Tuesday, April 29, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 29, 2014: Senator Erickson: A more equitable formula needed to fund education

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 29, 2014:
Senator Erickson: A more equitable formula needed to fund education

PSBA members - Come hear former Assistant US Secretary of Education, author and education historian Diane Ravitch.
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.

"The latest version of the property tax elimination plan will be the subject of a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday. Committee Chairman Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster County, has promised a vote on the bill shortly after the hearing, Argall said. A floor vote in the Senate could follow soon after based on what leadership has told him, he said.   Then it would go to the House. Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe, a longtime property tax opponent, said a similar plan garnered 91 votes in the House when it was considered last year, which is just 11 shy of the number needed to pass that chamber. "
School property tax elimination plan has enough support to pass the Pa. Senate, plan's sponsor says
By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  on April 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM
A revised plan to eliminate school property taxes now has enough support to pass the state Senate if it were put to a vote in that chamber, according to the bill's sponsor Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill County.  That has Argall seeing a glimmer of hope of making history on an issue that has been the subject of countless campaign promises by state office candidates over the decades.  The latest version of Senate Bill 76, which was not available on the General Assembly website as of Monday, would increase the state’s personal income tax to 4.34 percent, up from the 3.07 percent rate that has been in place since 2004. It also would raise the state sales tax by 1 percent, to 7 percent, as well as broaden the base to have the sales tax apply to more items but not food staples on the WIC food list.

Senate Bill Eliminating Property Taxes Largely Unchanged by Amendment
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on April 23, 2014
An amendment to Senate Bill 76 was proposed in April 2014. How would the proposed amendment impact SB 76?
SB 76 Remains Largely Unchanged by the Proposed Amendment
Generally, the amendment offers revisions to address technical concerns about the bill, specifying the products and services that would be subject to the expanded and increased state sales tax, clarifying which business-to-business services would be exempt, and updating the activation and implementation dates contained in the original legislation introduced on March 14, 2013.  What Does SB 76 Do?

Senate change would give charter schools twice as long to adjust to special education funding change
By Jeff Frantz | jfrantz@pennlive.com  on April 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM
An amendment passed Monday by the state Senate Appropriations Committee woulddouble the amount of time charter schools would have to adjust to a new special education funding formula.  But the underlying bill would still change the special education formula for all public schools in Pennsylvania, so that schools would be reimbursed for the actual costs of providing special needs education. Under the current formula, all public schools are funded on the assumption that 16 percent of students have special needs. That blanket assumption, based on the state average, doesn't consider the severity of a child's special needs.  So, a legislative commission found, some schools receive more than they need, while others receive less.
Charter schools complained that the bill would only cover new money the state spends on special needs students for traditional districts, not their allocation under the basic education formula. A hold harmless provision would also prevent school districts from losing special needs funding.
For charters and cyber charters, however, the new formula would cover all special needs funding, and there would be no hold harmless provision.

"In final analysis, the Legislature needs to find a way to provide a more equitable education formula and to generate additional funding. Recently, interest has been expressed in a Marcellus Shale gas tax as a way to generate additional dollars for education. I among others have introduced a bill to do this, but even if we increase the level of funding, I firmly believe that we must take action to reach a more equitable funding formula for our schools."
Letter to the Editor: A more equitable formula needed to fund education
Delco Times by State Sen. EDWIN B. ERICKSON R-26 of Newtown 04/28/14, 9:57 PM EDT |
To the Times:
An editorial published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 20 suggested that the commonwealth of Pennsylvania use a formula that was developed in 2006 to allocate funds for education to the school districts across our commonwealth.
The editorial pointed out that the formula allocated basic-education funds based on each district’s enrollment (Average Daily Membership or ADM), poverty level, number of students learning to speak English (English as a Second Language) and local tax levy. This is an excellent approach especially as it applies to the school districts in Southeastern Pennsylvania, many of which are experiencing student population growth. This is not true in some others parts of the commonwealth that have seen decreases in the student population. In spite of these decreases, the shrinking districts are “held harmless” and continue to receive level funding plus an additional allocation in funding. This, in my opinion, is patently unfair to our southeastern districts and should be adjusted to reflect the ADM. The current situation is even more unfair when you consider that the southeast is a net exporter of the tax dollars that are generated in our region of the state. Using the ADM in a formula to distribute state education funds is a partial solution to reach an equitable distribution of funds.

Dominic Pileggi: The Grown-Up
Dear Pennsylvania politicians: Dominic Pileggi is what a competent legislator looks like. Any questions?
Philadelphia Magazine BY PATRICK KERKSTRA  |  APRIL 25, 2014
At the Court Diner in Media, the rest of the table orders chipped beef, pancakes and omelets. Then the waitress asks Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi what he’d like to eat.
“Wheat toast. Dry.”  Dominic Pileggi, 56 years old, is the straight man of Pennsylvania politics, a figure who at first blush is as dull as his breakfast in a statehouse overpopulated by the corrupt, the comical, and a large and growing cohort of ultra-conservatives.
By design, Pileggi rarely makes headlines. By nature, his thinking is nuanced and his politics are precise. He smiles and talks far less than most politicians. Actually, he smiles and talks less than most morticians.  No matter. When Pileggi, whose district includes parts of Delaware and Chester counties, does speak, the entire capital listens — very closely. “He is the most powerful person in Harrisburg,” says Ed Rendell, within seconds of being asked about Pileggi. “He may have been the most influential person in Harrisburg when I was governor.”

Bethlehem Area School Board approves 22 teacher cuts
That will save Bethlehem Area about $1.5 million, but district hopes to restore some of the jobs.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 11:00 p.m. EDT, April 28, 2014
Bethlehem Area School Board approved eliminating 22 teaching positions Monday, though Superintendent Joseph Roy remains confident the district can restore at least some of the jobs.
The positions eliminated by the board's 8-1 vote are the full-time equivalent of 10 high school teachers, six elementary teachers, four middle school and two technology integration specialists. The cuts save the district about $1.5 million, helping trim what was once a $16.9 million deficit.
Though a cost-saving move, the job cuts are officially attributed to change in educational programs, because Pennsylvania school districts cannot legally reduce the teaching staff for financial reasons. The school board had to pass a resolution approving the cuts now because all potential teacher staff reductions must be authorized by the state.
Southern Lehigh School Board approves budget with no tax hike
But school district's business director says there's nothing more to cut.
By Margie Peterson, Special to The Morning Call 11:45 p.m. EDT, April 28, 2014
Southern Lehigh School Board approved a preliminary 2014-15 budget with no tax increase, but the business director warned that next year the district might face staff or program cuts.
"We've cut pretty much as far as we can cut," Jeremy Melber, director of business services, told the school board at Monday night's meeting.  Under the preliminary budget, the real estate tax millage would remain at 15.37 mills. At that rate, a homeowner with a property assessed at $200,000 would pay $3,074.  The district plans to use about $2 million of its fund balance to balance the budget. That would leave the district with an estimated $13.6 million fund balance by June 2015.  Driving the cost increases are pensions and health insurance. Melber estimated that over the next five years, the Public School Employees' Retirement System will cost the district about $35.5 million and employee health insurance will cost another $35.5 million.
Nazareth Area School Board gives final nod to 2.3 percent tax hike
By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times on April 28, 2014 at 9:41 PM
At least one Nazareth Area School Board member thought tonight that more could be done to save taxpayers from a 2.3 percent hike in the final 2014-15 school budget.
Board member Linda Stubits was the lone member to vote against the $73.9 million spending plan in a 7-1 vote this evening. Stubits said after the meeting that more "creative ways" could be considered to offset the tax burden, such as grants, partnerships with businesses and consistent bidding of purchases across all areas.  "Rather than just increasing taxes for the taxpayers," Stubits said. "Just to make sure we stay financially sound in the future."  The final budget is a 3.5 percent increase over last year's $71.4 million budget. The 1.13-mill increase equals about 2.3 percent. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value.

"Every minute we spend planning how to cope with insufficient funding is time we aren't spending with teachers, planning instruction, or working directly with kids - the things that move us forward."
Principals seek full funding By Jessica Brown, Otis Hackney, and Marjorie Neff POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 1:08 AM
Jessica Brown is the principal of the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Otis Hackney is the principal of South Philadelphia High School, and Marjorie Neff is the principal of Julia R. Masterman. A total of 100 principals in the School District of Philadelphia have signed on to this statement.
Recently, about 70 principals from the School District of Philadelphia went to City Hall to ask City Council to approve additional funding for schools and to talk about how the budget crisis continues to profoundly affect the learning environment.  We went there to stand together to make a statement, at the end of a full day of managing buildings full of children without enough staff or materials. Earlier that day, many of us administered state standardized tests that will tell us what we already know - our children aren't getting the opportunities to learn what they should.

Quietly, West Chester Area revokes Sankofa Academy's charter
TRICIA L. NADOLNY, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, April 28, 2014, 10:01 PM
In 2005, the founders of Sankofa Academy convinced a skeptical school board of the need for an African-centered charter in West Chester. Nearly a decade later, that charter was revoked Monday night without a word of protest from Sankofa's director, board members, teachers, or students.  As the West Chester Area school board voted unanimously to close the school at the end of the academic year, only two members of Sankofa's community sat in the audience.

Standardized testing forum looks for ideas
Centre Daily Times BY MATT MORGAN mmorgan@centredaily.com April 25, 2014 
STATE COLLEGE — Scott Fozard would classify a bad teacher as one who takes a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education.  So when the states use a “one-size-fits-all” standardized test, it’s not doing the best service for students, he said.  “If I’m a teacher that takes the standardized testing approach in my class, I’m probably a bad teacher,” he said.  But he added that the testing system is a double-edged sword, because feedback for students and locating need areas to further their education are important.  He and about 100 others packed the community room Thursday evening at Schlow Library for a public forum on the state of standardized testing and ways to further or change the experience for students.

"Every dollar Pennsylvania invests in quality pre-kindergarten programs generates $1.79 in new spending in the commonwealth, helping local businesses and creating jobs, according to a new economic impact study from a national business leaders’ organization."
Report: Economic Impact of Pre-K in PA
Pre-K for PA  Apr 24, 2014
On April 24, Pre-K for PA released a report, Strengthening Pennsylvania Businesses through Investments in Pre-Kindergarten, issued by ReadyNation/ America’s Edge on its behalf. The report examines the economic benefits of pre-k investments in eight regions across the commonwealth and concludes “few investments make as much sense for Pennsylvania businesses’ balance sheets as do investments in high-quality early education.”

Cutting PE
Yinzercation Blog April 28, 2014
OK, I’ll admit it. If there was one class in high school that I was tempted to cut, it was PE (no, mom, I never skipped class – I was way too much of a rule follower to do that). I was no athlete, though I did play on the volleyball team, and Phys Ed was generally torture for me. I think I still have dodge ball nightmares. But my own kids have had two terrific PE teachers who have demonstrated to me just how important a quality gym program can be for students. And now instead of cutting PE, I’m worried about proposed cuts to PE.  Tonight at the Pittsburgh school board’s public hearing, a number of people are speaking out about proposed changes to the district’s PE requirements. The changes are part of a package of new high school graduation requirements, which would halve the number of required PE credits, reducing them from 2 to 1 (each course is a .5 credit). Effectively that means that Freshmen and Sophomores would take gym, but it would be optional for Juniors and Seniors.

District delays one school's Renaissance charter vote
the notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on Apr 28 2014 Posted in Latest news
In a surprise move, District officials announced today that they will delay the vote scheduled for Thursday to determine the future of Muñoz-Marín Elementary in Kensington and are considering whether to postpone the vote at Edward T. Steel Elementary in Nicetown.  Spokesperson Raven Hill said the consideration was "due to the number of requests from parents." No new date has been set for the Muñoz-Marín vote.   Hill did not offer any details on those requests or on parents' specific concerns. She said the District can't say today exactly when it will make a final decision on the voting process or how long the delay might be.  When parents do vote, they’ll be asked to either approve their school’s match with a charter provider or opt to stay under direct District management.

"While a locally elected or appointed board won't solve our schools' money woes, it would give Philadelphia's citizens more of a voice in education decisions. More importantly, school board officials from our own neighborhoods would give communities a needed ally in the fight for sustainable funding. That's far preferable to what we have now - a rubber stamp for Gov. Corbett's anti-public-school agenda."
Letters: Local school rule is a must
Philly Daily News LTE by Jerry Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 3:01 AM
YOUR April 23 editorial ("Is local better?") echoes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' ongoing message about the main crisis facing our public schools: a dire lack of education funding from Harrisburg. The need to establish a statewide funding formula for public education should be the No. 1 priority for every voter, parent and elected official in Pennsylvania.  Because of our school district's funding crisis, Philadelphia parents have spent several years witnessing the elimination of our children's nurses, counselors, librarians, programs and services.
Clearly the lack of resources in our schools is the biggest threat to our children's future.

"The teachers met as part of a Teacher Voter Forum hosted by Teachers Lead Philly, a group of practicing teachers in Philadelphia. The mission of Teachers Lead Philly is to transform the teaching profession by engaging teachers in leadership at all levels."
Teachers Prepare to Vote
Teachers Lead Philly  Press Release 04/27/2014
Philadelphia, PA, April 27 — Philadelphia teachers from both traditional public and charter schools gathered on Thursday evening to prepare for the upcoming primary election for Pennsylvania governor. Fair funding, local control of the school board, and teacher control over curriculum ranked high on teachers’ list of priorities as they considered the candidates’ education platforms.  After one billion dollars in cuts to the state education budget under Governor Corbett, Philadelphia teachers hope that Pennsylvania’s next governor will restore much-needed funding. “We’re stretched way too thin,” said one elementary school teacher. “We have to wear too many hats. We’re the teachers, the counselors, the nurses, the librarians, and now we have to be advocates for our students as well. We have to be the ones to speak up to get the resources they need.” 

Education Voters PA April Update: People agree with you.
Education Voters PA website Friday, April 25, 2014
Spring is here and public education is the top issue for Pennsylvanian voters.  A survey released yesterday lays out the public’s view.  From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “A statewide survey released today shows most registered voters believe public schools have an impact on economic development and should get more state money, using a fair funding formula.”
Here are a few findings: 
·         71 percent said the state needs to make "much larger" or "somewhat larger" investment in public schools.
·         67 percent said schools with higher numbers of impoverished students should "definitely" or "probably" receive more state funding.
·         72 percent said they "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" using a fair school funding formula.

Resistance to the Common Core Mounts
Critics span the political spectrum, from tea partyers to union leaders
Education Week By Andrew UjifusaApril 21, 2014
After more than a year of high-profile and contentious debate over the Common Core State Standards in Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation last month to formally reverse the state's adoption of the standards. The legislation set the state on course to replace those standards with ones "written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers," the Republican governor proclaimed.
The same month, the Democratic-controlled New York Assembly approved a measure that would require a two-year delay in using assessments aligned with the common core for teacher and principal evaluations.  In some sense, the measures in Indiana and New York represent two dominant poles of the growing—and evolving—resistance to the standards. The common core has drawn criticism from both the political left and right, though much of it seems aimed not so much at what the standards say, but rather who drove their adoption or the tests and accountability policies connected with them.

Louis C.K.: Common Core makes my kids cry
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS April 28 at 1:24 pm
Here’s a series of tweets that Louis C.K. wrote on standardized testing and the Common Core.
(If you don’t know who Louis C.K. is, I can’t help you. Google him.)

INVITATION: Live Twitter chat with PA's major education leadership orgs Tuesday, April 29 at 8 p.m
PSBA Steve Robinson, Director of Communication 4/25/2014
The next live chat on Twitter with Pennsylvania's major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. The April chat will focus on public school funding and the Planning and Construction (PlanCon) process. Use hashtag #PAEdFunding to follow along.
On the last Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., the following organizations go to Twitter to discuss timely topics, ask questions and listen to the public's responses:
  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA);
  • The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA);
  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO); and
  • The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Join the conversation. Share your ideas, lurk, learn and let us know what you think about the state of support for public schools. It's a simple, free and fast-paced way to communicate and share information. If you've never tweeted before, here are directions and a few tips:

Deadline for PSBA officer nominations is April 30th
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association.
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA.  Complete details on the nomination process, links to the Application for Nomination form, and scheduled dates for nominee interviews can be found online by clicking here.

Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will Host an Education Funding Forum in Delaware County on May 7th
On May 7th,  PCCY will host a forum that discusses the state of school funding  in Delaware County. As many of you all know, state budget cuts have impacted districts beyond Philadelphia. The event will be held at the Upper Darby Municipal Branch Library, 501 Bywood Avenue, Upper Darby PA 19082 from 6:30pm-8pm.  Attendees will get a budget update from Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, hear from School Board members representing Upper Darby, William Penn, and Haverford School Districts and learn how they can get  involved.  Contact Devon Miner at devonm@pccy.org for any questions or concerns.

Educating the Voter: A Forum on Public Education featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates - April 30th 6:00 pm Phila Central Library
Presented by Committee of Seventy, Congresso and Philadelphia Education Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6:00PM 
Philadelphia Central Library 1901 Vine Street, 19103 215-686-5322
Join Democratic gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty, Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord for a discussion on public education. Montgomery Auditorium at 6:00 P.M.
Please click here to register.

PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.

Just added - Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq will be the after-dinner speaker on May 5. 
PSBA Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill May 5-6, Mechanicsburg & Harrisburg
Make an impact on the legislative process by attending PSBA’s Advocacy Forum and Day on the Hill, May 5-6.   Day one will provide legislative insights on pensions, training on being an effective advocate, and media relations. Dr. G. Terry Madonna, leading Pennsylvania political analyst, will discuss the legislative landscape in his usual lively and informative style.  How to Be an Effective Advocate -- Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Larry Feinberg, Roberta Marcus and Tina Viletto on how to successfully support your issues.  At noon, Rep. Dave Reed, Majority Policy Chairman, will address participants.   On day two, participants will start with a breakfast at the Harrisburg Hilton with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley as guest speaker  and then hit the ground running with visits to legislative offices in the State CapitolSpace is limited so register earlyClick here for more details and to register online.
Registration fee of $50 includes lunch and dinner on May 5 and breakfast on May 6. 

How the Business Community Can Lead on Early Education
Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Join business and community leaders to learn about how you can help make sure every child arrives in kindergarten ready to succeed. On April 29th, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will host a forum featuring business leaders from around the country talking about why they’re focused on early childhood education and how they have moved the needle on improving quality and access in their states.
Featured Speakers
  • Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus of The Vanguard Group
  • Phil Peterson, Partner, Aon Hewitt and Co-Chair of America’s Edge/Ready Nation
  • And more to be announced! 
  • Date & Time Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 5-7 PM
Registration begins at 5 PM; program from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Location Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
10 North Independence Mall West Philadelphia, PA 19106

PILCOP Special Education Seminars 2014 Schedule
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 29th, 12-4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14th, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

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