Thursday, March 30, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 30: DeVos suggested that ED “is considering rejecting states’ proposals for new accountability systems if they do not include options that empower parents or provide them with additional educational choices for their children.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 30, 2017:
DeVos suggested that ED “is considering rejecting states’ proposals for new accountability systems if they do not include options that empower parents or provide them with additional educational choices for their children.”

Pop quiz, part 2: Test your knowledge of public education in Pennsylvania
Keystone Crossroads

“Representatives in areas designed to support re-election can afford to be more extreme in their views, playing to the base that will protect their seats rather than moderating positions to appeal to the broadest number of voters. The problems flowing from such an arrangement are all too apparent. Elected officials who have no incentive to cooperate retreat into polarized camps, and nothing gets done.”
Op-ed: Pennsylvanians' growing sentiment to make elections fair
There were no pitchforks or torches when I attended a public forum earlier this month at Chestnut Hill United Church about how Pennsylvanians could — just maybe — restore some fairness to the political process.  Currently, lines are drawn by a politically embedded committee of five, including the majority and minority leaders of the Pennsylvania House and Senate. Boundaries change roughly every decade, on the heels of the national census. Ideally, districts are to contain about the same population and be geographically “compact and contiguous.”   Not surprisingly, career politicians have engineered the process to work to their own benefit through a process known as gerrymandering. It consists of dividing geographic areas into representative districts that advantage one party or group over another. The term originated in 1812. A journalist with The Boston Gazette noted that a Massachusetts electoral district had taken on the shape of a salamander to benefit Gov. Elbridge Gerry. Soon, gerrymander was in common use.

Betsy DeVos Calls for More School Choice, Saying Money Isn’t the Answer
New York Times By ERICA L. GREEN MARCH 29, 2017
WASHINGTON — Betsy DeVos, in her first extended policy address as education secretary, argued on Wednesday for an expansion of school choice programs, pointing to lagging test scores and a program championed by the Obama administration that funneled billions into low-performing schools but failed to produce better academic outcomes.  Speaking at the Brookings Institution, which released a ranking of choice options in the country’s 100 largest school districts, Ms. DeVos made her case for choice policies that she said focused on the “individual child.” And she called for the rejection of an “us versus them mentality” when it comes to investing in programs, like charter schools and school vouchers, to which President Trump has proposed giving part of a $1.4 billion funding increase in the fiscal year that begins in October.  “Our nation’s commitment is to provide a quality education to every child to serve the greater public, common good,” Ms. DeVos said in her address. “Accordingly, we must shift the paradigm to think about education funding as investments made in individual children, not in institutions or buildings.”  While Ms. DeVos offered no new details about the Education Department’s budget — which in the president’s budget blueprint takes a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut — she rejected the notion that money was a panacea for the challenges facing public schools.

DeVos says her predecessor wasted money on school reform
Inquirer by MARIA DANILOVA, The Associated Press Updated: MARCH 29, 2017 12:57 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday accused her predecessor of wasting billions of dollars trying to fix traditional public schools and said that school choice was the way to reform the system.  Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DeVos said that Arne Duncan's signature $7 billion project targeting failing schools did not produce any significant improvement. That failure, she said, was further proof that it is vital to give American parents the options of charter, private and other schools.  "At what point do we accept the fact that throwing money at the problem isn't the solution?" she asked. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That's not policy making."

“Roy also said that discussions about "failing schools" ignore the social and economic conditions -- such as healthcare access, housing instability and food scarcity -- that schools deal with.  "DeVos' notion that if we just give the money to privately run schools all these issues go away is fantasy and unsubstantiated by research," Roy said. "Not to mention her privatization plans undermine the public schools that need financial support and undermine the communities that make up public schools."
Bethlehem Area superintendent: Betsy DeVos dead wrong in saying federal grants don't work on struggling schools
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 29, 2017
Earlier today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said School Improvement Grants have not produced significant improvements in schools, The Associated Press reported.  But Bethlehem Area Superintendent Joseph Roy says DeVos is wrong. An economically disadvantaged Bethlehem Area elementary school that has received a School Improvement Grant has closed the achievement gap, he said.  The School Improvement Grants were implemented in 2010-2015 under then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan and aimed to improve struggling schools.

“Under the new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, states are required to devise new accountability systems using a variety of metrics to show how their students and schools are performing. And for those schools that aren't performing well, states must formulate a plan to fix them.  States are in the process of finalizing those accountability proposals, with the first submission deadline of April 3 fast approaching. The second deadline is Sept. 18, and both deadlines require states to implement their plans beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.”

“The Department of Education is considering rejecting states' proposals for new accountability systems if they do not include options that empower parents or provide them with additional educational choices for their children.”
DeVos Says Accountability Systems Could Promote School Choice
The education secretary suggested that the new education law could be the mechanism for prodding states to provide options for parents and children.
US News By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter | March 29, 2017, at 2:52 p.m.
The Department of Education is considering rejecting states' proposals for new accountability systems if they do not include options that empower parents or provide them with additional educational choices for their children.  "I think there's certainly going to be a lot of discussion and back and forth as we go through this process," Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Wednesday in answering a question about whether her agency would reject a state's accountability proposal if she views it as "antithetical to serving parents' interests."  "The goal is clearly to implement as Congress has intended and to really push it back to the states to step up and create and innovate in ways they haven't done before," said DeVos, who since being confirmed as education secretary has pounded the importance of parents having choices for where they send their children to school.

Letter: "Inner city" comments by Eichelberger 'vitriolic'
The Sentinel Letter to the Editor March 29, 2017
Barbara A. Simmons, Education Chair, Black Women's Leadership Council
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director, Education Law Center-Pennsylvania
Susan Spicka, Executive Director, Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Dear Editor: State Sen. John Eichelberger’s recent comments about placing “inner city” students in “a less intensive track” are extremely disturbing. “Inner city” historically has been code for students of color and it is wholly inappropriate for a representative of Pennsylvania to engage in such vitriolic, racist rhetoric.  Further, tracking students by race violates both state and federal civil rights laws. In fact, the Upper Dublin School District currently is under federal investigation for this exact type of racial discrimination.  In an op-ed, Eichelberger wrote to defend his statements (“All students deserve opportunity to succeed,” The Sentinel, March 9), he professes a desire for “an open and honest discussion about giving our students the best chance to thrive.”  We’ve sent a letter asking the state Senate Education Committee to hold a hearing about racial opportunity gaps and their origins, racial tracking, and the disproportionate impact of under-funding on our state’s students of color. These are students who, contrary to the senator’s belief, are failed by the entire system, not individual schools.  Comments degrading “inner city” students, and implicitly students of color, are not only tied to school funding but are also indicative of entrenched and ongoing racism.  We call for this hearing to remind the Legislature of its responsibility to address these consequences of racial discrimination as well as their root causes. We hope to begin an honest, productive discussion that focuses on ensuring that all children in Pennsylvania, no matter their race or ZIP code, receive a quality public education.

Blogger Comment: These is nothing to prevent concerned business owners from making charitable contributions to support private and religious schools without diminishing funding available to support public schools.  Tax credit programs are an end run around the PA Constitution’s prohibition of using tax dollars for sectarian schools.  The General Assembly enacted a new school funding formula with overwhelming bipartisan support last year; we should fund the formula, not divert another $75 million to unaccountable private schools.
Parents need educational choices (column)
York Daily Record Opinion by Rep. Dawn Keefer1:35 p.m. ET March 28, 2017
Rep. Dawn Keefer is a Republican whose district includes parts of York and Cumberland counties.
Government and “educrats” have hijacked our educational system. Taxpayers are trapped, only those with the means and large bank accounts have options. We’ve utilized a myriad of “one-size-fits-all,” standards-based testing approaches to education for more than 30 years with no measurable gains. Yet we continue to soldier down the same path. I believe this is called insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  It would take years to overhaul our dysfunctional educational system – returning true control back to local governments and parents; and returning to the tried and true classical education.  The reality is, parents and children need options now. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit provides that option.  EITC is a vessel that allows businesses to make contributions to a scholarship organization, an educational improvement organization, and/or a pre-kindergarten scholarship organization.  The House of Representatives took a major step in providing school choice when we passed House Bill 250 earlier this month. The legislation would increase the amount of tax credits available under both EITC and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs.  Funds available for EITC would increase by $50 million to a record $175 million.  Funds available for the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit would increase by $25 million to $75 million. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Workshop prepares teachers to help and protect immigrant students
Inquirer by Michael Matza, STAFF WRITER  @MichaelMatza1 | Updated: MARCH 29, 2017 — 9:30 PM EDT
When teachers meet to talk immigration, their stories can be wrenching:
Undocumented parents afraid to drop their kids off at school.  A soccer league visited by immigration agents one weekend, and players too fearful to turn out the following week. A sixth grader with ICE agents at her door, frantically texting her sixth-grade teacher. A student sick with worry because her day laborer father is afraid to seek work, terrified that he could be snared in a raid.  Such were among the stories shared Wednesday at “Protecting Our Immigrant Students,” a workshop sponsored by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.  With President Trump demanding a crackdown on illegal immigration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatening to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, the atmosphere is fraught with worry.  “Our children come to school frightened and stressed,” PFT president Jerry Jordan told the 50 or so educators who came together after the end of the school day to hear a panel of lawyers and advocates talk about rights and responsibilities.

Immigrants win right to attend Lancaster public high school
Inquirer by Michael Matza, Staff Writer  @MichaelMatza1 | Updated: MARCH 29, 2017 — 2:37 PM EDT
Refugee children in Lancaster can choose to attend the city’s main public high school instead of the privately run alternative academy to which the school district had funneled them, according to the settlement of a nine-month lawsuit announced Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.  The agreement, approved by the Lancaster School Board on Tuesday night, opens the way for newly arrived 17- to 20-year-old immigrant students with little or no English fluency to attend a newcomer program at J.P. McCaskey High School and restricts the district from outplacing them to the for-profit Phoenix Academy, which plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit had alleged was an inferior option.

Lancaster settlement is a victory for immigrant students
The notebook by Greg Windle March 29, 2017 — 4:57pm
A nine-month legal battle over newly arrived immigrant adolescents in the Lancaster school district ended in a comprehensive settlement yesterday. The plaintiffs were refugees, but the settlement will affect immigrant students of all kinds.  The Lancaster district’s school board approved the agreement Tuesday, which stops the district from placing newly arrived 17- to 20-year-old immigrant students who don’t speak English fluently into a privately run-alternative school, called Phoenix Academy, as the district was doing before the settlement.  Phoenix Academy is run by Camelot—a private provider that runs alternative schools for older students and those with behavioral issues, and was recently found to have problems with staff members using physical force to discipline students in a report by ProPublica and Slate.  Phoenix Academy was one of the schools where staff allegedly abused students.  Instead, the Lancaster district must enroll those students in their International Program for immigrant students at the main public high school, McCaskey.

Pa. considers opioid abuse warnings and instruction in schools
Inquirer by Teresa Wiltz, STATELINE Updated: MARCH 29, 2017 — 1:43 PM EDT
Stateline is an inititative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Michigan lawmakers are considering requiring mandatory opioid abuse education in public schools as part of a package of bills aimed at combatting the addiction and overdose epidemic in the state.  The proposal is similar to action taken in nearby Ohio to provide K-12 students with instruction on the dangers of prescription opioid use. If the bill passes, the program would be implemented by the 2018 school year by the Michigan Department of Education. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina are considering similar bills.  The bills are among a series of measures that states plagued by high rates of opioid painkiller and heroin abuse have experimented with to combat addiction at an early age. Among the experiments: recovery high schools that enroll only kids who have drug and alcohol addiction.

“The Pennsylvania School Boards Association's Executive Director Nathan Mains sent a letter to senators assuring them that school boards don't take decisions about raising taxes on their friends and neighbors lightly.  Mains said the association would support this legislation requiring two-thirds approval but only if the Legislature leads by example and first passes legislation mandating the two-thirds' approval on statewide tax increases as DiSanto's bill would require.”
SB406: Propery tax increases could become harder for school boards to pass
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 29, 2017 at 12:34 PM, updated March 29, 2017 at 12:39 PM
Legislation that would require school boards to approve property tax increases by at least a 6-3 vote instead of a simple 5-4 majority won approval of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.  Requiring a two-thirds vote of a nine-member board is seen as a way to ensure adequate vetting of the need for the tax increase.  The bill's sponsor, Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County, said this idea grew out of his days as a school board member when he saw property tax increases narrowly pass by a 5-4 vote, as was the case last summer in Susquenita School District when the school board approved its first tax increase in 12 years.  Considering the ramifications if a property tax bill goes unpaid which can cause a homeowner to lose their homes, Rafferty said, "I think it's very important that we look at this sixth vote to allow more deliberation, more sharing of information among the local school boards because of the fact that they do have that authority, that power to tax real estate."

PA Senate Education Committee Roll Call Vote on SB406 March 29, 2017

The Fair Share Tax to Support Public Investment in Pennsylvania
PA Budget and Policy Center Posted by John Neurohr on March 21, 2017
Executive Summary
This paper puts forward a plan, which we call the Fair Share Tax, that would take a major step toward fixing Pennsylvania’s broken tax system and raise the revenues we need to invest in the public goods that are critical to creating thriving communities and individual opportunity in our state: education, infrastructure, protection for our air and water, and human services.
  • The Fair Share Tax divides our Personal Income Tax into two parts: 1.) a tax on wages and interest, and 2.) a tax on income from wealth (dividends; net income [from a business, profession, or farm]; capital gains; net income from rents, royalties, patents, and copyrights; gambling and lottery winnings; and income from estates or trusts.)
  • The Fair Share Tax increases the tax on income from wealth from 3.07% to 6.5% and decreases the tax on wages and interest from 3.07% to 2.8%.
  • Under the Fair Share Tax, 58.3% of taxpayers will see their taxes go down, 26.2% will see no change in their taxes, and only 15.4% will see their taxes go up.
  • The Fair Share Tax brings in $2 billion in new revenue. Of that $2 billion, 50% comes from the top 1% of families, 72% comes from the top 5% of families, and 88% comes from the top 20% of families.
  • Out-of-state taxpayers will pay 15.6% of the $2 billion increase in revenues.
  • There is little variation in the impact of tax from one county to another or one legislative district to another. The percentage of taxpayers in a county that see a decrease or no change in their taxes ranges from 71% to 90%, with all but nine counties in the 80% to 89% range. In both rural and urban counties, an average of 85% of taxpayers will see their taxes go down or remain unchanged under the Fair Share Tax. Much the same is true in state legislative districts.
  • Even after implementation of the Fair Share Tax, the effective rate on the top 1% of Pennsylvania taxpayers will be only 3.6%, less than that of any neighboring state and only 45% of the rate found in New York and New Jersey.

Hate to burst your bubble, but it's time to rethink standardized tests: Jerry Oleksiak
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jerry Oleksiak  on March 29, 2017 at 7:42 AM
Jerry Oleksiak is a special education teacher in the Upper Merion Area School District, and president of the 180,000-member Pennsylvania State Education Association.
For years, educators have spoken out forcefully about the toxic effect standardized tests have on public schools.  As a teacher with more than 30 years of experience in the classroom, I've spoken out to my students' parents, my colleagues, and to state and federal officials. But you don't have to just ask me.  Ask the classroom teachers in your community. They will tell you that too much standardized testing is interfering with teaching and learning.   Students spend 12 hours taking the Pennsylvania State Standardized Assessment tests and Keystone Exams each year. Students lose up to 110 hours each year on standardized tests and test preparation.  For teachers, that's a loss of valuable time that could be spent providing assistance to students who are struggling, and enrichment to students who have mastered content knowledge and skills in core subjects.  The impact of over testing and overemphasizing test scores has undermined the fundamental hallmarks of great teaching.  It stifles creativity and innovation in the classroom in order to devote more classroom time and resources to prepare, administer, and remediate students around tests mandated by state and federal laws. 

Bill Hite Has the Hardest Job in the Country
He seemed like just the man to turn around Philly’s floundering, cash-starved public schools. But four years later, his pragmatic, levelheaded approach has yielded … not much at all, actually. What needs to change — our expectations, or Hite?
On the third Thursday of every month, William Hite is subjected to four hours of ritual torture.
The sessions take place in an auditorium at the headquarters of the School District of Philadelphia, on North Broad Street. Starting around 5:30 p.m., several hundred education obsessives march in and locate seats. Sometimes they bring musical instruments. Hite sits at the front of the room next to the five members of the School Reform Commission, Philadelphia’s peculiar version of a school board. Well-built, impeccably dressed, perfectly composed, Philly’s school superintendent awaits the onslaught.   In theory, the point of these meetings is for the SRC to vote on things. In practice, they are dominated by ferociously opinionated people using their three minutes of allotted time to yell at Bill Hite. Most commenters fall into one of three categories. There are the (mostly) white, female activists who decry Hite and his SRC abettors as blood-sucking corporate fetishists. There are the (mostly) white, male charter-school operators and reform advocates who dismiss these people as teachers-union toadies. Then there are the (mostly) black parents and students, who tend to have a greater personal stake in the decisions before the board. Three reporters live-tweet everything. Hite stares at his interlocutors and nods in silence. The pattern repeats itself every month.

More than 1,300 kids applied, but there was only room for 81. (WPVI)
6ABC By Christie Ileto March 29, 2017 WEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than 1,300 kids applied, but there was only room for 81.  Global Leadership Academy in West Philadelphia held their annual lottery Tuesday night. Some parents left overjoyed, many more left disappointed.  Xuri'lyn Feliciano is one of the newest members of the charter school.  "This is the fourth school, well it's the first try for this school," said Tiana Peartree, who adds her child didn't get into the others she applied to.  The charter school attributes its explosive enrollment to a forward-thinking teaching method.  "People want to have their child here because it's a different kind of education, that's one thing. The other thing is people are dissatisfied with what they're getting in terms of District of Philadelphia and public education, and the fact that they have to go to their neighborhood school, and that they don't have the choice to pick a better school around the city," said Global Leadership Academy CEO Dr. Naomi Johnson-Booker.

Court upholds School District of Lancaster’s rejection of ABECS charter application
Fox43 POSTED 1:06 PM, MARCH 27, 2017, BY PAUL SMITH
Superintendent says case underscores need for charter school reform
Lancaster, PA — A Commonwealth Court decision upholds the rejection of a charter school application by the School District of Lancaster. The Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School application to open a charter school in Lancaster was rejected after the court determined fewer than 30 percent of signatures on a petition to appeal the school board’s initial rejection.  This ruling means ABECS cannot appeal SDL’s rejection of the charter application to the Pennsylvania Charter School Appeal Board.  The district says it invested hundreds of man-hours evaluating and considering the academy’s 2012 application. The application was overwhelmingly rejected by the School Board.

Lancaster nonprofit introduces healthy eating habits to Columbia students
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer March 30, 2017
Hannah Funk takes pride in her green thumb.
She’d rather be digging in the dirt of her mother’s garden than sitting in the comfort of her family’s home.  But other than the fruits and vegetables her family grows, the 11-year-old doesn’t always find healthy options in the house.  Her father often works late, so Hannah and her family sometimes eat SpaghettiOs or other easy-to-prepare, processed foods for dinner, the sixth-grader said. Unlike Hannah, her brother regularly snacks on junk food, she said.  Fruits and vegetables often go untouched in the refrigerator, Hannah said, as they’re pushed out of sight, left to spoil. Now, Hannah and fellow students at the Taylor Campus of Columbia Middle School are getting some help in learning how to keep fruits and vegetables front and center in their diets.  Created by Lancaster nonprofit CHI St. Joseph’s Children’s Health, “Building a Better You: A Healthy Habits, Healthy Smiles School Partnership Program” seeks to introduce more nutritious options into kids’ diets via taste testing in classrooms and community outreach.  Through fruit and vegetable taste testing twice a week for 36 weeks, children can eat the healthy foods they love — whether they knew it or not.

Strike averted for Keystone Oaks schools; teachers union, district reach tentative deal
The Keystone Oaks teachers union has reached a tentative contract agreement with the school district, averting a strike that was scheduled to start Thursday.  Classes are being held on Thursday; there are no classes on Friday due to an already scheduled teacher inservice day. Details of the tentative agreement, reached during a nearly 14-hour bargaining session that went into early Thursday, have not been released.  The union said more details would be released after the union membership and school board ratify the new contract, which is expected by April 11. “We are pleased that the district and KOEA were able to come to an agreement that is sustainable, fair and, above all else, puts the students first,” school board President Matt Cesario said. “We look forward to working with the teachers, counselors and nurses to continue to provide a high quality education for all Keystone Oaks students.”  The agreement provides for a one-year extension of the current contract. 

DeVos Compares School Choice Fight to Uber vs. Taxis; Decries State of Test Scores
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on March 29, 2017 12:17 PM
At a Tuesday event hosted by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a speech compared the the response of the education establishment to taxi services undercut by services like Uber and Lyft.  "Just like the traditional taxi service revolted against ride-sharing, so too does the education establishment feel threatened by the rise of school choice," DeVos said. (It's not the first time she's raised Uber in the context of educational innovation, or the lack thereof.)  But in a subsequent discussion Brookings' Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst asked DeVos whether she was concerned that if school choice expansion is implemented badly it could actually hurt educational outcomes.  Her response? She said she wasn't sure they could be much worse, and cited two national tests to back up her point.  "Our PISA scores have continued to deteriorate" when compared to other nations, DeVos told Whitehurst. She was referring to the Program for International Student Assessment, which is given to 15-year-olds in 77 countries and educational systems. And she said that the country's National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) scores are "stagnant at best." 

Trump wants $3B cut to education this year
Politico By MICHAEL STRATFORD 03/28/17 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Caitlin Emma, Kimberly Hefling, Helena Bottemiller Evich and Sarah Ferris
TRUMP WANTS A $3 BILLION CUT TO EDUCATION THIS YEAR: After proposing a $9.2 billion cut to the Education Department’s budget for next year, the President Donald Trump is now calling on Congress to slash nearly $3 billion in education funding for the remaining five months of this fiscal year, according to a document obtained by POLITICO. The White House on Friday sent House and Senate appropriators detailed instructions on how they should craft spending legislation to fund the federal government beyond April 28, when the current stopgap spending bill expires.  — The Trump proposal seeks cuts across many federal agencies, but calls for the deepest reductions at the Education Department. The administration proposes $1.3 billion in cuts from the Pell grant program’s surplus this year — on top of the $3.9 billion proposed cut for next fiscal year. The CBO estimates the program will operate with a $10.6 billion surplus next year, but advocates for student aid and Congressional Democrats have blasted efforts to “raid” the Pell surplus and direct that money outside of financial aid programs.

“If Trump gets his way, his budget will eliminate the $115 million NASA Office of Education. The popular NASA initiative provides internships, enrichment programs, camps and scholarships for young scientists, and tries to get more underrepresented communities into STEM.  Advocates say it’s a critical way for more women and minorities to enter these fields, and that axing it would be devastating.”
Ivanka Trump Promotes ‘Hidden Figures’ As Her Dad Tries To Slash NASA Education Funding
She appeared at the National Air and Space Museum with a female astronaut to promote women in science.
Huffington Post By Amanda Terkel 03/28/2017 02:42 pm ET
WASHINGTON ― Ivanka Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos held an event at the National Air and Space Museum Tuesday, promoting the administration’s support for young women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They even appeared with astronaut Kay Hire and showed the movie “Hidden Figures,” a story about the achievements of African-American women at NASA.   Trump paid homage to the women featured in the movie for “paving the way for greater representation of women and African-Americans in these fields.” 
“My father’s administration has expanded NASA’s space exploration mission and added Mars as a key objective,” she added.  President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget, however severely undercuts this women-friendly image put forward by DeVos and his daughter Tuesday. 
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on Tuesday for a women in STEM event.

Are some U.S. charter schools helping fund Fethullah Gulen's movement?
MARCH 29, 2017, 7:32 AM| Over the past two decades, followers of the controversial Turkish religious scholar, Fethullah Gulen, have opened up taxpayer-funded charter schools in the U.S. But CBS News has learned the FBI is investigating whether Gulen followers have skimmed money from those charter schools in order to fund his movement in Turkey. Margaret Brennan reports.

The 2017 PenSPRA Symposium  Keeping Current: What’s New in School Communications April 7th Shippensburg
Join PenSPRA Friday, April 7, 2017 in Shippensburg, PA    9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with evening social events on Thursday, April 6th from 5 - 8 p.m. at the Shippensburg University Conference Center
The agenda is as follows: Supporting transgender students in our schools (9 am), Evaluating School Communications to Inform Your Effectiveness (10:30 am), and Cool Graphics Tools Hands-on Workshop (1:15 pm).
The $150 registration fee also includes breakfast, lunch and Thursday’s social!   You can find more details on the agenda and register for the Symposium here:

PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill APR 24, 2017 • 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the fourth annual Advocacy Forum on April 24, 2017, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Hear from legislators on how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
“Nothing has more impact for legislators than hearing directly from constituents through events like PSBA’s Advocacy Forum.”
— Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Senate Appropriations Committee chair

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017
Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township,  PA

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