“Instead of taking steps to provide Pennsylvania students with adequate resources for a “thorough and efficient” public education, as guaranteed in the state constitution, the General Assembly continues to focus on school privatization measures that divert already scarce tax dollars to unaccountable private and religious schools (EITC/OSTC tax credit programs and SB2 education savings account vouchers) and on chronically failing cyber charter schools. Additionally, up until 2011 the state reimbursed districts about $200 million for about one-third of charter tuition costs, acknowledging stranded costs that continue when students leave district schools. That budget line was eliminated and has not been restored. It primarily benefited our most underfunded districts.”
Guest Column: Education funding formula is only as good as the funding behind it
Delco Times By Lawrence Feinberg, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 06/06/18, 8:45 PM
Almost two years ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly overwhelmingly enacted legislation establishing a new basic education funding formula to serve the students of our state, with the Senate passing HB 1552 by a vote of 49-1 and the House by a vote of 188-3. Because the formula only applies to new money, two years have gone by with little actual impact upon students in our most underfunded districts. Only about 7 percent of basic education funding was distributed through the new formula this year. Equity First, a group raising awareness of school-funding issues in Pennsylvania, looked at what districts would receive if the formulas for basic and special education were applied to all funding proposed for next year. The organization found that the top five underfunded school districts statewide are:
PSBA calls on the General Assembly to pay its fair share for public education funding
PSBA Website June 6, 2018
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is pleased to announce its participation in the PA Schools Work campaign that was launched today during a news conference at the State Capitol. The nonpartisan grassroots campaign, which includes PSBA and other public education stakeholders, is calling on the state to pay its fair share so that all Pennsylvania students can graduate with the 21st-century skills necessary for success in college or career. Specifically, stakeholders are urging the General Assembly to approve, at a minimum, increased funding for basic education by $100 million, special education by $20 million, and the career and technical education subsidy by $10 million in the 2018-19 state budget. The campaign notes that Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the country in the state’s share of funding for public schools, leaving local taxpayers to bear a higher burden of education costs, with one of the widest gaps between the highest and lowest spending school districts of any state in the country, meaning that the educational opportunities available to a student depend largely on where that student lives.
“On the House side, a redistricting bill introduced by House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana)-- House Bill 2449-- was referred to the House Rules Committee rather than the House State Government Committee as other proposals have been.”
Bipartisan Redistricting Bill In Position For Final Senate Vote
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates June 6, 2018
The Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday reported out the bipartisan redistricting legislation-- Senate Bill 22 (Boscola-D-Lehigh)-- putting it in position for a final vote by the full Senate. “I am pleased with the committee’s support to advance the process and will push for a full Senate vote in the weeks ahead,” said Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh). “This amended version of my legislation is a reasonable compromise that establishes an independent commission to redraw district maps. While it’s not perfect, it would certainly make the process far more transparent and fair. “As I said when the State Government Committee unanimously approved my bill in May, doing nothing is not an option. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of good. We cannot let the clock run out on our opportunity to have reform in place for the upcoming round of redistricting,” she added.
Witnesses Demand Focus on Guns at First School Safety Commission Hearing
New York Times By Erica L. Green June 6, 2018
WASHINGTON — Students, parents and educators urged the federal officials charged with preventing the next school shooting to pour more mental health resources and school support staff into the nation’s elementary and secondary schools — not more guns. The first public forum of the federal commission on school safety, convened by President Trump after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., drew dozens of speakers from across the country to the Department of Education on Wednesday. But neither Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the commission’s chairwoman, nor the other three cabinet secretaries appointed to the panel were in attendance. On Tuesday, Ms. DeVos told senators that the commission would not wade into the gun control debate, but panel officials said they would follow Mr. Trump’s order to examine age restrictions on some weapons. Alessia Modjarrad, a recent graduate of a Montgomery County, Md., high school, criticized what she called the commission’s “complicit” stance on the role of guns in school safety. “I don’t want to be scared. I don’t want to think that at any moment someone with a gun could walk in and hurt us all,” Ms. Modjarrad said. “Please consider the possibilities that guns are the most important aspect of the purview of this commission.”
Delaware assault weapons ban fails to get past Senate committee
WHYY By Zoë Read June 6, 2018
After dozens of gun-rights supporters filled Legislative Hall to show their opposition, legislation aiming to ban certain assault weapons did not garner enough support to advance from a Delaware Senate committee Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Bryan Townsend, called for banning the sale, purchase, and transfer of certain assault-style weapons. Possession of such weapons would also be prohibited — except by those who had them prior to the legislation’s passage. “We respect that some are vocally opposed to this legislation, but it’s also true that a majority of the country supports banning the sale of assault weapons, along with roughly half of all gun-owning households. Unfortunately, that majority’s voice went unheard today — regardless of anyone’s attempts to divert responsibility for their votes,” said Democrats Townsend, state Sens. Margaret Rose Henry, and Robert Marshall — all committee members — in a joint statement.
We applaud youth voter registration drives at Derry, Mt. Pleasant, Fox Chapel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW Editorial Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 9:09 p.m.
W e applaud the exemplary efforts that have been made by students in three of the region's school districts to register their peers to vote. The push comes as part of a nationwide school safety movement sparked by the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February. Students attending the three school districts in the region recognized this month are Derry Area, Mt. Pleasant Area and Fox Chapel Area. They were given the Governor's Civic Engagement Award. It's a joint initiative of the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and State and Inspire U.S., which is a nonpartisan organization that offers resources and training to young people interested in getting peers involved in the electoral process. The award recognizes schools that get high percentages of eligible students registered to vote. All three school districts managed to register at least 85 percent of eligible students. Voters between 18 and 24 years old account for about 8 percent of Pennsylvania's
“And the House could soon be voting on a bill to require school districts to conduct security drills. In that measure, a one-word change from "may" to "shall" would make the drills mandatory. It passed a House committee unanimously earlier this week. There are also several bills that would boost funding for the state's Safe Schools Initiative, which allows districts to apply for grants for anti-violence programs, such as counseling services or conflict resolution.”
Spate of school-safety bills making rounds in Pa. Legislature
Post-Gazette by LASHERICA THORNTON Harrisburg Bureau JUN 6, 2018 12:39 PM
HARRISBURG – Creating a school-violence hotline. Pumping more money into prevention programs. Even arming teachers. The recent national spate of school shootings across the country — and the outcry by thousands of students in their wake — has spurred a flurry of school-safety legislation in Pennsylvania's Capitol, where more than a half dozen bills have been introduced in the last year alone. It is unclear how many of those measures will ultimately be signed into law. The legislature is gearing up for budget talks this month — and election battles this fall. It also seems unlikely that the Republican-controlled legislature would sanction stricter gun-control provisions. "Remember, this is, in many respects, the most conservative legislature in modern Pennsylvania history," said Terry Madonna, a political analyst and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College. In the state Senate, a vote could occur as early as Wednesday on a measure that would establish an anonymous reporting system for potential threats, modeled after the Safe2Tell hotline that was created after the Columbine High School massacre of 1999.
School threat reporting system wins passage in state Senate
Penn Live By Jan Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Updated 5:16 PM; Posted 5:16 PM
Legislation to establish a way for students across the state to anonymously report a potential school security threat won state Senate passage on Wednesday by a 49-0 vote. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. Senators urged their colleagues in the House to pass the measure and get it to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk for enactment. The statewide school threat monitoring system, called Safe2 Say, would be administered by the attorney general's office, which would ensure the appropriate law enforcement and school officials are notified for further investigation. "At least five other states have created school safety programs like Safe2Say," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County. "We should move quickly to bring this important safety initiative to Pennsylvania." Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who staff helped work to craft the bill, is supportive of the proposal, said his spokesman Joe Grace.
Pennsylvania eyes statewide school threats reporting system
Morning Call Associated Press June 6, 2018
Pennsylvania's Senate advanced legislation on Wednesday to set up a state-administered program to take anonymous reports of dangerous activities or threats of violence in schools, as lawmakers explore improvements to school safety spurred by February's school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people. Senators approved the bill unanimously, modeling the program on the Safe2Tell program created in Colorado after 1999's Columbine school shooting. Pennsylvania's efforts could include more state aid as lawmakers work in the final weeks of the fiscal year to assemble a new budget. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said Wednesday that he wants to add $50 million to the state's safe schools grant program, up from $8.5 million in the current fiscal year. Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday said he wants to increase funding in the safe schools grant program, but Wolf would not say how much money he wants to add. He said discussions with top lawmakers have not settled on a specific dollar figure. In the meantime, Wolf's administration is in the midst of six school safety task force field hearings and administration officials say it is too early to develop policy pursuits based on what they have heard.
Rivera visits CTC: ‘We need these jobs’
The Ephrata Review By Aubree Fahringer on June 6, 2018
In a time when it is important to expand job and STEM training for in-demand industries through Governor Wolf’s PAsmart proposal, PA Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera, visited the Brownstown campus of the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center (CTC) on May 31. He arrived for a tour of the center and the programs it offers. Rivera toured the heavy equipment operations program, electrical construction technology, the HVAC installation program, and cabinet making. In each class, he had the opportunity to speak with the program instructors and interact with the students and hear about their experiences at CTC. As PA experiences a deficit of technological and trade workers, the CTC stands as a beacon of premier education. “We need these jobs,” Rivera said, in reference to the programs for which the CTC offers training. “Especially in western PA… there’s lots of little things we can do to support the kids in these programs.” “There’s an old stigma about [trade] vocations,” Rivera said. “But they are not the programs of years past. New skills are needed.”
House passes bill to require students to take citizenship test
Special to PennLive By Gillian McGoldrick Updated 6:23 PM; Posted 6:23 PM
Students in grades 7 through 12 could soon be required to take a citizenship test at least once before graduating. The House concurred on the changes the Senate made on House Bill 564 by a 167-27 vote on Wednesday. It will now move to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk for enactment. Although students do not have to pass the citizenship test to graduate, it would be required to be taken at least once. Students who earn a perfect score on the exam would receive a certificate of recognition from the Department of Education. The exams would test a student's understanding of the "nature, purpose, principles and structure of the United States constitutional democracy... and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship," according to the bill. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback, R-Luzerne County, with dozens of bipartisan sponsors. Each school would determine the test's format and how it's administered. Schools could use the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services test to fulfill their requirements. This is the same test that immigrants must pass to become citizens. It asks questions such as when the U.S. Constitution was written and how many U.S. senators there are.
Wolf plans to sign mandated student civics knowledge test
WITF Written by The Associated Press | Jun 6, 2018 1:55 PM
(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf plans to sign a new law requiring Pennsylvania students to take a test of civics knowledge, although they don't need it to graduate. Wolf's office announced his plans hours after the state House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for the bill that mandates a locally developed test of U.S. history, government and civics. The test would be administered to students in grades seven through 12. Those who get a perfect score will qualify for a certificate developed by the state Education Department. Schools will have to report how many students were deemed to have passed the test. Supporters say there's an alarming lack of civics knowledge among American adults.
Council moves package to raise more than $600 million for Philly District
The plan does not include a property tax rate increase proposed by Mayor Kenney. District says it is not enough to accelerate lead abatement efforts or other building improvements.
The notebook Dale Mezzacappa and Darryl C. Murphy June 6 — 10:02 am, 2018
Updated Wednesday 8 p.m. with further District reaction and comments from the mayor.
City Council on Tuesday moved a budget plan that includes more than $600 million in additional funds for the School District over five years while avoiding a property tax hike. Mayor Kenney had proposed a package that would raise $770 million over five years that included a 4.1 percent jump in property tax rates. His plan would close a projected $660 million shortfall while leaving about $110 million for additional education investments. According to calculations, Council’s package, which was voted out of committee, would leave the District with a $26.5 million budget hole in fiscal 2023 and assumes the same level of spending. The $600-plus million will come from:
Proposed budget cuts strike sour note in Mars Area schools
SANDY TROZZO JUN 6, 2018 12:38 PM
While Mars Area officials do the final tweaking of the district’s 2018-19 budget, parents and students pleaded with the school board Tuesday not to balance the budget by cutting band classes. The board could vote next week on a preliminary budget that raises real estate taxes by 2.4 percent from 99 mills to 101.376 mills. “I doubt that the final version of the budget will be exactly the same as the tentative budget,” said board president J. Dayle Ferguson. “We hope and plan to take action next week, but we have until June 30 to pass a final budget.” The tentative budget calls for the addition of an elementary literacy intervention specialist and a guidance counselor. It also calls for not replacing some retiring teachers and eliminating extra music lessons in middle school. Band lessons in middle school include a full class, plus pull-out lessons for small groups of students. Several students and parents spoke against the proposed cuts.
Hill-Freedman teacher helps students find their voice in original music
He founded the Hill-Freedman record label, which is about to release its second album.
The notebook by Sam Haut June 6 — 2:44 pm, 2018
Ezechial Thurman is a music technology teacher at Hill-Freedman World Academy who also founded a record label at the school. Last year, Hill-Freedman Records released its first album, titled First Verse, which featured 29 original spoken-word poems by students at the Northwest Philadelphia school. This year they will release their second album, called, What’s Going On? featuring about 21 original songs that were written, edited, and sung by the students. Unlike the last album, What’s Going On?will be sold to raise money for the program next year. Thurman said he had the students listen to the music of Motown for inspiration. A lot of their music has to do with the problems facing both teenagers and society as a whole. “Music can be used divisively, it can be something that helps rally a particular clique or group of people in their own ideas, but music can also provoke people in a way that helps bring everyone together,” Thurman said. “In a day when we’re seeing so much tension, with police brutality and even just racial tension in Philly and the country, that was a relevant subject that the students want to talk about. But it also comes at it from the angle of ‘are there themes and ideas and concepts that we can use in our music that will provoke people to think in a different way about race?’” Students took particular inspiration from Marvin Gaye and the music about social justice that he made for Motown.
What Are the Side Effects of Your Latest Initiative?
Education Week By Peter DeWitt on June 6, 2018 6:45 AM
If you've ever seen Distinguished University of Kansas Professor of Education Yong Zhao speak, you understand that he brings a great deal of energy to every engagement. I was with Zhao at Boston College last Fall. He stood on stage to begin his keynote, connected his computer to the LCD projector, opened up a file of pictures for everyone in the audience to see, and started speaking off the cuff. It was fascinating and engaging. Zhao is not afraid to speak his mind, whether he is giving a keynote or sitting on a panel with other speakers. He is there to challenge our thinking, and I believe it comes from a place where he is constantly trying to challenge his own thinking. Recently, Yong sent me his latest manuscript, "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects In Education," which will be published by Teachers College Press at the end of June (2018). In the book, Zhao dives into the side effects of initiatives that were supposed to improve education. It's an interesting and important premise. Side effects is such an important word to use in the subtitle of the book because we are constantly confronted with them in our daily lives. We hear a litany of them when we are watching advertisements for the next great medication that will save our life, and unfortunately, the side effects often seem worse than the disease we are trying to treat. In his new book, Zhao inspires us to wonder whether we are under the same risks to our health when thinking about educational initiatives.
What Budget Cuts Mean for Third Graders in a Rural School
An elementary school in North Carolina illustrates some of the many challenges facing public schools across the country.
New York Times By Dana Goldstein June 5, 2018
SNOW HILL, N.C. — At 7:50 on a recent morning, Preston Carraway greeted his third-grade teacher, Keshia Speight, who stood at the classroom door dispensing hugs. Mrs. Speight’s class has a motto, which everyone chants in the morning when she raises her fist: “Be brave! Be smart! Stay humble!” That last point doesn’t seem like a stretch. Preston, 8, goes to West Greene Elementary School in Snow Hill, a town of 1,500 in rural Greene County, N.C. Of the 100 counties in the state, Greene is one of the poorest. About four out of five public school students come from low-income families. Only three counties in North Carolina spend less on public education. All around Preston were signs of how little money his district has. West Greene is one of many schools across the country dealing with the effects of funding cuts, from broken-down buses to donated supplies to teachers who work second jobs. In other North Carolina counties, and in five other states, teachers frustrated by these issues have walked out of their classrooms in recent months to protest state lawmakers.
26 States Earn 'F' Grade on School Spending in Education Week Analysis
Equity and effort often mismatched
Education Week By Sterling C. Lloyd June 6, 2018
At a time when money is front and center as an education issue—fueling a recent wave of teacher strikes and legislative wrangling over resources—Education Week's latest school finance analysis illustrates why the nation earns a mediocre mark on school funding and how fairly that money is divvied up within states. This second installment of Quality Counts 2018, which digs deeper into the C rating the nation received on school finance in January's top-line report card, reveals much better performance on indicators of funding equity than on measures of overall spending: a B (86.5) for equity, but a D-minus (62.3) for spending.
Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders. State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or email@example.com.
Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16
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
Join with EdVotersPA and PCCY for Capitol Caravan Days and fight for our public schools! When: 9:00-3:00 on June 12 or June 20 (your choice!)
Where: The Harrisburg Capitol
Why: To show state lawmakers that their constituents expect them to support public school students in the '18-19 budget
Education Voters of PA joining together with Pennsylvania Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for a lobby day in Harrisburg. Join a team and meet with your state legislators and legislative leaders to talk about how the state can support K-12 students in the state budget.
Register Here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdrk24gH61bp7Zjy_JFpIELPYcEvXx05Ld4-_CPltQYyqLSPw/viewform
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.
POWER 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM at the PA Capitol
On Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM, students, parents, community activists, and faith leaders from different traditions will gather on the steps of the State Capitol Main Rotunda for POWER’s 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action to demand support for legislation to put 100% of the Commonwealth's Basic Education Budget through PA's Fair Funding Formula. We ask you to join us as we stand in solidarity with one another and continue demanding fair and fully funded education for Pennsylvania’s public school students. In addition to a large rally, we will march to Governor Tom Wolfe's office to pray for his support for 100% through the Formula. Join us as we hold meetings that day with our legislators asking each one to speak out in favor of POWER's 100% plan.
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 .
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 room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link . Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer based on need. Go 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 . We can't wait to see you.