Monday, July 1, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 1: HAVES AND HAVE NOTS: 60% of Pa. school districts headed for fiscal stress

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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“It has sometimes seemed that the operators of cyber charter schools have been happy to take tax money, but not so happy to endure the kind of scrutiny that’s par for the course for public schools. Policy makers should insist that if cyber charter schools want to draw from the public well, they should be held accountable for how tax dollars are spent and how well they educate their students.”
EDITORIAL: Better oversight, funding changes, needed for cyber charter schools
Observer Reporter Washington and Greene Counties June 30, 2019
Maybe it’s hopelessly old school, but anyone who reached adulthood before the internet came of age probably has a hard time comprehending how the same level of learning and achievement can be attained if a student is sitting in their home in front of a computer screen, rather than in a bricks-and-mortar classroom. After all, if you are in a classroom with a flesh-and-blood instructor nearby, there are more opportunities for spontaneous interaction with that teacher and other students, and fewer opportunities to be distracted. Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to keep your nose to the grindstone when you know you might be scolded for staring out the window during a tedious algebra lesson on a sunny day. It turns out that concerns about how well students learn when they attend cyberschools isn’t just a function of fuddy-duddyism. Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes released a study earlier this month on the performance of charter schools in Pennsylvania, and it found that, in general, charter schools don’t offer an education that is better than what can be had in public schools. Moreover, according to Stanford’s researchers, subpar cyber charter schools are dragging down all the state’s charter schools. The study found that the average student attending a cyber charter school lost 106 days in reading and 118 days in math compared to equivalent students in public schools. Supporters of cyber charter schools have long contended that the academic performance of its students is woeful because they accept students who have struggled in traditional classrooms, and if it weren’t for the cyber alternative, they would more than likely just drop out of school altogether. But the Stanford study controlled for that, “so this effect is not being driven by student composition in online charter schools,” according to the report.

Delco Times by Evan Brandt @PottstownNews on Twitter Jun 30, 2019 Updated 19 hrs ago
The majority of Pennsylvania public schools are headed over a fiscal cliff in the next five years. Although many have lauded the $210 million increase in education funding in the new state budget, a report issued earlier this year indicates it is not nearly enough to stave off a looming fiscal crisis in Pennsylvania public schools. That's because the price of unfunded mandated costs — retirement and charter school tuition in particular — will soon exceed the amount of state aid many districts receive, even with the additional funding added this year. In some cases, that has already happened.  Districts are left with no choice but to raise local property taxes to balance their budgets. With the Act 1 Index tax cap on those increases, it may still not be enough, and many will have to resort to cutting programs to balance their budgets, say the report's authors. This divide between wealthy and poor school districts, already one of the worst in the nation, may soon be irreversible without the state taking on a greater share of school funding, the report authors say.

“Not a single Democratic lawmaker voted for the bill, which ends the program called "general assistance," and debate over it in the Senate turned ugly Wednesday. Meanwhile, 62 of the 70 votes against the main spending bill were from Wolf's fellow Democrats, some of whom criticized the budget as lacking courage.”
Wolf signs $34 billion 'divided government' Pa. budget
Pottstown Mercury By MARC LEVY and MARK SCOLFORO Associated Press July 1, 2019
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf signed a $34 billion compromise budget Friday after lawmakers wrapped up the week with a flurry of votes on hundreds of pages of legislation that in some cases drew angry protests from his fellow Democrats. Fueled by strong tax collections, the budget boosts aid to public schools and universities, holds the line on taxes, and stuffs a substantial sum into reserves. Both Wolf and top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature said they were proud of the budget. However, Wolf saw some of his top priorities blocked by Republicans, and he gave into a Republican demand to end a decades-old cash assistance program for the destitute deemed temporarily unable to work.

Seven big takeaways for education in the new Pa. budget
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent and Ed Mahon, PA Post June 28, 2019
As Pennsylvania lawmakers finalized this year’s budget, a flurry of hotly-debated education proposals have been decided. Below are the latest updates on seven major education issues — from funding to charters, school security to teacher evaluations — that made headlines in Harrisburg over the last few months. No bump for the lowest-paid teachers - In Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address, he called for a salary increase for the lowest-paid public school teachers in the state, saying they “have too often been getting the short end of the stick.” Wolf wanted to raise the minimum annual salary for teachers from $18,500 — which was set in the 1980s — to $45,000.  Across the state, 180 out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts would have received money.

Read all of the Capital-Star’s budget week coverage in one place
PA Capital Star By  John L. Micek June 29, 2019
With the final votes out of the way, and the ink from Gov. Tom Wolf’s pen drying on the finished documents, another Pennsylvania budget season is in the books. And since it’s the Capital-Star’s first-ever budget season, we thought it would be useful to have all our coverage from this very busy week in one place. Since the $34 billion spending plan is a many-headed beast, we’ve grouped our coverage below by subject area to make it easier for you to navigate your way through the stories.

'Nobody is going to go to heaven.’ Pa. budget deal divides Democrats
Inquirer by Sasha Hupka, Updated: June 30, 2019- 8:00 AM
HARRISBURG — When the state budget wrapped up late last week, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf could boast that he navigated yet another budget season without any major clashes with the Republican-controlled legislature. Instead, it was the progressives within the governor’s own party who left the state Capitol this year feeling shortchanged. The nearly $34 billion budget bill, which Wolf has signed, contained few of their legislative priorities. Though it boosts money for public education — long one of Wolf’s priorities — it siphons money from environmental protection efforts, lacks an increase to the state’s $7.25-per-hour minimum wage, and strips funding for a cash assistance program that helps Pennsylvania’s poorest residents. Democratic lawmakers, including some newly elected in a progressive wave last year, balked at some of the missing items. Though they stopped short of publicly directly criticizing Wolf and their leadership, they expressed frustration that they did not have greater input in the process, which produced a plan they believe abandons their ideals.

“With this budget, students in many school districts will continue to experience deep deprivation and taxpayers will see their property taxes increase even higher, while well-off families will receive $30 million more in taxpayer-funded giveaways to reduce their children’s private/religious school tuition bills.”
The Good, Bad, Ugly & Unconscionable in the 2019-2020 PA Budget
Education Voters PA Blog Published by EDVOPA on June 29, 2019
The state budget is done and a last-ditch effort made by anti-public education lawmakers to include harmful charter school legislation in the school code bill was defeated. Governor Wolf stood strong with our public schools and House Bill 357, which would have stripped control from local communities and exploded charter school expansion and costs, did not become part of a budget deal. Your phone calls and emails made an enormous difference. Thank you. The 2019-2020 education budget in Pennsylvania is a compromise between the priorities of Governor Tom Wolf and Republican leaders, who control the PA House and Senate. We were very disappointed that Republican leaders cut Governor Wolf’s proposed Basic Education Funding increase from $200 million to $160 million. We are grateful for the $160 million increase in Basic Education Funding, however, much greater state investments must be made to reduce pressure on property taxes and to help close the enormous funding gap between wealthy and poor schools in Pennsylvania that leaves hundreds of thousand of students behind. Pennsylvania Republicans took a page from Betsy DeVos’s playbook in this budget by providing $30  million in additional funding for private/religious school tuition giveaways for well-off families through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs.

Charter schools reluctant to cut tuition for Allentown students
The executive director of the state’s coalition for charter schools didn’t mince words when she learned Allentown School District intends to plug its budget hole by relying on charter and cyber schools to take less in tuition payments. Allentown adopted a budget based on those savings without first asking the schools. Calling the move “despicable,” Ana Meyers, of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, said she was shocked when she read of the proposal Friday morning. “When charters say no to this, they’re going to be blamed for Allentown having to pursue a tax increase,” Meyers said. “This is a really despicable move because we are being set up to be the scapegoats for their financial distress.” The Allentown School Board voted 5-3 Thursday night for a budget that includes a smaller-than-expected 1.75% tax hike and relies on 24 charter and cyber schools to reduce tuition payments by 10%. The administration had wanted a 3.5% tax increase, but the votes weren’t there. The charter schools weren’t consulted about the request, and Superintendent Thomas Parker, who proposed it, said the district cannot compel them to cooperate.

Your View by Pa. Coalition of Public Charter Schools: Why the state should approve charter reform bills
Opinion By ANA MEYERS | THE MORNING CALL | JUN 30, 2019 | 11:00 AM
In the June 1 Your View (“Why tighter controls are needed for charter schools”), the superintendents of the Allentown and Bethlehem Area school districts claim that the charter reform bills currently being considered by the General Assembly “undermine local control,” “wreak financial havoc” and “allow unfettered expansion of charters.” Unfortunately for the readers of The Morning Call, the statements made by superintendents Thomas Parker and Joseph Roy are just another example of the misleading rhetoric created and spread by special interest groups that don’t support school choice. It is time to put an end to the unfounded, negative rhetoric on charter schools that we see in our state by bringing the focus back to public school students and their best interests. The reforms contained in the four charter reform bills (House Bills 355, 356, 357 and 358) would benefit both students and taxpayers by correcting significant limitations in the charter school law that make it very difficult for charter schools to properly serve their students. These changes include: strengthening the ethics and transparency standards for charter schools; standardizing the application, renewal and amendment process for charters and school districts; allowing charters greater access to facilities that meet the needs of their students; and giving charter students the ability to participate in dual enrollment programs, like their peers in district schools. To be clear, charter schools are now, and will continue to be, held accountable to the local school districts who authorize and renew them, and the families who choose to attend these schools. In no way is the local authority or control of elected school boards undermined by these bills.

“We looked at 151 schools that administer their own tax credit scholarship programs, and then examined demographic data those same schools report separately to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Of those schools, 57 — more than a third — report enrolling zero low-income students or said they couldn’t determine how many low-income students they have. Another 15 schools told the state that less than five percent of their student body was low-income. Many of these schools are located in the state’s wealthiest suburbs, where students have access to some of Pennsylvania’s highest-rated public schools.”
‘Trapped’ on the Main Line: Expensive private schools benefit from Pa. tax credits but report zero low-income students
The state EITC and OSTC program was touted as offering opportunity to low-income students. But data is sparse and sometimes contradictory.
The Notebook by Avi Wolfman-Arent WHYY NEWS June 26 — 10:20 am, 2019
Any debate over the tax-credit programs that subsidize private-school education in Pennsylvania could begin here: There is very little public data on the students who benefit.Backers often say that scholarship money raised through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) goes to poor families who’d be “trapped” in “failing” public schools if they didn’t have tuition assistance. Skeptics paint another picture. Because the scholarship programs have income limits nearly twice the state median, they say the state is forgoing tax revenue in order to fund private schools for families who have other quality options.
Based on an analysis of right-to-know records and other state data, Keystone Crossroads found muddled evidence to support both claims. The analysis comes with caveats and strong indications that private schools and scholarship organizations regularly report incomplete or incorrect information.

Pa. state auditor general confirms that he’ll run for U.S. House
Inquirer by Associated Press June 30, 2019
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says he will run for Congress and seek next year’s Democratic nomination for the Harrisburg-area 10th District held by four-term Republican Rep. Scott Perry. DePasquale made the announcement on social media Sunday. Perry, an Iraq war veteran, has the most conservative voting record among Pennsylvania’s 18-member U.S. House delegation, according to American Conservative Union ratings. DePasquale’s second four-year term as the state’s elected fiscal watchdog will run through 2020. The 10th District has 23,000 more registered Republican voters than Democrats. Perry won reelection in November by almost 3 percentage points in a tight race against first-time candidate George Scott.

After historic term on Philly Board of Education, what did 2 students learn?
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Updated: 58 minutes ago July 1, 2019
The first student representatives to the Philadelphia School District’s governing body in a generation have wrapped up their term speaking for 200,000 students, and it’s been an eye-opening year, say Julia Frank and Alfredo Praticò. After crisscrossing the city talking to young people at schools and in meetings, the two recent high school graduates — Frank from Northeast High and Praticò from Masterman — finished their time on the Board of Education recently, releasing a report with insights and policy recommendations.
What should change: Frank and Praticò urged the board to consider implementing a system of teacher feedback, allowing students a way to anonymously tell teachers how they might improve learning, much like systems in place in colleges and universities. They also suggested that the board write a policy on class selection. Some schools have clear policies on how to gain admission to Advanced Placement and other selective courses, but in others, students are randomly assigned such classes. “When resources and course offerings are so sparse in schools, we cannot afford to exclude a student when there is a course available to them,” Frank and Praticò wrote. The student representatives recommended that the board issue guidelines on career preparedness. “The most common issue we heard was that students did not feel prepared for college or career,” they wrote. “We fear that many seniors are graduating in June and entering a world where they have no direction or game plan. A school’s job does not end once grades are submitted or the bell rings. We have a responsibility to give students the ability to seize as many opportunities as possible, and it is apparent that we must do better.” Although they said their time on the board had filled them with hope, Frank and Praticò’s report painted a portrait of a district with uneven opportunities for students.

“Special education expenses for 2019-20 will be $6.4 million, of which the state will reimburse the district only $730,000, Harris said. Morrisville’s required contribution for 2019-20 to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System is $2.9 million. The state will reimburse the district half that amount in payments made throughout the year. And, state-required Morrisville tuition payments for students living within the district who attend charter schools will be $1.2 million for 2019-20, Harris said. Throughout the meeting where the budget was approved, board members urged residents to get in touch with their state legislators and push for more state funding for public education.”
Morrisville board approves final budget with 6.3% tax increase
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English  Posted at 7:00 AM
The board rejected both higher and lower increases before settling on a hike that will preserve existing educational programs. It could have been worse, but that thought wasn’t much comfort to Morrisville school board members as they recently approved a final 2019-20 budget with a property tax increase of 6.3%. Before settling on that figure, the board rejected increases of 8.63% and 2.3%. The higher figure would have preserved all programs and also raised enough money to replenish to some degree of the district’s dwindling fund balance, or savings account. A 2.3% increase would have meant $484,000 in program cuts, Superintendent Jason Harris said. The approved 6.3% hike was the minimum required to preserve programs like full-day kindergarten, and “specials” like art, music, physical education and library services on both the elementary and secondary levels, district officials said. However, it will not allow for any boosting of the savings account which is projected to stand at only $150,000 by Monday, the start of the 2019-20 school year, they added. A 6.3% increase equates to 13.0282 mills, or $239 in additional yearly taxes for a landowner with a property assessed at the school district average of $18,400. The hike pushes total millage to 219.8249, or $4,045 in annual taxes for that same property owner. In the end, passing the $20.98 million budget required board members to choose from among a variety of unappealing options, they said. While reluctant to approve such a high tax increase, cutting programs they had worked to build back up over the last few years was worse, members added. “If we give up programs, more families will opt for charter schools, which in turn forces our charter school costs up,” board Vice President Donna Getty said. “The kids can’t take any more cuts,” added member Diane Youells. “We can’t take anything else away from these kids.” Board president Damon Miller agreed, but added “I’m not happy with 6.3%. It’s still a lot of money for seniors on fixed incomes and others who can’t afford it.” Morrisville’s normal maximum property tax increase for 2019-20 under the state’s Act 1 Index was 2.3%. However, the district applied for and received $766,000 in exceptions from the state for special education expenses that allowed an increase of up to 8.63%, Harris said. Like school districts across Pennsylvania, Morrisville struggles to make ends meet in the face of mandates that are either not funded at all or not to an adequate level by the state, board members and administrators said.

Penn Hills School District gets $3.3M from state, nixes plan to raise taxes
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM   | Sunday, June 30, 2019 11:39 a.m.
A last-minute reprieve in the form of $3.3 million in state money has enabled leaders of the debt-ridden Penn Hills School District to scrap a plan to raise taxes for the coming school year. The boost also will allow the district to bring back six teachers and one specialist furloughed last month, board President Erin Vecchio said. The school board on Saturday unanimously approved a balanced budget that still includes more than 20 teacher furloughs but no tax hike. “It felt really good that we can help the senior citizens and the young people and the teachers of this district,” Vecchio said. “It was a great day for Penn Hills.” The proposed tax hike was 1.9172 mills, or 6.69%. The current millage rate is 28.6646 mills, already among the highest in the region. The now-nixed increase would have charged a homeowners about $144 more a year for a property assessed at $75,000. The board had delayed the budget vote by a week in hopes of securing more funding from the General Assembly in the state budget. Vecchio credited state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, with helping to secure the new, $3.3 million funding from the state Department of Education. The money follows $4 million in state aid doled out to the district in the previous two years. Costa said he worked to win support for the latest funding alongside state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills.

Lancaster County school districts have spent millions since 2013 in payouts for employees' unused sick, vacation and personal leave
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Jun 30, 2019
One. That's how many sick days Joseph Herman took in his 39-and-a-half-year career as a social studies teacher at Penn Manor High School. And it paid off — literally. When he retired in 2014, Herman received $27,090 for 387 unused sick days — plus $140 for two unused personal days. Teaching was never about the money, Herman said. It was about the kids. But he admitted the extra financial boost upon retirement was a pleasant surprise. "It's a real nice pat on the back at the end of your career when they recognize that you came to work to teach children and you tried to make sure you were there every day," Herman, 66, said in a phone interview. That appreciation is a major reason why these perks exist, school officials told LNP. They say they hope to avoid employee turnover and chronic teacher absences by offering a benefit that rewards consistently showing up to work. But these payouts, which are determined by contracts negotiated by school boards and employees, can be costly. And with rising pension, special education and charter school costs, some question if these decades-old benefits are worth it.

Shameful management: Pittsburgh city schools let nearly $2 million fall through cracks
The district gave up thousands upon thousands of dollars for no good reason
THE EDITORIAL BOARD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette JUL 1, 2019 6:30 AM
Crying over spilled milk may be a waste of tears but a few should be shed over Pittsburgh Public Schools’ unnecessary loss of almost $2 million in fuel tax refunds. The Pennsylvania auditor general minced no words in criticizing PPS for several matters related to transportation and made a couple of debatable suggestions for improvements. But one point that is not debatable is that the district gave up thousands upon thousands of dollars for no good reason. Taxpayers simply were shortchanged. The audit reviewed the school district’s transportation operations from 2014 through 2018 and found that transportation vendors had failed to submit fuel consumption data so the district could apply for a reimbursement from the state. As Auditor General Eugene DePasquale put it: that failure left stacks of money “on the table.” It amounted to $1.99 million. The total cost of transporting some 20,000 students was about $119 million during the audit period. The auditor general opined that the district should seek competitive bids for its transportation contracts and also attempt to reduce the number of contracts. (There are more than a dozen carriers utilized by the district). But, school officials have publicly countered that forgoing the bidding process — which is not required by law — allows for more haggling at the negotiating table. There are good arguments to be made on both sides of this issu

Charges against deputy in Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting should give officials in Tamaqua pause, experts say
Questions of liability when it comes to school shootings grew thornier when charges were filed last month against the deputy who failed to intervene during the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Tamaqua Area School District, where efforts to implement a policy to voluntarily arm staff continue, ought to pay attention, according to academics who’ve written about the move to arm educators. The Florida charges add a wrinkle to what’s already an issue with more questions than answers. “The overarching concern for practitioners is that we know they’re going to examine this closely after the fact," said Spencer Weiler, a professor at the University of Northern Colorado who has published multiple studies related to arming educators. Scot Peterson was on duty when former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Nikolas Cruz entered the building Feb. 14, 2018, and opened fire, killing 17. Peterson can be seen on surveillance video rushing with two staff members toward the building. He pulled his weapon but later retreated and took a position outside, his gun drawn. Peterson never entered to try to stop the mass shooting. He was charged in early June with child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury — allegations that could bring a sentence of 100 years.

How School Choice Undermines Democratic Processes
Forbes by Peter Greene Contributor Jun 28, 2019, 03:25pm
I look at K-12 policies and practices from the classroom perspective.
Opponents of school choice in its many forms often talk about processes and institutions and policies, but one way to grasp choice-created problems is simple, old fashioned, and non wonky. Just look at who is holding the purse strings. In the public school system, the money is controlled by some combination of taxpayer-elected local school board members and taxpayer-elected state legislators (the nature of the combination varies by state). Every person who pays into the system gets a vote on how the system uses their money. In a voucher or charter system, the money is controlled by the families of students. If you are a taxpayer without any children in the system, you have no say in how and where the money is spent. If, for instance, you are a taxpayer in Indiana, you may watch in horror as Catholic schools bow to Archdiocese demands to fire gay teachers, and you may be further alarmed to know that your own tax dollars help fund those schools. But if you have no children, you get no vote. You will be taxed to support education in your state, but you will have no avenue for expressing your ideas about what form that spending should take. In fact, in some cases, you may not even be able to find out how the money is spent. In a voucher or charter system, your tax dollars are passed on to the school at the family's direction. With an education savings account, those dollars are passed on to the family, which can then spend them for whatever educational purposes the state has allowed. But some ESA programs have very little oversight, which is how Arizona taxpayers took a while to discover that $700K of their educational tax dollars had been spent on make-up and Blu-rays.

Koch Network Announces New Education Lobbying Group, Walton Funding Pact
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 29, 2019 9:16 PM
Philanthropic groups associated with billionaire businessman and activist Charles Koch have announced two initiatives to deepen their involvement in K-12 education.  One initiative is Yes Every Kid, a group that intends to find common ground between groups that typically have disagreed vehemently over issues such as labor protections and school funding. It's a social-welfare organization—a 501(c)4 in the language of the Internal Revenue Service—that will be able to take part in lobbying and political campaign work such as promoting ballot measures and committees. It will operate under the umbrella of Stand Together, a nonprofit group backed by Koch that promotes anti-poverty efforts. The other initiative is an agreement between the Charles Koch Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation for each group to donate $5 million to what's essentially a Silicon Valley-style incubator for education called 4.0 Schools. This group will use that $10 million donation, and another $5 million from other donors, to seed "500 new schools, programs and education tools across the country," according to a statement from the Koch and Walton foundations. Among its activities, the Walton Family Foundation supports charter schools and private school choice programs. (The Walton Family Foundation provides grant support for coverage of parent-engagement issues, including charters and school choice, in Education Week.)

Education was ignored by debate moderators. What the Democratic presidential candidates should have been asked about America’s public schools.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss June 28
Twenty Democratic candidates debated over two nights this week about why they should be the party’s choice to take on President Trump in next year’s election. Five moderators asked questions for hours, but somehow, fundamental education issues were never raised. Here are some of the issues that could have been topics for questions by moderators Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and José Diaz-Balart:

“One in 100 Americans is a member of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest union in the U.S, and 1 in 39 voters reside in an NEA household. NEA members represent sought after demographics including college-educated women and suburban professionals swinging elections from coast to coast. They live in every state, in every Congressional District, and in every ZIP code, and are a trusted and influential voice in every community who consistently exercise their right to vote. So educators will play a significant role in determining who wins the White House.”
Next Stop: Winning Over Educators
NEA Website June 29, 2019 Election 2020
In First Post-Debate Forum, 2020 Presidential Candidates To Make Their Case To NEA
Educators are poised to play a major role in determining who is elected the next President of the United States. Harnessing the power of the #RedforEd movement, educators, parents and students across the country have taken action to force a conversation about the years of chronic neglect that have taken a toll on student opportunity in our nation’s public schools. And no one knows this better than the candidates themselves. Which is why many of the leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination will be travelling to the NEA Representative Assembly in Houston, TX next week to answer questions from educators about the future of public education. The event – scheduled for the afternoon of July 5 – is the first ever #StrongPublicSchools Presidential Forum and the first public forum following the NBC presidential debates that took place this week. It will be moderated by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. Confirmed attendees include former Vice President Joe Biden, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Jay Inslee, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

PSBA Members: State Budget Webcast JUL 9, 2019 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Join PSBA government affairs experts for an in-depth look at the 2019-20 state budget and related School Code bills. What do the new numbers and policy changes mean for your school district, teachers and students? Bring your questions to this complimentary webcast for members!
Presenters: PSBA Chief Advocacy Officer John Callahan, Director of Government Affairs Jonathan Berger and Director of Research Andy Christ. This webcast is for PSBA members only. Members may register at no cost online through PSBA’s webconferencing host:

The deadline to submit a cover letter, resume and application is August 19, 2019.
Become a 2019-2020 PSBA Advocacy Ambassador
PSBA is seeking applications for two open Advocacy Ambassador positions. Candidates should have experience in day-to-day functions of a school district, on the school board, or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders through the advocacy leadership of the ambassadors. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be responsible for assisting PSBA in achieving its advocacy goals. To achieve their mission, ambassadors will be kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA positions on legislation. The current open positions will cover PSBA Sections 3 and 4, and Section 7.
PSBA Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors representing PSBA and serve as liaisons between PSBA and their local elected officials. Advocacy Ambassadors also commit to building strong relationships with PSBA members with the purpose of engaging the designated members to be active and committed grassroots advocates for PSBA’s legislative priorities. 

PSBA: Nominations for The Allwein Society are open!
This award program recognizes school directors who are outstanding leaders & advocates on behalf of public schools & students. Nominations are accepted year-round with selections announced early fall: 

EPLC is accepting applications for the 2019-20 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Education Policy & Leadership Center
PA's premier education policy leadership program for education, policy & community leaders with 582 alumni since 1999. Application with program schedule & agenda are at 

2019 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-18, 2019
WHERE: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16 to Friday, October 18, 201
Registration is now open!
Growth from knowledge acquired. Vision inspired by innovation. Impact created by a synergized leadership community. You are called upon to be the drivers of a thriving public education system. It’s a complex and challenging role. Expand your skillset and give yourself the tools needed for the challenge. Packed into two and a half daysꟷꟷgain access to top-notch education and insights, dynamic speakers, peer learning opportunities and the latest product and service innovations. Come to the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference to grow!

NPE Action National Conference - Save the Date - March 28-29, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA.
The window is now open for workshop proposals for the Network for Public Education conference, March 28-29, 2020, in Philadelphia. I hope you all sign on to present on a panel and certainly we want all to attend.

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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