Thursday, April 4, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 4: Join the .@PASchoolsWork Twitter Storm Today from 12 to 1 in Support of Increased State Support for K12 Funding

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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.

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 .@SenatorGeneYaw’s school districts in Bradford, Lycoming, Northumberland, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Union Counties had to send over $12.1 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

Athens Area SD
Canton Area SD
East Lycoming SD
Elk Lake SD
Jersey Shore Area SD
Lewisburg Area SD
Loyalsock Township SD
Mifflinburg Area SD
Milton Area SD
Montgomery Area SD
Montoursville Area SD
Montrose Area SD
Muncy SD
Northeast Bradford SD
Sayre Area SD
South Williamsport Area SD
Southern Tioga SD
Sullivan County SD
Towanda Area SD
Troy Area SD
Warrior Run SD
Wellsboro Area SD
Williamsport Area SD
Wyalusing Area SD


Central Pa. school district says children aren’t getting needed mental health services
A York school district occupational therapist said one of every five children has symptoms that meet the diagnosis for a mental health disorder. Eighty percent go untreated.
PA Post by Brett Sholtis  APRIL 03, 2019 | 05:50 AM
(York) – Speaking to state House Democrats, Dr. Adrienne Johnson painted a harrowing picture she says is all too common. “Seven-year-old child presents to my office with nausea, attended by a caregiver,” she said. “This child is significantly underweight, speaks very little, has bruising on the shins, and the adult states that the child sleeps very poorly and frequently has nightmares.” The child shows signs of trauma, Johnson said. As is often the case, general practitioners like her are the first to discover that a child may be a victim of abuse. She can refer the child to a specialist, and if appropriate, contact authorities. However, physicians don’t see patients frequently enough to address long-term mental health issues, and there aren’t enough psychiatrists and therapists to meet demand. Johnson was one of nine York County experts to speak to Democratic state representatives March 28 in a policy committee hearing focused on childhood mental health. They were there to make the case for more funding and resources as the school district grapples with what it calls “overwhelming mental health needs.” Panelists repeated many of the same problems: Long wait times for services. A shortage of psychiatrists and therapists. Massive case loads for social workers. And children who need mental health services, but who are not getting them.

Pennsylvania’s busy special election season continues as parties pick nominees for 33rd Senate District
PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison April 1, 2019
Local Democratic and Republican party activists in south-central Pennsylvania have selected their respective nominees for a special election in Pennsylvania’s 33rd Senate District, a reliably Republican seat that was most recently held by Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Adams. Republican nominee Doug Mastriano, a military historian and veteran, will face Democratic contender Sarah Hammond, a local government employee, on May 21. The 33rd Senate seat has been empty since February, following Alloway’s unexpected resignation. Alloway told reporters when he resigned that he had become disillusioned with politics. The seat represents Adams County and part of York, Cumberland, and Franklin counties, and has been held by Republicans since 1940, according to a Wilkes University elections database.

In defiance of Harrisburg, Pittsburgh passed its own gun control laws. What happens next?
PA Capital Star By  Sarah Anne Hughes  April 3, 2019
Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to three gun control bills introduced following the October massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue. With Mayor Bill Peduto committed to signing the package, the Western Pennsylvania city is embarking on territory at once familiar and untrodden as it takes the regulation of firearms into its own hands. The bills passed with six “yes” votes as well as three “nos” from members concerned about possible legal challenges and issues of preemption in Harrisburg. Pittsburgh already knows a thing or two about that. In 1993, the city as well as Philadelphia banned assault-style weapons. The Legislature responded the following year by amending the state’s Uniform Firearms Act to prevent the municipal passage of any ordinance “dealing with the regulation of the transfer, ownership, transportation, or possession of firearms.” “If we were the state and the federal government, we could vote on these,” Council member Darlene Harris, a conservative Democrat, said before Tuesday’s vote. “All it’s gonna bring us is lawsuits.”

APPS plans to challenge Philly school board, alleging violation of the Sunshine Act
Board president Joyce Wilkerson says there are no plans to take new votes.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa April 3 — 4:49 pm, 2019
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS) plans to pursue its challenge, in court if necessary,  of how the Board of Education responded to a disruption during its March 28 meeting. The members recessed to a private room and continued the meeting there, and APPS members contend that this violated the state’s open meetings law, known as the Sunshine Act. The board left the auditorium after students and adults who were furious at its 7-2 vote to adopt a policy requiring metal detectors in all schools shouted and chanted, making it very difficult to continue conducting business. “If we have to, we will sue them,” said APPS co-founder Lisa Haver. “This is a bad precedent. We understand they were put in a bad position … but they’ll have to fix it.” The board members and school officials went to a committee room in another part of the building to continue the meeting, which they live-streamed. They took votes on more than a dozen resolutions, including one adopting the lump sum budget for fiscal year 2020. State law requires that to be done at least 60 days before final adoption by May 31.

I say enough with the failing schools narrative. Teachers perform miracles every day for our students.
Public Source First-person essay by Steven Singer | 23 hours ago
Steven Singer is a teacher at Steel Valley Middle School.
Editor's note: This is a first-person essay in response to recent PublicSource stories on the racial achievement gap in Allegheny County school districts. The author of the essay is a teacher in the Steel Valley School District. Our reporting showed the Steel Valley High School to have the highest racial achievement gap in the county. Steel Valley Middle School, where the author of the essay teaches, also had significant achievement gaps. The high school and middle school are on the state Department of Education's Additional Targeted Support and Improvement List, which requires the district to come up with an action plan to address low test scores from black students. You can read more about racial achievement gaps in the county here.
“Mom, I’m going to college.” “I love you, too.” “It’s not real.”
I flashed these and other phrases on the screen in my eighth-grade classroom during a February class. I told my students to take notes and try to figure out what all of these phrases had in common. As I continued showing the phrases, it became more obvious to the students.
“What are you following me for?” “I can’t breathe.” “Please don’t let me die.”
Eventually one of my eighth-grade students caught on.
“‘I can’t breathe?’ Wasn’t that Eric Garner?”
And then it all fell into place. These were the last words of African-American men wrongly killed by police. As a white teacher at Steel Valley Middle School with classes of mostly students of color, I don’t mind talking about race and prejudice in school. In fact, I find it essential to doing the job properly. The lesson I described led to some deep discussions about the role of law enforcement, rules of engagement and justice. And it almost didn’t happen because of standardized testing.

MBIT culinary instructor receives prestigious honor
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English  Posted Apr 3, 2019 at 2:46 PMUpdated Apr 3, 2019 at 2:46 PM
Middle Bucks Institute of Technology culinary arts and sciences instructor Michael McCombe was named 2019 Chef of the Year by a Delaware Valley culinary association.
Food and everything about it is the obsession of Michael McCombe, and he has the recipe for success in the classroom too. McCombe, a culinary arts and sciences instructor the last 27 years at the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology in Warwick, works tirelessly to make sure his students are as prepared as possible to get a job in the ever-expanding food industry. That dedication and McCombe’s overall kitchen skills were honored recently when the Plumsteadville resident was named 2019 Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation’s Philadelphia Chapter of the Delaware Valley Chefs’ Association. “I was shocked because there are so many good people out there,” said McCombe, who in addition to being a culinary instructor is also a certified executive chef. “When I accepted the award, it was a humbling experience to be in a room with people of such talent and dedication to the industry.” But as much as he appreciated the recognition, McCombe said he gets even more satisfaction out of working with his students and honing their skills in an area that has become multifaceted.

“But what does this kind of advocacy look like on the ground? Today we're featuring two mothers in the Tredyffrin/Easttown district in Pennsylvania who have started a local group, Everyone Reads,that has been urging their district to overhaul their literacy program. Whether you're inspired by their work—or view them as the "crazy moms" with an axe to grind—Education Week thought readers would find it enlightening to hear about their journey from worrying about their own kids' reading to advocating for a broad-based look at district literacy.”
Meet the Moms Pushing for a Reading Overhaul in Their District
Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk on April 3, 2019 3:47 PM
Research on how kids learn to read has not always penetrated the teaching profession, though that's generally no fault of the teachers: It's that approaches to reading based on the mechanics of language don't appear to be consistently taught in teacher-preparation programs or in early reading professional-development opportunities.  While this has been a long-standing problem, it's entered the national agenda again ever since journalist Emily Hanford wrote a hard-hitting piece on the lack of systematic phonics instruction in the early grades. But there's one thing that's changed since the last skirmish in the reading wars: The social-media revolution. Now, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have exploded with parents, researchers, and educators advocating for a systematic approach to teaching reading. Among the most successful pushes has come from the dyslexia community: Grassroots groups like Decoding Dyslexia now claim chapters in all 50 states. And as of March 2018, 42 states have laws supporting dyslexic students that have put an emphasis on early screening for dyslexia and teaching that includes phonics instruction and phonemic awareness, according to the International Dyslexia Association. One of the key points advocates for these approaches make is that, while phonics and phonemic awareness are mandatory for dyslexic students, they're also best practice for teaching all students. 

Financial ties between HISD charter, founder draw scrutiny before renewal vote
Houston Chronicle by Jacob Carpenter April 2, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019 6:31 p.m.
A trio of intertwined charter school networks operating within Houston ISD have paid or lent at least $17 million during the last five years to a company owned by their highest-ranking employee, an unusual arrangement drawing criticism from some HISD school board members ahead of a vote to renew their contracts. Financial records show the Energized For Excellence, Energized For STEM and Inspired For Excellence academies have maintained deep ties with a company controlled by Lois Bullock, who founded the three networks and works as the head of schools for each. Over the past half-decade, Bullock’s company has served as the landlord for Energized For Excellence Academy, taking in $10.8 million in lease payments, and received a $4.2 million loan from the organization, records show. Bullock’s company also earned about $2 million over five years for her “labor and job benefits,” an annual amount roughly equivalent to the compensation of HISD’s superintendent. The three charter networks enroll about 4,000 students at eight campuses, while HISD serves nearly 210,000 students.

Trump Administration Sued Over Rollback of School Lunch Standards
New York Times By Erica L. Green and Sean Piccoli April 3, 2019
A coalition of states and advocacy organizations sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over its rollback of school nutritional standards championed by the former first lady Michelle Obama that required students be served healthier meals. In lawsuits filed Wednesday, the groups claim that the administration illegally issued rules last year that weakened requirements that school meals contain less salt and more whole grains. The rules were part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a crucial part of Mrs. Obama’s signature “Let’s Move” campaign. The suits claim the Agriculture Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act, issuing its rules with little public notice and no reasoned explanation and against overwhelming opposition from the public. The courts have already struck down a series of high-profile rule changes by the administration for the same reason.

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

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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