Monday, June 15, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 15: What is the purpose of the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3650 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, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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 June 15, 2015:
What is the purpose of the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission?



#FairFundingPA Twitter Chat: 1 p.m., Monday, June 15 
Call to Action for Public Education Day: Monday, June 15
Campaign for Fair Education Funding Events
http://fairfundingpa.org/get-involved



What is the purpose of the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission?
WHYY Newsworks BY PAUL JABLOW JUNE 15, 2015 MULTIPLE CHOICES: PART 13
The day before the deadline in mid-June, the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission said they needed more time to come up with recommendations for a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to school districts.  In this installment of Multiple Choices we explain the role of the commission.  The commission was created to recommend to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts. It was established by law in June 2014, when former Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks.  Most states have predictable, enrollment-based funding formulas to distribute state education aid with the aim of increasing equity among districts. Pennsylvania instead distributes its basic education aid, which totaled $5.5 billion this year, based on a mixture of precedent from previous years and the results of lawmakers' lobbying for individual districts.

Editorial: Lawmakers, remedy unintended consequences of Keystone Exam's graduation requirement
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015 6:00 am
THE ISSUE: Pennsylvania created the Keystone Exams as a substitute for Pennsylvania System of School Assessment testing at the high school level. The Keystones are end-of-course exams in algebra I, biology and literature, intended to ensure that students were proficient in those subjects. Passing the Keystones was supposed to be a  requirement for graduation beginning with the Class of 2017. But a bill, introduced by state Sen. Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster Countywould put the graduation requirement on hold until 2019. If the bill passes, students who were in high school as of the 2014-15 school year wouldn’t be subject to the graduation requirement.  Parents who dislike standardized testing often complain that their children are being used as guinea pigs, as the state tries to figure out how to  hold schools accountable.  Delaying the Keystone Exam graduation requirement won’t change their view, especially if their kids anxiously took the Keystones last school year, thinking their high school diplomas were on the line.  Putting children through that kind of stress for nothing doesn’t seem fair.  Still, Smucker is right to seek a delay on the graduation requirement, and we encourage other lawmakers to support his bill.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 14, 2015:
Campaign for Fair Education Funding: Three Opportunities for You to Participate

Pennsylvania public pension dilemma rooted in 1990s
Trib Live By Madison Russ  Sunday, June 14, 2015, 10:40 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Thousands of state workers and retirees' benefits could be at risk if the Wolf administration and lawmakers cannot agree on a solution to Pennsylvania's $47 billion unfunded pension liability.  Legislators and past governors contributed to the problem significantly, records show. About 70 percent of the liability arose from policy decisions in 2001 and 2004, according to data from the House Democratic Appropriations Committee.  Experts say the crisis began even before that, in the 1990s. And since then, lawmakers and governors have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on programs and budget deficits, instead of contributing to retirement funds for state and school employees.
"Powell said key to that proposal is a fundamental change to how Pennsylvania public schools are funded. Currently, the state pays about 35 percent of the cost of running Pennsylvania's public schools and the local communities of those schools pay the rest in property taxes.  The problem with that method, Powell said, is that affluent suburban communities can afford better schools while poorer, inner-city communities are left struggling to fund their own. That situation means Pennsylvania has one of the most unequal school funding systems in the nation."
Black religious leaders organize in support of Wolf's proposed budget
Penn Live By Daniel Simmons-Ritchie | simmons-ritchie@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 13, 2015 at 3:00 PM, updated June 13, 2015 at 4:50 PM
As the June. 30 deadline to pass Pennsylvania's budget looms, black religious leaders met in Harrisburg on Saturday morning as a part of a grassroots, eleventh-hour push for Gov. Tom Wolf's $29.9 billion spending plan.  Addressing a group of about 20 pastors and community advocates at St Paul's Baptist Church, Reginald Guy Jr., co-founder of the MLK Leadership Development Insitute, said that it was critical that the black community show their support for Gov. Wolf's budget in the face of opposition from the Republican-controlled General Assembly.  "What makes their chances of forcing his hand greater is for us to say nothing," Guy said.

How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard
TED Talk by Linda Cliatt-Wayman: TEDWomen 2015 · Runtime: 17:07 · Filmed May 2015 
Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a Philadelphia high school principal with an unwavering belief in the potential of all children.
On Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s first day as principal at a failing high school in North Philadelphia, she was determined to lay down the law. But she soon realized the job was more complex than she thought. With palpable passion, she shares the three principles that helped her turn around three schools labeled “low-performing and persistently dangerous.” Her fearless determination to lead — and to love the students, no matter what — is a model for leaders in all fields.

Grad Nation Philadelphia brainstorms ideas for keeping students in school
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 14, 2015 10:13 PM
For Rayna Harvey, a member of the organization Youth United for Change, there is no mystery around what it would take to produce more high school graduates in Philadelphia.  Offer classes that are relevant to their lives. Teach them skills they will need in the real world.  And most important, listen to them and strive to understand their wants and needs and the problems many of them must face in their daily lives.  Harvey was one of the students who attended the June 12 Philadelphia community summit for Grad Nation, a national initiative to improve the high school graduation rate and prepare young people for college and careers.   The summit, run here by the citywide collaborative called Project U-Turn, is one of 100 being held around the country by the America's Promise Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals focused on increasing the country's graduaton rate to 90 percent by 2020.

Taxing Situation
Philly.com June 14, 2015
Based on projected 2015-16 budgets, school taxes will increase in 85 percent of all districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties an average of $115; they will have increased more than $400 in the last five years.
Click on the map for more information on each district for which data were available.

Ridley School Board passes budget with no tax hike
By Barbara Ormsby, Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/14/15, 11:02 PM EDT 
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP >> The Ridley School Board recently approved the final budget for the 2015-2016 school year, keeping the real estate millage rate at 39.25 mills, or $3.93 for each $100 of assessed value.  For a house assessed at $100,000 the school tax bill will remain at $3,930 for the upcoming school year. The budget shows general fund expenditures of $98,155,255, which is an increase of 1.98 percent over the current budget.  “In January of this year, the Ridley Board of School Directors approved a resolution in accordance with Act 1 regulations that indicated the district would not seek exceptions to the Act 1 limits,” said district Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel when the proposed final budget was unveiled in May. “While the impact of continued cost increases in the employer contribution for pensions remains serious, the conservative fiscal actions from prior years continues to positively impact this current year.”

Downingtown school board approves 2015-16 budget
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News POSTED: 06/14/15, 3:09 PM EDT
DOWNINGTOWN >> Downingtown Area School board members last week adopted a $207.3 million budget for the 2015-16 academic year without a tax increase for the third consecutive year.  The budget was unanimously adopted on Wednesday without any changes from the preliminary budget. Board members Suzanne Simonelli and President Jane Bertone were absent. The nine school board members considered the proposed budget that includes a 2.9 percent increase in expenses than this academic year’s budget.  School board member Carl Croft said they were fortunate to have allocated the general funds reserves to use over the next couple of years to offset the increased expenditures, including increases of School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS).  “We were able to do a zero percent tax increase,” Carl Croft said after the meeting.  “Our tax base continued to grow enough to cover most of those cost increases and we used about $4.5 million of general fund reserves which was enough to offset the increases of PSERS, salary increases and additional benefits costs.”

Pa. to get its first private school for gifted students
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Monday, June 15, 2015, 1:08 AM
There are private schools for autism, attention deficit, dyslexia and other learning differences, but none in all of Pennsylvania for gifted students.  That's about to change.
The state Department of Education on Friday awarded a license to the Grayson School, which plans to open in the fall at a Greek Orthodox school in Broomall and begin by serving students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Time to reform Pa. schools
Philly.com opinion By John Taylor and Jordan Harris POSTED: Monday, June 15, 2015, 1:08 AM
State Reps. John Taylor (R., 177th District) and Jordan Harris (D., 186th) represent Philadelphia in the General Assembly.
As legislators, we have witnessed, year after year, the tragedy that befalls tens of thousands of children in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania who are trapped in public schools that consistently fail to meet the needs of their students.  It is time to act on behalf of these students and their families, and that's why we are sponsoring legislation designed to help them immediately.  The legislation is known as the Educational Opportunity and Accountability Act (House Bill 1225), and it is a growing, bipartisan effort to provide relief for the nearly 90,000 students - 90 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged - who are stuck in the worst public schools.

TFA: America's professional agitators
Tribune Review Opinion By Michelle Malkin Sunday, June 14, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
It's increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Teach for America — whose leaders are at the forefront of inflammatory, anti-police protests in Baltimore, Ferguson and now McKinney, Texas — and left-wing activist groups. And taxpayers are paying for it.  Wendy Kopp founded Teach for America (TFA) in 1989 after writing her Princeton University thesis on the need for a “national teaching corps” of elite college grads who would serve students on short-term stints in low-income neighborhoods. The do-gooder group has exploded into a massive, nonprofit business.  “Between 2000 and 2013, “ researchers at the National Educational Policy Center reported, “TFA's yearly operating expenditures increased 1,930 percent — from $10 million to $193.5 million. Of those expenditures, TFA annual reports show that about a third of operating costs are borne by the public.”

Rally in West Chester for a State Budget Chester County Kids Deserve
Tuesday, June 16th at Noon  Location: Old Courthouse Steps in West Chester  Corner of High and Market Streets
Join parents, teachers, students, school staff, community advocates, and local leaders to demand a state budget that invests in your community, your students, and your schools.
Speakers include: Carolyn Comitta, Mayor of West Chester
Dr. Robert Langley, Lincoln University,
Lincoln-AAUP President
Dr. Curry Malott, West Chester University
College of Education
Dr. Kenneth Mash, East Stroudsburg University,
APSCUF President
Susan Carty, President, PA League of Women Voters, Retired Educator
Contact Doug Brown at 717-236-7486 for more information

Come to Harrisburg on June 23rd for an All for Education Day Rally!
Education Voters PA website June 1, 2015
On June 23 at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Education Voters will be joining together with more than 50 organizations to send a clear message to state lawmakers that we expect them to fund our schools in this year’s budget. Click HERE for more information and to register for the June 23 All for Education Day in Harrisburg.  Join us as we speak up for the importance of funding our schools fairly and at sufficient levels, so that every student in PA has an opportunity to learn.  Community, parent, education advocacy, faith, and labor organizations will join together with school, municipal, and community officials to hold a press conference and rally at 12:00 in the main rotunda and to make arrangements to meet with legislators before and after the rally.  We must send a strong message to state lawmakers that we are watching them and expect them to pass a state budget that will fund our schools this year. Please come to Harrisburg on June 23 to show broad support for a fair budget for education this year.

Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

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Sign up to support fair funding »
Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live. To make that happen, we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. The current system is not fair to students or taxpayers and our campaign partners – more than 50 organizations from across Pennsylvania - agree that it has to be changed now. Student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. Lawmakers have the ability to change this formula but they need to hear from you. You can make a difference »

COMMUNITY MEETING: PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING IN BERKS COUNTY
Berks County IU June 23, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Date:  Tuesday, June 23, 2015  Time:7:00 – 8:30 p.m. | Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.
Location: Berks County Intermediate Unit, 1111 Commons Boulevard, Reading, PA 19605
Local school district leaders will discuss how state funding issues are impacting our children’s education opportunities, our local taxes, and our communities. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how you can support fair and adequate state funding for public schools in Berks County.  State lawmakers who represent Berks County have been invited to attend to learn about challenges facing area schools.

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