Friday, July 3, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 3, 2015: Brush up on your knowledge of school funding in Pa.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 3, 2015:
Brush up on your knowledge of school funding in Pa.



“As we head into the July 4th weekend, why not take some time to brush up on the ABCs and XYZs of education funding in Pennsylvania? Below are 14 pieces, most including a podcast, that NewsWorks and the Notebook put together for Multiple Choices, a series that explains the major aspects of the state's complex, puzzling, and unequal education funding system.”
Brush up on your knowledge of school funding in Pa.
By the Notebook on Jul 2, 2015 01:50 PM
The ongoing budget stalemate in Harrisburg has left school districts across Pennsylvania in the dark about how much state money they'll be getting.  With a new governor, a new proposed funding formula, and constant disagreement about how schools should be funded, lots of changes are afoot in Pennsylvania's education system. 

Philly Mayor, Council, PFT, District, charters join in asking state for new funds
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 2, 2015 05:10 PM
Putting aside their usual bickering over what the School District deserves and how it spends its money, the city's key education players sent a joint letter to the Philadelphia legislative delegation Thursday "in unified support of restoring critically needed state funds" that will benefit students.   The letter urges the legislature to increase statewide basic education funding by $410 million next year and allocate it in a way that would restore cuts made to districts since 2011. That would result in $159 million in additional funds to Philadelphia for this fiscal year.  It calls upon the legislature to then adopt the education aid distribution formula advocated by the legislature's Basic Education Funding Commission.  The letter is signed by Mayor Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke, School Reform Commission chair Marjorie Neff, Superintendent William Hite, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, and Amy Ruck Kagan, executive director of Philadelphia Charters for Excellence. 



“In addition to the extra money, the Philadelphia officials asked Harrisburg leaders to ensure that the formula proposed by the state's Basic Education Funding Commission does not kick in until the 2016-17 school year. Were it put into place for the coming year, Philadelphia would be out tens of millions.  Officials argue that before the funding formula is enacted, the state needs to take care of districts like Philadelphia that were hit disproportionately hard by funding cuts under Gov. Tom Corbett.”
City to Harrisburg: Give schools more money
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, July 3, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, July 2, 2015, 4:16 PM
Speaking with one voice, Philadelphia's mayor, City Council president, school superintendent, School Reform Commission chairwoman, and teachers' union president, and the head of a key charter school group, have told Harrisburg: Give the city schools $159 million.  The rare show of unity came in a letter sent to the Philadelphia delegation to the state legislature, chaired by Sen. Shirley Kitchen and Rep. Cherelle L. Parker.  Gov. Wolf this week vetoed a $30.1 billion budget passed by the Republican-controlled legislature. That spending plan would have added just $8 million in new school funding, not the $410 million the governor wants.  Much is at stake for the Philadelphia School District, which asked for $159 million in new funds from Harrisburg. City Council has come up with $70 million in new money for the schools, but the district has an $88 million gap to cover.

It's time to unite for the future of Pa.'s students: Cherelle L. Parker
 PennLive Op-Ed  By Cherelle L. Parker on July 02, 2015 at 2:00 PM
State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, a Democrat,represents the 200th Legislative District in Philadelphia.
Former Gov. Tom Corbett's Budget Secretary, Charles Zogby, put Pennsylvania's fiscal 2015-16 budget in perspective not long before Gov. Tom Wolf took office:
"Barring major changes, only a tax hike or deeper cuts will bail out the state. We've hit the wall in terms of what people in this building are willing to cut. Folks are in for a reality check." (Official: 'Reality Check' looms for Pa. budget, Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 5, 2014)
His assessment was right on the money.  Members of the Philadelphia Delegation call for legislators on both sides of the aisle to stand with us, as we ardently advocate for funding an education system that our children deserve.  Pennsylvanians affirmed their support for restoration of deep state cuts to public education and for meaningful reductions in local property and business taxes when they elected Wolf governor.

Here's why I voted 'No' on a bad #Pabudget: Madeleine Dean
PennLive Op-Ed  By Madeleine Dean on July 02, 2015 at 1:00 PM
State Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, represents the 153rd House District in Montgomery County.
On March 3 of this year, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a budget to take bold steps to get Pennsylvania moving in the right direction with significant changes to education funding, minimum wage, and new tax structures to create a balanced and sustainable budget.  Instead of considering the governor's budget, however, this past Saturday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a partisan budget clearly stating their priorities.  The state Senate followed suit on Tuesday, sending the bill to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has since vetoed it.  I am grateful to majority Republicans for this $30.2 billion proposal because it made my job clear.  I am thankful for this inadequate, anemic, artifice of a budget because it has made it easy to say "No," to reject a budget that looks in the rearview mirror, a budget that repeats gimmicks of the past. 

ep. Bloom tired of Gov. Wolf's 'confrontational budget brinksmanship': PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor  by REP. STEPHEN BLOOM, R-North Middleton Twp. on July 02, 2015 at 8:10 AM, updated July 02, 2015 at 8:11 AM
During the past months, I worked hard to help craft a responsible, balanced, on-time state budget with no tax hikes – a plan that meets core needs, and raises our investment in education and critical services.  Sadly, the governor announced his veto of the budget, refusing to see it for what it is – a fair, reasonable plan that reflects the needs of Pennsylvanians. In his stubborn demand for higher taxes and state spending, the governor also signaled his veto of related bills to help schools receive urgently needed reimbursements and more equitable funding.  We also passed landmark reforms to the state's pension and liquor systems – designed to save taxpayers billions and generate needed revenue. The fate of these reforms rests with the governor, although he has threatened to veto these too.  To say I am disappointed with the governor's confrontational budget brinksmanship is an understatement. Our job is to solve problems and put Pennsylvania on a successful path. These bills would do that.

So who's to blame for Budget Impasse 2015? Well, everyone, of course: Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 02, 2015 at 8:43 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So if there's one question we've been asked in the 24 hours or so since Gov. Tom Wolf figuratively drew a giant, red "X" over the $30.2 billion spending plan that the Republican-controlled General Assembly sent him on Tuesday, it's this one: "Who's to blame for Budget Impasse 2015?"  The answer is, of course, both sides.  While it keeps government funded, the GOPsent the York Democrat a budget they knew he was going to veto. And no Tuesday night newser calling on Wolf to sign the plan and declare victory was going to change that.  Credit the GOP for this much - they tried to get ahead of the narrative. And they did it by a whisker. Barely 10 minutes after their last words had echoed through the Capitol media center, Wolf did what everyone figured he was going to do anyway.

Wolf vetoes bills on liquor privatization, school funding
Morning Call By Mark Scolforo Of The Associated Press July 2, 2015
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday vetoed a Republican-backed bill to privatize the state-controlled sales of wine and liquor as well as two budget-related bills, two days after he rejected the main budget bill.  Wolf, a Democrat in his first year, said in a news release that selling off the liquor system is not a good business decision.  "We can support and bolster consumer convenience without selling an asset and risking higher prices and less selection for consumers," Wolf said. "I am open to options for expanding the availability of wine and beer in more locations, including supermarkets."  He also vetoed a public schools bill that contained a new formula to distribute state aid to districts, and a bill that guides how money from the budget is spent. All three bills passed the Legislature without a single "yes" vote from a Democrat, as did the main budget bill he vetoed late Tuesday night.

Friday Happy Hour: Anyone, Anyone? Edition
The Triadvocate THURSDAY, JULY 02, 2015
One did not need to possess the divine and borderline mystical powers of Carnac the Magnificent, famous sage and seer, to predict this outcome: Democrat Tom Wolf campaigns on shale extraction tax, increased education funding and property tax relief. On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers give him a budget with anything but. Wolf, now governor, vetoes the whole shebang before the ink is dry. Each side blames the other, and another budget “deadline” passes without a spending agreement.  Wolf invited legislative leaders to meet the next day to begin the process of reconciling his proposed budget with that of the General Assembly. They emerged after 30 minutes with no resolution, but assurances from the governor that “there was mutual respect” and that “the arms are unfolded.” His remarks and those of Majority Leader Dave Reed, if not conciliatory, were at least not incendiary. 

“And though he was eligible for a performance bonus, Hite declined one, citing the Philadelphia School District's dire financial straits.”
Hite receives positive performance evaluation
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has gotten his report card: solid, but not straight A's.
And though he was eligible for a performance bonus, Hite declined one, citing the Philadelphia School District's dire financial straits.  The city schools leader was evaluated by the School Reform Commission in six areas: student growth and achievement; systems leadership; district operations and financial management; communication and community relations; human resources management; and professionalism.  Hite was judged "proficient" in all areas but one, operations and financial management. He earned the highest rating, "distinguished," on that score. Four ranks were possible, including "needs improvement" and "failing."

DN Editorial: Slouching toward 'shutdown': Can Wolfe and the GOP find common budget ground?
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Friday, July 3, 2015, 12:16 AM
AS EXPECTED, Gov. Wolf this week vetoed the $30.2 billion budget passed by legislative Republicans, saying that it was filled with "gimmicks . . . smoke and mirrors and a lot of kick the can down the road."  That is a long string of clich├ęs, but the governor was right.  The Republican budget balanced on paper, but did so by shortchanging public education and pillaging various state funds that were supposed to be dedicated to such things as school construction and child-welfare payments.  Come to think of it, the budget the Republicans sent Wolf this week very much resembled the ones they cobbled together during the Corbett administration, using the same devices. Republican leaders said that the virtue of their budget bill was that it passed before the fiscal year ended on June 30.



Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

Sign up here to receive a weekly email update on the status of efforts to have Pennsylvania adopt an adequate, equitable, predictable and sustainable Basic Education Funding Formula by 2016
Sign up to support fair funding »
Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live. To make that happen, we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. The current system is not fair to students or taxpayers and our campaign partners – more than 50 organizations from across Pennsylvania - agree that it has to be changed now. Student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. Lawmakers have the ability to change this formula but they need to hear from you. You can make a difference »

Thursday, July 2, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 2, 2015: The risks of the new Pa. schools oversight plan

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 2, 2015:
The risks of the new Pa. schools oversight plan




Just a heads-up that the PA Ed Policy Roundup may be intermittent and/or late this week



“One thing all parties agreed to after Wednesday’s meeting was that staff meetings would begin immediately on topics, but substantive budget negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders would not begin again until after the July 4th holiday.”
Budget negotiators find new resolve, but remain far apart
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, July 1, 2015
After a 2:00 p.m. closed-door meeting Wednesday, top legislative leaders and aides from both parties in the two chambers of the General Assembly emerged with Gov. Tom Wolf and his high ranking staff boasting renewed resolve to find agreement on a General Fund budget, but recognizing the two sides remain far apart on numbers.  With the governor’s fiscal year-eve veto of the Republican-crafted budget bill sent to his desk, Pennsylvania’s new fiscal year started off without a spending plan in place, leaving the potential for vendors and human service organizations to be cut off from needed state funds.

“The governor on Tuesday evening vetoed a GOP-authored budget that would not have increased taxes and would have boosted funding for public schools, although not at the levels Wolf wants.  It marked the first time in more than 40 years that a Pennsylvania governor had struck down a budget in its entirety.  Wolf said he did so because he does not believe it adequately funds public education or provides property tax relief to homeowners.”
Pa. budget talks to resume next week
ANGELA COULOUMBIS, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Thursday, July 2, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 6:53 PM
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania will operate without a budget until at least until next week, when Gov. Wolf and Republican legislators are expected to return to the negotiating table.  Wolf met briefly behind closed doors Wednesday with a scaled-down complement of legislative leaders, emerging to say that the sides will resume negotiations next week.  "There is mutual respect, and we are going into this the right way," Wolf said. "The arms are unfolded, and we understand that we have to reconcile our ideas."  Without a budget to guide spending for the new fiscal year, which began Wednesday, the state begins losing some of its authority to pay bills.

Lawmakers sent home but told 'it is not summer vacation'
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 01, 2015 at 4:59 PM
While Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders continue their work on resolving their differences on a 2015-16 state budget in the wake of Wolf's Tuesday veto of a GOP-backed $30.2 billion spending plan, rank and file lawmakers will be back in their legislative districts awaiting a call to return to Harrisburg.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said starting next week, the legislative leaders and top-level staff will meet with Wolf Administration officials trying to narrow their differences.  "But I anticipate once we have an agreement on a budget document the members will be back in 24 hours to start the legislative clock running to get it moving," Reed said, following a meeting with the governor and other legislative leaders on Wednesday about what happens now.

Wolf budget vs. GOP budget: How much money would your school district get?
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 7:30 pm | Updated: 8:20 am, Wed Jul 1, 2015.
All Lancaster County school districts would get more money under competing state budget plans, but most districts would see smaller increases in a plan put forth by Republicans than in Gov. Tom Wolf's pitch.  Both Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg want to boost education spending and enact a new formula for distributing money to schools. But they disagree on how much money to give districts in 2015-16, where to get the money, and when to start using the formula.

Analyzing what's ahead in Pennsylvania budget stalemate
Morning Call By Steve Esack and Sam Janesch Call Harrisburg Bureau July 1, 2015
HARRISBURG — The Capitol awoke Wednesday, a day removed from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's historic complete veto of a Republican-driven budget, and life went on as usual.
There were no suspensions of service or workers' pay.
There were no mass protests or pickets.
There were no compromises.
But this show cannot go on forever. It's financially impossible.
This stalemate eventually will affect services and programs in state government, school districts, nonprofits and businesses if the administration and Legislature do not give in on some financial and political policies for the fiscal year that began Wednesday.  "Bottom line, both sides at this point have pretty hardened positions," said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. "But everyone knows they have to reach some accommodation."

Expect drawn-out state budget impasse, Pa. political analysts say
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 11:36 p.m.
HARRISBURG — A deep ideological divide between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf portends a protracted budget impasse without a state spending plan in place, political analysts said Wednesday.  “The Republicans are acting like Republicans, and Wolf is acting like the progressive Democratic liberal he is,” said Colleen Sheehan, a political science professor at Villanova University and former GOP House member.  More than a battle over issues, it's a standoff between “believers,” she said. “This is the divide in America today. We are at a crossroads.”  “I see it being a protracted problem. It just seems ideologies on the two sides are just too far apart,” said J. Wesley Leckrone, a political science professor at Widener University in Chester.
How does the lack of a Commonwealth budget affect school district budget requirements?
PSBA website July 1, 2015
As explained below, the answer to this question is a great example of a classic statutory “Catch-22.” The bottom line is that if the school board has not yet adopted a final budget for the new fiscal year, it should not delay any further. While the failure of the Commonwealth to adopt a budget on time may excuse school boards from strict compliance with the normal timelines, there is no practical advantage in delaying, and some significant potential disadvantages. Naturally, a budget adopted without benefit of knowing what the district’s state subsidy allocations will be must rely on very conservative assumptions that do not assume those state allocations will be any greater than they were in the prior fiscal year.
The School Code requires school districts to adopt final budgets and tax levies for the ensuing fiscal year no later than June 30, except in districts using a fiscal year beginning January 1. As a limited exception, when the General Assembly fails to enact the state budget by June 15, Section 671 of the School Code authorizes school districts to delay adopting the district budget up to 15 days after the Commonwealth’s budget is enacted, even if that goes beyond June 30. The requirement to give at least ten days public notice of intent to take final action on the budget still applies. The School Code also requires that all taxes be levied before the end of June, but allows an extension of up to 20 days after the Commonwealth’s budget is enacted.  The catch is that without a district budget, once the new fiscal year begins on July 1, the district cannot spend any money, whether derived from local or state revenue sources. A school district has no spending authority unless it has a budget in place, and it is illegal to spend money except as budgeted. School officials risk personal liability for making or approving unlawful expenditures.

Letters: The risks of the new Pa. schools oversight plan
Philly Daily News Letter by KATE SHAW & JOHN SLUDDEN Thursday, July 2, 2015, 12:16 AM
Kate Shaw is executive director and John Sludden is a policy analyst at Research for Action, a nonprofit education-research organization in Philadelphia.
EDUCATION is front and center as Pennsylvania's budget heads into overtime. A key element in this debate is whether additional school funding should be tied to new accountability measures in the form of House Bill 1225 and Senate Bill 6, both of which would allow a more forceful state hand in governing the state's lowest performing schools. (S.B. 6 passed the Senate on a party-line, 27-22 vote on Sunday evening.)  In the abstract, linking increased funding with oversight makes sense; however, this particular proposal deserves careful scrutiny.  
The bills would create an Achievement School District governed by a newly established seven-member state board, with four Republican appointees and three Democrats. The Achievement School District would be empowered to take over the state's lowest performing schools and implement one or more of the following prescriptions: replace the school principal and at least half the staff, contract with an outside school operator, convert to a charter or close the school.
Achievement School Districts have become trendy nationally. Legislators in Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin proposed similar measures in the last few months alone. Versions of the policy have been established in Michigan, Louisiana and Tennessee in the last decade. While Research for Action does not take a stance for or against specific policy provisions, we can provide some perspective to help inform this conversation.
There are three central questions to consider regarding Pennsylvania's Achievement School District proposals:
1) What do we know about similar efforts elsewhere and whether they work?
2) Does Pennsylvania have the capacity to oversee the state's lowest performing schools effectively?
3) Is the state's system for identifying poor performers fair?
Unfortunately, answers to these questions raise a number of red flags.

“Truebright, which opened in 2007, is one of more than 120 charters nationwide founded and operated by followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish imam who lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos.
Truebright charter won't reopen in fall
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: Thursday, July 2, 2015, 1:08 AM
The troubled Truebright Science Academy Charter School in Olney will close after all.
Rather than take its legal fight for survival to the state Supreme Court, the charter's board decided Tuesday night to dissolve the school.  "They are going to wind down their operation and dissolve the entity," said Brian H. Leinhauser, the school's lawyer.  On Wednesday afternoon, Truebright administrators e-mailed parents to inform them of the decision. They also posted a notice on the school website announcing the closing.

New law attempts to add clarity to background checks law
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 01, 2015 at 5:26 PM, updated July 01, 2015 at 7:26 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation on Wednesday that clarifies which employees and adult volunteers are requiredbackground checks if they work around children.  The revisions to the Child Protective Services Law attempts to clear up some of the confusion surrounding who the law applies to in an effort to make it less onerous and more in line with the law's original intention of keeping kids safe.  Among the changes that this legislation makes to the background checks law that passed last year is it pushes back the start date for when new volunteers must obtain their criminal background checks and child abuse clearances to Aug. 25, from the original law's July 1 deadline.  It also extends the renewal period to five years, from three years. It puts into statute that starting July 25, state police criminal background checks and child abuse clearances are free for people seeking them strictly so they can volunteer. That saves each volunteer a total of $20.

How qualified are Pennsylvania's teachers? The numbers say extremely
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 15, 2015 12:00 AM
In the first year of many school districts using a new statewide teacher evaluation system, a greater portion of teachers was rated satisfactory than under the old system.  In figures released by the state Department of Education, 98.2 percent of all teachers were rated as satisfactory in 2013-14 — the highest percentage in five years — despite a new system that some thought would increase the number of unsatisfactory ratings.  In the four prior years, 97.7 percent of teachers were rated satisfactory in all but 2009-10, when 96.8 percent were. These figures count teachers in school districts, career and technical centers, intermediate units and charter schools.  Among other things, critics of the old system questioned whether too many of the state’s teachers were being rated satisfactory in a system that relied only on observation and had only two categories: satisfactory and unsatisfactory.  The new system uses a variety of measures for four performance categories, which determine satisfactory or unsatisfactory ratings.

Pittsburgh public school teachers earn higher grades in new ratings
Twice as many get ‘distinguished’ label
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 2, 2015 12:14 AM
Once again, about 97 percent of teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools have been rated proficient or distinguished, but this time twice as many — nearly half of the teaching force — were rated distinguished, the top level.  The district today released the aggregate ratings for 1,699 preK-12 teachers in 2014-15 — the second official year under a new system mandated by the state.  It also released the first ratings using new state-mandated systems for 86 principals and other school leaders as well as for 335 counselors, social workers and other nonteaching professionals. Those in these two categories were rated highly as well, with more than 98 percent in each rated proficient or distinguished.

Unsanitary, unsafe conditions found in Philadelphia schools
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF JULY 1, 2015
Periodically, city officials shine a spotlight on the condition of school buildings in the School District of Philadelphia. Not for the first time, what they saw isn't pretty.  Inspectors from city Controller Alan Butkovitz's office visited 20 schools between October and March. Their findings, detailed in a report out Wednesday, included electrical hazards, water damage, and permanently clogged toilets in the sample of schools.

Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

Sign up here to receive a weekly email update on the status of efforts to have Pennsylvania adopt an adequate, equitable, predictable and sustainable Basic Education Funding Formula by 2016
Sign up to support fair funding »
Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live. To make that happen, we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. The current system is not fair to students or taxpayers and our campaign partners – more than 50 organizations from across Pennsylvania - agree that it has to be changed now. Student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. Lawmakers have the ability to change this formula but they need to hear from you. You can make a difference »

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 1, 2015: Tired of hearing about failing schools? Here are four that work. Happy Fiscal New Year; Wolf Vetoes GOP Budget

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 1, 2015:
Tired of hearing about failing schools? Here are four that work.
Happy Fiscal New Year; Wolf Vetoes GOP Budget



Just a heads-up that the PA Ed Policy Roundup may be intermittent and/or late this week



Gov. Wolf to veto entire GOP-crafted budget, calls proposal “a mess”
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Shortly after Republicans were praising the historic and substantial nature of passing pension reform, liquor privatization, and a no-tax increase $30.2 billion budget, Gov. Tom Wolf put the brakes on the spending plan, announcing he intends to veto the proposal in its entirety. “It’s what I feared, this is a budget that absolutely doesn’t work,” said Gov. Wolf in announcing his intention to veto the entire proposal. “The math doesn’t work, it doesn’t address the challenges Pennsylvania faces.”  Gov. Wolf also argued the budget is not balanced and will lead Pennsylvania to face a $3 billion deficit for the FY 2016-2017 budget.

Wolf hits budget reset button much to GOP's disappointment
PennLive By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on June 30, 2015 at 11:52 PM, updated July 01, 2015 at 6:47 AM
Stepping behind the podium in the Governor's Reception Room on the eve of the new fiscal year, Gov. Tom Wolf declared:  "It's what I feared. This is a budget that actually doesn't work. It simply doesn't work. The math doesn't work. It's not balanced and it doesn't address the challenges that Pennsylvanians face," he said. "So I'm going to veto the entire budget."  Wolf Vetoes BudgetGov. Tom Wolf vetoes Republican budget Tuesday night.  At a Tuesday evening news conference that lasted not even 13 minutes, Wolf essentially hit a reset button on the budget process and told the Republican lawmakers who control the Legislature it's back to the drawing board after rejecting the $30.2 billion budget bill they sent him just a couple hours before.

'This budget is simply not balanced': Gov. Wolf vetoes Republican spending plan
By Karen Langley & Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau June 30, 2015 11:59 PM
HARRISBURG — Let the standoff begin.
After a whirl of activity Tuesday, the Republican majorities of the Pennsylvania House and Senate sent the governor a GOP-crafted budget, along with legislation to disband the state system of wine and liquor sales and end defined-benefit pensions for most future state and public school workers. Shortly after 9 p.m., Gov. Tom Wolf undid their planning on the budget.  Mr. Wolf vetoed the full budget proposal, the first time in recent history that a governor has rejected a budget in its entirety.  “This budget is simply not balanced,” he said at a nighttime news conference. “I ran a business, and if I took a budget that looked anything like this to my bank, they would have thrown me out of the office.”  The governor said he would study the companion bills on liquor sales and pensions and respond to the GOP today.  The Republican budget would accomplish none of Mr. Wolf’s priorities: no enactment of a severance tax on natural gas to provide education funding; no increase in the personal income and sales tax rates to provide subsidies to property tax bills; and a closing of the shortfall by means he has rejected as irresponsible.

“Wolf called on legislative leaders from both parties to meet with him at 2 p.m. Wednesday in his office to resume negotiations. It was not clear whether Republicans would attend.  Longtime political observers said Wolf's decision to veto the budget in its entirety marked the first time in more than 40 years that a Pennsylvania governor had done so.”
Wolf vetoes entire GOP budget, says 'math doesn't work'
ANGELA COULOUMBIS AND MADISON RUSS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 6:49 PM
HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf vetoed the Republican-backed $30.1 billion budget in its entirety Tuesday night, a move that leaves Pennsylvania without a spending plan and sets the stage for a partial government shutdown.  A visibly frustrated Wolf told reporters shortly after 9 that the spending plan the Republican-controlled legislature sent him was riddled with "gimmicks," as well as "smoke and mirrors, and a lot of kicking the can down the road."  He said it failed to adequately fund public education or provide property-tax relief to homeowners, and contended it would worsen the state's finances.  "This isn't partisanship. This isn't ideology," the Democratic governor said. "The math doesn't work."

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes Republicans' budget
Morning Call By Sam Janesch and Steve EsackCall Harrisburg Bureau July 1, 2015
HARRISBURG — Wasting little time Tuesday night, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the entire budget the Republican-controlled Legislature sent him earlier in the evening, saying it was unworkable and leaving the state without a spending plan as the new fiscal year begins Wednesday.  Wolf's ax fell after lawmakers passed a trio of major bills that would spend $30.1 billion on programs and services without raising taxes and make the state's Prohibition-era liquor laws and public pension systems relics of the past.  Republican leaders of the House and Senate stood shoulder to shoulder in support of the legislation they advanced to Wolf, who had been threatening vetoes.

Pa. senator says school bill would allow state takeovers
ABC27 By Dave MarcheskiePublished: June 30, 2015, 5:39 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – State Senator Rob Replitz (D-Dauphin/Perry) said the move by Republicans to pass a state takeover of schools bill was done out of spite over budget disputes. He’s concerned Harrisburg schools could be caught in the middle.  Four words are what Teplitz said he wanted from Republicans. However, his request was denied and Senate Republicans passed Senate Bill 6 without his proposed amendment to include “or Chief Recovery Officer” to a list that would exempt schools from a state takeover.  Teplitz said to not include that “simple fix” language in the bill could leave individual schools in Harrisburg vulnerable to a state takeover. “(Senate Bill 6) was passed in the middle of the night,” he said. “It’s not a good idea for anyone and I don’t want my districts subject to it.”

Philadelphia's universal pre-K commission begins work
WHYY Newsworks BY BILL HANGLEY JUNE 30, 2015
Philadelphia's push to make quality preschool available citywide has taken another step with the inaugural meeting of the Mayor's Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.  The 17-member commission, established by a voter referendum last May, now faces a long list of questions, including where preschool programs should be located and who should be hired to provide them. But the commission's co-chair, Sharon Easterling, said the biggest question the group must contend with is how to pay for them.  "High quality programs are not cheap, but make no mistake," said Easterling, head of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. "They're far less expensive than ... special education, juvenile justice, incarceration, welfare dependency, and chronic health problems — all of which are ameliorated when children get off to a good start in life."

Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes Republican budget proposal. Now what?
By Christian Alexandersen | calexandersen@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 30, 2015 at 10:02 PM, updated July 01, 2015 at 6:04 AM
In an historic move, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Republican-crafted budget hours after it passed the full Pennsylvania General Assembly on Tuesday.  The Pennsylvania Senate voted 30-19 Tuesday to pass the $30.2 billion budget proposal after it passed the House of Representatives mostly along party lines on Saturday. The deadline to pass a budget is midnight Tuesday.  Here's a breakdown on what happens next and how the governor's veto affects you:

Day 1: Waiting for a Pa. budget
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 5:45 am
While we would have preferred a slightly earlier kickoff, let the state’s budget negotiations begin. Both sides have put their plans on the table.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf did so in his budget address in March.  The Republican-controlled General Assembly has done so in bills passed over the weekend and Tuesday, the end of the current fiscal year.  Today is the first day of the new fiscal year. We’ll be counting the days until a new budget is approved.

Smart Talk: Where do Gov. Wolf and Republicans differ on budget?
WITF Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 30, 2015 3:39 PM
Wednesday is July 1 -- the first day of Pennsylvania's 2015-2016 fiscal year.  A new state budget is supposed to be in place but as budget negotiations heated up in the last few weeks between the Democratic administration of Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders in the Senate and House, it became apparent the two sides were far apart in several key areas.
A little over a month after being inaugurated, Gov. Wolf outlined a spending plan that totaled $33.8 billion.  It included property tax relief and a reduced corporate net income tax but called for a new tax on natural gas drillers and higher sales and income taxes.  To fulfill a promise he made during his successful campaign for office, the governor wanted a significant increase in money for Pennsylvania's public schools.  From the beginning of the process, Republicans, who have majorities in both chambers of the legislature said their priorities were a solution to a $50 billion unfunded public pension debt and privatizing the state's liquor stores.

Senate sends GOP budget bill to Wolf’s desk to await veto
West Chester Daily Local By The Associated Press POSTED: 06/30/15, 7:51 PM EDT 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> A veto awaited a Republican-penned spending plan sent Tuesday to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk, as the GOP used its huge legislative majorities on the final day of the state government’s fiscal year to try to wrap up an ambitious agenda.  The nearly $30.2 billion budget bill passed the House and Senate without a single Democratic vote after negotiations between GOP leaders and Wolf stalled in recent weeks.  In the meantime, Republican worked to pass bills to license private companies to take over the marketing, shipment and sale of wine and liquor from the state, and to squeeze savings from the large pension systems for school employees and state workers, in part by moving new hires into 401(k)-style plans. Democratic lawmakers also opposed those bills.  Wolf said Tuesday it was only a question of whether he will veto the entire budget or part of it, as he seeks to force concessions from Republicans on his agenda.  After a brief meeting with House GOP leaders Tuesday morning, Wolf said both sides “will have some things to talk about tomorrow.”

Pa Budget Now Headed to Governor
YourErie.com 06/30/2015 05:53 PM
The fate of the Republican-created budget proposal is now in Gov. Tom Wolf's hands after it has passed both house in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Erie's Democratic Senator Sean Wiley doesn't like it a bit and neither will Governor Tom Wolf.  House Bill 1192, the $30.1 billion GOP led spending plan, made a brief stop in the Senate on its collision course with a veto by Governor Tom Wolf.  In advance of the midnight deadline, the Senate of Pennsylvania approved the 2015-2016 Commonwealth Budget by a vote of 30-19.  “I am remarkably disappointed by this process, as there was nothing bi-partisan or in the best interest of the citizens of this   commonwealth in what happened here this week,” said Senator Sean D. Wiley (D-Erie). “We are once again faced with a spending plan full of stunts, one time transfers and creative accounting at its finest.”

Pennsylvania education advocates making big push for fair school funding 
Pittsburgh CityPaper By Rebecca Nuttall @PghReporter July 1, 2015
Montgomery County, Montour County, Northumberland County, Allegheny County and Philadelphia. Shoulder to shoulder, hundreds from across the state stood on the white steps of the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol in the Harrisburg last week.  Clad mostly in blue T-shirts, the diverse crowd formed a backdrop with signs that read: "Fund Our Schools," "All PA Kids Are Our Children," "Strong Schools = Strong Communities" and "Every Baby Needs a Laptop."  Among them were teachers and librarians, preschoolers and high schoolers, parents and recent graduates. Along with the line of speakers who graced the podium one by one, the riser of Pennsylvanians 10 rows high formed a patchwork quilt of concern.   "We are all here today because we have a problem in Pennsylvania," said Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters Pa. "That problem is that every child does not have access to an education that allows them to learn what we expect someone to learn to graduate from high school. Why? Because we are not providing it. The primary cause of this is unfair and insufficient funding, resulting in disparities in opportunity from community to community." 

Editorial: Legislature should follow equitable subsidy proposal
Reading Eagle  Tuesday June 30, 2015 12:01 AM
The Issue: A bipartisan commission's report makes recommendations for a new school-funding formula.  Our Opinion: State lawmakers should adopt its fairer distribution of education dollars. On the surface it doesn't seem too shabby that the Reading School District ranks 51st in state education dollars per student. There are, after all, 500 school districts in the state.  But here's the rub: Reading is still Pennsylvania's poorest city. That makes its funding a farce.  Shouldn't Reading be close to first in school funding, if not at the very top? How are the schools in the state's most impoverished place supposed to educate their students when 50 wealthier districts get more money?  Reading is hardly alone. Erie, the 29th-poorest in the state, ranks 196th in per-student aid. Allentown, No. 36 on the poverty list, is 231st on the funding list. And 141 districts get more state funds per student than Philadelphia, the state's 58th poorest city.

Philly SRC adopts $2.8 billion budget, but with a caveat
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903  POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 12:15 AM
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night unanimously adopted a $2.8 billion budget for Philadelphia public schools that relies on more than $100 million in new but unlikely state funding. The district's budget includes $159 million in additional dollars proposed by Gov. Wolf, andneeds a minimum of $18 million from Harrisburg to close a projected deficit and avoid any further cuts. Although officials said they hope for the full amount to begin making new investments in the cash-strapped schools, the budget contains a clause that prohibits spending any additional money until the state budget is approved.

Substitute teachers angry with company
REGINA MEDINA, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER MEDINAR@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 12:16 AM
RETIRED TEACHER Linda MacNeal is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, but yesterday she found herself back in the union's office to vent.  The school district's new system of placing substitute teachers had been introduced at a morning informational session, prompting frustration and anger among some teachers over a cut in compensation.  The new per-diem rates teachers would earn under Source4Teachers is "just insulting to me. And it says that [the company] doesn't value teachers," said MacNeal, who worked for the district for 34 years.  The School Reform Commission approved a three-year, $34 million contract earlier this month with the Cherry Hill firm Source4Teachers and moved on from their longtime partner, the PFT.

Tired of hearing about failing schools? Here are four that work.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 1 at 5:00 AM  
Here are four new profiles of some of the winners in a pilot project calledSchools of Opportunity, which is highlighting schools that are creating healthy environments for students, teachers and staff. Seventeen schools were named as inaugural winners in initiative to identify and recognize public high schools that seek to close opportunity gaps through practices “that build on students’ strengths” — not by inundating them with tests. (You can see the list here.)


Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

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Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live. To make that happen, we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. The current system is not fair to students or taxpayers and our campaign partners – more than 50 organizations from across Pennsylvania - agree that it has to be changed now. Student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. Lawmakers have the ability to change this formula but they need to hear from you. You can make a difference »