Thursday, May 4, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 4: Special Education: Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 4, 2017:
Special Education: Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill

Blogger note: please call your member of Congress (again) this morning and urge them to vote NO on ACA repeal.
New York Times By ERICA L. GREEN MAY 3, 2017
WASHINGTON — While House Republicans lined up votes Wednesday for a Thursday showdown over their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Vickie Glenn sat in her Murphysboro, Ill., office and prayed for it to fail.  Ms. Glenn, a Medicaid coordinator for Tri-County Special Education, an Illinois cooperative that helps more than 20 school districts deliver special education services to students, was worried about an issue that few in Congress were discussing: how the new American Health Care Act, with its deep cuts to Medicaid, would affect her 2,500 students.  With all the sweeping changes the Republican bill would impose, little attention has been paid to its potential impact on education. School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.

GOP revives struggling health care bill and plans House vote Thursday
Delco Times By Alan Fram & Erica Werner, Associated Press POSTED: 05/04/17, 5:29 AM EDT
WASHINGTON >> In a startling turnabout, Republicans say they are ready to push their prized health care bill through the House and claim a victory for President Donald Trump, six weeks after nearly leaving it for dead and days after support from GOP moderates seemed to crumble anew.  House leaders planned a vote Thursday on the legislation, revamped since collapsing in March to attract most hard line conservatives and some GOP centrists. In a final tweak, leaders were adding a modest pool of money to help people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage, a concern that caused a near-fatal rebellion among Republicans in recent days.  “We will pass this bill,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., predicted late Wednesday.

Whip Count: Republicans Who Are Against the Revised Health Care Bill
New York Times By ALICIA PARLAPIANOJUGAL K. PATEL and THOMAS KAPLAN UPDATED Wednesday, 10:55 p.m. Eastern
A House vote on a revised bill to replace the Affordable Care Act is planned for Thursday, with Republican leaders saying they have the votes to pass it. In March, lawmakers pulled a similar bill.  If 23 or more Republicans vote against the bill, it will not pass, assuming every lawmaker votes and every Democrat votes no. Here is where key House Republicans stand, though positions may change:

'Too many people will be bare-naked without coverage,' Rep. Charlie Dent says of healthcare bill: Tuesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on May 02, 2017 at 7:51 AM, updated May 02, 2017 at 8:15 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There's a great truism in politics: Until you have the votes - you don't have the votes.
So when you hear House Republican leaders and the Trump administration crowing that they're getting close to having the 216 votes it'll take to send a second attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare to the Senate, that truism is worth remembering.  That's particularly applicable when you have U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., a ringleader of the moderate Tuesday Group going on MSNBC's "Hardball" program on Monday to not  only enumerate his complaints about the bill --  but also to explain that somewhere between 25 and 30 of his GOP colleagues harbor their own concerns about the so-called "Meadows Amendment" to the RyanCare bill.

Here we go again: PA’s School-Based ACCESS Program is jeopardized under proposed federal cuts to Medicaid under Affordable Care Act Repeal
A vote to repeal the ACA could happen TODAY, jeopardizing Medicaid coverage for Pennsylvania schoolchildren.  Pennsylvania public schools are currently at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding to help pay for mandated services for students with special needs.
A PSBA Closer Look March 2017

Call your Congressman’s office today to let them know that with the repeal of ACA Pennsylvania could lose over $140 million in reimbursement for services that school districts provide to special education students
Find their phone number here:

“The special ed funding formula’s intricacies are infamous. But the problem in a nutshell is this: when the neediest students concentrate in district schools, that drives up the per-pupil payments that districts must pay charters.  It’s a paradox that can drain the budgets of traditional school districts while infusing charters with cash. And it creates incentives for districts like Chester Upland to do what they can to keep special ed students from migrating to charters and cyber-charters.”
Pennsylvania: How the State’s Charter Law Cripples Public Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch May 3, 2017 //
I don’t begin to understand the complexities of Pennsylvania’s formula for allocating dollars to public schools and charter schools, but this article explains how the formula cripples public schools.  Chester Upland School District keeps raising taxes to overcome its deficit but it can’t keep up.
Chester Upland spends about $16,000 a year on average for each special ed student in its traditional district schools. But the state’s formula has forced it to pay more than $40,000 per student to charters, regardless of the child’s level of disability.  Those payments crippled Chester Upland so badly that Gov. Tom Wolf and the courts stepped in.  But this is far from just an issue in Chester Upland. Newly analyzed state data show that a combination of quirks in the charter law have caused a statewide problem, because charters across Pennsylvania are enrolling a greater share of the least needy, least costly special ed students.

Charter Reform: Public money, public interest
Standard Speaker OPINION / PUBLISHED: MAY 4, 2017
Pennsylvania’s embrace of publicly funded charter schools is so great that, two decades along, state lawmakers refuse to enact reforms to correct problems that adversely affect conventional public schools.  Republican legislative leaders recently approved some modest reforms while establishing a study commission, which apparently will discover what 20 years of experience have failed to reveal.  The goal should be simple — to ensure that conventional and charter publicly funded schools are on equal footing regarding funding, operations, performance and evaluation. Despite the recent modest reform package, that continues not to be the case.  The first and most obvious reform should be to ensure that charter schools are funded based on their actual costs-per-student. Instead, local conventional districts pay charters based on the home districts’ cost-per-student, which most often is higher than charters’ costs.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the tuition paid by conventional districts to charters ranged from $6,865 to $18,750. That particularly makes no sense for cyber charter schools, which do not have the same physical plant costs as conventional schools that pay the cyber tuition.
Lawmakers also should eliminate disparities in special education funding for conventional and charter schools. Those payments are based on average rather than actual costs. In 2015-2016, charters were paid $294.8 million for special education, whereas they reported special education costs of $193.1 million.

East Marlborough officials urged to stand against gerrymandering
Daily Local By Matt Freeman, For Digital First Media POSTED: 05/03/17, 4:46 PM EDT 
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Proponents of a push to curb gerrymandering came to East Marlborough Township’s monthly supervisors’ meeting Monday looking for support.
Supporters of Fair Districts PA urged the supervisors to say they supported legislation currently being considered in the Pennsylvania Legislature that would take redistricting out of the hands of the dominant political party and give it to an independent citizens’ commission.  Supporters of the idea say the centuries-old practice of “gerrymandering” — drawing electoral districts to favor one political party over another — has only gotten more sophisticated in the information age, with detailed information about voters and where they live available to the parties.  The new law aims to have future redistrictings done in a more even-handed way that would help elections better reflect changing views among the electorate, rather than continuing one party’s lock on power.
Kennett Square’s borough council and the Kennett Township supervisors have both already voted unanimously to support the independent commission, the Fair Districts PA supporters said, and asked the East Marlborough supervisors to support it as well.

Race is key issue in underfunding of Pottstown and Reading school districts, study says
Reading Eagle By David Mekeel Thursday May 4, 2017 12:01 AM
POTTSTOWN, PA - The fact that Pennsylvania has a school-funding problem is no secret.
Over the last few years, the state has been featured in reports highlighting the significant gap in per-student spending between the state's richest and poorest districts. State dollars, the reports show, are not leveling the playing field.  A new funding formula, one that takes into account poverty levels, has been put in place. But because it applies only to new funding, its impact will be slow.  A report released last month highlighted another wrinkle in the issue. A study by the Education Law Center - echoing a report done by the group POWER last summer - says Pennsylvania's inequitable school funding isn't just a matter of low-income versus high-income, but of race.  The reason for that, the report states, is that Pennsylvania schools are some of the most segregated in the nation, with high concentrations of black and Latino students attending urban districts and the state's suburban and rural districts predominantly white.

'Stay the Hell out of Philadelphia,' Philly Dem tells House Speaker Turzai: Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on May 04, 2017 at 7:47 AM, updated May 04, 2017 at 8:09 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There are few things more hard-fought (or more entertaining, for that matter) than a good, old-fashioned political turf war.  Thus do we turn our attentions to Philadelphia this Thursday morning, where state Sen. Vincent Hughes, a city Democrat, has a pretty clear message for state House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, after the latter inserted himself into a beef between the city's charter schools and the School Reform Commission.  According to our friends at The InquirerTurzai mused that the reform commission was skirting state law through "overreach."

That prompted Hughes, who generally has two volume levels, loud and ear-splittingly loud (when provoked) to shoot back: "Fix the school-funding issue, or stay the hell out of Philadelphia."

Even with progressive education funding, 'fairness' eludes Berlin schools
Part one by Kevin McCorry Published in Keystone Crossroads May 2017
When it comes to fairness in public education, advocates put much of the emphasis on the resource disparities between school districts.  And this is a hallmark of Pennsylvania’s school system, where leaders allow school funding to be based largely on zip code. In Pa., the state’s wealthiest districts spend an average of $3,000 more per student compared to the poorest districts.  But imagine a system where school funding is not only equalized, but progressive — where the greatest resources are spent in the schools facing the toughest challenges.  Would issues of fairness be solved?  In this three-part special series, Keystone Crossroads travels to Berlin, Germany to explore such a system, where, in short, the answer is ‘no.’

Mayor Kenney joins mayors from five cities to discuss community schools
The notebook by Darryl Murphy May 2, 2017 — 4:28pm
The city of Philadelphia hosted the National League of Cities’ Mayors’ Institute on Community Schools Tuesday, an event in which mayors from six cities met for an intense private problem-solving session about how community schools can improve health and educational outcomes for children.  Before the discussion, visiting mayors listened to opening remarks from Mayor Kenney and local education administrators.  The mayors met at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Center City. Among them were Sylvester Turner from Houston, Texas; Paula Hicks-Hudson from Toledo, Ohio; Garret Nancolas from Caldwell, Idaho; Dennis Michael from Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Tim Willson from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.  Philadelphia’s chief education officer Otis Hackney also attended.  “We’re looking to thought leaders like all of you here today to help us learn the best practices so that we can be as successful as we possibly can be,” said Kenney during his opening remarks.  Through Philadelphia’s community schools initiative the mayor plans to transform 25 schools into neighborhood centers that will not only educate children, but also  act as community hubs for a variety of medical and social services. The purpose is to help low-income children whose academic achievement is hindered by outside factors in their community.

“After his decades of service, Mellow was entitled to $246,000 a year. “
Pa. weighs restoring $20,000 monthly pension for convicted Senate leader
Inquirer by Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU  @karen_langley | Updated: MAY 4, 2017 — 5:00 AM EDT
HARRISBURG — Nearly five years after a longtime leader of Pennsylvania's Senate went to prison on a federal corruption charge, state officials are weighing the unusual step of restoring his $20,000-a-month pension.  The 11 board members who oversee the State Employees’ Retirement System are in the process of voting on the long-fought appeal by Robert Mellow, the Scranton-area legislator who lost the retirement benefit when he pleaded guilty in May 2012.  It’s unclear how long their decision will take or if it will be made public; the SERS board's next public meeting is June 14. “The board will deliberate for as long as it needs to,” said its spokesman, Jay Pagni.

Editorial: Governing in private
The Scranton School Board has built the district’s $34 million (and climbing) deficit largely on a foundation of secrecy. It conducts few public debates and convenes behind closed doors before meetings to privately discuss public business.  Fortunately, Superintendent Alexis Kirijan, Ed.D., has discovered the key component for the board to dig out of the hole: even more secrecy.  “People need privacy to be able to talk about the things they feel could be contributing factors” to the district’s woeful economic condition, she said, a week after she and three directors met in an unadvertised meeting with a district financial consultant. Contributing factors like, you know ... secrecy.  “The public has nothing to do with this,” she added. “Having a public meeting has nothing to do with information-gathering.”  No, the public just pays based on whatever the board does with that information.

Fritz Elementary students gear up for this month's Odyssey of the Mind world finals
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer May 4, 2017
Trying to stop a sinister Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompas from transforming the world into candy happens to be an arduous task.  Ask seven Fritz Elementary School students, whose spin on the story “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has earned them a spot in the Odyssey of the Mind world finals this month.  They have spent hundreds of hours over the past several months attempting to perfect their presentation, which earned them first place in their division at the regional level, then again at the state level.  Now, they’re putting the final touches on their project for the world finals, scheduled for May 24 to 27 at Michigan State University.  “I’m really happy and also excited that we’ve been able to make this,” Fritz Elementary student Garrett Daniels said. “It makes me feel really good.”

Students need stability and our teachers deserve contract
Inquirer Letter by by Nicole LePore Jackson Updated: MAY 3, 2017 — 4:25 PM EDT
Nicole LePore Jackson is a kindergarten teacher at Bayard Taylor Elementary. She has been a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia for eight years.
THE SYSTEMATIC dismantling of public education in the city of Philadelphia is happening right in front of our eyes, and no one is choosing to stand up and fight for what is right. Our elected officials are allowing both the city and state to starve the school system of necessary resources.  On April 20, the School Reform Commission met to present the newest version of the budget, after an additional $65 million dollars was allocated for the School District. Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, labor leaders and elected representatives expected that a substantial portion of these funds would be used to finalize a contract with the teachers union. This was not the case.  Not a single penny was set aside to resolve the five-year stalemate between the School District of Philadelphia and the teachers union.

Pre-K: Decades Worth Of Studies, One Strong Message
NPR by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ May 3, 20176:00 AM ET
Some of the nation's top researchers who've spent their careers studying early childhood education recently got together in Washington with one goal in mind: to cut through the fog of studies and the endless debates over the benefits of preschool.  They came away with one clear, strong message: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don't.  The findings come in a report "The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects," and the authors include big names from the early childhood world: Deborah Phillips of Georgetown University, Mark W. Lipsey of Vanderbilt, Kenneth Dodge of Duke, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution and others.

“Amendments in the state budget bill would prevent the Ohio Department of Education from forcing academically failing charter schools to close — particularly online schools that have some of worst test scores in the nation and the most influential donors and lobbyists in Ohio.”
Ohio House plan gives charter school sponsors rated ‘effective’ today a perpetual pass on new and failing e-schools
By Doug Livingston  Beacon Journal staff writer Published: May 3, 2017 - 10:24 PM | Updated: May 4, 2017 - 07:40 AM
Amendments in the state budget bill would prevent the Ohio Department of Education from forcing academically failing charter schools to close — particularly online schools that have some of worst test scores in the nation and the most influential donors and lobbyists in Ohio.
The House passed the $63.7 billion budget bill on Tuesday. It is now being considered by the Senate.  The package of charter-school-friendly changes specifically benefit online or e-schools and the handful of educational service centers that sponsor them now or in future. Under the proposals, educational service centers rated “effective” in the state’s new evaluation system could sponsor any charter school anywhere in the state. And no prior experience with e-schools would be necessary to take on a statewide online charter school.  Plus, getting an effective score would be easier than before partially because flunking part of the evaluations will no longer result in an overall failing grade. And, ultimately, the evaluations could be meaningless as an educational service center rated “effective” would be allowed to keep sponsoring academically failing charter schools “regardless of whether [the sponsor] later receives an overall rating lower than ‘effective’.”

Three big problems with school ‘choice’ that supporters don’t like to talk about
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss May 3 at 12:21 PM 
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been quite clear that expanding school choice is their top education priority. On Wednesday at a White House event, Trump said, according to a White House transcript:
During my campaign for president, I promised to fight for school choice — very important. It was featured in my joint address to Congress. And today, I’m calling on all lawmakers to work with us to help extend school choice to millions more children all across the United States of America, including millions of low-income Hispanic and African American children who deserve the same chance as every other child in America to live out their dreams and fill up their hearts and be educated at the top, top level.  But one thing Trump, DeVos and many other choice advocates don’t talk publicly about are the negative consequences that have come with the implementation of school choice in states throughout the country. …. Here is a piece on some of the negative consequences of school choice that supporters don’t like to talk about. It was written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy group. She has been chronicling problems with corporate school reform efforts for years on this blog. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013 the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year.

Trump pushes school choice, making good on campaign promise
Inquirer by MARIA DANILOVA, The Associated Press Updated: MAY 3, 2017 — 4:11 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked Congress to work with him on extending school choice programs nationwide to benefit millions of students, including low-income African-American and Hispanic children.  While Trump gave no specifics on what legislation he is proposing, the statement was the clearest indication yet that he intends to follow through on his campaign promise to fund a $20 billion school choice program.  "During my campaign for president, I promised to fight for school choice," Trump said. "Very important."
Speaking at a White House event attended by about two dozen children, including some participating in a federally funded voucher program in the nation's capital, Trump said, "Every child has the right to fulfill their potential, and, if we do our jobs, then we will never have to tell young, striving Americans to defer their dreams for another day or for another decade."

Trump touts ‘winning’ D.C. school voucher program but ignores new study slamming it
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss May 3 at 3:39 PM 
President Trump appears at an education event with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the White House on May 3. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Trump on Wednesday surprised a group of young D.C. students who were at the White House to meet the vice president and education secretary, and he touted the “winning” federally funded school voucher program in Washington. He failed to mention a new Education Department study that found that students in the program get lower standardized test scores than those in what he called “failing” public schools.  Trump called the event, scheduled during National Charter Schools Week, “beautiful” and “very exciting.” Students from public and private schools and family members were there to meet Vice President Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  Both DeVos and Trump have criticized traditional public schools while praising alternatives, including charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, and voucher/voucher-like programs that allow public money to be used for private and religious school. Their support for the latter is in contrast with the Obama administration, which backed charters but not vouchers.

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 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!

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

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