November 2018
ELC Mourns Tragic Gun Violence, Continues Advocacy to Keep Pittsburgh Schools Gun-Free
Our staff and board mourn with those in Pittsburgh, Louisville, and across the country. All of us must recommit ourselves to building powerful and effective support to those targeted in this surge of bigotry.

In the face of these recent acts of hatred and violence, ELC is aware that some believe the presence of more guns in schools and other public places will counter further attacks. But we cannot ignore research that convincingly shows that arming school personnel  does not make students safer

In a decisive 8-1 “no” vote on October 24, the board of Pittsburgh Public Schools honored the requests of advocates, parents, and students by rejecting a  proposed policy   that would have allowed school police officers to carry guns in Pittsburgh schools. Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman joined over 70 parents, students, and advocates who  testified  to the school board in opposition to the proposal, which would have posed grave new dangers for students of color and students with disabilities. We thank the PPS board for listening to the voices of community members and for their commitment to ensuring all members of the school community are safe through exploring evidence-based practices.
 
ELC will continue to stand with the communities we serve as we fight for school safety policies that have been proven to be effective. We will use our grief as fuel in the fight to ensure that all students have equal access to a quality public education.
ELC Partners with City Theatre for Play on School-to-Prison Pipeline
ELC is pleased to announce its collaboration with Pittsburgh’s City Theatre and their production of Pipeline . Written by MacArthur “genius” award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau, Pipeline follows the story of Omari and his mom Nya as they navigate the inherent injustices of exclusionary discipline policies and the school-to-prison pipeline. As part of ELC’s longstanding commitment to fostering positive school climate and advancing education justice, we’re excited for this opportunity to use performing arts to raise awareness of the costs and inequities of school pushout not only for students and families, but for whole communities.


Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased at cityth eatre company.org or by calling 412-431-CITY.
Regional Summits on Nov. 17 Will Mobilize for School Funding
Days after the midterm elections, energetic leaders from school districts across Pennsylvania will come together on Saturday, November 17 to be part of the PA Schools Work Regional Summits, “Communities United for Students’ Future.” Hosted by ELC and a coalition of our advocacy partners, the event will unite community leaders from businesses, schools, HSA/PTA/PTOs, faith organizations, municipalities, and nonprofit groups at eight locations across the state for a historic school funding advocacy campaign. Summit participants will meet leaders in the fight for school funding, get information, tools, and tips to spur community action, and return home with an action plan to build support for more state funding for schools. Interested in participating? Learn more and register here .
We Stand With LGBTQ Students and Families
The Oct. 23 rally in Philadelphia
ELC condemns the reported proposal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to narrowly define sex under Title IX in a way that denies the existence of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people. We have joined our LGBT partners in opposition to this attack, including at the October 23 Rally for Trans Existence and Resistance in Philadelphia, where our partners at the Attic Youth Center spoke about the necessity of inclusive schools and described how hostile school climates push out LGBTQ students, particularly trans students of color. ELC stands with trans, nonbinary, and intersex youth in calling on the federal government not to take this discriminatory action.
As Giving Tuesday Approaches, Consider Donating to ELC on Nov. 27
ELC works to ensure access to quality public education for all children, including students living in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities, students in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, English learners, LGBTQ youth, and students experiencing homelessness. Every dollar you donate helps ELC make a difference for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable students. This year, PayPal and Facebook are partnering to match up to $7 million in donations   starting at 8 a.m. EST on the 27th. When you donate on Giving Tuesday, your gift can go twice as far! Please contribute right after 8 to ensure your gift is eligible for matching.
ELC's Report Reveals the Need for Significant State Special Education Funding Increases
ELC's  new report  has brought public attention to the need for urgent action to increase state education funding for the more than 270,000 students with disabilities across Pennsylvania. The report, “Shortchanging Students with Disabilities,” has received extensive statewide coverage, including a  feature story  that appeared on the state’s public radio stations, newspaper stories in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Allentown Morning Call , and a  TV news spot  in Erie. Over 20 media outlets have covered our analysis and  data sheet  showing that for every $1 of increased state funding for students with disabilities since 2008, local districts have had to find an additional $20 to meet rising special education costs.

Publishing the report was just the beginning of our advocacy. With disability advocacy partners and  PA Schools Work , we are calling on the General Assembly to review the state’s special education funding system and to increase investments in both special and basic education. We also maintain that all public schools serving children with disabilities, including charter schools, should receive tiered funding based on the actual needs of the students they serve. You can help by  supporting  our work AND by  contacting your state elected officials , who can fix this by making significant new state investments in special education as well as basic education in future budgets.
ELC Testifies to Philadelphia School Board on Supports for Students with Disabilities, Equity in High School Admissions
At the October 2018 action meeting of the Philadelphia school board, ELC Policy Attorney Reynelle Brown Staley offered testimony supporting a proposal that would increase transitional training and support services for students with disabilities. Federal and state law require transition planning for every child beginning at age 14, including requiring school districts to provide every child with a disability with comprehensive services that will help them transition from school to post-school-life. ELC highlighted the need for additional transitional training and support services for Philadelphia schoolchildren with disabilities and highlighted the role of inadequate state funding and charters in impacting the district’s ability to provide these needed services. View ELC’s full testimony here .

ELC was invited by the Philadelphia school board to provide testimony in October on the high school selection process to the board’s Student Achievement and Supports Committee. Staff Attorney Kristina Moon provided written and oral testimony describing concerns from families and advocates about the district’s failure to implement the LeGare consent decree that requires the district to provide equal opportunity for students with disabilities and English learners to attend selective district high schools. ELC also called upon the board to consider changes to the selective admission criteria that could allow students from neighborhood schools with fewer resources a more equitable chance to attend selective high schools. Additionally, ELC urged the board to consider whether charter schools are equitably serving all students when reviewing applications for renewal or expansion. Read the full testimony here .
ELC In the Media: A Busy Month
Our report on special education funding was our biggest newsmaker, but ELC's work drew lots of other media attention in October. A compelling op-ed by Lansdowne-based filmmaker David Goodman supporting our lawsuit for fair education funding appeared in the Delaware County Daily Times.... ELC's Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow Lizzy Wingfield was quoted in an Inquirer story  on a breakthrough case about bullying of gender-nonconforming youth.... A story by PRI's The World about older immigrant students quoted ELC's Equal Justice Works Fellow Jackie Perlow on the problem of students being counseled out of school.... Maura McInerney, ELC's legal director, was quoted on the issue of the failure of charter schools to consult with parents of students with disabilities in a Philadelphia Public School Notebook article .
Update on HB 1745: Expanding Higher Ed Access for Youth in Foster Care
Pennsylvania’s HB 1745, The Fostering Independence through Education Act , did not pass this legislative session despite the incredible work of hundreds of supporters like you. While we are disappointed by this setback, we know that your support made a difference in bringing attention to a critical issue. The bill--which provides critical support for youth in foster care and reduces barriers to higher education--had widespread support across the Commonwealth: It passed the House unanimously and made it through the Senate Education Committee. We are ready to pick up where we left off next session and will fight for passage of this important bill. Thank you for standing with us and supporting our youth in foster care! 
ELC Presents on School-to-Prison Pipeline
ELC staff presented at the annual Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar Conference " Disabilities, Discipline, and Access to Justice " in Atlantic City on October 12. Legal Director Maura McInerney presented a session on the school-to-prison pipeline for youth with disabilities. The presentation can be accessed here .
EDM Training for CASA Volunteers
ELC continues to provide trainings for CASA Educational Decision Makers across the state. This month, staff presented to the Lehigh County CASA Program. ELC will co-host a statewide EDM Training Webinar on December 6 from 1-2:30 PM.
What We're Reading
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