Tuesday, August 13, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug. 13: Gov. Wolf to announce reform plan in Allentown today to strengthen charter accountability & transparency

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 Ed Policy Roundup August 13, 2019

Senate Education Committee to Hold Public Hearing on Charter School Funding on Wed, Aug. 14 in Everett
Education Committee Chairman Senator Langerholc’s Website Posted on Aug 09, 2019
MEDIA ALERT: The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), will hold a public hearing on charter school funding at 1 p.m. on  Wednesday, August 14, at Everett Area High School located at 1 Renaissance Circle in Everett, PA. 
Among those scheduled to testify are area superintendents, state education officials, and representatives of charter schools. The hearing will be streamed live on www.facebook.com/PASenateGOP/ and www.senatorlangerholc.com

Pennsylvania Council of Churches Ministry of Public Witness August 7, 2019
From Education Voters of Pennsylvania (http://www.educationvoterspa.org/):

“The charter school law passed in 1997 and has not been updated since then. There has been much discussion surrounding charter school changes, especially funding for cybercharter schools. Cybercharters, which often perform low on the state’s standardized test scores, draw the ire of districts that are forced to pay tuition to them but have no oversight. Districts must pay a per-pupil tuition fee for each student attending a cybercharter school. A 2018 survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators found districts pay $11,306 for each regular education student attending a cybercharter, and $24,192 on average for special education students.”
Gov. Wolf coming to Allentown to discuss changes to the charter school law
Gov. Tom Wolf will be in Allentown on Tuesday to discuss changes in the state’s charter school law, capping weeks of criticizing the charter funding system as unfair. Wolf, who will be joined by Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, is expected to “announce improvements to the state’s charter school regulations and law, addressing accountability, cost, transparency, fairness, and quality,” according to a news release. It’s not yet known what exactly Wolf plans to do, but in recent weeks, he has gone to battle with charter schools. Last week, he called charter schools “private.” Charter schools are publicly funded but operated by unelected boards. His visit comes days after the Allentown School District asked charter schools to accept less in per-student payments during the coming year. It’s unclear if they will. Wolf will speak at 10:30 a.m. at Harrison-Morton Middle School. He will then travel to Pocono Mountain West High School in Pocono Summit to also discuss the changes, according to the news release.

Rep. Williams, Policy Committee Discuss Fair Education Funding
COATESVILLE, PA — State Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on fair education funding at The Spackman Center in Coatesville. Williams requested the hearing to discuss ways to improve the allocation of educating funds for school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Testifiers and lawmakers examined how money impacts education, how well-resourced schools generally perform better on achievement tests, the best ways to adequately fund schools, and why senior citizens are concerned about an increase in property taxes. Williams was joined by legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Today’s hearing allowed many voices to be heard, voices of folks who are invested in our youth, who care about making sure our schools are properly funded, and that those funds are fairly distributed,” said Williams, a member of the Children and Youth Committee who represents the 74th Legislative District, including Coatesville. “It’s vital that we continue to have an open dialogue with our residents, including our seniors whose property taxes fund their local schools, as well as with educators, policy directors and fellow lawmakers. All of us share in a desire to do what’s best for our next generation.”

“Simply put, our neediest districts have not had, and do not have, adequate funding to meet student needs. A drastic boost in state dollars is sorely needed. State funding for classroom expenses – BEF, Ready to Learn Grants, and Special Education – aren’t even keeping up with inflation. Unreimbursed pension costs are rising faster than these state increases in these line items. And even with property tax increases year after year, local communities simply can’t generate the funds needed to make up for the state shortfall.”
Testimony of the Education Law Center PA House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Fair Education Funding August 12, 2019
On behalf of the parents, students, and community members with whom we work, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Reynelle Brown Staley, and I serve as Policy Director for the Education Law Center – PA (ELC), a statewide education advocacy organization. ELC works to ensure that all of Pennsylvania’s children have access to quality public education. And because money matters in education, that means we fight for fair and adequate school funding. In the courts, we and the Public Interest Law Center are challenging the Legislature’s failure to adequately fund schools and unconstitutional funding disparities that discriminate against students in low-wealth districts. And in legislative fora like this, we fight for urgent legislative action to address the adequacies and inequities of state education funding. It is no secret that poor, largely Black and Brown communities are being hurt by our current

LGBT activists protest Elanco's polarizing privacy policy, urge board members to reverse course before school year begins
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer August 13, 2019
The fight over a controversial student privacy policy expected to be implemented in less than two weeks in one Lancaster County school district is far from over. That was evident at Monday night’s Eastern Lancaster County school board meeting, as at least a dozen LGBT activists showed up to urge school board members to change the policy. The policy, which goes into effect Aug. 26 — the first day of school — would separate students by biological sex in bathrooms and locker rooms while private, single-user areas were being built districtwide. Critics say it discriminates against transgender students who wish to use facilities matching their gender identity. “I’m pretty much here to show support for transgender students across the state of Pennsylvania,” Naiymah Sanchez, trans justice coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union, told LNP prior to the meeting, “and actually to put a little pressure on board members to make the right decision.” The “right decision,” she said, is to add private stalls “quickly,” and, in the meantime, “take down these restrictions on who’s able to access what restroom.”

Episode 41: Pennsylvania’s big gun debate
PA Post by Katie Meyer AUGUST 12, 2019 | 4:31 PM
Much of this week’s political conversation has been dominated by questions about guns. Questions like, who should be able to use them? What characteristics should we should allow them to have? And is it ever OK for the government to be able to take them away? The weekend of August 3 saw two major shootings. One at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in which 22 people were killed, and another in on a busy street in Dayton, Ohio that killed nine. In Pennsylvania and across the country, there’s come to be a sort of standard political response to mass shootings. Politicians and others who oppose the relatively unrestricted access Americans have to guns, turn out en masse in protest. These post-shooting protests all tend to look the same, and for good reason: gun laws haven’t really changed in a long time. However, there have been some small—but notable—shifts in the conversation in the commonwealth. PA Post reporters Emily Previti and Ed Mahon join us on this week’s podcast to explain.

Casey challenges lawmakers to take a stand on gun safety
Delco Times by BILL RETTEW August 13, 2019
UWCHLAN—Sen. Bob Casey discussed guns, health care and the current climate in Washington, during an hour-long interview, Monday, at the MediaNews Group office. Casey was hopeful that in September Congress will discuss gun reform and possibly vote on several bills, a first during Senate majority leader Mitch McConnel’s tenure. Casey wants to discuss and vote on background checks, the size of gun magazines and military style assault rifles. Casey favors legislation that would concern Red Flag laws or what the senator prefers to refer to as Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Casey supports Red Flag measures for a judge to decide when someone is a “danger to himself or others … and might commit an act of violence.” Casey wants lawmakers to take a stand on the issue. “Let’s put members of Congress on the record,” Casey said. “If you’re unwilling to support gun safety, and by doing nothing, politicians are complicit in the carnage.” Casey also wants the Senate and House to take out the “terrorist loophole” which forbids some from flying, but not purchasing a gun. “No fly, no buy,” Casey said. He also is opposed to the “Charlestown Loophole” which gives a purchaser the right to buy a gun if the state does not make a determination on eligibility during a set amount of time. “If you run out of time, the guy gets the gun,” he said. Casey favors the National Instant Check System which determines a buyer’s eligibility within about 15 minutes. When tragedies like the recent ones at Dayton and El Paso occurred, Casey said we “don’t focus on it long enough, and we can’t debate it for a couple of days, and then move on.”

“This is the clearest purpose served by bullet-resistant backpacks: They are emblems of the utter failure of grown-ups to adequately address gun violence. They are one more way in which we’re asking children to — literally — shoulder the burden of that failure.”
Instead of buying kids bullet-resistant backpacks, adults should carry the burden of keeping them safe
Lancaster Online by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD August 13, 2019
THE ISSUE:: An Associated Press story published in Saturday’s LNP reported that companies such as “Guard Dog Security, TuffyPacks and Bullet Blocker are peddling bullet-resistant backpacks for children in time for the back-to-school shopping season.” Critics, the AP noted, “argue they are using tragedy as a marketing opportunity and exploiting parents’ worst fears.” TuffyPacks shields — lightweight armor inserts that can be placed in ordinary backpacks — range from $129 to $149. Skyline’s ProShield Scout backpacks for children — in colors such as hot pink and teal — cost $120 each. Others cost nearly $300. The marketing of bullet-resistant backpacks does indeed exploit parents’ fears about mass school shootings like the one that devastated the Parkland, Florida, community in February 2018. Perusing the websites selling these backpacks, reading their promises to keep your child safe, it can be easy to tell yourself that $210 really isn’t that much for a tie-dyed Bullet Blocker backpack that offers, in the words of one testimonial, “peace of mind.” Such peace of mind is elusive, particularly after the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas — on a day when the store was filled with back-to-school shoppers. Here’s the reality, though: Bullet-resistant backpacks won’t do much to protect children at school. As Greg Shaffer, a former FBI agent and a domestic terrorism expert, pointed out to the AP, children usually stash their backpacks in cubbies or lockers during the school day.

“She is the fourth member in the past two weeks to leave the board of the NRA in a sign of further upheaval within the nation's most powerful gun rights group.”
NRA board member, a star in the sports shooting world, resigns
Inquirer by Tom Hamburger, The Washington Post, Updated: August 12, 2019- 9:49 PM
Julie Golob, a professional sport shooter and a strong public advocate for gun rights, announced Monday that she was resigning from the National Rifle Association board before the end of her three-year term. She is the fourth member in the past two weeks to leave the board of the NRA in a sign of further upheaval within the nation's most powerful gun rights group. Golob, a regular on shooting shows who has won competitions and is an advocate for women's use of firearms, did not state a reason for her departure in a note posted on her website. "I am proud to have had the opportunity to represent the members of the NRA but I can no longer commit to fulfilling the duties of a director," she wrote. Golob was a well-known personality in the gun rights world and produced videos for the NRA with titles such as "Helping Women Choose a Gun."

Foolish proposal from Gov. Wolf | PennLive letters
PennLive Letters to the Editor by Phil Edmunds, Harris Township, Centre County Updated Aug 12, 9:01 AM; Posted Aug 11, 2019
In response to the appalling mass shootings in El Paso (Texas) and Dayton (Ohio), Gov. Wolf has proposed a ban on “assault weapons,” without revealing what makes/models or types of firearms he has in mind. He doesn’t explain why he apparently believes it would be more effective than the previous ban. That original “assault weapons” ban was enacted in 1994 by Democrat majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, over strenuous objection of Republican minorities. It prohibited manufacture, transfer or possession of “semi-automatic assault weapons,” which were identified by make/model or a variety of cosmetic features. It also banned transfer and possession of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices,” i.e., magazines, capable of holding more than 10 cartridges. Firearms and magazines that were lawfully possessed by Americans on the date of enactment were exempt from the act’s provisions, i.e., “grandfathered.” President Bill Clinton signed the legislation on 13 September 1994. The ban expired in 2004 in accordance with a “sunset” provision in the legislation. The U.S. Justice Department subsequently funded an evaluation of the ban’s impacts by Christopher S. Koper, an associate professor at George Mason University. Koper’s primary conclusions were that the ban “did not appear to affect gun crime during the time it was in effect” and “a new ban on assault weapons and/or large-capacity magazines will certainly not be a panacea for America’s gun violence problem nor will it stop all mass shootings” (see https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/757460).

New windows, lighting at Northeast High part of $23 million energy makeover at Philly schools
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: August 12, 2019- 5:44 PM
When school bells ring at Northeast High School next month, 3,600 students will be greeted by new windows, daylight-controlled lights and ventilation units that will pump fresh air into their classrooms. The upgrades — intended to improve learning and save energy — are part of a $23 million project at three Philadelphia schools, financed by the Philadelphia School District and launched in partnership with the Philadelphia Energy Authority. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the renovations, which also took place at Strawberry Mansion and Saul high schools, will save the district an estimated $375,000 a year in energy costs. As the district evaluated its vast capital needs a few years back, “it wasn’t enough to just patch up those issues and move on. We needed to make smart decisions that would hopefully result in significant cost savings,” Hite said during a news conference Monday at Northeast High School, where he was joined by Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who also touted the renovations.

At Pittsburgh Public Schools, introduction of alternative disciplinary approach showing mixed results
SERENA CHO Pittsburgh Post-Gazette AUG 12, 2019 6:45 AM
At Allegheny 6-8 Traditional Academy in the North Side, suspension rates have plummeted since 2015, when the school introduced restorative practices — an educational alternative to traditional punishments that encourages reflection and dialogue — as part of a pilot project by Pittsburgh Public Schools. But only 9 miles away at Mifflin Elementary School in Lincoln Place, suspension rates have more than doubled since implementing restorative practices, and at least 12 children withdrew from the school, citing an environment that is not conducive to learning. In 2015, Allegheny 6-8 and Mifflin Elementary, along with 20 other schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district, implemented restorative practices and trained teachers to foster constructive conversations when students misbehave. The Rand Corp. conducted a federally funded study assessing the effectiveness of restorative practices and found that schools with the new disciplinary method overall reduced suspension rates and racial disparities on how students are disciplined for misbehavior. In fall 2018, Pittsburgh Public Schools adopted restorative practices throughout the district.

Schools Worry Over New Trump Rule on Immigrants and Federal Benefits
By Andrew Ujifusa on August 12, 2019 12:30 PM
A new Trump administration rule regarding immigrants' use of federal benefits could have an indirect but significant impact on schools if it deters families from seeking assistance under certain programs, education advocates warn.  The administration has released its final rule for what's known as "public charge." This is the process by which the U.S. government determines if an immigrant seeking to become a permanent resident or extend a visa is likely to become "primarily dependent" on federal benefits—such a determination can lead the government to deny permanent residency or the visa. Previously, benefits that were factors in this process included a limited number of programs such as Supplemental Social Security and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. However, according to the finalized rule, other benefits that can now be included in these determinations include the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program—also called "food stamps"—most forms of Medicaid, and forms of housing vouchers and rental assistance under Section 8, among others.

Oklahoma Latest to Grapple With Online School Problems
New York Times By The Associated Press Aug. 12, 2019
OKLAHOMA CITY — When two tech-savvy Oklahoma men launched their vision for an innovative charter school in 2011 that students could attend from home, the timing was perfect. Republicans had just extended their majorities in the Legislature, taken control of every elected statewide office and installed a new state superintendent of public instruction who was eager to embrace new ideas. Epic Charter Schools, which has no schoolhouse and serves pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students who attend online, has exploded in growth in the eight years since it launched and now boasts an enrollment that rivals the biggest districts in Oklahoma. Last year, the school reported more than 21,000 students and received nearly $113 million in state funding. But those numbers are now coming under scrutiny from state investigators who revealed last month they are looking into whether the school's two founders, David Chaney and Ben Harris, artificially inflated the number of students and pocketed millions of dollars illegally. While the bulk of state money pays for teacher salaries and benefits at Epic, Chaney and Harris own a for-profit company that manages the school for 10% of its overall revenue and have made millions of dollars on the endeavor. With a glitzy advertising campaign, the school attracts more students every year. Chaney and Harris also opened up their wallets to prominent politicians, donating more than $160,000 almost entirely to Republican candidates in the last two election cycles, including the governor, state superintendent and attorney general. Epic also operates in California, where it has more than 500 students from five counties. A contract in Texas was put on hold because of the ongoing probe in Oklahoma.

IU1 and The Consortium for Public Education: Rachel's Challenge Presentation -  Aug. 14 9:00 – 3:30 California University of PA
IU1 and the Consortium for Public Education are joining forces to bring you a FREE professional development opportunity, Rachel's Challenge, presented by Darrell Scott. The mission of Rachel's Challenge is to equip and empower adults and students to sustain a positive culture change in their organization and communities by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. Rachel's inspiring story provides a simple, yet powerful example of how small acts of kindness and acceptance motivates us to consider our relationships with people we come in contact with every day. Rachel's story gives us permission to start our own chain reaction of kindness and compassion, which positively affects the climate in our schools and communities. For more information, please visit https://rachelschallenge.org/.
To receive Act 48 hours for this event, you must complete all areas of the registration form below, including entering your PPID number. Each person from your team must register individually.

EPLC/DCIU 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates Sept. 14th
The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates at the DCIU on September 14, 2019.
Target Audience: School Board Directors and Candidates, Community Members, School Administrators
Description: Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates. Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. The workshop will include Legal and Leadership Roles of School Directors and School Boards; State and Federal Policies: Implications for School Boards; School District Finances and Budgeting; Candidates and the Law; Information Resources; "State and Federal Policies" section includes, but is not limited to:
K-12 Governance
PA Standards, Student Assessment, and Accountability
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
K-12 State Funding
Early Education
Student Choices (Non-Public, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, Career-Technical, and more)
Teacher Issues
Linking K-12 to Workforce and Post-Secondary Education
Linking K-12 to Community Partners
***Fee: $75.00. Payment by Credit Card Only, Visa or Mastercard, PLEASE DO NOT SELECT ANY OTHER PAYMENT TYPE*** Registration ends 9/7/2019

Join @RepBrianFitz and @CongBoyle at this complimentary focus meeting to talk about the critical need to modernize and fully fund the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
Register for Federal Focus: Fully funding IDEA at William Tennant HS Wednesday August 21st, 7-9 pm
PSBA News July 30, 2019
Join U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-01) and other IDEA Act co-sponsors at this complimentary focus meeting to talk about the critical need to modernize and fully fund the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Learn about bipartisan efforts now in the U.S. Congress to ensure that special education funding is a priority in the federal budget, and how you can help bring this important legislation to the finish line. Bring your school district facts and questions. This event will be held Aug. 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Centennial School District in Bucks Co. There is no cost to attend, but you must register through myPSBA.org. Questions can be directed to Megan McDonough at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3321. This program is hosted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and the Centennial School District. 

“Each member entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 23 – Oct. 11, 2019).”
PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2019, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 15th at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).

Take the four-week PSBA advocacy challenge
Calling all public education advocates! Even though students are out for the summer, we need you to continue your efforts to share your district's story, and the needs of public schools across the state, with your legislators. Follow the four easy steps on the challenge to increase your engagement with lawmakers this summer and you'll receive some PSBA swag as a thank-you. We've also included some talking points to help inform you on the latest issues. Contact Advocacy Coordinator Jamie Zuvich at jamie.zuvich@psba.org with questions. Click here to see the challenge and talking points.

In November, many boards will be preparing to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This event will help attendees create a full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Register now:
PSBA: Start Strong: Developing a District On-Boarding Plan for New Directors
SEP 11, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
In November, many boards will be faced with a significant transition as they prepare to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This single-day program facilitated by PSBA trainers and an experienced PA board president will guide attendees to creating a strong, full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Grounded in PSBA’s Principles for Governance and Leadership, attendees will hear best practices from their colleagues and leave with a full year’s schedule, a jump drive of resources, ideas for effective local training, and a plan to start strong.
Register online at MyPSBA: www.psba.org and click on “MyPSBA” in the upper right corner.

The deadline to submit a cover letter, resume and application is August 19, 2019.
Become a 2019-2020 PSBA Advocacy Ambassador
PSBA is seeking applications for two open Advocacy Ambassador positions. Candidates should have experience in day-to-day functions of a school district, on the school board, or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders through the advocacy leadership of the ambassadors. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be responsible for assisting PSBA in achieving its advocacy goals. To achieve their mission, ambassadors will be kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA positions on legislation. The current open positions will cover PSBA Sections 3 and 4, and Section 7.
PSBA Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors representing PSBA and serve as liaisons between PSBA and their local elected officials. Advocacy Ambassadors also commit to building strong relationships with PSBA members with the purpose of engaging the designated members to be active and committed grassroots advocates for PSBA’s legislative priorities. 

PSBA: Nominations for The Allwein Society are open!
This award program recognizes school directors who are outstanding leaders & advocates on behalf of public schools & students. Nominations are accepted year-round with selections announced early fall: http://ow.ly/CchG50uDoxq 

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 

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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