In 2016-17, taxpayers in Senate Ed Committee Majority Chairman Ryan Aument’s school districts had to send over $8.7 million to chronically underperforming cyber charters that their locally elected school boards never authorized. SB34 (Schwank) could change that.
Data source: PDE via PSBA
Columbia Borough SD
Conestoga Valley SD
Conrad Weiser Area SD
Eastern Lancaster County SD
Elizabethtown Area SD
Ephrata Area SD
Manheim Central SD
Blogger note: Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 was over $1.6 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million, $436.1 million and $454.7 million respectively.
Bipartisan, bicameral interest in saving our 500 PA school districts up to $450M/year.
SB34 @SenJudySchwank, (D-11 Berks) referred to Senate Education Committee January 11, 2019:
“Under my legislation, a district that offers a cyber program equal in scope and content to the cyber charter school will not be responsible for the tuition costs. Instead, tuition costs will be treated in cyber situations the same as they are when resident students attend non-district brick-and-mortar schools.”
House Education Committee Chairman Curtis Sonney (R-4, Erie) co-sponsorship memo dated Feb. 5, 2019::
“I am preparing to introduce legislation that will require a student or the student’s parent/guardian to pay for the student’s education in a cyber school if the student’s school district of residence offers a full-time cyber education program”
“Districts in the top half of average household income spent $673 more per student than districts in the bottom half, according to an Associated Press analysis of 2016-17 state data on school district spending, income and attendance, the latest available. The gap is wider on the farther ends of the income spectrum: The wealthiest 10 districts spent an average of $4,300 more per student, or more than a quarter above what the poorest 10 districts spent, according to AP's analysis.”
Pennsylvania's School Funding Fight Exits Spotlight Despite Huge Gaps
NBC10 By Marc Levy Published Feb 9, 2019 at 9:28 PM
When Gov. Tom Wolf took office, he told lawmakers that he had a plan to fix Pennsylvania's system of school funding. Four years and a couple of budget fights later, public school advocates say huge gaps still persist between poorer and wealthier districts, while the subject didn't rate a mention this past week in the Democrat's first budget speech to the Legislature after his re-election. That prompted grumbling among Democratic lawmakers, although some in the school-funding trenches say Wolf hasn't necessarily given up. Rather, his silence reflects the difficult politics in the Republican-controlled Legislature, they say. "I think in this particular budget, coming off of a new election with a Legislature that has been at least semi-productive in the last year or two, that the governor said, 'Look, I'm not going to stick a fork in anybody's eye to get started with,'" said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. For his part, Wolf's office says he remains open to a discussion with the Legislature on making school funding fairer. However, someone else may have to carry the torch. For years, Pennsylvania's school-funding system has stuck out nationally, occasionally flagged as one of the least equitable.
New Jersey students may soon begin learning about people like Barbra ‘Babs’ Siperstein, the transgender activist whose death last week came three days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a measure requiring LGBT-related content to be included in the curricula of public middle and high schools statewide. Given that Siperstein made history as the first openly transgender person to serve on the Democratic National Committee, and was the namesake of another pioneering piece of New Jersey legislation — allowing the birth certificates of transpeople to be amended at their request — she would seem a perfect subject for a classroom discussion. And from what I know of Babs, she’d have loved it. But it falls to local school boards to carry out state mandates by making decisions about what to study, which books to read, and what sort of lessons to teach about which subjects. So while we LGBT folks are generally happy to have our role in history acknowledged and our stories told, we know all too well that in some circles, the merest mention of our existence in, say, a middle school textbook, will be condemned.
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: February 8, 2019- 8:54 PM
One night this week, parents sat quietly in the MaST Community Charter School cafeteria listening to CEO John Swoyer explain the number of applicants and available seats next year for each grade at the popular Northeast Philadelphia charter. The odds were daunting: For about 45 kindergarten seats — not including those reserved for siblings of current students — the school had received more than 1,800 applications. More than 2,100 applicants were vying for 14 such openings in ninth grade. And first grade? 1,208 applications. Zero seats. Jane Solomon clasped her hands as school officials started the lottery, posting randomly generated names of the lucky students selected for open seats or prime spots on the waiting list. When the winning kindergarten applicants were posted, Solomon didn’t see her daughter’s name. Getting into MaST was one of the factors that would determine if she stayed in the city or moved. Tears in her eyes, Solomon stood and headed for the door. Asked why she didn’t consider her neighborhood public school an option, Solomon looked surprised. “It’s the Philadelphia School District," she said. "Do I need to clarify?” Publicly funded but independently run, charter schools have become a loaded issue for politicians and policymakers. In Philadelphia — where charters already serve 70,000 students, or one-third of public-school enrollment — critics say the schools drain district resources without showing consistent achievement. Supporters, meanwhile, say the district doesn’t demand the same from its own schools.
Bipartisan, bicameral interest in saving our 500 PA school districts up to $450M/year (no new taxes)
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb. 8, 2019
Editorial: The high public cost of the decline of newspapers
Delco Times Editorial February 11, 2019
The journalism world has been "buzzing" recently about an old, depressing story line. A new wave of cutbacks and job losses have hit the nation's newsrooms – only this time it's not just traditional print outlets that are being hit hard. Now the ax also is falling at digital outlets, such as Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. Which is a bit of a "man bites dog" story, since digital journalism has been touted for years as the savior of newspapers. The truth is at some national news outlets, digital is paving the way to a sustainable future. The New York Times last week posted some very impressive gains in digital subscriptions. But it's no secret that print newspapers have seen a dramatic decline in readership and revenue that has in recent years been most pronounced at smaller papers. The loss of reporters, photographers and editors have correspondingly led to diminished news coverage. So? you might ask. Tsk, Tsk. But the problem has a greater readout: The shrinking of news coverage is levying a mounting cost to civic discourse and community engagement. Start with this: The steady loss of local newspapers and journalists is contributing to the increasing political polarization in America.
Gov. Wolf, lawmakers need to put more money toward Pa. libraries | Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Updated Feb 8; Posted Feb 8
For libraries, Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget offers the same old story. When it comes to state funding, Pennsylvania’s libraries have been short-changed for years. Wolf’s latest budget proposal, which he unveiled this week, provides no relief. The governor’s 2019-20 budget would direct $54.5 million in state funding for Pennsylvania’s public libraries, the exact same amount as the current year. While flat funding may not sound terrible, context is important. The governor’s proposed spending on public libraries would also be the same as it was in 2010. Pennsylvania’s libraries once received as much as $75 million in state aid more than a decade ago. But the library subsidy was slashed under the administration of former Gov. Ed Rendell in 2006 and it hasn’t recovered. “Libraries do so much good for their communities and uplift their communities in so many ways,” Pennsylvania Library Association executive director Christi Buker said. “It is very challenging in the library world right now.”
Black Lives Matter week wins support from local leaders
City Council endorsed the week in Philadelphia schools.
The notebook by Greg Windle February 8 — 5:44 pm, 2019
A rally at Temple University for Black Lives Matter week drew more than 150 teachers, students, parents, and activists and called for more counselors and fewer police officers in the city’s schools, anti-racist training for teachers, recruitment and retention of more black teachers, and an end to zero-tolerance discipline. City Councilwoman Helen Gym opened the rally Wednesday by announcing that she had introduced a resolution in City Council to endorse Black Lives Matter week in schools. That resolution passed. Another of Gym’s resolutions, which is still being considered, would urge the Philadelphia School District to permanently ban suspension for students in 1st through 5th grade. The rally brought people together from all over the city. Fiyinfolu Akinnodi, president of the Black Students Association at Northeast High School, said their goal is “not to create another handful of successful black people and call them exemplary chosen ones, but to create an environment where every child of color can succeed because of their environment, not in spite of it.”
School shooters usually show these signs of distress long before they open fire | Opinion
By Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor February 10, 2019 By Jillian Peterson James Densley
Two years before he lined his schoolmates up against a classroom wall and executed them one by one, the student, who would become the gunman, tried to show his English teacher something important. He had quietly slid up his sleeves to reveal the cut marks running down his arms. The teacher panicked. A novice educator at the time, she had never been coached or trained in what to do in these situations, what to say or how to help. So she passed the student off to another teacher, who then filed a form with the principal’s office. She felt fairly certain nothing else came of it. “He was asking for help,” the teacher said in reflecting on the encounter during a recent interview. “If I’d had some training to help him, a five-step sheet to follow, say this, say that, maybe I could have made a difference?” The story is one of dozens that we have collected over the past two years in our effort toward studying the life histories of mass shooters. It typifies what we believe is one of the biggest challenges that schools face when it comes to averting school shootings – and that is recognizing and acting upon warning signs that school shooters almost always give well before they open fire.
Despite guns and schools debate, participation on high school rifle teams is increasing
Trib Live by DOUG GULASY | Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, 5:33 a.m.
Landon Badac first picked up a gun at around 4 years old. “My grandpa, who was a big influence in my life in the outdoors, taught me how to shoot very early, gun safety, and how to live in the outdoors, pretty much,” the Armstrong High School senior explained. “He’s a very avid hunter, and I’ve been hunting with him ever since then.” Badac picked up his grandfather’s habits, becoming a frequent hunter and fisherman himself. And when he heard his high school was starting a rifle program, he said he “signed up as soon as the first meeting.” Rifle is one of five sports the WPIAL oversees during the winter season, with championships dating to 1942. The annual WPIAL team championships will take place Tuesday, with the individual championships Thursday. And even in a time of uncertainty regarding guns and schools, the sport has seen growth in recent years in Western Pennsylvania.
“Unified bocce is a winter sports program in conjunction with the Special Olympics that allows students with and without special needs to participate in a competitive sport environment that promotes social connectivity, camaraderie and physical activity. Other high school unified sports include basketball, tennis and golf. “Their peers are cheering them on, everybody’s wishing them luck in the hallway,” BEA unified bocce coach Erica Milliron said. “It improves school culture, it’s a great school atmosphere, we’re so glad we have it.”
This all-inclusive sport is growing in popularity in Centre County high schools
Centre Daily Times BY MICHAEL SNEFF UPDATED FEBRUARY 10, 2019 05:20 PM
Bocce is bringing students together
A large crowd and packed student section gathered in the Bald Eagle Area High School gym on Thursday, and the explosive cheers and chants had nothing to do with wrestling or basketball. “B-O-C-C-E” was a chant that rolled through the gym, and it’s also the name of the all-inclusive sport that’s taking over the Centre County athletics scene. In indoor bocce, an Italian-borne sport, two teams take turns rolling or bouncing bocce balls across a small court to achieve close proximity to the “pallina,” a smaller blue-colored ball that is rolled toward the middle of the court at the beginning of the round. The balls are then counted as “in” or “out” based on their distance to the pallina, and points are totaled accordingly.
Vape detectors going up in more school bathrooms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey
WHYY By Laura Benshoff February 11, 2019
Schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are buying devices that resemble smoke detectors to combat the use of e-cigarettes or vapes by students in bathrooms and other places without cameras. It’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes to those under 18, but about one in four adolescents in the U.S. have tried them, according to the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey. “Our concern — and I think the concern of parents and communities and educators everywhere — is kids are putting things in their bodies, and they don’t know the long-term effects,” said Scott DeShong, Avon Grove High School principal. His school recently purchased 18 of the devices, after the number of vaping-related rule violations doubled in the 2018-2019 school year. The penalty? A $50 fine and an out-of-school suspension. “Given our concern for the health and welfare of our students, [the district] has installed vape sensors in our buildings,” said Phoenixville Area School District Superintendent Alan Fegley. Sixteen percent of Pennsylvania middle and high school students surveyed in the 2017 Pennsylvania Youth Survey had vaped in the last 30 days.
I Used to Preach the Gospel of Education Reform. Then I Became the Mayor.
Policy makers need to question their assumptions about what makes a good school.
The Atlantic by Rahm Emanuel 44th mayor of Chicago FEB 5, 2019
During my first campaign to be Chicago’s mayor, in 2011, I promised to put education reform at the forefront of my agenda. Having participated in Washington policy debates for the better part of two decades, I felt confident that I knew what to do. Then, as now, education reformers preached a certain gospel: Hold teachers solely accountable for educational gains. Expand charter schools. Focus relentlessly on high-school graduation rates. This was the recipe for success.
Three years before that, when President-elect Barack Obama tapped me to be his White House chief of staff, I argued that leaders should never let a good crisis go to waste. I was now determined to take my own advice. At the moment of my inauguration, Chicago’s schools were unquestionably in crisis. Our students had the shortest school day in America. Nearly half of Chicago’s kids were not being offered full-day kindergarten, let alone pre-K. Teacher evaluations had not been updated in nearly 40 years. During my first months in office, I hit the ground running, determined to change all that. Then, much to my surprise, roughly a year into my reform crusade, circumstance prompted me to begin questioning the wisdom of the gospel itself.
My initial doubts emerged four days into what turned out to be the first Chicago teachers’ strike in three decades. After a series of arduous negotiations with Karen Lewis, the union president, we’d arrived at the basic contours of an agreement. In return for higher salaries, Lewis accepted my demands to extend the school day by an hour and 15 minutes, tack two weeks onto the school year, establish universal full-day kindergarten, and rewrite the outdated evaluations used to keep the city’s educators accountable.
“Over the past year, in red states and blue states, in big liberal cities and in tiny Appalachian towns, teachers have fought back against core tenets of education reform in the past two decades: that you can make schools better without increasing funding, and that competition for resources among teachers and institutions, through school choice, is good for students. Now, another one of those tenets, performance-based compensation, is under attack.”
Denver Teachers Once Hailed Performance-Based Pay. Now They’re on Strike Over It.
New York Times By Julie Turkewitz and Dana Goldstein 96Feb. 11, 2019
DENVER — Amber Wilson was once an evangelist for performance-based pay systems for teachers, and went from school to school in Denver years ago, pushing her fellow educators to support one for their district. But more than a decade after the city adopted such a system, Ms. Wilson, an English teacher, says it has morphed into “a monster of unintended consequences.” Pay-for-performance models like Denver’s offer teachers bonuses for raising student achievement and for taking on tougher assignments, such as in schools with many students from low-income families. Ms. Wilson and many of her fellow educators across the country say that this model — once hailed as a way to motivate teachers — has delivered erratic bonuses while their base salaries stagnate amid rising living costs. “We’ve been experimented on and it didn’t work,” said Ms. Wilson, 45. “And it’s time for us to say: ‘No, no, no.’” She expects to be on a picket line in the bitter cold on Monday, striking with as many as 5,700 educators to protest the pay system she had once promoted.
Denver Teachers to Strike Over Merit-Pay System
Education Week By Madeline Will February 6, 2019
Denver teachers are set to strike on Monday over a dispute centered on the district’s once-revolutionary performance-pay model. The tumultuous situation in Denver illustrates the national swing in education policy priorities. For years, efforts to link pay to teacher effectiveness were a focus for many legislators, education leaders, and advocacy groups. Now, amid the wave of teacher activism, the national conversation is focused on paying all teachers more, regardless of where they work, what they teach, or how their students perform on state tests. “The fact that, ‘Hey, let’s pay good teachers more,’ is so rarely a prominent talking point [these days]—much less a concrete part of the agenda—is really striking,” said Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. (Hess also authors an opinion blog at edweek.org.) While the majority of teachers in Denver supported the school district’s performance-pay model, known as ProComp, when it was put in place 15 years ago, now most teachers in the city have voted to strike over it. “The district’s revolving door of teacher turnover must stop,” said Henry Roman, the president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, in a statement on Wednesday announcing the strike date. The district “must improve teacher pay to keep quality, experienced teachers in Denver classrooms.”
PSBA Board Presidents Panel -- new dates in February
Due to inclement weather, six dates for the Board Presidents Panel were rescheduled in February. The new dates and locations are below:
Lackawanna Co. CTC - Feb. 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Parkland HS - Feb. 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Bedford Co. CTC - Feb. 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Danville Area HS - Feb. 21, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
If you are a board president, vice president or superintendent don't miss this opportunity to workshop your real-life scenarios with a moderated panel of peers. Check the website for details and two new dates to come.
PSBA Sectional Meetings - Ten convenient locations in February and March
School safety and security is a complex, multi-perspective topic impacting school entities in dramatic ways. This complimentary PSBA member meeting featured in ten locations will offer essential updates and information on Safe2Say reporting, suicide awareness related to student safety, school climate, and emergency preparedness planning. Representatives from the Attorney General’s office, PEMA, and a top expert in behavioral health will be presenting. Updates on legislation impacting your schools will be presented by PSBA staff. Connect with the experts, have your questions answered, and network with other members.
Locations and Dates
Section Meetings are 6-8 p.m. (across all locations).
Register online by logging in to myPSBA.
Join A Movement that Supports our Schools & Communities
PA Schools Work website
Our students are in classrooms that are underfunded and overcrowded. Teachers are paying out of pocket and picking up the slack. And public education is suffering. Each child in Pennsylvania has a right to an excellent public education. Every child, regardless of zip code, deserves access to a full curriculum, art and music classes, technical opportunities and a safe, clean, stable environment. All children must be provided a level chance to succeed. PA Schools Work is fighting for equitable, adequate funding necessary to support educational excellence. Investing in public education excellence is the path to thriving communities, a stable economy and successful students.
Indiana Area School District Safety & Security Symposium March 15, 2019
Indiana Area School District Website
Background: It’s 2019, and school safety has catapulted as one of the top priorities for school districts around the country. With an eye toward providing educators with various resources and opportunities specific to Pennsylvania, the Indiana Area School District -- in collaboration with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA Representative Jim Struzzi, and as well as Indiana County Tourist Bureau-- is hosting a FREE safety and security symposium on March 15, 2019. This safety and security exchange will provide information that benefits all stakeholders in your education community: administrators, board members, and staff members alike. Presenters offer valuable resources to help prepare your organization to continue the discussion on safety and security in our schools. Pre-registration is required, and you will be invited to choose the breakout sessions that you feel will have the most impact in your professional learning on these various topics, as well as overall impact on your District’s systems of operations. Please take time to review the various course breakout sessions and their descriptions. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect and learn.
How to Register: Participants attending the Safety Symposium on March 15, 2019, will have the option to select a maximum of 4 breakout sessions to attend on this day. Prior to the breakout sessions, attendees will hear opening remarks from former Secretary of Education - Dr. Gerald Zahorchak. We want to empower the attendees to exercise their voice and choice in planning their day! Please review the various break out session descriptions by clicking on the "Session Descriptions" on the right-hand side of this page. On that page, you will be able to review the sessions offered that day and register for the symposium.
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.
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.
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools