Thursday, December 6, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 6: Statewide, there are more than 4,000 unaccompanied homeless students.

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Statewide, there are more than 4,000 unaccompanied homeless students.

PASBO Advocacy Tips For The New Legislative Session
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Pennsylvania schools work – for students, communities and the economy when adequate resources are available to give all students an equal opportunity to succeed.
Join A Movement that Supports our Schools & Communities
PA Schools Work website
Our students are in classrooms that are underfunded and overcrowded. Teachers are paying out of pocket and picking up the slack. And public education is suffering. Each child in Pennsylvania has a right to an excellent public education. Every child, regardless of zip code, deserves access to a full curriculum, art and music classes, technical opportunities and a safe, clean, stable environment. All children must be provided a level chance to succeed. PA Schools Work is fighting for equitable, adequate funding necessary to support educational excellence. Investing in public education excellence is the path to thriving communities, a stable economy and successful students.

Statewide, there are more than 4,000 unaccompanied homeless students.
Two Philly homeless students were denied an adequate education. Now, there are statewide ripples.
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Updated: December 5, 2018- 5:57 PM
Twice last school year, Philadelphia homeless students lost out on special education services because the city School District failed to appoint advocates to fight for their rights. Now, the district must come up with a new system to make sure such “surrogate parents” are assigned promptly to homeless students eligible for special-education services and tracked. Also, the state will soon issue guidance to districts and charter schools across Pennsylvania reminding them of their legal obligation to do the same. The changes come as a result of a complaint filed by the Education Law Center, a city-based nonprofit that advocates for students across the state. Paige Joki, the lawyer who filed the complaint, said the two students’ cases were indicative of a larger problem. “We believe that these barriers are systemic,” said Joki, whose work centers on homeless students. “This is not just a School District of Philadelphia problem.” Under federal law, school districts have 30 days to name surrogate parents to advocate and sign off on educational decisions for unaccompanied disabled students experiencing homelessness. These volunteers are often people who have a relationship with the children they represent.

Pennsylvania pressing schools to ensure special-ed students aren’t on their own
Courier Express by Avi Wolfman-Arent Dec 5, 2018 Updated 7 hrs ago
After a pair of state investigations, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Special Education will send new guidelines to school districts across the state on how to identify and serve students who require surrogate parents to advocate for their special-education rights. The directive comes on the heels of complaints filed on behalf of two homeless students in Philadelphia who didn’t receive surrogates and ultimately failed to receive special-education accommodations. According to federal law, when special-education students don’t have guardians, school districts must assign them a surrogate who will fight for their legal rights and approve services the student will receive. Surrogates volunteer for the role and are typically substitute teachers or someone who has a relationship with the child.

Philly City Council must use this moment to fix the way it funds the District
The needs of the schools must be considered in tandem with those of the city
the Notebook December 5 — 8:47 pm, 2018
At City Council’s first meeting with the new Board of Education on Nov. 27, Mayor Kenney said a page had been turned in Philadelphia’s history now that the School District is back under local control after 17 years of being led by the state-run School Reform Commission. “Now, our city’s future is in our hands — right where we want it to be,” he said. “Together, we can ensure that there are quality schools in every Philadelphia neighborhood.”The operative word here is together. Despite the welcome return of the District to full local control, the dynamics between the city and the District have not been fundamentally altered. Now, as in the past — dating to well before the state takeover in 2001 — Council treats the School District as a secondary responsibility, with lesser needs than city government.

Baldwin High's student-run Baldwin Bean serves coffee and job skills
Post Gazette by REBECCA SODERGREN DEC 5, 2018 8:30 AM
Baldwin High School students can now start their days with cups of java prepared and served by students who have special needs. Many school departments and students collaborated to create Baldwin Bean,the new school coffee shop, which opened last month. Special education teacher Eric Jankoski said the shop runs on a “Partners” model that has already been used in physical education and music classes, allowing students with special needs to work alongside other students. About four students run the shop each morning during first and second periods. Students in technology and entrepreneurship classes join students with special needs behind the counter. About 30 total students work in the shop on a rotating basis. Mr. Jankoski and his fellow special education teacher, Joshua Stahl, have mulled this idea for several years as a means of helping students make the transition to employment after they finish school. The teachers visited other schools with similar programs, including Quaker Valley and South Park high schools, which have coffee shops in their cafeterias, as well as Elizabeth Forward, which runs a coffee shop in the school media center, and South Fayette, which has a school store run by special education students.

Erie schools’ monitor focuses on janitors, other staff
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted at 2:01 AM
State-appointed financial administrator likely to propose outsourcing custodians, changing rules for boiler tenders at Erie School District. Over the years, as the Erie School District has tried to save money, the jobs of custodians and building engineers have come up for discussion. The discussion has returned, but with a new element and with an added intensity. The discussion is originating not with the School Board or the district administration, but with the Erie School District’s state-appointed financial administrator, who is under orders from the General Assembly to help the district achieve long-term financial stability. The report of the administrator, Charles Zogby, is not yet done. But he has told the Erie School Board that he is likely to propose that the board consider two initiatives to help keep the district’s finances sound:
• Outsourcing the district’s janitorial services, which cost the district $4.4 million in wages and benefits for 63 employees.
• Repealing a 22-year-old School Board resolution that requires licensed building engineers, who tend to steam boilers, to be present in all school buildings, including those without steam boilers, whenever the buildings are open and children are present.
Zogby outlined his likely proposals during a special meeting for the Erie School Board on Saturday. He must develop a financial improvement plan for the Erie School District as part of the 2017 package of laws in which the General Assembly gave the district an additional $14 million in annual state aid to remain solvent.

Report shows rise in Erie’s child poverty numbers
GoErie By David Bruce  Posted at 12:01 AM Updated at 6:04 AM
Nearly half of the children under 5 in Erie live below federal poverty levels, according to a new U.S. Census report.
Nearly half of all Erie children younger than 5 are living in poverty. The situation is almost as dire in Erie County, where almost one-third of them live below the federal poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey. The five-year estimates were released Thursday and average data collected from 2013 to 2017. The report showed that the average percent of Erie preschoolers living in poverty increased from 41.1 from 2012-2016 to 45.4 from 2013 to 2017. Erie County’s percentage rose from 29.1 to 32.3 during that same timeframe. “It’s a call to action,” said Bill Jackson, president of the United Way of Erie County. “It is disturbing anytime you see these kinds of numbers go up.” Poverty data is just one part of the report, which includes other demographic information such as housing, employment and aging data. It is available on the bureau’s website,

Shortage of Special Educators Adds to Classroom Pressures
Education Week By Christina A. Samuels and Alex Harwin December 5, 2018
The number of special education teachers nationally has dropped by more than 17 percent over the past decade, a worrisome trend in a career path that has seen chronic shortages for years. An analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center shows that while the number of special education teachers was dropping, the number of students with disabilities ages 6 to 21 declined by only about 1 percent over the same time period. And as a whole, the number of teachers in all fields has gone up slightly over the past decade, as has overall enrollment. For the 2015-16 school year, which offers the most up-to-date data, there was one special education teacher for every 17 students with disabilities. That's more special education students per special educator than the overall teacher-student ratio, which has held steady at about 1 to 16 for the past decade.

For safer schools, we need more hugs, not more guns
Students who feel disconnected from their community are more likely to lash out
Hechinger Report Column by ANDRE PERRY December 4, 2018
“In less than 18 years, we have already seen more deaths related to school shootings than in the whole 20th century,” said Antonis Katsiyannis, Clemson University researcher and the lead author of a 2018 study on school shootings. “One alarming trend is that the overwhelming majority of 21st-century shooters were adolescents, suggesting that it is now easier for them to access guns, and that they more frequently suffer from mental health issues or limited conflict resolution skills.” The vast majority of school shooters are white men; there’s apparently something about masculinity — seeing one’s body as an instrument of power and dominance — that contributes to a profound disconnectedness that can lead to violence when students are withdrawn from their teachers, students and family members. But the rise of mass shootings in schools has scrambled our thinking about what ultimately keeps our children safe. The problem isn’t that schools aren’t safe enough, but that students don’t feel secure enough in school communities. Emotionally healthy, well-adjusted youth don’t tear through their classrooms armed with weaponry.

When Publicly Funded Schools Exclude Segments of the Public
Policy brief analyzes discriminatory practices and possible legal protections in an era of education privatization.
National Education Policy Center Publication December 6, 2018
BOULDER, CO (December 6, 2018) – In Indiana, a private religious school receiving over $6.5 million in public funds via the state’s voucher program placed an LGBT counselor on leave because she had married her same-sex partner. In Milwaukee, where students with disabilities constitute 12-20% of public school enrollments, they constitute only 2% of enrollments in private schools participating in the city’s voucher program. Similarly, charter schools enroll a lower percentage of students with disabilities (particularly more severe disabilities) when compared to traditional public schools. In response to these and other issues of access and discrimination, some defenders of these schools have argued that the schools have broken no laws—and they are often correct. How can this be? To answer that question, professors Julie F. Mead of the University of Wisconsin and Suzanne E. Eckes of Indiana University authored a policy brief, How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, which analyzes discrimination in an era of education privatization.

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.

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.

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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