Fair Districts PA Website May 1, 2017
On April 18, Representatives Steve Samuelson (Democrat from Northampton County) and Eric Roe (Republican from Chester County) shared the co-sponsor memo for House Bill 722. This bill, almost identical to SB 22, would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish an independent citizens commission to redistrict Congressional as well as State House and Senate districts. By April 28, 64 representatives had signed on to co-sponsor the bill. Four more signed on today, bringing co-sponsors to 68, over one third of our PA representatives, in just under two weeks. Many of the co-sponsors know first hand the disruption to communities when district lines divide municipalities and counties unnecessarily. Many believe an independent commission would open the door to more accountable government, more effective representation and greater trust in the electoral process. Many of them have heard from you, their constituents, about the need for change. Some representatives have asked to see the bill itself before signing on. The blueback (draft copy before introduction) is available online here.
UNIVERSITY PARK - Senate Bill 76 calls for the elimination of school property taxes in the commonwealth. While it vows to match dollar-for-dollar funding through an imposed increase in personal income and sales taxes and shift responsibility of school funding from local districts to the state, many local leaders said this kind of tax reform could come at a price for some. “It has been my experience that trying to find $14 billion, which is what you would need, approximately, to replace the local property taxes, is no simple lift,” Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, said. “The last couple years we have struggled to come up with a billion (dollars) just to balance the budget.” Benninghoff was among a panel of local leaders and education advocates Saturday morning participating in a public discussion on the bill at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau. The event was sponsored by the State College Branch of American Association of University Women, and moderated by State College Area school board member Dave Hutchinson. Panelists also included state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township; Pennsylvania School Boards Association member Sean Crampsie; and Executive Director for Education Voters of Pennsylvania Susan Spicka.
Ambler Gazette Opinion by Sara Johnson Rothman, Upper Dublin School Board Apr 28, 2017
The Sentinel by Preston Green III University of Connecticut Apr 27, 2017
(THE CONVERSATION) In 2001, Texas-based energy giant Enron shocked the world by declaring bankruptcy. Thousands of employees lost their jobs, and investors lost billions.
As a scholar who studies the legal and policy issues pertaining to school choice, I’ve observed that the same type of fraud that occurred at Enron has been cropping up in the charter school sector. A handful of school officials have been caught using the Enron playbook to divert funding slated for these schools into their own pockets. As school choice champions like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos push to make charter schools a larger part of the educational landscape, it’s important to understand the Enron scandal and how charter schools are vulnerable to similar schemes. What is a related-party transaction? Enron’s downfall was caused largely by something called “related-party transactions.” Understanding this concept is crucial for grasping how charter schools may also be in danger. Related-party transactions are business arrangements between companies with close associations: It could be between two companies owned or managed by the same group or it could be between one large company and a smaller company that it owns. Although related-party transactions are legal, they can create severe conflicts of interest, allowing those in power to profit from employees, investors and even taxpayers.
School Vouchers Aren’t Working, but Choice Is
New York Times Opinion by David Leonhardt MAY 2, 2017
Betsy DeVos’s favorite education policy keeps looking worse. Last week, the Education Department, which she runs, released a careful study of the District of Columbia’s use of school vouchers, which she supports. The results were not good. Students using vouchers to attend a private school did worse on math and reading than similar students in public school, the study found. It comes after other studies, in Ohio and elsewhere, have also shown weak results for vouchers. To channel President Trump: Who knew that education could be so complicated? The question for DeVos is whether she’s an ideologue committed to prior beliefs regardless of facts or someone who has an open mind. But that question doesn’t apply only to DeVos. It also applies to all of us trying to think about education, including her critics. And the results from Washington are important partly because they defy easy ideological conclusions.
Congress expected to reauthorize D.C. school vouchers in sweeping budget deal
Washington Post By Emma Brown and Peter Jamison May 1 at 6:47 PM
Congress is expected to extend the D.C. school voucher program as part of a bipartisan budget deal this week, a move that follows the release of a new federal analysis showing that some voucher recipients in private schools trailed their public-school counterparts on standardized tests. The legislation would reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps 1,100 low-income students attend private schools, through fiscal year 2019. The program is the only federally funded effort of its kind. The congressional deal would also continue funding at current levels through September, sending a total of $45 million to the District for education, split among D.C. Public Schools, D.C. public charter schools and the voucher program. The program gives poor children up to $8,452 to attend a private elementary or middle school and up to $12,679 for high school. Advocates for the voucher program said they were relieved after spending years fighting for its survival under President Barack Obama, who opposed vouchers. President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in contrast, have pledged to spend billions of dollars expanding vouchers throughout the country.
“The budget deal doesn't appear to include a new federal school choice program, a top K-12 priority for the Trump administration, although Trump's request for such a program appears in his fiscal 2018 proposal and not his fiscal 2017 blueprint.”
Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa May 1, 2017
Federal lawmakers have agreed to relatively small spending increases for Title I programs to districts and for special education, as part of a budget deal covering the rest of fiscal 2017 through the end of September. Title I spending on disadvantaged students would rise by $100 million up to $15.5 billion from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017, along with $450 million in new money that was already slated to be shifted over from the now-defunct School Improvement Grants program. And state grants for special education would increase by $90 million up to $12 billion. However, Title II grants for teacher development would be cut by $294 million, down to about $2.1 billion for the rest of fiscal 2017. The bill would also provide $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, also known as Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Title IV is a block grant that districts can use for a wide range of programs, including health, safety, arts education, college readiness, and more. Total U.S. Department of Education spending, including both discretionary and mandatory spending covering K-12 and other issues, would fall by $60 million from fiscal 2016, down to $71.6 billion. Congress is expected to vote on this budget deal early this week, the Washington Post reported.
Can Data Improve Student Achievement for English-Language Learners?
Education Week By Urban Education Contributor on April 27, 2017 6:00 AM | No comments
This week we are hearing from the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC). Today's post is the practitioner perspective on the research introduced in Monday's post: Partnership With Practitioners Brings English-Learner Research to Life.
PERC (@PHLedResearch) sat down with Allison Still, Deputy Chief of the Office of Multicultural Curriculum and Programs (OMCP) (@sdp_multingua) in the School District of Philadelphia (@PHLschools), and Maria Giraldo Gallo, Special Projects Assistant in the same office. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and length.
Federal government relaxes nutrition standards for school lunches
Agriculture secretary says the program has been undermined by food that “kids aren’t eating.”
Post Gazette by MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press 3:04 PM MAY 1, 2017
LEESBURG, Va. — Schools won’t have to cut more salt from meals just yet and some will be able to serve kids fewer whole grains, under changes to federal nutrition standards announced Monday. The move by the Trump administration partially rolls back rules championed by former first lady Michelle Obama as part of her healthy eating initiative. As his first major action in office, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the department will delay an upcoming requirement to lower the amount of sodium in meals while continuing to allow waivers for regulations that all grains on the lunch line must be 50 percent whole grain. Schools could also serve 1 percent flavored milk instead of the nonfat now required. “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition — thus undermining the intent of the program,” said Mr. Perdue, who traveled to a school in Leesburg to make the announcement.
- 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
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
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership