Friday, April 15, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 15: PA lawmakers won't support Wolf's education-funding plan

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 15, 2016:
PA lawmakers won't support Wolf's education-funding plan

Rally in Harrisburg with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding on May 2nd 12:30 Main Rotunda!
Public schools in Pennsylvania are a far cry from the “thorough and efficient” system of education promised guaranteed under our state constitution. That’s why we want YOU to join Education Law Center and members of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding in Harrisburg on May 2nd! Buses of supporters are leaving from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - please register below so we can help you arrive on time for the 12:30 press conference in the Main Rotunda! Questions? Email for more details.

Community schools movement has a supporter in Pa. ed chief
At a conference last week, Rivera detailed ways that he and Gov. Wolf’s administration are trying to advance a community schools strategy.
The notebook by Paul Socolar April 14, 2016 — 12:54pm
In Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, supporters of the community schools concept in Pennsylvania have an enthusiastic advocate in state government. Rivera was a keynote speaker at last week’s conference of the Coalition for Community Schools in Albuquerque, N.M., attended by 1,700 participants, including about 70 from Pennsylvania.  “Our vision for the commonwealth moving forward is really going to support the community schools movement in amazing ways,” Rivera said. He applauded Mayor Kenney’s push for community schools in Philadelphia and pointed to activity in Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, the Lehigh Valley, and other smaller communities around the state.  In his speech, during a meeting with conference participants from Pennsylvania, and in an interview, Rivera detailed a number of ways that he and Gov. Wolf’s administration are trying to advance a community schools strategy.

Pa., Erie County needs fair school funding now: Sen. Sean Wiley
GoErie By SEN. SEAN WILEYContributing writer April 15, 2016 06:29 AM
ERIE, Pa. -- One of three -- being one of three is typically something sought after, a prestigious accolade, an honor. In the case of Pennsylvania, being one of three states that don't utilize a comprehensive education funding formula, one of three is nothing to celebrate.  Pennsylvania has a shameful number of high-poverty schools with vastly lower per student spending ratios than their wealthier neighbors. According to the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap between the wealthiest and the poorest schools in the country, and, possibly, the widest economic, racial and ethnic achievement gap in the United States. A class of 25 students in a wealthy Pennsylvania district will be the recipient of almost $80,000 more than that same class in a poor district. How is it acceptable that the quality of a child's education is tied to a ZIP code?

Try for a veto, sign it or punt? What's Gov. Wolf's next move on fiscal code bill?: Thursday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 14, 2016 at 8:07 AM, updated April 14, 2016 at 8:51 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If we were Gov. Tom Wolf, we suspect we may have woken this morning wondering why we'd ever left the comforts of our family-owned cabinetry business for the shark tank that is the Pennsylvania Capitol.  Alternately, we may have cast a longing eye at the First Jeep, cast another at the calendar, rightfully concluded that this year's Coachella Festival, with a reunited Guns & Roses as the headliner, starts this weekend, grabbed the Missus, put the keys in the ignition and headed west without a backward glance.  And those are the more pleasant choices facing the York County Democrat now that the state House and Senate have cast veto-proof majorities on a key piece of Wolf's freshman budget proposal.

“The code would also include construction reimbursement funds for school districts. The last fiscal code sent to Wolf, HB 1327, was vetoed because of $2.5 billion in reimbursements that was “never appropriated in the Republican budget.”
House, Senate-approved fiscal code would bring more money to schools
By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter POSTED: 04/14/16, 10:56 PM EDT | UPDATED: 3 HRS AGO
A new fiscal code approved by the state House and Senate on April 13 will provide public schools with more money after Gov. Tom Wolf implemented his own distribution formula that saw over 80 percent of schools getting less.  House Bill 1589 is the latest fiscal code to be placed on Wolf’s desk and will pump just over $200 million more in basic education subsidies and ready to learn block grants that will be distributed in a fair funding formula approved by the Basic Education Funding Commission.  The Senate passed the bill with a veto-proof of 38-11 and the House passed it 149-45. A veto or signature by Wolf is pending.  If Wolf signs the fiscal code currently approved from both chambers, 428 districts will now see an uptick in funding for 2015-16 over 2014-15.  In Delaware County, 13 districts would have lost $2.2 million under Wolf’s plan while Chester Upland would have had a boost of $14 million, with William Penn adding $45,000.  Now, all school districts are looking to get more: Chester Upland, $2 million; Chichester, $385,037; Garnet Valley, $240,496; Haverford Township, $183,322; Interboro, $341,621; Marple Newtown, $120,198; Penn-Delco, $202,006; Radnor Township, $115,938; Ridley, $503,765; Rose Tree Media, $107,257; Southeast Delco, $720,146; Springfield, $195,201; Upper Darby, $1,7 million; Wallingford-Swarthmore, $152,439; and William Penn, $893,316.
Delco’s added share totals $6.3 million.

Pennsylvania lawmakers won't support Wolf's education-funding plan
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 15, 2016 12:00 AM
A week after Gov. Tom Wolf announced a plan to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars in Pennsylvania education money, legislators, including some in his own party, passed a bill that would effectively quash his efforts.  “If he vetoes it today, I’ll be there tomorrow to do the override,” state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, said Thursday. Mr. Kortz represents five school districts he contends would receive less money under the Democratic governor’s formula than through a bipartisan one created last year.  Both chambers of the General Assembly voted Wednesday in favor of distributing $200 million in new state education money for the 2015-16 school year using a funding formula created and adopted in June by a bipartisan commission studying the issue. The fiscal code that Mr. Kortz called veto-proof also allows the state to borrow $2.5 billion to reimburse school districts for construction projects.

Late push could unlock Pa. school construction funding
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella and Angela Couloumbis, STAFF WRITERS Updated: APRIL 15, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
When the Centennial School District embarked on a $140 million building spree in the mid-2000s, with three new elementary schools and major high school renovations, officials failed to account for just one thing.  They didn't expect that state government would keep finding ways to renege, or at least stall, on its promise to help districts pay down construction debts through its aid program known as PlanCon.  That looked to be the case again this year, when the belatedly approved state budget didn't include money to make the expected PlanCon payments.  Late Wednesday, the legislature found a work-around, passing a plan to borrow up to $2.5 billion for PlanCon projects. In an unusual step, it was attached as an amendment to the Fiscal Code, a budget-related bill that effectively directs how state money can be spent. Also included was a fair-funding formula that helps determine allocations for each district.  The measure was the latest battleground over education funding for Gov. Wolf and the Republican legislature, but it passed with enough votes among Democrats to override a veto. So as the governor decides his next move - he vetoed a previous version of the Fiscal Code last month - some educators breathed a sigh of relief.

Dispelling some GOP myths about school funding: Megan Healey
PennLive Op-Ed  By Megan Healey April 14, 2016 1:00 PM, updated April 14, 2016 at 2:12 PM
Megan Healey is a deputy press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf. She writes from Harrisburg.
A major part of the 2015-16 budget, which became law last week without Governor Wolf's signature, is determining how to allocate basic education funding to help to restore the devastating education cuts by the previous administration and the legislature in 2011 while making Pennsylvania's funding for schools more equitable.  But first, let's take a look back to when the school crisis in Pennsylvania began.

Legislators did their part for school funding, now its Wolf's turn: Jennifer Kocher
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jennifer Kocher  April 14, 2016 at 2:03 PM, updated April 14, 2016 at 8:17 PM
Jennifer Kocher is chief spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre. She writes from Harrisburg.
Lawmakers have struggled for years to answer the question of how to best meet the Constitutional mandate to provide a thorough and efficient system of public education. For too long, the process of developing a funding formula for education dollars was influenced by politics, rather than good public policy.  To ensure education dollars would be distributed equitably in the future, the General Assembly formed a bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission two years ago to study how dollars could be driven out to schools based on the real factors that drive the cost of education.   After months of public hearings and cooperation among lawmakers, school administrators, education advocates, teachers and parents, the panel developed a fair funding formula that was lauded by education advocates across the state – including Gov. Tom Wolf. This formula was included in this year's state budget, which devoted an additional $200 million to education. 

Allentown looks to create alternative education option, add staff members
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call April 14, 2016
Allentown School District looks to create alternative setting for special education students
ALLENTOWN – In response to the string of violence that rocked the Allentown School District in the fall, administrators are looking to spend $2 million to create an alternative setting for special education students and an additional nearly $2 million to increase staff.  At Thursday's Education Committee meeting, the school district gave a presentation to the school board about adopting Camelot Education, a national program that gives instruction to special education students with academic, behavioral and/or emotional needs.  Camelot Education would have seats for 36 middle school students and 36 high school students. Middle school students would be housed in the Jackson building, which currently houses its alternative school for disruptive students. High school students would be at William Penn, which is where the alternative school for disruptive students is.  A student would go to Camelot after the district had tried interventions with him or her but was not successful, said Belinda Miller, director of special education. Camelot would have a staff trained to deal with students who have emotional and behavioral issues, Miller said.

Erie School cuts weighed
By RON LEONARDI ron.leonardi@timesnews.com14 Apr 2016 — Erie Times-News
Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams on Wednesday outlined $9.8 million in potential 2016-17 school district budget cuts to help balance a deficit projected at $10 million to $12 million.  Badams and district Chief Financial Officer Brian Polito presented 16 potential budget cuts at the Erie School Board's committee of the whole meeting.  One of the potential cuts involves eliminating at least five administration positions, which would save the district an estimated $650,000.  Other potential cost-cutting measures include eliminating programs, five assistant principals ($400,000), five elementary school positions ($300,000), six elementary school guidance counselors ($360,000) and full-day kindergarten ($1.1 million), and closing a high school ($900,000).  "We've cut already about as much as we feel we can up to this point,'' Badams said. "Over the last five years, we've pared the district back to where we spend the least per pupil of any district in Erie County by far.  "There's really not much left for us to cut, so this process is pretty grim," he said.

Highlands strike to end Tuesday
Trib Live BY TOM YERACE | Thursday, April 14, 2016, 1:21 p.m.
The Highlands School District teachers' strike will be shorter than expected.  “The teachers are back in the classroom on Tuesday, April 19,” said Matt Edgell of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, who is working with the Highlands teachers' union.  Edgell said the state Department of Education informed the union that teachers must return to work Tuesday to ensure the district will complete 180 classroom days by June 15.  Superintendent Michael Bjalobok said Highlands students, who were scheduled to end the school year June 3, will now be in class through June 15.

Philly District: Don't renew four city charters
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 15, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
The Philadelphia School District on Thursday recommended that four charter schools with low test scores be shut down or taken over by others.  But the changes would not be immediate. They require hearings, followed by votes by the School Reform Commission.  Still, the recommendations by the district's charter school office are stark, and involve two powerful players in the city's charter world: Kenny Gamble's Universal Cos. and Aspira of Pennsylvania, which focuses on Latino youth. Universal operates seven charters in the city while Aspira has four.  The district's charter office is urging the SRC not to renew the operating agreements of Universal's Vare Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter and its Audenried Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter, both in South Philadelphia, and Aspira's John B. Stetson Charter School in Kensington and Olney Charter High School in Olney.

District recommends non-renewal of four Philly Renaissance charters
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa April 14, 2016 — 4:49pm
The School District's charter school office is recommending not renewing the charters of four converted District schools, all run by major local charter operators.   They are Audenried high school and Vare middle school, run by Universal Companies, and John B. Stetson middle school and Olney high school, run by ASPIRA. All four were converted under the District's Renaissance schools turnaround initiative.  Five other schools had their charters renewed, three with conditions. West Philadelphia Achievement Charter School, which applied for a renewal, is still awaiting the outcome of its evaluation.

Critics: Philly Teacher shortage equals summer school
As of this week, school officials said, the district had 139 teacher vacancies, a figure they said represents just 1.6 percent of its 8,443-member teaching force.
Inquirer by Mensah M. Dean, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 15, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Amid concern that a chronic teacher shortage is impeding student learning, the Philadelphia School District expects twice as many high school students to fail courses this year and be required to attend summer school.  District officials said this week that they were bracing for 1,000 high school students in summer classes this July, up from 500 last year. The expanded summer session will cost the district $546,000, they said.  In addition, the district expects to spend $1.3 million on what they described as summer enrichment classes for about 2,500 students in lower grades who score poorly in reading or math, or who have not had a certified teacher for a third of the year or longer.  The remedial and enrichment programs, announced this week, come as critics warn that persistent teacher vacancies in city schools are undermining academic achievement.

Report of Philadelphia City Council State of Schools Hearing 4/11/2016
Purpose of Hearings n Authorizing the Committees on Children & Youth and Education to study the impact of five years of reduced state funding on safety, essential services, and academic outcomes in Philadelphia schools and on vulnerable student populations

Graduation rate flat after years of increases
by the Notebook April 14, 2016 — 7:49am
The School District’s graduation rate has hit a plateau after years of steady increases.
The four-year graduation rate for 9th graders who started in 2011 and graduated in 2015 is 65 percent – the same as for the previous two classes, those who started in 2009 and 2010, and slightly lower than the 2008 cohort. To get these numbers, individual students are tracked over time.  The six-year rate for the class that started in 2009 is 70 percent, meaning an additional 5 percent of students stayed for a fifth or even sixth year to get a diploma. Six-year rates for the 2010 and 2011 9th graders are not yet available.  Officials have no explanation for why there has been a leveling off after years of steady progress; a decade ago, less than half the students in District schools graduated on time.

Blogger note: Mr. Brouilette has been a leading advocate of all things school choice: charters, cybers, vouchers, EITC tax credits for private and religious schools
Matt Brouillette moving on to new advocacy organization that will pack 'a political punch'
Penn LiveBy Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 14, 2016 at 12:53 PM, updated April 14, 2016 at 2:50 PM
Matt Brouillette surprised many with his sudden announcement earlier this month that he was soon walking away after 14 years as president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative policy center.  Turns out, it will only be a short walk across State Street to an office that will house a newly formed issue advocacy organization in Harrisburg.  The new organization called Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs will be free of some of the Internal Revenue Service's restrictions placed on the Commonwealth Foundation when it comes to political activity but will have a similar agenda.  Brouillette, who came to be regarded as a formidable opponent by labor union officials for his work to influence public policy at the Commonwealth Foundation, will serve as its president and CEO, starting on July 1.

Even Community Schools Are Not Enough; We Must Confront Child Poverty
Jan Resseger’s Blog Posted on April 14, 2016 by janresseger
I am a fan of wraparound Community Schools.  Having pediatric services at a school-based health clinic would be a lifeline for a single mom and hotel maid without any paid sick days—a mother whose child needed immunizations or antibiotics for an earache. For this mother, having Head Start right in the same building where her older child attends second grade would make everything simpler.  Parents, especially single parents, desperately need services packaged together to make them accessible.  But sociologists have recently published, in the popular press where we can all read it, a body of evidence that child poverty is so much deeper and more prevalent than most of us have understood.  We need the services of Community Schools, but we also need to shatter widespread denial of a child poverty crisis in an economy that has added primarily low-paid, hourly jobs with uncertain hours and no paid time off, even sick days.  A half century of evidence demonstrates that children’s school achievement correlates with their families’ economic circumstances.  If we are serious about closing the gaps in school achievement, we will have to be far more realistic about the way we define the problems that deny opportunity for our society’s poorest children.

Breaking: Vergara Ruling Overturned by State Appeals Court
Education Week By Anthony Rebora on April 14, 2016 6:20 PM By Emmanuel Felton
A California appeals court, reversing a trial court's ruling in the landmark Vergara case, has found that California's job-protection laws for teachers do not in fact violate the state constitution's equal protection guarantee.  The appeals court ruled April 14 that the plaintiffs in the Vergara case had failed to prove sufficiently that the state's teacher-employment laws, including tenure and termination provisions, "inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students."  In a unanimous decision, the panel of three judges ruled that while the job-protection laws may in fact lead to the employment and retention of more bad teachers, the statues say nothing about how those ineffective teachers are assigned.  "Critically, plaintiffs failed to show that the statutes themselves make any certain group of students more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers than any other group of students," wrote Presiding Justice Roger Boren.

Rally in Harrisburg with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding on May 2nd 12:30 Main Rotunda!
Public schools in Pennsylvania are a far cry from the “thorough and efficient” system of education promised guaranteed under our state constitution. That’s why we want YOU to join Education Law Center and members of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding in Harrisburg on May 2nd! Buses of supporters are leaving from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - please register below so we can help you arrive on time for the 12:30 press conference in the Main Rotunda! Questions? Email for more details.

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.

Electing PSBA Officers – Applications Due by April 30th
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee during the month of April, an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by April 30 to be considered and timely filed. If said date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, then the Application for Nomination shall be considered timely filed if marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed and postmarked on the next business day.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than two and no more than four letters of recommendation, some or all of which preferably should be from school districts in different PSBA regions as well as from community groups and other sources that can provide a description of the candidate’s involvement with and effectiveness in leadership positions. PSBA Governing Board Policy 108 also outlines the campaign procedures of candidates.
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.

Join the Pennsylvania Principals Association at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at The Capitol in Harrisburg, PA, for its second annual Principals' Lobby Day.
Pennsylvania Principals Association Monday, March 21, 2016 9:31 AM
 To register, contact Dr. Joseph Clapper at by Tuesday, June 14, 2016. If you need assistance, we will provide information about how to contact your legislators to schedule meetings.
Click here for the informational flyer, which includes important issues to discuss with your legislators.

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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