Tuesday, December 4, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 4: Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country

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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Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country

Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country, with the wealthiest school districts spending 33% more on each student than the poorest districts.
PA Schools Work website
Most Pennsylvania’s public schools are inadequately funded. PA ranks 46thin state share for education. As a result, four of every five of the state’s school districts, serving 1.4 million students, are not getting their fair state share. Nearly half of school districts are spending below the amount needed to educate students. That underspending is a direct result of inadequate state support. That means lost opportunities for students to participate in valuable science, technology, and math programs; receive enough personal attention from their teachers due to growing class sizes; get extra help when they need it; have access to up-to-date books and technology; or participate in vocational training and extracurricular activities.

November State Revenue Collections $95.5 Million Above Estimate; $333.6M Above Estimates Year-To-Date
PA Capitol Digest Blog by Crisci Associates December 3, 2018
 On December 3, the Department of Revenue announced Pennsylvania collected $2.3 billion in General Fund revenue in November, which was $95.5 million, or 4.3 percent, more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $12.4 billion, which is $333.6 million, or 2.8 percent, above estimate. Since the start of the 2018-19 fiscal year, overall tax revenue is $913.3 million, or 8.2 percent, more than was collected in the same period of the last fiscal year.

“The brochure illustrates the marketing campaign public schools now engage in because of school choice. In the past, districts didn’t often advertise to recruit students. But in recent years, they have to compete with charter and private schools that advertise in glossy brochures and on flashy billboards.
As part of recruitment tool, Bethlehem Area to promote schools with brochure
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call December 3, 2018
As part of the Bethlehem Area School District’s marketing campaign, prospective parents of students will soon receive a 20-page brochure that promotes the district’s 22 schools. The brochure, similar to what colleges and private schools give prospective students, was presented to the school board Monday by Superintendent Joseph Roy. It will be given to parents when they visit schools for events. The district is also looking to hand out brochures to local realtors and businesses. The front cover of the brochure includes photos of Bethlehem Area students in various activities, including track, science, music and theater. Similar photos of students and teachers appear inside the brochure. Throughout the pamphlet, the district highlights its programs, such as Spanish at the elementary schools, and the pre-engineering Project Lead The Way program at the high school level. Pages also include information about teachers and testimonies from Bethlehem Area parents and school board members.

Philly school lead testing bill moves out of Council committee unanimously
Over 6 percent of the city’s children have elevated blood levels, more than double the national rate.
The notebook by Greg Windle December 3 — 9:11 pm, 2018
Laurie Mazer, a parent of children at Jackson Elementary and on the leadership team of the Healthy Schools Initiative and Parents United, testifies before Council while Jerry Roseman sits on the left. While blood lead levels have declined among the city’s children in recent years, they have not kept up with national trends. In fact, lead levels among Philadelphia’s children are “nearly twice what Flint, Michigan, experienced during the height of their water crisis,” according to Dr. Marilyn Howarth, who testified before City Council today. Over 6 percent of the city’s children have elevated blood levels, more than double the national rate. The current rate means 2,392 children in Philadelphia are diagnosed with elevated lead blood levels each year. Howarth is the director of community engagement for the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania. She testified before City Council’s committee on licenses and inspections during a public hearing on a series of bills that would strengthen environmental and safety regulations within the city’s building codes. Two of the bills apply to schools.

How does your school district stack up? Compare York County scores on 2017-18 exams
Sam Ruland, York Daily Record Published 5:08 p.m. ET Dec. 3, 2018 | Updated 5:35 p.m. ET Dec. 3, 2018
Statewide, more students are passing state tests in English and math than in 2017, but results indicate that there's a lot of work ahead.  Historically, students have struggled the most on the math PSSA, and that trend continued this year as data showed that on average just 42 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in this area.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education released the 2018 PSSA and Keystone exam scores, which are part of the Future Ready PA Index, the state's new school accountability tool.  Across York County, schools saw mixed results — some showing slight increases, some decreases — in the number of students reaching proficiency levels in English and math PSSAs. Most high schools in the county also saw an increase in students passing the Keystone exams.  Use the search tool at the top of this page to see the percent of students who scored proficient or advanced in English and math on the PSSAs at every York County elementary and middle school.

New Brighton pupils thrive in computer programming, robotics
Beaver County Times By Jared Stonesifer Posted Dec 3, 2018 at 12:00 PM
PULASKI TWP. — If kids really are the future, then the New Brighton Area School District is doing everything it can to prepare them to thrive in the ever-changing world of science and technology. The school district is the only one in western Pennsylvania to teach elementary school children how to write computer code and how to execute that code to manipulate a robot. The new program, available to about 330 pupils in grades 3 to 5, is a partnership between New Brighton and Carnegie Mellon University. The Montour School District in Allegheny County also participates in the program with middle school pupils. The program is simple: Pupils spent a 30-minute class period learning how to code using a software program called Calypso. The next day, student spend another 30-minute class applying that code to a robot named Cozmo. Kate Na-Shatal, a teacher at New Brighton Elementary School, trained last summer to be able to teach the pupils how to use Calypso and Cozmo.

One year, eight new gun-control laws in New Jersey
Inquirer by Justine McDaniel, Posted: 25 minutes ago
Under an orange banner on a November day —  one day after a dozen people were killed by a shooter in a Southern California bar; two weeks after 11 people were killed by a shooter at a Pittsburgh synagogue — Gov. Murphy made his state's already tough gun laws even stronger, signing into law New Jersey's eighth major gun-control measure of the year. A few months earlier, concern over 3D-printed guns had gripped gun-control advocates and lawmakers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and across the nation. The new Garden State law bans so-called ghost guns — 3D-printed or homemade guns that aren't traceable. Legislators called it the strongest such measure in the country, in keeping with New Jersey's reputation for advancing gun-control legislation. Earlier this year, the state became the second to ban the bump stock, a conversion device that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire at speeds close to that of an automatic weapon — one of the few gun restrictions signed by Gov. Chris Christie before his term ended.

Chicago educators at Acero charter schools go on strike, a first for the independently operated campuses
Juan Perez Jr. Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune December 4, 2018
Hundreds of educators at the city’s Acero charter schools walked off the job Tuesday morning, halting classes for 7,500 predominantly Latino students and launching the nation’s first strike over a contract at the independently operated campuses. Backed by affiliates at the Chicago Teachers Union, the charter network’s teachers said they would not return to work after what they described as a series of fruitless negotiations with management. "Management had the power to settle a contract tonight — and instead they offered us more of the status quo that has plagued the charter industry for years," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement released early Tuesday morning. "We will be on the picket line until they come back with an offer that respects our students and the people who educate them."

3 lessons from data on how students are actually using educational apps and software at school
Teachers and students aren't using all the pricey software that school budgets buy, researchers say
Hechinger Report Proof Points Column by JILL BARSHAY December 3, 2018
BrightBytes Inc. is a for-profit company that sells data analysis to public schools. One of its products monitors which websites students visit and which apps they’re clicking on their tablets. The company’s marketing pitch is that it can tell school administrators what educational software is actually being used, how much they’re spending on it and whether the ed tech they’re buying is boosting student performance — the education sector’s version of “return on investment.” It’s not perfect. A lot of computer usage isn’t captured, especially at home. Higher test scores could be caused by things other than the online software like great teaching. Despite these drawbacks, the company has an interesting repository of technology usage from roughly 400,000 students, kindergarten through high school, across 26 states. (Yes, even kindergarteners are using apps at school.) The company hired Ryan Baker, director of the Penn Center for Learning Analytics, and another data scientist to mine the data and create a national snapshot of technology use for the 2017-18 school year. A report was released in November 2018.
Baker began by calculating how much each student improved on standardized assessments between the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018 in both math and reading. (In addition to the annual state test each spring, many schools administer additional assessments throughout the year to track progress.) They had enough test score data to analyze roughly 150 of the 2,500 education apps in the marketplace. Here are the takeaways:

Annual PenSPRA Symposium set for March 28-29, 2019
Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association Website
Once again, PenSPRA will hold its annual symposium with nationally-recognized speakers on hot topics for school communicators. The symposium, held at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University, promises to provide time for collegial sharing and networking opportunities. Mark you calendars now!
We hope you can join us. Plans are underway, so check back for more information.

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.

PASBO is looking for leaders! The deadline for board seats is Dec 31st, 2018.
PASBO members who desire to seek election as Director or Vice President should send a letter of intent with a current resume and picture to the Immediate Past President Edward G. Poprik, PCSBO, who is chair of the PASBO Nominations and Elections Committee.
More info: https://www.pasbo.org/election

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

PSBA Board Presidents’ Panel
Nine locations around the state running Jan 29, 30 and 31st.
Share your leadership experience and learn from others in your area at this event designed for board presidents, superintendents and board members with interest in pursuing leadership roles. Workshop real solutions to the specific challenges you face with a PSBA-moderated panel of school leaders. Discussion will address the most pressing challenges facing PA public schools.

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.

Save the Date:  PARSS Annual Conference May 1-3, 2019
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

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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