Thursday, May 31, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 31: State Rep. Roebuck calls for accountability in charter schools’ real estate deals

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State Rep. Roebuck calls for accountability in charter schools’ real estate deals

You are invited to help build the future of public education!
Commonwealth Education Blueprint
The Commonwealth Education Blueprint is a multiyear effort founded and managed by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) to develop and implement a statewide vision for the future of public education. Through this comprehensive project, education stakeholders from across the state and from many areas of expertise collaborate to proactively determine what education should look like in years to come. Your involvement is critical to the Blueprint’s success! We hope you will participate in this short survey to build the foundation for public education in the future. Please complete it by May 31, 2018:

State Rep. Roebuck calls for accountability in charter schools’ real estate deals
The bill is part of a larger package aimed at reforming Pennsylvania's charter school system.
The notebook Greg Windle May 30 — 1:23 pm, 2018
State Rep. James Roebuck renewed his push this week for legislation that would bar charter school companies from leasing buildings that they already own back to themselves, collecting state dollars in the process. This comes shortly after Franklin Towne Charter School faced criticism from the School Reform Commission over conflicts of interest in similar real estate arrangements and the state’s audit of Aspira charter schools found the practice there as well. The legislation was first introduced last year. Roebuck (D-Phila.) said the audit proved his long-standing assertion that Pennsylvania’s charter school law needs to be reformed. “The findings by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale mirror what I’ve been saying all along, that charter schools lack financial accountability,” said Roebuck, the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee. “The legislation I introduced last year would specifically address the core problems found in this report while protecting taxpayer dollars.” Roebuck’s bill, HB 1199, would eliminate conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases through the state’s program, which is meant to help charter schools who rent the school building, but is often used by charters who already own the building.

“State Rep. Seth Grove put it into slightly more stark terms. “It’s an election year. My guess is, June 28th or 29th leadership drops a budget on us–it might be good–and then they’ll say, ‘Well here’s your budget, if you don’t vote for it you’re probably going to lose the election in the fall,” Grove told State House Sound Bites.”
Both Parties Expect Quick Budget Process in House
PoliticsPA Written by Paul Engelkemier, Managing Editor May 30, 2018
With the June 30th budget deadline a month away, both Democrats and Republicans in the state House believe this year’s budget process will be quick. Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget calls for increases in education and elderly and disabled services as well as the severance tax on natural gas he has proposed every year and a fee for state police coverage.   The House GOP sees that education spending will likely increase, but other spending remains unclear.   “That’s where the performance-based budgeting comes in. You know, what programs are working? What isn’t?” House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin told State House Sound Bites.   House Democrats agree that the numbers will have to be looked at before completely going along with Wolf’s proposal.

Senate passes legislation by Ryan Aument targeting effectiveness of standardized tests
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer May 30, 2018
The Pennsylvania Senate last week passed with bipartisan support measures introduced by Landisville Republican Ryan Aument that would study the effectiveness of standardized tests and reduce certification requirements for vocational teachers. These pieces of legislation, Aument said, would promote a more efficient education system and a stronger workforce. “There is a vigorous debate regarding the effectiveness of the data produced by Keystone Exams and other standardized testing,” Aument said regarding Senate Resolution 322, which the Education Committee passed unanimously. “It is critical to ensure this data is reliable to provide teachers, schools, parents and taxpayers with feedback that will be useful in promoting a better system of education of students.” His resolution mandates the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study standardized tests and whether they are clear indicators of student success.

Pa. Sen. Scott Wagner resigning his seat to focus on governor's race
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, Harrisburg Bureau Updated: MAY 30, 2018 — 6:40 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner will resign his seat in the state Senate next week to focus on his attempt to take Gov. Wolf’s job. Wagner, a millionaire businessman and owner of a York-based trash hauling company, submitted his resignation letter late Wednesday to Senate President Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson). In it, he wrote that his last day in the Senate will be Monday, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Wagner could not be reached for comment. But in a statement, campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said: “Scott realizes that the way he can bring about the most change and do the most good for the commonwealth is to devote all his time and energy toward getting elected governor and giving Pennsylvanians a different choice.” Wagner will give a farewell speech on the Senate floor when the chamber returns to session on Monday, Romeo said.

Scott Wagner to resign from Senate to focus on bid to be Pa.'s next governor
Penn Live By Jan Murphy Updated May 30, 8:45 PM; Posted May 30, 7:07 PM
Editor's note: Updates with response from Wolf's campaign
Sen. Scott Wagner will resign from his Senate seat on Monday to concentrate his efforts on unseating Gov. Tom Wolf in the November election. Wagner submitted a letter to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, indicating his intention to depart from the Senate seat he has held representing York County for the past four years. Wagner won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the May primary, beating out political newcomers Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth. Wagner's spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement, "Since winning his historic write-in campaign in 2014, it's been Scott's honor to serve the people of York in the state Senate. However, since Tom Wolf has taken office there has been nothing but gridlock in Harrisburg, and Scott realizes that the way he can bring about the most change and do the most good for the commonwealth is to devote all his time and energy toward getting elected governor and giving Pennsylvanians a different choice."

McGarrigle, Killion hold economic roundtable with chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee
By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 05/30/18, 8:13 PM
MORTON >> State Sen. Pat Browne, R-16, of Allentown, chairman of the state Senate Appropriations Committee, brought his roundtable to Delaware County Wednesday afternoon in the midst of taking a tour of the state to see what communities’ priorities are. “We’re visiting all parts of the state primarily because we’re trying to respond to what we believe is a different financial situation for Pennsylvania and to take input from community business leaders as to what the priorities should be,” he explained. His discussion at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit was the fifth so far, with Erie his next location. On hand were state Sens. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown and Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield. “There’s a real shortage of skilled labor in Southeastern Pennsylvania,” McGarrigle said. “Companies want to expand and they just can’t find the bodies to fill the positions they need.” That is a concern Browne said he’s heard throughout the state. “What we’re hearing primarily on ... economic development – and this makes things relatively easy to prioritize – is workforce development,” he said. “We’re hearing this around the state ... Everyone is saying the same thing.” He pointed to Gov. Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative unveiled in his $33 billion budget proposal. PAsmart earmarks $50 million to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; help students and adults get career technical education; encourage employers to get involved in job training; and expand apprenticeships.

Gun-reform activists spur voter registration at high schools
PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Students at more than 1,000 schools across the country are registering young voters in lunchrooms, hallways and even at upcoming graduation ceremonies in a week of activism aimed at electing lawmakers who support gun reforms in response to school shootings in Florida and Texas. David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is spearheading the national effort along with the New York-based organization HeadCount. Hogg and organization officials say students at more than 1,000 schools in 46 states are participating, with most starting their drives Tuesday. Their goal is to have 90 percent of the nation’s high schools host drives before the current senior class graduates in hopes of boosting young-voter turnout, which is traditionally low, especially during midterm elections. HeadCount, a national organization that has registered nearly half a million voters since 2004, mostly at concerts and music festivals, also hosted voter tables at the March For Our Lives gun-reform rally organized by Hogg and other Parkland students in Washington, D.C., that drew hundreds of thousands of young people in March. Voter-registration drives were the logical next step after months of rallies and schools walkouts, the activists said. Hogg says all the rhetoric on gun reform is worthless unless voters oust lawmakers who are beholden to the National Rifle Association. The students want tighter regulations on guns, including universal background checks and training for people who own AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles.

Officials listen to concerns and thoughts of Erie High School students regarding safety
Your Erie By: Ron Hilliard Updated: May 30, 2018 06:25 PM EDT
Students are voicing their concerns over school security with state leaders.
Students say they should not be afraid to go to school.  Now, they're talking with state leaders about ways to improve security.  Pennsylvania's School Safety Task Force is touring the state hearing concerns of students, parents, and faculty.  Governor Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale sent representatives to Erie High School Wednesday. Director of Pennsylvania Homeland Security Marcus Brown says, "We can listen to students who are saying peer mentoring will help, and if we can listen to public health officials and nurses who will say that 'hey, we need to have closer interaction with the students and look at trigger signs that they're seeing in students, so that prevention can really be what our goal is before one of these tragedies happen.'" Other issues involve determining additional funding needs for safety personnel and security equipment.  But, members of the task force say most people they've talked to are not comfortable with teachers carrying firearms.  Erie High School Junior Erin Flemming feels the same.  "We do not want teachers to be armed in our schools. It creates an air of tension that we don't want."

Our view: We must find funds for early childhood education
May 26, 2018 timesleader Editorials 2
It is time for the region, state and nation to have a serious debate about prioritizing spending with an eye on early education and preschool family support. That’s the focus of a new campaign launched locally Thursday at the Wilkes-Barre Head Start center. The campaign name, “Childhood Begins at Home,” may sound redundant. Where else would it begin? But the point is valid. The opportunities, enrichment and experiences children get in their first years at home have a lifetime impact, and there is mounting evidence that we can craft effective programs to help in those formative years — programs that pay big dividends later in life. To be sure, speakers at the launch overused the the phrase “evidence-based.” The question is always the same: Who decides what evidence matters? But in this case, even if you doubt the “evidence-based” success of early education and home support programs, common sense should tell you it can work. That single mother struggling to feed children while holding down a low paying job often has much less time to spend interacting with and reading to the kids, much less the money to buy all the books, educational toys and opportunities a better-off couple provides. The odds are high that, without help, children of the first mother will enter kindergarten well behind the others developmentally.

North Penn School District could see $6M boost from funding formula change
By Dan Sokil, The Reporter POSTED: 05/29/18, 8:36 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO
LANSDALE >> A change in the way state education funds are distributed could mean a big boost to the bottom line for the North Penn School District. State Rep. Todd Stephens gave the North Penn School Board an update on changes he has proposed to the state education funding formula that could benefit much of Montgomery County, and North Penn in particular. “If all of the education funding for this year ran through the Basic Education Funding Commission’s formula, North Penn would’ve received about 65 percent more funding, in terms of basic education funds through the state,” Stephens said. “I believe this year’s allocation was about $10 million, and it would’ve been $16 million,” he said. During the school board’s May 17 meeting, Stephens described how he has been part of an effort by the state legislature to create a bipartisan commission meant to reexamine the way that basic education funding is distributed. “The goal of that commission was to determine what are the future cost drivers that should be part of any basic education funding formula,” he said. “Up until a few years ago, when that formula ultimately went into place, politics was driving the school funding decisions, and frankly that shouldn’t be the case,” said Stephens.

$164M Spring-Ford School District budget to raise taxes 2.35%
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 05/30/18, 5:49 PM EDT | UPDATED: 14 SECS AGO
LIMERICK >> Spring-Ford School Board member Mark Dehnert cast the only vote against the $164,444,651 proposed final budget for the 2018-2019 school year Tuesday night. Dehnert said his vote was because “we’re not addressing security in the whole district.” He was likely referring to a previous matter on which he had also disagreed with the majority of the board — the creation of a new position, coordinator of safety and emergency preparedness. Dehnert said the job, meant to address safety concerns in an era of school shootings, was a waste of resources and that the money should instead be spent on having armed guards in every building. Superintendent David Goodin had explained the budget called not only for the new position — which would include patrol as well as administrative duties — but a second employee who would “walk the circuit” among the district’s many school buildings. Dehnert was still not convinced. James Fink, chief financial officer of the district, said the budget carries a 2.35 percent tax hike, below the maximum 2.4 percent allowed by the state-set maximum. The new millage rate will be 26.8599 mills, which represents an increase of .6157 mills or $.6157 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Norwin OKs preliminary budget with tax increase
Trib Live by JOE NAPSHA  | Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 11:51 p.m.
Property owners in the Norwin School District would see their taxes increased by 2.4 mills for the 2018-2019 school year under a preliminary budget approved Wednesday. The 71.1 million budget the board adopted represents a 3.1 percent increase in expenses from the $68.6 million spending plan for the current year that ends June 30. The proposed increase in real estate taxes for North Huntingdon, North Irwin and Irwin will boost the millage rate to 80 mills if the board approves a final budget without reducing the tax hike. For the 18 properties Norwin serves in Allegheny County, taxes will be raised by about a third of a mill. The millage rate for Westmoreland County includes 1.2 mills for the Norwin Public Library, which the district collects as a result of a referendum approved by voters in 2000. A 2.4 mill increase will cost an extra $52 in school taxes for a property with a median assessed value of $21,630, the district said.

Blogger note: Here’s the other side of the EITC/OSTC Non-discrimination clause being removed from DCED’s guidelines and application document. If these programs were being funded solely by charitable contributions that would be one thing; but they’re not. Pennsylvania is adopting laws spending public money or giving tax breaks and allowing those programs to discriminate. Organizations are celebrating their ability to select students based on religion, disability status and gender preferences. And saying so publicly. 
URGENT: A Violation of Our Religious Freedom
Dayspring Christian Academy Blog May 18, 2018
UPDATE: 5-30-2018  God Answers Prayer!
About two weeks ago, we alerted you to the situation with the EITC/OSTC program. As a reminder, many families at Dayspring Christian Academy (as many as 145 families) receive some amount of tuition assistance through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC). This is not funding from the state but comes to us from businesses that, in turn, receive a tax credit. We were made aware that the Pennsylvania state administration, specifically the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), added language to the guidelines for EITC/OSTC that is in direct violation of our Christian conscience. We are relieved to inform you that the Lord has answered our prayers and the language was removed from the guidelines. We are grateful to Senator Ryan Aument, Rep. Brett Miller, Senator Scott Martin, and Rep. Keith Greiner who worked on our behalf to have the language removed. It is important to note that Senator Aument let us know that he had not heard about this stipulation being slipped into the EITC/OSTC program until Dayspring alerted him. At that point, he and the others began receiving your letters and praying! Senator Aument’s staff met with the governor’s people and was able to use the following to get them to see that this isn’t a fight they want to go public:

Here’s our prior posting regarding removal of the anti-discrimination language
Dept. of Community & Economic Development eliminates nondiscrimination requirement for organizations seeking to participate in EITC/OSTC tax credit programs
Keystone State Education Coalition PA Ed Policy Roundup May 29, 2018

Scholarship Funds May Be Imperiled by Battle Over State Deduction
Bloomberg By Che Odom From Daily Tax Report: State May 24, 2018
States that allow tax credits for donations to scholarship-granting organizations may need to keep an eye on expected IRS guidance related to a controversial deduction cap. The Internal Revenue Service announced May 23 that taxpayers should proceed with caution after states, including New York and New Jersey, approved measures designed to mitigate a new limit on the federal deduction individuals may claim for taxes paid to state and local governments. “My concern is that the IRS might throw the baby out with the bathwater by including, probably unintentionally, the 18 or more state tax credit scholarship-granting organizations (SGOs) around the country that serve low-income children,” Bruce P. Ely, an Alabama-based partner and tax attorney at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, told Bloomberg Tax in an email.

“In addition, the results of a public opinion poll conducted earlier this month by Terry Madonna Opinion Research show that most Pennsylvanians are opposed to giving parents taxpayer-funded vouchers to send their children to private schools and prefer investing state funds to strengthen resources to help public schools. Survey respondents said providing additional funding and resources was a better way to help students in struggling schools and few see vouchers as a priority. “Vouchers reduce fair access to educational opportunity for all students and are unresponsive to the issue of poverty. They divert scarce resources from public schools that serve all students to pay for private schools for a few,” said PSBA Chief Executive Officer Nathan G. Mains.”
Educators pan voucher vote
Bethlehem Press Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Nate Jastrzemski
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Bethlehem administrators are disappointed in a recent vote by the Senate Education Committee to approve Senate Bill 2, creating Education Savings Accounts, or vouchers, that take state tax money out of neighborhood public schools for use at private schools. According to a PSBA release, Under Senate Bill 2, money is taken away from a school district’s state subsidy to provide ESA vouchers to students in the attendance boundaries of public schools ranking in the bottom 15 percent based on state standardized test scores, to attend private schools and pay for “other valid educational expenses.” Students can continue to use vouchers even if the school improves or the student moves out of the district. ESA voucher proposals are being pushed in other states as foot-in-the-door schemes to create taxpayer-funded government subsidies for private schools and vendors. More than 240 school districts across the state have adopted resolutions opposing the ESA voucher plan that is estimated to siphon more than $500 million dollars away from Pennsylvania school districts, many that are already under-resourced.

Commentary: Philadelphia Virtual Academy is a successful and unique educational option for Philadelphia families
Last week, an opinion piece entitled “Commentary: Philadelphia Virtual Academy exemplifies the District’s double standard on renewal applications” compared charter schools and a virtual education option, the Philadelphia Virtual Academy.
The notebook Commentary by Christina Grant and David Anderson May 30 — 4:35 pm, 2018
Christina Grant is the assistant superintendent for opportunity and innovation for the School District of Philadelphia, and David Anderson is the principal of the Philadelphia Virtual Academy.
Last week, an opinion piece entitled “Commentary: Philadelphia Virtual Academy exemplifies the District’s double standard on renewal applications” compared charter schools and a virtual education option, the Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA). In many ways, this simply isn’t an appropriate comparison, and we want to explain why. First, it’s helpful to understand the fundamental differences between charter schools and PVA. Charter schools are a creation of state law. The authorization and renewal of charter schools are governed by state law, and charter schools operate under the terms of a charter agreement signed with the District. Charter schools can exist as brick and mortar schools or as “cyber charters,” which operate as virtual schools. Students attend charter schools full-time. Charter schools are subject to the same Pennsylvania Department of Education evaluation measures as traditional District schools, with assessments summarized as a School Performance Profile score. The Philadelphia Virtual Academy is similar to a cyber charter in that it is a virtual education model, but that is where the similarity ends. PVA is in most ways more similar to an online “academy” – like Corsera or Kahn Academy – than to a traditional District or charter school.

Billions of your tax dollars feed growing school reserve funds | John Baer
Pennsylvania school districts have saved up for a lot more than supplies.
Philly Daily News by John Baer, STAFF COLUMNIST Updated: MAY 30, 2018 — 4:33 PM EDT
You’ll be happy (or maybe concerned/puzzled) to know that your tax dollars continue to pump up school district reserve funds all across the state. Yep. Despite constant complaints of inadequate resources, unfair funding and unmet needs, districts in every region are holding/hoarding barrels of money in interest-bearing accounts. Annual data from the state Department of Education show reserve amounts increase every year. Every year I point it out. Every year nothing changes. Latest statewide reserves (for 2016-17), including funds for charter and vocational schools, approach $5 billion; for school districts alone it’s $4.53 billion. To put these numbers in context, the total state appropriation for basic education is $5.9 billion.

Salaries, perks and bonuses for Lancaster County's 17 superintendents
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer May 30, 2018
A district-issued automobile. A bonus of up to $10,000. Fourteen paid holidays. Those are just a few of the perks included in superintendent contracts approved by school boards throughout Lancaster County. That’s on top of salaries ranging from $102,100 to $187,335. The average base salary for superintendents here is about $159,000 — $18,000 more than the statewide average, according to the latest data from the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.
In 2016-17, the average annual salary for superintendents in the state was $141,000. Salaries ranged from $72,000 to $319,000. Still, PASA Executive Director Mark DiRocco said, superintendents are “significantly underpaid” compared to chief executive officers in organizations outside the realm of public education. “You’re dealing with children every day, which is the most precious commodity out there,” DiRocco said. “Superintendents are called upon each and every day to see a wide array of skills and knowledge that are pretty much unequaled in other CEO positions.” What’s more, he said, more than half of the state’s 501 superintendents will have left their post since the 2016-17 school year, whether it’s for retirement or to seek employment elsewhere. So when a school district hires a superintendent that’s a good fit, DiRocco said, “every dollar they spend on that superintendent is well worth it.” Here are the salaries and perks for Lancaster County’s 17 superintendents, from highest-paid to lowest-paid, for the 2017-18 school year.

Philly Councilwoman Cindy Bass has another plan to raise money for the schools: Cut city budget
by Holly Otterbein, Staff Writer  @hollyotterbein | Updated: MAY 30, 2018 — 7:47 PM EDT
To generate money for Philadelphia’s struggling school district, Mayor Kenney wants to raise the property tax, increase the real estate transfer tax, and put the brakes on projected cuts to the wage tax. City Councilwoman Cindy Bass has another idea: She hopes to make hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts to the budget over the next five years, especially to the city’s prison system. Bass, who has increasingly been at odds with Kenney, plans to introduce her alternative when Council returns next week. She said raising real estate taxes — which lawmakers have done several times in recent years — is “the easy go-to.” “People are feeling the pinch,” said Bass. “We are requesting that instead of looking outward at everybody else’s pocketbook, we look inwards at our own pocketbook.” It’s an early move in Philadelphia’s annual budget dance, when Council members introduce alternative ideas to the mayor’s. Oftentimes, their suggestions — or pieces of them, at least — become law. The budget is due June 30.

Civil Rights Advocates to DeVos: Make it Clear Educators Can't Report Students to ICE
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on May 30, 2018 4:15 PM
Dozens of civil rights organizations are asking U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to clarify her recent contention that schools can decide whether or not to report undocumented students to immigration authorities. Those comments came during a wide-ranging House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing last week. Rep. Adriano D. Espaillat Cabral, D-N.Y., asked if teachers and principals should call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to report undocumented students.  The secretary's answer: "That's a school decision," DeVos said. "It's a local community decision. I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate. I urge this body and do its job and address and clarify where this confusion around this."  Espaillat repeated the question and emphasized that immigration law is federal law, but DeVos did not change her stance. He did not say under what circumstances he envisioned educators and schools learning about a student or family's immigration status.  That alarmed advocates, who argued it would be against the law for educators to report their students to ICE. And Tuesday, 180 civil rights organizations, including the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, sent a letter to DeVos asking her to clarify her comments. They argued that DeVos' comments fly in the face of Plyler vs. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court decision affirming undocumented immigrants' right to public education.

Trump Safety Commission's First 'Field Hearing' to Explore 'Positive Behavior' Strategy
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on May 30, 2018 6:15 PM
The Federal Commission on School Safety will have its first "field" hearing Thursday—and second meeting—at a school in Anne Arundel County, Md., that has embraced Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS. And advocates are already questioning whether U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who chairs the panel, will come away with something new to share with the K-12 field.   DeVos told reporters in Grand Rapids, Mich., this week that the commission—which President Donald Trump set up in the wake of the deadly massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February—will find "great ideas that this community might not know about. ... We need to make sure that schools and communities have all the tools available to them and ultimately the resources they need to address these issues appropriately." But advocates note that PBIS, which was written into the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, isn't exactly an under-the-radar strategy in need of the federal spotlight. PBIS is a multi-tiered system of services and strategies aimed at helping to combat behavior problems. All students are taught certain behavioral expectations and rewarded for following them, and students with more needs are provided increasingly intensive interventions. The formal system was in place in more than 21,000 schools in August of 2015, according to the National Center for Positive Behaviorial Interventions and Supports. Sixteen states are using it in 500 schools or more.

Statement on "Active Shooter" Video Game by the National School Boards Association 
NSBA Press Release May 30, 2018
Alexandria, Va. (May 30, 2018) - NSBA today released the following statement in response to the “Active Shooter” video game: “A video game that simulates a school shooting is alarming and disgraceful. Violence has no place in our schools. “Violent games that portray violence against students is unconscionable and undermines the efforts of public school leaders, parents, students, and teachers to ensure students and teachers can learn and teach in a safe environment. “When a company glamorizes violence in video games, and seeks to profit from exploiting horrible tragedies, students’ well-being and sense of safety are threatened. “Public school leaders are dedicated to enhancing safety and will remain vigilant about protecting students, teachers and administrators.” The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.

Walmart offers employees new perk: Cheap access to college
WHYY By Anne D'Innocenzio, AP Retail Writer May 30, 2018
Walmart is offering its employees a new perk: affordable access to a college degree. America’s largest private employer, which in the past has helped its workers get their high school or equivalency degree, hopes the new benefit will help it recruit and retain higher quality entry-level employees in a tight U.S. labor market. The company is teaming up with Denver-based startup Guild Education to offer employees the chance to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business or supply-chain management. It will cost a dollar a day at one of three non-profit universities with online programs that have had success working with adult learners: the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University. It plans to eventually expand to more types of degrees. It will also offer college-prep classes for workers who need extra help. Walmart is subsidizing the cost of tuition, books and fees, eliminating the need for student loans. Both full-time and part-time workers who have been with the company at least 90 days will be able to qualify, Walmart said.

You are invited to help build the future of public education!
Commonwealth Education Blueprint
The Commonwealth Education Blueprint is a multiyear effort founded and managed by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) to develop and implement a statewide vision for the future of public education. Through this comprehensive project, education stakeholders from across the state and from many areas of expertise collaborate to proactively determine what education should look like in years to come.
VISION: Pennsylvania will provide an equitable, exceptional public education that empowers all learners to achieve a meaningful, productive life in our democratic society.
The Process & Your Involvement: The project steering committee conducts meetings and collects data (ongoing since Oct. 2017) toward drafting the Blueprint. They have also been convening Blueprint study groups, focus groups and, now a statewide survey.
Your involvement is critical to the Blueprint’s success! We hope you will participate in this short survey to build the foundation for public education in the future. Please complete it by May 31, 2018:
What’s Next? After all of the data has been compiled and analyzed, a comprehensive report will be and will serve as the driving document to set and benchmark milestones toward achieving the vision and shaping all future education-related legislation and advocacy. We hope you will join us in distributing the Blueprint and this vision later in 2018. For more information about the Commonwealth Education Blueprint, contact Ashley Lenker White, senior director of strategic initiatives, at (800) 932-0588 or

Program cuts and teacher furloughs in the Crestwood School District may be averted this year, thanks to a tentative deal struck between the district and teachers. This reprieve from teacher furloughs and deep cuts in programs will be temporary, however, if the state legislature does not make a commitment to providing adequate funding to public education. Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation in terms of state share of funding for public schools, providing just 34% of the cost of K-12 education in PA. The national average is close to 50%.
Harrisburg, Please Help Our Schools! scheduled for Thursday, May 31 in the Crestwood HS auditorium 
Harrisburg, Please Help Our Schools is a community event that will be led by Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA. Susan will provide the Crestwood community with a short presentation about school funding in PA, the school funding lawsuit, and the path to ending Pennsylvania’s school funding crisis.  Students from the Crestwood School District will speak about their experiences and the value of the education they have received. The presentation will conclude with a call to action for people to write, call, and visit their state lawmakers and spread the word in the community that without Harrisburg’s help, students in Crestwood will receive far fewer opportunities than their brothers and sisters who came before them.
Local lawmakers, leaders of the Pennsylvania School Board Association, and community advocates have been invited to participate in this community event.  All advocates and concerned citizens of public education funding are welcome to attend and are not required to be taxpayers of the Crestwood School District.
WHO: Event MCs: Pat Magin and Ed Stepanski
Presenter: Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA
Additional speakers: Current Crestwood Area SD students
Legislators confirmed to be in attendance: Reps. Pashinski, Mullery, and Carroll.
WHAT: Harrisburg, Help our Schools!
WHEN: Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:00 pm
WHERE: Crestwood High School Auditorium
281 S Mountain Blvd, Mountain Top, PA 18707

Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). 
With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or

Join with EdVotersPA and PCCY for Capitol Caravan Days and fight for our public schools! When: 9:00-3:00 on June 12 or June 20 (your choice!)
Where: The Harrisburg Capitol
Why: To show state lawmakers that their constituents expect them to support public school students in the '18-19 budget

Education Voters of PA joining together with Pennsylvania Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for a lobby day in Harrisburg. Join a team and meet with your state legislators and legislative leaders to talk about how the state can support K-12 students in the state budget.
Register Here:

POWER 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM at the PA Capitol
On Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM, students, parents, community activists, and faith leaders from different traditions will gather on the steps of the State Capitol Main Rotunda for POWER’s 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action to demand support for legislation to put 100% of the Commonwealth's Basic Education Budget through PA's Fair Funding Formula. We ask you to join us as we stand in solidarity with one another and continue demanding fair and fully funded education for Pennsylvania’s public school students. In addition to a large rally, we will march to Governor Tom Wolfe's office to pray for his support for 100% through the Formula. Join us as we hold meetings that day with our legislators asking each one to speak out in favor of POWER's 100% plan.
Register here:

EquityFirst #CivilFundingWar Meeting on Education Funding
EquityFirst and The Citizens for Fair School Funding
Harrisburg, PA Monday, June 4, 2018 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)
Harrisburg School District is underfunded by $31.77 million $38 million! Every Year in Basic and Special Education Funding
Monday, June 4, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Meeting Light Refreshments will be served.
Living Water Community Church 206 Oakleigh Avenue, Harrisburg, PA
For more information contact: or 717.623.0909 or visit
Register Here:

Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award
PSBA Website May 14, 2018
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators. The 2018 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 14, 2018. The application due date is July 16, 2018 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Download the Application

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:

the notebook Annual Celebration - June 5, 2018 - New Location!
Please join us on June 5, 2018, at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia! Please note the new location!
Buy your tickets today!
Every June, 400 public school supporters gather in celebration at the end of the school year. This festive event features awards for outstanding high school journalism, talented local musicians, a silent auction, and the opportunity to speak with the most influential voices in the local education community. This year, the Notebook staff and board of directors would like to honor public education advocates who are committed to our mission of advancing quality and equity in our city’s schools.
Our Honorees:
Debra Weiner - A longtime advocate for public education at a variety of nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions, and a member of the Notebook’s editorial advisory board

Mary Goldman - Former 27th Ward Leader and advocate for children and public schools
Our City Our Schools - A coalition of local grassroots organizations that campaigned to return the school board to local control
The event will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

IN PHILLY, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018, 8:30-10:00 A.M.
Join Law Center attorneys Michael Churchill, Jennifer Clarke, and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg for a free briefing on the state of education funding in Pennsylvania. They’ll cover the basics of education funding, our fair school funding lawsuit, the property tax elimination bill, the 2018-2019 state budget, and more! RSVP online here. The briefing will be held on Wednesday, June 13th at 8:30 a.m. at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Download a flyer for this event.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Join the PA Principals Association, the PA Association of School Administrators and the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools for PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA.  
A rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
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.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at before Friday, June 8, 2018.
Click here to view the PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2018 Save The Date Flyer (INCLUDES EVENT SCHEDULE AND IMPORTANT ISSUES.) 

SAVE THE DATE for the 2018 PA Educational Leadership Summit - July 29-31 - State College, PA sponsored by the PA Principals Association, PASA, PAMLE and PASCD.  
This year's Summit will be held from July 29-31, 2018 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA.

Save the Dates PASA/PSBA School Leadership Conference – Hershey, Oct. 17-19, 2018 
Mark your calendar! The Delegate Assembly will take place Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.
Housing now open!

Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket here.
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait.  These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget to register for your hotel room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link here. Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer some scholarships based on need. Go here and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to get your Early Bird ticket here. We can't wait to see you.

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.