“School boards throughout Pennsylvania made it loud and clear they don’t want the Senate to steal their lunch. We join with those schools in urging state lawmakers to drop SB2 in favor of improving support of education for all children of the commonwealth. The state Constitution demands as much.”
Editorial: Public schools in a fight to stop voucher proposal Senate Bill 2
Pottstown Mercury Editorial POSTED: 04/27/18, 7:07 PM EDT
The pressure put forth by Pennsylvania public schools may not have eliminated a voucher proposal that threatens school funding, but they have won a temporary reprieve.
A vote scheduled last Tuesday to move Senate Bill 2 out of the Education Committee was postponed until May. The bill has increasingly come under fire from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association — opposition that has been supported in the form of a resolution adopted by dozens of school boards in Berks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. The bill, proposed last summer by Harrisburg-area state Sen. John DiSanto, R-15th Dist., proposed “Education Savings Accounts,” which parents could use to pay education expenses. Parents whose children attend what the bill characterizes as “low-performing schools” could access those accounts to pay for “qualified” education expenses. The money would be the equivalent of the average Pennsylvania subsidy per student — between $5,000 and $6,000 — and that amount would be deducted from the state subsidy provided to the district for that student. The bill has been criticized not only for the money it takes from public school subsidies, but also because it could be used to pay tuition to private schools, parochial schools or even for extra tutoring, or college, without consideration of family income.
Pa. schools need more money; so why aren't its teachers protesting like in other states | Editorial
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: APRIL 27, 2018 — 3:31 PM EDT
When teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, and Oklahoma protested for more education dollars, some people wondered if Pennsylvania teachers would add their voices to the movement. But despite the state’s woeful funding of public schools, its teachers have largely remained silent. Perhaps that’s because Pennsylvania teachers are some of the highest paid in the nation. The state average of $62,000 a year puts Pennsylvania teachers in the No. 11 slot. New York and Alaska are first and second, with both states’ teachers averaging more than $76,000 a year. New Jersey teachers, No. 6, average $68,000 annually. Some teachers in affluent school districts make a lot more than the average annual salary; Lower Merion teachers average $99,000. Even teachers in some seemingly less affluent areas of Pennsylvania are paid quite well. Teachers in the Dallastown School District in York County average $84,000 annually.
But the teacher protests in other states aren’t just about their pay. Those teachers have also been earnest about the need for larger investments in classroom instruction to recover from the big hits taken during the recession. Recent funding per student was 11 percent below 2008 levels in West Virginia, 15 percent lower in Kentucky, and 28 percent in Oklahoma. Pennsylvania schools aren’t doing great either. Gov. Wolf’s $6.1 billion education budget this year restored K-12 funding to the amount before Gov. Tom Corbett gouged $841 million out of it in 2011. But the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center says if you adjust for inflation, an additional $911 million above Wolf’s budget would be needed to bring funding to its true 2011 level.
“The biggest norm of all — the very concept that states provide an education to all children — dates back to the 1860s. State leaders then believed that for average people — including African Americans newly freed from slavery — to exercise their rights as citizens, they had to be educated. And unless average people participated in self-government, the country could not live up to its democratic promises. Today, all 50 state constitutions, in one way or another, guarantee access to equal, adequate and stable public education.“
The Arizona teacher walkouts are just a skirmish in the larger war on public education
Los Angeles Times By DEREK BLACK APR 26, 2018 | 4:05 AM
Teachers are walking out again, this time shutting down campuses in 90 or more school districts across Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey claims to be puzzled: He endorsed a plan to give teachers raises that would add up to a 20% pay increase over the next three years. Why would teachers walk out now? Surely part of the reason is that teachers in Arizona know a concession on pay isn't the same thing as a genuine commitment to public education. State leaders like Ducey are so dead set on privatizing education or spending school funds elsewhere that they are ready to change any rules — even longstanding constitutional and democratic norms — to further that agenda.
The courage to be unfair
Nonprofit AF Blog by Vu Le April 29, 2018
Last week, I went to speak at a conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania put on by the United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. The topic was Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Not wanting to use the same graphic with the kids standing on the boxes (you know what I’m talking about) to illustrate the difference between equity and equality, I tried the sandwich metaphor:
“Imagine if you had three kids and three sandwiches. Equality would be that you give each kid a sandwich. That seems fair. But many of you work with kids whose families are low-income, whose only meal that day may be through school or through your program. Imagine if one of the kids has not eaten for three days, and one kid just came from a birthday party and is stuffed. Equity is understanding these circumstances and giving the kid who is really hungry two sandwiches, and maybe the kid who just ate gets none.”
I know that is extremely simplistic, and I acknowledged this with the audience. These metaphors and graphics are always problematic, as they overly simplify extremely complex issues, as our friends at Fakequity.com point out. Why was the kid hungry in the first place? Why is the family poor? Should we give sandwiches, or create conditions where the parents have stable jobs so they can provide food? Should we teach the kids who are full about poverty and food deserts so they willingly give their sandwiches to the hungry kid? Why is it always a deficit view?
“Dakota lives in a neighborhood where trauma is common. The 22nd Police District in North Philadelphia has some of the city’s highest rates of both gun violence and poverty. Like Dakota, children who experience that violence and fear may not be able to shake it so easily. Trauma can impact how they learn, triggering the “fight, flight, or freeze” instincts that can make it difficult for children to concentrate and absorb new information. Some studies suggest trauma may alter genetics, and be passed down generation to generation.
Now a new program is trying to break that cycle by offering trauma therapy to children living or attending school in parts of North Philadelphia. “
As awareness of childhood trauma rises, new free therapy program launches for Philly students
WHYY By Jen Kinney April 30, 2018
Dakota Johnson, 8, who survived a fire at her dad's apartment. (Jessica Kourkounis/WHYY)
The fire that destroyed her dad’s third-floor apartment is the scariest thing that’s ever happened to 8-year-old Dakota Johnson. It was five-thirty in the morning. Someone on the first floor of the building had fallen asleep smoking. Dakota and her dad, Kenneth Johnson, woke up to the sound of the fire alarm. First it seemed like it might be just a small blaze, but when Johnson opened the door to the apartment, smoke and soot rushed in. Dakota was too scared to crawl out into the hallway, so the two ended up fleeing through a window. Physically, they were mostly all right, but Dakota’s dad had inhaled some smoke. He’d also lost all of his belongings in the flames. The emotional toll of the experience was another story. Long after the fire was extinguished, Dakota’s fear remained. She’d always been sensitive, but in the days and weeks afterwards, she began to cry easily. She was afraid to go sleep. She was still a good student — her favorite subject is math, and she carries a backpack emblazoned “#GirlGenius” — but she started leaving class with stomach aches, and making frequent trips to the school counselor.
OPED: Economic benefits of early education are clear
York Dispatch OPED by Early Learning Investment Commission, Pennsylvania Published 9:15 a.m. ET April 27, 2018
Submitted by members of the PA Early Learning Investment Commission: Bruce Bartels, Former President, WellSpan Health; Peter Brubaker, President, Hammer Creek Enterprises LLC; Tony Campisi, President/CEO, Glatfelter Insurance Group; Josh Carney, P.E. President, Carney Engineering; Kevin Schreiber, President/CEO, York County Economic Alliance, Mike Smeltzer, President, Advancement Solutions, LLC
Every day, we apply cost-benefit analyses to guide our decisions. Is this new cell phone worth the price? Is attending this workshop a good use of my time? When benefits outweigh the costs, the decision is a no-brainer. Now is the time to apply that equation to early childhood education. It’s a topic we had the pleasure of reviewing earlier this week at the York County Economic Alliance's Economics Club Breakfast. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Milagros Nores of the National Institute for Early Education Research, presented a compelling case for the economic power of investing in high-quality early learning. A growing body of research and data prove that early childhood education can be a strong investment, yielding measurable returns in improved education, economic, social, and health outcomes. Investments in the quality of the early learning experience pay for themselves long-term and can transform generations.
Rose Tree Media dismisses idea to arm district staff
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, email@example.com, @KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 04/29/18, 8:12 PM EDT | UPDATED: 26 SECS AGO
MIDDLETOWN >> The Rose Tree Media School Board is not in favor of having its staff armed as a way to keep their schools safe. A resolution was passed by the board on April 26 by a 6-1 vote that does not support any proposals to arm educators, or other employees and promoting legislation at the state and federal levels that protect students and staff from gun violence. Board President Jeffrey Koenig and Director Robert Kelly were not present to vote on the resolution. Director James Cunningham was the sole dissenter. “The board believes that arming teachers or other school employees creates another kind of safety issue in that this also could create an issue for first responders who might have a difficult time distinguishing a perpetrator from a school employee,” read a portion of the resolution. The resolution later added, “It is hereby resolved that the Rose Tree Media School Board does not support any proposals to arm educators or other school employees, and instead will focus on safety and security improvements as well as asking legislators for more support of our efforts in this regard, including support to help us address the mental health needs of our young people and will ask legislators for their support in passing laws to those in (a previous paragraph in the resolution) that seek to reduce gun violence. The passage of laws the approved resolution suggests include implementation of universal background checks, banning bump stocks, raising the age to purchase a gun to 21, banning assault weapons and prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines.
With new map, Pennsylvania fields busy US House primaries
Penn Live By Marc Levy The Associated Press Updated 10:42 AM April 29, 2018
DILLSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- George Scott got the inevitable question a half-hour into a meet-the-candidate house party in the rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania: How will you inspire all those people in the congressional district who put up Donald Trump signs in 2016? "Really good question," said Scott, a Democrat, to anxious laughter around the room, before answering. Motivating the nearly 30 people who came to see Scott was that they actually have a choice in this year's congressional race: a four-way Democratic primary contest in a stretch of Pennsylvania that has been represented in Congress by a Republican for 50 years. On May 15, Pennsylvanians will settle 21 congressional primary contests, the state's most since 1984. There are 84 candidates, the same number as in 1984 when Pennsylvania had 23 U.S. House seats, compared with 18 now. Fueling the flood of candidates is Democrats' anti-Trump fervor, as well as seven open seats, Pennsylvania's most in decades. But also contributing is a court-ordered redrawing of Pennsylvania's congressional districts, wiping out 6-year-old Republican-drawn boundaries that the state Supreme Court deemed to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
PA-7: Rep. Pat Meehan resigns, will pay back $39,000 used for harassment settlement
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau @JonathanTamari | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: APRIL 27, 2018 — 3:34 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan resigned from Congress Friday, a few months after a news report revealed that he had secretly used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment accusation. Meehan, who again denied any wrongdoing, said he would nonetheless pay back the $39,000 used for the settlement with a former aide. In a statement Friday, the Delaware County Republican also thanked his wife and family for their support, and said he wished he “had done better” by the constituents who were disappointed in his actions. Debra Katz, an attorney for the former aide, accused Meehan of avoiding responsibility and a full review of his conduct by leaving office before the House Ethics Committee could complete its investigation into his actions. Meehan had already decided not to seek reelection in the wake of a January New York Times report revealing his settlement, which was followed by an interview where he infamously described the younger aide as a “soul mate.” But his resignation was effective immediately, and would end the ethics panel inquiry.
Bipartisan bill package approved by House education committee 'really good news' for Lancaster County CTC, similar institutions
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Apr 28, 2018
The Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, and similar facilities statewide, would receive a welcome boost under a bipartisan package of bills passed by the state House education committee last week. Nine bills crafted as a result of information gathered in 2015 and 2016 by a House subcommittee focused on career and technical education are now poised to advance through the chamber. “There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to education issues,” state Rep. David Hickernell, of West Donegal Township, said in a statement. “While a four-year degree may work for some people, many others find great-paying and fulfilling careers after attending a trade school or some other form of technical training.” As chairman of the House education committee, Hickernell in 2015 helped form the Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness. The subcommittee traveled the state and gathered data and testimony on career and technical education.Its efforts yielded a bipartisan package of bills that would increase access to career and technical programs, address business and industry workforce shortages and incentivize businesses that support career and technical education programs.
“The need for a tax increase is driven almost exclusively by non-discretionary expenses which the district must pay, including special education placements, charter school tuition and pension costs, according to the presentation.”
Coatesville Area School District eyes 8.4 percent tax hike in 2018-19 budget
By Lucas Rodgers, email@example.com, @LucasMRodgers on Twitter POSTED: 04/27/18, 5:25 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 DAY AGO
COATEVILLE >> Residents in the Coatesville Area School District may be paying a significantly higher amount in property taxes next school year if the district’s final budget is approved next month. The school board passed a draft of its final general fund budget for the 2018-19 school year in a 6-2 vote at its meeting on Tuesday evening. The budget is set at $178,090,469 and includes a tax hike of 8.4 percent, or 2.95 mils. Board President Dean Snyder and board nember Bashera Grove voted against adopting this budget. Board member Tom Siedenbuehl was not present at the meeting. This budget will not go into effect until the school board votes to adopt it in its final form by the end of May. The board can choose to amend the budget before final adoption. The proposed budget will be presented for final adoption at a school board meeting May 29 at 7 p.m. at the Coatesville Area Senior High auditorium. Snyder said in a phone interview that he voted against the budget because the tax increase is too high for taxpayers in the district. “I’m hoping we can find ways to reduce it, but without sacrificing the education of our students,” he said. “The hardest part of the job is balancing taxpayers’ money with the education of students.”
Amid talk of reform, we list Northampton County school districts' property tax plans
By Kurt Bresswein | For lehighvalleylive.com Posted April 29, 2018 at 06:30 AM | Updated April 29, 2018 at 06:32 AM
School officials across Pennsylvania are closing in on their 2018-19 budgets, which are fueled largely by the ever-controversial property tax. Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment that paves the way for a 100 percent elimination of property taxes on a homestead, or primary residence. Pennsylvania had capped the exclusion level at 50 percent since 1997. Without the constitutional change, any law to eliminate school property taxes for homeowners while keeping them for businesses could have been ruled unconstitutional, pennlive.com reports. State Sen. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe/Northampton, announced legislation April 23 to follow through on last fall's voter referendum: Senate Bill 1137 would allow local taxing bodies to exclude from taxation 100 percent of the assessed value of owner-occupied homes in 2019. To fund the expanded homestead exclusion program, the legislation would increase the personal income tax rate by 1.98 percent to 5.05 percent. "There's no free lunch here," Scavello said in a PCN call-in program that same day, alongside state Sen. Lisa Boscola. "If you get rid of a tax, you've got to find the money somewhere else."
Parents' campaign: 'We Love Our Philly Public Schools'
They say that ratings websites are misleading and that it's best to talk to a parent about a school.
The notebook by Greg Windle April 27, 2018 — 10:52am
A group of public school parents from Northwest Philadelphia has put together a campaign, using this new logo, to support neighborhood public schools. A group of public school parents from Northwest Philadelphia has put together a campaign to support neighborhood public schools. They hope to spread the We Love Our Philly Public Schools campaign to every neighborhood in the city. The kickoff event, with its open house format, will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 30, at Lovett Library, 6945 Germantown Ave. The parents have designed yard signs, bumper-magnets, and posters showing love for Philly’s public schools. They are meant to be conversation-starters — opportunities for public school parents to talk to other parents and share their experiences with their children’s schools. Kathleen Butts, one of the parent organizers, has a daughter in 8th grade at C.W. Henry Elementary. She was inspired to work on the campaign by her jarring experiences when she talked to parents about the local public schools after moving to Philadelphia three years ago. She was always interested in enrolling her daughter at Henry, so she started asking other parents about the school. “What I heard so much was ‘Have you seen the Great Philly Schools rating?’” Butts said, referring to the website that ranks schools in several categories, largely reliant on standardized tests. Butts teaches at Yes Philly, an alternative school in North Philadelphia, and was not impressed by the metrics used on the site. “My response was: Yes, I have, but that’s focused heavily on test scores and that’s not all a school is about,” she said.
What ‘A nation at risk’ got wrong, and right, about U.S. schools
WHYY NPR By Anya Kamenetz April 29, 2018
Very few government reports have had the staying power of “A Nation At Risk,” which appeared 35 years ago this month and stoked widespread concerns about the quality of American schools. “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people,” the authors thundered in one of its best-known passages. When it appeared in April 1983, the report received widespread coverage on radio and TV. President Reagan joined the co-authors in a series of public hearings around the country. The report’s narrative of failing schools — students being out-competed internationally and declining educational standards — persists, and has become an entrenched part of the debate over education in the U.S. Prudence Carter, the dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, teaches her students that “A Nation At Risk” was a “pivotal moment” in education policy — the beginning of a “moment of angst” about the state of the nation’s schools. That angst found expression, she says, in the No Child Left Behind law in 2002 and the Race to the Top initiative in 2009 and is still enshrined in federal law today.
Betsy DeVos was asked, again, about visiting struggling schools. A staffer interjected.
Washington Post By Kristine Phillips April 28 at 1:16 PM Email the author
While attending a robotics competition in her home state of Michigan this past week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was asked by a reporter if she had plans to visit some of the struggling schools in the area — the same question that journalist Lesley Stahl asked her during a “60 Minutes” interview a month ago. Her answer then — “Maybe I should” — was highly criticized. Her answer Friday was more resolute. “I’m not making any school visits today,” DeVos told WDIV Local 4 News reporter Priya Mann, who asked if DeVos would visit Detroit public schools, some of which weren’t far from where the event was taking place. Mann went on to ask another question, at which point a staffer interjected and said DeVos will answer more questions later.
Electing PSBA Officers: Applications Due by June 1st
Do you have strong communication and leadership skills and a vision for PSBA? Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to submit an Application for Nomination no later than June 1, 11:59 p.m., to PSBA's Leadership Development Committee (LDC). The nomination process
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.