Wednesday, September 28, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 28: More $$$, spent in the right way, reduces achievement gap, study says

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 28, 2016
More money, spent in the right way, reduces the achievement gap, study says

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When's the deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?
By Sara K. Satullo | For Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 27, 2016 at 5:17 PM, updated September 27, 2016 at 6:23 PM
If you want to vote in the presidential election Nov. 8, but you're not yet registered to vote, time is running out.  Pennsylvania's voter registration deadline is Oct. 11, while in New Jersey it is Oct. 18. The mail-in absentee ballot deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in Pennsylvania and Nov. 1 in Jersey.  If you are now 17 but will turn 18 on or before election day you can register to vote in either state.  Pennsylvanians can register online with the Department of State here or send a form postmarked by Oct. 11 to their county voter registration office. Download a blank form here. (Active duty military or hospitalized or bedridden veterans can register at any time.)

Another View: Cash-starved schools but over $1B for testing?
Daily Local Opinion by Senator Andy Dinniman POSTED: 09/27/16, 3:07 PM EDT
State Senator Andy Dinniman, of West Whiteland, is minority chair of the Senate Education Committee.
While school funding is in crisis and property taxes continue to rise, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) since 2008 has signed contracts for more than $741 million for PSSA and Keystone Exam testing. All of this money went to one company, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), who received three contracts, two of which had no-bid extensions.  While a testing company is making big bucks, some of our schools do not even have the funds to purchase textbooks that contain the Common Core standards upon which the students are tested. Doesn’t PDE understand that it’s simply unconscionable to stamp failure on the backs of students who don’t even have access to the materials on which they are being tested?  The costs to school districts for testing and supervising the required Project Based Assessment (PBA) for those not passing the Keystone is conservatively estimated to be over 300 million dollars. This means between the state and school districts, Pennsylvania’s testing programs in the past eight years have cost the taxpayers almost $1.1 billion.

“So much of the state’s new revenue — meaning new tax dollars — goes directly to fund pensions. “Mandated state contributions for public employees and school employee pensions are consuming a growing share of the state’s budget,” the chamber bosses wrote. “More than 60 cents of every new dollar in state revenue — revenue generated by taxpayers — goes toward the state’s required pension payments.”
Editorial: Pension reform, before anything else
Sunbury Daily Item Editorial Sep 25, 2016
As elected officials return to Harrisburg the 500-pound gorilla in the commonwealth’s corner remains. Until lawmakers from both parties find the courage to stand up and replace, repair or rehabilitate Pennsylvania’s pension system, it will remain the anchor grounding any significant state financial reforms moving forward.  With the November election less than seven weeks away, there are just nine official session days scheduled for the state House and Senate. Is that enough time to hammer out a deal? Probably not, but that is enough time to revisit proposals, adjust and take real steps toward a resolution especially considered pension reform has been a key agenda item for several years already.  The state needs to transition to a more taxpayer-friendly 401(k) style system for all new hires and re-elected — or newly elected — officials. Monies already earned by former retirees or those already in the current system must be protected as well. This transition won’t offer an immediate fix, but instead flattens the existing steep upward curve.

 “Actually, as a country, we spend quite a bit on average in education,” Johnson said at the event, “but our distribution and the inequality in spending across districts is undermining our ability to realize the longstanding ideal of equal educational opportunity.”  Johnson explained that this inequity is caused, in large part, by the “the historical reliance on the local property tax base to raise revenue for our local schools and the consistent residential segregation by both economic status and race.”
More money, spent in the right way, reduces the achievement gap, study says
The notebook by Greg Windle September 27, 2016 — 1:11pm
Money does matter in education, when spent on the right investments and when allocated in ways that respond more directly to need, according to public policy expert Rucker Johnson.
Last week, Johnson, associate professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, presented the findings of his work on the effects of fair funding and school finance reforms at City Hall in an event that was organized by the Education Law Center.  Johnson's work on school funding made headlines in the Washington Post last year.  The study, conducted by Johnson and his co-authors, found that among students graduating from low-income school districts, an increase in per-pupil funding of 10 percent throughout K-12  increased student’s adult earnings 13.4 percent by age 45. His research also found that school finance reforms have led to increases in high school graduation rates and academic proficiency.

Erie School District enters financial watch status
GoErie By Valerie Myers  814-878-1913  etnmyers September 27, 2016 08:07 PM
ERIE, Pa. -- The Erie School District is officially on the state's "financial watch" list.  And that's a good thing, schools Superintendent Jay Badams said.  The district on Tuesday received $2 million in emergency funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The payment triggers "financial watch status" and a process in which the district will work with the department to solve continuing financial problems.  "It's an opportunity to make our case to the state," Badams said. "We'll put together a plan to show what we're able to do locally to try to make the district solvent, and what we'll likely have to ask of the state. It's also an opportunity to show what we'd have to do to cut our way to solvency."  Cuts on the table for the 2017-18 school year could include art and music programs, full-day kindergarten, school libraries, sports and extracurricular activities and closing all four district high schools. The district kept those cuts at bay this school year with a $3.3 million increase in state basic education funding and a $4 million emergency allocation that balanced its 2016-17 budget.  The $2 million payment received by the district Tuesday is the first half of the $4 million emergency money.

Changes Ahead For SRC Panel Running Philadelphia Schools
CBS Philly September 24, 2016 9:00 PM By Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The state panel running Philadelphia’s schools could have a much different look in a few months.  The terms of three of the five members of the School Reform Commission expire in January. They include governor’s appointee Feather Houstoun, and city appointees — chair Marge Neff and Sylvia Simms.  “We want not just people. We want the right people,” says Governor Wolf. “And so I’m making sure we’re vetting folks — making sure this process is done correctly.”  Wolf says a candidate’s position on charter schools is only one element:  “I don’t have any litmus test. I mean, the charter school issue here is just a dollars and cents issue.”  The governor says he’s considering a number of candidates for Houstoun’s seat:  “Absolutely. Working through that, and I should have an announcement soon.”  The governor’s choice will need to be confirmed by the state senate.  Wolf says he continues to support a return to local control for Philadelphia schools.

"You can't yo-yo educational investments," Monson said. "You can't give a nurse and a counselor one year, and then take them back."
Philly school superintendent Hite says district in great shape now, but deficits loom
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Several weeks into a new school year, William R. Hite Jr. has his elevator pitch perfected: The Philadelphia School District is in the best shape he's seen during his superintendency.
The 130,000-student system carried a small financial surplus into the new school term. Officials were able to buy new textbooks for the first time in years, and they were able to restore nurses, counselors, and some art and music teachers.  But Hite and district chief financial officer Uri Monson told a room full of Center City businesspeople Tuesday that what they lack is the ability to guarantee that condition in the long term.  "It's a lot more stable - for right now," Hite told members of the Central Philadelphia Development Corp. who gathered at the Union League.

Pennsylvania high schoolers might face same civics exam as immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau September 27, 2016
Pa students might have to take and pass mandatory civics test to get diploma
HARRISBURG — The first Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump debate is getting national attention, but only a quarter of Americans fully understand the electoral powers the debaters are seeking.  A recent study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvaniafound that just 26 percent of Americans could name the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.  That's the worst score, by far, in half a dozen years.  But there's a national movement to put a greater emphasis — with the help of a big stick — on civics education in schools.  A state House panel debated Monday whether Pennsylvania should join 14 other states in mandating that high schoolers, to get a diploma, must pass the same civics test immigrants must pass to earn U.S. citizenship.

Philly’s 7th Ward Blog BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI SEPTEMBER 24, 2016
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.
Christopher Emdin, author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… And the Rest of Y’All Too. , recently wrote an article that brought up a lot of great points. He is concerned that people are using the lack of diversity in teaching and the need for more Black men to mask other more pressing issues.  Emdin acknowledges that there is a need for diversity but believes that “tough love” meted out to Black children and the poor preparation/professional development of Black and other teachers play a larger role in the issue.  I don’t disagree with many of his points. However, he believes that highlighting that only 2% of teachers are Black males is a cop out, even if well-intentioned.  This is where our paths diverge.

Allegheny Valley School District, teachers ratify five-year labor contract
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 26, 2016 12:06 PM
​The ​Allegheny Valley School District and its teachers union have ratified a new five-year agreement to take effect July 1, 2017, that includes average total raises of 3.1 percent over the life of the contract.  Although collective bargaining was not scheduled to begin until January, both parties agreed to early-bird negotiations in May and met weekly over the summer to reach a tentative agreement earlier this month.  “The teachers are happy with the agreement. Overall, I’m very pleased with how well we were able to work together to reach a contract that is fair for both sides and that the district, taxpayers, and the union can all be proud of," Jennifer Novich, president of the Allegheny Valley Education Association, said in a news release sent by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.  In addition to the raises, the teachers' healthcare contributions will increase to 10 percent of the premium cost of the insurance plan. The issues discussed were limited to salary and healthcare, the PSEA said.

The Governor’s STEM Competition
Please fill in all the information on the form and submit by October 31, 2016.
There will be a limit of 150 schools participating on a first come first serve basis. Registration packets containing key information and permission slips will be online immediately after registration and must be returned to the IU by October 31, 2016.  To register, each team member must have a signed permission slip from his/her parent and/or guardian sent to the participative IU by November 30, 2016Parent Permission Slip/Media Release (PDF)  Regional competitions will be held at each of the Commonwealth’s Intermediate Units (IU) during the month of February at a date and time identified by each IU. The winners from each IU will be competing at the state level at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology on May 19, 2017. It is anticipated that food will be available for all participating teams and lodging will be provided for state finalists and teacher sponsors traveling great distances. More information will be shared as it becomes finalized.   Teams are responsible for their transportation to and from all competitions.

One year after substitute teacher crisis, Philly schools see improvement with new contractor
Kelly Services was named in May by the School Reform Commission.
Newsworks by Avi Wolfman-Arent September 27, 2016 — 12:27pm
So far this school year, Building 21, an experimental high school in North Philadelphia, has requested substitute teachers to cover three school days.  Much to the school’s delight, substitute teachers have showed up all three times.  “We have been thrilled to get subs every time we’ve had a teacher call out,” said principal Laura Shubilla.  During the first two-and-a-half months of the 2015-16 school year, Building 21 received a sub just 6 percent of the time it requested one. In fact, so far this school year, Building 21 has covered more absent teacher days (three) than it did in the entire run up to winter break last year (two). The school’s struggles were part of a district-wide substitute teacher crisis that drew headlines and criticism.  One year later, Philadelphia schools appear to be in much better shape.

Joyner-Kersee, Comcast and city and school leaders tout internet program for Philly low-income families
The notebook by Lane Whitman September 27, 2016 — 9:40am
Community leaders and representatives from Comcast and the School District of Philadelphia came together Monday at Olney Elementary School to talk about the impact that the Internet Essentials program has had on helping to close the digital divide among families of different incomes.   Internet Essentials, a national Comcast initiative launched five years ago, offers affordable broadband internet service to a number of different residents and users including: low-income families who have at least one child and who qualify for the District’s free- and reduced-priced lunch program; public housing residents and HUD-assisted residents in Comcast’s service area; children in parochial, private, charter, and cyber schools; students who are homeschooled; low-income seniors and low-income community college students; and public housing residents in Philadelphia, Miami, Nashville, and Seattle.    Families can get internet access for just $9.95 a month, and subscribers have the opportunity to purchase a laptop for $150. Since 2011, 33,000 families in the Philadelphia area have signed up for the program, and nearly 132,000 individuals have been affected.

The Philly school district’s GreenFutures plan has a ton of great partners on board
Here's how it got everyone from the Franklin Institute to the EPA into the same room.
Generocity By Julie Zeglen / STAFF September 26, 2016
Over 130,000 students attend Philadelphia’s 218 public schools. Now, use your imagination to figure out how much energy is needed to fuel those 218 schools.
Yeah, it’s a lot.  In May, the School District of Philadelphia announced GreenFutures, a five-year sustainability plan modeled after the city’s GreenWorks plan and other school districts’ and universities’ plans. There are five focus areas with 65 individual actions:
·         Education — Incorporate sustainability lessons into the school day.
·         Consumption and waste — Reduce intake and output.
·         Energy and efficiencies — Save money and energy. 
·         School greenscapes — Green schools’ outdoor learning areas. 
·         Learning environments — Make every school “well-resourced, safe, healthy, clean and comfortable.” 
Check out the full plan 
One example goal of the plan is to reduce the school district’s energy consumption by 20 percent in the next five years. So how the heck will it do that?  The school district will only achieve its goals with the help of dozens of partners — from The Food Trust to thePhiladelphia Zoo to Youth United for Change to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society  — that guide the school district on meeting its goals and attend monthly subcommittee meetings, Francine Locke, the school district’s environmental director, said.

Boston brings the music back by boosting arts education September 27, 2016 at 6:25 PM EDT
At a time when schools across the country are cutting arts education, this city is aiming to make it universal. Myran Parker-Brass, a classically trained mezzo-soprano who sang for the Boston Symphony, is working to provide weekly arts education to all middle and elementary Boston public school students. And she’s not stopping there. Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week reports.

“There are now nearly 80 charter schools in Massachusetts, where no more than 120 charter schools are currently allowed to operate. Question 2 would allow 12 new or expanded charter schools to open every year anywhere in the state, a move that supporters say will give more parents choices about where to send their children to school and help close the achievement gap. Critics say that charters typically underserve the highest-needs students, are not accountable to the local communities in which they are located and end up hurting students in traditional schools.”
Elizabeth Warren comes out against raising cap on charter schools in Massachusetts
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 27 at 1:35 PM 
There is a pitched battle underway in Massachusetts over charter schools, with proponents pouring money into an initiative on the November ballot that would raise the state cap on their growth and opponents arguing that charters are draining resources from traditional public schools. Now critics have gotten a big boost: Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she was going to vote against Question 2.  Warren, who has been viewed somewhat warily by many public-education activists because of her past support for charter schools, now says she does not support unfettered charter growth in Massachusetts because local school districts can be harmed. Just a few weeks ago, local media noted that Warren, highly popular in Massachusetts, had not declared her position on the charter cap.

Social Media Creates a 'Sickly' Presidential Campaign, High School Students Say
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on September 27, 2016 7:51 AM
Las Vegas - Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump haven't spent a lot of time sharing their thoughts about what should happen in public schools—but what do public school students think about Clinton, Trump, and the presidential campaign?  I got a chance to get at least a few answers to that question when I sat down with some students on the debate team at Green Valley High School in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas, on Monday afternoon. They were slated to attend a debate watch party at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Based on what they told me, it's safe to say that despite the adeptness at social media assigned to their generation, these 15- and 16-year olds are largely unhappy with (if not repulsed by) how Facebook, Twitter, and other similar platforms have affected the 2016 race. But they also believe that the two campaigns are guilty, in turn, of cultivating simplistic and image-obsessed portraits of their candidates that thrive on social media.

Ohio’s ECOT attendance inflated by 9,000 students, audit finds; $60 million in state funding in jeopardy
By Patrick O'Donnell, The Plain Dealer Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 26, 2016 at 1:32 PM, updated September 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio's largest online charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), was paid for 9,000 more students than it should have last school year, an Ohio Department of Education enrollment audit has found.  In a letter to the school today, the department tells the school that it has proper documentation for only 6,300 of its 15,300 students - a 59% gap.  The letter does not spell out how much money ECOT could be forced to return, but with ECOT receiving $109 million last year for the 15,300, $64 million in money is at risk.

Basic Education Funding workshops coming to your area
PA now has a permanent Basic Education Funding formula. Learn more about how it works, what it measures and why it's important. Workshops sponsored by PASA, PSBA, PAIU, PARSS, PA Principals Association and PASBO are coming to an area near you.
Register and see more details and dates here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 5:30 PM
The Crystal Tea Room, The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia, PA
Honoring: Pepper Hamilton LLP, Signe Wilkinson, Dr. Monique W. Morris
And presenting the ELC PRO BONO AWARD  to Paul Saint-Antoine & Chanda Miller
of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

The Public Interest Law Center invites you to its 2016 Annual Event: “Of the People, By the People, For the People.” Thursday, Oct 6, 2016 at 6:00 PM
FringeArts 140 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA
Honoring: Soil Generation, Nicholas Chimicles, and Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP

PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM  Wednesday, October 12, 2016  SUBJECT:  EPLC's 2016 Report:  High School Career and Technical Education: Serving Pennsylvania's Workforce and Student Needs
Coffee and Networking - 9:30 a.m.  Program - 10:00 a.m. to Noon   

Technical College High School (Brandywine Campus) - 443 Boot Rd., Downingtown, PA 19335
 RSVP by clicking here. There is no fee, but a RSVP is required. Please feel free to share this invitation with your staff and network. 
An Overview of the EPLC Report on High School CTE will be presented by:
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By
Dr. Lee Burket, Director, Bureau of Career & Technical Education, PA Department of Education
Jackie Cullen, Executive Director, PA Association of Career & Technical Administrators
Dan Fogarty, Director of Workforce Development & COO, Berks County Workforce Development Board
Kirk Williard, Ed.D., Director of Career, Technical & Customized Education, Chester County Intermediate Unit 

Registration for the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 13-15 is now open
The conference is your opportunity to learn, network and be inspired by peers and experts.
TO REGISTER: See   (you must be logged in to the Members Area to register). You can read more on How to Register for a PSBA Event here.   CONFERENCE WEBSITE: For all other program details, schedules, exhibits, etc., see the conference

The Sixth Annual Arts and Education Symposium – October 27, 2016
The 2016 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on October 27 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg Convention Center.  Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Arts Education network and EPLC, the Symposium is a Unique Networking and Learning Opportunity for:
·         Arts Educators
·         School Leaders
·         Artists
·         Arts and Culture Community Leaders
·         Arts-related Business Leaders
·         Arts Education Faculty and Administrators in Higher Education
·         Advocates
·         State and Local Policy Leaders
Act 48 Credit is available.
Program and registration information are available here.

REGISTER NOW for the 2016 PA Principals Association State Conference, October 30 - November 1, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.
PA Principals Association website Tuesday, August 2, 2016 10:43 AM
To receive the Early Bird Discount, you must be registered by August 31, 2016:
Members: $300  Non-Members: $400
Featuring Three National Keynote Speakers: Eric Sheninger, Jill Jackson & Salome Thomas-EL

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

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