Tuesday, January 9, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 9: SB2: Who is funding support of vouchers in Pennsylvania?

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

NYT Editorial: Republicans in Congress Are Failing America’s Children
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD JAN. 8, 2018
Children from lower-income families could soon lose access to affordable health care because the Republican leaders in Congress have failed to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is a travesty. After passing a lavish tax cut for corporations and wealthy families, Congress hastily left town last month without reauthorizing the federal-state health insurance program, which benefits nearly nine million children. Authorization expired in September, and so far states have kept CHIP going with unspent funds carried over from previous appropriations. Before Christmas, Congress allocated $2.85 billion to the program, saying that the money would take care of the children’s needs until the end of March. But that appears to have been a gross miscalculation, because the Trump administration said on Friday that some states would start running out of money after Friday, Jan. 19. CHIP was created in 1997 and has helped halve the percentage of children who are uninsured. It has been reauthorized by bipartisan majorities of Congress in the past. But Republican leaders in Congress all but abandoned the program last fall and devoted their time to trying to pass an unpopular tax bill that will increase the federal debt by $1.8 trillion over the next decade, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released last week. By contrast, CHIP costs the federal government roughly $14.5 billiona year, or $145 billion over 10 years.

In yesterday’s PA Ed Policy Roundup coverage of SB2, the pending voucher bill, it was estimated that ”Education Savings Accounts” could siphon more than $500 million from the state's 500 school districts.

Blogger commentary:
Who is funding support of vouchers in Pennsylvania? 
In addition to the Commonwealth Foundation, PennCAN was noted in the press coverage of SB2.  While the Commonwealth Foundation’s finances are opaque, PennCAN is the Pennsylvania state branch of the 50CAN national organization.  The list of their Pennsylvania contributors that follows is from their national website.  Furthermore, for those of you who like to connect the dots, it is worth noting that PenncCAN’s spokesperson quoted in yesterday’s coverage is also the daughter of the current majority chairman of the PA House Education Committee.

PennCAN Contributors Listed on 50CAN Financials Website
Allies for Children
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Patricia and Thomas Canfield
Catholics for Communications and Strategic Execution
Samuel S. Fels Fund
Haldeman Family Foundation
Robert J. Hall
Harry R. Halloran, Jr. Fund at TPF Special Assets Fund
The Heinz Endowments
Larry and Judith Lippman
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation
Mamie Doyle Mannella and Marc Mannella
Evelyn McNiff
Richard King Mellon Foundation
The Miles Family Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation
Michael & Jeannie O’Neill
William Penn Foundation
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
M. Night Shyamalan Foundation
Janine and Jeff Yass
Anonymous (3)

Plaintiffs seek speedy replacement in congressional map case
AP State Wire By MARK SCOLFORO Published: Yesterday
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Registered Democratic voters suing to overturn Pennsylvania's Republican-crafted map of congressional districts asked the state Supreme Court in a new filing to redraw the district borders if the Legislature and governor can't do it within a two-week window. The plaintiffs outlined their arguments in a 76-page brief filed Friday with the state Supreme Court, ahead of oral argument s planned for Jan. 17. They suggested the court give lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf two weeks to redraw lines using nonpartisan criteria, then review the map with the help of a court-appointed special master to make additional changes. If that process does not work, they suggest the justices and the special master adopt their own map. Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf face a Wednesday deadline to respond. At stake in the case is whether the high court, with a 5-2 Democratic majority, will follow a recommendation made by a lower court judge about a week ago and reject the challengers' argument that the map violates existing law by unfairly favoring Republicans.

The other thing to dread besides Farm Show cold? The 2018 Pa. guv. candidates | Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek jmicek@pennlive.com Updated Jan 8, 8:20 PM; Posted Jan 8, 3:00 PM (*This post has been updated to accurately reflect the result of a Sept. 2017 Franklin & Marshall poll)
It's January. There's snow on the ground. The Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing. And, God help us all, another campaign for Pennsylvania's governor's office is officially underway. And I say "officially" because it only seems like state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, has been running for the top spot since sometime before the first fish traded their fins for feet, and crawled, reluctantly, from the primordial ooze. Yep. It only seems like a heartbeat ago, in 2014, that a guy named Tom Wolf drove a blue Jeep, filled with a couple million bucks, out of the wilds of York County and into the state's top elected office. Yet, here we are again: Wolf is in the same position as the Tom (Corbett) he defeated four years ago: With a record to defend, and well-funded opponents gunning for his job. He's also looking to outlast the precedent he broke four years ago: That decades-old tradition of the two, major parties exchanging control of the governor's office every eight years. It won't be easy.  So who are these rivals? 

“On Jan. 28, another special election will be held for a vacancy in the 35th district, which covers Allegheny County. That seat was most recently held by Democrat Marc Gergely. He resigned for his involvement in a local gambling ring and was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest. The vacancies leave the House with 120 Republicans and 80 Democrats.”
Special elections set for two Pennsylvania state House seats
State House Speaker Mike Turzai has called special elections for May 15, same day as the primary, to fill two vacant legislative seats in eastern and western Pennsylvania. One vacancy is for the 178th District, covering the New Hope and Richland sections of southern Bucks County. The vacancy was created by the resignation of Republican Rep. Scott Petri. He resigned to become executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The other vacancy is the 48th District in Washington and Allegheny counties. It was held by Democrat Brandon Neuman until he was elected a Washington County judge. The timing of the special elections should save taxpayers money because the voting machines don’t have to be set up twice, once for a special election and once for the primary. But the one-day even could cause confusion in the ballot box for voters. The winner of the special election will serve until Nov. 30. The winner of the primary will be sworn in in December to a full two-year term.

They're stacking up to take down Stack
Philly Daily news by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST  baerj@phillynews.com Updated: JANUARY 8, 2018 — 2:07 PM EST
Here’s how badly six Democrats want Mike Stack’s job. On Saturday, they endured a deep freeze, a packed opening day at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, three hours of a Penn Ag Democrats luncheon (meatloaf, gravy, veggies, a potato thing), awards presentations, and speeches by Bob Casey and Tom Wolf. All to get five minutes each to tell a couple hundred folks why they should be Wolf’s running mate this time around. So it goes when you screw up, as Stack did, one of the sweetest gigs in American politics. Stack spoke Saturday, too. But he came late, long after lunch, awards and speeches. Even after some of the crowd had left. Long after Wolf had made his exit.

Philly families of color are hurt by NAACP's charter school stance | Opinion
By siding with the teachers’ unions, the NAACP is holding back blacks, starving them of the educational opportunity they deserve and setting far too many on a dangerous life path by forcing them into failing public schools.
Opinion by Sylvia P. Simms, For the Inquirer Updated: JANUARY 9, 2018 — 5:44 AM EST
Sylvia P. Simms, a former member of the School Reform Commission, is executive director of Educational Opportunities for Families. This piece is part of the Center for Education Reform’s Voices of Color, Voices of Opportunity series.
Imagine you’re an African American single mother working two jobs to make ends meet. Your mission in life is to provide a safe upbringing for your children, which includes access to a high-quality education. All across Philadelphia, and in dozens of other cities in the United States, this is a realistic challenge. I spend the majority of my time meeting with families such as this, listening to the concerns of parents learning about the horrific school conditions into which kids are forced, and sensing the hopelessness of the situation. That’s because, unfortunately, for these vulnerable communities, the fight for a better education is met by powerful oppositions. For these families, with limited resources, it’s difficult enough to engage with the education establishment. It is controlled by the teachers’ unions, which have long been on the front lines of the crusade against charter schools. By itself it is a formidable enough opponent to severely restrict the voices of the vulnerable. But now, these families face attacks from an organization that should be by their side. The NAACP has become a forceful partner in the battle against charter schools, declaring for a moratorium on charters for the second year in a row.

NAACP sticks by its call for charter school moratorium, says they are ‘not a substitute’ for traditional public schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 26, 2017 
Last fall, the NAACP, the country’s oldest civil rights organization, called for a moratorium on expanding public charter schools until the charter sector, troubled in a number of states, is reformed and steps are taken to ensure that traditional public school districts are not financially harmed by the spread of charters. It was a controversial position for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was blasted by charter school supporters, including other civil rights groups, but praised by public education advocates. The NAACP then created a 12-member task force to travel to seven cities to take testimony about charters, which are publicly funded but privately run, as well as about the quality of education for children of color in inner-city schools. The task force report, released Wednesday (see below), sticks by the organization’s recommendation while also talks about problems in traditional inner-city public schools.

Norwin to consider limit on any tax hike
Trib Live by JOE NAPSHA  | Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, 10:09 p.m.
Property owners in the Norwin School District will not see their school taxes raised more than 3.1 percent for the 2018-2019 school year under a proposal the school board is considering to cap any tax hike at the maximum level without seeking voter approval. None of the school board members objected or raised concerns about the proposal to limit any tax hike when it was presented for discussion at a workshop meeting on Monday. The school board could vote on it at its monthly meeting, scheduled for Jan. 15. Superintendent William Kerr said following the meeting that the district will manage with the cap on any possible tax hike for the next school year. “We will do whatever it takes to balance the budget without compromising the quality of education,” Kerr said.

Supermarket cupcakes win, kids lose when teachers don't have enough prep time
The current system wears down our educators. The students deserve better.
The notebook Commentary by Adam Whitlatch January 8, 2018 — 2:56pm
Two weeks ago I couldn’t walk into a classroom or office in my building without someone begging me to eat a candy cane, a pretzel-shaped shortbread cookie, or one of those supermarket cupcakes with red or green frosting. I imagine this being common in schools everywhere during the week before winter break – a time of year when it’s pretty standard to see kids running around in pajamas, Elf playing on Smart Boards, and teachers’ desks piled with gifts like these. Under normal circumstances, I’m not tempted by supermarket baked goods. I don’t eat a ton of cookies or cakes, and when I do, I try to eat those that aren’t jacked up by preservatives, dyes, and artificial flavors. This is less because I’m a food snob and more because I’m a blindly-following-Netflix-food-documentaries snob.

Why more sleep could help kids do better in school and life
PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff Jan 5, 2018 6:15 pm EST Video Runtime 3:12
Early school start times make kids feel jetlagged every day, says behavioral and social scientist Wendy Troxel. She shares her humble opinion on why it’s time to change kids’ morning routines.

Congress Changed 529 College Savings Plans, And Now States Are Nervous
NPR.org by CORY TURNER January 8, 20186:01 AM ET
If you're like most Americans, you don't have a 529 college savings plan. If you're like most Americans, you don't even know what it is. All the more reason to keep reading. That's because, with the new tax law, Republicans have made important changes to 529 plans that will affect millions of taxpayers, not just the ones saving for college. Before that news, though, a quick primer. A 529 plan lets families save money for college. Think of it as a love child, born in the mid '90s to your federal and state governments. And they named it, in a flash of creativity, after its relevant section in the Internal Revenue Code. States generally manage the plans, while the Feds let the money grow long-term, tax-free. Thirty-three states also try to encourage savers with a little short-term reward (or not so little, in some cases): When families in those states make a contribution, they get a deduction or credit on their state income taxes, too. "That lets people know, 'Look, this is a tax advantage that you can unwrap for yourself right now and be a gateway to additional tax advantages later on,' " says Troy Montigney, who oversees Indiana's 529 program. His state offers families a $1,000 tax credit for contributions. ut that credit means less tax revenue coming in. It's a trade-off for states; they figure it's worth the lost revenue if a tax break gets more people saving for college.

Here Are Possible Picks to Replace Al Franken on the Senate Ed. Committee
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on January 8, 2018 1:53 PM
Al Franken left the Senate at the start of this year, and that means there are only ten Democrats on the Senate education committee. Presumably the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, wants someone to step into Franken's spot and reduce the GOP's majority on the committee back to one vote. (There are twelve Republicans on the panel). So who may replace him? We came up with a few possibilities, although there doesn't seem to be a clear front-runner. We also reached out to the four senators' offices to see if they had been approached about or had any interest in joining the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. As you can probably tell from the name, the panel also deals with other big-ticket and controversial issues, in particular health care. So the senator who is ultimately chosen for the slot may not have a long record on K-12. And factors such as Democrats' positions on other committees, among other things, will play also matter. We've listed the potential new members in alphabetical order.

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.

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
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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