Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 27: A Failing Grade for K-12 State Takeovers

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup January 27, 2016:
A Failing Grade for K-12 State Takeovers

"Capital Region Forum Series" Thursday, February 11, 2016
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Harrisburg Hilton Hotel - Two North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
RSVP for Harrisburg Forum on-line at 

"Advocates for this type of school reform frequently point to Louisiana's Recovery School District or Tennessee's Achievement School District as examples of successful state-driven reform. A recent report by the Southern Education Foundation (where two of us work) and Brown University's Annenberg Institute for School Reform gathers the research on these and other turnaround models and offers important cautions for any state looking to travel the same path."
A Failing Grade for K-12 State Takeovers
Education Week Commentary By Kent McGuire, Katherine Dunn, Kate Shaw, & Adam Schott Published Online: January 26, 2016
Kent McGuire is the president and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation, in Atlanta. Katherine Dunn is the foundation’s program director. Kate Shaw is the executive director of Research for Action, in Philadelphia. Adam Schott is the research organization’s director of policy.
Imitation may be a sincere form of flattery, but it's not an appropriate prescription for the challenging work of providing individualized support to schools that need it.
Unfortunately, both Georgia and Pennsylvania are poised to implement sweeping school turnaround plans in the form of state takeovers. These plans draw inspiration from systems operating in very different contexts elsewhere in the country and are based on a fundamental misreading of the evidence on effectiveness of these models. Just as concerning, the proposals double down on unproven governance strategies that reduce community voice in education and apply a cookie-cutter approach to the specific challenges confronting individual schools. Both plans rely on the same criteria for intervention, the same menu of reforms—even the same "Opportunity School District" name.

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf warns of ‘train wreck’ without balanced budget
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 01/26/16, 9:20 AM EST 
HARRISBURG >> Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is warning of huge cuts in spending for education and local services next year without a balanced budget as Pennsylvania lawmakers return to the state Capitol.  Wolf spoke during a regular appearance on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh. He says he’s trying to avoid a “train wreck” that would also drive up local taxes. The Republican-controlled House and Senate were set to reconvene Tuesday amid a 7-month-old budget fight that’s left billions in school aid in limbo.  Wolf’s pressing for a tax increase to deliver a record boost in public school aid and to fix a long-term deficit. But that plan stalled and Wolf says the Republicans haven’t figured out how to pay for the spending in a plan they sent to him before Christmas.

"So much shouting into the wind, so little change in the conversation. It’s no wonder so many of us feel like nothing is ever going to change.  Or is it? This year could mark a new era for charter schools in Philadelphia. For the first time publicly, high-performing charters have started to acknowledge what critics of the whole movement have been saying for years: that many charter schools do a worse job of educating students than traditional public schools; that they should not be allowed to continue; and that the city and state have made it too hard to shut down a school, even when it has had poor results for years."
Twenty years in, good charter schools are self-policing and calling for the closing of bad ones. Is it enough to get the movement’s mojo back?
The Philadelphia Citizen BY ROXANNE PATEL SHEPELAVY JAN. 26, 2016
On the one side were desperate parents and pro-charter supporters who believe Mastery can turn around the school quicker and better than the District—something they say the charter organization has proven time and again. On the other side were a different set of parents and charter opponents who believe what Wister needs is more and better support from the District to continue the modest performance gains it made last year—not giving it over to a charter.  Commissioner Sylvia Simms, after speaking with pro-Mastery parents, proposed a resolution overturning Superintendent William Hite’s decision to keep Wister a traditional public school. She spoke movingly of parents like her: From low-income neighborhoods, where schools have long struggled to provide a good education, whose children make up the thousands on charter waiting lists. Three commissioners supported her. And immediately, the decision was slammed by public school advocates like new Councilwoman-at-large Helen Gym, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, and Mayor Jim Kenney.  “This is a less welcoming environment for charters in the state than we’ve seen in a long time,” says Kagan, of Philadelphia Charters For Excellence. “Everything politically is pointing to the need to make a change. It’s vital that we do this now.”

"In other highlights, school director, legislative liaison, chair of the Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council Larry Feinberg introduced a resolution voicing support for plaintiffs in the William Penn School District v. Pennsylvania Department of Education law suit, and calling upon Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders to withdraw their attempts to have the case dismissed.
The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and Education Law Center filed suit in Commonwealth Court in November 2014 on behalf of six Pennsylvania school districts, including William Penn, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, and the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, against Gov. Tom Wolf, state education officials and legislative leaders.  The suit maintains that Pennsylvania’s education funding system is so egregiously inadequate and unequal that it violates state constitutional mandates for “a thorough, efficient system of public education” and equal treatment."
Haverford School Board OKs budget, tax hike
Delco Times By Lois Puglionesi, Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/26/16, 9:29 PM EST
HAVERFORD >> School directors voted unanimously last week to adopt a preliminary budget for 2016-17 that raises real estate tax rates 3.29 percent, from 29.4719 to 30.4413 mills.  Though subject to change, the proposed rate would hike taxes $160 on the average residential property assessment of $164,929, for a total $5,021 in taxes.  Reviewed at several prior meetings, the 3.29 percent increase uses this year’s 2.4 percent Act 1 Index and available exceptions for special education and PSERS, worth $786,000, to raise an additional $3.2 million in revenue.
Projections for total revenue are $111.9 million.  Officials also plan to draw from the fund balance to meet expenses totaling $112.3 million.

Righting the school funding 'wrong'
Gettysburg Times Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 12:07 am (paywall)
The word fair is defined as "free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice." By that definition, the manner in which Pennsylvania's public schools are funded is anything but fair. I would like to take a moment to focus on the distribution of school funding, which needs to be fair, equitable and adequate.  To address the inadequacies in our current formula, Act 51 of 2014 created the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), a bipartisan group of 15 state officials whose task it was to develop and recommend a new formula for distributing funding to our school districts. Last June, the commission unveiled the results of its statewide hearings. What they suggested was a vast improvement over the current formula, which includes shortcomings such as not accounting for changes in school enrollment, household income or a school district's ability to generate local tax-related revenue.

We should throw out every member of the Pa. General Assembly: Pennlive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor   January 26, 2016 8:15 AM by SANDRA HOLOKA, Fairview Twp.
Pennsylvania taxpayers know now the exact location of the most self-centered ideologues. It is the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Just to add more tax pain to us taxpayers, they borrowed money to pay themselves (rather than dip into their "reserves") while the rest of us continue to meet their platinum salaries and benefits, plus district offices, office staff, etc.  Yes, they say they work 24/7. Not.  Time is overdue to throw out the greatest waste of state government spending.  That waste is every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Pa. lawmakers must fulfill their state budget promises
Post Gazette Letter by THERESA ORLANDO January 27, 2016 12:00 AM
We want our legislators to live up to their promises to voters and to the compromise budget their leaders and Gov. Tom Wolf agreed to. And we don’t want to wait until spring to finally get a budget for this fiscal year.  A bipartisan compromise budget passed the Senate and was one step away from passing the House. The plan that passed the Senate is a genuine compromise. The overall spending level is almost exactly midway between that proposed by the governor and that proposed by the Republicans.  Increased funding for education and human services was demanded by the citizens who elected Gov. Wolf and many Republicans who promised to restore funding cuts under Gov. Tom Corbett.  The House Republican budget that finally passed and the governor’s line-item veto fall far short of providing adequate funding for education and human services.  Now legislators do not want to finish this year’s budget at all in an election year before the April primary. That political excuse is unacceptable. There is no reason for any further compromise or delay. We need to pass a budget based on the bipartisan framework now!

School District of Lancaster delays proposal to open student clinic at McCaskey
Parents raise concerns over some students’ ability to access services
Lancaster Online by K. SCOTT KREIDER | LNP Correspondent January 26, 2016
proposal to create a Lancaster General Health center at McCaskey High School is on hold.
School District of Lancaster board members delayed a vote on the plan after a parent raised concerns about student access to services at a Jan. 19 meeting.  The proposed clinic would offer primary care services three days per week to McCaskey students who are patients of Lancaster General’s Downtown Family Medicine office.  The two-year pilot would begin in the fall of 2016 and come at no cost to the district, but Lancaster General would charge for services at the center.  School board members voiced support of the clinic during an earlier presentation by Lancaster General officials, but after hearing the parent’s concerns Tuesday, officials voted unanimously to remove the proposal from the agenda.  “Does this proposal provide access to health care to help the students who are most at need at our high school?” parent Anne-Marie Derrico asked during the public comment portion of the meeting. Derrico is also a family physician and site director of SouthEast Lancaster Health Services’ Arch Street office.  “I think that we want a partnership that’s going to serve our neediest students that don’t have access to health care already, and I don’t think we should settle for anything less,” Derrico said. “Before you vote … you should ask these questions.”

Philly charter suit caught up in high court turmoil
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer. Updated: JANUARY 27, 2016 — 1:08 AM EST
A charter-schools suit with major financial implications for the Philadelphia School District is one of 27 cases caught up in the turnover of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Back in September 2014, the court heard arguments in the case that centers on the School Reform Commission's authority to manage charter-school growth in the financially distressed district.  The court never ruled.  And now that only three of the justices who heard the arguments are still on the bench, the court last week said it would resubmit the case and decide it based on the legal briefs that have already been filed.  That would allow the newest members of the court to participate in this and the other cases that preceded their arrival.

"What took place at the January 21st School Reform Commission meeting was theatrical at best and rooted in deep manipulation at worst. And ultimately, those who are shortchanged? The children.  The entire scenario seems to have been largely orchestrated by the Philadelphia School Partnership and its political allies."
The traditional school of thought
Philly Daily News Opinion by JERRY T. JORDAN . Updated: JANUARY 27, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
Jerry T. Jordan is president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
ONE OF the reasons I fight so hard for traditional public schools is simply that I believe in what they can be. I believe in their potential, just like I believe in the potential of every single student that walks through the doors each morning. And why do I believe? It's personal: I'm a proud graduate of Philadelphia's neighborhood schools. As an African-American male and a lifelong Philadelphia resident, my success was not because I "picked myself up by my bootstraps." My schools were places of learning. Of inquiry. Of growth. At West Philadelphia High School, I had my choice of 5 languages to study.  And so the pain that I see on the faces of children, of teachers, of parents when they learn that their school is "failing" and proposed for closure or charter turnaround is gut wrenching. Wister, Cooke, and Huey need help. But the help they need is not the help they are slated to get. Instead of truly investing in the traditional neighborhood school, the SRC last week, in a complete mockery of a public meeting, made it known loud and clear that they prefer to engage in back-door dealings and conniving bait and switch maneuvers.

How Does North Carolina Fund Virtual Charter Schools?
Evergreen Group - Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning
North Carolina’s SB8 (2011) significantly revised charter school law, but it did not specifically address the creation and operation of virtual charter schools. After more than a year of controversy and confusion, the North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) approved policy on the procedures and operation of virtual charter schools (115C-238.29A). In January 2013, the SBE adopted policy that requires virtual charters to adhere to a significantly lower funding formula than brick-and-mortar schools, and maintain high graduation rates and low withdrawal rates. Funding for virtual charters will be based on the same funding amount as eight, full-year courses ($438 per course) at the NC Virtual Public School, or $3,504 per year (63% of average state funding). The state funding amount per pupil for brick-and-mortar schools is about $5,600, although base funding (before local contributions) ranges from $4,000 to $10,000. Virtual charters will not receive any local contributions .

Emergency food program in D.C. schools expands its reach
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton January 26 at 5:46 PM  
The District of Columbia’s experiment serving hot meals to hungry students during a school shutdown picked up steam Tuesday, with twice as many students participating as the day before.  School officials repeated the program they launched as an experiment on Monday, but with better turnout, possibly because of heightened publicity, including robocalls to families on Monday evening to let them know about the meals.  The result was that 201 breakfasts and 745 lunches were served in 10 schools scattered around the city. The busiest site was Eastern High School, where 220 meals were eaten while the slowest site was Brookland Middle School, which served just 19 lunches and no breakfast, according to school officials.  City schools have been closed since last Friday, as the region was socked by a massive blizzard. D.C. schools are expected to reopen Wednesday.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 20 - 26, 2016
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on January 26, 2016 - 1:55pm 
Any notion that the new federal education law would slow the grassroots testing resistance and reform movement should be put to rest by even a quick skim of this week's headlines. From Alaska to Florida and Maine to California parents, educators and community activists are escalating pressure on state and local policy makers to reduce testing volume, eliminate high stakes and support better forms of assessment.

The College Board Elegizes Anachronistic Verbiage with Recondite Panegyric; Celebrates Final Administration of the Extant SAT® on Jan. 23
NEW YORK, Jan. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Throughout its 100-year history, the abstruse vocabulary words of the SAT®have engendered prodigious vexation in millions of examinees annually. On Saturday, Jan. 23, students across the country participated in the terminal transpiration of the SAT in its habituated gestalt.  To adumbrate the changes to be manifest in future administrations of the assessment: The new SAT will be more trenchant and pellucid, and the format will no longer pertinaciously reward students who punctiliously engage in the antediluvian praxis of committing idiosyncratic words to memory.  College Board President David Coleman promulgated, "Your invectives and maledictions have been heard. Clemency has been granted."  Many within the College Board and the academic community expressed a paucity of maudlin or mawkish emotion in response to the announcement.

"Capital Region Forum Series" Thursday, February 11, 2016
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Harrisburg Hilton Hotel - Two North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
An Overview of the Proposed 2016-2017 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
Dr. Brian Barnhart, Executive Director, Lancaster-Lebanon IU #13
Thomas Gluck, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units
Representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.
RSVP for Harrisburg Forum on-line at 

PSBA New School Director Training Remaining Locations:
  • Central PA — Jan. 30 Nittany Lion Inn, State College
  • Delaware Co. IU 25 — Feb. 1
  • Scranton area — Feb. 6 Abington Heights SD, Clarks Summit
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield
PSBA New School Director Training
School boards who will welcome new directors after the election should plan to attend PSBA training to help everyone feel more confident right from the start. This one-day event is targeted to help members learn the basics of their new roles and responsibilities. Meet the friendly, knowledgeable PSBA team and bring everyone on your “team of 10” to get on the same page fast.
  • $150 per registrant (No charge if your district has a LEARN PassNote: All-Access members also have LEARN Pass.)
  • One-hour lunch on your own — bring your lunch, go to lunch, or we’ll bring a box lunch to you; coffee/tea provided all day
  • Course materials available online or we’ll bring a printed copy to you for an additional $25
  • Registrants receive one month of 100-level online courses for each registrant, after the live class

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Thursday, February 11 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17 - 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania)
Thursday, February 25 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Pittsburgh
Invitation and more details in January

Attend the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia February 26-28
United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Reform will hold its annual conference on Philadelphia from February 26-28.

Save the Date | PBPC Budget Summit March 3rd
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
The 2015-2016 budget remains in a state of limbo. But it's time to start thinking about the 2016-17 budget. The Governor will propose his budget for next year in early February.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will hold our annual Budget Summit on March 3rd. Save the date and join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2016-17 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, the environment and local communities.  And, of course, if the 2015-2016 budget is not complete by then, we will also be talking about the various alternatives still under consideration.
As in year's past, this year's summit will be at the Hilton Harrisburg.  Register today!

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

PenSPRA's Annual Symposium, Friday April 8th in Shippensburg, PA
PenSPRA, or the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association, has developed a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your district's brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends.  Join us the evening before the Symposium for a “Conversation with Colleagues” from 5 – 6 pm followed by a Networking Social Cocktail Hour from 6 – 8 pm.  Both the Symposium Friday and the social events on Thursday evening will be held at the Shippensburg University Conference Center. Snacks at the social hour, and Friday’s breakfast and lunch is included in your registration cost. $125 for PenSPRA members and $150 for non-members. Learn more about our speakers and topics and register today at this link:

The Network for Public Education 3rd Annual National Conference April 16-17, 2016 Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Network for Public Education is thrilled to announce the location for our 3rd Annual National Conference. On April 16 and 17, 2016 public education advocates from across the country will gather in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

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