Wednesday, January 2, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 2: Meet your newest PA General Assembly

Started in November 2010, daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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Meet your newest PA General Assembly

Radnor panel hears from fair education funding group
Delco Times By Linda Stein @lsteinreporter January 1, 2019
RADNOR — The Radnor Township School Board government relations and communications committee recently listened to an advocate from Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), a nonprofit that promotes more school funding and health care for children. Tomea Sippio-Smith, K-12 education policy director, said various organizations are taking part in a lobbying campaign called Pennsylvania Schools Work ( that seeks to increase state funding for public schools. Although the state has adopted a fair funding formula, Sippio-Smith said in practice it is not fair to poorer districts that need more help. Board President Lydia Solomon said that she had attended a meeting with other Delaware County school board presidents and heard how some districts have “a dire, dire situation” because there is not enough money for education. If increased state funding is not provided “they are going to be bankrupt and be taken over by the state and lose local control.” Sippio-Smith said that these neighboring districts are part of the ongoing fair funding lawsuit brought by the William Penn School District. “Some districts, no matter how much they raise taxes, will never be able to not only stay afloat but be able provide students with what in some districts are considered necessities,” she said. These funding problems also affect some districts in Montgomery and Bucks counties, as well as Philadelphia.

Blogger note: if you were offline for winter break here are links to our postings from last week:
Walmart heirs promote charter schools among black community
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 27, 2018

Students with behavior problems, low achievement or special needs are sometimes not encouraged to apply to charter schools.
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 28, 2018

Aiming toward fair funding for Pa. schools
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec. 31, 2018

More women, lots of new faces: Pennsylvania, meet your newest General Assembly
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Updated Dec 31; Posted Jan 1, 6:00 AM
A record number of women will be sworn into office in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly on Tuesday with 50 of them in the House and 12 in the Senate. Another woman will take the oath of office in the House later this month. That may be historic for Pennsylvania but still 34 other states have a higher percentage of women in their state Legislatures, according to preliminary post-election information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. But that’s not the only factoid about who will have a hand in the law-making process in Pennsylvania in 2019-20 that may strike you as interesting. Here are some others:

More Democrats, more women - but the GOP still rules in Pa. legislature
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, Updated: January 1, 2019- 4:50 PM
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s legislature kicked off its two-year session Tuesday with celebratory receptions and swearing-in ceremonies, all devoid of the tension that could quickly settle over its dealings with the Wolf administration. The “new” legislature will include more women and more Democrats. But Republicans will still hold firm majorities in both chambers — and their ranks will be more conservative, as the “blue wave” in the November election wiped out many of the more moderate GOP lawmakers from the Philadelphia suburbs. The new power dynamic could set the stage for a chillier relationship between the legislature and newly reelected Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat once proclaimed America’s most liberal governor, and his new second-in-command, Lt. Gov.-elect John Fetterman, also an unabashed progressive. Within weeks, the two sides will have to grapple with Pennsylvania’s sobering financial reality, one that independent analysts say includes a $1 billion-plus budget deficit. Still, none of those looming strains were on display in the Capitol on Tuesday, as legislators, along with friends and family — cameras in hand — gathered for the pomp-and-circumstance of swearing-in day.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has ambitious plans for second term, but strong opposition remains
Morning Call by Marc Levy Of The Associated Press December 31, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf, who introduced himself at his first inauguration as an unconventional governor and then unveiled an ambitious blueprint to transform Pennsylvania's tax structure, has big plans for his second term, although with perhaps a more sober view of what is possible. Wolf, a Democrat, faced huge Republican legislative majorities in his first term, and will again face substantial Republican majorities as he hopes to nail down second-term achievements, including on stalled first-term priorities. He is frank about his prospects for success to increase the minimum wage, expand background checks on firearms purchases, overhaul how public schools are funded and impose a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production. “I don't know,” he said during a December interview in his Capitol offices with The Associated Press.

In Congress, House Democrats bracing for a robust freshman class
Inquirer by Elise Viebeck and Paul Kane, Washington Post, Updated: January 1, 2019- 6:53 AM
WASHINGTON — There is a restiveness in Washington as a new Congress convenes this week. Democrats will take control of the House at a time of startling upheaval in the federal government. A confrontation between President President Trump and Congress over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has partially shut down the government for almost two weeks, with no end in sight, hinting at more conflict in the year to come. The House's transformation from a body consumed for eight years by Republican infighting to one dominated by Democrats will be complete as members are sworn in Thursday. At the center of this drama is a massive class of about 100 freshmen taking the oath of office, including 63 Democrats whose victories pushed Republicans out of power in the biggest party gains since the post-Watergate election of 1974. This group has the chance to be a historic class based on its size and, more important, the unique background of many newcomers, from the military and intelligence agencies to past Democratic administrations and community activism.

Major pension overhaul — with reduced benefits — going into effect for new state workers, teachers
Steve Esack Contact Reporter Morning Call Harrisburg BureauJanuary 1, 2019
Pennsylvania’s pension overhaul law goes into effect today for most new state government employees and on July 1 for all new school employees. Under the law, known as Act 5, the affected new public workers no longer will receive full guaranteed pensions backed by taxpayers and immune to the ups and downs of national and world economies. The law creates two new retirement plans that carry less risk for taxpayers and therefore lower retirement benefits for workers who enroll in them. One plan is a hybrid. It puts about half the retirement savings in a traditional, taxpayer-backed fund. The other half goes into a private sector 401(k) that rides the stock market’s ups and downs. The other option lets workers put all their retirement money into a 401(k) account.

46 Pennsylvania Districts Make AP 'Honor Roll'
46 Pennsylvania school districts were recognized for increasing access to Advanced Placement programs.
By Kara Seymour, Patch National Staff | Dec 12, 2018 1:19 pm ET
Hundreds of school districts, including 46 in Pennsylvania, have been named to the annual AP District Honor Roll. The annual Honor Roll recognizes schools that increase access and performance related to Advanced Placement programs. More than 370 school districts across the country and in Canada were recognized on the 9th annual list. To qualify, large school districts had to show there was at least 4 percent more participation and access to Advanced Placement programs. Medium districts had to see at least a 6 percent increase and small districts had to see at least 11 percent. These schools increased access to Advanced Placement courses for minority students while also improving or maintaining the rate at which participating students scored a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. The Honor Roll recognition is based on three years of data from 2016 to 2018. Here are the Pennsylvania districts that made the 9th annual AP honor roll:

Norwin elementary school wins national honor
Trib Live by JOE NAPSHA  | Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
A Norwin elementary school won national honors for exceptional student achievement in 2018, making it one of up to 100 schools nationwide to receive such recognition. Sheridan Terrace Elementary School in North Huntingdon, which educates students in kindergarten through fourth grade, was named a National ESEA Distinguished School for its students making significant achievements, according to the National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education Act State Program Administrators. The organization is comprised of state ESEA program administrators managing state and federal education programs. The school, which opened in 2003, serves students from Irwin, North Irwin and the North Huntingdon communities of Sheridan Terrace, Shafton, Westmoreland City, Ardara, Larimer, Trafford and Westmoreland City. The school earned the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics in 2014. The distinguished school program started in 1996. It showcases the success of schools in categories of exceptional student performance for two consecutive years, closing the achievement gap between student groups and excellence in serving special populations of students.

New Jersey appeals court strikes down current PARCC test as graduation requirement
WHYY By Joe Hernandez January 1, 2019
A New Jersey appeals court has struck down state regulations dictating how high schools use the PARCC exams. In a New Year’s Eve opinion, the three-judge panel scrapped state Department of Education rules that said schools had to give an English test in tenth grade and an Algebra test in any high school year and that students had to pass them to graduate. According to the opinion, that policy violated state law, which says New Jersey high school students must take one combined exam in eleventh grade to determine whether they can get a diploma. “The statute says that the graduation test has to be a single comprehensive exam in the eleventh grade,” said Jessica Levin, with the Education Law Center, which was one of the groups that filed the legal challenge. “The [DOE] regulations blatantly contradict that requirement.”

How to help public school teachers love their profession again
The 2018 election was marked in many corners as the “Year of the Teacher.” Record numbers of educators ran for—and some were elected to—local, state and national office. Teachers also stormed statehouses from Arizona to West Virginia to demand better pay in what was known as the “Red for Ed” movement. Why were so many teachers motivated to leave the classroom and get political on a scale never before seen? According to EdChoice’s recent Schooling in America survey, a large proportion of public school educators around the country would not recommend their profession—specifically, teaching in public schools—to other colleagues or friends.  We polled 777 current public school teachers and asked whether they were favorable to the profession based on a Net Promoter Score (NPS) question. The results were stunning: Nearly three-fourths of teachers in our survey would not promote or recommend teaching in public schools based on the NPS rubric.

School Director Recognition Month
January 2019 is School Director Recognition Month!
PSBA Website
In January, we pause to salute a group of nine people who spend dozens of hours each month voluntarily leading our schools and making difficult decisions – they are the school directors.
As the successes of our students are being highlighted in a statewide campaign called “PA Public Schools: Success Starts Here,” let’s not forget our elected school directors who play a significant role in creating the environment where those successes can happen.

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.

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: PSBA Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg has been scheduled for Monday April 29, 2019

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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