Thursday, February 8, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 8: Pa. lawmakers work on new congressional map as time ticks down

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. lawmakers work on new congressional map as time ticks down

Pa. lawmakers work on new congressional map as time ticks down
Trib Live THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, 12:51 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers are heading home with two days to comply with a court order to submit a new map of the state's 18 congressional districts. Wednesday's voting sessions were canceled amid winter storms. Rank-and-file Republicans say House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati are working on a new map and considering submitting it to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf by Friday's deadline without bringing it to a vote in either chamber. The state Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn district boundaries in a gerrymandering case Jan. 22 and gave lawmakers until this Friday to produce a replacement. Otherwise, the justices say they'll adopt a plan, potentially one proposed by a party to the case. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down Turzai and Scarnati's request to halt the redrawing.

Pa. Supreme Court releases gerrymandering opinion: 2011 map violates 'free and equal' elections
Inquirer by Jonathan Lai & Liz Navratil, STAFF WRITERS Updated: FEBRUARY 7, 2018 11:10 PM EST
Pennsylvania’s congressional map, as adopted in 2011, violates the state constitution’s guarantee that “elections shall be free and equal,” the state Supreme Court said Wednesday in an opinion explaining its gerrymandering order overturning the map more than two weeks ago. “An election corrupted by extensive, sophisticated gerrymandering and partisan dilution of votes is not ‘free and equal,’ ” Justice Debra McCloskey Todd wrote for the majority. In such circumstances, a “power, civil or military,” to wit, the General Assembly, has in fact “interfere[d] to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” The opinion came just two days before the deadline for lawmakers to pass a new congressional district map and send it to Gov. Wolf for approval, after the high court declared Pennsylvania’s congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, drawn to benefit Republicans at Democrats’ expense.

Pa. Supreme Court details violation of voter rights in full opinion striking down congressional map
WHYY By Lindsay Lazarski, WHYY February 7, 2018
In a full majority opinion released Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the state’s congressional district map deprives voters’ of their right to “free and equal” elections as protected by the Pennsylvania Constitution. “An election corrupted by extensive, sophisticated gerrymandering and partisan dilution of votes is not ‘free and equal,’” wrote Justice Debra McCloskey Todd.  “In such circumstances, a ‘power, civil or military,’ to wit, the General Assembly, has in fact ‘interfere[d] to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.’” The opinion comes about two and a half weeks after the majority Democratic court struck down Pennsylvania’s map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in a 5-2 party-line decision. The district boundary lines were drawn in 2011 during a process controlled by Republican lawmakers. The court concluded that the map was designed to give the GOP an unfair partisan advantage over Democrats and ignores neutral redistricting criteria.

Harrisburg harmony? Election looming, pols seek peaceful budget process
THE EDITORIAL BOARD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette FEB 8, 2018 12:00 AM
Politics often keeps Pennsylvania’s budgets from being passed on time. This year, ironically, politics may be the reason the budget gets passed on time. With elections looming, Republicans and Democrats may have the epiphany that politics is the art of compromise and that they have common ground after all. Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday proposed a 2018-19 budget of nearly $33 billion that would increase funding for public education and state-owned universities, fund a new job-training initiative and boost in-home care for people with intellectual disabilities. Mr. Wolf also renewed his calls for a severance tax on gas drillers and a fee on municipalities that rely exclusively on state police for protection, good ideas that previously died in the Legislature and may do so again. There’s plenty of reason to believe, however, that political and ideological differences won’t hold up this budget the way they have in the past. Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, is running for re-election. House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, is one of those seeking the Republican nomination to run against him. All 203 House seats and 25 of 50 Senate seats are on the ballot this year. In addition, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, is running for Congress in the 9th District. All have an incentive to limit their bickering and hammer out a budget so they can spend the summer campaigning instead of feuding or sticking around Harrisburg. 

Protests, politics, some school funding: 5 tweets that explain #PaBudget2018
Penn Live By John L. Micek February 7, 2018 Updated 12:34 PM; Posted 7:55 AM
Good Snowy Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The predictions of a winter apocalypse on this 7th day of February are looking a tad overblown at this early hour. But reaction to Gov. Tom Wolf's latest budget address (at least in some quarters) took on something of a doomsaying cast out thre in the wilds of social media. The fourth spending plan of the York County Democrat's administration comes in at a shade under $33 billion, an increase of about 3 percent. The election year document includes more money for schools and social programs. It continues the administration's push for a severance tax on natural gas drillers even as it ducks (for the second year) any broad-based tax increases. So you don't have to, we combed the Twitters for the five Tweets that perfectly capture the tenor of the debate surrounding the administration's spending plan.

Gov. Wolf's education budget proposal bolsters workforce development programs
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES  | Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, 4:03 p.m.
Job training and college readiness were highlights of Gov. Tom Wolf's budget address Tuesday as he proposed a $40 million investment in a new program intended to bolster career and technical education programs across the state. The governor name-checked Amazon and touted previous state investments in infrastructure and industry as he promoted the new workforce development program, called PA Smart. "Businesses don't invest in states that don't invest in education, infrastructure or job training," Wolf said in the address. "We're doing all of these things, and I am hopeful Amazon will come here, build here, and expand here." The PA Smart program is intended to coordinate a "one-stop shop" for resources on workforce development efforts across the state. The funding would bolster programs related to STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — with a boost to computer science programs at all grade levels.

ANALYSIS: Pennsylvania House backtracks on bill to reduce its size
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau February 7, 2018
The Republican-controlled state House has halted a bill that would reduce its membership as long as voters agree. House Bill 153, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill, has been touted by supporters for years as proof lawmakers are willing to lead by example in finding ways to trim government fat and expenses. But Monday night a majority of House lawmakers — including two Republicans from the Lehigh Valley — had a change of heart. They voted to amend Knowles’ bill to include a reduction of the Senate, too. They did so knowing the Senate, unlike the House, has not voted to reduce its own ranks and will not support a bill doing so.

Local districts get nearly $3.5 million more in proposed state budget
Times Leadeer By Mark Guydish - | February 7th, 2018 5:23 pm - updated: 9:22 pm.
Wilkes-Barre Area School District would again be the biggest local winner in Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed state education budget, nabbing $1.2 million more in state money for basic and special education subsidies. Despite being the county’s largest district by enrollment — and in money spent each year — Hazleton Area School District would get the second biggest increase locally, with state money going up by $842,848 for basic and special education. All told, state money for Luzerne County’s 11 districts and Tunkhannock Area in neighboring Wyoming County would rise from nearly $185.9 million to about $189.3 million, a net increase of $3.46 million.

Lancaster County schools receive $3.4M boost in basic education funding under Wolf's proposed budget
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer February 7, 2018
Lancaster County schools would get $3.4 million in additional basic education funding under Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed 2018-19 budget. The Democratic governor on Tuesday announced a $100 million increase in basic education funding to $6.1 billion as well as a $20 million increase in special education funding to $1.1 billion. School districts here would benefit -- some greatly, some only slightly -- from the proposed increases as they continue to juggle unfunded mandates such as rising pension costs with student programs. Among the big winners under Wolf's proposed budget are Conestoga Valley and Columbia Borough school districts, which would see a 5.8 and 5.2 percent increase, respectively, in basic education funding. 
Solanco and Elizabethtown Area school districts, on the other hand, would get a less than 1 percent increase in basic education funding. 

Lehigh Valley Charter high school audit to begin over $25M land deal
Lehigh Valley Live By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann, Updated Feb 5; Posted Feb 5
The state auditor general's office has begun a review of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts after Bethlehem Area School District officials raised flags over the school's estimated $25 million construction. Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the move to reporters Monday at the Lehigh County Government Center in Allentown. He said the review would cover July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2017.  "We're beginning to audit the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts and one of the reasons we're doing this audit is the issue with their school construction," DePasquale said. "It really came to our attention about ... an alleged contract problem. So when we go in and do the audit, that's one of the things we're going to look at because it was a $25 million construction tab." Asked specifically what the team would be reviewing at the school, DePasquale vowed a "deep dive" that would be more extensive than normal and checked off a list of certain criteria.

SB2: Greensburg Salem School Board divided on state voucher proposal
Trib Live by JACOB TIERNEY  | Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, 9:24 p.m.
Greensburg Salem School Board will vote on a resolution condemning a controversial school-choice bill, but some board members say the bill is a good idea that the district should not fight. Senate Bill 2 , which failed by one vote in Harrisburg last year but is spooling up for another attempt, would give parents of students in low-performing school districts a $5,700 voucher to pay for private school or home schooling. That money would be deducted from the local school district's usual state subsidy. Critics, including Greensburg Salem Superintendent Eileen Amato, say the bill would siphon money out of struggling districts that need it most, which could force them to close. “Would we want to be a community that doesn't have a neighborhood school?” she said.

In N.J., new administration giving 'pause' to charter schools
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Staff Writer  @maddiehanna | Updated: FEBRUARY 5, 2018 — 6:56 PM EST
Kindergartners spun around in hula hoops and chased each other across a gym floor at Camden’s Pride Charter School this week, a joyful explosion of energy as recess began.
Most of them likely will stay with the charter network until they graduate from high school, predicts Superintendent Joe Conway. Demand has grown at his Camden’s Promise network, which enrolls 2,000 students, up from 100 sixth graders in 1998. But Conway and other charter operators are concerned about what their future holds under the Gov. Murphy administration. During his campaign, Murphy called for a “time out” on charter expansion — something about which his predecessor, Chris Christie, was bullish. Murphy has expressed reservations about how the schools, which are privately run but funded with tax dollars, are approved and operated. His transition team has recommended a “pause” on new approvals. “There’s some nuances on what a pause means that we’re hoping to hear,” Conway said. “I think there’s definitely room for all of these great schools. It’s just a matter of how we can all play in the same sandbox.”

Students rule in Upper Darby Youth Court class
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter
POSTED: 02/04/18, 5:38 PM EST | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO
UPPER DARBY >> Court is in session in Upper Darby middle schools. A judge, bailiff, a jury and court-appointed “counsel” are all present in these courtrooms. What makes these rooms of justice different is that they’re run entirely by students. Three eighth-grade classes in Beverly Hills and Drexel Hill middle schools are getting into the swing of things as they start the first year of court sessions in their youth court class, a year-long elective that establishes restorative justice means to deal with violators of the schools’ codes of conduct. Students serve as the judge, jury and, “executioner,” if you will, in youth court by hearing cases involving conduct infractions committed by their fellow schoolmates and issuing a disposition that the respondent must fulfill or risk potential punitive punishments by building administrators.

The New Tax Law’s Subtle Subversion of Public Schools
The law will facilitate private-school attendance and put more obstacles in front of the neediest students.
The Atlantic by CLINT SMITH  February 2018 7:00 AM ET
Bottom of Form
American public schools have long been, and remain, deeply unequal. At the most dilapidated and underperforming schools, teachers are blamed for stagnant graduation rates, students are derided for low tests scores, and parents are chastised for not being involved. Too often, however, scrutiny of these schools’ performance doesn’t take into account the structural factors that have contributed to their outcomes. One of the most significant factors contributing to the chasm of educational opportunity is the way that schools are funded. According to the most recent data made available by the Department of Education in 2015, the wealthiest 25 percent of school districts receive 15 percent more in per-student funding from state and local governments as compared to the poorest 25 percent of school districts. Nationally, that accounts for a $1,500-per-student funding gap, a gap that has grown by 44 percent since the 2001-02 school year. It’s a system that leaves the poor with less and the rich with more—a phenomenon that the new GOP tax law has the potential to make even worse. Under the Republican plan passed through Congress last December, families can now use 529 college-savings plans to pay for private K-12 schooling, allowing them up to $10,000 in tax-free withdrawals per child annually. This new provision effectively operates the same way a voucher program would, but without the name: While vouchers distribute funds directly to parents to pay for private school, the new law uses the tax code to facilitate private-school attendance.

Betsy DeVos: A One-Year Progress Report
Education Week By Alyson Klein February 6, 2018
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took the oath of office on Feb. 7, 2017, which means that this week marks her first anniversary as the head of the Department of Education. Her first year in office has been a bumpy ride. DeVos had decades of experience championing school choice before joining the Trump Cabinet. She'd been the head of the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy and political organization, but she had no experience working professionally in government, or in public education. Her confirmation hearing—in which she appeared not to know what the main special education law was and suggested teachers may need guns to ward off "potential" grizzly bears—was the most controversial of any education secretary in history. Thousands of calls poured in to key senators, urging votes against her. Educators and activists staged demonstrations across the country. Ultimately, two GOP lawmakers joined all the Democrats in voting against her, a 50-50 split. Vice President Mike Pence had to break the tie to confirm her. A year later, many teachers remain unimpressed.

Save the Date: PA School Funding Lawsuit Wed. March 7, 2018 9:30 A.M.
Commonwealth Court Hearing on Legislative leaders motions to Dismiss the Wm Penn SD challenge to state funding.
Before the Court en bane sitting in Court Room No. 1 Ninth Floor, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, One South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107

All members of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court will hear oral argument on motions to dismiss filed by legislative leaders in the school funding lawsuit William Penn School District, et al. v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, et al.  The Legislators are arguing that the Petition challenging the inadequacy and inequity of Pennsylvania’s funding of schools is moot because the new school formula has supplanted the funding scheme existing when students and school districts filed their Petition in 2015.  In addition, Legislators also contend that the Petition failed to allege that insufficient state funding caused any harm such as poor PSSA results or lack of sufficient instructional resources.   In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to hold a trial on whether state officials are violating the state’s constitution by failing to adequately and equitably fund public education.  The Legislators objections have delayed efforts to bring this case to trial.   

Snooze or Lose: Promoting Sleep Health in Adolescents
Dr. Wendy Troxel Mon., March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Radnor High School auditorium 
The Radnor Township School District Adolescent Sleep & School Start Time Study Committee will welcome licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist Dr. Wendy Troxel for a presentation to the Radnor community on Mon., March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Radnor High School auditorium (130 King of Prussia Road, Radnor). Dr. Troxel is a Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Adjunct Faculty in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. A licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Troxel been widely cited by the media, including The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Financial TimesABC World News TonightCBS Sunday Morning, NPR and BBC. Dr. Troxel was also one of the featured sleep experts in the National Geographic documentary “Sleepless in America.” Her TED talk on the impact of school start times on adolescent sleep has received more than 1.4 million views.

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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