Monday, March 12, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 12: Student Walkouts Planned on Wednesday

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Student Walkouts Planned on Wednesday

Uncharted Territory in Delaware County – Panel Discussion on Implications of Rising Charter Enrollment in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Suburbs
Thursday, March 15, 2018; 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. Penn Wood HS
Come out and lend your voice to the discussion!

SB2: More than 100 school districts say “No” to vouchers
PSBA Website March 9, 2018
More than 100 school districts across Pennsylvania have already adopted resolutions opposing Education Savings Accounts (ESA), the next generation of vouchers, that take state tax money out of neighborhood public schools for use at private schools. ESA voucher proposals are schemes for greater taxpayer support of unaccountable private schools. In Pennsylvania, an ESA voucher proposal has been introduced as Senate Bill 2, a plan that takes money away from a school district’s state subsidy funding to be used at private and religious schools, private companies, tutors and other “qualified education expenses.” By targeting the lowest-achieving 15% of schools in the commonwealth, Senate Bill 2 has been estimated to siphon more than $500 million dollars from the most under-resourced schools that desperately need the funding. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) has been encouraging its members to adopt a resolution officially opposing Senate Bill 2 and ESA vouchers. To date, more than 100 districts have adopted such a resolution and more boards are discussing passing the resolution at their board meetings each week (list below as of 3/9/18). These school districts are telling their legislators “No” to Senate Bill 2 and ESA voucher plans.

SB2: PSBA urges school districts to oppose Education Savings Accounts
WFMZ69 By:  69 News  Posted: Mar 09, 2018 03:36 PM EST
Education Savings Accounts, or ESA vouchers, are vouchers that take state tax money out of neighborhood public schools for use at private schools.  This voucher proposal was introduced as Senate Bill 2, but many school districts are opposing it.  The Pennsylvania School Board Association says more than 100 districts across the commonwealth have adopted resolutions against ESA vouchers.  The association has been encouraging its members to adopt a resolution officially opposing Senate Bill 2.  "ESA vouchers take scarce funding away from already struggling public schools and give it to private schools which are unaccountable to taxpayers and the public. We should focus on funding public schools – where 90% of children go – not taking money away from them for the 10% who choose not to attend public schools,” said PSBA Chief Executive Officer Nathan G. Mains. In February, Bethlehem Area School District approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 2, saying it would have a devastating impact to the district and public education.

SB2: Their view: Latest school choice bill as flawed as others
Times Leader Editorial March 11th, 2018 6:18 pm
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association reported Friday that school boards of 100 districts — 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s total — adopted resolutions opposing the implementation of “Education Savings Accounts” in the Commonwealth. Locally, Northwest Area was the lone Luzerne County district on the PSBA list of those passing such a resolution so far. PSBA has been encouraging the resolutions in response to Senate Bill 2, arguing it will “siphon more than $500 million dollars from the most under-resourced schools that desperately need the funding.” Opposing the bill is the right thing to do, though not entirely for the reasons PSBA puts forth. This bill, like pretty much every “school choice” idea being floated in recent years, is flawed for much bigger reasons.

“On average, (nationally) 47 percent of school revenues come from state funds. In stark contrast, in Pennsylvania only 30 percent of revenue is provided by the state,” said McInerney. “We rank 46th in the nation in state share.”
William Penn-led school funding suit back in court
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter POSTED: 03/09/18, 9:22 PM EST | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
PHILADELPHIA >> The school funding lawsuit returned to court on Wednesday, the case’s first appearance before a panel since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in September ordered a trial on the state’s alleged constitutional violation to a fair and equitably public education. Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in Philadelphia heard oral arguments in the case William Penn School District et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education et al. on why the defendant’s objections should be dismissed and allow the case to go to trial. Attorney Brad Elias, who argued on the plaintiff’s behalf before the nine-member court, countered the defense’s objections that a constitutional violation is moot because of the fair funding formula, local control justifies any inequity in the state school system, and failure to allege causation. Plaintiff co-counselors Maura McInerney from the Education Law Center and Michael Churchill from the Public Interest Law Center commented on the case during a Wednesday conference call. “The problem certainly hasn’t been fixed and the case is not moot,” said Churchill. “The (legislative leaders) completely ignored the fact that local districts don’t have the tax base and resources to fix that. Any claim that they’re relying on local control is entirely illusory. We are hopeful that the court accepts this.”

Fate of new Pa. congressional map now in hands of judges
Delco Times By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press POSTED: 03/10/18, 6:27 AM EST
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> A request to stop Pennsylvania elections officials from using a map of the state’s congressional districts produced by the state Supreme Court last month was in the hands of a three-judge federal panel Friday, at the same time a similar effort was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, eight Republican congressmen and two senior GOP state senators, argued that the majority Democrats on the state Supreme Court overstepped their authority as they declared a 2011 map an unconstitutional gerrymander and imposed their own district boundaries. But the defendants — two senior elections officials under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and 18 Democratic voters who prevailed in state court — defended the legal process that resulted in the new map and predicted that reverting to the former map would create a cascade of other problems, including for mailed-in military and absentee ballots. Under the 2011 map, drawn up by Republicans and signed by a Republican governor, the GOP has maintained a 13-5 edge in the past three election cycles, a period when Democrats prevailed in 18 of 24 statewide elections. Democrats hope the new map, widely viewed as more favorable to their candidates, may help them retake the U.S. House majority this year. The new map would create a new 5th Congressional that would cover all of Delaware County, along with a sliver of Montgomery County along the Main Line, and part of Philadelphia extending into South Philly.

Editorial: Pa. hearings on gun laws a start; more action needed
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 03/11/18, 8:15 PM EDT | UPDATED: 26 SECS AGO
Three weeks after a murderous rampage at a Florida high school, it once again appears that gun-control efforts on Capitol Hill have become bogged down while lawmakers wait for a clear sign from America’s most mercurial president on what he might – or might not – be willing to sign into law. So it’s encouraging to learn that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, has scheduled a series of public hearings next month on the various gun-related bills now making the rounds of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The hearings, which will run from April 9-12, primarily in the House Majority Caucus Room on the first floor of the state Capitol, are intended to “help (House) members and the public focus” on public safety, violence and firearms issues, Marsico said in a statement. We don’t know if Mr. Marsico, who will call it a career at the end of 2018, has been paying attention, but it’s not the public’s focus he needs to worry about.
Discussions about how to tackle America’s murderous cycle of mass shootings has been the topic of dinner table, classroom and water cooler discussions for years, even before a lone gunman mowed down teachers and students in the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day. In this case, America’s children are leading while adults can only follow.

“High school students from Catasauqua, Easton Area, Parkland, Emmaus, Nazareth Area, Pen Argyl, and Freedom and Liberty in Bethlehem Area have gone on the group’s website to indicate that they are mobilizing walkouts at their schools.”
Allentown students will be marked absent, tardy for walking out on March 14 in call for gun control
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 9,2018
Allentown School District students who decide to walk out of school as part of nationwide protests in support of gun control will receive a tardy or absence on their records. The school district posted a notice on its website that said it is encouraging advocacy in place of walking out on March 14 and April 20, when the walkouts are planned. “Students will be marked tardy or absent, per the district attendance policy if they choose to leave the school building without approval,” the message states. In its message, the district also said if any teachers or staff wish to walk out, they must use a personal day. The message said it was from Superintendent Thomas Parker. The school district will not stop any students from walking out, district communications director Takecia Saylor said. But the district’s Code of Conduct does say leaving a classroom without permission is an infraction. On March 14, Allentown students have the option to convene somewhere in the buildings, such as the auditoriums or cafeterias, for 17 minutes of silence, Saylor said. The day of advocacy will also include discussions on mental health and writing letters to legislators, she said. ASD’s stance comes as students in the Lehigh Valley and nationwide are planning to walk out of school on Wednesday for 17 minutes — one minute for each student and staff member killed by alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Claire Todaro: Why I and other students will protest gun violence on Wednesday
Morning Call Opinion March 10, 2018
Claire Todaro, a member of the Class of 2020, is helping organize the March 14 gun safety walkout at Parkland High School, South Whitehall Township.
While school shootings have become tragically redundant over the years, the response to the latest atrocity — at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 people — is unlike anything that's come before it. According to the Washington Post, this shooting has created more media coverage in a two-week period than any other mass shooting in America. It's sparked conversation about legislative change, and companies are feeling pressured to boycott the National Rifle Association and to change their gun sales policies. So why has this shooting generated significantly more public outcry than others? I credit this to the students and survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who have been incredibly outspoken, despite their fear and grief. The shooting in Florida was the most devastating high school shooting in terms of casualties. These survivors, enraged by this devastation, are old enough to voice their opinions, unlike the elementary students of Sandy Hook. They have created, and are now at the forefront of, a student-driven gun reform movement.

Student walkout planned to honor recent shooting victims, protest Congress' inaction
Meadville Tribune March 11,2018
Students at two Crawford County high schools — and possibly more — will join others at schools around the nation when they walk out of class this week to honor recent school shooting victims and draw attention to the issue.  Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, the group behind the Women’s March on Washington in 2017, is organizing the #ENOUGH National School Walkout set for Wednesday. The walkout marks the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and protest Congress’ inaction in response to gun violence in schools and neighborhoods. At 10 a.m. Wednesday students nationwide — including those at Saegertown Junior-Senior High School — plan to leave their classroom for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting and to call for legislation that responds to gun violence. Those participating in the demonstrations are encouraged to wear orange in support of gun control.

“Garnet Valley, Penncrest, Upper Darby, Haverford, Interboro, Strath Haven, Penn Wood and Springfield are just some of the confirmed high schools that will be taking part in the nationally coordinated effort on Wednesday.”
Delco - Student walkouts planned for Wednesday in local schools
By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter POSTED: 03/11/18, 8:15 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 MIN AGO
Family members are reunited with students outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla. The shooting at a South Florida high school sent students rushing into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in and locked down the building.associated press March 14 marks the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. As a response to the latest massacre, a nationwide walkout has been promoted for 10 a.m. that day for students to pay their respects to the students and staff members who died in with 17 minutes of silence — one for each victim. In Delaware County students have taken it upon themselves to organize their own walkout events to honor the fallen and to tell their government that there has been enough gun violence in schools.

The world is listening to Parkland teens. Some Philly kids wonder: Why not us?
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: MARCH 11, 2018 — 8:52 AM EDT
Milan Sullivan is horrified that 17 people died in a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. And she does not disagree with the teenage survivors who have stood up since the massacre, demanding action on gun violence. But she’s not leaving class next week for the National School Walkout, and she won’t board a bus for Washington for the March for Our Lives on March 24.  Sullivan, a junior at Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker, is all for activism, but she is like a lot of her classmates: hesitating a little over this particular movement. For some students, it’s because they feel too removed from things that go on in suburban high schools in far-away places, or they feel numb to gun violence. Others wonder: Where was the attention during the protests over issues pressing our community, whether it be Black Lives Matter or the murder of a friend or relative? “Politicians are going out of their way to help these kids,” Tatiana Amaya said of the Parkland activist students. “And there’s just a disconnect — when something happens in the white community, the black community is expected to support them, but people don’t stand up for the black community. The focus isn’t ‘What can we do to make black and brown kids feel safe in school?’ ”

Voices behind the walkout: Science Leadership Academy
WHYY By Dana DiFilippo March 12, 2018
On Wednesday, students around the country will walk out of their schools to demand lawmakers do more to protect the nation from gun violence. The National School Walkout will start at 10 a.m. and last 17 minutes — one minute for each person gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month. Each day leading up to Wednesday’s walkout, WHYY will post thoughts about school safety from students, parents, and educators in the region.
As senior Tamir Harper gathered with a few of his classmates from Science Leadership Academy in Center City one recent morning to talk about how to prevent more school shootings, it happened again. “Oh my God!” Harper said, reading a breaking-news alert on his smartphone. “Two shot at Central Michigan University! Suspect at large. Breaking now!” After a pause and a collective head shake, their conversation resumed, the latest shooting just another addition to an ever-growing list no school should be on. Here’s what they had to say:

“Board president Rachel Mitchell said school staff shouldn’t serve the same role as trained police officers. “We instead think our educators’ role is to teach and nurture our children,” she said. “I mean that’s really simply what it is.”
Upper Darby police chief proposes arming teachers, but school board pushes back
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent March 11, 2018
Breaking with its township police chief, a school board in Delaware County has rejected the idea of arming teachers. The Upper Darby School Board voted unanimously Tuesday for a resolution stating it “does not support any proposals to arm educators.” Board president Rachel Mitchell said school staff shouldn’t serve the same role as trained police officers. “We instead think our educators’ role is to teach and nurture our children,” she said. “I mean that’s really simply what it is.” In late February, less than a week after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Upper Darby’s top cop publicized a plan that would allow vetted school staff members to carry concealed weapons. Michael Chitwood, the township’s outspoken police superintendent, told 6ABC news, “We got to do something, and it’s time to think out of the box.” Located just west of Philadelphia in a densely populated swath of Delaware County, Upper Darby has one of the region’s largest school districts.

Enter your zip code on this site to see schools in your area holding events on March 14th:
ENOUGH: National School Walkout
Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship. Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school. Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day. We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020. Join us in saying #ENOUGH!

Soon after governor signs gun bill, NRA sues to block it
Inquirer by BRENDAN FARRINGTON & GARY FINEOUT, The Associated Press Updated: MARCH 9, 2018 — 10:59 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Weeks after their children were gunned down in the worst high school shooting since Columbine, parents of the victims stood in the Florida Capitol and watched Gov. Rick Scott sign a far-reaching bill that places new restrictions on guns. Hours later, the National Rifle Association filed a federal lawsuit to block it. The new law capped an extraordinary three weeks of lobbying after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, with student survivors and grieving families working to persuade a Republican-run state government that had shunned gun control measures. Surrounded by family members of the 17 people killed in the Valentine's Day shooting, the GOP governor said the bill balances "our individual rights with need for public safety." "It's an example to the entire country that government can and has moved fast," said Scott, whose state has been ruled for 20 years by gun-friendly Republican lawmakers.

White House to Push School Safety Bill, Form Task Force, Help States Train Armed School Staff
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Evie Blad on March 11, 2018 7:53 PM
The White House plans to unveil a school safety proposal Monday that centers on pushing for Congress to pass existing bipartisan legislation that would provide support for violence prevention and intervention in schools. Versions of the STOP School Violence Act have already been introduced in the House and the Senate. The Trump adminstration will also form a school safety task force, chaired by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to examine existing successful safety measures in states and districts, and it will support states that choose to arm school staff members. The administration will also review federal privacy laws to determine if there are ways to improve coordination between education, healthcare, and law enforcement sectors. And it will support a so-called "Fix NICS" bill that would seek to ensure more thorough records in the existing background check system for gun purchases. The policy proposal will be the White House's first formal response since 17 people died in a Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In the time since, President Trump has met with survivors of school violence and victims' family members. Some policies Trump has voiced support for in the weeks since the shooting won't be included in the White House proposal, including comprehensive background checks and raising the age for certain gun purchases to 21.

Trump backs off call for raising minimum age to buy gun
Inquirer by JILL COLVIN, The Associated Press Updated: MARCH 11, 2018 8:45 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House on Sunday pledged to help states pay for firearms training for teachers and reiterated its call to improve the background check system as part of a new plan to prevent school shootings. But in a move sure to please the gun lobby, the plan does not include a push to increase the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons to 21, which President Donald Trump had repeatedly championed. Instead, a new federal commission on school safety will examine the age issue, as well as a long list of others topics, as part of a longer-term look at school safety and violence. The plan forgoes an endorsement of comprehensive background checks for gun purchases, which the president, at times, seemed to embrace. In a call with reporters Sunday evening, administration officials described the plan as a fulfillment of Trump's call for action in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month that left 17 dead. "Today we are announcing meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students," said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will chair the commission.

Senator Casey releases the following statement in response to the Administration’s proposal on gun violence.
Email from Senator Robert P. Casey March 11, 2018
“This plan is weak on security and an insult to the victims of gun violence. When it comes to keeping our families safe, it’s clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are all talk and no action. Washington special interests are using their influence with this Administration and Congressional Republicans to block commonsense action on gun violence. It has to stop. Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan are the congressional leaders with the power to bring legislation to reform our gun laws to the floor. They should do it now. Congress should have a sustained debate and series of votes on gun violence and pass measures to put in place universal background checks, ban military-style assault weapons, limit large-capacity magazines, which allow mass shooters to fire their weapons more rapidly, and ban those on the Terror Watchlist from possessing a firearm. We need a debate now, not weak policy papers from this Administration.”  

“As former Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget secretary, Zogby was one of the architects of deep cuts in state education funding. Wolf made those cuts his leading issue in defeating Corbett. While that ultimately was Corbett’s policy, it does raise concerns about whether Zogby might come here with a predisposition not helpful to Erie.”
Our view: Erie schools oversight comes with concerns
GoErie By the Editorial Board Posted at 3:01 AM March 11, 2018
Word came Tuesday that state government was finally releasing $14 million in additional funding for the Erie School District. Three days later Erie was notified of who would provide the state oversight that comes it. It’s fair that the additional state outlay comes with some strings attached. The district’s financial crisis resulted primarily from an unfair state funding formula, but past mismanagement contributed. But the person chosen to be the district’s financial administrator comes with some baggage. And the process by which he was appointed raises questions about whether it was conducted in good faith. Charles Zogby, 55, a former state education and budget secretary, will start in the $145,000-a-year job on March 26. He will wield sweeping powers over district finances and operations. The Erie School Board previously had expressed reservations about Zogby because of his guilty plea to a summary charge of harassment from a 2016 domestic incident involving his wife. Police, who initially charged Zogby with striking his wife, dropped a misdemeanor count of simple assault. Under the legislation delivering the $14 million, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf had to choose the administrator from three candidates presented by state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Republican. That’s not really how it worked.
One of the candidates forwarded by Scarnati withdrew from consideration. A second, former state Sen. Jane Earll of Fairview, had lobbied for the school district and came with an obvious conflict of interest. That left Zogby. The Wolf administration said it asked Senate Republicans for more candidates, but was rebuffed. Wolf had to appoint Zogby, his spokesman said, or Erie’s funding would have been held hostage to extended political maneuvering.

Ex-state official Charles Zogby picked to monitor Erie schools, despite concerns
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted Mar 9, 2018 at 11:37 AM Updated Mar 9, 2018 at 6:31 PM
Charles Zogby, who served as state education secretary, will serve in the new role despite Erie School Board’s concerns over a domestic incident involving him. The Erie School District’s receipt of $14 million in additional state aid involved an unprecedented process filled with long delays and uncertainty and disagreement in Harrisburg. Those characteristics continued on Friday with the completion of another critical stage in the process: the selection of the state-paid financial administrator who will oversee the district’s handling of the $14 million. Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Charles Zogby, a former state education and budget secretary to the $148,000-a-year position, which starts on March 26. But Wolf’s administration made clear that the Democratic governor was not thrilled with the selection, and the administration faulted the GOP-controlled Senate for what the administration characterized as a lack of options. The president pro tempore of the Senate, Joe Scarnati, a Republican from Jefferson County, was required by law to submit a list of three names to Wolf. The Wolf administration on Friday also alluded to the concerns of the Erie School Board, whose directors in February raised questions about Zogby as a potential pick because of his guilty plea to a summary harassment charge in a domestic incident in 2016 in York County.

Reprise March 9, 2013: Here’s a collection of articles on Pennsylvania cybers and charters, followed by some additional history on K12, Inc. and Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby’s involvement with them.
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup March 9, 2013

Trump effect? GOP governor candidates won't show tax returns
Trib Live THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Sunday, March 11, 2018, 7:57 p.m.
HARRISBURG — The three Republicans running for the party's nomination for Pennsylvania governor say they will not release copies of their tax returns, documents that can shed important light on a candidate's personal priorities and financial standing. The man they want to beat, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, will release the first two pages of his 2017 tax return and open the rest of it to inspection by reporters, his campaign said. Most candidates for governor of Pennsylvania have, when asked, released part or all of their federal tax returns, going back at least six campaigns to the 1990s. The Republicans' refusal this year comes after Donald Trump became the first major party nominee for president in 40 years to refuse to release his.

PoliticsPA: 98 Democratic women file petitions for Pa. legislature
Philadelphia Business Journal By Paul Engelkemier  – PoliticsPA Mar 8, 2018, 3:28pm
As Democrats look to increase their numbers in the state Senate and House, 98 Democratic women have filed petitions to be on the ballot in the May primary with the help of groups like Emily’s List and Emerge Pennsylvania. Currently there are 9 women in the 50 member state Senate, and 40 women of the 200 seated members in the state House.  According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, Pennsylvania ranks 39th for women in the state legislature. Emily’s List has been on the ground in Pennsylvania since last year when they ran a training session in Philadelphia to help women become more engaged and connect with resources to help them navigate the process. Part of the work Emily’s List has done includes helping women who have been working in politics, including women in elected office, help those considering learn about the process. They have been working with groups in the state including Emerge Pennsylvania. According to their website, Emerge Pennsylvania works towards “identifying, training and encouraging Democratic women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office.”

Christiana, Barletta going toe-to-toe in U.S. Senate GOP primary
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose Posted Mar 8, 2018 4:42 PM Updated Mar 8, 2018 5:21 PM
After months of having a crowded Republican primary field in the U.S. Senate race, state Rep. Jim Christiana woke up Wednesday to find himself the only serious candidate standing between GOP front-runner U.S. Rep. Lou Barlettaand the party’s nomination. “They will have a very clear choice,” Christiana, R-15, Brighton Township, said of Republican primary voters. “We can nominate an unconventional candidate who doesn’t owe the people in Washington a single thing or they can nominate the conventional choice.” Christiana, who is not running for re-election to the state House, said the winnowed-down Senate field gives him the opportunity to attract voters disenchanted with Hazleton’s Barletta, a hardliner on immigration and a close ally of President Donald Trump. “Now, I’ll have the opportunity to give the voters a clear contrast,” Christiana said. The winner of the May 15 primary will take on U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, in the general election.

Money walks as 18th District candidates talk
CHRIS POTTER Pittsburgh Post-Gazette MAR 9, 2018 8:31 PM
In politics, it’s part of the cycle of life: First your opponents bring in outside money to attack you. Then you attack your opponents for using outside money. That is the stage where Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone find themselves just days before the special election Tuesday in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Mr. Lamb and his allies have been outspent in the race, though perhaps by smaller margins than seemed likely at its outset. And 200 union members gathered Friday at the United Steelworkers headquarters Downtown to portray their man as a grassroots champion. "This election in many ways is going to be a strong statement .. about what a grassroots campaign can do” in the face of “money from all over the country,” Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard told attendees.

APPS Researches Philly School Board Nominees
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools March 9, 2018 by Lisa Haver and Deb Grill
As APPS members and followers know, we have been fighting to open up the process for the selection of the new school board. Mayor Kenney has taken control of the process, raising questions about how independent the Nominating Panel has been. The Nominating Panel is a governmental body; its members are City officials. The Panel is obligated to follow all laws, including the PA Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act stipulates that citizens must be able to witness and have an opportunity to speak about actions taken by government officials, whether elected or appointed. Only two of the Panel’s meetings were held in public; all of the vetting of candidates was done behind closed doors. The Mayor and the Nominating Panel, Chaired by former SRC Commissioner Wendell Pritchett, also ignored calls to release the applications. Thus, there was no way for the public to know who was being considered or to have anything to say about them. We believe that the public has a right to know who will be representing them as public officials. The school board will be overseeing a $3 billion budget and making decisions which will affect the future of our city and our schools. What follows is the first installment of reports on the twenty-seven candidates chosen by the thirteen people on the Nominating Panel.

Whitehall-Coplay's embrace of full-day kindergarten could mean new school
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 9, 2018
Two more Lehigh Valley school districts are joining the ranks of those offering full-day kindergarten, with one of those districts facing a serious investment on space for pursuing the transition. Catasauqua Area and Whitehall-Coplay school district officials said they determined student literacy could benefit from the expanded kindergarten program. As of last year Southern Lehigh School District as the only one in the region that doesn’t offer full-day kindergarten to all students. Catasauqua’s board voted last month to move forward with a full-day program for the 2018-19 school year. The transition in Whitehall-Coplay would come with a hefty price tag of up to roughly $36 million that will hit taxpayers. The program itself wouldn’t begin until the necessary space needed is ready for students — by at least August 2021, according to Superintendent Lori Hackett. The district’s 533 kindergarten and first-grade students are taught at Gockley Elementary School, on the same campus as the rest of the district. A full-day kindergarten program will require either a massive renovation project or a new school.

Pa.'s Keystone Scholars education savings for every child moves forward
Philly Daily News by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST Updated: MARCH 12, 2018 — 5:00 AM EDT
This is one of those stories that gets lost amid focus on nothing but news of the moment. Overlooked while we all look over the latest on Trump, Korea, elections, gun violence, Stormy Daniels, whatever. Yet it’s a story of potential long-term positive change in a state long lacking in same. At a recent Harrisburg news conference, State Treasurer Joe Torsella announced the start of an effort he ran on in 2016, stressed at his 2017 inaugural, and pledged to push in office. It seeks to improve and encourage access to education beyond high school – college, trade, vocational, associate degrees – for every child born or adopted in Pennsylvania. That’s roughly 140,000 kids a year. It’s dubbed Keystone Scholars. It uses philanthropic sources, not tax dollars, to create college savings accounts managed by the Treasury Department, and automatically deposits $100 at birth to get families started.

A backgrounder on background checks
WHYY By Adrienne St. Clair March 10, 2018
It’s been more than three weeks since 17 people died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The 19-year-old accused in the shooting used a military-style rifle he bought legally after passing a background check. The attack has reignited the debate over the effectiveness of the current system. People on both sides of the gun debate agree it needs fixing. The question is how.  The NRA and other gun rights advocates want existing rules used more efficiently. They don’t want new restrictions. Right now, background checks are required only when guns are sold by licensed gun dealers. Private sellers are exempt. Resistance to expanding checks remains strong. Those who own or want to purchase guns worry that increased background checks will lead to gun registration, and ultimately gun confiscation. Gun control advocates want that expanded – universally – to include all gun sales, retail or private. Currently, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have expanded their background checks to include private sales, though implementation of these checks varies from state to state. Nevada passed a similar law, but it hasn’t been used. Residents recently sued Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval for failure to implement the law. As the gun debate and the debate about background checks continues, here’s what you should know about how they work:

Gov. Wolf proposal includes no pay for officials if budget misses deadline
Trib Live THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Sunday, March 11, 2018, 10:48 p.m.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania's governor wants to ban gifts to all elected state officials and to suspend pay for himself, lawmakers and their top aides when they haven't fully enacted a budget by the annual deadline. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat seeking re-election, will outline a government reform proposal on Monday that also includes better campaign finance disclosure and a requirement that lawmakers provide receipts when seeking reimbursement for expenses. Wolf has banned gifts from people under his authority since taking office three years ago. But that doesn't apply to state legislators and other elected state officials. The governor also wants limits on political campaign contributions and disclosure of donations made by people seeking government contracts. He says public officials should make public the source and amount of any outside income.

Tighter security planned at Harrisburg Capitol after Miccarelli protection order
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, Brad Bumsted & Paula Knudsen, HARRISBURG BUREAU/ THE CAUCUS Updated: MARCH 10, 2018 — 8:35 PM EST
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will return to session Monday amid tighter security after a lawmaker, alleging she was stalked and threatened, obtained a restraining order against a fellow member of the chamber last week. The protection-from-abuse order against embattled Rep. Nick Miccarelli states that the Delaware County Republican shall be “evicted and excluded” from any location at which his accuser, Rep. Tarah Toohil, works or lives. Miccarelli is also prohibited from having any contact with the Luzerne County Republican. Whether that means Miccarelli will be prevented from returning to the Capitol building for the House’s first session day in more than a month is unclear. That apparently will be a moot point. Miccarelli’s spokesman, Frank Keel, issued a statement Saturday saying the lawmaker from Ridley Park will not be at the Capitol on Monday but will be in his district office. “He will not willingly submit to the ‘Jerry Springer’ environment his accusers wish to create in Harrisburg,” Keel said in the statement.  Miccarelli, who has maintained his innocence, could not be reached for comment.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stumbles during pointed ‘60 Minutes’ interview
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 12 at 1:36 AM Email the author
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” show on Sunday night and stumbled in answering questions that journalist Lesley Stahl asked her during a pointed interview. Stahl repeatedly challenged the education secretary, at one point suggesting that DeVos should visit underperforming public schools to learn about their problems. DeVos responded, “Maybe I should.” The secretary also said she is “not so sure exactly” how she became, as Stahl described her, “the most hated” member of President Trump’s Cabinet, but believes that she is “misunderstood.” These are just some of things that DeVos said — or couldn’t answer — during the interview:

Betsy DeVos on guns, school choice and why people don't like her
The secretary of education has been one of the most criticized members of President Trump's Cabinet, but DeVos says she's "more misunderstood than anything"
CBS News CORRESPONDENT Lesley Stahl 2018 Mar 11
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a devout Christian grandmother from Michigan -- who has spent most of her life trying to improve the quality of education for poor kids. So how in the world did she become one of the most hated members of the Trump Cabinet?  She is dedicated to promoting school choice but her critics say she really wants to privatize the public school system that she once called, quote, "a dead end." Now, after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, her portfolio is expanding. Monday, President Trump is expected to appoint her as head of a new commission on school safety charged with developing policies to prevent school violence.

Your invitation to explore the new myPSBA
PSBA Website March 7, 2018
The new myPSBA member portal is now live! 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 for training anywhere at any time. To get your feet wet, we're offering three courses complimentary to members with access to the training portal (school directors, CSAs, board secretaries, business managers and like positions in CTCs and IUs) including:
·         Welcome to PSBA
Login information was sent to all members via email on March 7 and 8. Please check your spam filters for an email. To access the portal, go directly to or click on the myPSBA icon in the upper right corner of any page of this website. Be sure to watch these two brief videos for a quick overview of myPSBA and the new online learning courses. We hope you enjoy myPSBA and take full advantage of this online resource. Login questions should be directed to

2018 PSBA Advocacy Day April 16, 2018 Harrisburg
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the annual Advocacy Day on Monday, April 16, 2018, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. PSBA is partnering with Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units to have a stronger voice for public education. Hear how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill. This event is free for members; registration is required.
Register online here:

Uncharted Territory in Delaware County – Panel Discussion on Implications of Rising Charter Enrollment in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Suburbs – Thursday, March 15, 2018; 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. Penn Wood HS
PCCY Website
Over 15,000 SEPA children attend charter schools ever year and the numbers are growing.  On Thursday, March 152018 from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. @ Penn Wood High School, PCCY will host a panel featuring a Penn Wood student leader, Rep. James R. Santora, Sen. Anthony Williams, local school leadership, and experts from PCCY for a frank discussion on the rising impact of charter schools in Delaware County. The event will coincide with the release of PCCY’s new report on suburban charter schools in Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester counties, “Uncharted Territory: The Implication of Rising Charter Enrollment in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Suburbs.” Come out and lend your voice to the discussion!

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.

Updated: 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 Dr. Wendy Troxel for a public presentation 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!
(Updated) PSBA Member Roundtables/Receptions – February and March Dates
Member Roundtable and Receptions
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 leaders 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 pm – 6:15 pm Association Update
Learn the latest news, initiatives and upcoming events from your association.
6:15 pm – 7:00 pm Government Affairs
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.
7:00 pm – 7:45 pm Networking
Enjoy productive conversation with your school leader colleagues. Boost your network, share your experiences and build a stronger voice for public education.
7:45 pm – 8:30 pm Commonwealth Education Blueprint: Developing a vision 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!
Pricing: This is a complimentary PSBA member event.
·         Mar. 12, PSBA (Section 7)
·         Mar. 13, Altoona Area HS (Section 6)

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.

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