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”
ELC Responds to 2019-20 Budget Proposal of Gov. Wolf
Education Law Center Website February 6, 2019
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced his proposed 2019-20 budget before the General Assembly on Feb. 5. The Education Law Center and other child advocacy groups had urged the governor to make a bold school funding proposal, including $400 million in new funds for basic education and $100 million for special education. The increases in is K-12 spending plan, which will be debated by the legislature over the next few months, were roughly half of what advocates had called for, though the governor did also propose significant increases in funding for pre-K and early intervention. ELC issued a statement on the budget proposal, urging Harrisburg officials “to do more to accelerate state aid to the state’s most disadvantaged school districts.” The statewide PA Schools Work coalition, of which ELC is a member, also published a statement raising many of the same themes.
What's within reach in Wolf's budget plan, and what's not
WITF Written by Katie Meyer | Feb 8, 2019 6:19 AM
GOP lawmakers broadly like Wolf's plans for workforce investment and education investment. But other things, not so much.
(Harrisburg) - There weren't many surprises in Governor Tom Wolf's latest budget proposal to the Republican-controlled House and Senate. The Democratic governor spent the first three, deficit-plagued years of his tenure repeatedly clashing with legislative leaders over his attempts to raise certain taxes. Then, ahead of his reelection campaign last summer, he opted for a light-on-taxes plan and avoided an impasse. This time around, he seems to be heading in the same direction. There aren't any new taxes in Wolf's budget plan for fiscal year 2019-20 -- though he is proposing a natural gas severance tax through legislation. Republican responses to the budget plan were largely positive. But there are some things that likely won't make it through the GOP gauntlet. Here's an analysis of how Wolf's proposals could fare:
“The governor is right to call for $200 million more for basic education and $50 million extra for special education for Pennsylvania's K-12 public schools.
While it's not quite the fair funding formula called for by a state commission in 2015, it inches the state closer to its goal: basing allocations of state funds on districts' poverty, local tax bases, enrollment growth and needs such as English language learners.”
Editorial: Wolf budget sets right priorities, speech sets right tone
Lawmakers must find a way to fund these priorities responsibly.
Reading Eagle Editorial THURSDAY FEBRUARY 7, 2019 01:34 PM
The Issue: The governor’s spending plan emphasizes education and job training.
Our Opinion: Lawmakers must find a way to fund these priorities responsibly.
Gov. Tom Wolf's budget address Tuesday was positive, set some important priorities for funding and offered a few good ideas, too. “We need policies that start at the very beginning, and end with every Pennsylvanian receiving an excellent education and the opportunity to land a good job,” Wolf said in a line that summarized the heart of his budget. Republican leaders responded positively to the tone and some of the goals if not all of the specifics of Wolf's $34.1 billion proposal. Before praising the governor's budget in detail, it must be noted that it is $1.4 billion more than he sought last year and roughly $900 million more than is expected to be spent this year. The missing half- billion dollars is the amount of supplemental funding Wolf is seeking to cover the gap between actual and projected spending in the fiscal year that ends June 30. That gap is just shy of a scandal. With the economy humming and unemployment at 4.2 percent, Pennsylvania government should be running a surplus, not paying this year's bills with next year's tax collections. The fiscal irresponsibility behind that red ink is on both our Democratic governor and the GOP-controlled Legislature.
The district is also dealing with what Pegg called an “unfunded mandate:” providing $1 million to cyber-charter schools. “When they take one million from you to cover cyber education, it hurts,” Pegg said.
Higher teacher salaries sound appealing, but can districts afford them long term?
Penn Capital Star By Sarah Anne Hughes| Elizabeth Hardison February 8, 2019
Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal contains a provision that’s hard to argue with, at least on the surface: higher salaries for teachers. In his 2019-20 budget, Wolf provides nearly $14 million to bump up salaries in districts where teachers make less than $45,000 per year to start. According to state Department of Education records, 178 out of 499 public school districts in the commonwealth don’t meet that threshold. The districts that would receive the largest chunks of funding are primarily rural. But there are urban school districts in the mix, too. Scranton’s school district would get $377,404, while Reading’s would receive $262,595. Christopher Pegg is superintendent of the Albert Gallatin School District in rural Fayette County, which would get more than $500,000. On Thursday, he was still waiting for more details on the proposal. But Pegg said “a higher starting salary would probably attract” more candidates to his area. Teachers have left in the past in favor of more urban settings, and he’s having a hard time recruiting people to teach math and chemistry. “I’m certainly on board if the state wants to fund those higher salaries and help districts such as Albert Gallatin,” he said. In his budget address, Wolf declared, “This is a fully funded mandate.” “It’s an investment the state — not local school districts — will make, and it’s included in this budget,” he said.
Parkland School District teachers got a new contract. Here’s how much they'll get paid.
By Rudy Miller | For lehighvalleylive.com | Posted February 08, 2019 at 06:30 AM
Parkland School District teachers are among the most well compensated in the Lehigh Valley. According to a database on openpagov.org, the average Parkland classroom teacher made $78,472 in school year 2015-16, the most recent year with data available on the site. That’s second in the Lehigh Valley, just behind Catasauqua Area’s $80,562 average salary that year. The database is maintained by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund.
A long overdue raise for Pennsylvania teachers | Opinion
Today’s teachers are working with higher percentages of students with special needs and students who speak English as a second language. The share of Pennsylvania children living in poverty has also risen. School safety is a major concern. And when the school day ends, teachers keep learning,
Penn Live By Rich Askey, guest contributor Updated Feb 7, 7:31 PM; Posted Feb 7, 8:46 PM
Rich Askey is a music teacher in the Harrisburg School District and president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Step into my DeLorean and travel back in time with me. Back to 1989 when gas still cost about a buck a gallon, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev were working out an end to the Cold War, and “Back to the Future II” was once again taking us on a high-speed journey through time. Think about how much has changed over the past 30 years. As a teacher, I can tell you that the education profession is light years different today than it was then. Today’s teachers are working with higher percentages of students with special needs and students who speak English as a second language. The share of Pennsylvania children living in poverty has also risen. School safety is a major concern. And when the school day ends, teachers keep learning, needing 180 hours of continuing professional education or six credits of college-level coursework every five years to keep their certificates current. One thing that hasn’t changed over the past 30 years is what we pay teachers in some parts of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s minimum teacher salary was set by law in 1989 at $18,500 per year. That is well below what other similarly educated professionals earn today. With higher expectations and lower starting salaries, it’s no wonder that Pennsylvania is experiencing a growing teacher shortage. If we want to recruit and retain the best and brightest to teach our students, we must be willing to pay these professionals what they are worth.
Raising minimum pay for teachers? It’s about time: Column
Penn Live By Nancy Eshelman | Special to PennLive Updated Feb 7, 9:52 PM; Posted 5:35 AM
Gov. Tom Wolf wants to ensure that every public school teacher in the state is paid a minimum of $45,000 a year. Count me among the supporters of the idea. Right now, it’s just a proposal. We’ll have to wait and see how state legislators – whose base pay is $88,610 a year – feel about it. I hope they don’t suggest teachers are overpaid. To my mind, we can’t overpay a teacher. We hand them sweet little 5 year olds and give them 13 years to turn the kids into productive citizens crammed full of knowledge. Those sweet 5 year olds include the criers, the hitters, the vomiters and the tattle-tales. Some of them know their ABC’s backwards and forwards; others wouldn’t know a G from a Q. They include the kids with allergies and special needs, as well as kids from dysfunctional homes with dysfunctional parents. We expect kindergarten teachers to take this hodgepodge and produce a classroom full of children ready and eager to enter first grade.
Superintendents' forum: The only constant in education is change
Reading schools chief says educators must adjust to better serve a fast-moving world.
Reading Eagle by Dr Khalid Mumin WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 6, 2019 01:18 PM
During the era of small, one-room schoolhouses, a teacher's job was to teach. Students were expected to learn and remain compliant and obedient. Pedagogy was centered around stand-and-deliver instruction. Fast-forward to today, with our sprawling campuses and classrooms filled with technology and academic stimuli. Teachers are expected to meet the needs of their students through differentiated instruction, while continually assessing student progress in preparation for a multitude of standardized tests. While both periods have produced many successful academicians who shaped the future of this country through the workforce, academia, leadership, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, etc., it is clear that for students to be successful and further the global prowess of the American educational system, pedagogy must adapt and include new, innovate tools for engaging our students
Wait? What? Pennsylvania has clout on Capitol Hill now? | Friday Morning Coffee
Penn Capital Star By John L. Micek February 8, 2019
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There’s no nice way to say this, so we’re just going to come out and say it. It’s been a lonnnnggggg time since Pennsylvania had any clout on Capitol Hill. How long? We’re talking ‘Single Bullet Theory” long. We’re talking “Not Proven, Scottish Law” long. Not since dinosaurs … err … the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-D-Whatever-Pa., prowled the halls of the Capitol has the Keystone State come even close to being drunk on the kind of pure power that comes with being gifted with serious clout in Washington. Oh, sure, you say, what about U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee? Feh.
Shuster may have had a chairmanship. But let’s face it, most Pennsylvanians will remember the Shusters for ramming through the funding for an interstate highway driven primarily by Penn State fans who got lost on the way to State College and ended up in Altoona. But as Capital-Star Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender (Yeah, we got one of them) reports this Friday morning, Pennsylvania now has not one, but two, seats on the uber-powerful, tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee.
Governor Wolf makes case for statewide broadband to support education
By: 69 News Posted: Feb 07, 2019 08:40 PM EST
DOVER, Pa. - Governor Tom Wolf visited Dover Area High School to call for statewide broadband access, the governor's office said Thursday. Access would increase educational opportunities for Pennsylvania’s students, Wolf said. “For Pennsylvania to succeed we must close the digital divide to ensure every citizen has the access it needs to connect to the ever-expanding digital world in which we live and work,” Governor Wolf said. “Our students, parents, and our teachers deserve better, and we can provide that through Restore Pennsylvania.” Restore Pennsylvania is an infrastructure initiative funded by the monetization of a severance tax. Restore Pennsylvania would invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in projects throughout the commonwealth. The initiative would address five priority infrastructure areas including high speed internet access, storm preparedness and disaster recovery, downstream manufacturing, business development, and energy infrastructure, demolition, revitalization, and renewal, and transportation capital projects,
Governor's proposal includes $4.8M in additional basic education funding for Lancaster County schools [graphic]
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer February 8, 2019
Lancaster County schools would get $4.79 million in additional basic education funding under the governor’s proposed budget. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday requested from the Republican-controlled legislature $6.5 billion in basic education funding for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. That’s $200 million, or 3.3 percent, more than last year’s appropriation. Nearly $705 million of that would be distributed through the basic education funding formula enacted in 2016. Currently, $539 million, or 8.8 percent, flows through the formula, which considers factors such as poverty, English language learners and charter school enrollment when funding schools. Schools here would get increases anywhere from 1.9 percent to 6.3 percent. Conestoga Valley is the county’s biggest winner under Wolf’s proposal, which calls for a 6.3 percent increase, from $4.85 million to $5.15 million, for the 4,265-student district. Manheim Township is also among the greatest beneficiaries, with a 4.3 percent increase, from $6.33 million to $6.59 million.
Amid protest, Elanco takes a measured approach to accommodating transgender student
Lancaster Online by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD February 8, 2019
THE ISSUE - More than 250 residents of the Eastern Lancaster County School District turned out to a Jan. 28 school board meeting. There, many expressed dismay over the district’s decision to allow a transgender student who was born female but identifies as male to use the boys’ restrooms and locker room at Garden Spot High School. As LNP’s Alex Geli reported, the board “agreed to form a committee to conduct a monthlong study pertaining to transgender students’ rights.” This is a difficult situation — one that isn’t helped by heated argument. We laud the Elanco board for its measured approach and would urge everyone involved — as well as those on the periphery — to take a deep breath. As Elanco Superintendent Bob Hollister told LNP, “The board and the administration know how delicate and sensitive this issue is, and we are striving earnestly to find a solution that works for all.” We’d just ask everyone to remember this: This situation is the most difficult for the student at the heart of it. No child asks to be transgender. Like sexual orientation, gender identity — which is a very separate thing — is not a choice.
Foreign language classes becoming more scarce, and that’s not good | Opinion
Despite all these reasons to learn a foreign language, there has been a steep decline in foreign language instruction in America’s colleges and universities.
Penn Live By Kathleen Stein-Smith, opinion contributor Updated Feb 7, 7:02 PM
Kathleen Stein-Smith is the Associate University Librarian; Adjunct Faculty, Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Of all the skills that a person could have in today’s globalized world, few serve individuals – and the larger society – as well as knowing how to speak another language. People who speak another language score higher on tests and think more creatively, have access to a wider variety of jobs, and can more fully enjoy and participate in other cultures or converse with people from diverse backgrounds. Knowledge of foreign languages is also vital to America’s national security and diplomacy. Yet, according to the U.S Government Accountability Office, nearly one in four Foreign Service officers do not meet the language proficiency requirements that they should meet to do their jobs. Despite all these reasons to learn a foreign language, there has been a steep decline in foreign language instruction in America’s colleges and universities. Researchers at the Modern Language Association recently found that colleges lost 651 foreign language programs from 2013 to 2016 – dramatically more than the one foreign language programs that higher education lost between 2009 and 2013
Violent video game tax is a way one state lawmaker wants to raise money for school safety
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | email@example.com Updated 6:00 AM; Posted 6:00 AM
A state lawmaker is proposing to add a 10 percent tax on violent video games sold in Pennsylvania, citing the link between those games and violent behavior that led to mass shootings at schools in recent years.
A state lawmaker wants to make gamers pay more to feed their appetite for video games that involve blood, gore, death and destruction. Under the legislation offered by Rep. Christopher Quinn, R-Delaware County, the cost of video games rated as suitable for mature or adult audiences sold in Pennsylvania would be subject to a new 10 percent tax. The revenue raised from this tax on "M" or “AO” rated video games would go toward supporting school safety measures. Quinn cites the rash of school violence and data from a National Center for Health Research article that links violent video games to aggressive thoughts and behaviors as the reason behind his proposal.
Report on Eat Right Philly assesses its impact and goals
The nutrition program in more than 200 schools touched about 93,000 students in 2017-18. It also changed its name from Eat. Right. Now.
The notebook by Maya Wernick February 7 — 6:18 pm, 2019
Eat Right Philly released its 2017/18 Outcomes Report on Thursday at a “Wake Up to Wellness Celebration” event at Clara Barton Elementary School to highlight the progress the program has made in the health and wellness of students and families in the District. The organization also used the event to announce its name change. Previously, the program was called Eat. Right. Now. But the group decided to switch the name to emphasize that health and wellness require long-term commitment. “We decided to drop the ‘now’ and move to Eat Right Philly because we’re not just looking at the now, we are looking at long-term benefits for our students and families,” said Eat Right Philly director Lauren Nocito in a phone interview. “It is really important for everyone to make long-term healthy choices to work towards increased wellness.” Eat Right Philly is federally funded through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). According to its website, the program’s mission is “to educate, support, and inspire improved school wellness and culture so School District of Philadelphia students and their families can live a healthy lifestyle and achieve their fullest potential.”
A small Pennsylvania high school listens to what teens want. Imagine that.
Washington Post By Jay Mathews Columnist February 7 at 7:00 AM
Patrick Cox, a junior at Quaker Valley High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs, has learning disabilities, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — ADHD — or what he calls “not giving two licks.” Like most special-education students in this country, he has an individualized education program, known as an IEP. It is supposed to help him overcome his disability. Such programs have mixed results, but Cox’s experience has been different because of the unusual character of his school. Educators are often reluctant to put students like him into challenging college-level courses, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. They legitimately fear that children with disabilities will gain nothing but stress and anxiety from the experience. But Cox is in AP Chemistry this year, averaging an 86. Next year, he is scheduled to take AP courses in calculus, statistics and computer science. To him, those seem the best options. For 20 years, Quaker Valley has been saying yes to many unconventional requests. Listening to teenagers works well for the school. I wrote last week about the school’s willingness to let students take as many as 20 three-hour AP final exams, even if they have to study on their own without teacher help. That does not begin to describe how far the school, with fewer than 700 students in a lovely riverside area, has gone to satisfy adolescent desires.
3 Pennsylvania House Democrats are top targets for national Republicans in 2020
Laura Olson Contact Reporter Morning Call Washington Bureau February 8, 2019
Democrats picked up four U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania last year, and now the party is preparing to defend those gains, with three Pennsylvanians identified as top GOP targets for 2020. The campaign arm of the House Democrats released a list Thursday of 44 lawmakers who will be part of its “Frontline” program, which directs support to vulnerable incumbents. The list includes Reps. Susan Wild, elected in November to represent the Lehigh Valley; Conor Lamb, who won a special election in suburban Pittsburgh last March; and Matt Cartwright, a four-term incumbent from the Scranton area. “Our majority hinges on these members from tough seats winning reelection in 2020,” said DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, adding that the party committee “will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight ahead.” All three Pennsylvanians tallied double-digit wins in November. But their districts could prove tighter in a presidential election year. Cartwright and Lamb are among 31 House Democrats whose districts voted for Trump in 2016.
Cory Booker Has a Betsy DeVos Problem
“I became a pariah in Democratic circles for taking on the party orthodoxy on education.”
Mother Jones by KARA VOGHT FEBRUARY 7, 2019 6:00 AM
In the spring of 2012, Cory Booker delivered the keynote address at the third annual School Choice Policy Summit at a Westin hotel in Jersey City, New Jersey. For a half hour, the then-Newark mayor told hundreds of attendees dining in the hotel ballroom that the traditional public school system “still chokes out the potential of millions of children…Your destiny is determined by the zip code you’re born into, [and] some children by law are locked into schools that fail their genius.” The most promising solution, he said, was one aligned with the sweeping educational reform he was currently undertaking in Newark that was replacing failing neighborhood schools with publicly funded, privately managed charters that students could opt into based on their desires and needs. Booker’s address that evening was notable for a number of reasons. He was one of the only Democrats speaking in a lineup that included Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal and Fox News commentator Juan Williams. The school choice plan he championed had become a plank of the Republican platform, while many of his fellow Democrats, who generally preferred direct investment in public education and enjoyed political backing from teachers’ unions, opposed it. And then there was the group that organized the event. His appearance that evening was at the invitation of the American Federation for Children, a group chaired by Betsy DeVos.
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