Friday, August 9, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup August 9: Public Dialogue on Gun Violence Continues at Local, State and Federal Levels

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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PA Ed Policy Roundup August 9, 2019

Rep. Dan Williams to host House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on Fair Education Funding Monday in Coatesville on Monday Aug. 12 at 1:00 pm
The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, at The Spackman Center, 215 Reeceville Road, Coatesville, 19320. Media and the public are invited to attend.

PA Senate Education Committee Public Hearing on Charter School Funding
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:00 PM 
Everett Area H. S. 1 Renaissance Cir. Everett, PA

Pennsylvania Council of Churches Ministry of Public Witness August 7, 2019
From Education Voters of Pennsylvania (

“Education groups and other advocates have argued that property taxes, while unpopular, are a fair way to generate money for public schools. They argue that relying on sales and income taxes can be problematic when the economy suffers. Some also argue that higher sales taxes can hurt those with lower incomes. Perhaps most damagingly, studies have shown other methods of taxing fall billions short of replacing property tax revenue.”
Property taxes are even more hated than you think, F&M poll shows
Penn Live By Ron Southwick | Updated Aug 8, 10:43 AM; Posted Aug 8, 7:00 AM
OK, it probably doesn’t take a rigorous, scientific poll to reveal that Pennsylvanians detest property taxes. But the new Franklin & Marshall College poll illustrates just how unpopular property taxes are in the Keystone State. Voters are willing to accept a variety of other taxes in lieu of property taxes. “The property tax is the most unpopular tax in the state by far,” said G. Terry Madonna, the poll’s director. Three in five voters (60 percent) said they think property taxes should be replaced by broader, state-based taxes. The poll specifically asked registered voters if they think local school property taxes should be replaced by state taxes, such as sales taxes on food and clothing, a higher personal income tax or a tax on natural gas drilling. “People will look at almost any alternative to the property tax," Madonna said. In an age of bitter partisanship, Republicans and Democrats agreed on the need to reduce and replace property taxes with some other tax. The poll found 64 percent of Democrats want to replace property taxes, while 54 percent of Republicans also want to move away from property taxes. And yes, 65 percent of independent voters want to replace or cut property taxes. All age groups favored moving away from property taxes, the F&M poll found.

Blogger note:  What does it mean to be a “public” school? On twitter last night it was noted that the Allentown SD budget was available online on the district website. I was curious if the same could be said for the brick and mortar public charter schools in the district.  I took a quick look for online budgets on the websites for Executive Education Academy, Lincoln Leadership Academy and Roberto Clemente public charter schools. Roberto Clemente was good. Couldn't find any financial info on the other two schools’ websites.
Allentown School District submits budget still dependent on charter schools accepting less money
Just days before a deadline that could have resulted in late fees if missed, the Allentown School District has submitted a $341.8 million budget to the state that is balanced only if charter schools agree to a tuition reduction that saves Allentown $6 million. The district posted and filed its 2019-20 spending plan Thursday. The school board passed a budget June 27 that was contingent on charter and cybercharter schools each taking a voluntary 10% tuition reduction to close the district’s remaining $6 million deficit. Since June the district has made up another $2 million, Superintendent Thomas Parker said. It did so after receiving an additional $461,000 in basic education funding in the state budget, and also by increasing revenue more than $1 million through reimbursements and grants. In June district administrators had recommended the school board raise taxes 3.5%, but the board approved a 1.75% increase, creating the $2 million gap. By law, districts must pass a budget by June 30 and send it to Harrisburg within 15 days. If a district does not, the state provides an automatic 30-day extension. That’s why Allentown had until mid-August to send its budget. Allentown is expected to pay $60 million in charter school tuition for 2019-20. The district is hoping that number is decreased to $54 million with all charters agreeing to the request.

ASD: No deal yet with charter schools on budget concessions
WFMZ By: Stephen Althouse Posted: Aug 08, 2019 11:47 PM EDT Updated: Aug 09, 2019 04:48 AM EDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The 2019-2020 Allentown School District budget, and ostensibly its immediate financial future, remains murky as of Thursday night. During a finance committee meeting at the district's administration building, Superintendent Thomas Parker said the district has not received a formal answer from four charter schools about accepting a 10% cut in their funding for the 2019-2020 school year. ASD needs the charters' help to extricate itself from a precarious financial situation. The charter schools are entitled to $60 million this coming school year. When the school district was unable to produce a balanced 2019-2020 budget in June, ASD simply reduced expenditures by $6 million – 10% of $60 million – by penciling in the reduced charter payments to produce a balanced budget. That budget was sent to the state, satisfying the district's obligation to come up with a balanced budget.  The spending plan presented to Harrisburg, which is now on ASD's website, shows the reduced charter payments, when no agreement exists as of Thursday night.

Philly’s Eastern University charter parents worry about possible closure: ‘I’m not going back to the School District’
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: August 8, 2019- 10:21 PM
About 150 parents and children came to a meeting Thursday night about the future of Eastern University Academy Charter School, expressing worry that the charter risks closing a month before the school year begins. The Philadelphia School District cut off funding to Eastern after a state board voted in June to close the school. Eastern has the right to appeal in court, but hasn’t yet received a written order from the board. Eastern chief executive officer Omar Barlow urged parents to contact their state representatives and the Philadelphia school board, telling them the district acted illegally in ending payments to the charter before it had exhausted its appeals to stay open. The district says that the school’s charter will no longer be valid once the appeals board issues its order, and that it wouldn’t be able to recoup the money if it paid the charter and the school then closed. “You need to be upset about what they’ve done," Barlow told the crowd at New Covenant Church of Philadelphia in West Mount Airy. “These are things that happen to brown and black children.” Barlow, who has accused the School District of targeting minority-led charters, told parents the charter was still preparing to open on Sept. 9. While parents applauded his pledges to challenge the district — the charter sued in July — they also questioned what would happen next month.

‘Inappropriate’ remark costs lawyer Erie schools role
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted Aug 8, 2019 at 1:08 PM Updated at 6:27 AM
Tim Sennett, who said scores show Erie Rise charter students cannot read newspaper, said board was “correct” to restrict his job at Erie School District.
The renewal process for Erie Rise Leadership Charter School has been contentious from the start, though the focus has generally been on test scores and other data. The Erie School District has cited Erie Rise’s poor test scores and other problems. Erie Rise has countered that the school district’s test scores are not much better. But a single remark transformed the process, for a time on Wednesday night, into an intensely personal, antagonistic and divisive undertaking replete with recriminations about race and respect. The remark has cost an Erie lawyer the main part of his job in representing the Erie School District. The Erie School District and School Board on Thursday said it would stop using the longtime lawyer, Tim Sennett, to handle charter school matters after his remark created an uproar on Wednesday night at the board’s nonrenewal hearing for Erie Rise. Sennett said the charter school’s standardized test scores are so poor that he believed its students could not “read the newspaper.” “Recent comments by one of the attorneys representing the district were inappropriate and in no way reflect the administration’s or the School Board’s beliefs or the kind of culture and climate we are working to foster,” Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito and School Board President Frank Petrungar Jr. said in a joint statement on Thursday. “He will no longer represent the district on charter issues.

“Of 23,494 tips received during the 2018-19 school year, 6,834 were related to self-harm, suicide, or depression and anxiety, the report shows. About 3,500 were related to bullying. Only 1,130 tips — or fewer than 5% — involved threats against a school or person.”
Safe2Say data highlights need for more mental health resources for students: attorney general
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer
Pennsylvania’s attorney general is urging lawmakers to provide additional support for kids struggling with mental health issues following an analysis of the state’s new anonymous school threat reporting system. A report from Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office breaks down data submitted since January, when the Safe2Say Something program launched. It found that the most common reason students submitted tips was to get help for peers who showed signs of self-harm or thoughts of suicide — not to report a violent threat against others. “The majority of tips received through Safe2Say have been focused on students struggling with mental health issues,” Shapiro said in a statement. “That’s why I’m calling on our legislature to read this report, study the data and act to address the need for increased mental health resources for kids.”

Nation's largest teachers union threatens Walmart boycott over gun sales
  • The nation's largest teachers union is threatening to call for a boycott of Walmart over the retailer's gun sales.
  • The American Federation of Teachers wants the company to stop selling firearms, as well as take other measures.
  • The AFT has 1.7 million members and says teachers spend an average of $500 a year on school supplies.
Walmart could suddenly become a whole lot less busy this back-to-school shopping season. The American Federation of Teachers, the nation's largest teachers union, is threatening to boycott the giant retailer if it continues to sell guns. The labor group also wants Walmart to stop making financial contributions to politicians who oppose gun control. "If Walmart continues to provide funding to lawmakers who are standing in the way of gun reform, teachers and students should reconsider doing their back-to-school shopping at your stores," AFT president Randi Weingarten wrote in an Aug. 7 letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. The letter references Walmart's sales of bulletproof backpacks, as well as the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, and calls on the company to do its part "to help build a future with fewer guns and safer communities." The letter also urges Walmart to fund gun buyback programs, and for McMillion to create a summit with other CEOs to discuss ways corporate America can address rising gun violence.

We have to keep fighting for these common-sense gun laws | Mary Gay Scanlon
By Mary Gay Scanlon Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor August 9, 2019
U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat, represents the Delaware County-based 5th Congressional District. She writes from Washington D.C.
One of the very first U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearings that I attended was about the impact of gun violence in our communities — the first such hearing in nearly a decade. It was devastating. Parents clung to photos of the children they had buried. Survivors fought through tears, demanding action. When we voted to send two gun-safety bills to the House floor, advocates and members of the committee wept tears of joy. We lose 100 people every single day to an epidemic that some would rather politicize than solve. From hate-fueled massacres such as the mass shootings in Pittsburgh and El Paso, to the senseless violence we see in our communities every day — this is a public health crisis, and it is time we treat it as such. We cannot wait any longer. Too often, progress gets lost in the headlines. Due to the work of such groups as CeaseFire PA, Moms Demand Action, Giffords, and Everytown, and the commitment to change from a new generation of advocates who are just eligible to vote, Pennsylvania joined other states in passing common sense gun safety legislation last year for the first time in decades, and we elected the first gun safety majority to the U.S. House.

64 percent of Pa. respondents to a new poll support more gun restrictions
WHYY By Ed Mahon, PA Post August 9, 2019
About 64 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania support creating more laws that regulate gun ownership, according to the latest survey from Franklin & Marshall College. The majority of respondents offered that opinion before the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, since the survey was conducted from July 29 through Aug. 4 by phone and online. Franklin & Marshall pollsters regularly asks the same question about supporting more laws that regulate gun ownership. In the latest survey, here’s how the results broke down:

Here’s how Harrisburg can do its part to fight gun violence | Opinion
By Wendy Ullman  Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor August 9, 2019
State Rep. Wendy Ullman, a Democrat, represents the Bucks County-based 143rd state House District. She writes from Harrisburg.
Like many Americans, I was horrified by the senseless loss of life in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio., this weekend. I mourn for the loss of innocent lives and the devastated families and friends they leave behind. These terrible events mark the 31st and 32nd mass killings in the U.S. since Jan. 1. It’s early August. How many more people will die in mass killings by legally-purchased weapons by the end of the year? Mass killings have become far too commonplace; it terrifies me that we may become desensitized to the horror and come to accept mass murder as part of American culture. This is not who we are as Americans. These violent acts are a perversion of the American psyche. We must fight against the normalization of mass murder by renewed commitment to working together to enact meaningful change. A first step would be to enact common-sense gun legislation that would help reduce the threat of gun violence while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners. This session, I plan to introduce a bill requiring individuals to participate in a gun safety training course before purchasing their first firearm or receiving a conceal carry permit.  There are dozens more bills awaiting consideration.

Carlisle councilman calls on legislators to 'do their damn jobs' on gun control
Tammie Gitt The Sentinel August 8, 2019
Saying the time for silence is over, Carlisle Borough Councilman Sean Crampsie skipped over the moment of silence at the start of Thursday's borough council meeting to call on legislators to take action on gun control. "I think it's time for a call to action for those folks that we vote for to do their damn job," he said. "If they care about health, safety and welfare, I hope they do their job like we do everyday. Crampsie said the time for silence should have been over after the shooting at Columbine High School or after the incidents of gun violence that have followed in its wake — Virginia Tech, Texas, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Chicago, Philadelphia, Orlando or where he grew up in Allentown. "It happens too much. I'm very frustrated and we just keep coming back to moments of silence and nothing changes," Crampsie said. Crampsie said his concern is also for the police officers who go into situations in which someone might be heavily armed.  The council moved immediately to the Pledge of Allegiance after Crampsie's comments. Only Mayor Tim Scott, in his role as the chair of the meeting, made any response. "Thank you, Councilman Crampsie, for those words. They are appreciated," he said.

Mitch McConnell wants to consider gun background checks in fall
Trib Live by ASSOCIATED PRESS  | Thursday, August 8, 2019 8:45 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Shifting the gun violence debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he now wants to consider background checks and other bills, setting up a potentially pivotal moment when lawmakers return in the fall. The Republican leader won’t be calling senators back to work early, as some are demanding. But he told a Kentucky radio station that President Trump called him Thursday morning and they talked about several ideas. The president, he said, is “anxious to get an outcome and so am I.”Stakes are high for all sides, but particularly for Trump and his party. Republicans have long opposed expanding background checks — a bill passed by the Democratic-led House is stalled in the Senate — but they face enormous pressure to do something after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 31 people. McConnell, who is facing protests outside his Louisville home, can shift attention back to Democrats by showing a willingness to engage ahead of the 2020 election.
“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” McConnell said. “What I want to see here is an outcome.”

IU1 and The Consortium for Public Education: Rachel's Challenge Presentation -  Aug. 14 9:00 – 3:30 California University of PA
IU1 and the Consortium for Public Education are joining forces to bring you a FREE professional development opportunity, Rachel's Challenge, presented by Darrell Scott. The mission of Rachel's Challenge is to equip and empower adults and students to sustain a positive culture change in their organization and communities by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. Rachel's inspiring story provides a simple, yet powerful example of how small acts of kindness and acceptance motivates us to consider our relationships with people we come in contact with every day. Rachel's story gives us permission to start our own chain reaction of kindness and compassion, which positively affects the climate in our schools and communities. For more information, please visit
To receive Act 48 hours for this event, you must complete all areas of the registration form below, including entering your PPID number. Each person from your team must register individually.

EPLC/DCIU 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates Sept. 14th
The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates at the DCIU on September 14, 2019.
Target Audience: School Board Directors and Candidates, Community Members, School Administrators
Description: Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates. Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. The workshop will include Legal and Leadership Roles of School Directors and School Boards; State and Federal Policies: Implications for School Boards; School District Finances and Budgeting; Candidates and the Law; Information Resources; "State and Federal Policies" section includes, but is not limited to:
K-12 Governance
PA Standards, Student Assessment, and Accountability
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
K-12 State Funding
Early Education
Student Choices (Non-Public, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, Career-Technical, and more)
Teacher Issues
Linking K-12 to Workforce and Post-Secondary Education
Linking K-12 to Community Partners
***Fee: $75.00. Payment by Credit Card Only, Visa or Mastercard, PLEASE DO NOT SELECT ANY OTHER PAYMENT TYPE*** Registration ends 9/7/2019

Register for Federal Focus: Fully funding IDEA at William Tennant HS Wednesday August 21st, 7-9 pm
PSBA News July 30, 2019
Join U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-01) and other IDEA Act co-sponsors at this complimentary focus meeting to talk about the critical need to modernize and fully fund the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Learn about bipartisan efforts now in the U.S. Congress to ensure that special education funding is a priority in the federal budget, and how you can help bring this important legislation to the finish line. Bring your school district facts and questions. This event will be held Aug. 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Centennial School District in Bucks Co. There is no cost to attend, but you must register through Questions can be directed to Megan McDonough at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3321. This program is hosted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and the Centennial School District. 

“Each member entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 23 – Oct. 11, 2019).”
PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2019, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 15th at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).

Take the four-week PSBA advocacy challenge
Calling all public education advocates! Even though students are out for the summer, we need you to continue your efforts to share your district's story, and the needs of public schools across the state, with your legislators. Follow the four easy steps on the challenge to increase your engagement with lawmakers this summer and you'll receive some PSBA swag as a thank-you. We've also included some talking points to help inform you on the latest issues. Contact Advocacy Coordinator Jamie Zuvich at with questions. Click here to see the challenge and talking points.

In November, many boards will be preparing to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This event will help attendees create a full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Register now:
PSBA: Start Strong: Developing a District On-Boarding Plan for New Directors
SEP 11, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
In November, many boards will be faced with a significant transition as they prepare to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This single-day program facilitated by PSBA trainers and an experienced PA board president will guide attendees to creating a strong, full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Grounded in PSBA’s Principles for Governance and Leadership, attendees will hear best practices from their colleagues and leave with a full year’s schedule, a jump drive of resources, ideas for effective local training, and a plan to start strong.
Register online at MyPSBA: and click on “MyPSBA” in the upper right corner.

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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