Wednesday, July 12, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 12: While you’re waiting for a budget deal check out what’s in the School Code Bill

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PA Ed Policy Roundup July 12, 2017:

Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events

What’s in the School Code Bill?
School code bill awaiting action combats lunch shaming, ends seniority-based furloughs and more
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY Updated on July 12, 2017 at 12:41 AMPosted on July 11, 2017 at 8:48 PM
Combating school lunch shaming and allowing school boards to lay off teachers for economic reasons are among a litany of proposed changes to the laws governing public schools awaiting action in the General Assembly.  A multi-faceted school code bill is part of the series of budget implementation bills that will be considered once an agreement is reached on a revenue plan to fully fund the $32 billion spending package that is now law. When that will be remains in question.   The interest in addressing lunch shaming arose out of reports of children being required to do chores, wear a stamp or wristband, given a subpar lunch or denied food when they don't have enough money in their school lunch fund.  The legislation would bar schools from publicly identifying or stigmatizing students, making students do chores or discard a meal from a student that has already been served if he or she can't pay for it.

With budget talks at a stalemate, lawmakers sent home until deal is reached
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY Posted on July 11, 2017 at 7:53 PM
Pennsylvania will remain one of the six states without a finalized state budget package for at least a few more days if not longer.  Talks appeared on Tuesday to have reached a stalemate on a $2.2 billion revenue package to support the $32 billion spending plan that became law at midnight on Monday without Gov. Tom Wolf's signature.  The Senate and House sent their members home and put them on a six-hour call until an agreement is reached.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County, told reporters late Tuesday afternoon that sometimes a few hours away from each other can help move the talks along.  "It's gotta get done. It will get done," he said.  Although he said the sides aren't "astronomically apart," he also expressed hope that Wolf would call the legislative leaders together to work out a compromise on their differing views on how to raise the $2.2 billion needed to fill a budget hope.

Bipartisan pressure growing in Pa. House for a vote on a shale tax bill
A bipartisan-backed effort in the House is pushing for imposing a severance tax on natural gas drillers but the leaders of the House and Senate show little interest in having that tax as part of the revenue package to balance the 2017-18 budget.
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY Updated on July 11, 2017 at 9:41 PM Posted on July 11, 2017 at 6:11 PM
With pressure building to find a way to pay for the state's $32 billion spending plan for 2017-18 that is now law, a bipartisan group of House members are calling on House Speaker Mike Turzai to allow for a vote on a bill that imposes a severance tax on natural gas drillers.  With a need to find revenue to fill a projected $2 billion budgetary hole, a letter signed by 12 Republican lawmakers and three Democrats who have authored shale tax legislation states they believe it is time to "pass a proposal that is fair, reasonable and responsible."  The letter points out that there is overwhelming support among Pennsylvania citizens for the tax as well as bipartisan support in the Legislature, not to mention high on Gov. Tom Wolf's list for addressing the state's revenue needs. Wolf is calling for a 6.5 percent tax on gas production.  It also points out that credit rating agencies have put the state on notice that a downgrade to its credit rating - already one of the worst in the nation - could be in the offing if its 2017-18 budget relies too much on non-recurring revenue such as borrowing money and one-time revenue sources.  "While an extraction tax would not solve all our budgetary issues, it is a crucial step toward putting Pennsylvania on the road to fiscal health," it states.

POLITICALLY UNCORRECTED: Questions the courts need to ask about gerrymandering
Pottstown Mercury By G. Terry Madonna, and Michael L. Young, Columnists POSTED: 07/11/17, 1:31 PM EDT | UPDATED: 13 HRS AGO
Politics! Today it’s everywhere or often seems so.
Trump mania pervades news coverage while heated and often testy debates about health care, immigration, criminal justice and trade policy increasingly dominate the national conversation. Turn on any news program and try to escape it. We are dominated by a growing national obsession with politics.  Nor are state governments immune to our growing national preoccupation with politics and political problems. As states struggle to find new revenues and balance annual budgets, they increasingly move into policy arenas like immigration and climate change previously monopolized by the federal government.  But one place political questions do not prevail — indeed according to legal doctrine cannot prevail — is when the courts consider the problem of reapportionment, the decennial process in which states draw the congressional and state legislative districts to conform to population shifts occurring over the past decade.

“But more troubling is what this report underscores: the lack of oversight into the performance of charter schools and the paucity of data that measure how well they are doing as an alternative to conventional public schools.  It’s been 20 years since the state authorized the creation of charter schools, and despite the fact that state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has called it the worst charter law in the country, state lawmakers have accomplished no meaningful reform”
Editorial: Fault line of union-backed charter school points to bigger failings
by The Daily News Editorial Board Updated: JULY 11, 2017 — 8:33 PM EDT
A charter school founded by union boss John Dougherty to help prepare minority students to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union and thereby help diversify this overwhelmingly white union has no records of any students entering the union’s apprentice program upon graduation … 15 years after the school was created.
According to a recent Daily News/Inquirer report, Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School may not have helped minority students get well-paid union jobs, but it has enabled members of Doughterty’s family to get well-paying charter school jobs, including his daughter, who makes $115,000 as the school’s CEO. The school does boast a high graduation rate, and nearly 50 percent go on to college, though no one knows how many graduate from college. The minority participation in unions is abysmal in this city, and union and political leaders have made noises for years about how to improve. That’s why the lost opportunity of a taxpayer-funded charter school to help increase diversity is such a disappointment.

“Several House Republicans — largely moderates from the Philadelphia suburbs — who support a tax on drilling in the Marcellus Shale also said Tuesday that a drilling tax measure could help break the logjam in negotiations.  Several predicted that if GOP leaders would allow such a bill to come up for a floor vote, it would get enough support to pass.  “I think it’s the right time to do it,” said Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks), adding that he believes the industry could accept a “reasonable” tax in exchange for some “regulatory relief.”  “I think there would be a deal and everybody could go home,” he said.”
In Pa. Capitol, it's all about avoiding a stalemate
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, Karen Langley & Liz Navratil, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JULY 11, 2017 — 7:35 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — Though few are using the word stalemate to describe the state of budget talks in the Capitol, all signs point to difficult days, if not weeks, ahead for negotiations.
On Tuesday afternoon, with no deal on how to pay for the nearly $32 billion spending plan the legislature has approved, both House and Senate leaders told their members to go home. They did not set a date for them to return, but told them they could be called back with six hours’ notice.  By 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Capitol’s hallways were empty. And an email to House members from House Speaker Mike Turzai’s office urged members to “have a great evening and enjoy the weekend.”  At the same time, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) was telling reporters: “It’s got to get done — it will get done.  “You know, sometimes a couple of hours away for everybody is a good thing. We can regroup and put it back together,” he said, adding:  “I don’t think anybody wants to do this all year.”  Still, the blame game was being played in certain corners, as disagreements persist over how to raise new dollars to cover the $1.5 billion shortfall in the fiscal year that just ended, as well as a projected $700 million deficit in the fiscal year that began July 1.

“It includes, for example, a 5 percent hike in operating funds for the legislature: $15 million more, up to $325 million.  I, and apparently Wolf, can’t think of a better use for $15 million than spending it on the very people who brought us to the brink and keep us on a cliff overlooking credit downgrades and insolvency.
The Wolf-enacted spending plan has line-item cuts (or savings) in human services, environmental protection, state parks, drug and alcohol programs, disaster relief, veterans’ homes, and more.  There are no line-item cuts (or savings) to anything connected to the legislature. Not salary or benefits. Not travel or expenses. Not printing costs. Not “caucus operations.” Not “incidental expenses.” Not anything.  Oh, and the House gets a 78 percent bump in money for “postage – chief clerk and legislative journal” costs. That’s $2.2 million more, up to $4.9 million.  A cynic might suggest much of that postage will go on mailers from incumbents to constituents as we enter the 2018 election cycle.”
Baer: Harrisburg's pure political wind
Philly Daily News by John Baer, Political Columnist Updated: JULY 11, 2017 — 5:05 PM EDT
George Orwell wrote it better than I can.
In a 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” he wrote that political language is “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  Well, pure wind is blowing in Harrisburg.  Your state government, for which you pay, as they say, a pretty penny, continues to fail you, the truth, and the future of the state.  national analysis released Tuesday by George Mason University ranks Pennsylvania’s fiscal condition 45th among the states.  This came one day after Gov. Wolf allowed a $32 billion state spending plan for the new fiscal year to become law without any means to pay for it.  Why? That’s how your state does business. That’s how it did it last year, too. That why we rank 45th.  Promises of on-time, responsible budgeting that cuts government costs and fixes huge and growing deficits?  Pure wind.

Editorial: Don't expect much more than a status quo budget from the Legislature
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board July 12, 2017
THE ISSUE: For the second straight year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf allowed a state budget bill to become law without his signature. Negotiations between Wolf, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled Legislature collapsed before the midnight deadline. Lawmakers still have not produced a plan to pay for the spending package. As The Associated Press reported, Wolf wants the Legislature to approve a tax increase big enough to avoid another credit downgrade. The budget currently has a $2.2 billion shortfall.  We’re going to order a new, 80-inch Ultra HD TV and a pizza oven for the office. We have no idea how we’re going to pay for it, and we’re already seriously in the red, but we’ll worry about all that later.  Absurd? Of course, unless you work in the Pennsylvania Legislature, a body that specializes in absurd.  For the second consecutive year, lawmakers passed a budget without a plan for how to pay for it. And for the second straight year, Wolf let the plan become law without his signature when the 10-day signing period expired.  Good work, one and all.  This is no way to run a state government. Or a local government. Or a hardware store.  There are still questions about the constitutionality of the bill and a downgrade to the state’s credit rating is a possibility, which means it would cost the state more to borrow money. Who would bear that burden? If you answered “taxpayers,” you are correct.  “Our creditors and the people of Pennsylvania understand a responsible resolution must take real and necessary steps to improve Pennsylvania’s fiscal future,” Wolf said in a statement late Monday.

Last-minute changes would add Medicaid work requirement as part of budget
Inquirer by KATE GIAMMARISE, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Updated: JULY 11, 2017 7:19 PM EDT
Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled General Assembly is considering significant, last-minute changes to the state's Medicaid program.  The changes would come as part of the state's Human Services code, one of a number of code bills legislators must pass to enact the budget.  The bill passed the state House Tuesday in a 102-91 vote Among the changes: requiring the state's Department of Human Services to seek a waiver for its Medicaid program to impose work requirements on able-bodied recipients, "lock-in" Medicaid recipients in their managed care plans, and request a waiver to the federal government to charge premiums in Medicaid to families with disabled children whose income is above one thousand percent of the federal poverty income limit.

Experts will gather in Philly next week to discuss trauma and education
Philadelphia University will host the event, which is designed to promote interdisciplinary approaches to the issue.
The notebook by Paul Jablow July 11, 2017 — 9:51am
Mental health professionals, educators, and early childhood specialists from up and down the Eastern seaboard will gather here next week for a conference on trauma awareness and education.  The Greater Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference will be held July 19-21 at Philadelphia University, in the northwestern part of the city.  Jeanne Felter, director of the university’s Community and Trauma Counseling Program, said the conference was designed to promote interdisciplinary approaches for dealing with traumatized children by bringing together professionals in mental health, education, medicine, and juvenile justice.

From middle school to middle college
Parkway Center City is Philadelphia's first high school where students can also earn an associate’s degree. The teens started their college courses this week.
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy July 11, 2017 — 5:06pm
Adrian Mondragon is only 14 years old, but today he started his first day of college. Just weeks after graduating from middle school, Mondragon enrolled in a general education course at Community College of Philadelphia.  “It’s a big change from middle school,” said Mondragon. “You think of going into high school as something a little bit higher than middle school, but not too much. But when you come and see this, it’s a whole different [thing.] The game has changed a lot.”  A big change, indeed, and not only for him, but for the city, too.  Mondragon is one of 132 students enrolled in Philadelphia’s first middle college, at Parkway Center City High School.  “We know that when students are exposed to a college environment in high school, they are more successful in college and career,” said Superintendent William Hite.  This week, the students took their first college courses in the school's Summer Bridge program, where they got a jump-start on their coursework. Those who succeed will receive their first college credits.

Students sue Parkland claiming discrimination against pro-life club
Peter Hall Of The Morning Call July 11, 2017
A Parkland High School graduate and a rising senior who tried to start a student pro-life club last school year have sued the school district, claiming administrators unfairly rejected their plan. The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the Thomas More Society on behalf of the students, alleges school officials discriminated against Elizabeth Castro and Grace Schairer and violated their rights to free speech by requiring them to restrict the anti-abortion club’s activities, after initially rejecting the proposal as divisive.  It seeks a court order against the district’s rejection of the students’ proposal and to remove restrictions on the club’s activities, in addition to monetary damages and attorney fees.  The lawsuit comes about two months after the Thomas More Society sent a letter outlining allegations of discrimination against the students and warning of litigation. The Chicago-based public interest law firm takes on cases involving abortion, family rights and religious liberty.

Talking poverty, diversity, mental health with America's principals
This week thousands of school principals are gathering in Philadelphia for a first-of-its-kind conference.  The 2017 National Principals Conference marks the only time (so far) the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) have held a joint national gathering. Conference attendance is around 4,300, according to an NASSP spokesperson.  Translation: there are a lot of principals roaming Center City right now. (Playing hookie is not advised.)  While they were here, a few principals took time to chat with WHYY. We introduce them below. Together they paint an interesting portrait of American education, both the vast differences and striking similarities among the nation's many schools.

Keystone Crossroads July 2017
“Schooled” gives the insider’s story of America’s public schools, through the eyes of students, parents and educators.  We begin with Savannah Zayas, a teen mother in a struggling high school who’s determined to escape poverty by earning her diploma.  Season 1 is based on more than a year of interviews with Savannah, who’s fought to overcome horrific abuse, and avoid the problems of the world around her — a drug-infused area of Philadelphia known as “the badlands.” Her goal: to graduate high school.  Subscribe to the podcast today.

Central Bucks leads Bucks, area Montgomery high schools in STEM rankings
Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer July 11, 2017
Central Bucks' three high schools are the best in Bucks County and among the tops in Pennsylvania for STEM education, according to a study released this week by
Central Bucks East was ranked ninth by Niche while CB South finished 17th and CB West 18th among all state high schools. Rounding out the top 20 are Wissahickon, 19th, and North Penn, 20th, in Montgomery County.  "We have 14 different technology and engineering courses at our high schools that our kids are taking advantage of and are performing well," said John Kopicki, Central Bucks' superintendent. "They go to college and major in science and technology and engineering, courses they've been exposed to in Central Bucks, and pursue careers. This survey is another indicator our kids are continuing that successful trend."  Niche, a Pittsburgh-based website that analyzes education data to rank schools, used math SAT and ACT scores, math state test scores and enrollment in advanced math and science courses, in addition to data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as student and parent reviews in their methodology.
There are 618 public high schools included in the Niche study. High schools in Bucks and Eastern Montgomery counties finishing among the top 100 in the rankings are New Hope-Solebury, ranked 32nd; Council Rock North, 33rd; Upper Dublin, 38th; Council Rock South, 43rd; Pennsbury, 54th; Palisades, 58th; Lower Moreland, 61st; Souderton Area, 64th; Pennridge, 70th; Cheltenham, 74th; Hatboro-Horsham, 82nd; Abington, 85th; and Quakertown Community, 97th.

Reeling Republicans take one last shot at Obamacare
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still doesn’t have the votes to pass a bill, but he’s pressing ahead with plans for a vote next week.
Politico By BURGESS EVERETT and JENNIFER HABERKORN  07/11/2017 12:25 PM EDT Updated 07/11/2017 10:30 PM EDT
Twenty-three years ago, President Bill Clinton and Senate Democrats canceled two weeks of the August recess to pass a major health care bill. They got nowhere.  Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying the same thing with the GOP for the August break, and it may lead to the same result.  “I’m hoping for better this time,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday afternoon after saying earlier he was “very pessimistic” the GOP would succeed. In 1994, Democrats “kept us in and we didn’t accomplish anything.”  In fact, McConnell would like to finish health care well before August. Though he pulled a vote in June, Republicans say they are serious about completing their work in the coming days.  There will be a vote to advance the bill next week, McConnell said Tuesday. And even if it fails, he made clear to his members at a party lunch that there will be no more false starts despite an increasingly downbeat feeling in the caucus.  New text of the proposal will be made public Thursday, and a Congressional Budget Office analysis is expected on Monday.

“And GOP hands with experience at the state and federal level simply don't want to put in the long hours for a controversial secretary who doesn't seem to have much of an agenda beyond school choice That problem doesn't seem to be going away, particularly as potential hires get more info about where the Trump administration wants to take K-12 policy. One former state leader who was considering a post balked after seeing the president's budget request, which would eliminate money for teacher training and slash career and technical education funding.”
Five Big Tasks for Betsy DeVos
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 10, 2017 7:49 AM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos may not have much time for the beach this summer. She and her skeletal political staff will be spending the summer implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, looking for regulations to cut, and more.  Here's a quick look at what's on the secretary's plate: Hire staff  The secretary has been in office for more than four months, but the political ranks at the department are still really, really thin. So far, the White House has nominated just two people to fill Senate-confirmable slots. Plus, Jim Blew, the executive director of Student Success California, is expected to be tapped as assistant secretary of planning, evaluation, and policy analysis.  But generally, the department has had bad luck with recruitment. Allan Hubbard, the former George W. Bush administration economic adviser who was slated to serve as deputy secretary, dropped out because of financial considerations. So did Claude Pressnell, president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, who was expected to be named assistant secretary for postsecondary education.

Watch This Refresher on Trump's Education Budget in Under 60 Seconds
Education Week Pollitics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on July 11, 2017 4:28 PM
Did you forget all about the federal education budget? We're not offended, but we're here to help.  On Thursday, the House appropriations subcommittee that handles school spending will consider a bill that funds the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal 2018. It's likely the legislation will ignore much of what's in President Donald Trump's spending blueprint for the department that his administration released in May. But what are the highlights of Trump's plan? We put together a snappy 58-second video for you that covers how spending would change, what Trump wants to cut, and what he wants more money for. Watch it below, or click here

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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