Tuesday, November 6, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 6, 2018 * * * G O V O T E * * *

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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.

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
View State, Congressional PA Election Results This Evening On PA Dept. Of State Website

Inspired by Lancaster County high school students, we say: Vote Tuesday. Don't miss your chance.
Lancaster Online Editorial by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD Nov 4, 2018
THE ISSUE: Election Day is Tuesday. Lancaster County voters will go to the polls to cast ballots for governor and lieutenant governor, U.S. representative for the 11th District, U.S. senator, state senator and state representatives. A special election also is taking place for the 7th Congressional District seat. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We’re nearly there. After months of campaign ads, debates, social media posts, and the far more reliable — and tireless — coverage of LNP’s Sam Janesch, Election Day is just two days away. We know there’s great interest in the election among Lancaster County residents — we’ve received so many letters to the editor that we’ve had to devote extra pages to get them all in by Saturday, which was our deadline for running election letters. We are grateful for this show of enthusiasm for democracy. And inspired by it. We also were inspired by the students who attended Democracy Day, an event held last Monday that was organized by LNP Media Group and its partners, the Lancaster Chamber and Eastern Lancaster County School District. You’d think that asking teenagers to show up early on a Monday morning to talk about leadership, civility and democracy would inspire nothing more than yawns and weary sighs and perhaps an eye roll or two. In reality, the 80 teens at Democracy Day — who represented 26 public, private and parochial high schools, as well as a countywide homeschool organization — were engaged, passionate, thoughtful and notably respectful of one other’s views.

5 things to watch as voters in PA and across the country head to the polls
Morning Call by Laura Olson Contact Reporter Call Washington Bureau November 6, 2018
The candidates have made their final pitches, and now it’s time for the voters to have their say. Here’s a few things to watch as Pennsylvania’s election results trickle in tonight:
Pennsylvania’s part in the blue wave
Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in order to win the majority, allowing the party to set the legislative agenda next year. Current polling suggests that Democrats could easily pick up somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 seats, and potentially more if the party is very successful in turning out its votes. Pennsylvania is poised to provide a handful of those Democratic pickups: the formerly GOP-held Delaware and Chester County-based 5th and 6th Districts are solidly in the Democratic column, and the Lehigh Valley’s 7th District leans Democratic in national projections. Two other seats where Republican incumbents are running for re-election — the Bucks County-based 1st District and the 10th District in south-central Pennsylvania — are viewed as toss-ups.

“In the 2014 midterm election, Pennsylvania’s overall voter turnout hit about 41 percent. This time around, “it wouldn’t shock me that the turnout statewide is between 45 and 50 percent,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs. “We’re going to have the largest turnout in a midterm than we’ve had in a while and it’s all motivated by one word: Trump.”
Elections officials predict record 51 to 55 percent voter turnout in Western Pa.
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, 9:57 p.m.
More than half of Western Pennsylvania’s registered voters could vote Tuesday in a midterm election that’s expected to shatter turnout records across the state and nation, elections officials and observers say. In Allegheny County, voter turnout is projected to reach 51 percent, higher than the past two midterm elections, said Dave Voye, the county’s acting division manager of elections. The projection is up from about 41 percent in 2014 and almost 48 percent in 2010, local records show. Westmoreland County Elections Bureau Director Beth Lechman said she expects voter turnout to reach as high as 55 percent. About 40 percent of registered voters cast ballots four years ago. “Typically, in a midterm election, you’re hovering around 35 to 37 percent, and counties like Allegheny used to think that was a good turnout,” said Jerry Shuster, a professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh. “Now, almost everywhere around the nation because of close races, because of the polarization, because of the activity of high-profile officials and people involved in the process, there’s no doubt in my mind that it will approach 50 percent.”

9 things you need to know about education and Tuesday’s election
WHYY – NPR By Jeffrey Pierre Sara Ernst November 4, 2018
With the midterms on Tuesday, we’ve devoted our weekly roundup to focus on education’s role in the election. Here are our nine takeaways of key issues and trends to watch:
1. Teachers are flexing their (political) muscles
With just days to go, both of the major teachers’ unions have devoted their considerable resources to the election. The American Federation of Teachers has its members on the ground, making calls and knocking on doors, for more than 100 key Senate, House and gubernatorial races. While the AFT is focused more on national races, the National Education Association (the largest U.S. teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members) is primarily targeting state and local races. This shouldn’t be a surprise. This has been a year packed with teacher activism. There were walkouts and demonstrations in five states. What did they want? Their main concerns were better pay and working conditions. Arizona, West Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma are also states with some of the lowest education funding rates in the nation, as well as very low rates of teacher pay. For education advocates, conversations on funding education are long overdue. In a report, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities called the last 10 years, “A Punishing Decade for School Funding.” Twenty-five states are still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008, according to this reportby the AFT.

PA: Scott Wagner Financed by DeVos Ed Reformsters
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Sunday, November 4, 2018
At PennLive.com they did some quick record checks and found these fun facts about the money behind this year's governor's race in PA. You'll never guess who's bankrolling Scott Wagner. (Incidentally, you don't have to guess-- you can play along at home by digging the finance reports out at the PA campaign finance records website). One interesting factoid is the numbers-- Governor Tom Wolf has almost 27,000 separate contributors to his race. GOP's Scott Wagner has 5,900 contributors. Wolf's contributors ran from $1 to $500,000. Wagner's run from (weirdly) $2 up to $1,000,000. Wolf totaled up $29.8 million, while Wagner collected a mere $14.4 million. Wagner has kicked in $5 million of his own money and borrowed another $6 million.
But here's one more thing to take note of. Wagner's biggest donor not named Wagner is Students First PAC, which kicked in $1,000,000.


State education secretary visits Interboro schools
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com November 6, 2018
PROSPECT PARK — A cold, dreary Monday morning was made a bit brighter in the Interboro School District with a visit by Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera. The state’s top educator touted the successes of early-child education throughout the commonwealth by touring district schools and speaking with teachers, administrators and school board directors about other education issues as part of the state's School That Teach initiative. In his first term as education secretary — in correlation with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf who is running for a second term on Tuesday — Rivera was happy to report that over 10,000 new pre-kindergarten education or Head Start program slots have been created in the state since taking office in 2015. The cost attributed to this was $115 million as apportioned through respective state budgets. A 2017 report by the state Independent Fiscal Office reports an economic impact of $2.15 per dollar invested in early-learning programs. “Research shows that early education is a proven investment,” said Rivera. “By increasing access to early-education programs, we are ensuring that students have not only the academic tools, but the social and emotional building blocks in place to succeed.” In Interboro, a five-year Pre-K Counts grant worth $289,000 annually has brought pre-kindergarten to the district.

Tullytown charter school a financial mess, lawsuit alleges
Intelligencer By Chris English Posted Nov 2, 2018 at 2:03 PM
Former Business Manager Terri Sparango is suing The Center for Student Learning Charter School at Pennsbury for wrongful discharge after her reporting of alleged financial misdeeds.  A charter school in Tullytown chartered by the Pennsbury School District is rife with fraudulent and improper financial practices, former Business Manager and Board of Trustees Secretary Terri Sparango alleges in a lawsuit recently filed in Bucks County Court. In a 48-page complaint filed through Penndel attorney Timothy Kolman, Warminster resident Sparango claims she was wrongfully discharged in 2017 for her “refusal to participate in ongoing criminal activity” related to her reporting of alleged financial infractions at The Center for Student Learning Charter School at Pennsbury. The school, which is open to students from throughout Bucks County, has 152 students in grades 6-12. Its original charter was granted by the Pennsbury school board in 2002, with several renewals granted after that. The lawsuit names the school, CEO Charles Bonner, the school’s regular attorney Kevin McKenna and several other school officials and consultants. Sparango, who held her positions at the school for two years ending in 2017, claims in the suit that her “refusal to conspire with the defendants to falsify audits with fraudulent numbers resulted in her duties being removed from her to the point where she had no choice but to leave her employment, if she was not otherwise to be a participant in the ongoing conspiracy to violate Pennsylvania law.”

“Pennsylvania’s tax credit system is overwhelmingly geared toward private school vouchers with 90 percent of the funds going to private and religious schools,” said Fry. “Not only are most of the funds being diverted away from public schools, but the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit also provides a triple dip tax break for corporations that substantially reduces, or in some cases erases the cost of contributions.”
AASA Members Testify In Washington On IRS Proposal
AASA Website Alexandria, Va. – Nov. 5, 2018 – 
David Sovine, superintendent of Frederick County (Va.) Public Schools, and Richard Fry, superintendent of the Big Spring (Pa.) School District, testified today at a public hearing in Washington, D.C., about a regulation that the Internal Revenue Service is proposing that would close a tax shelter allowing individuals to profit by donating to private school voucher programs. The proposed IRS regulation would put an end to the practice in Virginia, Pennsylvania and 10 other states where voucher supporters are receiving federal deductions and turning profits from donations to private school programs. “I want to thank the IRS for proposing regulations that would end a tax shelter for select taxpayers in Virginia and other states that not only provides an opportunity for a taxpayer to essentially profit from a charitable donation but can also be used as a means of diverting funding away from the public school system,” said Sovine. “Having the resources necessary to adequately fund our nation’s public schools is critical to ensure schools are equipped to provide rich educational opportunities to all children.”

Why it matters who governs America’s public schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss Reporter November 4 at 4:43 PM
Does it matter who operates America’s public schools?
That’s a central question in the national debate about education and the movement to find alternatives to school districts that are publicly funded and operated. While charter schools are publicly funded, they are privately operated and are not required in most places to be as transparent as publicly operated schools. The public also has no say in the operations of private and public schools that accept publicly funded vouchers. This post, written by Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch, looks at the issue of governance and why it matters who is in charge.
Burris is a former New York high school principal who now serves as executive director of the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy group. She was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the National Association of Secondary School Principals named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. Burris has been chronicling problems with modern school reform and school choice for years on this blog. She has previously written about problems with charter schools in California and a number of other states.
Ravitch, an education historian, became the titular leader of the movement against corporate school reform in 2010, when her book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” was published and became a best-seller. An assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, she explains in the book that she dropped her support for No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of President George W. Bush and standardized-test-based school restructuring, after looking at evidence about how it was harming public schools.

From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 5 at 4:44 PM
In Charleston, S.C., advocates for the public school district are worried. They have watched some of the state’s wealthiest people — including billionaire financier Ben Navarro — form a coalition this year to back school board candidates who support a broad expansion of charter schools. The Charleston Coalition for Kids has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising as 11 candidates vie for four seats on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees. The coalition, which is run by a former Teach For America executive in charge of recruiting educators in the state, has won big endorsements in town, including from former mayors and school board members. And it has links to Michelle Rhee, the controversial former D.C. schools chancellor and pioneer in the school “reform” movement that sought to use standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, principals and students and pushed for alternatives to publicly governed school districts. Coalition leaders say they simply want to improve education in the city. But some residents — including pastors, former and current school board members and parents — say the group’s real aim it to expand charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. Those residents say that will harm the 50,000-student school system.

“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!

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.

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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