Wednesday, August 8, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup August 8: Is School Safety Commission Muzzling Gun-Control Debate?

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Is School Safety Commission Muzzling Gun-Control Debate?

Medicaid Matters for PA Schools
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children Fact Sheet July 2018
The School-Based ACCESS Program helps to fund early intervention and special education programs across Pennsylvania. These programs provide medically necessary health-related services to kids with disabilities who are Medicaid eligible. Pennsylvania schools received over $157.5 million in Medicaid reimbursement during the 2015-2016 school year.

Starting this year, Pa. schools must test lead in drinking water, or explain why not
WHYY By Sara Hoover August 8, 2018
A U.S. Government Accountability Office survey polled school districts across the country on testing for lead in drinking water in 2017. Fewer than half of those surveyed did testing; of those that did, more than a third found elevated levels.
Many thought lead in drinking water was a problem of the past — until the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, a few years back. And then a U.S. Government Accountability Office survey polled school districts across the country on testing for lead in drinking water in 2017. Fewer than half of those surveyed did testing; of those that did, more than a third found elevated levels. And a more recent report, “Get the Lead Out,” from the Environment America Research and Policy Center gave Pennsylvania an F for having no requirements that schools address lead in drinking water. This year, however, school districts across Pennsylvania will have to test for lead in drinking water — or inform the community they will not — according to an amended school code that’s part of the new state budget. The school code changes push all facilities — including charters, cyber charters, and intermediate units — to analyze their water supplies. The language in the school code was based on a bill from state Sen. Art Haywood, who started working on the issue after visiting Flint during its water crisis in 2014.

From rural villages to the gritty streets of Philly, kids displaced by Maria map their emotions
Inquirer by Valerie Russ, Staff Writer  @ValerieRussDN | Updated: AUGUST 8, 2018 — 5:00 AM EDT
At first glance, Angel Burdoy looks like any other 16-year-old spending time with friends over summer break. At Providence Center in Fairhill, a mostly Latino neighborhood in North Philadelphia, he just returned with other kids from taking a survey of neighborhood residents about sidewalk trees. Some teenagers were playing chess. Burdoy was laughing. But his demeanor changed when asked about his home in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, on the northwestern shore of the island. “We lost everything,” Burdoy says in Spanish. He is talking, of course, about Hurricane Maria. Burdoy, his parents, and two siblings — a younger brother and sister — came to Philadelphia in November after Maria left many on the island without homes or electricity for months. Burdoy’s town was one of two hit particularly hard after the Guajataca Dam failed days after the hurricane struck Sept. 20, sending torrents of water that destroyed homes and roads. But it’s not just the loss of their homes that’s been traumatic for the children who have relocated here, said Charito Morales, a community organizer at the Providence Center, an agency that provides community service and education programs for adults and children. Many kids have come from small towns, rural villages, or oceanfront pueblos to arrive on the gritty streets of Philadelphia.

How Pennsylvania is helping secure safety in our schools
Central Penn Parent Blog By Cassandra Davis August 6, 2018
According to The Washington Post, there have been 17 school shootings in 2018. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, more than 215,000 children have been affected by school shootings at 217 schools. As Central Pennsylvania parents prepare to send students back to school, the safety of their children is at the forefront of their minds. It turns out, the safety of Pennsylvania’s children has been on the minds of legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf as well. In March, Gov. Wolf formed the Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force. The group brought together government officials, statewide education organizations, law enforcement, community members, school officials, teachers, parents, and students to talk about ways to improve school safety and security. From April through June of this year, the task force held six regional roundtables at schools to listen to what Pennsylvanians had to say about the safety of school children. The final report should be released by the start of the 2018-19 school year. Themes from the discussions included: improved communication and information sharing; enhanced social and emotional learning; increased access to mental health services, including more health professionals in schools; building community connections; effectively integrating law enforcement and school resource officers; providing guidance on establishing priorities for schools; and providing schools with more resources.

Parkland survivors, other student activists, barnstorm through Philly
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent August 8, 2018
As part of their summer barnstorm across the country, teenage gun control activists from the organization March for Our Lives held a town hall in South Philadelphia Tuesday evening. The panel of eight spoke to an audience of a couple hundred at Universal Audenried High School, in an environment that felt more intimate than boisterous. Among them were advocates from Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the Parkland, Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people in February. Several survivors of that massacre emerged afterwards as gun violence prevention activists, quickly gaining massive social media followings. This summer some of those same activists have helped organize the Road to Change, a 16-city tour to call for gun law reforms and encourage youth voting. The Tuesday event in Philadelphia revolved as much around youth voice as it did gun violence. Clipboard-toting volunteers canvassed the entryway encouraging people to register to vote, and panelists stressed the importance of political participation.

Teachers with guns — it might be even worse than you think
WHYY By Jessica Charles, The Hechinger Report August 7, 2018
This story originally appeared on The Hechinger Report.
Even police officers can’t always shoot accurately. More guns mean more gun deaths. The majority of the U.S. population doesn’t want to see teachers armed. These are just a few of many poignant insights about the absurdity of arming teachers that have emerged since the massacre that killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Particularly moving have been the voices of students who simply want to feel safe at school and teachers who never signed up to participate in armed combat in their classrooms. Importantly, those voices have called out the National Rifle Association and Republican lawmakers for the ridiculous suggestion that, in addition to the already demanding workloads teachers face, some should also carry a loaded weapon to school in case an intruder armed with an assault rifle begins shooting the children in their care. But the issue runs deeper than adding the unwanted and dangerous task of policing schools to teachers’ jobs.

“Nearly five months after its creation, the Federal Commission on School Safety is under criticism for failing to tackle the politically thorny issue of gun control as part of its search for a federal response to the violence. Critics say the commission—billed as one of the White House’s chief responses to school shootings—is ignoring a key factor in the debate.”
Is Trump's School Safety Commission Muzzling Gun-Control Debate?
Trump's school safety commission limits debate about gun-control measures
Education Week By Eliza Fawcett, Los Angeles Times August 7, 2018
The day before she was to testify before President Trump’s school safety commission, Jennifer Johnston, an expert on media coverage of mass shootings, received a phone call from an Education Department advisor who asked her to “refrain” from any gun-control remarks. The official, Kent Talbert, cited a section of her pre-submitted testimony that called for federal officials to “greatly restrict the sale of semiautomatic and automatic weapons across states,” Johnston recalled. The assistant psychology professor at Western New Mexico University was stunned that a commission set up after the deadly Parkland, Fla., shooting would ask her to omit something she considered so relevant. She says she stayed up half the night worrying: If she insisted on making the statement, would the commission discount the rest of her research? The next morning, June 21, shortly before the session began, Talbert pulled her aside, concerned that she was “still thinking of doing this,” Johnston said. She decided to remove the section, but hastily added a sentence near the end, urging the commission to “please address issues with firearms.”

At the Barnes, teachers of all subjects learn about art education
Participants came from as far away as California.
The notebook by Sam Haut August 6 — 7:00 am, 2018
Colleen Wilson, senior program specialist for arts integration for the Barnes Foundation, addresses teachers at the four-day summer workshop. For the ninth year in a row, the Barnes Foundation hosted the Summer Teacher Institute to help educators from Philadelphia and beyond use art to enhance their classroom instruction.  This four-day course at the end of July gives teachers tools they can use in their classrooms to help students think more critically. Teachers can earn two Act 48 credits toward their continuing education requirements. This year, the program attracted nine teachers to the four-day workshops. Most were from Philadelphia, though the program is national. One of the attendees was from California. Most said they benefited and looked forward to taking it again next year. The participants studied the artwork in the galleries, created art themselves, and learned how to apply to the classroom what they have learned. Filmmaker and educator Nuala Cabral and teaching artist Sannii Crespina-Flores were among those who led workshops about how to integrate different types of art into teaching.

An Open Secret: The Problems with Virtual Schools
National Education Policy Center Newsletter July 31, 2018
News media accounts and NEPC research have exposed numerous problems with virtual schools. Yet new schools and new enrollment continue unabated.

“Now that August recess has begun, please review the final NSBA Congressional Recess and Grassroots Engagement Guide with additional updates. This guide has been developed to provide you and your members with background information on key issues from NSBA's Advocacy Agenda impacting public education during this session of Congress, suggested talking points and tips to help prepare for meetings with legislators and their staff, as well as grassroots activities and social media engagement techniques to elevate the conversation around public education. Further, it includes resources to use during the upcoming midterm elections.”
NSBA Congressional Recess and Grassroots Engagement Guide
National School Boards Association Summer 2018
Working with and through your respective state school boards association, your engagement at the community and grassroots level is crucial to ensuring that the best interests of our local school boards, students and public education are represented in federal legislation, administrative policies and agency regulations. During the summer Congressional recess, your federal legislators will be in their states and home districts, working in the community with constituents. This is the perfect time to get to know your legislators and their staff by contacting and informing them about your legislative priorities, many of which will be covered in this recess guide. As a school board member and/or public education advocate, you are an influential member of your community; and are well placed to advocate for the interests of our nation’s school districts and fifty million public schoolchildren. This guide has been developed to provide you with background information on key issues from the NSBA Advocacy Agenda impacting public education during this session of Congress, suggested talking points and tips to help you prepare for meetings with your legislators and their staff, as well as grassroots activities and social media engagement techniques you can use to elevate the conversation around public education.

Trump's Move to Pull Obama-Era Diversity Guidance for Schools Angers Democrats
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on August 7, 2018 3:17 PM
More than a month after the Trump administration withdrew guidance designed to encourage racial diversity in the nation's public schools, Senate Democrats have rebuked the decision, saying it will lead to confusion in schools as well as at institutes of higher education and restrict opportunities for historically disadvantaged students. In an Aug. 6 letter to the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, which formally revoked the Obama-era guidance in early July, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee, also demanded to know how the decision to revoke the guidance was reached. The two senators also asked for a list of complaints of discrimination based on race and ethnicity filed against K-12 and postsecondary institutions with the Education Department's office for civil rights since the start of 2016. In their joint letter withdrawing the guidance, the Trump Education and Justice Departments told schools that the Obama administration's guidance advocated for "policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution" and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  And Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement that the Supreme Court's decisions regarding affirmative action were the "best guide" for making decisions about diversity in education.  However, former Obama Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., now the president of the Education Trust, decried the decision at the time. He argued that innovative work to promote diversity in education "can help protect the future prosperity of our nation and the long-term health of our economy." In their letter, Feinstein and Murray picked up on that theme, saying the nation's policies should promote diversity and inclusion, not "suppress" them.

PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2018, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 17 at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person's name with an asterisk (*). Voting procedure: Each school entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 24-Oct. 11, 2018). Voting will be accomplished through a secure third-party, web-based voting site that will require a password login. One person from each member school entity will be authorized as the official person to register the vote on behalf of his or her school entity. In the case of school districts, it will be the board secretary who will cast votes on behalf of the school board. A full packet of instructions and a printed slate will be sent to authorized vote registrars the week of August 7. Special note: Boards should be sure to add discussion and voting on candidates to their agenda during one of their meetings in August, September or October before the open voting period ends.

Become a PSBA Advocacy Ambassador
PSBA Website July 18, 2018
PSBA is seeking applications for three open Advocacy Ambassador positions. This is a part-time, 9-month (September 2018-May 2019) independent contractor position with a monthly stipend and potential renewal for a second year. The individuals should have previous experience in day-to-day functions of a school district — on the school board or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be an active leader in an assigned section of the state and is kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA positions based on the association’s Legislative Platform and Priority Issues to accomplish advocacy goals.  The current open positions are for PSBA Section 1; Sections 3 and 4; and Section 8.  (see map).  Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors who serve as liaisons between PSBA and their state legislators, and who also work with local school officials in their section to advance PSBA’s public education advocacy mission. To complete the application process and upload required documents go to PSBA’s Career Gateway to create an account and apply. Career Gateway questions can be directed to Michelle Kunkel at 717-506-2450, x-3365.  Questions and information regarding the specific duties of the Advocacy Ambassador position should be directed to Jamie Zuvich at 717-506-2450, x-3375. The deadline to submit cover letter, resume and application is August 10, 2018.
All other required documents must be submitted upon successful application.

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

2nd Annual National Black Male Educators Convening, Oct. 12-14, Philly
Teacher diversity works. Increasing the number of Black male educators in our nation’s teacher corps will improve education for all our students, especially for African-American boys.Today Black men represent only two percent of teachers nationwide. This is a national problem that demands a national response. Come participate in the 2nd National Black Male Educators Convening to advance policy solutions, learn from one another, and fight for social justice. All are welcome. Register to attend. Nominate a speaker. Propose a workshop. Sponsor the event.

Save the Dates PASA/PSBA School Leadership Conference – Hershey, Oct. 17-19, 2018 
Mark your calendar! The Delegate Assembly will take place Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.
Housing now open!

“Not only do we have a superstar lineup of keynote speakers including Diane Ravitch, Jesse Hagopian, Pasi Sahlberg, Derrick Johnson and Helen Gym, but there will be countless sessions to choose from on the issues you care about the most. We will cover all bases from testing, charters, vouchers and school funding, to issues of student privacy and social justice in schools.”
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.

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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