Wednesday, February 7, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 7: PA budget context: mandated pension costs will go up this year at least $200 million; special ed costs at least $260 million

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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PA budget context: mandated pension costs will go up this year at least $200 million; special ed costs at least $260 million

Blogger note: we took a few days off from posting to join over 800 U.S. school board members in Washington DC for NSBA’s 2018 Advocacy Institute and Capitol Hill visits.
We asked our members of Congress to support the following:
·         Use public funds for public schools
·         Reauthorize Perkins CTE Act
·         Fully fund IDEA
·         Protect Title II funding for teacher training
·         Prioritize federal funding of Title programs
·         Support net neutrality

.@GovernorTomWolf's 2018-19 budget proposal for education:
•$100M increase in Basic Education
•$40M increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start
•$20M increase for Special Education
•$15M increase for the State System of Higher Education
•$10M for #CTE

Read Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf's 2018 budget proposal speech
Penn Live By The Associated Press Updated Feb 6, 12:48 PM; Posted Feb 6, 12:09 PM
Text of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's 2018 budget address, as prepared for delivery on Tuesday:

Did you catch our Groundhog’s Day postings?
Phil sees shadow; forecasts yet another PA voucher bill
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 2, 2018
While you were watching SB2, the “Education Savings Account” voucher plan currently in the Senate Ed Committee, Rep. Judy Ward (R-80, Blair County) is now running a cosponsorship memo for a special education voucher bill. No bill number yet; we’ll keep you posted. Has your school board passed a resolution in opposition to vouchers yet?

House Republican Leaders React to Governor’s Budget Proposal
PA House GOP Caucus website 2/6/2018
HARRISBURG – House Republican leaders reacted to the governor’s call to increase state spending by $1 billion for fiscal year 2018-19. The governor presented his $33 billion spending proposal today in front of a joint session of the General Assembly. Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana), Majority Whip Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York), Policy Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), Caucus Chairman Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery), Caucus Administrator Kurt Masser (R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland) and Caucus Secretary Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) issued the following statement:

“Even with these increases, we cannot forget that mandated pension costs will go up this year by at least an estimated $200 million and special education costs by at least an estimated $260 million, which the proposed increases do not fully cover.”
PSBA believes budget is positive move for public education
PSBA Website February 6, 2018
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) believes Governor Tom Wolf's proposed 2018-19 state budget is a positive move for the commonwealth's public schools. The proposed increases would continue desperately needed investments in the future of Pennsylvania. Even with these increases, public schools continue to face huge increases in costs outside of their control such as pensions and special education. “There are few things more important than properly funding public education, which helps secure our children's future and strengthen this commonwealth,” said PSBA CEO Nathan G. Mains. “This budget does just that, and we encourage the General Assembly at a minimum to preserve these increases and if possible to add to them.”

“Under his plan, Wolf would spend $100 million more on public school funding and $40 million more on early childhood education, and provide an additional $20 million for special education and $15 million for the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education. He also announced a $50 million job training initiative.”
Pa. Gov. Wolf's budget wish list: More money for schools, more money from drillers
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis & Liz Navratil, HARRISBURG BUREAUS Updated: FEBRUARY 6, 2018 — 6:29 PM EST
HARRISBURG — Gov. Wolf on Tuesday unveiled an election-year budget of nearly $33 billion that would boost funding for public schools, hike the minimum wage, expand the fight against Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction crisis — and slap a new tax on natural gas drillers. “We have finally begun to tame the fiscal beast that haunts Harrisburg,” Wolf told a joint session of the legislature. His speech —  nearly 20 minutes long —  was one of the shortest in recent memory and included nods to bipartisanship, a recognition that Wolf faces reelection and wants to avoid the broad tax-hike proposals that led to his prolonged battles with the Republican-controlled legislature in the last three years. The longest and loudest applause came at the start, when Wolf briefly — and uncharacteristically — went off script to don an Eagles hat, bringing Republicans and Democrats to their feet. “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” the governor said, as the familiar chant broke out in the House chamber. Afterward, Republican legislative leaders said they approved of parts of the governor’s proposed budget, including a bigger investment in job training. But they objected to Wolf’s proposed $1 billion increase in overall spending —  about 3.1 percent more than the current fiscal year —  and to the idea of a severance tax on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Gov. Wolf emphasizes education, but scales back funding ambitions during final first term budget address
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent February 6, 2018  Listen 2:47
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf asked the General Assembly Tuesday for another $100 million in basic education spending and $20 million for special education — his smallest request since taking office in 2015. Wolf also proposed a $40 million bump in pre-K spending, $15 million more for the state’s system of higher education, and $10 million for career and technical education. “Rebuilding our schools is the beginning of rebuilding our economy,” Wolf said during his  budget address. The relative modesty of Wolf’s ask likely reflects political realities, said education advocates. With the governor facing re-election in November — and his counterparts in the legislature facing the same — there’s little appetite for raising taxes to generate a large chunk of new revenue. “We’d like to see him be asking for more money for education funding, but we understand the practical realities,” said Marc Stier of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a left-leaning Harrisburg think tank.

Pa. budget winner: Wolf proposes record-level spending on schools and preschools
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated Feb 6, 11:58 AM
At a glance: Gov. Tom Wolf's 2018-19 budget unveiled on Tuesday pushes the state's investment in preschool-to-grade 12 education to a record level of more than $9.3 billion - close to one third of the general fund budget. It includes a $100 million increase in basic education (the bread and butter of state funding for school districts), $20 million more for special education, and $40 million more for preschool. In addition, it calls for maintaining the $250 million in school block grant funding for another year.

Pa. Republicans are skittish on spending levels in Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal
Penn Live By Charles Thompson Updated Feb 6, 2:50 PM
Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania Legislature weren't angry about Gov. Tom Wolf's $33 billion budget proposal Tuesday. But they did have a few, immediate ideas about how to improve on it. Here's what the loyal opposition had to say Tuesday afternoon:

Governor’s budget proposal faces familiar GOP objections
By Alex Rose, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 02/06/18, 8:11 PM EST 
Gov. Tom Wolf’s final budget proposal of his term Tuesday set the stage for familiar battles with the Republican-controlled Legislature over imposing an extraction tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas and increasing the minimum wage. But state Rep. Alex Charlton, R-165 of Springfield, said there also weren’t any far-reaching objectives outlined in Wolf’s address to the General Assembly that might derail negotiations. “Certainly nobody’s looking for a protracted argument over this that’s going to go beyond a due date for a budget,” he said. “Nobody wants the bed press that comes with a drawn-out budget debate that sees service providers not receiving their funding, that sees schools on the leash for not knowing when they’ll get their state support.” Prior years’ budget negations have stalled for months due to partisan bickering. Wolf, who is running for re-election, said he hopes to avoid that scenario this year with a proposed $33 billion budget – about $1 billion, or 3 percent, higher than the current one. Half of the Senate and the entirety of the House are also up for election in 2018. “It’s hard to know how an election affects things, except that it makes it very difficult to enact taxes on Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier. “My sense is that both sides want to reach an agreement and then move on to the election.” To that end, Charlton said the governor appeared to have presented a reasonable budget on the surface that legislators can work with.

GOP gubernatorial candidates criticize Wolf's budget as 'more of the same'
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated Feb 6, 6:09 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf's $33 billion budget proposal for 2018-19 was ridiculed by Republican candidates who want his job as one that overspends and lacks vision to lead Pennsylvania forward. Wolf, who is up for re-election this year, spent much of his budget address to the General Assembly on Tuesday touting the accomplishments of his first three years in office and focusing little on the details of what's in his $33 billion budget that proposes a $1 billion, or 3.7 percent, spending increase. But one piece he did highlight in a challenge to the Legislature was to pass a severance tax on natural gas drillers, the only tax increase included in his budget proposal for next year. His GOP gubernatorial challengers saw his blueprint for state spending as an election-year budget intended to bolster Wolf's chances of being elected to a second term. Here are some of their thoughts they offered about the proposal:

Education Voters of PA supports Gov. Wolf’s commitment to investing in the education of PA’s public school students
Press Release Education Voters of PA Media contacts:  Susan Spicka POSTED FEBRUARY 6, 2018 EDVOPA
(HARRISBURG) February 6, 2018 – Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA, made the following statement about Governor Wolf’s 2018-2019 budget proposal:
Budgets are about priorities and we are encouraged that investing in the education of PA’s public school students remains a top priority for Governor Wolf. We hope that state lawmakers will support these critical investments in our children and the new revenues that will be required to pay for them. PA has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation because our state government simply does not pay its fair share. PA provides just 37% of K-12 funding to school districts; the national average is 47%. As a result, local taxpayers do the heavy lifting of funding their children’s public schools through property taxes. In low-wealth rural, urban, and suburban communities throughout Pennsylvania, local taxpayers- cannot raise the resources necessary to provide their children with the educational opportunities they need to reach their potential in school and after graduation. Governor Wolf’s proposed increases of $100 million in Basic Education Funding and $20 million in Special Education Funding will provide school districts throughout Pennsylvania with desperately needed additional state funding. However, given the state’s extraordinarily inadequate contribution to K-12 school funding, we recognize that the state must make a significantly larger investment in our children’s schools in order to adequately prepare all students for a bright future after graduation.

Additional $14 million for Erie schools included in Pa. budget
Erie News Now By Matt Knoedler Posted: Feb 06, 2018 5:52 PM EST Updated: Feb 06, 2018 5:52 PM EST
Leaders in the Erie School District are relieved following the Governor Tom Wolf's budget address Tuesday. The budget includes the additional $14 million in recurring state aid that was promised last year. That's on top of their standard $1 million in basic education funding. The money will help eliminate the district's structural deficit and allow them to expand other educational programs, Superintendent Brian Polito told Erie News Now following the announcement. "We had been assured that it was going to happen over the last couple of months, but just seeing it in writing is a very positive thing," said Polito. The funding is expected to last five years to help get the district back on its feet following years of multi-million dollar budget deficits. School administrators have spent the last three years lobbying for the funding after cutting their way to a balanced budget each year. That included a massive consolidation, in which four high schools merged into two and several other elementary schools were closed to save money.

U.S. Supreme Court to Pa.: Quit the clowning and draw fair congressional districts| Editorial
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: FEBRUARY 6, 2018 — 3:01 AM EST
No more dawdling, excuses, or tricks. The U.S. Supreme Court says Pennsylvania has to continue on a track to redraw congressional district lines in time for the May 15 primaries.  If lawmakers fail, the state Supreme Court says it will draw the maps itself. On Monday, the highest court in the land upheld a Jan. 22 state Supreme Court ruling ordering the legislature to hand in new maps by Friday to reduce the partisan gerrymandering that’s robbed Democrats,  giving them only five of the state’s 18 seats —  though voting is split almost evenly between the parties. Before the Republican-controlled legislature drew maps in 2011, the party held seven seats to the Democrats’ 12. The state lost one seat due to a shrinking population,  leaving it with 18. When the GOP was done packing and stacking their voters into districts to ensure wins for their candidates, their seven seats swelled to 13 and the Democrats’ 12 shrunk to five.  Among their  tricks: Republicans spread Chester County through three House districts; Montgomery County through five and Berks County through four to find their voters and dilute the Democrats’ influence. They even drew a line through the city of Chester in Delaware County just to weaken that struggling community’s clout in Congress.

A reluctant Pa. legislature settles in for a map-making cram session
Penn Live By Charles Thompson Updated 5:25 AM; Posted Feb 6, 9:43 PM
State lawmakers are scrambling to replace Pennsylvania's now-unconstitutional Congressional map.
Backed into a corner after weeks of hand-to-hand legal combat, majority Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature are reluctantly setting about drawing a new Congressional map.
Top Senate and House staffers said Tuesday their leaders have resigned themselves to try to comply with a Jan. 22 state Supreme Court order that ruled the current boundaries of Pennsylvania's 18 U.S. House districts unconstitutional due to extreme partisan gerrymandering. In a 4-3 vote, the court further ordered the production of new maps for the House districts in time for the May primary election. The court-imposed deadline is Feb. 9, or Friday.

Pennsylvania redistricting decision gives Democrats a boost
WITF Written by Bill Barrow and Mark Scolforo/The Associated Press | Feb 7, 2018 3:18 AM
 (Pittsburgh) -- Pennsylvania already figured prominently in Democrats' attempt to win back control of the U.S. House. A decision this week in a long-running redistricting case is set to give those efforts a boost. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene after the state's high court declared unconstitutional Pennsylvania's existing House map, which had been heavily gerrymandered by Republicans. A reshuffled map is expected to make several districts friendlier for Democratic candidates in November. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the leaders of the Republican-run Legislature face a court-ordered Friday deadline to find a compromise approach to drawing the new boundaries. "It's still early in the process ... but I'm very encouraged by what this decision could mean for the people of Pennsylvania," said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, who heads Democrats' House campaign arm. Before the redistricting decision, Democrats had zeroed in on six Pennsylvania congressional districts out of 91 they are targeting nationwide. Only California and New York have more top targets for House Democrats.

Pennsylvania School Boards Association calls for equity in education | PennLive letters
Penn Live  Letters to the Editor By Nathan Mains Updated Feb 6, 8:45 AM
Nathan Mains is the CEO of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
The recently posted "50 worst schools in Pennsylvania" story that ran on PennLive on Jan. 29 was extremely misleading and detrimental to those districts placed on the list. While the editors may feel this type of story is helpful, it does nothing but tear down communities and foster bitterness. When one of the schools on the list contacted, which is where PennLive got the data, Niche's response was to say "the PennLive article published earlier this week took our data out of context and used it in a way that was never intended." This post is significantly detrimental because it provides no context to the student, educators and communities that are a part of this school district as to why they are identified as the worst schools.

Once a national model, the school system in Washington, D.C., is now the target of an FBI investigation
Post-Gazette by PETER JAMISON AND FENIT NIRAPPIL The Washington Post FEB 5, 2018 3:00 AM
WASHINGTON - For much of the past decade the District of Columbia school system has been the crown jewel of public policy in the nation’s capital, held up as a national model for education reformers and a shared source of pride for the District’s fractious elected officials. Former U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan pointed to the District as an example of “what can happen when schools embrace innovative reforms and do the hard work necessary to ensure that all students graduate ready for college and careers.” Philanthropists have poured more than $120 million into the school system since 2007. Many are now asking whether that confidence was misplaced. With the revelation last week that more than 900 students - one-third of last year’s high school graduates - should not have been awarded diplomas because of truancy and other problems, the school system has turned virtually overnight into an embarrassment for the city and its elected leaders, who are publicly re-examining their assumptions about the system’s progress.

To compete with charters, Pa. district schools now polishing up their brands
WHYY By Laura Benshoff February 5, 2018
It’s not unusual to see billboards, advertisements, and glossy brochures for charter schools in Pennsylvania. Now, more traditional public schools are crafting their image just as carefully as they compete for students. In the Upper Darby School District in Delaware County, more than half of all students are minorities, and more than half are economically disadvantaged. The reputations of districts like this one don’t always match academic realities, according to Dana Spino, director of district media relations. “We know our story, and we want to be able to tell our story, and I think there is a public perception of public education that doesn’t reflect Upper Darby in particular,” she said. For example, parents comparing public and charter schools might not know about the district’s Advanced Placement course offerings or that the dropout rate is lower than in many neighboring districts.

“Before Quakertown started offering the new program, students interested in dance would have to look to area charter schools — like Lehigh County’s Innovative Arts Academy Charter School or the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. Under state law, Quakertown, on average, pays about $14,000 per student who opts for a charter school. Harner estimated costs for about 16 or 17 students who pursued arts courses at charter schools totaled about $267,000 a year.”
Dance classes in Quakertown high school off to a good first step
Intelligencer By Chris Ullery Posted at 5:00 AM February 7, 2018
A new dance studio and performing arts classes have school administrators hopeful to retain and attract students drawn to charter schools with similar programs. The second semester of a dance program at Quakertown Community High School began earlier this month, and administrators hope the new courses will grow in leaps and bounds. Done in part to retain current students and attract new students from charter schools, the new program and construction of the 2,774-square-foot dance studio bolsters what administrators say is already a robust curriculum. “The crown jewel of our high school and our district is our performing arts programs,” Superintendent William Harner said. The dance classes are the newest addition to the school’s performing art offerings, which also include choral, band and theater groups. Classes offered include jazz, ballet and modern dance, as well as a fundamentals course that includes a “dance history” section, dancing instructor Sarah Hirsch said.
Charter operators press for changes in how schools are authorized
As Philadelphia prepares for its new school board, charter leaders are angling for independence from the District and pushing for friendly board members.
The notebook by Greg Windle February 5, 2018 — 3:41pm
With the process of returning Philadelphia schools to local control well underway, charter school operators are taking the opportunity to seek long-desired changes in how charters are authorized. They are looking at models in other cities where such power lies directly with city government or is otherwise more independent of the school district. On full display last week was the testy relationship between the charters and the District’s Charter Schools Office, which sets the rules for their approval and renewal and manages their evaluations. Now, the office reports directly to the School Reform Commission, whose days are numbered. A mayorally appointed Board of Education is scheduled to take over governance of the District on July 1. “With the SRC going away, it is unclear whether [the charter office’s] reporting would go back to the District, to the new school board, or over to the mayor, or to an independent board,” said Stephen DeMaura, head of Excellent Schools Pennsylvania, which advocates for charter schools. “We would very much like to see ... a different reporting lineage; that is how it is done in every other city in the country.  A conversation is worthwhile.”

Thackston Charter not out of the woods on '18 closure
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez, 717-505-5439/@EducationYD Published 7:38 p.m. ET Feb. 6, 2018
While Helen Thackston Charter School turned in three years of audits to the York City School District by a hair’s breadth on condition of a dissolution agreement, it might still be at risk of closure at the end of the current school year. According to York City school board president Margie Orr, district administrators found “some discrepancies” in the financial documents submitted by Thackston officials last Wednesday, Jan. 31, but added she wasn’t privy to additional information. The York City school board and Thackston's board agreed last October to cancel charter revocation hearings and instead simply dissolve the school after the 2018-19 school year. However, a condition in the closure agreement states that if the charter school failed to approve and submit completed independent audits for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years by Jan. 31, it must surrender its charter and close upon the end of the current school year.

The benefits of education choice
Centre Daily Times Letter by COLLEEN HRONCICH, GROVE CITY February 06, 2018 11:58 PM
The writer is a senior fellow at the Commonwealth Foundation
A recent column claimed education choice trades accountability for flexibility. In fact, choice boosts accountability for parents and taxpayers. Education savings accounts allow families to use a portion of the state’s education spending for private school tuition, special needs services, tutoring, therapy, and more instead of enrolling in public schools. ESAs empower parents and create real competition, which has defenders of the status quo trembling. The anti-educational choice crowd’s latest salvo is that students with special needs will have to give up their rights if they utilize ESAs. The Individuals with Disability Education Act guarantees public schools provide Free Appropriate Public Education to students with special needs. Importantly, this right to an education is not a right to the best possible education.

Puerto Rico governor announces public education overhaul
Reuters by Nick Brown February 5, 2018
 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico’s governor said his administration will unveil a broad education reform bill on Tuesday aimed at incorporating school vouchers and charter schools into the bankrupt U.S. territory’s education system.
Speaking in a televised address on Monday, Governor Ricardo Rossello also said every public school teacher in Puerto Rico would receive a $1,500 annual salary increase beginning next school year. It was unclear whether the pay bump would require legislation. The governor’s remarks came 10 days after the island’s education secretary, Julia Keleher, said she planned to decentralize Puerto Rico’s education department and introduce “autonomous schools.” Public school reform is a touchy issue in the U.S. territory, where teachers make an average of about $27,000 a year. But Puerto Rico, struggling simultaneously through the biggest government bankruptcy in U.S. history and the aftermath of September’s Hurricane Maria, its worst natural disaster in 90 years, is trying to embrace much-needed structural reforms. Its public school system, organized as a single, island-wide district, is among the weakest in the United States and long plagued by bloated administrative spending. In some age groups, less than 10 percent of students meet federal testing standards.

Where Will Trump Go Next on Choice? Watch These Three Groups of Students
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on February 6, 2018 3:06 PM
Want to know where the White House and Congress might go next on school choice? Watch three populations that the federal government has a special responsibility for: children of military personnel, Native American students, and kids living in the District of Columbia. President Donald Trump ran on creating a $20 billion voucher program, but so far, Republicans in Congress aren't exactly chomping at the bit to make that a reality. That's partly because fears from many in the GOP about federal overreach—even in the service of school choice, a policy that most Republicans favor. But focusing on these particular groups is a different story. "What is appropriate is for the federal government to advance choice for populations where the federal government has a special obligation," said Lindsey Burke, the director of the Center on Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.  There are several proposals and pieces of legislation seeking to offer Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, to military-connected or Native students. In fact, there's some speculation that this could even be a part of President Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, which is expected to be released soon. The problem? Many groups that would be directly impacted by these proposals aren't clamoring for a big school choice initiative, their advocates say.

Vouchers Are Still an Issue in Milwaukee
Education Week By Walt Gardner on February 7, 2018 7:14 AM
The debate over vouchers will likely never end, but that does not mean it's useless taking a closer look at the birthplace of this innovation ("Do School Vouchers Work? Milwaukee's Experiment Suggests an Answer," The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29). Since 1990, parents in Wisconsin have been given state-funded vouchers to be used to educate their children in private schools. (The initial plan barred religious schools.) To date, about one-quarter of students - nearly 29,000 - have participated. Have vouchers worked as intended? According to an analysis conducted by The Wall Street Journal, they have as long as enrollment of voucher students has been kept low. In short, there is a tipping point beyond which there is little difference in performance between public and private schools. What the study did not explain, however, is what criteria were used by private and religious schools in admitting students.  That's an important question because the bulk of schools with the highest voucher enrollments were in the bottom quartiles of private schools for results on state exams.  In order to look good, private and religious schools will quite naturally want to cherry pick students. Traditional public schools, on the other hand, by law must enroll all who show up at their door regardless of ability or motivation.  As a result, I'm surprised that private and religious schools didn't far surpass their competition.

If 12,000 Families Didn’t Want School Choice, We Wouldn’t Be Here
Education Post by Constance Jones Brewer POSTED FEB. 5, 2018
Constance Jones Brewer is the president of the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago, Illinois. 
Every morning, I come to work thinking about our students. Not politics, or rhetoric, or the news. Just our students—all 12,000 of them. They come from every one of Chicago’s neighborhoods, as far north as Jefferson Park and as far south as Pullman. Most of them take public transit, sometimes multiple buses and trains, to get to school. Some of them walk while others catch a ride with a family member or neighbor. But each one of them, no matter how they arrive or where they come from or how long it takes to get to school, is exercising the same right: their right to choose. So much of the public education debate in our city and country is focused on the abstract. We talk about policies and ideas in technical terms, and occasionally those debates spill over into arguments. We get emotional, we take sides. Far too often we forget that school choice is ultimately a very personal exercise, and one that empowers families all across our country and city.

Help draft a plan to implement a statewide vision for the future of public education in PA!
PSBA Member Roundtables/Receptions – February and March Dates
Join your PSBA Member Roundtable and Reception to hear the public education advocacy and political updates affecting your school district. Take this opportunity to network, learn and develop your leadership skills. Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres and networking with fellow school directors in your area, then provide your input on the future vision for public education in PA. Roundtable Discussion: Help draft a plan to implement a statewide vision for the future of public education in PA! PSBA would like to capture your thoughts on what education should look like in the coming decades. We will compile your expertise with the perspectives of others from across the state to develop the Commonwealth Education Blueprint. The Blueprint will then serve as our guiding resource and will set milestones for creating the best public education experience for future generations of students. Don’t miss your opportunity to weigh in!
·         6:00 -6:15 pm – Association update
·         6:15 -7:00 pm – Governor’s budget address recap
·         7:00 -7:45 pm – Networking Reception
·         7:45 -8:30 pm – Member Round Table Discussion

Purpose Career Fair for Black Male Educators in Philly Sat, February 10, 2018 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM EST
by The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice
There is a serious shortage of Black male educators in our schools, and all our children are worse off for it. Maybe you’re the answer. Whether you’re an experienced Black male educator looking for a new challenge, a college student weighing career paths, or working in another field you just don’t find fulfilling, come to the PURPOSE CAREER FAIR to meet and interview with over 30 school networks looking to hire in Philadelphia public schools and beyond.

Advertising in schools?
A number of school districts across the country have turned to advertising as a way to fill budget gaps. Some districts have offered corporate naming rights to buildings and others have allowed ads on buses and lockers. A reporter for the Harrisburg Patriot-News is investigating the prevalence of ads in Pa. schools and needs your help. Please contact him if you’re aware of any of the following in your area:
·  Ads placed on sports uniforms, school buses, lockers, or other areas of school grounds.
·  Corporate sponsorship of sports fields, buildings, parking lots, or other school property.
·  Ads on school websites or newsletters.
·  Any other examples of advertising or sponsorship in the school environment or curriculum.
You can reach reporter Daniel Simmons-Ritchie at or on 717-255-8162

Welcome to the new look of!
We’re excited to launch a new website with a cleaner look and improved navigation to help you find the resources you want with even more ease. And just like the current website, this new one is completely mobile-friendly so it works just as easily on your tablet or smartphone as it does on your desktop computer. Take wherever you go! As part of this roll out, we also will be launching a new member portal – myPSBA. The new portal will be a one-stop shop for event registrations and will offer many of the same features of your favorite social media platforms, with online discussion groups where members can communicate on topics related to their position in the district. Members also can access PSBA's new Online Learning program, included in All-Access membership, for training anywhere at anytime. In the coming weeks members will be receiving an email with personal login information to myPSBA. We look forward to sharing these exciting new developments with you! Until then, registration forms are found on each event page and do not require logging in. Available online publications, and many of our popular reports and resources, now are easily found under Advocacy & News.

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:

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 

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Join the PA Principals Association, the PA Association of School Administrators and the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools for PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA.  
A rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at before Friday, June 8, 2018.
Click here to view the PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2018 Save The Date Flyer (INCLUDES EVENT SCHEDULE AND IMPORTANT ISSUES.) 

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.

1 comment:

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