Monday, October 7, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Oct. 7: HR1878 - the IDEA Full Funding Act, which would create a 10 year flight path to full 40% promised federal funding for special ed, now has 129 bipartisan cosponsors. At 190 they have to run the bill. Has your Congressperson cosponsored it yet?

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for Oct. 7, 2019
At 190 they have to run the bill. Has your Congressperson cosponsored it yet?

What: AAUW Informal discussion on cyber charter schools
When: 9 a.m. refreshments, 9:30 a.m. panel, Oct. 7
Where: Central PA Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 800 E. Park Ave., State College

Hershey Lodge & Convention Center OCT 15, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
As the local authorizing body, the school board is responsible for approving and evaluating brick-and-mortar charter schools. This day of training allows district leadership to learn from experienced Pennsylvania school solicitors as well as others familiar with authorization, application review and renewal processes. Attendees will be provided with actionable steps and useful tools for leading their district through review processes and charter negotiations to ensure district dollars are being used to offer high-quality educational options to students.
Space is limited, so register today! To register, please log in to
If this is your first time registering for a PSBA event, please contact PSBA Registrar Janelle Hoch. She will respond within 24 hours during the business week to ensure you are able to successfully register for this event. (717) 506-2450, ext. 3437

H.R.1878 - the IDEA Full Funding Act, which would create a 10 year flight path to full 40% promised federal funding for special ed, now has 129 bipartisan cosponsors.
At 190 they have to run the bill. Has your Congressperson cosponsored it yet?

Find your representative in Congress by entering your address
GovTrack - Info on Pennsylvania’s 18 Members of Congress

Education Law Center: Changes in special education expenditures and revenues for all 500 Pennsylvania districts are provided in the spreadsheet found at:

“We all recall the cartoon Peanuts, and Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick only to pull it away at the last second, right? Well, our legislature is Lucy, and fair funding for North Penn is the football. Career state politicians making good salaries with excellent benefits boast during election season about not raising state and sales taxes. However, this is only because local school boards, the elected volunteers that serve for no compensation of any kind, do the heavy lifting to ensure that our students succeed.”
Lucy, Charlie Brown And That Football: Harrisburg Politics And Your Local Tax Bill
North Penn Reporter Opinion by Jonathan Kassa Thu, Oct 03, 2019, 6:29 PM
(Editor’s note: the following is part one of a two-part Letter to the Editor, submitted by North Penn School Board Director Jonathan Kassa. The views expressed in this editorial are his own.)
North Penn School District maintains the fifth-lowest tax rate out of 21 school districts in the county. We are recognized nationally and statewide for student achievement, based on our student-centered approach that meets whole-student needs while remaining focused on protecting taxpayer return on investment. We must continue to deliver on a 21st century education that raises expectations for the success and well-being of our students, and continues to support our thriving community. The high bond ratings and accolades our district receives for budgeting, transparency and innovation proves that we optimize taxpayer dollars. We are North Penn—we lead and don't follow. Yet there is a clear, logical reason why local taxes always increase. It’s simple: our legislative leadership in Harrisburg doesn’t share our bold stance, and continues to do nothing but literally pass the tax buck.

“Pennsylvania, once a net exporter of certified teachers, is quickly entering an era where we will need to import teachers to meet current and future needs.”
How to address Pa.’s looming teacher shortage? Increase teachers’ minimum wage | Opinion
By Timothy Williams Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor October 6, 2019
If you have young children or are thinking about starting a family, or if your own children are starting families of their own, you should be very concerned. If you have no school-aged children and Social Security is in your future, you should also be very concerned. Pennsylvania  is facing a crisis it has not faced in decades: highly qualified classroom teachers are becoming scarce. As the number of applicants for teaching positions continues to decline, schools consider themselves fortunate if they have one or two applicants for certain positions. Data recently released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education points to the reason why school districts are finding it challenging to draw qualified, let alone certified, candidates for their vacant positions. The state’s data shows a disturbing decline in the number of college graduates earning teaching certificates. The downward trend is troubling for the future of the state and the nation.

Greater Test Scores Often Mean Less Authentic Learning
Gadfly on the Wall Blog by Steven Singer October 5, 2019 
The main goal of schooling is no longer learning. It is test scores.
Raising them. Measuring growth. Determining what each score means in terms of future instruction, opportunities, class placement, special education services, funding incentives and punishments, and judging the effectiveness of individual teachers, administrators, buildings and districts. We’ve become so obsessed with these scores – a set of discrete numbers – that we’ve lost sight of what they always were supposed to be about in the first place – learning. In fact, properly understood, that’s the mission of the public school system – to promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Test scores are just supposed to be tools to help us quantify that learning in meaningful ways. Somewhere along the line we’ve misconstrued the tool for the goal. And when you do that, it should come as no surprise that you achieve the goal less successfully. There are two kinds of standardized assessment – aptitude and achievement tests. Both are supposed to measure scholarship and skill – though in different ways.

Here's how much Lancaster County school districts can raise property taxes in 2020-21 [chart]
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Oct 5, 2019
Lancaster County school districts can raise property taxes as much as 2.6% to 3.9% next year, based on limits recently released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. For now, that is. Every fall, the state issues its Act 1 index, which limits how much each of the commonwealth’s 500 public school districts can raise property taxes. Columbia Borough has the most flexibility among Lancaster County school districts, with a 3.9% allowable increase. At 2.6%, the lowest allowable increase, are Conestoga Valley, Eastern Lancaster County, Manheim Central, Manheim Township and Pequea Valley. As budget talks heat up in the winter months, school boards may decide to seek an exception from the state. They have until Feb. 13, 2020, to do so for reasons such as construction, emergencies or disasters, an unforeseen enrollment hike, or increases in special education, health care or retirement costs.

Rep. Turzai and Secretary DeVos do not appreciate the service public school teachers provide to their students | PennLive Letters
Penn Live Letter By Joyce Raser Posted Oct 06, 2019
Two weeks ago the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, visited a Harrisburg private school accompanied by State Rep. Mike Turzai. Betsy DeVos has no comprehension or appreciation of the importance of public school in our country and state. Apparently, Rep. Tuzai was the appropriate guide for her visit. In response to a public school advocate’s sign protesting Ms. DeVos’ visit, Mr. Turzai said that public school teachers “don’t really care about the kids.” When asked about his comments, he said they were taken out of context. Here is a context for both Ms. DeVos and Mr. Turzai. After wading through the always new, tangled educational concepts and practices dictated by both the state and federal government, a public school teacher needs to adapt those ideas so that each student in her classroom can be a successful, happy learner. The curriculum is only the beginning. In addition, here are some other things those “uncaring” public school teachers do:

OP-ED: Education isn't one-size-fits-all model
York Dispatch Opinion by Jane Swan, Reach Cyber Charter School Published 11:01 a.m. ET Oct. 6, 2019
Jane Swan is a school leader for Reach Cyber Charter School
On Monday, Sept. 16, Reach Cyber Charter School students, parents, teachers and staff lined up inside the state Capitol rotunda to make our voices heard in regards to Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to impose new rules on charter schools. Two considerations are missing from these conversations about proposed charter school reform in Pennsylvania: education should not be a one-size-fits-all model, particularly for students with high degrees of mobility, and education funding is attached to students, not to districts or schools.  In Pennsylvania, families have educational choice. Students across the state choose cyber charter schools for a variety of reasons, from those who need an alternative to the traditional classroom to those who need a flexible schedule or learn at a different pace from their peers. With 19 years as an educator and 11 years of experience in cyber charter education, I have witnessed how online schools foster student success for a range of students, especially mobile students. 

Ben Franklin/SLA communities prepare for showdown over building, asbestos issues
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham and Wendy Ruderman, Updated: October 6, 2019- 8:40 PM
Charging that the Philadelphia School District has demonstrated an “utter disregard for the needs of our students,” a group of parents, teachers and supporters of Benjamin Franklin High School and the Science Leadership Academy are fighting back as the two schools prepare to relocate amid concerns over asbestos in their building. In a blistering letter to Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. sent Sunday, a coalition made up of representatives from both schools blasted the district as committing “gross negligence” during the $37 million construction project to co-locate the schools. The project has been marred by delays, missed days of school, health concerns for students and teachers, and, most recently, the discovery of damaged asbestos.

Asbestos-tainted Philly school building to be closed indefinitely; district seeks alternate sites for 1,000 students
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham and Wendy Ruderman, Updated: October 4, 2019
With asbestos issues unresolved, Philadelphia School District officials said Friday that they will indefinitely close to students the building that houses Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy and seek other locations for students to resume their classes later next week. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said classes will be canceled Monday and Tuesday — and all schools have a planned day off Wednesday — but promised that by Thursday, the district will have come up with sites to teach the nearly 1,000 students enrolled at the two schools in the city’s Spring Garden section. Officials also have planned two town hall meetings on Monday to discuss the issues with Ben Franklin and SLA parents and staff. By the time students return, they will have missed nine days of school due to environmental hazards and construction delays on a project whose price tag is $37 million and rising.

Ben Franklin and SLA to be closed for foreseeable future
The District is seeking alternate locations. Town hall meetings will be held with families on Monday.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa October 4 — 6:43 pm, 2019
Updated at 8:50 p.m. Friday with comments from Superintendent William Hite.
Science Leadership Academy and Benjamin Franklin High will be closed for the near future due to concerns about asbestos in the building at 550 N. Broad St. that has been disturbed by construction undertaken to allow the co-location of the two schools. The School District now must find alternate locations to hold classes for the schools, which enroll more than 1,000 students between them. “We’re not taking any chances,” Hite said in an interview Friday night. “If asbestos is in the building and construction is  disturbing asbestos to the degree it is unhealthy, we’re not going to put children or staff at risk.”
Hite made the announcement Friday afternoon at a hastily called news conference, saying that students would not return to school on Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday, which is Yom Kippur, is a scheduled day off. By Thursday, he promised, the new location or locations will be announced.

Philly City Council passes bills outlawing discrimination against gender non-conforming youth
Council member Helen Gym introduced the legislation.
the Notebook October 3 — 8:21 pm, 2019
City Council passed a package of bills on Thursday that will require schools and other organizations serving youth to adopt policies designed to protect those who are transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse from discrimination. “City Council just took a big step toward making this city safe and affirming for all people,” said Council member Helen Gym, who introduced the legislation. “For far too long, trans and nonbinary people have lived with the uncertainty that their jobs and their lives are not protected. Every Philadelphian deserves the right to live their life with dignity. Today, we move closer to that goal.” She cited statistics showing that gender non-conforming people have higher rates of suicide, depression, and social victimization. The Philadelphia School District already has a policy shielding transgender and non-binary students from discrimination, which includes a requirement that they be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms for the gender that matches their identity. One bill would require the District to go beyond that by mandating that staff be trained in nondiscriminatory behavior. That bill was co-sponsored by Council members William Greenlee, Mark Squilla, and Derek Green.

Ex-Congressmen Pat Meehan, Charlie Dent, and Ryan Costello move to lobbying ranks
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Updated: October 4, 2019
WASHINGTON — Three former Pennsylvania congressmen, including two who served on the House ethics committee, are joining the hundreds of former lawmakers seeking influence with their one-time colleagues in the Capitol. Pat Meehan of Delaware County and Charlie Dent of Allentown have already registered as lobbyists. Chester County’s Ryan Costello has announced plans to do so in January, as soon as he completes the one-year “cooling off” period required by law before ex-lawmakers can become lobbyists. Dent and Meehan, who each sat on the ethics committee, resigned last year before completing their terms, starting the clock sooner on their waiting periods. The three Republicans join a roster than 440 former senators and House members from both parties who now use their connections to attempt to sway public policy on behalf of clients, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

To Shrink Achievement Gap, Integrate School Districts
Educational disparities among minority students are largely driven by their concentration in high-poverty areas, new study finds
Wall Street Journal By  Jo Craven McGinty Oct. 4, 2019 7:00 am ET
Does segregation still matter?
When it comes to educating our nation’s school children, the answer is yes, according to research published last week by the Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis. But the problem isn’t race, the study finds. It is poverty. Decades after the end of legalized segregation, and the funding disparities that accompanied it, minority students remain disproportionately concentrated in high-poverty areas. Academically, they trail students in more affluent areas, and they fall increasingly behind as the years pass. The result is an achievement gap that limits the educational and career opportunities of nonwhite children. But the gap narrows, according to the research, when school districts are integrated, exposing poor minority students to the same opportunities as their richer peers. The findings represent the work of researchers at Stanford, Penn State and St. John’s universities. To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers examined eight years of standardized test scores for grades three through eight for all public school districts in the U.S.—a total of 350 million scores. An accompanying website maps learning rates, test scores and trend data across every public school district in the U.S., allowing policy makers, educators and others to explore the data.

(PA) 2019 Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Annual Conference October 9 - October 11 Harrisburg
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools invites charter school leaders, board members, new school developers, educators, support staff, and advocates to our second annual conference focused on educating, inspiring, and connecting the charter movement in Pennsylvania on October 9-11, 2019 in Harrisburg, PA!

Register now for PSBA’s Sleep & Student Performance Webcast OCT 31, 2019 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Our students face many issues today, but who would have imagined sleep deprivation could be a significant issue? The Joint State Government Commission established an advisory committee to study the issues, benefits and options related to school districts instituting later start times in secondary schools. Register now to hear from the executive director of the Commission, Glenn Pasewicz, commission staff and David Hutchinson, PSBA’s appointee to the commission, on the results of their study and work.

According to state law, all school directors must complete training. How many hours are required if you are a new school director? What about if you’re re-elected? Get the answers to these and other related questions in this episode of PSBA’s #VideoEDition

Information about the education sessions for the 2019 @PasaSupts @PSBA School Leadership Conference are now live on our website! We hope to see you there! #PASLC2019

What: Informal discussion on cyber charter schools
When: 9 a.m. refreshments, 9:30 a.m. panel, Oct. 7
Where: Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 800 E. Park Ave., State College
AAUW State College Branch invites you to attend an informational panel discussion to learn more about background and issues connected with cyber charter schools. Join us on Oct. 7, at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800 E. Park Ave., State College (visitor center off Porter Road). Refreshments, 9 a.m.; panel discussion, 9:30 a.m.
The American Association of University Women State College Branch is part of a nationwide network of about 1,000 branches that are dedicated to advancing equity for women and girls.

Adolescent Health and School Start Times:  Science, Strategies, Tactics, & Logistics  Workshop Nov 13, Exton
Join school administrators and staff, including superintendents, transportation directors, principals, athletic directors, teachers, counselors, nurses, and school board members, parents, guardians, health professionals and other concerned community members for an interactive and solutions-oriented workshop on  Wednesday, November 13, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm 
Clarion Hotel in Exton, PA
The science is clear. Many middle and high school days in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, start too early in the morning. The American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other major health and education leaders agree and have issued policy statements recommending that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 am to allow for sleep, health, and learning. Implementing these recommendations, however, can seem daunting.  Discussions will include the science of sleep and its connection to school start times, as well as proven strategies for successfully making change--how to generate optimum community support and work through implementation challenges such as bus routes, athletics, and more.   Register for the workshop here: Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to offer early bird registration for $25, which includes a box-lunch and coffee service. Seating is limited and early bird registration ends on Friday, September 13.
For more information visit the workshop website  or email

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!

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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