Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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Keystone State Education Coalition
Almost no mention of K12 in SOTU; quick nod to career/tech ed
It takes a community: Community schools provide opportunities for all
Everyone benefits when a school assumes responsibility for coordinating services that address the many nonacademic needs of students and their families.
Kappan Online February 2018 Issue By Reuben Jacobson, Lisa Villarreal, José Muñoz, and Robert Mahaffey
At one school, a teacher shows up every day with a solid lesson plan and a great attitude. She has most of her students engaged, working in groups, and doing all the classroom practices we know represent high-quality pedagogy. However, several of her students are missing from school — again. One student is absent because he cares for two younger siblings in the morning, but the teacher doesn’t know how to get him help. One is too hungry to focus, but there is no breakfast program at her school. One has trouble staying awake and cries a lot, and two others are frustrated because they need glasses and can’t see what’s written on the blackboard. At the end of the day, many of her students will head home to an unpredictable, unsafe environment or may wander the neighborhood unsupervised, perhaps getting into trouble. The teacher remains committed to her work, but she wonders how she will ever be able to succeed with students who have “so many problems.” At another school, students start their day by meeting with local mentors over breakfast. During third period, a student must be excused for her annual checkup, but instead of leaving school to go to the doctor, she sees a pediatrician at the school-based health clinic and then returns to class. When the traditional school day ends, a dozen volunteers come to the school to lead after-school activities that students have asked for, including robotics, music, and athletics. Later that evening, students and their parents come to the school for a regularly scheduled community dinner provided by the district, where teachers are on hand to help students with homework, and parents receive guidance on registering for health insurance and connecting to needed social services.
“Bottom line: the Supreme Court, righting one wrong, has created another. While rightly tackling Pennsylvania’s horribly gerrymandered congressional districts, they have unwisely unleashed an inherently unstable process that creates more problems than it solves. Fortunately, the court still has time to accomplish its original noble goal by extending the time frame to produce a new map by an additional 30-45 days.”
Guest Column: Redistricting? Court created chaos on the Susquehanna
By G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young, Delco Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 01/30/18, 7:35 PM EST
G. Terry Madonna is Professor of Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College; Young is a speaker, pollster, author, and was professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Penn State University.
A shock it was not. The dramatic decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to strike down the state’s 2011 Republican-drawn congressional boundary lines was not a huge surprise. At some point, the egregious gerrymandering implemented in the state earlier this decade was bound to be struck down – both on the merits and the hard political fact that the state Supreme Court now sports a commanding 5-2 Democratic majority. Might met right on this one and both prevailed in finding that the 2011 voting district lines violated the state constitution. The rejected 2011 maps were designed to ensure that Republicans would dominate congressional elections in the state throughout the decade; they accomplished this brilliantly, giving them 13 of 18 seats, despite Democrats holding an 800,000 active voter edge. They did this by creating some voting districts whose shapes are so horrendous they made Pennsylvania an ongoing national joke. One particular atrocious example is the 7th congressional district in Delaware County, one of the most gerrymandered in the nation. So grotesquely disfigured, it was nicknamed “Goofy chasing Donald Duck.”
Deadline for Philly school board applications extended
The notebook January 30, 2018 — 1:43pm
Applicants will get an extra week to apply for a position on the mayor’s new school board. The nominating panel is extending the deadline for applications to Feb. 7. Applications can be submitted through the online form, and paper applications can be picked up and dropped off at City Hall, Room 204. “We are incredibly pleased that nearly 500 individuals have already applied and submitted nominations,” nominating panel chair Wendell Pritchett said in a statement. “We want to make sure that as many interested and qualified Philadelphians as possible are able to apply, so we are extending the deadline to allow more time for outreach and to ensure that all interested applicants can submit their applications in time for us to review.” The nominating panel will submit a final list of 27 nominees to the mayor by the end of February, and the mayor will pick nine members to appoint to the board sometime in March. The board will get oriented while the School Reform Commission is still operating, between April and June, and then assume control of District governance on July 1. For residents who would like to learn more about the process of re-establishing local control of the District, city officials will hold information sessions on the following dates:
As SRC nears end, Philly charter schools turn up the heat on City Hall
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent January 30, 2018
Hundreds of Philadelphia charter school students and supporters rallied at City Hall Tuesday, demanding representation on the new board of education and better charter agreements from the school district. The turnout and location — City Hall instead of school district headquarters — foreshadowed a new kind of school politics, one where interest groups target city leaders instead of state appointees. “The message should be loud and clear that the whole educational landscape is changing, the governance landscape, which means that the balance of power is going to start right here in City Hall,” said David Hardy, former head of Boys Latin Charter School in Southwest Philadelphia. “We wanted to get to the people who are going to be making decisions in the future.”
“With the return of local control and the enhanced power of the mayor and Council in driving school policy, charter leaders are concerned about maintaining the commitment to this approach. Now, 70,000 students attend 84 charters in the city – about 35 percent of those in publicly funded schools.”
Hundreds rally in City Hall for charter schools
They are seeking to influence who is chosen for the Board of Education and to get Council support in disputes with District regulations.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa January 30, 2018 — 6:43pm
Charter school proponents flooded City Hall on Tuesday to demonstrate their political clout, urge the appointment of a new Board of Education that will be charter-friendly, and draw attention to their ongoing dispute with the District over conditions for charters' operation and renewal. Several City Council members attended the start of the rally, which filled the Mayor’s Reception Room to overflowing and sent scores of people to a second room down the hall. Parents, teachers, and students held signs such as “School board for all” and “Stand with charters.” “We are for charter schools,” said City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell before leaving to attend another event. “We know how the parents in the community feel about them — they love them, and they feel they are safe there.” Mayor Kenney appointed a 13-member nominating committee that will submit to him 27 names, from which he will choose a new nine-member board to replace the School Reform Commission. The SRC is a state-dominated body that has run the District for 17 years and was installed in part to usher in a “portfolio” model of schooling that included charters and other schools that were privately managed.
Amid a standoff with Philly schools, hundreds rally for chartersInquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | email@example.com Updated: JANUARY 30, 2018 — 4:24 PM EST
Amid an ongoing standoff with the Philadelphia School District, hundreds of people rallied for Philadelphia charter schools at City Hall on Tuesday. For nearly two years, some charter schools have refused to sign their operating agreements, saying the terms demanded by the district’s charter school office threaten “our existence and our autonomy,” said Scott Gordon, CEO of Mastery Charter Schools, the city’s largest charter network. Tension between charters and traditional public schools is nothing new, but Tuesday brought the feud over accountability and perceived overreach into sharp public relief. Flanked by several City Council members, parents, students and officials from 15 charter networks and schools called on the School District to soften its stance on charter renewals. They also urged Mayor Kenney to consider charter interests as he prepares to form a new school board.
“The notion that the closure of several Philadelphia schools was caused by greedy charter school operators is ludicrous. The primary culprit was a long-accumulating budget deficit (totaling $1.35 billion), brought on by bureaucratic bloat, inefficiency, and declining school enrollment — which saw more than a quarter of school seats empty and left the district with badly underused buildings in need of millions of dollars in repairs.”
Hollywood Takes On Philadelphia Schools — And Fails
Real Clear Education Opinion By Sen. Anthony Williams, David Hardy & Sharif El-Mekki January 30, 2018
As native Philadelphians who have pursued careers — as a state legislator, a founder of a local charter school, and a school principal — focused on empowering individuals and communities, we feel an obligation to Philadelphia’s children to ensure they receive high-quality education. In Philadelphia that has meant establishing charter schools and providing scholarships to support parents’ ability, and right, to decide how best to educate their children. In an ideal world, this issue would not be so pressing. All schools would excel academically, provide excellent environments for learning, and be accessible to kids from all corners of the city. But we are far removed from that ideal. Many of Philadelphia’s schools fail to provide anything approaching a quality academic experience. Instruction is below par; students are not challenged academically; and the environment can be dangerous. Hence, the growth of charter schools and the community and parental empowerment they foster. A documentary being screened in cities around the country, and shown here to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), purports to show how our public schools — and public schools everywhere — are being forced to close because charter schools are stealing “their” money.
Last Night We Lay Down In The Street To Protest Closed Door Meetings About Public Education in Philadelphia
Wrench in the Gears Blog January 30, 2018
Public education activists are living through an interesting moment now in Philadelphia. The School Reform Commission is being disbanded. In the coming months Mayor Jim Kenney will be appointing a school board from nominations put forth by a select panel. The process is murky, and a pattern of closed-door education policy decision-making has been established here, here, and here. Last night, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce held a ticketed event to discuss the future of business in our schools at Girard College, an important site of struggle in the Civil Rights Movement. You had to be a Chamber of Commerce affiliate to purchase a $35 ticket for the event, which included the following language on the event website. One of the lead sponsors of the night’s event was Comcast, the Philadelphia-based telecommunications giant that established a partnership with Khan Academy in 2013 and would benefit tremendously from increased digitization of public education. It appears the future of public education in our city is being mapped out by industry, venture capital, and well-connected non-profit and higher education partners. The people, meanwhile, are left standing outside the gate. Last night, however, the real action WAS outside the gate as a dozen activists carried out an act of civil disobedience to contest policies of exclusion and shine a light on the mayor’s hypocrisy in casting this new school board as a step towards accountable local control. Because what does “local control” actually mean if educational policies are being directed by the hands of elite interests in Greek Temples with no teachers, students, or parents present?
Berks County schools welcome Puerto Rican students
Institutions educate and aim to help those who fled in wake of Hurricane MariaReading Eagle WRITTEN BY ANTHONY OROZCO AND JEREMY LONG SUNDAY JANUARY 28, 2018 12:01 AM
READING, PA — U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent and Lloyd Smucker last month called for more federal assistance for schools experiencing an influx of students from Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Republican lawmakers note that hundreds of students from the island have arrived in local school districts in recent weeks. Dent and Smucker, who represent portions of Berks County, reported hundreds of students came into local districts, presenting a need for more staffing and resources. The Reading School District and neighboring districts have reported taking on students from the hurricane-ravaged island and allocating educators and resources to meet those needs. Districts also report a mix of reactions to the new arrivals, with some characterizing it as business as usual, but the districts do find common ground in welcoming any additional funds that can come their way.
His agency has found missing documentation or missing criminal-background checks for drivers during audits of 58 districts going back to 2013. In all of those cases, he said, the districts were using contractors to provide bus services. DePasquale said districts have a legal responsibility to ensure drivers are qualified, even if they are not district employees.
Audit finds Pennsylvania school bus drivers with criminal convictions
Delco Times By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press POSTED: 01/30/18, 2:23 PM EST
HARRISBURG >> Ineligible drivers have ended up behind the wheel of Pennsylvania school buses, including some with assault and other disqualifying criminal convictions, the state auditor general’s office said Tuesday. The agency said a new a state audit found that five bus drivers working for a contractor in the Lancaster School District had convictions that should have kept them from doing jobs that involve direct contact with children, including a drug offense, a firearms violation and felony assault. In all, 21 of 132 bus drivers in the district did not meet employment standards, including 11 that lacked a valid driver’s license, required training or a physical exam, the agency said. The school district said its bus contractor has since removed the ineligible drivers and the district has changed its oversight process regarding bus driver qualifications. Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that in a series of audits released over the past five years, his agency also found five other drivers in three districts who were ineligible because of convictions. “To say that this is insane would be an understatement,” DePasquale said. “This should be the wake-up call — I’m going to call everyone out statewide if they do this.”
Hundreds of Pa. bus drivers unqualified to transport students, five years of state audits show
Penn Live By Jan Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Updated Jan 30, 6:48 PM; Posted Jan 30, 4:37 PMFive people with criminal convictions of assault, drug pushing and illegal possession of a firearm were sitting in the driver's seat of school buses transporting some Lancaster School District students despite being ineligible to do so, according to a state audit released on Tuesday. While that is the most extreme case of school bus driver qualification problems that his auditors encountered in any one school district, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said it's not the first time they've seen this. Since 2013, his auditors have found 724 deficiencies in 58 school districts around the state where driver documentation including a valid driver's license, criminal background checks, and other required certification were missing. In every instance, it has involved drivers employed by outside bus contractors that districts hire.
Pennsylvania’s high court to hear appeal of Philly soda tax
Delco Times By The Associated Press POSTED: 01/30/18, 2:50 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA >> Pennsylvania’s highest court will hear an appeal in a lawsuit challenging Philadelphia’s year-old tax on soda and other sweetened drinks by the industry and retailers. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a brief order Tuesday saying it would hear the appeal on whether the tax violates a 1932 law prohibiting Philadelphia from taxing a transaction or subject already taxed by the state. A lower court upheld Philadelphia’s 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. That court’s majority said the beverage tax doesn’t duplicate the state sales tax because it is imposed on distributors and thus hits a different target. The money from the tax is designed to help pay for prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers.
If fully passed onto consumers, the tax is $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles.
“He said the district is required to prepare a balanced budget by state law. Mr. McCullough also said without mandated payments to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, the district would have no financial problems.
After the meeting, Mr. Zahorchak said the district’s required payments into the pension fund, which totaled just over $1 million a year five to six years ago, have ballooned to just under $10 million per year.”
Plum school board taking steps to balance budgetPost-Gazette by ANNE CLOONAN JAN 30, 2018 11:58 PM
Plum school board members took the first step Tuesday toward closing Regency Park Elementary School. School directors voted to advertise a hearing set for Feb. 20 to gather public comments on the possible closing. District solicitor Bruce Dice said the hearing will probably be held at 7 p.m. District business manager John Zahorchak has said closing the school would save the financially troubled district about $1.4 million. Currently, the district faces a $5 million budget deficit for the 2018-19 school year. Earlier this month, Mr. Zahorchak said closing the school could result in 11 to 19 furloughs, depending on how many teachers retire this year. The board heard a detailed presentation from Wayne McCullough of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, which conducted a financial review of the district.
“By 1830, the population of Beaver County had ballooned to over 24,000, a 57 percent jump in one decade. While Pennsylvania’s Constitution had called for public schools since 1790, no funding component was created until 1834. In that year, the state passed the Free School Act, which authorized the collection of public taxes for education purposes. Almost immediately, the pressing need for expanding schooling was tackled. Communities began developing school districts shortly after the Free School Act was passed. An 1835 chart of Beaver County’s school districts showed that 18 districts had begun collecting taxes for education. These included the districts of North Beaver, Little Beaver and Shenango, which would be lost to the creation of Lawrence County in 1849.”
Histories & Mysteries: One-room schoolhouses were Beaver County’s ticket to education
Beaver County Times By Jeffrey Snedden For The Times Posted Jan 30, 2018 at 2:00 AM
“The schoolhouse was a cabin built of hewn logs, frequently without clapboards or even shingles, and with perhaps two or more four-pane windows with greased paper for lights.” – The Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, 1904. That was the description of Beaver County’s earliest one-room schoolhouses, as given by our county’s most profound historian in his 1904 book, “History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania.” The Rev. Bausman went on to describe the “furniture” of the schoolhouse, which essentially boiled down to several hand-carved benches and a log stool for the teacher. A pot-bellied, wood-burning stove would be centrally located in the small building, offering heat for those blistering winter mornings. Students of all ages would huddle inside the school to learn the “three R’s” – readin’, ‘ritin’, and ’rithmetic – along with their daily Bible verses. One of the very first schoolhouses in Beaver County was erected in Beaver before the county was officially formed. In 1789, local men used the discarded wood of Fort McIntosh to construct a log cabin on what is today Second Avenue. This cabin was used for several purposes, including as a tavern, until 1799. In that year, Electra Smith taught her first classes at the new “Beavertown” school.
“There was almost no mention of K-12 schools in the speech, including Trump's favorite issue: school choice. Trump did ask lawmakers to enact paid family leave, and gave a quick nod to the importance of career and technical education.”
Trump Calls on Congress to Help 'Dreamers,' Bolster Borders
Education Week By Alyson Klein on January 30, 2018 10:22 PM
Washington, D.C. - President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union address to call on Congress to create a path of citizenship to "Dreamers"—including thousands of current K-12 teachers and students who were brought to the country as undocumented children—while boosting border security and significantly restricting legal immigration. And he asked Democrats to join him passing an infrastructure bill, without specifically asking for new resources for school construction—a priority for many in the education community.
“The Charles Koch Institute distributed roughly $100 million to 350 colleges and universities last year, up sevenfold over the past five years. What’s newer is the emphasis on elementary and secondary education. The network declined to offer exact figures but said it will double investment in K-12 this year, with much more planned down the road.”
The Daily 202: Koch network laying groundwork to fundamentally transform America’s education systemBy James Hohmann January 30 at 8:06 AM Email the author
THE BIG IDEA: INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The Koch network will spend around $400 million on politics and policy this election cycle, but that’s only part of a grander effort to fundamentally transform America.
Making a long-term play, the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and his like-minded friends on the right are increasingly focused on melding the minds of the next generation by making massive, targeted investments in both K-12 and higher education. Changing the education system as we know it was a central focus of a three-day donor seminar that wrapped up late last night at a resort here in the desert outside Palm Springs. “We’ve made more progress in the last five years than I had in the last 50,” Koch told donors during a cocktail reception. “The capabilities we have now can take us to a whole new level. … We want to increase the effectiveness of the network … by an order of magnitude. If we do that, we can change the trajectory of the country.”
Leaders of the network dreamed of disrupting the status quo, customizing learning and breaking the teacher unions. One initial priority is expanding educational saving accounts and developing technologies that would let parents pick and choose private classes or tutors for their kids the same way people shop on Amazon. They envision making it easy for families to join together to start their own “micro-schools” as a new alternative to the public system.
Advertising in schools?
A number of school districts across the country have turned to advertising as a way to fill budget gaps. Some districts have offered corporate naming rights to buildings and others have allowed ads on buses and lockers. A reporter for the Harrisburg Patriot-News is investigating the prevalence of ads in Pa. schools and needs your help. Please contact him if you’re aware of any of the following in your area:
· Ads placed on sports uniforms, school buses, lockers, or other areas of school grounds.
· Corporate sponsorship of sports fields, buildings, parking lots, or other school property.
· Ads on school websites or newsletters.
· Any other examples of advertising or sponsorship in the school environment or curriculum.
You can reach reporter Daniel Simmons-Ritchie at email@example.com or on 717-255-8162
NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4 - 6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.Register Now
Come a day early and attend the Equity Symposium!
Join hundreds of public education advocates on Capitol Hill and help shape the decisions made in Washington D.C. that directly impact our students. At the 2018 Advocacy Institute, you’ll gain insight into the most critical issues affecting public education, sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Whether you are an expert advocator or a novice, attend and experience inspirational keynote speakers and education sessions featuring policymakers, legal experts and policy influencers. All designed to help you advocate for your students and communities.
Local School Board Members to Advocate on Capitol Hill in 2018
NSBA's Advocacy Institute 2018 entitled, "Elected. Engaged. Empowered: Representing the Voice in Public Education," will be held on February 4-6, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. This conference will convene Members of Congress, national thought-leaders, state association executives and well-known political pundits to provide local school board members with an update on key policy and legal issues impacting public education, and tactics and strategies to enhance their ability to influence the policy-making process and national education debate during their year-round advocacy efforts.
WHAT'S NEW - ADVOCACY INSTITUTE '18?
· Confirmed National Speaker: Cokie Roberts, Political Commentator for NPR and ABC News
· NSBA will convene first ever National School Board Town Hall on School Choice
· Includes General Sessions featuring national policy experts, Members of Congress, "DC Insiders" and local school board members
· Offers conference attendees "Beginner" and "Advanced" Advocacy breakout sessions
· NSBA will host a Hill Day Wrap-Up ReceptionClick here to register for the Advocacy Institute. The hotel block will close on Monday, January 15
PSBA Closer Look Series Public Briefings
The Closer Look Series Public Briefings will take a deeper dive into concepts contained in the proposed Pennsylvania State Budget and the State of Education Report. Sessions will harness the expertise of local business leaders, education advocates, government and local school leaders from across the state. Learn more about the fiscal health of schools, how workforce development and early education can be improved and what local schools are doing to improve the State of Education in Pennsylvania. All sessions are free and open to the public.
Connecting Student Success to Employment
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel – Pittsburgh Green Tree Feb. 27, 2018, 7-8:45 a.m.
More than eight out of 10 students taking one or more industry-specific assessments are achieving either at the competent or advanced level. How do we connect student success to jobs in the community? What does the connection between schools and the business community look like and how can it be improved? How do we increase public awareness of the growing demand for workers in the skilled trades and other employment trends in the commonwealth? Hear John Callahan, PSBA assistant executive director, and Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, give a free, public presentation on these topics followed by a Q&A period.
A Deeper Dive into the State of Education
Crowne Plaza Philadelphia – King of Prussia March 6, 2018, 7-8:45 a.m.
In the State of Education Report, 40% of schools stated that 16% to 30% of students joining schools at kindergarten or first grade are below the expected level of school readiness. Learn more about the impact of early education and what local schools are doing to improve the State of Education in Pennsylvania. A free, public presentation by local and legislative experts will be followed by a Q&A period.
Public Education Under Extreme Pressure
Hilton Harrisburg March 12, 2018, 7-8:45 a.m.
According to the State of Education Report, 84% of all school districts viewed budget pressures as the most difficult area to manage over the past year. With so many choices and pressures, school districts must make decisions to invest in priorities while managing their locally diverse budgets. How does the state budget impact these decisions? What investments does the business community need for the future growth of the economy and how do we improve the health, education and well-being of students who attend public schools in the commonwealth in this extreme environment? Hear local and legislative leaders in a free, public presentation on these topics followed by a Q&A period.
Registration for these public briefings: https://www.psba.org/2018/01/closer-look-series-public-briefings/
Registration is now open for the 2018 PASA Education Congress! State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018
Don't miss this marquee event for Pennsylvania school leaders at the Nittany Lion Inn, State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018.
Learn more by visiting http://www.pasa-net.org/2018edcongress
SAVE THE DATE for the 2018 PA Educational Leadership Summit - July 29-31 - State College, PA sponsored by the PA Principals Association, PASA, PAMLE and PASCD.
This year's Summit will be held from July 29-31, 2018 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA.
Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.