Monday, July 17, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 17: Another July, another budget mess; Bethlehem schools advertise to compete with charters

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 17, 2017:

Monday PA Capitol Digest NewsClips - Senate Is Back
Senate Committees Monday are scheduled to consider Tax, Fiscal, Public School, Human Services Code bills in Appropriations and gaming bill and Human Services Code bill in Senate Rules.  The House is still on a 6-hour call.

Schools of Thought: The War Over Public Education and Charter Schools
NBC News SUN, JUL 09 2017 Video Runtime 10:32
NBC News’ Craig Melvin goes inside the fight over charter schools by visiting an all-boys high school in West Philadelphia. He also sits down with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for her first network news interview.

Bethlehem schools advertise to compete with charters
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call July 14, 2017
In the age of school choice, Bethlehem Area Superintendent Joseph Roy knows parents shop around before enrolling their children.  These days, schools need to sell their product to parents, Roy said. That’s why the Bethlehem Area School District will spend almost $75,000 over the next two years on branding and promoting the district’s 22 schools. By doing so, the district will compete with charter and private schools that advertise in glossy brochures and on flashy billboards.  To Roy, the money is a small chunk of change compared with the $26 million the district paid in charter school tuition this past school year. With the district paying out $11,000 a year in tuition for each regular education student opting for a charter school and $22,000 for special education students, it need only persuade a few to remain at district schools to recoup the marketing expense.  “Do away with charter schools and I’ll do away with this,” Roy said. “This is a wise investment if there are five fewer kids going to a charter school.”  As charter schools cut into enrollment and funding, districts across the country are aggressively looking into nontraditional ways to recruit and retain students.  For Bethlehem, that will mean distributing information packets to local Realtors and employers so parents with young children know about their neighborhood schools. It also will include mailing postcards and letters from school principals to Bethlehem Area households.  Other districts have gone a step further with billboards and ads at movie theaters — and even new programs. Districts say they have to spend the money on marketing to lessen the damage of losing students to charter schools.  Charter school advocates welcome the competition, noting that’s one of the reasons charters were created.  “All public schools, including charter schools and traditional schools, should make the investment to let the public know the great things happening in their schools,” said Ana Meyers, director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools.

Special meeting for charter school moved up to Tuesday
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call July 15, 2017
Catasauqua Area School District officials have agreed to move a special public meeting with Innovative Arts Academy Charter School leaders a week earlier to accommodate the charter’s leadership.  Originally, the district set the meeting for July 25, but Superintendent Robert Spengler said it has been moved to Tuesday after Innovative Arts Principal Douglas Taylor said they’d be unable to attend July 25.  Catasauqua is the sponsoring district for the charter school and is expected to provide a level of oversight under Pennsylvania charter school law. Former staff at the career-focused charter school began publicly criticizing the school’s special education department, prompting the Catasauqua School Board to invite charter school leaders to a June 27 meeting to hear their side. d an invitation to get the other side of the story.  But Innovative Arts Academy leaders were no-shows during the June 27 meeting after Taylor said their attorney Daniel Fennick advised them against attending because he said some questions could concern matters protected by confidentiality.  The meeting went on and was instead dominated by former faculty airing a wide range of concerns and complaints. With more questions than answers, the school board sent Innovative Arts Academy a letter with a long list of questions and invited them to another special meeting to offer explanations.

PA Legislature Deserves an F for Charter School Reform
An update of the most recent charter school reform debacle in the PA Legislature
Lower Macungie Patch By Mark Spengler (Patch Poster) - Updated July 13, 2017 6:59 pm ET
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently reminded the public that we have the worst charter school system in the country. Easily the worst part of the PA charter school embarrassment has to do with cyber charter schools. Cyber charter schools have shown deplorable results in terms of graduation and student performance and have also wasted a ton of taxpayer money. Here are some of the most recent numbers:
Average Graduation Rates 2015-16:
·         PA Public Schools: 86.1%
·         PA Cyber Charter Schools: 47.7%
Average School Performance Profile Results 2015-16 (70 is considered passing)
·         PA Public Schools: 70.3%
·         PA Cyber Charter Schools: 50.9% (9 out of 14 scored below 50)
Total Local PA Taxpayer Money Spent on Cyber Charter Tuition 2013-15
·         $1.2 billion
Perhaps the saddest part of our cyber charter system is the funding method. Cyber charters are funded at the same per dium rate as bricks and mortar charter schools. This of course makes no sense because cybers do not have anywhere near the same level of expenses as bricks and mortar schools.

Once more, with feeling - pass a severance tax to balance the budget: Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Diana Polson Updated on July 14, 2017 at 9:05 AM Posted on July 14, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Diana Polson is a Policy Analyst with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a left-leaning think-tank. 
As Pennsylvania lawmakers deliberate over where to find recurring revenue to finish the state budget, our state literally sits atop an answer - a real tax on natural gas extraction.  In 2014, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producer in the nation, and gas production continues to rise. Every other large natural-gas-rich state imposes a severance tax on the market value of gas extracted. Pennsylvania instead charges a per well "impact fee" that does not grow as more natural gas is pumped out.   Our state enacted the impact fee in 2012 - because of the outsized influence of drillers and because it allowed Gov. Corbett to claim he had not violated a "no-tax" pledge.  So far, the cost to the state of failing to enact a severance tax like other states has been held down by low prices. (When prices are low, a severance tax on the value of gas extracted doesn't raise as much money.) Low prices reflect a local glut because Pennsylvania lacked pipelines to carry gas where it would fetch higher prices.  Despite bipartisan push to advance a shale tax bill, Republican leaders in both GOP-controlled legislative chambers show no signs of allowing it to happen.  Three trends suggest that the cost to state coffers of having an impact fee instead of a severance tax is about to grow - quickly. 

Editorial: How fiscal follies rule in Harrisburg
Delco Times POSTED: 07/15/17, 11:14 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Welcome to Pennsylvania, the land of unfunded budgets.
You read it right. Our elected leaders managed to do something they have not always done in the past. They put a spending plan in place by the state-mandated deadline of July 1.  But don’t do any backflips or other contortions celebrating such a brave bit of fiscal maneuvering.  Fiscal folly might be a better description.  The Legislature passed a budget. It just don’t know how it’s going to pay for it.  We’re not making this up.  The state has a $32 billion dollar budget in place. But it only forecasts $30 billion in revenue. No, you can’t run your household in this fashion. People don’t like it when you can’t pay your bills. The state is already getting dire warnings from Standard & Poor’s that the Keystone State’s dismal credit rating could take another hit because of “fundamental mismanagement.”  That’s what they call it when you can’t pay your bills.  In Harrisburg, it just seems to be business as usual.  Gov. Tom Wolf couldn’t even bring himself to put his name on this latest budget mess. Instead he did the Capitol version of holding his nose, allowing the budget to become law without his signature.  It only paying for it was as easy, if not any less offensive.

Budget deadlock politics the first act in Pa. governor race
Morning Call by Marc Levy Of The Associated Press July 16, 2017
HARRISBURG — Call it the first act of the governor's race.
The slow-motion arc of Pennsylvania's budget negotiations — with a backdrop of a huge deficit, potential credit downgrade and two-week-old deadlock — has served as a sort of first debate stage for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the would-be contenders hoping to contest Wolf's re-election bid next year.  It is an early opportunity to boost their candidacies, and hurt an opponent, in a setting being watched closely by insiders.  The material is rich: Wolf unsuccessfully sought to get the huge Republican House majority to sign on to a tax increase that Wolf said would be big enough to avert another downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating.  Wolf then allowed a nearly $32 billion budget bill to become law, despite the fact that his own budget office says the state's existing tax collections can't support it for a full fiscal year. He did not sign it, he did not veto it and he did not use his line-item veto power to strike out some of the spending in it to bring it into balance.  How all the gubernatorial hopefuls are treating the matter is a study of contrasts.

Pa.'s budget strategy: Bad, and more broken than ever
by Joel Naroff, FOR THE INQUIRER Updated: JULY 16, 2017 — 7:22 AM EDT
Pennsylvania’s budget process is broken. The legislature and governor cannot craft a budget that makes economic sense for the state. This year, political gamesmanship again created an impasse that will almost assuredly lead to another unbalanced budget that fails to deal with the key issues facing the commonwealth.  For the third consecutive year, Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature and its Democratic governor failed to agree on a budget. Two years ago, the battle over spending and taxes led to the July 1 deadline being missed, creating problems for months. Last year and this, Gov. Wolf allowed the budget, crafted by the legislature, to become law without his signature or even the means to fund the spending.  Really, does anyone believe it’s fiscally responsible to pass a budget that fails to fully fund the government? Yet for years, actual revenues have not met spending requirements.  Yes, the state’s constitution requires the budget to be balanced. But it doesn’t specifically exclude smoke, mirrors, and make-believe, which is what Harrisburg uses to claim there is enough money to pay for the programs in the budget.

Editorial: Strapping deficit to poor
The largest and second-costliest full-time state legislature in the United States, the Pennsylvania General Assembly, has redefined uselessness.  By yet again passing a completely unbalanced “budget,” the Republican leadership of the House and Senate has demonstrated, yet again, the need for sweeping legislative reform.  That must include the elimination of gerrymandering to create competitive elections so that these woefully ineffective legislators truly can be held accountable. Then, the numbers of seats in the 203-member House and 50-member Senate should be reduced by at least half. If nothing else, that would reduce the cost of the endless paralysis that the current body produces. But it also likely would better distribute power and create some real debate in both bodies.  But first, this year’s budget. The Legislature passed half of one 12 days ago, a $32 billion spending bill, but did not bother including the crucial revenue piece. Monday, for the second consecutive year, Gov. Tom Wolf allowed the “budget” to become law without his signature.  The state has a roughly $3 billion deficit. It flows from ideologically based governance, rooted in gerrymandering that creates political impunity, rather than from a lack of readily available solutions.

A budget circus? Yes. But this is no fun (state) House: Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Madeleine Dean Updated on July 16, 2017 at 10:06 AM Posted on July 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM
State Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, represents the Montgomery County-based 153rd House District. 
We're in trouble in Pennsylvania and the GOP "fix" is like looking in a funhouse mirror: gambling and bloated borrowing.  This year, Pennsylvania's budget process began upside down. House and Senate Republican Leaders decided to schedule a vote on a spending plan before the revenue bill.  On June 30, we passed a $32 billion 2017-2018 budget without a plan to pay for it.   And while this cart-before-the horse mismanagement continues, we--Pennsylvania taxpayers--pay a price.  Last week, S&P ratings agency warned that it would likely cut Pennsylvania's already reduced credit-worthiness rating unless we demonstrate the will to get our house in order, stating:  "While it is not uncommon for states to have periodic structural imbalance, Pennsylvania's chronic misalignment and eroding general fund position, particularly during a period of economic growth, demonstrate a pattern of financial mismanagement."

Baer: Tom Wolf's double dilemma
Philly Daily News by John Baer, Political Columnist Updated: JULY 16, 2017 — 12:49 PM EDT
Gov. Wolf is in a tough place.  He’ll soon have to decide what to do with whatever lame-o revenue package the world’s worst legislative body sends him to pay for the state’s new $32 billion spending plan, part of a half-baked budget that was supposed to take effect July 1.  His choices include fighting, and risking fiscal and political pain; or going along, and risking fiscal and political pain.  This is what our state has come to. Let’s review.  On one hand, Wolf didn’t create the mess. It festered for years. On the other hand, things aren’t better under his watch.  In 2010, after eight years of Gov. Ed Rendell, the financial news service 24/7 Wall St. ranked Pennsylvania the 22nd best-run state. Not great, not ghastly.  By 2014, after four years of Gov. Tom Corbett, the state ranked 36th. Pretty big drop.  It’s currently 42nd.  Wolf could borrow one of Homer Simpson’s three phrases to get through life: “It was like that when I got here.” (The  two others are “Cover for me” and “Oh, good idea, Boss.”) Or Wolf could say, “I’ve slowed our decline.”  It’s just that neither makes a great campaign slogan for his reelection bid in 2018.

“What seems clear is that no balanced budget will be possible without a tax increase of some sort. The idea that a further expansion of casino gambling will be a huge revenue windfall seems folly, at best. A severance tax should be discussed, but Republicans seem determined to take that off the table.  We believe that a compromise should be reached that would allow for a severance tax, while bringing back a topic that Wolf has resisted: privatization of the state liquor system. Republicans are opposed to a severance tax, and Wolf is opposed to selling off the liquor system. It would seem that a compromise on the two topics would go a long way toward bridging the ominous funding gap hanging over the state.”
Editorial: Another July, another budget mess
Beaver County Times By The Times Editorial Board Jul 15, 2017
Another July, another budget mess in Pennsylvania. Will the dysfunction in Harrisburg never end?  The Republican-controlled Legislature sent Gov. Tom Wolf a budget bill by the June 30 deadline, but the $32 billion spending plan was short about $2 billion in revenue. Wolf had the options of signing the bill into law, vetoing the bill, using his line-item veto to cut spending, or doing nothing for 10 days and allowing the bill to become law.  For the second year in row, Wolf chose to wait the 10 days and let the bill become law, even though it’s an unbalanced budget and critics are questioning whether that is legal under the state constitution.  Meanwhile, legislators have left Harrisburg and headed home, and there’s no word about the status of negotiations to plug that $2 billion shortfall. Even more disturbing is the notice last week from Standard and Poor’s that the state faces another credit downgrade if it passes a budget that relies on optimistic assumptions or one-time cash sources.  So where exactly will the state come up with the money? Wolf has tried for three years to get some sort of severance tax enacted on natural gas drilling, but the Republicans have repeatedly rejected any attempt to tax the industry.

Guest Column: Will courts strike a blow against gerrymandering?
Delco Times By G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young, Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 07/16/17, 8:02 PM EDT
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.  Decennial reapportionment has been the law of the land since a landmark Supreme Court case in 1964 (Reynolds v Sims) ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment requires voting districts be as equal in population as possible.  Equal they may now be — but fair they are still not. The problem is “gerrymandering” – the ancient, insidious and so far insoluble practice in American politics of creating voting districts that protect incumbents and immunize the party in power from competitive elections. The result across the nation has been a conglomeration of weirdly shaped almost ghoulish in appearance congressional districts that defy geography in the service of partisan advantage.

New strategy may place more social workers in Philly schools by September
An effort is afoot to better coordinate school and city behavioral health services.
The notebook by Paul Jablow July 14, 2017 — 2:20pm
More than 20 additional social workers could be assigned to District schools this fall under proposals being discussed by District officials, Community Behavioral Health, the Department of Human Services, and Mayor Kenney's administration.  The discussions have been strongly encouraged by several City Council members and by the newest School Reform Commission member, Estelle Richman.  Under the program, the social workers would become part of school staff, helping educators recognize the effects that experiences such as trauma and hunger have on students and promoting a positive behavioral approach to discipline and classroom management.  According to some of those involved,  the social workers would be assigned to three high schools and 19 K-8 schools.  Officials from Community Behavioral Health and the District declined to comment on the discussions, and the District refused to provide any details about the current complement of CBH workers.  But in testimony in May before City Council, Karyn Lynch, the District's chief of student support services, said that “in the last five years at least, CBH has not added to the complement of services that exist within our schools, with the exception of a short pilot [that] existed for two years.”  Richman, who has served as the state secretary of welfare and as a top official in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said she saw the addition of full-time social workers in the schools as a key to mainstreaming more students out of private placements and into District schools.

CBO won't have Monday score for Senate healthcare bill
The Hill BY REBECCA SAVRANSKY - 07/16/17 04:46 PM EDT 137
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will not release a score on Monday for the Senate GOP's revised healthcare bill.  The news comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday that the Senate would delay consideration of its healthcare legislation as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stays in his home state to recover from surgery.  "While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act," McConnell said in a statement Saturday.  The CBO was expected to release its analysis of the Senate GOP's healthcare bill as early as Monday, according to Bloomberg News.

A Top Republican Vows a Vote on Health Care, but Uncertainty Reigns
New York Times By ROBERT PEAR JULY 16, 2017
WASHINGTON — A top Senate Republican vowed on Sunday to bring the party’s health care bill to a vote as soon as possible, even as detractors said they would use a delay caused by the absence of Senator John McCain to mobilize further opposition to the measure.  “I believe as soon as we have a full contingent of senators, that we’ll have that vote,” the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  But questions emerged Sunday over when that might be. Mr. McCain, 80, had a craniotomy — a procedure in which doctors create an opening in the skull — on Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye, and he is recovering at home in Arizona. A statement from his office had indicated that he would be out this week, but neurosurgeons not involved with Mr. McCain’s surgery said the recovery period for such a procedure was often longer.  “For most patients, the time to recover from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks,” said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Richest Americans gain the most from the Senate’s health care bill
Politico By SARAH FROSTENSON | 07/14/17 05:00 AM EDT
The latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Senate’s revised health care bill won’t be available until next week, but the overarching trend of the three GOP plans analyzed so far is clear — more Americans will be uninsured and the majority of them will be poor.  Recent data from an Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center analysis on the original bill found that families making $10,000 or less risk losing more than 60 percent of their household income to health care costs. What’s more, America’s wealthiest families would actually benefit — gaining more than $5,000 in income through tax and benefit changes. Revisions to the Senate bill, including increased aid for low-income families and a decision to maintain two taxes on wealthier Americans, could affect these numbers.

“Of the ten largest private-school choice programs in the nation, at least three do not publish information about how many students are served at each school or how much money those schools receive, according to a Washington Post review.
Seven of the programs either don’t require that voucher students take standardized tests to make it possible to compare their performance with that of peers at public schools, or, if they do, they do not require schools to make those scores public.  And at least eight have no minimum performance requirements, meaning that a school can do exceedingly poorly and continue to receive taxpayer funds.”
Trump wants to spend millions more on school vouchers. But what’s happened to the millions already spent?
Washington Post By Mandy McLaren and Emma Brown July 15 at 4:30 PM 
Congress dedicates $15 million a year to a program that helps low-income D.C. students pay tuition at private schools, but it’s impossible for taxpayers to find out where their money goes: The administrator of the D.C. voucher program refuses to say how many students attend each school or how many public dollars they receive.  It’s also not clear how students are performing in each school. When Congress created the program in 2004, it did not require individual private schools to disclose anything about student performance. And private schools can continue receiving voucher dollars no matter how poorly their students fare.  President Trump has said the D.C. voucher program is “what winning for young children and kids from all over the country looks like,” and he has freed up millions of dollars in federal funds to expand it, allowing nearly triple the number of students to participate by next school year.  He and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have also pledged to expand private-school choice programs across the country, many of which now make it difficult to track how tax dollars are spent and whether they’re improving student achievement.  For DeVos, who has spent three decades supporting the expansion of state-level voucher programs, it’s more important for parents to have choices than it is for the public to have data.  “Parents know — or can figure out — what learning environment is best for their child, and we must give them the right to choose where that may be,” DeVos said in May. Every school receiving public money should be held accountable, she said, “but they should be directly accountable to parents and communities, not to Washington, D.C., bureaucrats.”

California Law Could Change Everything For The Start School Later Movement
Landmark bill giving teens a shot at healthy sleep crosses another legislative hurdle.
Huffington Post by Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD, Contributor, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Start School Later, Inc. 07/13/2017 12:08 pm ET | Updated 12 hours ago
A landmark school start time bill crossed a major hurdle this week, passing out of the California Assembly’s Education Committee with bi-partisan support. Already passed by the state senate, this bill stands to make California the first U.S. state to ensure that middle and high schools start at times that allow for healthy sleep.  Introduced by Senator Anthony J. Portantino, the bill, SB328, would prevent middle and high schools from starting the regular school day before 8:30 a.m. Requiring teenagers to be in class any earlier is unhealthy and counterproductive, according to a growing number of health organizations, including the the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Medical Association (AMA) and, most recently, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).  “This makes a big statement to children, parents, and the education community that more and more legislators are using sound and definitive research to put the best interests of our students first,” said Portantino. “School districts around the country that have moved teenage school start times later have seen measurable, positive results for student achievement and student public health.”

What you need to know as Kansas Supreme Court takes up school funding case Tuesday
Kansas City Star  BY JONATHAN SHORMAN JULY 15, 2017 2:09 PM
A showdown at the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday could determine how much money your child’s school receives — and whether you may eventually have to pay more in taxes.  Several school districts and the state are fighting over whether a new funding formula adequately funds public education. Districts suing the state say it does not. The state contends it does.  The formula — passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year — gives schools overall about $195 million more in this budget year and about $290 million more in the year after that.  If the court were to reject the new formula, lawmakers could be called into a special session later this summer or fall. The justices could also call for changes next year — potentially more funding that could require new tax money to pay for it.  Tuesday’s oral arguments before the court are the latest step in a years-long legal dispute over funding. It’s not clear when the court will issue a ruling, but it could come within weeks. The court has allowed the new formula to go into effect while it deliberates, enabling schools to prepare for the beginning of classes.  Here are three keys to understanding what’s at stake ahead of the showdown.

Transgender Students Turn to Courts as Government Support Erodes
New York Times By LIAM STACKJULY 14, 2017
Transgender students once found an ally in the Department of Education, which under the Obama administration robustly investigated alleged violations of their civil rights and argued that federal laws against sex discrimination ensured their access to public school bathrooms and changing facilities.  But that has changed in the months since President Trump took office. Since February, the department and its Office of Civil Rights have reversed their position on bathroom access and rescinded the findings of at least one civil rights investigation. Advocacy groups say the two have also made confusing statements about discrimination against gay and transgender students.  This quick erosion of support has reinforced the importance of the court system for transgender students, many advocates said. But, paradoxically, it has also made it harder for such students to pursue civil rights claims.  “Students and their families have a right to go to court to have their rights vindicated, but they shouldn’t have to,” said Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The Office of Civil Rights is tasked with handling these complaints precisely to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation, but if it refuses to do it’s job, the courts will be the backstop.”

Betsy DeVos is coming to Denver for a meeting of the conservative group ALEC — and protesters are ready
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is scheduled to speak in Denver next week at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential conservative group that has successfully advocated for free-market principles at statehouses across the country.
While DeVos will find a friendly audience at ALEC, she’ll get a different greeting from liberal activists and union leaders who are seizing on the chance to protest DeVos’s agenda.
This is DeVos’s first visit to Colorado since the billionaire philanthropist and school choice advocate was confirmed as President Donald Trump’s pick for the nation’s top education job.
DeVos has close ties to ALEC. She is the founder of the American Federation for Children, which provides financial support to ALEC and has representation on ALEC’s Education and Workforce Development Task Force.  ALEC is best known for crafting “model” legislation advancing conservative principles on issues ranging from tax limitations to gun safety and the environment. Its membership includes corporations and nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country.
DeVos shares ALEC’s support for charter schools and the use of tax dollars to pay for private school education through vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts.

Betsy DeVos: The Queen of Obfuscation, Talking Nonsense
DeVos' talking points mask a radical vision. Why won't she talk about what she believes?
By Jennifer Berkshire / AlterNet July 13, 2017, 6:39 AM GMT
After 156 days on the job, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos finally sat down with the media on Thursday. Capping off the start to a controversial listening tour on campus sexual assault issues, DeVos took a handful of questions from reporters and mostly delivered talking points in return.
DeVos passed on answering a question about whether she plans to rescind Obama’s 2011 Title IX guidance. To a query about whether she’d erred in agreeing to meet with so-called men’s rights groups, she said it was important to “hear from both sides.” And in response to the star question of the day, delivered by USA Today’s Greg Toppo, about whether having a president who has admitted to sexual assault makes the issue harder for her to deal with, she deflected.
Thursday's brief press event marked the second major media event of the week for the notoriously reporter-averse education secretary. This weekend she appeared on Megyn Kelly’s show for what was billed as her first-ever network interview. It was over in five minutes and made her remarks on campus sexual assault seem weighty by comparison.

September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Reading
Berks County Community Foundation
Carol Corbett Burris: Executive Director of the Network for Public Education
Alyson Miles: Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the American Federation for Children
James Paul: Senior Policy Analyst at the Commonwealth Foundation
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig: Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento
Karin Mallett: The WFMZ TV anchor and reporter returns as the moderator
School choice has been a hot topic in Berks County, in part due to a lengthy and costly dispute between the Reading School District and I-LEAD Charter School. The topic has also been in the national spotlight as President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have focused on expanding education choice.  With this in mind, a discussion on school choice is being organized as part of Berks County Community Foundation’s Consider It initiative. State Sen. Judy Schwank and Berks County Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach are co-chairs of this nonpartisan program, which is designed to promote thoughtful discussion of divisive local and national issues while maintaining a level of civility among participants.  The next Consider It Dinner will take place Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, 701 Penn St., Reading, Pa. Tickets are available here.  For $10 each, tickets include dinner, the panel discussion, reading material, and an opportunity to participate in the conversation.

Using Minecraft to Imagine a Better World and Build It Together.
Saturday, September 16, 2017 or Sunday, September 17, 2017 at the University of the Sciences, 43rd & Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia
PCCY, the region’s most influential advocacy organization for children, leverages the world’s greatest video game for the year’s most engaging fundraising event for kids. Join us on Saturday, September 16, 2017 or Sunday, September 17, 2017 at the University of the Sciences, 43rd & Woodland Avenue for a fun, creative and unique gaming opportunity.

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.

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.

STAY WOKE: THE INAUGURAL NATIONAL BLACK MALE EDUCATORS CONVENING; Philadelphia Fri, Oct 13, 2017 4:00 pm  Sun, Oct 15, 2017 7:00pm
TEACHER DIVERSITY WORKS. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.  Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response.  Come participate in the inaugural National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome.

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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