January 2019
Coalition Urges Governor to Propose Major Increases in School Funding
The Education Law Center has joined with the PA Schools Work campaign in calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to include a bold, multiyear commitment to education funding as part of his upcoming budget proposal. Specifically, the campaign’s ask is for a $ 400 million increase in basic education funding in each of the next four years, along with $100 million more for special education and $10 million for career and technical education. ELC is also advocating for increased support for early childhood education and early intervention services. Please contact the governor and your state legislators to support this request.

The issue of inadequate state support for special education highlighted in ELC’s recent report, “ Shortchanging Children with Disabilities ,” continues to be a focus for advocates, with op-eds about the report’s findings appearing in multiple news outlets across the state.
Pittsburgh Strengthens Policies Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families and English Learners
Attorney Jackie Perlow led ELC's advocacy for the new policy
Thanks to years of advocacy by ELC and our community partners, Pittsburgh Public School Board on December 19 unanimously passed a new policy protecting and expanding the rights of immigrant and refugee families and English learners. 

The district’s  new policy  came out of a working group that brought together high-level PPS administrators, community leaders, services providers, and advocates to identify the most serious and pervasive barriers affecting access and engagement for immigrant and refugee families and English learners, especially students with disabilities. This working group, instituted as part of a settlement ELC negotiated on behalf of an individual client, developed and  recommended a set of best practices  to address concerns consistently raised by immigrant and refugee families within the district. The adoption of this new policy and  acknowledgement of the working group recommendations  are significant steps toward ensuring that immigrant and refugee students have access to the services and supports they need to succeed in school. ELC commends PPS for its continued commitment to improving educational outcomes for immigrant and refugee students. Read  ELC’s testimony   in support of the new policy.
ELC Joins Chorus of Opposition to Reversal of Federal Policy on School Discipline
ELC joined with a wide array of education associations and advocates in a national outpouring of criticism over a change in federal policy on school discipline. First, a December 18 report by the Federal Commission on School Safety recommended rescinding the Obama-era federal guidance on school discipline that called on school districts to prevent biased discipline practices against students of color and students with disabilities. The report also invited districts to explore arming school personnel. Three days later, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education rescinded the 2014 guidance.

ELC’s statements , which garnered press coverage , emphasize that anti-discrimination laws have not changed, but that these acts by the current administration show an unwillingness to promote evidence-based strategies to improve school climate and an unwillingness to recognize the damage from disparate impact.
Report Reveals Dangerous Conditions, Lack of Education Opportunities for Youth in PA Foster Care
ELC, along with our partner Children’s Rights Inc., released a comprehensive report in December raising serious concerns about the conditions and quality of education provided to children in foster care in Pennsylvania’s residential placements across the state. The report, Unsafe and Uneducated: Indifference to Dangers in Pennsylvania’s Residential Child Welfare Facilities , has led to important conversations about the need for systemic reforms, reducing referrals to institutions, and ensuring access to quality education for those who may remain in placement. It was featured in a recent article in the Hechinger Report.
Building Understanding of the Education Crisis in Juvenile Justice
About two out of three students who exit the juvenile justice system drop out of school before earning a diploma. There is no shortage of data showing unmet educational needs of students who have juvenile justice involvement. To build public awareness and dialogue about both challenges and solutions, ELC legal director Maura McInerney worked with the Philadelphia Public School Notebook to produce an edition of the quarterly publication titled “In Pursuit of Justice for Children,” focused on system-involved youth. McInerney contributed a lead article on strategies for improving the quality of education for these students.

Following the release of the edition, ELC staff, together with the Notebook and Juvenile Law Center, hosted a December 13 Twitter chat on these issues. Here are highlights of that conversation.
Amicus Brief Aims to Block Arming of School Staff in Tamaqua
The Tamaqua Area Education Association and many in the Tamaqua school community in eastern Pennsylvania have come out in opposition to their school district’s new policy allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns – the first district in Pennsylvania to adopt such a policy. ELC joined three other organizations in filing an amicus brief December 21 in support of the education association’s lawsuit to block this illegal and dangerous policy.  Read about the brief and see ELC’s statement on the new policy .
Pittsburgh News Organization Delves Deeply Into Funding Inequities, Features ELC
ELC and other fair funding advocates have been closely following Public Source’s Failing the Future series . The stories from this Pittsburgh-based nonprofit news outlet have skillfully woven together the voices of students, advocates, and education leaders to depict the real and lifelong impact on students of Pennsylvania’s inadequate and inequitable school funding system. Veteran education reporter Mary Niederberger has consistently highlighted our fair funding lawsuit as a key path to reform. ELC Attorney Cheryl Kleiman, a counsel on the case and a source for this reporting, was featured in the latest installment , on funding lawsuits in other states.
Cheryl Kleiman, staff attorney for the Education Law Center (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)
ELC: A Video Vignette
Have you watched our brief new video about the Education Law Center?

You can help ELC raise awareness about our work we do on behalf of thousands of underserved children across Pennsylvania by introducing your family, friends, and colleagues to the Education Law Center. This short video is an easy way to start! Please consider forwarding the link ( https://vimeo.com/308088555) or sharing this newsletter. We appreciate your help.
We're Hiring!
ELC has full-time openings for a Staff Attorney in Pittsburgh and for a Director of Finance and Operations in Philadelphia.

We are accepting applications for law student interns for summer 2019.

For more information on these opportunities, please see our website .
What We're Reading
Thank you!
To all our supporters who gave generously in 2018, a big thank you for your contributions. ELC counts on community support to carry out our work to ensure that all children in Pennsylvania have access to a quality public education. We look forward to further strengthening our advocacy and support for students and families in 2019. Happy new year!
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A copy of the official registration and financial information of the Education Law Center may be obtained from the Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-880-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.