Tuesday, November 14, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 14: Funding Lawsuit Forum at Pitt Johnstown Wed. 7 pm

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 14, 2017:
Funding Lawsuit Forum at Pitt Johnstown Wed. 7 pm

Do you have newly elected board members? Have them register for PSBA’s new school director training sessions to be held throughout the state in December and January.
An additional session has been scheduled in southeastern PA on Saturday, January 6th in the Haverford School District.

Gerrymandering: Supreme Court to the rescue
Intelligencer Editorial Posted Nov 12, 2017 at 6:00 AM
Who says numbers don’t lie? In Pennsylvania, they’re telling a whopper. We’re referring to voter registration numbers, which show the Democratic Party with a significant edge over the GOP: a little over 4 million registered Democrats to approximately 3.2 million Republicans. The remaining 1.2 million registered voters are split between the Green, Libertarian and other parties. That was as of May. So the numbers appear to tell us that Democrats are in the majority — by a lot — and so should have more representatives in both Harrisburg and Washington. But nothing could be further from the truth! The numbers lie. Of the state’s 18 congressional districts, 13 are held by Republicans. Likewise, both the state House and state Senate are controlled by Republicans. How did that happen? By now you’ve probably heard the word “gerrymandering.” It’s the term applied to the process of redistricting when it’s used to grab and maintain political control. Carried out properly, redistricting adjusts the boundaries of legislative districts every 10 years to reflect changing demographics, as determined by the census, and keep districts relatively equal in population. Again, carried out properly, redistricting should create compact, contiguous districts and try to keep political units and communities within a single district. In Pennsylvania and many other states, redistricting is not done properly. In the hands of the political party in power, redistricting is used to create political pluralities that favor the party in power and keep elected officials belonging to that party in office. It’s why so many Pennsylvania congressional seats as well as state House and Senate seats are occupied by Republicans.

“Panelists will include William Hartman, former Penn State University distinguished professor (school finance); Ron Cowell, executive director of the Pennsylvania Education Policy Leadership Center; attorney Michael Churchill, the Ed Law Center (representing the plaintiffs); Michael Vuckovich, Greater Johnstown School District superintendent; and state Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.”
Is state failing Greater Johnstown students? Experts to tackle question
Tribune Democrat By Ronald Fisher rfisher@tribdem.com November 13, 2017
A panel of experts in school funding matters will discuss state funding and the state Supreme Court’s recent decision to revive a lawsuit that claims Pennsylvania is failing in its obligation to students. The forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Pitt-Johnstown’s John P. Murtha Center. The panel also will include those who play an important role in the upcoming Pennsylvania school funding lawsuit. A Commonwealth Court panel on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit, filed by multiple individuals and organizations, including the Greater Johnstown School District, that claimed Pennsylvania has failed to adequately meet its obligations to students. The case was brought by school districts, parents, students and others against the board of education, state Education Department and education secretary, the governor, the House speaker and the Senate president pro tempore. Plaintiffs include the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference and six school districts: Greater Johnstown, William Penn, Panther Valley, Lancaster, Wilkes-Barre Area and Shenandoah Valley.

Achievement gap persists in Pittsburgh Public School system
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES  | Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, 1:51 p.m.
There are two districts within the Pittsburgh Public School system: One where student achievement is high, the suspension rate is low and schools are welcoming. In the other, there are achievement gaps between white students and students of color, teacher turnover is frequent and rates of chronic absenteeism and suspensions are high, said James Fogarty, executive director of the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit A+ Schools. Those are the findings of a report by A+ Schools released Monday reviewing student achievement in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, Fogarty said. The report analyzed the results of the 2016-17 school year PSSA and Keystone Exams. Gaps in student achievement often fall along racial and socioeconomic lines, Fogarty said. About 53 percent of students in the Pittsburgh Public School system are black, while about 63 percent of the 22,384 students in the district are economically disadvantaged, according to Pennsylvania Department of Education data.

“The observations were part of the 13th annual A+Schools' Report to the Community, released Monday. The assessment includes data on schools operated by Pittsburgh Public as well as brick-and-mortar charter schools in the city.  In remarks after the presentation, district Superintendent Anthony Hamlet stressed that the achievement gap “starts at birth” and called for more pre-K education opportunities, also one of Mayor Bill Peduto’s requests for next year’s budget.”
In group's assessment of Pittsburgh Public Schools, there were gains, but only for some
MOLLY BORN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mborn@post-gazette.com 4:29 PM NOV 13, 2017
When James Fogarty looks at Pittsburgh Public Schools, he sees a tale of two districts.
“We see one where attainment is high and education is rigorous, and we see another where students aren't doing well,” said the executive director of A+ Schools, an advocacy group.
Take Langley K-8 and Allegheny K-5, when it comes to reading at grade-level in third grade, widely considered a critical benchmark for future learning. At Langley, in Sheraden, 17 percent of black students, 36 percent of white students, 43 percent of multiracial students and 25 percent of low-income students met the mark in 2016-17 school year. But at Allegheny, a North Side magnet school with a student body much like Langley's, the figures were 72 percent of black students, 90 percent of white students, 91 of multiracial students and 74 percent of economically disadvantaged students, representing “huge, huge improvements” over the previous year. More stable principal leadership at Allegheny and its magnet status could account partly for the disparity, Mr. Fogarty said. Allegheny and other elementaries like Concord, Dilworth and Fulton, he said, “are going to be our beacons ... our lighthouses to how we can move forward as a district.” 

“In the community that Simon Gratz is in, there’s not too many levers to get young people committed to school,” said Zipay. “Football’s a lever that we can use and a vessel we can use to make sure they’re better in their lives.” On Saturday, Mastery North and Simon Gratz made a bit of prep sports history when they met for the 5A public league championship. It was the first time two schools from the same charter network contended for a city title.”
Mastery charter schools make football history in Philly
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 13, 2017
John Davidson still remembers the date: February 11, 2011. That’s the day his boss, Mastery Charter Schools CEO Scott Gordon, called him with a simple message. “It’s a go,” Davidson recalls Gordon saying. Davidson, an assistant principal for school culture at Mastery’s Lenfest campus, had been lobbying Gordon and other administrators at Philadelphia’s largest charter network to start a football program. The purpose wasn’t to achieve gridiron glory, but instead to retain students who’d been leaving Mastery for high schools with stronger sports programs. “A lot of our young men were leaving in high school,” Davidson said. Football, Davidson argued, would keep kids engaged and enrolled. The Mastery brass agreed, and in the fall of 2011 students from five network campuses merged to form the Mastery North Pumas. That same year, Mastery inherited another football squad, the Bulldogs of Simon Gratz High School. Mastery took over the troubled North Philadelphia school as part of the School District of Philadelphia’s Renaissance initiative, which converts struggling traditional public schools into charters.

Thackston mostly keeps up with initial deadlines
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez, 505-5439/@JuniorG_YD 7:06 p.m. Nov. 13, 2017
Helen Thackston Charter School met most of the initial set of deadlines set in an agreement between the school and the York City School District that will eventually close the charter school in 2019, according to the school's chief executive. CEO Carlos Lopez said all five requirements due Nov. 1 were completed as of Monday, Nov. 13.
The actions due Nov. 1 were:
·         Providing copies of state criminal background checks, child abuse clearances, FBI background checks and other background check documentation for all 2017-18 employees.
·         Submitting evidence that all special educational staff are properly certified.
·         Submitting a completed Statement of Financial Interest form for 2016 for board member Kayla Sanchez.
·         Submitting documentation proving payment plus 5 percent interest to each employee enrolled in the school's 403(b) retirement plan during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.
·         Submitting evidence that a tax claim for the property located at 620 Wallace St. has been fully paid and resolved.
Lopez said all requirements except the tax claim were completed by the Nov. 1 due date.

Eyes on the SRC: November 16, 2017
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools by Karel Kilimnik November 11, 2017 appsphilly.net
 We Did It! -  On Thursday, November 2, Mayor James Kenney gave an address in City Council chambers in which he asked Council to support his decision to call for an end to the SRC. The response was overwhelming approval. Council Education Committee Chair Jannie Blackwell introduced a bill to place a referendum on the May 2018 ballot to amend the City Charter so that, for the first time, Council would have approval power over the Mayor’s choices for a 9-member school board. APPS members have attended every School Reform Commission meeting for the last five years, including special meetings, emergency meetings and Policy Committee meetings. Some of us have attended since the first meeting of the state-imposed board in 2001. No one is happier than we are to witness the dissolution of the SRC and a return to local control. But let’s keep our eyes on the ball and examine the realities behind it.

Rick Saccone, the GOP pick to replace Tim Murphy, viewed as 'unabashedly' Christian
Trib Live WES VENTEICHER  | Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, 6:18 p.m.
Over six years of voting in the General Assembly, Republican Rep. Rick Saccone garnered perhaps the most public attention for his support of legislation promoting Christian values.
Saccone, the Republican Party's newly selected nominee for a March special election to represent the 18th Congressional District, promoted bills that would have allowed schools to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” and would have declared 2012 to be “The Year of the Bible.” In a speech following his nomination Saturday, Saccone, who represents the 39th legislative district covering parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, pledged that if elected to Congress he would pursue a conservative agenda in line with that of President Trump.

Here’s Why Music Education Is Essential For Underserved Schools
Sway Calloway and VH1 Save The Music Foundation discuss the mental and emotional benefits of music programs for kids.
Huffington Post By Taryn Finley 11/09/2017 02:06 pm ET Updated 2 days ago
Sway Calloway knows firsthand the life lessons kids receive while learning to play instruments. Mastering the song flute, clarinet and alto saxophone fostered a love for music that he eventually turned into a career as one of the most well-known hip-hop journalists today.  “What I learned from music is a lot about melody and that’s how I communicate,” the Oakland native told HuffPost, citing his interview strategy. “I learned a lot about rhythm and as I got older, I learned how to make that translate into social skills, how to communicate with people, how to talk to folks, when you talk to folks, when you jump out, when you interject.” Sway Calloway speaks onstage at VH1 Save The Music 20th Anniversary Gala in New York City. He may not professionally play an instrument today, but music education opened up doors for Calloway ― whose family was on public assistance when he was younger ― that he may not have found otherwise. Music programs in schools have been proven to keep students engaged in the classroom; improve early cognitive development, math and reading skills; develop critical thinking skills; and foster confidence among students, according to the National Association of Music Merchants.

Democrats' Recent Election Gains: The K-12 Repercussions
Charter, funding issues in N.J., Va., Wash. state
Education Week By Daarel Burnette II November 10, 2017
The Democratic gains in this week's New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington elections will have repercussions in all three states in their long-simmering debates over the expansion of charter schools, school funding, testing, and other K-12 issues. And the political maneuvers used by education policy advocates to animate moderate voters over those issues could provide a script for other states next year when 38 governorships and four-fifths of state legislative seats are up for election. Currently, more than 25 state capitals are completely controlled by Republicans, while Democrats hold both the governorships and legislatures in just seven states. That control will have big implications for K-12 in coming years, with governors and state lawmakers taking on added power to shape their states' education agendas in the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

November School Leader Advocacy Training
PASA, PASBO, PSBA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, the PARSS and PAIU are offering five, full-day School Leader Advocacy Training sessions at the following locations:
Wednesday, November 15 – Berks County I.U. 14 (Reading)
Thursday, November 16 – Midwestern I.U. 4 (Grove City)
Friday, November 17 – Westmoreland I.U. 7 (Greensburg)
Take advantage of this great opportunity – at NO cost to you!
REGISTER TODAY at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SchoolLeaderTraining

Cyber Charter School Application; Public Hearing November 20
Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, October 14, 2017 NOTICES - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
The Department of Education (Department) has scheduled one date for a public hearing regarding a cyber charter school application that was received on or before October 2, 2017. The hearing will be held on November 20, 2017, in Heritage Room A on the lobby level of 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126 at 9 a.m. The hearing pertains to the applicant seeking to operate a cyber charter school beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The purpose of the hearing is to gather information from the applicant about the proposed cyber charter school as well as receive comments from interested individuals regarding the application. The name of the applicant, copies of the application and a listing of the date and time scheduled for the hearing on the application can be viewed on the Department's web site at www.education.pa.gov. Individuals who wish to provide comments on the application during the hearing must provide a copy of their written comments to the Department and the applicant on or before November 6, 2017. Comments provided by this deadline and presented at the hearing will become part of the certified record. For questions regarding this hearing, contact the Division of Charter Schools, (717) 787-9744, charterschools@pa.gov.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education Cyber Charter School Application for Commonwealth Education Connections Cyber Charter School 2017
Charter School Application Submitted: September 27, 2017

Support the Notebook and see Springsteen on Broadway
The notebook October 2, 2017 — 10:57am
Donate $50 or more until Nov. 10, enter to win – and have your donation doubled!
"This music is forever for me. It's the stage thing, that rush moment that you live for. It never lasts, but that's what you live for." – Bruce Springsteen
You can be a part of a unique Bruce Springsteen show in his career – and support local, nonprofit education journalism!  Donate $50 or more to the Notebook through Nov. 10, and your donation will be doubled, up to $1,000, through the Knight News Match. Plus, you will be automatically entered to win a pair of prime tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway!  One winner will receive two tickets to the 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, show at the Walter Kerr Theatre. These are amazing orchestra section seats to this incredible sold-out solo performance. Don't miss out on your chance to see the Boss in his Broadway debut. Donate to the Notebook today online or by mail at 699 Ranstead St., 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 10 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·         Jan. 6, Haverford Middle School
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at michelle.kunkel@psba.org. Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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