Saturday, December 24, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 24: Senator Toomey re DeVos nomination: “I believe she is a great pick.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 24, 2016
Senator Toomey re DeVos nomination: “I believe she is a great pick.”

Confirmation hearing for @BetsyDeVos tentatively scheduled for Jan. 11, @khefling of @PoliticoPro reports

In a constituent response letter regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos dated December 2, 2016, Senator Toomey stated: “I believe she is a great pick.”  His Washington, D.C. Phone number is (202) 224-4254

The rich can take the hit - to fix the budget, they should pay their fair share: Marc Stier
PennLive Op-Ed  By Marc Stier on December 23, 2016 at 11:30 AM
Remember how Lucille Ball would work her way into some kind of predicament and then look around and wonder how she got there?  That's how our state legislators seem to look at the budget deficit we are stuck with right now.  They are looking around wondering how the current Pennsylvania budget deficit, which approaches $3 billion for this year and next year together, happened.   But it didn't just happen. It was the product of a series of long-term and short-term decisions made by legislators, sometimes with the help of our governors.  Let's start, however, with what did not cause the budget deficit, because too many of our legislators, like Lucy, want to blame someone else for the mess they have made.  Growth in state spending is not the cause of budget deficits.  From 1994 to 2011, under both Democratic and Republican Governors, the state spent 4.7 percent of the its GDP.  During the Corbett years, that fell to 4.3 percent as spending on education and human services were sharply cut.

If you would like to see the data that underlies the claims in the op-ed, you can read, among many others, the following reports produced by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

Pennsylvania's state Legislature: 42nd in performance, 2nd in salary: PennLive letters
By Letters to the Editor  by GREG BENNICK, SWATARA TOWNSHIP on December 23, 2016 at 3:00 PM, updated December 23, 2016 at 6:31 PM
Would you like a job that pays a salary that is second highest to your peers in other states, while your management performance is evaluated to be ranked 42nd highest to your peers?  Pennsylvania state representatives hold these jobs. They need to improve upon their management of this state in order to justify their pay and pension.  An article entitled "Comparison of state legislative salaries" was published by The article states that Pennsylvania lawmakers are paid $85,339 per year. This pay is second highest to California legislatures' pay rate at $100,113 per year.

Op-Ed by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman: 2016 Session Ends With Progress, New Challenges Await In 2017
Crisci Associates Op-Ed By Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) DECEMBER 23, 2016
We have reached the time of year when we reflect on the past and look forward to the fresh start the New Year brings. The same holds true for the Pennsylvania Senate.  The 2015-16 legislative session began with a new Governor determined to impose an agenda out of touch with ordinary Pennsylvanians, including massive government growth and the largest tax increase in Commonwealth history.  Bolstered by the support of an electorate that sent a sizeable Republican majority to Harrisburg, we stood firm.   For two consecutive budgets, Senate Republicans rejected the Wolf Administration’s efforts to enact massive, broad-based tax increases.

Ideas worth stealing: Free community college finds bipartisan support
During the 2016 presidential primaries, candidate Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an ambitious plan to make state colleges and universities tuition-free. On the campaign trail, the Democrat from Vermont spoke about how increased access to higher education would improve the nation's workforce.   The idea didn't gain much political support (though it was very popular amongst his supporters). The consensus seemed to be that free college tuition was a good idea, but the chance of actually getting it funded would be next to impossible.   Meanwhile, in one deep red state and one bright blue city, a similar initiative wasn't just being thrown around as a political football. It was happening. Both Tennessee and Chicago provide two years of community college for residents who meet certain qualifications — tuition free. 

College readiness: A new program reaches out to middle-schoolers
Post Gazette By the Editorial Board December 24, 2016 12:00 AM
The Pittsburgh Public Schools should reach out as often as possible to the dynamic institutions, companies and people in this city. Most would be happy to help the schools improve, offer more programs or give students a wider variety of experiences. Pittsburghers are public-spirited by nature. Besides, helping the city schools is enlightened self-interest; everyone benefits from a good school system.  Those considerations are evident in a new partnership among the school district, the University of Pittsburgh and the Community College of Allegheny County. Called the Pittsburgh Admissions Collaboration, it aims to get youths thinking about college as early as the middle-school years through recruitment visits with Pitt representatives. As they advance through high school, participants would be offered other college-oriented experiences, such as campus tours, mentoring and access to college events.  The idea arose after Marc L. Harding, Pitt’s chief enrollment officer, visited a Pittsburgh school and realized none of the students had the academic credentials needed for admission to the university. Through the Pittsburgh Admission Collaboration, admission to CCAC will be offered as an option for students who want to go to college but might not be ready immediately for Pitt.  The school district struggles with a racial achievement gap and, while it has seen some recent uptick in graduation rates, there is room for improvement there, too. The more pathways to college a student has, and the more organizations involved in creating those pathways, the better. A dynamic city can’t afford to let public school students fall short of their potential. 

Teachers learn about immigrant rights
Uncertain in the age of Trump, they find out how to handle any immigration officials that come to schools.
The notebook by Greg Windle December 23, 2016 — 1:55pm
If an undocumented child in your community is grabbed off the street by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, what would you do? What should you do?  If immigration officials show up at a school, demanding to search for undocumented students, what do you say? What are you allowed to say?  Educators seeking to answer these questions filed into the cafeteria of Independence Charter School on Tuesday night for a forum sponsored by the Caucus of Working Educators. As they signed in, a table displayed an array of resources for teachers and community members.  A pink paper from the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition titled, “What does the 2016 election mean for immigrant communities?” sat in stacks organized by language: English, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Spanish, and Vietnamese, the languages corresponding with large immigrant populations living in Philadelphia.

Districts walk fine line when it comes to school safety threats
By Elizabeth Behrman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 24, 2016 12:00 AM
When administrators with the Plum Borough School District got word last weekend that two students talked about bringing a gun to the high school, the superintendent said he immediately called local police.  An investigation found that the threat was an “unsubstantiated” rumor, officials said.   But parents questioned at a school board meeting on Tuesday why they weren’t also notified. If the threat warranted a call to police and heightened security at Plum High School, why weren’t they informed, too?  “It’s difficult,” said Plum school board President Kevin Dowdell. “I’m sure people want to know, but once again you’ve got to see what the credibility of some of these threats were.”  School leaders have described managing threats to school safety as walking a fine line between avoiding a truly dangerous situation and creating unnecessary panic. And unfortunately, it’s a dilemma they have had to deal with more frequently.

After principal runs a marathon, donors chip in $94,400 for Philly school
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, STAFF WRITER  @newskag Updated: DECEMBER 23, 2016 4:32 PM
One in an occasional series about Mitchell Elementary School
Stephanie Andrewlevich missed her Philadelphia Marathon goal by more than a half hour. But she exceeded her goal for funding resources for the needy students at Mitchell Elementary beyond her wildest imagination.  The Southwest Philadelphia school lacks adequate technology for its 550 students. So its enthusiastic principal ran the marathon last month to raise awareness of the school's plight and perhaps to raise funds to pay for more computers.  A month after the marathon - and after The Inquirer and Daily News told readers about Andrewlevich's quest - donors large and small chipped in to fully fund a project that will buy 240 computers, enough for each classroom at the K-8 school.  The total tab: $94,400.

The NPE Toolkit: Stop Betsy DeVos
Network for Public Education December 16, 2016 by admin
The more we learn, the more we are certain that Betsy DeVos is bad for public schools and for kids.
When De Vos has to choose between quality schools and “the free market,” she chooses “the free market” of privatized choice every time. The best interests of children take a back seat.
And we know the DeVos endgame–shut down our neighborhood public schools, and replace them with a patchwork of charters, private schools and online learning.  We can’t let that happen and we need your help. Present and future generations of children are depending on us to act now.  We now know that some Senators have grave doubts. It is our job to make those doubts grow into active resistance to DeVos. Our senators are in district offices from 12/17 – 1/2.
Here are our three toolkits to help you do your part.
Toolkit 1. Call your senators’ offices. The toolkit with numbers and a phone script can be found here. It includes a link to phone numbers.
Toolkit 2. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can find a model here.
Toolkit 3. Visit your senators’ offices. If you cannot get an appointment, hand deliver a letter. Our toolkit, which you can find here has a model to use, and directions to find local offices. If you cannot hand deliver it, send your letter in the mail.

In a constituent response letter regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos dated December 2, 2016, Senator Toomey stated: “I believe she is a great pick.”

Blogger note: Have an opinion about the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?  Call these three senators today.
1. Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
2. Senator Toomey's Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-4254
Senator Casey is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
3. Senator Casey’s Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-6324
Toll Free: (866) 802-2833

PHLpreK Now Enrolling!
Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Education
Did you know that quality early childhood education sets our children up for success? It reduces the need for special education, raises graduation rates, and narrows the achievement gap. These benefits ripple throughout our schools, neighborhoods, and local economy.
That’s why the City of Philadelphia is expanding free, quality pre-K for 6,500 three- and four-year-olds over the next five years. In fact, the first 2,000 pre-K seats are available now. Families should act fast because classes begin on January 4th at more than 80 locations.
Please help us spread the word. Parents/caregivers can call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735) to speak with a trained professional who will help them apply and locate quality pre-K programs nearby.  For more information, visit

Pennsylvania Every Student Succeeds Act Public Tour
The Department of Education (PDE) is holding a series of public events to engage the public on important education topics in Pennsylvania.  The primary focus of these events will be the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in late 2015. A senior leader from the department will provide background on the law, and discuss the ongoing
development of Pennsylvania’s State Plan for its implementation, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2017.  Feedback is important to PDE; to provide the best avenue for public comment as well as provide an opportunity for those who cannot attend an event, members of the community are encouraged to review materials and offer comments at
Upcoming Public Events:
Wednesday, January 4- Quakertown- 5:30 pm- Bucks County Free Library
Bucks County Free Library Quakertown Branch
401 West Mill Street Quakertown, PA  18951
Tuesday, January 10- Scranton- 4:00 pm- Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
3201 Rockwell Avenue Scranton, PA  18508

“The “Success Starts Here” campaign is a multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education through advertising, web, social media, traditional media and word-of-mouth with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania. The campaign is led by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, but relies on the support of a wide variety of participating organizations.”
Share Your School’s Story: Success Starts Here Needs You!
Success Starts Here needs you! Show your support by sharing stories, using social media and applying window clings to all of your school buildings. Below are some links to resources to help you help us.
Not sure where to start? This simple tool kit will provide to you everything you need to get involved in the campaign, including ways to work with the media, social media tips, a campaign article to post, downloadable campaign logos, and photo release forms.
We know you have great stories, and it’s easy to share them! Just use our simple form to send your success story to be featured on our website. Help spread the word about how Success Starts Here in today’s public schools.
All school entities have been sent a supply of window clings for school building entrances. Need more? No problem! Just complete the online order form and more will quickly be on their way to you.

PASBO is seeking eager leaders! Ready to serve on the board? Deadline for intent letter is 12/31.
PASBO members who desire to seek election as Director or Vice President should send a letter of intent with a current resume and picture to the Immediate Past President Wanda M. Erb, PRSBA, who is chair of the PASBO Nominations and Elections Committee.

PSBA Virtual New School Director Training, Part 1
JAN 4, 2017 • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
The job of a school board director is challenging.  Changing laws, policies, and pressures from your community make serving on your school board demanding, yet rewarding at the same time.  Most school directors – even those with many years of experience – say that PSBA training is one of the most important and valuable things they have done in order to understand their roles and responsibilities.  If you are a new school board director and didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of PSBA’s live New School Director Training events, you can now attend via your computer, either by yourself from your home or office, or with a group of other school directors.
This is the same New School Director Training content we offer in a live classroom format, but adjusted for virtual training.
Part 1
·         Role and responsibilities of the school board director.
·         How to work with PSBA’s member services team.
·         Your role as an advocate for public education.
·         The school board’s role in policy.
(See also: Part 2, Jan. 11Part 3, Jan. 18)
Fee: $149 per person includes all three programs. Materials may be downloaded free, or $25 for materials to be mailed to your home (log in to the Members Area and purchase through the Store/Registration link).
Register online:

PSBA Third Annual Board Presidents Day
JAN 28, 2017 • 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Nine Locations Statewide
Jan. 28, 2017 (Snow date: Feb. 11, 2017)
Calling all school board presidents, vice-presidents, and superintendents — Join us for the 3rd Annual PSBA Board Presidents Day held at nine convenient locations around the state.
This is a day of meeting fellow board members from your area and taking part in thought-provoking dialogue about the issues every board faces.  PSBA Past President Kathy Swope will start things off with an engaging presentation based on her years as board president at the Lewistown Area School District.  Bring your own scenarios to this event to gain perspective from other districts.  Cost: $109 per person – includes registration, lunch and materials. All-Access Package applies.  Register online by logging in to the Members Area (see the Store/Registration link to view open event registrations,

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2017 -- Jan. 29-31, Washington, D.C.
Join school directors around the country at the conference designed to give you the tools to advocate successfully on behalf of public education.
  • NSBA will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy to help you in Washington, D.C. and at home.
  • Attend timely and topical breakout sessions lead by NSBA’s knowledgeable staff and outside experts.
  • Expand your advocacy network by swapping best practices, challenges, and successes with other school board members from across the country.
This event is open to members of the Federal Relations Network. To find out how you can join, contact Learn more about the Advocacy Institute at

Register now for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference 
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

1 comment:

  1. Yes I am 100% agreed with your opinion. Seeing her background, I believe that she is best pick.
    Albert Barkley
    Chief Executive Officer
    The Academic Papers UK


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