Friday, December 1, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 1, 2017: Casey: ‘just a giveaway to the super-rich’

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PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 1, 2017:
Casey: ‘just a giveaway to the super-rich’

What is Philly Reading Coaches?​
​In January 2018, the City of Philadelphia will be partnering with communities around the city to launch an after-school literacy program!  We will be asking volunteers to commit to read one-on-one with K-3rd grade students for the academic year! The educational health of our communities is one of the top priorities of the City’s top priorities, so we hope that you will give us a hand in supporting our youth through their most transformative years!  Volunteers will have the option of serving anytime, Monday-Thursday from 3:00pm-6:00pm (shifts run in hour increments) at their local site:
* Duckrey Elementary (North Philadelphia)
* Cramp Elementary (Juniata Park, Kensington)
* Hamilton Elementary (West Philadelphia)

“The GOP tax bills would shower gifts on the richest Americans. They would eliminate the inheritance tax, which only the wealthiest two tenths of one percent of Americans pay. This would save the Trump family billions of dollars. The bills also would get rid of the alternative minimum tax, which apparently would save Mr. Trump tens of millions, although we can’t pin down a number because Mr. Trump has reneged on his promise to release his income tax returns.”
Tax cuts revisited: Historians will mark this moment as when America became a plutocracy
Post-Gazette Opinion by DENNIS JETT 12:00 AM NOV 30, 2017
Dennis Jett, a former tax economist and U.S. ambassador to Mozambique and Peru, is professor of international affairs at Penn State University ( He lives in Squirrel Hill.
Future historians will have much to argue about as they assess this era in America. Favorite topics no doubt will include why America invaded Iraq when it had no weapons of mass destruction or ties to 9/​11 and why, after losing the war in Vietnam, the United States could not admit the war in Afghanistan was equally unwinnable. Another popular subject will be why the United States failed to respond to the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. One question likely will be easier to answer. That will be fixing the date when American democracy went into fatal decline and the country was almost universally recognized as a plutocracy — with a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. One good nomination for that date will be the day President Donald Trumpsigns pending tax cuts into law, should they be enacted.

“There is something incredibly perverse about putting pressure on states and municipalities to cut taxes in order to make up for a federal tax bill that overwhelmingly favors the rich and corporations. It is even more perverse to label that as “middle class tax relief” when the outcome will be potentially disastrous for local schools.  The vast majority of K-12 school funding in this country still comes from state and local revenues which would no longer be deductible from federal tax burdens.”
The Republican Tax Bill is Anti-Public Education
Dan Katz Blog NOVEMBER 29, 2017 · 6:00 AM
Dan Katz is chair of the Department of Educational Studies at Seton Hall University
A great deal of ink has been spilled on how the Republican tax bill working through Congress would impact higher education for the worse.  The highest profile item is the plan in the House bill to tax graduate student tuition waivers as income, effectively making the young people who are helping the nation move forward with critical research pay taxes on “incomes” that are tens of thousands of dollars higher than they actually get paid.  However, higher education takes multiple hits in the House bill such as taxing endowment earnings that go towards school advancement, reducing incentives for charitable giving, and eliminating student loan interest deductions that benefited 12 million borrowers in 2014.  For a bill that the G.O.P. is trying to market as a “boon” to the middle class, the House bill does not just tax graduate student tuition waivers, but also it takes aim at tuition benefits for higher education employees and their children

Proposal for Senate Tax Bill Would Boost School Choice, Fold In Early Education
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on November 30, 2017 12:32 PM
A proposed amendment to the Senate tax bill resembles the House legislation's plan to allow for college savings plans to be used for private school choice expenses. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., introduced the amendment to the Senate's version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which the full chamber could vote on very soon. Like the House tax bill, Gardner's proposal would allow money in 529 college savings accounts to be used for elementary and secondary education expenses, including those for private school tuition. Using 529 money towards these expenses would be capped at $10,000 annually.  Gardner's amendment would also allow individuals to use 529 savings for "qualified early education expenses." And it would allow 529 money to be used for career and technical education and industry certification programs, under certain conditions. During earlier consideration of the GOP-backed Senate bill, two senators proposed amendments to create tax credits related to private school expenses. But those proposals from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., have not been incorporated into the bill so far. 

The GOP must choose between faith and evidence in tax-cut vote
·         As Republican senators draw closer to a vote, the GOP must confront its long-held belief that tax cuts can fuel economic growth.
·         Analysis by economists on both sides of the aisle has shown that no modern tax cut has ever "paid for itself."
·         But GOP lawmakers and the White House are still trying to nail down their first legislative victory of the Trump administration. by John Harwood@johnjharwood Published 12 Hours Ago
As much as they hoped to avoid it, Republican senators considering their tax-cut votes now face a clear-cut choice between faith and evidence. Faith in tax-cuts as the path to economic growth has reigned supreme within Republican theology since Ronald Reagan. The party clings so strongly to this belief that it has become the answer to competing concerns over the national debt; growth sparked by tax cuts, insist White House officials and GOP leaders, will reduce, not increase, annual budget deficits. Evidence for that belief has long been weak. On Thursday, it got even weaker.

Casey on tax bill: ‘This is just a giveaway to the super-rich’
Centre Daily Times BY LORI FALCE NOVEMBER 30, 2017 06:00 PM
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., was busy on Thursday.
He bounced from a committee hearing on the opioid crisis to voting on a motion on the tax reconciliation act to a speech on the Senate floor about the tax bill. He did a Facebook Live chat with a Latino organization about the tax bill. He presented an amendment to the tax bill. In between all off that, he was talking to the press. He talked to television stations from back home in Pennsylvania. He scheduled quick interviews with reporters from news agencies, including the Centre Daily Times. He made it known that he felt the Republican tax reform proposal barreling toward a Friday vote was not unfolding the way it should.  “It seems like it’s more likely to pass than not,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it could lead to a better process, a more bipartisan process.”

“In short, this bill represents the Republican Party at its worst: Using legislative end runs to ram through a partisan bill with no opposition support to benefit their wealthy and corporate backers while sticking low- and middle-income taxpayers with the bill.”
EDITORIAL: Toomey fails to lead on tax plan
York Dispatch Editorial Updated 11:13 a.m. ET Nov. 29, 2017
Majority Republicans in the U.S. Senate are spending this week scrambling to win passage of their ill-advised tax plan. “Before that can happen,” reports the New York Times, “they need to win over a number of uncommitted senators.” Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey is not among them. The second-term Republican describes himself as “really, really excited” about the GOP tax-cut plan, which he claims, “is going to directly lower the tax bill, and therefore, be a pay raise for the overwhelming, vast majority of Pennsylvanians.” How so? Toomey trots out the old saw that lowering corporate taxes will allow business to invest more. “Investment in capital means workers become more productive. More productive workers get higher wages,” he says.
Except there’s no evidence corporate interests will do any such thing. That’s why, over the past 40 years, an average worker’s salary has increased a piddling 10 percent, while average pay for a CEO has grown by nearly 1,000 percent. And as for worker productivity, it is already at an all-time high.

Gov. Tom Wolf: ‘Large corporations and the wealthy’ win in Senate Republican tax plan
In a letter released Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf urged U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to vote against the Senate Republican tax plan although Casey will assuredly oppose it and Toomey will support it.
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose Posted Nov 30, 2017 at 4:47 PM Updated Nov 30, 2017 at 5:29 PM
Governor calls for senators Casey, Toomey to oppose legislation
Even though it is obvious where both men fall on the issue, Gov. Tom Wolf made a last-ditch appeal Thursday to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to oppose the Senate Republican tax plan. “I have serious concerns over the priorities of this bill,” Wolf, a Democrat, told the senators. “This bill is not a bill that will help hardworking middle-class Pennsylvania families. Large corporations and the wealthy are the clear winners under this plan.” The 38-million member AARP also announced its opposition to the tax plan Thursday, saying it will increase the deficit and spur cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as raise taxes on seniors and repeal the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which studies have shown could result in 13 million fewer Americans having health insurance over the next decade.

Senate weighs scaling back tax package to win deficit hawks
Inquirer by MARCY GORDON & STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Updated: NOVEMBER 30, 2017 — 8:51 PM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans weighed scaling back the tax cuts in their massive package to secure crucial support as congressional analysts said Thursday the legislation would add $1 trillion to the nation's debt over the next decade. Republicans were making major changes to the bill up to the last minute, including one that would roll back some of the tax cuts after six years to appease deficit hawks. The first revamp of the tax code in three decades - a top political priority of President Trump - would affect nearly every American and business. The scramble to alter the bill came after senators said the chamber's parliamentarian had ruled that automatic "triggers" designed to guard against big deficits would violate Senate rules. GOP leaders' main concern was winning over lawmakers, including Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, concerned about adding more red ink to the deficit. GOP leaders also were struggling to placate Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who wanted an increase in the deduction for business income. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) had expressed confidence early in the day, but he has little margin for error with a 52-48 majority. He can afford to lose two votes while counting on Vice President Pence to break the tie.

Senate GOP tax plan hits deficit snag, leaving leaders scrambling
Washington Post By Erica WernerMike DeBonis and Damian Paletta November 30 at 9:07 PM 
Senate leadership, who had hoped to vote to pass the $1.5 trillion tax bill by late Thursday night, instead sent lawmakers home and began to search for a new way to offset the cost of the legislation. They are looking to win the support of several senators, including Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has led a small group of colleagues in demanding that the bill not drive up the nation’s debt. Now, Republican leaders may have to brace for an intraparty battle over how far to go to accommodate deficit concerns. Other Republicans are arguing strongly against reducing the size of the bill’s tax cut, as may now be necessary to satisfy the deficit hawks.

Save CHIP: Essential funding for kids’ health must stay
THE EDITORIAL BOARD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12:00 AM DEC 1, 2017
While there are many problems with the nation’s health insurance programs and competing visions of how to reform the system, initiatives that work should be celebrated and sustained. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, established in Pennsylvania 25 years ago Saturday, is one of those initiatives. A national program since 1997, CHIP subsidizes health care for uninsured families. Some parents may be disadvantaged but not poor enough for Medicaid while others are between jobs or working at places that don’t provide health insurance. Pre-existing conditions are covered by CHIP. Dental care, office visits, immunizations, diagnostic tests and emergency care are provided, too. In some cases, prenatal care is covered, as well. In Pennsylvania, there is no waiting list for enrollment, and children are eligible for coverage until they turn 19. Nationwide, nearly 9 million children were helped last fiscal year. Nearly 179,000 Pennsylvanians, including about 14,000 in Allegheny County, were enrolled last month.

The uncertain future of CHIP
WHYY Radio Times  Listen 17:00
The future of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, remains uncertain. Congress is fighting over how to pay for the program, which currently insures 8 million kids and 370,000 pregnant women. We’ll talk with DAVID RUBIN, a pediatrician and director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia about the impact of CHIP on kids’ lives and its future.

Already on the bubble, there's more bad news for these suburban Philly congressmen | Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek Updated Nov 30, 8:53 AM; Posted Nov 30, 8:00 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Love, the 1980s pop singer Pat Benatar once famously observed is a battlefield. But so, too, are the three U.S. House seats in suburban Philadelphia. And heading into the brutally contested 2018 mid-term elections, that's more true than ever right now. Democrats have long coveted - and even once controlled - the 7th and 8th Congressional District seats now respectively held by U.S. Reps.Pat Meehan and Brian Fitzpatrick. And they've been trying for more than a decade to wrest away the 6th Congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, but have never quite managed to seal the deal. So along comes University of Virginia political analyst Kyle Kondik, who's putting all three of those seats, along with the Allentown-based 15th District (held by Rep. Charlie Dent, who's retiring in 2018), into his "Lean Republican" category in his newest rankings list.

The pink pig returns to the Capitol to protest legislative pay raise, per diems
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated Nov 30, 2:36 PM
Protesting the automatic pay raise that takes effect on Friday for state lawmakers, citizen activist Gene Stilp brought his giant inflatable pink pig to the Capitol steps on Thursday to protest what he considers legislative abuse. While inflating the 25-foot-long pig that wore a "Taxpayers Abused Again" sign, Stilp said the .81 percent automatic legislative pay raise may not sound like much "but it's still a pay raise while Pennsylvanians are suffering."

Student Sleep Deprivation
Harriton Banner by Melanie Metz November 21, 2017 • 35 views
What is the most awful, unpleasant sound in the world? My alarm clock. Every Monday, as I drag myself from bed after the allotted 3 snoozes, I try to mentally prepare myself for four more days of horror until the weekend. Don’t get me wrong – I love school, but waking up for it is unbearable. In my entire high school career, not a day has passed during which a friend hasn’t commented on how exhausted they were. When someone has a free first set, we see it as the luckiest thing in the world. Almost every single person in high school, by my estimation, is tired, whether they reveal it or not. And how could they not be? We start class, Monday through Friday, at 7:30 in the morning. That means students awaken anywhere from 5:30am to 6:45am. Normally, this sleepiness is brushed off as “part of the normal high school experience.”
But it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be.

Blogger comment: When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail….
Betsy DeVos Links Nation's Stagnant Test Scores to Lack of Parental Choice
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on November 30, 2017 4:16 PM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos used America's stagnant performance on an international exam to make her case for her favorite policy prescription—expanding school choice—in a speech to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education in Nashville, Tenn. Decades after the publication of 1983's landmark report "A Nation At Risk" DeVos said America remains "stuck in the middle" on the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. "We are being outpaced and outperformed by countries like China, Germany, Vietnam, and the U.K." DeVos said. "We are a nation still at risk.  We are a nation at greater risk." One of the most intriguing arguments DeVos used to build her case: Other countries that have embraced school choice end up performing better than the United States. But she didn't specifically say which countries she was referring to. The education department didn't immediately respond to a request for more detail. However, reports have found that countries that have gone big on choice have a mixed track record of success.

Agriculture Department Revises School Meal Rules Championed by Michelle Obama
Education Week By Evie Blad on November 29, 2017 4:43 PM | No comments
The U.S. Department of Agriculture published revised school meal rules Wednesday, locking in a pledge Secretary Sonny Perdue made in May to ease heightened nutrition standards championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. Child nutrition advocates had said those rules were necessary to curb growing rates of childhood obesity. But some, including industry groups representing school nutrition professionals, said the regulations were costly to follow and that students weren't eating the healthier meals. "It doesn't do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can," Perdue said in a statement. "These flexibilities give schools the local control they need to provide nutritious meals that school children find appetizing."
The interim final rule includes these changes:

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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