Tuesday, April 9, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 9: Cyber Charter Funding Reform Bill #HB526 Continues to Gain Bipartisan Support

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.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Cyber Charter Funding Reform Bill #HB526 Continues to Gain Bipartisan Support

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

“As has been previously reported, Mann found that Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oregon have the highest rates of student enrollment in online charters. In most of the states where online charters are present, enrollment in the schools is less than 1 percent of overall student enrollment. …. But from an equity standpoint, it's unclear what the benefits of such racial diversity may be, Mann wrote. For one thing, researchers have found that online charters as a group have an "overwhelmingly negative impact" on students' academic performance, meaning that equal access to enrollment may not translate into subsequent opportunities.”
Education Week By Benjamin Herold on April 7, 2019 5:47 PM
Toronto - While full-time online charter schools nationally enroll a relatively high percentage of white students, there are significant variations in enrollment patterns by state, according to new research presented today at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, being held here. In Colorado, for example, the enrollment of online charters is just 36 percent white, compared to 54 percent in brick-and-mortar traditional and charter schools throughout the state, according to University of Alabama assistant education professor Bryan Mann. Online charters in Arizona, Nevada, and South Carolina, meanwhile, enroll significantly higher percentages of white students than do brick-and-mortar traditional and charter schools in their states. "Most states have majority-white online charter school populations with less diversity than ... other schools. However, there are states where students experience more diverse environments in online charter schools," Mann wrote in a paper presented at the conference, titled "Whiteness and Economic Advantage in Digital Schooling: Equity Considerations for K-12 Online Charter Schools."  The findings add fresh nuance to previous examinations of online charter school enrollment. States' varying demographics and histories with approving online charters mean that national findings often can't be generalized from place to place, Mann argued.

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. We will continue rolling out cyber charter tuition expenses for taxpayers in education committee members, legislative leadership and various other districts.
In 2016-17, taxpayers in .@SenTomlinson’s school districts in Bucks County had to send over $10.3 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

Bensalem Township SD
Bristol Borough SD
Bristol Township SD
Centennial SD
Central Bucks SD
Council Rock SD
Neshaminy SD


Has your state senator cosponsored SB34?

Real estate agents join the push for education funding in Pa.
Philly Trib by Avi Wolfman-Arent April 8, 2019
The fight to boost education funding brings lots of people together — teachers, superintendents, politicians. But advocates want to add another constituency to the mix: real estate agents. That’s the target audience of a new report by ReadyNationPennsylvania, an advocacy group that wants to increase education funding. They argue Pennsylvania realtors would benefit from more education dollars because of the potential for increased home values. The release of the report coincided with a panel discussion in Delaware County, where local real estate agents met with Democratic politicians and education advocates. “Southeast Pennsylvania gets hits particularly hard by the inequities in state funding,” said Jamie Ridge, president of the Suburban Realtors Alliance, which represents real estate agents in the four collar counties surrounding Philadelphia. Ridge said his members have long been aware of the state funding mechanism — known as hold harmless — that has protected shrinking districts at the expense of others that have grown or have deep needs.

To repair toxic school buildings, end the ten-year tax abatement | Opinion
Opinion by Janene Hasan and Kathleen Melville, for the Inquirer Updated: April 8, 2019 10:08 AM
Janene Hasan is a STEM Specialist at the Southwark School, a K-8 school in South Philadelphia. Kathleen Melville is an English teacher at the Workshop School, a high school in West Philadelphia. Both are members of the Caucus of the Working Educators within the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
As dozens of new candidates for City Council secure their places on the ballot for Philly’s May 21st election, one question facing them all is how they will ensure the safety of millions of children who spend their days in toxic school buildings. As teachers of these children, we would like to propose one very clear answer: End the ten-­year tax abatement. Last week, the Caucus of Working Educators delivered to Board of Education members over three thousand signatures on a petition demanding an end to the tax abatement in order to fund repairs to school buildings. We will be delivering that petition to City Council members on April 15. This petition represents over 3,000 face-­to-­face conversations with educators, parents, and community members, over 3,000 people ready to take action to end the tax abatement and fight for the safe schools that our students deserve. On March 29, after we handed in our petition, we were pleased to see leadership from state and local politicians pledging to find the $170 million to fund our facilities. The ten­-year tax abatement has been in effect for over twenty years. It was originally set up to spur development, by allowing property owners to avoid paying School District and city taxes on new construction or renovations to buildings for 10 years. This policy has now cost the School District hundreds of millions of dollars. As the Caucus has said for years, by ending the tax abatement, we can invest vital resources into our school buildings.

“Although the school receives more than $5 million in public funding annually, the school board was selected by school founder Thomas Lubben and as members leave, the remaining members choose the replacements. Voters have no say.
SPECIAL REPORT: Taxpayer-backed charter school experiment goes toxic in Easton
Charter schools are Pennsylvania’s pioneers in education. They take risks. They blaze trails. They take chances so hundreds of traditional public schools don’t have to. The payoff is the discovery of new and better ways to teach. But when the wagon train winds up in a ditch, the community it was pulling along pays the price. Taxpayers from the Easton Area and neighboring communities have invested millions of dollars in the Easton Arts Academy Charter Elementary School. Some teachers say the school has become a toxic workplace environment. They’ve left at an alarming rate. More than a dozen former employees told lehighvalleylive.com an administrator is ruining the school. They described an unpredictable taskmaster who screamed at children, joked about zapping a child with a car battery and took pride in crossing out teachers’ photos on a “bingo board” as they were fired. The ex-employees say Chief Administrative Officer Shawn Ferrara is the reason more than half the employees hired when the school opened two years ago are now gone. During his tenure, the school faced a lawsuit alleging administrators changed grades and ignored some students’ special needs. The ex-employees say it hasn’t been easy getting the school board to listen to their concerns about Ferrara.

Philly is mandating metal detectors in its high schools. Many charters don’t have them. Here’s why.
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham and Maddie Hanna, Updated: April 5, 2019
The Philadelphia School District moved last month to mandate the use of metal detectors and X-ray equipment in all of its high schools. But the compulsory use of scanning equipment is far from universal in Philadelphia, or even in big-city school systems around the country. Thousands of the city’s public high school students aren’t bound by the order. They attend one of Philadelphia’s 32 charter high schools, and for many of those schools, it’s a point of pride that they don’t scan students. Metal detectors “assume the worst in kids,” said Jim Higgins, CEO and principal of Multicultural Academy Charter School, which educates 275 students in Hunting Park. “There’s never been a serious push for it from our school community. We’re just such a small school, there’s a presumption of goodwill among all, and we’re just reluctant to ruin that.” Among the city’s 32 charter high schools, that’s a common sentiment. (Of the 32, 11 said they did not use detectors, one said it did, and the rest did not respond or declined to answer.)

STEM educators come together for daylong conference
Dubois Courier Express by Ryanne Persinger Tribune Staff Writer Apr 8, 2019 Updated 9 hrs ago
Approximately 80 teachers and those who work in education became the students Thursday during a daylong conference where they examined strategies for connecting classroom lessons to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Judd Pittman, special consultant to the state Secretary of Education and keynote speaker for the "Empowering STEM" conference, told the attendees that they are tasked with helping to make the next creators. "The beauty in this is that they are the smartest, most ready generation of Americans that we've ever seen," Pittman said. "They have technology at their fingertips; they have more information than we can imagine and they're going to have to be the creators, the discerners and the synthesizers that take all of that information and use it wisely." Six out of 10 occupations already have 30 percent of their workforce automated, Pittman said, adding that every facet of life is being changed by technology. "We're going to be moving away from an apple-picking person to a robot that picks the apples," said Pittman, a former science educator and research scientist. "We need the person that works in the orchard that fixes the robot that does the coding that picks the apple. It's a whole different way of being." Pittman also said there are approximately 20,000 jobs open in computer science across the commonwealth, with a majority of them in Philadelphia, and the average starting salary is $86,000 without a four-year degree.

Hundreds rally in support of Killion gun bill
Pottstown Mercury MediaNews Group April 8, 2019
Hundreds of gun safety supporters rallied at the state Capitol on Monday for legislation sponsored by state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9th Dist., to help reduce shootings and gun suicides.The rally was organized by the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action, one of the state’s largest gun safety groups. Killion’s legislation, Senate Bill 90, calls for Extreme Risk Protection Orders to be used to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who are a danger to themselves and others. “One hundred people die every day from gun violence in this country, and two-thirds of these deaths are suicides,” said Killion. “My Extreme Risk Protection Order bill allows police officers and loved ones to petition the courts to temporarily remove weapons from disturbed and dangerous people. It will save lives,” he added. Gov. Tom Wolf joined the rally to thank advocates for traveling to Harrisburg to push for what he described as a common sense gun safety measure. “It is time to end gun violence in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

Elanco's proposed student privacy policy calls for single-user, gender-neutral restrooms, locker rooms
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer April 9, 2019
A committee charged with resolving Eastern Lancaster County School District’s student privacy issues has put forward a gender-neutral policy solution. The policy — set in motion by public outcry over the district’s decision to allow a transgender student who identifies as male to use the boys facilities at Garden Spot High School — calls for replacing boys and girls restrooms and locker rooms with secure, single-user, gender-neutral facilities districtwide. “I really like where we are heading for all learners with the long-term goal and facility plan,” Superintendent Bob Hollister said. “I have personally spoken to several students the last few weeks who really love the privacy idea.” Under the policy, which was unveiled to the board Monday during a packed work session, restrooms and locker rooms would no longer be assigned to a specific gender. Students would no longer change clothes in a traditional, open locker-room area, and they would stop using multi-user restrooms. Each student would change — or use the restroom — in a private area meant for a single user. That would mean considerable physical changes to the district’s five schools. Making changes to the high school locker rooms would cost $1 million alone. It’s not clear how much money or how much time it would take for every school to get up to speed.

Time to raise PA’s minimum educator salary | Opinion
Penn Live Opinion By Dottie Schaffer Updated 9:03 AM; Today 9:02 AM
Dottie Schaffer is an elementary academic and behavioral intervention specialist in the Steelton-Highspire School District.
Teaching is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs that anybody can do. That’s why I chose a career in this profession. I love being in the classroom working with my students. I live for those moments when a student finally gets something, and it all just clicks. That look on a student’s face in that moment reminds me why I do what I do. What I didn’t expect was how difficult it would be to make ends meet. No one goes into teaching to make a lot of money. We do it because we want to make a difference in the lives of our students. But when the school day is done, my day isn’t. I work a second job as a server at a Harrisburg area restaurant. It’s the only way I can pay my bills and provide for my two children and me. For teachers in struggling urban and rural school districts, it’s especially tough.

North Hills school board ratifies contract with teachers union
MATT MCKINNEY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mmckinney@post-gazette.com APR 8, 2019 3:44 PM
The union representing North Hills School District’s teachers has agreed to a new five-year contract. The North Hills Education Association, whose members include 364 teachers, ratified the contract on April 3. Negotiations had been ongoing since the middle of last year. The newly approved contract expires in August 2024. The contract includes a 3.48 percent annual increase in salaries for teachers not currently at the top of the district’s pay schedule, according to a news release from the district.  Members at the top of the pay schedule — roughly half of the district’s teachers — will receive a raise of no more than 1.63 percent for the duration of the contract. The contract also stipulates that teachers will boost their health insurance contribution each year of the contract, according to the news release. Roughly 4,400 students attend North Hills, which serves West View and Ross.

Bucks County School District gets its own therapy dog
Action News 6abc By Trish Hartman Friday, April 5th, 2019 8:50PM
WARMINSTER, Pa. (WPVI) -- The superintendent of the Centennial School District has a new yellow Labrador puppy. And while he's doing the training, he says the district gets to reap the benefits.  His name is "Centennial Jake" or just Jake for short, and he belongs to the Superintendent of the Centennial School District in Warminster, Dr. David Baugh.  "Every morning I'm like, 'Hey Jake! Ready to go to work?' and his little tail starts going 'Woop Woop Woop!'"  But Jake isn't just tagging along for fun. He's currently completing obedience training and this summer, he'll go through therapy dog certification with Shadowlee Canine in West Chester.  Baugh says he trains every Saturday, and if all goes according to plan he'll start working with students in classrooms this fall.  "He's going to spend time with kids especially around testing time and testing situations. There's a lot of research around kids who read to dogs - doing a lot more reading and thus getting a lot better at reading," said Baugh.  For now, he's been visiting with some of the high school students to get some practice and socialization.  "We have some high school kids who have a variety of learning challenges and so they've kind of adopted him. They drop by, they take him for a walk around the property," said Baugh.  While Jake gets treats, the students get a little break from their day and a little love.  Senior Justin Lucas said, "I treat him like one of my family members. He just changes the environment around here."

Garnet Valley wins national Hi-Q crown
Delco Times April 8, 2019
MORTON — National Champions!
That what you can call the 2018-2019 Garnet Valley High School Delco Hi-Q team after they won their second-ever National Hi-Q Championship over three other regional Hi-Q champions. Teams from Marinette High School in Wisconsin, Alma Bryant High School in Alabama, and Stanwood High School in Washington State competed against Delco’s Garnet Valley team for the national crown via video-conference Friday, April 5, 2019 at Delaware County Intermediate Unit in Morton, adjacent to the Delco Hi-Q Hall of Honor.  The national championship was similar to all standard Hi-Q meets. Teams answered a total of 16 questions, including sports, math and team choice with the variation of competing online. Teams had four chances to answer their questions. Four points were awarded for correct answers, with the point value decreased by one for each try. Unlike in-person contests, every team could participate in toss-up questions and no buzzers were used for missed point opportunities.

Franklin Regional robotics team qualifies for FIRST World Championships in Detroit
TribLive by PATRICK VARINE   | Friday, April 5, 2019 3:59 p.m.
In the FIRST Robotics Greater Pittsburgh Regional competition, some high-school robotics teams are sponsored by technology titans such as Carnegie Mellon University, or have access to state-of-the-art facilities to create their robots. The FRobotics team members do their work in their mentor’s garage in Murrysville, and this year that work earned them a spot in the FIRST World Championships, set for later this month in Detroit. FRobotics will be competing at the FIRST World Championships in Detroit in April, after earning a wild-card spot at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional competition at Cal U.   “It’s a dream, really,” said FRobotics team president and drive coach, junior Courtney Sheridan. “We were really close last year, but this is the first time we’ve qualified for worlds.” The theme for this year’s competition is “Destination Deep Space,” and teams — who compete in “alliances” of three teams each — go head-to-head to see who can load items onto a mock rocket ship quickly and accurately, at a variety of heights.

“The fact that these credits would be overseen by the Treasury Department and not the Department of Education shouldn't mislead people about what the credits ultimately represent, said Sasha Pudelski, the advocacy director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, which opposes vouchers. "They're public dollars that are really being redirected into private hands," she said. "They're public dollars that are coming [out of the Treasury] at a cost to other programs."
Would Betsy DeVos' Newest School Choice Idea Use 'Public Funds'?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on April 8, 2019 4:35 PM
One of the most prominent features of President Donald Trump's proposed federal education budget is his administration's pitch to create $5 billion in annual tax credits to bolster educational choice. These dollar-for-dollar tax credits for private donations to scholarship-granting organizations, branded as Education Freedom Scholarships, could pay for private school scholarships as well as transportation, special education services, and more. But would the program rely on public money to pay for it? The question isn't a new one in debates over school choice, but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos put it front and center last week on social media: “Despite what some may try to tell you…Education Freedom Scholarships are privately funded and do not take any money from public schools.” When reporters responded by pointing out that the tax-credit program would incur a cost of $5 billion in public revenue, DeVos' team responded by saying the framing of the issue was off-base. 

Betsy DeVos: 'Teaching Has Gotten a Bad Beating Over the Years'
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on April 8, 2019 8:28 PM
Washington, D.C. - A year after lambasting states' plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos struck a much gentler tone in speaking to state chiefs Monday.  She avoided talking about the administration's plan to cut $7.1 billion from the Education Department's budget, including funding for after-school programs and teacher training, and instead emphasized new proposals to expand school choice and offer teachers more say over their own professional development. And she told the chiefs she'd be happy to approve changes to their ESSA plans aimed at increasing student achievement, but would look less kindly on requests to push off deadlines in the law.

****Registration Closes Today*** 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 

PA Schools Work Berks County Thu, April 11, 2019 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Berks County Intermediate Unit 1111 Commons Boulevard Reading, PA 19605
PA Schools Work is organizing in Berks County. We are looking for advocates to fight for more funding for our students. Agenda will include detailed information about individual school districts, meeting with local Berks representatives to share your stories, statewide support for your efforts and much more. We want to work together to make a difference. School leaders, parents, community members and local citizens that care about education are all welcome. Registration starts at 6 with meeting beginning at 6:30. Networking available so bring material to share about your organization too. If you have any questions, please contact Sandra at smiller@circuitriderforpaschools.org.

Success Starts Here is a multi-year public awareness campaign sharing positive news in PA public education.

Calling all Norristown parents, educators, leaders & stakeholders! Join us for Norristown Parents & Students for Education on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Norristown Public Library.
Together we can harness the power of all to make a difference in our schools and communities! Hear from the experts and learn how to advocate! Free breakfast & givewaways. Don't miss out!
Sponsored by Norristown Men of Excellence, The Urban League of Philadelphia & PA Schools Work.

PSBA: Nominations for the Allwein Society are welcome!
The Allwein Society is an award program recognizing school directors who are outstanding leaders and advocates on behalf of public schools and students. This prestigious honor was created in 2011 in memory of Timothy M. Allwein, a former PSBA staff member who exemplified the integrity and commitment to advance political action for the benefit of public education. Nominations are accepted year-round and inductees will be recognized at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference, among other honors.

PSBA: 2019 State of Education report now online
PSBA Website February 19, 2019
The 2019 State of Education report is now available on PSBA.org 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 Jamie.Zuvich@psba.org  Register for Advocacy Day now at http://www.mypsba.org/
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 alysha.newingham@psba.org or call her at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3420

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.

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?

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.