Public Comments on OCDEL Draft Policy Guidance to Reduce Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Programs in Pa.

In October 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments to the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) on their draft of a proposed policy announcement: “Reduction of Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania (15-#1)” [.doc]. The draft announcement was based, in part, on the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education policy guidance on the issue, released in December 2014: Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Settings.

ELC’s comments, available below, were informed by our expertise advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable children birth through age twenty one and our extensive experience listening to the hundreds of children and families we have served each year for the past four decades. These public comments are part of ELC’s larger body of work focused on reducing exclusionary discipline that is disproportionately used on vulnerable populations and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline that pushes at-risk youth into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

ELC Testimony on Truancy to the PA Senate Education Committee

Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney provided testimony to the Pennsylvania Senate’s Education Committee at their June 9th hearing on truancy. She discussed how punitive responses to truancy can be ineffectual and counterproductive and the importance of school-level interventions to improve attendance.

ELC Testimony to the National Council on Disability

ELC Attorney Leigh Loman provided this testimony to the National Council on Disability (NCD) on May 4-5 at their national meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. NCD is an independent federal agency responsible for advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities.

ELC Comments on ESEA Reauthorization

On Feb. 2, 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 Discussion Draft.

The reauthorization of the ESEA offers an opportunity to update our nation’s primary federal education law to build upon the lessons learned since the last reauthorization. The Education Law Center urges Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in 2015 and address a number of priorities, including: Maintain a strong federal role in promoting equity and accountability; encourage states to fund schools equitably; protect Title I dollars for the poorest schools and districts; and act to end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Read ELC’s full comments.

ELC School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Research Brief

This 2010 ELC research brief provides a detailed examination of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (PBS), a research-based, highly effective, approach to creating, teaching, and reinforcing students’ social, emotional, and academic learning skills that improves and sustains academic achievement and mental and emotional wellbeing of all students.

Special Education Funding Commission Report

The Special Education Funding Commission held public hearings throughout the state in 2013, receiving testimony from dozens of witnesses. Students, parents, educators, and national experts uniformly emphasized the long-term impact of the state funding system on the ability of schools to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

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ELC Analysis: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools

The graphs in this analysis were created by the Education Law Center using publicly reported data on public school enrollment demographics. We focused on Pennsylvania’s most heavily-chartered communities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chester-Upland, York City, and Erie City — and on students receiving special education services.

The data demonstrates that, while a number of individual charter schools equitably serve all students, the charter school sector taken as a whole generally underserves these vulnerable student populations. The result is that, with some notable exceptions, these students are often more heavily concentrated in the authorizing school district of residence.


ELC Report on School Nurse Shortage in Philadelphia

Faced with a budget shortfall of more than $700 million, the School District of Philadelphia laid off 47 nurses effective December 31, 2011. Subsequent layoffs and the retirement of 25 additional nurses resulted in a net loss of more than 100 school nurses in the 2011-2012 school year.

This 2013 report examines the impact of those losses on student health, safety, and learning.

ELC School Funding Report 2013

Pennsylvania is a national outlier when it comes to following basic budgeting principles — accuracy, fairness, and transparency — that most states use when it comes to public school funding, according to a 2013 report from the Education Law Center.

The statewide, non-profit organization examined how each of the 50 states calculates and distributes education dollars. The report shows that Pennsylvania is in the minority when it comes to basic budgeting practices used by most states.

ELC Cyber Charter Testimony 2012

ELC’s November 2012 testimony to the Pennsylvania Department of Education on eight cyber charter school applications.

An excerpt: “The academic performance of the existing cyber charter schools raises serious questions about the ability of such programs to enable students to meet Pennsylvania’s academic standards and this performance should give the Department great pause before authorizing any additional cyber charters.”

ELC Charter School Bill Analysis 2012

The Law Center believes that important reforms are needed for Pennsylvania’s system of charter schools. However, it is important to note that the legislative process for charter school reform has headed down the wrong path.

(The following analysis highlights proposed changes to the law. These changes were not adopted in 2012 or 2013, but many of them are contained in current charter law proposals before the legislature.)

Creating 21st-Century Learners: A Report on Pennsylvania’s Public School Libraries

According to the research findings, students who have access to a quality school library program have an academic advantage over students who did not have such access. This 2012 report, produced by the Education Law Center and the Pennsylvania Association of School Librarians, shows these academic differences are not explained away by the socio-economic, racial/ethnic, or disability status of the students. In fact, the research shows that all students with access to a full-time, certified librarians have higher PSSA Reading and Writing scores than students without that access.