SB2 Voucher Bill: Pine-Richland aligns with other schools opposed to tuition voucher bill
Trib Live KAREN PRICE | Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, 4:22 p.m.
The Pine-Richland School Board joined a number of districts across the state when it approved a resolution opposing state Senate Bill 2, which would create education savings accounts for students in the state's lowest performing districts. The bill, which is in the education committee, is proposed as a tuition voucher program that would take public school funding for students living within the bottom 15 percent of the state's districts and allow parents to use it to pay for private school, tutors and other educational expenses.
Hazelton Area SD notes funding disparity
Standard Speaker BY KENT JACKSON / PUBLISHED: FEBRUARY 28, 2018
The School District of Lancaster has 187 more students than Hazleton Area School District, yet it receives $24 million more in state funding. Reading School District, with 6,412 students, obtains $101 million more than Hazleton Area. The disparities opened the eyes of Hazleton Area School Board members during their budget meeting Tuesday. “That still blows my mind with Lancaster,” board Member Edward Shemansky said. “Why?” “That’s what I’d like to know, replied business Manager Robert Krizansky, who earlier in the meeting said, “That’s a lot of money. You know what we could do with $24 million.” Inequities exist, partly, because for multi-year spans during the past generation, the state didn’t adjust for enrollment when dispensing money to schools. Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, said lawmakers entered hold-harmless agreements so that no district would get less aid. If for example, education funding increased by 2 percent, then all districts received a 2 percent increase that year. “When that happened over such a long time, some districts could have lost 1,000 students and didn’t lose state aid,” Spicka said by phone after the meeting.
SCOTUS Justice Alito asks for responses to GOP bid to block new Pa. congressional map
Inquirer by Jonathan Lai & Liz Navratil - Staff Writers Updated: FEBRUARY 28, 2018 — 12:47 PM EST
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Wednesday asked participants in a key Pennsylvania gerrymandering case to respond to a request from top Republican lawmakers that the nation’s highest court step in and block the new congressional map. State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) and House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the previous congressional map and imposing a new one. Alito gave participants in the case until 3 p.m. Monday to file their responses. He made a similar move a few weeks ago after Scarnati and Turzai filed a similar request to step in and stop the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from overturning the state’s congressional map. In that first request, Alito sought responses from the parties in the case before denying the request without comment and without referring it to the whole court to decide. That request used essentially the same legal argument as the current one, with the lawmakers saying the state court’s action violated the elections clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives state legislatures the power to run elections. Experts have said the request for a stay is a long shot, especially because it is so similar to the previous request.
“He urged them to ban assault-style firearms, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and raise the minimum age to buy firearms to 21. He said universal background checks should be required, and there should be a complete database of those banned from buying firearms. He also called for the closing of the private sale and gun show loophole that enables purchasers to escape background checks. “We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” Stack said in a letter. “But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America — our kids.”
Walmart, Dick’s expand corporate rift with gun lobby
Delco Times By Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press POSTED: 03/01/18, 5:23 AM EST
NEW YORK >> The rift between corporate America and the gun lobby is growing.
Retail heavyweights Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have taken steps to restrict gun sales. That follows moves by several other major corporations, including MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines, that have cut ties with National Rifle Association following last month’s school massacre in Florida. Dick’s said Wednesday it will immediately stop selling assault-style rifles and ban the sale of all guns to anyone under 21. Its CEO took on the NRA by demanding tougher gun laws. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, followed by saying it will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21. It had stopped selling AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons in 2015.
Walmart sets age of 21 to buy firearms, ammunition
Inquirer by ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, The Associated Press Updated: FEBRUARY 28, 2018 — 7:14 PM EST
NEW YORK (AP) - Walmart announced Wednesday that it will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21 and would also remove items resembling assault-style rifles from its website. The move comes after Dick's Sporting Goods announced earlier in the day that it would restrict the sale of firearms to those under 21 years old. It didn't mention ammunition. Dick's also said it would immediately stop selling assault-style rifles, and its CEO took on the National Rifle Association by demanding tougher gun laws. Walmart said its decision came after the company reviewed its firearm sales policy in light of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. The teenage gunman used an AR-15 rifle. It said it takes "seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms" and also emphasized its background of serving "serving sportsmen and hunters."
“The Washington Examiner reports that some vulnerable House Republicans who represent suburban districts are seriously feeling pressure from constituents to pass gun regulations in Congress. This is putting them in a bind: They don’t want to do anything that will enrage the tiny but vocal gun-rights slice of their base, but they (23 of them) inhabit districts that Hillary Clinton carried. And suburban swing voters, who are not culturally conservative on guns, want action. This quote, from GOP Rep. Ryan Costello, who represents Philadelphia suburbs, is key: “The gun safety issue, or movement, is much more organized, much more effective.” Costello added that gun safety has “now taken on more priority” as one of those “quality of life, safety issues” that “a lot of suburban voters look at.”
Are Republicans finally sweating about guns?
Washington Post By Greg Sargent February 28 at 10:41 AM Email the author
Unpacking America's perceptions about mass shootings and gun control
Frustration is boiling over on both ends of the political spectrum at the inability to stop mass shootings, but many still can't agree on a path forward.(Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
THE MORNING PLUM: The savviest Washington observers have spoken: Despite the massive outpouring of energy and organizing in favor of action on guns in the wake of the Florida massacre, nothing is going to happen. That is an easy bet. It is also an easy bet that those savvy observers will chalk that up to “Washington,” or “partisan bickering,” or “political reality,” which will make accountability harder to achieve for the politicians — who will almost certainly be all Republicans — culpable for ensuring that outcome. But maybe “nothing is going to happen” is the wrong frame for what we’re seeing right now. Maybe the massive outpouring of energy and organizing is itself the thing that is happening. And maybe that suggests a posture over the long term that does not fall back on fatalism, which is, at bottom, the safer and easier position.
Trump backs Pat Toomey background-check bill, but accuses him of being 'afraid of the NRA'
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau @JonathanTamari | email@example.com Updated: FEBRUARY 28, 2018 — 7:52 PM EST
WASHINGTON — President Trump urged lawmakers Wednesday to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, seeming to support a bill sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) — while in the same discussion telling Toomey the senator is “afraid of the NRA.” The contradictory notes came in a bipartisan meeting at the White House — broadcast live — in which Trump veered among topics, seemed unfamiliar with some key details, and contradicted strongly held Republican positions on guns. The NRA-backed president suggested that law enforcement should “take the guns first, go through due process second” to prevent mass shootings and encouraged Toomey to consider amending his background-check bill with a ban on assault-style weapons. Nonetheless, Toomey emerged believing that Trump’s support, combined with the national outpouring of energy since the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting, could add momentum to his background-check plan, which would expand the reviews to cover more commercial firearms sales, including those that occur online or at gun shows. The measure, cosponsored with Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), fell six votes short of clearing the Senate in 2013.
Central Pa. students planning walkout to protest gun violence
Penn Live By Barbara Miller firstname.lastname@example.org Updated Feb 27, 2:41 PM; Posted Feb 27, 1:10 PM
Students at some central Pennsylvania high schools are planning to take part in a protest March 14 against gun violence, joining their peers around the country in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting. At Carlisle High School, students are planning a walkout in support of gun control at 10 a.m. March 14, said Michael Smith, junior class president. The walkout will be for about 45 minutes, and will include a memorial to students who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as student speakers advocating for "sensible gun control." "What we really want to do is show the lawmakers that students are speaking up now in addition to the adults who are speaking out against gun control, and that we want them to enact sensible gun control legislation," Smith said.
“And now that the Parkland kids are, well, everywhere, and high school and middle school kids all over the country - including Toomey's own backyard - have found their voices, the Pennsylvania lawmaker is right when he says the national mood has turned. "What's changed is the horrific accumulation of these massacres -- that's making a difference," Toomey said. "The outcry from high school kids across the country, that's contributed to this discussion as well. Those are having an effect."
This one phone conversation with Pat Toomey explains how hard it is to pass gun control
Penn Live By John L. Micek email@example.com Updated Feb 28, 2:07 PM; Posted Feb 28, 1:42 PM
As he headed into a White House huddle on gun-control with President Donald Trump and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey provided ample reminder of how maddeningly difficult it is for lawmakers to reach anything approximating a consensus. Over the course of a roughly 15-minute conversation with home state political reporters, Toomey, R-Pa., repeatedly tried to have his cake and eat it, too. He made a push, for instance, for expanded background checks on commercial gun purchases, which is at least a baseline for beginning to stop the kind of massacres that tore through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month.
Saying ‘we count too,’ Southwest Philly kids call for attention to everyday shootings
WHYY By Kyrie Greenberg February 28, 2018
Protesting what they call ongoing and under-reported gun violence among Philadelphia’s youth, Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and students at three high schools took to the streets in Southwest Philadelphia Wednesday. “I’m tired of the conversations which exist year after year and don’t mention the slaughter that’s happening in our communities,” said Williams, a Philadelphia Democrat, on the steps of Bartram High School. To combat gun violence, he said he backs stronger background checks to purchase firearms and wants licenses for every gun sold in the state. Shonda Dean McClellan lost her daughter Erica, a senior at Bartram High, to gunfire in November. “No parent should ever have to bury their child,” said McClellan. “And I never thought in a million years that I would be burying my 17-year-old to senseless gun violence at the hands of an acquaintance. So it has to stop, something has to be done.”
“Over half of the states in our nation already have measures in place which allow for security and safety matters to be discussed in Executive Session. Please join us as we seek to become the next state with that protection, where we balance the desire for openness and transparency with the need to best protect our citizens. This small common sense approach will help our municipalities and school districts as well as our first responders in a big way as they seek to keep us safe.”
PA Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda
Posted: February 26, 2018 10:05 AM
From: Senator Robert M. Tomlinson and Sen. Mike Regan
To: All Senate members
Subject: Executive Session to Discuss Security Measurers
Unfortunately, this latest school shooting in Florida is another traumatic event in recent history that has compromised our safety and security, both individually and as a nation. Our school age children are subject to active shooter drills and metal detectors and security have become a way of life as we enter many public and private buildings. While unsettling, we understand these measures help protect us. As more security measures come in place, many municipalities and school districts in Pennsylvania struggle with the fact that, while they are trying to better protect those in their care, they are also subject to publicizing just how they plan to respond and where, if any, their plan is weakest. This does not make sense. Why would we develop a comprehensive plan with our local and state authorities to then discuss publicly how we would respond to a major incident or active shooter? Why would we give someone with the desire to harm us the ability to know the plans and scenarios we are prepared for?
Mayor Kenney to seek property tax hike to help offset schools' nearly $1 billion deficit
Inquirer by Holly Otterbein & Claudia Vargas - Staff Writers Updated: FEBRUARY 28, 2018 — 11:09 AM EST
Mayor Kenney stood in front of City Council last year and pledged to seize control of Philadelphia’s schools — and cover most of their nearly $1 billion shortfall. “The buck will stop with us,” he promised. On Thursday, he’ll put his money where his mouth is. At his annual budget address, Kenney will propose directing somewhere between an extra $700 million and $900 million to the city’s schools over the next five years, according to sources in City Hall who were not authorized to speak publicly about the financial plan. To cover that, he is going to ask Council to increase the property tax rate and the real estate transfer tax, sources said. He is also expected to suggest freezing the city’s wage tax, which was scheduled for gradual reduction. Sources said the mayor’s recommended property tax hike will be less than 10 percent.
In jail, a school of second chances, and one of Philly's best principals
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: FEBRUARY 28, 2018 — 7:37 PM EST
Art projects line the hallways of Deana Ramsey’s school, rich mosaics and colorful murals. In one classroom, students are at the edge of their seats learning about sound engineering; in another, they’re tackling algebraic equations. This is remarkable, because Ramsey’s school sits inside the city’s juvenile detention center, a place where pencils are counted at the end of the day to make sure none has been hidden for potential use as a weapon. There were 150 pupils at the Juvenile Justice Service Center School at 11 a.m. on a recent day, but the number can fluctuate by the hour, as young people are arrested and processed. For Ramsey’s work creating a school where children in tough situations engage in meaningful learning, knowing they are supported and respected, she and six other Philadelphia School District principals are being honored Thursday as among the city’s best. They have won 2018 Lindback Awards for Distinguished Principal Leadership. The other winners are Ted Domers, Carver High School of Engineering and Science; Dywonne Davis-Harris, Potter-Thomas Promise Academy; Jodan Floyd, AMY Northwest Middle School; John Piniat, Feltonville Arts and Sciences; Fatima Rogers, C.W. Henry Elementary; and Michael Roth, Olney Elementary.
Jimenez resigns from Philly SRC four months before it disbands
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent February 28, 2018
With Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission about to sunset, one of its commissioners has bid an early adieu. Farah Jimenez, a 2014 appointee of Gov. Tom Corbett, resigned from the commission Wednesday, effective immediately. In her resignation letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Jimenez praised her fellow commissioners and district superintendent William Hite. “It has been a gift to bear close witness to the truest of public servants who work at the School District of Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission, and in each and every one of our schools,” Jimenez wrote. The SRC has just a handful of scheduled meetings left before a local school board supplants it on July 1. The commission voted on a batch of new charter applications last Thursday, likely one of its last major actions before it disbands.
SRC member Farah Jimenez abruptly resigns
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | email@example.com Updated:FEBRUARY 28, 2018 — 11:02 AM EST
Farah Jimenez has resigned her seat on the School Reform Commission effective immediately, school district officials announced Wednesday. Jimenez, the CEO of the education nonprofit Philadelphia Education Fund, was appointed to the commission by former Gov. Tom Corbett in January, 2014. In a letter to Gov. Wolf resigning her seat, Jimenez said “it has been a gift to be in service to the students in Philadelphia – young people who deserve the very best in education and a City and State committed and invested in their success.” She did not cite a reason for her departure. Jimenez is viewed as warmer to charter schools than most other members of the commission; at a special meeting of the SRC last week, she voted to approve a number of charter schools that other members had concerns about and ultimately denied. She was also criticized by some education activists for her regular abstentions from SRC votes due to potential conflicts because of her and her husband’s business interests. But current district and SRC officials had warm words for Jimenez and her service.
Teachers want common-sense gun reform, not to carry weapons, says National Education Association official
PBS Newshour Feb 27, 2018 6:25 pm EST
What do teachers think of calls from President Trump and others for arming educators as a response to mass shootings at schools? Becky Pringle of the National Education Association joins John Yang to share opposition to the proposal and why many teachers can’t imagine the responsibility of carrying a firearm in the classroom.
In Most States, Poorest School Districts Get Less Funding
School districts with the highest rates of poverty receive less funding per student than those with the lowest rates of poverty, a new report shows.
US News By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter | Feb. 27, 2018, at 12:01 a.m.
In more than half of the states in the U.S., the poorest school districts do not receive funding to address their students' increased needs – just the latest data point to shine a spotlight on funding gaps that plague the country's public education system. School districts with the highest rates of poverty receive about $1,000 less per student in state and local funding than those with the lowest rates of poverty, according to a new report released Tuesday by The Education Trust. While the funding gaps among states vary significantly, Illinois, Missouri, New York and Alabama rank among the worst. In Illinois, for example, the poorest districts received 22 percent less in state and local funding than the lowest-poverty districts.
States Confront New Mandate on School-Spending Transparency
Education Week By Daarel Burnette II February 27, 2018
A tricky financial-transparency requirement in the Every Student Succeeds Act has cranked up tensions among state politicians, school district administrators, and civil rights activists over public understanding of how districts divvy up their money among schools. ESSA requires districts to break out school-level spending by December 2019—a first-time federal requirement. It's a level of detail unknown even to most district superintendents. Various interest groups are split over whether such items as transportation, technology, special education, and pre-K—some of the biggest drivers of the rise in school spending—should be categorized as regular school costs, or as extraordinary costs or overhead. Civil rights activists, meanwhile, expect that the reporting of school-level-spending amounts will reveal to the public where districts' most-experienced and highest-paid teachers work, if those data are presented in a coherent and comparable way. But state education departments are realizing that it's a daunting task to come up with school-by-school data using districts' sometimes-antiquated finance systems.
Head of Colorado's Largest Cyber Charter Resigns
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Benjamin Herold on February 28, 2018 9:05 AM
The leader of Colorado's largest online charter school resigned following an internal investigation, the latest chapter in the ongoing turmoil at the 3,800-student GOAL Academy. The investigation into Richard Mestas was over a "personnel matter" and did not yield any allegations or evidence of criminal conduct, financial improprieties, or violation's of the school's charter contract, said Dustin Sparks, a lawyer representing the school. Details as to the nature of the investigation and its findings are confidential and "protected by attorney-client privilege," Sparks said. GOAL Academy was the subject of an award-winning 2016 Education Week investigation that found evidence of widespread financial mismanagement and academic failure. GOAL's founder and former CEO, Ken Crowell, helped steer more than $5 million in taxpayer money for the school to his own for-profit management company. A program called "FAST and Furious" allowed students to gain a year's worth of credit for a week's worth of work. And while students were expected to work mostly online, at their own pace, Education Week found that just 1 in 4 students logged in to the school's learning software on a typical day. Crowell resigned in 2015, and the school subsequently severed all ties with his management company, the Summit Education Group.
The Rocky Mountain Digital Academy—a second online charter founded by Crowell and operated by Summit, that made extensive use of GOAL's curriculum, drop-in centers, record-keeping systems, and more—has also since closed.
TRUMP WILL CUT $425 MILLION FROM SCHOOL SAFETY PROGRAMS, SCHUMER WARNS
Newsweek BY TOM PORTER ON 2/26/18 AT 9:34 AM
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is speaking out against President Donald Trump’s proposed education budget. Under the spending plan, $425 million would be slashed from programs designed to prevent future school shootings and provide community assistance in disaster recovery. The Senate minority leader said that the budget—released just days before 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—would reduce the government’s capacity to prevent future shootings. “To know we have a budget pieced together that undermines the Department of Education on so many levels to prevent the next Parkland tragedy is nails on a chalkboard,” Schumer said. Under the budget proposed by Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, about $3.6 billion, or 5 percent of current spending levels, would be deducted from education spending. The cuts include $425 million removed from mental health and school safety programs, Schumer noted.
SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT ORAL ARGUMENT WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 2018, 9:30AM, PHILLY
Join us on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 for oral argument on remaining preliminary objections and a motion to dismiss for mootness in our School Funding Lawsuit. This case was filed on behalf of six school districts, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) and the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference against legislative leaders, state education officials, and the Governor. We are asking for a court order that will force the legislature to comply with the state constitution and ensure all students receive access to a high-quality public education. RSVP BY MARCH 5
Commonwealth Court Ninth Floor, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street One South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107 Courtroom opens at 8:30 a.m.
Our argument is slated to be presented last on the list for the day. Estimated start time for our argument is 10:30 a.m., but it could be earlier or later. We will hold a press conference immediately after oral argument by the Octavius Catto statue on the south side of City Hall. Estimated start time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
RSVP here or contact Tomea Sippio-Smith, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), 215-563-5848, ext. 36 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RSVPing does not guarantee you a seat in the courtroom.
NPE: Join us in a Day of Action April 20th to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools
Network for Public Education February 16, 2018 by Darcie Cimarusti
After the slaughter of students and staff in Parkland, Florida, the time for action has never been more urgent. The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools. We will be silent no more! The failure to enact rational laws that bar access to guns designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. It is past time to speak out and act. Pledge your support to stop gun violence here. We call for mass action on April 20, the anniversary of the horrific shootings at Columbine High School. We urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of protest in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your community. Organize sit-ins, teach-ins, walkouts, marches–whatever you decide will show your school and community’s determination to keep our students safe. One elementary teacher suggested that teachers and parents link arms around the school to show their determination to protect children.
Learn the latest news, initiatives and upcoming events from your association.
Bring knowledge back to your district of how the commonwealth budget will fiscally impact it. Discuss the top legislative issues affecting public education. Learn how you can advocate for your school district taxpayers, students and public education success.
Enjoy productive conversation with your school leader colleagues. Boost your network, share your experiences and build a stronger voice for public education.
This focus group is your opportunity to share your input in drafting a blueprint for the future of public education. The Commonwealth Education Blueprint is a multiyear effort founded and managed by PSBA to develop and implement a statewide vision for the future of public education. Through this comprehensive project, education stakeholders from across the state and from many areas of expertise are coming together to proactively determine what education should look like in years to come. Having a clear and comprehensive statewide vision will ensure that we provide an increasingly excellent public education experience for children. This is your opportunity to get involved, share your feedback, and help draft the plan for the future of education!
Registration is now open for the 2018 PASA Education Congress! State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018
Don't miss this marquee event for Pennsylvania school leaders at the Nittany Lion Inn, State College, PA, March 19-20, 2018.
Learn more by visiting http://www.pasa-net.org/2018edcongress
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.