Friday, March 23, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 23: Report finds most states shortchange high-poverty schools

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Report finds most states shortchange high-poverty schools

2018 PSBA Advocacy Day April 16, 2018 Harrisburg
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the annual Advocacy Day on Monday, April 16, 2018, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. PSBA is partnering with Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units to have a stronger voice for public education. Hear how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. This event is free for members; registration is required.
Register online here:

“The report debunks the common idea that public education across the nation is failing. Instead, it presents a picture of high academic achievement in most states among students in affluent districts, with few exceptions. “This groundbreaking report should serve as a wakeup call to policymakers and educators around the nation,” David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center in New Jersey, said in a statement. “The U.S. education system as a whole is far from failing. Instead, particular states and regions of the country are letting their students and the entire nation down by failing to provide the resources needed for students to reach their potential.”
Report finds most states shortchange high-poverty schools
Called "The Real Shame of the Nation," the study finds a close relationship between spending and test scores.
The notebook by Greg Windle March 22, 2018 — 2:24pm
Poor districts get far less money than needed to help students achieve average scores on standardized tests, and a financial analysis shows that higher test scores follow the money, says a new national report. The report examines the relationship between school funding and student achievement among the country’s school districts, grouped by states and subdivided by poverty levels. Conducted by researchers at Rutgers University and released by the Education Law Center of New Jersey, the full report is titled The Real Shame of the Nation: The Causes and Consequences of Interstate Inequity in Public School Investments. It found that almost all states fund public schools far below the level needed to enable students in the poorest districts to perform at the national average in standardized tests. It also found that districts get what they pay for. Those that spent more than the amount needed to achieve average test scores typically exceeded the benchmark, while those that spent less than needed usually did not.

SB2: Peters Township School District resolution opposes state tuition voucher plan
The Almanac by Harry Funk Mar 22, 2018 Updated 16 hrs ago
Peters Township School Board has approved a resolution that opposes a state Senate bill calling for a tuition voucher program, but one board member insisted it be clear that the vote was not unanimous. “I would like my name as an opposing vote on the document,” the Rev. Jamison Hardy, who joined William Merrell in dissenting, said at the board’s March 19 meeting. The resolution, drafted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, claims in part that Senate Bill 2 of 2017, known as the Education Savings Account Act, would serve to “undermine Pennsylvania’s responsibility to ensure every student in every community has equal access to public education.” Provisions of the bill – sponsored by Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County – call for the ability of students who live in the service area of a “low-achieving public school” to receive funds through an education savings account to cover tuition and other qualified expenses at nonpublic schools. In turn, money to fund the account is taken from state subsidies to the district of residence.

Gubernatorial candidates want to make schools safer but differ on how
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated 6:18 AM; Posted 5:55 AM
The swift action of a lone school resource officer during Tuesday's shooting incident at a Maryland High School confirmed for one gubernatorial candidate that his plan for making schools safer is the right one. If the armed officer Blaine Gaskill had not been there to immediately confront 17-year-old shooter Austin Wyatt Rollins after he shot two students, wounding them both, it's possible more people could have been injured or killed, said Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York County. Wagner, one of three candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor, wants to put an armed security guard in every school building in Pennsylvania. And he is  calling for the state to pick up the hefty cost. Wagner is convinced the state can find the money to cover that cost by selling off the state liquor stores or redirecting money in the budget that is being spent for something else. While he didn't offer any estimate on what this proposal might cost, it could be as much as $192 million annually if it follows the same guidelines as an existing program.

GOP chief justice slams Republican judicial impeachment move
AP State Wire By MARK SCOLFORO Published: Yesterday
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Republican chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court lashed out Thursday at an effort by a group of GOP state lawmakers to impeach four Democratic justices over their rulings in a congressional redistricting case, calling it "an attack upon an independent judiciary." Chief Justice Thomas Saylor issued a two-sentence statement on the impeachment drive by 12 Republicans in the state House of Representatives. "I am very concerned by the reported filing of impeachment resolutions against justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania related to the court's decision about congressional redistricting," Saylor said. "Threats of impeachment directed against justices because of their decision in a particular case are an attack upon an independent judiciary, which is an essential component of our constitutional plan of government."

“Charter school tuition, 14 percent of the district’s expenditures, is a big expense, projected to cost the district $52.7 million for 2018-19. for the school district. The projected cost for 2018-19 is $52.7 million. The district budgeted $43.1 for this school year in charter school tuition. By comparison, in 2011-12, Allentown paid $15.1 million in charter tuition.”
Allentown School District $28 million in the hole for 2018-19
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 22, 2018
To fill a projected $28 million deficit, a financial management group recommends that the Allentown School District freeze salaries, not fill any vacant positions and try to find a way to curtail the rising charter school costs. At Thursday’s school board meeting, the board heard a report from Dean Kaplan of the Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management independent on the district’s finances. “This is really about being transparent,” Superintendent Thomas Parker said before the report began. PFM is also recommending that the district raise taxes 3.7 percent, increase delinquent real estate tax collections, remove unfilled positions, freeze salaries starting in 2018-19, reduce health care expenditure growth rate, and reduce maintenance and utilities costs. The 3.7 percent tax increase is the district’s Act 1 index, which sets the limit on how high taxes can be raised. If the district followed PFM’s plan, it could still have a projected $14.7 million deficit for 2018-19.

Philly district forecasts five years of balanced budgets, citing new city commitment
A relieved SRC approves the $3.1 billion lump sum budget, which projects a surplus at the end of fiscal 2019 of $135 million.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa and Greg Windle March 22, 2018 — 4:39pm
Buoyed by the promise of nearly a billion new dollars from Mayor Kenney, Philadelphia School District officials are projecting five years of balanced budgets even as they plan to enhance some services for city students. The new figures were unveiled as District Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson presented a $3.15 billion “lump sum” budget to the School Reform Commission on Thursday, along with a five-year plan.  The SRC approved the budget by a 3-0 vote. "This is a step away from the years when we made dramatic closures, and that's exciting," said SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson. "It's been a long haul. There have been some tough years.  This puts the city in the position to provide additional funding until the states does." Wilkerson was hopeful that Harrisburg can be convinced to provide more funding in the future, since "we're in the same boat as most everybody across the commonwealth." The new projections are in stark contrast to the picture painted late last year, when Monson forecast a $700 million annual shortfall by 2022, due to expenditures far outpacing anticipated revenue. At one time, the deficit projection was as high as a billion dollars. But that was before Kenney, in his budget presentation on March 1, promised that the city would back up its resumption of local control of the District with a significant infusion of new cash.

Banking on city cash, Philly school district introduces $3.2B budget
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham & Dan Spinelli, STAFF WRITERS Updated: MARCH 22, 2018 — 6:42 PM EDT
With the promise of a massive cash infusion from the city, the School Reform Commission on Thursday green-lighted the broad outlines of a proposed $3.2 billion budget for next year that would include new spending on additional teachers, supports for struggling students, and building repairs. It is a vastly different picture from last year, when officials projected a budget gap of hundreds of millions of dollars over five years. The Philadelphia School District’s lame-duck governing body lacks the ability to raise its own revenues. Those are rising at a slower pace than its fixed costs. But in the wake of moving for local control of the district, Mayor Kenney pledged to cover its deficits and this month proposed raising nearly $1 billion for the school system via a property-tax hike and other measures. As a result, the school system is certain it can sustain its current level of spending and even planning to make some badly-needed investments, said chief financial officer Uri Monson.

The quest to help traumatized children learn
Philadelphia is working hard to become a trauma-informed school district, but helping teachers acquire the needed skills and mindset is costly and complex.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa March 21, 2018 — 4:03pm
Fifth-grade teacher Angela Masceri conducts morning meeting with students at Wright Elementary. Note how some students are sitting on stability balls and others in plush chairs.
Fifth-graders at the Richard R. Wright Elementary School in Strawberry Mansion start each day with a morning meeting. In Angela Masceri’s classroom on this March Monday, they sat in a circle, some in chairs, some balancing on stability balls. Masceri asked, “How was your weekend?” One by one, the students answered. Several told of seeing Black Panther (for the second or third time), of trudging home in the previous Friday’s snow (“We just cried. … The snow was falling sideways,” one deadpanned), of hanging with their cousins, going out to eat, chilling at home. Eyes widened when one girl said she traveled to Baltimore with her family to visit the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. There was laughter and camaraderie. But a few children kept their heads down and said, “pass” when it came their time to talk.  Masceri made a mental note. These are the children she would make sure to check in with during the day. “Morning meeting” is one strategy that principal Jeannine Payne has brought to Wright as a way help counteract the impact that stress and trauma has on children’s lives in school.
“It’s a way to build relationships,” she said. “I felt it was needed here.”

Letter: Pennridge School District should be ashamed for giving walkout students detention
WHYY Letter By Bonnie Berry March 22, 2018
Bonnie Berry, Pennridge class of 2004, lives in Brooklyn, New York. 
When I heard last week that students from my alma mater, Pennridge High School, received Saturday detention for their participation in the National Student Walkout, marking one month from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting in Parkland, Florida, I had one reaction: shame. District spokesman Joe Ferry’s labeling of the act as “civil disobedience” is misguided and offensive — offensive to the students and faculty killed in school shootings, and offensive to the students around the country who are raising their voices in unison calling for their representatives to do more to protect them. Rather than a disruption to education, the walkout is about protecting education — protecting students’ right to attend school without fear. Rather than an act of civil disobedience, it is an act of civil engagement.

Board won't pull voting from Butz Elementary School
Parents Petition To Move Polling Place Out of Butz Elementary School
Tom Shortell Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 22, 2018
Frustrated parents and teachers left the Northampton County Board of Elections meeting vowing to continue fighting after the board Thursday didn’t remove polling places from Butz Elementary School. About 50 parents, teachers, community members and school children attended the meeting at the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton to urge the board to pull voting from the Bushkill Township school. People in the community have lobbied the county to take action for months after a traffic-stop shootout on Route 33 during the November general election. While other schools in the region went into lockdown, Butz Elementary had to remain open so voters could cast their ballots. The security risk spurred parents and teachers to collect about 1,800 signatures of people supporting the relocation of the polls. While some parents conceded that hosting the polls provides students with a great civics learning opportunity, concerns over school shootings have made safety a greater concern.

Why We Didn't Allow the Students in Our District to Participate in the Walkout
Some students in Bellefonte, Pa., chose to honor the Parkland shooting victims by defying their district
Education Week Commentary By Michelle Saylor March 21, 2018
Michelle Saylor is the superintendent of the Bellefonte area school district in Pennsylvania. 
Education leaders face challenges every day. We examine them through the lens of opportunity and strive to be proactive in solving problems before they materialize. We lead to serve, to build capacity, and to nurture hopes, dreams, and our children’s futures. Yet, we live in a time where we wake each day to a barrage of formidable responsibilities that politics and divisive behaviors only amplify. Among those are frequent acts of school violence. Many of us agonized—and continue to do so—following the Parkland school shooting, the student walkouts, and the tenuous struggle between encouraging civic activism and protecting our students’ safety. These gnaw at the essence of my being. Faced with these challenges, we create opportunities; we shift paradigms. Despite our best efforts to make the best decisions, we will never be right in everyone’s eyes. That is the school leader's reality. Opinions surrounding the March 14th student walkout were varied. They represented a wide range of values and beliefs. But our school district runs on consensus, so it was important to me to make the decision about the walkout together with my district colleagues. We wanted to remain true to our priorities: school safety and the education of our students.

Poll: Most U.S. teachers want gun control, not guns to carry
WHYY/NPR By Anya Kamenetz March 22, 2018
Nearly three fourths of U.S. teachers do not want to carry guns in school, and they overwhelmingly favor gun control measures over security steps meant to “harden” schools, according to a new Gallup poll. The nationally representative poll of nearly 500 K-12 teachers was conducted earlier this month, after the Parkland shooting and student protests brought national attention to the issue of gun violence. Some of the poll was released last week. In that portion, 73 percent of teachers opposed training teachers and staff to carry guns in school. Of those, 63 percent “strongly” opposed the proposal. In addition, 7 in 10 teachers said arming teachers would not be effective in limiting casualties in a school shooting.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Press Release Date 03/22/2018
Washington, D.C. - Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools responds to the latest omnibus appropriations bill, which includes a 17 percent funding increase ($58 million) for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) for fiscal year 2018. "The National Alliance is grateful that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle recognize the critical role charter schools play in strengthening public education in our country. The $58 million increase brings total CSP funding to $400 million--the highest level in the program’s 23-year history. Title I and IDEA are also critical sources of support for charter schools and we are thankful for the increased funding for these programs.” "We thank Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt and House Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole for their incredible support of charter schools and the students and families that they serve.  We also applaud the leadership of President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as well as subcommittee Ranking Members Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rosa DeLauro, who worked in a bipartisan way to support the CSP to provide high-quality education options for all students." This increase is a clear acknowledgement of the success of the program and the need for additional funding to support the continued growth of public charter schools. There are a potential 5.3 million additional students that would attend a charter school today given the opportunity.  We hope that this increase will help fill that gap.

“Through the language in this bill to keep our government funded, Democrats and Republicans are preventing Secretary DeVos from circumventing Congress’s oversight authority. As elected officials in charge of appropriating taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively, it is essential that Secretary DeVos be transparent about any plans to reorganize the Department of Education. This is especially true for the Budget Service office, which provides invaluable expertise to Congress regarding the formulation and implementation of programs.”
Congress rebukes DeVos over her plans to reorganize the Education Department
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 22 at 2:19 AM Email the author
Congress rebuked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a massive new spending bill not only by rejecting many of her 2019 budget priorities but also in this unusual way: It inserted language forbidding her from making fundamental changes in her own department’s budget office.
The language on Page 998 of the omnibus spending bill — agreed to by congressional negotiators on Wednesday to avoid a government shutdown Friday night — says this:
Provided, That, notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds provided by this Act or provided by previous Appropriations Acts to the Department of Education available for obligation or expenditure in the current fiscal year may be used for any activity relating to implementing a reorganization that decentralizes, reduces the staffing level, or alters the responsibilities, structure, authority, or functionality of the Budget Service of the Department of Education, relative to the organization and operation of the Budget Service as in effect on January 1, 2018. With this language, legislators are essentially accusing DeVos of making structural changes to her budget office — part of a major reorganization of the entire department — without telling them the details. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut — the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the department — said in a statement:

Beyond Gun Control, Student Marchers Aim to Upend Elections
On Saturday, Rebecca Schneid plans to pull on her sneakers, sling a camera over her shoulder and march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington with thousands of other students demanding an end to the gun violence that has cut through so many American communities.
But to Ms. Schneid, a survivor of the school shooting that killed 17 people last month in Parkland, Fla., the march is just the beginning — a moment of political awakening, she hopes, that will put the nation on notice that young people plan to be a greater, more organized force than teenagers and college students in the past. “It’s going to look like millions and millions of people,” said Ms. Schneid, 16, who is the editor of the newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. “And it’s going to look scary to politicians.” With more than 800 student-led demonstrations planned in the United States and internationally, the organizers of the March for Our Lives are aiming for a generational show of strength by a diverse movement united in a conviction that adults have failed them.

2018 PSBA Advocacy Day April 16, 2018 Harrisburg
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the annual Advocacy Day on Monday, April 16, 2018, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. PSBA is partnering with Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units to have a stronger voice for public education. Hear how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill. This event is free for members; registration is required.
Register online here:

NPE: Join us in a Day of Action April 20th to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools
Network for Public Education February 16, 2018 by Darcie Cimarusti
After the slaughter of students and staff in Parkland, Florida, the time for action has never been more urgent. The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools. We will be silent no more! The failure to enact rational laws that bar access to guns designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. It is past time to speak out and act. Pledge your support to stop gun violence here. We call for mass action on April 20, the anniversary of the horrific shootings at Columbine High School. We urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of protest in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your community.  Organize sit-ins, teach-ins, walkouts, marches–whatever you decide will show your school and community’s determination to keep our students safe. One elementary teacher suggested that teachers and parents link arms around the school to show their determination to protect children.

PASA Women's Caucus Annual Conference "Leaders Lifting Leaders"
May 6 - 8, 2018 Hotel Hershey

Featured Speakers...
*Dr. Helen Sobehart - Women Leading Education Across Continents: Lifting Leaders from Here to There
*Dr. Tracey Severns - Courageous Leadership
*Dr. Emilie Lonardi - Lead and Lift: A Call for Females to Aspire to the Superintendency
*Deputy Secretary Matt Stem - Update from the PDE


MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Join the PA Principals Association, the PA Association of School Administrators and the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools for PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA.  
A rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at before Friday, June 8, 2018.
Click here to view the PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2018 Save The Date Flyer (INCLUDES EVENT SCHEDULE AND IMPORTANT ISSUES.) 

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.

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