Tuesday, February 17, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 17: Pennsylvania's legislative leadership is no stranger to the ongoing largesse of Philadelphia School Partnership benefactor and Students First PAC funder Jeff Yass.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 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, 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
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public EducationAre you a member?
The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding


Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 17, 2015:
Pennsylvania's legislative leadership is no stranger to the ongoing largesse of Philadelphia School Partnership benefactor and Students First PAC funder Jeff Yass.



Education Voters of PA holding public forums on school funding
Lancaster County: Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University
York County: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30pm at the York Learning Center
Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center



Wolf links tax on shale drillers, school aid in Monroeville visit
Governor projects potential revenue at $1 billion
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 16, 2015 10:49 PM
When Gov. Tom Wolf unveils his state budget proposal on March 3, he’ll have to find a way to fund the state’s 500 school districts with existing revenue.  But if he has his way, the 2016 budget proposal will include projected revenues of $1 billion from a natural gas extraction tax on the state’s drilling industry, much of which he said would be used to fund schools.
The governor pitched his proposal to raise money for schools with an extraction tax Monday during a news conference at the Monroeville Municipal Center, flanked by local Democrats, including county Executive Rich Fitzgerald and several state legislators.

In Monroeville, Gov. Wolf pushes his proposed natural gas extraction tax
Trib Live By Gideon Bradshaw Monday, Feb. 16, 2015, 4:24 p.m.
Public schools in Allegheny County have lost about $47 million in state funding since 2010-11 but could recoup some of that money if lawmakers support a tax on natural gas drilling, Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday during a visit to Monroeville.  With several Democratic officials by his side, Wolf made a push for his tax proposal, saying Pennsylvania ranks 45th in the country for education funding.
“This is an effort to tap into a natural resource that is ours, lies beneath our feet, and turn that into something that creates skills and new jobs for our economy,” Wolf said.
Wolf wants lawmakers to impose a 5 percent severance tax on the value of gas that drillers extract and a levy of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet. He said the state Independent Fiscal Office has estimated this would amount to a roughly 5.8 percent tax on natural gas.
Wolf pushes gas-tax education funding plan during visit to Greater Johnstown
Tribune Democrat By David Hurst dhurst@tribdem.com Posted: February 16, 2015 4:58 pm
Gov. Tom Wolf said his Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act is a simple solution to a statewide education funding pinch.  Pennsylvania has the chance to capitalize on one of the state’s most valuable resources – the Marcellus Shale – to benefit another: school-age youth.  "The commonwealth ranks 45th in the nation in percentage of state funding for public education,” Wolf said, arguing that the state continues to fall behind - and that schools such as Greater Johnstown High School feel the brunt. “We need to invest in education. And we need to invest into efforts to keep these kids here in Pennsylvania.”  the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act. Wolf toured the Greater Johnstown school Monday as part of a statewide pitch to sell his idea  the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act..

Governor Talks Education Reinvestment
JOHNSTOWN - Walking the halls of Greater Johnstown High School Governor Tom Wolf saw first hand just what impact courses like robotics and health and sciences have on the students.  A handful of them came in to talk to the governor on their day off.  "These are amazing people,” said Governor Wolf. “They've learned amazing things here."  Governor Wolf wants to make sure the same opportunities are always available and to all students.  He says one way to do that is to tax natural gas that's right under our feet and invest that money in our greatest resource - students.  "The act is based on a severance tax that would continue to fund local localities but also in addition to that, would have lots of money, lion's share to education."  Gerald Zahorchak, Superintendent and former Secretary of Education, said there are tons of opportunities for students at the high school. But those opportunities cost the district money.

Blogger's note: Pennsylvania's legislative leadership is no stranger to the ongoing largesse of Philadelphia School Partnership benefactor and Students First PAC funder Jeff Yass.  There is a history of 5 and 6 figure campaign contributions from Students First PAC dating back to at least 2010.
Pressure builds on SRC to approve new charter schools
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, February 16, 2015, 5:13 PM
Just days before the fate of 39 new charter-school applications is decided, pressure on the School Reform Commission is building from all sides.  Top state Senate Republicans have sent Chairman Bill Green a letter saying they were "confident" that the SRC would approve strong charter schools.  The letter, obtained by The Inquirer and sent Friday by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre), and Education Committee Chairman Lloyd Smucker (R., Lancaster), said the leaders were "hopeful that the SRC will approve these qualified charter schools in the very near future."
The SRC is scheduled to vote on the charter applications, the first new proposals considered in seven years, on Wednesday. If the commission approves 15,000 new seats, the six-year price to the financially troubled school system could be close to $500 million, district officials say.

"Because of the deadlines, local schools have to adopt preliminary budgets without knowing what the state’s contribution will be. That’s like planning a household budget for next year without knowing your income.  This year the stakes are even higher in that guessing game. Pennsylvania’s new governor, Gov. Tom Wolf, ran on a platform of more state aid for schools. But his budget address with specifics on what that means isn’t scheduled until March, which is past the deadline for preliminary budgets if exceptions are to be applied."
Local school boards in Pa. have impossible budgeting task
Pottstown Mercury Editorial POSTED: 02/16/15, 2:00 AM EST |
Ironic, isn’t it that at the same time taxpayers scurry to finish tax returns for a year that ended last Dec. 31, local school boards face a deadline for budget plans that extend 18 months into the future?  Public schools in Pennsylvania must budget under the requirements of Act 1, the 2006 property tax relief legislation that established casino gaming in Pennsylvania. The law requires school districts to seek voter approval for tax increases greater than an assigned index unless exceptions are granted. In order to apply for those exceptions, local schools must submit preliminary budgets in February.  Thus, local schools undergo voluminous budget preparations for scenarios too uncertain to predict.  Because of the deadlines, local schools have to adopt preliminary budgets without knowing what the state’s contribution will be. That’s like planning a household budget for next year without knowing your income.

Phoenixville physics students prepare for international competition in Thailand
West Chester Daily Local By Eric Devlin, edevlin@21st-centurymedia.com@Eric_Devlin on Twitter POSTED: 02/16/15, 10:33 AM EST |
PHOENIXVILLE >> Between the piles of loose wiring, boxes of Goldfish crackers, laptop computers, lasers and high-tech equipment, some of Phoenixville Area High School’s best and brightest science students are preparing for the biggest fight of their young lives on the world stage.  This summer, 31 teams from around the world will converge on Korat, Thailand for the week-long International Young Physicists’ Tournament, better known as the “Physics World Cup.” Five students from Phoenixville will comprise the first team to represent the United States in the tournament since 2007. The competition runs from June 27 through July 4.

York City school budget full of unknowns for 2015-16
York Dispatch By ERIN JAMES 505-5439/@ydcity POSTED:   02/16/2015 08:48:48 AM EST
At least one thing is for sure when it comes to the York City School District.
The district's school board won't be raising taxes more than 3 percent when the time comes to approve a 2015-16 budget later this year.  The board agreed to the state's tax cap at a meeting late last month.  If taxes were raised to the full cap, the district's tax rate would rise to about 34.75 mills. With an increase of about 1.01 mills, a homeowner with a property valued at $50,000 could expect a tax increase of about $50.61.  The district — which the state declared to be in moderate financial recovery status in 2012 — has not hiked its tax rate for the past two years.
But monumental challenges remain.

Pennsylvania charter school law ranking generates discussion
Pottstown Mercury By Jarreau Freeman, jfreeman@21st-centurymedia.com@JarreauFreeman on Twitter POSTED: 02/16/15, 10:59 AM EST |
Pennsylvania charter schools can be a sore topic for some, and the answer to repairing the public school system for others. Either way, it’s an issue that elicits fervent discussions in school districts across the commonwealth.  And a recent annual report released by The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranking Pennsylvania’s charter school law 25th out of 43 states is also generating some discussion.  The ranking was based on 20 criteria that examine whether the state charter school law is charter-school friendly based on things such as quality, equitable access to funding and no caps on charter school growth.  The report gave Pennsylvania high marks for being a state with a healthy public charter school movement, but made a few suggestions on ways the state could improve its law.

Wallingford-Swarthmore passes budget draft with 2.56 percent tax hike
Delco Times By NEIL A. SHEEHAN, Times Correspondent
POSTED: 02/16/15, 9:55 PM EST |
NETHER PROVIDENCE >> Despite opposition from the school board president and another member, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District’s proposed $74 million budget for fiscal year 2015-16 crossed an initial hurdle Monday night.  The board voted 7-2 in favor of the preliminary spending plan, which as currently formulated would result in a 2.56 percent tax increase as of July 1. Board President Paul Schregel and member Robert Reiger cast the dissenting votes.

Philly teachers group to 'grade' city election candidates
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF FEBRUARY 16, 2015
Fresh off a trial run grading candidates for governor of Pennsylvania, a group of Philadelphia teachers is getting ready to evaluate the positions of candidates for Philadelphia mayor and City Council.  Last year, the Teacher Action Group, or TAG Philly, awarded Tom Wolf an 'A' for fair funding. Tom Corbett got an 'F'.  Paul Robeson High School English teacher Andrew Saltz, a leader of the grassroots organization also known as TAG Philly, said the group evaluated gubernatorial candidates on five different categories: fair funding, high stakes testing, transparency, labor relations and teaching and learning. Former Governor Tom Corbett was the only candidate who did not respond to the group's survey.  This year, Saltz and a new group of teachers have set their eyes on the city elections, where the fate of public education is clearly a top issue.

Testing based on Common Core standards starts this week
Post Gazette By Kimberly Hefling and Julie Carr Smyth / Associated Press February 17, 2015 12:00 AM
STOCKPORT, Ohio — Sixth-grader Kayla Hunter considers herself pretty tech savvy. She has a computer at home, unlike about half of her classmates at her elementary school. And it matches up well with the one she’ll use this week to take a new test linked to the Common Core standards.
Still, the perky 11-year-old worries. During a recent practice exam at her school in Ohio, she couldn’t even log on. “It wouldn’t let me,” she said. “It kept saying it wasn’t right, and it just kept loading the whole time.”  Her state today will be the first to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the school year, about 12 million children in 29 states and the District of Columbia will take them, using computers or electronic tablets.


Public screening: Standardized - Lies, Money, and Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education
Church of the Redeemer, Wednesday, February 25, 7-9pm 230 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr, Parish House, Assembly Room
The Redeemer Moms will follow up with a Q & A session with parents who have been researching this topic for over a year. All are welcome and invited to bring a friend. RSVP by Feb. 23 to Cheryl Masterman.

Stop the Push Out
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey February 12, 2015
In Pittsburgh, students of color are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended than white students. Four out of every ten black students are suspended at least one time. And suspension is just one of the policies, practices, and procedures that “push out” students, making them less likely to graduate – a serious, and life altering outcome that feeds the “school to prison pipeline” and disproportionately impacts students of color and those with disabilities. [Beyond Zero Tolerance, ACLU report, 2013]  After meeting with parents all over the city, the Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh coalition has made school push-out one of its primary areas of focus. GPS is partnering with the Education Law Center, the Center for Third World Organizing, and other organizations to host a conversation about school push out and discuss what they will be doing this year to tackle the problem. Please join us:
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 5:30 PM Dinner, 6PM Meeting
Sci-Tech Academy (107 Thackeray Ave., Oakland)

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Lancaster County Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University
Education Voters of PA and the Millersville University Education on Location program will be co-hosting a forum about public school funding in Lancaster County on Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University, the Lehrer Room in the Bolger Conference Center.
This event is free and open to the public. It will give Lancaster County residents the opportunity both to learn more about how state funding issues impact their own school districts and to learn about how they can make a positive difference for their schools and communities by advocating for a state system of funding schools that is fair, adequate, and predictable and will provide all students with an opportunity to learn.
Panelists for the forum include:
Dr. Brenda Becker, Hempfield Area SD, Superintendent
Dr. Bob Hollister, Elanco SD, Superintendent
Dr. Mike Leichliter, Penn Manor SD, Superintendent
Dr. Tim Shrom, Solanco SD, Business Manager
Ms. Idette Groff, Conestoga Valley SD, School Board Member    
Mr. Tim Stayer, Ephrata Area SD, School Board Member
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Education Voters of PA

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in York: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30pm to 8pm at the York Learning Center, 300 E. 7th Avenue, York.

This forum will give York County residents the opportunity both to learn more about how state funding issues impact their own school districts and to learn about how they can make a positive difference for their schools and communities by advocating for a state system of funding schools that is fair, adequate, and predictable and will provide all students with an opportunity to learn.
Panelists for the forum include:
Dr. Emilie Lonardi, West York SD, Superintendent
Dr. Scott Deisley, Red Lion Area SD, Superintendents
Mr. Brian Geller, Northeastern York SD, Director of Operations
Mr. Troy Wentz, Hanover Public SD, Business Manager    
Mrs. Ellen Freireich, York Suburban SD, School Board Member    
Mr. Eric Wolfgang, Central York SD, School Board Member
Guest Panelist: Mr. Jim Buckheit, Executive Director, PA Association of School Administrators
Moderated by: Ms. Susan Spicka, Education Voters of PA

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center, 340 North 21st Street, Camp Hill.
This forum will give Cumberland County residents the opportunity both to learn more about how state funding issues impact their own school districts and to learn about how they can make a positive difference for their schools and communities by advocating for a state system of funding schools that is fair, adequate, and predictable and will provide all students with an opportunity to learn.
Panelists for the forum include:
Mr. Richard Fry, Big Spring SD, Superintendent
Mr. John Friend, Carlisle Area SD, Superintendent
Dr. Mark Leidy, Mechanicsburg Area SD, Superintendent
Ms. Christine Hakes, Camp Hill Area SD, Business Manager
Mr. Matt Franchak, school board member, East Pennsboro SD, School Board Member    
Guest Panelist: Mr. Dave Patti, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Business Council
Moderated by: Ms. Susan Spicka, Education Voters of PA

PSBA 2015 Advocacy Forum
APR 19, 2015 • 8:00 AM - APR 20, 2015 • 5:00 PM
Join PSBA for the second annual Advocacy Forum on April 19-20, 2015. Hear from legislative experts on hot topics and issues regarding public education on Sunday, April 19, at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg. The next day you and fellow advocates will meet with legislators at the state capitol. This is your chance to learn how to successfully advocate on behalf of public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
·         Schedule of Events
·         Day One –PSBA headquarters
·         10 a.m. — Early Bird Arrival and Registration
·         10:30-12 p.m. — The State Education Agenda
The chairman of the Senate and House Education Committees will share their perspectives on the education agenda for the 2015-16 session of the General Assembly. Speakers: Senator Smucker, chairman, Senate Education Committee; and Representative Saylor, chairman, House Education Committee
·         Noon-1:15 p.m. — Welcome Lunch
·         1:00-12:15 p.m. — Special Welcome and Introduction: Nathan Mains, PSBA Executive Director and William LaCoff, PSBA President
·         12:30-1 p.m. — Speaker: Diane Ravitchnationally known education historian, policy analyst and author of Reign of Error.
·         1:15-2:00 p.m. — Education Priorities will be discussed with the Education Secretary Pedro Rivera
This session provides the latest information on the governor’s proposed state funding plans, the pension crisis and the latest on special education.
·         2:00-2:30 p.m. — Federal Education Update: NSBA
Director of National Advocacy Services Kathleen Branch will join Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman from NSBA, to speak about federal advocacy.
·         2:30-3 p.m. — Social Media Training (Speakers to be announced)
·         3-3:15 p.m. — Break
·         3:15-3:45 p.m. — Grassroots Advocacy: How to be an Effective Advocate
Hear from former Allwein Advocacy Award winners Shauna D’Alessandro, school director from West Jefferson Hills SD and PSBA Allegheny Region 14 director, and Mark B. Miller, board vice president of Centennial SD and PSBA BuxMont Region 11 director.
·         3:45-4:15 p.m. — Legislative Update and Lobby Day Coordination
PSBA’s Senior Director of Government Affairs John Callahan will walk you through legislative issues and priorities that might be addressed the next day during legislative visits by members.
·         4:15-5 p.m. — Roundtable Discussion
Network with your fellow board members before visiting your legislator
·         5:00-5:15 p.m. — Break
·         5:15-6:30 p.m. — Dinner Buffet
Enjoy a legislative discussion on the 2015-16 budget and appropriations with Senator Browne
·         6:30 p.m. — Adjourn

Campaign for Fair Education Funding Seeks Campaign Manager
Campaign for Fair Education Funding February 2, 2015
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding seeks a campaign manager who is a strategic thinker and an operational leader. This position could be filled by an individual or firm. The manager will lead the day-to-day operations of the campaign and its government relations, communications, mobilization and research committees and work in partnership with the campaign governing board to set and implement the campaign’s strategic direction.

Sign-up for weekly email updates from the Campaign
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding website

PA Basic Education Funding Commission website

Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Sign up for National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Network
Friends of Public Education

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

1 comment:

  1. I love these ideas, I think they work perfectly well with young learners. I am actually thinking of using some of them while teaching my own kids. I will let you know how it works with them. Thanks for sharing.

    lessons for kids

    ReplyDelete