Thursday, July 20, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 20: Bill With More Than $2 Billion in Teacher-Training Cuts Advances in House

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 20, 2017:

Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events

Pa. House leaders calling members back to work this weekend on budget-related bills
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated on July 19, 2017 at 9:19 PM Posted on July 19, 2017 at 6:33 PM
The House of Representatives are calling their members back to Harrisburg for a rare weekend session to consider some budget-related bills.  But don't take that to mean a deal has been reached on a plan to to pay for Pennsylvania's $32 billion unfunded state budget.  That is still a topic of conversation.  House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said the plan is to move some of the budget implementation legislation "and see if we reach a final agreement."  The Senate at this time is still not expected to return to Harrisburg until Monday.  House and Senate Republicans leaders met at least a couple of times on Wednesday  to continue to work through their differences on the various budget bills and discuss the menu of options to raise $800 million in new revenue to balance the budget.

Editorial: Budget stalemate has more to do with Turzai's political posturing
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: JULY 20, 2017 — 5:00 AM EDT
Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai apparently isn’t paying attention to the tailspin fellow Republicans in Washington are battling for blithely pursuing a course to appease their tax-averse campaign contributors that would jeopardize the health care of millions of Americans.  Turzai has derailed bipartisan negotiations to balance the state budget, leaving even some members of his caucus confused. The Allegheny County legislator insists that the $32 billion budget passed in June can be balanced without raising taxes. But, like the repugnant Republican ideas to replace Obamacare, his proposals don’t stand up to scrutiny.  Senate Republican leaders thought a budget deal with Democrats was imminent until Tuesday, when Turzai reiterated his objection to any significant tax increase. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said “I’m not giving up,” but he sent his caucus home. Corman said the leadership would vet Turzai’s ideas, but it’s the same proposals Turzai has been making for weeks.

House Republicans need to get serious about solving Pa's revenue problems: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Posted on July 19, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Always handy with a quip, former state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, used to joke that, when it came to making the tough choices in Harrisburg during budget season, "everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die."  In that case, the non-starter of a revenue plan that state House Republicans offered Tuesday to break Pennsylvania's three-week-old budget stalemate looks like a bid for immortality.  That is, if immortality can be obtained through a series of hare-brained short-term fixes, expanded gambling and further liberalization of Pennsylvania's liquor laws.
With the possible exception of liquor reform, which is long overdue, the no-new-taxes plan offered by the House GOP is more of the same kick-the-can budgeting that has steadily eroded the state's credit rating, prompted it to slide further down most economic indicator lists, and offered little in the way of long-term stability to Pennsylvania taxpayers.  That doesn't mean they're the only ones to blame for this annual mess. There's plenty of shared responsibility, which we covered in an editorial nearly two weeks ago.

Lawmakers mull opening 'satellite casinos' in an attempt to balance the state budget
Penn Live By Charles Thompson Updated on July 20, 2017 at 6:48 AM Posted on July 20, 2017 at 6:02 AM
Pennsylvania may be on the verge of becoming a national gambling guinea pig.  To help balance the still-unfinished, $32 billion state budget, lawmakers have proposed establishment of up to 10 new "satellite" casinos to be scattered around Pennsylvania.  Are you all ready for intentionally small casinos in places like Reading? York County? State College? Altoona? The Lake Erie shoreline?  Like it or not, it is becoming a central plank of the gambling expansion piece of the budget puzzle, along with the authorization of Internet-based games played from personal electronic devices, and it is a bit of a gamble in itself.  For while many other states have added small numbers of casino licenses over time, "this would be the first time it (creation of new sites) was done in just this way," said Michael Soll, president of The Innovation Group, a New Orleans-based gambling industry consultant that has conducted several studies of Pennsylvania's market.

“According to the Independent Fiscal Office, a severance tax could generate $349 million a year to pay for schools and other state services, and according to polls, 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support the idea.  If Republican leadership in Harrisburg fails to offer such a plan, or at least one that includes some form of substantial revenue, it jeopardizes the state’s credit rating and continues to shift tax hikes onto school districts and municipalities, hurting homeowners and renters alike.  Moreover, experts warn that a credit downgrade could cost taxpayers $5 million for every $1 billion in state financing for roads, schools and other critical infrastructure.”
Pa. taxpayers stand to lose in political stalemate (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans Published 1:48 p.m. ET July 19, 2017 | Updated 1:48 p.m. ET July 19, 2017
State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans is a Democrat from York.
Pennsylvania’s 2017-18 fiscal year budget, which became law July 10, is not perfect but it represents a political compromise to fund state services.  It includes a $100 million increase in basic-education funding and $25 million more for special education. A $25 million increase for Pre-K Counts and $5 million more for Head Start will help the state’s youngest learners prepare for school.  Pennsylvanians consistently rank school funding among their top legislative priorities, and I’m happy we delivered – it’s no easy feat in the face of today’s divided party politics. The work is not done, however. We still have to write a revenue plan, and as of this column’s deadline, House Republican leadership has kept any plan from moving forward. It’s a shame, too, because a growing number of rank-and-file Republicans have indicated they would vote for a natural-gas severance tax to balance the budget since S&P Global threatened to downgrade Pennsylvania’s credit rating last month. 

Guest Column: Following latest Pa. budget debacle, it’s time to use revenue options
Delco Times Opinion By Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 07/19/17, 8:29 PM EDT | UPDATED: 6 HRS AGO
Pennsylvania state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski is a Democrat who represents the 121st Legislative District in Luzerne County.
For the past seven years, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have had majority control of our state government. For four of those years, they’ve had total control. During that time, their fiscal policy has been disastrous for Pennsylvania. Rather than engage in real solutions for recurring revenue, each budget has ended with half-solutions, fuzzy math and kicking the can down the road to be dealt with at a later time.  Republicans’ refusal to entertain Pennsylvania’s fiscal reality has done irreparable damage to our finances. We’ve seen multiple credit downgrades from the three major credit-rating agencies and as of this writing, we’re facing yet another. These downgrades hurt taxpayers the most, as a lower credit rating means it costs state and local agencies more to borrow money or refinance existing debts. That cost gets passed on to you.  There are multiple options to fix Pennsylvania’s $2 billion structural deficit. All of them have existed for the past seven years, yet Republicans have refused to entertain any of them. First and foremost, I advocate for a fair and reasonable tax on the Marcellus Shale gas-drilling industry. This alone will generate between $200 million and $300 million per year at the current rate. This amount will double and triple once more infrastructure is complete and the gas industry is operating at full capacity.

‘Schooled’ with Savannah
Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane July 19, 2017 Audio Runtime 49:00
Guests: Savannah Zayas, Kevin McCorry, Maura Bernt, Sydney Coffin
High school is already stressful and confusing enough. Add a being a new parent into the mix, and a troubled home life, and the task of graduating becomes gargantuan. Most who find themselves in this situation give up on school and try to find any job that would simply make ends meet. But today, we’re going to hear the story of SAVANNAH ZAYAS, a mother who overcame hardship and poverty by earning her diploma as a teen mother. Keystone Crossroads reporter KEVIN McCORRY’s new podcast, ‘Schooled,’uses Zayas’ story as a lens to discuss the American public school system and joins us for the hour as well. Also joining us will be MAURA BERNT is the director of Youth Programs at Providence, a North Philadelphia nonprofit where Savannah worked, and SYDNEY COFFIN, Savannah’s English teacher.

Refugee education lawsuit will cost Lancaster schools more than $600K next year
The city of Lancaster resettles a lot of refugees for a community of its size, and various stakeholders have long collaborated with the district for school-based programs designed to help entire families from this vulnerable population.  So when the School District of Lancaster was sued one year ago, officials argued that they — not the courts — knew best how to deal with their own students.  But Judge Edward G. Smith found last fall that the School District of Lancaster had violated the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act by delaying or denying enrollment of older refugee students and diverting them to a magnet school with less support for English Language Learners than the mainstream high school and its Newcomer Program designed for first-year ELLs (formerly known as the International School).  And now, the School District of Lancaster is looking at spending more than half a million dollars, less than 1 percent of its $208 million annual budget, as a result of the lawsuit, according to school officials.

Five into one won’t go easily
Times News By Bruce Frassinelli Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A proposal by a Jim Thorpe school board member to consolidate Carbon County’s five school districts into one faces enormous hurdles. During the past decade, there have been three statewide and regional studies on the pros and cons of such mergers across the state, and in all but one instance nothing happened.  Gerald Strubinger Sr. has been a decade long proponent of countywide school systems such as those found in other states across the nation and believes that “serious money” can be saved by going this route.  Instead of five superintendents, high school principals, business managers and other top-level personnel, the number could be streamlined, Strubinger believes. He would like to make his case for such a merger with representatives of other county districts starting with the largest — Lehighton. The other districts in the county are Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly.  The state’s Legislative Joint State Government Commission and the Independent Fiscal Office are jointly looking into school district consolidation after the House Education Committee voted unanimously last year to study its pros and cons.  Sponsor State Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery believes there are opportunities for administrative savings by tearing down school district boundaries.  Several of Vereb’s colleagues who support the bill take for granted that school consolidation adds up to big savings, but three studies of a similar type since 2009 showed no significant savings. Despite a lot of chatter on the subject, the last voluntary merger was in 2009 when the Center Area and Monaca school districts in Beaver County became the Central Valley School District.

Former Thackston board president responds to allegations
York Dispatch by David Weissman, 505-5431/@DispatchDavid Published 12:44 p.m. ET July 19, 2017 | Updated 4:50 p.m. ET July 19, 2017
Helen Thackston Charter School's former board president is disputing allegations of self-dealing made by York City School District.  In a June resolution moving to start revocation proceedings for Thackston’s charter, the district school board stated a charter school board member failed to disclose his ownership stake in GeoSource Capital LLC, which Thackston contracted with during the 2013-14 school year to provide homeland security curriculum services.  Michael Mehosky, who served as Thackston's board president when it voted on the contract, wrote in an email Monday that he started GeoSouce with a partner in 2010 but sold all of his interests to another shareholder in 2012 before becoming board president.  He added in his email that he disclosed his previous relationship with GeoSource's presenters to board members prior to the company's presentation, and he did not receive any compensation related to the contract.

Pennsylvania recognized for IDEA compliance
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES  | Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 12:24 p.m.
Pennsylvania has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, according to a statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  This is the 10th consecutive year that the state has been recognized for its performance.  “It is an honor for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be recognized for ten years of dedicated service to some of our most vulnerable populations,” Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera said in a statement. “I am proud of the work we are collectively doing and I applaud our educators, administrators, and staff for their commitment to excellence in providing a high-quality education to our students.”  The Individuals with Disabilities Act is a federal law that ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education. It governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services.

Bill With More Than $2 Billion in Teacher-Training Cuts Advances in House
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on July 19, 2017 8:37 PM
Lawmakers in charge of the U.S. Department of Education's budget voted Wednesday to advance a funding bill that cuts $2.4 billion from the agency's budget, with most of that reduction coming through the elimination of a major program focused on teachers.   The GOP-backed bill approved by the House appropriations committee on Wednesday by a 28-22 vote cuts the department's budget to $66 billion. That's a less-severe cut than the spending blueprint floated by President Donald Trump in May that includes a $9.2 billion reduction. House Republicans followed the Trump budget's lead and cut the $2 billion Title II program that covers teacher training, as well as class-size reductions.  "We invest in programs that ensure that all students have access to a quality education," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., the chairman of the House appropriations committee. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.  But Republicans in charge of the bill declined to include two big budget initiatives from Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: a $1 billiion public school choice program under Title I, and a $250 million private school choice program. 

Senate 'repeal only' bill would leave 32 million more uninsured, CBO says
Politico By ADAM CANCRYN  07/19/2017 05:23 PM EDT Updated 07/19/2017 06:23 PM EDT
A revived bill that would dismantle large parts of Obamacare without an immediate replacement would leave 32 million more people uninsured and double premiums over a decade, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report Wednesday.  The legislation — an update of the repeal measure nearly all GOP senators voted for in 2015 — is on track to reach the Senate floor early next week, where it likely would fail.  Republican leaders pledged to put the bill to a vote after their initial effort to repeal and replace Obamacare fell apart in stunning fashion, though a number of holdout lawmakers are meeting later tonight to try to salvage the effort.  If that fails, CBO’s analysis offers a stark look at the GOP’s remaining option for following through on their seven-year vow to repeal Obamacare.

Will Churches Ever Be Allowed to Run Charter Schools?
Some legal scholars say Trinity Lutheran v. Comer could forge a path toward more charter schools overseen by religious groups.   
The Atlantic by MATT BARNUM  JUL 19, 2017
The reverend Michael Faulkner wanted to start a charter school through his church in Harlem. But there was a problem: New York law bars religious denominations from running charters, even if, as Faulkner promised, the school would teach a secular curriculum.  So Faulkner—a one-time NFL player who ran for Congress in 2010—and his church sued.  “The New York Charter Schools Act is nothing more than an attempt by the State to erect a barrier for those who express their religious beliefs from access to public resources that are generally available to all others,” read the 2007 complaint.  The suit was voluntarily dismissed in 2009, and Faulkner, now running for city comptroller, described it as “dormant.” But a recent Supreme Court decision might mean that suits like that one have a better chance of prevailing.

10 of the best John Coltrane tracks
The great saxophonist died 50 years ago this week. Here are 10 of his finest moments
Irish Times by Donald Clarke  July 19, 2017
John Coltrane died 50 years ago this week. In the intervening decades, the saxophonist’s reputation has suffered not the tiniest decline. One could comfortably list 50 essential tracks by Coltrane, but we have only so much time on this earth. To make the task a little easier, we have stuck to recordings that list Coltrane as leader. So, you won’t see anything from Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. More controversially, we’ve excluded recordings such as the excellent rediscovered Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. The regretted exclusions were so numerous we don’t even bother listing the runners-up. We begin controversially . . .

2017 Pennsylvania Arts and Education Symposium
November 2, 2017 - Radisson Harrisburg Hotel & Convention Center
Submission Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 28, 2017
The Pennsylvania Arts Education Network Steering Committee invites arts educators, artists, and arts advocates to submit education and advocacy session proposals for the 7th Annual Pennsylvania Arts and Education Symposium to be held on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at the Radisson Harrisburg Hotel & Convention Center.   Proposed Sessions should be for 60 minutes.  Presenters may express a preference for a morning session (starting approximately 10:00 am) or afternoon session (starting approximately 2:00 pm).
The Symposium Planning Committee will review all proposals. The final decision for inclusion in the Symposium will be made by the Committee.  If invited to present, Session presenters must register for the Symposium at the "Very Early Bird Rate" ($50.00) by September 15, 2017.

The deadline to submit cover letter, resume and application is August 25, 2017.
PSBA seeking experienced education leaders: Become an Advocacy Ambassador
PSBA is seeking applications for six Advocacy Ambassadors who have been involved in day-to-day functions of a school district, on the school board, or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders through the advocacy leadership of the ambassadors. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be an active leader in an assigned section of the state, and is kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA position based on PSBA priorities to accomplish advocacy goals.  PSBA Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors representing PSBA, and serve as liaisons between PSBA and their local and federal elected officials. Advocacy Ambassadors also commit to building strong relationships with PSBA members with the purpose of engaging the designated members to be active and committed grassroots advocates for PSBA’s legislative priorities.  This is a 9-month independent contractor position with a monthly stipend and potential renewal for a second year. Successful candidates must commit to the full 9-month contract, agree to fulfill assigned Advocacy Ambassador duties and responsibilities, and actively participate in conference calls and in-person meetings

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.

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.

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.

Education Law Center’s 2017 Annual Celebration
ELC invites you to join us for our Annual Celebration on September 27 in Philadelphia.
The Annual Celebration will take place this year on September 27, 2017 at The Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. The event begins at 5:30 PM. We anticipate more than 300 legal, corporate, and community supporters joining us for a cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner presentation.  Our annual celebrations honor outstanding champions of public education. This proud tradition continues at this year’s event, when together we will salute these deserving honorees:
·         PNC Bank: for the signature philanthropic cause of the PNC Foundation, PNC Grow Up Great, a bilingual $350 million, multi-year early education initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life; and its support of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, which enables new lawyers to pursue careers in public interest law;
·         Joan Mazzotti: for her 16 years of outstanding leadership as the Executive Director of Philadelphia Futures, a college access and success program serving Philadelphia’s low-income, first-generation-to-college students;
·         Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr., PhD: for his invaluable service to ELC, as he rotates out of the chairman position on our Board of Directors. Dr. Campbell is an Arcadia University Associate Professor in the School of Education; and
·         ELC Pro Bono Awardee Richard Shephard of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP: for his exceptional work as pro bono counsel, making lasting contributions to the lives of many vulnerable families.Questions? Contact Tracy Callahan or 215-238-6970 ext. 308.

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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