December News:   Pittsburgh Bans K-2 Suspensions, PA Senate Seeks to Undermine Public Education, ELC Weighs in on Education for Youth in Foster Care, and more!
Pittsburgh Ends Suspensions of Youngest Learners - Paving the Way for Continued Statewide Reforms!

ELC has long advocated for the abolition of suspensions of young learners. Last night, Pittsburgh made history when the school board voted to prohibit the use of exclusionary discipline for students in kindergarten through second grade for minor non-violent conduct, starting next school year. The policy is the result of significant organizing and advocacy by parents, students, and advocates - with ELC engaged as community lawyers to strategically support partners and bring about systemic change. Pittsburgh's policy builds upon our work earlier this year to limit the use of exclusionary discipline in early childhood education statewide. Collectively, these policies represent important steps in our larger shared work to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and advance education equity for all students in Pennsylvania. We will continue to advocate for similar statewide discipline reforms and urge other districts across the Commonwealth to ban suspensions of early learners.

Read more about Pittsburgh's new policy here and here
Call Your Legislator!  PA Senate Bill 2 Would Undermine Public Education

Education savings accounts are a voucher-like education "reform" touted by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. A bill before the Senate Education Committee in Harrisburg would subsidize private education for families who opt out of their public school. State taxpayer dollars designated for a specific school district would be directed instead into a personal student-specific account. The funds would be paid to private institutions that are exempt from laws that protect the education and civil rights of marginalized students, including students with disabilities and English Learners.  A committee vote on Senate Bill 2 is likely in early January. ELC Policy Attorney Reynelle Brown Staley spelled out the problems with the bill in this interview. Pennsylvania cannot afford to use taxpayer dollars to fund disinvestment from public schools and to disadvantage underserved communities. We urge you to call your legislators to say "No" to education savings accounts and SB2.
ELC Joins Philadelphia Student Union in Opposing Police Presence in Schools 

On December 12th, ELC Staff Attorney Yvelisse Pelotte spoke at a press conference organized by the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) following the assault of an 8-year-old elementary school student by a school police officer. ELC was proud to stand alongside PSU in calling for the School District of Philadelphia to eliminate the reliance on law enforcement officers in responding to routine classroom behavior, to more widely publicize its school police complaint policy, and to investigate allegations against school police officers thoroughly and with fidelity.  Read more on this incident here.
ELC's Work to Advance the Educational Rights of Children in Foster Care

This month saw several advances in ELC's work to protect and advance the educational rights of children in foster care.
  • The American Bar Association (ABA) issued a new policy endorsing the Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Children in Foster Care (2007), and the Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System (2016). These Blueprints were co-authored by the Education Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, the ABA, and Southern Poverty Law Center as part of national initiatives to improve educational outcomes for youth in the dependency and juvenile justice systems. Several states have already adopted these Blueprints. Through its endorsement, the ABA -- the nation's largest legal association -- calls on judges, lawyers, advocates, and policymakers to focus on educational success for court-involved youth.     

  • ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney, together with Juvenile Law Center Staff Attorney Kate Burdick, authored an op-ed just published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and on Philly.com.  The article emphasizes the importance of ensuring continuity of school placement, prompt and full credit transfer from all schools, and strategies for addressing the educational "black hole" students fall into when placed in residential facilities (including full implementation of their right to attend a local public school). 

  • ELC, together with the Juvenile Law Center and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, hosted a Twitter chat December 18 about the educational obstacles facing youth in foster care in Philadelphia and beyond - and how to better address them. The Twitter event was a rich, hour-long online discussion - using the hashtag #FosterEdSuccess - prompted by the winter edition of the Notebook, a series of articles that includes interviews of ELC staff and explores the educational challenges faced by the 6,000+ school-age children in Philadelphia who are in the foster care system. Participants flagged problems and proposed policy solutions at the district, city and state levels.  Read highlights from the conversation here.
ELC Calls for Additional Policies to Improve Educational Outcomes for English Language Learners in Philadelphia 

On December 14, ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney testified before the School Reform Commission urging the adoption of additional policies to ensure effective language instruction and equal educational opportunities for English Learners in the School District of Philadelphia (read the testimony here). Specifically, ELC urged the adoption of detailed policies and procedures to ensure: (1) the provision of interpretation and translation services to support meaningful parent participation; (2) the availability of robust, evidence-based language instruction programs implemented by trained teachers in every school; and (3) critical evaluation of the effectiveness of language instruction programs at the building level. ELC contended that these revisions are needed to enable ELL students to overcome language barriers and ensure equal educational opportunities.
ELC Hosts Viewing Party for Civil Rights Commission Briefing

On December 8th, ELC hosted community partners, parents, advocates, and attorneys in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to watch a live feed of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights public briefing in Washington, DC. The topic - The School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Intersections of Students of Color with Disabilities - sits at the heart of our work. The hearing, followed by lunch and discussion, provided a valuable opportunity to deepen engagement with partners and support the growing dialogue in Pennsylvania around advancing education equity for our students at the intersections of race, gender, and disability. You can watch the Commission's public briefing here .
Former ELC Intern Honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association

Congratulations to former ELC law intern Sara Lynch, now a 3L at Penn Law, who received the Philadelphia Bar Association's 2017 Law Student Award. Sara's passion for and skill in serving youth in Philadelphia is palpable. She is greatly deserving of this recognition.
Please Support ELC's Work in Your End-of-Year Giving Plans

As 2017 comes to a close, we are grateful to all of our partners and supporters for standing with ELC and the children we serve. Our work is not possible without your ongoing support. 

Please help us finish a strong 2017 by making a tax-deductible gift to ELC before midnight on December 31st! Your generous donation will help us change laws and change lives. Every dollar makes a difference. 
  • Support ELC by donating on our website.
     
  • Support ELC by texting "ELC" and your donation amount to 91999.
     
  • Support ELC by choosing code 1873 on your employer's United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Donor Option form.
 Thank you for sustaining the work we do on behalf of our state's children.
Employment and Internship Opportunities at ELC

ELC has openings in our Philadelphia office for a  Budget and Financial Assistant, a Paralegal/Intake Coordinator, and a Development and Communications Associate.

We are also looking for Interns and Post-Graduate Fellows in our Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offices.  We will review applications from 1Ls and 2Ls for summer internships in ELC's Philadelphia office on a rolling basis, with a suggested deadline of January 20, 2018. Please send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and list of references to Kristina Moon.  Click  here  to download the Philadelphia summer intern posting.  Click   here   to review still-available 2018 spring internship opportunities.
  
For more information on these opportunities, please click here.
Join the Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Alongside more than 50 organizations across Pennsylvania, Education Law Center is a leading member of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Click below to read more about our efforts to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where he or she lives.
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United Way Donor Choice Code: 1873 (Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ)

A copy of the Education Law Center's official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.  
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