Wednesday, June 28, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 28: Senate Ed Committee to consider HB97 charter expansion bill today

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 28, 2017:

Contact your legislators today and urge them to support a $100 million increase in the Basic Education Funding (BEF) subsidy and a $25 million increase for special education.  Show your legislators the consequences of proposed $50M transportation cuts

Click here to find your members of the Senate and House. When you find your legislators, click on their names for phone numbers and other contact information.  PSBA estimates that 164 school districts will receive less money, even with the proposed $125 million subsidy increases for 2017-18, if the General Assembly cuts transportation funding. 

The chart shows how much money each district will receive if the $100 million increase in the BEF and the $25 million increase is enacted, along with how much money each district will lose with a $50 million decrease for transportation. The final column shows the BEF and special education funding increase less the transportation decrease. (Please remember that the chart is an estimate that utilizes the best data available to calculate the funds.)

Lawmakers could pass spending plan by deadline, but revenue likely to take longer
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 28, 2017 12:29 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- State lawmakers are keeping any progress they're making on budget negotiations close to the vest.  But one thing is becoming increasingly clear--the process could very well look just like last year's.  In 2016, the GOP-controlled chambers sent Governor Tom Wolf a spending plan by the June 30th deadline, then sent a measure detailing how to pay for it two weeks later.  Wolf let it become law without his signature.  A spokeswoman for the Senate GOP said the caucus hopes to get both portions of the budget done by Friday. But if there's no agreement on revenue by then, they at least intend to get the spending plan to Wolf by Friday.  That would set the governor up for a repeat of last year's tricky situation.  "I don't know what I would do in this case," he said. "You know what I did last year. But we'll see when it comes and if it looks like we're making progress, that'll be one thing. If it looks like we're not making progress, that'll be another."

Blogger note: Several articles covering the health care/tax cut bill are included in the national news section of today’s postings below.

“Schools receive less than 1 percent of federal Medicaid spending, according to the National Alliance for Medicaid in Schools. But federal Medicaid reimbursements constitute the third-largest federal funding stream to public schools, behind $15 billion they receive each year for educating poor children and $13 billion they receive to educate students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).
The federal government initially promised far more financial support for IDEA, the four-decade-old law that outlines schools’ obligations to educate students with disabilities. Congress pledged to pick up 40 percent of the cost of special-education services under the law, yet has never come close. It now pays only about 15 percent.
Medicaid payments have helped fill that gap. Without those dollars — and facing a recent Supreme Court decision that raised the bar for the services school districts owe students with disabilities — many districts wonder how they will pay for services they now provide.”
GOP health-care bill could strip public schools of billions for special education
Washington Post By Emma Brown June 28 at 6:00 AM 
School superintendents across the country are raising alarms about the possibility that Republican health care legislation would curtail billions of dollars in annual funding they count on to help students with disabilities and poor children.  For the past three decades, Medicaid has helped pay for services and equipment that schools provide to special-education students, as well as school-based health screening and treatment for children from low-income families. Now, educators from rural red states to the blue coasts are warning that the GOP push to shrink Medicaid spending will strip schools of what a national superintendents association estimates at up to $4 billion per year.  That money pays for nurses, social workers, physical, occupational and speech therapists and medical equipment like walkers and wheelchairs. It also pays for preventive and comprehensive health services for poor children, including immunizations, screening for hearing and vision problems and management of chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes.  Many school districts, already squeezed by shrinking state education budgets, say that to fill the hole they anticipate would be left by the Republican push to restructure Medicaid, they would either have to cut those services or downsize general education programs that serve all students.

HB1213: Kampf says his law firm not a factor in sponsoring bill limiting tax assessment challenges
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 06/10/17, 2:09 PM EDT
When state Rep. Warren Kampf decided to introduce a bill that would limit the ability of school districts to challenge property assessments, he did so with a deep background in business litigation.  In addition to representing the Chester County’s 157th state House District, Republican Kampf is also an attorney with the very old, very large law firm of White and Williams, which was founded in 1899.  With 240 lawyers in 10 offices, the firm advertises itself as being expert in, among other things, business tax and real estate issues — the heart of property tax assessment challenges.  Williams and White is “well-suited to counsel clients with entity formation, licenses, financing, contracts and strategic negotiations, as well as governance, labor disputes, tax, intellectual property and real estate,” the firm’s website states.  According to the firm’s profile of Kampf, “he regularly represents construction companies and other businesses and their insurers, as well as building owners, in property damage, construction defect and personal injury lawsuits.”
But it wasn’t his firm’s clients or experiences with re-assessment that spurred him to propose this bill, Kampf told Digital First Media.  It was what he sees as the inherent unfairness.  “I can’t even take credit for the idea. This bill has been kicking around for about a decade,” Kampf said. “But the guy who has been sponsoring it in the past got elevated to Speaker of the House,” Kampf said in reference to Mike Turzai. “And when I found out the bill didn’t have a sponsor, I decided to take up because I don’t like this practice. It’s anti-competition and it’s anti-taxpayer.” Added Kampf, “no one in my law firm has spoken to me about this, nor are they motivating me on any particular issue in my work as a representative.”  In its profile, the firm does make note of Kampf’s 2010 election to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives.  It is an election White and Williams had no small hand in winning.

The Senate Education Committee is slated to take up consideration of HB97, the charter expansion bill today in an off the floor meeting to be scheduled at the call of the chairman.
HB97 Reprise: Yes, we need charter school reform. This House bill isn't the way to do it: Lawrence A. Feinberg
PENNLIVE OP-ED By Lawrence A. Feinberg Posted on May 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM
After 20 years, it is long past time for meaningful reforms to Pennsylvania's charter school law that will benefit students and parents while also protecting our taxpayers.   But in its present form, reform legislation (HB97) sponsored by Rep. Mike Reese, R-Somerset, is not the legislation to do that.   The bill would significantly diminish local oversight and control by elected school boards who have a fiduciary responsibility to represent the taxpayers who pay for these publicly funded but privately managed schools.  Reese's bill also encourages expansion of the charter sector without appropriate measures to ensure that they are of high quality. 

EdVoters PA posted PA Dept. of Education 2014-2015 data”
How much did YOUR school district pay in charter school tuition bills?
School District Spending on Charter School Tuition
Education Voters PA Posted on May 21, 2017 by EDVOPA

Fixing PA’s Charter School Law
Posted on May 21, 2017 by EDVOPA
Education Voters PA Policy Brief on Charter Reform

“Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.  Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.  Most PA cybers never made “Adequate Yearly Progress” under No Child Left Behind.”
Chart: School Performance Profile Scores for PA Cyber Charters 2013 through 2016
Keystone State Education Coalition October 16, 2016
Source: PA Department of Education website; A score of 70 is considered passing
Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.
Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.

SB383: Bill allowing school employees to possess guns in schools teed up for Pa. Senate vote
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY Posted on June 27, 2017 at 5:24 PM
Schools would no longer be weapon-free zones under legislation that the state Senate is likely to vote on Wednesday. Senate Bill 383 would allow school personnel who have the proper training and pass the same psychiatric evaluation that municipal police officers must pass, to carry a firearm in school. Sen. Don White, R-Indiana County, who is championing the bill, said it was the school stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School in 2014 where a student armed with two kitchen knives stabbed and injured 21 people that spurred his interest in allowing school employees who receive training to be armed at school. He pointed out to the Senate Education Committee in April that it can take 35 to 45 minutes for police to respond to a school incident in rural areas. "Out of the 500 school districts if this were instituted maybe none would choose [to allow it] ... but maybe there are few that would," he said at the time. "I think it is another tool we should give to our school administrators and teachers to consider. That's all I ask." The measure draw strong opposition from a number of education and gun control groups who saw it as making schools more dangerous. Some senators also were leery of supporting the proposal including Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia.

“The bill was initially slated for a Senate vote Monday, but was pulled from the schedule. A Senate spokeswoman explained that there is “potential for a number of amendments to be introduced. and we wanted to have time to review those.”
It’s unclear what those amendments might do. Governor Tom Wolf has said he would veto the bill in its current form.”
SB383: Bill allowing teachers to carry guns could see Pa. Senate action
The Pennsylvania Senate is considering a plan to allow teachers and other school employees with permits to carry guns at work.  Supporters say it’s about keeping kids safe, while opponents are worried the measure would do just the opposite.  Senate Bill 383 is sponsored by GOP Senator Donald White of Armstrong County, who said it would give schools more options in protecting students.  He added, it could be particularly helpful for rural districts that are far from police stations and might not employ their own security guard.  “This is just one more tool to help them — if they see fit — to protect their families,” he said.  But the measure has received considerable backlash from gun control and teachers’ groups.  Many — like Shira Goodman, with CeaseFire PA — say arming school employees would be an unnecessary liability.

Charter school leadership says they won't attend special Catasauqua Area meeting where answers sought
Innovative Arts Academy Charter School Principal Douglas Taylor says they've been told to steer clear of the special meeting before the Catasauqua School Board since some topics could be confidential.
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call June 26, 2017
CATASAUQUA — Leaders from Innovative Arts Academy Charter School, acting on advice from legal counsel, will not attend a special Tuesday meeting called by the Catasauqua Area School District to get answers about concerns raised over special education, staffing, curriculum and transparency.  Catasauqua Superintendent Robert Spengler on Monday said the meeting will go on with or without Innovative Arts. A representative from the Allentown School District, which sends the bulk of students to Innovative Arts, will be at the meeting.  Innovative Arts Principal Douglas Taylor said school solicitor Daniel Fennick recommended administrators and trustees not attend the meeting because he is concerned they will be asked questions that should not be addressed in public.  Taylor said he and trustees President Kelly Bauer originally intended to go to the 6 p.m. meeting.  But Fennick advised otherwise in light of news reports on two teachers who said the school lacked the resources and staff to fully meet the needs of special education students. Days after speaking at a Catasauqua school board meeting, Ann Tarafas and Elizabeth Fox learned they were among the staff members whose contracts were not being renewed for 2017-18.

To compete with charter schools, one Pa. school district hires a marketing firm
Post Gazette by JACQUELINE PALOCHKO  Allentown Morning Call 9:07 AM JUN 27, 2017
In an effort to persuade parents not to send their children to charter schools, the Bethlehem Area School Board will spend more than $3,000 a month over the next two years on a local communications and marketing firm to promote the district’s success.  In a 7-1 vote Monday night, the board approved hiring Imagevolution at a cost of $3,115 a month to produce materials to inform the community about what’s going on in Bethlehem’s schools. Board President Michael Faccinetto was absent. School Director Tom Thomasik casts the lone no vote.  After the meeting, Thomasik said he voted no because he questioned if Imagevolution was the best firm for the job. At a presentation last week, Randi Mautz, Imagevolution’s creative director and designer, said the goal is to bring back some students who have left the district for charter schools.
The district paid $26 million to charter schools this year.

EDITORIAL: Revoking charter the right move
The York Dispatch Published 1:54 p.m. ET June 27, 2017 | Updated 16 hours ago
Helen Thackston Charter School's days seem to be numbered.  The York City school board voted last week to begin proceedings to revoke the school's charter, which was due for renewal next year.  Thackston has been under the gun since February, when the district demanded to see financial records and records about how many teachers at the school are certified.  Last week, the district laid out 22 reasons why Thackston's charter should be revoked, ranging from court cases involving the school and its landlord to incomplete audits to poor performance scores. Hearings will begin in August, and the process could take months or even years.

“What these scholarship tax credits do is they super charge that incentive up to 100 percent of the amount donated,” Carl Davis, senior tax expert with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said. “And in the right set of circumstances, they’re receiving more back in tax breaks than they ever donated in the first place. … They’re able to claim a state tax credit and a federal deduction on a single donation and this is often profitable for them to do so.”
Davis’ organization released a report last month in conjunction with the American Association of School Superintendents that highlights nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia — where donors can make a profit from their donation.”
EITC/OSTC: Exclusive: Money diverted from public schools?
Critics say school choice tax breaks too generous
RTV6 ABC by ANGELA M. HILL Jun 26, 2017
Dibye Bass’ 12-year-old son, like thousands of children, has benefitted from a school choice program championed by the Trump administration that offers big-money donors tax breaks which critics say are too generous.  Bass’ son was bullied in a Virginia public school and a scholarship tax credit program was his way out and into a private school that the single mother said has made a difference in her son’s life. Regardless of questions raised about the way the programs are financed, she said she is grateful.  “I see it as something that encourages you to give more. Not just for a tax break but because you’re doing something good,” she said.  But here’s what’s unusual, if not controversial, about the scholarship programs: Wealthy donors can potentially “profit” from their contributions through extensive tax benefits that can drain money from state treasuries which fund public services — including public schools.  The programs are available in 17 states and are being considered by legislators in several others. They are praised by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — a longtime school choice advocate — and are the focus of two congressional bills that seek to create a federal version of the program.
All the programs basically work this way: Individuals and businesses make cash or stock donations to scholarship granting organizations. The organizations award scholarships to qualifying families with K-12 students, primarily children in failing public schools or whose families' income meets the state’s poverty threshold. Students can then attend a private or religious school of their choice. What makes these programs unique is that donors get a full or partial credit toward their state taxes, which they are not allowed when donating to most other charities, and this allows them to realize a sizable tax advantage when combined with a federal deduction on the same gift. Plus, in some states, donors also get a state deduction.

Local education philanthropist Evie McNiff has spent the last 17 years working to improve education. Now she opens up on the state of Philadelphia giving and the next steps for lasting school reform.
Philadelphia Citizen BY ROXANNE PATEL SHEPELAVY JUN. 27, 2017
In 2000, when Evie McNiff brought Children’s Scholarship Fund to Philadelphia, she was new to philanthropy, and to public education in the city. A former environmental consultant whose youngest child had just started kindergarten at Springside Chestnut Hill, she wanted to get involved. So she visited schools in the district—public, private and what few charters there were at the time. She was struck by the work of private schools that were educating low-income children whose parents felt they couldn’t get a good education at their local public school. That was the impetus behind CSF Philadelphia, which has awarded more than 22,500 scholarships to Philly families to help cover tuition costs at local private schools.  Seventeen years later, McNiff is an education advocate with a hand in many of the city’s most pertinent, and sometimes controversial, school conversations. She is a founding member of the Philadelphia School Partnership, and of its advocacy arm, Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners. As she prepares to step down as CSF board chair, and to join the board of the Philadelphia Foundation, I caught up with her to talk about the state of giving in Philadelphia.

Blackhawk School Board holds the line on taxes
Beaver County Times By Katherine Schaeffer June 27, 2017
CHIPPEWA TWP. -- The Blackhawk School Board approved a budget Tuesday evening that will hold the line on property taxes for the 2017-18 school year.  The budget passed 6-2, with board members Doug Schaefer and Ken Yonkee dissenting.  Board member Marian Jones was not present.   The 2017-18 budget estimates expenses at $36,732,868 and revenues at $36,525,347. The district will pull about $207,521 from its savings to balance the books. Superintendent Rob Postupac cautioned that the overage amount is subject to change -- and possibly shrink -- as he and the business manager tried to overestimate district expenditures and underestimate revenues.   The budget does not include a tax increase, and maintains last year's millage rate of 63.99. 

Wilkinsburg passes budget that won't raise property taxes
MOLLY BORN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10:13 PM JUN 27, 2017
A budget surplus and an upbeat assessment about the financial picture in the Wilkinsburg School District wasn’t enough to lower property taxes. But the good news is they aren’t getting any higher, either.  At a school board meeting Tuesday, enough board members finally agreed on one thing: A $30.3 million budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that will hold the line on school taxes, currently the highest in Allegheny County, according to the county treasurer’s website. The vote was 5-4, with Kathy Firestine, Ellen Kitzerow, Leigh Corrigan-Owens and Joshua Miller voting no.

“Watson said the board approved the tax increase, in large part, because of uncertainty about the continued level of state and federal subsidies all districts, including Greater Latrobe, can expect to receive in light of funding debates in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.  If the state were to cut funding for student transportation and federal officials were to roll back Title II dollars, Greater Latrobe could receive about $255,000 less, Watson noted.”
Tax hike in store for Latrobe school district property owners
Trib Live by JEFF HIMLER  | Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 9:39 p.m.
Greater Latrobe School Board Tuesday finalized a $55.4 million 2017-18 district budget that will be funded in part by a 1.75-mill real estate tax hike, adding $46 to the average property owner's tax bill.  According to business administrator Dan Watson, the new 80.75-mill rate is the fifth lowest among districts in Westmoreland County.  “That should be realized by our taxpayers,” school director Kathryn Elder said.  The budget and tax structure were approved 6-0 with Rhonda Laughlin, Merle Musick and Michael Zorch absent. 

“To address future financial considerations, the board also voted to assign $8.5 million in surplus funds, $4.5 million of which is for employer contributions to the Public School Employees Retirement System. Just for the coming year, the district’s contribution is estimated to exceed $5 million.”
Peters School Board approves new real estate tax rate
The Almanac By Harry Funk June 26, 2017
Peters Township School District has instituted a real estate tax increase for 2017-18, but not in anything approaching a conventional or easily understood manner.  The school board voted June 26 to set the rate at 13.19 mills, which on paper is 100.21 mills less than the current year. With recent property reassessment disrupting Washington County’s long-established system, though, local districts have been employing various calculations to establish what are known as tax-levy-neutral rates. For Peters Township, that number works out to 12.8818 mills, based on district real estate taxes generating nearly $40 million in 2016-17.  The difference between the rates, .3082 mills, effectively represents an increase of 2.4 percent. Under Pennsylvania Act 1 of 2006, that represents the maximum by which the district can raise the rate without seeking exceptions through the state Department of Education.  The relative impact on property owners depends wholly on the county’s new assessment figures.

W-B Area approves $121.2M budget, property tax increase
Citizens Voice BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER / PUBLISHED: JUNE 28, 2017
WILKES-BARRE — The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted Tuesday to approve a $121.2 million budget and increase property taxes 3.5 percent. The board did not vote to cut any programs or furlough employees — something the board did a year ago when approving the current budget — but the district is still dealing with some financial difficulties. The district’s fund balance is down to $2 million, Business Manager Thomas Telesz said. The $121.2 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes $705,000 in savings from not replacing seven retiring teachers. The budget also does not include funding to increase teacher salaries. The union agreement with the teachers union expires Aug. 31, and negotiations are ongoing.

Senate Republicans just delayed a key healthcare vote. Their July 4 recess should be fascinating
Penn Live BY JOHN L. MICEK Updated on June 27, 2017 at 3:52 PM Posted on June 27, 2017 at 3:49 PM
Senate Republicans better get ready for some fireworks. Their July 4 recess is going to be a hot one.  On Tuesday, with Republican ranks deeply fractured, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, announced he was postponing a critical, make-or-break procedural vote on a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, until after a weeklong holiday break.  The not-entirely-unsurprising announcement is a virtual guarantee that GOP senators will be deluged by lobbyists and constituents on both sides of the issue at a time most of them would rather be marching in home state parades or crashing barbecues.  The Kentucky Republican needed 50 votes to approve a measure allowing debate to proceed on the Obamacare replacement bill, which would result in 22 million more Americans losing their insurance over the next decade, even as it drove up out-of-pocket expenses.

Kids rely on Medicaid
Children are the largest single group of recipients in Pa.
Post Gazette Opinion by LYNNE WILLIAMS 12:00 AM JUN 27, 2017
Lynne Williams works at Hilltop Community Health Center and lives in McCandless.
As a pediatrician and internal medicine physician at a local community health center in Pittsburgh, I regularly see the faces of Medicaid recipients. They are my patients.  When I take off my stethoscope and head home, I continue to look into the faces of Medicaid recipients. They are my children. I adopted three children with special needs — some physical, some emotional — which means they require extraordinary care in order to thrive. They came from foster care with serious, complex conditions. You would think that comprehensive private insurance would cover all the care they need and deserve, but it doesn’t.  My family may sound like an unusual case, but the fact is, Medicaid is a children’s program. Of all the groups that benefit from Medicaid in Pennsylvania — people with disabilities, low-income seniors being cared for in nursing homes, vulnerable adults — the largest group by far is children. Forty-three percent of commonwealth Medicaid recipients are children. You cannot cut the Medicaid program without having a deleterious impact on children. And, yes, children are our future.  While Medicaid is the sole health insurance for low-income families, it also serves as secondary insurance for families of all income levels whose children have “medically complex conditions” that require life long specialized health care. Medicaid supports children with cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and autism, among a long list of serious conditions.

“Both mothers spoke at a press conference organized Monday by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Public Citizens for Children and Youth at CHOP's Specialty Care and Surgery Center in Upper Merion, which also featured other speakers who talked of the grim consequences that will occur if children are denied coverage or have their coverage reduced. A report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation says that 44 percent of children in the United States are covered for medical insurance by either Medicaid or CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program), a program administered jointly by the federal government and participating states, including Pennsylvania.”
Parents urge Congress to keep Medicaid benefits for kids
Inteligencer By Peg Quann, staff writer June 26, 2017
The proposals to change Medicaid funding would have devastating effects for Audrey and Betty Burke, 9-year-old twins from Cheltenham, Montgomery County, their mom, Kimberly Burke said Monday.  The twins both have progressive diseases — Audrey has a rare neuro-degenerative disorder, autism and epilepsy, while Betty has Alport syndrome and autism and may need a kidney transplant. They make frequent visits to medical specialists and Audrey needs in-home therapy each day for memory, cognitive and behavioral training. Betty receives in-home psychological support. Their mom estimates that if they weren't enrolled in Medicaid, she and her husband, Douglas, would face at least $150,000 a year in bills not covered by their health insurance.    Dianne Hull, of Swarthmore, said her son, Brent, 12, has Type 1 diabetes. He, too, is covered by Medicaid and she worries about the skyrocketing cost of insulin he needs to take to stay alive and how plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would affect his care.

"I have to strongly disagree with the characterization that we are somehow ending the Medicaid expansion. In fact, quite the contrary. The Senate bill will codify and make permanent the Medicaid expansion, and in fact we'll have the federal government pay the lion share of the cost," Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told Face The Nation on Sunday.   Despite Toomey's statement, the BCRA phases out the Medicaid expansion over several years beginning in 2021, with the idea that those who fall out of Medicaid eligibility will access coverage through the individual insurance market.  The CBO threw cold water on both the talking point that the BCRA doesn't end the expansion or cut Medicaid funding.
The CBO's analysis found that 22 million fewer people would have insurance under the bill by 2026. Cuts to Medicaid would reach $772 billion by 2026.”
The CBO has debunked a key Republican talking point on the Senate health bill
Business Insider by Lydia Ramsey Jun. 26, 2017, 5:49 PM
The Congressional Budget Office released its analysis for the Senate Republican healthcare bill on Monday, and it appears to dispel a major Republican talking point about the bill's relationship to Medicaid.  Since Senate Republicans released their healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, on Thursday, the Trump administration and Senate Republicans have argued that the bill would not make cuts to the government-run healthcare program.  Medicaid is a federal program that provides insurance primarily to pregnant women, single mothers, people with disabilities, and seniors with low incomes.

GOP health bill: Big tax cuts for rich, not much for others
Inquirer by STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 27, 2017 — 2:27 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Millionaires would get tax cuts averaging $52,000 a year from the Senate Republicans' health bill while middle-income families would get about $260, according to a new analysis of the foundering bill.  The analysis was done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. It found that half of the tax cuts would go to families making more than $500,000 a year.  Senate Republican leaders were scrambling Tuesday to rally support for the bill but had to delay a vote this week because it lacked adequate support. The disputes, however, were not related to tax provisions.  Moderate Republicans were concerned that too many people would lose health coverage under the bill while conservatives said it wouldn't do enough to reduce premiums.

Op-ed: Toomey's health care tax cut costs Pennsylvania up to $4.8 billion per year
The health care bill in the U.S. Senate is very much like the one in the House, but in one respect it is far worse, thanks to Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.  Too few people know that the the American Health Care Act not only repeals the Affordable Care Act, but it drastically cuts traditional Medicaid, taking us not just to 2010, but all the way back to 1965.  Of the roughly 1.2 million people in the commonwealth who would lose health coverage, 701,345 do so because of changes to Medicaid. Some of the Medicaid coverage losses come from effectively ending the Medicaid expansion. But other health insurance losses come from making deep cuts to Pennsylvania's traditional Medicaid program, including 125,100 children, 52,600 people with disabilities, and 48,000 seniors.  The House bill would cut $18.9 billion in federal support for the state's traditional and expanded Medicaid program over six years — an average of $3.41 billion a year. And, far from being more moderate, the Senate bill is worse.  Provisions in the Senate bill would penalize states that have higher-than-average costs, even if those cost are due to an older population, as they are in Pennsylvania. Deeper cuts would be put in place in the next 10 years.

“The mounting criticism from governors, including sharp denunciations from within President Trump’s party, helped stymie Republican efforts to marshal support in the Senate, and may have led, in a roundabout way, to the stalling of the measure this week.  More than half a dozen Republican governors, including several from states with Republican senators, expressed either grave reservations or outright opposition to the bill, while Democrats have been unanimous in their disapproval. Though their preferences on health policy diverge in many ways, state leaders from both parties were alarmed at the potential for harm to their constituents, state budgets and insurance markets.”
How Governors From Both Parties Plotted to Derail the Senate Health Bill
New York Times By ALEXANDER BURNS JUNE 27, 2017
WASHINGTON — A once-quiet effort by governors to block the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act reached its climax in Washington on Tuesday, as state executives from both parties — who have conspired privately for months — mounted an all-out attack on the Senate’s embattled health care legislation hours before Republicans postponed a vote.  At the center of the effort has been a pair of low-key moderates: Gov. John R. Kasich, Republican of Ohio, and Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, Democrat of Colorado, who on Tuesday morning called on the Senate to reject the Republican bill and to negotiate a bipartisan alternative.  Just before Senate Republicans delayed a vote on the bill, Mr. Kasich denounced his own party’s legislation in biting terms, saying it would victimize the poor and mentally ill, and redirect tax money “to people who are already very wealthy.”  “This bill,” Mr. Kasich said, “is unacceptable.”

Coverage Losses by State for the Senate Health Care Repeal Bill
Center for American Progress By Emily Gee Posted on June 27, 2017, 9:40 am
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its score of the Senate’s health care repeal plan, showing that the bill would eliminate coverage for 15 million Americans next year and for 22 million by 2026. The CBO projects that the Senate bill would slash Medicaid funding by $772 billion over the next decade; increase individual market premiums by 20 percent next year; and make comprehensive coverage “extremely expensive” in some markets.  The score, released by Congress’ nonpartisan budget agency, comes amid an otherwise secretive process of drafting and dealmaking by Senate Republicans. Unlike the Senate’s consideration of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which involved dozens of public hearings and roundtables plus weeks of debate, Senate Republican leadership released the first public draft of its Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) just days before it hopes to hold a vote. The Center for American Progress has estimated how many Americans would lose coverage by state and congressional district based on the CBO’s projections. By 2026, on average, about 50,500 fewer people will have coverage in each congressional district. Table 1 provides estimates by state, and a spreadsheet of estimates by state and district can be downloaded at the end of this column.

Dozens of Democratic Senators Express Concerns About DeVos and Civil Rights
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 27, 2017 3:26 PM
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and 33 other Democratic senators have major concerns with the direction of the civil rights enforcement under U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. And they've sent her a six-page letter letting her know how they feel. The letter doesn't mince words: Here's a snippet: Your testimony in front of Congress, your continued association with groups with records of supporting discrimination, and two memos written by the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, have reemphasized longstanding concerns about your dedication to the idea that all students, no matter their race, religion, disability, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have a right to receive an education free from discrimination. A spokeswoman for DeVos didn't immediately respond to an email asking for the secretary's take on the letter. 
The Democratic lawmakers point to recent actions taken by DeVos' department. Those include a new policy surrounding Office of Civil Rights investigations announced by acting assistant secretary for civil rights Candice Jackson. That policy, announced in an internal memo first obtained by ProPublica, calls for a lot less emphasis on examining individual complaints for evidence of  systemic discrimination.

Why Betsy DeVos is cheering the Supreme Court’s church playground decision
Washington Post By Emma Brown June 27 at 11:06 AM 
Advocates for private-school vouchers this week cheered the Supreme Court’s decision that the state of Missouri may not deny a playground resurfacing grant to a church, calling the decision a first step toward an end to state bans on using public money to pay tuition at parochial schools. And on Tuesday, the high court telegraphed that the church-playground ruling could indeed bring about a new legal calculus on school choice. It directed the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider an earlier decision to strike down private-school vouchers because they violated a state prohibition on public support for religious activities.  “School choice is on a great footing,” said Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which advocates for private-school voucher programs.  “The court’s reasoning sends a strong signal that just as the court would not tolerate the exclusion of a church from a playground resurfacing program, it will not tolerate the exclusion of a child from a school-choice program solely because they want to use a scholarship at a religious school.”

TED Talk: Why school should start later for teens
Teens don't get enough sleep, and it's not because of Snapchat, social lives or hormones -- it's because of public policy, says Wendy Troxel. Drawing from her experience as a sleep researcher, clinician and mother of a teenager, Troxel discusses how early school start times deprive adolescents of sleep during the time of their lives when they need it most. This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxManhattanBeach, an independent event. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: June 21 - 27, 2017
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on June 27, 2017 - 1:17pm 
Still lots of assessment reform activity in many states as Independence Day approaches. We particularly encourage you to check out the three longer pieces in "Worth Reading" for the upcoming, four-day holiday weekend

Apply Now for EPLC's 2017-2018 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2017-2018 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants. Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 14-15, 2017 and continues to graduation in June 2018.

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.

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

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA

Registration now open for the  67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.

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