Tuesday, January 23, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 23: Court: Pennsylvania's congressional map is illegal & must be redrawn (by Feb 9th)

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, charter school leaders, 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.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
Court: Pennsylvania's congressional map is illegal & must be redrawn (by Feb 9th)

CHIP: Children's Health Insurance Gets Six-Year Extension
Education Week By Christina Samuels on January 22, 2018 7:18 PM
The nearly three-week continuing resolution passed by Congress Monday to end a brief government shutdown includes a six-year funding package for the Children's Health Insurance Program. CHIP covers 9 million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but who can't afford insurance on the open market. Normally that would be seen as good news. But advocates are still questioning why Congress took so long to fund a popular program, forcing some states to send notices to families that they were at risk of losing their coverage. 

Niche: The 50 best school districts in Pennsylvania
Penn Live Posted January 22, 2018 at 06:15 AM
Niche has issued its 2018 list of the best Pennsylvania school districts. Rankings were based on statistics, test scores, and district ratings. The methodology used for this compilation can be found here.

Dems poised to gain seats after court throws out Pa. congressional map
Several legal experts and GOP operatives said they don’t expect the Supreme Court to intervene.
Politico By ELENA SCHNEIDER 01/22/2018 02:15 PM EST Updated 01/22/2018 05:40 PM EST
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out the state’s congressional map on Monday, throwing members and candidates into chaos and potentially boosting Democrats’ chances to win the House majority this fall. The state Supreme Court ruled that the House map “clearly, plainly and palpably violates” the state constitution and must be redrawn in the next three weeks after Democrats filed a lawsuit, alleging that Republicans unreasonably gerrymandered the districts to give the GOP a partisan advantage. Republican legislative leaders said they will seek a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the state Supreme Court “set up an impossible deadline that will only introduce chaos in the upcoming Congressional election,” state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said in a statement. “It is clear that with this ruling the Court is attempting to bypass the Constitution and the legislative process and legislate themselves, directly from the bench.” But several legal experts and GOP operatives said they don’t expect the Supreme Court to intervene. Unlike recent partisan gerrymander cases out of North Carolina and Wisconsin, the Pennsylvania case deals with state law, not federal.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided the state's congressional map illegally favors Republicans and must be redrawn. Here's the background on the case.
Steve Esack and Laura Olson Contact Reporters Of The Morning Call January 22, 2018
Pennsylvania’s congressional map, drawn and approved by a Republican-controlled Legislature and a GOP governor, is illegally gerrymandered and must be redrawn, according to a ruling by the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court. The 5-2 order, issued Monday, says the state’s 2011 map “plainly and palpably violates” the state constitution. The ruling directs the Legislature to redraw the map and submit it to Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, for his approval by Feb. 9 and then to the court for its approval by Feb. 15 so the May 15 primary can be held as scheduled. If those deadlines are missed, the court would draw its own map “based on the evidentiary record developed.” “It’s not overstated to say this is a bombshell,” said Chris Borick, a political scientist and pollster at Muhlenberg College.

Who rules? Pennsylvania Supreme Court, federal court differ on congressional map
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided the state's congressional map illegally favors Republicans and must be redrawn. Here's the background on the case.
Tim Darragh Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call January 22, 2018
A panel of federal judges this month ruled that Pennsylvania’s map of congressional districts did not violate the U.S. Constitution. But Monday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the very same map, saying it “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state constitution. So which court’s ruling will hold as the law of the land? The answer, several lawyers and constitutional experts said, appears to be the state Supreme Court’s ruling. Probably. “Because the court rests its ruling solely on Pennsylvania law, this is effectively the end of the road,” said Jud Mathews, associate professor of law at Penn State.

Pennsylvania court throws out congressional boundaries
AP State Wire by Marc Levy January 23, 2018 
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s widely criticized congressional map Monday, granting a major victory to Democrats who alleged the 18 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans and setting off a scramble to draw a new map. In the Democratic-controlled court’s decision, the majority said the boundaries “clearly, plainly and palpably” violate the state’s constitution and blocked the boundaries from remaining in effect for the 2018 elections with just weeks until dozens of people file paperwork to run for Congress. The justices gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court. Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track. The decision comes amid a national tide of gerrymandering cases, including some that have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats cheered the decision to toss out a Republican-drawn map used in three general elections going back to 2012. The map, they say, gave Republicans crucial help in securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.

Pennsylvania Congressional District Map Is Ruled Unconstitutional
New York Times By MICHAEL WINES and TRIP GABRIEL JAN. 22, 2018
WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s congressional district map is a partisan gerrymander that “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state’s Constitution, the State Supreme Court said on Monday, adding to a string of court decisions striking down political maps that unduly favor one political party. The court banned the current map of the state’s 18 House districts from being used in this year’s primary and general elections, and ordered that a new map be submitted to the court by Feb. 15. But the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature, which approved the current map in 2011, has already said it would try to overturn such a decision in federal court. That would set up another legal battle over gerrymanders in a year already filled with them. But an appeal to the federal courts would very likely fail, election experts said, because decisions based solely on interpretations of state law — as this one appears to be — are generally beyond the reach of federal judges. For the same reason, the state court’s decision has no direct bearing on a string of challenges to partisan gerrymanders that are already moving through the federal court system. Earlier this month, in fact, a divided panel of three federal judges left intact the same Pennsylvania House map that the state court threw out on Monday. If the state court ruling stands and the map is redrawn, the consequences could be serious for Republicans, who are already battling national political headwinds in their effort to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections this fall.

How Big a Deal Is a New Congressional Map for Pennsylvania?
Although Democrats will probably pick up a few additional seats in this year’s election, the development is less helpful for them than it might at first appear.
New York Times By Nate Cohn Jan. 22, 2018
The Republicans are counting on a favorable congressional map to help their majority ride out a possible “wave” election this November. But the congressional map got a little less favorable on Monday when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map. If the ruling holds — and it is expected to, because it’s based on state law, not federal — this will be the fourth Republican gerrymander to be eroded by the courts since the 2014 midterm elections. It will probably cost the Republicans at least one seat in this year’s midterms, while eroding their position in several others. Pennsylvania has one of the harshest gerrymanders in the country. Republicans have held a 13-to-5 majority in the state’s congressional delegation since the map took effect in 2012, even though the state is traditionally competitive in state and federal elections.

New Map to be Drawn for 2018 Election
Public Interest Law Center Website January 22, 2018
In a major victory for voters, on January 22, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that Pennsylvania’s 2011 U.S. congressional districting map violates the Pennsylvania Constitution and enjoined its use in the upcoming May 15, 2018 primary. The Court invited the General Assembly to submit a new congressional districting plan to the Governor by February 9, 2018. If the Governor accepts the new congressional districting plan, he must submit it to the Court before February 15, 2018. Should the General Assembly and the Governor be unable to submit a plan to the Court by February 15, 2018, the Court will “proceed expeditiously to adopt a plan based on the evidentiary record developed in the case.” In anticipation of that, the Court extended the opportunity to all the parties in the lawsuit to submit proposed remedial districting plans on or before February 15, 2018. In reaching its decision, the Court ruled on the “sole basis” that the 2011 map violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. Five justices held the 2011 map unconstitutional. There was no opinion issued by the judges at the time of this release. Justice Baer joined in the decision finding the map unconstitutional; however, he would have waited until the 2020 election to redraw the district lines. Justices Saylor and Mundy stated they would have deferred decision until after the U.S. Supreme Court decides several currently pending gerrymandering cases; neither dissent offered any defense of the current map.

Pa. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, longtime Montco legislator, won't seek reelection
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, Harrisburg Bureau  @AngelasInk | acouloumbis@phillynews.com Updated: JANUARY 22, 2018 — 6:42 PM EST
HARRISBURG — State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, who made criminal justice reform the focus of his decades-long legislative career, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection this year. The Montgomery County Republican, who joined the legislature in 1977 and is the longest-serving sitting senator, said he felt it was time to tackle a different challenge. “I love my job. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Greenleaf, 78, said, adding: “But there are some other things I’d like to do.” Greenleaf, the longtime chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, became known for his work on criminal justice issues, often with an eye toward protecting victims, bolstering rehabilitation efforts, and helping defendants go on to lead productive lives.

GOP in Philly, suburbs, rocked by wave of legislative retirements
City and State By: RYAN BRIGGS JAN 19, 2018 AT 4:38 PM
When longtime state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney revealed Friday afternoon that he would not seek another term in office, he wasn’t even the first Bucks County Republican to announce his retirement this week – state Rep. Kathy Watson said she would step down at the end of the year just days earlier. And state Rep. Scott Petri abruptly left his New Hope-area seat late last year to take over the troubled Philadelphia Parking Authority. Democrats, to say the least, were ecstatic – McIlhinney is often regarded as one of the most powerful Republicans in the county. “Is the entire Republican Party in Bucks County just giving up?” joked PA House Democratic Campaign Committee Executive Director Nathan Davidson. It’s a trend that’s bigger than just Bucks County: Only one day prior to McIlhinney’s announcement, Montgomery County state Rep. Bob Godshall announced that he would also leave office after 36 years in Harrisburg. And scant days before that, powerful state Rep. Ron Marsico gave notice he would retire from a seat outside of Harrisburg. The pattern echoes far more high-profile retirements that have hit Republican congressional districts across the Commonwealth and the country. But GOP retirements have been particularly acute in and around Philadelphia. 

The House Ethics Committee has begun investigating Pennsylvania’s Rep. Patrick Meehan
Post-Gazette by MIKE DEBONIS The Washington Post JAN 22, 2018 8:26 PM
WASHINGTON - The House Ethics Committee said Monday that it is investigating a former member of the panel, U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., following allegations of sexual harassment and a secret settlement paid with taxpayer funds. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., removed Meehan from the Ethics Committee on Saturday after the New York Times published allegations that he made unwanted romantic advances toward a female employee then paid her a settlement from his congressional office account to keep her silent. Meehan has denied wrongdoing and called for “a full and open airing of the facts.” In a joint statement, Ethics Committee chairwoman Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and ranking member Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said that Meehan had submitted a written request to the panel requesting that it review the matter. The committee, they said, “has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”

East Penn School Board puts 2.8% ceiling on any tax hike
Margie Peterson Special to The Morning Call January 22, 2018
Despite the expected addition of full-day kindergarten, the East Penn School Board voted to keep any tax increase for the 2018-2019 budget within the Act I ceiling of 2.8 percent or less. The decision came after Superintendent Michael Schilder and Business Manager Robert Saul gave a budget outlook that predicted East Penn will be able to fund about $2.8 million in district priorities while capping any possible tax hike. “Mr. Saul and I take a very conservative approach while putting the budget together,” Schilder said. “I am hoping that in a couple of months we’ll be able to come back to you and say, ‘Alright, we have some additional money here … maybe we can lower the tax increase below the Act 1 Index, like we did last year,” Schilder said.

Philly nominating panel convenes for first meeting
Members elected officers and heard presentations on ethics and legal requirements of the selection process. Activists are raising concerns about transparency.
The notebook by Greg Windle January 19, 2018 — 7:21pm
The mayor’s education nominating panel, charged with recommending candidates to serve on the Board of Education, met for the first time Friday to elect officers and set rules of procedure. Wendell Pritchett, a former member and acting chair of the School Reform Commission, was elected chair. Jamie Gauthier, executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservatory and mother of two public school students, was elected vice-chair. Bonnie Camarda, divisional director for the Salvation Army and board member of Nueva Esperanza, was elected secretary. The session, held in the Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall, was billed as open to the public. But it appeared that decisions had been made in advance – the votes on officers were taken quickly and without discussion as the 13 members sat in a semicircle facing away from those who attended. Several education activists are arguing that the state Sunshine Act requires the panel to hold all its meetings in public, and they were not happy about how the first meeting went.

School choice rally planned in Philadelphia for Charter, Catholic schools
Matt Coughlin Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call January 23, 2018
An organization supporting charter schools in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference are holding a rally Wednesday to celebrate school choice week at Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia. According to a press release issued by the conference, organizers expect more than 1,000 students, parents and supporters at the 10 a.m. rally at the school on the 11201 Academy Road in Philadelphia. The Catholic Conference is the “public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and Catholic dioceses.” The state’s Coalition of Public Charter Schools is a pro-school choice advocacy group. According to the press release, National School Choice Week is “designed to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options for every child.”

National School Choice Week: Annual Public Relations Campaign Kicks Off
Education Week Charters & Choice Blog By Arianna Prothero on January 22, 2018 9:05 AM
The school choice advocacy world this week will crank up its nationwide public-relations/public awareness campaign meant to bring positive attention to the full range of educational choice. Supporters of choice—many of them sporting neon-yellow scarves—will rally in more than 50 cities this week as part of the 8th annual National School Choice Week. Organizers project that an estimated 6.7 million people are expected to participate this year in more than 32,000 events from open houses at schools to pep rallies at statehouses—that's more than double the number of events that took place just two years ago. National School Choice Week organizers encourage lots of groups—charter and private schools, homeschooling families, and local chambers of commerce among them—to host events and flood social media with photos and videos. National organizers provide support on event planning and kits full of swag, including those aforementioned scarves.

Will Spending on Things Like Schools Match the Pentagon's Budget?
Education Week Pollitics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on January 23, 2018 7:43 AM
Whenever lawmakers reach a final 2018 budget deal, whether that's before Feb. 8 or after, we'll finally figure out how much funding there will be for the U.S. Department of Education. We'll also get an answer (sort of) to a long-standing fight in Washington: the fate of caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending, including education. In addition, we'll find out whether the two pots of money for those areas of the federal budget will be the same size. That's important to analysts and lobbyists. 
First: Remember sequestration? In 2011, Congress agreed to annual, automatic cuts to defense and non-defense spending, as a way to force lawmakers to come to a spending deal. That bigger spending deal never happened, but lawmakers come up with temporary agreements to blunt those automatic cuts, which are known as sequestration. That still involves imposing annual—albeit higher—caps on both types of spending. The last such deal was for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, which former House Speaker John Boehner pushed through Congress before retiring. In fiscal 2017, the cap is $519 billion for non-defense spending, including for education. 

Charles Koch donated $500K to Ryan days after GOP tax plan passed
The Hill BY JACQUELINE THOMSEN - 01/21/18 07:46 PM EST
GOP mega-donor Charles Koch and his wife donated about $500,000 to Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) joint fundraising committee, just days after the GOP tax plan was passed. Charles Koch made the donation 13 days after the plan was passed, which lowers the corporate tax rate and cuts estate taxes, the International Business Times reported. He and his wife also gave $237,000 each to the National Republican Congressional Committee on the same day, according to the report. Charles Koch and his brother David Koch were both major advocates for the tax plan, pouring millions of dollars into efforts to get the legislation passed. The pair is also planning on spending millions more on a public relations campaign for the plan, according to The Wall Street Journal. Politico reported last year that Ryan isn't planning on running for another term, but Ryan has denied the report.

Register now for PSBA Board Presidents Panel 
PSBA Website January 2018

School board leaders, this one's for you! Join your colleagues at an evening of networking and learning in 10 convenient locations around the state at the end of January. Share your experience and leadership through a panel discussion moderated by PSBA Member Services team. Participate in roundtable conversations focused on the most pressing challenges and current issues affecting PA school districts. Bring your specific challenges and scenarios for small group discussion. Register online.

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.

Local School Board Members to Advocate on Capitol Hill in 2018     
NSBA's Advocacy Institute 2018 entitled, "Elected. Engaged. Empowered: Representing the Voice in Public Education," will be held on February 4-6, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. This conference will convene Members of Congress, national thought-leaders, state association executives and well-known political pundits to provide local school board members with an update on key policy and legal issues impacting public education, and tactics and strategies to enhance their ability to influence the policy-making process and national education debate during their year-round advocacy efforts.
·         Confirmed National Speaker: Cokie Roberts, Political Commentator for NPR and ABC News
·         NSBA will convene first ever National School Board Town Hall on School Choice
·         Includes General Sessions featuring national policy experts, Members of Congress, "DC Insiders" and local school board members
·         Offers conference attendees "Beginner" and "Advanced" Advocacy breakout sessions
·         NSBA will host a Hill Day Wrap-Up Reception
Click here to register for the Advocacy Institute.  The hotel block will close on Monday, January 15

PSBA Closer Look Series Public Briefings
The Closer Look Series Public Briefings will take a deeper dive into concepts contained in the proposed Pennsylvania State Budget and the State of Education Report. Sessions will harness the expertise of local business leaders, education advocates, government and local school leaders from across the state. Learn more about the fiscal health of schools, how workforce development and early education can be improved and what local schools are doing to improve the State of Education in Pennsylvania. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Connecting Student Success to Employment
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel – Pittsburgh Green Tree Feb. 27, 2018, 7-8:45 a.m.
More than eight out of 10 students taking one or more industry-specific assessments are achieving either at the competent or advanced level. How do we connect student success to jobs in the community? What does the connection between schools and the business community look like and how can it be improved? How do we increase public awareness of the growing demand for workers in the skilled trades and other employment trends in the commonwealth? Hear John Callahan, PSBA assistant executive director, and Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, give a free, public presentation on these topics followed by a Q&A period.

A Deeper Dive into the State of Education
Crowne Plaza Philadelphia – King of Prussia March 6, 2018, 7-8:45 a.m.
In the State of Education Report, 40% of schools stated that 16% to 30% of students joining schools at kindergarten or first grade are below the expected level of school readiness. Learn more about the impact of early education and what local schools are doing to improve the State of Education in Pennsylvania. A free, public presentation by local and legislative experts will be followed by a Q&A period.

Public Education Under Extreme Pressure
Hilton Harrisburg March 12, 2018, 7-8:45 a.m.
According to the State of Education Report, 84% of all school districts viewed budget pressures as the most difficult area to manage over the past year. With so many choices and pressures, school districts must make decisions to invest in priorities while managing their locally diverse budgets. How does the state budget impact these decisions? What investments does the business community need for the future growth of the economy and how do we improve the health, education and well-being of students who attend public schools in the commonwealth in this extreme environment? Hear local and legislative leaders in a free, public presentation on these topics followed by a Q&A period.

Registration for these public briefings: https://www.psba.org/2018/01/closer-look-series-public-briefings/

Registration is now open for the 2018 PASA Education Congress! State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018
Don't miss this marquee event for Pennsylvania school leaders at the Nittany Lion Inn, State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018.
Learn more by visiting http://www.pasa-net.org/2018edcongress 

SAVE THE DATE for the 2018 PA Educational Leadership Summit - July 29-31 - State College, PA sponsored by the PA Principals Association, PASA, PAMLE and PASCD.  
This year's Summit will be held from July 29-31, 2018 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA.

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.