Friday, November 3, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 3: “GOP plan appears to benefit families who can afford to save for private school, like the Trumps, who send their son to a private, religious school”

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov. 3, 2017:

“But even school choice proponents assailed the plan, saying it offered no benefits for poor families who have little choice in where they send their children to school. Mike Petrilli of the right-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute said the plan appears to benefit families who can afford to save for private school, like the Trumps, who send their son to a private, religious school."If we are going to use scarce resources to advance school choice, we should do it for poor and working class kids, not for families who can already afford private school tuition,” Petrilli said.”
GOP tax reform bill helps DeVos’ school choice agenda, but worries public education advocates
Post-Gazette by MORIAH BALINGIT The Washington Post 5:45 AM NOV 3, 2017
Parents would be able to use a tax-free savings account originally created for their child’s college expenses to put away money for private K-12 school tuition under a proposal in the GOP tax reform bill, a move that would largely aid families who can already afford private school tuition. The 529 college savings plan encourages parents to save their child’s college education by allowing them to earn interest and withdraw funds tax-free for higher education. But the tax reform bill would allow parents to use those same plans for up to $10,000 a year in private school expenses. It would allow them to start saving the money when their child is in utero. The proposal would further a key piece of the agenda of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who seeks to expand school choice and to allow public dollars to follow children to private schools. “This is a good step forward, reflecting that education should be an investment in individual students, not systems,” DeVos said Thursday. “I look forward to continuing to work with Congressional leaders to ensure all families have equal access to the education that meets their child’s unique needs.”

GOP Tax Bill Would Boost School Choice, May Squeeze K-12 Revenue
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on November 2, 2017 1:32 PM
The Republicans' much-anticipated legislation to change the federal tax system includes a victory for school choice advocates: It would allow families to use up to $10,000 in savings from 529 college savings plans for K-12 expenses, including private school tuition. Overall, the bill released Thursday would slash corporate and some individual tax rates, offsetting the cost by nixing other deductions. That includes a $250 deduction that teachers can use to cover classroom expenses, such as books, art supplies, and rewards for students. The bill would also eliminate the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes, a step advocates warn could pinch K-12 spending at the district and state level. More on that below.  And the legislation would put an end to the so-called Coverdell Accounts, tax-free accounts which families currently can use to cover up to $2,000 of K-12 costs, including private school tuition, in favor of the 529 change. Families could also use 529s to cover the cost of apprenticeships and could open an account when a child in utero. We previewed the possibility of a 529 benefit for K-12 back in August. It has strong support from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. 

Pa. legislators weigh in on GOP tax plan
Laura Olson Of The Morning Call November 2, 7:45 p.m.
The House Republican tax-overhaul proposal unveiled Thursday gave Pennsylvania lawmakers — and a sea of Washington lobbyists — a 429-page bill to dig through as they sort out how the changes to tax rates and elimination of deductions will affect their constituents. “There’s going to be a feeding frenzy,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican whose 15th District includes Lehigh County and part of Northampton County. “People are going to be descending upon the Capitol and arguing for their tax provision. I fully expect that.” Dent and several other local legislators said Thursday afternoon they were still studying the wide-ranging changes crammed into the legislation, which congressional Republicansseek to send to the White House by the end of the year. After running into legislative roadblocks on their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, signing a tax bill into law would give the GOP and President Donald Trump a major legislative victory.

Find your member of Congress here:

“The inequity in school funding in Pennsylvania is the greatest inequity among the 50 states,” said Feinberg. “and it’s unconscionable…There is no reason why the kids in William Penn (School District) should not be afforded a reasonable amount of funding, I’m not sure they should have the $23,000 that Lower Merion has, but they should be afforded a basic, solid education. ”
Referendum: Panel discusses ballot referendum on property tax reform
Delco Times By Linda Stein, on Twitter
POSTED: 11/02/17, 4:22 PM EDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO
Radnor >> Many voters may go to the voting machine on Nov. 7 and be puzzled over a ballot question asking whether the state constitution should be amended to permit the state legislature to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property…Say what?
Hoping to explain the ramifications of the property tax reform ballot question, the Radnor League of Woman Voters held a panel discussion recently at Radnor Studio 21, with members of three school boards: Joel Sears, of the York Region School Board and Liberty Alliance; Larry Feinberg, with the Haverford Township School Board and the Keystone State Education Coalition; and Susan Spicka, with the Shippensburg Area School Board and the League of Education Voters. While no changes would take place until the legislature passes enabling legislation, the ballot questions would permit a shift in how the public schools are funded, from real estate taxes to sales or income taxes or other taxes. The Radnor Township School Board, Tredyffrin Easttown School Board and several others have come out against this change and asked voters to vote no.

Referendum: Op-Ed: Why Vote Yes On The Constitutional Amendment On Property Taxes?
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates By Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) NOVEMBER 2, 2017
School property tax elimination is by far the #1 issue that I hear about most from residents not only in Berks and Schuylkill Counties, but across Pennsylvania.  To say that the school property tax is antiquated would be a severe understatement.  This burdensome tax, which dates back to the 1830s, is not only crippling the American dream of homeownership for current homeowners but for future ones as well. Countless Pennsylvanians have voiced their personal stories to me regarding the negative impact the school property tax has had on their lives.  

Referendum: Voters get to weigh in on move away from school property tax
Daily Item By John Finnerty CNHI Harrisburg Bureau November 2, 2017
HARRISBURG — It’s unclear how much impact the property tax reform question on Tuesday's ballot will have if it passes. But supporters of reform worry that if it fails, it will make it harder to argue that the public truly cares about the issue. “I tend to agree that it will hurt the momentum” of the push for property reform, said state Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria County. State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-108, of Sunbury, said that if the question is rejected by voters on Tuesday, “it will give some lawmakers pause” in regards to the need for property tax reform. She’s not one of those lawmakers, Culver added. She said that the need for property tax reform is one of the most common issues voters raise when speaking to her. If the ballot question passes, “it’s a great tool in the toolbox” to help the Legislature shift away from the state’s reliance on property tax for school funding, she said. State Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Mercer County, was one of just two lawmakers who voted against putting the measure on the ballot. On Thursday, with the election right around the corner, Brooks said she’s trying to stay “neutral” while providing voters with information about the implications of the vote. “I’m curious to hear what people think,” she said.
Still, she said the ballot question is “confusing” and it fails to tell voters that any move away from property tax will be an increase in some other form of tax. Barbin said he would support tax reform that creates a fairer way to fund schools without burdening senior citizens.

Referendum: Forum explores Pa. property tax referendum on Nov. 7 ballot
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 11/02/17, 7:02 PM EDT | UPDATED: 30 SECS AGO
LOWER POTTSGROVE >> A yes vote on a statewide referendum Nov. 7 will not, by itself, bring about the elimination or reduction of property taxes. But it could be a step in that direction, according to state Rep. David Maloney, R-130th Dist. Maloney is the author of the legislation that put the question on the ballot and was the chief testifier at a House Republican Policy Caucus forum held Thursday at Berean Bible Church. “Ever since I was elected, I hear about property taxes more than any other issue,” Maloney said. The primary affect of an approval of the referendum question by voters will be to allow the Legislature to sidestep the state Constitution which requires that all property in Pennsylvania be taxed equally.

“It isn’t clear what new or expanded taxes the Legislature might authorize to offset the losses, but money would have have to come from somewhere.  The open-ended scenario is troubling because the Legislature repeatedly has failed to pass budget-related bills on time, largely because members cannot agree on a package of taxes. A debate over a replacement for real estate taxes could drag on interminably and invite all sorts of political mischief.”
Referendum: Editorial: Property tax mischief: Vote ‘No’ on open-ended ballot question
THE EDITORIAL BOARD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12:00 AM NOV 3, 2017
It may be tempting to vote “Yes” on the Nov. 7 ballot question aimed at giving local governments the authority to abolish homeowners’ property taxes. But the safer, more thoughtful vote is “No.” There are so many unanswered questions related to the referendum that approving it would be imprudent. There are many problems with the property tax system. Infrequent countywide assessments generate inequities within and across municipalities. Some municipalities and school districts appeal the assessments of homes that seems out of whack with recent sales prices, hoping to realize windfalls on the backs of unsuspecting buyers. The system needs to be administered fairly, and regular reassessments, though costly and unpopular, would help achieve that goal. Some advocates, however,  eliminate the property tax on a person’s home. Approval of the upcoming referendum to amend the state constitution would push the state in that direction — without a plan for offsetting the lost revenue. That’s one of the ballot question’s biggest weaknesses.

Referendum: Editorial: Vote 'no' on property tax elimination referendum
Pennsylvania voters are being asked to take a leap into the unknown Tuesday through a ballot referendum that would allow counties, municipalities and school districts to exempt a taxpayer’s primary household from property taxes. Sounds like a dream come true for long-suffering homeowners burdened by the never-ending tax increases required to keep schools and local governments afloat. But here’s the rub: The referendum makes no provision for replacement revenues to put computers in classrooms, keep cops on the street and make sure the trash gets picked up.

“If we don’t take responsibility for the fate of our schools then we will continue to relegate generations of Philadelphia families to poverty,” Kenney said. “I am not willing to do that.”
Amid resounding cheers, Kenney leads city charge to reclaim control of Philly schools
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 2, 2017
 Listen 0:00In a landmark speech delivered Thursday before City Council, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the city should reclaim control of its schools as a means to spur growth and curb poverty. Kenney’s speech marks the near-certain demise of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, a 16-year experiment in state control over Pennsylvania’s largest school system. “Again and again we’ve told the people of Philadelphia that the state of their schools are someone else’s responsibility,” he said. “That ends today.” Kenney foresees a city board of nine members that he will appoint with City Council’s approval. The SRC still must vote to dissolve itself for this transition to happen, but officials are confident the five-member commission will do so at its next meeting on Nov. 16. Under the current timeline, the proposed local school board will assume power on July 1. For weeks, insiders expected Kenney to announce his support for local control and lay out a plan to replace the SRC. More telling was the conviction with which Kenney argued for local accountability and a locally funded solution to the district’s yawning structural deficit.

Kenney announces timeline to take back Philly schools; no clear plan to fund them
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: NOVEMBER 2, 2017 — 10:49 AM EDT
Pitching local control of Philadelphia’s schools as the linchpin to the city’s future, Mayor Kenney on Thursday called for the School Reform Commission to disband itself in favor of a board whose members he will choose. Seizing back governance of the schools will come with a hefty price tag. Kenney and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said they would need to cover the Philadelphia School District’s looming deficit — $103 million next school year, $1 billion over five years — though they declined to say exactly how. “Again and again, we’ve told the people of Philadelphia that the state of their schools are someone else’s responsibility,” Kenney told a supportive audience that packed Council chambers. “That ends today. When the SRC dissolves itself, and we return to a school board appointed by the mayor, you can hold me and future mayors accountable for the success or failure of our schools.” The crowd applauds in City Council chambers after Mayor Kenney announced that the 16-year SRC experiment is ending.  The decision to dismantle the commission after 16 years could have a profound impact beyond the district’s schools — stirring debate and discussion about taxes and funding across city departments, and shaping the political fortunes of the mayor, Council, and possibly even the new school board members.

Kenney seeks local control, more money for schools
He offered ideas, but no plan for how to get the additional funding.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa November 2, 2017 — 4:16pm
In a fervent speech to City Council on Thursday morning, Mayor Kenney declared that Philadelphia must take back control of its schools – and boost its investment in education – so that the city can break the cycle of poverty and shape its future.  The SRC was formed in December 2001 as part of a deal between city and state officials. City officials needed more money for the beleaguered school system. State officials wanted greater say in how the system operated. Kenney made the case that there is no benefit to keeping the School Reform Commission in power any longer, saying that additional financial help from a politically divided and tax-averse General Assembly is "highly unlikely."  "No matter how anyone may feel about it, that's the reality," he told a packed Council chamber, dotted with former SRC members as well as activists who have repeatedly demanded the end of a commission that they consider unrepresentative and unresponsive. "To say otherwise, we would only push off the responsibility we all say we want with local control."  Kenney did not propose any new local revenue sources for the District, although he listed several sources that he said would not do the trick: improving collection of delinquent taxes ($600 million in new money is already budgeted), getting "payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS)" from huge nonprofit institutions such as universities and hospitals, and increased money from recent cigarette and sales tax boosts designated for the District. 

An end to the SRC? Reactions from Philadelphia and beyond
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham & Chris Brennan - Staff Writers Updated: NOVEMBER 2, 2017 — 2:39 PM EDT
After Mayor Kenney made his historic pitch for local control of Philadelphia’s schools, residents from Philadelphia and beyond reacted:
Steven Scott Bradley, Chairman, African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE: “The return to local control under a mayor-appointed board provides a chance to end the tension between charter and traditional schools. As Philadelphians, we must all be focused on creating quality schools, and not focused on whether those schools are charter or traditional District-run schools. I know Mayor Kenney is committed to the goal of providing all children of color a quality education and the business community will continue to support this pursuit.”
Kendra Brooks, Philadelphia parent, member of Our City Our Schools coalition: “Ultimately, we would like a fully elected school board. The fight is never over.”
Sharif El-Mekki, founder of The Fellowship-Black Male Educators for Social Justice, principal of Mastery Charter-Shoemaker Campus: “With a local, mayor-appointed school board, Philadelphia has an opportunity to turn the tide and assertively pursue a just and equitable education for its students, thus improving the quality of life for our communities.  While we should aggressively pursue justice for Pennsylvania’s lack of an equitable budget, we can’t wait to pursue other solutions as well. These solutions should include local control and accountability for exercising this control. Ultimately, the voices of those most impacted should always be at the table.”

Philadelphia wants to take control of schools from the state after 16 years
Penn Live by The Associated Press By ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE Updated Nov 2, 12:13 AM; Posted Nov 2, 12:10 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia's mayor is taking steps to have the city take control of the public school system after 16 years of state oversight. Mayor Jim Kenney said in a speech Thursday that it's time for the city to be accountable for the education of its 200,000 schoolchildren. Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat, supports local control. So, the commission that now governs the nation's eighth-largest school system is expected to be dissolved by the end of the school year. hiladelphia schools face a $100 million deficit in the next fiscal year. More than a third of the students have been siphoned off by charter schools, which get public funds. Kenney wants the city to cover the deficit and appoint school board members. He says mayoral control has benefited school districts in New York, Boston and Washington.

Philadelphia mayor moves to take control of city’s public school district from state
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 2 at 4:38 PM 
For 16 years, the Philadelphia School District has been under the control of the state government, which implemented wave after wave of “reform” programs that included closing schools, supporting charter schools with little or no accountability, and a “doomsday” budget that zeroed out funding for things such as paper, counselors and art and music programs. That era is expected to end with a return to local control. Mayor James Kenney (D), who has been under pressure from community groups for some time, called on Thursday for the five-member state-dominated board that runs the district to vote itself out of existence. Kenney believes he has the votes to accomplish that when the School Reform Commission meets Nov. 16. Kenney said in a speech that it is time for the city to take over control of its own school system in the form of a nine-member school board appointed by the mayor, a structure that city voters had previously approved. He mentioned some initiatives he wanted to undertake but did not say how the city would pay for them. “You can hold me, and future mayors, accountable for the success or failure of our schools,” he said. “The buck will stop with us.”

A not-so-brief history of Philly’s rocky relationship with the SRC
The School Reform Commission is going away, and Philly is taking back control.
Billy Penn by MARK DENT NOV 02 2017  11:20 AM
The School Reform Commission, better known by its acronym SRC, is finally coming to an end. The organization’s five board members are expected to vote it out of existence by the end of the year, and Mayor Jim Kenney described in a speech this morning his proposal for wresting school district control away from Harrisburg and back to the city. “Right now,” he said, “we are leaving our city’s fate largely in someone else’s hands.” Kenney called on the SRC to dissolve itself and said he would return the school board to the way it’s set in the city charter, as a nine-member board recommended to the mayor by a nominating panel. The particulars of Kenney’s proposal could bear scrutiny among education experts. The general plan of bringing the schools back to local control will have almost no opposition, at least from Philadelphians. As Councilwoman Helen Gym, who 16 years ago protested the formation of the SRC with a sit-in, put it in a statement, “I am glad to see the experiment known as the School Reform Commission finally come to an end. This is a win for every parent and community member who fought for fair funding despite a system that told us our children deserved less.” Here’s a brief timeline that describes how the SRC came to be and why it has a poor relationship with Philadelphia, particularly over the last few years.

The Education of Betsy DeVos
President Donald Trump’s most controversial, ideological Cabinet pick is discovering the limits of her power.
Politico Magazine By TIM ALBERTA November/December 2017
KANSAS CITY, Missouri—It is strange, if a bit unsettling, to see U.S. Marshals constantly hovering near the U.S. secretary of education, a 59-year-old evangelical Christian grandmother whose hobbies are bike riding, yoga and visiting grade schools. But as Betsy DeVos approached Kansas City Academy on a sunny Friday morning in mid-September, it was clear why she wants them there. It was the final day of her “Rethink School” tour, the familiar fly-around trip taken by a Cabinet secretary to capture some local news coverage and emphasize priorities—in DeVos’ case, to highlight unique and innovative learning environments across the country. But at this particular stop, tension filled the air. Several hundred protesters gathered outside—vastly outnumbering the 76 students, grades 6 through 12, who attend the school—while a procession of speakers denounced DeVos as a destroyer of public education and an enabler of campus rape.

Save the Date: Pitt Johnstown to host Funding Lawsuit Panel at Murtha Center on campus November 15th at 7:00 pm

November School Leader Advocacy Training
PASA, PASBO, PSBA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, the PARSS and PAIU are offering five, full-day School Leader Advocacy Training sessions at the following locations:
Monday, November 6 – Capital Area I.U. 15 (Summerdale)
Tuesday, November 7 – Luzerne I.U. 18 (Kingston)
Wednesday, November 15 – Berks County I.U. 14 (Reading)
Thursday, November 16 – Midwestern I.U. 4 (Grove City)
Friday, November 17 – Westmoreland I.U. 7 (Greensburg)
Take advantage of this great opportunity – at NO cost to you!

Cyber Charter School Application; Public Hearing November 20
Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, October 14, 2017 NOTICES - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
The Department of Education (Department) has scheduled one date for a public hearing regarding a cyber charter school application that was received on or before October 2, 2017. The hearing will be held on November 20, 2017, in Heritage Room A on the lobby level of 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126 at 9 a.m. The hearing pertains to the applicant seeking to operate a cyber charter school beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The purpose of the hearing is to gather information from the applicant about the proposed cyber charter school as well as receive comments from interested individuals regarding the application. The name of the applicant, copies of the application and a listing of the date and time scheduled for the hearing on the application can be viewed on the Department's web site at Individuals who wish to provide comments on the application during the hearing must provide a copy of their written comments to the Department and the applicant on or before November 6, 2017. Comments provided by this deadline and presented at the hearing will become part of the certified record. For questions regarding this hearing, contact the Division of Charter Schools, (717) 787-9744,

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education Cyber Charter School Application for Commonwealth Education Connections Cyber Charter School 2017
Charter School Application Submitted: September 27, 2017

Support the Notebook and see Springsteen on Broadway
The notebook October 2, 2017 — 10:57am
Donate $50 or more until Nov. 10, enter to win – and have your donation doubled!
"This music is forever for me. It's the stage thing, that rush moment that you live for. It never lasts, but that's what you live for." – Bruce Springsteen
You can be a part of a unique Bruce Springsteen show in his career – and support local, nonprofit education journalism!  Donate $50 or more to the Notebook through Nov. 10, and your donation will be doubled, up to $1,000, through the Knight News Match. Plus, you will be automatically entered to win a pair of prime tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway!  One winner will receive two tickets to the 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, show at the Walter Kerr Theatre. These are amazing orchestra section seats to this incredible sold-out solo performance. Don't miss out on your chance to see the Boss in his Broadway debut. Donate to the Notebook today online or by mail at 699 Ranstead St., 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

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.

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 10 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. 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.

Save the Date! NSBA 2018 Advocacy Institute February 4-6, 2018 Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C.
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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