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Community Dialogue

Berks County Community Dialogue on Public Education

Please join us for a productive community conversation about public education issues and solutions.
January 10, 2010

Education Voters Institute PA has joined with the University of Pennsylvania's Project for Civic Engagement to host this community discussion, where we will ask participants which education issues the next governor should make a priority for the state.

Berks County Community Dialogue
Sunday, January 10th, 2:30-5pm
Reading Area Community College
Schmidt TTC, Seminar Rm. T118


Please forward this invitation to family, friends, and colleagues who want to share ideas about how our leaders should tackle education issues in 2010.

This collaborative discussion will be moderated by neutral facilitators in order to identify issues, priorities and ideas for our public education system. Your voice will be heard, and your ideas and concerns will be documented to help build a statewide citizen's guide which will be shared with candidates for governor, the state legislatures and other elected and community leaders.

Bring your experience, voice and friends to make this an even more productive effort.

Please RSVP to Anne Gemmell via email at anne@educationvoterspa.org or by phone at 215-564-2299.

p.s. If you can think of others who you think ought to be invited, please forward this invitation to them as well.

Restraint Bill

ACTION ALERT: Help pass H. R. 4247 and S. 2860, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act!
The introduction of HR 4247, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, by Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and its companion bill S. 2860 by Senator Dodd (D-CT), is a critical and necessary start to ending dangerous, even deadly, restraint and seclusion practices in our schools and classrooms.

A May 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that schoolchildren across the nation -- and disproportionately children who were very young and had disabilities -- were tied up, handcuffed, duct-taped, locked in small closets and bathrooms for hours at a time, beaten, chemically and mechanically restrained, sat upon by adults, and even asphyxiated to death. Many of these children do not or did not speak, and could not report what was happening to them. Many of their parents were not notified of these incidents or informed that such methods were being used.

While it is hard to believe such abuse can happen in the very schools parents trust with their children’s health and safety, it is shocking to discover that currently no federal regulations exist to protect children from these practices in our schools. Children in other settings, such as hospitals and psychiatric treatment programs, enjoy basic federal protections from abuse that are denied when they are in a school building.


We need your help in getting co-sponsors for the bills, especially Republican co-sponsors. Members of Congress will be returning to their home districts soon. They will be home until early January when the Second Session of the 111th Congress begins. It is important to contact your members of Congress while they are in their home districts to ask them to become co-sponsors of the bills. Scheduling a personal visit is best, but calls and letters help, too. Between December 21, 2009 and January 8, 2010, contact you representative and senators to schedule a visit or call or email your representative and urge him or her to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 4247 or S.2860.


Go to http://www.contactingthecongress.org. Enter your address or click on your state to find your Representative and Senator. Click on the Member’s website that is listed beside the name and you will find the district office address, phone number, and a form for sending an email.


Below are Talking Points that you can use when you contact your members to explain what the Restraint and Seclusion bill does. Ask your members to become a co-sponsors of the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. We are especially in need of Republican co-sponsors. As always, if you have a personal story about restraint and seclusion of children, sharing it with members of Congress is very powerful.

Attached to this Action Alert you will also find a summary of the contents of the bills, and background information if you want to research the issue further.
TALKING POINTS for H. R. 4247 and S. 2860, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act

Ø Currently there are no Federal rules restricting restraint and seclusion in schools, the place where children spend the most time. States offer an uneven patchwork of protections, and many states offer no regulations or protections at all.

Ø FOR THOSE CONTACTING PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATORS: Pennsylvania is one of the few states to have long-standing regulations on restraint and seclusion in schools. Pennsylvania already matches or even exceeds many of the protections in this bill, and will benefit from the proposed federal assistance to continue improving its prevention and reduction efforts.

Ø Reports have detailed hundreds of abusive uses of restraint and seclusion by school staff, including children being pinned to the floor, handcuffed, gagged and duct-taped, tied up, beaten, chemically and mechanically restrained, and locked in small closets and bathrooms for hours on end.

Ø Restraint and seclusion have resulted in broken bones, cuts and bruises, the onset of mental illness such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and even deaths of children. The abusive practices are used frequently on very young children, ages 6 – 10, and disproportionately on children with disabilities.

Ø According to the Findings of the proposed legislation, “Research confirms that physical restraint and seclusion are not therapeutic, nor are these practices effective means to calm or teach children, and may have an opposite effect while simultaneously decreasing a child’s ability to learn.”

Ø This legislation would protect children’s health and safety in schools by strictly limiting, but not banning, the use of restraint and seclusion. The bills would require states to develop policies and procedures about using restraint and seclusion only in emergency situations where there is an imminent threat of injury. The bills would provide grants to encourage States to provide training to school staff.

Ø The National School Boards Association, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education support the bills. TASH, The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy, and a wide and growing list of national disability organizations support the bills.

New info

Abilities in Motion has moved.

Jaclyn Michelle Kratzer

Peer Support Coordinator for Children and Youth Services

Abilities In Motion

210 North 5th Street

Reading, Pa 19601

610-376-0010, Extension 104 (V)

610-376-0021 (F)

Autism Services


The Bureau of Autism Services Looks Ahead

Do you have an interest in how The Bureau of Autism Services

is planning for the future?

Do you have ideas on how BAS can continue to implement and expand the initiatives outlined in the Autism Task Force Report?

Come be part of the process!

How? Participate in one of the interactive workgroup sessions in your region. Participants will have an opportunity to:

· Review the Two to Five Year Draft BAS Strategic Plan

· Discuss the Financial Implications of Census Results

· Develop an Action Plan for stakeholders in your region

Please pre-register no later than three days prior to the meeting date.

Western Region

To pre-register please email cramerrd@upmc.edu or by phone: 412-235-5407.

Thursday, May 7th Friday, May 8th

1pm - 4pm 9am - noon

School of Rehabilitation Clarion University

& Science Tech, U Pitt Venango County Campus

Atwood Street Rhoades Auditorium

4020 Forbes Tower, Room 4060 1801 West First Street

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15260 Oil City, PA 16301

Central Region

To pre-register please email ehsord@psu.edu or by phone: 717-531-1016.

Wednesday, April 22nd Friday, April 24th

1pm - 4 pm 9am - noon

CCBH Conference Room Penn State Harrisburg Library

2505 Green Tech Road 777 West Harrisburg Pike

State College, PA 16803 Middletown, PA 17057

Eastern Region

Pre-registration will be online. Please visit http://stokes.chop.edu/car/bas/

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Wednesday, May 13, 2009

9am - noon 1pm - 4pm

Eastern ASERT Scranton State Office Building

3535 Market Street 100 Lackawanna Avenue, Room B3

16th Floor, Room ‘A’ Scranton, PA 18503

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Thank you to our Regional ASERT Centers for coordinating these meetings.

Bureau of Autism Services

Bureau of Autism Services, Office of Developmental Programs

Department of Public Welfare

Room 501 Health & Welfare Bldg | Hbg PA 17120

Phone: 1-866-497-6898 | Fax: 717.265.7761

Email: DPW-AutismOffice@state.pa.us


training in Chester County

The Pennsylvania Training Partnership announces a free training available in your area.

TRAINING: Planning for Life After High School

To access a downloadable flyer: http://www.temple.edu/thetrainingpartnership/resources/flyers/transitiona20090404_1.pdf

Presented by Vision for Equality: This session is taught by Partnership trainers for family members, and is hosted by the Arc of Chester County.


This training offers guidance to families and people with disabilities on how to design a successful transition process for students moving from high school to adulthood. We focus on employment, recreational activities, friendships, communication, continuing education, transportation and rights and responsibilities, among other topics. We use personal stories of successful and unsuccessful transitions to illustrate the steps necessary for an effective, productive transition to adult life. We describe the roles of the Social Security Administration, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Office of Developmental Programs, and the Housing Authority in providing resources and support. Throughout the presentation, we emphasize the importance of developing a vision and using person-centered planning along with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and an Individual Support Plan (ISP).

DATE: April 4, 2009

TIME: 9 AM to 12 PM

TRAINING LOCATION: Arc of Chester County, 900 Lawrence Drive, West Chester, PA 19380

TO REGISTER: Contact: Janice, Phone: 610-696-8090 ext. 200

If you do not have long-distance service, call toll free 1-866-865-6170

Act 48 Credits available ($10 processing fee).. Training provided at NO COST.

When registering, ask about any necessary :


2. ALTERNATE FORMATS (Contact at least two weeks before session.)

3. REIMBURSEMENT (Mileage, tolls, parking and childcare expenses may be covered.)

Call toll-free 1-866-865-6170 for more information about The Partnership.

Check our website for a complete calendar of trainings:


The Partnership is a project of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Funded by the Office of Developmental Programs, Department of Public Welfare

Computers for Families with Children

Our new goal is to insure that every child has access to the use of a computer in the comfort and safety or their home, that every school have adequate computers in the classroom, and that no social service organization be with out the technological tools to accomplish their mission. Whether its a day care center or an organization like The Campaign for Working Families which we recently helped with your help we will make the difference. Help us expand our efforts so that our region will be the first in the nation to insure that every family has a computer at home.
Please go to the attached link for more information. This has all the details about the program, how to apply, and the costs involved.


From Arlen Specter

Rising above partisanship

By Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's senior U.S. senator

Sixty-four years ago, Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg (R., Mich.) famously declared that in matters of foreign policy, "politics stops at the water's edge." His post-isolationist Senate career stands as a monument to the benefits of bipartisanship - an approach that endured through the Cold War and beyond.

Today we stand not "at the water's edge," but we are staring over the edge of the economic cliff. What we are experiencing is so painful and dangerous that we must dampen, if not remove, partisanship for the common purpose of saving the nation.

The debate in Congress over the economic stimulus was only a foretaste. Health care, national security, education, and energy, including global warming, are issues that will require cooperation and compromise.

Genuine bipartisanship is more than inviting Republicans to the White House or the president addressing GOP caucuses on Capitol Hill. Republicans must do more than ritually invoke fiscal conservatism. Rather, we must apply our principles of fiscal conservatism to the times. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "There are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in financial crises."

The challenges we face are not subject to rigid formulaic solutions, whether defined as fiscal conservatism or Keynesian economics. Nor should they be subject to hasty and ill-defined solutions, as happened with the TARP bailout, passed under duress and the threat of an imminent banking collapse. The December auto bailout faced similar pressures for haste.

Genuine bipartisanship requires early consultation involving Republicans in structuring legislation - something that was noticeably absent in preparing the economic stimulus package. In the words of an old Washington maxim: "If you want legislators in on the landing, it is necessary to have them in on the takeoff."

Bipartisanship would also benefit from following regular legislative order.

The $700 billion 451-page TARP bill was passed with no time to study, no meaningful hearings, no committee markup or committee report, no floor debate and no time to offer amendments, including provisions for oversight. The stimulus bill was also enacted in great haste with little time for regular order. Is it any wonder that the public is angry? The majority party has an obligation to see that regular order is followed.

According to recent polls, the public gives President Obama high marks for his efforts at bipartisanship while faulting Republicans on the same score. As a Republican in loyal opposition, I believe the party's road to relevance lies in applying our party's philosophy adapted to the times and tempered by a willingness to seek areas where agreement is possible.

Fiscal discipline and a preference for small government are always relevant in spending taxpayer money. Republicans need to make sure these principles are part of the upcoming debates and the massive spending bills that the president and the Democrats will be proposing in health care, education, and energy. Democrats need to make sure Republicans are involved in developing and guiding the legislation though the process.

Many Republican governors put aside philosophical objections to accept the benefits in the stimulus bill. Their actions, like mine, pose political risks, but as John F. Kennedy said, "Sometimes party loyalty asks too much." It is not too much to suggest that in this time of economic distress, both parties work together for the common good.


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Subject: Free advocacy Training - Various Locations - Spring 2009

Attachments: Flyer - Statewide Training Spring 2009.pdf




Advocating with Technology 10am – 12pm

With the advancement of technology, advocacy groups need to learn to use all the tools available to advance their message. Learn how to utilize and navigate the internet effectively for outreach, organizing, and advocacy.

Lunch 12pm – 1pm

Lunch will be provided and is a great time to network with your peers and other advocates!

Advocacy with the Media 1pm – 3pm

Most people get their information from the news media—newspapers, television, and radio. Successful advocacy groups know how to use the media to deliver their message to their communities and to policy makers. We plan to have members of the media help workshop participants understand how they can get their message out.


Harrisburg – April 20 @ Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia – April 27 @ Vision for Equality, The Cast Iron Building

Pittsburgh – May 4 @ Three Rivers Center for Independent Living Services

Erie – May 11 @ Voices for Independence

St. Mary’s – May 12 @ Community Education Council

Scranton – May 18 @ Northeast PA CIL, IBEW Building

To Enroll or for more information, contact DASH toll-free at 800-692-7443 x312; 877-375-7139 (TTY) OR send an email to ldo@drnpa.org.

Please note that seating is limited and registration is required.

No charge for workshops or materials.

Interpreters available upon request.

Workshop materials are available in alternate formats such as large print, disk or Braille if requested by April 1, 2009.

Workshops are provided by the Disability Advocacy Support Hub (a project of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania) and funded by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabitlities Council

Connie Mohn, MEd

The Arc of Chester County

900 Lawrence Drive

West Chester, Pa 19380

610-696-8090 x220

610-613-2789 (cell)

610-696-8300 (fax)




Subject: DASH Training - Various Locations - Spring 2009

Attached is information about upcoming DASH trainings. To register or if you have any questions, please contact Lan Do at ldo@drnpa.org.

Thank you.

Robin Rasco
Administrative Assistant
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, made the following statement regarding Gov. Ed Rendell’s 2009-10 budget proposal offered to members of the General Assembly today:

"The governor today outlined several budget components where funding would be sustained, and in some cases increased. The residents of the 127th District in particular could reap the benefits of this proposal, helping them to weather the storm during the national economic crisis.

"I agree with the governor that we should ask for federal help to double the number of people enrolled in the state's adultBasic health coverage program to 90,000 adults. This is not a charity program. Most of the people enrolled in adultBasic have full-time jobs and are employed by small businesses that cannot afford the high cost of premiums. The program has assisted thousands in Berks County over the years, and we have people sitting on the waiting list.

"Under this proposal, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency would see an increase of $45 million, with $10 million specifically earmarked for students at community colleges. This would bode well not only for students, but the thousands employed at Reading Area Community College and Kutztown University.

"Right now, other states are proposing drastic cuts to their higher education funding -- Maryland is slashing funding by $50 million. Here in Pennsylvania, we understand the enormity of how the economic crisis impacts our own budgetary constraints. However, I was very disappointed to hear that governor proposes to terminate the funding for the Scotland School. I hope education will win in the end, because sustained education funding is an investment in the economic future of our state.

"The governor also proposed the Pennsylvania Tuition Relief Act, which would help families earning under $100,000 pay for tuition at state system universities and community colleges. He has asked the legislature to legalize video poker machines as a means to offset tuition costs for college students. The machines would be legalized at taverns and clubs, at a time when some 17,000 machines are operating illegally in the state.

"I plan to introduce legislation that would restrict, regulate and tax this activity. I believe that through proper regulation, the machines can generate substantial funding that would be a tremendous benefit to the citizens of our Commonwealth.

"I also was pleased to hear the governor consider school district consolidation, which I have been advocating for a number of years. During these harsh economic times, we need to consider saving money any way we can. I will be introducing several bills in the near future that deal with this issue. I believe that substantial savings could be realized if the state were to centralize and control public school spending in many areas. It’s time to stop talking about consolidation and put it into action.

"Finally, I'm pleased the governor proposed no major cuts to those programs on which children, families and other vulnerable individuals rely. Cuts to Medicaid would shift the burden to local government, charities, churches and foundations, who already are strapped, to provide services to people without jobs or health-care coverage. I appreciate the governor's efforts during this time of crisis and I will do my part to ensure the people of the 127th District are impacted as little as possible."

Autism Conference

ASD: Perspectives on Transitions Autism Conference

Green Tree Partnerships and LaSalle University will host the 3rd Annual Autism Conference, a one-day resource-rich symposium at LaSalle’s Philadelphia campus. The event is expected to attract 300 participants including parents, college students, professionals in education and behavioral health, as well as persons with ASD.

Date: Friday, May 1, 2009

Time: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Place: La Salle University, Student Union Building, Philadelphia

Cost: $30 (La Salle Univ. Students and Green Tree Partnerships Clients/Parents)

$50 (University Students and Parents of Autistic Children)

$95 (Professionals/Other Attendees)

REGISTER at www.gtpartnerships.org. Call (215) 843-4528 for more information.

Conference Description

This is a resource-rich conference that strengthens support services across the Autistic Spectrum and fosters an environment of open dialogue and invaluable professional development opportunities.

Keynote Speeches: hear from two highly respected experts - Dr. Anthony Rostain (Penn Hospital and CHOP) and Scott Robertson (Autism Self-Advocacy Network)

Workshops: attend 10 or more diverse and participant-friendly workshops pertaining to transitions for persons with autism from infancy to adulthood

Parent Panel Discussion: moderated by Dr. Eric Mitchell, parents discuss their experience with ASD

Poster Presentations: network and learn from experts who have conducted in-depth research on critical transitions for children and youth with ASD

Exhibitor: access invaluable resources from companies that provide products and services for those on the Autism Spectrum.

Lunch: enjoy a delicious box lunch
Media Inquiries & Sponsors Information:
Contact Director of Development, Monica Montgomery at (215) 843-4528 ext 210. For more details on customized sponsor packages for the 3rd Annual Autism Conference, please email mmontgomery@greentreeschool.org.

If you provide products and services for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and would like to participate, please call Lavinia Awosanya from Event Mood, Corp. at (609) 518-1259 or email lavinia@eventmood.com. (Event Mood is the event management company for the 3rd Annual Autism Conference.)