Friday, February 9, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 9: Pa. redistricting battle heads into final stretch

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. redistricting battle heads into final stretch

IDEA Series - Broken Promises: The Underfunding of IDEA
National Council on Disability Report February 7, 2018
On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), I am pleased to submit this report titled Broken Promises: The Underfunding of IDEA. This report is part of a five-report series on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that examines the past-to-current funding levels for all parts of the IDEA, analyzes the impact that the lack of full-funding has had on states in meeting their obligations to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities, and provides recommendations regarding future funding. As you know, the right of students with disabilities to receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment is solidly rooted in the guarantee of equal protection under the law granted to all citizens under the Constitution. Over the past 42 years, the Federal Government has recognized and supported this right through providing billions of dollars in special education funding to assist the states in meeting their responsibilities in this area. NCD has repeatedly called on Congress to fully fund IDEA. The Federal Government’s failure to meet its promised funding obligation has stressed many state and local budgets to the point where many districts routinely struggle to meet student needs. In 1975, Congress promised to cover 40 percent of the average cost to educate a child with disabilities. Congress later amended the law to say that the Federal Government would pay a “maximum” of 40 percent of per-pupil costs. Today, the Federal Government pays less than half of what it originally promised in 1975.

Delco Times By The Associated Press POSTED: 02/09/18, 5:59 AM EST 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Pennsylvania lawmakers are approaching a court-imposed deadline to redraw the state’s map of congressional districts that was thrown out on grounds it unfairly helped Republicans. The state Supreme Court imposed a Friday deadline for the GOP-controlled Legislature to submit a proposed replacement to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf will then have until Thursday to tell the justices if he supports it. If Wolf is on board, the new map will be enacted. If not, the court plans to develop its own map. The Democratic majority on the court says the 2011 map put Republican partisan advantage above traditional redistricting criteria, violating the state constitution’s guarantee of free and equal elections. Democrats hope a new map in Pennsylvania will help them flip enough seats in Congress to retake the majority.

No new Pa. congressional map by court-mandated deadline
Post-Gazette by LIZ NAVRATIL Harrisburg Bureau FEB 8, 2018 10:12 PM
HARRISBURG — It's official: The state Legislature will not pass a new congressional map before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Friday deadline. But the Republican leaders who control both chambers weren't ready Thursday to cede the redrawing of districts to the state's highest court, which has a Democratic majority. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, were considering submitting a draft map to the governor Friday, staffers said. Then they could call lawmakers back in the coming days to vote on that map, or a different one. "We're blazing new ground here, and we're trying to meet as many markers as we possibly can," said Drew Crompton, chief of staff to Mr. Scarnati and the Senate's top lawyer. "I don't sit here and say this is the perfect solution, but we're trying to do the best we can." Whether that plan works could boil down to the interpretation of a key word in the court's order -- and whether justices believe the lawmakers are acting in good faith.

How Pennsylvania Republicans pulled off their aggressive gerrymander
Washington Post By Christopher Ingraham February 6 Email the author
Last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state's U.S. congressional districts drawn by Republicans after the 2010 Census were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to give the Republican Party an unfair partisan advantage in House elections. The 2012 election results give some sense of the extent of the gerrymander. That year, Democratic candidates for the state's 18 U.S. House seats won 51 percent of their state's popular House vote. But that translated to just 5 out of 18, or a little more than one-quarter, of the state's House seats.

“The most shocking case is playing out right now in Pennsylvania, where Republican lawmakers in 2011 created maps so skewed that when Democrats won a majority of the popular vote the following year, it translated into only five of the state’s 18 congressional seats.”
NYT Editorial: The Great Republican Power Grab
New York Times By THE EDITORIAL BOARD FEB. 8, 2018
In the next few months, the Supreme Court is expected to rule, at last, on one of the most corrosive practices in modern American democracy — the drawing of legislative district maps to entrench the party in power, no matter how many voters might want a different result. Even as this behavior, known as partisan gerrymandering, has gotten out of control in recent decades, the court has refused to rein it in because, the claim goes, any possible fix lies with the political branches and not the courts. That’s bunk. The justices will see why if they look at what’s happening in several states where lawmakers have been holding clinics in self-interested mapmaking. Both Democrats and Republicans draw biased maps, of course — the two cases before the Supreme Court this term make that clear — but modern partisan gerrymandering is mostly the work of Republicans, who control a majority of governorships, as well as the legislative chambers in 32 states. Their efforts to lock in this advantage by any means necessary — including by kneecapping any institutions, including the courts, that try to stop them — are the work of a party that has become, as the political scientists Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann put it in 2012, “dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” At stake are not just hundreds of state legislative seats, but also control of the House of Representatives, which Republicans currently hold by a 45-seat margin.

Eight views of Pennsylvania: A visual dive into Congressional redistricting and gerrymandering
Penn Live by Charles Thompson | Posted February 09, 2018 at 06:03 AM | Updated February 09, 2018 at 06:27 AM
If this is too much gerrymandering... This 2011 map of Pennsylvania's Congressional districts - our current map - may go down in history as one that helps America understand how much partisan gerrymandering is too much partisan gerrymandering. On Jan. 22, it was ruled unconstitutional by a 5-2 majority of the state Supreme Court for diluting the votes of Democratic voters, though the fight still rages over whether it will be used in the 2018 campaign cycle or not.

Loophole lets Pennsylvania charter schools claim tax dollars as rent payback
Jacqueline Palochko  Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call February 9, 2018
Like many charter schools, Executive Education Academy spends a good chunk of its budget on rent, some of which is later reimbursed by the state. That’s allowed, as long as the school doesn’t own its building, which Executive Academy doesn’t — technically. The K-11 school at 555 Union Boulevard in Allentown is owned by the Executive Education Academy Charter School Foundation, a nonprofit set up solely to support the school. The school used to pay about $2.2 million a year in rent to a private landlord and get $100,000 back from the state. Now the school will pay $2.3 million a year in rent to its foundation, which purchased the building last summer, and still be able to apply for reimbursements from the state. “That’s not the reason why we would do this, but that’s a great perk for a charter school,” said Robert Lysek, the school’s CEO. “I hate to say ‘it is what it is,’ but it kind of is.”

Scott Wagner leads GOP straw polls for Pennsylvania governor ahead of endorsement meeting
Trib Live by WES VENTEICHER  | Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 5:15 p.m.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is confident his top showing in internal party polling will translate to an endorsement at a party meeting this weekend, but the three other candidates say they plan to keep making their case to voters whatever the meeting's outcome. Wagner, a state senator and business owner from York, has received 175 out of 317 votes in caucus polls held around the state to gauge candidates' viability. Wagner also had the most money in the bank among the candidates at the end of December, although he also had the most debt. “Scott has won straw polls all across the commonwealth, including the backyard of his opponents, and Republican leaders know he is the best choice to unite the party and defeat Tom Wolf in November,” campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement. Party committee members from around the state could decide during a weekend meeting in Hershey to endorse one of the candidates or none of them. Voters will pick the nominee in the May 15 primary election.

Greencastle-Antrim District talks numbers at presentation
The Record Herald By Shawn Hardy Posted at 9:00 AM February 8, 2018
The financial picture for the Greencastle-Antrim School District was one component of a state-of-the-district presentation Tuesday night. Between 70 and 80 people attended the session in the high school auditorium, including school board members, administrators, teachers and the public. The meeting was held amid ongoing negotiations with the Greencastle-Antrim Education Association and Monday night’s announcement that the teachers will strike on April 4 unless a contract agreement is reached. The meeting concluded with a prayer from a member of the audience who declined to provide his name, asking for “supernatural intervention” and “great ideas” because “Father, we need your help. Help us, Lord.”  Revenue uncertainties, financial projections, state funding inequities, cuts and needs were among the topics. Jolinda “JC” Wilson, chief financial officer, said variables on the revenue side of the budget include real estate tax collection rates, earned income and real estate transfer taxes, state funding fluctuations, reimbursement for debt service and donations. State funding and the impact of the “hold harmless” formula that actually harms the district were discussed by Jim Winslow, board president. The calculation is based on old numbers and benefits most districts, which have declining enrollments, while G-A has grown by about 50 percent since 1990 to above 3,000 today.

After last year's brawl, Cheltenham schools try mindfulness to keep the peace
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer  @Kathy_Boccella | Updated: FEBRUARY 9, 2018 — 5:52 AM EST
When teacher Cindy Goldberg stood before a classroom of 26 Cheltenham ninth graders for the first time on Monday, she asked them to put away electronic devices and challenged them to “think about a time in your life when you’ve done nothing — no TV, no eating, no nothing.” As the kids pondered such a rare event, Goldberg showed them a video of a woman walking toward an open cellar, then glancing down at her phone before tumbling over the cellar door into the void. “How did she not see that?” a student blurted out. “It happens,” responded Goldberg, a former elementary school teacher who since autumn has been teaching mindfulness to students in the Cheltenham School District.  “Most of us are living our lives very, very distracted. You have social lives, tons of deadlines. You have a lot going on in your lives.” As Goldberg pivoted to deep-breathing exercises, she introduced students to a growing trend in American classrooms – using meditation to improve performance and behavior. But the class also marked a new front in the Montgomery County district’s crusade to curb a disciplinary crisis that came to light last spring in the diversifying suburb on Philadelphia’s northern border.

On Super Bowl parade day, a look at how the Eagles give to the School District and kids
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa February 8, 2018 — 5:17pm
The CAPA band serenades as one of the buses carrying Eagles players and their families passes by the school at Broad and Christian Streets. As the city celebrates the Super Bowl champion Eagles, it is easy to forget their actions off the field -- including their generosity to social causes. And tops on their list is educational equity. In their speeches on Thursday, team owner Jeffrey Lurie and coach Doug Pederson cited a team marked by selflessness, compassion, teamwork, and resilience.  Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson has a clothing line, and he is donating all the profits to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. When his “underdog” shirts went viral and the NFL picked them up, he persuaded the league to donate all the profits as well. The T-shirts are still being sold, and there is no estimate yet on how much they have raised. 
Defensive end Chris Long announced in October that he would give his entire salary to educational causes this year. Long said last fall that he would donate his next 10 game checks to educational causes in the three cities he has played in: Boston, St. Louis, and Philadelphia. His first six checks for games went to a scholarship fund for a private school in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. Long signed a two-year deal with the Eagles, receiving a $750,000 signing bonus, a $1 million base salary, and a $1.25 million roster bonus. The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia has a Twitter campaign to get 100 retweets of Philadelphia students thanking Long and Johnson. Other Eagles players also have foundations and give back to various communities, including quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

“Andrew said education funding and infrastructure are his top priorities.”
Local attorney challenging Barrar for 160th state House seat
Daily Local By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 02/07/18, 3:58 PM EST 
KENNETT TOWNSHIP >> Anton Andrew, a Kennett Township attorney, on Wednesday announced his intention to seek election to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in the 160th district. Andrew, a Democrat, seeks to unseat Republican incumbent Stephen Barrar, who has held the seat for the past 21 years. Andrew said his decision to run was largely spurred by gerrymandering, the manipulation of boundaries of an electoral constituency to benefit a political party. “When I fully understood the gerrymandering issue, that’s when I decided I could not sit on the fence any longer,” Andrew said. “I have spent my whole life trying to give people a voice, and I just got upset by the way (Barrar) and the (Republican) party in general have systematically disenfranchised me, whether by gerrymandering or anything else.”

“The details of Murphy's plan have not been put into legislation, but the idea is that towns and school districts, which collect property taxes, would establish charitable funds. Taxpayers would pay to those funds and then deduct the amount as charitable contributions on their federal returns.”
Murphy seeks bill to blunt impact of federal tax law
Inquirer by MICHAEL CATALINI, Associated Press Updated: FEBRUARY 8, 2018 3:28 PM EST
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday called on lawmakers to send him legislation ensuring state residents can pay property taxes as charitable contributions to skirt the federal tax overhaul. Murphy, a Democrat, said the Democrat-led Legislature should send him a bill that he would sign immediately to help dull what he expects will be a painful effect on New Jersey taxpayers under the new $1.5 trillion Republican-led federal tax plan. "We're left with the dual problems of not only high property taxes but with limited ability to deduct them from federal taxes," Murphy said. "This gut punch from Congress and President (Donald) Trump should spur us to action to seek long-term reforms in our property tax system." The new tax law signed by the Republican president gives steep cuts to corporations and wealthy Americans and provides modest reductions for most low- and middle-income families and individuals.

Education Department locks out union leaders who went to deliver ‘report cards’ to Betsy DeVos
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss February 8 at 7:40 PM Email the author
The U.S. Education Department locked the front doors of its headquarters in Washington on Thursday when two union presidents appeared to deliver “report cards” on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s first year in office. Randi Weingarten, leader of the American Federation of Teachers, said she and Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, went to the department with large boxes containing more than 80,000 report cards filled out by teachers and paraprofessionals. “We were locked out,” said Weingarten, who said they gave the department notice they were coming. “We asked for an appointment, but they locked us out instead.” Capt. Sheila Newby, an officer in the Security Office of the Education Department, said the doors, which are normally opened 24 hours a day, were indeed locked for about 1 1/2 hours on Thursday. “They were closed from about 2 to 3:30 because of the protesters,” she said.
DeVos’s press secretary, Elizabeth Hill, did not respond to requests for comment. The union leaders and colleagues were there representing a coalition of education and civil rights groups called the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, which had used the report card initiative to highlight their opposition to DeVos’s policies. Those policies, they say, have undermined traditional public education.

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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