Friday, August 10, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup August 10, 2018 Students’ math scores drop for years after using a private school voucher in country’s largest program

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Students’ math scores drop for years after using a private school voucher in country’s largest program is now live
Follow PA Schools Work on twitter: @PASchoolsWork
PA Schools Work continues the statewide movement to secure a brighter future for Pennsylvania by ensuring that every student has an opportunity to succeed. Our work builds on the achievements of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, which successfully pushed for bipartisan enactment of a fair funding formula in 2016. In 2018, many of the Campaign’s partners formed PA Schools Work, because when Pennsylvania’s schools work, they create thriving communities and launch successful students–but only when adequately and equitably funded. PA Schools Work unites organizations representing Pennsylvanians from across the state: teachers, school administrators, school board members, and parents; urban, suburban and rural schools; community organizations; and advocates for children.

Students’ math scores drop for years after using a private school voucher in country’s largest program
Chalkbeat BY MATT BARNUM  -August 9, 2018
Low-income students who use a voucher to attend private school in Indiana see their math scores drop for several years as a result, according to a new study. The findings are a blow to the argument that poor students benefit from the choice to attend a private school, a policy championed by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Our results do not provide robust support that the [voucher program] has been successful to date at improving student achievement for low-income students who use a voucher to switch from a public to a private school,” conclude the researchers, Mark Berends of Notre Dame and Joseph Waddington of the University of Kentucky. The paper, focuses on the initial rollout of what has become the largest school voucher program in the country. In the most recent school year, over 35,000 students were enrolled in the initiative. The study examines a few thousand low-income students who switched from public to private school using a voucher starting in the 2011-12 school year. Notably, the authors show that low-income students who used a voucher had slightly higher starting test scores than low-income kids who stayed in public schools. This gives credence to fears that a voucher program could concentrate the most disadvantaged students in the public school system.

After first year of Pa. school improvement pilot, Wolf team looks to expand
By Katie Meyer, WITF August 9, 2018
The Wolf administration is touting a new approach to coordinating with schools on the district level around Pennsylvania. After running a pilot program in three school districts last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education said it’s trying to give those districts as much flexibility as possible. The pilot involved 10 representatives from the administration working with 19 schools in Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Juniata County — chosen to represent districts ranging in size from small, medium, and large districts. The effort stems from the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the previous No Child Left Behind Act in 2015. Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said the goal is shifting to more individual approaches to specific district needs.

Superintendents, school officials to attend school safety roundtable discussion next week in Williamsport
PA Senate GOP Website Posted on Aug 09, 2018
WILLIAMSPORT – Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) will host the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-29), for a roundtable discussion on school safety efforts next week with local school superintendents and administrative staff. The roundtable discussion will be held on Thursday, August 16 at 1 p.m. at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Bush Campus Center, One College Avenue in Williamsport. “Enacting common sense legislation to protect students, teachers and school staff has been a priority for the legislature in recent months,” Yaw said. “This roundtable discussion with our superintendents and school officials will provide us with more insight on how best to address challenges and implement solutions that can further safeguard everyone moving forward.” “I commend Senator Yaw for bringing the Senate Majority Policy Committee to Williamsport to listen to the concerns and suggestions when it comes to how we best protect our children, educators and school staff in north central Pennsylvania,” Argall said. “These conversations are critical because the needs and suggestions vary depending on where in the state you are located. School safety does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. We need to hear from every corner of the state on how we address this critical issue.” The roundtable discussion will feature a brief summary of recently passed legislation, pending proposals that are awaiting action by the General Assembly and a focus on new ideas and school safety solutions from local participants. The event is open to the public.
An agenda and more information will be found on Senator Yaw’s website at and on the committee’s website at

Redistricting reformers looking outside the box for legislative options
Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 9, 2018 6:48 PM
 (Harrisburg) -- After a year of campaigning and months of legislative debate, it's likely too late for state lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment overhauling Pennsylvania's redistricting process before the next map-redrawing gets underway in 2021. So now, reform advocates are exploring alternative options. Critics of the map-drawing methods for congressional and state legislative districts have spent months insisting state lawmakers have too much power over the process--and saying that leads to political gerrymandering and incumbent protection.  Despite some tortured progress toward creating a citizen redistricting commission this spring, the House and Senate couldn't agree on a plan in time for the two-session amendment process to start. But Carol Kuniholm, with Fair Districts PA, said the group's still looking into legal options to get an amendment done on a shortened timeline. Plus, she said if that fails, lawmakers don't need an amendment to change the congressional district-drawing process--or to make a number of smaller changes. "You know, rules on having it be a public process, not being allowed to use partisan data, having to give reasons for splitting communities or municipalities or, particularly, for splitting counties," she said. Lawmakers return to Harrisburg from their summer break next month. Kuniholm said the group won't start lobbying in earnest until the new session starts in January--noting, they're hoping lawmakers who are more amenable to their ideas win the midterm elections.

Guest Column: How we are failing our poorest children - & ultimately the nation
Too few American children have access to preschool activities.
Delco Times By Joe Batory, Times Columnist POSTED: 08/10/18, 5:26 AM EDT
Joseph Batory is the former superintendent of schools in Upper Darby. He is the author of three books and has been widely published with articles about politics and education.
Nations around the world seem to have a much better understanding than the USA that the most important learning for all human beings occurs between birth and 5 years of age. Children’s brains in those early years are remarkably receptive and transmit and store masses of information instantaneously. It is during these early years when our social, emotional, behavioral and cognitive (intellectual) competencies are developed. More than 85 percent of the foundation for effective communication, problem solving, and critical thinking is developed by age 5. Most countries internationally have recognized the value of Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) education and have begun offering a version of universal public preschool for its children. But not the USA. Many developed nations around the world now have more than 90 percent enrollment in Pre-K programs, far surpassing the U.S., which has just over 60 percent enrollment for its 4-year-olds. The USA cannot continue to ignore this disturbing reality. In that context, it is interesting to note that China plans to have Pre-K for every 4-year-old and most 3-year-olds by 2020.

Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity is now for Scott Wagner
JULIAN ROUTH Pittsburgh Post-Gazette AUG 9, 2018 8:01 AM
In its first major move in support of a candidate in Pennsylvania this cycle, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity announced Thursday it will support Scott Wagner in his campaign to unseat Gov. Tom Wolf this November. The self-proclaimed grassroots free-market advocacy group, deeply entrenched in conservative politics, will canvass, make phone calls and run paid advertisements backing the Republican nominee and state senator, while highlighting Mr. Wolf's "failed policy record" as a Democratic incumbent governor, according to a release. In a statement, Beth Anne Mumford, the group's Pennsylvania director, said Mr. Wagner's record "reflects strong leadership on causes our activists champion.” The Republican has based much of his campaign on making Pennsylvania more friendly to businesses, while Americans for Prosperity fights for lowering taxes and restraining the influence government has over the economy — ideas, Ms. Mumford said, that Mr. Wolf has failed to abide by in his first term as governor.

Dallas teachers, district to resume negotiations
Citizens Voice by JAMES HALPIN / PUBLISHED: AUGUST 9, 2018
Dallas School District teachers went out on a one day strike in Dallas last June.
DALLAS — The Dallas School District and the teachers union have agreed to resume “good faith” negotiations this weekend aimed at settling a long-running labor dispute. Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury in June ordered the parties to engage in daily bargaining sessions. But rather than resuming talks, the district appealed his ruling to Commonwealth Court — while the union sought to have the district held in contempt of court. In a joint statement issued Thursday, the parties said they each agreed to drop those actions and that they will resume daily talks starting Saturday. “The parties have come together to resolve their differences regarding the foregoing and will negotiate in good faith until a successor collective bargaining agreement is ratified by the parties,” the statement said. District teachers have been working without a contract since September 2015. They had a one-day strike June 19, a strike for eight days earlier this school year and a strike for 22 days in 2016.

Roebuck talks free college tuition legislation
Philly Trib August 9, 2018
State Rep. James Roebuck (D-Phila.) on Thursday hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing at Temple University on the PA Promise Act, his legislation that would provide free tuition for students attending Pennsylvania’s community colleges, state system universities, and state-related institutions. Roebuck was joined by Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and state legislators from across the commonwealth. The committee discussed H.B. 2444, which would remove substantial financial burdens on students and their families and make college more affordable. “Free tuition makes sense. The success is proven. The pressures of getting into a good college can be stressful. The overwhelming cost that comes with it should not be one of them,” Roebuck said. “Graduates should be able to concentrate on getting good jobs and starting families, not be concerned with drowning in debt for years to come. And it is our duty to help create that reality.”

Inside the $3 Billion School Security Industry: Companies Market Sophisticated Technology to ‘Harden’ Campuses, but Will It Make Us Safe?
The 74 August 9, 2018 by  MARK KEIERLEBER
Inside an underground meeting room attached to the U.S. Capitol, past guards and metal detectors, lawmakers and officials from leading security companies discussed a burgeoning threat of mass school shootings and the dire need to “harden” campuses before someone else gets killed. “If you think this cannot happen to you, I’m here to tell you I used to think the same exact thing,” said Noel Glacer, a Florida-based security professional. The message — belied by the statistical rarity of school shootings — was part cautionary tale, part call to action.  Glacer is no dispassionate observer. In February, his son, Jake, was in a psychology class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a gunman opened fire, killing 17. Glacer urged people in the room to donate to SOS Parkland, a nonprofit that’s raising money to equip the city’s schools with additional security. “It was horrible,” he said, recalling the Valentine’s Day shooting. “It can happen to you. It can.” Glacer spoke at a roundtable in Washington in late June, part of the annual conference of the Security Industry Association, a trade group. Attendees included Trump administration officials, legislators from both parties, security-company executives, and industry lobbyists.

What Is ESSA's New School-Spending Transparency Requirement, and How Will It Work?
Education Week By Daarel Burnette II August 9, 2018 
When it comes to educating a child, the role of money —how much and how it gets spent—has long mystified policymakers and educators. This school year, an often-overlooked provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act will offer some deeper information when states start reporting to the public school-by-school spending. Actual school spending—rather than average district per-pupil spending—can reveal where the most experienced teachers are working, whether racial minorities and districts’ neediest children are receiving their fair (and necessary) share of tax dollars, and if schools that get the same amount of money are getting the same academic results. ESSA for the first time requires the public reporting of that data, starting in the 2018-19 school year. But how to collect and report this data, a technically challenging and politically thorny process, has roiled the school finance community.

PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2018, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 17 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person's name with an asterisk (*). Voting procedure: Each school entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 24-Oct. 11, 2018). Voting will be accomplished through a secure third-party, web-based voting site that will require a password login. One person from each member school entity will be authorized as the official person to register the vote on behalf of his or her school entity. In the case of school districts, it will be the board secretary who will cast votes on behalf of the school board. A full packet of instructions and a printed slate will be sent to authorized vote registrars the week of August 7. Special note: Boards should be sure to add discussion and voting on candidates to their agenda during one of their meetings in August, September or October before the open voting period ends.

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

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!

“Not only do we have a superstar lineup of keynote speakers including Diane Ravitch, Jesse Hagopian, Pasi Sahlberg, Derrick Johnson and Helen Gym, but there will be countless sessions to choose from on the issues you care about the most. We will cover all bases from testing, charters, vouchers and school funding, to issues of student privacy and social justice in schools.”
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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