Monday, July 10, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 10: Senate passes charter expansion #HB97 by close 26-23 vote; House may vote on concurrence today. Take a minute, call your state rep this morning

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 10, 2017:
Senate passes charter expansion #HB97 by close 26-23 vote; House may vote on concurrence today. Take a minute, call your state rep this morning

Senate and House will return to voting session TODAY at 11:00 a.m.
You can find your State Representative’s contact information here

In the event that the House passes the bill and the Governor were to veto it, the very close 26-23 senate vote means that it is unlikely for a veto to be overridden.  If you would like to call the Governor’s office in support of a veto his phone number is 717-787-2500

On Saturday, after voting down several amendments offered by minority members, the Senate Appropriation Committee voted 14-12 to move the Charter Expansion bill HB97 to the full senate.  The senate version of the bill stripped out projected savings to school districts of $27 million via changes in the cyber charter tuition formula.  Please consider thanking your senators who voted against the bill in committee.
PA Senate Appropriations Committee Roll Call Vote on HB97 July 8, 2017

On Sunday evening, after voting down 4 amendments offered by minority members, the full senate voted 26-23 to approve the Charter Expansion bill HB97, sending it back to the House for concurrence.  Please consider thanking your senators who voted against the bill.  The House has expressed significant concern with the amended bill, arguing that Senate amended reductions in the cyber charter tuition rate were essential to getting the votes needed for passage; however, they have tentatively placed the bill on their calendar for consideration today. It is also anticipated that the governor is likely to veto the bill should it reach his desk.
PA Senate Roll Call Vote on HB97 July 9, 2017

Did you catch our weekend posting?
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 8: #HB97 While you're at the beach this weekend charter lobbyists are working hard at the capitol. 

State budget unlikely to be done by tonight's midnight deadline
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 10, 2017 6:36 AM
 (Harrisburg) - Lawmakers say they probably won't get the budget done by Monday night, which means that an unbalanced spending plan will automatically become law unless Governor Tom Wolf vetoes all or part of it.  The budget was due June 30. The House and Senate sent a spending plan to Wolf's desk that day, but still haven't found the revenue to balance it.  Republican leaders said Sunday night that they'd sent a compromise plan to Wolf that afternoon, but he rejected it.  Senate GOP Leader Jake Corman didn't give many details on the revenue proposal Wolf got, but he did say it included a new tier of mini-casinos and expanded liquor sales to some degree.  It didn't legalize video gaming terminals in bars, however. That's an option the House has strongly favored.  "This isn't perfect, by any stretch," Corman said of the plan. "But if that's what we can get votes for, that's what we should do."  However, Corman said Wolf didn't think the plan included enough real, recurring revenue.

No deal yet between Gov. Wolf, Legislature, on Pa. budget package
Penn Live BY CHARLES THOMPSON Posted on July 10, 2017 at 12:46 AM
That Pennsylvania budget package? It's still a work in progress.  Talks fell short Sunday night as Gov. Tom Wolf and his Democratic allies in the legislature turned down a Republican plan of taxes and other revenue raisers designed to fill an $800 million gap in a $32 billion spending plan.  No one was characterizing Sunday's rejection as a total collapse.  But it did lay bare, for the first time publicly, a sizable list of issues that need to be tamped down before the budget can be completed.  It is now likely that the governor is going to have to act Monday on a general fund spending bill that is, at it stands, out of balance.  Wolf stayed mostly out of public view Sunday, and has not said whether he will let the spending bill take effect without his signature, on faith that the revenue deal will get worked out soon, or line-item veto certain appropriations to bring the plan into balance.   "I think from a logistical point of view, it's now becoming less and less likely that a revenue package would be passed by tomorrow (Monday) night," Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said Sunday night.

Another year, another budget-deadline quandary for Wolf
Gov. Wolf has until the end of Monday to decide what to do about the nearly $32 billion spending plan the GOP-controlled legislature sent him last week.
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, Liz Navratil & Karen Langley, STAFF WRITERS Updated: JULY 9, 2017 — 9:47 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — Come Monday night, Gov. Wolf will likely find himself in the same position he did last year: deciding whether to allow a multibillion-dollar spending bill to lapse into law, even though there is no plan for how to pay for it.  Though the Republican-controlled legislature continued trying to find common ground on a revenue package Sunday, late at night it showed no sign of a deal.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said late Sunday that from a logistical standpoint, it was becoming increasingly unlikely that a revenue package would be passed by Monday night. He said the Senate would stay at the Capitol and keep working on a deal.  “It is our plan to stay here until we get some sort of agreement,” he said.  Nonetheless, he said, the governor had rejected a plan he and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R, Indiana) had delivered to him Sunday, one that would have included new revenue from expanding gambling in the state.

The Latest on Pa. Budget: Revenue puzzle in pieces as deadline nears
Delco Times By The Associated Press POSTED: 07/09/17, 8:27 PM EDT
Negotiators in Pennsylvania’s nine-day-old budget stalemate are signaling that they’re having difficulty reaching agreement on a deal to patch up the state government’s tattered finances.  Closed-door talks in the Pennsylvania Capitol on Sunday come a day before Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s midnight Monday deadline to make a decision on the main appropriations bill in a $32 billion budget package.  Budget negotiators are trying to scrounge more than $2 billion. So far, they’re backing a plan to borrow much of the money and authorize another big gambling expansion in the nation’s No. 2 commercial casino state.  Friction revolves around Wolf’s insistence that lawmakers produce $700 million to $800 million in reliable revenue, such as tax increases, to help the state avoid another downgrade to its battered credit rating.  Negotiators otherwise are saying little about their closed-door talks, and in particular what sort of tax increases were under discussion.

Editorial: Setting boundaries: The Supreme Court takes up gerrymandering again
THE EDITORIAL BOARD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12:00 AM JUL 10, 2017
The case of Gill v. Whitford invites the U.S. Supreme Court to do something very difficult. It may throw up its hands — as four justices wanted to in 2004. But it would be bad for the republic if it did. The challenge is this: to set a principled limit to political gerrymandering.  In a 2004 case that originated in Pennsylvania, four justices — but not five — said it couldn’t be done. Because courts must have reasons for what they do, and judges and justices had failed to find an acceptable standard to apply, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, the answer was that there was no answer. The courts had no way to limit the power of a political party that dominated a state to draw electoral districts so as to secure it a majority in the state’s legislature and congressional delegation.  The results of such gerrymandering can be dramatic. In Wisconsin, where the current Supreme Court case originated, the people challenging the gerrymandering of state Assembly districts there say the GOP managed to stack the deck so heavily that even when a majority of the people voted against it in 2012, it still had a super-majority in that body. That’s undemocratic.

High court ruling could block school districts from singling out properties for assessment appeals
Morning Call by Kathy Boccella Of (TNS) July 10, 2017 6:00  AM
In a ruling that ultimately could affect school budgets across the state, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered Montgomery County Court to reconsider a decision that allowed the Upper Merion Area School District to appeal the assessments of four apartment buildings.  The owners of the complexes sued the district in May 2014 after the district appealed their assessments, which it argued were too low.  After county court dismissed the case, Commonwealth Court concurred, saying a school district does not violate the state constitution's "uniformity clause," which requires that all taxes be uniform, when it seeks to increase revenue by appealing certain high-valued properties that it considers under-assessed.  Although state tax stipulates that except for new construction and certain improvements, assessments can be set only through a mass countywide appraisal, Pennsylvania courts have repeatedly ruled that school districts are permitted to appeal selectively.

Opinions vary on allowing pubic into contract talks
Intelligencer By Chris English, staff writer July 10, 2017
Allowing residents to sit in on contract talks with teachers and other public employees is either a great stride toward more transparency or a counterproductive intrusion, depending on which area school district resident, teacher or official you talk to.  Legislation proposed by state Sens. Scott Martin, R-13, and Ryan Aument, R-36, both of Lancaster County, would allow the public access to collective bargaining, though it exempts discussions by either side on strategy.  Senate bills 503 and 504 also would allow residents submitting a right-to-know request to obtain most documents related to negotiations — including offers made by either side — though it also excludes paperwork related to strategy.  Both bills are out of the Senate's State Government Committee but have not been voted on by either the Senate or House yet, said Aument. He said he doesn't expect a vote until the fall.  In a previously written memo in support of the legislation, Martin and Aument wrote that they believe "increased transparency will not only make public officials more accountable to the citizens they represent but also make union representatives more accountable to their members. The fact that many of these negotiations result in an increase in taxes is enough reason to provide additional transparency to taxpayers."

 “One thing most can agree on is that it’s time to update the Pennsylvania Charter School Law in order to make it more fair for both school districts and charters. 
Some charter school advocates support the idea of creating a separate funding stream for charter schools at the state level, eliminating the requirement that school districts paying charter schools directly. School districts desperately want a more equitable funding formula that reflects the “actual cost” of educating students in charter schools, and a tiered funding formula for special education students, who have a wide range of disabilities.   A new bill is working its way through the state Legislature to update the law, which hasn’t been adjusted in a major way since 2002, when the state allowed for the creation of cyber charter schools. New legislation is proposed almost every year, and many have expressed frustration that a compromise hasn’t been reached.   “I don’t think they’re the enemy,” Mr. Donovan said about charter schools. I think the funding model is the enemy. If the legislature had the courage to make it fair, I think everybody would win.”
Wilkinsburg has a unique history with charter schools
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN AND LIZ NAVRATIL Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12:00 AM JUL 9, 2017
Fresh off a failed experiment to privatize one if its elementary schools, the Wilkinsburg school board became the first in Allegheny County to approve a charter school.  Then, just four years later, it became the first in Pennsylvania to revoke a charter, shuttering Thurgood Marshall Academy and ending a years-long struggle for school choice in Wilkinsburg.   The school district has a unique history with charter schools and the law that made them possible in 1997. Wilkinsburg has struggled for years with its finances, declining enrollment and low student performance, making it an example of a school district lawmakers cited when they pushed the Pennsylvania Charter School Law through the legislature after a failed attempt at initiating a school vouchers program. 

“Daughter Erin Dougherty, 36, earns $115,000 as the school’s CEO.”
How a Philly charter school benefits Local 98
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda | Updated: JULY 9, 2017 — 5:21 AM EDT
In 2002, labor leader John J. Dougherty championed a new charter school whose goals included guiding more minority workers into his overwhelmingly white union.  In its founding documents, Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School committed, in part, to providing students the skills needed for “participation in the apprenticeship program offered to qualified individuals by Local 98.”  Fifteen years on, it appears the school, founded by Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the union, has fallen short.  The school, where 71 percent of its 620 students are African American, has no record of any graduates entering Local 98’s apprentice training program.  But the school has done better by Dougherty, becoming a job bank for family members and friends of the powerful Democrat known as “Johnny Doc” and providing members — and taxpayer-covered dues — for his union. Dougherty did not return calls seeking comment for this article.  In its favor, the charter boosts an above-average graduation rate and a significant number of graduates going on to college. It seems on track for a charter renewal by the School Reform Commission.
The school at 1420-22 Chestnut St. has drawn the scrutiny of federal prosecutors as part of a broad investigation of Dougherty and his union. When federal agents searched Local 98’s headquarters last August, the list of items sought included financial records of the charter school.

More guns in schools? No thanks | Editorial
Editorial BY EXPRESS-TIMES OPINION STAFF Updated on July 9, 2017 at 7:09 AM Posted on July 9, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Are school children safer from gun violence if their teachers, principals, custodians, librarians and other school staffers carry guns?  It's amazing how people fall into immediate "yes" and "no" camps on this issue -- mirroring, perhaps, the debate over allowing (and encouraging) civilians to pack heat as a defense against shootings and other forms of violence.  Last month the Pennsylvania Senate showed how it feels on the issue, voting 26-22 for a bill that would allow school staffers with concealed-carry permits to have guns in school. They'd have to undergo training and pass a psychological screening. School boards would have to establish a firearm access policy and keep it on file with local police.  The idea behind this legislation is understandable. We don't think anyone should be castigated for wanting to prevent mass shootings in our schools, no matter which side of the gun debate they find themselves on.  Eighteen states have enacted similar bills. However, it's far from clear whether such laws would have prevented or mitigated the tragic school shootings we've witnessed, from Columbine and Erie to Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.  But this bill isn't the answer. If the House approves it, Gov. Tom Wolf should follow through on his promise to veto it.

Study: 'Adultification' in schools may lead to harsher discipline for black girls than white peers
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Jul 8, 2017
Adults view black girls as less innocent, more independent and less in need of nurturing and protection than their white peers, according to a survey published this week by Georgetown University.  And that, researchers say, could contribute to the disproportionate rates at which black girls are punished in school compared to their white counterparts.  “Simply put, if authorities in public systems view Black girls as less innocent, less needing of protection, and generally more like adults,” the report says, “it appears likely that they would also view Black girls as more culpable for their actions and, on that basis, punish them more harshly despite their status as children.”  Authors of the report, titled “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls' Childhood,” cite a trend called “adultification,” in which black kids are perceived as being older and more mature than they really are. This, in turn, could lead to harsher treatment by public authorities, researchers say.  “Adultification may serve as a contributing cause of the disproportionality in school discipline outcomes, harsher treatment by law enforcement, and the differentiated exercise of discretion by officials across the spectrum of the juvenile system,” the report says.  The most recent federal data show black and Latino students are more likely to be suspended and attend schools with high concentrations of inexperienced teachers, and less likely to have access to rigorous and advanced coursework than their white peers.

Schools' artistic bounty gathered for exhibit at the Michener
The notebook by Peter Crimins Newsworks July 7, 2017 — 4:21pm
The Michener Museum of Art in Doylestown opens an exhibition this weekend of paintings borrowed from collections owned by area public schools.  Many of these works by major American artists in Dedicated, Displayed, Discovered: Celebrating the Region’s School Art Collections have never before been seen outside of school buildings.  In the early 20th century, a popular education theory was that students should be exposed to original works of art in the classroom — not for instruction, but for pure beauty.  "The art objects stood for so much more than just visual art education," said co-curator Adrienne Neszmelyi-Romano. "It was an idea that this represented the well-being of a child, and their mental health and behavior."  Neszmelyi-Romano pulled together more than 40 paintings acquired by school districts in Philadelphia and Bucks County from the 1930s to the 1950s. During that time, the area was teeming with major artists developed in the style of Bucks Country impressionism — including Daniel Garber, Walter Schofield, and Edward Redfield — and with school administrators willing to put their budgets where their mouths were regarding art appreciation.

DeVos’s Hard Line on New Education Law Surprises States
New York Times By ERICA L. GREEN JULY 7, 2017
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike.  President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 as the less intrusive successor to the No Child Left Behind law, which was maligned by many in both political parties as punitive and prescriptive. But in the Education Department’s feedback to states about their plans to put the new law into effect, it applied strict interpretations of statutes, required extensive detail and even deemed some state education goals lackluster.  In one case, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, Jason Botelwrote to the State of Delaware that its long-term goals for student achievement were not “ambitious.”  “It is mind-boggling that the department could decide that it’s going to challenge them on what’s ambitious,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who worked in the Education Department under President George W. Bush. He called the letter “directly in opposition to the rhetoric and the promises of DeVos.”

Congress returns to battles over health care, budget
Inquirer by ALAN FRAM, The Associated Press Updated: JULY 9, 2017 — 1:33 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress is still trying to send President Donald Trump his first unqualified legislative triumph, nearly six months after Republicans grabbed full control of Washington. Now, lawmakers are returning from their July 4 recess with an added objective - averting some full-blown political disasters.  The GOP campaign to repeal Democrat Barack Obama's health care law is bogged down in the Senate and flirting with collapse. Efforts to pass a budget are stuck, there's no tax code overhaul package, spending bills are in limbo and it's unclear how leaders will find the votes to avert a federal default.  The difficulties flow from Republican divisions. Collectively, the problems are threatening to sink top GOP priorities and undermine the party's ability to show it can govern effectively.  Lawmakers have three weeks of work before an August recess. Some Republicans are making noise about shortening that respite, but doing so would be a step shy of sacrilege on Capitol Hill.

Senate Republicans head back to work with no health care deal
Post Gazette by DAVID WEIGEL The Washington Post 12:25 AM JUL 10, 2017
Senate Republicans returned to Washington, D.C., from a holiday recess with new and deepening disagreements about their health care bill, with key Republicans differing Sunday not merely on how to amend the bill but also on whether a bill could pass at all.  “I would probably put that as 50/50,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview.  “They will get a repeal and replace bill done,” Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said on the same show.  “My view is it’s probably going to be dead,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to push debate on the Better Care Reconciliation Act past the July Fourth recess was supposed to create space for dealmaking.  The Republican leader has said he plans to introduce yet another version of the bill this week. Revisions under consideration would lessen the bill’s Medicaid cuts, boost spending for programs combating drug abuse, fatten health care subsidies for low earners and make it easier for insurers to sell skimpier, lower-cost policies.

Advocacy Groups Issue Toolkit For Schools Navigating Health Care Law And Pending Changes
AASA/ASBO Press Release July 5, 2017
Reston, VA – July 5, 2017 – The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, in partnership with American Fidelity, unveiled a new resource to help school system leaders understand the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Employer Mandate provision and other regulations of which district officials must be aware.
The toolkit, School Districts and the Future of the Affordable Care Act, was released today as public debate surrounding potential changes in the nation’s healthcare laws continues to escalate. While changes may be on the horizon, the ACA remains the law. “Although the future of the ACA remains unclear, school business managers and other district leaders are in desperate need of guidance to comply with the law as it currently stands,” said ASBO International Executive Director John Musso. “This resource helps K–12 employers do just that by navigating what are often considered confusing and burdensome regulations.”
The toolkit includes summaries of ACA rules, applicable calculation formulas and information on possible strategies for employers to consider when assessing the impact of the Employer Mandate on their organizations, contributions and eligibility.

Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events

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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