Monday, March 18, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 18: @PACyber Charter had a FY16-17 fund balance of $48.4 million, or 36.8% of their $131.6 million budget

Started in November 2010, 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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@PACyber Charter had a FY16-17 fund balance of $48.4 million, or 36.8% of their $131.6 million budget

According to PDE data, for FY16-17 .@PACyber Charter had a fund balance of $48.4 million, or 36.8% of their $131.6 million budget. There is virtually no fiscal accountability to taxpayers from the 500 districts that foot the bill.

“The taxpayers are being fleeced by this model in most cases,” said Greg Richmond, CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, a group that says it supports quality charters. While previous efforts to revamp Pennsylvania’s cyber funding have failed, advocates hope this year is different. They are publicizing the cyber-charter costs to each district — nearly $68 million for Philadelphia — and pushing for a statewide standard for a lower tuition rate, saying increasingly cash-strapped school districts can’t afford the current system. “We’ve reached the point where it’s unsustainable,” said Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters PA, which released a report last month calling for cybers to receive a flat $5,000 fee per student, with higher rates for special-education students. A flat-rate system would save school districts across the state an estimated $250 million.
Are Pa. school districts paying too much for cyber charter students?
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: March 14, 2019
Moving to Northeast Philadelphia three years ago, Rebecca Penglase had reservations about sending her son to a traditional school. Caleb, then 7, needed speech therapy and had experienced bullying at his school in New Jersey — a situation Penglase wanted to avoid. She was also concerned that a cousin’s child with speech issues was placed in a special-education class in a Philadelphia public school. “I didn’t want that to happen for my son. I didn’t want him to fall in the cracks,” Penglase said. She enrolled him in a cyber charter school, which enables him to do his schoolwork at home. More than 34,000 children across Pennsylvania attend cyber charter schools that are managed by independent operators. Tuition is free, but school districts pay the bills. A cyber charter student costs a district the same as one attending a brick-and-mortar charter. Penglase and other parents say the cybers are refuges from what they view as less-than-ideal learning environments of some conventional classrooms. But the funding system, along with the academic struggles of cyber charters, is at the core of the years-long debate over whether they are wise investments for taxpayers.

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. Over the next several days we will continue rolling out cyber charter tuition expenses for taxpayers in education committee members, legislative leadership and various other districts.
In 2016-17, Senator Judy Ward’s school districts had to send over $12 million to chronically underperforming cybers that they never authorized. SB34 (Schwank) or HB526 (Sonney) could change that.
Links to additional bill information and several resources have been moved to the end of today’s postings

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‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ school safety solutions on display at western Pa. conference
WHYY By Jen Kinney March 18, 2019
A school safety symposium held in Indiana, Pa. last week drew nearly 600 educators, superintendents, school resource officers, state police, and community members from around the state.
Before he began his presentation, Pennsylvania state trooper Clifford Greenfield gave a disclaimer: “Please note that the information contained herein is not designed to scare, produce unforeseen paranoia or cause undue worry.” Then he told a group of educators and administrators how to prepare for the possibility of an active shooter. Greenfield’s was one of more than two-dozen presentations at a school safety symposium held in Indiana, Pa. last week that drew nearly 600 educators, superintendents, school resource officers, state police, and community members from around the state. There were sessions on trauma-informed education and social and emotional learning — sometimes referred to as “soft solutions” — and sessions on active shooter drills and security guards — known as “school hardening.” But the focus on Friday was on prevention. Indiana Area superintendent Michael Vuckovich, who organized the symposium with Dr. Timothy Runge of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said he sees a growing need for preventative measures against school violence.

Charter Appeals Board Challenged
The CAB can overrule a school district's decision not to renew a charter school.
Public News Service March 14, 2019
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Education advocates want the state to reconstitute the board that can overrule school district decisions about charter schools. The state constitution gives school boards the authority to levy taxes and oversee spending for public education. But the Charter School Appeals Board, or CAB, can overrule local school districts that reject a charter school application or renewal.  And according to Tomea Sippio-Smith, education policy director for Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the board has one vacancy and five members appointed by former Gov. Tom Corbett who all are serving expired terms. "PCCY is calling on a moratorium for all of these proceedings until CAB has members that are proposed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate,” Sippio-Smith states. “We think it should be a balanced slate of nominees who protect the interests of students and taxpayers." Other appointed boards in Pennsylvania also have members serving expired terms, but Sippio-Smith notes that, compared with other boards, the CAB has unparalleled powers. Advocates maintain the fact that the currently serving members of the CAB are serving expired terms is only part of the problem. Sippio-Smith says the law that created the board is out of date. "Ultimately, they're deciding what local taxpayers and school boards should do with the funding that's generated at that level, whether or not they want these entities to continue to operate," she points out.

Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School looks to expand campus to Poconos for 'less stressful' learning environment
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 15, 2019
Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter is looking to expand its program to a campus in the Poconos for a “less stressful” learning environment for students with behavioral and emotional challenges, but the charter school must first get the permission of the Allentown School Board. Thursday night, Lincoln Leadership Academy’s CEO Sandra Figueroa-Torres attend the Allentown School Board meeting to ask the board’s approval to expand its campus. Charter schools are independently operated, but public schools need the permission of its home district’s school board for expansion projections. The charter school’s plan was met with resistance from some Allentown School Directors who had questions about Lincoln Leadership’s plans. After a lengthy discussion, the board voted to table the request from Lincoln Leadership. Superintendent Thomas Parker also expressed frustration with the rising cost of charter schools that he said is “constraining resources in the district and limiting the capacity to meet the needs of our kids effectively.”

Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter plans four-day week for teachers
Students will still attend five days, starting in September. The move is an effort to avoid burnout and allow teachers to be "servant leaders," as the school envisions.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa March 15 — 6:37 am, 2019
Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School, in an effort to create a healthier and more stable staff, will move its teachers and other instructional personnel to a four-day week in September. The board of the 650-student, K-12 charter voted in February to make the change, said CEO Ayesha Imani. Most districts and schools that have moved to a four-day week – and there aren’t many around the country – do it as a cost-saving move, and it affects both teachers and students. At Sankofa, however, students will still have five-day weeks, while teachers will work either Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday. Imani and the board envisioned the schedule change as revenue-neutral, with the hopes that teachers will avoid burnout and remain teaching at Sankofa. Salaries will not change. “Increasingly, young teachers are not persisting,” said Imani. “They don’t tend to stay any place for five years.” Imani, a 40-year veteran of Philadelphia education who spent 27 years with the District, said that the move is an effort to encourage teachers to pay more attention to their self-care. Teacher turnover is high at the school, especially among young teachers, as it is at most charter schools and in the District. Next year, the school is looking to hire 10 to 15 teachers. “Even if we can’t attract new teachers, we want to take better care of the ones we have,” said Imani. “We are trying to build a sense of family and commitment and loyalty.”

“Nearly 16,000 English Learners attend Philadelphia’s public schools, up from 12,000 just seven years ago. Half were born in other countries, and many others in Puerto Rico. A large number have spent years out of school before moving to the United States.”
Teachers and students call for more resources for growing English Learner population
One need, advocates said, is a full and independent newcomer program for immigrants at Franklin Learning Center.
The notebook by Greg Windle March 15 — 2:13 pm, 2019
The number of English Learners in Philadelphia schools has grown steadily over the years as the District continues to add resources and revamp its curriculum for them. District staff explained changes to that curriculum at a Board of Education committee meeting Thursday before teachers and students spoke about continued difficulties – too few staff and a lack of pull-out classes for older students. “We know that our students are graduating, but the goal is to make sure they have opportunities for post-secondary success,” Malika Savoy-Brooks, chief of academic support, told the board’s Student Achievement and Support Committee. She said the District is upgrading its ability to track students’ progress even after they test out of their English Learner (EL) program and is designing a high school plan to better match their needs. The District has added new bilingual counselor assistants (BCAs) in various languages and will hire 30 more teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) next year.

“There is a unique danger that's inherent in the diminishing - and sometimes entirely disappearing - role of the newspaper. It has to do with our traditional role of watchdog, keeping tabs on the public's business. That means your tax dollars. How they're spent. Who gets the contracts. And who does not. Without any watching the store, funny things start to happen. And that $10 a month looks like a bargain. I am convinced that most of the public does not understand what they are in danger of losing, and will not until we are gone. Then it will be too late. I am hoping that does not happen. You can help by subscribing online or in print. The Washington Post probably said it best.
Democracy dies in darkness. And it's getting darker all the time.”
Letter From the Editor: Why we're asking readers to pay for stories online
I spend entirely too much time online these days. It goes with the territory. Working online, updating our website, posting on Twitter and Facebook, is now a critical part of the job. Yes, we still create a print edition every day. But increasingly, we are becoming online animals. That brings me into contact with a lot of people, many of whom are asking the same question. They post it in the comments section of our website. They Tweet about it. They post it on our Facebook page. Man, do they ever post it on Facebook (even on the days when it is down, the way it was for much of the day one day last week). They want to know why they now have to pay to read stories online.

“The answer is definitely not to lower the testing standards for teachers -- but to demand that teacher-preparation programs adequately train candidates to demonstrate mastery of the subject matter that their states deem necessary for students to achieve high academic performance.”
Esther Cepeda: We need to make it easier for teachers of color to lead our classrooms
Pottstown Mercury Opinion by Esther Cepeda Mar 14, 2019
What if there were a relatively simple way to add more than 8,000 teachers of color to public schools to raise academic achievement -- but no one really cared enough to actually change the status quo? It wouldn't surprise me one bit. As in so many industries that vow to diversify their ranks, a case is made year after year for why it's important for more teachers of color to stand before classrooms of increasingly Hispanic, Asian, black and mixed-race students. But not much happens. Meanwhile, the statistics show that not only are there not enough teachers of color interested in education careers, but the subject-matter tests they're required to take for state licensing continue to weed out promising candidates by the boatload. This isn't due simply to economics and systemic racism -- although it's tough for bright, civic-minded people of color, often the first in their families to attend college, to commit to a relatively low-paying job in environments where they would be an ultra-minority. It's also due to "the profound lack of alignment between preparation program coursework and the content knowledge that states have determined an aspiring teacher needs to be an effective elementary teacher," according to a new analysis by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Coordinated efforts deliver better, faster response to school threats in Beaver County
Beaver County Times By Rachel Wagoner / Posted Mar 17, 2019
The Safe School Coalition was formed last year to bring together various agencies to handle school safety and to strengthen support and response to threats.
When a student makes a threat against a school in Beaver County, a coordinated county response is initiated. Law enforcement, school administrators and a number of county resources act quickly to evaluate the threat and respond accordingly. Before parents and the public know what’s happening, the situation is usually under control, ideally with no impact to the school day or students’ educational experience. And the student who made the threat has been referred to the proper channels to get needed help, said county Detective Timmie Patrick. That’s the goal of the Safe School Coalition, which was formed last year to bring together various agencies to handle school safety and to strengthen support and response to threats, said county District Attorney David Lozier. “It’s all about the kids,” said Patrick, a coalition member. “You want to make sure they have a safe environment to expand their minds and knowledge and grow up to be whoever they want to be.” The coalition includes school administrators, the district attorney, county detectives, municipal police chiefs, director of the Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit, and representatives of the county’s juvenile justice system, Children and Youth Services and Behavioral Health.

After a transgender student insisted on using the boys’ locker room, one school district might spend $1 million on private showers and changing stalls
By Ed Mahon / PA Post MARCH 15, 2019 | 04:20 PM
One Lancaster County school district might spend about $1 million to build private showers and changing stalls for its high school students. The moves come after community members protested how the Eastern Lancaster County School District is providing locker room and bathroom access for a transgender student. Under the proposal, high school students would not have designated boys and girls locker rooms. Instead, there would be three new public areas. And those three areas would each lead to individual showers and changing stalls. “I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Robert Hollister, the district superintendent, said during a meeting Thursday night inside Garden Spot High School. In January, about 250 people attended a school board meeting, LNP reported, with raising concerns about a transgender student’s access to a boys’ locker room.

MISSING CLASS: What happens when teachers regularly don't come to work?
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer March 17, 2019
McCaskey High School sophomore Alysha Plaza walked into her algebra class on a recent Friday afternoon and instantly assumed the period would be a cakewalk. Alysha and her classmates had a substitute teacher. Their objective: Complete a worksheet with a handful of math problems on it. Or, as Alysha called it: “Busy work.” The worksheet took only 20 minutes to finish, so students chatted or caught up on homework until the bell rang about a half-hour later. “I don’t think it’s worthwhile, personally,” Alysha said of the typical class period with a substitute teacher. Alysha’s experience is more common than one might think. Teachers are absent across the county every day. And many are chronically absent, meaning they miss more than 10 days of the 180-day school year. In 2015-16, about 36 percent of Lancaster County’s 4,888 public school teachers were chronically absent, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education’s biannual Civil Rights Data Collection. Statewide, 34 percent of teachers were chronically absent. Nationwide, it was 28 percent. County school districts have consequently doled out millions of dollars for substitute teachers — who are in short supply and sometimes lack traditional teacher certifications — to take over classroom instruction. For students like Alysha, that means more busy work and less learning.

PA Senator introduces bill to help reduce property taxes using new gambling revenue
Your Erie By: Matt Heckel Posted: Mar 14, 2019 05:22 PM EDT
When casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2004, a promise was made that homeowners would see a decrease in their property tax bills. But, one lawmaker says, the savings haven't been as high as promised. Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill says, "One of the promises that was made was that gaming was to relieve or potentially eliminate our local property taxes, and nothing could be further from the truth." Which is why Phillips-Hill has introduced Senate Bill 269, directing all new revenue generated from the expansion of gaming into the Property Tax Relief Fund. The Senator says, "There is no bigger issue that I hear about from constituents than how big and how burdensome their property tax bills are." The state originally estimated $1 billion in annual revenue from slot machines, but the Senator says that figure has never been realized.

“Lawmakers are younger, more diverse, less entrenched than ever before.
Of the 203 House members, more than half are in office six years or less: 113 of them, counting two recent special elections. And 48 are in their first term.
Why is this important?”
Coming to terms with term limits in Pennsylvania’s legislature | John Baer

Philly Daily News by John Baer @jbaernews | Updated: 33 minutes ago
Don’t shake your head and mutter “no way, no how, not here, not ever.” Consider this. Pennsylvania’s legislature is changing. There’s a new and different term-limits proposal. Together, that presents opportunity. Term limits are among many reforms needed to make Pennsylvania’s governance, politics, and democracy better. They’re easy to understand. Popular. We have them for presidents, governors, mayors. We should have them for lawmakers, at state and federal levels. For now, let’s focus on Harrisburg. And before you note that change never even visits Harrisburg, before you argue our lawmakers -- historically greedy, rigid, reform-averse -- would never vote to limit their time on the public dime, remember: Different legislature, different plan.

“Kenney painted Williams then as a shill of the charter-school movement because three Main Line investment-firm owners with an interest in education policy invested $7.5 million in an independent expenditure political action committee to support his campaign.”
Tony Williams sees mayoral rematch with Jim Kenney as chance to undo 2015 mistakes
Inquirer by Chris Brennan, Updated: 22 minutes ago March 18, 2019
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams says this time will be different. That starts at the beginning. Williams launched his 2015 bid for mayor six months before the Democratic primary with a speech decrying the city’s political establishment, delivered at a Center City event packed with a crowd of about 200, thick with the kind of people he was complaining about. He was seen as the early front-runner for a race in which he would finish a distant second. Williams on Monday evening is to formally announce his candidacy for mayor at a West Philly art center that offers free programs for neighborhood children, with fewer than 50 people expected. “We’ve intentionally selected and invited opinion shapers from around the city, most of whom are supportive but some of whom are just wondering what it means,” Williams said. “We think it’s very important for people to think this is a very unconventional movement, not just politics.” Williams, 62, said he stumbled four years ago, finishing nearly 30 percentage points behind Kenney in that primary, because he “didn’t define who I was. I let other people define me.”

“The SIG founders share Williams' support for school choice, including improving public schools, expanding charter schools and vouchers to allow public school money to pay private school tuition.  They spent about $5 million in 2010 when Williams ran for governor, finishing third in a four-way Democratic primary.”
Reprise May 2015: Stock traders sink $6.65 million into Williams campaign for mayor
Inquirer by Chris Brennan, Inquirer Staff Writer , Posted: May 8, 2015
If Friday's campaign finance reports were ranked by sheer size, then we have a winner in American Cities, an independent expenditure political action committee funded by three Main Line stock traders who support state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams for mayor. American Cities reported raising $6,830,000 from Jan. 1 to Monday, according to a report filed today.  Of that, $6,651,000 -- or 97.4 percent -- came from Joel Greenberg, Jeff Yass and Arthur Dantchik, the founders of Susquehanna International Group. That sort of spending was remarkable compared to the money raised by the six Democrats running for mayor in the May 19 primary and independent PACs supporting former City Councilman Jim Kenney.  By comparison, Building a Better PA Fund, which is running pro-Kenney television ads, raised just under $1.5 million in 2015. American Cities spent $5.4 million in 2015 and had just under $1.5 million in the bank as of Monday.  The PAC has committed to spending $900,000 for television ads in the last week of the race.  The ads so far have been positive, talking about Williams' biography and record in office.

This is how the Sandy Hook lawsuit court victory opens cracks in gun makers’ immunity shield | Opinion
By Timothy D. Lytton Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor March 16, 2019
Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and professor of Law at Georgia State University. He wrote this piece for The Conversation, where it first appeared.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on March 14 that families of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting victims could proceed with a lawsuit against the companies that manufactured and sold the semiautomatic rifle used in the attack. The ruling, which reversed a lower court’s decision, has the potential to unleash a flood of claims by gun violence victims against gun manufacturers – if it’s upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, that is. My research on the history of lawsuits against the gun industry has documented the failure of gun violence victims to hold gun manufacturers liable for legal marketing practices that many people consider irresponsible. The latest Sandy Hook decision could pave the way for gunmakers to finally be held responsible for them.

“Republicans are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at the Lenape Heights Golf Resort in Manor Township to select their nominee.”
Democrats pick IUP professor to run for retired state Sen. Don White’s seat
Trib Live by EMILY BALSER   | Sunday, March 17, 2019 4:35 p.m
Democratic committee members have nominated Susan Boser to be their candidate in the race to fill the remaining term of former state Sen. Don White. Brandon Cwalina, press secretary with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, confirmed Boser was nominated Sunday afternoon by members of Armstrong, Butler, Indiana, and Westmoreland Democratic committees. Boser, 62, is an Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor. She was selected over Tony DeLoret, 57, for the nomination. DeLoret is a restaurateur from Indiana. Boser released a statement on her official Facebook page. “Thank you so much to all the committee people who came out today,” she wrote. “I am honored and humbled to have your support. My team and I are ready to hit the ground running and get to work for the 41st District.” Cwalina said the nomination will now go to the state executive committee for official approval. White, R-Indiana, resigned from the seat he had held since 2001 at the end of February, leaving nearly two years in his unexpired term.

Students Swarm the Capitol Grounds to Protest Climate Change
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk on March 15, 2019 4:44 PM
Washington - Hundreds of students rallied at the U.S. Capitol building today calling on lawmakers to take quick steps to curb climate change, as thousands of other U.S. students held their own rallies in nearly every state. "We Don't Want to Die," read a banner students unfurled moments before beginning a program of speakers, chants, and reminders to write and lobby legislators to pass a version of the Green New Deal, a controversial platform that couples economic projects with a timeline for winding down fossil fuel consumption. About 400 to 500 people showed up at the Capitol—far fewer than the more than 200,000 who showed up to protest gun violence during the 2018 March for Our Lives, the last major youth protest in the nation's capital. But those numbers don't fully convey the shape of the movement. Today's walkout is a worldwide youth phenomenon: Students left class to protest in cities from Hong Kong to New Delhi and in countries from Finland to France.

 “Back in 1975, when the law that was to become the Individuals with Disabilities Act was passed, Congress authorized itself to pick up 40 percent of the extra cost of educating a student in special education. But the federal government has never come close to that level. Right now, the federal government pays for about 14 percent of those expenses, leaving the rest to states and school districts. Current federal spending under the IDEA stands at $12.5 billion.”
National School Boards Association Pushes for Federal Special Education Law Overhaul
Education Week By Christina Samuels on March 5, 2019 2:11 PM
Is this the year that Congress will take up the long-overdue renewal of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—plus boost funding for the law?  The National School Boards Association wants to see both. Advocating for "full funding" of IDEA is a perennial issue, but the association is also drawing attention to the fact that the law, last reauthorized in 2004, needs to be rewritten to address more up-to-date concerns about educating students with disabilities. "This is our big initiative, our big push for this Congress," said Thomas Gentzel, the executive director of the school boards association. And the organization is moving forward on multiple fronts. First, Congress has already shown it can pass major education bills—the Every Student Succeeds Act was passed four years ago, and in 2018, Congress passed and President Trump signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. That $1.2 billion program was last passed by Congress in 2006.  So, Gentzel said, Congress has shown that it can do this policy work, even though lawmakers have yet to introduce this session a bill that would increase IDEA funding. "It's important for Congress to express its support for the legislation it passed but funding it at the level it promised to fund it."

The League of Women Voters of Delaware County and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit present: EPLC 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates (and Incumbents) April 27th 8am – 4:30pm at DCIU
Ron Cowell of The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional full day workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.
Date & Time: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 8am to 4:30pm
Location: Delaware County Intermediate Unit, 200 Yale Ave. Morton, PA
Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. Registration is $75 (payable by credit card) and includes coffee and pastries, lunch, and materials. For questions contact Adriene Irving at 610-938-9000 ext. 2061.
To register, please visit

“BACKPACK FULL OF CASH” DOCUMENTARY You Are Invited to A Free Screening presented by BASD Proud Parents and the Bethlehem Area School District MARCH 21, 6:30pm – 8:00pm  NITSCHMANN MIDDLE SCHOOL Discussion to Follow
“BACKPACK FULL OF CASH” DOCUMENTARY – Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor, Matt Damon, BACKPACK explores the real cost of privatizing America’s public schools. Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the appointment of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, filmmakers Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow couldn’t have known that the new administration would dramatically shift the national debate about education to the very issues at the heart of their film: charter schools, vouchers and privatization. Now, this timely new documentary takes viewers into the world of market-based education “reform”.
BACKPACK FULL OF CASH follows the tumultuous 2013-14 school year in Philadelphia and other cities where public education – starved of resources and undermined by privatization – is at risk. The documentary also showcases a model for improving schools – a well-resourced public school system in Union City, New Jersey, where poor kids are getting a high-quality education without charters or vouchers. BACKPACK FULL OF CASH makes the case for public education as a basic civil right. The film features genuine heroes like the principals, teachers, activists, parents and most hearteningly, students who are fighting for their education. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, writer David Kirp and policy expert Linda Darling Hammond are among the national thought leaders who provide analysis in the film.

2019 State of Education report now online
PSBA Website February 19, 2019
The 2019 State of Education report is now available on in PDF format. The report is a barometer of not only the key indicators of public school performance, but also the challenges schools face and how they are coping with them. Data reported comes from publicly available sources and from a survey to chief school administrators, which had a 66% response rate. Print copies of the report will be mailed to members soon.

All PSBA-members are invited to attend Advocacy Day on Monday, April 29, 2019 at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. In addition, this year PSBA will be partnering with the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU) and Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) to strengthen our advocacy impact. The focus for the day will be meetings with legislators to discuss critical issues affecting public education. There is no cost to attend, and PSBA will assist in scheduling appointments with legislators once your registration is received. The day will begin with a continental breakfast and issue briefings prior to the legislator visits. Registrants will receive talking points, materials and leave-behinds to use with their meetings. PSBA staff will be stationed at a table in the main Rotunda during the day to answer questions and provide assistance. The day’s agenda and other details will be available soon. If you have questions about Advocacy Day, legislative appointments or need additional information, contact  Register for Advocacy Day now at
PSBA members can register online now by logging in to myPSBA. If you need assistance logging in and registering contact Alysha Newingham, Member Data System Administrator at or call her at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3420

Board Presidents’ Panel
Learn, discuss, and practice problem solving with school leader peers facing similar or applicable challenges. Workshop-style discussions will be facilitated and guided by PSBA experts. With the enormous challenges facing schools today, effective and knowledgeable board leadership is essential to your productivity and performance as a team of ten.
Locations & Dates
Due to inclement weather, some dates have been rescheduled. The updated schedule is below.

Pennsylvania schools work – for students, communities and the economy when adequate resources are available to give all students an equal opportunity to succeed.
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.

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.

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

PSBA Tweet March 12, 2019 Video Runtime: 6:40
In this installment of #VideoEDition, learn about legislation introduced in the PA Senate & House of Representatives that would save millions of dollars for school districts that make tuition payments for their students to attend cyber charter schools. 

PSBA Summaries of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Statewide Cyber Charter School Funding Reform

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 256

How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat tuition rates of $5000 for regular ed students and $8865 for special ed.? See the estimated savings by school district here.
Education Voters PA Website February 14, 2019

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

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