Wednesday, April 3, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 3: When Congress passed IDEA in 1975 they committed to paying 40% of the cost. Feds currently pay just 14.7%

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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Pa Schools Work: Sign the Petition & Join the April 4th Twitter Storm!
The PA Schools Work campaign is hoping to get thousands of signatures from school leaders and others across the state to increase state support for k-12 education. Please add your name to the petition that urges Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to increase their investment in education.  Click here to sign and share the petition.
Additionally, please join Pa Schools Work partners for a LIGHTNING LUNCH HOUR from 12 noon- 1 p.m. on APRIL 4-to create a Twitter storm!  The goal of the Twitter storm is to collect thousands of signatures on the petition urging adequate school funding by generating a flurry of tweets around PA SCHOOL FUNDING.   Click here to view the Pa Schools Work guide for the April 4 Twitter Storm.

“Because the federal government has failed to honor its IDEA funding promise, K-12 schools and school districts throughout America have been forced to pay more than their fair share,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who introduced the measure, H.R.1878. “That means less funding for everything from teacher pay to class size to affording music, art and physical education classes. That’s why the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act to finally honor the IDEA promise is probably the most significant thing the federal government can do to support K-12 schools.”
H.R.1878: Lawmakers Look To Fully Fund IDEA
Disability Scoop by Michelle Diament | April 2, 2019
Bipartisan legislation to substantially increase Uncle Sam’s investment in special education is back on the table. Federal funding for educating students with disabilities would gradually increase under a bill known as the IDEA Full Funding Act, which was introduced by lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives late last month. he measure calls for incremental hikes in federal funding for special education, with the government taking on 40 percent of the cost — a level known as “full funding” — beginning in fiscal year 2029. When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed in 1975, Congress committed to paying 40 percent of the associated price tag. However, that has never happened and today the federal government is footing just 14.7 percent of the cost of special education, according to lawmakers behind the new legislation.

Blogger note: Is your member of congress on this list?
Pennsylvania Members of Congress Cosponsoring H.R.1878
To amend part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide full Federal funding of such part.

Democrat Pam Iovino wins special election to represent Pittsburgh suburbs in Pa. Senate
PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison April 2, 2019
Democrat Pam Iovino won a highly contested race to represent the 37th Senate District in the Pittsburgh suburbs Tuesday, flipping a Republican-held seat and putting her party in closer distance to controlling the chamber. Iovino, a Navy veteran and former Veterans Affairs aide to President George W. Bush, defeated businessman D. Raja, a Republican who was making his second run at the seat. With 198 out of 226 precincts reporting, Iovino had 54 percent of the vote as of 9:40 p.m. Tuesday, according to unofficial results. Raja conceded around that time, according to local reporters.  Iovino will succeed Republican former Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, who resigned the seat in January to serve in Congress.

“Raja called her to concede, a spokesman said. Iovino’s victory will not change the balance of power in Pennsylvania’s Senate, where Republicans hold a 26-21 majority. Iovino’s victory is somewhat short-lived: the seat is up again in next year’s election.”
Bellwether election in Pittsburgh suburb won by Democrat
MT. LEBANON, Pa. (AP) — Democrats claimed victory Tuesday after a two-month campaign for a vacant state Senate seat in politically divided suburban Pittsburgh where the sides tested some national themes ahead of 2020′s presidential election in a critical battleground state narrowly won by President Donald Trump. The seat had been largely controlled by Republicans the past half-century, but the district is viewed as increasingly friendly to Democrats in territory that party strategists now view as something of a bellwether. The winner, Democrat Pam Iovino, told her enthusiastic victory party at a union hall at Pittsburgh’s western edge that the district “is blue again” and worked her way through the crowd, hugging supporters. In a statement, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said Iovino’s victory shows Democrats “have momentum in key races and swing states across the country as the American people resoundingly reject Trump’s agenda and the Republican legislators across the country who follow his lead.” With more than 90% of precincts reporting before 10:30 p.m., Iovino led Republican D. Raja by 4,100 votes, or 54% to 46%.

Blogger note: Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 was over $1.6 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million, $436.1 million and $454.7 million respectively. We will continue rolling out cyber charter tuition expenses for taxpayers in education committee members, legislative leadership and various other districts.
In 2016-17, taxpayers in Senator @SenHutchinson’s school districts in Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Venango and Warren Counties  had to send over $13.2 million to chronically underperforming cybers that they never authorized. #SB34 (Schwank) or #HB526 (Sonney) could change that.
Links to additional bill information and several resources have been moved to the end of today’s postings
Data Source: PDE via PSBA

Allegheny-Clarion Valley SD
Butler Area SD
Clarion Area SD
Clarion-Limestone Area SD
Cranberry Area SD
Forest Area SD
Franklin Area SD
Karns City Area SD
Keystone  SD
Mars Area SD
Moniteau SD
North Clarion County SD
Oil City Area SD
Penncrest SD
Redbank Valley SD
Seneca Valley SD
Slippery Rock Area SD
South Butler County SD
Titusville Area SD
Union SD
Valley Grove SD
Warren County SD


Allegheny County charter schools struggle to close racial achievement gaps
Public Source by  Mary Niederberger  | April 2, 2019
Brick-and-mortar charter schools differ from traditional public schools in format, philosophies and funding, but new state data shows that Allegheny County charter schools similarly struggle to close achievement gaps between black and white students. White students in 10 local charter schools outperformed black students by double digits in state tests, according to 2017-18 data from the Department of Education’s Future Ready PA index. Experts who study the achievement gap between black and white students told PublicSource the disparities are more an issue of equity than ability. They cite such contributing factors as socioeconomics, implicit teacher bias, disparate discipline and lower expectations projected on black students. Among the charters, the highest achievement gaps were found in the highest-achieving schools, which are City Charter High School, with grades 9 to 12, and Environmental Charter School, which has grades K-8.

Forum speaker says teaching Pre-K part of ‘virtuous cycle’
Tribune Democrat By Dave Sutor April 3, 2019
Early childhood education is a key part of what Donna Cooper described as a “virtuous cycle.” Cooper, Public Citizens for Children and Youth’s executive director, explained how teaching pre-kindergarten youngsters both basic knowledge and social skills can help shape the adult they will eventually become during her visit to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness on Tuesday. And then those adults continue the cycle by making positive impacts. “We invest in the kids, and they end up investing in the community,” Cooper said during an interview before delivering the keynote address during a forum titled “Poverty’s Impact on Early Literacy.” “And they also end up making the community more prosperous. And we end up reversing the consequences of childhood property.” She put her message into the context of challenges facing Cambria County, where about 15 percent of the population lives in poverty, with Johnstown proper having a rate of approximately one-third. “I think the big message that we want to get out to the folks here is that Cambria County, like a lot of America, is having a hard time with sort of the economic transformation that we’re in,” Cooper said. “One of the ways that communities can reverse their economic prospects – one of the ways – is by recognizing the importance of investing in early childhood education because of the long-term positive benefits that early childhood education, when it’s high-quality, returns.”

'We need you': Advocates, professionals promote STEM careers at Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Conference
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer April 3, 2019
STEM goes much deeper than science, technology, engineering and math. Just ask Jenna Carpenter. “You make lives better. This is what STEM is,” Carpenter said. The Campbell University professor and nationwide advocate for women and girls pursuing STEM careers gave the keynote address during the 32nd annual Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Conference Tuesday at Millersville University. The conference, in which about 300 girls from middle and high schools in and around Lancaster County participated, exposed girls to in-demand STEM careers via hands-on breakout sessions with local scientists, doctors, engineers, professors and college students. “We need your innovation, your creative ideas and work ethic,” Carpenter told the students. “We need you.” STEM jobs, she said, are growing rapidly — so much so that there aren’t enough high school graduates to fill them. STEM occupations are projected to grow 12 percent by 2024, she said, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether it’s in the field of meteorology, forensic science or mechanical engineering, the opportunities young people — and girls especially — have to pick from are “limitless,” Carpenter said.

Adaptive curriculum at Central Valley allows pupil with autism to bloom
Beaver County Times By Rachel Wagoner Posted at 4:00 AM April 3, 2019
Two Central Valley School District teachers adapted technology education curriculum for a pupil with autism, which proved to be the key to helping the boy flourish in school and out.
CENTER TWP. — Jack Cassida had trouble engaging in teacher Matthew Reese’s technology classes. Jack, a fifth-grader at Todd Lane Elementary School in Center Township, has autism. He doesn’t learn the same as his classmates. Instead of letting Jack sit in his class doing busy work, Reese went to Jack’s special-education teachers, Cathy Scuilli and Cher Balestrieri, to see what could be done. “I never had a teacher come to me and say, ‘Your child can’t participate meaningfully in my class. What can we do?’” Scuilli said. Together the teachers worked to adapt the technology curriculum using a specialized program from Jack’s special-education class. The work that began as a way to get Jack caught up in technology class grew into a friendship that has impacted the student and his teachers and helped Jack blossom in many areas of his life.
“He’s really started to come into his own,” said his mother, Stacey Cassida.

Easton Arts Academy Charter administrator is on leave, CEO confirms
By Rudy Miller | For Updated Apr 2, 8:04 PM; Posted Apr 2, 4:24 PM
Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School’s chief administrative officer is now on leave, according to the school’s chief executive officer. CEO Joanna Hughes confirmed on Monday that Chief Administrative Officer Shawn Ferrara is on leave. She declined to comment on the reason for the leave or how long it will last. The confirmation comes two weeks after the school lost its third principalin two years, Joanellyn “Joey” Schubert. It also comes after former principal Susan Bostian sued the school, accusing Ferrara of rigging grades and forging employee evaluations. Bostian’s lawsuit was filed in December in Northampton County Court.

Two Pa. school superintendents call for more financial transparency from PIAA
Sunbury Daily Item By Francis Scarcella April 2, 2019
Two Pennsylvania school superintendents said the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) needs to be more open with its financial records because most of its funding comes from public member school districts. Laurel School District Superintendent Leonard Rich and Millcreek Township School District Superintendent William Hall are District VII and District X board members, respectively. "In my opinion, the PIAA is not a private organization because they are using public money," Rich said. "We are in public positions and there are ways to respond to questions from the media." Hall said when he began with the PIAA — the governing body for the state's 13 districts made up of more than 500 school districts — several years ago it was a "cash operation" but he immediately halted the process in District X, near Erie. "There needs to be more accountability in the PIAA and there needs to be more transparency," he said. "They always dealt with cash and we all thought it was odd. We absolutely would want to have transparency because these are tax dollars being used."

“The city argues that this revenue is subject to the business privilege tax because LVPG is compensated for providing these services and does not meet the definition of a “institution of purely public charity.” group physicians and clinicians are paid based on performance — proof, the city argues, that LVPG does not operate “entirely free from private profit motive,” one of the required characteristics of a purely public charity.”
LVHN subsidiary becomes third nonprofit to sue Allentown, challenges nearly $1 million tax bill
Lehigh Valley Physician Group, an affiliate of Lehigh Valley Health Network, has sued Allentown, joining a growing group of nonprofits challenging the city’s attempts to charge them a business privilege tax. LVPG’s suit, entered last week by law firm Stevens & Lee, challenges a nearly $1 million levy for years 2007 through 2016. Allentown billed the group last year as part of an effort to take a more “aggressive" approach to city nonprofits that Allentown officials believe are conducting profit-generating activities.  LVPG is the third group and second health network to file suit against the city. It faces the largest tax bill.

The Special Olympics funding outcry is over, but it’s been crickets over some of DeVos’s other proposed education budget cuts. Think civics, history, arts . . .
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss April 3 at 6:00 AM
The Trump administration has proposed eliminating a $4.8 million program to enhance American civics and history education. It has also called for making these cuts that would eliminate programs:
  • $1.2 billion for programs that help boost student academic achievement before and after school and during the summer.
  • $190 million to boost literacy instruction from birth to age 20, plus $27 million for grants aimed at improving literacy by supporting school libraries, professional development for school librarians and the provision of high-quality books to children and adolescents in low-income communities.
  • $27 million for arts education programs for children from low-income families and students with disabilities.
  • $10 million to boost community schools, which address the comprehensive academic, social and health services of students and families.
  • More than $207 billion over 10 years from student loan programs, including the elimination of hundreds of millions of dollars that go toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness and of Stafford subsidized loans for low-income students
And there are plenty of other cuts the Trump administration proposed for 2020 for the Education Department. They include a reduction of more than 55 percent in federal funds for the Federal Work-Study program, which helps students who have to work while attending college.
The other cuts just haven’t gotten the same attention as the outcry over a failed attempt to eliminate federal funding to Special Olympics.

PA Schools Work Berks County Thu, April 11, 2019 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Berks County Intermediate Unit 1111 Commons Boulevard Reading, PA 19605
PA Schools Work is organizing in Berks County. We are looking for advocates to fight for more funding for our students. Agenda will include detailed information about individual school districts, meeting with local Berks representatives to share your stories, statewide support for your efforts and much more. We want to work together to make a difference. School leaders, parents, community members and local citizens that care about education are all welcome. Registration starts at 6 with meeting beginning at 6:30. Networking available so bring material to share about your organization too. If you have any questions, please contact Sandra at

Success Starts Here is a multi-year public awareness campaign sharing positive news in PA public education.

Calling all Norristown parents, educators, leaders & stakeholders! Join us for Norristown Parents & Students for Education on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Norristown Public Library.
Together we can harness the power of all to make a difference in our schools and communities! Hear from the experts and learn how to advocate! Free breakfast & givewaways. Don't miss out!
Sponsored by Norristown Men of Excellence, The Urban League of Philadelphia & PA Schools Work.

The League of Women Voters of Delaware County and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit present: EPLC 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates (and Incumbents) April 27th 8am – 4:30pm at DCIU
Ron Cowell of The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional full day workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.
Date & Time: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 8am to 4:30pm
Location: Delaware County Intermediate Unit, 200 Yale Ave. Morton, PA
Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. Registration is $75 (payable by credit card) and includes coffee and pastries, lunch, and materials. For questions contact Adriene Irving at 610-938-9000 ext. 2061.
To register, please visit

PSBA: Nominations for the Allwein Society are welcome!
The Allwein Society is an award program recognizing school directors who are outstanding leaders and advocates on behalf of public schools and students. This prestigious honor was created in 2011 in memory of Timothy M. Allwein, a former PSBA staff member who exemplified the integrity and commitment to advance political action for the benefit of public education. Nominations are accepted year-round and inductees will be recognized at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference, among other honors.

PSBA: 2019 State of Education report now online
PSBA Website February 19, 2019
The 2019 State of Education report is now available on in PDF format. The report is a barometer of not only the key indicators of public school performance, but also the challenges schools face and how they are coping with them. Data reported comes from publicly available sources and from a survey to chief school administrators, which had a 66% response rate. Print copies of the report will be mailed to members soon.

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. 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  Register for Advocacy Day now at
PSBA members 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 or call her at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3420

PSBA Board Presidents’ Panel
Learn, discuss, and practice problem solving with school leader peers facing similar or applicable challenges. Workshop-style discussions will be facilitated and guided by PSBA experts. With the enormous challenges facing schools today, effective and knowledgeable board leadership is essential to your productivity and performance as a team of ten.
Locations & Dates
Due to inclement weather, some dates have been rescheduled. The updated schedule is below.

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.

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

PSBA Tweet March 12, 2019 Video Runtime: 6:40
In this installment of #VideoEDition, learn about legislation introduced in the PA Senate & House of Representatives that would save millions of dollars for school districts that make tuition payments for their students to attend cyber charter schools. 

PSBA Summaries of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Statewide Cyber Charter School Funding Reform

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 256

How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat tuition rates of $5000 for regular ed students and $8865 for special ed.? See the estimated savings by school district here.
Education Voters PA Website February 14, 2019

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

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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