SB2 Vouchers: Boyertown joins opposition to school choice bill
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 04/12/18, 10:53 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 DAY AGO
COLEBROOKDALE >> In an unannounced vote Tuesday night, the Boyertown Area School Board voted 6-3 to join the state-wide opposition to a school choice bill now under consideration in the state Senate. 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. The money could be used to pay tuition to private schools, parochial schools or even for extra tutoring, or college, according to DiSanto’s announcement.
Over 190 school boards adopt resolutions to oppose ESA vouchers
PSBA Website April 2018
The count continues to rise! Now more than 190 school districts across Pennsylvania have adopted resolutions opposing Senate Bill 2 and Education Savings Accounts(ESA).
PA lawmakers must oppose Senate Bill 2, legislation that would create a new and costly school voucher program known as education savings accounts.
Education Voters PA Action Alert April 2018
ESA vouchers will siphon hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money out of public schools and into unaccountable private/religious schools and private companies. These vouchers will increase property taxes and reduce access to educational opportunities for all students in order to fund the private education of a few.
ESA vouchers enshrine discrimination against PA’s children into law. They allow private schools accepting taxpayer dollars to discriminate against students for many reasons including gender, religion, and disability. Students with disabilities, if they are permitted to enroll in a private school, must give up their rights under federal law to an appropriate education.
Local group discusses arming teachers, other measures to help solve violence issues
Beaver County Times By Kirstin Kennedy Posted Apr 13, 2018 at 5:00 PM Updated Apr 13, 2018 at 7:20 PM
Not everyone agrees whether arming teachers is the solution to school shootings. The debate has come up in the past, but after 17 students and teachers were killed in February at a Parkland, Fla., high school, the topic blew up. The question of arming teachers entered conversations across the country, and Beaver County residents, too, joined the discussion. Many local educators have offered varying opinions on the topic. Eric Rosendale, executive director of the Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit, said the national intermediate unit and several other national education organizations have agreed that it is “not a good idea” to arm teachers. “I would echo that,” he said. Rosendale said he supports school resource officers, uniformed police officers who work in schools. In most cases, resource officers carry firearms. Other schools hire private security officers who in many cases also carry guns. However, arming individual teachers could lead to “other misfortunate events,” Rosendale said.
Erie students agree to meet with Rep. Kelly in private
GoErie By Ed Palattella Posted Apr 14, 2018 at 2:00 AM
After the congressman rejected requests to hold a public meeting on gun violence, students had no option but to meet with him in private, student organizer said. “I am absolutely disappointed,” she said. A group of Erie-area high school students has agreed to meet in private with U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly to discuss gun violence. The students are not pleased with the arrangement. They had requested that Kelly, of Butler, R-3rd Dist., host a public town hall meeting on the issue of guns and school safety. But after Kelly’s office repeatedly rejected the request, the students saw no other option but to accept his offer to hold a private meeting with him, said one of the student organizers, Erin Fleming, 16, a junior at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy. “We would still like to have a town hall, but that is unlikely,” said Fleming, who helped form the Erie County Student Coalition after the Feb. 14 school shooting in which 17 people were killed in Parkland, Florida. “Right now, we are just choosing our battles.” “I am absolutely disappointed,” she said of the insistence by Kelly’s representatives on a private meeting. “We wanted our representative to have a public town hall so more people could hear him on this issue, and he said no, limiting the number of participants. It is frustrating.” Fleming said the coalition has 12 members representing nine high schools in Erie County. Kelly’s spokesman confirmed that the students, who first requested on March 29 that Kelly hold a public meeting, agreed on Wednesday to a private meeting.
Editorial: Common-sense gun laws long overdue in Pa.
Daily Local Editorial POSTED: 04/14/18, 5:35 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 DAY AGO
Let’s get the niceties out of the way right up front. The Second Amendment is not going away. Nor should it. If you legally own a firearm, no one is coming into your home to take your weapons. But none of that means that gun laws, particularly here in Pennsylvania, should not be updated, and some commonsense new regulations be put in place. At least that’s the thinking of Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, and state Rep. Jamie Santora, R-163, of Upper Darby. These Delaware County Republicans are leading the charge in making much needed – and much overdue - changes in Pennsylvania gun laws. Killion is the driving force behind Senate Bill 501. It would force convicted domestic abusers to relinquish their firearms. And not just to a friend or relative, as the current law allows. That too often has tragic consequences. Instead 501 would mandate that person surrender firearms to law enforcement or a licensed gun dealer within 24 hours of their conviction, or after a final protection from abuse order is issued against them. Santora stands behind House Bill 1400, which would beef up the state’s ridiculously lax background check procedures, mandating universal checks for all gun sales. Killion’s bill passed the Senate on a 50-0 vote and moved on to the House. Read that sentence again. You read it right. A piece of gun control legislation was passed unanimously by the Pennsylvania Senate.
Here's what Pa. can do to stop the next school shooting | Opinion
Penn Live Guest Editorial By John R. Lott Jr. Updated Apr 14, 9:02 AM; Posted Apr 14, 9:00 AM
Instead of solving the problem of violence in their halls, Pennsylvania schools are becoming a national punchline. This week, one school district announced it will arm teachers with miniature 16-inch long baseball bats. Another district recently placed5-gallon buckets of rocks in classrooms so students could defend themselves in the event of an attack. Americans desperately want to do something to stop these attacks, though polls indicate strong skepticism about new gun control laws. The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering bills that are useless or would cause more harm than good. Background checks on private transfers of guns, so-called universal background checks, wouldn't have stopped the attack in Florida or any of the other mass public shootings in this century.
Here's the face of gerrymandering in Pennsylvania | Editorial
By Express-Times opinion staff Updated on Apr 15, 2018 at 09:22 AM EDT
Let's admit it. Pennsylvania voters got "Metcalfed."
Just when state Rep. Steve Samuelson , a Bethlehem Democrat, was going to force a floor vote on House Bill 722 -- the measure he's been pushing to replace the in-house gerrymandering of Pennsylvania's congressional districts with an 11-member citizens commission -- in stepped Daryl Metcalfe , R-Butler, chairman of the State Government Committee. So threatened was Metcalfe by the gerrymandering reform movement that he refused to call a hearing on Samuelson's bill for 11 months. So threatened was Metcalfe that when Samuelson readied a "discharge resolution" -- a parliamentary move to force a bill out of committee and onto the floor -- Metcalfe added his own amendment to replace the 11-member citizen board with a six-member cabal of legislative insiders. On extremely short notice Wednesday, the chairman called for the committee together for a vote. So threatened were the 15 Republican committee members that they voted in unison for the Metcalfe amendment, moving the bill out of committee. All 11 Democratic members voted against the bill. If you've been following the redistricting ruckus in Harrisburg, you know it took a ruling of the Democratic-controlled state Supreme Court to redraw the map of congressional districts, after finding it was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
Our View: Party in power wants more
Beaver County Times Editorial By The Times Editorial Board Posted Apr 15, 2018 at 12:15 AM
The statewide campaign to take the redistricting process out of the hands of elected politicians and entrust it to an independent citizens commission was a dealt a near-fatal blow on Wednesday by – surprise, surprise – a group of elected politicians. The House State Government Committee, in a vote along party lines, approved an amendment to the state constitution that would create a six-member commission to produce new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts after every 10-year census. The move actually places more power in the hands of the Legislature and all but guarantees that the party in power decides how those lines will be drawn. The committee, chaired by the wildly conservative and usually controversial Republican Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry Township, approved the plan that would have the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the state House and Senate each picking one member, with the remaining two members being approved by both chambers. If you’re keeping score, that means the party in power will likely have four of the six votes on the commission. It would take five members to approve a map, but if that doesn’t happen, lawmakers would vote on the commission’s draft maps without amendment. And rest assured that those draft maps will have the majority party’s handprint all over them.
EQUITY FIRST RELEASES 2018 LIST OF MOST UNDERFUNDED SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Equity First Press Release April 15, 2018
(Harrisburg, PA) – April 15, 2018 – This week Equity First and The Citizens for Fair School Funding released the 2018 List of Most Underfunded School Districts. The results are gut-wrenching. The York City School District won first prize for being underfunded by $6,565 per student in basic and special education. In a close 2nd place, Reading School District is underfunded by $6,520 per student and moving up to 3rd place, Harrisburg School District is now underfunded by $5,335 per student. Conversely, South Side Area School District wins the laurels for most overfunded School District at a whopping $7,666 per student in basic and special education. No, that’s not a typo. All told, 138 school districts are underfunded by $1.22 Billion Dollars, annually. The proposed state budget does little to reverse three decades of underfunding for the state’s most underfunded districts as the proposed budget only adds $100 Million for Basic education and $20 million for Special education. To make matters worse for the underfunded districts, the past three (3) state budgets have continued to share the funding with all 500 districts including the state’s most overfunded districts. The new state budget proposes to distribute the new funding to all 500 districts regardless of need.
Pennsylvania Democrats in sweet spot heading into mid-term elections, new Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll shows
Laura Olson and Steve Esack Contact Reporters Of The Morning Call April 13, 2018
Democrats running in Pennsylvania this year have strong support, with voters in a new Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll saying they’re likely to re-elect Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen Bob Casey and vote for a Democrat to represent them in Congress. That positions the party to gain congressional seats because of an unusually large number of Republican retirements among the 18-member U.S. House delegation and new congressional boundaries that give Democrats a better chance to compete. While Pennsylvania voters were key to President Donald Trump’s victory, they gave him a poor rating in the poll, with 55 percent disapproving of his job performance and 39 percent approving. “The takeaway is that the Republican brand is not good right now, and it starts at the top with a president who has approval ratings around 40 percent,” said Chris Borick, a political scientist and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Polling, which conducted the poll of 414 voters April 4-12.
Bill tracker: Changing the compulsory age for attending school
Joshua Vaughn The Sentinel Apr 12, 2018
Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage. These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day. Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Pennsylvania does not require parents to send their children to school until they reach the age of 8. Students are also able to dropout once they turn 17, under Pennsylvania law. “I believe we are failing our children on both accounts,” Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny County, wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. Miller has introduced a bill that he said is aimed at giving Pennsylvania youths a better start and putting them on a better path to graduating high school and succeeding later in life. House Bill 2229 would require students to be in school from 6 years old to 18 years old.
“The earlier that children begin attending school, the more opportunity they have to begin learning basic skills and academic fundamentals, and to interact in a positive social setting with other children on a daily basis,” Miller wrote. “This structured environment can help to support and further set children on a path toward future academic, social and career success by providing them with an earlier start.”
Philadelphia-area school rescinds contract with billionaire, will vote on new one
Morning Call by Kathy Boccella and William Bender Of Philly.com (TNS) April 13, 2018
His name on at least six entrances of the high school. A prominently displayed portrait of himself. His twin brothers' names elsewhere. Curriculum changes. Approval over building design and contractors. With all those demands to be kept as confidential as legally possible. Those were highlights of a secret agreement the Abington School District reached last month with billionaire alumnus Stephen Schwarzman.The plan to rename the school after him in exchange for a $25 million donation sparked outrage from local parents and alumni around the country. After two weeks of stonewalling, the district released the contract Wednesday morning, the day after school board members rescinded it and announced that they would vote on a new one with community input and far fewer requirements. “When you're that rich and giving those level of gifts, you're really used to getting what you want,” said Maria DiMento, a staff writer and expert on big philanthropic donations at the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In addition to renaming his alma mater Abington Schwarzman High School, the Blackstone Group CEO wanted his name on a science and technology center and the ability to sign off on all public relations aspects of the grant “to assure maximum impact and visibility.” “I wouldn't be surprised if this was all done without considering how bad it was going to look to outsiders,” DiMento said. “This is a public school district. This is not Yale.”
25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools
New York Times By Josephine Sedgwick April 16, 2018
Broken laptops, books held together with duct tape, an art teacher who makes watercolors by soaking old markers. Teacher protests have spread rapidly from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona in recent months. We invited America’s public school educators to show us the conditions that a decade of budget cuts has wrought in their schools. We heard from 4,200 teachers. Here is a selection of the submissions, condensed and edited for clarity.
Betsy DeVos Has Been Scarce on Capitol Hill; Why Is That?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on April 13, 2018 3:22 PM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hasn't testified before the House or Senate education committees since becoming secretary more than a year ago—and Democrats aren't happy about that. For one thing, it's a departure from the record of her recent predecessors, each of whom had appeared before the two education committees at least once—and in many cases, more often—by this point in their tenures. And even when you widen the lens to look at other committees on Capitol Hill, DeVos is still behind the pace of her predessors. All in all, DeVos has testified before Congress just four times so far, including her confirmation hearing in January of last year, and three education spending committee appearances. That's not to say DeVos is dodging lawmakers. The party in control of Congress—in this case, the GOP—gets to decide when a cabinet secretary appears before Congress. "Every time the Secretary has been called up to testify she has made herself available to do so," said Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the department. Still, top Democrats on the House and Senate education committees—Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington—are not happy that they haven't gotten a chance to hear from DeVos directly. They have big concerns about the way DeVos is implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, her school choice agenda, and what they see as her rollback of Obama-era civil rights protections. They want to question her about those issues in person.
Electing PSBA Officers: Applications Due by June 1st
Do you have strong communication and leadership skills and a vision for PSBA? Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to submit an Application for Nomination no later than June 1, 11:59 p.m., to PSBA's Leadership Development Committee (LDC). The nomination process
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:
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.
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
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.