Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 11: How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat cyber tuition rates of $5000 for regular ed students and $8865 for special ed.?

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How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat cyber 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

Press Conference: It is time to end the cyber charter school status quo
Tuesday June 11, 10 a.m. East Wing Rotunda
Stanford University study released last week shows PA's cyber charter school students lose 106 days in reading and 118 days of math in a school year when compared to their school district counterparts. Earlier studies have found equally abysmal results.
Each year, Pennsylvanians spend over $463 million in tuition payments for more than 35,000 students to attend commercial cyber charter schools. School districts in nearly every community in Pennsylvania raise property taxes, cut teachers, and/or gut programs to pay to pay for students to these schools, where many experience an overwhelmingly negative, and potentially irreversible, impact on their level of educational attainment.
Lawmakers, school officials, and community members are coming together in Harrisburg to say that it is time to end the status quo of overpayments for failure in cyber charter schools.
Tuesday, June 11 at 10:00 am in the East Wing Rotunda
Who:  Confirmed speakers listed below. Other may join us:
Ed Albert, Executive Director, PA Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Sandra Miller, school board member, Saucon Valley School District
State Representative Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery)
State Representative Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia)
Susan Spicka, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
When: Tuesday, June 11 at 10:00 am    Where: East Wing Rotunda
Media contacts:
Susan Spicka, Education Voters of PA   717-331-4033 sspicka@educationvoterspa.org
Ed Albert, PA Association of Rural and Small Schools 717-587-3521 ealbert@parss.org

Philly Charter High School for Architecture and Design agrees to close after next year
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: June 10, 2019- 6:03 PM
Facing closure by the Philadelphia School District, the struggling Charter High School for Architecture and Design (CHAD) has agreed to surrender its charter. While CHAD leaders said the agreement contemplates the school transitioning to district management, district officials would not comment Monday on the school’s future beyond its closure, slated for the end of next school year. “We would not be taking back a charter,” said spokesperson Lee Whack. He declined to comment further ahead of a school board vote on the agreement Thursday. The agenda item for Thursday’s vote says that as part of the agreement, the district and CHAD “agree to explore the establishment of an architecture and design school or program managed by the School District.” Even if they don’t reach agreement on a school or program, CHAD will still have to forfeit its charter, according to the agenda item. In a letter to staff last Friday that was shared with The Inquirer, Lance Rothstein, president of CHAD’s board of trustees, described the agreement as “a first step to enable us to work together in CHAD’s smooth transition from a charter school to a School District of Philadelphia architecture & design public school.”

Republican special election winners sworn in to state Senate
PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison June 10, 2019
Pennsylvania’s state Senate returned to full complement on Monday with the swearing-in of two new Republican senators. Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, and Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, took the oath of office on Monday, three weeks after soundly defeating Democratic challengers in special elections on May 21. With Mastriano and Pittman now in office, Republicans hold 28 senate seats to Democrats’ 22. Mastriano, an Army veteran and military historian, takes a seat formerly held by Sen. Rich Alloway. Alloway left the Senate in February to return to his private law practice, saying he was “sick and tired” of state politics.

State takeover of Harrisburg schools may need to last a decade or more | PennLive Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Updated Jun 10, 5:52 PM; Posted Jun 10, 2:32 PM
Dr. Gerald Kohn, former superintendent of Harrisburg schools, shared some sobering and unsettling insights when he sat down with PennLive editors last week. But they are probably valid. First, we should be prepared for the state to remain control for at least a decade – probably longer – if we want to see real and sustained progress inside the classrooms. Second, it will take at least a decade to right what’s gone wrong with the district – from replacing unqualified staff to maintaining high-caliber, dedicated teachers. Third, it will take money. That’s the only way to attract and retain quality administrators, principals and teachers who are essential to raising tests scores and equipping Harrisburg’s students for the realities of a competitive world. None of this is good news for those who want to see immediate improvement after the state takes over the schools. It’s hard to accept that the real possibility that another generation of bright and capable students will be educationally short-changed as the system tries to right itself.

While some Pa. lawmakers demand Sen. Daylin Leach’s resignation, he plans to run for re-election
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated Jun 10, 6:54 PM; Posted Jun 10, 5:30 PM
Pressure is mounting on a three-term Montgomery County Democratic senator to resign in the aftermath of the release of a Harrisburg law firm’s investigation into allegations of inappropriate comments, sexual assault and harassment against him. A Capitol Rotunda news conference Monday called for changing the culture of workplace harassment, and it also specifically targeted Sen. Daylin Leach. Several of Leach’s fellow Senate Democrats, including the caucus leader, Sen. Jay Costa of Allegheny County, have called on him to step down. State victim advocate Jennifer Storm said, “Today I stand in lockstep with them as we say ‘Time’s up Daylin.’” Gwen Snyder, a #MeToo activist who Leach is suing for defamation for statements she made against him about a 1991 sexual misconduct allegation, followed that up, saying, “The time for decorum is over. Time is up. If he won’t resign, the Senate must expel him.” Leach adamantly denies he did anything that would require him to resign. In an interview on Monday afternoon in his Capitol office, Leach insisted that the findings presented to him last week by an attorney from Eckert Seamans, the firm hired to explore workplace and sexual harassment allegations made against Leach, exonerates him of any wrongdoing.

“Mr. Wielgus, who had voted against the proposed final budget in May, said he went through the document “line by line” and could not find any cuts that could be made. More staff was necessary because the district has grown by 476 elementary students. There are two big expenses that they have no control over, he said: payments to charter schools and payments to the state’s pension fund. Next year, North Hills will pay $1.2 million for residents to attend charter schools. The tuition that must be paid by the districts is determined by a state formula. “When you open up a charter school, if it costs $4,000 to $5,000 to educate students, we have to send $11,000 to educate the student,” he said. “Guess where that extra $6,000 goes. It goes into their pocket. It’s for profit.”
He added that the performance of most charter schools “is well below anything that our school district is doing these days.” Mr. Wielgus said special education costs have increased 18% since 2014 from $7.9 million to $9.5 million. The district’s required contribution for the state pension system has risen 127% over the past five years, and more than 500% over the past 11 years.”
North Hills school board approves final budget with 2.2% tax increase
Post-Gazette by SANDY TROZZO JUN 10, 2019 2:14 PM
The North Hills school board has unanimously approved a final budget of $83.92 million that raises taxes by 2.2%, or 0.4 mills. The new tax rate will be 18.65 mills, which would cost the average homeowner an additional $52 a year. The average home value in the district is $135,900. Two Ross residents protested the tax increase during the work session on May 30 and the June 6 voting meeting. “Do you seriously think that the taxpayers in this township are not going to be upset by this?” Patricia Popadyn asked during the work session. “This is not going to fly in this township.” Denise Piveronas spoke at both meetings, saying that Ross residents cannot afford any more school taxes. “We cannot keep affording your tax increases,” she said. “The teachers keep getting raise after raise after raise. Enough is enough.” Board President Ed Wielgus said wages have increased a total of 9.49% over the past 11 years.

Eliminate Pennsylvania school property taxes? Expect fresh debate after new bills go out in July
As some of the biggest and most-disliked bills of all — school property tax bills — arrive in mailboxes across Pennsylvania in July, the long-lasting conversation about eliminating that tax is expected to resume. State Sen. David G. Argall, a Schuylkill County Republican, said Friday legislative discussions are likely in July and August, following a stretch in which there was little movement on the perennial issue. “What the results will be on those, I don’t know,” he said. School property tax bills totaling more than $14 billion statewide are issued after the July 1 start of the fiscal year. Senior citizens on fixed incomes are among those who have the most difficult time paying the tax, set locally by school districts and frequently increased. Initiatives to repeal or replace the tax have been around for decades. Argall has introduced such legislation — which also would compensate for the billions in lost revenue with a variety of increases of other taxes — in each of the last three legislative sessions. The last vote on one of those measures took place in 2015. A 24-24 tie in the Senate was broken by a negative vote by then-Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.

Philly School board hears complaints about special education services and the upcoming demographic study
Board members disagreed about Councilmember Helen Gym's request to use the current budget surplus to form a fund for emergency repairs
The notebook Greg Windle June 11 — 12:29 am, 2019
The Board of Education held public hearings on future priorities last week, and the District’s upcoming study on neighborhoods’ changing enrollment trends, intended to plan for the future but with the potential to redraw catchment areas for some neighborhood schools, quickly became a source of controversy. Some advocates feared the process would look like 2013, when the District closed 23 schools based on the advice of an outside consulting firm. Others wanted to use the process to change enrollment policies schools along several grounds, including special education.  Parents questioned the District’s policy of creating “hubs” for particularly high-needs special education students instead of enrolling them in their local neighborhood school. “When I hear absolutely no talk about using catchments to create equitable, integrated schools, I feel like the District is in danger of sacrificing kids, and I’m not talking about white kids,” said parent Kathleen Butts who also teaches at YESPhilly’s accelerated high school for students who have fallen behind or dropped out. “The District is in danger of sacrificing Philly’s kids to gentrification, property values, and the vocal minority of affluent families.” “It’s already happening in northwest Philadelphia, where I live,” Butts said. “We are seeing dramatic increases in the number of white families enrolling in kindergarten and some of our schools are becoming more and more segregated.”

State Rep. Bernstine to offer bill for separate public, private high school sports playoffs
Beaver County Times By Andrew Chiappazzi  Posted Jun 10, 2019 at 4:16 PMUpdated Jun 10, 2019 at 5:28 PM
State Rep. Aaron Bernstine plans to introduce legislation that will create separate playoff brackets for public and non-public schools in high school sports playoffs. State Rep. Aaron Bernstine will introduce new legislation on Tuesday that will detail a plan to create separate playoff brackets for public and nonpublic schools in high school sports playoffs. Bernstine, R-10, New Beaver, said in a statement that the legislation came together following months of negotiations with representatives of both public and nonpublic schools. The release that announced Tuesday’s press conference states Bernstine will be joined by Eric Failing, executive director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, as well as Pennsylvania Athletic Equity Steering Committee co-state coordinators Leonard Rich and William Hall. Rich, the superintendent of the Laurel School District, and Hall, the superintendent of the Millcreek Township School District, have been at the center of a statewide campaign to create separate playoff brackets. Their committee argues that nonboundary schools — both private schools and public charter schools that draw from outside of a specific district — have an advantage over traditional public schools. PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi has said current legislation, established via a law passed in 1972, prohibits the PIAA from splitting public and private schools into their own championship tournaments.

DeVos, unions drive Democratic candidates to back away from charter schools
The party's presidential hopefuls are improving their grades with labor groups representing teachers by looking to other education ideas.
Charter schools are increasingly falling out of favor with the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
NBC News By Benjy Sarlin June 9, 2019, 6:00 AM EDT / Updated June 9, 2019, 8:54 AM EDT
WASHINGTON — In 2009, a newly-elected President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to remove limits on charter schools, saying it “isn't good for our children, our economy, or our country” to hinder their growth. Ten years later, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced an almost mirror-image position: A national moratorium on federal funding for charter schools pending an audit, and a ban on for-profit charter schools. "Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system," his campaign said in a press release. He's hardly alone. At an education event in Iowa on Saturday, in South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg sounded a skeptical note about charter schools. "For-profit charter schools should not be part of our vision for the future," he told reporters. "And I think the expansion of charter schools in general is something that we need to really draw back on until we've corrected what needs to be corrected in terms of underfunded public education."

You're a Democrat Who Opposes Vouchers. But You Benefited From Private Schools. Are You a Hypocrite?
Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa on June 9, 2019 8:12 AM
Recently, our colleague Alyson Klein looked at whether the 2020 Democratic White House contenders attended public or private schools as children, as well as where they've sent their own children to school. Not all the candidates responded to her inquiries, although we've filled in the gaps on others. We know Joe Biden, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke, and Andrew Yang all attended private schools for at least part of their K-12 education. And the children of current candidates like Bennet, John Delaney, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are attending or have attended private schools.  To be clear: Not all Democrats in the race have been categorically opposed to all school choice. Bennet, for example, gave some running room to charters (which technically are a type of public school) while he was Denver superintendent. And O'Rourke has spoken about how charter schools can play a positive role in public education. But good luck finding a Democratic 2020 hopeful who would proclaim that he or she likes and wants to expand vouchers, even long-time choice backer Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey—especially when Democratic bugaboo and school choice champion Betsy DeVos is education secretary. Candidates ranging from Biden and O'Rourke to Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have at one time or another spoken out against them. So, are Democrats who dislike vouchers but benefited from private schools being unfair? Should they support more access to the choices they or their children experienced? Or is the issue more complicated than that? 

EPLC is accepting applications for the 2019-20 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Education Policy & Leadership Center
PA's premier education policy leadership program for education, policy & community leaders with 582 alumni since 1999. Application with program schedule & agenda are at http://www.eplc.org 

PA Education Leaders to Hold Advocacy Day 2019 in Harrisburg June 18th
PA Principals Association Press Release June 5th, 2019
(Harrisburg, PA) — A delegation of principals, education leaders and staff from the Pennsylvania Principals Association, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) will participate in PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2019 (#paadvocacyday19) on Tuesday, June 18 at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa., to meet with legislators to address several important issues that are at the forefront of education in the commonwealth. These include: Increasing Basic Education Funding/Special Education Funding/Early Childhood Funding; Revising Act 82: Principal and Teacher Evaluations; Supporting Pre-K Education; Supporting Changes to Pennsylvania’s Compulsory School Attendance Ages; and Supporting and Funding Career and Technical Education.

PA League of Women Voters 2019 Convention Registration
Crowne Plaza in Reading June 21-23, 2019
May 22, 2019 – Deadline to get special room rates at Crowne Plaza Hotel 
                            Book Hotel or call: 1 877 666 3243
May 31, 2019 – Deadline to register as a delegate for the Convention
June 7, 2019 – Deadline to register for the Convention

PA Schools Work Capitol Caravan Days Wed. June 5th and Tues. June 18th
If you couldn’t make it to Harrisburg last week, it’s not too late. We are getting down to the wire. In a few short weeks, the budget will likely be passed. Collectively, our voices have a larger impact to get more funding for Pennsylvania’s students. Legislators need to hear from you!  
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will be at the Capitol on Wednesday, June 5th and Tuesday, June 18th  for our next PA Schools Work caravan days. We’d love to have you join us on these legislative visits. For more details about the caravans and to sign up, go to: www.pccy.org/k12caravan . Please call Tomea Sippio-Smith at (O) 215-563-5848, ext. 36 or (C) 215-667-9421 or Shirlee Howe at (O) 215-563-5848, ext. 34 or (C) 215-888-8297 with any questions or specific requests for legislative meetings. 

2019 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-18, 2019
WHERE: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16 to Friday, October 18, 201
Registration is now open!
Growth from knowledge acquired. Vision inspired by innovation. Impact created by a synergized leadership community. You are called upon to be the drivers of a thriving public education system. It’s a complex and challenging role. Expand your skillset and give yourself the tools needed for the challenge. Packed into two and a half daysꟷꟷgain access to top-notch education and insights, dynamic speakers, peer learning opportunities and the latest product and service innovations. Come to the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference to grow!

NPE Action National Conference - Save the Date - March 28-29, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA.
The window is now open for workshop proposals for the Network for Public Education conference, March 28-29, 2020, in Philadelphia. I hope you all sign on to present on a panel and certainly we want all to attend. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NBCNDKK

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

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