The Advocate, December 2017
By Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate executive director, policy and advocacy, AASA
As 2017 draws to a close, federal advocacy and its implications for education are far from boring. Between the need to avoid a federal shutdown—a tough task further complicated by considerations related to deferred action for childhood arrivals, an effort to raise the funding caps, a push to provide funding for the children’s health insurance program (CHIP), and more—and regular order, the fact that Congress is gunning to push through the GOP tax bill means the end of the year will be active, intense, and likely down to the last minute. The House and the Senate have both passed their respective versions of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. Both bills are highlight partisan, relying exclusively on Republican support, and the GOP is committed to seeing this proposal through to completion to notch a win in its belt before 2017 draws to a close. As the president and Congress move forward with their efforts to overhaul the federal tax code, it is important to have an understanding of how the proposed reforms will affect education. Tax reform and related changes may not affect education as directly as changes in annual federal funding (appropriations), but the potential consequences are significant. That is how AASA came to be engaged in the current effort to overhaul federal tax code. AASA efforts in monitoring the tax bill have been focused on specific policies that will impact public education. We provided a summary of these issues in a memo this summer, and issued various resources with detailed analysis on the blog. The bills will now go through the process of conference, where by the chambers will reconcile the differences that exist between the bills and emerge with one final bill that will then need to be adopted by both chambers and then signed into law by the president. Congressional Research Service prepared a white paper on what the conference process involves, which you can access here.
CHIP: Children’s health should never be a bargaining chip
Centre Daily Times Opinion BY MARC FRIEDENBERG DECEMBER 14, 2017 08:52 PM
Marc Friedenberg is a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in the Fifth Congressional District.
On Sept. 30, Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize funding for the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, for the first time in nearly two decades. CHIP is a program for working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but still cannot afford private insurance. It provides essential health insurance benefits, including doctor visits, prescriptions and dental care, to 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women across the country. Studies show that enrollment in CHIP improves children’s health outcomes, reduces rates of child and early adulthood mortality, improves school performance and increases levels of college attainment and future wages. CHIP has worked wonders for Pennsylvania’s children: Almost 350,000 were enrolled in CHIP-funded programs in 2016, ranking it fifth among all states and helping to reduce Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate among children to below 4 percent. Congress’s lack of leadership on this issue puts the well-being of hundreds of thousands of children across Pennsylvania, and millions across the United States, at risk.
Education Voters PA by Susan Spicka POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 EDVOPA
Blogger note: Rep. Saylor is Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
The Pa. House accomplished a lot this year (column)
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 15, 2017 4:11 AM
(Harrisburg) -- Amid a flurry of end-of-year legislative activity, the state House passed a raft of six Republican-backed bills that could significantly change the way Pennsylvania puts together its budget. The proposals would largely come into play during impasses, like the ones the state has faced repeatedly in recent years. House GOP Leader Dave Reed said they're borne out of frustration at budgets becoming law without the revenues to back them up, among other things. "It would just require that we actually have a budget be balanced constitutionally, as is required," he said during floor debate. One bill would mandate an official revenue estimate be made when lawmakers enact their spending plan for the year. If actual revenues fall short, the governor would have to freeze funds to keep spending in balance. Another would make it harder for the governor to request extra funds after a budget has been passed. Yet another would require reports that let the legislature keep tabs on money that goes into the state's special funds, which aren't tracked in the main budget. As a whole, they would reduce the governor's autonomy in handling state finances.
“As part of an investigation into cyber charters published in 2016, Education Week reviewed hundreds of news stories and dozens of state audits and reports dating back to the early 2000s. A trend of widespread troubles emerged. We’ve plotted the stories on the interactive map below, which has been updated with coverage through 2017.”
Map: Cyber Charters Have a New Champion in Betsy DeVos, But Struggles Continue
Education Week By Alyson Klein December 12, 2017
School choice may be U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ favorite policy topic. But an Education Week nationally representative survey indicates that classroom teachers, principals, and district superintendents are highly skeptical of vouchers, charter schools, and tax-credit scholarships. And that includes many who voted for President Donald Trump, and even some who teach at private schools. “I understand how [vouchers] would gut public schools and they wouldn’t actually help independent schools,” said Anna Bertucci, the associate head of school at Oakwood Friends School, a Quaker boarding school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “I feel like that funding should go into public schools.” Charter schools, meanwhile, “are a really mixed bag,” added Bertucci, a Democrat. She worries that some charters are “undercutting unions” by discouraging teachers from joining. But she said, “I wouldn’t say I don’t like all charter schools.”
Overall, however, charters were viewed almost as negatively as private school vouchers by the educators who participated in the October survey of 1,122 educators conducted by the Education Week Research Center.
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