“It's sort of fascinating to watch Wagner, who's clearly been no friend to public education since entering public life four years ago, try to position himself as a champion of public education. He continues to support school choice bills and remains a vocal critic of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. But as we note above, public schools are an issue near and dear to most Pennsylvania voters' hearts. And to win them, Wagner will have to at least make a show of coming to the middle. Wolf, meanwhile, can credibly (and accurately) point out that he's gotten almost halfway to his goal of a $2 billion education funding increase during his four years at the helm. Wagner, who consistently voted against those increases will still have to explain that opposition.”
Wolf, Wagner continue dueling over school funding | Monday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek email@example.com Updated 8:18 AM; Posted 8:18 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican rival Scott Wagner kept up their duel over state support for public education over the weekend -- reminding us that there is no third rail issue more third railier, so to speak, than this one. In case you're tuning in late, Wagner has spent the last couple of weeks pouncing on some awkwardly phrased remarks Wolf made in Philly last month, where he noted that he'd like to see funding for all 500 school districts channeled through a funding formula approved to bipartisan acclaim about three years ago. That formula is designed to favor poorer and growing districts by taking into account such variables as a district's poverty level; its student enrollment, and the local tax effort. Immediately moving into that formula - which Wagner falsely accusedWolf of wanting to do - would result in a $1.2 billion shift from about 357 schools (mostly rural) to urban and growing districts. Wolf, who has steadily increased state support for public schools in each of his four years in office, has stressed that he doesn't support an immediate shift - despite what Wagner claims is some muddying of the waters by some senior administration staffers.
School district surpluses a mix of moderately healthy to dangerously low
Times Leader By Mark Guydish - firstname.lastname@example.org July 27, 2018
Are local school districts hording money or saving too little? A new analysis suggests most districts have reserves within a recommended range but below a state maximum, though a few are clearly operating without a net. The Temple University Center on Regional Politics looked at the fund balances, or reserves, of public school districts, charter schools and career and technical centers from 2016-17. The study focused on the “unassigned” fund balance, money available for immediate use without restrictions, as opposed to reserves restricted by outside forces such as debt terms or assigned for special purposes by the district such as construction projects. The policy brief also compared 2016-17 balances state-wide to funds in 2012-13, and to operating expenditures. Comparison to expenditures is a common yardstick. The brief notes that “the financial industry suggests an unassigned fund balance between 5 percent and 10 percent of total operating expenditures,” and that state law limits school districts unassigned fund balances to no more than 8 percent of total operating expenditures. The state law is different for districts with expenditures of $19 million or less, increasing the maximum for every $1 million below that threshold.
“Depending on what numbers used, the state Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System have between about $66 billion and $89 billion in unfunded liabilities. Basically, the money needed to pay thousands of pensions isn’t there.”
Pennsylvania looking for ways to reduce pension liability
By Katie Meyer, WITF July 30, 2018
A Pennsylvania state commission is trying to figure out how to cut costs in the state’s two largest, heavily indebted pension funds. Depending on what numbers used, the state Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System have between about $66 billion and $89 billion in unfunded liabilities. Basically, the money needed to pay thousands of pensions isn’t there. That’s nothing new. But what is new is a commission of lawmakers and state officials that is working to come up with a plan to pay down the debt. Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella has estimated that in the last 10 years, the state has wasted roughly $5.5 billion on payments to investment managers whose high-risk funds didn’t pay off. One of his main goals is making those investment fees more transparent. “The real message this morning was about alignment,” he said after a Monday hearing. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. And if you don’t know what it is, then you don’t know if the interests of the beneficiaries of the plan and the taxpayers are aligned with the interests of the managers.”
“We applaud Rep. Smucker for his work to help remedy this problem and Congress for putting aside its usual partisan sniping to pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The fact that H.R. 2353, authored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson, received unanimous support on both sides of the aisle is a welcome sign that our representatives in Washington can govern effectively, if they put their minds to it. It also means both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, appreciate the value of career and technical education in the modern economy.”
Editorial: Passing career and technical education bill a smart move by Congress
Lancaster Online by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD July 31, 2018
THE ISSUE: Last week, the U.S. House and Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Smucker, to strengthen and improve career and technical education to help Americans obtain the skills needed to compete for good-paying jobs. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act updates the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 1984, which provided federal support to state and local vocational programs. Passage of this bill, which awaits President Donald Trump’s signature, has been a major priority for Smucker.
For evidence that trained workers are increasingly in demand in today’s economy, we need look no further than Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. This year’s graduating class of 401 was recruited by 1,285 employers for 3,250 positions — many with starting salaries in the $50,000-$60,000 range, or even higher, LNP’s Heather Stauffer reported. Think that was an aberration? In 2017, Thaddeus Stevens President William E. Griscom said at commencement that 1,152 companies visited campus to recruit 415 graduates for 2,552 jobs. In an April 2017 LNP column, Lancaster Chamber CEO Tom Baldrige noted that Lancaster County has “a clearly documented workforce shortage” and faces a “pending workforce crisis.” He wrote of the need to educate students of all ages for both current jobs and jobs of the future, and advocated a greater appreciation of “the vast opportunities in the skilled trades.”
“Statewide, the share of new voters under 30 (the cut-off TargetSmart chose) increased by 16 percent — more than anywhere in the country. Youth in Allegheny County and Philadelphia helped drive that increase, but rural counties like Clarion, Juniata, and Westmoreland saw big jumps as well. In Berks County specifically, people under the age of 30 accounted for just under 50 percent of new voters before Parkland. After? More than 70 percent.”
‘Young and naive’? Inside Pennsylvania’s nation-leading youth voter surge
Registered voters in Pa. under 35 now outnumber those over 64.
Billy Penn by COLIN DEPPEN AND SARAH ANNE HUGHES JUL 30 2018 · 11:00 A.M.
Rose Strauss is 18 years old. She’s also “young and naive,” according to Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor Scott Wagner, who made that comment after Strauss asked a question about climate change at a recent Montgomery County town hall. Gillian Herzog is also 18. Call her naive at your own risk: She’s one of a growing number of young Pennsylvanians who are not only planning to vote this November, but are encouraging their peers to do so as well. Registered voters aged 34 and under in the commonwealth currently outnumber those over 64, according to July statistics from the Pa. Dept. of State. That younger cohort accounts for 22 percent of the state’s population — but 25 percent of people registered to vote. And their ranks in the electorate are growing.
Young and naive: GOP candidate says climate change 'important' after clash with teen
Candy Woodall, York Daily Record Published 12:51 p.m. ET July 28, 2018 | Updated 3:19 p.m. ET July 30, 2018
Three words said by a Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania have started a national fight. That fight largely began on social media, where a video of Scott Wagner calling an 18-year-old environmentalist "young and naive," has been viewed and shared more than 5 million times. The fight has continued on social media with people across the country, including former Vice President Al Gore, saying they are proudly young and naive, too -- if young and naive means believing in climate change and holding leaders accountable. Saturday, that fight hit the streets. Participants knocked on 1,000 doors during the Young and Naive Rally: Our Time to Rise at Acker Park in Exton, where John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor and Gov. Tom Wolf's running mate against Wagner, will be a guest speaker. "Our goal is telling Scott Wagner we are a movement of people ready to fight back and take action on climate change," said Rose Strauss, the 18-year-old woman Wagner called "young and naive" after she asked him a question during a town hall meeting earlier this month near Philadelphia. “We’re taking his ‘young and naive’ comment and turning it into a rallying cry."
Trombetta sister gets probation for helping former cyber school founder hide stolen taxpayer money
TORSTEN OVE Pittsburgh Post-Gazette email@example.com JUL 30, 2018 12:44 PM
Six years after a dozen federal agents first showed up at her house, Elaine Trombetta Neill was sentenced Monday to probation for helping her brother, Nicholas Trombetta, hide part of the $8 million he stole from the online charter school he founded. U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti imposed a term of two years on Neill, of Center in Beaver County, and ordered her to pay $30,223 in restitution to the IRS. She'll also have to perform 75 hours of community service. Neill, 61, could have received a prison term of 18 months to two years but cooperated with federal authorities investigating her brother, who was sentenced last week to 20 months behind bars. Neill helped Trombetta shift stolen money to a shell corporation, one2one Enterprises, she created. "At the end of the day it was all about money," said Judge Conti.
Elaine Trombetta, sister of charter school founder who stole $8M in school funds, gets probation
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM | Monday, July 30, 2018, 9:27 p.m.
The Beaver County woman who helped her brother hide some of the $8 million he stole from PA Cyber Charter School in a far-reaching tax fraud and evasion conspiracy has been sentenced to two years of probation, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said Monday. Elaine Trombetta Neill, sister of PA Cyber founder and former CEO Nick Trombetta, also must perform 75 hours of community service and pay $30,223 for her conviction of filing a false tax return, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said. The Aliquippa woman pleaded guilty to the charge nearly five years ago. Her sentencing was postponed so she could cooperate with investigators — in accordance with the then-private plea bargain she had struck — through the prosecutions of Nick Trombetta, 63, of East Liverpool, Ohio, and his accountant, Neal Prence. Last week, U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti sentenced Nick Trombetta to 20 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in August 2016 to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service from collecting income taxes, siphoning $8 million from the charter school he created to spend on houses, a plane and other luxuries.
KIPP Prep alum works on Capitol Hill as part of fellowship
Chentese Stewart-Garner says the experience made her more interested in policy.
The notebook by Sam Haut July 30 — 11:57 am, 2018
For the fourth year in a row, the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter schools’ Federal Policy Fellowship sent eight KIPP alumni to work as summer interns on Capitol Hill. One of them was Chentese Stewart-Garner, a graduate of KIPP Philadelphia Preparatory Academy in North Philadelphia. The program offers the fellows resources to cover living and business expenses for the summer, including housing as a cohort in the dorms at George Washington University, a Metrocard to use for public transportation, business attire, a bi-monthly paycheck, and field lessons. Students accepted into the program must submit at least eight applications, at least three of them to members of Congress from their home area. KIPP staffers help fellows refine their resumes and prepare for interviews on Capitol Hill. Stewart-Garner worked on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state. Stewart-Garner graduated from Gettysburg College in May with a major in sociology and a minor in education. She was at the beginning of a three-year teaching residency program sponsored by KIPP in one of their D.C. schools.
Go Outside and See Mars!
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center July 30, 2018
35.8 million miles is definitely not what most of us would consider “close.” But in planetary terms, close is definitely relative! On July 31, Mars will be 35.8 million miles from Earth, which is the closest it has been to Earth in 15 years. What does this mean for sky watchers? It means the Red Planet will appear super bright, and with its orange-red color, will be hard to miss in the nighttime sky. From July 27-30, the point in Mars’ orbit will come closest to Earth, and will be closest to Earth before sunrise Eastern Time on July 31. What defines a “close approach?” The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles and does not happen very often. Because Earth and Mars have elliptical orbits and are slightly tilted to each other, all close approaches are not equal. When Mars slowly approaches what astronomers call opposition, it and the Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth. Earth and Mars align in opposition about every two years (fun fact: this is why most NASA missions to the Red Planet are at least two years apart – to take advantage of the closer distance). Opposition to Mars is at its closest to the Sun every 15 to 17 years, when excellent views of the Red Planet from Earth can occur. This is what is happening on the early morning hours of July 31.
Become a PSBA Advocacy Ambassador
PSBA Website July 18, 2018
PSBA is seeking applications for three open Advocacy Ambassador positions. This is a part-time, 9-month (September 2018-May 2019) independent contractor position with a monthly stipend and potential renewal for a second year. The individuals should have previous experience in day-to-day functions of a school district — on the school board or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be an active leader in an assigned section of the state and is kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA positions based on the association’s Legislative Platform and Priority Issues to accomplish advocacy goals. The current open positions are for PSBA Section 1; Sections 3 and 4; and Section 8. (see map). Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors who serve as liaisons between PSBA and their state legislators, and who also work with local school officials in their section to advance PSBA’s public education advocacy mission. To complete the application process and upload required documents go to PSBA’s Career Gateway to create an account and apply. Career Gateway questions can be directed to Michelle Kunkel at 717-506-2450, x-3365. Questions and information regarding the specific duties of the Advocacy Ambassador position should be directed to Jamie Zuvich at 717-506-2450, x-3375. The deadline to submit cover letter, resume and application is August 10, 2018.
All other required documents must be submitted upon successful application.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Not only do we have a superstar lineup of keynote speakers including Diane Ravitch, Jesse Hagopian, Pasi Sahlberg, Derrick Johnson and Helen Gym, but there will be countless sessions to choose from on the issues you care about the most. We will cover all bases from testing, charters, vouchers and school funding, to issues of student privacy and social justice in schools.”
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 .
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 room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link . Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer based on need. Go 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 . We can't wait to see you.