Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 21: Here's your required Federal accountability measures for PA 2013-2014. Anybody paying attention? Has it resulted in your kid getting a better education?
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now
reach more than 3500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors,
administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's
staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Superintendents, 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, Twitter and LinkedIn
Blogger commentary: Here's what we've been
giving up recess, physical education, art and music, foreign languages and
de-emphasizing what used to be known as "a well rounded education"
for; has it resulted in your kid getting a better education?
Attendance and Graduation Data;
Accountability Data; Achievement Data; Federal Accountability Designations;
Teacher Quality Data and NAEP Data
PDE: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 2013-2014 State Required
Federal Reporting Measures
A Required Federal Reporting
Measure is a critical tool both for promoting State, LEA and school
accountability, and for engaging parents and communities in meaningful
discussions about the academic challenges and opportunities facing their
schools. Accurate and timely information
brings transparency to education policies, uncovers academic challenges and
deficits, and highlights areas in which the State, LEA, and schools have made
Republican announces severance tax plan to pay public school pensions.
Capitolwire.com — Under The
Dome™ Friday, December 19, 2014
Another severance tax proposal
with revenue aimed toward public education was announced Thursday. Unlike Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster's proposal to dedicate revenues
from a 5 percent levy to an education trust fund, Rep. Kate Harper,
R-Montgomery, wants to dedicate revenue from a 3.5 percent severance tax to the
Public School Employees' Retirement System. Her proposal would bring in about
$400 million annually to the pension system, in addition to the local impact
fee revenues, which generated $630 million in three years for host
To help balance the books and
protect the environment, we need a severance tax: Madeleine Dean
State Rep. Madeleine
Dean, a Democrat, represents the 153rd House District in MontgomeryCounty.
"Pennsylvania's public natural resources are
the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As
trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them
for the benefit of all the people."
(PA Constitution Article 1, Section 27)
Our Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees us not only the right
to our natural resources, but also the responsibility of ensuring that our
resources are used for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.
Unfortunately, when it comes to natural gas, out of state gas
companies are getting the lion's share of growing profits, while residents see
little reward. Currently, the only
revenue that the state receives from the exploitation of our Marcellus Shale
natural gas resources is an impact fee, or tax, based on the number of wells
drilled. During the past fiscal year
this fee amounted to an effective tax rate of 1.5 percent—the lowest rate in
the nation according to Pennsylvania's
Independent Fiscal Office.
The ErieSchool District
administration has only just started crafting what eventually will become its
2015-16 budget, but familiar challenges are already surfacing.
"Our main drivers right now for budget increases have been
pensions and charter schools" and, to some degree, rising health-care
costs, district Business Administrator Rick D'Andrea said.
While the budget process is still in its earliest stages, the
district expects to need an additional $1.3 million to cover mandated increases
to pension contributions, which are up to about $17.1 million in 2015-16,
D'Andrea said Friday. The district expects to pay about $20 million in charter
school costs for students living in the district but attending either
brick-and-mortar or cyber charter schools, an increase of about $3.5 million
over 2014-15, D'Andrea said.
"Those are some pretty big challenges, just those two
alone," he said.
It's the same story in many districts, both locally and across
the state -- and one that is prompting D'Andrea to suggest the district give
itself some leeway when it comes to any possible tax increase. 'Andrea said he recommends that the Erie
School Board not adopt a resolution committing to stay under the Act 1 tax
ceiling set by the state every year.
Local By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press 12/20/14, 3:46 PM EST
Pa. — Twenty-eight are
Republicans, five are Democrats. Six are women. And once they’re sworn in next
month, all of them will get a vote in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
The newest class of freshmen lawmakers, including three House
members who made it to the Senate, have not had much opportunity to bask in
their recent victories as they spent time picking caucus leaders, setting up
offices and navigating their way around the Capitol. And, oh yeah, figuring out
what to do about that enormous state budget deficit. They bring new blood and tend toward
idealism, but can also fall back on shopworn campaign clichés.
"The IFO report, made public this
week, concludes that going from 15 school districts to one would mean a big
loss in state funding for the county and minimal savings in administrative
costs. It also finds a consolidation would result in higher taxes for people
with middle-of-the-pack properties and incomes.
"I have no doubt I'll still have people ask about it," said
Grove. "The simple answer is ... there's no savings to actually reduce
taxes, and that was the big gauge in the whole consolidation debate."
Study quashes Pa. school district
consolidation as means to lower taxes
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY
WILSON DECEMBER 21, 2014
A new Pennsylvaniareport dismisses
the notion that merging all of the school districts in YorkCounty
would save taxpayers' money. YorkCounty
state lawmakers asked the Independent Fiscal Office to consider the issue,
frequently cited as a possible solution to climbing property tax rates to
support schools. "Generally, every
town hall meeting we had people ask, 'Why not consolidate school
districts?'" said Rep. Seth Grove, R-York.
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
In a story fit for the season, the only gifts that state lawmakers may soon be
able to accept are the ones that some Jolly Old Elf leaves beneath their
Christmas trees and Festivus Poles.
As our pal Marc Levy of The Associated
Press reports this morning, state Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster,
will drop a "sweeping" gift-ban bill on their tender
little noggins in the New Year.
Smucker, who served as chair of the Senate State Government
Committeeduring this year's legislative session, tells
the AP that Gov-elect Tom Wolf is setting the right tone
with his "No, Thank You" rule for executive branch
Half of the members of Gov.-elect Tom Wolf's 18-person
transition committee for education issues have Philadelphia
ties, including co-chair Pedro Rivera, the Lancaster superintendent.
Rivera was born and raised in Philadelphia
and spent 13 years in the system as a teacher, principal, and director of human
resources before heading to Lancaster
in 2008. There he has drawn attention for improving student achievement and the
district's financial position.
Other members with Philadelphia ties include Lisa Nutter,
CEO of Philadelphia Academies (and wife of Mayor Nutter); Darlene
Callands, CEO of African Americans for Educational Opportunities; Jerry
Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; and former State
Rep. Kathy Manderino.
Students say state's
treatment of Philadelphia
schools a form of violence
the notebook By Peak Johnson on Dec 19, 2014 02:18 PM
Students gathered at the School District's
headquarters late Thursday afternoon to participate in a "die-in" to
protest the grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of
Eric Garner and Michael Brown. They also honored the death of Laporshia Massey,
student who died last year after suffering an asthma attack in school, where no
nurse was on duty.
More than 100 students and supporters took to the steps of 440 N. Broad St. to demand justice for
those lost and for the unequal system of education in the Philadelphia area. They held signs and
chanted phrases like "Black lives matter" and “No justice, no peace,”
which have become rallying cries of protesters in the wake of recent shooting
deaths of unarmed Black men and boys by White police officers.
2014 has been quite a year for public education in Philadelphia and the
surrounding the counties. Massive budget cuts, undemocratic decisions, and more
continue to plague public schools. Yet, in the midst of this ongoing struggle
organizations and advocates continue to show up and fight the good fight. This
house has been burning for a long while, and despite the worst that is still
left to be done, much has been accomplished thus far.
Leaders wanted: Pittsburgh school board
will be losing experience
Post Gazette By the Editorial Board December 20, 2014 12:00 AM
The job is unpaid. The meetings are long and sometimes raucous.
Public appreciation is nil. Yet the work is critically important. The announcement by Pittsburgh school board members Bill Isler
and Sherry Hazuda that they will step down at the end of next year, along with
board member Mark Brentley’s statement that he likely will, too, is a call for
others to run for the office.
Prosecutor's report was
latest bad news for Coatesville school district
MICHAELLE BOND, INQUIRER
STAFF WRITER Sunday, December 21, 2014, 1:09 AM
By the end of last week, Joe O'Brien was reeling.
It took O'Brien, the executive director of the Chester County
Intermediate Unit, a few days to wade through the long-awaited 111-page grand
jury report that described mismanagement, unethical behavior, and theft of
student funds at the CoatesvilleAreaSchool
was painful," O'Brien said Friday. The
release of the report by county prosecutors Monday capped an 18-month
investigation that culminated in the arrests of Richard Como, a former
superintendent, and former athletic director Jim Donato on misappropriation of
funds and other charges.
"The goal, Eshbach said, is to meet
federal regulations that require schools to offer healthy food to their students,
while also working to find the best prices for those menu items. "We hope to leverage the buying power of
many school districts to buy fresh, buy local, and buy at competitive
prices," he said."
York's virtual food
hub will connect school districts to local growers
DILLSBURG—The Northern York County School District has received
a nearly $100,000 grant to begin a virtual food hub to connect regional
schools' food service directors to local growers.
The Farm 2 School Project Implementation Grant, totaling
$99,940, was received from the United States Department of Agriculture/Food and
Nutrition Service. Northern
York is calling its project the South Central PA Harvest Hub. According to Northern York Superintendent Dr.
Eric Eshbach, the grant money will be used to start the program, with the
intent that it will be self-sustaining once the grant expires. The bulk of the grant will be used to hire a
Procurement Coordinator for two years, who will oversee the online process and
connect school district food service directors and local growers. Northern York
will purchase software that uses an e-commerce system that will allow food
service directors to enter their produce needs, and for growers to log on and
see what needs they can fill.
New law gives schools EpiPen
powers: Will yours use it?
Online By HEATHER STAUFFER | Staff Writer Friday, December 19, 2014 2:45 pm
Starting Jan. 2, Pa.
schools can be better equipped to treat students who suffer allergic reactions
during the school day. Epinephrine
injections, usually delivered via EpiPens, are the best way to treat
life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Currently, schools can't stock EpiPens in
case of emergency; they're on hand only if students have prescriptions, and
nurses are the only school employees who can administer them. Under the new law, schools will be allowed but not required to
stock EpiPens for general use, and any school employees who have completed
EpiPen training from the Pa. Department of Health can administer the shots to
students they believe to be having anaphylactic reactions.
More Students—But Few Girls,
Minorities—Took AP Computer Science Exams
Education Week By Holly Yettick Published Online: December 19,
As the Advanced Placement computer science exam celebrated its
30th anniversary this year, the number of students who took the assessment
skyrocketed, but females and minorities remained underrepresented and, in
multiple states, not a single black or Hispanic student sat for the exam.
In one state, Montana,
no female, African-American, or Hispanic student participated, an Education
Week analysis of
AP data found.
"Academically, students at Voice did
significantly better than the city average on New YorkState
math exams last year, with 70 percent of its students passing, compared with 39
percent citywide. Their English performance was less impressive, but with 39
percent passing, it still beat the citywide average of 30 percent."
Finds Music Is the Food of Learning
At VoiceCharterSchool in Queens,
Students Have Outperformed Their Peers Academically
The principal, unsmiling in his jacket and tie, launched
himself into the air, jumping up and down at the back of the gymnasium, waving
frantically at more than 100 first graders as they rehearsed for their holiday
concert. Franklin Headley, the principal, was
bouncing around to prepare the children for a room full of grinning, waving
adults who would come to watch them perform the next day, and he asked the
students not to wave back. A few giggles bubbled up from gaptoothed faces, but
the students, partway through a cheery rendition of “I’ve Got Rhythm,” kept on
"One thing that Jeb Bush has never
endorsed is stronger support for public schools. In a keynote last month at the
national summit of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, he
was described by Caitlin Emma for Politico,
“encouraging the crowd to keep fighting the ‘government-run, unionized and
politicized monopolies who trap good teachers, administrators and struggling
students in a system nobody can escape.'”
Jeb Bush Candidacy Will
Promote Corporate Agenda for Education
for VOX, explains, “Education is a second-tier issue at
the federal level. This one really is a liability for Bush but not because he
supports Common Core. It’s because his national leadership on education
issues as a whole might not be all that important… When the PewResearchCenter asked voters about
the most important issues in the 2014 election, education didn’t even show up
on the list. And the back-burner nature of education issues is
particularly true for Republican voters.”
"Although what has
happened took place in England
I maintain that the same thing could eventually take place here. Public schools
are relentlessly attacked for their performance. As a result of the Zelman
ruling, what's to prevent more faith-based schools from being built and
inculcating students with intolerance for those who do not share their beliefs?
Traditional public schools cannot do this. Why should religious schools
be able to do so using taxpayer's money?"
Education Week Reality Check Blog By Walt
Gardner on December 19, 2014 7:42 AM
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court established the
five-part Private Choice Test in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002,
parents have been able to enroll their children in religious schools at
taxpayer expense if they choose to do so. However, I wonder if the implications
of this decision are fully understood. Consider what has happened in England and Turkey.
Some congressional legislators from Wisconsin are asking the
Government Accountability Office — an independent federal agency that provides
investigations and evaluations to Congress — to probe Wisconsin’s school
voucher program, raising questions about “alarming allegations of potentially
discriminatory practices” against students with disabilities, as well as other
January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The ScienceLeadershipAcademy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both
in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will
be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the