Friday, March 2, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 2: Let PA students have their day in court

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Let PA students have their day in court

In addition to calling your member of Congress to urge them to take meaningful action now to protect our children, please consider calling the following members of Congress who are in leadership positions or who serve on the Congressional committees that may consider such action:

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Washington DC Office: (202) 225-3031
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Washington DC Office: (202) 224-2541
Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Washington DC Office: (202) 224-4944
Pennsylvania Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions: Senator Robert Casey Washington DC Office: (202) 224-6324
Congresswoman Virginia Fox, Chairwoman, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Washington DC Office: (202) 225-2071
Pennsylvania Members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce:
Glenn “GT” Thompson Washington DC Office: (202) 225-5121
Lou Barletta Washington DC Office: (202) 225-6511
Lloyd Smucker Washington DC Office: (202) 225-2411

SB2 Voucher Bill: Bensalem Board of School Directors Approves Resolution Opposing SB2
Bensalem Life by E Westfall March 1, 2018
The Bensalem Board of School Directors on February 28th approved the Resolution Opposing SB2. The board released their resolution Thursday afternoon via social media. Senate Bill 2 is the highly partisan and controversial bill seeking to enact a version of a school voucher bill, called “Education Savings Accounts”. The bill has 18 Republican sponsors. Pennsylvania and several other states are among those considering whether to join states like Nevada, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arizona which already have ESA programs. Nevada’s program stalled several months ago as lawmakers fought over how to legally fund it. On February 28th, our Board of School Directors approved the Resolution Opposing Senate Bill 2.

Let PA students have their day in court
Education Voters PA POSTED MARCH 1, 2018 EDVOPA
Five months ago the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the courts can get involved in school funding issues and remanded PA’s school funding lawsuit back to Commonwealth Court for a full trial. Ever since that decision, Republican leaders in Harrisburg have worked to slow the case down. On Wednesday, March 7, at its courtroom in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court will hear oral argument on preliminary objections and a motion to dismiss the lawsuit made by Representative Turzai and Senator Scarnati. Representative Turzai is arguing that education is not an important right under the Pennsylvania Constitution and Senator Scarnati is arguing that the new education formula has solved the funding problem, even though it applies to only two percent of all school funding.
The Court will take the argument into consideration and sometime after the hearing, determine next steps for the case. While Rep. Turzai and Sen. Scarnati work to delay the trial of the school funding lawsuit, tens of thousands of children in every corner of PA continue to try to learn in under-resourced schools without basic resources like textbooks and teachers.
You can help get this case moving forward by demonstrating that Pennsylvanians care about adequate, equitable, and constitutional funding for schools and believe that PA’s schoolchildren deserve their day in court.

Kroger, L.L. Bean join U.S. companies taking a stand, raise age to purchase guns
Morning Call by Joseph Pisani AP Retail Writer March 2, 2018
Kroger and L.L. Bean said Thursday they will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21, becoming the third and fourth major retailers this week to put restrictions in place that are stronger than federal laws. The announcements follow those by Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart, emphasizing the pressure companies are facing to take a stand. Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, said that since a mass shooting last month at a Florida high school that killed 17 people, it's become clear that gun retail outlets must go beyond what current U.S. laws requires. The 19-year-old accused in the school slaying bought the AR-15 used in the attack legally. Federal law allows people 18 and older to purchase long guns such as rifles. "In response to the tragic events in Parkland and elsewhere, we've taken a hard look at our policies and procedures for firearm sales," Kroger Co. said in a release. Kroger has sold guns from 44 of its Fred Meyer stores in the West and will raise the age to 21 for purchasing. L.L. Bean, which says it only sells firearms at its flagship store in Maine and only guns specific to hunting and target shooting, released a statement late Thursday saying the company will no longer sell firearms or ammunition to anyone under 21.

Arming teachers, raising purchase limit to age 21: Where local lawmakers stand on gun legislation being debated in Congress
Morning Call by Laura Olson Contact Reporter Call Washington Bureau March 1, 2018
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Congress is discussing a broad range of possible legislative responses to the mass shooting at a Florida high school. Some have been tried before, such as expanding background checks or blocking individuals on a no-fly list from buying guns. Other ideas are newer to Capitol Hill, such as calls for using temporary court orders to block a person deemed to be a danger from possessing or buying firearms. Here’s where local lawmakers stand on these proposals:

List of student walkouts against gun violence grows
Penn Live By Barbara Miller Updated Feb 28, 12:49 PM
There is a growing list of schools where students are planning a walkout against gun violence March 14. In a nationwide movement, Women's March Youth Empower and others are encouraging students, teachers, administrators and allies to take part in a walkout for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. March 14. The time period is in memory of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. "What we really want to do is show the lawmakers that students are speaking up now in addition to the adults who are speaking out against gun control, and that we want them to enact sensible gun control legislation," said Michael Smith, junior class president at Carlisle High School, where a walkout is planned.

This Parkland student quickly amassed more Twitter followers than the NRA. Here’s what she’s been writing.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 1 at 11:17 PM Email the author
As of today, @Emma4Change now has more followers than the @NRA. It happened in less than two weeks.
@Emma4Change is high school senior Emma González, 18, who has quickly become a national figure since she became a vocal proponent of gun control after surviving the Feb. 14 killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. She joined Twitter this month and already has 1.15 million followers. The National Rifle Association, which she opposes and which has long opposed gun-control measures,  joined the social media platform in February 2009. It has 606,000 Twitter followers. González has become a leader of the growing student movement to push for changes in gun control at the state and federal level. Already some legislatures are taking action, and numerous businesses have severed ties with the NRA. She has made speeches at rallies and appeared on numerous news shows to talk about gun control and urge citizen activism.

“On a question about gun control, none of the candidates changed their position to advocate for greater gun-control measures, even ideas supported by Republican President Donald Trump this week following the Florida school shooting that killed 17. Ellsworth said she would push for metal detectors and swipe cards in Pennsylvania's school buildings, while Mango said he would advocate for stronger school security plans, funnel more money into screening for mental illness and prevent those diagnosed from getting their hands on guns. Wagner said he would put armed, trained officers in every school - Pennsylvania has about 3,000 school buildings, according to state figures - and ensure background checks are being done properly for prospective gun owners. He did not repeat a statement he made Monday that he would pursue a mandatory death penalty for any school shooter who kills someone, something legal analysts said has been unconstitutional for decades. Asked whether they would refuse campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association, Wagner and Mango said no. Ellsworth said yes.”
GOP gubernatorial debate becomes confrontational
Inquirer by MARC LEVY, The Associated Press Updated: MARCH 1, 2018 — 9:31 PM EST
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A debate between the three Republicans seeking their party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November's election quickly became confrontational Thursday night, as former health care systems consultant Paul Mango relentlessly attacked the party's endorsed candidate, state Sen. Scott Wagner. The hour-long, live-broadcast debate at Harrisburg Area Community College came as the campaigns collect signatures to get on the ballot in the primary election, less than 11 weeks away. Perhaps the toughest exchange came in response to a question on education tax credit programs that Mango turned into an attack on Wagner over the hot-button "bathroom bill" issue that social conservatives say will open up bathrooms to transgender people.

Here's how PA lawmakers think they can make schools safer
By Jan Murphy | | Posted March 02, 2018 at 05:55 AM
The mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., has sparked calls for action by state lawmakers  to keep guns and gun violence out of schools. A number of school safety and gun safety measures have been introduced since that Feb. 14 tragedy that left 17 people dead. Several other bills related to those topics were already sitting in House and Senate committees, awaiting action, when the latest shooting occurred. School safety will be the focus of a Senate Education Committee hearing on Friday, March 2,  and a House Education Committee hearing on March 15.

Idea Of Doing Nothing Until Next Mass Shooting Quickly Gaining Traction In Congress
The Onion Wednesday 1:09pm
WASHINGTON—In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead and 14 injured, sources confirmed Wednesday that the idea of doing absolutely nothing until the next mass shooting is gaining considerable traction in Congress.

Guest Column: Arming teachers is not the way to make schools secure
Delco Times Opinion By Monica Taylor, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 03/01/18, 8:00 PM EST | UPDATED: 6 HRS AGO
Dr. Monica Taylor is an Upper Darby School Board member.
As a mother, wife, educator, community member and an Upper Darby School Board Director, the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., shook me to my core. The thought that the safety and security we feel sending our children to school each day could be taken away in an instant is terrifying. But a thought that is also terrifying is the idea that my daughter’s kindergarten teacher could one day legally be allowed to carry a concealed weapon to school every day. This is a personal opinion that Upper Darby police superintendent Michael Chitwood has suggested. I have tremendous respect for our police superintendent; I believe he runs a tight and efficient organization that keeps our community safe. Mr. Chitwood, however, is neither the superintendent of the Upper Darby School District, nor does he have any direct influence on UDSD policies.
This plan of arming our teachers to fight fire with fire is what he seems to think is our best option to save our children because “we have done all we can do.” I strongly disagree with that sentiment. I personally believe there are several reasons why this is a bad idea but I would like to ease immediate concerns by stating that this plan is currently illegal and could not be implemented without major changes to Pennsylvania state law. School teachers have enough responsibility educating our children without placing the enormous weight of carrying a gun to school and the possibility of taking a life.

What can teachers say to kids after a shooting? It depends
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella & Kristen A. Graham - Staff Writers Updated: MARCH 1, 2018 — 5:14 PM EST
In the wake of a Cherry Hill East High School teacher’s suspension for classroom comments about school security after the Parkland, Fla., massacre, other Philadelphia-area schools are beginning to grapple with free-speech issues around the increasingly heated debate over school safety and gun control. Educators said they want teachers to be able to talk with their students about safety issues and procedures in the aftermath of the teen shooter’s gunning down 17 people in the Florida high school, but the key is to find ways that won’t agitate students, make students feel less secure, or politicize the heated topic. “Teachers are people that are natural nurturers. If a child shows some type of fear or concern over being safe, I trust that teacher to have that conversation with that child,” said Dolores McCracken, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association teachers’ union.

“Nowhere in the court filing is funding between different racial demographics challenged, and nowhere in the state Supreme Court's opinion, which grants the case, written this past September, are racial disparities cited as an impetus to hear the argument. Eichelberger’s inference that low property value districts are nonwhite is true in only two of the six cases. William Penn School District, located just outside Philadelphia, covers a population that is 23.97 percent white and non-Hispanic, according to 2016 U.S. Census survey data. The School District of Lancaster is also a majority-minority district, with 44.89 percent of its covered population being white and non-Hispanic. The other four districts in the suit, however, serve communities with strong Caucasian majorities: Panther Valley at 89.33 percent white non-Hispanic, Shenandoah at 81.76 percent, Greater Johnstown at 81.67 percent and Wilkes-Barre at 74.82 percent, according to census data.”
Sen. Eichelberger takes aim at state Supreme Court
Zack Hoopes The Sentinel March 1, 2018
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While state leaders have debated the state Supreme Court’s imposition of a new congressional map, state Sen. John Eichelberger presented his own take on the matter during a business breakfast in Carlisle earlier this month. During a talk to the Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce Feb. 16, Eichelberger said the court’s actions were a matter of subterfuge by “the unions” as part of a scheme that would also redistribute school funding from school districts with a majority of white students to minority-heavy districts. The chamber breakfast, held at the Comfort Suites in Carlisle, was hosted by Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry CEO Gene Barr. Although billed as a state budget discussion, Barr first asked Eichelberger about the recent court decision to redraw the state's congressional districts map.

Kenney's budget makes no-brainer connection between property taxes and better schools | Editorial
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: MARCH 1, 2018 — 6:18 PM EST
Mayor Kenney gave his annual budget address in front of City Council Thursday.
But really, he delivered it almost exactly four months ago when he announced that he was moving toward taking back local control of Philadelphia’s schools.  With that move, he also committed to fixing the School District’s deficit and giving public schools some fiscal stability  — to the tune of $100 million a year, or $1 billion over five years. Thursday’s address was the plan for how to pay for that … as well as for a few other things a city of this size needs; like more police, fire protection, and infrastructure improvements. The money will come from city residents, primarily in the form of a 6 percent hike in the property tax. In addition, annual cuts in the wage tax rate will be slowed and the real estate transfer tax will increase from 4.1 percent to 4.45 percent.
Local control of the schools represents a turning point for the city, after 16 years under state control. At the point the state took the schools over, they were broken and their finances were in shambles. State control was transformative, but not necessarily positively. The state put many obstacles in the schools’ path, such as funding cuts and policies like accelerated charter growth without accompanying financial support.

Kenney makes school-funding plea, council reacts
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent March 1, 2018
The day his budget proposal went public, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made an impassioned plea for $980 million in new school funding over the next five years. The mayor’s annual budget address before City Council crescendoed with a ten-minute riff — much of it unscripted — on the critical need to cover the school district’s impending deficit and set it on a course to long-term financial stability. “These are our kids,” Kenney said. “They’re no one else’s kids. And no one else is coming to their rescue.”

Join us on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 for oral argument on remaining preliminary objections and a motion to dismiss for mootness in our School Funding Lawsuit. This case was filed on behalf of six school districts, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) and the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference against legislative leaders, state education officials, and the Governor. We are asking for a court order that will force the legislature to comply with the state constitution and ensure all students receive access to a high-quality public education. RSVP BY MARCH 5
Commonwealth Court Ninth Floor, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street One South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107 Courtroom opens at 8:30 a.m.
Our argument is slated to be presented last on the list for the day. Estimated start time for our argument is 10:30 a.m., but it could be earlier or later. We will hold a press conference immediately after oral argument by the Octavius Catto statue on the south side of City Hall. Estimated start time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
RSVP here or contact Tomea Sippio-Smith, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), 215-563-5848, ext. 36 or
RSVPing does not guarantee you a seat in the courtroom.

NPE: Join us in a Day of Action April 20th to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools
Network for Public Education February 16, 2018 by Darcie Cimarusti
After the slaughter of students and staff in Parkland, Florida, the time for action has never been more urgent. The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools. We will be silent no more! The failure to enact rational laws that bar access to guns designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. It is past time to speak out and act. Pledge your support to stop gun violence here. We call for mass action on April 20, the anniversary of the horrific shootings at Columbine High School. We urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of protest in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your community.  Organize sit-ins, teach-ins, walkouts, marches–whatever you decide will show your school and community’s determination to keep our students safe. One elementary teacher suggested that teachers and parents link arms around the school to show their determination to protect children.

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.
·         Feb. 26, Parkway West CTC (Section 5)
·         Feb. 27, A. W. Beattie Career Center (Section 5)
·         Feb. 28, Crawford Co. CTC (Section 1)
·         Mar. 1, Seneca Highlands IU 9 (Section 2)
·         Mar. 5, Central Montco Technical HS (Section 8)
·         Mar. 6, Lehigh Carbon Community College (Section 8)
·         Mar. 7, West Side CTC (Section 4)
·         Mar. 8, Montoursville Area HS (Section 3)
·         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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