Monday, April 17, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 17: HB 97 Stacks the Charter Appeal Board; Diminishes Authorizer/Taxpayer Oversight

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 17, 2017:
HB 97 Stacks the Charter Appeal Board; Diminishes Authorizer/Taxpayer Oversight

Please Vote No: House Bill 97 does not provide real charter school reform
The PA House of Representatives is preparing to fast-track another charter school proposal. House Bill 97 (Rep. Reese, R-Westmoreland) was introduced this week and is scheduled for vote by the House Education Committee next Tuesday, April18. Once passed out of the committee, House Bill 97 will move to the House floor so it is important to reach out to all House and Senate members now to make them aware of your position on the proposal.
Tell your legislator to vote "No" on House Biill 97. Here are some of the reasons why -
·         School districts won't get a fair trial: House Bill 97 stacks the Charter School Appeal Board (CAB). The CAB would move from 6 to 9 members with only one of the three new members representing traditional public schools.
·         Lack of accountability and oversight: The bill expands the terms for charter school approval and extensions from 3 to 5 years to 5 to 10 years. This will leave longer periods of time with charters going unchecked by their authorizers.
·         Commission misses the mark: The proposed Charter School Funding Commission created in House Bill 97 goes way beyond addressing funding issues with charter schools and dives into charter authorization and a performance matrix. A true Charter School Funding Commission should focus solely on funding issues.
Once again, the stage is being set to rush through another comprehensive charter bill under the guise of “reform.” Tell your legislators to vote NO on House Bill 97.  

HB97 Charter Reform on House Education Committee Meeting Agenda on Tuesday

“Balancing the charter appeal board.  – This is the group that can certify or override the decision of the local district. HB 97 would like to "balance" this group by adding more charter people, including switching the parent seat to a parent of a charter student seat. The resulting board would be far more charter-friendly. This would be the group that could tell taxpayers in your district that they are going to help support a charter school even though they and their duly-elected school board rejected it.”
PA HB97: Charter Reform Sort of Revisited
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pennsylvania charter law is rather a mess. In April of 2016,  State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a blistering report, dubbing PA charter law the "worst in the nation." There have been occasional legislative attempts to address the issue, but these bills have often confused "reform" with "give charters more freedom and opportunities to suck up public tax dollars."  Harrisburg has a history of using charter reform as a fig leaf to cover up charter giveaways. Early egregious attempts included a bill that would have taken a swipe at cyberschool funding but also would have made all sorts of folks authorizers of charter schools, making it infinitely easier to launch one in PA. There was an attempt to fix things, sort of,  back in 2015-2016 with proposed HB 530, a bill that public school organizations like the school board association declared a non-starter because it loosened accountability on charters, allowed the state charter appeal board to overrule local districts, and didn't address the out-of-control costs of charters in Pennsylvania. The reasons to oppose the bill were many. The bill passed both the house and senate, but was ultimately a victim of the Great Budget Snafu of 2016 and was last seen disappearing into the rules committee in June of 2016.   Now it's back.

Blogger Opinion: This fast-tracked latest version of PA Charter Reform legislation still would facilitate authorization and expansion of charters without sufficient oversight/approval by locally elected school boards representing the taxpayers who pay for these privately managed schools.

Please review the full analysis of HB97 and reach out to your legislators and ask them to vote “NO” on HB97, which is expected to be reported out of the House Education Committee on Tuesday morning and could go to a full vote in the House shortly after.
PSBA Analysis: Charter Bill: HB97
Excerpts from PSBA Analysis of Charter Reform Bill House Bill 97 (Reese) April 13, 2017
Charter School Appeal Board: The bill expands the state Charter School Appeal Board (CAB) from six to nine members with only one new member (a principal) representing traditional public schools. These changes provide an opportunity for charter school representatives to control the CAB in a majority of cases. 
Charter Terms and Renewals: The bill expands the terms for the initial charter period and renewal terms in a manner that further removes authorizer oversight by eliminating the ability of school districts to review renewed charters annually.
Focus of the Funding Commission: The issues to be considered by Charter School Funding Commission created House Bill 97 go way beyond addressing the most critical need, which is to consider ways to fairly provide relief to the climbing costs and overpayments to charter schools made by school districts. 

Did you catch our holiday weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 14, 2017: 
Keystone State Education Coalition
HB97: Fast-tracked latest version of PA Charter Reform legislation still would facilitate authorization and expansion of charters without sufficient oversight/approval by locally elected school boards representing the taxpayers who pay for these privately managed schools

Gerrymandering: Local activists drawing the line on who gets to change congressional borders
Inquirer by Michaelle Bond, Staff Writer  @MichaelleBond | Updated: APRIL 14, 2017 — 11:38 AM EDT
The maps that Amy Finkbiner was showing at the borough council meeting looked like so many random, ill-fitting puzzle pieces.   They depicted the outlines of U.S. congressional districts in Pennsylvania -- how they connected regions with little in common, how they carved up towns and even neighborhoods.  Her own town, Malvern, has found itself configured into three different, radically reshaped districts in the last three decades.   "It has been getting worse and worse,” Finkbiner, a planning board member, said after her presentation. “So I think people have been getting more fed up."   Typically, municipal meetings such as this one last week are left to the likes of discussions about speed bumps and housing permits, and recognition of community members for their service.  These days, however, a fundamental issue of democracy is making the agenda list: redistricting.  Residents and advocates are asking just where congressional and legislative boundaries should be drawn to represent voters accurately – and who should draw them as populations change and shift.  For decades, activists and some lawmakers turned off by politicians’ creating voting districts designed to keep their parties in power — gerrymandering — have tried and failed to change the redistricting process in Pennsylvania.

We choose to be optimistic that the governor and Legislature can find common ground on property taxes and pension reform
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board April 16, 2017
THE ISSUE: In a meeting with LNP’s Editorial Board Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf said his re-election campaign is already underway. Wolf discussed a variety of issues with the board including education, the opioid crisis, senior citizens and jobs. Wolf also addressed property taxes and pension reform, and said that he and the Republican leadership in the Legislature are making progress on both issues.
Optimism is rare in Harrisburg. Sincere belief that the governor and Republican-controlled Legislature can resolve intractable problems is even rarer.  So forgive us if we overreact to even a tiny sliver of hope.  Wolf introduced his budget in February. House Republicans countered with their version in early April, sooner than expected, Wolf said. And while the governor told the board that the two sides have much to work out, he also said there is a basic agreement to “reinvent government” to better serve the public and save money.  Wolf said, “We keep getting closer” on property tax relief and “we’re making real progress” on pensions.”  Is this a dream?  Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer, whose column frequently appears on LNP’s Opinion pages, is wide awake.  “The skids are getting greased for another phony-baloney fiscal plan to pass before, on, or near the June 30 deadline,” Baer wrote Tuesday. “Once again, it will likely ignore property taxes, pension reform, or any reform of a sorry system that sees ‘solutions’ as merely shifting problems to already-strapped local governments.”

“Combined with projected increased costs to school districts to pay their share of pensions, the $50 million proposed cut in transportation aid would wipe out Wolf's proposed $125 million boost in funding for basic and special education payments, he said.  “In essence, you’re in the negative,” he said.”
Busing payment cuts worry school leaders
Meadville Tribune By John Finnerty CNHI News Service April 14, 2017
HARRISBURG — A proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to cut state funding for school busing costs by almost 9 percent while changing the formula used to figure out how much they should get has school officials concerned.  School officials and lawmakers say they’re still in the dark about how the Education Department would retool the funding formula.  House Republicans included the governor’s proposal to redo the busing aid formula in their budget, said Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for House Republican leaders. But at this point, the Wolf administration has not provided legislative leaders with a description of what the reworked formula would look like, he said.  John Callahan, assistant executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said that just the funding cut alone is alarming.  Most years, the state’s payments toward busing costs have been “stable and predictable,” he said.  Not this year.

“Details of SB 76, both pro and con, cannot be addressed within this limited space. The AAUW State College Branch invites you to attend an informational panel discussion to learn more about the proposed legislation on April 29 at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800 E. Park Ave., State College. Refreshments, 9 a.m.; panel discussion, 9:30 a.m.”
SB76: A tax increase by any other name?
Centre Daily Times Opinion April 15, 2017
The American Association of University Women State College Branch is part of a nationwide network of about 1,000 branches that are dedicated to advancing equity for women and girls.
A bill centered on eliminating property tax and shifting control of school funding to the state is set to come up during this year’s legislative session.  Senate Bill 76 (SB 76), named the Property Tax Independence Act by its proponents, promises to eliminate school property taxes. On the surface, it’s an appealing bill, if it weren’t for the tradeoff of increases in both sales tax and personal income tax. Not only would those taxes go up, they would rise and fall with the economy, unlike property taxes, which are more stable.  The bill aims at taking the burden of funding local schools off property owners. Homeowners in danger of losing their homes due to their inability to pay their property taxes could expect to see relief as a result of the shift, although currently, nothing prevents school districts from mitigating the effects of rising property taxes on elderly residents who are on fixed incomes and must pay other taxes.

PA: Are We Future Ready?
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Saturday, April 15, 2017
Pennsylvania is using its newfound ESSA-empowered freedom to create a new dashboard for measuring school awesomeness-- Future Ready PA. Many folks in Harrisburg are very excited about it and are touting it as a relief from the standardized tests that are "failing" PA students. Let's grab our flux capacitor and our supply of illegal plutonium!  Is Future Ready PA all that and a bag of Snyder's chips? Well, I've looked at it before and, spoiler alert-- no. But it's time revisit this mess in more detail. Let's look at a breakdown of the pieces parts courtesy of the state's own power point slides from its webinar presentation about FRPA. I'm going to skip some of the boring history stuff and cut straight to what's there on the dashboard.  FRPA has three main components. Let's take each one at a time, and see how the state will free us form the shackles of standardized testing.

An unconventional teacher-prep program on the rise in Philly
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: APRIL 16, 2017 — 9:00 AM EDT
On a recent Wednesday evening, Leandra Handfield spent her graduate-school class practicing delivering an English lesson, fine-tuning it and getting feedback from professors and peers. The next morning, she taught it to her class of seventh graders at Mastery Charter Prep Middle School in North Philadelphia.  Welcome to Relay Graduate School of Education, a new and controversial kind of teacher-preparation program whose prominence is rising in the city. The School Reform Commission recently approved a $150,000 contract with Relay to train 20 teachers to work in the Philadelphia School District, and signaled that it wants to expand the partnership.  Relay has positioned itself as a disrupter. It has no buildings and few Ph.D.-level faculty. It de-emphasizes theory and academic research. It was founded by three charter-school networks in 2011 and is unaffiliated with any college or university. 

Music, arts, sports on chopping block in Quakertown Community School District
Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer April 14, 2017
The Quakertown Community School District is considering cuts to its music, arts and sports programs after board members rejected other cost-saving options recommended by the administration.  The news broke Friday afternoon following a 3½-hour school board meeting in which directors were unable to reach a consensus on ways to slice into a $4.7 million structural deficit.  "If we don't close the structural deficit this year, next year's problem becomes even worse because we used one-time money," Superintendent William Harner said Friday. "Not closing it is not an option. It would be fiscally irresponsible."  The school board, which previously directed Harner to develop a plan to save money, picked apart his options at Thursday night's board meeting but failed to agree on anything other than to not fill administrative openings.  "Our challenge remains the same — to operate the district within our available revenues," Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards said. "If the options we have identified, which have minimal impact on programs, are not acceptable to the board or community, then we don't have anywhere else to look except to consider program cuts."  That's what Harner heard Friday in a conference call with school board President Paul Stepanoff and Vice President Charles Shermer.

Cost reductions identified to help close Quakertown Community School District deficit
WFMZ By: Bryan Hay Posted: Apr 14, 2017 12:56 AM EDT Updated: Apr 14, 2017 05:13 AM EDT
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - After agreeing to a series of cost reductions recommended by the administration Thursday night, the Quakertown School Board will receive a proposed budget that helps close a $4.7 budget shortfall for the 2017-18 school year.  Nancianne Edwards, assistant superintendent, presented a series of recommended cuts that totaled $1.2 million by eliminating the cyber program, an academic support program and a district level administrative position and moving forward with middle and elementary school consolidations. Superintendent William Harner and school board President Paul Stepanoff were absent.  Since the board must act on the proposed preliminary budget at its April 27 meeting, 30 days before the budget comes up for a final vote, the administration’s cuts for the 2017-18 budget did not include the $1 million in savings that would be realized by the closing of Milford Middle School.  A decision on Milford Middle School will not be made until July at the earliest. The school’s fate was the central topic at a hearing that drew a packed house Tuesday night.

Pat Howard: A glimmer of optimism about Erie’s schools
Go Erie Opinion by Pat Howard Sunday April 15 Posted at 2:00 AM
As Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams ran through the latest accounting of the Erie School District’s forbidding financial prognosis and evolving options on Wednesday evening, his tone was striking.  It seemed that an earlier, more hopeful incarnation of Badams had reported to the Erie School Board meeting. Dude’s got his mojo back, I thought to myself.  An interview in his office on Thursday afternoon confirmed it. He didn’t seem like the same guy who had reached a point where, if not burned out, he had at least been enduringly singed by the relentless heat of events.  “I feel like I have my optimism back,” Badams said. “I’ve had my optimism beaten out of me for the last seven years.”  He said the uptick in outlook is recent.  “This would have been a very different conversation the week after we got our rejection letter,” he said of state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera rebuffing the district’s financial recovery plan in late February. “And you would have had to bleep out a lot of things.”  That rejection didn’t change the reality that saving Erie’s school system from insolvency still rests heavily on sizable assistance from Harrisburg. The situation will likely remain fluid as the state budget process plays out.  But Rivera’s stiff-arm also sent Badams and company back to the drawing board. What’s taken shape is increasingly intriguing and tantalizingly plausible.

Our view: Full speed ahead on Erie school changes
Go Erie By the Editorial Board Sunday April 15  Posted at 2:00 AM
The Erie School Board and Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams are operating on a proverbial high wire — facing a $9.5 million 2017-18 deficit and uncertain state funding prospects, all while planning a sweeping reconfiguration of the city’s schools.  It’s a critical and fluid situation. But it’s clear that however the funding from Harrisburg shakes out, part of the solution has to be cutting down on excess building capacity, especially in the city’s four high schools.  The truth is that further building consolidation should have happened already. But members of the School Board, sensitive to public opinion, weren’t willing to consider closing high schools in past years.  All of the scenarios in play call for converting East and Strong Vincent high schools into middle schools; pooling all of the city’s high school students in the Central Career and Technical School and Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy buildings; standardizing the grade configuration of elementary schools at pre-K to fifth grade; and closing two elementary schools, Emerson-Gridley and Wayne.  The big question before the School Board this week is whether to tackle the changes all at once in 2017-18 for maximum savings and impact, or phase in the moves over as many as four years. The board is scheduled to vote on that Wednesday.

Change coming to Erie community schools
Expected closings of Emerson-Gridley, Wayne would lead to new locations for two of five programs that provide health and dental care and other services to needy students.
Go Erie By Ed Palattella April 125, 2017
The Erie School District still will have five community schools in the fall, though two of them will most likely be in different locations.  The changes will be due to what appears to be the inevitable closings of Emerson-Gridley and Wayne elementary schools as part of the district’s reconfiguration plan.  The community schools programs, launched in 2016, is designed to bring social services like health and dental care and after-school programming into school buildings to make them directly accessible to students from high-poverty households. The five community school directors have been in place since January.  The Erie School District’s three other community schools are Edison, Pfeiffer-Burleigh and McKinley. The community schools will continue there in 2017-18, and the district will move the other two community schools to different locations if Emerson-Gridley and Wayne close, said Daria Devlin, the district’s spokeswoman and coordinator of grants.  “We are still committed to five community schools in the fall,” she said.

Masterman student accepted into eight top U.S. colleges
Philly Trib by Ryanne Persinger Tribune Staff Writer Apr 14, 2017
When Rayshawn Johnson would tour college campuses, he made his mother a promise that he would bring back a pennant from each school. College and university banners adorn the walls of his room, his mom Jessica said.  “When he came back, the pennants had to go on the wall and we made a vision,” Jessica Johnson said. “Everyday (Rayshawn) woke up and had a vision of where he wanted to go. That was part of the process. Making a claim, never saying you can’t.”  Now a graduating senior at Julia R. Masterman Middle and High School at 1699 Spring Garden St., letters of acceptance from all eight of the distinguished colleges he applied to now fill his wall as well.  The 18 year-old been accepted into four liberal arts colleges, three Ivy League schools and one Historically Black College, University. They include: Yale University, Brown University, Morehouse College, University of Pennsylvania, Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Swarthmore College and Orberlin College.  He received a full academic scholarship to attend Morehouse, but his heart has led him to his first choice, an Ivy League school that has an acceptance rate of just six percent.  “There is no question about it, I love the community,” said Johnson of Yale University. “I like the city of New Haven (Conn.) and I like the programs that Yale has to offer.”
Johnson plans to double major in political science and finance. He has a 3.97 grade point average and is the president of his school’s African American Cultural Committee, vice president of the Peer Counseling Group, a member of the Student Government Association, a volunteer mentor and tutor in the city’s library’s and a member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.

DCTS students get hands on experience with police, firefighters and EMTs
Delco Times By Anne Neborak, on Twitter
POSTED: 04/16/17, 10:53 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 SECS AGO
DARBY TOWNSHIP >> For 35 students at Delaware County Technical School it was a day for hands-on experience to learn from police, firefighters and EMTS at the Delaware County Emergency Training Center. It was a day to see if individuals participating had it in them to pursue a career in fields that demand bravery and keeping your wits while under a great deal of pressure.  Delcoville was hopping at, the Delaware County Emergency Training Center. Students under supervision took control of pseudo situations that felt real. How would you handle a hostage situation, go into a burning building or save someone having a heart attack? Many of the students participating are planning to pursue a career in Emergency Protection Services. This was their chance to get out of the classroom, away from the books and the lectures to real live settings.

Philly’s 7th Ward Blog BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI APRIL 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to meet with the new U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and her senior advisers. It was an invitation I wasn’t sure if I would initially accept. However, I am glad I did.  Although, several of Secretary DeVos’s stances and philosophies about public education are very disconcerting to me, I went for several reasons.  I believe in engaging with folks I diametrically am opposed to on issues because it is one of the ways to become more informed about the root causes of their beliefs and actions. It is easy to have circular dialogues that exist in an echo chamber that reinforces our own conversations, but doesn’t move us forward. Even at times of war, sometimes, folks have to pitch tents and make themselves heard.

Bullying bills come back in the state House
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose April 16, 2017
Two state legislators who are sponsoring bills addressing children’s issues also reintroduced three bills on bullying last week.  State Rep. Karen Boback, R-Luzerne County, introduced House Bill 1185, which seeks to raise awareness of bullying through a new special license plate, and House Bill 1183, which requires that teacher training include bullying awareness and prevention.  House Bill 1147, introduced by state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery County, expands the bullying policy for public schools and mandates certain actions that schools must take to ensure their bullying policies are effective.

Tax credits, school choice and ‘neovouchers’: What you need to know
Should taxpayer dollars fund private education?
Kevin Welner, Professor, Education Policy & Law; Director, National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado April 14, 2017 9.56am EDT\
As Republican lawmakers craft a tax reform bill, there’s speculation on the import taxes, value-added taxes and tax cuts it may usher in. Meanwhile, it’s likely that the bill will also include a major education policy initiative from the Trump administration: a tax credit designed to fund private school vouchers.  A decade ago I started researching this new kind of voucher – funded through a somewhat convoluted tax credit mechanism – that appears to have particular appeal to President Trump and other Republicans.  These new vouchers (or “neovouchers”) are similar to conventional vouchers in many ways, but there are some important differences. It’s those differences that neovoucher advocates most care about and that everyone should understand.

Are charter schools truly public schools?
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expense of it.” – John Adams
Network for Public Education Toolkit April 2017
No. Charter schools are contractors that receive taxpayer money to operate privately controlled schools that do not have the same rules and responsibilities as public schools.

Top Dem. Senators Ask for Federal Study of Tax-Credit School Choice Programs
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on April 14, 2017 12:01 PM
Three Democratic senators have asked the Government Accountability Office for more information about states' tax-credit K-12 choice programs.  In a Thursday letter, Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Ron Wyden of Oregon said they are interested in more information about these programs given "the strong possibility of federal legislative activity on tax-credit vouchers at the federal level in the near future." Murray is the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, while Wyden is the top Democrat on the Senate finance committee, which would be the committee responsible for writing a tax credit for private school scholarships into the federal tax code. Whitehouse is also on the Senate education committee.   The senators asked the GAO to examine these four questions about tax-credit programs:
1.     How have states structured tax credit voucher or incentive programs?
2.     What financial accountability regulations—including any requirements intended to guard against fraud, waste, and abuse—have states established for organizations that administer and manage the programs?
3.     How have selected organizations adminstered tax credit voucher or incentive programs (including any steps taken to ensure transparency, efficiency, and accountability)?
4.     How have selected states monitored these programs? What are the best practices and the challenges the programs have encountered?
Noting how these programs vary across states, the three senators wrote to the GAO that, "These inconsistencies make it challenging for policymakers to assess the consequences of of instituting these types of tax credit schemes on fiscal accountability."

“Tax-credit scholarship programs function much like traditional private-school vouchers, but they were designed to work differently to get around state bans on using public funds to benefit religious institutions. Companies can receive a full or partial state tax credit if they donate funds to help children pay for private school, which means instead of sending tax dollars to the state treasury, they send the money to a scholarship-granting organization. That organization is then responsible for giving out the money to families.”
Democrats ask GAO to examine tax-credit programs as Trump pushes public dollars for private schools
Washington Post By Emma Brown April 14 at 6:00 AM 
Senate Democrats are asking the Government Accountability Office to examine state programs that offer tax credits in exchange for donations for private-school scholarships, arguing that it’s important to identify potential risks of financial misconduct at a time when the Trump administration might push for a new tax credit at the federal level.  “With the strong possibility of federal legislative activity on tax-credit vouchers at the federal level in the near future, we are interested in how states have designed these programs, whether they have strong internal controls, and whether they pose a risk of waste, fraud, abuse, misconduct, or mismanagement,” three senators wrote in a letter to Gene L. Dodaro, head of the GAO.  “A multi-state analysis of this issue by GAO would help inform the advisability of any future federal programs and help ensure proper fiscal accountability and transparency for federal funds,” they wrote. The letter, dated April 13, was signed by the ranking Democrats on the Senate education and finance committees, Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), and by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Minority teachers in U.S. more than doubled over 25 years — but still fewer than 20 percent of educators, study shows
Washington Post By Valerie Strauss April 14 
The number of minority teachers more than doubled in the United States over a 25-year period but still represent less than 20 percent of the country’s elementary and secondary school teaching force, a new statistical analysis of data shows. And black teachers, while seeing an increase in the number of teachers, saw a decline in the percentage they make up of the overall teaching force. (See full report below.)  From 1987 to 1988 and 2011 to 2012, researchers found that the teaching force became much larger, by 46 percent; more diverse, though minority teachers remain underrepresented; and less experienced.  There were, however, large differences among different types of schools and academic subjects.  For example, the number of teachers in English as a second language, English/language arts, math, foreign language, natural science and special education all grew at above-average rates, while the fields of general elementary, vocational-technical education and art/music each had below-average growth.

Education Activists Gear Up To Defeat Trump-DeVos Agenda
Diane Ravitch Audio Runtime:: 17:43  April 14, 2017
FEATURING DIANE RAVITCH – The march toward school privatization is expected to escalate under Donald Trump’s new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. DeVos is a believer in religious education and charter schools, and has promised to “expand school choice,” which is code for privatization. So far however, her biggest action has been to undo the consumer protections that President Obama put in place to for student borrowers.  As members of Congress go into recess to interact with their constituents activists who want to preserve and strengthen public education are taking their fight to town hall meetings.
Find more at and

Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge
Teachers unions and others are attacking charter supporters in California, New York and New Jersey for doing the administration's 'dirty work.'
Politico By DAVID SIDERS 04/16/17 03:16 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES — It’s rare that Democrats are cast as puppets of the Trump administration. But on the issue of education, many Democrats who have long supported school choice are newly on the defensive within their party, forced to distance themselves from President Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos.  The unusual dynamic started soon after Trump’s inauguration, when a teachers union in Los Angeles sent voters mail depicting two charter-school-friendly school board contenders, both Democrats, as “the candidates who will implement the Trump/DeVos education agenda in LA.”  The message was repeated in New York, where the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group partially funded by teachers unions, likened Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education policies to Trump’s. The group urged online audiences to “stop Cuomo from doing Betsy DeVos’s dirty work.” In New Jersey, Sen. Cory Booker opposed DeVos’ appointment but came in for criticism for working with DeVos on school choice initiatives when he was mayor of Newark.

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill APR 24, 2017 • 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the fourth annual Advocacy Forum on April 24, 2017, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Hear from legislators on how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
“Nothing has more impact for legislators than hearing directly from constituents through events like PSBA’s Advocacy Forum.”
— Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Senate Appropriations Committee chair

PSBA Spring Town Hall Meetings coming in May!
Don’t be left in the dark on legislation that affects your district! Learn the latest from your legislators at PSBA Spring Town Hall Meetings. Conveniently offered at 10 locations around the state throughout May, this event will provide you with the opportunity to interact face-to-face with key lawmakers from your area. Enjoy refreshments, connect with colleagues, and learn what issues impact you and how you can make a difference. Log in to the Members Area to register today for this FREE event!
  • Monday, May 1, 6-8 p.m. — Parkway West CTC, 7101 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA 15071
  • Tuesday, May 2, 7:30-9 a.m. — A W Beattie Career Center, 9600 Babcock Blvd, Allison Park, PA 15101
  • Tuesday, May 2, 6-8 p.m. — Crawford County CTC, 860 Thurston Road, Meadville, PA 16335
  • Wednesday, May 3, 6-8 p.m. — St. Marys Area School District, 977 S. St Marys Road, Saint Marys, PA 15857
  • Thursday, May 4, 6-8 p.m. — Central Montco Technical High School, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
  • Friday, May 5, 7:30-9 a.m. — Lehigh Carbon Community College, 4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, PA 18078
  • Monday, May 15, 6-8 p.m. — CTC of Lackawanna Co., 3201 Rockwell Avenue, Scranton, PA 18508
  • Tuesday, May 16, 6-8 p.m. — PSBA, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
  • Wednesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m. — Lycoming CTC, 293 Cemetery Street, Hughesville, PA 17737
  • Thursday, May 18, 6-8 p.m. — Chestnut Ridge SD, 3281 Valley Road, Fishertown, PA 15539
For assistance with registration, please contact Michelle Kunkel at 717-506-2450 ext. 3365.

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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