Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Staff Writer @maddiehanna | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: MARCH 14, 2018 — 6:34 PM EDT
While charter-school enrollments — and costs — are growing in Philadelphia’s collar counties, their academic results constitute a “mixed bag,” with cyber-charter pupils in particular performing worse than those in similarly situated traditional public schools, according to a report released Thursday. Recommendations in the study by the Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a Philadelphia-based advocacy organization, include tighter financial controls and better oversight for charter operations. The report found that half the suburban charter schools in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties fared worse on state tests in the 2015-16 school year than districts with similar shares of disadvantaged students. Nearly all cyber charter schools — which are drawing an increasing share of suburban students — did worse than districts with similar demographics, according to the report. At the same time, charter schools are receiving a greater portion of school district budgets. Suburban districts sent charters $217 million in 2016, up $73 million from five years earlier, according to the report.
“As of March 9, school boards which have adopted the resolution include Pottstown, Methacton, Cheltenham and Upper Moreland in Montgomery County; Phoenixville, Tredyffrin/Easttown and Avon Grove in Chester County; Garnett Valley, Southeast Delco, Haverford and Upper Darby in Delaware County; and Exeter and Schuylkill Valley in Berks County.”
SB2: Area school boards join opposition to school choice bill
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 03/15/18, 6:39 AM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Area school districts are steadily joining the ranks of those state-wide passing resolutions opposing a proposal bill in the state Senate that, they argue, would drain resources from public schools and are akin to school vouchers. So far 13 school boards in Berks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties have adopted the resolution and are among more than 100 to do so across Pennsylvania. State Sen. John Rafferty, R-44th Dist., is listed as a co-sponsor of the bill, but did not return several phone messages to his various offices seeking comment. First proposed last summer by Harrisburg-area state Sen. John DiSanto, R-15th Dist., Senate Bill 2 would create what DiSanto calls Education Savings Accounts. Under the bill, parents whose children would attend a low-performing school determined to be among the lowest 15 percent in the state could access those accounts to pay for “qualified” education expenses. The money would be the equivalent of the average Pennsylvania subsidy per student — between $5,000 and $6,000 — and that amount would be deducted from the state subsidy provided to the district for that student.
After walkout, early signs of powerful alliance begin to emerge
What’s next for city and suburban youth who believe they can make a change on gun violence?
The notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. March 15, 2018 — 4:12pm
For Jenette Wheeler, supporting the students of Lower Merion High on National Walkout Day was a no-brainer – even though she knows that they aren’t the ones who bear the brunt of the nation’s epidemic of violence. “The city kids … that’s who I’m really for,” said Wheeler, as a chilly wind whipped across the school’s well-tended lawn and rattled her handmade sign. “We’ve got to de-escalate … the more guns are available, the more people will be shot.” As a child in Baltimore, Wheeler was shot in the back by a stray bullet and nearly died: “I was at a friend’s house for lunch, and outside some boys were just shooting wildly.” As an adult she became a doctor working in emergency rooms, where she saw “the sadness and the devastation that comes from gunshots.” Eventually she would become a Lower Merion resident and an activist with Ceasefire PA. As horrifying as the Parkland shootings were, she said, they also gave Lower Merion students a crucial “wake-up call,” reminding them that gun violence doesn’t stop at the city limits.
“They should have been thinking of this all the time,” she said. Later, when Lower Merion’s march was over, students echoed Wheeler’s point: they know that the violence they fear is something that countless urban students must actually live with.
Students around York County participate in national walkout
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez, 717-505-5439/@EducationYD Published 1:15 p.m. ET March 14, 2018 | Updated 5:50 p.m. ET March 14, 2018
Students in schools across York County and at thousands of other schools nationwide walked out of their classrooms Wednesday, March 14, in solidarity with students in Parkland, Florida, who saw their classmates slain a month ago. The symbolic event saw hundreds of students leave their classrooms in schools across York County, though their destinations varied. Some students walked out of class but stayed indoors as mandated by several school districts, while other students walked out of buildings and stood peacefully for 17 minutes. At Helen Thackston Charter School, students worked with administrators to hold the event and mutually decided to hold the walkout indoors because of cold weather, according to Thackston senior Tiffany Beisel.
Meet the students helping organize Philadelphia's 'March for Our Lives' on March 24th
Inquirer by Patricia Madej @PatriciaMadej | email@example.com Updated: MARCH 15, 2018 — 9:49 AM EDT
“March for Our Lives,” a student-led event against gun violence happening March 24 in Washington, D.C., was launched by shooting survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., but has quickly spread to hundreds of other “sibling marches” in cities across the world, including Philadelphia. Philly’s event will kick off around 9:30 a.m. on March 24 at Fifth and Market Streets, leading the thousands expected to attend through Old City and onto Lombard Circle along Christopher Columbus Boulevard. About 20 people — adults and students — are helping to organize what could turn into a massive event in Philadelphia. Organizers of the Women’s March on Philadelphia have also provided advice.
But there are four main organizers spearheading the effort: A Philadelphia woman passionate against gun violence, a University of Pennsylvania senior nearing the end of her college career, a 16-year-old high school sophomore with lacrosse practice to balance, and a high school senior already involved in politics. Here’s a little more about them.
A mass movement: The students walking out over guns are serious
Post-Gazette by HELAINE OLEN, MAR 15, 2018 12:00 AM
Helaine Olen is a contributor to The Washington Post and the author of “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.” She serves on the advisory board of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (Twitter @helaineolen).
A huge number of students across the United States left their classes Wednesday morning to remember the victims of last month’s Florida shooting and to show their support for gun-control legislation. As The Washington Post said Wednesday, the National Student Walkout is “unprecedented in recent American history.” Let’s be clear about what’s going on here. Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people, mostly young, were killed, students have used social media, confronted politicians and worked with established organizations to build a nationwide movement for gun control. It may be the most vital and strong such movement we’ve seen in years. On Wednesday, students walked away from their desks not just at high schools, but at colleges and even elementary schools to participate in the event, which has been dubbed The National Walkout Day.
The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee will hold a series of hearings about the state’s gun laws April 9-12.
Where the Lehigh Valley's state lawmakers stand on gun laws
In the year 2017 alone, Pennsylvania lawmakers have proposed more than a dozen gun-control and gun-rights measures – several in response to recent mass shootings. Here are some of those bills floating around the House and Senate chambers. None have been enacted.
By Michelle Merlin and Carol Thompson Of The Morning Call Contact Reporters March 15, 2018
In the days after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School launched a campaign to advocate for stricter gun control laws. They’ve called for banning assault rifles, creating “red flag laws” that allow people to ask a judge to take firearms away from a threatening person, and for prohibiting people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns. The Pennsylvania Legislature is scheduled to have its own discussion about gun laws. House Judiciary Committee Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) recently announced that a series of hearings about the state’s gun laws will be held April 9-12. “With the recent tragedies in Parkland, Orlando and Las Vegas, as well other school shootings that have occurred over the last year, it is clear we need to act to prevent these situations from happening in the future,” Marsico said in a press release. “That’s why I’ve called for a series of special public hearings to discuss legislation dealing with public safety, violence and firearms.” Below is a breakdown of how the Lehigh Valley’s representatives in Harrisburg stand on gun control and gun rights bills. Find your legislators to see whether they sponsored legislation, how they’ve voted and whether they received support from the NRA Victory Fund, a gun rights group, or Ceasefire PA, a gun control group.
PA SAFE Caucus calls for gun safety reforms needed in Pennsylvania
PA SAFE Caucus Press Release March 14, 2018 | 3:38 PM
HARRISBURG, March 14 – PA SAFE Caucus members today outlined their legislative goals related to gun safety reform during a Capitol news conference, one month following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and coinciding with a national student walkout calling for immediate changes to gun laws across the country. Lawmakers spoke about their frustrations with trying to pass commonsense legislation as well as specific House bills that they would like to see move from committee. “The time is now to finally say enough is enough — to listen to the students whose wisdom and bravery is inspirational,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery. “We can and must do something to combat this gun violence epidemic, not just to prevent mass shootings like in Parkland, but to combat the everyday violence that claims 33,000 lives a year in this country, and injures 80,000 others in the crossfire.” Members expressed their expectations ahead of a special set of hearings on gun laws scheduled for the week of April 9.
"We are pleased to see that the House Judiciary Committee will give members a chance to speak about important gun safety proposals,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “But we also know that a hearing is not enough – we expect the chance to vet some of these bills on the House floor in the very near future.”
It's up to Philadelphians to pay for city schools, whether we like it or not | Opinion
Inquirer OPINION by Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, For the Inquirer Updated: MARCH 15, 2018 — 9:39 AM EDT
Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg is an attorney at Public Interest Law Center.
As Philadelphians consider a tax increase for our schools, we must remember this truism: In education, money matters. It pays for teachers, and specialists, and principals, and books, and buildings. It provides intensive resources to the children who have the highest needs. It is why our wealthier suburban neighbors regularly raise their taxes, and why schools in states like Massachusetts perform so well. We have the evidence in Pennsylvania. In the middle of America’s great recession, using stimulus funds as a backstop, the commonwealth finally took steps toward more fully funding our public schools. The results were immediate: Among each cohort of students, including in Philadelphia, achievement scores increased. Full funding, however, never came. Instead, in 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett cut $851 million from education funding, with the poorest schools bearing the largest cuts. The result was as predictable as it was devastating. Communities across the commonwealth raised taxes, but for many it was not enough. By the time the cutting was over, 27,000 people disappeared from the public education workforce. Achievement scores plummeted.
Gov. Wolf sets up task force in effort to improve school safety
Penn Live By The Associated Press Updated 11:10 AM; Posted 10:54 AM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The Wolf administration is asking for public input to help a new task force that the governor and auditor general are heading up to explore ways to make Pennsylvania schools safer and more secure. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced he and Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will co-chair the School Safety Task Force. They plan to collect concerns about safety and ideas about policy changes; see if additional funding will help; and measure the effectiveness of student support, physical and mental health programs and information sharing. They'll also review state requirements for "active shooter" drills and other security measures and determine if there are better ways people can report suspicious activities. The group plans to hold regional meetings across the state and issue a report to Wolf.
After long wait, Erie schools get $14 million from state
GoErie By Ed Palattella Posted Mar 14, 2018 at 2:43 PM Updated Mar 14, 2018 at 3:32 PM
Receipt of funds triggers a permanent funding boost for the school district.
The Erie School District’s bank account grew by $14 million on Wednesday, and a long process finally ended. The district received a $14 million electronic deposit from the state, Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito said. The money came from the state Treasury Department with approval from the state Department of Education. The $14 million is the additional funding that the General Assembly set aside for the 11,500-student school district in July to help it remain solvent and continue its financial recovery. The state had always assured the district that it would receive the money, but the district’s anxiety increased as weeks and then months went by without the state sending the money. The receipt of the funds on Wednesday morning was a big relief, Polito said. “How long have we been waiting for this,” he said. He said the district will use $8 million to balance its 2017-18 budget, which the School Board in June approved with an $8 million deficit and in anticipation of the district getting the $14 million. Polito said the district will use the other $6 million to create a fund balance. The $14 million the district got on Wednesday came in the form of a grant from the state’s $23.15 million Educational Access account for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which ends June 30. The office of Gov. Tom Wolf has said the release of the money took time because of the number of required agency approvals.
New headache for Pennsylvania GOP: Rep. Ryan Costello mulls retirement
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau @JonathanTamari | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: MARCH 15, 2018 — 3:13 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — After a stunning special election defeat in the state’s southwest, Pennsylvania Republicans face another headache: U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s potential retirement. Costello, of Chester County, has warned GOP leaders that he may not run for another term in the U.S. House, according to four sources familiar with the conversations, leaving party officials worried about fielding a candidate in a highly-competitive district that could flip to Democrats. The concerns about Costello’s future have swirled for weeks, dating back to when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew the state’s congressional map and made his district, the Sixth, more favorable to Democrats. Costello is closely watching the GOP legal challenges attempting to block the new map and restore his old district lines. He raised his doubts about his political future before Tuesday’s election, but the Democratic victory that night in a deep-red district outside Pittsburgh added another warning sign for Republican incumbents. If he joins other Republicans in retiring, Democrats would likely become the favorites to pick up his seat. The race is already seen as a top-tier contest, even with Costello involved, and Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is one of her party’s top recruits.
Venture capitalist visits 200 schools in 50 states and says DeVos is wrong: ‘If choice and competition improve schools, I found no sign of it.’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 15 at 2:05 PM Email the author
Ted Dintersmith is a successful venture capitalist and father of two who has spent years devoting most of his time, energy and millions of dollars of his personal fortune to learning about — and advocating for — public education and how it can be made better for all children. Dintersmith has taken a dramatically different path from other wealthy Americans who have become involved in education issues, departing from the approach of people such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who was a prime mover behind the Common Core State Standards and initiatives to assess teachers by student standardized test scores. Dintersmith traveled to every state to visit schools and see what works and what doesn’t — and his prescription for the future of American education has very little to do with what Gates and others with that same data-driven mind-set have advocated. [ Not Bill Gates: Meet Ted Dintersmith, an education philanthropist with a different agenda ] He thinks the U.S. education system needs to be reimagined into cross-disciplinary programs that allow kids the freedom to develop core competencies through project-based learning.
House Passes STOP School Violence Act One Month After Parkland Shooting
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on March 14, 2018 3:32 PM
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve the STOP School Violence Act, which aims to train teachers and other school staff in violence prevention and fund other programs to help stop incidents like the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. H.R. 4909 would reauthorize the Secure Our Schools grant program and authorize $50 million in funds annually from fiscal 2019 through fiscal 2028. It also includes a ban on any of the grant funds being used to train or provide school staff with firearms. The House passed the legislation by a vote of 407-10. The bill passed the House exactly one month after 17 students and staff were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Its lead author is Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., but it had the backing of Democrats as well as Republicans. There is also a version of the STOP School Violence Act in the Senate. The two bills are roughly similar but aren't the same—the Senate STOP Act would authorize more money for the grant program, for example. But the Senate bill also bars grant funds from being used to "provide firearms or training in the use of firearms." We explore differences between the two bills here. The STOP bills in both chambers have bipartisan support, although they does not include new gun control measures, something congressional Democrats have been demanding since the Parkland shooting. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called the bill "well intentioned" but not the right approach to address gun violence.
PASA Women's Caucus Annual Conference "Leaders Lifting Leaders"
May 6 - 8, 2018 Hotel Hershey
**REGISTRATION NOW OPEN**
*Dr. Helen Sobehart - Women Leading Education Across Continents: Lifting Leaders from Here to There
*Dr. Tracey Severns - Courageous Leadership
*Dr. Emilie Lonardi - Lead and Lift: A Call for Females to Aspire to the Superintendency
*Deputy Secretary Matt Stem - Update from the PDE
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: http://www.mypls.com/Default.aspx?tabid=3753
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 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.