Friday, May 5, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 5: Health Care Bill's Changes to Medicaid Alarm School Advocacy Groups

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 5, 2017:
Health Care Bill's Changes to Medicaid Alarm School Advocacy Groups

“The projected loss of $880 billion in federal Medicaid dollars will compel states to ration health care for children. Under the per-capita caps included in the AHCA, health care will be rationed and schools will be forced to compete with other critical health care providers—hospitals, physicians, and clinics—that serve Medicaid-eligible children. School-based health services are mandated on the states and those mandates do not cease simply because Medicaid funds are capped by the AHCA. As with many other unfunded mandates, capping Medicaid merely shifts the financial burden of providing services to the states.”
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on May 4, 2017 2:06 PM
The American Health Care Act, which passed the House Thursday, makes changes to Medicaid spending that has some education organizations up in arms.   As we reported in March on an earlier version of the AHCA, the change to health care law bases state allocations of Medicaid money in part on how many people are in particular populations. Supporters of the change see it as way for states to be more creative with how they use dollars for Medicaid. But groups such as the AASA, the School Superintendents Association, the National School Boards Association, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and the two national teachers' unions are saying the bill would harm children.  Schools get about $4 billion annually in Medicaid money, making it the third-largest federal program of any kind for K-12. Much of that money is used for special education in schools, and covers a wide variety of services.  In a letter sent Tuesday about the legislation, the groups urged lawmakers to reject the latest AHCA bill because of the potential cuts to health services and noncompliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, among other issues.

Healthcare for Millions of Children in Jeopardy After House Vote
First Focus by Ari Goldberg MAY 4, 2017
WASHINGTON – Following the 217-213 vote in the US House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), millions of American kids and families will be negatively impacted if the bill becomes law.  Most important for children, the legislation includes fundamental and catastrophic cuts to Medicaid, which 38 million kids currently rely on for health services.
First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley said:
“It’s no exaggeration to call today one of the saddest days in our nation’s history when it comes to the health and well-being of American children, as the bill would roll back decades of progress. It violates the Hippocratic Oath, which is to ‘first, do no harm.’  At a time when Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have helped reduce the rate of uninsured children to the lowest number in American history — with more than 95 percent of children having some form of health insurance — the House approved a bill that would undermine this success by slashing $839 billion from the Medicaid program.  The House bill ends the popular, successful 50-year-old Medicaid entitlement as we know it through the imposition of arbitrary caps and threatens access for all Americans to affordable and meaningful health benefits like newborn services, pediatric services, maternity care, emergency care, mental health treatment, and medically necessary rehabilitative and rehabilitation services for children with special needs.

SRC defends charter authorizing to Speaker Turzai
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa May 4, 2017 — 5:08pm
School Reform Commission Chair Joyce Wilkerson sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai defending the  District's charter authorizing process and inviting him to come to "meet with us and learn about the excellent work" for himself.  Earlier this week Turzai wrote to the SRC blasting the District's Office of Charter Schools for "overreach" in putting what he said were onerous conditions in charter school renewal agreements and warning that the action could jeopardize some of the District's state funding. He especially objected to enrollment caps and a provision that would limit the charters' ability to put up its state funding as collateral for capital projects.  Twenty-six charters are up for renewal this year. On Monday, the SRC renewed eight charters, began one nonrenewal process and tabled another recommendation for nonrenewal. Thirteen other charters with completed reviews have yet to sign renewal agreements, and three reviews aren't yet complete.   At the meeting,  individual charters had complaints about other items, including what some said were unreasonable and unfair academic standards.   Turzai policy aide Neal Lesher said that the Speaker has met "several times" with SRC members and District officials. If Wilkerson meant to invite him to another meeting, "if they want to call the office to set up a time to come in and meet with him, we would be happy to accommodate the request."

SRC shoots back against Turzai, asks to meet with Pa. speaker
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: MAY 4, 2017 — 12:49 PM EDT
Taken to task by Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai over charter schools, the School Reform Commission has shot back.  Joyce Wilkerson, chair of the SRC, rebutted the notion that the Philadelphia School District was attempting to improperly squeeze more than a dozen charter schools up for renewal by insisting on too-stringent conditions.  “Our Charter Schools Office ran through a review process for each of these schools in order to ensure that these schools are facilitating the academic growth of their students, that they can be accessed fairly by all Philadelphia students, and that they have strong financial practices in place to steward public dollars and provide stability for our students,” Wilkerson wrote in a letter dated Thursday.  The charter office flagged legitimate compliance concerns, Wilkerson said — schools that do not have state-required criminal background checks for teachers and other staff; schools where legally required programming for English language learners is not happening; schools that don’t adhere to the state’s Sunshine Act and fail to carry out “a fair and accessible” admissions lottery. 

Education chief to testify at Erie schools hearing
Go Erie By Ed Palattella May 5, 2017
State Education Secretary Pedro Rivera is returning to Central Career & Technical School.

And, once again, Rivera’s remarks will concern the Erie School District’s financial crisis.
Rivera will testify at the state Senate Education Committee’s hearing at Central at noon on May 12.  The topics will include the Erie School District’s financial plight and request for more state aid.  The state Department of Education, or PDE, on Thursday confirmed Rivera’s attendance.  His testimony will focus on what is known as financial watch status, which the Erie School District entered in the fall after the General Assembly in July allocated it $4 million in one-time emergency aid to help balance its budget. Financial watch is a step above financial recovery, in which a state-appointed official oversees a school district in an operation similar to a receivership.  The Erie School District is set to ask that the General Assembly allocate $10 million to $15 million in additional aid starting with the 2017-18 state budget, due July 1.

Erie schools narrow 2nd request for state aid
District to ask for $10 million to $15 million; no assistance could mean deeper cuts, officials say.
Go Erie By Ed Palattella May 5, 2017
The Erie School District still is working through the numbers, but it appears poised to ask for an additional $10 million to $15 million in state aid in its revised financial recovery plan, due at the end of the month.  The district said it needs the extra money to complete its massive reconfiguration plan without further cutting programs and to carry out one of the plan’s signature elements — the construction of a magnet school wing at Central Career & Technical School.  
“That is the only way any of this is going to work — if we have a permanent adjustment,” said Brian Polito, the Erie School District’s chief financial officer and incoming superintendent.  Polito outlined the need for the “permanent adjustment,” or an indefinite annual boost in state aid, in an interview and at the Erie School Board meeting on Wednesday night.  Polito said he and the district’s state-appointed financial advisers, Public Financial Management, of Philadelphia, are developing the revised financial recovery plan, but that he believes the request will amount to $10 million to $15 million. He said he and PFM are also coming up with proposals to increase revenue and decrease expenses over the next several years, and that the revised financial recovery plan will include those measures.

“Fazil and Sniscak both testified before the Pennsylvania Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee, which held a public hearing in Emmaus.  The 16-member committee, which is co-chaired by Lehigh County state Sen. Pat Browne, R-16th District, York County state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-94th District, and state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, isreviewing and making recommendations to revise the state's school construction reimbursement system, commonly known as PlanCon.”
PLANCON: Reform school construction funding, Lehigh Valley officials urge Harrisburg
Daryl Nerl Special to The Morning CallMay 4, 2017
Opinions vary on the efficiency and effectiveness of Pennsylvania's system of reimbursing school districts for the cost of building.  However, school and construction officials testifying at a state legislative hearing on the subject Thursday agreed that the flow of funds for new projects must resume.  "Support of school construction is critical in improving school facilities statewide," said M. Arif Fazil, president of D'Huy Engineering in Bethlehem, who is chief engineer of the Bethlehem Area School District. "Without reimbursement, facilities will get worse."  Richard T. Sniscak, superintendent of the Parkland School District, agreed.  You wouldn't let a little thing like not having a corkscrew stop you from enjoying that bottle of wine you just bought, right? Watch these videos to see what lengths people will go to to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.  "If the population projections for the Lehigh Valley are accurate, from our region's perspective it is easy to conclude that the Commonwealth must continue to play a role in providing reimbursement to school districts for school construction and ensure payment to school districts through a sustainable program," Sniscak said.

No tax increase expected in Gateway schools
Post Gazette by DEANA CARPENTER 12:00 AM  MAY 5, 2017
The Gateway school board appears to be in agreement on a budget for next school year that would require no tax increase, but board members could not agree on hosting a candidates night at the high school auditorium.  Business manager Paul Schott on Tuesday recommended a proposed general fund budget of $75.9 million that does not include a tax increase for 2017-18.  A budget meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 18 in the high school LGI room, and the board is to vote on the proposed budget May 23. The final public hearing on the budget will be held June 6 in the high school LGI room, with a final budget considered at the board’s June 20 meeting.  The proposed budget would keep the property tax rate at 19.3264 mills, or about $1,932 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Mr. Schott said the numbers will continue to change up until the final budget is approved.

How Every Member Voted on the House Health Care Bill
The House passed a health care bill on Thursday that would repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Why GOP health plan could be especially tough on Pa.
Post Gazette by DON SAPATKIN The Philadelphia Inquirer 6:21 AM MAY 5, 2017
Pennsylvania could be one of the biggest losers in the Affordable Care Act replacement plan that squeaked through the House on Thursday, policy experts said, and for reasons that have gotten little public attention.  One example: Pennsylvania devotes more of its Medicaid spending to seniors and disabled people combined than almost anyplace else in the country. Care for these groups is especially costly, and the GOP plan would not keep pace with their needs. So Pennsylvania could be forced to cut benefits or raise taxes to maintain services that many people do not consider optional.  Health insurance premiums for people with pre-existing conditions also could rise more in Pennsylvania than nationally, said Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. A key compromise that led some of the most conservative Republicans to support the American Health Care Act is an optional waiver that allows states to let insurers charge sick applicants more than healthy ones.  The bill approved Thursday is expected to undergo major revisions in the Senate. Still, health-policy experts and health groups, including the American Medical Association, AARP, and others, expressed alarm.

4 Pennsylvania GOP congressmen vote against House bill to replace Obamacare
Relieved Republicans muscled their health care bill through the House Thursday, taking their biggest step toward dismantling the Obama health care overhaul since Donald Trump took office.
Laura Olson Contact Reporter Morning Call Washington Bureau May 4, 2017
Four of the 20 votes against the resuscitated Obamacare replacement plan came from Pennsylvania Republicans, who in doing so bucked their president and U.S. House leaders because of coverage concerns they've been expressing since March.  Republican U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, Brian Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan and Ryan Costellojoined the state's Democrats in voting "no." That's more GOP noes than any other state; three Republicans in New Jersey opposed the bill.  Meanwhile, bill supporter U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican whose district includes part of Carbon County, rejoiced at its passage after fits, starts and fixes. He's been supportive of the health care bill since resolving a concern about whether undocumented immigrants would be able to access tax credits.  Barletta called the bill "a starting point for a better health care plan that will drive down costs, restore choice, continue protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions so that they cannot be denied coverage, and ensure that Americans' hard-earned tax dollars go only to American citizens."  You wouldn't let a little thing like not having a corkscrew stop you from enjoying that bottle of wine you just bought, right? Watch these videos to see what lengths people will go to to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.
Still, many centrists like Dent, who co-chairs the Tuesday Group caucus of moderate Republicans, were unswayed by changes in search of votes for passage. After the vote, he described the bill headed to the Senate as "haphazardly constructed and hastily considered."

"The first step:" Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers react to Thursday's House vote on the Affordable Care Act
Beaver County Times by Kevin Lorenzi/The Times file May 4, 2017 Updated 12 hrs ago
U.S. House Republicans from southwest Pennsylvania were on board the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as it narrowly passed on Thursday with no Democratic votes.  These comments were given following the vote. Also included are select tweets from the legislators' Twitter accounts.

GOP senators: We're doing our own healthcare bill
The Hill BY RACHEL ROUBEIN - 05/04/17 04:09 PM EDT 576
Several Republican senators sent a warning shot to the House after its passage of an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill Thursday, indicating it won’t be easy to get the measure through the upper chamber.   Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2018, said he wouldn’t support the House’s bill in its current form.   “We cannot pull the rug out from under states like Nevada that expanded Medicaid and we need assurances that people with pre-existing conditions will be protected,” he said in a statement.  Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) made clear his concerns over how the House bill treats Medicaid. While ObamaCare expanded the healthcare program to more low-income Americans, the House bill would eliminate that expansion in 2020.  “I’ve already made clear that I don’t support the House bill as currently constructed,” Portman said in a statement, “because I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio's Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse.”   Republicans have little margin for error in the Senate. With a 52-48 majority, they can only afford to lose two votes — assuming Vice President Pence swoops in to break a tie — under the fast-track budget maneuver Republicans are using to repeal ObamaCare. 

A Mastery principal and organizer sees progress—and much work to do—in his efforts to recruit effective black male teachers
Philadelphia Citizen BY SHARIF EL-MEKKI MAY. 04, 2017
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. El-Mekki will be contributing regular columns from the school front lines this year.
 “Mr. El-Mekki, I’ve been thinking. I want to be a teacher.”
In my 24 years as an educator, I’ve never tired of hearing this from any of my former students. But when an African American male student, like Rasheen Hill, tells me this during a recent visit to his high school alma mater, I feel a special pride that comes with a re-energized, palpable hope for better days for future generations. A pride that’s grounded in rigorous research.  The much-discussed and written-about Johns Hopkins University study on the long-term positive impacts of same-race teachers reinforces what a lot of us educators—and all members of The Fellowship (Black Male Educators for Social Justice)—have known a very long time.  Students matched with a same-race teacher not only benefit from more favorable teacher perceptions, they also perform better on standardized tests and graduate from high school at higher rates. Just exposure to a same-race teacher increases the likelihood that African American students will want to go to college.  Students matched with a same-race teacher not only benefit from more favorable teacher perceptions, they also perform better on standardized tests and graduate from high school at higher rates. Just exposure to a same-race teacher increases the likelihood that African American students will want to go to college. That this impact was shown to be even more significant among children from the most economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods is not just a research footnote for us.

MAY 06 - BMEC 6: Black Male Educators Convening
by The Fellowship and Edcamp Foundation
When: Sat, May 6, 2017 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM EDT
Where: Temple University, Howard Gittis Student Center 1755 N. 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19122
Join us for our first Black Male Educators Convening that’s run Edcamp-style: organic, participant-driven and always professional. All topics and discussions are generated collaboratively on the day of the event by all of the learners in attendance.
·         Hilary Beard, Author of the 2015 NAACP award-winning Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life
·         Wilmon Christian, Director of Administration, University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Study of Race and Equity in Education
Don't miss this important opportunity to further your professional development and meet members of the Black male educator community.
Details and Registration:

“Under a system created during Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration, eighth graders can apply anywhere in the city, in theory unshackling them from failing, segregated neighborhood schools. Students select up to 12 schools and get matched to one by a special algorithm. This process was part of a package of Bloomberg-era reforms intended to improve education in the city and diminish entrenched inequities.  There is no doubt that the changes yielded meaningful improvements. The high school graduation rate is up more than 20 points since 2005, as the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has built on Mr. Bloomberg’s gains. The graduation gap between white and black or Hispanic students, while still significant and troubling, has narrowed.
But school choice has not delivered on a central promise: to give every student a real chance to attend a good school.  Fourteen years into the system, black and Hispanic students are just as isolated in segregated high schools as they are in elementary schools — a situation that school choice was supposed to ease.”
The Broken Promises of Choice in New York City Schools
The city’s high school admissions process was supposed to give every student
a real chance to attend a good school. But 14 years in, it has not delivered.

It was a warm Sunday morning, the breeze sweeping aside the last wisps of summer, and 31 students from Pelham Gardens Middle School in the Bronx had signed up to spend the day indoors, at a showcase for New York City’s public high schools.  The annual fair kicks off the city’s high school application season in September, and Jayda Walker, 13, arrived with a plan.  An eager young woman with an easy smile, Jayda wants to be a divorce lawyer, and at the fair, held at Brooklyn Technical High School, she planned to focus on schools with a legal theme, located in Manhattan. She had already looked through the high school directory, an intimidating tome the size of an old-fashioned phone book, and thought Manhattan offered more variety. Besides, she said, she wanted to get out of the Bronx.  She and her classmates arrived early and were at the front of the line, with hundreds of people behind them eager to get inside.  But for many of the students from Pelham Gardens, and others like them, it was already too late. The sorting of students to top schools — by race, by class, by opportunity — begins years earlier, and these children were planted at the back of the line.

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!
  • 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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