Editorial: Aiming toward fair funding for Pa. schools
Delco Times/Pottstown Mercury Editorial December 30, 2018
With slow but steady progress, fair funding for Pennsylvania schools moved along in 2018, inching toward a resolution that would make public education equitable across the commonwealth. As 2019 begins, we continue our push to keep the effort on track with hopes for a finish line somewhere down the road. The effort is being led by schools in the five-county region surrounding Philadelphia. Most notably in this region are the parents in the William Penn School District in Delaware County who initiated a lawsuit against the state Department of Education and district leaders in the Pottstown School District in Montgomery County who tirelessly sound the call for reform. The William Penn lawsuit took a step forward in August, 2018, when Commonwealth Court rejected motions filed on behalf of state Senate President Pro-Tempore Joseph Scarnati and House Speaker Mike Turzai who claimed the 2014 lawsuit was moot after the legislature passed a fair funding formula in 2016. In a four-page opinion, Judge Robert Simpson said it was clear that a “dispute about the significance and adequacy of the funding changes … persists.” The fair funding formula takes into account local factors like special education population and local property tax effort, but the payoff to the districts that would benefit from the formula was curtailed by the provision that only new education funding be distributed that way.
How Pa. schools charted a new course in education policy | Opinion
Pedro Rivera, For the Inquirer Updated: December 31, 2019 - 5:00 AM
Pedro Rivera is Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education.
The major educational initiatives that were launched this year underscore Gov. Tom Wolf’s commitment to a more holistic approach for evaluating student and school success. This approach relies less on test scores and focuses more on developing the skills students need to be college-, career-, and community-ready. As 2018 draws to a close, the state Department of Education thanks students and their parents, public officials, school administrators, and the commonwealth’s dedicated educators for helping us as we chart a new course in education policy. Parents and teachers across the commonwealth have made it clear that there is too much standardized testing. In response, testing time was reduced this spring for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) for students in third through eighth grades, providing more critical time for learning. Gov. Wolf also signed a law that updates high school graduation requirements, giving students several options beyond testing to demonstrate what they have learned and that they are ready to graduate from high school to start a career or continue their education. Parents, educators, and communities said we need a better way to evaluate schools with a broader set of measurements. As part of the state plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the department launched the Future Ready PA Index, the Wolf administration’s new public-facing, one-stop location for comprehensive information and data on student and school success. Developed with input from thousands of stakeholders, the tool uses a dashboard approach to present school-level data and provide parents with a more comprehensive look at how schools are educating all students.
Blogger comment: There seems to be a significant disconnect between PSSA scores and other assessments we are using as college and career readiness measures. In my district, our Keystone Exam, AP, SAT and ACT scores were all significantly higher than our PSSA scores.
Colin McNickle: PSSA results 'not encouraging'
Trib Live COLIN MCNICKLE | Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, 7:06 p.m.
Scores for the 2018 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests have been posted. But, the latest results are not encouraging and raise a host of questions, says the president-emeritus of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. “Pennsylvania needs to get over its excuse-making for poor academic performance, especially considering the sums spent on remedial education and other special programs aimed at improving the quality of education,” says Jake Haulk, now a senior adviser. Third- through eighth-graders are required to take the PSSA tests annually. Student achievement is assigned to one of four levels — “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient” and “advanced.” “Advanced” recognizes the student’s achievement to be above, or well above, the level necessary to move up to the next grade. A “proficient” rating means the student has a grade-level mastery of the subject adequate to move on to the next grade. “Basic” means that student has some understanding but not sufficient to move on without remedial help. “Below basic” means the student has little or no grasp of the subject matter taught in that grade.
“Suffice to say, the 2018 results are not encouraging,” Haulk says.
A ‘to do' list for Pa. Legislature in 2019 | Editorial
By Express-Times opinion staff firstname.lastname@example.org Updated Dec 28; Posted Dec 30, 9:00 AM
The “to-do” list for the Pennsylvania Legislature in the coming session is long and already contentious. Here’s our compilation of law-making priorities for the New Year.
First, a preamble: Unless the Republican leadership in the House and Senate loosens up the rules for debate and votes at the committee and floor levels — opening the process to the rank and file in both parties — the law-making process will continue to be commandeered by a cabal of leaders and committee chairs. The current system allows them to suppress hearings, debate and analysis, and bring preferred bills to the floor at the last minute, robbing members of the time needed to read and absorb them. Without rules changes, other attempts at reform will be knee-capped. We’ll be treated to another four years of stalemates between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his GOP adversaries on the big issues.
'You need all teachers': Schools with diverse student populations still struggle to hire minority educators
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lbehrman@post-gazette.com DEC 29, 2018 11:22 PM
Anthony Carrington spent every afternoon during the first semester of his senior year in high school working with third-grade students at Beechwood PreK-5 in Beechview. The 17-year-old captain of the Pittsburgh Brashear football team worked individually with small groups of students in the school’s hallway. On a recent Thursday afternoon in December, he and five students sat at a small table outside the classroom, reading a short story and writing out summaries in workbooks. “To have him in this room basically provides us with this reality that we never get,” said teacher Tabitha Geramita. Only a dozen of her 25 students are originally from the U.S., but she said the whole class loved the football star who visited them every day. Anthony is one of 20 12th-grade students enrolled in the Pittsburgh school district’s teacher magnet program at Brashear. Students in the program take courses on teaching and classroom management alongside their usual academic courses, and in their senior year they spend a semester teaching actual classes and assisting other teachers throughout the district. This year, all of the seniors who will graduate from the program are African-American.
“At one time, nearly 40 percent of the city’s teachers were black. But for the past two decades, the District’s cadre of African American teachers has been steadily declining. In 2001, 34 percent of the city’s teachers were black. Today, that number stands at 24 percent.”
Fewer black teachers, disappearing diversity among Philadelphia school staffs has no easy solutions
Dale Mezzacappa December 26 — 12:09 pm, 2018
Kylie Newton grew up in North Philadelphia, attended Duckery Elementary, Conwell Middle, and Girls High schools. A graduate of Penn State with a communications degree, she tried journalism and merchandising before she realized what she really wanted to do all along: teach. She is now as a student teacher in a kindergarten class at Blaine Elementary, a school in her old neighborhood. She wants to stay there after she gets her certification from Gynnedd-Mercy College in Collegeville. People like Newton, Superintendent Bill Hite hopes, will anchor the future of Philadelphia’s teaching force — homegrown teachers of color. Philadelphia has long been a center for distinguished black educators, many of them products of the city’s large black middle class who entered teaching at a time when it was one of the few professions open to African Americans.
Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record
Small raises, budget frustration and opportunities elsewhere persuade teachers and other public-education workers to move on
Wall Street Journal By Michelle Hackman and Eric Morath Dec. 28, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET
Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record, government data shows. A tight labor market with historically low unemployment has encouraged Americans in a variety of occupations to , with the expectation they can find something better. But quitting among public educators stands out because the field is one where stability is viewed as a key perk and longevity often rewarded. The educators may be finding new jobs at other schools, or leaving education altogether: The departures come alongside protests this year in six states where teachers in some cases shut down schools over tight budgets, small raises and poor conditions. In the first 10 months of 2018, public educators quit at an average rate of 83 per 10,000 a month, according to the Labor Department. While that is still well below the rate for American workers overall—231 voluntary departures per 10,000 workers in 2018—it is the highest rate for public educators since such records began in 2001.
What were the top Philly education stories of the year?
the Notebook December 28 — 7:24 pm, 2018
The biggest story in Philadelphia public education in 2018 was the return of the District to local control, and our list of the most-read Notebook stories include several covering this momentous event. Mayor Kenney appointed a Board of Education nearly two decades after a state takeover that was sold as a way to save the District financially and improve it academically — but delivered on neither promise. To the extent that the District progressed during those years, it was not due to the change in governance. In fact, it was under state control that the District suffered some of its deepest funding cuts, resulting in devastating losses of nurses, counselors, and other personnel in many schools. The return to local control comes with high hopes, but no guarantees. The underlying issues that plague the District, and face the nine-member Board of Education, remain intact, primarily the deep poverty of so many of its students and the political barriers to raising enough money from any source to truly meet their needs. None of our stories about the landmark funding lawsuit made our top 20 most read pieces, but clearly the progress of this litigation to a full trial — although it won’t occur until 2020 — ranks as one of the year’s top stories.
Michelle Malkin: Beware Silicon Valley Santas in schools
Trib Live Commentary by MICHELLE MALKIN | Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, 7:03 p.m.
When it comes to Silicon Valley Santas bearing gifts for our children, I am a big Scrooge. Every responsible parent should be, too. In 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook showered a rural Idaho school district with 500 iPads and Apple TVs for every classroom, along with free training as part of a 29-state $100 million personalized digital technology program. He visited the Idaho schools recently with Ivanka Trump, where she praised the “laboratories of innovation” for using Apple products “to transform the learning environment and personalize students’ educational experiences based on their unique needs and strengths!” This is what I call Edutech Shiny Toy Syndrome. And, it’s out of control. Kids don’t need screens for individualized educational experiences. They are already on those stultifying, addictive, isolating screens far too much. Bah! Humbug! Why give captive schoolchildren more tech crack inside the classroom ? And, what is this “personalized learning” mumbo jumbo? That’s what human beings — you know, parents and teachers — are for at home and at school. Besides, after three years, what is the actual proof that all of Apple’s and Google’s and Microsoft’s infiltration of the classroom is producing actual academic improvement and results? There is none.
Hidden crisis: D.C.-area students owe nearly half a million in K-12 school lunch debt
Washington Post By Heather Long December 28
As students in the Washington area went home for winter break, a substantial number were in debt — to the school cafeteria. Students in the Washington area owe nearly half a million dollars so far this school year in “lunch debt,” according to an analysis by The Washington Post. These are K-12 students in public schools who did not have enough money to pay for meals in their school cafeteria, so they racked up debt to eat. In some cases, students who cannot pay for lunch are denied hot food and handed a cheese sandwich, according to policy in numerous school districts across the country, including in Prince George’s County Public Schools. The National School Lunch Program, established in the 1940s, pays free and reduced-cost lunches for millions of U.S. students, but the debts make clear some students still aren’t getting by. School lunch debt in the Washington area ranges from about $20,000 in the Alexandria City Public Schools to $127,000 in D.C. Public Schools. Tens of thousands of students in the six public school districts in and around the nation’s capital are in the red, according to district officials.
Top Education Stories of 2018: Education Week’s Most Viewed
Get a sense of what was high on educators’ priority lists in 2018. This list of Education Week’s 10 most-viewed news articles and blog posts provides insight into what piqued the interest of our audience of teachers, school leaders, and more.
Happy New Year!
“Lunar eclipse (Jan. 21): The lunar eclipse will be the night of Jan. 20-21, the Wolf moon. Total eclipse -- when the moon turns red as it passes through the darkest part of Earth's shadow -- will begin at 11:41 p.m. Eastern time and last just over an hour. The entire event will be visible in North and South America. This will be the last total lunar eclipse until May 2021.”
Full moon dates 2019: A January lunar eclipse, full moon names and meanings, and meteor showers 2019 calendar
By Steve Novak | For lehighvalleylive.com | Posted December 31, 2018 at 07:15 AM
The first full moon of 2019 will give stargazers plenty to howl about. Known as the Wolf moon, it will also be the year's first and only total lunar eclipse. This calendar is broken up into three sections: The dates of every 2019 full moon (and the full moon names and meanings), then 2019 eclipses and finally, meteor showers. Here's hoping for good weather and clear skies.
Pennsylvania schools work – for students, communities and the economy when adequate resources are available to give all students an equal opportunity to succeed.
Join A Movement that Supports our Schools & Communities
PA Schools Work website
Our students are in classrooms that are underfunded and overcrowded. Teachers are paying out of pocket and picking up the slack. And public education is suffering. Each child in Pennsylvania has a right to an excellent public education. Every child, regardless of zip code, deserves access to a full curriculum, art and music classes, technical opportunities and a safe, clean, stable environment. All children must be provided a level chance to succeed. PA Schools Work is fighting for equitable, adequate funding necessary to support educational excellence. Investing in public education excellence is the path to thriving communities, a stable economy and successful students.
Build on finance, policy, board culture skills at PSBA’s Applied School Director Training
Four convenient locations in December and January
Take the next step in your professional development with Applied School Director Training. Building upon topics broadly covered in New School Director Training, this new, interactive evening event asks district leaders to dive deeper into three areas of school governance: school finance, board policy and working collaboratively as a governance team. Prepare for future leadership positions and committee work in this workshop-style training led by experts and practitioners. Learn how to:
Dec.11, 2018 — Seneca Valley SD
Dec. 12, 2018 — Selinsgrove, Selinsgrove Area Middle School
Jan. 10, 2019 — Bethlehem, Nitschmann Middle School
Jan. 17, 2019 — State College
Cost: This event is complimentary for All-Access members or $75 per person with standard membership and $150 per person for nonmembers. Register online by logging in to myPSBA.
PASBO is looking for leaders! The deadline for board seats is Dec 31st, 2018.
PASBO members who desire to seek election as Director or Vice President should send a letter of intent with a current resume and picture to the Immediate Past President Edward G. Poprik, PCSBO, who is chair of the PASBO Nominations and Elections Committee.
NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact .
PSBA Board Presidents’ Panel
Nine locations around the state running Jan 29, 30 and 31st.
Share your leadership experience and learn from others in your area at this event designed for board presidents, superintendents and board members with interest in pursuing leadership roles. Workshop real solutions to the specific challenges you face with a PSBA-moderated panel of school leaders. Discussion will address the most pressing challenges facing PA public schools.
Annual PenSPRA Symposium set for March 28-29, 2019
Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association Website
Once again, PenSPRA will hold its annual symposium with nationally-recognized speakers on hot topics for school communicators. The symposium, held at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University, promises to provide time for collegial sharing and networking opportunities. Mark you calendars now!
We hope you can join us. Plans are underway, so check back for more information.
2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
Save the date: PSBA Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg has been scheduled for Monday April 29, 2019
Save the Date: PARSS Annual Conference May 1-3, 2019
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools