Friday, March 6, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 6: Governor Wolf Launches ‘Schools That Teach’ Website; See how your school district and taxpayers would fare under the Governor's proposed budget

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 6, 2015:
Governor Wolf Launches ‘Schools That Teach’ Website
See how your school district and taxpayers would fare under the Governor's proposed budget

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

See how your school district and taxpayers  would fare under the Governor's proposed budget
Basic Ed Funding
Special Ed Funding
Property Tax Relief
Cyber Charter Tuition Savings
Governor Wolf Launches ‘Schools That Teach’ Website
Governor Wolf's website 03/05/2015
Harrisburg, PA - Today, Governor Tom Wolf is launching the “Schools That Teach” website ( to showcase how his historic investment in our schools will benefit the students and residents served by each school district. “My budget makes historic investments in education, shows how my proposed budget will benefit students, schools and property owners in a way that is user-friendly and easy to access,” said Governor Wolf. “My budget proposal increases funding for Pennsylvania’s education system by $1 billion and this website will show users how much of that money will go to increase funding to their local school districts and decrease property taxes in their areas.”  In addition to showing users how much each school district will receive under Governor Wolf’s plan, they can also see the amounts in Basic Education Funding and Special Education Funding each school district received this fiscal year (2014-15) compared to the increases proposed for the 2015-16 year. Also included is the estimated amount each school district will save under the governor’s Cyber Charter Funding Reform, which would create a flat tuition rate for regular education students attending a cyber charter school and a tiered rate for special education based on recommendations from the bipartisan Special Education Funding Commission.  With the historic increases in funding that Governor Wolf has proposed there is also a need for greater accountability for school districts to show how state funding is used to improve student achievement. To that end, the governor’s Schools That Teach website includes historic performance measures for each school district, including the percentage of students who go on to attend college after graduation and the percentage of students proficient and advanced in reading and math.

Meet the House GOP pension prophet ignored by leadership: Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on March 05, 2015 at 8:15 AM
Good Snow-Delayed Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So everyone knows that Pennsylvania's $50 billion pension knot is the single biggest policy challenge facing state government this budget season.  Enter Rep. John McGinnis, R-Blair, a fiscal conservative, former finance professor and Penn State ph.D, who has a pretty simple (if admittedly painful) plan to get the state out of its pension mess.  In an interview with WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, McGinnis said he wants to put the state on a $3 billion a year payment plan for 20 years and change benefits for future hires to a 401(k)-style retirement plan.  It'll take program cuts and tax hikes to do it, he tells WHTM's Dennis Owens, but the alternative is far worse. But he says he can't get legislative leaders to buy into it.  "None of that is politically easy so nobody wants to do it," McGinnis told Owens. "So why would they want to hear from me?"

How much did Gov. Tom Wolf increase the budget? Take your pick
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on March 05, 2015 at 2:02 PM, updated March 05, 2015 at 4:50 PM
A lot of numbers are thrown around come budget season at the Capitol and even something as simple as Gov. Tom Wolf's total spending is up for interpretation.  On paper, the governor's proposals spends about $29.9 billion, a 2.7 percent increase from the current budget.
Republicans, however, point out that the governor's calculation doesn't include the state's pension obligations or the funds Wolf plans to raise in order to provide school property tax relief.
According to the House Republican Appropriations Committee, Wolf's plan calls for nearly $33.8 billion in spending, a 16 percent increase, after those factors are included.

More goods, services to be taxed under Wolf proposal
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau March 6, 2015 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — Child care. Candy. Certain legal services.  These goods and services are not subject to the sales tax in Pennsylvania, but under Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, they and others would be.  His proposal in Tuesday’s budget address that the sales tax not only be raised from 6 to 6.6 percent but also broadened to apply to more purchases has drawn jokes from Republicans that Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, is calling for taxes from the cradle (diapers) to the grave (caskets.)  Mr. Wolf and his aides, meanwhile, have noted that his proposal, part of a budget package that includes an expansive program for property tax relief, has similarities to past Republican property tax efforts, some of which would have taxed the same items.

Legislators prepare for battle over Wolf’s ‘aggressive’ budget
Observer Reporter By Mike Jones Staff writer Published: March 3, 2015 - Updated: March 4, 2015 10:56 pm
Gov. Tom Wolf’s “aggressive” budget proposal is setting up a political fight between legislative Republicans and his administration that reminds some local representatives of the protracted fiscal battles during the late 2000s.  The governor’s plan to raise both the personal income and state sales taxes in exchange for an undermined reduction in property taxes left local legislators calling the spending plan a “grand slam” or “very disappointing,” depending on which side of the aisle they’re seated.

Wolf's business tax plans well received by York County business owners
Halving the corporate income tax would put more money back into businesses
By Gary Haber and Brett Sholtis York Daily Record/Sunday News  03/03/2015 09:55:49 PM EST
Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to halve the state's corporate income tax rate was well-received by area business owners like Raymond Fertig.  "Any time you can reduce your taxes, it's a good thing," said Fertig, president of Ray Fertig Construction in York Township.  A smaller corporate tax would leave business owners more money to pump back into their business including buying additional equipment or upgrading their existing equipment, Fertig said.

Politically Uncorrected: Wolf’s Budget: The Rising Price of A Civilized Society
PoliticsPA Written by G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young March 5, 2015
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once famously observed, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s new budget with its imposing array of new taxes promises to determine exactly how much Pennsylvanians are willing to pay for a civilized society.  The Wolf budget contains the most ambitious and bold set of proposals in modern history, including $4 billion in income and sales tax hikes, along with a new severance tax on natural gas extraction. As a lure to win popular support, he’s pledged to use some of the new revenues for education spending, property tax relief and business tax cuts popular with many Republicans.

LETTER: Wolf's budget hurts charter schools
York Dispatch LTE by Bob Fayfich POSTED:   03/05/2015 09:11:12 AM EST
Bob Fayfich is Executive director, Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal is focused on increasing funding to ensure Pennsylvania has schools that teach. The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) supports fair and adequate funding for all students, but we are keenly focused on Pennsylvania having children who learn.  The difference is more than nuance and semantics. PCPCS is dedicated to ensuring that every public school child receives adequate funding and has the right to choice in their education.  While Gov. Wolf's budget seeks to increase funding for many students, tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children will receive less public funding and have their educational choice threatened based solely on the type of public school they have chosen to attend.

Bob Casey aims for Washington to help reduce school suspensions
Penn Live By Ivey DeJesus | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 05, 2015 at 5:06 PM
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is going after school suspensions.  Casey, D-PA, this week introduced a bill aimed at reducing the rate of student suspension across the nation's schools. Casey's bill - Keep Kids in School Act - specifically takes aim at the discrepancies in the nation's suspension rates.  Students of color and students with disabilities, Casey noted, are disproportionately suspended at higher rates than their white peers. Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times higher than white students and Latino students are also suspended at a higher rate. Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be suspended as those without.

Organizers hope school board forum becomes ongoing event
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English Staff Writer March 5, 2015
Organizers of a recent forum on the responsibilities of school board members and how to run for the position want to make the event a recurring one, repeated every two years when school board members are elected in Bucks County.  “I would definitely like to see this happen every school board election cycle, preferably earlier in the year,” said Council Rock School District resident Amy McIntyre. She and fellow district resident Kris Williams coordinated Monday night’s forum at the Northampton Township Library.  “I would be glad to coordinate the forum again though I would be happy to encourage other individuals or an organization the opportunity to do so as well,” McIntyre continued.  While Monday’s forum was held in the Council Rock district area, it would be good if future events rotated to other public school districts in Bucks County, she added.
Monday’s event featured six current or former school board members from around the county sharing their experiences and answering questions about the responsibilities of the position and their opinions about what it takes to be a good school board member. Information also was provided on the process of running for a school board seat and on the training and seminars available to those who are elected.

Operational Revenue per Student in Comparable Urban Districts 2013-2014 School Year
Pew Charitable Trusts State of the CIty

"Nutter called Hite's plan an "innovative redesign of our public schools" that could result in a school like Bartram High hiring back "guidance counselors and nurses, reading specialists, or assistant principals." Other schools, he said, might reestablish art programs, sports teams, and Advanced Placement classes".
It's been a good week for Phila. schools
William R. Hite Jr. finds himself in an unusual spot.  For the last two winters and springs, he has grappled with Philadelphia School District budget holes in the hundreds of millions.  Then, on Tuesday, Gov. Wolf said he wanted $159 million more for city schools, and on Thursday, Mayor Nutter proposed giving the school system $105 million in new recurring revenue.

Nutter proposes extra $105 million annually for Philadelphia schools
By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Mar 5, 2015 11:34 PM
School Reform Commissioners Farah Jimenez, Bill Green and Sylvia Simms join Superinendent Bill Hite and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski at Mayor Nutter's budget address.
Between Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed state budget and Mayor Michael Nutter's proposal, the School District of Philadelphia could realize a revenue bump of $289 million next year.
Here's the math: $159 million in basic education and special education funding from the state, plus $25 million in savings from charter funding reform plus $105 million from Nutter's proposed budget.  That's nearly enough to hit the district's $309 million funding goal. But the state and city funding increases are contingent upon lawmakers agreeing to different and, in some cases, more taxes.

Philly School District to ASPIRA: Fix up your school
THE SCHOOL district's Charter School Office has laid down the law to charter operator ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania over the charter renewal of one of its schools, John B. Stetson.
In a detailed letter dated Jan. 22 and obtained by the Daily News, the charter office seeks an immediate overhaul of Stetson's board of trustees, its business practices and its oversight of the school.  The letter's author, Charter School Office operations coordinator Lauren Thum, lists 17 conditions that ASPIRA must satisfy before the office will recommend that the School Reform Commission extend Stetson's charter for one year. In almost all previous charter-renewal cases, the SRC has granted five-year renewals.  Eleven of the conditions must be met by April 30 or June 30, while the remaining items can be satisfied during the year. All the conditions would be incorporated into a one-year charter agreement, the letter said.

Philly School District vs. ASPIRA: Second warning for charter
The Philadelphia School District is telling one its largest charter school operators to shape up -- or risk losing one of its schools.  According to documents obtained by the Philadelphia Daily News, district officials want charter provider ASPIRA of Pennsylvania to meet 17 conditions if the nonprofit is to continue running Stetson Elementary in North Philadelphia.  The request is part of a long-simmering conflict between the district and ASPIRA, the nonprofit running five Philadelphia schools with more than 3,000 students. In the past, it's been held up as a model of success. And last year, district officials recommended that ASPIRA take over North Philadelphia's Muñoz Marín Elementary as part of the Renaissance process, telling parents that it was a high-quality provider with a proven track record. (That plan was eventually scuttled after a parent vote rejected the charter.)  But this year, district officials have changed their tune, revealing serious concerns about a number of ASPIRA's financial and management practices, and asking the nonprofit to change them.

GOP education chairman anticipates vote on education bill
Washington Post By Associated Press March 4 at 4:28 PM
WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman of the House education committee said Wednesday he was blindsided by conservative opposition to his rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law and will take the next week to try to clear up misconceptions.  GOP House leaders late last week abruptly canceled a scheduled vote on the bill when it became uncertain whether it would pass given conservative concern about the federal role in education. House Democrats widely opposed the bill, but a similar one had passed in 2013 with much less consternation by rank and file Republicans.  The bill by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, would keep annual testing requirements in schools, but it gives states and districts more freedom in the way they spend federal money and set rules to identify and fix failing schools. It prohibits the federal education secretary from demanding changes to state standards or imposing conditions on states in exchange for a waiver around federal law — a provision that shows opposition to the Obama administration’s encouragement of the Common Core education standards that spell out what reading and math skills students should master at each grade.  It also eliminates many federal programs, creates a single local grant program and allows public money to follow low-income children to different public schools.

K12, Inc.: New Report Alleges Shortcomings in California Virtual Education Program
Education Week Digital Education Blog By Audrey Armitage on March 4, 2015 2:20 PM
new report claims that California's virtual education system, run largely through the California Virtual Academies, is lagging behind brick-and-mortar schools in terms of academic performance, graduation rates, and resources available to students and teachers.
The report was released by In the Public Interest, an organization that studies privatization and contracting, and is often critical of the outsourcing of public services. The organization analyzed academic reports, public education data, financial reports, and contracts between the virtual academies and K12 Inc., a national online education service provider and CAVA's parent company. The authors also conducted interviews with current CAVA teachers. 

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.
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

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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