Thursday, July 5, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 5: Wolf: Pa. education funding changes will ‘take time’

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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Wolf: Pa. education funding changes will ‘take time’

Wolf: Pa. education funding changes will ‘take time’
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent July 5, 2018
When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week he’d support sending all of the state’s education money through its new funding formula, he emboldened advocates and riled opponents. Now Wolf is hedging his position to say that any changes will “take time,” and that he would not support a sudden, radical shift in the way Pennsylvania doles out school dollars. “Governor Wolf believes we must fully and adequately invest in public education, and that every dollar should be run through the fair funding formula,” said the governor’s spokesman, J.J. Abbott. “But achieving both of these goals will take time and additional funding, as well as input from the General Assembly, school districts, and communities across the commonwealth.” Abbott added that Wolf would be pragmatic in making any changes to the state’s system for distributing education money. He did not elaborate on exactly what type of proposal Wolf might support, but it’s safe to say the governor is not keen on sending all money through the formula right now.

“PA Schools Work spokesman Charlie Lyons said the organization doesn’t back an immediate funding redistribution. The organization used to be called The Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Two issues need addressed, he said: Adequacy of funding in the state and the fair distribution of funding. More funding is needed to support all schools and then money can be distributed both adequately and equitably, Lyons indicated.”
Concern rises over state school funding plan
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter July 3, 2018
A plan to change how school funds are distributed across the state has been met by local opponents, who say the concept would severely cripple area school districts. But Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan wouldn’t be immediate –– and wouldn’t be without some input from the General Assembly, school districts and communities around the state, said Wolf’s Press Secretary J.J. Abbott. He said, “Governor Wolf believes we must fully and adequately invest in public education, and that every dollar should be run through the fair funding formula,” which got approval in 2016. State Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, said he finds the plan concerning, especially since state funding makes up 50 percent to 70 percent of school budgets. House Appropriations Committee information provided by Causer states shows the breakdown as follows: Austin Area School District with a 47 percent cut; Bradford Area School District, 33 percent; Cameron County School District, 49 percent; Coudersport Area School District, 24 percent; Galeton Area School District, 21 percent; Johnsonburg Area School District, 60 percent; Kane Area School District, 42 percent; Northern Potter School District, 46 percent; Oswayo Valley School District, 27 percent; Otto-Eldred School District, 56 percent; Port Allegany School District, 46 percent; Ridgway Area School District, 50 percent; St. Marys Area School District, 34 percent; and Smethport Area School District, 48 percent. For instance, Otto-Eldred could see an approximately $3.3 million cut in state basic education funding, said district Superintendent Matthew Splain. “In a $12 million budget, that is a hole that cannot be filled without some very difficult decisions and loss of programs,” he said. “Needless to say, the quality programming we have worked so hard to build would be impossible to provide.”

Editorial: Property taxes threaten American dream
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 07/04/18, 9:10 PM EDT | UPDATED: 10 SECS AGO
Chris Onesti thought he had bought into the American dream. It is fast turning into a nightmare. Onesti bought a home on Blanchard Road in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby Township. That would be in the Upper Darby School District. He and many of his Drexel Hill neighbors bite their fingernails each year as they await that annual greeting card from the school district - their property tax bill. Onesti believes rising school taxes are driving down the value of homes in his neighborhood. The home he bought on a 6,000-square-foot lot a few years back for $350,000 is now worth considerably less, in part because of school tax tabs that now are running north of $10,000 a year. Residents now find themselves trapped in their homes, paying the mortgage and taxes while seeing a potential escape route suddenly turn into a dead end when they realize they can no longer get the price that they paid for their homes. Welcome to the long-running dilemma of the home owner, not only in Delaware County, but across much of Pennsylvania as well. This is what happens when you bankroll the state’s education system on the backs of property owners - and their homes. Local elected officials have heard the pleas before, and have tried to take action.

Only about 7% of PA school funding distributed via the fair funding formula….
Comcast Newsmakers with Chris Rabb, PA State Rep. Posted Jul 02, 2018 Runtime 4:47
Pennsylvania State Representative Chris Rabb talks about the formula used by the State for funding schools throughout the Commonwealth. Recorded June 29, 2018.

Fair Districts PA asks Gov. Tom Wolf to call special session on redistricting bill
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose  Updated Jul 3, 2018 at 2:18 PM
Fair Districts PA has asked Gov. Tom Wolf to call for the General Assembly to return to work on Monday so it can debate and vote on a bill to create an independent commission that would draw electoral maps starting in 2021. In a Monday letter to Wolf, Carol Kuniholm, the chairwoman of Fair District PA, said “a special session would provide opportunity to begin again with a strong, clean bill.” Senate Bill 22, which groups opposing gerrymandering initially supported, was passed by the state Senate 35-14 on June 13, but many of those same groups withdrew their backing after Republicans added an amendment to create judicial districts for statewide courts. Democrats and other critics said that was in retaliation for the state Supreme Court, which is majority Democrat, tossing out Pennsylvania’s previous congressional districts map for unfairly favoring Republicans. Even if Wolf did call for a special session, the Legislature is not required to hold one and Republican leaders, who control the House and Senate, could call members back to Harrisburg now if they wanted to.

Why would Pittsburgh and Harrisburg say no to Propel charter merger?
Public Source by  Mary Niederberger July 3, 2018
The tension-filled dynamic between the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Propel Schools network took on a new twist when the Pittsburgh board denied Propel's application to merge its 13 schools into one unit. The state Department of Education also denied Propel’s request. State officials said they stand ready to help Propel address the concerns raised in any “subsequent applications,” and Propel indicated it plans to continue to pursue the merger. Pittsburgh's denial rested largely on the fact that it can't get answers from Propel on whether its money is spent exclusively on Pittsburgh students, while the state has concerns about Propel's lack of transparency, special education program and financial stability. As of June, there were 1,124 Pittsburgh students attending Propel schools, with the district paying $14,924 for each regular education student and $33,651 for each special education student. School districts pay tuition for each student from within the district who attends a charter school, with the tuition rate based on the district’s per-pupil expenditures. "If they put all of this money into a big fund, how do we determine that they don’t use the money for our kids at other Propel schools?" Last month, Propel submitted applications to the state and the seven school districts in which its charter schools operate to become a Multiple Charter School Organization. MCSO is a new designation under the state Charter School Law that allows multiple charter schools to merge into one entity and operate under one board and one administration — if they meet certain conditions.

Oped: State budget reflects new vision
York Dispatch OPED by Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, Pennsylvania House Appropriations Chairman Published 8:11 a.m. ET July 4, 2018
This year’s budget encapsulates three years of effort from the House Republican Caucus. The budget doesn’t raise taxes or fees, puts money away in Pennsylvania’s savings account known as the Rainy Day Fund, keeps spending growth below the rate of inflation and invests more in education. While the governor is out taking credit for the work of the General Assembly, it is important to remember that this budget and the last three passed under his term in office have reflected the ideals of Republicans in the General Assembly. Left to his own devices, the governor would have substantially raised taxes on every Pennsylvania family and massively increased state spending. House Republicans have been focused on job growth, and that is why we have fought the governor’s tax increases. We know higher taxes are counter-productive to a more robust economy. Three years ago, in March of 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf stood before the General Assembly and declared that it was imperative that the General Assembly enact a massive tax increase on the people of Pennsylvania or fiscal calamity would rain down on the Commonwealth. If we had enacted his proposed taxes, Pennsylvanians would have sent over $12.5 billion more to Harrisburg over the last three years. This is according to the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office.

Lancaster County schools to receive $3.5M boost in basic education funding in 2018-19
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer July 5, 2018
Lancaster County schools in 2018-19 will get nearly $3.5 million more in state basic education funding than last year, under the budget enacted by the governor in June. The increase, which amounts to 1.9 percent, is welcome news to school administrators here. But some fear that the burden on local property owners is still too much. “After the last three years of challenges with the passage of the state budget I am pleased to have certainty with a final budget that has been fully approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor,” Penn Manor School District Superintendent Mike Leichliter said in an email. “I am also pleased to see an increase in state funding.” The 2018-19 state budget includes an overall $100 million — or 1.7 percent — increase for basic education. However, Leichliter added, as state-mandated costs, particularly pensions, continue to rise, schools here and across the state must increasingly rely on their local taxpayers for revenue.

Indiana County school districts get bump in state funding
Indiana Gazette By PATRICK CLOONAN Jun 26, 2018 Updated Jun 29, 2018
Indiana County school districts all received boosts in state subsidies in the 2018-19 budget approved last week by the General Assembly, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said over the weekend. The 62nd District representative said subsidies range from $17.1 million for Indiana Area to $8.2 million for Homer-Center, while increases ranged from $192,731 (1.6 percent) for Purchase Line to $682,274 (3.9 percent) for Indiana Area.
Other funding increases:
• Blairsville-Saltsburg, $325,499 (2.2 percent) increase to $14.8 million
• Marion Center, $345,151 (2.5 percent) increase to $13.7 million
• United, $226,082 (1.9 percent) increase to $12.1 million
• Purchase Line, $192,731 (1.6 percent) increase to $12.1 million
• Penns Manor Area, $185,590 (1.8 percent) increase to $10.3 million
• Homer-Center, $197,752 (2.4 percent) increase to $8.2 million
Reed said those amounts cover state plans for basic education, special education and Ready-To-Learn Block Grants, and that the budget also provides the state’s share of district Social Security and pension expenses.

With Pa. House, Senate gone, big issues remain unresolved
Inquirer by Liz Navratil & Angela Couloumbis - Staff Writers Updated: JULY 4, 2018 6:00 AM EDT
HARRISBURG — When state legislators fled for summer break last week, they stranded a pile of important bills on hot-button issues such as domestic violence, fraternity hazing, redistricting, abortion, and cutting the size of the legislature. Although some could come up for votes this fall, others are likely to get passed over for less controversial measures ahead of the November election. The stakes, after all, are high: Every state House seat and half the seats in the Senate are on the ballot. Each chamber has scheduled just nine voting days before the election, and controversial votes can and will be used in campaigns. Steve Miskin, spokesperson for Republicans who control the House, said that chamber’s priority when it returns to session is limiting regulations, including a proposal to give the legislature power to revoke individual rules. In the Senate, Republicans who hold the majority plan to make school safety measures one of their top priorities, according to spokesperson Jennifer Kocher.

PA Education Secretary: State Budget Continues Strong Investments in Students, Job Training
PA.GOV 06/27/2018
Harrisburg, PA – State Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera today outlined the investments in education championed by Governor Tom Wolf in the 2018-19 budget and over the last four years that are helping Pennsylvania’s students by restoring education funding, increasing enrollment in kindergarten and pre-k, bolstering graduation rates, and training more students for careers. “Over the past four years, Governor Wolf has fought hard to reinvest in Pennsylvania’s schools,” Rivera said. “With this increased support, students across Pennsylvania are now learning in smaller classes, with more teachers, and from new and innovative programs developed by their schools.” Rivera noted that in this year’s budget, Governor Wolf secured an additional $100 million in basic education funding, bringing the total increase over four years to more than $538 million that will be distributed using the fair funding formula enacted by the Wolf Administration in 2016. The formula provides for equitable funding for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. Secretary Rivera added that the 2018-19 budget also lays out a plan to re-imagine how the commonwealth provides workforce training, as well as advancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

“One thing board members have heard loud and clear in the months since their appointment by Mayor Kenney is that the public wants a break from the SRC and its complicated history; they want more accessibility and transparency. Egea-Hinton and McGinley said the new committee structure the board will form on Monday should help with that. “The committees will give people a place to have discussions, to have more informal dialogue,” said McGinley.”
Hidden for years, some Philly schools' artwork is back - and new school board means to unearth more
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: JULY 3, 2018 — 6:10 PM EDT
For years, they languished in a storage facility, relics from a bygone era. But the stained-glass windows that hung at the old Philadelphia School District building at 21st and Benjamin Franklin Parkway were gorgeous, colorful city scenes that were wasted out of the public eye, said Christopher McGinley, a member of the new school board and de facto district historian. McGinley’s parents were both district educators, and he worked as a teacher and administrator in the system for years before becoming a superintendent in the Philadelphia suburbs and then a School Reform Commission member. So as part of a $500,000 renovation to the Board of Education offices inside district headquarters on North Broad Street, the windows were hauled out of storage, cleaned, repaired, and hung. Take it as a sign, McGinley said, of the way the new board means to do business. “I’m really committed to that artwork being seen by students and citizens,” said McGinley, who added that he “really wanted there to be connections to the old board building.”

Email from Otis Hackney, Chief Education Officer City of Philadelphia
Education supporters, The next chapter of our City’s history is finally here. As of July 1, Philadelphia’s schools have returned to local control under a new Board of Education. his transition wouldn’t have been possible without the hundreds of Philadelphians who supported the process by filling out surveys, nominating Board members, and participating in the Board’s listening sessions. Now more than ever, it’s important to stay involved. Local control means Philadelphians can use their knowledge, ideas and experience to influence the future of our schools. We will succeed, and our schools will excel, when we all step up to support public education.
 Here’s how you can get involved:

·         Attend the Board of Education’s first public meeting on Monday, July 9 at 5:00 p.m.
·         Encourage a high school junior or senior to apply for the Board’s student representative position by August 13 (or - if you’re an eligible student - fill out an application!)
·         Follow the Board of Education on Facebook and Twitter
·         Read the report from the Board of Education’s recent Listening Tour
We look forward to working with the new Board of Education as well as students, parents, educators and residents to build on the District’s recent progress. Together, we can ensure quality schools in every neighborhood.

Kindergarten coders:  When is too early to put kids in front of computer screens?
Some parents worry about the push to put computers in the hands of the youngest students.
Morning Call July 5, 2018 by William Bender and Kristen A. Graham Of (TNS)
Last year, Jeremy Seedorf's 9-year-old daughter and her classmates received tablet computers from their Lancaster County school. He wouldn't let her bring one home: "The iPads were coming, and there was nothing we could do about it." In the Neshaminy School District, Jessica Reeder was taken aback when she discovered that her daughter had to use the internet to do her first-grade homework: "That was a little bit concerning to us." Jennifer Lentz limits screen time at home for her sons, but she can't stop the increasing amount they are getting in class at their Delaware County elementary school: "There are a lot of parents who feel like me. But I think they feel defeated." Hadi Partovi might consider that a victory. Partovi, a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of the nonprofit, is leading a national effort to convince schools that more and younger is better when it comes to coding and computer science.

Does Your State Make the Grade? Measuring Our Nation's Commitment to Public Schools
Schott Foundation for Public Education and Network for Public Education report June 28, 2018
With equitable policies and resources, our public schools can be the beating heart of American democracy: engines of opportunity for all children, centers of neighborhood support, and institutions responsive to the communities around them. However, there are some who advocate for handing these public institutions and dollars over to private interests — despite overwhelming data showing such strategies simply don't live up to their promises and run counter to core educational values of equity and opportunity. In the midst of a continuous push for privatization from Washington, DC and many state capitals, it's more important than ever to ask, "When it comes to supporting public schools, does my state make the grade?" A new report by the Schott Foundation and the Network for Public Education, Grading the States: A Report Card on Our Nation's Commitment to Public Schools, evaluates to what extent the 50 states and the District of Columbia support public schools, or instead funnel public money elsewhere through charter and voucher programs. It is also the first in-depth nonpartisan report card to include state-by-state measurements of whether states with charter and voucher schools protect student civil rights and guard taxpayers from fraud and misuse of public funds.

‘Access to Literacy’ Is Not a Constitutional Right, Judge in Detroit Rules
The New York Times By Jacey Fortin July 4, 2018
Do students at poorly performing schools have a constitutional right to a better education?
On Friday, a Federal District Court judge in Michigan decided that they did not when he dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed by students at troubled schools in Detroit. The suit, filed in September 2016, argued that students at some of the city’s most underperforming schools — serving mostly racial minorities — had been denied “access to literacy” because of underfunding, mismanagement and discrimination. The complaint described schools that were overcrowded with students but lacking in teachers; courses without basic resources like books and pencils; and classrooms that were bitingly cold in the winter, stiflingly hot in the summer and infested with rats and insects. Conditions like those, the lawsuit said, contributed to dismal test scores and left students woefully underprepared for life after high school. “The abysmal conditions and appalling outcomes in plaintiffs’ schools are unprecedented,” the complaint said. “And they would be unthinkable in schools serving predominantly white, affluent student populations.”

K-12 and the U.S. Supreme Court: Highlights of the 2017-18 Term
Education Week By Mark Walsh June 29, 2018
After a major term for K-12 education the year before, the U.S. Supreme Court—with one blockbuster exception and a major retirement—had a more measured term in 2017-18. The standout case for educators was Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, which stripped teacher and other public employee unions of the right to collect agency fees from nonmembers, overturning a decades-old high court precedent. The aftershocks are expected to continue. That ruling was issued the last day of the term, June 27, the same day that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a highly influential moderate-conservative at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court for three decades, announced his retirement. In his time on the court, Kennedy wrote major opinions on race, religion, and other areas of public education. Here’s a summary of opinions on issues of interest to K-12 educators this term, including union rights, a variety of First Amendment issues, and cases with implications for school funding and immigration.

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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