer schools as part of an ongoing effort to keep the issue in the public eye in the wake of the Feb. 14. school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. At Easton Area High School, students can join a safe schools rally where they can learn about gun laws and register to vote. But they have another option: Attending an event featuring students speaking in favor of the Second Amendment. Friday marks the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in which two students gunned down 13 people. It’s been designated a day of action against gun violence in schools by the National Education Association, Network for Public Education and others.

Student activists not waiting until they're old enough to vote, seek change now
TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
They all are eager to register to vote once they turn 18. A few might even want to run for political office one day. But youths across Westmoreland and Allegheny counties involved in the school safety movement sparked by the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla. in February aren't waiting. They say that they are committed to keeping the discussion going in order to influence change now. And the change they seek starts with students. The Tribune-Review and parent company Trib Total Media gathered a panel of seven students who are leaders at their respective schools on Monday to shed light on the problem and seek answers. They met at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood.

Fox Chapel, other districts join debate over later school start times
Trib Live JAMIE MARTINES  | Thursday, April 12, 2018, 2:39 p.m.
Fox Chapel Area School District is joining the debate over later school start times.
The district will hold a public community forum Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at the high school to discuss the issue. Medical professionals, district administrators and advocates for later school start times will participate in the panel discussion. All residents of the Fox Chapel Area School District, including children, are welcome to attend, according to a statement from the district. ox Chapel is one of several area districts to wade into the debate this school year. The Board of Directors of Seneca Valley School District in Butler County voted to accept later start times for the 2018-19 school year on Monday, according to a statement from the district.

School leaders advocate for public education
PSBA Website April 17, 2018
About 100 school directors joined with members of PA Association of Intermediate Units to participate in yesterday's Advocacy Day at the State Capitol. Attendees started with some legislative updates and moved into meetings with lawmakers. Top issues discussed included Senate Bill 2, which proposes Education Savings Accounts (vouchers) and graduation requirements. A press conference was also held to announce the release of the State of Education report. We need your voice! If you weren't able to make it to the Capitol, you can still advocate for public education by contacting your legislators on these issues. See the PSBA Issues web page under Advocacy & News to learn more and take action.

Here's How the Public Views Teachers, Their Salaries, and Their Impact
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on April 17, 2018 1:05 PM
As the political fallout continues from teacher protests in several states, it's worth revisiting how the general public has said it feels about teachers in recent polls. Where does public opinion stand now, and how might it change in the future? • The 2017 poll of various K-12 issues by the journal Education Next found that members of the general public would categorize 25 percent of teachers at their local schools as "excellent" and 33 percent as "good." Another 28 percent of teachers were called "satisfactory" and just 15 percent were "unsatisfactory." Overall, parents who were surveyed put a larger share of teachers (30 percent) in the "excellent" category. When provided information about public school teacher salaries, 36 percent of members of the general public then told Education Next that those salaries should increase. Meanwhile, 56 percent said they should stay about the same, while just 7 percent said they should decrease. However, a plurality (49 percent) of the general public opposed giving teachers tenure, Education Next reported.

Colorado Democrats tell Democrats for Education Reform to pound sand
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss April 17 at 3:53 PM Email the author
The Democratic Party in Colorado just told an influential group of school reformers to pound sand — and went so far as to ask the group to stop using the word “Democrats” in its name. At their 2018 state assembly last weekend, Colorado Democrats first booed Jennifer Walmer, head of the Colorado chapter of the national Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), an influential political action committee. It is supported heavily by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit pay tied to test scores and restricting the power of teachers unions. Then, as Chalkbeat reported, the state Democrats approved an amendment to the party’s 2018 platform that says this: We oppose making Colorado’s public schools private or run by private corporations or becoming segregated again through lobbying and campaigning efforts of the organization called Democrats for Education Reform and demand that they immediately stop using the party’s name Democrat in their name. Democrats for Education Reform sent a statement saying: We are Democrats and we’re not focused on intraparty drama driven by special interests. We are going to keep doing everything we can to make sure every child has access to a high-quality public education.

Electing PSBA Officers:  Applications Due by June 1st
Do you have strong communication and leadership skills and a vision for PSBA? Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to submit an Application for Nomination no later than June 1, 11:59 p.m., to PSBA's Leadership Development Committee (LDC). The nomination process
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:

NPE: Join us in a Day of Action April 20th to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools
Network for Public Education February 16, 2018 by Darcie Cimarusti
After the slaughter of students and staff in Parkland, Florida, the time for action has never been more urgent. The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools. We will be silent no more! The failure to enact rational laws that bar access to guns designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. It is past time to speak out and act. Pledge your support to stop gun violence here. We call for mass action on April 20, the anniversary of the horrific shootings at Columbine High School. We urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of protest in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your community.  Organize sit-ins, teach-ins, walkouts, marches–whatever you decide will show your school and community’s determination to keep our students safe. One elementary teacher suggested that teachers and parents link arms around the school to show their determination to protect children.

PASA Women's Caucus Annual Conference "Leaders Lifting Leaders"
May 6 - 8, 2018 Hotel Hershey

Featured Speakers...
*Dr. Helen Sobehart - Women Leading Education Across Continents: Lifting Leaders from Here to There
*Dr. Tracey Severns - Courageous Leadership
*Dr. Emilie Lonardi - Lead and Lift: A Call for Females to Aspire to the Superintendency
*Deputy Secretary Matt Stem - Update from the PDE


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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