Friday, November 2, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 2, 2018 “Don’t just arm the teachers; arm the children.”

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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“Don’t just arm the teachers; arm the children.”

PA Schools Work Summit Meetings Saturday Nov. 17th 9 to noon
Hundreds of local school and community leaders will come together on Nov. 17, to lead the fight for greater state investment in public education. #TheSummit will be held in seven locations across Pennsylvania from 9-noon on Saturday Nov. 17.

“For Wagner, the biggest donor to his campaign other than himself was Students First PAC, which contributed $1 million. It is a political action committee that supports school choice and partners with American Federation for Children, which U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos once chaired. She is a strong school-choice proponent.”
Pa. governors race: Where are their contributions coming from?
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Posted November 02, 2018 at 05:00 AM
*Daniel Simmons-Ritchie assisted with the data analysis.
The 2018 gubernatorial campaign that started last year is finally nearing an end. Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide who will lead Pennsylvania for the next four years. Nearly 27,000 people and political-action committees donated to Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf (left) and Republican challenger Scott Wagner's campaigns.  Here is a look at what PennLive's analysis of the campaign finance filings for 2017 up through Oct. 22 found for these two native York Countians who want to be governor.  
Gov. Tom Wolf:  The Democratic incumbent governor has collected more than 21,000 contributions totaling nearly $29.8 million over the course of 2017 and 2018 to fuel his re-election campaign. The contributions ranged in value from $1 to $500,000.  
GOP challenger Scott Wagner: The former state senator, who won a three-way primary contest to capture his party's nomination, has gathered nearly 5,900 contributions since January 2017, amounting to $14.4 million for his gubernatorial bid. His contributions ranged in value from $2 up to $1 million.

G. Terry Madonna & Michael Young: A better crystal ball for midterms
Trib Live Opinion by G. TERRY MADONNA & MICHAEL YOUNG | Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, 7:03 p.m.
 “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” is one of Yogi Berra’s best-known quotes. It’s succinct, witty and captures a universal truth, universally ignored in an age of pollsters, pundits and other would- be prognosticators willing to share their crystal balls with us. No one knows the future — no one. In forecasting elections, the best we can really do is identify the factors that might influence electoral outcomes. In 2018, four of these factors loom large: the midterm curse; turnout; women candidates; and the role of President Trump.

Election battles abound for seats in the Pa. House
Races abound for state House races during Tuesday's general election.
Penn Live By Matt Miller | Updated Nov 1, 3:44 PM; Posted 6:36 AM
Voters in one local state House district will be tasked with filling a power vacuum on Tuesday. It arose when Rep. Ron Marsico, a 30-year GOP veteran of the House, opted not to run for re-election in the 105th District in Dauphin County.  Aiming to fill Marsico’s spot are Democrat, activist and consultant Eric Epstein and Republican businessman Andrew Lewis. In the nearby 106th District voters will decide whether to keep Republican Rep. Tom Mehaffie or replace him with Democrat Jill Linta, a former assistant hearings administrator. Mehaffie joined the House in 2017 after another long-serving GOP legislator, John Payne, bowed out. A vacancy in the 199th District in Cumberland County, caused by GOP Rep. Stephen Bloom’s decision to make what turned out to be a failed bid for Congress, has fostered a three-way fight. The combatants are Republican Barbara Gleim, a business development director, Democrat Sherwood McGinnis, an educator, and Libertarian Charles Boust, a retiree. A pair of newcomers, Republican Toren Ecker, a lawyer, and Democrat Matthew Nelson, a chemist, are competing to fill the seat in the 193rd district in Cumberland and Adams counties. Contests abound this election season and most sitting representatives are facing challenges.

Blogger note: Merlyn Clarke is a school board member in the Stroudsburg Area School District
Letter: Should we arm children?
Pocono Record by Merlyn Clarke Stroud Township Posted Apr 3, 2018
In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal,” for solving the problem of poverty and famine in Ireland: “Eat the children,” he advised. Here’s a 21st-century modest proposal: Don’t just arm the school teachers; arm the children. What shooter would enter a school knowing he’d face a blizzard of bullets from dozens of heat-packing second graders? Ridiculous, you say? Why, it’s only an extension of the gun advocates’ logic. More good people with guns. Moreover, gun sales would spike. The gun lobby, for whom many politicians work, would be ecstatic. Some, even gun advocates, might have problems with this proposal. But have they examined their own logic? The 2008 Supreme Court Heller decision, in which the Supreme Court declared that bearing arms was an individual right, was based on the argument that a person has the right to defend themselves with a firearm. Since that decision, however, the number of people who have actually used weapons to defend themselves has been minimal. Moreover, the number of people who use guns to hunt is declining. Yet gun sales are up. Fewer people are buying more guns. What is driving gun sales? Apparently, a growing fantasy that arms will be needed to fend off a jack-booted government, intent on taking away our rights and installing a dictatorship. The solution? Jack-booted, armed government agents to “harden” schools and other public venues. Shopping malls, museums, sports arenas, concert venues, clubs — any place where people congregate — must be hardened, all so the Eric Freins of the world are free to live out their fantasies. Wouldn’t money be better spent on home security systems? Or on adequate counseling in schools so we can identify students who are stressed by home life, depressed, bullied, alienated or bored by irrelevant curricula? Should we arm them? Or help them?

“A total of $12.4 million was awarded to 496 school districts”
$25K school safety grants awarded to 16 of 17 Lancaster County school districts
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Oct 31, 2018
Sixteen of 17 Lancaster County school districts have received $25,000 grants to bolster school safety and security, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency announced Wednesday. A total of $12.4 million was awarded to 496 school districts by the School Safety and Security Committee recently established within the PCCD under Act 44, which was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in June. Pequea Valley, the lone local school district to not yet receive a grant, is still in the application process, district Superintendent Erik Orndorff said. All school districts that applied were eligible for $25,000 in support. School district officials contacted on Thursday said they were using the money for improvements in security camera coverage, emergency response training, mental health supports, districtwide communication and to fund risk and vulnerability assessments.
Grant recipients, under the law, may use the money for one or more of the following:
— Performing school safety assessments.
— Purchasing security-related technology and equipment.
— Supporting school safety-related and behavioral health training.
— Preparing all-hazard plans.
— Hiring school resource officers, school police officers, counselors, social workers and psychologists.
— Providing for trauma-informed approaches to education.

“The Notebook’s review of statewide data found that racial disparities between student bodies and their teachers are stark among schools in the Pennsylvania suburbs of Philadelphia – Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties – mirroring the situation statewide. Pennsylvania as a whole has one of the largest disparities in the nation between the racial and ethnic composition of its student body and its teacher corps.”
Teacher diversity — or lack of it — in the Philadelphia suburbs
Despite growing student diversity, there is a small pool of teachers of color.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa and Lijia Liu November 1 — 11:33 am, 2018
Patrick Fleury remembers that growing up in Cheltenham, he was already past his impressionable younger years before ever seeing a teacher who looked like him. “I took notice,” he said. “It was more subconsciously. I was walking through the hallway, and I remember thinking that up until middle school I never saw a black male teacher.” By the time he had finished high school, he had encountered “maybe six to seven” black male teachers and other authority figures in school. “I could count them,” he said, starting to tick off their names. Today, Fleury, 30, works at his alma mater, Cheltenham High School, in Montgomery County. He is a special education teacher, helps lead the project-based learning initiative, and is the head basketball coach. He loves his job. But in a district where 53 percent of the students are African American, he is among just a handful of teachers who identify as black males. In 2016-17, according to the latest data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, black male teachers made up just 1 percent of the 344 teachers in Cheltenham – meaning that there were only three or four in the entire district.

Most Political Candidates Agree “Education Is Good.” But Only a Few Have a Lesson Plan
A case study from Pennsylvania’s midterms.
The Progressive by Peter Greene October 31, 2018
Education has grabbed the spotlight in a number of races in this year’s midterm elections, especially in red states that experienced mass teacher walkouts this spring. But what about in Pennsylvania, a state that didn’t experience a teacher walkout but is nevertheless critical to whether Democrats receive a “Blue Wave” in November?  Now, maybe your state doesn’t have other education issues to consider (ha!) but in Pennsylvania, we have some of the worst school funding problems in the country, with only some 35 percent, on average, coming from the state. That means that each school district depends largely on local property taxes to fund the schools. And that means we have huge gaps between rich districts and poor ones. Politicians have ignored this issue for years; if education is really going to be a campaign issue in Pennsylvania, this is a place I’d expect them to start. If politicians really wanted to lean in to education, they could bring up charters and cyber-charters and how they drain local school funds. So I decided to use these issues as barometers to measure if education really factors into Democrats’ strategy in Pennsylvania.

With Pa. test scores flat, Philly sees modest increases across the board
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 1, 2018
In a year where Pennsylvania’s overall student test scores flatlined, the School District of Pennsylvania saw modest-but-consistent growth across every tested subject. On state tests given to elementary and middle school students, the proportion of students scoring advanced or proficient in Philadelphia jumped three percentage points in science — to 35 percent. Scores rose two percentage points in math — to 20 percent; and three percentage points in English — to 35 percent. Philadelphia’s scores on the Keystone Exams, given to Pennsylvania high school students, also improved. The percentage of students passing the Literature test improved by five percentage points to 49 percent. And pass rates on the Algebra I and Biology exam improved by four percentage points each — to 38 percent and 36 percent respectively. “I congratulate our students, teachers and principals on their continued academic progress,” said superintendent William Hite in a statement. “These results clearly show the hard work, dedication, and determination of everyone is making a difference.”

The Fundamental Fallacy of Charter Schools
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Thursday, November 1, 2018
Before we talk about the quality of education or the importance of freed, when it comes to charter schools, there's a much more fundamental fallacy that we must address first, a fallacy that addresses a premise of virtually every charter program launched in this country. You cannot run multiple school districts for the same amount of money you used to spend to operate just one. This really should not come as a surprise to anyone. When was the last time you heard of a business of any sort saying, "The money is getting tight, and we need to tighten our belts. So let's open up some new facilities." Opening up charter schools can only drive up the total cost of educating students within a system, for several reasons.

School attendance can determine district quality
Ellwood City Ledger By Dani Fitzgerald / Posted Oct 31, 2018 at 11:46 AM
Test scores are a thing of the past. Well, sort of.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has been taking notes over the last several years and concluded that a more holistic approach when evaluating school districts was needed. Specifically, the department decided to create a new district evaluation tool that puts just as much emphasis on student attendance as it does on overall academic achievement and test scores. Essentially, this new measuring tool, known as the Future Ready PA Index, says student success goes beyond getting an A on a test. And local districts agree. With the implementation of the Future Ready PA Index this year, districts throughout the region are noticing even more that absenteeism could impede student success. For instance, the Ellwood City Area School District found that 23 percent of its students are known as “chronically absent,” meaning those students have missed 10 percent of the school year — that’s two days per month. And those absences are counted whether they are excused or unexcused. District Superintendent Joe Mancini calls this absenteeism an epidemic. “If your student misses 10 percent of school, they are less likely to know how to read by third grade,” he said.

The @PADeptofEd 's Future Ready PA Index will launch in mid-November.
The @PADeptofEd 's Future Ready PA Index will launch in mid-November. When it does, you'll get one place to track student progress, get access to AP courses, and see student success after graduation, and a lot more.

“At 7:30 pm, a Public Hearing to consider the TLC Bucks Charter High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Charter School Application will take place in the auditorium at BHS.”
Bucks County Student Arts Expo - Spread the Word!
Wednesday, November 7th, from 6 to 7 pm at the Bensalem High School.

Email From: Bucks County Schools Communications Advisory Council
The School Districts of Bucks County are excited to be hosting an Arts Exposition to feature and highlight the depth, breadth, and variety of the arts programs being offered through our Bucks County public schools.  This free expo is being held on Wednesday, November 7th, from 6 to 7 pm at the Bensalem High School. At 7:30 pm, a Public Hearing to consider the TLC Bucks Charter High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Charter School Application will take place in the auditorium at BHS.  Please join us!

Is the Nation's First Charter School Strike Imminent?
Education Week By Madeline Will on November 1, 2018 1:30 PM
Teachers at a charter network in Chicago have voted to take the first step toward the country's first charter-school strike. Earlier this week, 503 of the Chicago Teachers Union's 536 members at Acero's 15 charter schools voted to authorize a strike. (Most unionized members turned out to vote.) They are fighting for pay raises, smaller class sizes, increased special education staffing, and extended parental leave. Teachers at four more unionized charter schools in the city—part of the Chicago International Charter Schools network—will vote on whether to authorize their own strike tomorrow.  While there has been plenty of teacher activism lately—from six statewide walkouts this spring to a spate of teacher strikes in Washington state to a potential strike brewing in Los Angeles—charter schools have been mostly immune. Nationally, a small percentage of charter schools are unionized—only about 11.3 percent, according to data from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In fact, charter schools were in part created to free school leaders from many state and district regulations, including collective bargaining contracts.The idea is that this allows charter schools more flexibility to innovate and try new things, such as longer school days and school years.

Who's Meeting With DeVos? Lots of Republicans, Few Democrats
Education Week By Alyson Klein November 1, 2018
Democrats are poised to make gains in the midterm elections next week, potentially even taking back the U.S. House of Representatives and some governorships. If that happens, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who donated millions mostly to Republican candidates and causes before joining President Trump’s cabinet, may have some relationship building to do: The overwhelming majority of DeVos’ scheduled conversations in her first year and a half in office have been with GOP policymakers. DeVos met with or spoke to Republican members of Congress, governors, lieutenant governors, and state chiefs about six times more frequently than with Democrats between her first week in office last year and the end of July 2018, according to an Education Week analysis of her calendar posted on the Freedom of Information Act portion of the department’s website.

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

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.

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.

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