Thursday, July 12, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 12: Reps O’Neill, McCarter introduce HB2553 – Charter School Tuition Calculations

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Reps O’Neill, McCarter introduce HB2553 – Charter School Tuition Calculations

“In a phone interview with the Mirror, attorney Michael Churchill of Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia stressed that the lawsuit does not ask for money to be taken away from rural schools with decreased population like those found in Blair County, which benefit from hold harmless. “There are different ways to implement the formula. Phasing out the base is one way, but that implies you are in a zero sum game. Other ways would be to add extra funding to underfunded districts until they are caught up so you won’t have to take away from the others. All districts in Pennsylvania are underfunded.”
Churchill said the lawsuit is about all districts in the state.
“The lawsuit is about insufficient state funding — including Blair County,” he said.
Senate Education Chair­man Sen. John H. Eichel­berger Jr., R- Blair, sent a statement in strong disagreement with Churchill to the Mirror.”
School funding suit slams cuts
Petitioners decry increasing gaps between rich, poor districts
Altoona Mirror by RUSS O'REILLY Staff Writer JUL 11, 2018
Petitioners in an ongoing school funding lawsuit against the state reported decreased classroom spending and widening inequities, leaving schools starved for resources in a brief and affidavit filed Friday in Commonwealth Court. An analysis from an economist at the Keystone Research Center is included in the filing along with affidavits from the superintendents of each petitioner school district: William Penn, Lancaster, Wilkes-Barre Area, Greater Johns­town, Panther Valley and Shenandoah Valley, a press release stated. Disclosure of increasing funding gaps between rich and poor districts and declining state funds available for student needs were filed Friday by attorneys from the Education Law Center, the Public Interest Law Center and O’Melveny & Myers LLP. The filing rebuts an objection made in recent months by Senate President Pro Tem Joseph Scarnati that the lawsuit, initiated in 2014, has been rendered moot by the Legislature’s adoption of a fair funding formula in 2016. That new formula currently applies to only a small percentage of school funding. While some groups want a faster, full implementation of the formula, critics are concerned about losing the “hold harmless” practice that especially benefits rural schools.
Hold harmless is the practice of guaranteeing that a school district receives no less in state basic education dollars than it received in the prior fiscal year and has been a considerable factor in the distribution of basic education dollars in Pennsylvania.

In court challenge, schools argue state hasn't fixed funding inequities
Johnstown Tribune Democrat By John Finnerty/CNHI State Reporter Jul 9, 2018
HARRISBURG – Representatives of a group of school districts – including Greater Johnstown – are asking Commonwealth Court to reject the argument that a 2016 law solved any problems with inequitable funding of the state’s schools. Ed Albert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Small and Rural Schools, said Monday that the 2016 law didn’t solve the problems experienced in many school districts. His group is one of the organizations involved in the lawsuit. In court filings earlier this year, attorneys for Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati said that the 2016 measure spelling out a school funding formula addressed any shortcomings in the way the state funds schools. The lawsuit, filed in 2014 by six families and six school districts, attacked the state’s school funding as it existed before the 2016 school funding formula, Scarnati said in court documents. “This case, as pleaded, is therefore moot,” Scarnati argued in court documents. School administrators can’t help but notice the disparities when they gather for regional meetings and listen to other district superintendents talk about their districts’ needs, Albert said.

Read to Succeed program back for a sixth year
Program focused on reversing "summer slide"
The notebook by Sam Haut July 11 — 1:30 pm, 2018
The aim is to increase children’s reading. But the problem is simple math.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, said that young students who don’t keep up their reading skills during the summer lose an average of three months of the skills and knowledge they gained in school – the so-called “summer slide.” Then that time has to be made up. That, Hughes said, theoretically adds up to three years’ lag by the time a student graduates from high school. Hughes spoke to a crowd of parents and news media on Tuesday at the Overbrook Educational Center, where he announced the sixth year of the Summer Reads: Read to Succeed program. The program aims to counteract summer slide. In Philadelphia, there are 12 locations serving 475 students entering 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. Joining Hughes at the news conference were Democratic State Sens. Art Haywood and Sharif Street. With them were Patrick Clancy, CEO and president of Philadelphia Works, a citywide workforce development program; John Barber, chief development officer at the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, and Quiana Davis, parent of a student in the program. Hughes, who had the initial idea for the program and enlisted fellow legislators to drum up corporate and other financial support, said there is evidence that the program works. “Our research indicates that the average participant in our Read to Succeed Program when they start school in September are six months ahead” of comparable students who did not participate, Hughes said.

Summer reading program helps kids get ahead of the curve
Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio JULY 10, 2018 - 3:37 PM
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Officials are using the time off from school to help kids get ahead of the curve when they return. The Summer READS: Read to Succeed program is a free reading-centric summer camp used to continue academic achievements through the summer for first- through third-graders. "All the research indicates that when children finish school in June, when they start back to school in late August or early September, they wind up taking two to three months to get back the skills they had lost during the course of the summer," explained state Sen. Vincent Hughes. PA @SenatorHughes highlights the Read to Succeed summer program, which takes place at a dozen locations across #Philly . He says kids who don’t read over the summer will start off behind when the school year starts back up @KYWNewsradio He said this is an extremely fundamental program that shows big results.   "The average participant in our program, when they start school in September are six months ahead," he added. Summer READS Program Director Jinaki Bright said they have plenty of ways they make reading fun. "We do read alouds, we do independent reading, we focus on intense reading skills, as well as infusing reading with math," he said.

This legislation was introduced as HB 2553 on July 10, 2018
House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda: Charter School Tuition Calculations
House of Representatives Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session
MEMORANDUM Posted:June 15, 2018 12:39 PM
From:                Representative Bernie O'Neill and Rep. Stephen McCarter
To:                    All House members
Subject:            Charter School Tuition Calculations
We are introducing this legislation which will address the Charter School Tuition Calculation issue that was a result of a recent decision of the Commonwealth Court.
As a result of litigation involving charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia, known as First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School vs. School District of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) issued a statement in March 2018 that it was rescinding entirely its guidance on calculating charter school tuition (Guidelines), including the PDE-363 calculation form that had been used since the early years of the Charter School Law and that PDE would no longer calculate tuition rates based on expenditure and enrollment data, and that districts should instead calculate their own rates based on the language of the Charter School Law. Since PDE rescinded the Guidelines, the entire charter tuition calculation process and expectations has been unclear. Since this time, several organizations have been working to develop a solution and to ensure charter schools receive their funding that is statutorily owed to them. In order to ensure, moving forward, that the process for calculating tuition rates for charter school students is clear and uniform, we are proposing legislation that will amend the Charter School Law to remedy many of the concerns addressed in the litigation, including:

“The new Board of Education must hold charter operators accountable. Any adjustments in the rating system — which would be a major policy change — should be deliberated on in a public process, for the purpose of raising standards, not lowering them.  The District cannot afford to subsidize charters that are not adequately educating their students.”
Commentary: Philly Board of Education must hold charters accountable
The notebook Commentary by Lisa Haver and Deborah Grill July 11 — 11:36 am, 2018
Lisa Haver is a retired Philadelphia teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools ( Deborah Grill is a retired teacher and school librarian and a research coordinator for APPS.
Philadelphia charter school operators and advocates have long maintained that if they were freed from the bureaucracy and regulations imposed on public schools, charters would be able to quickly and consistently raise student achievement. The School Reform Commission bought into that argument, approving new charters in almost every year of its 17-year reign. The SRC also turned over control of more than 20 neighborhood schools to charter operators through its Renaissance initiative, whose provisions include “stringent academic requirements” that would be used “as a basis for a decision to renew, not renew or revoke a Renaissance school at the end of its [five-year] term.” But when the data show many of those schools failing to achieve anything close to the “dramatic gains” promised, the SRC did not hold those charters accountable. Recently, charter operators have actually lobbied the District to lower the standards by which their schools are evaluated. A June 11 Philadelphia Public School Notebook/WHYY story,“Philadelphia School District nearing new accountability rules for charters,” revealed that secret negotiations had taken place between District and charter officials about changes in the rating system, which “was developed with substantial input from the charter operators themselves.”  This is not the first time charter operators and District officials have met in secret: They conducted closed-door meetings from fall 2016 through spring 2017 to formulate public policy about charters.

2018-19 State Budget Sees EITC Increase, Investment in School Safety
PA Catholic Conference June 25, 2018
Governor Tom Wolf has affixed his signature to the 2018-19 state budget that comes with a total spending number of $32.7 billion for the next fiscal year beginning July 1. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference tracks various areas of the state budget, namely in the realm of education.
The Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, or EITC, received a $25 million increase. That increase will take the current total from $135 million to $160 million. The increase in funding brings the EITC and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) Program totals to $210 million, combined. Below is a breakdown of current EITC & OSTC funding:
·         OSTC – $50 million
·         EITC – $160 million, with the following for each category:
o    $110 million for K-12 Scholarship Organizations
o    $12.5 million for Pre-K Scholarship Organizations
o    $37.5 million for Educational Improvement Organizations
·         Combined OSTC and EITC Totals – $210 million
The tax credit scholarships have been an investment that has paid dividends for students seeking a Catholic or other private education in Pennsylvania. Every Catholic school in all corners of this great Commonwealth benefits from the EITC or OSTC programs.

“The 2018-2019 Pennsylvania budget increases the EITC program by $25 million, for a total of $160 million, and continues funding the OSTC program at $50 million.”
EITC: New PA Budget Benefits Jewish Day Schools
Jewish Exponent By  Selah Maya Zighelboim July 11, 2018
For families at Kohelet Yeshiva, scholarships obtained through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program — the main revenue source for the school’s scholarships — are “life-changing,” Kohelet Yeshiva Executive Director Stuart Gasner said. “I don’t even know what they would do” without the aid, he said. “Their children wouldn’t even be able to attend this institution. Families recognize that, without this generous program and without the school being able to offer scholarships through the generosity of our community, there’s no way that a lot of our families would even consider our school.” Forty percent of Pennsylvania Jewish day school students qualify and receive scholarships through the EITC or the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. These programs incentivize businesses to donate to approved school scholarship funds, such as the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, to receive a tax credit. Families can then apply and, based on eligibility and the scholarship monies’ availability, receive scholarships to attend nonpublic schools.

EITC/OSTC: Tax-Payer Funded Vouchers
Education VotersPA Website 2017
Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs funnel $125 million tax dollars into unaccountable private and religious schools in PA every year. These scholarships are marketed as offering low-income students increased educational opportunities and “choice.” In reality:
·         Students in families that earn $106K/year are eligible for scholarships (these are not low-income students);
·         Scholarships may be awarded to students who are already in private school (this doesn’t offer new opportunities); and
·         Private/religious schools that receive this taxpayer funding are allowed to discriminate against any student for any reason (schools have a choice, not students).
To learn more, read our Mythbusting Tax Credits in the EITC/OSTC programs:
For an in-depth dive on this issue read the Keystone Research Center’s report, “Still no accountability with taxpayer funded vouchers for private/religious schools.” With a hope for change, here's what your school district would receive if lawmakers provided $55M in new PUBLIC school funding instead of $55M in new funding for private schools.

“Nationally, just 2 percent of the teaching force is made up of African American men. The numbers are better in Philadelphia, where about 5 percent of teachers are black males and the school system has made a push to diversify its teacher corps. African American boys taught by black men in grade school, research shows, are more likely to graduate from high school. As many as 50 percent of all teachers leave the profession within the first five years, said Richard Ingersoll, a professor of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and expert in teacher turnover. The numbers are even starker for teachers of color.”
A former drug dealer made good and became a Philly teacher. So why is he thinking of leaving the profession?
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: JULY 11, 2018 — 3:22 PM EDT
Everybody wanted Quamiir Trice — even before he stepped foot into his own classroom. Trice, who was locked up for selling crack at age 16, had turned his life around, and excelled at Community College of Philadelphia and at Howard University. He met President Obama and attracted offers from multiple schools eager to land a rare educational commodity: a black male teacher. He chose his hometown school system, accepting a pitch from Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. in 2017 and signing up to teach fourth-graders at Bethune Elementary in North Philadelphia. “This all feels like a fairy tale,” he said last summer. The reality proved to be different. “It was chaos,” Trice said of his first year. He felt lost about everything from lesson plans to teaching reading. “I was just treading water; things just didn’t feel good. There were so many students, and so much going on that it was impossible for me to reach them.” Despite the frustrations, he loves teaching. But he’s not sure about the nation’s public education system in its current form. So, like scores of first-year teachers, Trice is mulling plan B; he’s decided to go to law school in 2019. And instead of being a shining example of a step in the right direction for the school system, he’s headed toward becoming emblematic of a long, worrisome trend.

In Congress, House GOP appropriators block funding for gun violence research
Politico By ADAM CANCRYN 07/11/2018 08:10 PM EDT
House Republican appropriators Wednesday rejected a proposal to designate millions of dollars for the CDC for gun violence research, voting 32-20 to keep the language out of a fiscal 2019 spending bill. The party-line vote marked Democrats’ latest failed bid to spur studies into preventing firearm-related injuries and deaths — and comes despite a bipartisan agreement earlier this year that the CDC is permitted to conduct such research. The agency's ability to study gun violence had been limited by a 1996 provision that prevented the CDC from collecting data to advocate for gun control. “It’s time that we give the scientists the tools to study the causes of firearm injury, in hopes that more Americans can be spared from violent suicide and firearm-related accidents,” said Rep. Nita Lowey(D-N.Y.), who introduced the amendment. The measure, which would’ve been tacked onto the House’s fiscal 2019 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, proposed earmarking $10 million for competitive grants to support gun violence research.

Does Attendance in Private Schools Predict Student Outcomes at Age 15? Evidence From a Longitudinal Study
Robert C. PiantaArya AnsariRobert C. Pianta, ...First Published July 9, 2018 Research Article  - Abstract - By tracking longitudinally a sample of American children (n = 1,097), this study examined the extent to which enrollment in private schools between kindergarten and ninth grade was related to students’ academic, social, psychological, and attainment outcomes at age 15. Results from this investigation revealed that in unadjusted models, children with a history of enrollment in private schools performed better on nearly all outcomes assessed in adolescence. However, by simply controlling for the sociodemographic characteristics that selected children and families into these schools, all of the advantages of private school education were eliminated. There was also no evidence to suggest that low-income children or children enrolled in urban schools benefited more from private school enrollment.

PA Superintendent of the Year nominations requested by July 27th
PASA and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) are seeking nominations for 2019 Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year. Candidates will be judged on the following criteria: leadership for learning, communication, professionalism and community involvement. The nomination deadline is Friday, July 27. For more information, visit the AASA website,

Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). 
With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or

Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16
PSBA Website May 14, 2018
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators. The 2018 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 14, 2018. The application due date is July 16, 2018 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Download the Application

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.

2nd Annual National Black Male Educators Convening, Oct. 12-14, Philly
Teacher diversity works. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response. Come participate in the 2nd National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome. Register to attend. Nominate a speaker. Propose a workshop. Sponsor the event.

Save the Dates PASA/PSBA School Leadership Conference – Hershey, Oct. 17-19, 2018 
Mark your calendar! The Delegate Assembly will take place Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.
Housing now open!

Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket here.
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait.  These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget to register for your hotel room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link here. Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer some scholarships based on need. Go here and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to get your Early Bird ticket here. We can't wait to see you.

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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