Monday, November 27, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 27: Of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy… urge your members of Congress to VOTE NO to tax reform that guts support for public education

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 27, 2017:
Of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy… urge your members of Congress to VOTE NO to tax reform that guts support for public education

Contact your member of Congress here to urge them to support net neutrality:

This Cyber Monday Call your PA State Legislators
And let them know how much the taxpayers in your school district are forced to pay chronically failing cyber charter schools that were never authorized by your locally elected school board.
Let them know that your district or Intermediate Unit can provide high quality cyber education that serves kids at a significant savings to taxpayers, without spending it on advertising and corporate bonuses.
Find your legislators and their contact info here:

CALL-TO-ACTION: Tell House and Senate to VOTE NO to Tax Reform That Guts Support For Public Education
AASA Website November 15, 2017
Both the House and Senate are considering comprehensive tax reform proposals. The House will vote as early as Thursday November 16th! AASA has reviewed both bills and is opposed to specific provisions which undermine federal support for public education and will negatively impact state and local funding for public schools. To that end, we have a two-prong call to action:
1.     Call the Congressional Switch board (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Senators/Representative. The person who answers is taking a tally of votes for and against, and the script you can read is below.
2.     Email the education staffer and legislative director for each of your Congressional delegation. It can even be one email! You want to send this email to the people in the office who are handling/tracking the policy specifics.

“You have been the single greatest threat to my family in the entire world. You are the reason I stay up at night. You are the reason I can’t sleep.”
– constituent Geoff Ginter to U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R. N.J., after MacArthur voted to gut the Affordable Care Act earlier this year.”
Jodine Mayberry: How GOP tax ‘cuts’ will ravage the middle class
Delco Times Opinion by Jodine Mayberry POSTED: 11/23/17, 8:27 PM EST 
Google “Tom MacArthur” or “Geoff Ginter” to see Ginter’s entire rant on video, which I promise you, is well worth the five minutes. You’ll all be going, “Yeah, what he said!” His sentiment applies equally to Congress’ current efforts to hand a huge tax cut to the wealthy and to giant corporations while throwing some crumbs our way … maybe. My congressman, Patrick Meehan, (R-Goofy Kicking Donald) has voted for the House version of the tax cut plan. If your congressman is Democrat Bob Brady, he didn’t vote for it. The details of the tax cut are yet to be worked out, but here’s what will likely happen:
An all-Republican majority of Congress is going to pass a huge corporate tax cut, which it will say is going to stimulate growth, increase wages and provide relief for small businesses. It will not do that. It will simply stuff money into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans and giant corporations so they, in turn, can stuff money into those politicians’ pockets. Did you know that 400 millionaires and billionaires wrote to Congress last week to tell it they don’t need a tax cut? But don’t worry, politicians’ pockets will continue to get stuffed.

“By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to CBO calculations.”
Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds
Morning Call by Heather Long Washington Post November 26, 2017
The Senate Republican tax plan would give substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation's poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America's growing debt. Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.

“Richardson worries about other ways the legislation may affect education. The Senate bill scraps all state and local tax deductions. Most schools in the United States get their funding for property taxes. Atlanta’s public schools already had to make budget cuts this year after a property tax freeze. School funding could become even more contentious, especially in high-tax cities, if the GOP tax bills are enacted.”
Analysis: House Republicans have a little-known plan to raise taxes on teachers by $2 billion
Inquirer by Heather Long, Washington Post Updated: NOVEMBER 22, 2017 — 12:28 PM EST
Every year, Brooke Richardson, who teaches English as a second language to mostly low-income Hispanic students in Atlanta, turns to her own pocketbook to help her students. She has lost track of how many pencils, markers, notebooks and glue sticks she buys a year. Then there are the marshmallows and cotton balls for hands-on projects. And then there are the extra books so they have something to read on the weekend and during holiday breaks, and peanut butter and jelly so kids who don’t have enough to eat have at least some food at Christmas. Every year she also has had to replace headphones or other classroom technology because something always malfunctions, and there’s rarely enough money in the budget to fix it. She prides herself as a master discount shopper, but so many little purchases add up. All in, Richardson estimates she spent $500 of her own money on her students last year. She says it’s worth it – her voice lights up talking about “her kids” and all their “aha moments,” many of which come when she deviates from the textbook. But what has also been helpful is that she’s able to deduct $250 off her taxable income for the extras she buys for her classroom, a small help that Congress created in 2002 for teachers who “go above and beyond.” Now, the educator expense deduction has become a sticking point in the GOP tax debate, with the House and Senate taking it in two wildly different directions.
The House GOP tax bill would scrap that educator deduction entirely.
The Senate GOP tax plan would double it to $500.

Analysis: Senate tax bill cuts taxes of wealthy and hikes taxes on families earning under $75,000 over a decade
Inquirer by Heather Long, Washington Post Updated: NOVEMBER 16, 2017 — 11:45 AM EST
The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts. President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts serious doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts. “What is happening now is just shameful,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in the Senate Finance Committee hearing shortly after the JCT tables were released. “I don’t know how anybody can go home and explain why it’s a good idea to hike taxes on parents who barely stay afloat to pay for a massive corporate handout.” Most of the hit to the poor and working-class is likely comes from the Senate Republicans’ push to mix health care and tax changes. The decision to include a repeal of the individual mandate would lead to 13 million more uninsured, the Congressional Budget Office has said. Senate Republicans also made most of the individual income tax provisions expire at the end of 2025, which is why most taxpayers below $75,000 end up paying more after a decade. Wealthier Americans would still benefit from a permanent cut in the corporate tax rate, which will likely boost the incomes of people who own companies or investments.

“A 2011 report from the Center on Education Policy, a research organization founded by a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill, estimated that ending all state and local tax deductions would deprive schools of $17 billion in funding. And the deductions were worth $97 billion in state and local government funding in 2016, according to a separate analysis by former U.S. Department of Education official Michael Dannenberg.  "It shows how much this conversation of tax reform is about making numbers add up and not making it work for the people they represent, particularly the people who rely on the state and local tax deduction, a lot of middle-class people, and our nation's public school system," said Noelle Ellerson Ng, the associate executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association.”
Both GOP Tax Plans Could Jeopardize School Funding, Teachers' Pocketbooks
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa November 10, 2017
Proposed changes to the federal tax code unveiled by Republican lawmakers at the start of this month would affect teachers' tax burden, private and charter schools, and significant amounts of funding for public schools. Two different versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act were introduced in the House and Senate this week. The bills don't represent a direct increase or decrease for federal spending on schools. However, it could affect both K-12 funding systems and educators' pocketbooks in several ways. If the bill passes Congress and is signed into law by President Donald Trump, it would be the biggest shift to the federal tax system since 1986. Republicans are aiming to pass the legislation by the end of the year, and the House Ways and Means Committee passed its version of the legislation this week.

“The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation already has warned that the bill the Senate will consider this week would actually raise taxes on families with incomes under $75,000 — a conclusion that leading GOP figures contest. But it is incontrovertible that the legislation calls for the bulk of the tax cuts to expire in 2025, which is a wily dodge; it allows lawmakers to skirt a congressional rule prohibiting bills requiring only a Senate majority from adding to the deficit after the passage of a decade’s time. Moreover, a study by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the bill has a full $515 billion in gimmicks and would add $2.2 trillion to the deficit.”
David M. Shribman: The tax-bill test
Soon we’ll know just how revolutionary the GOP rebels really are
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Opinion by DAVID M. SHRIBMAN  
12:00 AM NOV 26, 2017
David M. Shribman is executive editor of the Post-Gazette 
NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — Within living memory, this part of the world, framed by White Mountain peaks and garlanded by firs and hemlock, was the sturdy redoubt of the old conservatism. There was linguistic irony to the ideology that prevailed here — think of it as the conservatism of the conifers — because in these mountain fastnesses nothing was worshiped quite so much as the slowness of change. These days conservatism has a different velocity, and in this corner of the North Country — amid these cathedrals of pines — the contrast between the old conservatism and the new couldn’t be more vivid, especially so in this season of change, where just the other day the hills were pockmarked by snow and a few hours later the rains fell. That was the old conservatism: hesitant, even tentative change. The new conservatism, on display 500 miles to the south in Washington, is marked by lurches of change — swift, transformative change, the kind that substituted the old conservatism of the Bush ascendancy for the new conservatism of the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus and, on some days but not all, the Trump administration.
This week the Senate, constructed by the Founders not as a foundry of change but as a bulwark against it, will consider tax overhaul.

“The center also said the Senate proposal would generate enough economic growth to produce additional revenue of $169 billion over a decade. That's far short of closing the near $1.5 trillion in red ink that Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the bill would produce over that period. The top Democrat on the Senate Finance panel, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, said the study showed that "middle-class Americans will ultimately see a tax hike under Republicans' plan while corporate sponsors line their own pockets with multi-trillion-dollar giveaways."
Trump promises Americans 'huge tax cut' for Christmas
Lancaster Online By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press Nov 20, 2017 Updated Nov 21, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday promised a tax overhaul by Christmas, even as a nonpartisan tax analysis group said the Senate package would leave half of taxpayers facing higher levies by 2027. Speaking before a Cabinet meeting, Trump said, "We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas — hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present." Trump spoke as the Tax Policy Center said that while all income groups would see tax reductions, on average, under the Senate bill in 2019, 9 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes that year than under current law. By 2027, that proportion would grow to 50 percent, largely because the legislation's personal tax cuts expire in 2026, which Republicans did to curb budget deficits the bill would create. The policy center, a joint operation of the liberal-leaning Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, found that low-earners would generally get smaller tax breaks than higher-income people. In 2019, those making less than $25,000 would get an average $50 tax reduction, or 0.3 percent of their after-tax income. Middle-income earners would get average cuts of $850, while people making at least $746,000 would get average cuts of $34,000, or 2.2 percent of income.

6 Possible Hurdles For The GOP Tax Plan
NPR by KELSEY SNELL November 26, 20176:01 AM ET
President Trump boasted earlier this month that Republicans were working together to pass sweeping tax cuts in the waning weeks of 2017. "We're working to give the American people a giant tax cut for Christmas," Trump said. "We are giving them a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut." But first, GOP lawmakers will have to resolve some major policy differences that could derail the bill. Senate Republicans hope to hold a vote on their version of tax legislation soon after they return to Washington from a week-long Thanksgiving break. If the bill passes, the Senate plans to combine their legislation with a different tax overhaul that passed the House earlier this month. GOP leaders say they are confident that they have the votes to meet that goal. Here are a few of the major hurdles that could get in the way of the GOP plan to keep Trump's promise for a Christmas tax break.

“Reading these two books together is not a happy experience. They give reason to fear for the future. But they also remind us why it is important to join with others and take action. An informed public is a powerful public. The best counterweight to the influence of big money on politics is the ballot. When you see the strategy that libertarians, billionaire donors, and corporations have devised, you understand why low voter turnout is their ally and why high voter turnout is the only way to save our democracy.”
Big Money Rules
The New York Review of Books by Diane Ravitch DECEMBER 7, 2017 ISSUE
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
by Nancy MacLean Viking, 334 pp., $28.00
The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time
by Gordon Lafer ILR/Cornell University Press, 259 pp., $29.95
I grew up in the 1950s, an era when many believed that our society would inevitably progress toward ever greater economic equality. Desperate poverty would recede, it was assumed, as new federal programs addressed the needs of those at the very bottom of the ladder and as economic growth created new jobs. The average CEO at the time earned only twenty times as much as the average worker, and during the Eisenhower administration the marginal tax rate for the highest earners was 91 percent. Today, the goal of equality appears to be receding. The top marginal tax rate is only 39 percent, far below what it was during the Eisenhower years, and most Republicans would like to lower it even more. Employers now make 271 times as much as the average worker, and half the children in American schools are officially classified by the federal government as low-income and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Union membership peaked in the mid-1950s and has declined ever since; the largest unions today are in the public sector and only about 7 percent of private sector workers belong to a union. Despite these alarming developments, however, politicians who support the deregulation of business and champion pro-employer legislation—from state legislators to members of Congress—have a firm electoral foothold in most states.

These are the 25 richest members of Congress, ranked
Penn Live Posted November 22, 2017 at 06:38 AM | Updated November 22, 2017 at 06:38 AM
We all know that President Donald Trump is a rich guy ... after all, he talks about it often enough. But what you may not know is that your local member of Congress isn't doing too shabby either. The wonks at 24/7 Wall Street ran the numbers to come up with the 25 richest members of America's most august legislative body. On the slides to come, we'll show you who they are, what they did to earn their loot, and, most importantly, how much they're worth. Forget about sending Mr. Smith to to Washington. Politics ... as ever ... is a rich man's (or woman's) game. 

The $4.3 Billion Cabinet: See What Each Top Trump Advisor Is Worth
Forbes by Chase Peterson-Withorn , FORBES STAFF JUL 5, 2017 @ 12:00 PM
America's first billionaire president has remained devoted to the goal of placing his wealthy friends in his Cabinet, a top campaign promise. "I love all people, rich or poor," Trump told a crowd of supporters at an Iowa rally in late June 2017. "But in those particular positions, I just don't want a poor person." Mission accomplished. His Cabinet appears to be the richest in modern U.S. history, worth nearly $4.3 billion in aggregate. And it's full of some of his oldest friends -- and biggest donors. Forbes first looked into the wealth of Trump's Cabinet back in December, when candidates were still shuffling in and out of Trump Tower's marble lobby in hopes of securing one of the two remaining Cabinet posts not yet named by Trump. Since then, both positions (the secretaries of agriculture and veterans affairs) have been filled. And one person, Secretary of Labor nominee Andy Puzder, dropped out and was replaced. Now, with Trump's gilded Cabinet fully in place, here's each member and how much he or she is worth.

“On the other hand, I also listened in vain for the dog that did not bark. What about all the stories that CNN wasn’t covering that hour, as it focused on the predatory sex habits of the rich and famous. Nothing was uttered in that hour about the GOP tax scheme to use deficit spending to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars into the wallets of the super-rich and the bank accounts of the biggest corporations. Or the just-announced push by the Federal Communications Commission to cripple the open internet. Or the latest scientific funding that a fast-melting Antarctic ice shelf could inundate the world’s great coastal cities … even as the Trump administration races to install climate deniers in key government posts.”
Trump, the GOP tax scheme, and the 2 different 'awfuls' threatening America | Will Bunch
Philly Daily News by Will Bunch, STAFF COLUMNIST  @will_bunch | Updated: NOVEMBER 26, 2017 — 12:16 PM EST
On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up with CNN on my TV so I could witness something truly remarkable. For a complete hour news cycle, it was pretty much all Men Behaving (Very) Badly, all the time. Much of the 60-minute span focused on the new allegation du jour – the leaked nude photos of conservative Texas GOP Rep. Joe Barton, and questions about whether he’d threatened to sic the Capitol Police on the leaker in retaliation. But there was also the ongoing Roy Moore follies in Alabama, and — for partisan balance — a new sexual misbehavior allegation or two involving Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken. On one hand, the airing of these grievances against powerful men in high political places — all accused of using their position and their privilege to abuse, demean, devalue and threaten women in some way — was more proof that a full-blown social revolution is underway in America. And, as I’ve written recently, it’s long overdue. And the fact that CNN considers this story worthy of such extensive coverage is an affirmation of that. But …

CHIP: States prepare to shut down children’s health programs if Congress doesn’t act
Washington Post By Colby Itkowitz and Sandhya Somashekhar November 23 
Officials in nearly a dozen states are preparing to notify families that a crucial health insurance program for low-income children is running out of money for the first time since its creation two decades ago, putting coverage for many at risk by the end of the year. Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend funding for CHIP, as the Children’s Health Insurance Program is known. Nearly 9 million youngsters and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide receive care because of it. Many states have enough money to keep their individual programs afloat for at least a few months, but five could run out in late December if lawmakers do not act. Others will start to exhaust resources the following month. The looming crunch, which comes despite CHIP’s enduring popularity and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, has dismayed children’s health advocates. “We are very concerned, and the reason is that Congress hasn’t shown a strong ability to get stuff done,” said Bruce Lesley, president of Washington-based First Focus, a child and family advocacy organization. “And the administration is completely out, has not even uttered a syllable on the issue. How this gets resolved is really unclear, and states are beginning to hit deadlines.”

Teacher Furloughs, Elections, and Redistricting
Pennsylvania Newsmakers Originally aired on November 26th, 2017
On this week's Pennsylvania Newsmakers Mike Straub of WGAL guest hosts for Terry Madonna and discusses teacher furloughs and upcoming elections with Representative Stephen Bloom (R), and redistricting with Jean Handley and Derek Smith of Fair Districts PA.

Turzai's presence in the '18 governor's race is a mixed bag for Pennsylvanians
Observer Reporter Opinion by Spiegler November 26, 2017
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
The entry of Republican Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai into the governor’s race will provide for a spirited debate and offers a mixed bag to Pennsylvanians. The speaker is to be admired for fighting relentlessly over a period of many years to free Pennsylvania from the grip of the Prohibition-style state liquor store system, an anachronism in a country whose tenets prominently include personal freedom. If gun purchasers were subjected to the same type of restrictions as those who seek to buy alcohol, they would not stand for it and there would likely be an armed takeover of Harrisburg. Turzai has been an ardent foe of increasing taxes on individuals and business entities, something which on its face is laudable, but which in practice, has served to the commonwealth’s detriment, given his unwillingness to compromise. GOP legislators led by Turzai have not been able to enact spending cuts, thus their refusal to increase revenues has triggered budgets that are balanced through smoke and mirrors, and budgets that are delayed well beyond the now-meaningless constitutional deadline for enactment of June 30 each year. The result has been that organizations that are dependent on state funding have suffered, and the state’s credit rating has been downgraded, increasing its cost of borrowing. It is a particular disgrace that organizations that had to borrow to remain afloat during the 2016 standoff and suspension of their state funding were not reimbursed for interest charges that they had to pay.

An automatic raise for state officials: For what, exactly? | Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Updated Nov 24; Posted Nov 24
In a sure sign of the holiday season, this year's Capitol Christmas tree arrived in the state Capitol rotunda on Wednesday morning. And, there, under the spreading needles of the 22-foot-tall Douglas Fir, grown by Crystal Spring Tree Farm Lehighton, sat an early holiday gift for the 253-member General Assembly, top executive branch officials and judges: an automatic, inflation-adjusted bump to their base salaries. The automatic raise, enshrined in state law since 1995, will bump the base salary for rank-and-file lawmakers to $87,180, a $702, or .81 percent, increase over this year's pay starting Dec. 1. Legislative leaders, meanwhile, will see their salaries rise to $99,410 to $136,094, depending upon the position they hold. Executive branch raises, which includes Gov. Tom Wolf, will kick in on Jan. 1. There are a couple of things wrong with these automatic pay hikes - and we'll take each of them in turn.

Local control doesn't let state off the hook for adequate school funding | Opinion
Inquirer Opinion by Vincent Hughes Updated: NOVEMBER 24, 2017 — 5:29 AM EST
Democratic State Sen. Vincent Hughes represents portions of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Mayor Kenney said he wanted to end state oversight of the School District of Philadelphia as a necessary step toward reclaiming local control of our public schools. Now, with last week’s action by the School Reform Commission (SRC) to disband, control of the schools will be placed in local hands. This move is overdue. It’s time for our city to take ownership. Putting the School District under the direct control of the mayor allows for a central point of accountability. Evidence from other cities shows that performance increases with direct accountability. Under local control, the city can better integrate new services into the schools.  Counselors, health professionals, librarians, school building repairs, and more can be provided for the schoolchildren. That’s a good thing, because our children deserve more. Be clear: Local control does not take the state off the hook for properly funding schools. This is the fundamental issue. No matter who controls, the state has the constitutional responsibility to adequately and equitably fund the schools.

Parents, not the mayor, must ensure high-quality education for Philly students
WHYY By Solomon Jones November 27, 2017
In June 2018, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will take over our city’s schools by appointing a nine-member school board to replace the state-controlled School Reform Commission. In doing so, the mayor will become directly accountable for a $2.9 billion school system that has underserved Philadelphia’s children for decades. And while I laud the mayor for his willingness to take this on, I have a message for Philadelphia’s parents. The ongoing battle over education in Philadelphia is not the mayor’s to fight. It’s ours. That’s why School District parents like me must go into this new era with a clear understanding of this indisputable fact: When a politician gains control of a $2.9 billion budget, his friends and campaign contributors will line up for their share of the bounty. As parents, as Philadelphians, as the taxpayers whose dollars fund the system, we must make sure that our interests come before theirs.

The winding road to Philly school reform
Chestnut Hill Local Posted on November 22, 2017 by Pete Mazzaccaro
Public-school advocates scored a rare victory last week when the state-appointed Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to dissolve, returning control back to the city. Many public-school activists cheered when the vote was cast. They had been calling for a return to local control for schools since the 2001 move by state lawmakers took it from the city to both shore up the district’s finances and bolster sagging test scores. It was a moment of clear victory for those advocates and local legislators who had promised to restore control of local schools to the city. It was a promise Mayor Jim Kenney had made and, as soon as the paperwork is signed by state lawmakers, it will be a promise delivered. Kenney will oversee a process of nominating new members for a 9-member board that will hopefully get to work early next year. If all goes well, students, parents and teachers should not experience any turbulence in the transition.
But now that the schools are back under local control, what’s next?

How schools try to help Philly’s thousands of homeless students
WHYY By Jennifer Lynn November 27, 2017  Listen 5:39
This time of year, many of us make an extra effort to reach out to those in need, perhaps by placing some bills in the Salvation Army bucket or looking out for the homeless on the streets of Center City Philadelphia. Less obvious, though, are the needs of homeless children in our schools. They can assume the posture of kids who want to learn and who want to be accepted, but those things are not that easy to do without some help. So says Stacey Havlik, a professor in Villanova University’s Department of Education and Counseling. She researches the role school personnel, primarily counselors, have in helping homeless students. Each year, 2.5 million children across the nation experience homelessness. In Pennsylvania, the number of children and youth identified as experiencing homelessness is roughly 27,724. In Philadelphia alone, the number is 5,631. The state’s Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness program was set up to help those young people get access to school.

Confused about 'Net Neutrality?' Here's 10 essential reads
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Jeff Inglis Updated Nov 25; Posted Nov 25
(Editor's note: The following is a roundup of archival stories, and is an updated version of an article previously published Jan. 24, 2017.)
Ajit Pai is President Donald Trump's chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is a longtime foe of net neutrality. He has proposed completely repealing the Obama administration's 2015 Open Internet Order, a decision the commission will likely vote to confirm on Dec. 14. But what is net neutrality, this policy Pai has spent years criticizing? Here are some highlights of The Conversation's coverage of the controversy around the concept of keeping the internet open:

SciTech school continues to mark high achievement
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by MOLLY BORN 10:40 AM NOV 26, 2017
It started as the idea of a group of Carnegie Mellon graduate students: Could Pittsburgh Public Schools be home to an academically rigorous science and technology school that welcomes students from all backgrounds, gets them up to state standards across all subjects by graduation and provides real-world career connections? More than a decade after it was dreamed up, the school has achieved some of that vision, outperforming other district schools while, some say, not transcending other challenges that befall students of color. Ask Alexandra Borelli about her experience, and she’ll credit the school with taking her interests seriously and giving her every opportunity to explore them.  “I’ve been here since seventh grade, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said the 17-year-old senior from Lincoln Place, who wants to be a physician assistant. “It’s made me into who I am today.”  SciTech 6-12 is among the district’s most desirable schools, a magnet among the cluster of universities in Oakland that opened in fall 2009 as part of then-Superintendent Mark Roosevelt’s plan to revamp the district’s high schools.

Here's what you need to know about that property tax referendum you just approved | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Mike Folmer Updated Nov 25; Posted Nov 25
State Sen. Mike Folmer, a Republican, represents the 48th Senate District, which includes parts of Dauphin, Lebanon and York counties.
So, what's next in the ongoing efforts to eliminate school property taxes as I continue to believe no tax should have the power to leave you homeless? Article VIII, Section 1 of Pennsylvania's Constitution calls for uniformity of taxation:  "All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws."  This provision is why Pennsylvania's Personal Income Tax is a flat tax rather than a graduated tax like federal income taxes.  Pennsylvania's Constitution doesn't allow for graduated income taxes. However, Pennsylvania's Constitution also provides some exclusions from the requirement for uniform taxation, including:  churches, cemeteries, government entities, charitable organizations, and "homesteads."

Pa. slow to release (EITC) education funds
Morning Call Letter by Sara A. George, Haycock Township November 23, 2017
The writer is vice president for development with Community Services for Children, Allentown.
I am quite concerned about the state making a timely release of Educational Improvement Tax Credit allocations. Two years ago, the state was so late reaching a budget, we received almost no EITC funding. This affects kids in early education and children K-12. Hundreds of children are affected. Statewide — probably thousands of children.  In addition, Community Services for Children, a regional leader in early education and development, has now spent $713,000 out of pocket since July 1 paying for programs that are supposed to be state funded. This includes Pre-K Counts Expansion and Head Start-State Supplemental. How many organizations could possibly sustain this kind of "loan" to the state?

How a powerful senator schooled Betsy DeVos
A furious Sen. Lamar Alexander saw the Education Department going off track in its enforcement of a law he helped write, and he didn’t hesitate to intervene.
Politico By CAITLIN EMMA 11/25/2017 07:11 AM EST
Several months ago, Sen. Lamar Alexander phoned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a message: Back off. Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, was furious that a top DeVos aide was circumventing a new law aimed at reducing the federal government’s role in K-12 education. He contended that the agency was out of bounds by challenging state officials, for instance, about whether they were setting sufficiently ambitious goals for their students. DeVos’ agency quickly yielded to his interpretation of the law — and she “thanked me for it,” Alexander told POLITICO. Alexander’s heavy hand raises questions about who’s calling some of the shots at the Education Department, an agency he once headed — and to which DeVos came with virtually no expertise in running government bureaucracies. DeVos has been a lightning rod in the education world and one of the most controversial members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. She made her name as a school choice activist and billionaire Republican donor before she was nominated to run the Education Department. With Alexander running the key Senate oversight committee, observers say he’s trying to keep her agency on a tight leash.

“However, if one takes a closer look at how he runs his 150 charter schools through dozens of secretive fronts, it is clear that there is a highly-sophisticated organizational capacity hidden beneath the surface. Seven months ago, my law firm was appointed by the Republic of Turkey to investigate suspected illegal activities by Gülen-linked businesses and schools. What we have found thus far is shocking.”
To Understand Turkey's Alleged Coup Plotter, Look To His U.S. Charter Schools
Guest commentary curated by Forbes Opinion. Avik Roy, Opinion Editor.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
GUEST POST WRITTEN BY Robert Amsterdam AUG 11, 2016 @ 04:47 PM
Mr. Amsterdam is the founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP.
Mr. Amsterdam was appointed by the Republic of Turkey to oversee an international investigation into the activities of Fethullah Gülen.
For many, the events of July 15-16 in Turkey seem like something out of a bad action movie. Fighter jets seized by a rogue division of the military strafing the rooftops of the capital and bombing parliament, tanks occupying the Bosphorus bridge, troops taking over TV stations, and tactical units hunting down the president. It seemed impossible that such an event could take place in a nuclear-armed NATO alliance member of 80 million people. But sadly, this horrific attack on the democratically-elected government was all too real, and the consequences--including some 238 people killed and thousands injured--will likely take years of recovery.

Register for New School Director Training in December and January
PSBA Website October 2017
You’ve started a challenging and exciting new role as a school director. Let us help you narrow the learning curve! PSBA’s New School Director Training provides school directors with foundational knowledge about their role, responsibilities and ethical obligations. At this live workshop, participants will learn about key laws, policies, and processes that guide school board governance and leadership, and develop skills for becoming strong advocates in their community. Get the tools you need from experts during this visually engaging and interactive event.
Choose from any of these 11 locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         Dec. 8, Bedford CTC
·         Dec. 8, Montoursville Area High School
·         Dec. 9, Upper St. Clair High School
·         Dec. 9, West Side CTC
·         Dec. 15, Crawford County CTC
·         Dec. 15, Upper Merion MS (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m)
·         Dec. 16, PSBA Mechanicsburg
·         Dec. 16, Seneca Highlands IU 9
·         Jan. 6, Haverford Middle School
·         Jan. 13, A W Beattie Career Center
·         Jan. 13, Parkland HS
Fees: Complimentary to All-Access members or $170 per person for standard membership. All registrations will be billed to the listed district, IU or CTC. To request billing to an individual, please contact Michelle Kunkel at Registration also includes a box lunch on site and printed resources.

NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4 - 6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Register Now
Come a day early and attend the Equity Symposium!
Join hundreds of public education advocates on Capitol Hill and help shape the decisions made in Washington D.C. that directly impact our students. At the 2018 Advocacy Institute, you’ll gain insight into the most critical issues affecting public education, sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Whether you are an expert advocator or a novice, attend and experience inspirational keynote speakers and education sessions featuring policymakers, legal experts and policy influencers. All designed to help you advocate for your students and communities.

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