Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, 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 and Twitter

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 17, 2014:

Concerned with adequate, equitable, predictable, sustainable #paedfunding?  Follow new @PACircuitRider and @CircuitRiderSE accounts on twitter

"This amendment – which would make it easier to create a new charter school in Philadelphia – was added in a last-minute maneuver when the House originally passed the cigarette-tax bill on July 2.  It allows new charter applicants to petition the state Charter Appeals Board (CAB) if they are rejected by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.  Currently, appeals in Philadelphia are the sole purview of the SRC, which received an exemption from the CAB process in the state-takeover legislation of 2001."
Pa. House's 'clean' cigarette-tax bill retains controversial charter element
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives stripped contentious provisions from the Philadelphia cigarette-tax authorization bill in a rules committee meeting Tuesday, paving the way for a full chamber vote.  House leadership says that could occur either Wednesday or Monday. 
The Philadelphia School District is counting on revenue from the $2-per-pack city-only-cigarette tax to begin flowing in the next few weeks to prevent more than 1,000 layoffs.  Assuming an Oct. 1 implementation, the district expects the tax will generate $49 million this school year.  If passed, the legislation would still require approval by the Senate. But Gov. Tom Corbett has pledged to sign it.

Pennsylvania House cues up vote on Philadelphia cigarette tax increase
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  on September 16, 2014 at 2:45 PM, updated September 16, 2014 at 2:46 PM
The legislative wheels started turning Tuesday on what's expected to be one of the major bills adopted by state lawmakers in this short pre-election session.  The House Rules Committee voted unanimously for a bill authorizing a special $2-per-pack cigarette tax in Philadelphia, raising money to help close a current-year city schools deficit estimated at $81 million.  The local tax authorization is primed for a final vote in the House on Wednesday or next Monday, said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County.  It would then still need final consideration by the state Senate, which needs to ratify the House's erasure of some unrelated economic development provisions senators had inserted before the legislature's summer recess.

"The office, tasked with providing impartial analyses of financial or budgetary legislation, said by the 2018-19 school year, the revenue collected through sales taxes would be $1 billion less than the projected property taxes would generate for the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.  That $1 billion is called a deficit by those who are opposed to the bill and a savings to taxpayers by supporters, because the burden will be on school districts and the state to come up with that extra money that would otherwise come from local taxes."
SB76: Property tax elimination bill moves forward in Pa. Senate
By NIKELLE SNADER 505-5431/@ydschools POSTED:   09/16/2014 09:42:52 PM EDT
A bill that would eliminate property taxes narrowly passed through the state Senate Finance Committee Tuesday but was opposed by two York-area senators on the committee.  Senate Bill 76 would eventually eliminate all school property taxes and replace the revenue with a combination of funding from income and sales and use taxes.  The bill was approved by the committee in a 6 to 5 vote, with two of the negative votes from Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/York, and from Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland/York.  "Under the bill, property taxes for schools might be eliminated but income taxes would go up and sales taxes would go up," Teplitz said. "I was not convinced it was a net positive in terms of the tax climate in the commonwealth."
'Billion dollars short': Vance agreed, saying the list of taxable items would grow in Pennsylvania to include items such as nursing care and caskets, among others.  What's more, the bill wouldn't go into effect for many school districts for years.  "This would end property taxes only for those school districts that have no debt," Vance said.  But the largest reason Vance voted against the bill was because the numbers didn't add up, she said, referencing a report conducted by the Independent Fiscal Office.  "They clearly show that in a couple years, we would be a billion dollars short," Vance said.

SB76: Senate committee votes to cap state spending
Penn Live By Christina Kauffman |  on September 16, 2014 at 5:49 PM
Several years ago, Pennsylvania legislators created an index to limit the amount by which school districts could increase taxes unless they proved they had certain hardships.  They've never passed such a cap on themselves when it comes to state spending, but abill that passed out of a Senate committee Tuesday would do just that.   The Taxpayer Protection Act would limit state government spending to whichever was the lower of these two calculations:  -- the average change in personal income for the three preceding calendar years, or -- the average inflation rate plus the average percentage change in state population over the three preceding years.  The bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, passed the Senate Finance Committee in a 7-4 vote Tuesday.

"But worst of all, SB 76 would hurt Pennsylvania's public schools. It would make permanent recent state cuts to education. It would drain billions of dollars from schools in future years by artificially capping state education funding at levels unrelated to actual costs. And it would undermine local control of schools and hand over funding decisions to Harrisburg."
Third and State Blog Posted by Ellen Lyon on September 16, 2014 3:48 pm
It was a good day for large corporate landowners; not so much for individual Pennsylvanians who eat and earn money.  The Senate Finance Committee voted 6-5 on Sept. 16 to advance SB 76 to the Appropriations Committee, often a bill's last stop before the full Senate takes up consideration of it.  Voting to advance the property tax elimination bill were: Republican Senators Mike Brubaker of Lancaster County, Pat Browne of Lehigh County, John Eichelberger of Blair County and Senate Pro Tem Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County; and Democratic Senators John Blake of Lackawanna County, and John Wozniak of Cambria County.
Voting against SB 76 were Republican Senators Pat Vance of Cumberland County, Stewart Greenleaf of Montgomery County, and Scott Hutchinson of Venango County; and Democratic Senators Rob Teplitz of Dauphin County, and Matt Smith of Allegheny County.
The bill's supporters will tell you that SB 76 would eliminate property taxes. What they are less vocal about is how it would make up that lost revenue.

Bethlehem Area School District Board President Michael Faccinetto's Informational Handout for the Basic Education Funding Commission Hearing of September 9th

Bill allowing teachers to carry firearms in school vetted by Senate committee
Penn Live By Jan Murphy |  on September 16, 2014 at 3:08 PM,
The 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook that left 20 children and six adults dead had a profound effect on this Indiana Area School District high school math teacher.   Despite the many school shootings that have occurred over the years, Mark Zilinskas told the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, the impact of what played out in that Newtown, Conn., elementary school that December day was a game changer for him because it targeted 5- and 6-year-olds.
It prompted him to pay $1,200-plus out of his pocket to get trained in how to respond to such a situation. He no longer wants to be someone who sits and waits for the police to arrive. He wants to be armed and ready to take action to keep children from being killed until police get there.
But some say state law is somewhat ambiguous about whether anyone other than law enforcement can legally carry a firearm on school property.

Pennsylvania Auditor General DePasquale to expand Education Department audit to include Tomalis
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, 6:21 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Wednesday is expected to announce an expanded audit of the state Department of Education to include special hirings such as the agency's 15-month extension of employment for former Secretary Ron Tomalis.  “We've been hearing about that,” said DePasqaule, a Democrat. “People have been contacting us.”  The office's audits typically deal with problems in agencies but don't name people.  But the $139,000 salary extension and pension boost Tomalis received is one reason for expanding the audit under way, said DePasquale's press secretary, Barry Ciccocioppo.
State awards six Western Pennsylvania schools mentoring grants
Trib Live By Megan Harris Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, 5:57 p.m.
The state awarded six Western Pennsylvania schools nearly 40 percent of a $700,000 grant initiative designed to pair high-performing schools with low-performing schools to increase student achievement.  Fox Chapel, South Fayette, Upper St. Clair and West Jefferson Hills in Allegheny County; Peters in Washington County; and Franklin Regional in Westmoreland County will collect a total of $275,000 to fund partnerships under Gov. Tom Corbett's pilot mentoring grant program.
Rally for more funding for early-childhood education
JOE DOLINSKY, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 1:08 AM
Standing before about 500 3- and 4-year-olds at Franklin Square, the head of Philadelphia's school district made his case for more money for prekindergarten education.
"What we know is that if kids have access to high-quality pre-K, then they're already off to a beautiful start," Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. told the children and more than 200 advocates and providers who packed the square. "Quite frankly, it's the difference between reading at a third-grade level and not. That's a big indicator for us for future success of a child."
The rally was sponsored by Pre-K for PA, a group that seeks to increase state funding for more early-childhood education. The state makes early-childhood education available to less than 20 percent of the state's 3- and 4-year-olds, rally organizers said.

Haverford tied for eighth in PA school performance profile
By LOIS PUGLIONESI, Times Correspondent POSTED: 09/16/14, 11:32 PM EDT |
HAVERFORD — The school district began the year on a high note with news that Haverford achieved a School Performance Profile score of 97.7 in 2013, tying with Downingtown School District to rank eighth in the state out of a total 500 school districts.  Addressing school directors last week, Superintendent William Keilbaugh showed a list of school districts with the 50 highest scores. Radnor Township School District led with a score of 100. Also in the top 50 were Delaware County’s Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, ranking twelfth at 96.4, and Garnet Valley School District, ranking 41 with a score of 91.7.  Keilbaugh noted that the Profile measures a variety of factors including graduation rate, promotion, academic growth, and attendance as well as standardized test scores.  The Profile replaced former Adequate Yearly Progress as a measure of a school’s academic performance.

The Washington Post’s Constitution Day quiz
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 16 at 7:41 PM  
Sept. 17 is Constitution Day, celebrating the document that is at the foundation of the United States of America. Take this quiz to see how much you know about the Constitution.

Americans have strong confidence in their public school teachers, new data from 2014 PDK/Gallup poll finds September 16, 2014
Part II of the report from the 46th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll on the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released today revealing that a majority of Americans (77 percent) continue to trust and have confidence in their public school teachers. Further, about six of 10 American public school parents agree that their child’s school supports higher levels of well-being, with over half saying their child’s school encourages their child to build strong relationships with friends and family members.  “Americans continue to voice support for our public schools and teachers and rightfully so,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director National School Boards Association (NSBA). “To help prepare students for future success we need to provide public schools and teachers with more support and less barriers.”
Recognizing the vital role of teachers in their children’s education, most Americans want their teachers to pass board certification in addition to being licensed, and want entrance requirements for teacher preparation programs to be more rigorous. When it comes to teacher evaluation, 77 percent of Americans want teachers evaluated in order to help improve their ability.  Sixty-one percent oppose using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers.

NSBA urges U.S. Senate action on ESEA September 16, 2014
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) urged leadership of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in the U.S. Senate to move the reauthorizion the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill to the Senate floor a vote. NSBA's letter noted that "only then can differences between the House and Senate proposals be harmonized, and a comprehensiveoverhaul and reauthorization of ESEA go to the President for his signature and become law."   The Education and the Workforce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives voted out of committee its version of an ESEA reauthorization bill (H.R. 5) on June 19, 2013. A month later, an amended, final version of H.R. 5 was passed on the House floor. While in the U.S. Senate, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions marked-up and voted out the Senate’s version of an ESEA reauthorization, the Strengthening America’s Schools (S. 1094) in 2013, yet the Senate has taken no further action to advance this important legislation.

Fairtest Testing Resistance & Reform News: September 10 - 16, 2014
Submitted by fairtest on September 16, 2014 - 1:04pm 
It's only the middle of September but assessment reformers have already recorded an initial set of "wins" for the new school year: Pittsburgh significantly reduced district-mandated testing, and Florida suspended a controversial statewide reading exam. Building on successes of the recent past, escalating "enough is enough" pressure on federal, state and local policy-makers should produce many more victories in 2014-2015.  For a list of questions to ask your district, check out the second item in this week's collection of clips.

PUBLIC Education Nation October 11
The Network for Public Education will hold a historic event in one month's time
PUBLIC Education Nation will deliver the conversation the country has been waiting for. Rather than featuring billionaires and pop singers, this event will be built around intense conversations featuring leading educators, parents, students and community activists. We have waited too long for that seat at someone else's table. This time, the tables are turned, and we are the ones setting the agenda.   This event will be livestreamed on the web on the afternoon of Saturday, October 11, from the auditorium of Brooklyn New School, a public school. There will be four panels focusing on the most critical issues we face in our schools. The event will conclude with a conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.  

Please join us for a symposium on:
“Funding Pennsylvania's Public Schools: A Look Ahead”
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics and the Temple University Center on Regional Politics.
When: Friday, October 3, 2014, 8:30 am to 12 pm
Where: Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh in Green Tree, PA
Session I:  "Forecasting the Fiscal Future of Pennsylvania's Public Schools"
A panel of legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Penn State Professor William Hartman and Tim Shrom projecting the fiscal trajectory of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts over the next five years and by University of Pittsburgh Professor Maureen McClure discussing the implications for school finance of an aging tax base.
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
Following an address by Eva Tansky Blum, Chairwoman and President of the PNC Foundation, a panel of business and labor leaders will discuss the importance of public school funding reform to the competitiveness of regional and state economies. 
We look forward to your participation!

Back to School Special Education Boot Camp Saturday, September 20, 2014 8:30 A.M.- 3:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join presenters from: Temple University · McAndrews Law Offices · ARC
PA Education for All Coalition · Delaware Valley Friends School
PA Dyslexia and Literacy Coalition
Attend workshops on: Early Intervention · Dyslexia · Discipline · Charter Schools
Inclusion · Transition Services
Details and Registration:

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA.  Join us for a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person. To register, click here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page.  The Symposium will include the following:

Register Now – 2014 PAESSP State Conference – October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen.  This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference (Oct. 21-24) registration forms now available online
PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration forms are available online now. Other important links are available with more details on:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

Voting for PSBA officers and at-large representatives opens Sept. 9
PSBA Website 9/8/2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for candidates. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will open Sept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school entity's votes received an email on Aug. 13 and a test ballot was sent to them on Aug. 28. In addition, a memo from PSBA President Richard Frerichs will be mailed in the coming days to all board secretaries and copied to school board presidents and chief school administrators.

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