Thursday, March 15, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 15: US students stage massive walkout to protest gun violence

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US students stage massive walkout to protest gun violence

Conor Lamb Wins Pennsylvania House Seat, Giving Democrats a Map for Trump Country
Conor Lamb, a Democrat, narrowly won a House special election in a Pennsylvania district that President Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016.
Conor Lamb, a Democrat and former Marine, scored a razor-thin but extraordinary upset in a special House election in southwestern Pennsylvania after a few thousand absentee ballots cemented a Democratic victory in the heart of President Trump’s Rust Belt base. The Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, may still contest the outcome. But Mr. Lamb’s 627-vote lead Wednesday afternoon appeared insurmountable, given that the four counties in Pennsylvania’s 18th district have about 500 provisional, military and other absentee ballots left to count, election officials said. That slim margin — out of almost 230,000 ballots cast in a district that Mr. Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016 — nonetheless upended the political landscape ahead of November’s midterm elections. It also emboldened Democrats to run maverick campaigns even in deep-red areas where Republicans remain bedeviled by Mr. Trump’s unpopularity.

Conor Lamb wins? Republicans lose? The big takeaways from #Pa18 | Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek Updated Mar 14, 10:48 AM; Posted Mar 14, 7:30 AM
When they went to bed in the small hours of Wednesday morning, voters in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District were no closer to knowing whether they had a new United States Congressman. But, win or lose, national Democrats learned they had found a potential path to victory in territory that President Donald Trump won by double-digits in 2016, putting a shot over the bow of the White House, and perhaps setting themselves up to retaking the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. The race should have been a walk-off for Republicans. Trump carried the 18th District by 19 percentage points in 2016. The seat had been in GOP hands since 2003. The former incumbent ran without opposition in 2016. But late Tuesday night, unofficial returns showed the race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone too close to call.

Pennsylvania special election reinforces 'challenging and toxic' political environment for GOP, says Rep. Charlie Dent
Morning Call by Laura Olson Contact Reporter Call Washington Bureau March 14, 2018
Retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent doesn’t have a personal stake in the lessons from Tuesday night’s special election in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Valley lawmaker won’t be on the ballot this year. But he believes his GOP colleagues who will be asking voters for another term should proceed with caution. “Last night simply reinforced what many of us already knew: That this will be the most challenging election cycle for Republicans at least since 2006,” Dent told The Morning Call. “And it could be worse than that.” While absentee ballots were still be counted in the race, which had a razor-thin margin Tuesday night, it appears that Democrat Conor Lamb likely succeeded in flipping a district in which Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy didn’t have a challenger the last two election cycles and Donald Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016.

Republicans seek answer to Trump drag after special-election setback in Pa.
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau  @JonathanTamari | Updated: MARCH 14, 2018 — 6:51 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — Plan A apparently failed Republicans on Tuesday in Southwestern Pennsylvania. As they try to regroup from what looks like an embarrassing special-election loss, however, it’s not clear what they have for Plan B — especially since Pennsylvania’s leading Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate have so far taken the kind of Trump-like approach that just failed State Rep. Rick Saccone in the congressional contest. Running in deep red rural and suburban territory outside Pittsburgh, Saccone pledged his loyalty to President Trump, had help from two of Trump’s famous rallies, and saw the GOP spend millions of dollars on his behalf, much of it centering on the president’s signature tax bill. But none of that seemed to work against Democrat Conor Lamb, who appeared to have won the race in a district that previously backed Trump by 20 percentage points. Similarly, the GOP’s leading gubernatorial hopeful, State Sen. Scott Wagner, and its top U.S. Senate candidate, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, have also campaigned on their stylistic and policy ties to the president.

Pencil in Pa. election winner, but soon erase the district?
AP State Wire By MARC LEVY March 14, 2018
CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pencil in Democrat Conor Lamb or Republican Rick Saccone as the next congressman in a U.S. House district in southwestern Pennsylvania. But erase their congressional district. Even after a winner is determined in the too-close-to-call vote from Tuesday’s special election, the prize may prove fleeting. Pennsylvania’s Democratic-majority Supreme Court has ordered the redrawing of the state’s 18 congressional districts, the result of a gerrymandering lawsuit filed last year. Unless a federal court intervenes soon, that new electoral map with 18 districts based on new boundaries will await voters and candidates on the May 15 primary and the Nov. 6 general election. The Pittsburgh-area district that Lamb and Saccone vied for will vanish, along with the state’s 17 others districts, when Congress begins its next term in January. That means just 10 guaranteed months in office for Lamb or Saccone, to complete the term of GOP Rep. Tim Murphy. Murphy, a strongly anti-abortion lawmaker, resigned last fall amid revelations that he had urged the woman with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion.
So what are the options for Lamb and Saccone?

As students walk out to seek tougher controls, the House takes modest steps to address school violence
Post-Gazette by ED O’KEEFE AND AMY GARDNER  The Washington Post MAR 14, 2018 7:20 PM
WASHINGTON - As schoolchildren staged a walkout across the country to press for tougher gun controls, Congress took modest steps Wednesday to prevent violence in classrooms - even as lawmakers continued squabbling over broader action to curb gun rights. The House overwhelmingly passed the first federal legislation to address gun violence or school safety since the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. Lawmakers passed the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, 407 to 10. The vote came hours after thousands of students marched through the streets of Washington and walked out of hundreds of schools across the country to build support for similar legislation. In Parkland, Stoneman Douglas students promised to keep the pressure on America’s politicians to change the nation’s gun laws and prevent another shooting like the one at their school that rocked the country exactly one month earlier.

Growing support in Pennsylvania for stricter gun laws, Muhlenberg College poll finds
Binghui Huang Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 14, 2018
Support for stricter gun control spiked in Pennsylvania after a gunman killed 17 students and staff at a Florida high school, according to a Muhlenberg College opinion poll released Wednesday. But with the Florida shooting spurring discussion about whether mentally ill people should be barred from owning guns, the stigma around mental illness may be increasing, the poll showed. Seven in 10 Pennsylvanians want stricter gun control, a significant increase from three previous surveys where less than half respondents supported stricter gun control. Support for background checks also reached an all-time high of 96 percent. And 9 out of 10 said if a mental health professional reports someone to law enforcement as dangerous, that person should be barred from buying a gun.

Pa. educators decry Trump’s proposed school security cuts
WHYY By Sara Hoover March 15, 2018
 “National approaches to school safety” are on the agenda Thursday as the Pennsylvania House Education Committee meets in Harrisburg for a hearing on school safety measures. After the Parkland, Florida, school shootings last month, President Donald Trump has proposed training teachers and other school staff to carry guns. But his proposed budget would cut funding for school safety measures by more than a third. The 36 percent decrease in school safety programs would eliminate some federal grants to schools — such as the Philadelphia school district’s multiyear School Climate Transformation funding. The grant is aimed at improving student behavior and learning conditions with a focus on increasing attendance and decreasing disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and expulsions — including those related to possession or use of drugs or alcohol.

AP State Wire By COLLIN BINKLEY March 15, 2018
They bowed their heads in honor of the dead. They carried signs with messages like “Never again” and “Am I next?” They railed against the National Rifle Association and the politicians who support it. And over and over, they repeated the message: Enough is enough.
In a wave of protests one historian called the largest of its kind in American history, tens of thousands of students walked out of their classrooms Wednesday to demand action on gun violence and school safety. The demonstrations extended from Maine to Hawaii as students joined the youth-led surge of activism set off by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “We’re sick of it,” said Maxwell Nardi, a senior at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico, Virginia, just outside Richmond. “We’re going to keep fighting, and we’re not going to stop until Congress finally makes resolute changes.”
Students around the nation left class at 10 a.m. local time for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in the Florida shooting. Some led marches or rallied on football fields, while others gathered in school gyms or took a knee in the hallway. At some schools, hundreds of students poured out. At others, just one or two walked out in defiance of administrators.

'I don't want to be shot': Thousands of Philly-area students participate in national school walkout
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham & Kathy Boccella - Staff Writers Updated: MARCH 14, 2018 6:15 PM EDT
They poured out of classrooms Wednesday, armed with signs and bullhorns and a righteous anger: thousands of Philadelphia-area students joining with millions of their peers around the country, protesting gun violence and vowing to keep up the pressure until change comes. “We have a nation of youth who know how to turn their rage into productivity,” said Makiyah Adams, 17, a junior at Philadelphia’s Central High, looking out onto a sea of her classmates who gathered on the school’s lawn to commemorate the 17 students and staff killed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. For 17 minutes, Cherry Hill High School West students circled the school’s track, then regrouped inside to hear speeches. At Penn Alexander Elementary, a K-8 in West Philadelphia, even the kindergartners formed a peace sign with their bodies to show their hopes for the world. At Lower Merion High School in Montgomery County, at least two-thirds of the 1,300-student body gathered outside to talk about their fears and frustrations growing up in an era with so many mass shootings.

1 month later, Delco students hold walkouts to honor Parkland victims, seek change
By Rose Quinn, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 03/14/18, 1:41 PM EDT 
Their maroon T-shirts said it all: Chichester Eagles support Douglas Eagles.
It was just one of the ways students at Chichester High School decided to show their support on National School Walkout Day, when thousands of students across the region marked exactly one month since a mass shooting left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. At Chester High, students gathered outside the high school and listened to student speeches about their safety concerns and the need for better gun laws. At Garnet Valley, students honored the 232 people killed in school shootings since the Columbine tragedy in 1999 by decorating bookbags with flowers. They processed to the football field and formed a human heart around the GV at the center of the field. At Academy Park, nearly three-quarters of the student population marched in silence to the athletic fields carrying signs urging beefed-up gun laws. At Haverford High, students walked around the track for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of Parkland. On the Main Line, students at Lower Merion High School stood in silence to mark the tragedy of a month ago. At Malvern Prep, a student procession was led by kids carrying a large wooden cross. In Philadelphia, hundreds of students converged on the school administration building on North Broad Street before marching on City Hall. Other high schools in Delaware County where students participated in voluntary organized events included Penncrest, Springfield, Upper Darby and Sun Valley.

“Thousands of students walked out of their schools for 17 minutes – one for every victim of the Parkland shooting. The National School Walkout, which saw a slew of Delaware County kids take part, was the latest evidence of a new energy emanating from young people and focused on changing the nation’s gun laws. They are tired of talk. They are tired of cowering under desks or in closets as a gunman invades what is supposed to be a safe space, their neighborhood schools. And they are tired of burying their friends. They are the ones who live with the fear of school shootings. They will not be silenced. They are not going away. And they are not done. In fact, they are coming to your town, Mr. President. In a little more than a week, thousands of young people will head to Washington, D.C., on March 24 to take part in the March For Our Lives. Again they will call for meaningful changes in the nation’s gun laws. Finally, it seems, the nation’s capital will hear from someone who is not beholden – nor afraid – of the NRA.”
Editorial: Finallly, a group heard from that is not beholden on the NRA
Delco Times POSTED: 03/14/18, 8:22 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO
It turns out some member of Congress might not be the only ones in Washington who are “petrified” of the National Rifle Association. In the wake of the latest school mass shooting, this one in Parkland, Fla., President Trump invited a bipartisan group of Congress members for a frank discussion of the problem and the nation’s gun laws. It was probably more frank than some Republicans would have liked. The president ran down what sounded like a list of Democratic talking points, saying he wanted to boost the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21. He vowed he would ban “bump stocks” on his own. And perhaps most stunning, he seemed to suggest law enforcement be more concerned about getting the guns out of the hands of those who should not possess them, including those with mental health issues, first, and worry about due process later. He quizzed Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey on the bill he pushed after the Sandy Hook tragedy five years ago. Toomey had reached across the aisle to partner with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., on legislation to beef up background checks. It got shot down. The president wanted to know why Toomey’s bill did not address the notion of increasing the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon. The senator was in the middle of his response, noting that most of those in Pennsylvania between the ages of 18-21 were law-abiding citizens, when the president interrupted. “You’re scared of the NRA (National Rifle Association),” the president declared, referring not only to Toomey but to many in the room.

Voices behind the walkout: Mastery Charter School
WHYY By Dana DiFilippo March 14, 2018
Editor’s note: 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 Parkland High School in Florida last month. We talked to students, parents, and educators in the region about school safety and will post their thoughts each day leading up to Wednesday’s walkout.
At Mastery Charter School’s Shoemaker campus in West Philly, activism is ingrained in the school culture. Eighth-graders take a social justice class to fulfill their history requirement. Mastery students have trekked everywhere from Harrisburg to Philadelphia City Hall to the school district’s headquarters to protest school funding inequities, mass incarceration, the criminalization of communities of color, and other issues, including school safety. The school also has a club, called Raised Woke, aimed at engaging students in community service, social justice, local government and education reform. Many Mastery students stand divided on the walkout: Some plan to participate, while others at the predominantly black school are more reluctant, wondering what took their suburban, predominantly white peers so long to mobilize — and why so many lawmakers, journalists, and citizens only began paying attention when white students joined the conversation. Here’s what students and principals there had to say.

'We won't back down': Lancaster County students take a stand against gun violence during National School Walkout [video]
Lancaster Online By ALEX GELI and TOM KNAPP | Staff Writers March 14, 2018
Nothing, not even the tractor-trailers traveling along Lincoln Highway East, could silence Lancaster Mennonite freshman Kylie Dagit and her classmates who participated in a school walkout on Wednesday. “We’re standing here as children with a stolen childhood, as living, breathing humans,” said Dagit, surrounded by more than 100 students who braved the blustery conditions to shine a light on school safety one month after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “We’re standing,” she said, fighting back tears. “We won’t back down.” That was the message spread throughout Lancaster County, and the nation, on Wednesday, as students protested against gun violence and a perceived passivity shown by state and federal lawmakers who students say have failed to respond. “The youth in this country is watching,” said Lancaster Mennonite junior Ashton Clatterbuck, who organized the walkout. “We will continue to speak up and be involved until they do something.”

Here are additional statewide articles on yesterday’s student walkout:
Midstate Students Join Walkouts, Talk School Safety And Gun Control
Lehigh Valley Students Call For End To School Violence
Western PA Students Take Part In National School Walkout
Peaceful Student Protest In Sunbury Cut Short By Threats Of Drive-By Shooting
Scenes From Student Protests In And Around Philly
200 Pennridge Students To Get Detentions For Holding Their Own Walkout
School Response To Walkout Range From Support To Suspension Threats
White: Student Walkouts Make Powerful Statement

South Butler School District teachers will strike Thursday
Trib Live CHUCK BIEDKA  | Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 9:21 p.m.
Teachers in the South Butler School District will go on strike this morning.
Brooke Witt, labor consultant for the teachers union, said a strike was called after “no new proposals” were submitted by the school district last night. South Butler district solicitor Thomas Breth countered that the school board presented its “best offer” Tuesday night, but the teachers union did not come back with a counter-offer Wednesday. “The teachers refused,” Breth said. Witt said the school district didn't budge, either. The 168-member union has been working under the terms of its last contract since it expired June 30, 2014. The two sides began negotiating in January 2014.

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.

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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