Monday, March 9, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 9, 2015: Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 9, 2015:
Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

The next PA Basic Education  Funding Commission Public Hearing will be on Thursday, March 12th at 10:00 am in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building, Harrisburg

PA House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing Schedule

PA Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing Schedule                       

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 7: As Wolf pushes budget plan, Republican senators warn schools not to count on new money

Editorial: Pa. must address its pension crisis — now
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 03/08/15, 9:50 PM EDT |
We all have regrets, and surely it’s part and parcel of the human condition to have those moments where you wish you had easy access to a time machine and you could head back into the past and fix something that turned out, with plenty of hindsight, to be not such a good idea.
Many taxpayers and school administrators in Pennsylvania — and no doubt some lawmakers, too — would aim that time machine straight back to 2000. It was at that juncture, following almost a decade of uninterrupted economic growth and robust employment, that the state Legislature decided to increase substantially the pension benefits for state employees and public school teachers in the commonwealth. After such an extended period of expansion, fueled by new technology and increased productivity, it looked like the blue skies would continue to stretch on and on as far as the eye could see.  But the storm clouds appeared soon enough. The tech bubble burst, the 9/11 attacks happened and the economy experienced a brief recession.  That was only a foretaste of the devastation that loomed in 2007 and 2008, however, when the housing bubble exploded with the force of a nuclear weapon and laid the economy to waste. Seven years later, we are just now starting to fully recover.

Rivera: Governor Tom Wolf's budget plan puts focus back on learning
WITF Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Mar 9, 2015 4:03 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf promised to increase education funding on the campaign trail, and his proposed budget delivers on that pledge.  But the plan comes with a cost.  From the lecture halls of Penn State University in State College to the classrooms of the Lebanon School District, education funding would jump more than one billion dollars under Governor Tom Wolf's spending plan.  "We can't argue the fact that the lack of funding for Pennsylvania schools has had a direct impact on instruction, direct impact on the learning in classrooms," says Pedro Rivera, acting state Secretary of Education and former superintendent of the Lancaster School District.

Wolf's Jenga-like budget makes each piece key
Morning Call By Steve Esack Call Harrisburg Bureau March 7, 2015
In his budget address last week, Gov. Tom Wolf boiled down his $33.8 billion spending plan to three phrases: Jobs that pay. Schools that teach. Government that works.
But the Democrat's budget, which carries a 16 percent combined tax increase to pay for the spending and a reduction in property and business tax rates, can be more easily summed up in one word: Jenga.  Wolf's budget, like the game named for the Swahili word "to build," is a mosaic of stacked pieces. And the whole budget could crash on the negotiating table if the Republican-controlled Legislature, the public and special interest groups start pulling out bits they don't like or if revenue projections don't add up to the sum of all the parts.

Wolf's tax-a-palooza
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Saturday, March 7, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
HARRISBURG It was big and bold. It was a political document, to be sure. It was clearly more than the Republican-controlled state Legislature can swallow.  Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf's first budget, a $34 billion spending plan, according to GOP analysts, would raise $4.7 million in new revenue.  It masks a portion of tax hikes for new spending as “tax reform.” There is a genuine effort, however, to reduce property taxes, I believe. That's been the Gordian knot of state politics for more than 40 years. Everyone wants property taxes reduced but few are willing to pay more in other taxes.  Wolf was closing a $2.3 billion deficit left by GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, saying he would also restore education money he contends Corbett cut.
Tom Wolf’s budget: ‘Dead on arrival?’ Maybe, but it’s not all impossible By Anna Orso  March 6, 2015  at 9:00 am
Since new Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his proposed state budget on Tuesday, everyone’s been talking about the winners and losers, whether it’s taxpayers, corporations or students. Come June, those winners and losers will look completely different as the deadline to actually pass something looms (and, let’s be honest, probably expires — as it’s done nearly every year for the past decade.)  Budget day in Harrisburg is an act of theater. Now, the real work gets done as legislative leaders spend the next few months making back-room deals.
For now, every side in Harrisburg says they’re not willing to compromise on pension reform, liquor privatization, education, taxes, minimum wage, what have you. But they are, because they have to. That’s how Harrisburg works.  “[Wolf] is going to have to give it a major effort,” said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. “Maybe he gets a couple of things… I would say shale tax and education spending. Once you go beyond that, I don’t know where it goes. It’s just anybody’s guess.”

Wolf's proposal for expanded sales tax in Pennsylvania hard to sell
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted and Gideon Bradshaw Sunday, March 8, 2015, 10:40 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Michele Andrae said the last thing her daughter needs is to pay more for college textbooks.  Gov. Tom Wolf proposes applying the state sales tax to textbooks, fees and college meal plans, his office says. Andrae, 53, of Monroeville said her daughter, who attends East Stroudsburg University, spent $800 on books last year. This year, they cost her about $1,000.  “She works, too. How's she going to afford that? That's crazy,” Andrae said.
Raising the sales tax and expanding its base to dozens of items and services now exempt are part of Wolf's $30 billion-plus state budget that lawmakers will begin scrutinizing Monday.
Budget hearings run through April 1. The Department of Revenue will be among the first agencies to come before the House Appropriations Committee, whose members are expected to grill Wolf's nominee for Revenue secretary, Eileen McNulty, about the governor's plans.

Pennsylvania: Gov. Wolf Proposes Increase in Education $$$; Republicans Say No
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch March 7, 2015 //
After four years of deep budget cuts to public education, Pennsylvania’s New Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has proposed large increases in school funding, coupled with property tax reductions. However, the legislature is controlled by Republicans, and they oppose his plan.
Here are some articles from the website of the Keystone State Education Coalition, a valuable source of information about the state’s education issues.

Supporting wider success for city students Opinion by WILLIAM R. HITE POSTED: Sunday, March 8, 2015, 1:09 AM
William R. Hite is superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia
Philadelphia students received great news last week from Gov. Wolf and Mayor Nutter.
In a powerful show of support for the School District of Philadelphia, they proposed a total of more than $260 million in new funding for city schools.  We are still a long way from final negotiated budgets, of course, but the governor and mayor are committed to changing the story we tell about our schools. I will do all I can to help them.

Marathon bargaining session puts Steel Valley School district on path to deal
Trib Live By Patrick Cloonan Sunday, March 8, 2015, 8:06 a.m.
A marathon weekend bargaining session ended 202 days of uncertainty for Steel Valley School District officials and the district's teachers.  “School WILL be open Monday,” the district announced on its website Sunday.  A tentative deal on a collective bargaining agreement was reached between the district and its teachers, according to a joint statement issued in an email Sunday afternoon from district labor attorney Gerik Jenco.

Where Have All The Teachers Gone? ERIC WESTERVELT MARCH 03, 2015 2:03 PM ET
This is the canary in the coal mine.
Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.  In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.
"The erosion is steady. That's a steady downward line on a graph. And there's no sign that it's being turned around," says Bill McDiarmid, the dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education.  Why have the numbers fallen so far, so fast?

Believing in Charters
Curmuducation Blog Saturday, March 7, 2015
The charter talking point of the week was believing in charter schools and charter school students, and it suggests that at some point Franz Kafka and George Orwell had a love child who went into the PR biz.  Charter boosters are outraged-- outraged!!-- that anyone would criticize or question their success, because that must mean that those critics believe that poor African-American students are victims of their circumstances and these critics don't believe that such students can succeed. But charter schools do believe. They believe in all students. Now, here's a completion sentence. Can you finish it?
Because charter school operators believe that all students succeed, they work hard to serve_______.

Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé
New York Times By JASON HOROWITZ MARCH 7, 2015
MIAMI — “That’s where the classrooms were,” said Katrina Wilson-Davis, pointing at the deserted building that housed the school where she was once principal. She climbed the chipped stairs that children used to race down at recess in their cherry-red school uniforms and walked past a street sign that still warns drivers of a 15-mile-an-hour speed limit on school days.
Those days are over. Now trash and fronds from the palm trees that students planted litter the grounds, and cafeteria tables are folded away in a dark doorway. Jeb Bush’s charter school is a ruin baking in the Miami sun.

Delaware County and West Philly Dentists to provide FREE dental care to children 0 – 18 years old during spring break the week of March 30 – April 3 for “Give Kids a Smile Day.” 
For this event, sponsored by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local dentists will provide free screenings and cleanings for children.  Give Kids a Smile Day is especially for children who do not have health insurance or who have not had a dental exam in the last six months. Appointments are necessary, so please call PCCY at 215-563-5848 x32 to schedule one starting Monday, March 16th.  Volunteers will be on hand to answer calls. Smile Day information can also be found on the school district website and on PCCY’s website -

Nominations for PSBA offices now open: Deadline 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. Persons seeking consideration for a position as an officer or at-large representative of the Association shall file at PSBA headquarters to the attention of the Leadership Development Committee chair in an envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL an Application for Nomination on the form approved by the PSBA Governing Board, accompanied by a photograph, letters of recommendation and such other supporting materials as may be specified on the Application for Nomination form for the purpose of further documenting the candidate’s involvement in activities of the association, relevant community service and leadership experiences or other qualifications.

Lawsuit asks the Court to ensure that all students -- including those living in low-wealth districts -- have the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards.
Meet Us in Court on March 11th
Education Law Center
On Wednesday, March 11th at 9:30 a.m., the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will hear oral arguments in our school funding lawsuit which challenges the legislature's failure to adequately support and maintain Pennsylvania's public school system. This historic case, which the Education Law Center filed with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and pro bono counsel O'Melveny & Meyers, asks the Court to ensure that all students -- including those living in low-wealth districts -- have the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards. We ask the court to hear this case and enforce the rights of our children to a "thorough and efficient" system of public education as guaranteed to them by our state constitution.
Please come and support us as we fight for vulnerable students and all public school students across the state. The hearing will be held at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Courtroom 5001 in Harrisburg, PA.  If you plan to attend or have questions, contact Spencer Malloy at (The courtroom is walking distance from the Harrisburg Amtrak Station.) 

PCCY Spring Training:  Hit a School Funding Home Run for Kids  Advocacy Training Workshop March 18 or 21
This year we have an unprecedented opportunity to make public education funding more fair and to get more of it for schools across Pennsylvania. Voters spoke in November when an incumbent governor—widely perceived to be responsible for drastic education cuts, was unseated while his opponent ran on the promise to increase school funding. A funding commission has been established to research and develop recommendations for a new funding formula. Now is our time to let our elected officials know we take investment in education seriously.
Please join Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for our annual advocacy training to learn how you can win fair and increased funding for our students.
By participating, you’ll be joining a statewide movement. PCCY is a part of a statewide coalition of 50 (and growing) organizations committed to getting a fair funding formula passed by 2016.
Attend our training to:
·         Learn
o        Why education funding in PA is broken and how a funding formula can fix it
o        Best practices for amplifying your voice for PA kids
o        How to develop an advocacy plan tailored to fit your schedule and strengths
·         Connect with
·         Others throughout our region who are as passionate about public education as you are
·         Leave
·         Inspired and ready to take action for PA
Workshop Details:
When: The same workshop will be offered on two different days for your convenience.
Wednesday, March 18th, 6:00-8:00pm or Saturday, March 21st, 9 am - Noon
Where: United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia, 19103
For additional information, email
This event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested. Children are welcome.
Click here to sign up:

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia offering two special education seminars in March
Leaving Gifted Kids Behind Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
In this session, participants will learn how Pennsylvania law affects and supports gifted children, as well as practical tips for ensuring gifted services. We will also discuss race and gifted services.
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.  

This session will focus on giving you the tools you need to support children with emotional problems, including those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system.
Note: This session was originally scheduled for February 17, but had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather. Tickets purchased for the original date still apply. 

United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Tickets: Attorneys $200       General Public $100      Webinar $50   
Pay What You Can" tickets are also available

2015 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Hilton Hotel, Harrisburg Pennsylvania
PA Budget and Policy Center
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at the Hilton Harrisburg. Join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2015-16 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, and local communities. The Summit will focus on the leading issues facing the commonwealth in 2015, with workshops, lunch, a legislative panel discussion, and a keynote speech.
Space is limited, so fill out the form below to reserve your spot at the Budget Summit.

The State of Public Education Funding in Pennsylvania
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, March 17, 2015 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM
United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA
Join Law Center attorneys for a briefing on the basics of education funding, a recap of the March 11th oral arguments in the school funding lawsuit, information on the new administration’s budget proposal and more.  There are limited spots available for this free event. 1.5 CLE credits will be offered to participating attorneys.

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 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.
More info/registration:

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.
More info/registration:

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.

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.
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

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:

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