Monday, April 23, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 23: #SB2: The PA Senate Education Committee is expected to vote the Education Savings Account Voucher bill SB2 out of committee at their Tuesday morning meeting this week. Have you contacted your state senator to urge them to oppose this bill?

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#SB2: The PA Senate Education Committee is expected to vote the Education Savings Account Voucher bill SB2 out of committee at their Tuesday morning meeting this week. Have you contacted your state senator to urge them to oppose this bill?

URGENT: ESA Voucher Bill SB2 Set for Vote Tuesday, April 24
Tell your Senator to vote NO on ESA vouchers
The Senate Education Committee has announced its intention to vote on Senate Bill 2 (Sen. DiSanto, R-Dauphin) this coming Tuesday, April 24. This bill establishes Education Savings Accounts (ESA) vouchers, a program that takes tax money out of your neighborhood public schools to be used for private schools and vendors. Your calls and emails are needed immediately to stop this flawed scheme from being moved on a fast track! Please take a moment to contact your senators, even if they are not on the Education Committee.
PA Senate contact info here:

HB722: The Pa. House should be ashamed of this cowardly end-run around the voters | Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Updated Apr 20, 1:53 PM
In an election year, you would think our elected state representatives would be on their best behavior, not their worst.  But Harrisburg's worst angels prevailed during a recent meeting of the House State Government Committee, which cynically and arrogantly cut the citizens out of a bill creating ... wait for it ... a citizens' redistricting commission. The legislation (HB722) was introduced in 2017 by Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton, and it boasts bipartisan sponsorship and support.  Yet it has languished in the State Government Committee, chaired by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, who plays a maverick on television but remains one of the chamber's most dedicated guardians of the status quo. The aim of Samuelson's proposed constitutional amendment, to the extent that it's possible, is to take some of the partisanship out of the very partisan decennial remapping of Pennsylvania's congressional districts by giving citizens a true voice in the process.  But without public notice, with and even less debate, the committee approved a Metcalfe-authored amendment to tilt the balance of the commission back to Harrisburg politicians.

“Much of this — the name-calling, the gun stuff, the hard partisanship, apparent obsessions — suggests the need for intervention and a couple civics lessons.
And if the legislature had leaders who cared about the institution, its image, its decorum and how it serves the public that pays for it, maybe that would happen.
As is, the atmosphere remains more than a tad toxic.”
What's that smell? It's Harrisburg's political air | John Baer
Philly Daily News by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST Updated: APRIL 23, 2018 — 7:30 AM EDT
Perhaps you’ve noticed strange things emanate from your state Capitol. I mean apart from frequent whiffs of worthlessness, the occasional stench of mendacity. Well, a clash last week twixt two lawmakers shows how noxious Harrisburg can be. Following a House State Government Committee meeting where a bill creating a citizens’ redistricting commission was gutted and replaced with a measure giving lawmakers greater redistricting power, Philly Democratic Rep. Chris Rabb went off on the committee chairman, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler). They aren’t pals. Rabb calls Metcalfe “a bully.” Metcalfe calls Rabb a “wackjob.” And their post-meeting encounter wasn’t cordial.

Judge, state question quick renewal for Chester charter school
Chester Community Charter School opened a new campus in Aston this fall to accommodate growing enrollment. The school was approved last year to operate for nine years, though state law limits charter renewals to five years.
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Staff Writer  @maddiehanna | Updated: APRIL 20, 2018 — 7:06 PM EDT
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is questioning the Chester-Upland School District’s decision to renew its operating agreement with the state’s largest brick-and-mortar charter school through 2026 while the school was just one year into its current five-year term. “If charters are going to be renewed right out of the chute, … they’ve already been approved before they’ve even performed,” said James Flandreau, a lawyer for the department, at hearings this week ordered by a Delaware County Court judge.  “Certainly, one year is way too early to evaluate any charter’s performance.” Kevin Kent, a lawyer for the Chester Community Charter School, said that the court-appointed receiver and school district could still re-evaluate the charter school at any point. “Nothing’s been compromised,” he said. Peter Barsz, the receiver for the financially distressed district, defended his decision. He testified on Thursday that he had reviewed audits and school performance records and had support from the district’s school board before approving the renewal request last year that allowed the charter school to operate through 2026. In exchange, the charter school agreed to forgo already-approved plans to add a high school. If the K-8 school — the state’s biggest charter, enrolling more students than Chester Upland’s district schools — opened a high school, it would “decimate” the district, Barsz said Thursday.

“It also guarantees that CSMI LLC, a for-profit education management company that operates the K-8 school with 4,200 students, will receive millions of dollars in revenue for nine more years. Chester Community’s extension comes as school districts across the commonwealth and nation are wrestling with the growth of charter schools, more privatization in education and the impact on traditional public schools. It also renews lingering questions about the intersection of politics, government and schools. CSMI’s founder and CEO is Vahan H. Gureghian of Gladwyne, a lawyer, entrepreneur and major Republican donor –the largest individual contributor to former Gov. Tom Corbett. And though CSMI’s books are not public – the for-profit firm has never disclosed its profits and won’t discuss its management fee – running the school appears to be a lucrative business. State records show that Gureghian’s company collected nearly $17 million in taxpayer funds just in 2014-15, when only 2,900 students were enrolled.”
Reprise December 2017: How Chester Community Charter School got a 9-year deal
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda | Updated: DECEMBER 22, 2017 — 8:55 AM EST
For years, charter school proponents have been trying to change Pennsylvania law so that operating agreement renewals could be extended from five years to 10. They haven’t succeeded in Harrisburg. But that didn’t deter Chester Community Charter School. One year into Chester Community’s latest five-year agreement, Peter R. Barsz, the court-appointed receiver who oversees the financially distressed Chester Upland School District and wields nearly all the powers of a school board, took the unprecedented step of extending the Delaware County school’s term for five more years to 2026. Barsz contends that the move was designed to protect Chester High School: In return, Chester Community, which already enrolls about 70 percent of the primary grade students in the struggling district, agreed not to open a high school. The decision means staff and parents at the state’s largest bricks-and-mortar charter – already slated to receive more than $55 million in taxpayer funds this school year – won’t have to worry about its fate for nearly a decade, even if its test scores continue to fall far short of state benchmarks.

“As enrollment grows, so do the profits of  CSMI LLC, a for-profit education management company that operates Chester Community, and was founded and is run by Vahan H. Gureghian, a lawyer, entrepreneur, and major Republican donor. CSMI’s books are not public – the for-profit firm has never disclosed its profits and won’t discuss its management fee. State records show that Gureghian’s company collected nearly $17 million in taxpayer funds just in 2014-15. At that time, the school had 2,911 students, and CSMI was paid $5,787 for each. At that rate, more than 1,000 additional students from Philadelphia might mean nearly $6 million in new revenue.”
Reprise January 2018: Two-plus hours on a school bus: How a Chester charter taps Philly kids to grow
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda | Updated: JANUARY 2, 2018 — 8:53 AM EST
Imagine waking your 5-year-old kindergarten student before 5 a.m., walking him to a street corner in the city’s Far Northeast, then watching him board a bus for a 2½-hour ride to a school more than 30 miles away. Then, imagine he endures the same trip in reverse each afternoon. Five days a week. For some parents, it’s not just a bad dream. Such a routine is customary for an increasing number of Philadelphia students enrolled at Chester Community Charter School. Data obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News show that the number of students commuting from Philadelphia to the state’s largest brick-and-mortar charter school — now with four campuses in Delaware County — has exploded from 45 in 2014-15 to 1,131 this year.

1071 North Ocean Boulevard Palm Beach $64.9 million
Observer by Christopher Cameron • 01/23/18 8:00am
Finally, while there are almost certainly whisper listings with bigger asks, 1071 North Ocean Boulevard is the second most expensive unit on the open market. It’s also interesting, because, unlike its competitors, it’s new construction. Built in 2015, this spec-mansion has never been lived in. And read new construction here as: jam-packed with flashy amenities. The 35,993-square-foot residence features a bowling alley, home theater, pub room and library, 242 feet of beachfront and an eight-car garage. According to the Real Deal, the property is owned by a trust linked to Philadelphia-area lawyers Vahan and Danielle Gureghian. When it first hit the market the Gureghians were asking $84.5 million.

Nearly 750 Lancaster County students have opted out of PSSAs this year
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Apr 21, 2018
Jessica Kahler, a Manheim Township mother of two who spent 15 years working in education, knows firsthand the pressure that comes with state-mandated testing. So when her daughter, Maeve, was old enough, Kahler jumped on the opportunity to opt Maeve out of taking the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. “If we’re going to talk in religious terms,” Kahler, now the coordinator for church and community life at Grandview United Methodist Church, said, “they bear false witness to the true abilities of learners and students, and they bear false witness to the talents and work of teachers.” Kahler used a religious exemption to opt Maeve, now a fourth-grader at Schaeffer Elementary School in Manheim Township, out of the PSSAs this year, joining a growing trend of taking a pass on the PSSAs in Lancaster County. As of Friday, 748 students countywide opted out of the PSSAs this year. That’s the second-highest number since the exams were introduced in 1992, behind only last year’s 825.

Abington parents want more time to review $25M agreement with billionaire Stephen Schwarzman
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer  @Kathy_Boccella | Updated: APRIL 20, 2018 — 2:05 PM EDT
Some parents whose opposition helped scuttle a plan to rename Abington Senior High School after Wall Street billionaire Stephen Schwarzman are now worried that the district is moving too quickly on a new deal for the Blackstone CEO’s $25 million gift. But School Board President Raymond McGarry insists the panel will move ahead with Tuesday’s scheduled vote on the agreement – unveiled at its April 10 meeting, the same time it rescinded the first pact – and doesn’t agree with parents’ concerns about moving too fast. “The new agreement is very problematic,” said Gabrielle Sellei, a lawyer and mother of two Abington students, who was a vocal opponent of the abandoned plan to rename the school Abington Schwarzman High School. Sellei and others say the new agreement — which drops the name change and some other demands, such as naming parts of the school after Schwarzman’s brothers — is too vaguely worded. They also want more discussion about the structure of the new Foundation for Abington School District that was created to receive the money.

Public education shouldn't have to rely on private money | Opinion
When private investors donate money to public schools: dangerous governance or an opportunity for growth?
by Deborah Gordon Klehr, For the Inquirer Updated: APRIL 20, 2018 — 12:37 PM EDT
Deborah Gordon Klehr is executive director of the Education Law Center.
$25 million private gift to the Abington School District and the strings attached to it ignited a firestorm in suburban PhiladelphiaCritics are echoing the slogan “Our schools are not for sale” –  a rallying cry familiar to students and parents in underfunded districts like Philadelphia that have struggled to respond to years of inadequate funding. The current proliferation of education-focused foundations, GoFundMe pages, privately supported capital campaigns, and other initiatives to raise dollars for unmet educational needs collectively tell a story: Inadequate funding is a central problem for most school districts in our state. A few weeks ago,, a crowdfunding website for school and classroom projects, received a $29 million donation to fulfill a number of education requests around the country.   Even in solidly middle-class Abington, a district ranked 150th out of 500 in the state in per-pupil spending in 2016, finding the funds to renovate an aging high school building or update STEM curriculum offerings is a challenge. Imagine the difficulty faced by some of the 350 Pennsylvania school districts that are not as well-funded as Abington. Philadelphia schools, for example, have to make do with $3,200 less per student than Abington while dealing with overcrowded classrooms, crumbling buildings, and a lack of basic resources. In a school with 600 children, that’s a $1.9 million difference. It is no surprise that districts, schools, and educators are scrambling for other sources of revenue.

Should the rich rule the schools in Philadelphia and beyond? | Opinion
by Lisa Haver & Deborah Grill, For the Inquirer Updated: APRIL 20, 2018 — 12:34 PM EDT
Lisa Haver is a retired Philadelphia teacher and cofounder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Deborah Grill is a retired teacher and school librarian and a research coordinator for the alliance.
The story of how one wealthy man engaged in secret negotiations with officials to impose his will on one suburban high school became front-page news for days. Commentaries expressed outrage about the district’s rushed vote to rename Abington Senior High School in exchange for a $25 million gift from billionaire businessman Stephen Schwarzman, along with several other conditions,  including changes in curriculum and technology.  “Someone coming in with a lot of money can have a whole lot of influence over a public school,” warned one parent at a subsequent school board meeting. One Inquirer columnist expressed uneasiness  “that public schools could become beggars at the table of the uber-rich.” To these suburban parents and pundits, we say: Welcome to our world. In November 2011, the state-imposed School Reform Commission (SRC), absent any public deliberation, approved a multimillion-dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In return, the SRC agreed to several conditions, including yearly charter expansion, implementation of Common Core standards, more school “choice” and testing, and permanent school closures. No one elected Bill Gates, typically portrayed in the media as just a very generous rich guy, to make decisions about Philadelphia’s public schools. But his mandates have had devastating and lasting effects on the district, much more than renaming one school.

Many public institutions, like libraries, are funded by private money, but caution is key. | Opinion
Private fundraising efforts to pay for public education are on the rise in this region and elsewhere across the country.
by Jeremy Nowak, For the Inquirer Updated: APRIL 20, 2018 — 12:35 PM EDT
Jeremy Nowak is coauthor (with Bruce Katz) of “The New Localism: How cities can thrive in the age of populism,” published by Brookings Press. He is a Distinguished Fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation.
 The medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides taught that anonymity represented a higher level of charitable virtue than gifts made with personal attribution. The old sage would not have made it as a major gifts fund-raiser in the 21st century. Major gifts are almost always about attribution and the leverage created through the notoriety of the giver, the donor networks that follow, and the heightened prestige of the cause or institution receiving the gift. Naming rights are the ultimate in attribution. There is not a hospital, university, symphony hall, or museum that does not sell the naming rights for buildings, schools, faculty positions, rooms, or research centers. It would be fund-raising malpractice if they didn’t. Large civic building projects have also shifted naming practices from the honorific to the commercial. Stadiums most exemplify this transition. Philadelphia stadiums used to be named in reference to a place (say, municipal stadium), a person (such as Connie Mack) or a collective symbol (Veterans) disconnected from a commercial transaction. Today our major sports venues are named for the three financial-services firms that paid for naming rights: Wells Fargo, Lincoln Financial, and Citizens. The tension between ownership, sources of funding, and naming spilled into the open in Abington Township a few weeks ago.

Blogger note: here’s some background on Mr. Novak and school privatization advocates at the Philadelphia School Partnership
Reprise 2013: Jeremy Nowak’s Vision for a New Philadelphia
Armed with a $2 billion endowment, visionary William Penn Foundation president Jeremy Nowak wanted to bring to life a new Philadelphia. Old Philadelphia, it seems, has other ideas.
Philadelphia Magazine by JASON FAGONE· 2/1/2013, 5:05 p.m.
The first people he pissed off were his own: people at the foundation, men and women who’d been there for years and years. Nowak wasn’t just directing money to new places; he was changing how that money got directed in the first place. And the way he changed it placed power in new hands. In the past, the power to make grants had always lain with program officers—people who specialized in a certain area, like education, the environment or the arts. For certain types of grants, Nowak wanted to instead move to a system of panels in which groups of people, some of them experts in their fields from outside Philadelphia, judged grant proposals using a more quantitative method, to decide who would receive money.

Student walkouts, rallies held throughout Lancaster County on Columbine shooting anniversary
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer JUNIOR GONZÁLEZ | Staff Writer Apr 20, 2018
"Are we next?" That's what Lancaster County students participating in the National School Walkout on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, chanted as they rallied through downtown Lancaster.  “We’re tired of seeing shootings,” said McCaskey 11th grader Alyssa Markley. “We feel like it’s way too easy to get a gun.” Several dozen students from McCaskey and Manheim Township high schools, as well as Stone Independent School, left class and marched through Lancaster to shine a light on recent school shootings. They joined a national movement, the National School Walkout, which, according to its website, is "protesting congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence." At McCaskey, Principal Jay Butterfield said Friday that there were no discussions regarding administrative consequences for students participating in the march. “These students are behaving in a civically responsible manner and they are learning,” Butterfield said of the experience. Robin Felty, Manheim Township superintendent, sent a letter to students on Monday saying any time students spent out of class due to a walkout would be considered unexcused, which may result in disciplinary action.

Unionville students walk out of class to protest gun violence
By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 04/20/18, 8:04 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Students calling for an end to gun violence walked of Unionville High School Friday morning, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo. which left 13 students dead and 24 injured.About 75 students gathered in front of Unionville High School under an American flag at half-mast, and stayed there for 17 minutes, marking one minute for each of the 17 people killed at Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Fla. They held signs reading “We’re Still Here,: and “Never Again.” “We supported the students’ First Amendment rights and unique perspectives by providing a safe environment for them to assemble and to speak,” said Jimmy Conley, high school principal. “The students were respectful and returned to class after 17 minutes. Instruction continued and all students were accounted for upon their re-entry to the building.”

Trying to keep post-Parkland momentum, students again protest gun violence in Philly
The notebook by Avi Wolfman-Arent April 20, 2018 — 6:47pm
For the second time in as many months, high school students around the country walked out of school to protest gun violence and call for more gun control. Friday’s rallies commemorated the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that killed 13 people — perhaps still the most infamous school massacre — and came more than two months after the shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida unleashed waves of youth protest. For many local students, the protests served as a statement of endurance to those who thought their energy would fade. “You’re going to hear us, and you’re going to make the changes we’re asking you to make,” said Eryn Banton, a student at Cheltenham High School in Montgomery County. Banton and about 200 of her Cheltenham classmates gathered at Thomas Paine Plaza across from Philadelphia’s City Hall to protest police shootings and other gun violence that they say disproportionately hurts minority communities.
Across the way at City Hall, several hundred students from across the city held a six-minute “die-in” to highlight the fact that a Philadelphian is shot, on average, every six hours. From there, the teenagers marched to Eakins Oval at the northern edge of Center City.

Philly students protest for tougher gun laws on Columbine massacre's anniversary
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: APRIL 20, 2018 — 6:31 PM EDT
Joining counterparts nationwide, hundreds of students from around the Philadelphia area staged school walkouts Friday, publicly pressing for tougher gun laws on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting that left 12 students and a teacher dead in Littleton, Colo. For some, participation in the National School Walkout was about standing with the student activists who have found their voices after the February shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. For others, it was about things going on closer to home. Nicholas Ear was held at gunpoint last year on his way home from school — he’s now a junior at Masterman. He escaped uninjured, but some do not, Ear said. “Children are dying left and right, and we have to do something about it,” said Ear, 17, who held up both his palms, on which a friend had written “DON’T SHOOT” in red marker.

DePasquale tours state for school safety
WITF Written by Radio Pennsylvania | Apr 22, 2018 8:15 AM
(Harrisburg) -- More than a month after announcing plans to improve school safety audits, Pennsylvania's Auditor General has been traveling the state to get input on how to do that. 
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says he's been visiting schools to get input from students about what they think will help to make them safer. DePasquale talks about what students he spoke with had to say during one such visit last week. "A lot of concern about mental health.  Certainly there was a strong feeling from the students of having someone who is appropriately trained be armed in the school.  They didn't have any problems going through metal detectors if that was something that was required.  But the overall stress was the mental health.  That was their biggest concern," DePasquale said. DePasquale says his meetings with students have helped him to think about things he would not have otherwise.

Congressman Kelly agrees to town hall with Erie students
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted Apr 21, 2018 at 2:00 AM
Congressman’s spokesman said Kelly will attend public meeting on guns and school safety ‘as long as it is for the students and by the students and is not at all partisan.’
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly has changed positions and agreed to attend what would be his first in-person public town-hall meeting in Erie in nearly three years. The event has yet to be scheduled, but Kelly’s spokesman said the congressman, if certain conditions are met, will attend the town hall at the invitation of a group of Erie County high school students. The spokesman, Tom Qualtere, said Kelly will attend a town hall “as long as it is for the students and by the students and is not at all partisan.” The students asked Kelly, of Butler County, R-3rd Dist., to talk about gun violence and school safety in light of the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. If the town hall were to occur, it would be the first in-person town hall in which Kelly has participated in Erie since August 2015, when he held an event on veterans issues. If the town hall occurs, it would also be one of three meetings that Kelly has committed to holding in Erie on school safety and guns. Kelly is also meeting with the student group in private, and his office said it is trying to plan a school assembly.

“Pennsylvania has not passed gun-safety legislation in several years, and bills introduced in recent sessions have died without votes. With a Republican-controlled legislature, major gun-control bills likely could not pass. Closing the sessions Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin) said he would spend a few weeks talking to his fellow lawmakers and decide which bills will get voted on by the committee. Another, one-day hearing will be held in May, where advocacy groups will be invited to testify. Marsico said members of the public can submit written testimony to his office.
Gun safety after Parkland: Here's every idea the Pa. House has. Will any become reality?
Inquirer by Justine McDaniel, Staff Writer  @McDanielJustine | Updated: APRIL 19, 2018 — 5:31 PM EDT
Some made impassioned pleas for change. Others argued for fortifying schools rather than regulating guns. Still others talked about domestic violence, mental health, urban gun deaths, and other issues. In what they called an unprecedented series of hearings, three dozen Pennsylvania House members took turns speaking over six days about gun safety and how to prevent mass shootings. They offered dozens of bills and ideas — amid plenty of polite disagreement — in response to February’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and a level of gun violence increasingly seen as a national crisis. The lawmakers were speaking to a state whose population and political bases are divided between large rural swaths where gun ownership is a tradition, and Philadelphia and other urban areas, which see pervasive gun violence. Pennsylvania receives middle grades from both gun-control and gun-advocacy groups. Though legislators in favor of some type of gun-safety measure outnumbered those testifying against making new regulations,
…..“Not everything we heard will come up for a vote, however, but we have heard a lot of good, interesting, and creative ideas,” Marsico said at the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing.
Here are all the ideas, either current bills or just talking points, mentioned by state legislators during the six-day hearing*:

Philly’s7thWard Blog BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI APRIL 22, 2018
Some of the most contentious decisions in a city often involve schools that are struggling – many for generations. While everyone can give solutions that they believe (but haven’t often seen) work, there is a lot of evidence that school turnarounds actually work; same students, different adults, different expectations, and, ultimately, different results. But, who determines when a school turnaround is needed? What happens during a turnaround? Is there a way that turnarounds can represent a win-win situation, instead of how it is portrayed now; a battle between winners and losers? In Philadelphia, you will likely to see a scenario play out where Black and Brown families are simultaneously faced with a desire to see “radical” interventions in the schools that underserve their children and a voracious (and very White) opposition. The clash here in Philly can often be found at the soon-to-transition School Reform Commission meetings; many Black and Brown parents of the attending students demanding changes at the school (not all parents favor turnarounds) and many White staff and their supporters stoking fears about what turnaround means…mainly for themselves.

Peach Bottom Rep. Bryan Cutler could have a real shot at PA House majority leader
Lancaster Online by SAM JANESCH | Staff Writer April 22, 2018
A six-term lawmaker from Peach Bottom may be poised to become the highest-ranking member of the state House from Lancaster County in nearly a century. Capitol observers say Rep. Bryan Cutler, a Republican who serves as House majority whip, has a serious shot at ascending the power ladder to majority leader when Rep. Dave Reed leaves at the end of the year. Cutler has said he’s “certainly interested” in the role. Along with the speaker — the House’s top position — the majority leader drives the chamber’s policy agenda and is at the center of major negotiations with the governor on the annual state budget and other major matters. “The position of majority leader is the most important leadership position in the building, because that individual decides what bills actually advance to the floor of the House of Representatives,” said Elizabethtown Republican Rep. David Hickernell, a 15-year House veteran who chairs the education committee. Ultimately, whether he advances will be up to Cutler’s Republican House colleagues — of which there currently are 119. Before the start of every two-year term, both parties in the House and Senate elect their own leaders, and they’ll do so again in December. And while there’s no prescribed method for who will definitely be considered, whips have historically risen to majority leader. Reed was the first Republican majority leader in nearly four decades who did not serve as whip immediately before; he was policy committee chairman, another leadership position.
Cutler, 43, has been a GOP whip since 2015. He was elected to the House in 2006.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spending thousands on new marketing efforts
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette APR 22, 2018 11:59 AM
In the past year, you may have seen advertising from Pittsburgh Public Schools in different magazines across the city.  You may have watched commercials for the district during the evening news or heard advertisements on the radio. And you also may have noticed the colorful new district website — complete with a new “spotlight” section that features, among other things, monthly video messages from superintendent Anthony Hamlet.  It’s all part of a new community outreach plan that district leaders hope will help get more useful information to families and help “change the narrative” surrounding Pittsburgh Public Schools.  “When parents make a decision to be a part of PPS, we want them to be happy with that selection,” said Ebony Pugh, the district’s public information officer. “Now families have choices, and we want them to think of us as the best choice.”

House passes bill to let kids use sunscreen at school, with some caveats
Trib Live by WES VENTEICHER  | FridayApril 20, 2018, 2:24 p.m.
Students can't bring sunscreen to school under current Pennsylvania law, but the state House has voted for a bill that would change that. Only school nurses can administer sunscreen in the state, since it is classified as an over-the-counter medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a memo from Rep. Harold English, R-Hampton, who sponsored the bill. House Bill 1228, which received unanimous approval in a House vote this week, allows students to use sunscreen and protective clothing without a physician's note. The Education Committee didn't give its approval without adding some requirements. The committee amended the bill to require parents and students to fill out forms on applying sunscreen, create a path to revoke sunscreen privileges for students who misuse it and to remove a provision that would have let school staff administer sunscreen.

Newsmaker: Alan Earnshaw, outgoing East Penn School Board president
Carol Thompson Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call April 20, 2018
Alan Earnshaw’s long tenure with the East Penn School Board will end this summer. Earnshaw, 51, announced recently that he will resign his seat in June. His job, business process manager for Evonik Industries, will be transferred to Virginia. He is the subject of this week’s Q&A. His interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education Is Saving Itself Work by Dismissing Hundreds of Civil Rights Cases
GQ BY  LUKE DARBY April 20, 2018
It's much more efficient to just not worry about students' rights.
After her disastrous 60 Minutes interview, where she failed to justify or back up any of her policies or beliefs about education, Betsy DeVos may be eager to prove herself competent and effective again. And in a way, she's succeeding: her goals even before becoming Secretary of Education was to undermine public schools, belittle teachers, and prop up student debt collectors. Now that she oversees the country's schools, she can more effectively push for those pet projects while also ripping the teeth out of the agency she runs. Her latest target is the department's Office of Civil Rights, a body tasked with investigating claims of civil rights abuses in schools. Under DeVos, the Department of Education has found a way to completely avoid its duty, simply by inventing a rule that lets them opt out of it, in order to be more "efficient." As the New York Times reports: Among the changes implemented immediately is a provision that allows the Office for Civil Rights to dismiss cases that reflect “a pattern of complaints previously filed with O.C.R. by an individual or a group against multiple recipients,” or complaints “filed for the first time against multiple recipients that” place “an unreasonable burden on O.C.R.’s resources.” So far, the provision has resulted in the dismissal of more than 500 disability rights complaints.

Arizona Teachers Vote in Favor of Statewide Walkout
New York Times By DANA GOLDSTEIN APRIL 20, 2018
Arizona educators voted late Thursday in favor of a statewide walkout, as teacher protests over low pay and school funding continued to sweep across the United States. The spread of the protests to Arizona from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, all Republican-dominated states with weak public sector unions, signaled the depth of frustration from teachers and parents over years of education budget cuts. The movement first arose in West Virginia, where teachers walked off the job in February, winning a $2,000 raise. In Oklahoma, the threat of a walkout garnered a $6,000 raise for teachers, but they still picketed the Capitol for nine days, calling for additional school funding that mostly did not come. In Kentucky, teachers have rallied outside the State Capitol to protest changes to their pension plans and to demand more money for schools.
“It’s clear that our educators are inspired by what they’ve seen in West Virginia and Oklahoma and Kentucky,” said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union. “They see educators rising up and lifting their voices for their students, and doing so in a way that can’t be ignored.”

On Campbell Brown’s Evolution from Scourge of Public Schools and Teachers to Becoming the Face of Facebook
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch April 21, 2018 //
Have you been missing Campbell Brown? There was a long period when she stepped forth to position herself as the symbol of the corporate reform movement, warning the world to be wary of public schools loaded with pedophile teachers who were protected by unions and tenure. As Michelle Rhee faded away, Campbell Brown’s star rose in the corporate reform firmament.
Her Partnership for Educational Justice launched lawsuits against tenure, none of which have been successful. She garnered millions from the usual billionaires to start a news site called The 74 Million, to sing the praises of charter schools and privatization.  She served on the board of Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children, which handed out millions of dollars to fund candidates who support charters and vouchers. Betsy, in turn, funded The 74 Million.
But now she has left us! She has joined the messaging team at Facebook,where she is smoothing ruffled feathers and soothing angry critics. In this long profile in the New York Times, Campbell’s role as the dragon slayer of public schools gets only a few paragraphs.

Electing PSBA Officers:  Applications Due by June 1st
Do you have strong communication and leadership skills and a vision for PSBA? Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to submit an Application for Nomination no later than June 1, 11:59 p.m., to PSBA's Leadership Development Committee (LDC). The nomination process
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:

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.