Lots of choices and races for Pennsylvania primary voters
AP State Wire By MARK SCOLFORO and MARC LEVY Published: Yesterday
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania voters have a lot to think about when they hit the polls for Tuesday's primary, including a hotly contested Republican primary for governor.
Also on the card are a five-way race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, a Republican primary to pick who will take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in the fall, House races in the wake of the major redistricting case and a host of open seats in the Legislature. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and elections officials emphasize that the redistricting decision did not change the polling places where anyone in the state will be voting.
Pennsylvania’s Primary: Congressional Races to Watch
New York Times By Maggie Astor and Trip Gabriel May 14, 2018
Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primaries are the opening act in a drama that Democrats nationally are eagerly watching: Who will win under new congressional maps that undo a Republican gerrymander? In January, the State Supreme Court redrew the boundaries of the state’s 18 districts to create a more politically level playing field. Analysts predict that as a result Democrats will probably gain three to six seats — a sweet down payment on their goal of taking control of the House of Representatives in November. Most of the potential Democratic pickups are in the Philadelphia suburbs, and three are all but gimmes in the general election. That doesn’t mean there won’t be drama on Tuesday: In the Fifth District, centered on Delaware County, 10 Democrats, most unknown to voters, are seeking the nomination. It’s been called a “clown car primary” and is sure to confuse voters. Here’s a look at some of the key races to watch on Tuesday night.
Pennsylvania crucial to Democratic hopes for winning House majority
Washington Post By Sean Sullivan and David Weigel May 15 at 7:00 AM Email the author
Democrats are trying to take a major step toward winning control of the House, as voters pick nominees Tuesday in Pennsylvania, one of the ripest states for the party to make gains in November’s midterm elections. A redrawn congressional map, a string of Republican retirements and opposition to President Trump have opened the door for Democrats to pick up as many as half a dozen seats in Pennsylvania. They need 23 to win the House majority. But before they can focus on the fall campaign, they must first settle some divisive and crowded primaries. Polls open at 7 a.m. Pennsylvania voters have swung back and forth in recent elections. In 2016, Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to win the state in 28 years. Earlier this year, Democrat Conor Lamb won a special election in a Pittsburgh-area district where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 20 points. The perennial battleground state also features a governor’s race and a Senate contest that Democratic incumbents are favored to win, but could become competitive. Trump recorded an 11th-hour robo-call for his preferred Senate candidate, Republican Rep. Lou Barletta. Pennsylvania is one of four states holding primaries on Tuesday. Voters are also heading to the polls in Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon for nominating fights that could provide fresh signs about the mood of voters less than six months before Election Day.
Letter to the editor: Pa. must make school funding a priority
Trib Live LETTER TO THE EDITOR by SUSAN SPICKA Monday, May 14, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
The writer is executive director of Education Voters of PA (www.educationvoterspa.org ). She will moderate a discussion about state funding for public education in Westmoreland County at 7 p.m. May 17 at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.
The article “29 New Ken-Arnold teachers on furlough list” highlights the harm inadequate state funding inflicts on students and communities. Currently, Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation in state share for public schools. If the state would fully fund the fair funding formula for education that was enacted two years ago, New Kensington-Arnold would receive an additional $8,535,924 in state funding each year. If the state paid its fair share of school funding, the district would not be furloughing teachers and increasing property taxes year after year. Instead, the district would be educating children in schools with class sizes small enough for students to receive personal attention, a full range of courses from science to music and art, up-to-date books and technology, guidance counselors to help students with their career decisions, and so much more. It's time for the Pennsylvania Legislature to make adequate funding for public schools a top priority in the 2018-19 budget and moving forward. Every year that passes without fixing the state's school funding means thousands more children will not get the educational opportunities they need to reach their potential.
Coalition: York City district is Pa.'s most underfunded per student
York Dispatch by Lindsay C. VanAsdalan, 717-505-5450/@lcvanasdalan Published 12:58 p.m. ET May 14, 2018 | Updated 4:32 p.m. ET May 14, 2018
A coalition fighting for equitable education funding in Pennsylvania has named York City the most underfunded school district in the state based on per student spending, and one of the most severely underfunded overall. Underfunded by $51.65 million in basic and special education annually, and by $6,565 per student, the York City School District is one of 19 within the state's 500 school districts that is underfunded by more than $10 million. Lawmakers "always hit the urban schools the hardest," said school board President Margie Orr, noting the news was no surprise. Superintendent Eric Holmes said York City students are "just as intelligent, talented and capable as any group of Pennsylvania students," and they don't need anyone making excuses for them. "But they do need an education system that allocates resources equitably so that every student can meet his or her potential," he added. The data was released by Equity First, a coalition of groups supporting Citizens for Fair School Funding, a nonprofit focused on children and fair funding.
“If passed, this charter change would….
— Give City Council the ability to approve or reject any mayoral nominees to the local board of education. This would be essentially a confirmation process. Nominees would have a public hearing, after which council would need to approve them by a majority vote. Right now, council has no formal say in the nomination process. Christmas, with Committee of Seventy, calls the charter change “reasonable,” and says it makes sense for council to exert some control when it sends over a billion dollars annually to local schools……”
‘Misleading’ ballot question would tweak Philly school board process
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent May 14, 2018
A charter change before Philadelphians Tuesday would give City Council more power over the composition of the city’s new school board, although the wording of the actual ballot question could leave some voters confused. Ballot question No. 2 asks Philadelphians:
Shall the Educational Supplement to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to restore local control by confirming the Board of Education’s independent responsibility to administer the School District of Philadelphia, providing for public participation in the Educational Nominating Panel process, revising eligibility requirements, requiring City Council confirmation of School Board appointments, requiring a stated reason for removing a School Board Member and establishing a Parent and Community Advisory Council?
The question’s first clause, about amending the charter “to restore local control,” is little more than a rhetorical distraction. Local control has already been restored, and this vote will have no bearing on that development. “It’s misleading, that first part of the question,” said Patrick Christmas, policy program manager for Committee of Seventy, a government watchdog group that supports the ballot measure. “Why it was drafted up that way, I can only speculate.”
'Signing day' highlights jobs, opportunities awaiting area vocational students
SkillsUSA Council hosted the first signing day for the District 11 technical and career schools in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call May 11, 2018
The first-round picks featured Friday at the Pennsylvania CareerLink building on West Union Boulevard in Allentown weren’t known for their accomplishments on the football field or baseball diamond. These 104 all-stars sporting cherry red blazers paved the way to their future in the kitchens, machine shops and computer labs of the region’s vocational-technical institutes. And Friday morning was their “signing day.” The celebratory event traditionally reserved for athletes was held for the first time in the Lehigh Valley to show off the pipeline that five area career and technical high schools have created for in-demand jobs and further education. The event was hosted by the SkillsUSA Council, a coalition of businesses and industries that promotes career and technical training in the region.
“That’s right. The state wants schools to give the CDT assessment an additional 3 to 5 times a year in both reading and math. Unlike the PSSA, this is a voluntary assessment. Districts can decide against it, but the department’s flunkies are crisscrossing the Commonwealth advising we all give the CDT as much as possible.”
Pennsylvania’s Broken Testing Promise – We Don’t Assess Students Less If We Demand Constant Diagnostic Tests
Gadfly on the Wall Blog May 14, 2018 stevenmsinger
Downcast faces, dropping eyes, desperate boredom. That’s not what I’m used to seeing from my students. But today they were all slumped over their iPads in misery taking their Classroom Diagnostics Tools (CDT) test. It’s at times such as these that I’m reminded of the promise made by Pennsylvania’s Governor, Tom Wolf. He pledged that this year we’d reduce the amount of time public school students spend taking standardized assessments. “Students, parents, teachers and others have told us that too much time in the classroom is used for test taking,” he said. “We want to put the focus back on learning in the classroom, not teaching to a test. Standardized testing can provide a useful data point for a student’s performance, but our focus should be on teaching students for future success, not just the test in front of them.” So at his urging we made slight cuts to our Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests – the assessment for grade 3-8 students. We removed two sections of the PSSA – one in math, one in reading – and reduced the number of science questions. This can cut testing by as much as 48 minutes in math, 45 minutes in reading, and 22 minutes in science. And that’s good news. But it’s not exactly the kind of sea change the state claims, given the Department of Education’s recommendations for additional tests on top of the PSSA.
Sweetened beverage tax faces final hurdle
Soda industry, city make respective cases in court
KYW by PAT LOEB MAY 14, 2018 - 8:31 PM
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The fate of Philadelphia's sweetened beverage tax rests with arguments scheduled for Tuesday in the state Supreme Court. Nearly two years since the tax passed City Council after a hard-fought campaign, the city is still waiting for a final ruling on the tax's legality. The high court is the last hurdle for the controversial tax. Mayor Jim Kenney said he's feeling confident since two courts have already ruled in favor of the tax, and he believes the city's argument — that a tax on distribution does not duplicate any state taxes — is sound. The soda industry will argue it's actually a sales tax in disguise, which would violate state law. But the mayor's anti-poverty program is at stake — a combination of expanded pre-K, community schools and a rebuild of city infrastructure for community improvement and employment — all to be paid for from the tax. "This is between having a better life for our kids or having billionaires get richer. And I think it's pretty easy where to come down on," Kenney said.
Legislators hit kids below the belt, twice
PCCY Website May 11, 2018
The legislature is delivering a one-two punch aimed squarely at kids. The first blow strikes PA’s youngest learners the hardest. In a no holds barred approach, the House is taking action to shut down Philly’s pre-K. In a 17-9 spilt vote, the PA House Commerce Committee just voted in favor of a bill to kill Philly’s soda tax. Although the vote to push the bill forward was mostly along party lines, it included two Democrats, showing that the soda companies and supermarkets are throwing enough money around to sabotage the future of Philadelphia’s children. The bill would throw 2,000 kids out of pre-K and layoff more than 250 workers in pre-K. After extensive community consultations, hearings and a rigorous debate and vote at City Hall, the state legislature is pulling the rug out from under us—a massive power-grab that should alarm every municipality.
New program could reduce bullying, violence in Unionville-Chadds Ford School District
By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 05/14/18, 3:35 PM EDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Unionville-Chadds Ford school directors are set to approve a unique program that could reduce abuse, bullying, violence, harassment and substance abuse in the district’s schools. Administrators are recommending approval of a program called “Say Something” starting in the 2018-19 school year, to be implemented in grades 6 to 12. “Over the past few years, we have implemented several initiatives related to student wellness, and the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System is a tool that allows our students and our community to feel connected,” said Leah Rider, director of Special Education in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. “It enhances our safety protocols for at-risk students.” The program provides seed money for the start-up of student clubs to support the initiative. Multi-disciplinary teams in schools will be trained by Say Something trainers. Specifically, the program is designed to combat assault, physical and verbal abuse, bullying, bragging about an upcoming attack, depression, fighting, gun violence, harassment, hopelessness, reckless behavior, social isolation or withdrawal, substance abuse, suicide and self-harm, theft and talk about weapons.
“Expenses also include $12.5 million in charter school tuition, $16.4 in Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System expenses, which is up nearly $3 million from last year.”
Even with staff cuts, $5.5 million budget gap remains for Harrisburg schools
Penn Live By Steve Marroni firstname.lastname@example.org May 14, 2018
HARRISBURG - Full-day kindergarten appears to be safe, but 31 jobs are still on the chopping block as the Harrisburg School District prepares its 2018-2019 budget. And about 40 teachers and parents who attended Monday night's budget meeting were not happy with these potential staff cuts, which would reduce the number of teachers and principals in the schools and increase some classroom sizes to as many as 35 students. "We need more support, not less," teacher Suzanne Williams told the budget and finance committee. "Everything is cut from the bottom. Not from the top." Harrisburg teachers want to see cuts come from administration, not class rooms The latest budget proposal, which will be up for approval in June, was presented Monday night. It removes the prior recommendation to cut full-day kindergarten into half-day, but it still eliminates 31 positions to save roughly $2 million.
“The district said "the bottom line is that pension and charter school costs are now the greatest threat to the financial stability of the district," in the budget report issued Monday night. "Ultimately, policy level such as the charter school funding formula and pension cost increases must be solved at the state level. In the meantime, local school districts are forced to cut programs and raise taxes to maintain responsible educational programs."
Bethlehem Schools' budget requires 2.5 percent tax hike
Districts says charter schools responsible
WFMZ By: Stephen Althouse Posted: May 15, 2018 01:24 AM EDT Updated: May 15, 2018 05:16 AM EDT
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Few surprises surrounded Bethlehem Area School District's decision to adopt a 2018-2019 proposed budget that increases taxes on property owners by just under 2.5 percent, at Monday night's special board meeting at the district's Education Center. The vote was 8-1. Under this proposal, the average Northampton County property owner would have to pay about an additional $87 annually. The average Lehigh County taxpayers would be responsible to dole out an additional $47.45 a year, according to BASD. The figures are based on a property assessed at $60,900 in Northampton County and $139,500 in Lehigh County. Most of the property owners in BASD — 83 percent — are in Northampton County, with the remaining 17 percent in Lehigh County. The 2.5 percent proposed tax hike is lower than the 3 percent Act 1 Index, but higher than last year's tax increase on property owners at 2.3 percent.
“Charter school tuition is a big cost for the district. Next school year, the district is expected to pay $29.7 million in charter tuition. Charter tuition went up $501,302 because of a lawsuit that dictated a change in how tuition is calculated, Chief Financial Officer Stacy Gober said.”
Bethlehem Area passes proposed budget with tax increase
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call May 14, 2018
The Bethlehem Area School Board passed a proposed $281 million budget for the 2018-19 school year that includes a 2.5 percent tax hike. At Monday’s school board meeting, the board voted 8-1 to pass the proposed budget. Director Tom Thomasik voted against it. After the meeting, Thomasik said he voted no because of the tax hike. “The seniors who voted for me expect that I would honor my commitment to not raise taxes and put the burden on the homeowners,” he said. Bethlehem Area sits in both Northampton and Lehigh counties. The 2.5 percent tax increase means about $87.09 annually for a Northampton County taxpayer in a home assessed at $60,900. In Lehigh County, a homeowner with a house assessed at $139,550 would pay an additional $47.45 a year. The district began the budget process with a $10.7 million deficit.
“The big ticket items driving the deficit are escalating expenses for the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System, tuition charges for charter school enrollments and special education tuition costs, according to school officials.”
Highlands School District considering school consolidation, 3 percent tax hike
Trib Live by MARY ANN THOMAS | Monday, May 14, 2018, 11:21 p.m.
Highlands School Board may raise taxes from 23.8 mils to 24.6 mils, a 3 percent hike. A house with an assessed value of $100,000 currently has a real estate tax bill of $2,380. Under the proposed increase, that would rise to $2,463 in the 2018-19 school year.
Amid a warning of possible bankruptcy, Highlands school board members told a stunned audience Monday night that they were considering consolidations and a 3 percent tax hike for the upcoming year. The board will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to vote on the budget. If it were to approve layoffs, the earliest the board would make an announcement would be at that meeting, according to district solicitor Lisa Colautti. The board shared a sobering financial picture, with expenses outpacing revenue. The proposed 2018-19 budget includes a deficit. Expenses are almost $48 million, while revenue is $41.8 million.
More Evidence That the Movement to Defend Public Is Not a Blue Wave; It's a Purple One Sweeping Both Parties
Education Law Prof Blog By Derek Black Monday, May 14, 2018
As support for public education swept the nation this spring, some on the far right argued that teacher protests were a ruse. Schools had enough resources, they said, and the Democratic party was using teachers as their puppet in a larger political theater. The truth is that education has been so mistreated so much for the past decade that the defense of the public education has become bipartisan--as it should be. Criticism of this movement is a simple act of misdirection away from the underlying misdeeds. The mistreatment of public education has been well covered. I won't belabor that point here. It is enough to say that more than half of states were funding public education at a lower level in 2015 than they had before great recession. So education funding has been negative over the past decade in most states. The stagnant and declining real wages of teachers followed naturally. These numbers were already affecting public opinion before the teacher strikes. As I posted in February, a geographically, demographically, and politically representative survey of Southern voters showed:
EdStat: The Annual Rate of Charter School Growth has Reached an All-Time Low: a 1 Percent Increase in Charter Schools between 2017 and 2018
By Education Next 05/14/2018
Despite educating more than 3.2 million students, the annual rate of charter school growth has reached an all-time low: a 1 percent increase in charter schools during the 2017-18 school year. This represents the fourth consecutive year that charter growth has slowed. In an article in our Summer 2018 issue of Education Next, Robin J. Lake, Trey Cobb, Roohi Sharma and Alice Opalka discuss barriers to charter-school growth in the San Francisco Bay Area and explore what charter leaders, policymakers, and communities can do to regain momentum and keep pace with demand. Derrell Bradford also addresses the slowing growth-rate of charter schools in our Summer 2018 issue, asking: what is the future role of single-site schools, given that charter management organizations (CMOs) and for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) are increasingly crowding the field? Finally, Adam Peshek proposes a way to tackle some of the obstacles to charter-school growth through the Opportunity Zone program (part of the 2017 tax reform package)—and hopefully create more high-quality public school options for children along the way.
Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award
PSBA Website May 14, 2018
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators. The 2018 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 14, 2018. The application due date is July 16, 2018 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Download the Application
Tickets: PCCY Celebration of the 2018 Public Citizen of the Year
Elizabeth Murphy and Romona Riscoe Benson of PECO
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, The Franklin Institute, 6:00-8:30pm
On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, Elizabeth Murphy and Romona Riscoe Benson from PECO, will be honored by Public Citizens for Children and Youth as the2018 Public Citizens of the Year. Join us at the celebration to thank these two amazing women and PECO for their longstanding and visionary commitment to improving the quailty of life for children in our region.
Tickets are $150 per person. Event will be held at the Frankin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19103 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm.
Questions: contact Steven Fynes at 215-563-5848 x11 or email:email@example.com.
Corporate Sponsorships: click here.
Thank you for your support!
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:
the notebook Annual Celebration - June 5, 2018 - New Location!
Please join us on June 5, 2018, at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia! Please note the new location!
Buy your tickets today!
Every June, 400 public school supporters gather in celebration at the end of the school year. This festive event features awards for outstanding high school journalism, talented local musicians, a silent auction, and the opportunity to speak with the most influential voices in the local education community. This year, the Notebook staff and board of directors would like to honor public education advocates who are committed to our mission of advancing quality and equity in our city’s schools.
Debra Weiner - A longtime advocate for public education at a variety of nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions, and a member of the Notebook’s editorial advisory board
Mary Goldman - Former 27th Ward Leader and advocate for children and public schools
Our City Our Schools - A coalition of local grassroots organizations that campaigned to return the school board to local control
The event will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, at the National Museum of American Jewish History.
BRIEFING: PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING IN PENNSYLVANIA
IN PHILLY, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018, 8:30-10:00 A.M.
Join Law Center attorneys Michael Churchill, Jennifer Clarke, and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg for a free briefing on the state of education funding in Pennsylvania. They’ll cover the basics of education funding, our fair school funding lawsuit, the property tax elimination bill, the 2018-2019 state budget, and more! RSVP online here. The briefing will be held on Wednesday, June 13th at 8:30 a.m. at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Download a flyer for this event.
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.
Housing now open!
Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket here.
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait. These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget to register for your hotel room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link here. Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer some scholarships based on need. Go here and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to get your Early Bird ticket here. We can't wait to see you.