Friday, December 15, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 15: Speaking with your member of Congress today? Ask them about Tax Reform, CHIP and Net Neutrality

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Speaking with your member of Congress today? Ask them about Tax Reform, CHIP and Net Neutrality


Guest Column: Tax Reform: The Ultimate Zero Sum Game
Delco Times By Terry Madonna and Michael Young, Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 12/12/17, 5:35 PM EST
Taxes, famously intoned Justice Wendell Oliver Holmes, are “what we pay for civilized society.” Given the tax burden of modern times, some may think we aren’t quite getting what we pay for. Federal taxpayers last year paid about $3.654 trillion for a civilized society – while the states overall paid about $20 trillion for the same. Whether we are getting what we pay for seems a reasonable question considering the generally deplorable state of our society and politics. Unending wars, incompetent and/or corrupt politicians, public health epidemics, mass shootings, a failing criminal justice system, and a deeply polarized citizenry are not exactly what one thinks about when contemplating a civilized society. But let’s leave this awkward question aside to consider the even more urgent question of “tax reform.” Just now there is a considerable effort in Washington to fashion a political consensus on federal tax policy that would “reform” the monstrosity known formally as the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Title 26 of the United States Code (26 U.S.C.).

Senate Republicans try to placate Rubio after he threatens to oppose tax bill over child credit
Washington Post By Jeff SteinErica Werner and Damian Paletta December 14 at 8:18 PM 
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) threatened Thursday to vote against Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax overhaul unless it further expands a child tax credit to millions of working families, leaving GOP leaders searching for answers on a final deal that had appeared to be on the verge of sailing through the House and Senate. Rubio, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), wants Republican leaders to include the expansion as they reconcile separate tax measures passed by the House and Senate, working to craft a final compromise bill that could pass both chambers and be sent President Trump for his signature. GOP leaders had said Wednesday they believed that they had reached a broad agreement that both chambers could pass, and they planned to unveil the package Friday morning with hopes of voting on it early next week. But opposition from Rubio and perhaps Lee — who has not yet decided whether to support the bill, a spokesman said Thursday — could delay or derail the tax effort.

Blogger note: Solid coverage of education issues in the pending tax bill here. Have you contacted your Congressman regarding concerns with the impact that the pending tax legislation will have on public education?
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.
http://aasa.org/policy-blogs.aspx?blogid=84002#

“Nationwide, patients like mine represent almost half of the people who get insurance through Medicaid or CHIP, the Children’s Health Plan. In Texas, children constitute 3.4 million of the 4.5 million total people covered by these programs. So when you think about government health care, you should think about my patients: ungrateful, yowling, diapered maniacs who don’t even use language right.”
As a Doctor, I’m Sick of All The Health Care Freeloaders
I work in a clinic where the vast majority of my patients are on government-funded health care and have never worked a day in their lives.
Texas Observer by Rachel Pearson Wed, Dec 13, 2017
Rachel Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., is a native Texan and a pediatrics resident
I used to believe that everyone deserved health care. Now, I work in a clinic where the vast majority of my patients are on government-funded health care. I have learned that the stereotypes about these people are true: Most of my patients have never worked a day in their lives. They are extremely ungrateful for the care that hardworking taxpayers provide for them. Patients have punched me, bitten me, screamed at me, and even urinated on me. I often leave with vomit on my clothes. Sometimes, I have to bribe my patients with bright-colored objects, juice or graham crackers just to examine them. Do my patients thank me? Do they contribute to the economy? No! They just suck up low-cost health care, whining the whole time, and then go pick up their free government milk. Often, they are literally carried from place to place in the arms of a real taxpayer. As a pediatrician, I provide these scowling little freeloaders with life-saving therapies like vaccinations and antibiotics. I test their hearing and make sure any hearing loss is caught while it can still be corrected. I make sure kids with developmental delays get into therapy early so they’re ready to compete by the time they reach kindergarten. Do they utter a word of gratitude? No! Not unless their mom or dad tells them to.

CHIP: Millions of Children Could Lose Health Coverage Starting Next Month
New York Times By HAEYOUN PARK DEC. 14, 2017
Lawmakers have yet to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children in low-income families. Most states will run out of money in the next few months if Congress does not act. Federal funding expired on Sept. 30, and Congress has not been able to agree on how to pay for the program, which has historically had strong bipartisan support. Congressional leaders have repeatedly promised to provide funds for the popular program, but disagree over how to cover the cost. So Congress may provide short-term relief for states with the most urgent needs while negotiations continue. It’s not clear exactly how many children could lose coverage when their money runs out. States are required by law to continue to cover children whose insurance is managed through their Medicaid programs until the end of 2019. Such children make up more than half of CHIP.

“Republicans, such as Sen. Orrin Hatch, claim that these cuts must be made because “we don’t have money anymore.” But remember that he and Glenn just voted for a bill that cuts $6 trillion in taxes for corporations and the wealthy funded by raising taxes on most middle-class families and adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit. CHIP’s annual cost? Only $14 billion.”
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.
http://www.centredaily.com/opinion/article189895849.html

FCC Dismantles 'Net Neutrality' Policy, and K-12 Schools Await Impact
Education Week By Sean Cavanagh on December 14, 2017 11:27 AM
The Federal Communications Commission voted today to dismantle a policy designed to protect "net neutrality," in a dramatic shift that has roiled the public and carries uncertain implications for schools. The measure will reverse a two-year-old FCC policy that was meant to prevent internet service providers from unfairly blocking or throttling the flow of content over the internet. Critics fear the new policy will open the door for internet service providers to create fast and slow lanes in a way that restricts online options for consumers, including K-12 districts, which rely heavily on relatively unrestricted access to web-based lessons, videos, games, curricula, and other materials. The order proposed by the commission's Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, was expected to pass, given that his political party holds a majority on the panel. It was approved on a 3-2 margin along partisan lines. Pai and fellow Republicans Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr voted for it, while Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel were opposed. Pai has predicted that broadband companies would eventually invest in networks in ways that will benefit internet communities. He bemoaned what he said were exaggerated "apocalyptic" fears about the shift in policy. "The time has come for action," the FCC chairman said before the vote. "The time has come for the internet, once again, to be driven by engineers, entrepreneurs, and consumers, rather than lawyers, accountants, and bureaucrats."

AP Explains: What is net neutrality and why does it matter?
By The Associated Press POSTED: 12/14/17, 9:14 AM EST | UPDATED: 6 HRS AGO
NEW YORK >> “Net neutrality” regulations, designed to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, are on the chopping block. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission plans to vote on a proposal that would not only undo the Obama-era rules that have been in place since 2015, but will forbid states to put anything similar in place. Here’s a look at what the developments mean for consumers and companies. WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY? Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, and it’s pretty much how the internet has worked since its creation. But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet — blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.

How A Deregulated Internet Could Hurt America's Classrooms
NPR by ARIANA FIGUEROA December 13, 20173:42 PM ET
Schools across the country are nervously watching to see if the Federal Communications Commission chooses to repeal Obama-era regulations that protect an open internet, often referred to as "net neutrality." The 2015 rules are meant to prevent internet providers, such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, from controlling what people can watch and see on the internet. Companies can't block access to any websites or apps, and can't meddle with loading speeds. Educators rely heavily on technology in the classroom, so the repeal vote — expected Thursday — could dramatically impact the way students learn. "One of the key elements of the internet is that it provides immediate access to a huge range of high-quality resources that are really useful to teachers," says Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education. He previously led the Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology during the Obama administration. "But when carriers can choose to prioritize paid content over freely available content, schools really are at risk," he says.

FCC decision to gut net neutrality will face 'serious legal challenges' from Pennsylvania attorney general
Lancaster Online KONSTANTINE FEKOS | Staff Writer December 14, 2017
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced plans Thursday to take legal action against the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of net neutrality rules. These rules required internet, phone and cable providers to treat websites of all sizes equally while allowing the federal government to regulate high-speed internet delivery like a utility.  "The vote by the (FCC) to gut net neutrality could end the Internet as we know it," Shapiro said Thursday, claiming the action "undermines free speech" and harms consumers and businesses. Shapiro's action would join Pennsylvania with 17 states so far announcing plans to sue the FCC over what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the "illegal rollback" of net neutrality. Schneiderman is reportedly leading the multi-state legal action to reverse the FCC ruling.

Washington State leaders announce steps to protect net neutrality
Inslee, Ferguson and legislators prepared to push back against damaging federal actions
Governor Jay Inslee’s Website Dec 13
On the eve of an expected vote by the Federal Communications Commission to roll back crucial net neutrality rules, Gov. Jay Inslee joined Attorney General Bob Ferguson, legislators, and business leaders to announce state plans to preserve an open internet and protect Washington consumers from internet companies that are not transparent about costs or services. “All Americans, as a matter of principle, should enjoy equal access to the educational, social and economic power of the internet. Ensuring this important technology remains free and unfettered is critical both to our personal freedoms and to our country’s economy,” Inslee wrote in a letter to the FCC earlier this month.

PA REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT – TRIAL UPDATES
Public Interest Law Center Website
Trial in our state gerrymandering lawsuit will take place December 11 - 15, 2017. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates throughout the trial process. If you are already on our email list and want to be sure you receive updates in your inbox, email Michael Berton at mberton@pubintlaw.org. If you would like to join our email list to receive these updates, fill out this sign-up form and mark “Voting” as one of your interests.
CLICK ON ONE OF THE BELOW LINKS TO TAKE YOU TO THAT DAY OF TRIAL:
·         Trial day 3: December 13, 2017
·         Trial Day 2: December 12, 2017
·         Trial Day 1: December 11, 2017

Gerrymandering case is a glimmer of hope for Pa. voters | Editorial
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: DECEMBER 14, 2017 — 3:01 AM EST
At long last, there are signs that Pennsylvania voters might win representative government. Granted, the signs are dim, but still encouraging. For decades, the political aristocracy has rigged elections by carefully digging moats around compliant voters to create safe districts for their candidates. The map makers spread opposition voters so far apart, they become powerless. It works. Pennsylvania Republicans, who drew the maps effective since 2012,  hold 13 of the 18 House seats even though Democrats have rung up about 50 percent of the overall vote in recent elections. Republicans created district maps so ridiculous that U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan’s turf runs through five counties to include as many Republicans as possible. The GOP split the increasingly blue Montgomery County among five congressional districts to weaken the Democrats’ chances of taking an extra seat or two. Advocates of fair play have cried foul to no avail — until now. They’re more organized and effective, and are pushing legislative reforms as well as a pair of legal challenges which are moving forward in the courts with some positive signs.

SB2: Education Voters of PA statement on rigging of Senate Education Committee makeup
Education Voters PA by Susan Spicka POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 EDVOPA
Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA,  issued the following statement about Republican leadership’s decision to rig the makeup of the Senate Education Committee:
Senate Republican leaders demonstrated the lengths to which they will go in an attempt to pass anti-public education legislation out of the Senate Education Committee. On October 24th, the Senate Education Committee failed to pass Senate Bill 2, legislation that would bring a new generation of school vouchers known as education savings accounts (ESAs) to Pennsylvania. On December 12th, Senator Eichelberger went over Senate Bill 2 because there were not enough votes on the committee to pass it. Rather than accept that committee members do not support SB 2, Committee Chair Eichelberger and Senate leadership took extraordinary measures and changed the makeup of the committee. Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) who voted against SB 2 on October 24th, resigned. Republican leadership replaced Laughlin with Senator Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), a known supporter of school vouchers. For the vote on SB 2 and moving forward, the inclusion of Alloway will ensure that the structure of the committee will be generally more in favor of anti-public education, pro-school privatization legislation.

Blogger note: Rep. Saylor is Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
The Pa. House accomplished a lot this year (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Rep. Stan Saylor Published 9:05 a.m. ET Dec. 14, 2017
Rep. Stan Saylor is a Republican from Windsor Township.
As 2017 comes to a close, I want to take the time to review all the legislative accomplishments of the House Republican caucus.  This has been a busy and challenging year for the General Assembly, and I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish.  The legislative process is often frustrating but we continue to work hard to protect the taxpayers and to stand up for the values of the people we represent. In June, the General Assembly passed historic pension reform that will begin to address a serious financial liability of the Commonwealth while protecting the benefit of current employees and current retirees.  These reforms, which are now law, will save the taxpayers billions over thirty years.  Additionally public employee benefits will start to incorporate elements of a 401(k) style which is common in the private sector.

Pennsylvania could run rare surplus if assumptions hold
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter December 14, 2017
For the first time in a while, Pennsylvania could end the fiscal year with a surplus — if several iffy revenue assumptions align perfectly. The surplus could be $41 million by June 30, 2018, and some of that money could replenish the empty rainy day fund for emergencies, according to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget chief Randy Albright. “We think we will have at the end of the year a modest surplus,” Albright said at a mid-year budget briefing Thursday in the state Capitol. “That will be welcome news.” But that surplus depends on the state generating more than $900 million in assumed revenue put on paper to balance the books. That total includes $215 million from a variety of gambling expansion options, including 10 smaller casinos and online wagering. It includes $200 million the state would claim from a medical malpractice fund. It includes $200 million from selling the Farm Show Complex and then leasing it back from the buyer. And it includes $300 million of internal transfers from specialized accounts earmarked for long-term projects for transportation, environmental and other public endeavors.

How six House bills could change the way Pa. budgets
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.

SRC votes not to renew Olney, Stetson charters
After pleas from parents, teachers and students, the votes were 4-1. The board also voted 5-0 to close Khepera.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa and Avi Wolfman-Arent December 14, 2017 — 9:21pm
Nearly two years after receiving initial recommendations, the School Reform Commission voted Thursday night not to renew two Renaissance charters -- Olney High and Stetson Middle schools -- both run by Aspira, Inc. The SRC also voted to revoke the charter of Khepera Charter School, a North Philadelphia elementary school plagued by financial and academic woes. The SRC voted 4-1 not to renew Olney and Stetson, with Commissioner Farah Jimenez casting the lone no votes. All five commissioners moved to revoke Khepera’s charter. The two one-time District schools were taken over by Aspira as part of the Renaissance initiative, a bold turnaround model that ceded chronically low-performing, often out-of-control District-run schools to outside organizations in the hope of quick, dramatic turnarounds.

SRC votes to shut a troubled Philly charter, starts process for 2 more
Inquirer by Martha Woodall & Kristen A. Graham - Staff Writers Updated: DECEMBER 14, 2017 — 9:09 PM EST
The School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to shut one troubled charter school, and also moved to yank the charters of two schools run by Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania. Citing shaky finances and poor academics, the SRC said it would close Khepera Charter School in North Philadelphia. The vote came after days of hearings and a lengthy report by a hearing officer recommending closure. Khepera will remain open through the end of the academic year, and could stay open longer if the school chooses to fight the closure in Harrisburg. Before the vote, Khepera officials acknowledged the school has had problems, but said they were being corrected.

Charlie Dent seeks federal money for Pa. schools enrolling Puerto Rican students
Morning Call by Laura Olson and Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporters Call Washington Bureau December 14, 2017
Top of Form
Lehigh Valley schools have taken in more than 450 new students whose families fled Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, a welcoming gesture that has brought additional costs to local school districts. Two Republican congressmen from Pennsylvania — U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent and Lloyd Smucker — are urging GOP leaders to set aside money in an upcoming spending bill that would allow such schools to recoup some of their costs. Dent, whose 15th District includes Lehigh County and part of Northampton County, said the “schools are doing amazing work providing for them and meeting their educational needs, but the schools themselves need additional support. “We have to recognize that the children impacted have been through an unbelievable amount of stress and they need help,” Dent said. “Many have emotional issues as a result of having to deal with the disaster of losing their family homes. They need to develop their fluency in English and are facing adapting to a new school environment.”

Forty-five years after the passage of Title IX, Allegheny County boys are still getting more sports options than girls
Public Source by Stephanie Hacke | December 14, 2017
Wearing a pink blazer and kitten heels, 10-year-old Charlotte Murphy marched into the office of then-Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane to argue that the district wasn’t offering girls equal sporting opportunities. During the 2010-11 school year, Murphy’s school Linden Elementary was repeatedly canceling girls’ basketball practices so boys could have the court. There was even talk of ending the girls’ team. “I was just so-so angry,” said Murphy, now 17. After the meeting, Lane mandated all district elementary schools with a boys’ basketball team to have a girls’ team. That mandate lives today — intended to work in concert with federal statute Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program that receives federal funding.

Southern Tioga School District facing $1.7 million deficit
Wellsboro Gazette by Cheryl A. Clarke Dec 14, 2017
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
BLOSSBURG – Without a real estate tax increase this year, the Southern Tioga School District is looking at a $1.7 million deficit in its 2018-19 $32 million budget. “With no tax increase and looking at a level funded budget, except for collective bargained increases in salaries and health care cost increases, it creates a $1.75 million deficit. We hope not to bring you that,” Business Manager Kathy Ciaciulli told the board Dec. 11. The state Act. 1 index this year is 2.4 percent but the adjusted millage for Southern Tioga, based on property values and assessments is 3.1 percent, Ciaciulli said “We will ask the board not to exceed the Act 1 index of 3.1 percent,” she added. The current millage for Tioga County is 16.76 mills and for Lycoming County it is 16.46 mills. With a no tax increase, Ciaciulli said the mills must remain the same or decrease.


Community Schools as an Effective School Improvement Strategy: A Review of the Evidence
Learning Policy Institute Report Authors Anna MaierJulia DanielJeannie OakesLivia Lam DEC 14 2017
Education policymakers working to address the impacts of growing economic and racial inequality on students often look to community schools as an effective approach for supporting students and their families in communities facing concentrated poverty. Through partnering with community agencies and offering important resources, community schools integrate academics and collaborative leadership with health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement. This study finds that, when implemented well, these schools can help students overcome such challenges as lack of access to high-quality schools and out-of-school barriers to learning. This report, Community Schools as an Effective School Improvement Strategy: A Review of the Evidence, was produced in collaboration with the National Education Policy Center. It synthesizes the findings from 143 rigorous research studies on the impact of community schools on student and school outcomes. Its aim is to support and inform school, community, district, and state leaders as they consider, propose, or implement community schools as a strategy for providing equitable, high-quality education to all young people.
The report finds that, while community schools vary in the programs they offer and the ways they operate, four features—or pillars—appear in most community schools:
·         Integrated student supports,
·         Expanded learning time and opportunities,
·         Family and community engagement, and
·         Collaborative leadership and practice.
The report examines each pillar and provides examples of programs and schools where these pillars are well-implemented. The report also finds that the use of community schools to improve student outcomes is strongly supported by research evidence, as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. 

“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 November 3, 2016 | Updated: December 14, 2017
A Colorado cyber charter school with a 19 percent graduation rate. An Ohio virtual school that inflated student attendance by nearly 500 percent. A Pennsylvania cyber charter founder who siphoned off $8 million in public money, including $300,000 to buy himself an airplane. A Hawaii cyber charter founder who hired her nephew as the athletic director—for a school with no sports teams. Cyber charters have long struggled with poor academic performance and financial mismanagement. But under the Trump administration, they have scored a key ally with a big platform: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. As one of the most vocal supporters of school choice—including schools run by for-profit providers—DeVos frequently touts virtual schooling as a vital option for students with a range of needs: those with disabilities, demanding athletic schedules or who live in rural areas. But DeVos also once had a financial stake in the expansion of online schooling, as an early investor in K12 Inc., the largest operator of cyber charters.

Many Educators Skeptical of School Choice, Including Conservatives, Survey Shows
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.

Facing Uproar Over New Start Times, Boston's School District Defends Itself
WBUR by Max Larkin December 14, 2017 Updated Dec 14, 2017 4:37 PM
Changes to Boston Public Schools’ start and end times are being greeted differently in different quarters — with lots of public uproar and some quiet cheers and counterarguments. Generally, next fall's proposed "bell times" effectively flip a staggered school day. More young children will start and end school earlier, while most high school students will start later. District officials and some parent advocates say those changes are backed by sleep science, fairer and more affordable, due to savings on transportation. But it was mainly the uproar on display Wednesday night at BPS's Dudley Square headquarters, among parents and politicians saying the district botched the plan's implementation and is letting cost concerns drive policy for too many families.



Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 11 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·         Jan. 6, Haverford Middle School
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at michelle.kunkel@psba.org. Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4 - 6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Register Now
Come a day early and attend the Equity Symposium!
Join hundreds of public education advocates on Capitol Hill and help shape the decisions made in Washington D.C. that directly impact our students. At the 2018 Advocacy Institute, you’ll gain insight into the most critical issues affecting public education, sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Whether you are an expert advocator or a novice, attend and experience inspirational keynote speakers and education sessions featuring policymakers, legal experts and policy influencers. All designed to help you advocate for your students and communities.

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 

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.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 14: SB2: Senator swap in education committee likely to impact school choice vote

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
SB2: Senator swap in education committee likely to impact school choice vote

Ample tax cuts for business, wealthy in new GOP tax accord
Delco Times By Stephen Ohlemacher, Andrew Taylor and Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press POSTED: 12/14/17, 5:21 AM EST | UPDATED: 39 SECS AGO
WASHINGTON >> Generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans would be delivered in a sweeping overhaul of the tax laws, under a new agreement crafted by Republicans in Congress. Middle- and low-income families would receive smaller tax cuts, though President Donald Trump and Republican leaders have billed the package as a huge benefit for the middle class. The agreement reached Wednesday by House and Senate GOP leaders also calls for scrapping a major tax requirement of the “Obamacare” health law, a step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law. The agreement combines key elements of separate tax bills recently passed by the House and Senate, striking compromises on some of them. The Republicans are pushing to deliver final legislation to Trump before Christmas as the first major legislative accomplishment of his presidency.

GOP Tax Plan: WSJ Live Coverage
Wall Street Journal Last Updated Dec 13, 2017 at 7:55 pm ET
Join WSJ's tax-policy experts to follow the twists and turns of Congress’s attempt to make the most significant tax-code changes since 1986.

Republican Tax Bill in Final Sprint Across Finish Line
New York Times By JIM TANKERSLEY, THOMAS KAPLAN and ALAN RAPPEPORT DEC. 13, 2017
WASHINGTON — The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and signal the party’s first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year. Party leaders in the House and Senate agreed in principle to bridge the yawning gaps between their competing versions of the $1.5 trillion tax bill, keeping Republicans on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk by Christmas. The House and Senate versions of the tax bill started from the same core principles — sharply cutting taxes on businesses, while reducing rates and eliminating some breaks for individuals — but diverged on several crucial details.

Blogger note: Solid coverage of education issues in the pending tax bill here. Have you contacted your Congressman regarding concerns with the impact that the pending tax legislation will have on public education?
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.

Tax Plan’s Biggest Cuts Could Be in Living Standards
New York Times by Eduardo Porter ECONOMIC SCENE DEC. 12, 2017
In the summer of 2006, as President George W. Bush was pressing to make permanent the tax cuts he had pushed through Congress in 2001 and 2003, the Treasury Department published a so-called dynamic analysis that, the administration hoped, would prove the undoubted economic benefits of the extension. But its conclusions didn’t draw much applause from the White House: In the long term, the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis found, the tax cuts would expand the economy by all of 0.7 percent. It never specified what it meant by “long term,” but on the assumption it means a couple of decades, the tax change would add 0.035 percent to annual economic growth over the period. Math and economics have changed little since that exercise.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insists that the tax overhaul passed by Republicans in the Senate this month would increase annual economic growth by 0.7 percentage points over the next decade.

Church leaders fear tax plan’s effect
Delco Times Opinion By Rev. Lydia Munoz and Rev. James McIntyre, Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 12/13/17, 9:17 PM EST | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
We write as faith leaders concerned by the moral priorities of our nation, and as parents concerned for the health of our daughter. Last week, Rep. Meehan voted for a tax bill that pays for huge tax cuts for corporations with cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. Over 70 percent of the tax breaks in this bill go to the wealthiest 1 percent and multinational corporations already making record profits. The tax bill gives people with incomes over $1 million an annual tax cut of about $14,890 and those with incomes of over $3.1 million an annual cut of about $94,540 annually. These tax cuts will be paid for with our children’s’ futures and our families’ health care – if this tax bill passes, huge cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Education are next. The federal budget resolution passed last month allows Republicans to cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and Medicare next year to pay for these massive tax breaks.

Net Neutrality: The ISP industry donated $101m to Congress - here's how much Pa's delegation got | Wednesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek jmicek@pennlive.com Updated Dec 13, 8:30 AM; Posted Dec 13, 8:30 AM
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
You've probably heard by now about the fight over net neutrality: That is whether the internet should remain as it is now - free and open to all - or whether massive internet service providers should be allowed to charge more for certain content and services they provide over their networks. With the Trump administration's Federal Communications Commission almost certain to allow the latter over the former, the fight over net neutrality appears almost certain to spill into the halls of Congress. And since money talks on Capitol Hill - and few industries speak louder than big Telecomm (think Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc), the folks at tech website, The Verge, crunched the numbers, finding that, between 1989 and 2017, the industry fire-hosed some $101 million in donations onto Congress as it sought to have its voice heard on key issues.


As FCC prepares net-neutrality vote, study finds millions of fake comments
WHYY By Brian Naylor December 14, 2017
It seems like a lot of Americans are interested in the net-neutrality debate. Some 22 million public comments have been filed with the Federal Communications Commission on the issue of whether all web traffic should be treated equally. The agency is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to reverse regulations put in place during the Obama administration that were aimed at guaranteeing that. But, it turns out, much of that public input is not what it appears. The Pew Research Center took a close look at the comments. Associate Director Aaron Smith said several things popped out. Maybe the biggest, 94 percent of the comments “were submitted multiple times, and in some cases those comments were submitted many hundreds of thousands of times.” So in other words, almost all of the comments seem to have been parts of organized campaigns to influence the FCC commissioners to vote one way or the other.

Debate over ‘wasted’ votes dominates third day of state redistricting trial
WHYY By Emily Previti, WITF December 13, 2017
The plaintiffs’ argument in the state lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s congressional district map hinges on whether they can prove the state legislature designed a map meant to dilute Democratic votes. Much of the trial’s third day was spent by plaintiffs trying to quantify the map’s alleged partisan advantages by looking at decades of data, spurring a debate about how many votes are “wasted” because of the way congressional boundary lines were drawn. Say you have five congressional districts each with 100 voters. Democrats win two by wide margins, and Republicans win three in tight races. That’s what redistricting experts would call a map with an “efficiency gap” designed to advantage Republicans by wasting votes for Democrats.

Blogger handy quote, attributed to both Mark Twain and Gideon John Tucker  "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session."
'Anytime you're in October talking about the budget, that's not a good year': Pa. legislature exits 2017
Penn Live By Marc Levy The Associated Press Updated 12:55 AM; Posted Dec 13, 9:05 PM
HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Legislature finished for the year on Wednesday after passing veto-bound abortion restrictions, while anti-union legislation sought by top Republicans failed and legislation to tax Marcellus Shale natural gas production remained in limbo. The GOP-controlled House and Senate each adjourned until January after a flurry of votes and a relatively spectacular showdown on the House floor between 25 rank-and-file Republicans and House GOP leaders over a Marcellus Shale bill that has been effectively filibustered for weeks by opponents. It closed a year dominated by a budget deficit that took an extra four months to deal with. "Anytime you're in October talking about the budget, that's not a good year," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre.

G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young: An early preview of Gov. Wolf's re-election chances
Morning Call Opinion by G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young December 12, 2017
Will Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf win a second term in the rapidly approaching 2018 statewide election? Or will he become another "one-term Tom," losing his bid for a second term, as did his immediate predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett. Since a constitutional change in 1968 permitted governors to seek a second term, each has done so, beginning with Milton Shapp in 1974. And all but one, Corbett in 2014, won re-election, most of them handily. Winning a second gubernatorial term has been the default position for the past half century. Indeed, that expectation prior to Corbett's 2014 loss was once considered an iron law of Pennsylvania politics known as the "eight-year cycle." So, as we approach the 2018 election we come to a fork in the road for Pennsylvania incumbent governors. Will we return in 2018 to the familiar cycle of governors being comfortably elected to a second term, or will we see another first term governor defeated for re-election as happened four years ago?

“Laughlin is a key opponent, and a big reason the bill failed to get to the Senate floor in October by one vote. Meanwhile, Alloway is one of the bill's co-sponsors.”
SB2: Senator swap in education committee likely to impact school choice vote
Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 14, 2017 5:11 AM
Some have speculated that a personnel change in the Senate Education Committee was politically motivated.
(Harrisburg) - The state Senate Education Committee is making a mid-session personnel change--switching out one Republican senator for another. Erie County Republican Senator Dan Laughlin is officially moving from the Education Committee to the Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee. His replacement has been announced as Rich Alloway, a fellow Republican from Franklin County. The move is significant because of Senate Bill 2--a measure would let students in the lowest-performing public schools use the money the state would have spent on their education for alternative school options. Laughlin is a key opponent, and a big reason the bill failed to get to the Senate floor in October by one vote. Meanwhile, Alloway is one of the bill's co-sponsors. Some pro-public school organizations have called foul. The group Education Voters of PA, which often lobbies against charter schools and other school choice efforts, said the committee change is "deeply troubling."

SB2: School Voucher Bills Called a Bad Deal for PA Schools
Pennsylvania Council of Churches  by s.strauss@pachurches.org  December 13, 2017 – Andrea Sears, Public News Service (PA)
Education Savings Accounts would give public education money to families to pay private school tuition.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Education advocates say bills pending in the General Assembly to create Education Savings Accounts would further defund public education in the state. Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 1717 would allow parents to pay private school tuition with public money. The stated goal is to give parents alternatives to underperforming schools. But according to Reynelle Staley, a policy attorney at the Education Law Center, the bills actually would take money from the school district where a child would have been enrolled and give it to families to pay private or religious school tuition, tutors or other educational expenses. “They incentivize more advantaged parents to flee the public education system,” says Staley, “and they take the legislature further from its constitutional obligation to support and maintain a thorough and efficient system of education.” She says children enrolled for a single semester in a district where there are underperforming schools would be eligible for vouchers through 12th grade. Families that move to a better school district would continue to receive vouchers. And Staley points out that by leaving the public education system, parents also leave behind federal and state requirements for equal access to education.

Teacher pension-payment increase shrinks, saving schools some money
Times Leader By Mark Guydish - mguydish@timesleader.com | December 13th, 2017 10:20 pm
School district contributions to the teacher pension fund continue to soar. But there was a small bit of good news when a state agency responsible for setting the rates announced next year’s numbers: Contributions are still going up, but less than projected. The impact likely will be small. Take Dallas School District, where Business Manager Grant Palfey is already crunching numbers for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The payment rate — a percentage of teacher payroll — was supposed to climb from 31.74 percent to 33.43 percent, but will rise only to 32.6 percent. “That saves us about $59,000,” Palfey said. It’s not enough to change the math that has locked the school board and teachers union in protracted, often-bitter contract negotiations — the district insists it cannot afford what the union has asked for — but it is enough to avoid furloughing one teacher if money gets tight, or to shrink any potential tax hike. Of course, the announcement “saves” money the way a shopper saves by unexpectedly finding a needed product on sale. Overall, the payment rate is still climbing — something that has happened almost every year since the 2001-02 school year.

Governor Wolf Announces Grant to Support Quality Early Learning Professionals
Governor Wolf’s Website December 13, 2017
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced a $1.4 million grant to increase the quality of Pennsylvania’s early childhood learning professional workforce.
The Higher Education, Early Child Care, and Community-based Partnership Working to Implement Innovative and Sustained Pathways grant will enable early childhood education staff to participate in and complete a credit-bearing Child Development Associate (CDA),associate degree, bachelor degree, and/or Pennsylvania PreK-4 teacher certification. “My administration is committed to expanding access to quality pre-kindergarten programs so our children have a positive start to their education,” said Governor Wolf. “Having educated and knowledgeable early childhood educators creates quality classrooms, supports positive relationships with children, and advances the argument for increased compensation – early childhood teachers make an average of $9-$12/hour, even with a degree.”

East Penn made the right choice on full-day kindergarten, which should be offered by all school districts
The newly elected East Penn School Board voted Monday night to make all kindergarten classes full-day. The vote came two months after the previous board had rejected full-day kindergarten.
Morning Call by Paul Muschick Contact Reporter December 13, 2017
Welcome to the 21st century, East Penn School District. After resisting the inevitable, the school board finally recognized what most of the rest of the region and state already had — that offering full-day kindergarten to all of its students is worth the money. The new school board’s vote Monday night to offer full-day kindergarten exclusively, instead of its current mix of full-day and half-day, leaves only a handful of districts in Lehigh and Northampton counties behind the times. It’s time for them to get on board, too. Statewide, 77 percent of kindergarten students attended full-day programs in the 2016-17 school year, according to the Kids Count Data Center. That’s up from 71.5 percent in 2012-13.

Philly residents: share what you want in your schools; questionnaire
Office of the Mayor
On November 16, the School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to dissolve itself. Now, I will appoint an Educational Nominating Panel to identify candidates for the new Board of Education (the Board). The City’s Charter describes who should be on the Nominating Panel. Nine Philadelphians who are the highest-ranking officers of organizations can be on the panel. The organizations include:
● Chambers of commerce
● Philadelphia institutions of higher learning
● Community organizations
● Education organizations
● Labor groups
In addition to these nine Philadelphians, I will select four more citizens of Philadelphia.
The Nominating Panel will be formed in January. The panel will have up to forty days to recommend twenty-seven individuals for me to consider for the Board. From those names, I’ll pick nine to serve on the Board. The current text of these rules was approved by the voters of Philadelphia in 1999.  As our Nominating Panel reviews potential Board members, I want to make sure they hear from you. Please share what you think is important for them to know as they make recommendations for the Board. We can ensure every child has quality schools in their neighborhood. We can do this by creating a school district that is more stable and more accountable to Philadelphians. We can do this -- together.

City Council hears litany of concerns during hearing on resolution to form new school board
From who can serve to why the board should be elected, parents, activists and students made impassioned pleas during two hours of testimony.
The notebook by Greg Windle December 13, 2017 — 5:04pm
Philadelphia City Council members heard arguments from parents, activists, the mayor’s office, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on school-related issues this week as they considered a formal process for nominating new school board members. That will be another step in forming a locally controlled school board for the city, following the vote Nov. 16 by the current School Reform Commission to dissolve itself. Mayor Jim Kenney has proposed that a nine-member appointed school board take its place. Tuesday's hearing began with the mayor’s chief of staff, Jane Slusser, outlining the logistics of transitioning from the SRC to the new mayoral-appointed board. First, the state secretary of education has to sign off on the abolition of the SRC by Dec. 31. In early January, the mayor plans to announce his nominating panel, which will propose 27 people — three for each available appointment. The mayor expects to announce his appointments in mid-March, although they won’t take their seats until July. The mayor also plans to submit his appointments to the city council for approval, based on the resolution that will guide formation of the new school board. The resolution also creates a Parent and Community Advisory Council, which will convene at least twice a year to advise the board. The city council will vote on the resolution in January, and if it passes, it will be on the ballot for voters in the May primary election.

Philly's Robeson High, a school on the rise, now in national spotlight
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: DECEMBER 12, 2017 — 4:55 PM EST
Paul Robeson High School is having a moment. Richard Gordon IV, the school’s energetic principal, was just named the nation’s top administrator by an online education journal, hailed for his innovation and hard work. Mayor Kenney visited the school Tuesday, oohing and aahing over Robeson’s myriad partnerships, its 95 percent graduation rate, and the general sense of well-being that permeates the hallways. Principal Richard Gordon IV (center) shows Mayor Kenney one of the art classrooms. Gordon was named the nation's top school administrator by an online education journal. “You have a nice school,” the mayor said. “People seem happy to be here.” Marquan Thomas, a senior, couldn’t help himself. From the back of his science class, he called out to Kenney. “It’s the best public school in Philadelphia!” said Thomas, 17. Gordon smiled. “Not bad for a school that wasn’t supposed to be here,” the principal said. In 2012, the school was designated for closure, but was spared at the last minute after a passionate group of students and teachers made a case so strong that the School Reform Commission couldn’t help but keep it open.

Are you one of more than 200,000 people paying too much in property taxes?
Inquirer by Laura McCrystal & Michaelle Bond - Staff Writers Updated: DECEMBER 14, 2017 — 5:00 AM EST
The house on Massachusetts Avenue in Upper Darby had been sitting on the market for a while when Tim Miles and his wife bought it for $185,000 last year. Miles said the Realtor told him why other prospective buyers had been wary: “The taxes were really high,” said Miles, 28, a lawyer. “And I think that’s probably why they weren’t able to sell as quickly.” The annual bill for the two-story house on a sixth of an acre was more than $10,500. The township has some of the region’s highest taxes, but Miles’ property levy was thousands of dollars higher than even those on comparably priced homes in the township. The reason: The county estimate of the home’s worth — the “assessment” on which the tax bill is based — was too high. Inaccurate assessments — primarily the result of varying rates of property appreciation — are common throughout Pennsylvania. Why? Years or decades pass between countywide reassessments, leaving many property owners to pay more than their fair share — or less. Delaware County’s are so out of whack that a judge has ordered the county to revalue all its properties.

Community Schools: Betsy DeVos may not recognize it, but these public schools work
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss December 13 at 6:00 AM 
If you listen to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos talk about traditional public schools, you could get the impression that they are pretty much all the same. She repeatedly talks about how they are designed in “old factory model” that worked decades ago but no longer meets the individual needs of students. That is why, she says, she wants to expand alternatives in the form of charter schools and programs that use public funds to pay for private school education. On a stop at a school in Wyoming this fall, DeVos said: “For far too many kids, this year’s first day back to school looks and feels a lot like last year’s first day back to school. And the year before that. And the generation before that. And the generation before that! That means your parent’s parent’s parents! Most students are starting a new school year that is all too familiar. … They follow the same schedule, the same routine—just waiting to be saved by the bell.”  Surely there are traditional public schools — as well as charter schools and private schools — that do the same thing year in and year out, and fail to inspire students. But there are many that work well for students. And despite what DeVos says, traditional public schools or their districts are not all alike, not even close.  There are many schools in traditional public school districts that have found new ways to meet the needs of students — among them, what are known as “community schools.” This post looks at the value of community schools. 



Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 11 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·         Jan. 6, Haverford Middle School
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at michelle.kunkel@psba.org. Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4 - 6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Register Now
Come a day early and attend the Equity Symposium!
Join hundreds of public education advocates on Capitol Hill and help shape the decisions made in Washington D.C. that directly impact our students. At the 2018 Advocacy Institute, you’ll gain insight into the most critical issues affecting public education, sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Whether you are an expert advocator or a novice, attend and experience inspirational keynote speakers and education sessions featuring policymakers, legal experts and policy influencers. All designed to help you advocate for your students and communities.

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 

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.