Thursday, May 18, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 18: Trump ed budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 18, 2017:
Trump ed budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice

“District officials and public school advocates, however, say talks stalled because of timing, not substance.  In early April, the state house's education committee introduced a new charter reform bill, House Bill 97.  "That pulled the rug out from under us," said Cooper.  She believes charter advocates saw in HB 97 a more favorable bill and decided to rally behind it instead of continuing work on compromise legislation. House Bill 97 has already passed the state house and now awaits action in the state senate.  Both sides insist, however, that just because talks have stalled doesn't mean the conversation is over.
The district has been using language developed through negotiations to lobby for changes to HB 97.  "I think it's likely having this alternative approach will either cause [HB] 97 to stall in the senate or make [HB] 97 more thoughtful," Cooper said.  Gleason says that although PSP is supporting HB 97, he still wants to work toward a solution that people on all sides of the Philadelphia charter debate can endorse.”
Charter, Philly district officials make progress on major reforms, but can't reach deal
Though the School District of Philadelphia and its charter community often bicker publicly, behind closed doors there have been substantial attempts by the two sides to reach consensus on how to rewrite Pennsylvania's 20-year-old charter law, NewsWorks/WHYY has learned.  And those attempts offer a fascinating glimpse into what charter authorization and renewal may look like some day in a school district that has roughly half of Pennsylvania's charter school students.
From around October to March, district and charter officials held a series of meetings designed to find common ground on charter reform and then produce either a new charter law proposal or a series of recommendations both sides could rally behind. The parties hoped they could present a proposal to Harrisburg that had the full support of public school advocates, charter advocates, and the district.  Negotiations felt short of that goal, instead stalling under contested circumstances.  The talks did, however, reveal some notable commonalities that could forecast the future of Philadelphia's charter sector.

Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice
Washington Post By Emma BrownValerie Strauss and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel May 17 
Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.  The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies.  President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have repeatedly said they want to shrink the federal role in education and give parents more opportunity to choose their children’s schools.  The documents — described by an Education Department employee as a near-final version of the budget expected to be released next week — offer the clearest picture yet of how the administration intends to accomplish that goal.

“The superintendents warned that the tax credits could go national as the Trump administration pushes a federal voucher program for private schools.  The report is a shot across the bow from public educators to the White House as the president and Congress tackle twin legislative efforts with broad ramifications for education: a federally financed school choice program aimed at promoting private and parochial options for public school students, and a rewrite of the tax code ostensibly to lower tax rates and close loopholes.”
In Some States, Donating to Private Schools Can Earn You a Profit
New York Times By ERICA L. GREENMAY 17, 2017
In Georgia, taxpayers who want to help low-income students afford private school tuition are enticed by more than just an appeal to their good will. On its website, Whitefield Academy, a “Christ-centered” preparatory school in the suburbs west of Atlanta, tells donors, “You actually stand to make money on this program.”  The Wood Acres School, 25 minutes north of Whitefield, advertises that donors can “profit up to 29 percent” on their donation.  And Pay It Forward Scholarships, an organization that doles out grants under Georgia’s tax credit program, counsels, “You will end with more money than when you started, and you will be helping students receive a good education.”  AASA, the association of the nation’s public school superintendents, released an exhaustive report Wednesday on tax credit scholarship programs like Georgia’s, which allow donors to piggyback on state and federal tax breaks — often to turn a profit.

AASA Executive Summary of Cutting Medicaid: A Prescription to Hurt the Neediest Children
American Association of School Administrators Policy Brief
Since 1998, Medicaid has permitted payment to schools for certain medically necessary services provided to children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) through an individualized education plan (IEP) or individualized family service plan (IFSP). Schools are thus eligible to be reimbursed for direct medical services to Medicaid eligible students with an IEP or IFSP. In addition, districts can be reimbursed by Medicaid for providing Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment Benefits (EPSDT), which provides Medicaid eligible children under age 21 with a broad array of health care screening, diagnosis and treatment services. These services may include vision, hearing and mental health screenings, and diabetes and asthma diagnosis and management. Republicans have expressed a desire to reduce federal Medicaid spending by 25 percent by distributing Medicaid funding through a block-grant or a per-capita cap, which would shift costs to states. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the block grant like the one proposed in the House 2017 budget would cut Medicaid spending by $1 trillion over a decade, which would be the equivalent in 2026 of cutting away one-third of the program’s budget.

NSBA American Health Care Act Issue Brief
National School Boards Association Issue Brief
Congress is swiftly moving to consider the American Health Care Act, which repeals and replaces portions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The proposed bill also makes major changes to the Medicaid program, including how the Federal government funds their share of Medicaid costs. Most significantly, the legislation would enact a per capita cap on federal Medicaid payments to States. Currently, Medicaid is considered a Federal/State partnership program. States receive a percentage of funding, or Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The Federal government covers between 50-80% of Medicaid costs, depending on a State’s poverty level and several other factors. Additionally, Medicaid covers almost 37 million children, and although children account for almost half of Medicaid beneficiaries, the costs associated with providing healthcare and medical services to children is comparatively low. (Less than one in five dollars is spent by Medicaid on children.) For almost thirty years, public schools have received reimbursements through Medicaid for providing certain medically related services and screening, including services to students with disabilities. In fact, schools receive approximately $4 billion in Medicaid funding each year. Medicaid funds help school districts provide critical health services to ensure that students receive a quality education, such as: speech-language pathology; audiology services; occupational therapy; school psychology services; assistive technology devices; nursing services; orientation, mobility and vision services; personal care services, and psychiatric services.

AHCA Slashes Billions Out of Children’s Health
Voices for Kids by Bruce Lesley May 18
Today, the Children’s Hospital Association released new research by Avalere Health that finds the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would reduce funding for non-disabled children by $43 billion under a per capita cap model and $78 billion under a block grant.
As the report says:
Children in Medicaid could be disproportionately affected by cuts to funding and benefits leading to instability in coverage and access, which can cause higher rates of unmet healthcare needs and worse health outcomes compared to children that have continuous coverage. As policy makers debate Medicaid reform proposals, the potential impacts on children’s health and development will need to be considered.
Avalere’s report points out that, under the per capita cap, the House bill sets the allowable inflation rate for children (3.7 percent) at a level well below the expected rate of growth (4.8 percent). That shortfall accumulates over time. According to Avalere, federal funding would be reduced by 10 percent on average to children by 2026.  Furthermore, Avalere estimates that the Medicaid per capita cap would cut funding to states by a range of $59 million in North Dakota to $5.1 billion in Texas from 2020–2026, and that the health coverage of millions of children could be put at risk under the per capita cap.

West Chester Superintendent rails against mandatory Keystone Exams
Daily Local By Bill Rettew, POSTED: 05/17/17, 7:17 PM EDT
WEST GOSHEN >> West Chester Area School District Superintendent Dr. James Scanlon is fighting back.  Scanlon heads the district’s two-year old Legislative Action Committee. The 90-member group of district residents and parents lobby legislators and the state Department of Education in a bid to help keep local control of education.  “It’s important to engage with our legislators,” Scanlon said. “They have such a huge job. I can’t imagine how much information they have to process on a daily basis.”  Discussions with legislators are fundamental. “Unless we talk to them on impact, they’re voting on what little they may know or not know,” he said. “We let them know there’s going to be an impact.”  Scanlon is battling with the state over mandatory Keystone Exams. Students are required to pass these standardized tests in algebra, biology and English literature before being allowed to graduate.  A push back and delay of the program now requires 2019 seniors to pass the exams.  “I firmly believe that a student’s diploma should not be dependent on his or her success on three exams with no regard for the work they’ve done in school,” Scanlon wrote in a letter to parents.  He said during an interview that there are better alternative ways for students to graduate without passing a Keystone Exam.

Pittsburgh Public names its five 'community schools' to offer social services
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette MOLLY BORN 12:00 AM MAY 18, 2017
City school district leaders have long hoped that the idea of transforming school buildings into social service sites would help some of their most vulnerable students and neighbors.
On Thursday, Pittsburgh Public will at last name its first batch of “community schools,” designating  Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville, Langley K-8 in the West End, Lincoln PreK-5 in Larimer and Faison K-5 and Westinghouse High School, in Homewood.  Twenty-one schools applied for the title earlier this year, and a committee studying the topic selected 10, which members visited and narrowed to five. The board first passed the community schools policy last July.  “I think it’s a good fit for any school district to have the community schools concept embedded in the fabric to help break down those barriers that are hindering our success,” Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said a day before the news conference announcing the plan.

National law firm says Parkland violating law in rejecting pro-life student club
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call May 17, 2017
SOUTH WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP — A national law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is challenging Parkland High School over what it says is an unlawful denial of a request by two students to form a pro-life student club.  The Thomas More Society, a Chicago law firm that takes on religious liberty and anti-abortion causes free of charge, sent a demand letter Wednesday to Parkland Superintendent Richard Sniscak and others, requesting the high school reverse its rejection of the Trojans for Life club.  The letter was sent on behalf of club co-founders — senior Elizabeth Castro and junior Grace Schairer — and Students for Life of America, a national anti-abortion youth group dedicated to training students and raising awareness on school campuses. The denial by the school inspired Castro to turn to the Virginia group.  "It kept me even more interested — the fact that [the school administration] kept trying to deny it," Castro said. "I've put even more time into getting this club started."  The demand letter — a precursor to a lawsuit — said Parkland officials denied the club on the basis that it was too "political" and "controversial."

Scott Wagner gets company: businessman Paul Mango kicks off GOP govenor bid: Wednesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on May 17, 2017 at 8:08 AM, updated May 17, 2017 at 8:33 AM
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
It looks like the ranks of rich guys hoping to become governor in 2018 is about to get bigger.
Paul Mango  Western Pennsylvania businessman Paul Mango kicks off his 2018 bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination with a two-day, statewide tour that will bring him to Mechanicsburg on Thursday night. at 7 p.m.  Mango joins state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, who made his fortune in the trash business, who's also looking to send Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf (Wagner's fellow York County rich guy) packing next year.
There's still plenty of time to go. But let's look at an internal poll anyway. Mango's announcement tour also comes a couple days after state House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, started beating the bushes for support for his own 2018 guv bid.

Early childhood education: An investment worth making (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans Published 11:44 a.m. ET May 17, 2017
Rep. Carol Hill-Evans is a Democrat from York City.
Decades of research have shown the significant ways a child’s brain develops in the early years – long before kindergarten. A child’s brain capacity is said to be 90 percent developed before the child turns 5.  Those years present a valuable opportunity that we can’t afford to waste.  But unfortunately, not every child in Pennsylvania – or York County – is getting to make the most of that critical time.  A 2015 report from the National Institute for Early Education Research showed neighboring states – New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia – are all reaching more 4-year-olds with pre-K than we are here in Pennsylvania. 

“But the state Department of Education last month approved the district's request to increase taxes above the Act 1 index — a formula that limits tax increases — because of increased pension costs.  Business Manager John Zahorchak said the next school year's pension obligation is projected to rise by nearly $1 million, to $9.7 million.”
Plum school taxes to rise 4.4 percent, and district to borrow more
MICHAEL DIVITTORIO | Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 10:42 p.m.
Plum School District property owners should expect to pay 4.4 percent more in real estate taxes next school year, and the school district still needs to borrow more to balance the budget.  Board members voted 6-3 at a special meeting Wednesday evening to approve a preliminary 2017-18 budget.  Board President Kevin Dowdell, Vice President Michelle Stepnick and fellow School Directors Jim Rogers, Reginald Hickman, Michele Gallagher and Rich Zucco voted in favor. Sue Caldwell, Steve Schlauch and Vicky Roessler dissented.  The proposed budget totals around $65 million and includes a 0.866-mill property tax hike.  The state inflation-based index would have allowed Plum school leaders to raise taxes by only 0.659-mill.

Woodland Hills taxes might rise 3.1 percent; board hires PR firm at $350 per hour
Trib Live by  JAMIE MARTINES  | Thursday, May 18, 2017, 12:09 a.m.
Taxpayers in the Woodland Hills School District could be paying 3.1 percent more in real estate taxes next school year. The Woodland Hills School Board on Wednesday night approved a preliminary 2017-18 budget of $92.2 million. The proposal would increase the millage rate by 0.83 mills to 26.186 mills. It would mark the second consecutive year the district would increase property taxes. On a typical residential property, with an assessed value of $50,000, the tax bill would increase by $42, to $1,309.

Greensburg Salem OKs preliminary budget with $670K gap
Trib Live JACOB TIERNEY  | Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Greensburg Salem School Board members have a smaller budget gap to close than they have in recent years, though there is still a significant shortage.  The $44.7 million preliminary 2017-18 budget, passed 5-3 by the board Wednesday, has a deficit of about $670,000. The maximum allowable tax increase, 2.88 mills, would bring the deficit below $12,000. The maximum 2.88-mill increase this year would add $47.26 to the average district property owner's tax bill. The board has raised property taxes in 16 of the last 17 years.

Baldwin-Whitehall board members considering property tax hike
Trib Live by JIM SPEZIALETTI | Friday, May 12, 2017, 11:45 a.m.
Baldwin-Whitehall School Board members approved a $66.4 million proposed final budget that includes a .36-mill property tax increase.  The approval will enable the district to post the budget for public review before board members adopt the final budget at a June 14 meeting. Business manager Mark Cherpak said he will update the board on any changes at a June 7 meeting. Cherpak said additional staffing needs and state funding are two factors that could change the final numbers.

New Philly Healthy Schools Initiative aims to improve environmental conditions in District schools
The notebook by Darryl Murphy May 17, 2017 — 12:55pm
 Philadelphia City Council members gathered today at City Hall to announce a multi-organization, citywide coalition to improve the environmental health of city schools such as impotable water, lead paint, asbestos, and mold.  The Philly Healthy Schools Initiative is a 17-member collective of organizations, including Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, PennEnvironment, Parents United for Public Education, Public Interest Law Center, and Youth United for Change.  Councilmembers Derek Green, Helen Gym, and Blondell Reynolds Brown are also involved in the effort.  “Students, teachers, and other school workers have a right to feel confident in the knowledge that the school spaces that they occupy aren’t threatening their health,” said Green.  The District, however, appeared to take issue with the announcement and issued its own statement on how many of the coalition's concerns are already being addressed.  Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Education named The School  District of Philadelphia among the 2017  Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Awardees. The District is just one of nine school districts nationwide to receive such recognition.  Much of the work related to the award is part of the District’s sustainability plan, GreenFutures, which was established in 2016.

Fix unsafe conditions inside Philly schools, new group says
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: MAY 17, 2017 — 4:08 PM EDT
Banding together to address what they say are “unacceptable” conditions inside many Philadelphia schools, a broad coalition of parents, environmental advocates, City Council members, and labor unions on Wednesday announced it had formed to partner with and pressure the city school system concerning health and safety issues.  Lead paint, asbestos, mold, rodent infestations, and other potential threats to students’ health exist inside many of the Philadelphia School District’s 200-plus buildings.  “Sadly, many toxic materials and deficient conditions are too commonplace in our schools and, in particular, the most extreme risks and worst conditions are present in our poorest and most vulnerable neighborhoods,” a statement announcing the new Philly Healthy Schools Initiative said.  The district has said its facilities need about $5 billion in repairs.  “In the 21st century, this is unacceptable,” said David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment, a statewide advocacy organization and lead partner in the coalition announced Wednesday at City Hall. The group also includes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and City Council members Derek Green, Helen Gym, and Blondell Reynolds Brown.

Trump Budget Reported to Use Title I, Research Aid to Push Choice
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on May 17, 2017 5:25 PM
By Andrew Ujifusa and Alyson Klein
UPDATED President Donald Trump's full education budget proposal for fiscal 2018 would make notable cuts to the U.S. Department of Education, and leverage existing programs for disadvantaged students and K-12 innovation to promote school choice, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.   Trump's full education funding blueprint would cut $9.2 billion, or 13.6 percent, from the Education Department's current $68 billion budget, said the report, based on still-unreleased budget documents. Also, the spending plan calls for the creation of a new, $1 billion federal grant program under Title I to allow students to take federal, state, and local dollars to their public school of choice. That money would be added to the $15.9 billion Title I receives this budget year, fiscal 2017— that current funding is not "portable" to public schools of choice and goes out by formula. Both the cuts and the new grant for Title I, along with other aspects of the full budget proposal expected to be released as early as next week, are consistent with Trump's preliminary budget released in mid-March.

New charter schools debate: Are they widening racial divides in public education?
Washington Post By Mandy McLaren May 16 at 5:50 PM
VACHERIE, La. — At the new public charter school in this Mississippi River town, nearly all students are African American. Parents seem unconcerned about that. They just hope their children will get a better education.  “I wanted my girls to soar higher,” said Alfreda Cooper, who is black and has two daughters at Greater Grace Charter Academy.  Three hours up the road, students at Delta Charter School in Concordia Parish are overwhelmingly white, even though the surrounding community is far more mixed.  As the charter school movement accelerates across the country, a critical question remains unanswered — whether the creation of charters is accelerating school segregation. Federal judges who oversee desegregation plans in Louisiana are wrestling with that issue at a time when President Trump wants to spend billions of dollars on charter schools, vouchers and other “school choice” initiatives.

Blogger note: Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children has contributed over $1 million to support school privatization efforts by Pennsylvania legislative candidates.
Betsy DeVos to Address American Federation for Children
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on May 17, 2017 7:55 PM
Next week will be old home week for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. She'll be addressing the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy organization that she chaired and helped to found before becoming secretary, at its national convention in choice-friendly Indianapolis, a source said.   It's unclear whether DeVos will give the crowd further details on the Trump administration's school choice proposal, which has been sketched out in budget documents and includes a new private school program, more money for charters, and a proposal to allow some federal funding to follow students to the school of their choice. More hereAt last year's gathering near Washington, D.C., DeVos, then the chairwoman of the group, sounded similar themes to the ones she's hit as secretary.   "It's no surprise that we get together, there are rumors of protest and predictable rhetoric from the education establishment," she said in that 2016 speech. "The reason we gather is really quite simple, we want our children to be the best educated in the world. The problem is, and we all know this, the system is broken and too many children are missing out. School choice is the pathway for more children to get the education they deserve. ... We fight for the kids who don't fit in. For the kids who don't conform to the one-size fits all system."

Nominations for PSBA Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16th
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators.  The 2017 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 15, 2017. The application due date is July 16, 2017 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.

Electing PSBA Officers; Applications Due June 1
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
·         2017-19 Central Section at Large Representative – includes Regions 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12  (for the remaining two years of a three-year term)
·         2018-20 Western At Large Representative – includes   Regions 1, 2, 3, 13 and 14 (three-year term)
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:
o    One from superintendent or school director of home entity
o    One from a school director from another school district
o    Other individuals familiar with the candidate's leadership skills
PSBA Governing Board Policy 108 also outlines the campaign procedures of candidates.
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.

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!
  • 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!

Pennsylvania Education Leadership Summit July 23-25, 2017 Blair County Convention Center - Altoona
A three-day event providing an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together
co-sponsored by PASA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, PASCD and the PA Association for Middle Level Education
**REGISTRATION IS OPEN**Early Bird Registration Ends after April 30!
Keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics, and district team planning and job-alike sessions will provide practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit and utilized at the district level.
Keynote Speakers:
Thomas Murray
, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement 
Breakout session strands:
*Strategic/Cultural Leadership
*Systems Leadership
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership 
CLICK HERE to access the Summit website for program, hotel and registration information.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.