Friday, November 8, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Nov. 8, 2019 Future Ready PA Index for 2018-2019 released

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for Nov. 8, 2019

5 questions: When school starts later, kids get more sleep, and it shows in better grades, health, fewer accidents
by Sandy Bauers, For the Inquirer, Updated: November 7, 2019- 6:00 AM
Across the nation, officials are delaying middle and high school start times. The reason: So teens have a better shot at getting the sleep they desperately need. Among districts that are considering the issue is the Owen J. Roberts School District in northern Chester County. To help inform the decision, sleep specialist Wendy M. Troxel will give a presentation from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 20 at the middle school, 901 Ridge Rd., Pottstown. It is open to the public. Troxel, who has a doctorate in clinical and health psychology, is a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corp. and an adjunct faculty member in psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She was an advisory member of Pennsylvania’s Joint State Commission on Secondary School Start Times, which in October issued a report concluding that the optimum starting time for secondary school is 8:30 a.m. or later. The report stopped short of calling for a statewide policy. Troxel recently spoke to us about the science behind teen sleep.

Ephrata may delay secondary school start times in 2020; community meeting scheduled in December
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Nov 7, 2019
With a new year may come new start times at Ephrata Area School District. Responding to mounting evidence that teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep, Superintendent Brian Troop in early 2020 is expected to recommend that the board delay school start times. One possibility is delaying the district’s middle and high school start times to 8:30 a.m. If the board proceeds with Troop’s recommendation, Ephrata would become the first Lancaster County school district to delay secondary school start times. “This may be an area where we can improve the situation for our students by just aligning to the research,” Troop said. The district has studied the issue since early spring. Troop said he quickly discovered Ephrata’s middle school and high school start times — 7:20 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., respectively — didn’t necessarily match the physical and mental health needs of students.

Pittsburgh Public Schools details 'action steps' to reduce racial disparities
Pittsburgh Public Schools on Wednesday unveiled a new plan as the district seeks to reduce racial disparities and elevate the achievement levels of African American students. The 97-page plan, called “On Track to Equity: Integrating Equity Throughout PPS,” details 27 action steps the school district is taking to achieve equity for all students. “Recognizing that all students are deserving of a quality, culturally relevant public education, this plan represents the next milestone in our efforts to improve outcomes for all students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools,” superintendent Anthony Hamlet said in a statement.  The seven focus areas of the plan are board support, instructional support, equity in discipline, reducing the achievement gap, equity in special education and special program access, monitoring, and administrative support. 

School officials discuss results of Future Ready PA Index
Indiana Gazette By PATRICK CLOONAN, Nov 3, 2019 Updated Nov 4, 2019
Pennsylvania Department of Education officials said the number of high school students enrolling in advanced courses or industry-based learning opportunities is up substantially from 2018. That’s according to the annual Future Ready PA Index PDE released this past week, covering all public school districts including 11 that include Indiana County students. “It shows if student progress is on track and illustrates how schools are preparing students with the education and skills necessary to secure good jobs and strengthen the commonwealth’s workforce,” said state Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said. The index takes into consideration standardized tests such as the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments and Keystone Exams.

The annual Future Ready PA Index PDE was released this past week….
Future Ready PA Index
The Future Ready PA Index is a collection of school progress measures related to school and student success. The Index includes a range of assessment, on-track, and readiness indicators, to more accurately report student learning, growth, and success in the classroom and beyond.
Future Ready PA Index contains the most recent data available in the 2018-2019  school year.

Nearly One in Five U.S. Students Attend Rural Schools. Here's What You Should Know About Them
Education Week By Evie Blad on November 7, 2019 1:29 AM
More than 9.3 million U.S. students attended a rural school last year, a number larger than the combined enrollment of the nation's 85 largest school districts, a new report finds. But, despite their collective impact, rural schools sometimes lack the resources of those in more populous areas and they often get less attention, says the newest edition of "Why Rural Matters," released Thursday by the Rural School and Community Trust. Many rural students live in poverty, some lag behind in academic achievement, and many are taught by teachers with relatively low pay, says the report, which provides a state-by-state look at a range of factors that affect rural students' education. And logistical factors, including geographic isolation, can make it difficult for rural students to access things like advanced courses and for their schools to engage in improvement efforts. 

'We have to stop letting it be cute': Students in Lancaster County and beyond must overcome math struggles, experts say
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer 20 hrs ago
Lancaster County students, on average, perform better at math than their peers statewide.
But the good news stops there. The county — along with Pennsylvania and, perhaps, the nation — is facing a crisis. As a society, experts say, we’ve become complacent with being average, at best, in math. And that doesn’t bode well for the local workforce, which is starving for math- and science-literate workers. “If our community continues to normalize lack of math proficiency among K-12 students,” said Sandy Strunk, executive director of the Lancaster County STEM Alliance, “we shouldn’t be surprised when our children fail to thrive in an increasingly global economy.” According to an analysis of Pennsylvania standardized test scores from 2015 to 2019, less than half of the county’s students in grades three through eight are at least proficient in math. The same can be said for the state as a whole, as students across Pennsylvania perform significantly better at science and English than math. From 2015 to 2019, proficiency rates on the math Pennsylvania System of School Assessment have remained steady in the mid-40s. Across the state, math proficiency rates have flip-flopped between high 30s and low 40s.

Republicans have a problem with suburban voters, Democrats have a problem with rural voters. Where does that leave Pa.’s balance of power?
PA Capital Star By  Stephen Caruso November 8, 2019
As Democrats romped through the southeast on election night Tuesday — winning control of every county’s government from Allentown to Coatesville — a long foreseen but sudden reckoning came in coal fields and mill towns around Pittsburgh. Democratic county commissioner majorities holding on in three southwestern counties, once home to blue dog Democrats, were flipped by the GOP, matching a trend that was emphasized by President Donald Trump’s wide margins there. Democrats “got clobbered,” Joe DiSarro, a political science professor at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., told the Capital-Star. Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties all saw Republicans take over their respective boards of commissioners Tuesday.  Across the state, in northeastern Pennsylvania, Republicans also flipped control of the Luzerne County Council. The county was one of three former strongholds of unions Democrats that candidate Trump carried in 2016, securing his slim Pennsylvania victory. The results are more than symbolic. They signal potential long-term issues because on Tuesday, Democrats lost the building blocks of political power in what used to be the backbone of their statewide electoral coalition.

Secret Service: Most school attackers showed warning signs
York Dispatch by Colleen Long, The Associated Press Published 9:08 p.m. ET Nov. 7, 2019
WASHINGTON — Most students who committed deadly school attacks over the past decade were badly bullied, had a history of disciplinary trouble and their behavior concerned others but was never reported, according to a U.S. Secret Service study released Thursday. In at least four cases, attackers wanted to emulate other school shootings, including those at Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The research was launched following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The study by the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center is the most comprehensive review of school attacks since the Columbine shootings in 1999. The report looked in-depth at 41 school attacks from 2008 through 2017, and researchers had unprecedented access to a trove of sensitive data from law enforcement including police reports, investigative files and nonpublic records. The information gleaned through the research will help train school officials and law enforcement on how to better identify students who may be planning an attack and how to stop them before they strike. “These are not sudden, impulsive acts where a student suddenly gets disgruntled,” Lina Alathari, the center’s head, said in an Associated Press interview. “The majority of these incidents are preventable.”

Most School Shooters Showed Many Warning Signs, Secret Service Report Finds
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk November 7, 2019
Most of the violent attacks in schools over the past decade were committed by students who telegraphed their intentions beforehand—and could have been prevented, a new report from the U.S. Secret Service concludes. Most of those students were motivated by a specific grievance, and every single one was experiencing extreme stress. But there remains significant variation among the perpetrators, and schools should use a comprehensive analysis to detect true threats rather than trying to profile students, the report says. The report, released Nov. 7 by the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, analyzes 41 violent incidents in schools between 2008 and 2017. The devastating school shootings in 2018 in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas, helped prompt the study, but were not included in the report. The analysis generally confirms the conclusions of the agency’s influential 2002 publication on school safety, which said checklists of characteristics supposedly common to school shooters were not helpful in preventing violence.

Keep schools open 10 hours a day? Kamala Harris wants to align student and work schedules.
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: November 7, 2019- 2:50 PM
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris has proposed a 10-hour day for students to align school with work schedules — a pitch she says is intended to ease the burden on working parents. The Californian’s plan, introduced Wednesday, would extend the day — though not necessarily classes — in 500 schools nationwide by awarding five-year grants of up to $5 million to elementary schools with a large share of low-income students. A number of school districts in the Philadelphia region have been moving to change schedules recently. But instead of extending the school day, area districts are shifting it later to help sleep-deprived teenagers. Under Harris’ plan, schools would work with community partners to develop academic, athletic, or enrichment opportunities for students from “at least” 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Instead of closing for parent-teacher conferences or professional development, schools would be required to provide activities for students.

“For the second time in as many city elections, an insurgent candidate has emerged from the world of public education activism and surged into a citywide office. What was once the realm of outsiders now looks like a legitimate springboard to political power.”
With insurgent Brooks joining Gym on council, what’s next for public education in Philly?
By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 7, 2019   Listen 2:05
Shakeda Gaines met Councilmember-elect Kendra Brooks back in 2014 when they were both parent advocates fighting the spread of standardized tests. Fellow parent Tonya Bah was in the trenches with them, shoulder-to-shoulder with longtime education rabble-rouser Helen Gym. “We all were just regular parents just wanting something different for our children,” Gaines recalled. A lot has changed for the quartet since then. Gaines is the president of the Philadelphia Home and School Council. Bah has become a regular presence at school board meetings and ran a campaign for City Council this past spring. Gym went a step further, capturing an at-large council seat in 2015 and vaulting into bonafide mayoral contender status with a dominant showing in her re-election campaign this year. Now comes Brooks, who on Tuesday won her own City Council seat and became the first candidate in generations to break the two-party hold on Philly government. “I’m so proud of her,” Gaines said. “And I’m proud of the movement.”

Many states now require anti-bullying training that includes a focus on LGBTQ students – but risks remain | Opinion
By Daniel A Cinotti  Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor November 7, 2019
Dharun Ravi spent spent weeks gossiping with his friends about the sexual orientation of his freshman roommate at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Initially, he texted and used social media. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, eventually learned that Ravi had used a web-cam to secretly film his intimate moments with another man. On Sept. 22, 2010, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. In January 2011, the state responded by passing the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. While all 50 states have passed anti-bullying laws in the past decade, mainly to address growing concerns over cyberbullying, New Jersey’s is among the strongest. I’m an instructor for New York state’s anti-bullying training programs for public school staff, providing the six hours of required training mandated by the state’s law, which was implemented in 2012. I also consult with school counselors to create programs and events designed to prevent bullying and improve school culture. I have trained more than 3,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and other educators to identify and intervene when bullying occurs. In my work, I can see that although not everyone remembers Clementi’s tragic death, it had lasting consequences.

Nearly half of all teachers say they experience high levels of stress, and it doesn’t take much to see how such stress manifests itself in Philadelphia. Schools experience an astonishing level of teacher turnover in Philly; according an Inquirer report from earlier this year, several schools have cycled through more than 120 teachers over the course of seven years, from 2012 to 2018.”
'Cry when you get home’: Teachers need therapy to process the trauma of urban classrooms | Opinion
Quinn O'Callaghan, For the Inquirer Updated: November 7, 2019 - 1:47 PM
The first time I realized something was deeply wrong with the state of the general mental health of teachers was during a meeting at the first place I taught, a South Philly school. It was a school no different from the many others I’ve spent time in: a substantial number of students with emotional distress, trying to be an important institution in a neighborhood desperate for them. At the meeting, a teacher was giving a short talk about managing workload and emotional distress, and I can remember none of it, with the exception of one line. “Be brave for them here, and cry when you get home.” What stays in my head is the cheerful, stoic tenor of it. The admission of subsuming emotional distress coupled with the painful, staid acknowledgment that the most a teacher can hope for is a moment to weep alone. It’s nearly impossible to describe the emotional load that teachers shoulder. We are not just educators. We know the secrets of as many hearts as any priest; we put in as much actual work as any CEO; we can sustain unknowable exhaustion and spiritual burn, and we rise every day to serve. But such devotion comes at a cost.

Meek Mill Is Set To Create A New Charter School In Philly
Meek Mill is putting his money where his mouth is. In a recent tweet, the rapper mentioned the shear number of abanadoned schools in his hometown of Philadelphia and determined to do something about it. "Since they got like 30 abandoned schools in Philly {*}{*}{*}{*} can we buy one and build a super school in our own neighborhood! I hang wit a lot of billionaires that really care about education {*}{*} “all we need is one school to start!," he wrote. Meek linked up with 76er’s owner Michael Rubin to create a plan to finance and build a free charter school in Philly. In addition to this, he is challenging other billionaire friends to pitch in for other schools, according to Hip Hop Overload. Today with the help of his billionaire best friend 76er’s owner Michael Rubin, Meek announced that he will be creating a free charter school for the philly youth. Meek is gathering all his billionair buddies to buy over 30 vacant schools that stand collecting dust all over Philadelphia.

Michael Bloomberg considers run for president against Trump
Inquirer by Craig Gordon, Bloomberg, Updated: November 7, 2019- 6:15 PM
Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is once again considering a run for president in 2020, with an adviser saying he is concerned that the current crop of Democratic contenders will not be able to defeat President Donald Trump. Bloomberg, 77, had considered a run earlier this year but decided not to run and instead support Democratic efforts to regain control in Washington. Now he is open once again to running against Trump himself. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. “We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated – but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” said Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson in a statement. Wolfson said Bloomberg would run on his record of serving as mayor of the nation’s largest city, building his own company and contributing to global causes through his philanthropic activities.

Michael Bloomberg is one of the biggest charter school backers with $1.8M donated to the cause
While in office, Bloomberg was major proponent of expanding the use of privately run public schools — a movement that is largely backed by the ultra-wealthy.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is still the city's biggest charter school supporter.
The billionaire media mogul is among the nation's top financial backers of the school-choice movement, topping the list of New York's political contributors. Over the past decade, Bloomberg has donated $1.8 million to ballot measures and political action committees focused primarily on school choice, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. While in office, Bloomberg was major proponent of expanding the use of privately run public schools — a movement that is largely backed by the ultra-wealthy. The AP analysis found only 48 individuals and couples accounted for the majority of reported contributions to pro school-choice initiatives from 2000 through last year. Bloomberg ponied up $490,000 in support of a failed effort to expand charter schools in his home state of Massachusetts, the AP found. Other Big Apple residents opening their wallets for school choice are Ann Dinning, managing director of the investment firm D.E. Shaw and Co., and consultant and former MTV President Michael Wolf, who each contributed $250,000 to Washington state's successful bid to establishing charter schools. Investor Bruce Kovner contributed $100,000 to Michigan's failed 2000 proposal to establish a school voucher program. The move toward charter school expansion has largely been underwritten by some of the country's wealthiest people, including Betsy DeVos, President Trump's newly appointed education secretary.

PSBA New and Advanced School Director Training in Dec & Jan
Do you want high-impact, engaging training that newly elected and reseated school directors can attend to be certified in new and advanced required training? PSBA has been supporting new school directors for more than 50 years by enlisting statewide experts in school law, finance and governance to deliver a one-day foundational training. This year, we are adding a parallel track of sessions for those who need advanced school director training to meet their compliance requirements. These sessions will be delivered by the same experts but with advanced content. Look for a compact evening training or a longer Saturday session at a location near you. All sites will include one hour of trauma-informed training required by Act 18 of 2019. Weekend sites will include an extra hour for a legislative update from PSBA’s government affairs team.
New School Director Training
Week Nights: Registration opens 3:00 p.m., program starts 3:30 p.m. -9:00 p.m., dinner with break included
Saturdays: Registration opens at 8:00 a.m., program starts at 9:00 a.m. -3:30 p.m., lunch with break included
Advanced School Director Training
Week Nights: Registration with dinner provided opens at 4:30 p.m., program starts 5:30 p.m. -9:00 p.m.
Saturdays: Registration opens at 10:00 a.m., program starts at 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m., lunch with break included
Locations and dates

Film Screening: PERSONAL STATEMENT with director Julie Dressner Penn C89 Sat, November 9, 2019, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM EST
Location: Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Please join us for a free screening and panel discussion of PERSONAL STATEMENT. This award-winning documentary film created by a Penn alumna features three inspirational high school seniors who are working as college counselors in their schools and are determined to get their entire classes to college, even though they are not sure they are going to make it there themselves. Screening will be followed by a panel discussion with director Julie Dressner (C’89), cast member Enoch Jemmott, Netter Center founding director Dr. Ira Harkavy (C'70 GR'79), and others. Free and open to the public! (Registration strongly encouraged but not required.)

Webinar: Introduction to PSBA’s Equity Toolkit
NOV 12, 2019 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
The equity toolkit supports school entities as they incorporate equity into district practice. This webinar will offer a walk-through of the components of the toolkit, from the equity lens approach to the equity action plan. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and share experiences throughout the webinar.
Facilitator: Heather Bennett J.D., Ph.D., director of equity services
Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Registration URL:
*Note: registration closes one hour prior to the event.

UPDATE:  Second Workshop Added Thursday, November 14, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm: Adolescent Health and School Start Times:  Science, Strategies, Tactics, & Logistics Workshop in Exton, PA
The first workshop on November 13 sold out in less than 4 weeks.  Thanks to recent additional sponsorships, there will be a second workshop held on Thursday, November 14. Register HERE.
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 a second interactive and solutions-oriented workshop on Thursday, November 14, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm  Clarion Hotel in Exton, PA. The science is clear. Many middle and high schools 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.   
For more information visit the workshop website  or email

Congress, Courts, and a National Election: 50 Million Children’s Futures Are at Stake. Be their champion at the 2020 Advocacy Institute.
NSBA Advocacy Institute Feb. 2-4, 2020 Marriot Marquis, Washington, D.C.
Join school leaders from across the country on Capitol Hill, Feb. 2-4, 2020 to influence the legislative agenda & shape decisions that impact public schools. Check out the schedule & more at

Register now for Network for Public Education Action National Conference in Philadelphia March 28-29, 2020
Registration, hotel information, keynote speakers and panels:

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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