Thursday, November 8, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 8: GOP absorbs losses but retains control in Pa. Legislature

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GOP absorbs losses but retains control in Pa. Legislature

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.

The Connection Between Poverty, Race and College Preparation in Five Charts
The National Education Policy Center November 8, 2018
More than 14 percent of the nation’s high school students attend schools where at least three quarters live in poverty. Most of these 1.8 million pupils are students of color. These low-income students and students of color are much less likely than their white and more affluent peers to attend and complete college. A new analysis illustrates one of the reasons why: These high schools with concentrated poverty are less likely to offer the coursework students need if they are to attend and succeed in four-year colleges. The analysis is presented in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last month at the request of U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, ranking member on the House Education Committee. Below are five charts from the report that shed light on the connection between poverty, race, and college attendance. “High-poverty” schools have free or reduced-price meal rates of at least 75 percent. “Low-poverty” schools have rates under 25 percent.

GOP absorbs losses but retains control in Pa. Legislature
Inquirer by MARK SCOLFORO, Updated: November 7, 2018- 3:50 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats made significant inroads in both chambers of the Pennsylvania Legislature during Tuesday's election, but Republicans began the day with margins large enough to absorb those losses and still have comfortable governing majorities in both the House and Senate. A Democratic electoral wave in the Philadelphia suburbs turned at least 12 state House and four state Senate districts from red to blue. Five House and two Senate districts, all but one most recently in Republican hands, remain too close to call. Rep. Kate Harper, a nine-term Montgomery County Republican, had survived a series of tough races over the years before losing Tuesday in a district almost evenly divided by party registration. "It's too early to drink, but I am eating all the leftover Halloween candy," Harper said Wednesday. "Those of us from the southeast, call us independent, call us moderate, call us bipartisan, whatever you want. We were in the minority in the Republican caucus, but the middle is where things happen."

Delco GOP: Trump behind Blue Wave in local vote
Delco Times By Kathleen E. Carey November 8, 2018
As Democrats won the Delco seat in U.S. Congress, one state Senate seat and four state representative positions, leaders on both sides of the aisle analyzed the phenomena that motivated thousands of voters to hit the polls Tuesday. On Tuesday, 59 percent of Delaware County's 402,804 registered voters came out – at times in driving rain – to select their chosen candidates.  And, upsets were plenty. The mayor of Swarthmore, Democrat Tim Kearney, edged out state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, to become the first Democrat in that position since 1974. Democrat Dave Delloso won over Republican Mary Hopper in the 162nd state legislative district race. Jenn O'Mara took the 165th from incumbent state Rep. Alex Charlton, R-165 of Springfield, and Democrat Mike Zabel overtook state Rep. Jamie Santora, R-163 of Upper Darby. "We drove into some tough headwinds tonight, all throughout the year, not of our own doing," Springfield GOP leader Michael Puppio said at the Springfield Country Club Tuesday night after announcing McGarrigle's loss. "Every day, folks like us tried to explain a tweet. Social media is a different world today."

EDlection2018: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf Re-Elected in PA. After Touting Increased Ed Spending, Strong Backing by Teachers Union
The 74 By LAURA FAY | November 6, 2018
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is projected to win a second term, defeating Republican challenger, Scott Wagner, according to NBC. Education was a key issue in the campaign, with Wolf touting increased funding flowing to schools during his tenure, though The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that most of that money went to pension costs for the state’s school employees. The paper reports that basic education funding increased by about 10 percent while Wolf was in office. Wolf was first elected four years ago on a promise of reversing cuts made by the previous governor, Republican Tom Corbett. One of his biggest backers this time was the state teachers union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association. A recent National Education Association memo about the midterm elections described re-electing Wolf as “a top priority” because he has “stood up against right wing forces in a Republican dominated legislature to restore massive education cuts.” “The governor ran being an education governor, and he’s not disappointed us,” Dolores McCracken, the union’s president, told the Inquirer during the campaign. However, many of the campaign promises he made in 2014 haven’t been enacted, the paper reports.

‘We were not expecting this.’ Election sees high voter turnout, especially at Penn State
Centre Daily Times BY SARAH PAEZ November 07, 2018 02:10 PM Updated November 07, 2018 03:16 PM
The 2018 midterm election in Centre County was marked by unusually high voter turnout and enthusiasm, particularly at Penn State, where some precincts broke records. In Centre County overall, unofficial voter turnout was at 54.6 percent, said Election Coordinator Jody Nedd. That’s up from 36.6 percent voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections and 44.68 percent in the 2010 midterm elections, according to data from the Centre County website. Penn State voters at the HUB had record turnout. State College Boro East 4, which votes in the HUB, went from 4.65 percent turnout in the 2014 election to 28.84 percent turnout in this year’s election. We saw the highest (midterm) turnout in that precinct on record” as far back as 1996, said Jack Califano, the regional organizing director for NextGen America.

Lancaster County voter turnout: Highest for a midterm in 24 years
Lancaster Online by TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer November 8, 2018
Thousands of current Lancaster County voters weren't alive the last time a midterm election drew a better turnout. According to county election data, 61.6 percent of registered voters went to the polls in dreary weather Tuesday to cast ballots for Congress, Senate, governor and the state Legislature. Midterm elections are the ones that come in even-numbered years in the middle of presidential terms. Tuesday’s midterm turnout here was the highest since the 65 percent recorded in 1994 — indeed, it was the first midterm since then to exceed 50 percent, according to county and LNP records. The 1994 election came two years into the Clinton administration, when Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1952 on the strength of the “Contract With America,” a unified national message crafted by U.S. Reps. Newt Gingrich of Georgia and Dick Armey of Texas. The Republican congressman from Pennsylvania’s then Lancaster County-based 16th District, Rep. Bob Walker, was a notable voice in that movement. This year, there were plenty of reasons to expect a higher turnout. Across the country, President Donald Trump energized voters in both parties, with Democrats eager to thwart his agenda by capturing one or both houses of Congress, and Republicans eager to protect him.

Tamaqua policy to arm school staff comes under fire
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call November 7, 2018
A Tamaqua Area School District policy that allows for the arming of staff to combat school shooters came under fire Wednesday as scores of parents criticized and questioned a policy they don’t believe was properly vetted before it was enacted. There were some among the more than 100 people packed inside the Tamaqua Area Middle School cafeteria, which included teachers and students as well as parents, who supported the policy, but even among those many questions remained. Under scrutiny was District Policy 705, adopted unanimously by the school board in September which would allow staff to volunteer for special training that would allow them to carry a concealed weapon in school in an effort to thwart a school shooter. Opponents of the policy presented alternatives born from extensive research they believed the school board failed to conduct themselves. Parents who spoke up were upset that there was not enough input and buy-in from the faculty and parents when the policy was first crafted.

“Those factors include appreciating values across what real estate observers call "greater Center City"; aggressive investments by the University of Pennsylvania, including creating home-buying programs for staff and backing the creation of the University City District; and, in 2002, the opening of the transformative school, a collaboration between the School District and Penn, which kicks in $1,330 a student, that has since been recognized as one of the best schools in the nation
The Penn Alexander effect: Is there any room left for low-income residents in University City?
Inquirer by Samantha Melamed, Posted: November 1, 2018
The 4500 block of Osage Avenue was quiet on a recent afternoon, except for the wind whipping through its stately tall trees, scattering leaves up the steps of fine Victorian houses and apartment buildings marketed to graduate students and faculty. But there was a bit of commotion on the sidewalk, as Jay Tembo, 38, grappled with the news that he and other tenants would have to leave their home, a 1940, 16-unit apartment building with a name from another era: Arvilla. "You need to call your caseworker," his neighbor, Wanda Levan, 48, told him. The word was, everyone living there — the last apartment building on the block dedicated to affordable housing — has to move by the end of November. Residents first received the lease-termination notices, then spotted a listing that advertises the property for $2.15 million, promising that, once renovated, the one- and two-bedroom units could command up to $1,400 a month, as the property falls "within the limited, highly sought after Penn Alexander School Catchment." It's becoming a familiar story in this corner of the city, where an array of forces have conspired to drive up real estate prices and, in some cases, drive out low-income renters.

“The Community Schools project is an initiative of the Kenney administration, in collaboration with the District, that seeks to make schools the hub of neighborhoods by providing students and their families with social services and other activities, such as adult education, that will enhance their learning experience and increase parent engagement.”
Students show off cooking skills to mayor after trip to Italy
The trip is part of the Community Schools initiative
The notebook by Naomi Elegant November 8 — 6:00 am, 2018
Nineteen culinary arts students from four Community Schools—Murrell Dobbins CTE High School, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, George Washington High School, and South Philadelphia High School—showed Kenney and other city officials how to prepare fresh ravioli, a skill they picked up during their ten–day trip to Florence, Italy in October to learn about the region’s cuisine. The trip, part of Citizen Diplomacy International’s Sister Cities Program, marked a first–time collaboration between CDI and the Mayor’s Office of Education. While in Italy, students learned to make pastries and pasta and visited medieval churches and vineyards. After returning to Philadelphia, they put their new cooking skills to use. “The educator in me wanted them to demonstrate what they’ve learned,” said Otis Hackney, the Chief Education Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Education. The event was held at the Parkway Central Library’s Culinary Literacy Center. After Hackney thanked the trip sponsors, chaperones, and school principals, two students talked about their time in Italy, describing the art museums they visited and the food they enjoyed cooking and eating. Mayor Kenney said of the students, “I just want to tell them how proud I am of them.”

Philly District outsources substitute nurses, then scrambles to provide better coverage
Nurses say the timing was bad because of a policy change in distributing students' medication.
The notebook by Greg Windle November 7 — 6:22 pm, 2018
The shortage of substitute school nurses grew worse this year after the Philadelphia School District outsourced the service as a way to improve its historically low fill-rate for absences, according to data provided by the District. Nurses say the situation was avoidable, likening it to the chaotic days in 2015-16 when the District first outsourced substitute teachers. They say the District learned little from that fiasco, when it hired Source4Teachers, a Cherry Hill-based firm that submitted the lowest bid but could not provide sufficient substitutes. The District abandoned that contract and hired Kelly Educational Staffing, which was able to meet the terms of the contract and fill most of the vacancies. After that success, it gave Kelly the substitute nurse contract in August. But the company has had a much harder time fulfilling that responsibility, leading the District to hire two additional firms whose focus is on health care rather than generic staffing. “It will take some time for Kelly Services to recruit and build their nurse substitute pool, which is a priority focus,” said District spokesman Lee Whack. He said the number of substitute nurses placed each month has increased. But that has been outpaced by more requests for substitutes since the outsourcing.  Overall, however, less than one in five absences is covered.

Upper Moreland teachers have new three-year contract
Intelligencer By Chris English Posted Nov 7, 2018 at 6:06 PM Updated Nov 7, 2018 at 6:06 PM
Both the school board and teachers union adopted a fact-finding report from arbitrator Timothy Brown as the new deal. A fact-finding report has turned into a new, three-year contract for Upper Moreland School District teachers and other professionals in their union. Both the school board and 240-member Upper Moreland Education Association recently approved adopting the report from arbitrator Timothy Brown as the basis of its new deal, which is retroactive to July 1 and runs through June 30, 2021. The settlement ends a negotiation process that at times turned volatile, with many school district parents showing up in force at board meetings to urge board members to pay teachers what they are worth, and to criticize board members for not showing teachers and others in their union the proper support, respect and financial backing. The new contract gives members of the association — which includes teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists and other positions — total inclusive salary increases of 4.63 percent in the first year, 2.76 percent the second year and 3.87 percent the final year. That includes both step and column salary hikes. Step increases are vertical movements along a salary matrix based on years of service, and column increases are horizontal movements based on college credits and degrees earned. The new contract increases union member contributions to their health insurance premiums from the current 12 percent to 13 percent effective Jan. 1, 15 percent in the second year and 16 percent in the final year. Base salaries in the first year of the contract range from $46,938 to $105,250 and from $47,877 to $107,099 in the final year.

OJR forum addresses student sleep needs
Pottstown Mercury By Laura Catalano For Digital First Media Nov 6, 2018
SOUTH COVENTRY — Concerns over early start times and sleep deprivation in teens has been keeping some parents up at night in the Owen J. Roberts School District. In an effort to address those concerns, the district recently held a sleep health forum. The forum, which took place in the high school LGI room, was attended by 15 parents, community members, school board representatives and administrators. Led by Director of Pupil Services Richard Marchini, attendees worked together to identify a list of sleep health concerns, and then began brainstorming ideas for tackling those issues. At the end of the 90-minute forum, the group had done more than articulate their worries, they came up with potential action steps for moving forward. A second forum is planned for Monday, Nov. 13, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the high school LGI room. The community is once again invited to participate, to add detail to the action steps and begin formulating plans.

Fetterman has ambitions, but does he have a tie?
WHYY By Dave Davies November 8, 2018
When Gov. Tom Wolf won a second term Tuesday, his running mate, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman was elected lieutenant governor, which no doubt caught the eye of Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. When Fetterman announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor a year ago, he talked about being a “solid progressive backstop” for Wolf, getting a statewide platform for the issues he cares about, and one other thing. “It also affords the ability to keep an eye on [the year] 2022 for Pat Toomey,” he said. Fetterman sought the Democratic nomination to run against Toomey two years ago, losing to former state Environmental Secretary Katie McGinty, who in turn lost to Toomey in the general election. Toomey is up for re-election in 2022, and Fetterman has never abandoned the idea of running again.

Democrats’ leader on education preps for new role as check on Betsy DeVos
Washington Post By Laura Meckler November 7 at 6:20 PM
The Democrat poised to chair the House Education Committee said Wednesday that he will use his power to compel answers from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her staff, and will seek common ground with Republicans on addressing soaring college costs. But with Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, don’t expect high-profile confrontations from Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott of Virginia, who won his 14th term representing a Hampton Roads district. And don’t expect him to champion the sort of expansive debt-free or tuition-free college proposals that have captivated many from the party’s liberal wing. Rather, Scott intends to talk with his Republican colleagues and see if there is common ground for legislation overhauling the federal Higher Education Act, which is overdue for a rewrite. “Unless you have some kind of bipartisan support, it’s going to be difficult to pass a bill,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “To the extent we can achieve bipartisan support, we’ll make every effort to do it.”

Democrat Tony Evers, Wis. Schools Chief, Narrowly Defeats Gov. Walker
Education Week By The Associated Press November 7, 2018
Madison, Wis. Democrat Tony Evers ousted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the state's closest governor's race in more than half a century, denying the polarizing Republican and one-time presidential candidate a third term and succeeding where his party had failed in three previous attempts, including a 2012 recall. Walker refused to concede the race early Wednesday, and his campaign alleged that "thousands" of ballots were damaged and may have skewed the count. With the unofficial count substantially complete, Evers led by about 31,000 votes, or 1.16 percentage point, just outside the margin at which a losing candidate may request a recount. The Walker loss comes after three previous wins — including the 2012 recall — and a narrow President Donald Trump victory in 2016. Trump carried the state by just shy of 23,000 votes.

Buckle Up, Betsy DeVos: Democrats Have Won the House
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on November 7, 2018 12:42 AM
UPDATED - For the first time in eight years, Democrats were on track to take control of the House of Representatives as the result of Tuesday's midterm elections, ushering in some big changes in how Washington handles education—but not necessarily huge changes in policy. As of early Wednesday, Democrats had picked up at least the 23 seats required to win the chamber, according to the Associated Press and other projections. That gives Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia control of the House education committee. Scott, currently the top Democrat on the committee, was poised to take over the chair from GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the first Democrat to chair the committee since retired Rep. George Miller of California, who was chairman from 2007 until 2011.  However, any wholesale policy changes on education coming from the House will likely be checked by the Senate, which will remain in GOP hands. And President Donald Trump, of course, remains in the White House.

PSBA survey reveals board operations, community engagement and student representation
PSBA Website November 7, 2018
The PSBA Research Inquiry on School Board Operations is conducted every three years to compile information on how Pennsylvania public school boards operate, engage the community and provide opportunities for student representation. The 2018 survey results were recently published in the September/October issue of PSBA Bulletin. Here is a highlight from each of the three survey parts:
·         Board operations: More than three-quarters (82%) of boards uses standing subcommittees.
·         Community engagement: The vast majority of school districts (90%) participate in cooperative projects with business and community organizations.
·         Student representation: More than half (57%) of school districts involve students in their local board meetings.
For a copy of the complete survey results, email, or view it here.

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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