Friday, August 31, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup August 31: How America Is Breaking Public Education

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.

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How America Is Breaking Public Education

We will be off the grid and the PA Ed Policy Roundup will be offline, not publishing during September

Our next posting will most likely be during the last week in September.  Here are a few significant items to keep in mind in the meantime:

We are pleased to announce that the Keystone State Education Coalition is now an endorsing member of the PA Schools Work coalition
Join A Movement that Supports our Schools & Communities. Sign up here:
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Education Voters Pennsylvania works to ensure our elected officials adopt and implement a pro public education agenda.
Follow EducationVotersPA on their website:
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Tell your PA House member we need graduation reforms under SB 1095, which was unanimously passed by the Senate in June
PSBA Legislative Alert August 27, 2018

How to Use Pennsylvania’s Online Voter Registration
To vote in the next election, you must complete your application by 10/09/2018

How America Is Breaking Public Education by Ethan Siegel Contributor Dec 6, 2017, 09:30am
The ultimate dream of public education is incredibly simple. Students, ideally, would go to a classroom, receive top-notch instruction from a passionate, well-informed teacher, would work hard in their class, and would come away with a new set of skills, talents, interests, and capabilities. Over the past few decades in the United States, a number of education reforms have been enacted, designed to measure and improve student learning outcomes, holding teachers accountable for their students' performances. Despite these well-intentioned programs, including No Child Left BehindRace To The Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act, public education is more broken than ever. The reason, as much as we hate to admit it, is that we've disobeyed the cardinal rule of success in any industry: treating your workers like professionals. Everyone who's been through school has had experiences with a wide variety of teachers, ranging from the colossally bad to the spectacularly good. There are a few qualities universally ascribed to the best teachers, and the lists almost always include the following traits:

“Like other dupes throughout history, these good people overlooked Trump's lies; his meanness; his disdain for the law; his routine disparagement of all types, shapes, colors and persuasions of people; his savaging of the democratic system; his piece-by-piece dismantling of everything from NATO to nuclear arms agreements, to overlooking his lapdog approach to another venal dictator, Russia's Vladimir Putin.”
Here's what happened after Luzerne County turned into Trump country | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Bob Quarteroni Updated Aug 29; Posted Aug 29
Bob Quarteroni, a frequent PennLive Opinion contributor, is a former columnist and editor at the Centre Daily Times. He lives in Swoyersville, Pa.
What do you do when your hometown goes mad?
Luzerne County, where I live, was Trump country in 2016. Big time.
Donald Trump trounced Hillary Clinton 58-38 percent two years ago, flipping a county that President Barack Obama won by 5 percentage points just four years earlier. It was one of the counties that helped Trump win a state no Republican had carried for three decades. The post-mortems poured in. And now we have another look in the shape of "The Forgotten: How the Abandoned People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America," written by Ben Bradlee Jr.  My hometown Times-Leader observed that while "millions of Americans greeted [Donald]Trump's election with shock and confusion, for millions of others he offered solutions to problems that had worried them for decades -- problems like under-employment, illegal immigration, globalization, excessive government regulations, and the demise of traditional manufacturing jobs."  Trump ran and won on those issues. But voters got more than they bargained for. They took their first steps off a slippery slope that played to their worst fears.

Wolf, Casey still hold double-digit leads over GOP challengers: new F&M poll
Penn Live By John L. Micek | | Posted August 30, 2018 at 06:04 AM | Updated August 30, 2018 at 06:47 AM
It's been a long, hot summer in Pennsylvania politics.
The four candidates vying for the governor's office and United States Senate have spent the warmer months trading jab after jab on social media and in the headlines.  But not much has changed for them, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College pollout this Thursday morning. As was the case in a similar poll in June, both Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., continue to hold double-digit leads over their Republican challengers as the Labor Day kick-off of the fall campaign season approaches. And because this is an election year in President Donald Trump's America, the polling data offers a deep look at the way Pennsylvanians regard America's 45th president as the midterms close in.

Latest survey shows stable leads for Wolf, Casey
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 30, 2018 4:41 PM
 (Harrisburg) -- A new poll from Franklin and Marshall College has found that for the most part, Pennsylvania's races for Governor and US Senate remain where they've been for many months. F&M pollster Terry Madonna noted to some extent, the survey is actually a little redundant. "The polling differences have been somewhere between 13 and 18 points for both these races, in a political environment that certainly favors the Democrats--exactly the opposite of what we saw in this state in 2010," he said. Governor Tom Wolf currently leads challenger Scott Wagner by 17 points, and incumbent Senator Bob Casey is outstripping Congressman Lou Barletta by 13. Madonna said that also speaks to another statistic the poll turned up--Democrats are more interested in the race than Republicans. He said it all likely has a lot to do with national politics. "The election right now, even though we're talking about governor, the Senate, or congressional elections, is actually a referendum on President Trump," Madonna said.

The campaign for Pennsylvania governor: Sad!
Bill White Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call August 30, 2018
Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial campaign is a perfect example of politics in our state. This is not a compliment. As I wrote back in July, both candidates have done their best to confuse everyone about the state’s basic education fair funding formula. It became law in 2016 but has been applied only to new funding, leaving some districts drastically underfunded. The Allentown School District, for example, should be getting $80.6 million more. Bethlehem $23 million. Even Parkland ($6 million) and East Penn ($4.9 million), generally considered to be among the area’s most well-heeled, are being shortchanged. The problem is that fully applying the formula to control all the state’s school funding would result in many Pennsylvania districts losing state funding. So it’s being kicked around as a political football instead of being discussed reasonably. Anyone who wants clarity on what really will happen when either of these guys is governor next year? You’re probably out of luck I argued that it should be applied incrementally — but in large increments — so it more quickly would correct these funding injustices while avoiding a giant one-year hit for some districts. Republican candidate Scott Wagner as a state senator argued that Pennsylvania’s school districts have more funding than they need. Now, laughably, he is trying to portray himself as the education candidate, in part by distorting Gov. Tom Wolf’s record, including his plans for applying the fair funding formula and his budget proposals. Wolf in turn has been as clear as mud about his real plans regarding the funding formula.

A ‘people’s debate’ between Wolf and Wagner would be a great democratic exercise. We’ll even host it. | Editorial
The Inquirer Editorial Board Posted:August 30,2018
Debate is one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy. And in a time when many people are fretting over the state of our democracy, robust debate is even more important. That's why we're disappointed that Gov. Wolf has agreed to only one debate with his rival for office, former state Sen. Scott Wagner. Even more disappointing: the single debate he's agreed to will cost $300 a ticket for members of the public.  The election is less than 70 days away, when voters in Pennsylvania must decide to give Wolf, a Democrat, another four years or hand the keys to the governor's mansion to Wagner, a Republican. According to multiple independent polls, Wolf is holding a strong lead — averaging 15.5 points. The Wagner campaign claims that they invited Wolf to debate multiple times — including a call for 67 debates – one in each county in Pennsylvania. The Wolf campaign called the invitation a gimmick. Speaking of gimmicks, the single debate currently confirmed by both campaigns will feature Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek as moderator and last just 45 minutes. It will serve as the entertainment for the Pa. Chamber of Business and Industry's Annual Dinner. Members will pay $275; non-members, $300 ticket. The questions will focus on "topic that are critical to Pennsylvania businesses." The chamber says that the 45 minutes will be aired on Pennsylvania Cable Network and perhaps other outlets.

POLS ON THE STREET: Can Schools Sue Their Way to Funding?
Philly Public Record BY JOE SHAHEELI August 30, 2018 Posted by: editor @pr
Elections have consequences. And few elections in recent Pennsylvania history have proved to be more consequential than the 2016 Democratic takeover of the State Supreme Court. That swiftly led to the historic gerrymandering decision that threw most state congressional seats up for grabs this fall. Now comes a new lawsuit, argued in part by the Public Interest Law Center, which won the redistricting case. Its target? The “hold harmless” provision of the Pennsylvania Fair Funding Formula, which, while ostensibly mandating that the State allocate adequate monies to poor school districts, says (a) that no overpaid school districts can face cuts in allocation and (b) the State cannot be forced to spend more money overall to level the playing field for poor districts. So Fair Funding is only the law; it simply is not the practice.

PA’s secretary of education discusses school inequities and the court case aiming to diminish them
By Mary Niederberger, Videos by Ryan Loew and Kat Procyk August 20, 2018
Part of the PublicSource series Failing the Future
In July, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera sat down with PublicSource reporter Mary Niederberger for a wide-ranging interview on school funding issues, the current Commonwealth Court lawsuit that seeks a more equitable education funding formula and possible solutions to narrow disparities between districts across the state. The secretary acknowledged the disparate curriculum, facilities and extracurricular opportunities for students in Pennsylvania. He noted that, in some cases, affluent districts with healthy educational programs sit next to districts where the majority of students live in poverty and have limited access to rigorous courses or technology. Rivera said he wants students in districts with fewer resources to know he is “advocating on behalf of them, their families and their communities.” In this video clip, Rivera responds to the fact that he was one of the original plaintiffs in the current Commonwealth Court lawsuit. In November 2014, when the lawsuit was filed, he was serving as the superintendent of The School District of Lancaster. Two months after the case was filed, he was appointed state secretary of education, meaning he technically became a defendant in the case. When Gov. Tom Wolf abandoned all preliminary objections to the lawsuit on behalf of the state administration in January, Rivera was no longer considered a defendant. “In my heart, I’ve always been a strong advocate for equity,” Rivera said.

Senators Browne, Hughes introduce proposal to help victims of trauma in state’s primary schools
Senator Browne’s Website Posted on Aug 30, 2018
Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) introduced a proposal that would establish programs to help primary school students who were victims of trauma. The trauma-informed system of education would require trauma-informed training for school board members, educators and school employees with direct contact with students. The goal is to improve the recognition of the signs of trauma in students, follow best practices for trauma-informed schools and classrooms, and create policy to improve positive schoolwide behavior supports, restorative justice and resiliency among students. The legislation also aims to create curriculum and would authorize research on the effects of trauma to students, which would assist with policy proposals. “We know trauma has a negative impact on children and now it is time to act and help our students succeed,” Senator Hughes said. “Studies show just how detrimental trauma can be to student mental health and behavior, but research and new policy initiatives give us a way forward in observing, assessing and helping to treat victims of trauma. Helping our students with empathy, compassion and understanding may be the only chance the children affected may ever have to work through their pain. We owe it to them to provide a better future educationally and emotionally.” Senators Browne and Hughes announced the proposal following an Appropriations Committee meeting Tuesday at Temple University, during which testimony on the Healthy and Safe Schools Initiative (HSSI) was given.

Dispute over contract highlights clash of priorities among District leadership
The notebook by Greg Windle August 30 — 3:59 pm, 2018
A lawsuit filed by a losing bidder over a one-year contract awarded to The New Teacher Project for coaching principals has drawn new attention to what the District prioritizes in educational leadership. At the national level, there is a decades-long clash of values over the best way to train teachers and principals for leadership in underperforming school districts. This clash pits traditional methods — valuing classroom experience and supports for students dealing with external barriers like poverty and trauma — against a “disruptive” approach. The latter puts students’ low performance at the feet of the people who work in schools and says the path to higher achievement involves replacing them with newly trained teachers and principals, often those who come from outside the traditional educational pipeline at universities. The disruptive approach emerged in the 1990s and grew in popularity through the expansion of programs like Teach for America, which places recent college graduates in historically understaffed schools for two years after five weeks of training. Teach for America created its own spinoff programs, including The New Teacher Project, to train educators, and another called School System Leaders, which places Teach for America alums in temporary fellowships in school districts to prepare them for careers in administration.

Hempfield schools, homeowners square off over property tax assessments
Trib Live by RICH CHOLODOFSKY  | Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, 8:39 p.m.
When Dorothy Novak built a home last year in Hempfield, she was told her annual property taxes would be about $3,500. That bill could nearly double if the Hempfield Area School District is successful in a tax assessment appeal it filed this month. “We’re concerned for our residents and for our future sales,” said Jack Pellis, owner of Pellis Construction, the firm that built Novak’s home in Fairfield — an upscale, planned community near the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg campus. State Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Hempfield, said the school district’s appeal amounts to a back-door reassessment and a “money grab” to generate more cash. The issue involves the state law that allows for the value of a property to be challenged by an entity or person that is impacted by the tax assessment. That means that both homeowners and taxing bodies can appeal an assessment. So far this year, 737 assessment appeals have been filed in Westmoreland County, said Beth Stabile, the county’s deputy chief assessor. Most were filed by property owners, she said. School districts have filed 59 appeals — 44 of those by Hempfield Area and 15 by the Greater Latrobe Area School District.

USDA releases income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced school meals
DAUPHIN COUNTRY, Pa.– The Pennsylvania Department of Education today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released federal income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price school meals and free milk for July 2018 – June 2019. Schools, and other institutions and facilities, use the guidelines to determine eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program. “Food insecurity impacts communities across the commonwealth,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said.  “Without proper nutrition, a student’s health, focus, and academic performance may decline. The free and reduced lunch, and other nutrition programs improve at-risk students’ access to healthy meals, and overall health and well-being.” Households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) need only include the SNAP or TANF case number on their application.  Households enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) also may qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and should complete a Household Meal Benefit Application.

Arming School Staff Is 'Incredibly Dangerous,' Advocates Tell School Safety Commission
Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on August 28, 2018 8:58 PM
Don't arm teachers.
That was the message from more than half a dozen speakers at the Federal School Safety Commission's final listening session Tuesday, in Montgomery, Ala. The listening session came on the heels of recent reports, including initially in the New York Times, that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is mulling allowing school districts to use flexible federal block grant funding to arm school staff. Education officials in Texas had asked the feds if that would be an appropriate use of the funds. But nearly half of the educators, experts, and community members who spoke to the panel Tuesday were vehemently against the idea. No one from the public spoke directly in favor of arming educators. "Arming teachers is an incredibly dangerous policy and [the department] should drop any plans to allow schools to use taxpayer money to buy guns," said Adam Vincent, who spoke on behalf of Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots lobbying organization. Vincent recallled a friend who committed suicide using a handgun. "Arming teachers places an unreasonable burden on America's educators," said Tricia Daniel, who represented the Alabama Association of School Psychologists. She urged the commission to instead provide funding for school counselors and other mental health professionals.

Arming Teachers Will Make Schools More Dangerous
Education Week First Person By Chuck Cascio August 29, 2018
I’ve been retired for quite a few years now, but after 27 years as a middle and high school teacher, I have vivid memories—almost all extremely positive—of that workplace called "school." And from my experience in the classroom, I know that it would be wrong to arm faculty members with guns. The dangers inherent in this proposal, advanced most recently by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who reportedly is considering allowing school districts to use federal funds to purchase firearms, far outweigh any potential benefits. Proponents of arming teachers seem to want to believe that the next time a shooter shows up to mow down our children, a teacher will whip out his or her rifle and shoot everyone to safety. Following are some realities that show what a misconception that is.

America’s public school teachers are far less racially and ethnically diverse than their students BY ABIGAIL GEIGER AUGUST 27, 2018
Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 20% of all public elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States during the 2015-16 school year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). That makes teachers considerably less racially and ethnically diverse than their students – as well as the nation as a whole. By comparison, 51% of all public elementary and secondary school students in the U.S. were nonwhite in 2015-16, the most recent year for which NCES has published data. And 39% of all Americans were racial or ethnic minorities that year, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. (Younger Americans are a more racially and ethnically diverse group than older people.) Nonwhite teachers not only were sharply outnumbered by white teachers in America’s classrooms, they also tended to work in different school environments, the NCES data show. For example, 31% of teachers in city schools were nonwhite, versus just 11% of teachers in rural schools – a reflection of the broader racial and ethnic makeup of America’s communities. And while nonwhite teachers accounted for 29% of the total in public charter schools, their share was considerably lower in traditional public schools (19%).

EdPAC reception helps support election of pro-public education leaders
Do you want to help strengthen public education in the commonwealth? Join with EdPAC, a political action committee that supports the election of pro-public education leaders to the General Assembly. EdPAC will hold a fundraising reception at the 2018 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Cocoa 2-3. More details to come! Visit the conference website to register online.

PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2018, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 17 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person's name with an asterisk (*). Voting procedure: Each school entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 24-Oct. 11, 2018). Voting will be accomplished through a secure third-party, web-based voting site that will require a password login. One person from each member school entity will be authorized as the official person to register the vote on behalf of his or her school entity. In the case of school districts, it will be the board secretary who will cast votes on behalf of the school board. A full packet of instructions and a printed slate will be sent to authorized vote registrars the week of August 7. Special note: Boards should be sure to add discussion and voting on candidates to their agenda during one of their meetings in August, September or October before the open voting period ends.

Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). 
With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or

2nd Annual National Black Male Educators Convening, Oct. 12-14, Philly
Teacher diversity works. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response. Come participate in the 2nd National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome. Register to attend. Nominate a speaker. Propose a workshop. Sponsor the event.

Save the Dates PASA/PSBA School Leadership Conference – Hershey, Oct. 17-19, 2018 
Mark your calendar! The Delegate Assembly will take place Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.
Housing now open!

“Not only do we have a superstar lineup of keynote speakers including Diane Ravitch, Jesse Hagopian, Pasi Sahlberg, Derrick Johnson and Helen Gym, but there will be countless sessions to choose from on the issues you care about the most. We will cover all bases from testing, charters, vouchers and school funding, to issues of student privacy and social justice in schools.”
Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket here.
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait.  These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget to register for your hotel room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link here. Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer some scholarships based on need. Go here and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to get your Early Bird ticket here. We can't wait to see you.

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.