Monday, January 8, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 8: Vouchers: SB2 ”Education Savings Accounts” could siphon more than $500 million from the state's 500 school districts.

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.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Vouchers: SB2 ”Education Savings Accounts” could siphon more than $500 million from the state's 500 school districts.



Blogger note: The state legislature did a great job designing and implementing a school funding formula.  However, it has not actually funded the formula.  Using the formula, it has been estimated that the shortfall in funding is up to $4 billion. Rather than seeking ways to address that shortfall, legislative leadership in both houses has continued to focus on diverting millions of tax dollars to unaccountable private and religious schools. With the recent change in membership of the Senate Education Committee, Senate Bill 2, the latest version of a school voucher bill, is poised to be voted out of committee, perhaps as soon as the next meeting. It is estimated that it could drain up to $500 million from Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. This morning’s Ed Policy Roundup recaps recent articles and commentary on the voucher bill. Please engage your state senators, urging them to protect your public schools, which serve all students.



Editorial: A redistricting battle won, but the war goes on
Delco Times POSTED: 01/06/18, 11:05 PM EST | UPDATED: 22 SECS AGO
There is good news and bad news for those who believe the most recent congressional redistricting plan performed by the Pennsylvania Legislature was horribly mangled to favor Republicans. The good news? Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson agrees with you. The bad news? He says it still doesn’t violate the state constitution. In other words, tough toenails. We’re guessing the judge did not use that kind of schoolyard talk in his ruling. Too bad. He did just about everything else. In the suit brought by the League of Woman voters vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the judge concurred with the underpinnings of the group’s argument. He ruled that the map drawn up by the Legislature in 2011 to reflect the changes in the 2010 census, does indeed intentionally discriminate “so as to grant Republican candidates an advantage in certain districts within the Commonwealth.” A victory for the League of Woman Voters, and those who believe that the redistricting in effect disenfranchises many Pennsylvania voters by making their votes inconsequential by stacking the deck in certain districts to favor Republican candidates. Republicans control both the House and Senate in the Pennsylvania Legislature. No one should be surprised that politics played a role in redistricting. And no one should expect that the result would be any different if the Democrats held power. Both sides play this game. What is surprising, and, frankly, disappointing, is to hear a judge confirm all this and still rule the process does not violate the state constitution.

“A growing body of research backs that up. Donna Celano, an assistant professor of communications at La Salle University who studies book deserts, said one recent project conducted in 27 countries found the single best predictor of whether a child is going to finish high school was the number of books in the home – “not the parents’ educational level or income level, but it was knowledge culture.” Now, the Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation is launching an 18-month study – led by Susan Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at New York University, and Celano – of book giveaway programs like Abrams’ with the goal of making them more efficient. Celano said the effort targeting kids up to 8 years old will focus on how many books are actually in homes, what makes up a good home library, and how to enlist parents in making sure books are actually read after they have been handed out.”
Teacher inspires young readers by giving away books
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer  @Kathy_Boccella |  kboccella@phillynews.com Updated: JANUARY 6, 2018 — 9:19 AM EST
Larry Abrams, an English teacher at Lindenwold High School in South Jersey, never gave much thought to how many books his students had at home – until a fateful conversation with a 17-year-old pupil who was raising her own 2-year-old. “What are you reading to your baby these days?” Abrams asked her. “I’m not reading – she’s still little, Mr. Abrams.” The teacher responded with alarm. “No, no, no,” he said. “I read to my daughter, you can read to her!” Five years later, Abrams’ classroom is cluttered with overflowing cases of books – from large picture books for toddlers to the wizardry of Harry Potter … basically anything a young reader might enjoy. And those boxes are just a fraction of the roughly 20,000 tomes that Abrams and the organization he finally launched 13 months ago, BookSmiles, has collected from schools and families in more affluent South Jersey districts, then redistributed mostly in economically disadvantaged Lindenwold toward his ambitious goal of 100 children’s books in every kid’s home.

Here’s a link to the text of the actual bill and cosponsor list:
PA Senate Bill 2; Regular Session 2017-2018
Pennsylvania General Assembly Website
Printer's No.(PN): 1271*
Short Title: An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for education savings account; and conferring powers and imposing duties on the Department of Education and the State Treasury.

You can find your state senator’s contact information here:
Contact Your State Senator
PA Senate Website

Issues with SB 2 include:
·         Education Savings Account Vouchers will drain desperately-needed funding from public schools and reduce access to educational opportunities for all students in order to fund the private education of a few.  PSEA estimates that SB2 could siphon more than $500 million from the state's 500 school districts.
·         Education Savings Account Vouchers enshrine discrimination against Pennsylvania’s children into law. Education Savings Account Vouchers enable the resegregation of public schools and allow private schools accepting taxpayer dollars to discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, and disability status. Students with disabilities, if they are permitted to enroll in a private school, must give up their rights under Federal law to an appropriate education.
·         Education Savings Account Vouchers in SB 2 are designed to benefit wealthy families, not families with low or modest incomes. There are no income limits for families that are eligible for Education Savings Account Vouchers and the amount of funding a family receives in an ESA in many cases will not be enough to cover the full tuition at a private school.
·         Education Savings Account Vouchers are expensive to administer and financial oversight and accountability are limited, leaving taxpayer dollars ripe for waste, fraud, and abuse. Arizona, which has had Education Savings Account Vouchers for 6 years, has seen families use ESA funding to make non-educational purchases and other fraud. Once families spend these taxpayer dollars, it is almost impossible to recover them.
·         Education Savings Account Vouchers can impact any school district, not just districts with low performing schools. A student who receives an ESA is eligible for an ESA for the rest of his K-12 school career, regardless of school district he lives in. When students with ESAs move, their new school districts will have state funding reduced by the amount that is deposited into the student’s ESA.
·         There is little academic oversight or accountability for private schools that would receive public funding. SB 2 does not require private schools to administer the PSSA or Keystone exams or require any regulation or oversight over the education that private schools provide students.

Education Voters of PA statement on rigging of Senate Education Committee makeup
Education Voters PA POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017
Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA,  issued the following statement about Republican leadership’s decision to rig the makeup of the Senate Education Committee:
Senate Republican leaders demonstrated the lengths to which they will go in an attempt to pass anti-public education legislation out of the Senate Education Committee. On October 24th, the Senate Education Committee failed to pass Senate Bill 2, legislation that would bring a new generation of school vouchers known as education savings accounts (ESAs) to Pennsylvania. On December 12th, Senator Eichelberger went over Senate Bill 2 because there were not enough votes on the committee to pass it. Rather than accept that committee members do not support SB 2, Committee Chair Eichelberger and Senate leadership took extraordinary measures and changed the makeup of the committee. Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) who voted against SB 2 on October 24th, resigned. Republican leadership replaced Laughlin with Senator Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), a known supporter of school vouchers. For the vote on SB 2 and moving forward, the inclusion of Alloway will ensure that the structure of the committee will be generally more in favor of anti-public education, pro-school privatization legislation. It is deeply troubling that instead of focusing on improving opportunities for student success in PA’s public schools, which educate 90% of PA’s students and are open to every child, Senate Republican leaders rigged the membership of a committee in order to advance the agenda of the school privatization lobby and appease their deep-pocketed corporate donors.

'Precious Little Evidence' That Vouchers Improve Achievement, Recent Research Finds
Education Week By Arianna Prothero on November 17, 2017  
There's been surging national interest in private-school-voucher programs with the Trump administration's embrace of the idea. But newer research on large-scale voucher programs has complicated the debate over private-school choice—policies which allow families to use public money or aid to attend private schools, including religious ones. What does the research say? In a nutshell: The most recent findings are mixed, but they lean more toward negative.  I spoke at length with researchers from most of these studies for story I did on how private schools receiving public money in Florida face little state oversight. Studies out of Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and the District of Columbia have found that students, most of whom are low-income, fare worse academically after leaving their public schools.

“Even though vouchers are funded with public money, when a parent switches their child from public to private school, they waive crucial special education rights granted to them under federal law—such as "discipline procedures and least restrictive environment requirements," says the GAO report.”
School Voucher Programs Leave Parents in the Dark on Disability Rights, Feds Say
Education Week By Arianna Prothero on November 30, 2017 4:38 PM 
States are not doing enough to inform parents about the special education rights they give up when they enroll their children in private schools with publicly funded vouchers. That's according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that also urges Congress to compel states to tell parents about the tradeoffs they are making when they opt to participate in a private school choice program. Expanding private school choice is an education policy priority for the Trump administration and in particular U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—a longtime philanthropic booster of school choice who drew condemnation from special education and civil rights advocates during her confirmation hearing when she appeared to be confused about basic principles of federal education law. More than half of the state private school choice programs, which include tuition vouchers and education savings accounts, are specifically targeted to students with disabilities.  

“In October, the bill failed to pass the committee in a deadlocked 6-6 vote. By Tuesday, bill opponent Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, was supposed to have been replaced by Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin, a supporter. That did not happen, but will next year, committee Chairman John Eichelberger, R-Blair, indicated. The committee will vote in 2018 when the new member takes over, he said.”
SB2 Reprise December 12, 2017: Vote delayed on Pennsylvania school voucher bill
The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee postponed a vote Tuesday on controversial school voucher bill that would allow some parents to use state tax money to send their child to a private school.
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau December 12, 2017
Top of Form
A Pennsylvania Senate panel postponed a vote Tuesday on a school choice bill that would allow some parents to use state tax money to send children to a private school. It was the second time this year Senate Bill 2 failed to get out of the Education Committee. The bill, backed by Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin, would allow parents of students in the lowest-performing schools to use their child's state per-pupil expenditure as a voucher to pay for private schools, tutors, standardized tests, textbooks and special education services. Under the bill, the money would go into an education savings account that would be controlled by the state Treasury. Unused money could roll over to the next school year. The bill’s proponents say children deserve a chance to succeed by using state tax money to escape schools that perpetually have standardized test scores in the bottom 15 percent of all schools in the state. Opponents say the affected schools serve some of the state’s poorest urban and rural children, and taking state funding would cripple the schools’ ability to function. Allentown, Bethlehem Area and Easton Area school districts would lose nearly $50 million annually under the bill if a third of eligible students left, according to an analysis by Pennsylvania State Education Association union, which opposes the measure.

SB2 Reprise December 14, 2017: Senator swap in education committee likely to impact school choice vote in Pa.
By Katie Meyer, WITF December 14, 2017
The state Senate Education Committee is making a mid-session personnel change — switching out one Republican senator for another. Erie County Republican Senator Dan Laughlin is officially moving from the Education Committee to the Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee. His replacement has been announced as Rich Alloway, a fellow Republican from Franklin County. The move is significant because of Senate Bill 2 — a measure would let students in the lowest-performing public schools use the money the state would have spent on their education for alternative school options. Laughlin is a key opponent, and a big reason the bill failed to get to the Senate floor in October by one vote. Meanwhile, Alloway is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“The state's largest teachers union on Tuesday dismissed the bill as a “tuition voucher scheme” that could “siphon more than $500 million” from the state's 500 school districts. “There are good reasons why voucher bills haven't passed for decades,” Pennsylvania State Education President Dolores McCracken said in a statement. “Vouchers don't help students learn; they drain money from public schools, and they don't hold private schools accountable for how they would spend the money or help their students learn. ... I hope more state senators realize this before this dangerous bill gets to the Senate floor for a vote.”
SB2 Reprise October 24, 2017: Education savings accounts: 'dangerous scheme' or 'critical lifeline'?
Trib Live NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, 6:48 p.m.
A controversial proposal to let Pennsylvania parents send their children to private schools on the taxpayer dime faltered Tuesday in the state Senate soon after the bill appeared to advance. Senate Bill 2 outlines a plan that would make Pennsylvania the seventh state to offer education savings accounts , or ESAs. Under the bill, parents or guardians could apply for ESAs for children in grades K-12 if they live within the boundaries of a public school ranked in the bottom 15 percent in the state. Any household could apply, regardless of how much money they make. Shortly before noon Tuesday, the bill by Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County, appeared to clear the Senate Education Committee on a 6-5 vote. But hours later, the committee struck down the vote after learning that Republican Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks County, had tried to send a proxy on his behalf but the proxy mistakenly missed the vote. The committee plans to take up the proposal again in coming weeks.

SB2 Reprise August 8, 2017: Critics say Education Savings Accounts proposed in Pa. are just vouchers by another name
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lbehrman@post-gazette.com 4:48 PM
AUG 8, 2017
School vouchers have failed multiple times to get enough support in Pennsylvania, but some GOP legislators are hoping a new school choice program may be the next accompaniment to charter schools and scholarship tax credits: Education Savings Accounts.  Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County, announced Tuesday that he intends to introduce legislation in September to create a program that will allow students in Pennsylvania’s struggling school districts to use state money for private school tuition, tutoring services and other pre-approved education expenses.  “I believe the ESA really is a lifeline for at-risk youth and low-income families that, based on where they live, do not have the opportunity to have educational options,” Mr. DiSanto said. Under his proposal, parents who choose not to send their child to their neighborhood public school would receive the equivalent of what the state spends per pupil, which would be deducted from their home school district’s subsidy. That money would be set aside in an account with the Department of the Treasury and transferred to families to be spent for “legitimate educational services” like private school tuition, special education services or community college courses. What isn’t spent could be rolled over year-to-year or used to help pay for post-secondary education.  Students who attend public schools and live within the 15 percent of Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing districts would be eligible, according to his proposal. 

“It is highly unusual for senators to switch committees in the middle of a four-year legislative cycle.  Many people might wonder why Republican leaders would take these extraordinary measures to try to pass a bill that their own committee members do not support. The answer to this question is as simple as it is troubling. The school privatization lobby wants this bill to pass. Education Committee Chair John Eichelberger and other Republican leaders in the Senate are willing to do what it takes to appease their deep-pocketed, anti-public education donors.”
SB2 – Voucher Vote Delayed, Senate Ed Committee Changed
BASDproudparent Blog December 16, 2017
An October Morning Call article had this to say: According to calculations by the PSEA, Allentown, Bethlehem Area and Easton Area school districts would stand to lose nearly $50 million annually. Allentown would have seen almost $27 million go into the education savings account if the bill had been law in 2015-16 and a third of eligible students applied for ESAs, the state’s largest teachers union said. Bethlehem Area and Easton Area would have seen $14.6 and $5.3 million, respectively, diverted into accounts in 2015-16, according to PSEA. You can read that article here: http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/capitol-ideas/mc-nws-pennsylvania-schools-education-savings-account-20171024-story.html
The good news is that Senate Bill 2, the education savings account/DeVos voucher bill, was delayed from coming up for a vote! The bad news is that before leaving for their holiday break, Republican leaders rearranged the Senate Education Committee in the hopes that it will have enough votes to pass SB 2 out of committee when lawmakers return in this month. 

“Wolf remains less than halfway to his original goal of a $2 billion education funding increase, but having won enough new money for schools that Wolf says districts struggling the most under the state's 2011 cuts in aid are doing better.
Wolf also has not achieved a major first-term aim to overhaul Pennsylvania's heavy reliance on property taxes to fund schools, seen as a driving force behind inequities between wealthy and poorer school districts.”
'I'm very proud of what I've been able to do': Gov. Wolf set for campaign
Penn Live By Marc Levy The Associated Press Updated Jan 7, 9:29 AM; Posted Jan 7, 9:27 AM
HARRISBURG -- Just in time for his re-election campaign, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is perhaps the most optimistic person in Pennsylvania. He sees better days ahead for the state's finances, says he's satisfied with his first-term progress and shows no frustration over battling the huge Republican majorities that control the Legislature. Four weeks before he releases his fourth and final first-term budget plan, Wolf seems to see state government's post-recession deficits in the rear-view mirror and touted his work across the political aisle. In an interview with The Associated Press, Wolf did not foresee needing a budget-balancing tax increase in a second term. "What deficit would I be filling with a tax increase?" he questioned Tuesday. Negotiating budgets under Wolf has absorbed an inordinate amount of time and energy over the past three years, including two protracted partisan stalemates over how to deal with massive deficits.

York County's Scott Wagner proves to be gubernatorial favorite in home turf's regional GOP caucus vote
Penn Live By Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated Jan 6; Posted Jan 6
Being the first to declare his candidacy and paying visits to Republicans in their home counties for the past year paid off for gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner on Saturday. A straw poll of GOP state committee members from 24 Central Pennsylvania counties showed overwhelming support for the York County senator who announced his candidacy a year ago for this year's governor's race. Out of the 99 committee members in attendance at the meeting held at the Harrisburg Hershey Sheraton, Wagner received 62 for votes as the candidate they believe is best suited to take on Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow York countian, in November. His opponents House Speaker Mike Turzai, of Allegheny County, received 22 votes, retired Army officer and Allegheny County health care executive Paul Mango, 13 votes, and attorney Laura Ellsworth, also of Allegheny County, received two votes.

“Hickernell, of West Donegal, has chaired the House Education Committee since the beginning of 2017”
Elizabethtown Democrat plans to run against 8-term state Rep. David Hickernell
Lancaster Online by SAM JANESCH | Staff Writer Jan 7, 2018
An Elizabethtown Democrat announced Saturday she will challenge eight-term Republican state Rep. David Hickernell in this year’s election for the northwestern Lancaster County legislative district. Mary Auker-Endres, 32, is a former childbirth educator who said she wants to run on a platform that focuses on “expanded support for public education, fair wages for hard work and reforming Harrisburg.” “Harrisburg isn’t listening, but I am. And I’m ready to act,” she said in a statement. The 98th district, which Hickernell has represented since 2003, covers the boroughs of Columbia, Elizabethtown and Marietta, and the townships of Conoy, East Donegal, Mount Joy, West Donegal and West Hempfield. It also includes Londonderry Township in Dauphin County. Auker-Endres grew up in Manheim and graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion. She and her husband John, who was in the Navy, spent time living in Washington state and Maine before returning to the county.

Tredyffrin/Easttown school officials plan 2.4 percent tax hike
By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 01/07/18, 3:21 PM EST 
Berwyn >> The Tredyffrin/Easttown Board of School Directors last week unanimously adopted a 2018-2019 preliminary budget proposal that would increase taxes on the average home by $178 per year. The preliminary budget includes tax revenue from a planned property tax rate increase of 2.42 percent. School officials say this will help to close the projected operating deficit of approximately $6.87 million. The property tax rate increase as proposed consists of 2.4 percent from the legislated Act 1 index and .02 percent projected from referendum exceptions. Major cost drivers of the budget include rising student enrollment, mandated retirement contributions and special education services. The board authorized the administration to provide public notice that the school board will consider adoption of the 2018-2019 preliminary budget at its regular meeting on Jan. 22, 2018 and to publish notice of the board’s intent to file for referendum exceptions with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The 2018-2019 proposed preliminary budget is available for inspection at the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Administration offices.

Teaching shortage could soon get much worse
The Daily Item By John Finnerty CNHI Harrisburg Reporter January 7, 2018
HARRISBURG — The U.S. Department of Education has warned that Pennsylvania, like every other state, is facing a shortage of teachers. The problem is only going to get worse, experts say. There are pockets of problem areas in the commonwealth and some teaching specialties where it's hard to find enough educators, state and federal data shows. But evidence of an overall statewide shortage is less obvious, for the time being. “It is not accurate to say Pennsylvania currently has a teacher shortage,” said Wythe Keever, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “There is evidence however that a teacher shortage may be rapidly approaching.” The problem is two-fold, he said. The state will soon be hit with a wave of retirements and there are fewer college students majoring in education so there won’t be as many would-be teachers graduating to replace those who retire, he said. The PSEA has 180,000 members. The union expects that more than 20,000 of them will retire within the next decade, Keever said. “The Public School Employees’ Retirement System projects the same trend," he said.

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you couldn’t.”
The notebook series by Paul Jablow and Melanie Bavaria from video January 5, 2018
Since middle school, Ray Willey says, he had been having a hard time with school. Things came to a head at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, and Willey ended up at Lakeside School.
The tall, slender young man walked down from the podium in his cap and gown, the ovation from the audience triggered by the final words of his speech: “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you couldn’t. ” And in graduating from Lakeside School in Horsham Township, Ray Willey had done just that. His mother, beaming, said, “I never thought this day would come. He put me through a lot.” “It was like a dream come true,” Willey recalled months later, when he was already working at a construction job in Conshohocken.
“I never thought of myself doing that. I felt like it was all worth it.”

Heating problems in Philly schools rise as temperatures plunge
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent January 5, 2018
With temperatures plummeting, facilities workers in Philadelphia’s public schools have dealt with a steady stream of weather-related maintenance issues. “Our building engineers are working double time on this,” said school district spokesperson Lee Whack. “It gets cold every winter, but obviously not this cold.” The region’s deep freeze has made life especially difficult for the district’s facilities team, which oversees an aging building stock on a limited budget. To replace all the heating systems the district says are on borrowed time would cost more than $70 million, according to a WHYY analysis. Building engineers have worked every day since December 26th, including weekends, said Whack, to battle the creeping cold. Maintenance workers will be on the job through this weekend and are expected to arrive early Monday morning to detect any new problems.

A 2-year wait for retirement pay? Philly schools have a backlog of millions
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: JANUARY 7, 2018 — 3:01 AM EST
Patricia Randzo gave 34 years of her life to city kids, retiring as principal of the school system’s Philadelphia Military Academy in April. Randzo didn’t like to spend much time away from the students she worked with, so she had plenty of unused sick, personal, and vacation days when she left the district: roughly $69,000 worth. She was going to use the money to buy a house. But nearly a year after Randzo left the system, she hasn’t bought the house because she’s still waiting for her money. And she is not alone: The Philadelphia School District is sitting on a years-long backlog of unpaid termination payouts, some dating to the early 2000s. One recent retiree was told she would have to wait for two years to get the funds she is owed, despite union contracts that say employees are entitled to the payments in a timely manner – most within 90 days of leaving the district.

Editorial: Congress’s failure to re-up CHIP funding shows its striking ineptitude
Washington Post By Editorial Board January 7 at 7:02 PM
DISAGREEMENT IN Congress is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction. But when both parties broadly agree that something should happen yet serially fail to follow through, the nation’s leaders look particularly inept. The example of the moment is the ongoing saga of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a popular service that covers 9 million young Americans — and that is rapidly running out of cash, alarming families that rely on the federal aid to keep their children healthy. Democrats and Republicans in Congress created CHIP in 1997 to assist families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, the health-insurance program for the poor, yet who do not have reasonable alternative options for insuring their children. Given that decent health care in early years is crucial, lawmakers rightly decided to invest in the nation’s future health. The program has been a remarkable success, driving children’s uninsured rate down to about 4 percent. But, unlike Medicaid, Congress did not make CHIP an entitlement program that automatically and perpetually draws as much money as it needs from the treasury. Rather, it required lawmakers to regularly re-up CHIP’s funding, which they did in 2015, under the reasonable assumption that Congress would not want to be blamed for kicking children off their insurance.

As End of DACA Looms, an 'Anxious Time' for Immigrant Educators and Students
Education Week By Corey Mitchell January 4, 2018
As the deadline for the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals nears, each week hundreds of young people who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents are losing the permits that allow them to legally work and stay in the country. While leaders in Congress have vowed to find a fix, a concrete plan still hasn’t materialized—and some immigration advocates are beginning to worry that nothing will happen before the March 5 cutoff. Even as DACA supporters stage rallies on Capitol Hill and in communities across the nation, little has changed in the four months since President Donald Trump announced plans to end the program. The lack of progress and looming deadline has left undocumented residents, many of whom teach and learn in the nation’s K-12 schools, in a state of constant uncertainty, with a sense of hopelessness already setting in for some.


Charter School Discussion in Philly Jan 11, 2018 8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
PCCY Email December 26, 2017
Serious flaws in Pennsylvania’s charter school law put the quality of charter schools on the back burner.  Join PCCY for a discussion of how other states’ laws are doing a better job and explore what makes sense in Pennsylvania. January 11, 2018 from 8:00 - 9:30 a.m., at the United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 19103
Featured speakers include:
·         Representative James Roebuck (D), PA General Assembly, Democratic Chairman - Education Committee
·         Representative Jordan Harris (D), PA General Assembly
·         Veronica Brooks-Uy, Policy Director, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
·         Sharif El-Mekki, Principal, Mastery Charter Schools
·         Jeff Sparagana, Ed.D, Former Superintendent Pottstown School District
·         Doug Carney, Former Springfield School Board Member (24 years), SVP Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
·         Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth
·         Tomea Sippio-Smith, Education Policy Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)


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.

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 remaining locations and dates (note: all sessions are held 8 a.m.-4 p.m., unless specified otherwise.):
·         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 michelle.kunkel@psba.org. 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.

REGISTER TODAY! ELECTED. ENGAGED. EMPOWERED:
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.
WHAT'S NEW - ADVOCACY INSTITUTE '18?
·         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
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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.


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