Monday, November 19, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 19: Over 400 attended @PASchoolsWork summit meetings to fight for adequate funding


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

Over 400 attended @PASchoolsWork summit meetings to fight for adequate funding


PA Schools Work Aims to Improve Funding for Public Schools
PA Schools Work is building a movement across the state to improve public school funding.
Erie News Now November 17th 2018, 11:46 PM EST by Lisa Adams Video Runtime 1:03
Organizers of PA Schools Work are building a new movement across the state to improve public school funding in Pennsylvania. On Saturday they hosted their first summit connecting some 400 people across the state in eight regions. The Northwest region met at St. Brigid Church in Meadville.  The group included superintendents, teachers, school board and community members. They share a common concern that Pennsylvania ranks 46th across the nation for the share of education funding it provides. PA Schools Work is looking for people to join a non-partisan movement to fight for more funding for basic education funding, as well as improved funding for career and technical education and special education.  They say public schools work only when there is adequate funding, equitable funding and educational excellence is valued. Kate Philips, statewide consultant for PA Schools Work called education funding an urgent necessity.  "It's something people need to understand," Philips said. "People need to value excellence and access to course work and music classes, things some schools have and some don't, so we're here to advocate and organize and we are focused on increasing education funding across Pennsylvania." To learn more about the initiative click here paschoolswork.org/
http://www.erienewsnow.com/story/39501592/pa-schools-work-aims-to-improve-funding-for-public-schools

First Ever Pennsylvania Schools Work Summit Kicks Off on Saturday
Educators Discuss The Need For Funding From State Legislators
By: Morgan Parrish WBRE WYOU Posted: Nov 18, 2018 08:50 AM EST Video Runtime 2:30
KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY(WBRE/WYOU-TV) - Educators from across the Commonwealth held an extra day of class this week. However this time, they were the ones learning from one another. The goal is to work towards providing a stronger future for students..which teachers say can't take place until there's more funding in the school system. Parents, teachers and community members came together to kick off a movement to demand that Pennsylvania legislators spend more on our public schools. Hundreds of local education advocates gathered in eight locations across the commonwealth Saturday for the first ever "Pennsylvania Schools Work Summit". "It's time for our kids to get the education that they deserve," said Executive Director of Education Voter of Pennsylvania, Susan Spica. The summit focuses on an issue that a lot of school districts are facing..having teachers that are working hard and doing great things for the kids..but without additional funding. "To deliver the education kids need and that they deserve to develop their potential so they have a bright future," said Spicka.
Many educators say they're facing numerous challenges without necessary funding from the state.
https://www.pahomepage.com/news/first-ever-pennsylvania-schools-work-summit-kicks-off-on-saturday/1603778055

Pa school leaders make push for more state funding
By: WFMZ 69 News Posted: Nov 18, 2018 07:06 AM EST Video Runtime 48 seconds
Public school leaders came together across Pennsylvania Saturday to launch a grassroots effort aimed at securing more state funding for their students. Eight summits to organize the "PA Schools Work" funding movement were held throughout the state, including at the Colonial IU in Northampton County. Leaders from several education and community organizations say now is the time to organize before next year's state budget process picks up. 
http://www.wfmz.com/news/pennsylvania/pa-school-leaders-make-push-for-more-state-funding/873191819

Meet Pennsylvania's incoming class of federal lawmakers
By Laura Olson Morning Call Washington Bureau November 18, 2018
Pennsylvania will have new faces representing more than one-third of the state’s U.S. House districts next year. Here’s a rundown on the seven new members — four Democrats and three Republicans — who spent the past week in Washington preparing to join the 18-person delegation. They will represent newly configured districts as a result of the state Supreme Court’s gerrymandering decision early this year.
https://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-nws-meet-pa-freshman-congress-delegation-20181115-htmlstory.html

To relief of educators, Pennsylvania's new accountability system really looks at more than test scores
The state Department of Education on Thursday launched its new Future Ready Pa Index, which uses a holistic approach to evaluate schools.
By Jacqueline PalochkoEugene TauberSarah M. Wojcik and Michelle MerlinContact Reporters Of The Morning Call November 16, 2018
Marvine Elementary students in Bethlehem struggle when it comes to PSSAs, the standardized state tests students take every spring. Only 35 percent of Marvine students passed English, while 76 percent failed math this year. Under Pennsylvania’s old school accountability system, the PSSA scores would significantly factor into a school’s rating. But educators have been saying for years that it is unfair to judge a school just by its PSSA scores because they don’t give a full picture. In the case of Marvine, the scores don’t reflect that 93 percent of students are economically disadvantaged or that the scores have improved from previous years.  The state has fixed that problem. We heard loud and clear that students are more than a test score.— Matt Stem, deputy state education secretary The state Department of Education on Thursday launched its Future Ready Pa Index,which uses a holistic approach to evaluate schools. Schools no longer receive a sole numerical grade like they did under the previous School Performance Profile system, and standardized test scores aren’t the only way to measure students.
https://www.mcall.com/news/education/mc-nws-pennsylvania-pssas-future-ready-index-20181112-story.html

Pennsylvania launches long-awaited school assessment site
WHYY By Katie Meyer, WITF November 16, 2018
Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has launched a new online index that will aggregate statistics on public and charter schools for parents, teachers, and students. Unlike the previous school assessment site, this one intentionally steers clear of ranking schools against one another. The Future Ready PA Index has been a long time coming. State officials started working on it more than a year ago as part of a plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which took effect under President Barack Obama. In a major change, schools will no longer get a number grade. Deputy Education Secretary Matt Stem said the new approach tries to express more nuance by measuring more than just test scores. New criteria include proficiency in different subject areas and career readiness.
https://whyy.org/articles/pennsylvania-launches-long-awaited-school-assessment-site/

Philadelphia school board to consider three new charters
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: November 16, 2018
The Philadelphia school board will consider three applications to open charter schools this year, all affiliated with at least one school already operating in the city. The applications were due Thursday and made public Friday. They are from String Theory Schools, which is seeking to open a K-8 school in West Philadelphia; the People for People community development corporation, which is applying for a high school in Francisville; and American Paradigm Schools, which is proposing another K-8 school in Tacony. If approved, the three proposed charter schools would add 2,300 students to the city's charter enrollment. How the new board will address charter schools, which serve 70,000 pupils, or one-third of students in the district, has been an open question. Opponents of the schools, which are publicly funded but independently run, have accused them of siphoning valuable dollars from a cash-strapped district while not meeting standards. Supporters, meanwhile, say that demand for charter schools has not yet been met, that many district-run schools are also falling short, and that parents and students deserve options.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/education/charter-school-applications-philadelphia-school-board-string-theory-tacony-academy-american-paradigm-20181116.html

How Paying Attention to Trauma is Changing This Pennsylvania School
NBC10 By Sara K. Satullo and The Easton Express-Times Published Nov 17, 2018 at 4:56 PM
Broughal Middle School Principal Rick Amato recently encountered a student wearing his jacket inside the school building. That's a violation of the school rules. Three years ago, Amato might have taken a hard line with the boy, demanding he take the coat off. But that was before Amato knew what trauma -- exposure to abuse, neglect, family dysfunction, drug abuse or mental health issues -- does to a child's brain. Now, Amato knows that when a child experiences trauma it causes the child's stress hormones to rise, literally turning off the part of the brain that facilitates learning. This knowledge has led to a school-wide culture transformation at the Bethlehem school as Broughal became the first school in the region to integrate trauma-informed practices. "Sometimes in schools when students are exhibiting behavior problems we look at the behavior, not what is causing the behavior, and we tend to take it personally," Amato said.
https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/How-Paying-Attention-to-Trauma-is-Changing-This-Pennsylvania-School-500757312.html

Many Lancaster County school districts struggle to keep low-income students 'in school, on time, every day'
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer November 18, 2018
Oct. 26 was a special day for students at Wickersham Elementary School, and perhaps extra special for one student in particular. This student, who’s historically struggled with attendance, successfully made it through Wickersham’s most recent attendance challenge: attend nine straight days of school, and dress as your favorite storybook character on the 10th day. But when Principal Ashley Mercado, who came in dressed as Mean Jean from Alexis O’Neill’s “The Recess Queen,” checked attendance on the 10th morning, the student was marked absent. Mercado — sporting one pigtail, a tiny gold crown, a lime green shirt, a burgundy jumper and hot pink-striped socks — contacted the student’s mother, hopped in her car and drove about a mile down the road to the student’s home. “When I got to the door, the student answered the door, dressed, ready to go with a big smile on her face,” Mercado said. Driving students to school — in costume or not — isn’t typical, but it’s one of the many efforts School District of Lancaster is making to reduce chronic absenteeism.
https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/many-lancaster-county-school-districts-struggle-to-keep-low-income/article_098dc9a2-ea73-11e8-b75f-8fe45d7506ef.html

School Choice Series Report: Choice & Vouchers—Implications for Students with Disabilities
National Council on Disability, November 15, 2018
This report outlines the construct of vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credits for students with disabilities. It also clarifies the effect on students with disabilities of programs of school choice that allow money for each eligible student to go directly to parents rather than to the public-school system. The paper explains how this adjustment in the flow of public funds results in critical and often misunderstood changes in protections for students with disabilities and their families, under not only the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but also federal nondiscrimination laws. Finally, this report makes multiple recommendations for federal and state departments of education and Congress to address problems that may deprive students with disabilities and their families of an equitable education.
https://ncd.gov/sites/default/files/NCD_Choice-Vouchers_508.pdf

Public advocate beats charter supporter for California schools chief
It was the most expensive race for a state superintendent.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 17 at 6:08 PM
Finally, more than a week after the vote, there is now a winner in the race for California’s superintendent of public instruction after the most expensive race in history for a state schools chief. State legislator Tony Thurmond, an advocate for traditional public schools, beat out charter schools supporter Marshall Tuck. He tweeted the following on Saturday:
I want to thank the voters of CA for electing me to serve the 6 million students of CA. I intend to be a champion of public schools & a Superintendent for all CA students. I want to thank Marshall Tuck for his gracious call to congratulate me & wish me well. Time to get to work! The election of Thurmond was a victory for forces in California who want to reform the scandal-ridden charter school sector and a blow to the charter school lobby and wealthy philanthropists, some of them out of state, who had poured millions into Tuck’s campaign. Both men are Democrats.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2018/11/17/public-school-advocate-beats-charter-supporter-california-schools-chief/?utm_term=.c42185aab6da

Armored school doors, bulletproof whiteboards and secret snipers
Billions are being spent to protect children from school shootings. Does any of it work?
School shootings have fueled a $2.7 billion school safety industry. What makes kids safer?
Washington Post By John Woodrow Cox and Steven Richin Orlando Nov. 13, 2018
The expo had finally begun, and now hundreds of school administrators streamed into a sprawling, chandeliered ballroom where entrepreneurs awaited, each eager to explain why their product, above all others, was the one worth buying. Waiters in white button-downs poured glasses of chardonnay and served meatballs wrapped with bacon. In one corner, guests posed with colorful boas and silly hats at a photo booth as a band played Jimmy Buffett covers to the rhythm of a steel drum. For a moment, the festive summer scene, in a hotel 10 miles from Walt Disney World, masked what had brought them all there. This was the thriving business of campus safety, an industry fueled by an overwhelmingly American form of violence: school shootings.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/local/school-shootings-and-campus-safety-industry/?utm_term=.50659646af05

Inside the business of school security to stop active shooters
WHYY/NPR By Lakshmi Singh November 18, 2018
School shootings have taken a terrible human toll. They have also been a boon to the business of security technology. Over the summer, Washington Post reporter John Woodrow Cox saw an array of items on display at an expo in Orlando, Fla. He and fellow reporter Steven Rich went on to investigate whether any of the technology being promoted and sold really helps save lives. When he went to the expo in July, Cox says there were people pitching just about anything they could think of that might make schools safer in the event of a shooting. “There were things like pepper ball guns that have typically been used in combat zones,” Cox says. “There was a guy who had just come back from Afghanistan and it’s basically a gun that shoots a sort of a paintball that is filled with a pepper mixture meant to take down a gunman.” Another man at the conference tried to sell the idea of embedding former special forces agents inside schools, but having them pose as gym teachers to allow them to discern which students were potential threats.
https://whyy.org/npr_story_post/inside-the-business-of-school-security-to-stop-active-shooters/

A School Strike That Never Quite Ended
The struggle over who should teach in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville district of Brooklyn 50 years ago changed the trajectory of modern liberalism.
New York Times By Richard D. Kahlenberg Nov. 17, 2018
On Nov. 17, 1968, Albert Shanker, a tough Queens-bred union president, stood next to New York City’s patrician mayor, John Lindsay, to announce a settlement to a crippling teacher strike that had thrown a million students out of New York City public schools for weeks on end. The divisive strike laid bare long simmering tensions within American liberalism over unions, education and race. Almost a half-century later, the evolution in liberal attitudes that the strike symbolized created vulnerabilities that a very different son of Queens, Donald Trump, exploited in his rise to the presidency. By the late 1960s, after years of frustration with vicious white resistance to school integration, many African-American leaders supported the creation of a black-controlled local school district in the low-income Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn. The idea was that the district would hire more minority schoolteachers in order to provide role models for students and adopt a curriculum that was culturally affirming.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/opinion/teachers-strike-liberals-ocean-hill-brownsville.html

“The cost of security provided to DeVos was $5.3 million in fiscal year 2017 and $6.8 million for fiscal year 2018, according to the Marshals Service — an amount that is ultimately reimbursed by the Education Department. The estimated cost for fiscal year 2019 is $7.74 million.”
U.S. Marshals Service spending millions on DeVos security in unusual arrangement
The cost to taxpayers could be as much as $19.8 million through next year, according to figures provided to NBC News. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is the only Trump cabinet member to receive around-the-clock protection from the U.S. Marshals Service.
NBC News By Heidi Przybyla Nov. 16, 2018 / 5:00 AM EST
WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News. While it remains unclear who specifically made the request, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted the protection on February 13, 2017, a few days after DeVos was heckled and blocked by a handful of protesters from entering the Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington. DeVos was confirmed as education secretary on February 7 of that year. "The order was issued after the Department of Education contacted administration officials regarding threats received by the Secretary of Education," the Justice Department said in a statement. "The U.S.M.S. was identified to assist in this area based on its expertise and long experience providing executive protection."
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/u-s-marshals-service-spending-millions-devos-security-unusual-arrangement-n909001?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma&fbclid=IwAR1tqDabrAeckQfxwn2OOpxb6Tk2kv0TQDbglBJLw5eO1buvPdpbRObAmA0


Build on finance, policy, board culture skills at PSBA’s Applied School Director Training
Four convenient locations in December and January
Take the next step in your professional development with Applied School Director Training. Building upon topics broadly covered in New School Director Training, this new, interactive evening event asks district leaders to dive deeper into three areas of school governance: school finance, board policy and working collaboratively as a governance team. Prepare for future leadership positions and committee work in this workshop-style training led by experts and practitioners. Learn how to:
·         Evaluate key finance documents such as budget and audit materials
·         Review and analyze board policies and administrative regulations
·         Build positive board culture by developing strong collaboration skills
Locations and Dates:
Dec.11, 2018 — Seneca Valley SD
Dec. 12, 2018 — Selinsgrove, Selinsgrove Area Middle School
Jan. 10, 2019 — Bethlehem, Nitschmann Middle School
Jan. 17, 2019 — State College

Cost: This event is complimentary for All-Access members or $75 per person with standard membership and $150 per person for nonmembers. Register online by logging in to myPSBA.
https://www.psba.org/2018/11/applied-school-director-training-state-college/

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

Save the Date:  PARSS Annual Conference May 1-3, 2019
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools
https://www.parss.org/Annual_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.


Friday, November 16, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 16, 2018 Are you ready for the Future Ready PA Index?


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

Are you ready for the Future Ready PA Index?



Black students who had just one black teacher by third grade were 13% more likely to enroll in college.
National Bureau of Economic Research: "The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers"



Happy Friday….
Camel seen on Route 309 during snowstorm
By Morning Call staff November 15, 2018
It wasn’t just motorists that were stranded on eastern Pennsylvania roads in Tuesday’s snowstorm. A camel was seen next to a vehicle pulled over on Route 309 in the northbound lane near the Route 113 exit in Souderton, Bucks County.  A couple curious drivers posted photos and video to Facebook mid-afternoon. In a tweet Thursday evening, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia said the camel is named Einstein and was on its way to their Main Event at the Kimmel Center on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, Einstein did not make it to the show after the driver decided it was best to take it home to the Peaceable Kingdom Petting Zoo, according to a later tweet.
https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-camel-route-309-snow-20181115-htmlstory.html

“The state does not reduce school districts’ state money when enrollment declines, nor raise it when enrollment rises. That artificially props up dozens of rural districts that lose population and forces growing districts to rely more on local tax dollars. At some point, will there be enough students and money for 500 school districts, 179 charter schools and business tax breaks for private school tuition grants?”
Pennsylvania's economic outlook: $1 billion+ deficits
Steve Esack Contact Reporter Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau November 15, 2018
Another year, another possible billion-dollar budget deficit for Pennsylvania. That’s the financial outlook for the state’s 2019-20 budget and five years beyond, as issued Thursday by the Legislature’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office. The IFO’s report came up with a projected $1.7 billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019.
Reasons include:
·         Government costs rising 8.2 percent, but a projected tax revenue growth of 3 percent.
·         An aging population of retirees (65 and older) outpacing the number of infants and working-age adults (0-64) by an average of 3.6 percentage points annually through 2025.
“Expenditures are expected to increase by $2.7 billion in FY 2019-20, which is roughly $1.7 billion more than the projected increase in net revenues,” IFO Executive Director Matthew Knittel said.
Roughly the same potential deficit would re-occur every fiscal year through 2023-24, and could worsen if a national recession hits as some economists predict, the report found.
https://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-nws-pennsylvania-ifo-economic-outlook-20181115-story.html

Independent Fiscal Office: State Faces Over $1.7 Billion Budget Deficit In FY 2019-20
Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest November 15, 2018
 state government faces over $8 billion in deficits over the next 5 fiscal years due to rising costs, and in spite of better than expected increases in state revenue.
IFO projects a $1.71 billion deficit in FY 2019-20, a $1.56 billion deficit in 2020-21, a $1.44 billion deficit in 2021-22, a $1.75 billion deficit in 2022-23 and a $1.58 billion deficit  in 2023-24. The report blames the same old culprits-- $1 billion in one-time funding sources used to balance the FY 2018-19 budget and increasing health and human service program costs.
Interestingly, the same IFO report in November of 2017 projected a “structural deficit” in FY 2019-20 budget of $1.86 billion, a 2020-21 deficit of $1.77 billion, a $1.78 billion deficit in 2021-22 and a $2.18 billion deficit in 2022-23.             So a year brought some improvement, but clearly the structural deficit problem has not gone away.
https://pacapitoldigestcrisci.blogspot.com/2018/11/independent-fiscal-office-state-faces.html

Our view: Change of school scoring system long overdue
Times Leader Editorial November 15, 2018 timesleader EditorialsOur Opinion
So let’s say you’re buying a car, and you decide to base the decision on one measure: miles per gallon. You pick, maybe, a Honda Insight, rated at 54 mpg. Turns out that nice roof rack you bought a few years back doesn’t fit this car. And your partner hates the colors available. And your kids don’t all fit when it’s time to haul them and their gear to school athletic events. And it’s not so good on that rough dirt road you periodically have to travel. And it doesn’t quite have the ground clearance for that steep driveway. And by the way, you skip an entire class of evolving options: All-electric vehicles. The problem with basing a major decision on a single measurement is actually pretty glaring. We see it all the time, in many situations. The new counter top in the kitchen looks great but stains easily. The new shower head saves water until your teenager starts doubling time under it just to get clean. The smart person checks multiple factors before buying something used almost every day, particularly something that costs a good bit of money. Yet for nearly two decades Pennsylvanians have been gauging public schools by a single measure: standardized test results, usually boiled down to a single number for comparison: an overall school score with which to rank all schools, or a look at how close each school was to a state average. On Thursday those days ended, mercifully, when the state unveiled the new Future Ready Index system and website. Yes, as a story in this paper points out, it’s complicated. No, there is no single number for each school to allow shallow comparisons.
https://www.timesleader.com/opinion/editorials/724930/our-view-change-of-school-scoring-system-long-overdue

Pennsylvania unveils new school rating system
GoErie By Ed Palattella Posted at 12:01 PM Updated at 12:22 PM
Future Ready PA Index is meant to provide a more comprehensive analysis of achievement and progress at public schools.
Parents and others statewide have a new tool to determine how well their local public schools are performing. The Pennsylvania Department of Education on Thursday launched its long-awaited Future Ready PA Index, which the department describes as “a public-facing, one-stop location for comprehensive information and data on student and school success.” The index’s website, at futurereadypa.org, uses a dashboard approach to present school-level data in three main categories: academic performance, student progress and whether graduating students are prepared to go to college or start a career. A color-coded system illustrates student and school progress in those categories. The analysis is based on such factors as scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests and Keystone Exams as well as student attendance and performance on the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System, which tracks students’ academic growth. The Future Ready PA Index is based on data from the 2017-18 academic year. The index covers elementary, middle and high schools at the state’s 500 school districts as well as charter and cyber-charter and vocational schools. The subjects covered in the index’s assessment section are English language arts and literature, mathematics and algebra, and science and biology. The index also presents data on English language proficiency.
http://www.goerie.com/news/20181115/pennsylvania-unveils-new-school-rating-system

Check the performance of your public school or district here.
How does your district measure up? Pa. issues new tool to evaluate schools
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham and Maddie Hanna, Posted: November 15, 2018- 4:16 PM
Pennsylvania officials on Thursday unveiled a new way to measure public schools' progress, in a further shift away from the strict accountability culture of the No Child Left Behind era. The Future Ready PA Index evaluates schools and districts in academic performance, student progress, and college and career readiness. The prior measure, the School Performance Profile, looked at much of the same data, but the new tool places a higher priority on improvements in schools and adds some new categories for evaluation. Previous iterations of state report cards assigned schools a score; the Future Ready measure is more nuanced, responding to complaints that a heavy reliance on standardized test scores was an unfair and imperfect way to think about schools. "Parents, educators, and communities have said we need a better way to evaluate our schools with a broader set of measurements," Gov. Wolf said in a statement. "The Future Ready PA Index recognizes that students – and the schools that teach them – are more than just standardized tests."
http://www2.philly.com/philly/education/how-does-your-district-measure-up-pa-issues-new-tool-to-evaluate-schools-20181115.html

Pennsylvania launches new online tool to measure the success of students and schools
Morning Call by Daniel Patrick Sheehan Contact Reporter November 15, 2018
The Pennsylvania Department of Education on Thursday launched the Future Ready PA Index, a database of information measuring student and school success. “Parents, educators and communities have said we need a better way to evaluate our schools with a broader set of measurements,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in announcing the new tool. “The Future Ready PA Index recognizes that students, and the schools that teach them, are more than just standardized tests.” Wolf has sought to de-emphasize the PSSAs and Keystone Exams, a move hailed by administrators, teachers, parents and students who say the standardized testing culture that arose with the 2001 passage of the federal No Child Left Behind law has done more harm than good. The new index measures schools in three categories: academic performance, student progress and the readiness of graduating students to succeed at college or a career.
https://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-nws-future-ready-pa-20181115-story.html

New test scores? Sure, but that’s no longer the state’s focus
Times Leader By Mark Guydish - mguydish@timesleader.com November 15, 2018
If you’re looking for standardized test results, they are still available on the state’s newly launched “Future Ready Index.” But they hardly jump out. In fact, the index — replacing the single-score “School Performance Profile,” which in turn replaced the old “Adequate Yearly Progress” mandate for ever-rising scores — was clearly crafted to de-emphasize standardized tests. “Assessments are still highly relevant,” Matt Stem from the state Department of Education said in a teleconference unveiling the new system. “But we heard from chambers of commerce, workforce development offices, and industry partners who say that there is a lot of data to see how students progress on graduation.” So if you go to futurereadypa.org and click on a school, the first things you see are not test numbers. Instead, there are three broad categories: “state assessment measures,” “on-track measures” and “college and career measures.” None of them offer a single number. But each has two to four data categories, with the school ranked by color: Blue is best, green is good, red is bad. There are even arrows in some colors to show, at a glance, if the school is improving in that category.
https://www.timesleader.com/news/724959/new-test-scores-sure-but-thats-no-longer-the-states-focus

PDE: FUTURE READY PA INDEX
PA Department of Education website
In looking at ways to create a more holistic school evaluation tool, the Pennsylvania Department of Education conducted dozens of feedback sessions to solicit recommendations from more than 1,000 stakeholders around a new measure. The Future Ready PA Index will serve as Pennsylvania’s one-stop location for comprehensive information about school success, and will use a dashboard model to highlight how schools are performing and making progress on multiple indicators. The dashboard approach to school reporting:  
·         Increases emphasis on student growth measures, which incentivizes a focus on all learners and is less sensitive to demographic variables.
·         Measures English language acquisition among ELL students, not simply performance on a test of grade level ELA standards.
·         Incentivizes career awareness instruction beginning at the elementary level.
·         Addresses the issue of unequal weighting of content areas in the current SPP.
·         Provides indicators of student success after graduation.
·         Increases the emphasis on student access to course offerings such as AP, IB, college credit, and CTE programs of study.
·         Allows LEAs to include locally-selected reading assessments (Grade 3) and math assessments (Grade 7) as additional snapshots of student progress.
·         Incentivizes schools to offer career pathways that culminate with high value, industry recognized credentials.
https://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/Future-Ready-PA.aspx

Susan Wild wins special congressional election to finish Charlie Dent's term
Laura Olson Contact Reporter Morning Call Washington Bureau November 15, 2018
Democrat Susan Wild has won the Lehigh Valley’s special election to finish out the congressional term of retired Congressman Charlie Dent, according to vote tallies completed Thursday. Completed vote totals from the five counties within the 15th District show Wild with 130,353 votes. Republican Marty Nothstein had 129,593 votes, and Libertarian Tim Silfies received 8,572. That means Wild, who handily won the two-year term to represent the Lehigh Valley in the congressional session that begins in January, edged out her opponents by 760 votes. The special election resulted from Dent’s decision to step down from his post in May, leaving the seat vacant. His 15th District covers Lehigh County and parts of Northampton, Berks, Lebanon and Dauphin counties.
https://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-nws-pa-15-congress-special-election-winner-20181115-story.html

A year after SRC abolished itself, Philly’s new school board is moving forward | Opinion
Joyce Wilkerson, For the Inquirer Posted: November 15, 2018 - 11:15 AM
Joyce Wilkerson is president of the Philadelphia Board of Education.
Friday marks one year since the School Reform Commission voted to disband and return control of public education to the residents of the city of Philadelphia. A year later, Philadelphia schools are under local control, and we are proud to serve as the city's first mayor-appointed Board of Education in nearly two decades. A quality public education requires sustained and citywide dedication. We are committed to carrying out this public duty and the action it requires. Since our appointments in April, we have been hard at work, overhauling the way that school governance looks, feels, and operates in Philadelphia. We have a lot to be proud of. Some of our major accomplishments to date include: participating in a robust training and orientation for nine qualified and diverse Board members; selecting two student representatives to serve on the Board of Education; participated in listening sessions and school visits across Philadelphia to ground Board members in the hopes and dreams of Philadelphia's diverse constituencies; redesigning the Board structure to include four committees — which have already met six times — to discuss critical issues publicly and in advance of key actions; establishing a Parent and Community Advisory Council; launching social media platforms to connect with more individuals; implementing a new board management system so that actions of the Board are more clearly understood and searchable; and working closely with the mayor and City Council to address concerns and develop solutions. While we have accomplished much, there is more to be done. Drawing on community feedback and valuable input from key education stakeholders, we have set four key priorities to guide our work moving forward.
http://www2.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/philadelphia-school-board-education-src-abolish-20181115.html

Advocacy group wants to streamline the high school application process
Recommendations from Educational Options for Families include a single application for District, charter and some private schools.
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy and Dale Mezzacappa November 15 — 7:44 pm, 2018
Educational Opportunities for Families is calling for a “more cohesive system” for Philadelphia’s school application process. The education advocacy nonprofit, which prioritizes maximum choice for parents, released a new report examining the application and selection processes of Philadelphia schools, based on feedback sessions and interviews with parents and other stakeholders. Authors of the report recommend steps for a streamlined process across all school types—though the focus is on traditional public schools and charter schools, increased availability and access to school information, and improved access to transportation. Sylvia Simms, executive director of EOF, said the recommendations in the report are intended to help parents who don’t “know how to navigate the system, don’t know what they don’t know, but want the best results for their children like everybody else does.”
https://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/11/15/advocacy-group-wants-to-streamline-the-high-school-application-process/

Blogger note: Who is funding Educational Opportunities for Families? If you’ve been following school choice issues in Philly and Harrisburg, you are probably familiar with these folks…
Excellent School PA “Who we are”
https://excellentschoolspa.org/who-we-are/


Can the arts create better people? This Philadelphia Orchestra musician thinks so.
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Posted: November 16, 2018- 6:10 AM
Marquise Bradley is a clarinet player, a 17-year-old with talent, good grades, and a dream to play in a top orchestra someday. But no one in Bradley's family is a professional musician, and none of his neighbors in Olney could tell him the steps he should take to realize the goals he began building when he first picked up a clarinet at age 13. Enter Project 440, a nonprofit that has helped Bradley sharpen his focus, develop leadership skills — and connect with some of the top conservatories and colleges in the country. Now, he has his sights set on Oberlin College, and has, with a group of fellow students, created his own chamber orchestra. Project 440 is the brainchild of Joseph Conyers, assistant principal bassist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, who often explains to people that yes, he does operate a music organization that doesn't teach music. The nonprofit — so named because 440 hertz is the pitch "A" used to tune the orchestra at the beginning of every performance — uses music to teach entrepreneurship, leadership, and service to Philadelphia students. The organization helps young people thrive through weekly workshops in social entrepreneurship and post-secondary success, through learning about how nonprofits work and launching them on projects managing ambitious community-service activities of their own. It's the first of its kind in the region. And to date, Project 440 has served hundreds of Philadelphia youth. "The goal is not to create more musicians," Conyers said. "We want to use music to create better people."
http://www2.philly.com/philly/education/project-440-student-musicians-philadelphia-college-20181116.html

“Individuals with master’s-level and above degrees earned from December 2015 to August 2019 are eligible for the William Penn Fellowship. The application deadline is Jan. 30, 2019. Selected candidates will be invited to Harrisburg in February for in-person interviews. Final selections will be announced in March with the fellowship starting in July.”
Governor Wolf: PA Seeks Recent Graduates to Help Transform State Government
November 15, 2018 - by MyChesCo - Leave a Comment
HARRISBURG, PA — Continuing his effort to bring fresh ideas to state government, Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging recent advanced degree graduates and those completing an advanced degree program by August 2019 to apply for the state’s William Penn Fellowship. The fellows work closely with state government leaders to find innovative solutions for challenges facing Pennsylvania. “This is a unique opportunity to put your education and passion to work and make our Commonwealth better,” said Governor Wolf. “Pennsylvania is a dynamic place and we need the best and brightest to consider public service. This is a chance to gain tremendous work experience and help us transform and modernize state government.” A paid two-year fellowship is available at 13 state agencies. Participants will coordinate with the Governor’s Policy Office and agency policy office to research and develop policies ranging from improving healthcare, supporting the wellbeing of mothers and children, preparing students for 21st-century jobs, addressing food insecurity, expanding forest products industry jobs and more.
http://mychesco.com/a/education/colleges-universities/governor-wolf-pa-seeks-recent-graduates-to-help-transform-state-government/

You Can Do The Research
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Thursday, November 15, 2018
For some people research is fun. Seriously. I play in an old traditional town band, and a few decades back, I decided I would try to work up a history of the group. The project ended up taking me about thirty years to research and write. I read every local newspaper from 1854 until 1965. I have an entire cardboard box of bound notes and file cards.  I have been asked from time to time how I ever did such a thing, and while it would be nice to attribute it to my mighty reserve and sterling moral fiber, the real answer was that it was fun. Seriously. The writing was fun, but the research was really, really fun. Some of us are wired that way, just as some of us are inclined to love curling or antique auto restoration. Unfortunately, "I love to spend hours in the library" doesn't earn you much social capital in high. Double unfortunately, much of what passes for "research" assignments n high school barely qualifies as research at all. The average shake and bake assignment boils down to "Go find information about this subject that has already been researched, collected, and written up by an expert in the field. The repeat back what they wrote, only don't use their exact words because that would be plagiarism." A rehashed report, even one that requires a number of sources (aka the one source that the paper was taken from plus however many other unexamined sources are required to fill out the bibliography), will not awaken the slumbering research beast within you.
https://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2018/11/you-can-do-research.html?spref=tw

“Also receiving grants were Derry Township School District, Dauphin County, $68,000; Haverford Township School District in Delaware County, $68,000; and North Penn School District in Montgomery County, $300,000.”
State awards grants to schools for clean energy vehicles
Port Allegheny Reporter Argus Nov 15, 2018
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection awarded more than $610,000 in grant funding to four school districts for clean energy vehicle projects that will help improve air quality and public health and save the schools thousands in costs. Among the four districts receiving awards is Bradford Area School District. The $19,000 awarded to this first-time AFIG recipient is to purchase of two propane school buses, saving 5,028 diesel gallons per year. “With every school district that moves to alternative fuel vehicles, we incrementally improve air quality in Pennsylvania for our students and communities,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “In addition, we save costs, reduce dependence on oil, and help reduce the greenhouse gases that are driving climate change. Supporting schools’ clean energy efforts is instrumental in helping protect quality of life in Pennsylvania.” The funding, which comes from the commonwealth’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants Program, will enable the school districts to replace older school buses with 44 propane buses and the installation of a fast-fill propane fueling system
http://www.tiogapublishing.com/reporter_argus/news/state-awards-grants-to-schools-for-clean-energy-vehicles/article_be1eaa74-4383-5cac-add7-4f433e789821.html

Quaker Valley students to experience world cultures
Beaver County Times By Daveen Rae Kurutz Posted at 2:01 AM
The second annual International Festival will expose students at Osborne Elementary to 11 different cultures Friday.
SEWICKLEY — Call it “around the world in 120 minutes.”
That’s the experience Osborne Elementary students will have Friday night during the school’s second annual International Festival. The event, organized by the school’s Home and School Association, will expose children to food and culture from nearly a dozen different countries. The school has become a melting pot of cultures, HSA president Jessica Cindrich said. This year, the school has a number of English language learner families from different countries, she said. The event gives families and children an opportunity to learn more about different cultural traditions that their classmates celebrate. “We want to highlight and celebrate our international families,” said Cindrich, 44, of Leet Township. “We’re showing our students what cultures are in our own building.” The countries with booths are Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Russia, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Scandinavia, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Dancers of Ambridge will perform at the end of the event. Children will receive a “passport” at the door and will earn stamps for each country they visit. Each country’s booth is sponsored by a family or a community group and will feature food, crafts and examples of the country’s culture. Children can participate in a scavenger hunt to learn more about each of the countries, Cindrich said. “We found that having experiences in all of these senses — hearing music, eating food, seeing things — it’s a nice way to expose the kids rather than just sitting in a classroom hearing about them,” Cindrich said. “They’re experiencing different cultures, literally in this case.”
http://www.timesonline.com/news/20181116/quaker-valley-students-to-experience-world-cultures

“Many of the states in the study referenced "equity" in some way in their school improvement materials, the report found. But fewer than half clearly said it would be a focus of their improvement efforts. States largely did not explain how they would address inequities on high-quality teachers, curriculum, and enrichment opportunities among their schools.”
Many States Lack Focus on Equity in School Improvement, Report Suggests
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on November 15, 2018 12:04 AM
Many states aren't doing a good job of making equity a focus of school improvement or taking their oversight role on school turnarounds seriously, a new study suggests. And it can be hard to tell how states will sustain their school improvement efforts. That's according to an analysis released Thursday of state school improvement materials conducted by HCM Strategies, a public policy and advocacy firm, in partnership with the Collaborative for Student Success, a Washington-based advocacy organization. The report looked at 17 states, chosen because there was enough data available to evaluate their school improvement process. The report considered each state's application for districts to receive school improvement funding, its scoring rubric for the application, the state's guidance for districts or schools to develop and implement their improvement plans, and other materials. States were judged on a rubric developed by experts that included things like whether the state had a coherent vision for improving student outcomes, use of resources, the review process for district plans, and continuous improvement, monitoring, and evaluation. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states and districts—not the federal government—figure out how to fix low-performing schools. States must reserve 7 percent of their Title I money to help struggling schools get better. But they can decide how those dollars are distributed.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2018/11/states-equity-essa-collaborative.html

Teachers at Acero charter schools in Chicago call for Dec. 4 strike if no deal on new contract
Juan Perez Jr.Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune November 14, 2018
Teachers at a group of charter schools in Chicago say they'll go on strike next month if their demands for a new contract aren’t met, setting a date for what could be the latest in a string of job actions that have disrupted classrooms in several states this year. The Acero charter school network, which serves about 7,500 predominantly Latino students at 15 campuses, has so far failed to negotiate a labor deal with roughly 500 teachers, counselors and office workers who are now affiliated with the Chicago Teachers Union. Acero’s teachers say they will walk out Dec. 4 if there is no deal. “The hope is that we will be able to ratify a contract and reach an agreement before Dec. 4,” Acero special education staffer Andy Crooks told reporters. “I anticipate that we’re going to have a lot of late nights ahead of us, and our team is committed to making that happen because nobody wants a strike.” While both sides landed a contract after a similar strike threat in 2016, there’s been little word of movement in this year’s negotiations. Both sides have scheduled four bargaining sessions through the end of the month, an Acero spokeswoman said.
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-chicago-charter-strike-date-20181113-story.html


Build on finance, policy, board culture skills at PSBA’s Applied School Director Training
Four convenient locations in December and January
Take the next step in your professional development with Applied School Director Training. Building upon topics broadly covered in New School Director Training, this new, interactive evening event asks district leaders to dive deeper into three areas of school governance: school finance, board policy and working collaboratively as a governance team. Prepare for future leadership positions and committee work in this workshop-style training led by experts and practitioners. Learn how to:
·         Evaluate key finance documents such as budget and audit materials
·         Review and analyze board policies and administrative regulations
·         Build positive board culture by developing strong collaboration skills
Locations and Dates:
Dec.11, 2018 — Seneca Valley SD
Dec. 12, 2018 — Selinsgrove, Selinsgrove Area Middle School
Jan. 10, 2019 — Bethlehem, Nitschmann Middle School
Jan. 17, 2019 — State College

Cost: This event is complimentary for All-Access members or $75 per person with standard membership and $150 per person for nonmembers. Register online by logging in to myPSBA.
https://www.psba.org/2018/11/applied-school-director-training-state-college/

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

Save the Date:  PARSS Annual Conference May 1-3, 2019
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools
https://www.parss.org/Annual_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.