Wednesday, June 5, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 5: Pa. charter-school students lag in math, with cyber results ‘overwhelmingly negative,’ study says

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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Pa’s ‘Have Not’ school districts are falling farther behind. Lawmakers, Wolf need to close the gap | Opinion
By Reynelle Brown Staley  Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor June 5, 2019
Reynelle Brown Staley is policy director of the Education Law Center, a statewide nonprofit legal advocacy organization. 
As the Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf negotiate the next state budget, they should be mindful of a recent report published by the Center on Regional Politics at Temple University, entitled “A Tale of Haves and Have-Nots.” It has a sobering message: Pennsylvania’s method of financing education is creating a “persistent gulf” between districts with surpluses and those with shortfalls. The study estimates that over a nine-year period, the number of districts experiencing budget shortfalls increased from 195 districts to 320 – nearly two-thirds of the 500 districts in Pennsylvania. Our state risks becoming permanently divided between have and have-not districts. The fiscal conditions described in the report substantiate what petitioners in an active school funding lawsuit have maintained for years: Pennsylvania’s system for funding schools is broken. As the Education Law Center ‒ one organization representing plaintiffs in the suit ‒ prepares for a likely 2020 trial, evidence of inequity and inadequacy is mounting steadily.

CREDO equates academic growth to days of learning. Compared with traditional public school peers, a Pennsylvania student enrolled in an online charter loses the annual equivalent of 106 days of learning in reading and 118 days in math, the study said.”
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: June 4, 2019- 5:40 PM
Compared with their counterparts in traditional public schools, Pennsylvania charter school students are making similar progress in reading but faring worse in math, according to a Stanford University study supplying the latest data in the years-long debate over charter performance. But within the findings released Tuesday by the Center for Research and Education Outcomes (CREDO) are significant variations — in particular with virtual charter schools, which enroll about 25 percent of Pennsylvania charter-school students, and have been found to post poor results. The study said cyber charter results were “overwhelmingly negative," dragging down the performance of the charter sector as a whole. “Any potential benefits of online schooling such as student mobility and flexibility in curriculum are drowned out by the negative impacts on academic growth of students enrolled in such schools,” the report said.

Pa. charter schools receive mixed grades in study by Stanford U. researchers
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette JUN 4, 2019 1:07 PM
While the debate rages on about the accountability and quality of Pennsylvania’s charter schools, a new study from researchers at Stanford University shows some bright spots in a hodgepodge of findings regarding student performance, while also calling for “urgent attention” to bleak results from the state’s cyber charter schools. According to a report released Tuesday from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Pennsylvania’s urban charters have shown some improvement in student growth since the last time the center conducted an in-depth study of the Pennsylvania schools in 2011. At that time, data showed that students across all charter schools lagged behind their counterparts at traditional public schools in reading and math.  The latest study shows that overall, students in Pennsylvania charter schools showed similar growth in reading compared to students at traditional public schools while lagging behind in math and losing the equivalent of about 30 days of learning time. But at urban charter schools, the research shows, students learn more than their counterparts at traditional public schools in reading, and perform similarly in math.

Cyber Charter Funding: This morning there are more than 70 bipartisan cosponsors on this bill; has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

PASBO website 06/04/2019 15:37:36
The PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA) today released their spring 2019 school district budget report, indicating that the fiscal stress in school districts across the commonwealth continues to increase as the state education deficit grows.  Click here to view.
Relying on survey responses from school districts along with publicly available Annual Financial Report and General Fund Budget data submitted by all 500 school districts, the report assesses the financial condition of school districts and its impact on their 2019-20 budget plans.   Once again, the data tells the story of growing school district fiscal stress tied most significantly to rising mandated costs for charter school tuition, special education and employee pensions. The report highlights the $704 million increase in just these three costs that was heaped on school districts in 2017-18, noting that rising costs in these areas alone outpace increases in state funding and accounted for $0.87 of every new dollar in state funding and local property tax revenue last year. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, charter school tuition grew by 10% to $1.8 billion. Likewise, pension costs increased by nearly 11% to $3.7 billion, and special education costs grew by 4.26% to $4.6 billion.

State: Foundation acts as ‘alter ego’ for Allentown charter school and must provide information to Morning Call
In a case that could set a precedent for how charter school foundations operate, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has ruled that an Allentown charter school must provide The Morning Call with information the newspaper requested regarding the cost of construction of its 1,600-seat gymnasium that opened this year. The state sided with The Morning Call after the Executive Education Academy Charter School denied the newspaper’s Right-to-Know request from April seeking “a breakdown of the construction costs” for the gym and a “list of contractors working on the gym.” The charter school denied that request, saying it did not possess the records because it is merely a tenant in the building, which is at 555 Union Blvd. and owned by the charter school’s foundation. The charter school argued to the state that the Executive Education Academy Charter School Foundation, a private nonprofit, is “separate and distinct” from the charter school. But in a determination written by appeals officer Joshua Young, the state said the foundation is an “alter ego" of the charter school. “[B]ecause the foundation’s sole purpose is to support the charter school by fundraising, receiving donations and making gifts to the charter school, and, when necessary, exercising certain other responsibilities ... the foundation becomes part and parcel of the charter school,” Young wrote. “... Accordingly, because the foundation constitutes an alter ego of the charter school, the records possessed by the foundation are also constructively possessed by the charter school.”

Your View by state senator: How we can eliminate school property taxes
State Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, represents Pennsylvania’s 48th District.
I’m proud to stand with Sen. David Argall and a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues in supporting Senate Bill 76 to eliminate school property taxes, because I believe no tax should have the power to leave you homeless. SB 76 is the only plan being offered today to totally eliminate school property taxes — not partial reduction, not elimination for some but not all taxpayers, and not a new program to lessen property tax burdens. SB 76 provides for the total elimination of school property taxes. Taxpayers have been — and continue to be — very generous in their support of Pennsylvania education. Local school property taxes across the commonwealth over the next two years will cost taxpayers an estimated $14.22 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office. This is in addition to state and federal tax moneys. It’s only a matter of time before the current system to fund education becomes unsustainable and completely overwhelms taxpayers. Every year, school property taxes rise by about $500 million, according to the IFO.

Pa. considers bill to get children to start their school years earlier and stay longer
By Sasha Hupka | For PennLive Posted Jun 4, 6:30 PM
In Pennsylvania, some children enter kindergarten at 5-years-old. Some start school at 6 or 7. And some wait until age 8 to begin their education. Currently, Pennsylvania does not require children to attend school before age 8, and students can drop out at age 17 without parental consent. But the state’s compulsory school attendance age may soon be changing to get children in school earlier and keep them there longer. Changing the compulsory attendance age is part of the state budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf. His proposal would mandate that children be enrolled in some sort of school — a public district, private institution, charter school or a homeschool program — by age 6. It would also require students to attend school until age 18. The idea seems to have some support. The House Education Committee held a hearing on legislation that would change the compulsory school age on Tuesday morning. Afterwards, committee Chairman Curtis Sonney, R-Erie County, said he expects to move the bills to the House floor at some point in the future — although he couldn’t promise they would be part of the state budget agreement, which has a rapidly-approaching June 30 deadline.

Teachers, custodial staff, grand piano: Why SCASD’s budget called for a tax increase
Centre Daily Times BY SARAH PAEZ JUNE 04, 2019 04:21 PM, UPDATED JUNE 04, 2019 05:57 PM
The State College Area School District Board of Directors approved the 2019-2020 final budget with a tax increase of nearly 2% on Monday night to accommodate a host of new roles, positions and resources. The tax increase of 1.95% amounts to an additional $72 for the average residential taxpayer, according to a media release from the district. It is expected to generate an additional $2,017,835 in revenue from the 2018-19 budget The district says this tax increase is its lowest since 2006 and below its annual Act 1 Index maximum of 2.3%. Salaries and benefits account for about 72 percent of the budget, and required payments to charter schools represent 4.2 percent, or $6.9 million, the district said.

A first look at Germantown High School’s redevelopment, including housing, a charter school, and coworking space
Inquirer by Caitlin McCabe, Updated: June 4, 2019- 6:59 PM
Standing in the aisle of the James Memorial United Methodist Church in East Germantown, Andre Carroll stepped up to the microphone, cleared his throat, and addressed the team of developers, architects, and attorneys before him. “It says you guys are going to do 10 percent [affordable] housing,” Carroll said, as he clutched a copy of the new master development plan for Germantown High and Fulton Elementary Schools. “As someone who has lived in Philadelphia as a lifelong resident, that’s concerning with a 26 percent poverty rate."  “I want to ask you: Would you consider upping that 10 percent?” Carroll, a Germantown High alumnus, implored. “Because 24 units out of 236 units is not enough.” Carroll’s remarks, received with fierce applause from a crowd of nearly 100 neighbors, were one of several dozen questions asked Monday night in the second meeting between Germantown residents and the developers of the vacant neighborhood schools. It was billed as a first look at the project’s new master plan.

Black Students in Charter Schools Are More Likely to Have Black Teachers
Education Week By Madeline Will on June 4, 2019 12:02 AM
Black students in charter schools are more likely to have black teachers than their peers in traditional public schools, which can lead to academic gains in math, a new study shows.  The study published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning think tank that also authorizes charter schools in Ohio, examined data from grades 3 to 5 in North Carolina's traditional and charter public schools, from 2006-07 through 2012-13.  The findings show that traditional public schools and charter schools serve the same proportion of black students, but charter schools have about 35 percent more black teachers. Black students in charter schools are more than 50 percent more likely to have at least one black teacher than their counterparts in traditional public schools, while white students are equally likely to have at least white teacher in both types of schools.   A growing body of research has found that black students benefit from having black teachers, both academically and socially. Black elementary students performed better in math and reading when they had a teacher who was the same race as them, according to one recent study. Another set of studies found that black students are more likely to both graduate from high school and enroll in college when they have just one black teacher in elementary school.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: May 29 - June 4, 2019
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on June 4, 2019 - 1:50pm 
Along with an ever-growing number of stories about successful assessment reform initiatives, we still see many disturbing reports of ongoing damage to students and educators from standardized exam misuse and overuse. Grassroots activists and their allies should feel free to contact FairTest for assistance with building winning local campaigns to replace testing overkill with authentic forms of assessment. 

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: . 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.

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.

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