Thursday, February 22, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 22: Some students have organized a 17-minute school walkout on March 14 to protest Congress’ inaction on gun violence.


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Some students have organized a 17-minute school walkout on March 14 to protest Congress’ inaction on gun violence.



In addition to calling your member of Congress to urge them to take meaningful action now to protect our children, please consider calling the following members of Congress who are in leadership positions or who serve on the Congressional committees that may consider such action:

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Washington DC Office: (202) 225-3031
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Washington DC Office: (202) 224-2541
Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Washington DC Office: (202) 224-4944
Pennsylvania Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions: Senator Robert Casey Washington DC Office: (202) 224-6324
Congresswoman Virginia Fox, Chairwoman, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Washington DC Office: (202) 225-2071
Pennsylvania Members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce:
Glenn “GT” Thompson Washington DC Office: (202) 225-5121
Lou Barletta Washington DC Office: (202) 225-6511
Lloyd Smucker Washington DC Office: (202) 225-2411



SRC plans vote on seven new Philly charter applications Thursday
The notebook by Greg Windle February 21, 2018 — 2:27pm
The School Reform Commission will consider applications for seven new charter schools on Thursday, Feb. 22. Two additional applications have been withdrawn since the process began in December. Four established Philly charter operators are applying to open five new schools, along with two operators new to the city. The District’s Charter Schools Office has released its evaluations critiquing each application. Unlike with renewals, the charter office does not make specific recommendations to the SRC about whether a new charter should be approved or denied, letting the detailed evaluations speak for themselves. The public comment section of Thursday’s meeting will be limited to 21 speakers, who mustsign up to speak at least one day in advance, and slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.  ASPIRA is applying to open two new K-8 schools after the School Reform Commission voted in December not to renew its charters for Olney High and Stetson Middle School, citing myriad financial and operational problems, as well as lagging academic goals. This vote came nearly two years after the Charter Schools Office first recommended that the charters not be renewed. Both Olney and Stetson are Renaissance charters, or converted low-performing District schools. The existing Antonia Pantoja and Eugenio Maria de Hostos charters, both of which serve K-8, were started from scratch and post better academic numbers, although they too are caught up in ASPIRA’s financial troubles.
http://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/02/21/src-plans-vote-on-seven-new-charter-applications-thursday

Case tests whether districts must protect students from bullying under Pa. law
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy February 21, 2018 — 12:54pm
Do school districts in Pennsylvania have a legal obligation to protect students from discriminatory harassment and bullying? A court case filed on behalf of a bullied student at William C. Bryant Elementary School in Philadelphia seeks to clarify whether the state’s Human Relations Act protects students from peer discrimination that results from District negligence, as opposed to direct institutional discrimination. The Court of Common Pleas threw out the case against the School District of Philadelphia earlier this year, but that decision is being appealed. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act is the state’s main anti-discrimination statute and ensures “that equal educational opportunity, irrespective of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, disability, sex or national origin, must be provided.” However, no appellate court in Pennsylvania has yet considered how the act applies to school districts when it comes to bullying. That leaves students and families the option of going to federal court, which can be more costly and difficult. If the appeal in Pennsylvania is granted, the decision may set a precedent that makes it easier for families seeking recompense for discriminatory abuse in school.
http://thenotebook.org/articles/2018/02/21/case-tests-whether-school-districts-are-obligated-to-protect-students-from-bullying-under-state-human-relations-act

First Lady Highlights Wolf Administration Commitment to Investing in Public Education During Visit to S.S. Palmer Elementary School
Governor Wolf’s Website February 21, 2018
Palmerton, PA – First Lady Frances Wolf today visited S.S. Palmer Elementary School in the Palmerton Area School District where she met with students and teachers, toured classrooms, and read to third-graders. During her visit, she emphasized Governor Wolf’s commitment to increasing funding for public education at all levels, from Pre-K to higher education. As part of a writing assignment last September, students from the third-grade “inclusion” class at S.S. Palmer wrote personal letters to Governor Wolf inviting him and the First Lady to visit the school and read to students. “I was delighted to meet with such talented and bright young people at S.S. Palmer Elementary School today,” said the First Lady. “We owe it to these students, and all students in Pennsylvania, to ensure we are giving them the resources they need to succeed. That is why investing in education from preschool through higher education has been a top priority for this administration since day one.” Governor Wolf’s recently-announced 2018-19 budget proposal for education includes:
https://www.governor.pa.gov/first-lady-highlights-wolf-administration-commitment-investing-public-education-visit-s-s-palmer-elementary-school/

Editorial: The nation unites behind the push for change in gun laws
Delco Times POSTED: 02/21/18, 9:24 PM EST | UPDATED: 29 SECS AGO
The reverberations from Parkland, Fla., continue to resound across the nation.
That’s what happens when a troubled young man walks into a school and opens fire, killing 17 people — most of them fellow students — and wounding a couple of dozen others.
And no one is surprised by it. Yes, it happened again. Now what? A lot, actually. This is not our first trip down this grisly road. We lived through the horror of Columbine. Then five years ago the national conscience was set on fire by the slaughter of the innocents when another troubled young man killed his mother, took her semi-automatic rifle, then walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and started shooting. He killed 20 students and six adult staff members. They were kids. Children. Most 6 or 7 years old. The nation reeled. But not much changed. This feels different. This doesn’t feel like it is going to go away. We have the blood of too many kids on our hands. It’s damn hard to wash off.
http://www.delcotimes.com/opinion/20180221/editoiral-the-nation-unites-behind-the-push-for-change-in-gun-laws

“Meanwhile, student leaders there, as in other districts, are mobilizing.
Some have organized a 17-minute school walkout on March 14 to protest Congress’ inaction on gun violence. As of Wednesday, more than 15 area high schools had signed on to participate, including Upper Darby, Lower Merion, Abington, Phoenixville, Haddon Township, Downingtown East, North Penn, Spring-Ford, Lower Moreland, New Hope-Solebury, Oxford Area, Central Bucks South, Bensalem, Kennett, Pennsbury, Haddonfield Memorial High School, and Shawnee as well as the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology.”
After Florida school shooting, Philly-area students and teachers mobilize
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham & Kathy Boccella - Staff Writers Updated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 — 5:47 PM EST
Two days after 17 students and teachers were gunned down at a Florida high school last week, a lockdown was called at the elementary school where Kristin Luebbert teaches in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. Luebbert and her eighth-grade students at Bache-Martin were in the hallway at the time. In a flash, she shepherded them into her classroom, locked the door, found paper to cover the windows, and directed the students to the back corner. Luebbert turned to comfort an anxious young woman, and when she looked back, she saw the other children had armed themselves with items they found in an open closet: scissors, box cutters, a heavy-duty stapler, a bottle of Windex. “We’re ready,” the 13- and 14-year-old students told Luebbert. “We can fight.” As it has around the country, the shooting in Parkland, Fla., has rippled in schools around the region. Students and educators are planning walkouts; reviewing school-shooting protocol training, and, in the case of the Bache-Martin students, thinking in new ways about what they would do if a gunman stormed their building.
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/florida-school-shooting-philly-area-students-teachers-walkout-training-20180222.html

'Let the Youth Lead': Student Activists Nationwide Demand Change After Parkland Shooting
Education Week By Arianna Prothero and Andrew Ujifusa February 21, 2018
Marches in Washington and Utah. Walkouts in California, Iowa, and Maryland. Emotional Twitter rebukes of political leadership that have gone viral. And thousands of chanting young people converging on the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee, demanding changes to the state’s gun laws. Just as it seemed that public reaction to school shootings had become predictable, and lawmakers’ votes on gun control would stay within the status quo, students’ responses to the latest tragedy in Parkland, Fla., have been anything but. The upwelling of youth activism across the country galvanized by the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stands in stark contrast to that seen after previous school shootings, advocates and academics say, and holds the potential to become a commanding new force as advocates push for new restrictions on guns and access to guns.
https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/02/21/let-the-youth-lead-student-activists-nationwide.html

Students across US walk out of class to protest gun violence
Inquirer by COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press Updated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 9:03 PM EST
In a wave of demonstrations reaching from Arizona to Maine, students at dozens of U.S. high schools walked out of class Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the victims of last week's deadly shooting in Florida. The protests spread from school to school as students shared plans for their demonstrations over social media. Many lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Hundreds of students from Maryland schools left class to rally at the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds more filed out of their schools in cities from Chicago to Pittsburgh to Austin, Texas, often at the lunch hour. Thousands walked out in Florida. At the protest in Washington, students held a moment of silence in memory of those killed in Parkland and listened as the names of the dead were recited. Daniel Gelillo, a senior at Richard Montgomery High in Rockville, Maryland, helped organize the protest and said students aimed to pressure lawmakers to act on gun control.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20180221_ap_e6d9d525bb3a47b481b6ceb8273010a8.html

'Fix it': Students, parents plead with Trump to address gun violence at schools
Inquirer by Jenna Johnson & John Wagner, Washington Post Updated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 — 8:59 PM EST
WASHINGTON – President Trump leaned forward and listened intently for nearly an hour Wednesday afternoon as students, parents and teachers begged him to do something, anything, to prevent another mass shooting from happening at another school. The group offered a wide variety of suggestions – bolster school security, drill students on what to do during a shooting and raise the age at which someone can buy an assault rifle – but in the end, the president remained focused on the solution he often proposes after a mass shooting: increasing the number of people with guns so they can quickly stop shooters with lethal force. “If the coach had a firearm in his locker, when he ran at this guy – that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect – but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run,” Trump said, referring to Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard who was one of 17 people killed by a gunmen last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida. “He would have shot, and that would have been the end of it.” The 70-minute listening session with students, parents and teachers at the White House was a remarkable event with participants’ raw emotions often on display – at one point, a student openly sobbed after he spoke, his head down as he wiped away tears and those around him rubbed his back.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/fix-it-students-parents-plead-with-trump-to-address-gun-violence-at-schools-20180221.html

Parents and Students Plead With Trump: ‘How Many Children Have to Get Shot?’
New York Times By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS FEB. 21, 2018
WASHINGTON — An anguished father mourning his 18-year-old daughter vented his anger and pleaded for safer schools. A fear-stricken student who watched classmates die last week wept openly as he called for banning assault weapons. A mother who lost her 6-year-old son in a school shooting just over fiveyears ago warned that more parents would lose their children if President Trump did not act, adding, “Don’t let that happen on your watch.” One by one at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, survivors of school shootings and family members of victims shared their stories and their calls to action. The extraordinary public exchange with the president gave voice to an intensely emotional debate over how to respond to the latest gun massacre in an American school.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/us/politics/trump-guns-school-shooting.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Word for word: What everyone said when Trump met with students and parents to talk about guns
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss February 22, 2018
President Trump held a meeting at the White House on Wednesday with students and parents to talk about how to prevent gun violence following the shooting deaths of 17 people at a South Florida high school last week. Below is the transcript, word for word, as provided by the White House, and a video of the full meeting. Trump was joined by Vice President Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, along with students and parents from the community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., scene of the shootings last week by a 19-year-old carrying a semi-automatic weapon. Others involved with the effort to expand gun control were also present, including a D.C. student and parents who lost children in the 2012 shooting of 26 children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The president convened the meeting to listen to the students and adults offer suggestions about how to prevent another mass shooting at a school. Among the suggestions were increasing security at schools and raising the age at which someone can purchase an assault rifle, though Trump spoke about arming teachers with firearms.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/02/22/word-for-word-what-everyone-said-when-trump-met-with-students-and-parents-to-talk-about-guns/?utm_term=.2a0963d5bbea

Angry students, parents at town hall confront Sen. Marco Rubio over gun control
Morning Call by The Associated Press February 22, 2018
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was put on the defensive Wednesday by angry students, teachers and parents who are demanding stronger gun-control measures after the shooting rampage that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school. One of those confronting the Florida senator at a CNN's "Stand Up" town hall Wednesday night was Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed on Feb. 14 with 16 others. Rubio was the lone Republican at the nationally broadcast gathering after Florida's GOP Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump declined invitations to appear at the event in Sunrise, Florida. Guttenberg told Rubio that his comments about the shooting "and those of your president this week have been pathetically weak." People stood up and cheered Guttenberg as he challenged Rubio to tell him the truth, to acknowledge that "guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids." Guttenberg added, "And tell me you will work with us to do something about guns." Rubio responded that the problems laid bare by the shooting rampage "cannot be solved by gun laws alone," drawing jeering whistles from the crowd. Rubio responded that he would support laws barring those 18 and under from buying such weapons, support changing the background checks system and getting rid of bump stocks.
http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/ct-florida-town-hall-guns-20180221-story.html

Gun Rights vs Gun Control
OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics Websitee
Bottom of Form
See contributions from gun control and gun rights groups to members of Congress, as well as current NRA data
The latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has left 17 people dead. It is the 30th mass shooting in the first 45 days of 2018.* In 2017, 2,239 people were shot in mass shootings, leaving 437 people dead. The fatal shooting in October 2017 at a Las Vegas music festival, which killed 58 concertgoers and injured hundreds more, is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Only 16 months earlier, a gunman armed with a handgun and a semi-automatic rifle murdered 49 people and injured 58 at an Orlando nightclub in what was then the country's worst mass shooting. The horrific attack came less than six months after a man and a woman opened fire at a San Bernardino, California, social services center, killing 14 and injuring 22. And with each new mass shooting — from Columbine to Sandy Hook; Fort Hood to Virginia Tech — the national debate over gun ownership renews.
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/issues/guns/

Congressman Keith Rothfus backs banning 'bump stocks,' not assault rifles
Trib Live by WES VENTEICHER  | Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, 6:21 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus supports a ban on devices that make semiautomatic weapons function like automatics, but he said Wednesday he doesn't think restricting semiautomatics is the right way to prevent mass shootings. Instead, Congress should give school administrators and other authorities tools to seek court orders against people with mental illness who might be dangerous, Rothfus, R-Sewickley told the Tribune-Review. He said Nikolas Cruz, who allegedly killed 17 students at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., should never have been able to buy a gun. “Where are the gaps in law enforcement? You know, this is a case where so many red flags were out there. This kid should have been picked up; he was not.” Rothfus, who is up for re-election this year, talked about gun control, redistricting and tax reform in a 45-minute discussion with the Trib's editorial board Wednesday afternoon.
http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/13332022-74/congressman-keith-rothfus-backs-banning-bump-stocks-not-assault-rifles

Senator McGarrigle talks school safety with Delco educators
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 02/21/18, 9:20 PM EST 
MORTON >> Following the mass murder at a Parkland, Fla., high school last week that killed 17, state Sen. Thomas McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, met with area school superintendents on Wednesday to discuss keeping their tens of thousands of students safe. The conversation between the top educators and the local legislator lasted for about an hour at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit in Morton as they proposed ideas that will keep the county’s schools safe. “There are evil and/or disturbed individuals who want to harm our teachers and children with a multitude of weapons and we cannot allow them access to educational facilities,” said McGarrigle. “This unfortunately will require change and, often times, inconveniences that many people will not like. “However, when terrorists seized two planes and flew them into the World Trade Center over 16 years ago our entire system of flying changed and now how we think of the security of our educational facilities must change as well.” Points of discussion at the closed-door meeting included those of mental illness, security systems (cameras, fully functioning public address systems, secure first-floor windows) and secured entry points into schools called sally ports. Reported to be unanimously opposed to at the meeting was the idea to arm teachers in effort to protect students from a would-be violent intruder. One superintendent is reported to say that their teachers “didn’t sign up for that.”
http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/20180221/mcgarrigle-talks-school-safety-with-delco-educators

School administrators prepare for potential gun violence protests in March, April in response to school shootings
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Feb 20, 2018 Updated Feb 20, 2018
Enough. That’s the message students, teachers, administrators and parents across the United States hope to spread on March 14 as part of a national school walkout sponsored by the Women’s March Network. Participants will stage a 17-minute walkout — one minute for each person killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week — at 10 a.m. to demand Congress pass legislation combating gun violence in schools. According to a webpage created by the Women’s March Network titled, “ENOUGH: National School Walkout,” Conestoga Valley High School is the only Lancaster County school registered for a walkout. But with more local schools likely to follow, administrators must decide to what extent they’ll support a protest.  “I would be hard-pressed to find an argument against school safety,” Conestoga Valley Superintendent David Zuilkoski said in a phone interview Monday, adding that he is not aware of any walkout currently planned at the district.
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/school-administrators-prepare-for-potential-gun-violence-protests-in-march/article_ad214bd4-15bc-11e8-9f72-038ac64229c5.html

Bucks County students call on state legislators to support tougher gun laws
Intelligencer By Freda Savana  Posted Feb 21, 2018 at 6:50 PM Updated Feb 21, 2018 6:50 PM
Echoing what has become a nationwide message, Central Bucks High School students told state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-10, Wednesday that “thoughts and prayers are not enough” in response to another school shooting. Eight teens, members of the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition youth committee, filled a small conference room at the lawmakers’ Doylestown Borough office and delivered a letter, signed by 102 students, demanding he support stronger gun control legislation. The group also took a similar letter to the office of state Rep. Marguerite Quinn’s, R-143. “Students can’t vote yet,” said Sophie Griffiths, 17. “But students care.” Quinn was in Harrisburg, but, through an aide, said she would be responding to the student’s letter, said Lydia Winderman, a BCWAC member.
http://www.theintell.com/news/20180221/bucks-county-students-call-on-state-legislators-to-support-tougher-gun-laws

Sheriff: Deputies to begin carrying rifles on school grounds; teens storm Florida Capitol
Morning Call by Brendan Farrington, Gary Fineout and Tamara Lush Associated Press February 21, 20188
A week after a shooter slaughtered 17 people in a Florida high school, thousands of protesters, including many angry teenagers, swarmed into the state Capitol on Wednesday, calling for changes to gun laws, a ban on assault-type weapons and improved care for the mentally ill. The normally staid Florida Statehouse filled with students, among them more than 100 survivors of the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, on the edge of the Everglades. They held signs, chanted slogans and burst into lawmakers' offices demanding to be heard. The teens were welcomed into the gun-friendly halls of power, but the students' top goal — a ban on assault-style rifles such as the weapon used in the massacre — was taken off the table a day earlier, although more limited measures are still possible. Many protesters complained that lawmakers were not serious about reform, and they said they would oppose in future elections any legislator who accepts campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.
http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/ct-florida-school-shooting-capitol-20180220-story.html

The Latest: Governor focusing on court order for new map
AP State Wire Published: Today
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Latest on Republican efforts to stop new a congressional map in Pennsylvania (all times local):
8:10 p.m. - Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he's not focusing on Republican legislative leaders' request that the U.S. Supreme Court block a new state congressional district map viewed as favorable to Democrats. The Republican presiding officers of the state House and the state Senate on Wednesday electronically filed an emergency request to stay a state Supreme Court order that redrew Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts. A spokesman for the Democratic governor says he's focused on making sure his Department of State is complying with the state court's order by updating its systems and helping candidates, county election officials and voters prepare for the primary election. Democrats hope the new map will help them reclaim control of the U.S. House. The Republicans' challenge adds uncertainty as candidates prepare to circulate nominating petitions to get their names on the May primary ballot.
http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268748/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=pRWXyMrC

Top Pa. Republicans ask U.S. Supreme Court to block new map
Inquirer by Jonathan Lai & Liz Navratil, STAFF WRITERS Updated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 — 8:06 PM EST
Top GOP lawmakers submitted an emergency request to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking the justices to block implementation of the new district boundaries. Meanwhile, national and state Republicans were preparing a separate federal challenge to the map. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) submitted their application for a stay Wednesday evening. “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court conspicuously seized the redistricting process and prevented any meaningful ability for the legislature to enact a remedial map to ensure a court drawn map,” they wrote. They noted at one point that the court’s majority opinion came out two days before the court-imposed deadline for the legislature to submit a map to the governor.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania-gerrymandering-case-republicans-sue-federal-court-20180221.html

Pennsylvania Legislative Leaders File Emergency Application for Stay
Senator Scarnatis’s Website Posted on Feb 21, 2018
(HARRISBURG) – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai have issued the following statement regarding today’s Emergency Application for Stay filing before the Supreme Court of the United States:
“Today, an Emergency Application for Stay was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore.  The Application requests the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Orders, which held the 2011 Congressional Map Plan was unconstitutional under the Free and Equal Elections Clause and adopted its own court-drawn remedial plan. “Now that the opinions have been filed and the remedial map issued, we are again requesting the United States Supreme Court to issue a stay pending our appeal as the issues are now ripe. “The application for a stay argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause when it legislated from the bench adding new requirements for drawing congressional districts which do not exist in either the Pennsylvania Constitution or the U.S. Constitution.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court further violated the Elections Clause by implementing a remedial phase that did not give the General Assembly an ‘adequate opportunity’ to enact a new map. 
http://www.senatorscarnati.com/2018/02/21/pennsylvania-legislative-leaders-file-emergency-application-stay/

New Pa. congressional district map could be challenged by Common Cause, NAACP on civil rights grounds
Inquirer by Holly Otterbein & Jonathan Lai - Staff Writers Updated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 — 5:52 PM EST
Common Cause helped bring down Pennsylvania’s old congressional district map. Now, in a twist, the good-government group might undo the new map that replaced it. Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said his organization and the state NAACP are considering filing suit in federal court to challenge the new map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week. He said it may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which banned obstacles to voting by minorities. Under Pennsylvania’s former 2011 map, drawn by Republicans, nonwhites make up a majority of residents in two Philadelphia-based congressional districts. In the new map, people of color appear to be the majority in only one district, he said. “In general, I think the new map is a really big win for democracy in Pennsylvania,” Sims said. “However, we want to make sure that it is not disenfranchising voters, particularly in Philadelphia.” Common Cause has recruited several of the plaintiffs for the lawsuit that led to the 2011 map’s being struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as unconstitutionally gerrymandered. It also is a leader in the Fair Districts PA coalition.
The NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, too, has argued that the gerrymandered 2011 map amounted to “voter suppression.” This week, it submitted the new map to the national association’s legal team to determine whether it complies with the Voting Rights Act.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/pennsylvania-congressional-district-map-challenge-civil-rights-naacp-common-cause-philadelphia-gerrymandering-20180221.html

“There is a long-term solution to the bickering, but it’s being suffocated in the legislature. Bipartisan bills to create an independent commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts have already been introduced.
The commission would employ statisticians, cartographers, and demographers to help draw maps that would follow fairness guidelines to make districts compact and contiguous. That would give more voters the chance to elect representatives who reflect their interests. It’s hard to imagine any sound reason not to adopt this rational, fair method. But even though the legislation enjoys considerable support, with 18 of the 50 senators and 108 of the 203 House members signing on as cosponsors, GOP leadership is sitting on the bills.”
How to fix gerrymandering in Pennsylvania? Let the voters decide | Editorial
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 — 4:58 PM EST
In an attempt to tamp down partisan gerrymandering, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a new congressional district map far more fair than the current, partisan map. Of course, it set off another series of bar fights with more legal challenges. All this partisan bickering should be Exhibit A in the case for voters to stand up for their rights to choose their own representatives. Partisans create districts that favor the party in power. Among other things, this prevents healthy debate on important issues like immigration, gun violence, and income inequality. Republicans are now complaining that the state Supreme Court’s new map — created when the court rejected a revision from Republicans —   usurps the legislature’s power to control House district boundaries. They’ve accused the court of being partisan because it’s controlled by Democrats. Previously, Democrats complained that the Republican-controlled legislature drew districts to favor their own candidates. Both can be right, but both are a distraction. Neither party should have such outsized influence over elections. That’s the voters’ job. The parties have usurped the voters’ power.
http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/editorials/how-to-fix-gerrymandering-in-pennsylvania-let-the-voters-decide-editorial-20180221.html


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.
https://networkforpubliceducation.org/2018/02/join-us-day-action-stop-gun-violence-schools/

Save the Date: PA School Funding Lawsuit Wed. March 7, 2018 9:30 A.M.
Commonwealth Court Hearing on Legislative leaders motions to Dismiss the Wm Penn SD challenge to state funding.
Before the Court en banc sitting in Court Room No. 1 Ninth Floor, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, One South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107
All members of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court will hear oral argument on motions to dismiss filed by legislative leaders in the school funding lawsuit William Penn School District, et al. v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, et al.  The Legislators are arguing that the Petition challenging the inadequacy and inequity of Pennsylvania’s funding of schools is moot because the new school formula has supplanted the funding scheme existing when students and school districts filed their Petition in 2015.  In addition, Legislators also contend that the Petition failed to allege that insufficient state funding caused any harm such as poor PSSA results or lack of sufficient instructional resources.   In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to hold a trial on whether state officials are violating the state’s constitution by failing to adequately and equitably fund public education.  The Legislators objections have delayed efforts to bring this case to trial.   

Updated: Snooze or Lose: Promoting Sleep Health in Adolescents
Dr. Wendy Troxel Mon., March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Radnor High School auditorium 
The Radnor Township School District Adolescent Sleep & School Start Time Study Committee will welcome Dr. Wendy Troxel for a public presentation on Mon., March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Radnor High School auditorium (130 King of Prussia Road, Radnor). Dr. Troxel is a Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Adjunct Faculty in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. A licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Troxel been widely cited by the media, including The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Financial TimesABC World News TonightCBS Sunday Morning, NPR and BBC. Dr. Troxel was also one of the featured sleep experts in the National Geographic documentary “Sleepless in America.” Her TED talk on the impact of school start times on adolescent sleep has received more than 1.4 million views.
THIS EVENT IS FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED at http://bit.ly/RTSDSnoozeorLose

Help draft a plan to implement a statewide vision for the future of public education in PA!
(Updated) PSBA Member Roundtables/Receptions – February and March Dates
Member Roundtable and Receptions
Join your PSBA Member Roundtable and Reception to hear the public education advocacy and political updates affecting your school district. Take this opportunity to network, learn and develop your leadership skills. Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres and networking with fellow school leaders in your area, then provide your input on the future vision for public education in PA.
Roundtable Discussion: Help draft a plan to implement a statewide vision for the future of public education in PA! PSBA would like to capture your thoughts on what education should look like in the coming decades. We will compile your expertise with the perspectives of others from across the state to develop the Commonwealth Education Blueprint. The Blueprint will then serve as our guiding resource and will set milestones for creating the best public education experience for future generations of students. Don’t miss your opportunity to weigh in!
Agenda:
6:00 pm – 6:15 pm Association Update
Learn the latest news, initiatives and upcoming events from your association.
6:15 pm – 7:00 pm Government Affairs
Bring knowledge back to your district of how the commonwealth budget will fiscally impact it. Discuss the top legislative issues affecting public education. Learn how you can advocate for your school district taxpayers, students and public education success.
7:00 pm – 7:45 pm Networking
Enjoy productive conversation with your school leader colleagues. Boost your network, share your experiences and build a stronger voice for public education.
7:45 pm – 8:30 pm Commonwealth Education Blueprint: Developing a vision for public education
This focus group is your opportunity to share your input in drafting a blueprint for the future of public education. The Commonwealth Education Blueprint is a multiyear effort founded and managed by PSBA to develop and implement a statewide vision for the future of public education. Through this comprehensive project, education stakeholders from across the state and from many areas of expertise are coming together to proactively determine what education should look like in years to come. Having a clear and comprehensive statewide vision will ensure that we provide an increasingly excellent public education experience for children. This is your opportunity to get involved, share your feedback, and help draft the plan for the future of education!
Pricing: This is a complimentary PSBA member event.
Locations/dates:
·         Feb. 26, Parkway West CTC (Section 5)
·         Feb. 27, A. W. Beattie Career Center (Section 5)
·         Feb. 28, Crawford Co. CTC (Section 1)
·         Mar. 1, Seneca Highlands IU 9 (Section 2)
·         Mar. 5, Central Montco Technical HS (Section 8)
·         Mar. 6, Lehigh Carbon Community College (Section 8)
·         Mar. 7, West Side CTC (Section 4)
·         Mar. 8, Montoursville Area HS (Section 3)
·         Mar. 12, PSBA (Section 7)
·         Mar. 13, Altoona Area HS (Section 6)


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 

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 clapper@paprincipals.org 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.