Wednesday, February 15, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 15: Wolf: Education should not be the first casualty of our budget deficit

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 15, 2017
Wolf: Education should not be the first casualty of our budget deficit


PA Cyber Charter School founder Trombetta seeks to hold prosecutors in contempt
By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 14, 2017 11:15 AM
Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta and his legal team, who have been sparring with the government for weeks following his conspiracy conviction, are now asking a judge to hold the U.S. attorney's office in contempt and pay a fine for filing a document publicly instead of under seal.  But prosecutors say they've followed the same procedure they always do and haven't done anything wrong. U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti will decide. In a contentious hearing in December, Mr. Trombetta pleaded guilty to tax conspiracy in connection with siphoning off some $8 million from the cyber school he founded and related corporate entities he created. He faces up to five years in federal prison at sentencing in March but he's disputing the amount of the loss and the degree of his culpability, and the parties have been bickering back and forth in court filings.

“Trombetta, of East Liverpool, Ohio, pleaded guilty to the one charge in August after originally facing 11 counts, including mail fraud, theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, tax conspiracy and filing a false tax return.  He pleaded guilty to tax conspiracy from January 2006 to July 2012 in a scheme that involved funneling $8 million to his sister, Elaine Trombetta Neill, and four “straw owners” of the now-shuttered Avanti Management, a company he created to hide money from the Internal Revenue Service.”
Trombetta's attorney wants prosecutors held in contempt
Ellwood City Ledger By J.D. Prose jprose@calkins.com February 14, 2017
PITTSBURGH -- An attorney for Nick Trombetta, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder who pleaded guilty to tax conspiracy last year, is asking a federal judge to hold prosecutors in contempt based on disputed court filings.  On Friday, Adam Hoffinger filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh asking Judge Joy Flowers Conti to hold federal prosecutors in contempt for filing their response to a Trombetta document unsealed, which he said violated the law.  Trombetta, who faces sentencing on March 3 unless another extension request is granted, had filed sealed documents related to sentencing factors. Prosecutors responded on Thursday, but did not seal their filings which referred, Hoffinger argues, to confidential information on Trombetta.

Wolf makes case for big boost in early childhood school aid
Morning Call February 14, 2017
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is trying to make the case for one of the biggest increases in his new budget plan, nearly 40 percent more for early childhood education programs. Wolf sat on the carpet with more than a dozen children visiting his office Tuesday from a Harrisburg-area learning center that's accredited through Pennsylvania's pre-kindergarten program. Wolf says such programs pay huge dividends for children later in school and life. Wolf's office says the extra $75 million he's seeking would allow more than 8,400 3- and 4-year-olds to enroll in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs that are subsidized for lower-income families. Qualifying programs must meet guidelines for curriculum, teacher training, nutrition and class size, among other things. About one-fifth of the estimated 300,000 3- and 4-year-olds in Pennsylvania are in a subsidized pre-kindergarten program.

“In Pennsylvania, there is a huge disparity in funding for schools,” he said. “In 2015, Otto-Eldred spent $1,000 less per student than the average Pennsylvania district, and over $10,000 less than wealthier districts in suburban areas in other parts of the state.”  Splain questions whether his students deserve less opportunity and fewer resources.  “How does providing more choices help this imbalance? I would be in full support of ‘school choice,’ if those choices were based upon an equal playing field,” he said. “Instead of diluting public schools' ability to educate students, why don't we start appropriately funding school districts so that we can meet the mandates placed upon us?”
Area public school officials slam DeVos, school choice initiative
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter a.davis@bradfordera.com
Local school superintendents are expressing grave concern over the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Department of Education secretary, particularly that she favors using taxpayer money to fund private institutions.  “Her track record shows that she does not have any interest in public education and if you watched her confirmation hearing, it was very evident that she does not know anything about public education,” Galeton Area School District Superintendent Alanna Huck recently told The Era. “I am appalled at the fact that someone with her lack of qualifications and lack of support for the public school system is going to head the United States Department of Education.”  DeVos, who became the 11th education secretary on Feb. 7, is the former chairman of The Windquest Group, a privately held investment and management firm and has served as the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party four times.  Otto-Eldred School District Superintendent Matt Splain said DeVos is a strong proponent of the privatization of public education, and using tax dollars to fund private schools brings up Constitutional issues.

“Wolf pledged to make education his greatest priority. His 2017-18 budget proposal calls for a $100 million increase in basic education funding, a $75 million Head Start and pre-K increase, and a $25 million special education increase. There’s also an additional $4 million for school breakfast programs and school improvements. Lancaster County’s 17 school districts would get a little more than $4 million in additional funding.  If the Legislature is looking for a place to cut, education isn’t it. These are relatively modest, and responsible, spending increases proposed by the governor. Pennsylvania’s schools cannot be, as Wolf said last week, “the first casualty of our budget deficit.”
Editorial: Lawmakers need to come together to resolve thorny budget issues
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board February 15, 2017
THE ISSUE: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest $32.5 billion budget proposal features a variety of cuts designed to close a $3 billion deficit. Republican-led hearings on the proposal will begin Tuesday. Wolf, a Democrat, will have to sell his plan to the largest Republican majority in the General Assembly in more than 60 years. After Wolf’s budget address last week, Republican leaders said they appreciated Wolf’s efforts to save money by making government more efficient as opposed to proposing broad-based tax increases.
We can only hope the mutual admiration lasts.  “It’s a far better starting point than I think we were two years ago or even last year,” said Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Landisville, after Wolf’s budget address last week. “It's pretty clear the governor has changed course.”  That might not sound like much of an olive branch but in the Capitol, it’s the branch, the leaves and the trunk. So, we’re off to a good start. But we haven’t yet dived into the details, where the devil and all of his instruments of evil reside, and where once promising budget negotiations tend to go toes up. Here are five areas of the budget to watch as negotiations begin:

“Local school districts started to see these reimbursements in November 2016 after Act 25 was passed, approving the Commonwealth Financing Authority to issue bonds in order to pay school districts what they were owed. Act 25 also established the PlanCon Advisory Committee to explore the PlanCon process and make recommendations to improve it in May 2017.”
Lawmakers hear local thoughts on PlanCon
York Dispatch by Alyssa Pressler , 505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD1:33 a.m. ET Feb. 15, 2017
A committee to review PlanCon visited Red Lion Area School District Monday to hear testimony from different groups about issues with the state program.  PlanCon, or the Planning and Construction Workbook, is a program that documents a school district's planning process for construction, provides justification to the public, ensures that districts are in compliance with state laws and establishes a level of reimbursement to the school for the construction, according to its website.  PlanCon has been an issue since 2016, when PlanCon reimbursements were not included in the state budget, so the state owed school districts back payments for reimbursements. 

Chester County school districts receive $13M in PlanCon reimbursements
Daily Local By Staff Report POSTED: 02/14/17, 2:53 PM EST | UPDATED: 11 HRS AGO
WEST CHESTER >> State Sen. Andrew Dinniman announced that Chester County school districts will receive more than $13.2 million in total state funding for reimbursements for major construction projects.  The funds were distributed under Act 25 of 2016, which authorized a bond to make reimbursement payments to school districts under PlanCon, the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s system for funding school-building projects.  “Many of these reimbursements were outstanding and the projects had been on hold too long,” said Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee. “I am pleased to see that school districts have now received their reimbursements and I am committed to continuing to work to improve and update the PlanCon process.” Reimbursements were made to school districts in two payments. The November payment to Chester County School Districts amounted to more than $6.8 million in total. The December payment was about $6.4 million in total.

Problems and Prospects for Pennsylvania’s School Accountability System
FEBRUARY 14, 2017 ~ DR. ED FULLER Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis
School accountability systems have become a fixture of the US education landscape. While there is some evidence that school accountability efforts have had some positive effects on student achievement[i], evidence also suggests that accountability systems have created as many problems as solutions.[ii] Indeed, there is widespread agreement that accountability systems adopted under NCLB, as well as through programs such as Race to the Top and NCLB waivers, had significant flaws. In an effort to remedy these flaws, the new version of ESEA—entitled the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—provides much greater flexibility to states in developing their school accountability systems. Further, ESSA includes some mandates that push states to address some flaws of the former accountability systems. Most important of these mandates is that states must include some non-academic indicators in their systems.  Thus, state policymakers have the opportunity to create accountability systems that more accurately capture school effectiveness in terms of both student achievement and other important student outcomes not related to test scores. T

“On Wednesday, the York City school board will vote on a resolution proposed by the district to give the charter school deadlines for giving the district items it needs to have to ensure that the charter school is educating its students and following the rules.”
EDITORIAL: Charter school at risk
York Dispatch Published 4:53 p.m. ET Feb. 14, 2017 | Updated 12 hours ago
Helen Thackston deserves a better legacy.
Thackston was a kindergarten teacher at the Crispus Attucks Community Center for 32 years, starting in the 1930s. She made sure the black children in York received an education in the days when York City students were separated by race.  Each weekday, black children would meet Thackston in Penn Park, line up in a double row and walk together to the center, then on Maple Street, for a day of learning. Sometimes they would be taunted by white children, and Thackston would tell them to not mind the taunts, that they were worthy of getting an education, just like the white children. Helen Thackston died in 1969, but her memory lives in our community and in the housing project and the charter school that bear her name. That's why it's so sad that the school is not doing its job. Helen Thackston Charter School opened in 2009 as a middle school and expanded into the high school grades in 2011. The charter was renewed in 2014 and is up for renewal again in 2018. But that renewal is not a sure thing.

Wolf moves to change management of Pa.'s two biggest funds
WHYY Newsworks BY KATIE MEYER, WITF FEBRUARY 15, 2017
With Pennsylvania facing a multibillion-dollar structural deficit and legislative majorities firmly against broad-based tax increases, Gov. Tom Wolf has resorted to some creative money management in his 2017-18 budget proposal. One of those accounting tricks is consolidating the investment offices that oversee two of the commonwealth's biggest funds. Although the savings won't be huge, the proposal would represent a marked shift in how Pennsylvania manages its money. The State Employee Retirement System and the Public School Employee Retirement System control about $27 billion and $52 billion, respectively. Wolf's proposal is fairly broad. He wants to consolidate both funds' investment offices — a move the Office of the Budget said may save around $200 million annually —  and $3 billion over the next 30 years.

Philly research suggests simple postcards help keep students in class
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT FEBRUARY 15, 2017
It is a problem as old as school itself — how do you keep kids from missing time in the classroom? Research out of Philadelphia suggests the best medicine for absenteeism might be a postcard sent home with a dose of cold, hard truth. Sending Philadelphia public school families a single postcard emphasizing the importance of attendance reduced absenteeism by 2.4 percent, according to a study released this month by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. Further research — still in draft form — suggests an even more effective remedy: sending families postcards that tell them how often their kids have missed school. In Philadelphia, students from families who received these blunt missives missed one less day of school than their classmates in a control group. Taken together, the studies indicate that snail-mail may be a cheap and effective way to chip away at chronic absenteeism, a problem that plagues many large, urban school districts.

Pa. education secretary visits Greencastle-Antrim
Chambersburg Public Opinion Vicky Taylor , vtaylor@publicopinionnews.com Published 5:48 p.m. ET Feb. 14, 2017 | Updated 7 hours ago
GREENCASTLE - Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera sat down with about a dozen Greencastle-Antrim educators Tuesday afternoon for a round-table discussion of issues facing local schools. Greencastle-Antrim School District Acting Superintendent Jolinda Wilson and her group of administrators and educators asked Rivera pointed questions about state funding for local schools and issues like state-mandated testing that "grades" schools on their performance in specific areas. She said Rivera's visit to the school -- part of his Schools That Teach Tour -- sent an important message to districts like G-A that his department, and Gov. Tom Wolf, is hearing local educators' concerns, even though they aren't always in a position to do something about them.

Auditors raise alarm about Erie schools' finances
Report: District risks failing 'as a going concern'
GoErie By Ed Palattella / ed.palattella@timesnews.com February 14, 2017
The Erie School District's top officials have often said that the district would be on the edge of bankruptcy if it were a business. The district's independent auditors agree. The auditing firm, using accounting language rarely if ever applied to a public institution, has found the district's finances are so poor that the district is on course to run out of money in a year. The firm, Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, cited the district's lack of reserves and its deficits as a main reason for the finding, made in an audit report dated Monday. "The District has suffered recurring losses from operations and has a net capital deficiency, which raises substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern," according to the audit report. The report comes as the district continues to push for as much as $31.8 million in additional annual state funding to stay solvent and improve its buildings and programs. The district is facing a projected deficit of $10 million in fiscal 2017-18, which starts July 1.

Bellefonte Area preliminary budget calls for $1.21 million increase
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO bmilazzo@centredaily.com February 14, 2017
The Bellefonte Area school board, in an 8-0 vote, approved a 2017-18 preliminary budget Tuesday nigh at its bimonthly meeting.  Member Kim Hearn was absent.  More than 66 percent of the proposed $50.525 million budget is slated to go toward salaries and benefits.  According to a report from the district, the budget calls for a $1.21 million increase from the current school year, and could impose a tax increase as high as 4.5 percent.  But district Director of Fiscal Affairs Ken Bean said it’s a conservative and early estimate, based on a five-year plan.  “It’s not a worst-case scenario, but maybe a bad-case scenario,” Bean said.  Bean said he’s working with a team to make that tax increase as little as possible, and told the board the goal is to not have a tax increase at all.  By state law, a final budget must be passed by June 30.

Wait for a Philly teachers’ contract drags on
The new year and new SRC members don’t bring much hope for a quick resolution.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa February 14, 2017 — 8:06am
Another new year has started without a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ contract.
In the historically long deadlock, PFT members have not received raises since 2013, and some have seen no compensation increases since 2012.   For the first time, appointees of Gov. Wolf and Mayor Kenney, who are strong PFT allies, will form a majority on the School Reform Commission. But will that equate to quick action? Don’t count on it. Interviews with District Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson, PFT president Jerry Jordan, and others leave the impression that the gulf is as wide as ever. In addition to disputes over raises and benefits, the sides are sparring over work rules, such as teacher preparation time and the process for assigning teachers to schools. During the long stalemate, teachers have received no raises for accruing experience, nor increments for furthering their education. Most heavily affected are those with less than 10 years of experience who have not reached the top of the pay scale and are still earning advanced degrees. The District is not expecting a windfall from either the state or the city to pay for a generous contract.

Montgomery County child poverty, health, education discussed at roundtable
Pottstown Mercury By Bob Keeler, bkeeler@21st-centurymedia.com@bybobkeeler on Twitter POSTED: 02/14/17, 10:50 PM EST | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
WHITPAIN >> It wasn’t until 2015 that the percentage of Montgomery County children living in poverty dropped back down to below the 2008 pre-recession level, Public Citizens for Children & Youth reported in its October 2016 “Left Out: The Status of Children in Montgomery County.” “Even so, we have 7 percent of the kids in this county in poverty,” Donna Cooper, PCCY’s executive director, said at a “Roundtable to Keep Montco Kids from Getting Left Out,” held Tuesday, Feb. 14, by PCCY and the Bucks-Mont Collaborative at Montgomery County Community College’s main campus in Blue Bell. Other speakers at the roundtable, which had about 100 attendees, were Montgomery County commissioners’ Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, Norristown Family Center Director Julie O’Connor and VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn Executive Director Joanne Kline.

“Despite these successes, however, CEP is not universally beloved. The program has attracted particular ire from House Republicans, who attempted to reform the program in their version of last year’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. They believe CEP unfairly subsidizes the meals of kids who could afford to pay full price, at enormous cost to taxpayers, and have advocated for a 60-percent threshold to determine a school or district's eligibility. Although they were ultimately unable to raise the CEP threshold in the last Congress, they now have a Republican president, in addition to a congressional majority.  “We are arguing that Congress should address CEP before passing any child nutrition reauthorization bill,” Daren Bakst, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said in an email. He has previously described CEP as “welfare for kids who come from the middle class.”
A record number of poor kids are eating breakfast — thanks to a program many conservatives hate
Washington Post By Caitlin Dewey February 14 at 12:47 PM 
A record number of low-income children have begun to eat breakfast at school. But the policy most credited with boosting their numbers may be on the chopping block under President Trump. According to the latest School Breakfast Scorecard, an annual report released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), school breakfast participation among low-income kids grew 3.7 percent in the 2015-2016 school year. More than 12 million low-income kids now eat breakfast at school, up almost 50 percent from 10 years ago. Advocates chalk up that growth, in large part, to the expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision, an Obama-era program that remains unpopular with many Republicans. Under CEP, schools or school districts where 40 percent of the student body directly qualifies for free meals (via food stamps or other nutrition assistance or welfare programs) may offer those meals free to all students. The school is then reimbursed at a variable rate, according to the percentage of low-income students.

As Advanced Placement Tests Gain Popularity, Some Colleges Push Back
More high-school students take Advanced Placement exams than ever—as questions about their value grow
Wall Street Journal By MELISSA KORN Feb. 15, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET
More high-school students are taking Advanced Placement exams than ever—just as questions about their value are growing.  At least 20 states now require public universities to award credit for strong scores on the exams, including most recently Nevada, Illinois and Texas, to help students get through college faster. The AP tests often allow incoming students to skip introductory college courses, or gain credit toward graduation based on their test results.  Meanwhile, some schools, including the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University, have scaled back or are reconsidering how much credit they give students for AP exams. They question whether a high mark on the test is really equivalent to mastering college-level course work.  More than 2.6 million high school students globally took 4.7 million AP exams in the 2015-16 school year, both up 5% from the prior cycle. The test caps what is generally a year-long class whose curriculum is designed to be similar to a college-level course.

Study: Vouchers kept Milwaukee Catholic parishes open, but at a cost to religious activity
Erin Richards , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 10:30 a.m. CT Feb. 14, 2017 | Updated
The expansion of private-school vouchers in Milwaukee prevented Catholic parishes from closing and merging, but also led to a significant decline in participating churches' donations and religious activity, a new study says.  The study suggests the Milwaukee voucher program since 1999 led to a decline in non-school Catholic church revenue by $60 million, at least amid the more than 70 Milwaukee Archdiocese parishes studied by the authors. The findings raise new questions about the impact that expanding private-school voucher programs could have on religious life in America, at a time when voucher programs are expanding and the number of people claiming religious affiliation is declining.

What's Up With the Staffing of Betsy DeVos' Education Department
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on February 15, 2017 7:39 AM
When brand-new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was selected to lead the Education Department, her fans and detractors agreed on one thing: It would be really important to see who she put in other key roles, including the deputy secretary and assistant secretaries that oversee policy, innovation, civil rights, K-12 education, and more.  That's partly because DeVos, a billionaire GOP donor and school choice advocate, comes from a nontraditional background. Unlike nearly every past education secretary, she's never worked professionally in federal or state government, for a school district, or at a university.  And while her supporters say she has deep knowledge when it comes to vouchers, charter schools, and other forms of choice, she appeared confused during her confirmation hearing about other areas of education policy, including special education. That could make staffing all the more important.  So far, key roles haven't been filled. To be sure, it's still early going—the secretary herself has been on the job for just over a week. And a deputy could be named sometime soon. (Allan Hubbard, who worked on economic issues under President George W. Bush, is said to be a top candidate for the deputy role, typically the No. 2 position at the department.)

Trump praises DeVos, saying she endured a 'very unfair trial'
Inquirer by Emma Brown, Washington Post Updated: FEBRUARY 14, 2017 — 2:14 PM EST
President Trump praised his new education secretary, Betsy DeVos, on Tuesday morning, saying that she had endured "a very unfair trial" before her confirmation last week and pledging an effort to overhaul education. "We want every child to have an opportunity to climb the ladder to success," Trump said at the White House before a meeting with parents and teachers. "It all begins with education and that's why we're here this morning." Trump criticized "failing schools," echoing language he used on the campaign trail. "Millions of poor, disadvantaged students are trapped in poor, failing schools," he said. "We're going to change it around, especially for the African American communities."

Here’s who Trump invited to the White House to talk about schools. The list says a lot about his education priorities.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss February 14 at 3:44 PM 
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met with a carefully selected group of 10 teachers and parents at the White House on Tuesday, a list of participants that reveals a good deal about the administration’s education priorities.  DeVos is the controversial new education secretary who was confirmed by the Senate only when Mike Pence became the first vice president in history to break a tie for a Cabinet member.  Also present at the White House education meeting were Pence, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway and senior adviser Stephen Miller.  Before the meeting, Trump praised DeVos and said she had been through a “very unfair trial” before her confirmation. As it began, he said:  “We want every child in America to have the opportunity to climb the ladders of success. We want every child, also, to have a safe community and we’re going to do that. … It all begins with education, and that’s why we’re here this morning. … Right now, too many of our children don’t have the opportunity to get that education that we all talk about. Millions of poor disadvantaged students are trapped in failing schools. … That’s why I want every single disadvantaged child in America, no matter what their background or where they live, to have a choice about where they go to school. It’s worked out so well in some communities where it’s been properly run. … ”

EPLC Pennsylvania Education Letter February 13, 2017
Education Policy News, Analysis, and Commentary 
By Ronald Cowell, President  The Education Policy and Leadership Center

DeVos appointment as Secretary of Education causes concern at Lake-Lehman
By Marcella Kester - for Times Leader FEBRUARY 13TH, 2017 - 10:47 PM
LEHMAN TWP. — The Lake-Lehman School Board on Monday discussed how future education-related decisions made by state and federal officialscould affect the district.  At the beginning of the meeting, Superintendent James McGovern took a moment to address attendees aboutPresident Donald Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. McGovern said he has received calls in recent weeks asking his opinion on the matter, and what he thinks it would mean for public school districts.  “The problems of Lake-Lehman are unique to Lake-Lehman,” he said. “There is no one individual out there that is going to be able to either help us or hinder us from accomplishing what our goals are.” He went on to say that no matter what DeVos’s intentions are, they would not stop Lake-Lehman from trying to be the best district and prepare its students for success outside the classroom.

Dear Mr. President: Phila. students write to Trump
Philadelphia students wrote letters to President Trump.
Inquirer by Kristen Graham , Inquirer Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: FEBRUARY 14, 2017 — 9:52 AM EST
The writing prompt was simple: what do you want to say to President Trump?
Philadelphia third through eighth graders in the Writers Matter program, an effort of La Salle University, took on the challenge in the last month. Robert Vogel, the founding director of Writers Matter, gave the students the assignment shortly after the inauguration.  The students' classroom teachers told Vogel the president was on their mind. "They said, 'That's all the kids are talking about,'" Vogel said. "A lot of them are scared."   Vogel sent along some samples of the students’ work. Here are some excerpts:

HOW GERRYMANDERING GOT SEXY
Fair Districts PA is calling for better redistricting, to ensure fairer elections. And thousands of Pennsylvanians are rallying behind them
The Philadelphia Citizen BY STEPHEN ST.VINCENT FEB. 15, 2017
There are many things we could never have predicted before November 8th (including, of course, the results on November 8th). But one of the strangest, least expected outcomes of Donald Trump’s election has taken root here in Philadelphia, and throughout the state: Suddenly, the subject of gerrymandering has become very sexy.  errymandering is what happens when legislative redistricting breaks bad. Every 10 years, after the Census comes out, states have to redraw their congressional and state legislative district maps to account for population changes. In theory, this should be a straightforward, politically-neutral process. In reality, the lines are often drawn in ways that can only be described as contorted and tortured in order to benefit the party who controls the process.

Public Education Funding Briefing; Wed, March 8, 2017 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM at United Way Bldg in Philly
Public Interest Law Center email/website February 14, 2017
Amid a contentious confirmation battle in Washington D.C., public education has been front and center in national news. But what is happening at home is just as--if not more--important: Governor Wolf just announced his 2017-2018 budget proposal, including $100 million in new funding for basic education. State legislators are pushing a bill that would eliminate local school taxes by increasing income and sales taxes. And we at the Law Center are waiting on a decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as to whether or not our school funding lawsuit can go to trial.   How do all of these things affect Pennsylvania's schools, and the children who rely on them? Come find out!   Join Jennifer Clarke, Michael Churchill and me for one of two briefings on the nuts and bolts of how public education funding works in Pennsylvania and how current proposals and developments could affect students and teachers. (The content of both briefings will be identical.) 
The briefings are free and open to the public, but we ask that you please RSVP. 

NSBAC First 100 Days Campaign #Ed100Days
National School Boards Action Center
YOUR VOICE IN THE FIRST 100 DAYS!
There is no time like the present for public education advocates to make their voices heard. Misleading rhetoric coupled with budget cuts and proposals such as private school vouchers that divert essential funding from our public schools are threatening the continued success of our 50 million children in public schools. We need your voice to speak up for public schools now!
The first 100 days in the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration present a great opportunity to make sure our country’s elected leaders are charting an education agenda that supports our greatest and most precious resource -- America’s schoolchildren. And you can make that happen.

New PSBA Winter Town Hall Series coming to your area
Introducing a new and exciting way to get involved and stay connected in a location near you! Join your PSBA Town Hall meeting to hear the latest budget and political updates affecting public education. Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and networking with fellow school directors. Locations have been selected to minimize travel time. Spend less time in the car and more time learning about issues impacting your schools.
Agenda
6-6:35 p.m.         Association update from PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains
6:35 -7:15 p.m. Networking Reception
7:15-8 p.m.         Governor’s budget address recap
Dates/Locations
Monday, February 20     Forbes Road Career and Technology Center, Monroeville
Tuesday, February 21    Venango Technology Center, Oil City
Wednesday, Feb 22       Clearfield County Career and Technical Center, Clearfield
Thursday, February 23   Columbia Montour AVTS, Bloomsburg
Monday, February 27     Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, Jamison
Tuesday, February 28    PSBA, Mechanicsburg
Wednesday, March 1     Bedford County Technical Center, Everett
Thursday, March 2         West Side CTC, Kingston
Registration:

Ron Cowell at EPLC always does a great job with these policy forums.
RSVP Today for a Forum In Your Area! EPLC is Holding Five Education Policy Forums on Governor Wolf’s 2017-2018 State Budget Proposal
Forum #1 – Pittsburgh Thursday, February 23, 2017 – Wyndham University Center – 100 Lytton Avenue, Pittsburgh (Oakland), PA 15213
Forum #2 – Harrisburg Area (Enola, PA) Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – Capital Area Intermediate Unit – 55 Miller Street (Susquehanna Room), Enola, PA 17025
Forum #3 – Philadelphia Thursday, March 2, 2017 – Penn Center for Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, 3440 Market Street (5th Floor), Philadelphia, PA 19104
Forum #4 – Indiana University of Pennsylvania Tuesday, March 14, 2017 – 1011 South Drive (Stouffer Hall), Indiana, PA 15705
Forum #5 – Lehigh Valley Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit #21, 4210 Independence Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078
Governor Wolf will deliver his 2017-2018 state budget proposal to the General Assembly on February 7. These policy forums will be early opportunities to get up-to-date information about what is in the proposed education budget, the budget’s relative strengths and weaknesses, and key issues.  Each of the forums will take following basic format (please see below for regional presenter details at each of the three events). Ron Cowell of EPLC will provide an overview of the Governor’s proposed budget for early education, K-12 and higher education.  A representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will provide an overview of the state’s fiscal situation and key issues that will affect this year’s budget discussion. The overviews will be followed by remarks from a panel representing statewide and regional perspectives concerning state funding for education and education related items. These speakers will discuss the impact of the Governor’s proposals and identify the key issues that will likely be considered during this year’s budget debate.
Although there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.
Offered in partnership with PASA and the PA Department of Education March 29-30, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg - Camp Hill, PA .    Approved for 40 PIL/Act 48 (Act 45) hours for school administrators.  Register online at http://www.pasa-net.org/ev_calendar_day.asp?date=3/29/2017&eventid=63

PASBO 62nd Annual Conference, March 21-24, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh.
Register now for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference March 25-27 Denver
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 https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.

Register for the 2017 PASA Education Congress, “Delving Deeper into the Every Student Succeeds Act.” March 29-30

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!

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017
Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township,  PA


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