Friday, October 26, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct. 26: Students First PAC has spent over $2.75 million in 2018

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Students First PAC has spent over $2.75 million in 2018

PA Schools Work Summit; November 17th at 8 locations around the state.
Join a movement to fund #PASchools! PA Schools need more state funding & we need your help to convince the legislature that increased state funding is an urgent priority. Join us!

Follow the $$$ - PA school privatization Students First PAC spent over $2.75 million in 2018
PA Department of State Campaign Financing Website
$1M to Scott Wagner; $1.75M to Commonwealth Leaders Fund where Matt Brouillette is treasurer, which passed through $200K to the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania PAC

Fights for U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania closely watched
Delco Times By MARC LEVY Associated Press October 25, 2018
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Fights for U.S. House seats are shaping up as the most closely watched contests in Pennsylvania as the Democratic Party aims to recapture the U.S. House majority. Republican losses in the state wouldn't be surprising because the party of the president historically does poorly in midterm elections. But Democrats have another reason to believe they can flip up to six seats and help the party erase the 23-seat Republican House majority. A state Supreme Court decision in January threw out 6-year-old congressional district boundaries as unconstitutionally drawn to benefit Republicans. Under that map, Republicans won 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 House seats in three straight elections even as Democrats dominated statewide elections.  The replacement districts approved by the court's Democratic majority are fueling more competitive contests. A look at key races:

I'm a Harrisburg middle school teacher. This is why I'd never teach anywhere else | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Clarissa Cecconi Updated 8:45 AM; Posted 8:45 AM
Middle school students have amazing energy and passion. If a teacher can hook their curiosity and reel them in, they are intrigued. High school students might think they're too cool for school, but middle schoolers are still fresh, and they want to learn. This is an age when every student should be introduced to the world of possibilities ahead and have the chance to explore new realms. I wanted to be someone who helps open those doors, especially for students in underserved schools. Education inequity blocks children from escaping poverty. A dedicated teacher can help break the cycle. I'm one of those lucky people pursuing my dream. I am a middle school science teacher in Harrisburg School District, and the opportunity came about from a stint in the district as a middle-school substitute teacher.

Governor's race: Two Yorkers, two very different visions for Pa.
Logan Hullinger, York Dispatch Published 2:57 p.m. ET Oct. 24, 2018 | Updated 2:14 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2018
Election Day is less than two weeks away, and as Pennsylvania voters contemplate whether to keep their progressive leader or take a right turn, only one thing is certain: The next governor will be a millionaire from York County. Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner are both county residents who have owned lucrative local businesses, and both first waded into politics a little more than four years ago. The governor is running on his nearly four-year track record, while Wagner has pledged, if elected, to "get more done in the first six months than you've seen in the last 12 years." Wolf visited The York Dispatch offices Friday, Oct. 19, to look back on his first term and make a final case for his re-election before Nov. 6 election. Wagner received the same invitation but did not accept.

'People don't talk to each other': PennLive's readers weigh in on the midterm | Friday Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek Updated 7:26 AM; Posted 7:26 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Frustrating. Exciting. Chaotic. Contentious. Historic. Exciting. Hopeful. And scary.
Those were just some of the adjectives that your friends and neighbors used to describe a highly consequential Nov. 6 mid-term election that's now than just a little more than 10 days away. As candidates for Pennsylvania governor, the United States Senate and House of Representatives and the state Legislature gear up to make their closing arguments to the voters, PennLive's reader panel gathered to parse the issues; dish on the candidates, and mourn what they say is the shrinking middle ground between Democrats and Republicans and the ongoing erosion of our political dialogue. "I would love to have a real conversation with Democrats It's very hard to find someone who knows their facts and you can have a true exchange of ideas," said Bobbye Gregory, of Camp Hill. She was a new participant on the panel, which first convened in late 2016 after President Donald Trump's election, and now meets bimonthly to discuss some of the big issues of the day.

The $40,000 cab ride
WHYY Listen 12:07 Air Date: October 24, 2018
What would you expect to find in a public school district’s budget – money for books? Basketballs? What about $38 million for taxi cabs? On this episode of The Why, WHYY education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent examines why the school district has absorbed this cost, and what it says about the future of urban education.

What the Secretary of Education thought of his visit to Bellefonte schools
Centre Daily Times BY LAUREN MUTHLER October 25, 2018 06:32 PM
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera sat in the back of teacher Melissa MacNeely’s third-grade Spanish class Thursday morning, smiling and watching as the students sang songs and participated in an engaging language lesson at Marion-Walker Elementary School. MacNeely spoke only in Spanish throughout the lesson as her students went over numbers, did simple math problems, matched different shapes with their Spanish names, and eagerly raised their hands to answer their teacher’s questions — not a word spoken in English. “To walk into a language class and to see the students engaged with as much energy that was exhibited by the teacher and the kids was great to see,” Rivera said. “What probably was most impressive was how she integrated language lessons with multiple skills, like sentence structure, and shapes with the geometry, and multi-course opportunities for kids. When you integrate different skill sets with different lessons, it makes for a great lesson.”

Superintendent Rodriguez: Can guns make our schools safer?
Pottstown Mercury Opinion by Stephen Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pottstown Schools Oct 23, 2018
For many students, parents and politicians, the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was a wake-up call on just how vulnerable schools can be to major acts of violence. So we begin again the public square debate on all the questions that keep coming up since as far back as the Columbine shooting in 1999. What makes our schools safe? Should we have metal detectors? Armed Guards in every school? Guns for teachers? What about mental health? Should we monitor social media? As the leader of Pottstown School District, the weight of responsibility for the safety of over 4,000 souls has never been heavier. Our school leaders wrestle with how to prepare facilities and procedures for all sorts of emergencies. This October, we completed Armed Violent Intruder drills with the Pottstown Police Department and began the 4th year of training students and staff in the “Run, Hide, Fight” model of emergency preparedness. Meanwhile, we, like many Pennsylvania school districts, have submitted an ACT 44 Grant in the hopes of upgrading and adding to our security infrastructure.

Pennsylvania standardized test scores show deficits in math, especially for older students [data]
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer October 25, 2018
Math continues to be a struggle for many Pennsylvania students, particularly those who are older, according to the latest standardized test scores. The state Department of Education this week released 2018 state-level data on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone ExamsSchool-level data should be released in November.  Students have historically struggled the most on the math PSSA, and that continued this year as just 42 percent scored proficient or advanced.  The proficiency rate among grade levels generally declined with age. Third grade was at 54 percent; fourth grade, 44 percent; fifth grade, 45 percent; sixth grade, 40 percent; seventh grade, 39 percent; and eighth grade, 31 percent.  A similar trend, despite consisting of fewer grade levels, occurred in science. Sixty-five percent of students — 76 percent in fourth grade, 54 percent in eighth grade — taking the science exam demonstrated proficiency. Meanwhile, 61 percent of students who took the English language arts exam scored proficient or advanced.

Pennsylvania Passes SUNucate, Allowing Sunscreen Use and Protective Clothing at School
Pennsylvania became the 17th state to allow children to possess and apply sunscreen at school, an important step in preventing skin cancer, and is the first state to recognize the importance of school children wearing clothing and hats to lessen sun exposureFriday, PRWeb October 26, 2018
If we are going to lower the rates of skin cancer, we need to continue to advance commonsense solutions like SUNucate that empower children to protect themselves from the harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. esterday, Pennsylvania became the 17th state to allow children to possess and apply sunscreen at school, an important step in preventing skin cancer. Governor Tom Wolf approved HB 1228, a piece of legislation based on ASDSA’s model bill known as SUNucate to remove barriers that prohibit students from bringing and applying over-the-counter sunscreen at school or during school-related activities. The legislation also ensures students may wear sun-protective clothing, including hats, while outdoors. Pennsylvania becomes the first state to recognize the importance of school children wearing clothing and hats to lessen sun exposure. Unfortunately, over-the-counter sunscreen is often prohibited at schools because far reaching “medication bans” include sunscreen as an FDA regulated product. HB 1228 was introduced by State Representative Harold A. English and approved with unanimous consent in both chambers of the state legislature.

Quakertown approves sale of closed school buildings
69 News By: Justin Sweitzer Posted: Oct 26, 2018 12:49 AM EDT Updated: Oct 26, 2018 12:49 AM EDT
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - The Quakertown Community School District Board of Directors voted 7-2 Thursday night to approve a sales agreement that will effectively sell two closed school buildings to Faith Christian Academy, a Bucks County Christian school, for approximately $2 million. The vote, which approves the sale of Tohickon Valley Elementary School and Milford Middle School, has been a hot topic among board members who have been torn on whether or not to let go of the vacant buildings. Some members expressed worry over the potential opening the sale creates for a charter school to come into the community in the future, while others urged the board to take advantage of a sale that could improve the district's financial standing. Director Keith Micucci said that despite not being in favor of the school closings, he is not in favor of holding onto vacant properties when their sale could help the district financially. He said that as the district navigates through debt and financial hardships, the offer from Faith Christian Academy is too good to pass up. "I can't see holding onto property when we have debt that is huge in this community. And it will continue to rise," he said, referencing planned renovations to Neidig Elementary School. "I don't know that anybody else is going to want to buy two empty, vacant schools."

Incumbent Rep. Quigley faces Ciresi in rematch for 146th Dist. House seat
Evan Brandt @PottstownNews on Twitter
The race for the 146th district seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is a rematch of one of the tightest races of 2016. Incumbent Republican Tom Quigley is once again facing Democratic challenger Joe Ciresi two years after he won a similar race by a margin of just over 600 votes out of nearly 30,000 cast. Perhaps one of the areas of greatest issues the two face is one of the most hotly debated subjects in southeast Pennsylvania — property taxes.

Three Newly Elected Members Join the PSBA Governing Board
Mechanicsburg, PA, October 19, 2018 – The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) announced the outcome of its recent election. Three newly elected board members will join existing officers on the governing board. At the conclusion of the 2018 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference, results were announced during the Delegate Assembly on Friday, Oct. 19 at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center. Open voting for members of PSBA was held Aug. 24-Oct. 11 through a secure, online voting website. The new officers will take their offices on Jan. 1, 2019. Officers of the 2019 Governing Board are listed below with (*) indicating positions that were up for election this year.
President – David Hutchinson, State College Area SD (Centre Co.)
President-elect* – Eric Wolfgang, Central York SD (York Co.)
Vice President* – Art Levinowitz, SD of Upper Dublin (Montgomery Co.)
Treasurer – Mike Gossert, Cumberland Valley SD (Cumberland Co.)
Immediate Past President – Michael Faccinetto, Bethlehem Area SD (Northampton Co.)
Eastern At-Large Representative* – Maura Buri, Upper Merion Area SD (Montgomery Co.)
Central At-Large Representative – Larry Augustine, Selinsgrove Area SD (Snyder Co.)
Western At-Large Representative – Daniel O’Keefe, Northgate SD (Allegheny Co.)

New York Knew Some Schools in Its $773 Million Plan Were Doomed. They Kept Children in Them Anyway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is poised to end a program that sent children to poorly performing schools even as officials knew they had little hope of improving.
New York Times By Eliza Shapiro Oct. 26, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to “shake the foundations of New York City education” in 2014 with a new program called Renewal, a signature effort to improve the city’s 94 poorest-performing schools by showering them with millions of dollars in social services and teacher training. A year later, aides raised a confidential alarm: About a third of those schools were likely to fail. The schools were not meeting goals that the city set for higher test scores, increased graduation rates and other academic measures — and probably never would, staff members in the Department of Education warned in an internal memo prepared for the mayor. “In order for these schools to reach their targets for 2017, the interventions would need to produce truly exceptional improvements,” read the December 2015 memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “Historically, it has been quite rare for schools to improve that much in two years.”

Applications Being Accepted for the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced that the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences (PGSS) at Carnegie Mellon University is now accepting applications from talented high school juniors for the summer 2019 program.
PGSS is an intensive, five-week summer residential program that emphasizes cooperative learning and hands-on laboratory research for 56 talented high school juniors pursuing careers in science and mathematics.
With the support of Governor Tom Wolf, the state Department of Education, Carnegie Mellon University and the school’s alumni, the program offers an enrichment experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The goal of the program is to encourage Pennsylvania’s youth to pursue careers in STEM-related fields.
Accepted applicants will receive a full scholarship to the program. Costs are underwritten through matching funds provided by PGSS Campaign Inc., the school’s alumni, Carnegie Mellon University, parents and corporations.
Awarded scholarships will cover the costs of housing, meals and all instructional materials. Families are responsible for transportation to and from the university, personal items and spending money. Students must commit to living on campus at Carnegie Mellon University throughout the duration of the program.
Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences
When: June 30, 2019 to August 3, 2019
Where: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Who May Apply: The program is open to high school juniors at time of application who attend a public, nonpublic and private school or are home-schooled.
Deadline to Apply: Completed applications must be emailed per instructions on the website no later than January 31, 2019.  Applications emailed after this date and time will be disqualified.
For additional information about the program and to complete an application, visit

NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
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

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.

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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