Monday, December 3, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 3: On a statewide level, local districts had to come up with $20 for every added dollar that the state provided to cover the increasing cost of special education

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On a statewide level, local districts had to come up with $20 for every added dollar that the state provided to cover the increasing cost of special education

“Chambersburg and Shippensburg were cited in the report because of the state’s paltry contribution. In Chambersburg, from 2008 to 2016, expenses for special education increased by nearly $5 million. The state kicked in an additional $198,200, while taxpayers in Chambersburg were left to come up with a whopping $4.7 million. Similarly, in Shippensburg, the cost of special education went up by $1.9 million. The state increased its contribution by only $91,228, leaving Shippensburg scrambling to find nearly $1.8 million in local tax dollars. On a statewide level, local districts had to come up with $20 for every added dollar that the state provided to cover the increasing cost of special education. This is a recipe for growing inequality.”
PA has dropped the ball on funding special education
Chambersburg Public Opinion by Susan Spicka Published 1:16 p.m. ET Dec. 2, 2018
Susan Spicka is the executive director of Education Voters of PA and the vice president of the school board in Shippensburg.
A recent report published by the Education Law Center finds that local school districts across Pennsylvania are shouldering the weight of rising costs associated with special education. As the executive director of Education Voters Pennsylvania, an organization that holds elected officials accountable to support public education, I was appalled to see the breakdown of how little our state leaders have contributed to the growing costs of special education in Franklin County and across Pennsylvania. Despite the positive reforms that came out of the 2013 Special Education Funding Commission – adopting a more equitable formula and resuming annual increases in state aid to special education – these changes are too little, too late The numbers in the report tell a staggering story of state neglect.

Blogger note: Here’s a link to the ELC report referenced in the opinion piece above:
Shortchanging Children with Disabilities: State Underfunding of Special Education in Pennsylvania
Education Law Center Website October 2018
This October 2018 report from the Education Law Center highlights how the rise in special education costs in districts across the state is outpacing state special education funding, creating new challenges for underfunded school districts.
Read the Report
See the district-level special education funding data

Special ed funding slips
Butler, Mars maintain same levels of instruction
Cranberry Eagle Written by: Tanner Cole Published: November 28, 2018
School districts are increasingly relying on local tax dollars to fund special education programs, according to a report by Pennsylvania's Education Law Center. 
Schools in Butler County are increasingly relying on local tax dollars to fund special education programs as state funding has stagnated for several years, a recent report found. The county isn't alone: Special education funding across Pennsylvania mirrors the situation in Butler County schools. The report's researchers at Pennsylvania's Education Law Center — along with those involved in educating children with disabilities in Butler County — see a growing local dependency on state legislators to blame for the lack of funding. As Reynelle Brown Staley, the policy attorney who led the report, explained it, “the amount of money coming from the state just isn't increasing a lot.” “Costs are rising at a rate that is far higher than the level of state funding,” Staley said. “State funding isn't even rising fast enough to meet inflation.” Staley and other researchers found that special education costs in Pennsylvania increase by about $200 million per year. Between 2008 and 2016, state funding increased by a total of just $72 million. Special education costs grew by $1.5 billion in that time, researchers found.

Pennsylvania lawmakers, judges, others get pay raises — because it’s that time of the year
Philly Daily News by John Baer @jbaernews | Posted: December 2, 2018 - 1:13 PM
Not to rile or depress any taxpayer/citizens during this season of light and joy, but I feel obligated to remind you of your generosity to your public servants. Over the weekend, you started paying members of the second-highest salaried legislature in America a little more money. I'm sure their thank-you notes are on the way. You did this because back in 1995: Your legislature voted itself annual automatic raises. These raises come regardless of performance, because lawmakers know if their pay was based on, let's say, merit, session days, or connection to constituents (Pennsylvania's median household income is $55,000), well, things would be very different. So, base pay now is $88,610. Not a king's ransom, granted. But then we're not talking royalty here. Plus, they also get great health care, fat pensions, tax-free, unvouchered expenses; and, if they hang around for 10 years (which, oh so many do), health care for life. Including spouses.

At Pennsylvania Society, talk of bipartisanship, brotherhood … and bacon
Inquirer by Angela CouloumbisClaudia Vargas and Andrew Seidman, Posted: December 1, 2018
NEW YORK – For the second year in a row, Pennsylvania's political elite got dolled up and came to Manhattan for the state's biggest bash  –though the weekend found some meandering through the countless soirees and receptions feeling disconnected from the glamour of years past, when the event was anchored in the marbled halls of the Waldorf Astoria. Still, this year's Pennsylvania Society, as the annual trek to Manhattan for elected officials, lobbyists, and others is called, managed to combine some intrigue — will Sen. Bob Caseyreally wade into the 2020 presidential election? — along with more farcical moments, such as the presence of a blow-up photo booth at one of the more raucous late-night parties. And the weekend's annual Saturday morning seminar and luncheon, hosted by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association (PMA), together with the University of Pennsylvania's breakfast and reception, even focused a bit on policy.

On President George H.W. Bush’s death at 94: ‘An extraordinary man,’ Pa. politicians remember
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Posted Dec 1
MANHATTAN -- At the Metropolitan Club, on the edge of Central Park, hundreds of Pennsylvania’s leading political and business figures opened an annual gathering with a moment of silence to observe the passing of former President George H.W. Bush, now dead at the age of 94. The patrician Bush, who had one of the most varied public service careers of any American politician, embodied the values of service and civility, and he was the principal of a school of Republicanism that some believe is in recession in the age of President Donald Trump. Here’s what a sampling of Pennsylvania politicians had to say about Bush’s passing:

'Honorable, gracious and decent': In death, Bush becomes a yardstick for President Trump
Morning Call by Greg Jaffe  The Washington Post December 2, 2018
The tributes to former President George H.W. Bush poured in this weekend, each in its own way exposing the pitfalls ahead this week for the Oval Office's current resident. The 41st president was remembered by Barack Obama, the 44th, as "a humble servant." "Honorable, gracious and decent" were the words Bill Clinton used in praise of his immediate predecessor. House Speaker Paul Ryan's encomium described Bush as "great in his character, leading with decency and integrity." On Monday, Bush will return to Washington, where he will lie in state at the Capitol until Wednesday, when, as tradition demands, Trump will attend the former president's funeral at Washington National Cathedral. It's unclear whether Trump will deliver a eulogy. In death, presidents are measured not only by their accomplishments but by what their tenure says about sitting presidents - and in this case, the contrast appears stark.

‘We can start in different places, it’s where we end up that matters.’ Four questions with House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler | Monday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Updated 7:52 AM; Posted 7:51 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
State House Republicans return to Harrisburg in January with some new faces on their leadership team and in the caucus-at-large. Among them is newly elected House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, who’s taking over for long-serving GOP floor boss Dave Reed, who opted not to run for re-election. We caught up with Cutler at this weekend’s Pennsylvania Society weekend in Midtown Manhattan, where Cutler’s newly packed dance card included a stop at the annual seminar and luncheon put on by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association at The Metropolitan Clubon the edge of Central Park. The interview below, which includes questions from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Angela Couloumbis, has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

“The NRA is no longer touting on its website the grades it routinely assigned to legislators. Apparently that one-time much-desired imprimatur from the gun group was becoming a liability for some candidates.”
Editorial: Common sense gun reform is long overdue
Delco Times Editorial Dec 2, 2018
It is a phrase we have heard hundreds of times from the people we send to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., to represent us. Common sense gun reform.
We heard it after Columbine. And after Sandy Hook. And after Parkland, to say nothing of the mass shootings that have happened in places in addition to our neighborhood schools. Every time there was a mass shooting incident – such as the recent massacre of those worshiping at a Pittsburgh synagogue – there has been talk of reforming gun laws. And for the most part, the sound has been allowed to fade, much like the echoes of distant gunfire. Backed by the power – and money – of the National Rifle Association, seemingly every attempt to curb gun violence with sensible reform has been shot down. For years, especially here in gun-loving Pennsylvania, it has been the third rail of politics. Gun reform legislation routinely goes nowhere in Harrisburg. But there are signs, both here in the Keystone State and across the nation, that the tide may be shifting. Unfortunately, there also are signs that it is not happening soon enough.

What are Centre County schools doing to make students safer on buses and at bus stops?
Centre Daily Times BY SARAH PAEZ November 30, 2018 04:17 PM Updated November 30, 2018 04:22 PM
In the past two months, a string of fatal incidents involving children being struck by cars at their school bus stops started a national conversation about how school districts, parents and communities can preserve student safety while waiting for, boarding or disembarking the school bus. While statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely by taking the school bus, between the years 2005 and 2015, 102 school-age children were struck and killed in school-transportation-related crashes. Sixty-four percent of those fatalities were caused by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses, and the other 36 percent were caused by vehicles of other body types.

Bezos’ preschools come as rich get richer, more generous
WHYY By Associated Press Sally Ho December 2, 2018
From Jeff Bezos’ free preschools to Andrew Carnegie’s public libraries, education stands out as a favorite cause among America’s wealthiest people. And as the rich get richer, and apparently more generous, this legacy of so-called investment philanthropy has shaped government priorities and driven policy changes. But with such high-profile giving fueled by both capitalism and poverty, critics have thrust that dichotomy into the spotlight, challenging how the system that allowed these philanthropists to amass their fortunes ultimately contributes to the social problems they’re trying to address. Bezos announced this fall he’s dedicating half of his new $2 billion Bezos Day One Fund toward creating free preschools in low-income communities nationwide, which could make him the top philanthropic funder of early education. It’s unknown if Bezos considers this seed money or a fixed endowment, but the tech titan, newspaper owner and space entrepreneur is clear he wants to disrupt the status quo in the same way his company has changed retail, declaring his preschoolers are “the customer.”

Another 'miracle’ school exposed. Sigh.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss November 30
Twenty years ago, the famed Yale child psychiatrist and educator James Comer published a book, “Waiting for A Miracle: Why Schools Can’t Solve Our Problems and How We Can.” Two decades later, Americans still fall for the notion of “miracle schools,” those hailed by politicians and policymakers as having some secret sauce that can turn around troubled schools seemingly without much trouble and work wonders for needy students. The only problem is that these stories virtually always get debunked. Remember when we learned within the last year that the “miracle” D.C. school system was graduating many of its students without the requisite requirements? Now, we have a new scandal revealed in an exposé by reporters Erica L. Green and Katie Benner of the New York Times. They investigated the private K-12 T.M. Landry School in Louisiana, which was famed for getting its mostly black and working-class students into elite colleges. But they found “a darker reality” at T.M. Landry, a school founded by Michael and Tracey Landry, with phony academic records and claims of abuse of students. The story hit so hard because the school had so much positive publicity. It says, in part:

Annual PenSPRA Symposium set for March 28-29, 2019
Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association Website
Once again, PenSPRA will hold its annual symposium with nationally-recognized speakers on hot topics for school communicators. The symposium, held at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University, promises to provide time for collegial sharing and networking opportunities. Mark you calendars now!
We hope you can join us. Plans are underway, so check back for more information.

Build on finance, policy, board culture skills at PSBA’s Applied School Director Training
Four convenient locations in December and January
Take the next step in your professional development with Applied School Director Training. Building upon topics broadly covered in New School Director Training, this new, interactive evening event asks district leaders to dive deeper into three areas of school governance: school finance, board policy and working collaboratively as a governance team. Prepare for future leadership positions and committee work in this workshop-style training led by experts and practitioners. Learn how to:
·         Evaluate key finance documents such as budget and audit materials
·         Review and analyze board policies and administrative regulations
·         Build positive board culture by developing strong collaboration skills
Locations and Dates:
Dec.11, 2018 — Seneca Valley SD
Dec. 12, 2018 — Selinsgrove, Selinsgrove Area Middle School
Jan. 10, 2019 — Bethlehem, Nitschmann Middle School
Jan. 17, 2019 — State College

Cost: This event is complimentary for All-Access members or $75 per person with standard membership and $150 per person for nonmembers. Register online by logging in to myPSBA.

PASBO is looking for leaders! The deadline for board seats is Dec 31st, 2018.
PASBO members who desire to seek election as Director or Vice President should send a letter of intent with a current resume and picture to the Immediate Past President Edward G. Poprik, PCSBO, who is chair of the PASBO Nominations and Elections Committee.
More info:

NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact

PSBA Board Presidents’ Panel
Nine locations around the state running Jan 29, 30 and 31st.
Share your leadership experience and learn from others in your area at this event designed for board presidents, superintendents and board members with interest in pursuing leadership roles. Workshop real solutions to the specific challenges you face with a PSBA-moderated panel of school leaders. Discussion will address the most pressing challenges facing PA public schools.

2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.

Save the Date:  PARSS Annual Conference May 1-3, 2019
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

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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