Friday, October 26, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 26: Students First PAC has spent over $2.75 million in 2018


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.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Students First PAC has spent over $2.75 million in 2018


PA Schools Work Summit; November 17th at 8 locations around the state.
Join a movement to fund #PASchools! PA Schools need more state funding & we need your help to convince the legislature that increased state funding is an urgent priority. Join us!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pa-schools-work-communities-united-for-our-students-future-tickets-46944712900?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete

Follow the $$$ - PA school privatization Students First PAC spent over $2.75 million in 2018
PA Department of State Campaign Financing Website
$1M to Scott Wagner; $1.75M to Commonwealth Leaders Fund where Matt Brouillette is treasurer, which passed through $200K to the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania PAC
https://www.campaignfinanceonline.pa.gov/Pages/CFReportSearch.aspx

Fights for U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania closely watched
Delco Times By MARC LEVY Associated Press October 25, 2018
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Fights for U.S. House seats are shaping up as the most closely watched contests in Pennsylvania as the Democratic Party aims to recapture the U.S. House majority. Republican losses in the state wouldn't be surprising because the party of the president historically does poorly in midterm elections. But Democrats have another reason to believe they can flip up to six seats and help the party erase the 23-seat Republican House majority. A state Supreme Court decision in January threw out 6-year-old congressional district boundaries as unconstitutionally drawn to benefit Republicans. Under that map, Republicans won 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 House seats in three straight elections even as Democrats dominated statewide elections.  The replacement districts approved by the court's Democratic majority are fueling more competitive contests. A look at key races:
https://www.delcotimes.com/news/national/fights-for-u-s-house-seats-in-pennsylvania-closely-watched/article_85266705-a1cf-5351-b91b-fd12e29801ff.html

I'm a Harrisburg middle school teacher. This is why I'd never teach anywhere else | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Clarissa Cecconi Updated 8:45 AM; Posted 8:45 AM
Middle school students have amazing energy and passion. If a teacher can hook their curiosity and reel them in, they are intrigued. High school students might think they're too cool for school, but middle schoolers are still fresh, and they want to learn. This is an age when every student should be introduced to the world of possibilities ahead and have the chance to explore new realms. I wanted to be someone who helps open those doors, especially for students in underserved schools. Education inequity blocks children from escaping poverty. A dedicated teacher can help break the cycle. I'm one of those lucky people pursuing my dream. I am a middle school science teacher in Harrisburg School District, and the opportunity came about from a stint in the district as a middle-school substitute teacher.
https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2018/10/im_a_harrisburg_middle_school.html#incart_river_index

Governor's race: Two Yorkers, two very different visions for Pa.
Logan Hullinger, York Dispatch Published 2:57 p.m. ET Oct. 24, 2018 | Updated 2:14 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2018
Election Day is less than two weeks away, and as Pennsylvania voters contemplate whether to keep their progressive leader or take a right turn, only one thing is certain: The next governor will be a millionaire from York County. Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner are both county residents who have owned lucrative local businesses, and both first waded into politics a little more than four years ago. The governor is running on his nearly four-year track record, while Wagner has pledged, if elected, to "get more done in the first six months than you've seen in the last 12 years." Wolf visited The York Dispatch offices Friday, Oct. 19, to look back on his first term and make a final case for his re-election before Nov. 6 election. Wagner received the same invitation but did not accept.
https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/10/24/governors-race-two-york-businessmen-two-very-different-visions-pa/1694787002/

'People don't talk to each other': PennLive's readers weigh in on the midterm | Friday Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek jmicek@pennlive.com Updated 7:26 AM; Posted 7:26 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Frustrating. Exciting. Chaotic. Contentious. Historic. Exciting. Hopeful. And scary.
Those were just some of the adjectives that your friends and neighbors used to describe a highly consequential Nov. 6 mid-term election that's now than just a little more than 10 days away. As candidates for Pennsylvania governor, the United States Senate and House of Representatives and the state Legislature gear up to make their closing arguments to the voters, PennLive's reader panel gathered to parse the issues; dish on the candidates, and mourn what they say is the shrinking middle ground between Democrats and Republicans and the ongoing erosion of our political dialogue. "I would love to have a real conversation with Democrats It's very hard to find someone who knows their facts and you can have a true exchange of ideas," said Bobbye Gregory, of Camp Hill. She was a new participant on the panel, which first convened in late 2016 after President Donald Trump's election, and now meets bimonthly to discuss some of the big issues of the day. 
https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2018/10/sunday_election_panel_column.html#incart_river_index

The $40,000 cab ride
WHYY Listen 12:07 Air Date: October 24, 2018
What would you expect to find in a public school district’s budget – money for books? Basketballs? What about $38 million for taxi cabs? On this episode of The Why, WHYY education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent examines why the school district has absorbed this cost, and what it says about the future of urban education.
https://whyy.org/episodes/the-40000-cab-ride/

What the Secretary of Education thought of his visit to Bellefonte schools
Centre Daily Times BY LAUREN MUTHLER lmuthler@centredaily.com October 25, 2018 06:32 PM
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera sat in the back of teacher Melissa MacNeely’s third-grade Spanish class Thursday morning, smiling and watching as the students sang songs and participated in an engaging language lesson at Marion-Walker Elementary School. MacNeely spoke only in Spanish throughout the lesson as her students went over numbers, did simple math problems, matched different shapes with their Spanish names, and eagerly raised their hands to answer their teacher’s questions — not a word spoken in English. “To walk into a language class and to see the students engaged with as much energy that was exhibited by the teacher and the kids was great to see,” Rivera said. “What probably was most impressive was how she integrated language lessons with multiple skills, like sentence structure, and shapes with the geometry, and multi-course opportunities for kids. When you integrate different skill sets with different lessons, it makes for a great lesson.”
https://www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/bellefonte/article220440510.html#storylink=latest_side

Superintendent Rodriguez: Can guns make our schools safer?
Pottstown Mercury Opinion by Stephen Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pottstown Schools Oct 23, 2018
For many students, parents and politicians, the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was a wake-up call on just how vulnerable schools can be to major acts of violence. So we begin again the public square debate on all the questions that keep coming up since as far back as the Columbine shooting in 1999. What makes our schools safe? Should we have metal detectors? Armed Guards in every school? Guns for teachers? What about mental health? Should we monitor social media? As the leader of Pottstown School District, the weight of responsibility for the safety of over 4,000 souls has never been heavier. Our school leaders wrestle with how to prepare facilities and procedures for all sorts of emergencies. This October, we completed Armed Violent Intruder drills with the Pottstown Police Department and began the 4th year of training students and staff in the “Run, Hide, Fight” model of emergency preparedness. Meanwhile, we, like many Pennsylvania school districts, have submitted an ACT 44 Grant in the hopes of upgrading and adding to our security infrastructure.
https://www.pottsmerc.com/opinion/superintendent-rodriguez-can-guns-make-our-schools-safer/article_08269e90-d6f5-11e8-9b05-6b0ed2efcbe0.html

Pennsylvania standardized test scores show deficits in math, especially for older students [data]
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer October 25, 2018
Math continues to be a struggle for many Pennsylvania students, particularly those who are older, according to the latest standardized test scores. The state Department of Education this week released 2018 state-level data on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone ExamsSchool-level data should be released in November.  Students have historically struggled the most on the math PSSA, and that continued this year as just 42 percent scored proficient or advanced.  The proficiency rate among grade levels generally declined with age. Third grade was at 54 percent; fourth grade, 44 percent; fifth grade, 45 percent; sixth grade, 40 percent; seventh grade, 39 percent; and eighth grade, 31 percent.  A similar trend, despite consisting of fewer grade levels, occurred in science. Sixty-five percent of students — 76 percent in fourth grade, 54 percent in eighth grade — taking the science exam demonstrated proficiency. Meanwhile, 61 percent of students who took the English language arts exam scored proficient or advanced. 
https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/pennsylvania-standardized-test-scores-show-deficits-in-math-especially-for/article_9fdd2d84-d868-11e8-a0c2-b7031a5f0b55.html

Pennsylvania Passes SUNucate, Allowing Sunscreen Use and Protective Clothing at School
Pennsylvania became the 17th state to allow children to possess and apply sunscreen at school, an important step in preventing skin cancer, and is the first state to recognize the importance of school children wearing clothing and hats to lessen sun exposureFriday, PRWeb October 26, 2018
If we are going to lower the rates of skin cancer, we need to continue to advance commonsense solutions like SUNucate that empower children to protect themselves from the harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. esterday, Pennsylvania became the 17th state to allow children to possess and apply sunscreen at school, an important step in preventing skin cancer. Governor Tom Wolf approved HB 1228, a piece of legislation based on ASDSA’s model bill known as SUNucate to remove barriers that prohibit students from bringing and applying over-the-counter sunscreen at school or during school-related activities. The legislation also ensures students may wear sun-protective clothing, including hats, while outdoors. Pennsylvania becomes the first state to recognize the importance of school children wearing clothing and hats to lessen sun exposure. Unfortunately, over-the-counter sunscreen is often prohibited at schools because far reaching “medication bans” include sunscreen as an FDA regulated product. HB 1228 was introduced by State Representative Harold A. English and approved with unanimous consent in both chambers of the state legislature.
https://www.prweb.com/releases/pennsylvania_passes_sunucate_allowing_sunscreen_use_and_protective_clothing_at_school/prweb15870577.htm

Quakertown approves sale of closed school buildings
69 News By: Justin Sweitzer Posted: Oct 26, 2018 12:49 AM EDT Updated: Oct 26, 2018 12:49 AM EDT
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - The Quakertown Community School District Board of Directors voted 7-2 Thursday night to approve a sales agreement that will effectively sell two closed school buildings to Faith Christian Academy, a Bucks County Christian school, for approximately $2 million. The vote, which approves the sale of Tohickon Valley Elementary School and Milford Middle School, has been a hot topic among board members who have been torn on whether or not to let go of the vacant buildings. Some members expressed worry over the potential opening the sale creates for a charter school to come into the community in the future, while others urged the board to take advantage of a sale that could improve the district's financial standing. Director Keith Micucci said that despite not being in favor of the school closings, he is not in favor of holding onto vacant properties when their sale could help the district financially. He said that as the district navigates through debt and financial hardships, the offer from Faith Christian Academy is too good to pass up. "I can't see holding onto property when we have debt that is huge in this community. And it will continue to rise," he said, referencing planned renovations to Neidig Elementary School. "I don't know that anybody else is going to want to buy two empty, vacant schools."
http://www.wfmz.com/news/southeastern-pa/quakertown-approves-sale-of-closed-school-buildings/825662157

Incumbent Rep. Quigley faces Ciresi in rematch for 146th Dist. House seat
Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-centurymedia.com @PottstownNews on Twitter
The race for the 146th district seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is a rematch of one of the tightest races of 2016. Incumbent Republican Tom Quigley is once again facing Democratic challenger Joe Ciresi two years after he won a similar race by a margin of just over 600 votes out of nearly 30,000 cast. Perhaps one of the areas of greatest issues the two face is one of the most hotly debated subjects in southeast Pennsylvania — property taxes.
https://www.pottsmerc.com/news/incumbent-rep-quigley-faces-ciresi-in-rematch-for-th-dist/article_a6c3563c-d895-11e8-addb-e7c97b2ed697.html

Three Newly Elected Members Join the PSBA Governing Board
Mechanicsburg, PA, October 19, 2018 – The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) announced the outcome of its recent election. Three newly elected board members will join existing officers on the governing board. At the conclusion of the 2018 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference, results were announced during the Delegate Assembly on Friday, Oct. 19 at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center. Open voting for members of PSBA was held Aug. 24-Oct. 11 through a secure, online voting website. The new officers will take their offices on Jan. 1, 2019. Officers of the 2019 Governing Board are listed below with (*) indicating positions that were up for election this year.
President – David Hutchinson, State College Area SD (Centre Co.)
President-elect* – Eric Wolfgang, Central York SD (York Co.)
Vice President* – Art Levinowitz, SD of Upper Dublin (Montgomery Co.)
Treasurer – Mike Gossert, Cumberland Valley SD (Cumberland Co.)
Immediate Past President – Michael Faccinetto, Bethlehem Area SD (Northampton Co.)
Eastern At-Large Representative* – Maura Buri, Upper Merion Area SD (Montgomery Co.)
Central At-Large Representative – Larry Augustine, Selinsgrove Area SD (Snyder Co.)
Western At-Large Representative – Daniel O’Keefe, Northgate SD (Allegheny Co.)

https://www.psba.org/2018/10/elected-members-2019-governing-board/

New York Knew Some Schools in Its $773 Million Plan Were Doomed. They Kept Children in Them Anyway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is poised to end a program that sent children to poorly performing schools even as officials knew they had little hope of improving.
New York Times By Eliza Shapiro Oct. 26, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to “shake the foundations of New York City education” in 2014 with a new program called Renewal, a signature effort to improve the city’s 94 poorest-performing schools by showering them with millions of dollars in social services and teacher training. A year later, aides raised a confidential alarm: About a third of those schools were likely to fail. The schools were not meeting goals that the city set for higher test scores, increased graduation rates and other academic measures — and probably never would, staff members in the Department of Education warned in an internal memo prepared for the mayor. “In order for these schools to reach their targets for 2017, the interventions would need to produce truly exceptional improvements,” read the December 2015 memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “Historically, it has been quite rare for schools to improve that much in two years.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/nyregion/deblasio-school-renewal-bill.html

Applications Being Accepted for the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced that the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences (PGSS) at Carnegie Mellon University is now accepting applications from talented high school juniors for the summer 2019 program.
PGSS is an intensive, five-week summer residential program that emphasizes cooperative learning and hands-on laboratory research for 56 talented high school juniors pursuing careers in science and mathematics.
With the support of Governor Tom Wolf, the state Department of Education, Carnegie Mellon University and the school’s alumni, the program offers an enrichment experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The goal of the program is to encourage Pennsylvania’s youth to pursue careers in STEM-related fields.
Accepted applicants will receive a full scholarship to the program. Costs are underwritten through matching funds provided by PGSS Campaign Inc., the school’s alumni, Carnegie Mellon University, parents and corporations.
Awarded scholarships will cover the costs of housing, meals and all instructional materials. Families are responsible for transportation to and from the university, personal items and spending money. Students must commit to living on campus at Carnegie Mellon University throughout the duration of the program.
Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences
When: June 30, 2019 to August 3, 2019
Where: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Who May Apply: The program is open to high school juniors at time of application who attend a public, nonpublic and private school or are home-schooled.
Deadline to Apply: Completed applications must be emailed per instructions on the website http://sciences.pa-gov-schools.org no later than January 31, 2019.  Applications emailed after this date and time will be disqualified.
For additional information about the program and to complete an application, visit  http://sciences.pa-gov-schools.org

NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact federaladvocacy@nsba.org

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
https://www.nsba.org/conference


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.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 25: Pittsburgh school board votes against arming district police


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.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Pittsburgh school board votes against arming district police



It's your time to lead! Join other energetic leaders representing school districts across Pennsylvania at the PA Schools Work Summit; November 17th at 8 locations around the state.
Change happens when leaders unite ENGAGE, ORGANIZE, ADVOCATE!
Is it your time to lead?



Pittsburgh school board votes against arming district police
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lbehrman@post-gazette.com OCT 24, 2018 9:17 PM
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board on Wednesday voted down a controversial proposal to arm the school district’s police force. The board voted 8-1 against changing the current policy, which prohibits the 22 school police officers from carrying weapons of any type. Board member Cynthia Falls cast the lone vote in favor of arming the officers. The outcome was expected, as a majority of board members said during a public workshop earlier this month that they would not support changing the policy. Advocates with the Education Rights Network staged a protest against the proposal ahead of the school board’s monthly public hearing on Monday, and, in July, the school board passed a resolution opposing firearms in schools and proposals to arm teachers and support staff. “Our vote tonight does not mean we are not supportive of our security staff,” board President Regina Holley said. “Our vote tonight will be one in which we are telling our security staff, ‘Continue doing the work that you’re doing,’ but for me it does not mean I'm going to let you strap a gun to your side.”
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2018/10/24/Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-board-armed-police-security-Chick-fil-A-marathon-vote-students/stories/201810240116

Pittsburgh Public Schools board nixes proposal to arm school police with guns
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, 8:21 p.m.
Pittsburgh Public Schools will not be arming its school police officers with guns. On a 1-8 vote Wednesday night, the board that oversees the district of about 24,000 students nixed a proposal to provide guns to school officers stationed at high school campuses as well as in mobile units that respond to incidents across the district’s 54 schools. Board member Cynthia Falls, the sole yes vote, said she wanted to arm officers to give them more tools to keep students safe. She cited mass school shootings in recent years, past incidents when she feared for students’ safety as a teacher and a recent incident in which a student brought a gun to a youth football game. “A safe learning environment is a prerequisite before any learning can take place,” Falls said. “Our trained school police have earned our respect … and have the right to go home safely to their families every night.” Two school board members — Sala Udin and Kevin Carter — suggested that if school resource officers and employees believe they can’t do their job without guns, they should consider working elsewhere. Carter said part of keeping students safe involves cultivating a welcoming and trusting environment.
https://triblive.com/local/allegheny/14210520-74/pittsburgh-public-schools-says-no-to-guns-for-school-police

Science scores soar, but all other Pa. test scores flat in 2018
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent October 24, 2018
Student performance on Pennsylvania’s suite of standardized tests didn’t change much in 2018, with the exception of science scores, which shot up 12 percentage points. The results, released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, show no improvement in math and reading tests given annually to elementary and middle school students. Similarly, there was little change in how high school students fared on algebra, literature, and biology Keystone Exams. The one major change came in science tests given to 4th and 8th graders. In 2017, 52.7 percent of students scored advanced or proficient on those PSSA tests, meaning they performed at least at grade level. This year, the percent of students passing the science PSSA jumped to 64.8 percent. Everywhere else, scores flatlined.
https://whyy.org/articles/science-scores-soar-but-all-other-pa-test-scores-flat-in-2018/

“Normally midterm elections are almost always a referendum on the incumbent president, even incumbents that try to stay out of them. But few if any midterms have generated more voter interest, nor polarized more voters than the current one. Trump has jumped in with both feet, holding dozens of raucous rallies across the country, while seeking to obliterate the middle ground many voters normally find in a mid-term. He has made a de-facto referendum on the president into a virtual one, possibly producing more straight party voting among both parties than seen in many decades, while driving turnout to record heights.”
Madonna & Young: The new normal in politics
Pottstown Mercury Opinion October 24, 2018
G. Terry Madonna is professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, and Michael Young is a former professor of politics and public affairs at Penn State University and managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research. Madonna and Young can be reached, respectively, at terry.madonna@fandm.edu and drmikelyoung@comcast.net
On election night analysts try to make sense of the results, put them in some sort of context, and describe whatever patterns and forces have produced electoral outcomes. Good luck following that script in 2018. Indeed, the 2018 election is not following any normal midterm script. Turnout expectations illustrate the non-normal character of this year’s election. By consensus, the turnout of Pennsylvania voters in the Nov 6 will be close to or set a new midterm record. But that record turnout won’t be driven as might be expected by hotly contested top of the ticket statewide races — or even the usual hot button issues infusing national politics. That’s because there are none. In the governor’s and senate race, the only two statewide contests, the Democrats have commanding leads in races widely panned as among the most boring in state history. Normally the governor’s race dominates midterm elections in the state, reaping the lion’s share of media coverage as well as fundraising and spending. Not this year. Not even close. The U.S. Senate race has been equally soporific as well as equally underwhelming.
https://www.pottsmerc.com/opinion/madonna-young-the-new-normal-in-politics/article_a52f23e6-d7f0-11e8-a82c-83b6ca705e22.html

In Luzerne County, other bellwethers of Pa., voters divided ahead of midterms
Keystone Crossroads By Jen Kinney October 25, 2018
In downtown Wilkes-Barre, a man named Tom is sitting outside at a table watching CNN on his phone. He’s mistrustful of what he calls “the liberal media,” and doesn’t want to give his last name. He’s a registered Republican, but has a lot of criticism for the party. He’s a firm supporter, though, of President Donald Trump. “When Trump got involved, I was like, ‘This guy is hilarious. He’s frank. He keeps it real,’” said Tom. “I registered to vote specifically for Trump.” He had been supportive of President Obama at first, too, though he didn’t vote for him. Then, in Obama’s second term, Tom soured on the president. The Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration’s directive on bathroom access for transgender people — suddenly Tom didn’t like where he thought the country was going.
https://whyy.org/articles/in-luzerne-county-other-bellwethers-of-pa-voters-divided-ahead-of-midterms/?utm_source=The+Context&utm_campaign=19b9fd19b7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_10_25_10_06&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b2b040438-19b9fd19b7-86454001

Special ed students fill needs, learn life skills in West York district
This year, students with disabilities were hired for food service positions in West York Area High School for the first time.
Lindsay C. VanAsdalan, York Dispatch Published 2:42 p.m. ET Oct. 23, 2018 | Updated 3:28 p.m. ET Oct. 23, 2018
It's not every day that students have the opportunity to get on-the-job experience in their own school, but the West York Area School District changed that this fall. Through the state's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, which helps individuals with disabilities find and maintain employment, the district hired its own students to fill open food service positions. Three days a week, two students are working morning assistance jobs in the Bulldog CafĂ© — the high school's cafeteria — and two are working as dining attendants in the afternoon. "We're really proud of the partnership," said Traci Stauffer, director of special education and pupil services. Often in high school, students learn how to be good workers in a classroom setting (which West York students already do in Life Skills) where they can make mistakes, get evaluated and grow from there — but after graduation they don’t have that luxury, she said.
https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/2018/10/23/special-ed-students-fill-needs-learn-life-skills-west-york-district/1694477002/

School Bus Safety Week!
By: Anja Whitehead  Posted: Oct 23, 2018 02:01 PM EDT Updated: Oct 23, 2018 02:01 PM EDT
WBRE/WYOU-TV) About 1.5 million kids ride school buses in Pennsylvania every day.  Parents put their trust in bus drivers to get them there safely.  This week is National Bus Safety Week and Eyewitness News Reporter Anja Whitehead learns what's being done to ensure students' safety. Before the sun comes up parents put their children's safety into the hands of others to make sure they get to and from school. Their safety on those busses begins long before they head to the bus stop.  "We just make sure we do our pre-trip bus inspections inside and out. And just to make sure the bus is in proper working order on a daily basis. To ensure the safety of our students." Said John Cruger, Bus Driver North Pocono School District.  "You open the door and that's when the red light will come on." added Mike Berk, Executive Director Pennsylvania School Bus Association "We do education training, we do online webinar and we can have anywhere from the contractors themselves to there hiring people to their mechanic's"
https://www.pahomepage.com/news/school-bus-safety-week-/1544455924


Teachers to vote next week on possible strike at 19 Chicago charter schools
Chicago Sun Times By Mitchell Armentrout @mitchtrout | email10/24/2018, 08:24pm
Teachers at 19 Chicago charter schools will hold strike authorization votes next week that could open the door to the first-ever work stoppage at any charter school in the nation. Votes will be cast Oct. 30 by teachers at the city’s 15 schools in the Acero network, the largest unionized charter operator in Chicago Public Schools. Teachers will vote Nov. 2 on a possible strike at four Chicago International Charter School locations: ChicagoQuest North, Northtown, Wrightwood and Ralph Ellison. Charter school teachers united as ChiACTS have voted to authorize a few strikes over the last two years — including at Acero schools when the network was known as UNO — but this would mark their first strike vote since merging last year with the Chicago Teachers Union. More than 700 teachers could hit the picket line. After their contract with Acero expired in August, union leaders say they’re pushing for pay raises, smaller class sizes and improved special education resources.
https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/charter-school-strike-chicago-teachers-union-ctu-acero-cics/?utm_campaign=ChicagoSunTimes&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=1540431069

“Much of Tuck’s contributions have come from billionaires who support charter schools and many who live out of state. Wealthy donors include Michael Bloomberg of New York; Eli Broad of Los Angeles; and Alice Walton of Texas, who has donated millions of dollars to his campaigns over a period of years. Netflix chief Reed Hastings and Gap founder Doris Fisher have also donated. And, not surprisingly, he is backed by the California Charter Schools Association (which celebrated the controversial 2017 confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary).”
$43 million and attack ads. It’s the race for California schools chief — and it’s between two Democrats.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss October 24 at 2:13 PM
One of the loudest and most expensive state races in the country is between two Democrats vying to win the nonpartisan position of superintendent of public instruction in California. More money is being spent on the race — for a position that has no independent policymaking power — than in most U.S. Senate campaigns. The fight — the costliest in the state’s history for this post, with more than $43 million in campaign contributions, according to EdSource — is between state legislator Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck, a former charter school network president. Thurmond, who was elected to the California State Assembly in 2014 from the East Bay, has been a teacher, social worker, city councilman and school board member. Tuck is a former banker who became the first president of the Green Dot network of charter schools in Los Angeles. After that, he founded a nonprofit that used privately donated money from the wealthy to help turn around troubled traditional public schools. Four years ago, he ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent in a race that cost some $30 million (with a lot of it coming from billionaires backing Tuck).
https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2018/10/24/million-attack-ads-its-race-california-schools-chief-its-between-two-democrats/?utm_term=.eda7e9b0275d


NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact federaladvocacy@nsba.org

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
https://www.nsba.org/conference


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.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 24: PA Schools Work Summit; Nov. 17th at 8 locations around the state.


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.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

PA Schools Work Summit; Nov. 17th at 8 locations around the state.



It's your time to lead! Join other energetic leaders representing school districts across Pennsylvania at the PA Schools Work Summit; November 17th at 8 locations around the state.
Change happens when leaders unite ENGAGE, ORGANIZE, ADVOCATE!
Is it your time to lead?



Message on school safety: Do something!
About 250 people attended the Safe Schools Summit on Tuesday at the Drexelbrook.
Delco Times By Kathleen E. Carey October 24, 2018
UPPER DARBY — A woman burst open a ballroom door at the Drexelbrook Corporate Events Center Tuesday and yelled, "Active shooter! Lockdown! Lockdown!" A group of individuals got up and sat along a wall before the "shooter," armed with a Nerf gun, came in and methodically shot one after another. "Every shot pretty much hit their target," Louis M. Gentile, director of public sSafety for the Upper Darby School District, said. "So, now, we're going to do a little better and we're not going to be as passive next time." Gentile was heading one of the four breakout sessions at the 2018 Safe Schools Summit, where one of the messages to the 250 educators and law enforcement officials attending was — do something. The "Securing and Defending the Classroom" session, and three others, were part of the summit hosted by Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. The annual event was first established almost two decades ago in response to the Columbine massacre. Copeland explained that the goal was to bring members of the law enforcement and education communities together to share protocols and best practices to keep schools as safe as possible.
https://www.delcotimes.com/news/local/message-on-school-safety-do-something/article_57b25cb6-d703-11e8-8af0-035f1e9d4960.html

The prospect of arming officers in Pittsburgh Public Schools draws an emotional protest and 70 speakers
Public Source by Mary Niederberger  | 9 hours ago
At a tense meeting about arming officers in Pittsburgh Public Schools Monday night, the head of the school police force changed his story from earlier this month about how many weapons officers had confiscated from students in district schools. Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief of Safety George Brown Jr. told the school board on Oct. 1 that officers had not recovered any weapons from students in the schools. But on Monday, Brown waved a stack of reports that he said showed 20 times his officers have taken weapons from students in the district schools. He did not give a timeframe for the incidents. Additionally, Brown told the school board, roughly 70 speakers in attendance and others watching from a remote room that just two weeks ago, his officers confiscated three firearms from young men at a district football game.
https://www.publicsource.org/the-prospect-of-arming-officers-in-pittsburgh-public-schools-draws-an-emotional-protest-and-70-speakers/

Pittsburgh School Board to vote on arming police in Pittsburgh schools
Trib Live by MEGAN GUZA AND BOB BAUDER | Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, 3:12 p.m.
School board members will vote Wednesday on whether to arm police in Pittsburgh Public Schools, and some have already come out against the idea. The board began mulling the policy change in early October, with school police Chief George Brown telling board members that his officers need guns to do their jobs. Some board members said ahead of the hearing they will vote against the change. School Director Sala Udin of the Hill District said armed police officers in schools would create a dangerous situation. “Too many things can go wrong,” he said. “Somebody can get shot. He said he would vote against the proposal. “I’m opposed to guns on the officers in school,” Udin said. “If a situation occurs where a police officer is needed (Pittsburgh police) have a record of very quick response and so I think that’s sufficient for public schools.” The discussion stemmed from a request to explore the policy change made by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers in 2015, Safety Committee Chair Terry Kennedy said. Pittsburgh Public Schools police officers are represented by the union.
https://triblive.com/local/allegheny/14206229-74/board-to-vote-on-arming-police-in-pittsburgh-schools

“School-level results on these exams as well as other performance indicators will be released as part of the latest iteration of school report cards, called Future Ready PA Index, that will be released in mid- to late November, according to a news release from the state Department of Education.”
State exam report card is out: science results show improvement but math continues to be a struggle
The state Department of Education on Tuesday released the 2018 statewide results for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone Exams.
Penn Live By Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated Oct 23, 6:42 PM
The focus on science education seems to be paying off for Pennsylvania's public school students based on their performance on state exams. Statewide results on the 2018 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone Exams released on Tuesday show that the percentage of students achieving passing scores (either proficient or advanced) on those exams improved at least slightly over the prior year in every grade level of students tested. However, the same couldn't be said for the students' performance on the state literature or math exams.
https://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/10/state_exam_report_card_is_out.html#incart_river_index

Results: One-third 11th graders not proficient in algebra, biology
Sunbury Daily Item By John Finnerty jfinnerty@cnhi.com October 23, 2018
HARRISBURG — Roughly one-third of the state’s 11th-graders failed to demonstrate proficiency on the state’s Keystone Exams for algebra and biology, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday. Students did slightly better in literature, with just more than one-quarter of students failing to demonstrate proficiency on the test. The scores might not be good news for those students, but the state’s got good news for them: The Legislature has passed and the governor has indicated he will sign legislation that stops a plan to begin using the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement. “Preparation for 21st-century success cannot be measured just by performance on high stakes tests,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in announcing his support last week for SB 1095. The statewide scores for 11th-graders in 2018 were largely unchanged from the prior year.
https://www.dailyitem.com/the_danville_news/news/results-one-third-th-graders-not-proficient-in-algebra-biology/article_71ea19d7-8532-5f1a-899b-6a8f8e6cb41c.html

30,000 call for killing school property taxes in Pa. once and for all
Penn Live By Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated Oct 23, 1:33 PM; Posted Oct 23, 11:11 AM
Armed with eight boxes filled with 30,000 signed petitions, including some from each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, members of the Pennsylvania Liberty Alliance and the Pennsylvania Property Rights Association came to the state Capitol on Tuesday to call for the elimination of school property taxes. Saying more than 10,000 people in Pennsylvania lost their homes through tax sales this year "through this egregious and regressive system of taxation," Ron Boltz of the liberty alliance said, "the people of this state have spoken and it's time for the Legislature to stand up." He and fellow alliance member Jim Rodkey said they understand education must be funded but the revenue source has to come from some place other than a tax on people's property which they called harmful to the commonwealth, its people and the state's overall economy. Sen. Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill County, who has been working on the property tax elimination issue since he was first elected to the Senate in 2009, said attempts have been made over the past decades to tweak, fix, and reform property taxes.
https://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/10/30000_calls_for_killing_school.html

New plan to kill school property taxes emerging at Capitol
Sunbury Daily Item By John Finnerty jfinnerty@cnhi.com October 23, 2018
HARRISBURG — It looks like proponents of eliminating the school property tax are ready to go back to the drawing board. State Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon County said Tuesday he is working on a bill that would create a legislative commission to develop a new plan to replace school property tax revenue with a fair combination of personal income tax, earned income tax and sales taxes. Though it has not yet been officially proposed, Ryan said he's had more than 40 lawmakers express support for the commission. Advocates of eliminating the school property tax have repeatedly failed to get enough support from lawmakers to pass a controversial measure, Senate Bill 76. The challenge, Ryan said, will be for lawmakers to come up with a plan that treats all taxpayers fairly. “Senate Bill 76 gave 100 percent of the benefit to seniors” he said, while working people absorbed the financial pain to make up for it. “When you have winners at that extreme,” it isn’t going to work, he said. Lawmakers have no voting days scheduled prior to the end of the 2017-18 legislative session, meaning any new proposals will need to wait until 2019. Ryan was one of three lawmakers who joined members of the Pennsylvania Liberty Alliance, a group advocating to get rid of school property tax, who came to the Capitol Tuesday with petitions bearing 30,000 signatures of people calling on the governor and lawmakers to re-examine the use of local property tax to help cover the cost of school bills.
https://www.dailyitem.com/news/local_news/new-plan-to-kill-school-property-taxes-emerging-at-capitol/article_1a1e57ea-c0ab-5498-a023-bb98ba4b33cd.html

A Magic School Bus? At Downingtown they call it the Innovation Lab
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Posted: October 23, 2018- 12:40 PM
It won't take kids on a rocket-fueled flight through the solar system or a fantastic voyage inside the human body, but to educators in the Downingtown Area School District, their brand-new, tricked-out science class on wheels is nevertheless something of a magic school bus. "I'm a real-life Ms. Frizzle," said teacher Brittany Schwab, referring to the Lily Tomlin-voiced teacher and driver in the 1990s Magic School Bus cartoon. That will be the likely frame of reference for many parents when they see the white-and-blue bus retrofitted with sleek counters and computer screens, and loaded up with Legos, iPads, and all kinds of high-tech doo-dads that will teach kids coding, robotics, and other science skills. Slated for an official ribbon-cutting on Thursday, the 40-foot Mobile Innovation Lab will visit all 10 elementary schools in the Chester County district during the school year – a novel way to introduce Downingtown kids to state-of-the-art experiments in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) without building new classrooms.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/education/magic-school-bus-downingtown-innovation-lab-20181023.html

“Meanwhile in the GOP, Majority Leader Dave Reed's departure has created an opening most members say is likely to be filled by Bryan Cutler--the Lancaster County Majority Whip. Cutler has been public about his plans to seek the position. And though Reed hasn't formally endorsed him, he did tell the LNP Cutler would be a "natural fit" for the job. Leadership elections are carried out every two years by the newly elected members in each of the legislature's four caucuses. Leaders must win by a simple majority. The House leadership election is tentatively scheduled for November 13th.”
State House members look ahead to leadership elections
Some top positions in the state House's Republican and Democratic caucuses will be open after the midterm election--and members are already positioning themselves to fill them.
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 23, 2018 8:35 PM
 (Harrisburg) -- Though most Pennsylvania politicians up for reelection have their sights set on November 6th, some state House lawmakers are already thinking about the weeks that'll come after. Two top Democrats and a top Republican are leaving the House--and that means their seats are fair game for representatives who want to take on more control. In the Democratic Caucus, Minority Appropriations Chair Joe Markosek of Allegheny County and Minority Whip Mike Hanna of Centre County are stepping down. Both have held their leadership roles since 2011--as has fellow Western Pennsylvanian Frank Dermody, the minority leader from Allegheny County. In that time, the commonwealth's Democratic stronghold has continued shifting steadily southeast, to Philadelphia and its suburbs. Mary Jo Daley, a Montgomery County Democrat and vice-chair of the Southeast Delegation, said she thinks it's time for leadership to reflect that--and other--changes. "We have a lot of talented reps, and I'd like to see some of us in leadership," she said. "I also think we need more women in leadership," she added. A number of women have served as secretaries and chairs of the Republican and Democratic caucuses over the years, but virtually none have risen to leadership positions beyond that. 
http://www.witf.org/state-house-sound-bites/2018/10/state-house-members-look-ahead-to-leadership-elections.php

About the things Gov. Wolf takes credit for | John Baer
Philly Daily News by John Baer baerj@phillynews.com Updated: October 23, 2018 - 3:30 PM
A recent op-ed pitched to newspapers statewide by a Lancaster County Republican lawmaker caught my eye – for a couple of reasons. It argues that Democratic Gov. Wolf, while seeking reelection, takes credit for stuff that (despite its often-useless self) the GOP legislature did. Here's a sample. "The main accomplishments of the last four years have been driven by Republicans: eliminating a deficit of more than $2 billion WITHOUT raising income or sales taxes, investing in the Rainy-Day Fund for the first time in a decade, restructuring the public pension system, authorizing wine and beer sales in grocery and convenience stores … and much more." It notes that the legislature increased school funding (Wolf's big thing) each year, including in three budgets Wolf allowed to become law without his signature. All true. And interesting, in a politically wonky sort of way.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/columnists/john_baer/john-baer-tom-wolf-legislature-credit-accomplishments-bryan-cutler-20181023.html

Scott Wagner: I really will fix Pa.'s problems (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Scott Wagner Published 12:48 p.m. ET Oct. 23, 2018
 “I will fix that problem if you help me get elected.” For decades I heard that phrase from politicians who came to me asking for campaign contributions, only to return year after year without results. The main priority of those politicians wasn’t serving constituents or making the changes they knew in their hearts were right. It was about getting elected and re-elected. It wasn’t about telling the truth or fighting at all costs for their beliefs. It was about saying what had to be said for the sake of serving themselves. When I began my campaign for governor, I did so with those experiences in mind. I promised the people of Pennsylvania that I would be different.
https://www.ydr.com/story/opinion/2018/10/23/scott-wagner-really-fix-pa-s-problems-column/1739409002/

ELECTION 2018: These are the contested state races in the Lehigh Valley
By Kurt Bresswein | For lehighvalleylive.com | Posted October 24, 2018 at 06:45 AM
Beyond the headline-grabbing race to pick a new representative in Congress, Lehigh Valley residents will have plenty of choices at the state level in the 2018 mid-term election Nov. 6. Republicans now  hold a strong majority in the Pennsylvania General Assembly over Democrats, 121-82 in the House and 34-16 in the Senate. The majority party has the dominant role in setting the legislative agenda, including deciding which bills come up for a vote. All 203 seats in the House are two-year terms and up for election in 2018. State senators serve four-year terms and their elections are staggered, so half of the 50 Senate seats are on the ballot this year. Senators play a role in the redistricting of congressional districts based on the U.S. Census conducted every 10 years. That means the senators elected this year will be in office in 2022 when the next district boundaries are drawn, according to ballotpedia.org. The state Supreme Court redrew congressional boundaries this year, after deciding the old map was too  partisan. During the 2017-18 legislative session coming to a close, the House recently killed a proposal to shrink the House to 151 members and the Senate to 38. This is a look at who's running in contested state races Nov. 6, according to the Lehigh and Northampton county ballots.
https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/expo/news/erry-2018/10/7fd5c561504794/election-2018-these-are-the-co.html#incart_river_index

Philly Board of Education accepting applications for Advisory Council
Parents/caregivers and community members are invited to apply by Nov. 9.
The Notebook by Greg Windle October 23 — 5:36 pm, 2018
The city’s new Board of Education is accepting applications for a Parent and Community Advisory Council. Council members will give input and guidance to the board. The council will encourage parents and community members to engage with the board at action and policy meetings. It will also provide feedback by becoming a link between school communities and board members and will produce a yearly report to summarize the board’s progress as the members see it. The Advisory Council will consist of 12 individuals selected by the board. Applicants must be residents of Philadelphia, at least 18 years of age, and either a current parent/caregiver of a student in public schools or a community member with a demonstrated commitment to public schools. Members will serve on the Advisory Council throughout the next school year. That means the first council will serve during the 2019-20 school year. The application deadline is 5 p.m. Nov. 9. Applications can be submitted by completing an online form, emailing a completed application to schoolboardcommittees@philasd.org, or mailing a completed application to the Office of the Board of Education, 440 N. Broad St., Suite 101, Philadelphia Pa. 19130.
https://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/10/23/board-of-education-accepting-applications-for-advisory-council/

Millions Have Voted Early in the Midterms. Here’s What That Means — and What It Doesn’t.
New York Times By Liam Stack Oct. 23, 2018
Early voting for the midterm elections has begun in states across the country, and enthusiasm — and voter turnout — both appear to be high, with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots arriving in Florida and voters lining up around the block in Texas. Turnout has surged among Republicans, Democrats and independents, according to poll data. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than seven million people had voted early, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who studies elections. “If these patterns persist, we could see a turnout rate at least equaling the turnout rate in 1966, which was 48 percent, and if we beat that then you have to go all the way back to 1914, when the turnout rate was 51 percent,” he said. “We could be looking at a turnout rate that virtually no one has ever experienced.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/us/politics/early-voting-midterms.html


NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact federaladvocacy@nsba.org

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
https://www.nsba.org/conference


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.