Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 23: Register now for PSBA Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg Monday April 29, 2019

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.

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Register now for PSBA Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg Monday April 29, 2019

“Sonney hasn’t been a lead sponsor on many education-related bills in recent years. One exception: he has repeatedly introduced a measure that would require families to pay for their spot in a cyber charter school if their district offers an in-house cyber option.”
New education leaders in Pa. Legislature seek to reduce role of state tests, increase accountability for cyber charters
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent January 23, 2019
State Rep. Curt Sonney hails from just outside Erie, Pennsylvania, representing an ‘L’-shaped district jammed into the state’s northwestern corner. State Sen. Ryan Aument comes from the state’s heartland, and represents a chunk of fast-growing Lancaster County. But the two Republican lawmakers have something important in common: they will lead the education committees in their respective chambers this legislative session. Their appointments make them major players on an issue that tends to draw considerable attention in Harrisburg. Aument, a fixture on House and Senate Education Committees since arriving in Harrisburg eight years ago, has personal and professional ties to education. He majored in the subject while in college at The Citadel, and his wife taught for years at the Milton Hershey School near Harrisburg.

PSBA Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg Monday April 29, 2019
All PSBA-members are invited to attend Advocacy Day on Monday, April 29, 2019 at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. In addition, this year PSBA will be partnering with the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU) and Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) to strengthen our advocacy impact. The focus for the day will be meetings with legislators to discuss critical issues affecting public education. There is no cost to attend, and PSBA will assist in scheduling appointments with legislators once your registration is received. The day will begin with a continental breakfast and issue briefings prior to the legislator visits. Registrants will receive talking points, materials and leave-behinds to use with their meetings. PSBA staff will be stationed at a table in the main Rotunda during the day to answer questions and provide assistance. Register now at
School directors can register online now by logging in to myPSBA. If you need assistance logging in and registering contact Alysha Newingham, Member Data System Administrator at The day’s agenda and other details will be available soon. If you have questions about Advocacy Day, legislative appointments or need additional information, contact

“The deal includes caps on class sizes, and hiring full-time nurses for every school, as well as a librarian for every middle and high school in the district by the fall of 2020. The union also won a significant concession from the district on standardized tests: Next year a committee will develop a plan to reduce the number of assessments by half. The pro-charter school board agreed to vote on a resolution calling on the state to cap the number of charter schools.”
Los Angeles Teachers’ Strike to End as Deal Is Reached
New York Times by By Jennifer Medina and Dana Goldstein Jan. 22, 2019
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles public school teachers reached a deal with officials on Tuesday to end a weeklong strike that had affected more than half a million students, winning an array of supplementary services after an era in education marked by attacks on traditional public schools and their teachers. The deal showed the clout the teachers’ union has with Democrats in power in this city and this state. But union leaders said that what was perhaps more important to them was that the strike had provided an alternate narrative to the school choice movement that grew up around the idea that traditional public schools were factories of failure that needed to be broken up and rethought.
The deal includes caps on class sizes, and hiring full-time nurses for every school, as well as a librarian for every middle and high school in the district by the fall of 2020. The union also won a significant concession from the district on standardized tests: Next year a committee will develop a plan to reduce the number of assessments by half. The pro-charter school board agreed to vote on a resolution calling on the state to cap the number of charter schools. Teachers also won a 6 percent pay raise, but that was the same increase proposed by the district before the strike. The settlement came after tens of thousands of teachers in the nation’s second-largest public school system marched in downtown Los Angeles and picketed outside schools for six school days, and after a round of marathon negotiating sessions over the holiday weekend. The contract was ratified by an “overwhelming supermajority” of the roughly 30,000 members of the union, officials said Tuesday evening. Teachers are expected to be back in their classrooms Wednesday morning.

Rabb to host Policy Committee hearing on fair school funding Wednesday, Jan. 23rd in Philadelphia
Policy Committee    January 18, 2019 | 5:08 PM
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 18 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing to discuss the moral implications and practical solutions to addressing Pennsylvania’s ranking as the worse state in the U.S. on public education funding equity.
The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the Eleanor C. Emlen School, 6501 Chew Ave., Philadelphia. The media and public are invited to attend.
He will be joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who previously served on the Basic Education Funding Commission, Representative James Roebuck, chairman of the House Democratic Education Committee and Representative Jason Dawkins, chairman of the Philadelphia County Delegation.

Lehigh Valley for All is hosting Education Summit 6:30-8:30 Wednesday, January 23
WHO: Lehigh Valley for All is hosting Education Summit
WHAT: Education Summit, symposium and public discussion
WHEN: 6:30-8:30 Wednesday, January 23,
WHERE:  Steelworkers Union Hall, 53 E. Lehigh St. Bethlehem, back parking lot and entrance

Lehigh Valley for All will be hosting an Education Summit to discuss many aspects of the educational system in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.  Topics will include school and neighborhood safety, charter schools, helping at risk students, education equality, strengthening staff and curriculum, current and future legislation to help improve our system.  We will allow written questions from the audience, so other topics may be covered depending on audience participation.

Register for PA Schools Work Delaware County Work Group Conference
Saturday, February 2, 2019 8:45 am – 12:00 pm at DCIU
Join the DCIU and the PA Schools Work coalition to work together to advocate for PA public schools, their students and the communities they serve.
At the event, you will:
Hear stories about how funding affects students and educators across Delaware County
Learn how to speak with your local legislators to advocate for the needs of our students
Connect on social media and grow your network to influence stakeholders in your community

“Two public education advocacy organizations in the state, PA Schools Work and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, are calling on state lawmakers to add $10 million to what is allocated in the 2019-20 state budget for career and technical education, from $92 million to $102 million. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children has drafted a report “Skilled Workers Needed: Ensuring Investments in Career and Technical Education” that was handed out at Friday’s MBIT event and can be viewed at There are 74 public career and technical schools in the state educating 55,000 students, according to the report.”
Officials advocate for more state tech school funding at MBIT event
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English Posted Jan 19, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Career and technical schools like Middle Bucks Institute of Technology in Warwick play a vital role in replenishing a skilled workforce, those who spoke at Friday’s event said. Pennsylvania needs to step up its support of career and technical schools in the state, employers and state and other officials said during a brief news conference and tour Friday at Middle Bucks Institute of Technology in Warwick. Technical schools play a vital role in replenishing the supply of carpenters, mechanics, machine operators and others in the skilled trades, those who spoke added. Gustavo Perea, CEO of the Royersford-based general contractor Adams Bickel Associates, said there are 500,000 unfilled construction jobs in the United States and that 46 percent of U.S. employers can’t find the skilled crafts workers they are looking for. “The shortage is real and it’s a difficult consequence for us,” Perea said. “It’s important for policy makers to support career and technical education.”

Penn Hills School District, facing $10.9M budget shortfall, accepts state oversight
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, 11:33 p.m.
The state-tapped chief recovery officer set to begin work at Penn Hills School District next month will confront an anticipated 2018-19 budget shortfall of $10.9 million, looming spikes in debt payments and a proposed property tax rate hike that would make residents in Penn Hills among the highest-taxed in Allegheny County. Superintendent Nancy Hines said Tuesday the district does not plan to appeal the Department of Education’s oversight move last week to place Penn Hills in financial recovery status. That means the state will install a full-time recovery officer at the district by the first week of February. State education officials have begun the search for candidates but have not yet disclosed any potential hires. “Of course we’re concerned, but nobody is panicking,” Hines said shortly after Tuesday’s finance and human resources committee meetings at Linton Middle School, the first public gathering of board members and administrators since the financial-recovery announcement. “It’s business as usual, keep forging ahead, and then we’ll have an extra set of eyes to help in the business office.”

Catasauqua schools must be reimbursed for defunct charter school's pension obligations, court rules
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau January 22, 2019
Catasauqua Area School District is not liable for a defunct charter school’s unpaid pension payments for teachers and must be reimbursed, a state court has ruled. The Commonwealth Court order means the Pennsylvania Department of Education owes Catasauqua $140,409. That’s how much money the department, on behalf of the pension system, subtracted from the district’s state subsidy to cover the delinquent pension payments Medical Academy Charter School racked up before closing in 2016. The opinion, written by Judge Ellen Ceisler, appears to clear up legal ambiguity created by a prior court decision that did not address the final liability of defunct charter schools’ pension obligations. The old case said school districts cannot be held liable for charter schools’ missed pension payments, but did not mandate refunds. Ceisler’s opinion makes it clear the state is on the hook. That could force the Legislature to rewrite the much-maligned charter school funding law.

Beverage tax provides resources for Philadelphians who need it most | Opinion
Inquirer Commentary by Rev. James S. Hall Jr., Updated: January 22, 2019 - 9:54 AM
Ever since 5-year-old Makayla Grant of Northeast Philly started kindergarten this fall, she has been thriving. She runs to her classroom in the morning and joyfully takes part in conversations with teachers and classmates. She is often her class’ student of the week, and was October’s student of the month. She loves learning to read and write. Makayla’s instant love for school is a testament to her devoted parents, Eric and Lakesha. It is also a testament to the fact that kindergarten is not her first school experience. You see, Makayla is among 4,000 Philadelphia children — our children — who have been enrolled in quality pre-K funded by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. Makayla spent two years in PHLpreK, and the benefits, according to her dad, were clear from the first day of kindergarten. This little girl was ready. Getting children like Makayla school-ready is critical to their long term success. Fewer than half of Philadelphia’s students start kindergarten ready to learn. These children lag behind their peers and unfortunately never catch up. But PHLpreK is changing that, and improving equity across our education system for the kids who need it the most.

Activists urge Philly school district to adopt Black Lives Matter week
Philly Trib by Ryanne Persinger Tribune Staff Writer Jan 18, 2019
Keziah Ridgeway distinctly remembers two incidents from her years as a student in the School District of Philadelphia: One was when her teacher told her she was racist for disagreeing with the teacher’s approval of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the other was when her high school guidance counselor told her that her idea of attending an Ivy League university was unrealistic. “If I wasn’t so confident in who I was at the time, this counselor’s statement could have broken me,” said Ridgeway, now a history teacher at Northeast High School. “These incidents didn’t occur in a microcosm. They represent what children of color experience every single day in many Philadelphia classrooms, which is why we need anti-racist training.” Ridgeway, also a member of the Melanated Educators Collective and the Caucus of Working Educators, urged the Philadelphia Board of Education on Thursday to support the Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Approximately 25 to 30 members stood up in solidarity, some wearing their affiliated T-shirts. The Black Lives Matter Week of Action, which will be held Feb. 2-10, aims to take action to eliminate outcomes derived from racism in public education.

“Board President Mike Still said if the development increases enrollment, potential tax dollars could be a wash. “If any of these projects bring 10 percent growth in students, I don’t know if our benefit is great,” he said. Still said the board will continue to discus whether or not to extend LERTA.”
Developers: Further Antrim Township projects impossible without tax breaks
Herald Mail by By Joyce F. Nowell January 21, 2019
GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Without the opportunity for more tax breaks, future commercial development in the area of Interstate 81 and U.S. 11 will come to a halt. That was the message that land developers brought last week to the Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.) School Board. A full-court press saw five developers attend the board meeting asking that the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, program continues. Brent Miles, vice president of Missouri-based NorthPoint Development, and Pat Coggins, vice president of development for Atapco Properties of Baltimore, told the board continuing the program is vital. “We wouldn’t continue,” Miles said of his company’s plans with the prospect of the LERTA application period ending later this year. The school board has the option of extending the program, which was instituted in 2012.

Ears on the Philly Board of Education: January 17, 2019
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools by Diane Payne January 17, 2019
Present: Board President Joyce Wilkerson, Vice-president Wayne Walker, Leticia Egea-Hinton, Mallory Fix Lopez, Lee Huang, Maria McColgan, Chris McGinley and student reps Julia Frank and Alfredo Pratico were present; Julia Danzy and Angela McIver were absent.  (All meeting materials, and videos of meetings can be found on the BOE page of the SDP website.Nine members of APPS were present for this meeting; all nine testified on behalf of public education. Student singers from Northeast High School opened the meeting.  Their performance pieces reflected the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of this Monday’s day of remembrance.  These student performers are a lovely way to begin the meetings and a reminder of what we fight for when we defend quality public education. Minutes of the December 13, 2018 Action Meeting were approved.

Federal Government Dishes Out Hundreds of Millions to Charter Schools
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch January 22, 2019 //
Just in case you thought that charter schools were very well funded by the Walton Family (the richest family in the world, at nearly $200 billion), the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, Reed Hastings, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold, Philip Anschutz, and a slew of other billionaires, think again. The U.S. Department of Education will award nearly $500 million to expand charter chains this year. Here are the list of grantees, all of them already overflowing with private and state funding. Why, you might ask, is the Department of Education (and Congress) funding already well-funded privately managed charter schools? Why give this kind of money to schools that don’t need it, when there are so many underfunded public schools? Ask the Republican party. Ask Betsy DeVos. Ask Arne Duncan. Ask Corey Booker. Ask Hakeem Jeffries.


Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 16-22, 2019
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on January 22, 2019 - 3:41pm 
Assessment reform proposals are a high priority in many state capitals as legislative sessions get underway.  Proposed bills call for cutting the number of tests, reducing high-stakes misuses, and stopping the practice of awarding school grades based on test results. Several new governors and superintendents of education are also taking the lead in rolling back standardized exam overkill.

Open Board Positions for 2019 PA Principals Association Election
Thursday, January 10, 2019 9:05 AM
Margaret S. (Peg) Foster, principal, academic affairs, in the Crestwood School District, has been appointed by President Michael Allison to serve as the chairperson of the 2019 PA Principals Association Nominations Committee to oversee the 2019 election. Her committee consists of the following members: Curtis Dimmick, principal in the Northampton Area School District; Jacqueline Clark-Havrilla, principal in the Spring-Ford School District; and Joseph Hanni, vice principal in the Scranton School District.   If you are interested in running for one of the open board positions (shown below) in the 2019 election, please contact Stephanie Kinner at or (717) 732-4999 for an application. Applications must be received in the state office by Friday, February 22, 2019.

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.

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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