Tuesday, June 2, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 2: Wolf, GOP ramp up budget rhetoric; Come to Harrisburg on June 23rd for an All for Education Day Rally!

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3600 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 2, 2015:
Wolf, GOP ramp up budget rhetoric; Come to Harrisburg on June 23rd for an All for Education Day Rally!

Berks County IU June 23, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

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.

Wolf, GOP ramp up budget rhetoric
Ben Finley and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Staff Writers Last updated: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 1:08 AM Posted: Monday, June 1, 2015, 7:44 PM
HARRISBURG - Within hours of returning to the Capitol after a two-week break, the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Wolf found themselves Monday in a near-showdown over his proposed $30 billion budget.  By day's end, Wolf was standing before reporters to call on the House of Representatives to get serious about negotiating a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  "Let me just be clear: What the Republicans did was a stunt," Wolf said in an unscheduled late-afternoon news conference. "This is the kind of gamesmanship we were not sent here to play."  Republicans countered that Wolf was the one attempting to toy with the legislative process - and that they are committed to passing an on-time budget.

Stunts, accusations mark beginning of state budget drama
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on June 01, 2015 at 7:59 PM, updated June 01, 2015 at 9:06 PM
Call it the first act of state budget theater that will ultimately – someday – lead to a 2015-16 state spending plan for Pennsylvania.  An hourslong partisan display on the House floor on Monday that had Democrats and Republicans accusing each other of smoke and mirror stunts and gamesmanship ended up putting legislation into position to serve as a placeholder for an eventual negotiated budget.  But that came only after a series of failed amendments that were meant to serve as referenda on Gov. Tom Wolf's $29.9 billion spending plan and his plan for raising taxes to support it.  Wolf called a news conference after the House session ended to voice his displeasure with what some considered a conversation starter on the first day of the final month of the fiscal year when budget talks start to really heat up.

'This was a stunt': Gov. Tom Wolf slams GOP for budget antics
Video Runtime 1:32
Penn Live By Christian Alexandersen | calexandersen@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on June 01, 2015 at 6:15 PM, updated June 01, 2015 at 6:50 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf pulled no punches after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted down various pieces of his budget and spending plan Monday afternoon.  Wolf spoke briefly during a press conference after the vote was called. The Democratic governor specifically called out House Republicans for trying to "embarrass" him.   Above is a video of his comments.

Pa. House says no, 193-0, to Gov. Wolf's tax plan
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Monday, June 1, 2015, 5:24 p.m.
HARRISBURG — House Republicans called up Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's tax-shifting plan on Monday, and the House shot it down by a unanimous vote.  Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, called the vote on an amendment that contained Wolf's tax plan “a political stunt.”  
“It does nothing to move this process forward,” Dermody said. “I would never ask (Democrats) to vote for a stunt.”  Wolf denounced the vote as “gamesmanship” and said it was an effort to “‘see if we can embarrass the administration.'”  But Majority Leader David Reed, R-Indiana County, said the vote gave the Wolf administration what it wanted: a vote on the entire tax package in his budget, rather than breaking it into pieces for individual votes.
Pa. House Republicans push Wolf taxes to unanimous defeat
Delco Times By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press POSTED: 06/02/15, 5:20 AM EDT 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> A measure combining all of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed tax increases went down unanimously Monday in the state House, but Republicans and Democrats had much different reasons for voting against it.  Republicans brought up their own tax amendment to make a point about the viability of the spending plan that Wolf proposed in March along with higher taxes on retail sales, personal income and drilling in the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation.  “It’s only fair that, in order to have a balanced budget, we air our differences and make sure that the taxpayers of Pennsylvania know how the governor’s spending plan will be paid for,” said Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, who chairs the Appropriations Committee.  The issue arose after Republicans introduced the current year’s budget as a placeholder, to meet advance-notice rules in the annual budget process that is now less than a month away from a soft deadline of June 30.  Adolph’s Democratic counterpart, Rep. Joe Markosek, of Allegheny County, then sought to amend it with Wolf’s spending proposal.

Pa. House to dig into Senate GOP bill to overhaul public pensions
Delco Times By MARC LEVY, Associated Press POSTED: 06/02/15, 5:13 AM EDT 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> A Pennsylvania state House committee will listen to testimony on a Senate Republican plan to end the traditional pension benefit for school and state government employees after the Senate fast-tracked the 410-page bill without a hearing.  The House State Government Committee hearing was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol.  The bill would replace the traditional pension benefit for future employees with a maximum 4 percent contribution to a 401(k)-style plan and a cash-balance plan that pays 4 percent or less. It wouldn’t affect today’s retirees.
However, the bill’s key money-saving provision would require many current employees to pay a higher proportion of their paychecks to keep their current benefit level, and Democrats say that violates state constitutional protections against breach of contract.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, also opposes it.

Senate Republican chairmen dissuaded from governor’s severance tax plan following hearing
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, June 1, 2015
After two Senate committees held a joint hearing on Gov. Tom Wolf’s natural gas severance tax plan Monday, both Republican chairmen of the committees said the testimony only further emboldened their opposition.  During his March budget address, Gov. Wolf unveiled a plan to tax natural gas extracts that would direct the derived revenue to education through the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act, which has a goal of increasing the pre-K through 12 investment by $2 billion over four years.

Senate Democratic leaders provide June forecast
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, June 1, 2015
The PLS Reporter caught up with Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Senate Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) to find out what they think is needed to get to a final budget product.  “We’re working towards a June 30th deadline,” Sen. Costa said.  “Our caucus’s role is going to be to advocate for a significant increase in education funding, I think it’s what the people of Pennsylvania want us to do,” he added. “We’ll be looking at trying to grow jobs and do what we can with respect to economic development and making sure we can address the very structural deficit that we have in Pennsylvania so we’re on strong financial ground going forward fiscally.”

Opinions vary on state takeover of Pennsylvania’s failing schools
Times Herald By Evan Grossman , Watchdog.org POSTED: 05/30/15, 9:40 PM EDT
Philadelphia is ground zero for many of the state’s failing schools, but the city’s top educator is leery of proposed legislation aimed at turning those schools around.  William Hite, the superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, recently testified in Harrisburg that the proposal to turn failing public schools into charter schools could negatively impact the financially-stressed district and backfire on the rest of the city’s students.  Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, would establish a statewide Achievement School District to prop up Pennsylvania’s worst public schools. Modeled after similar efforts that enacted change in Louisiana, Tennessee and Massachusetts, the state would intervene and effectively turn its failing schools into charter schools.  The ASD would be run by a newly formed state agency, similar to the School Reform Commission, which has run Philly schools since the district was taken over by the state in 2001 amid budget turmoil and poor performance.

Guest Editorial: Time to deliver on education funding
Carlisle Sentinel May 27, 2015 3:17 pm  •  Susan Spicka, For The Sentinel
On June 3 at 6:30 p.m. students, parents, and community members from Franklin and Cumberland counties will come together in Shippensburg at the gazebo on King Street for a rally to say: Harrisburg —Fund Our Schools!  As a community, we know from first-hand experience that our state’s school funding system is broken. The time has come for our state lawmakers to step up and change the way that PA funds our schools because the system isn’t working, and Pennsylvania’s children are paying the price.  In recent years, from Fannett-Metal to the West Shore School District, school boards have raised property taxes at the same time they have cut teachers, tutors, and aides. Many children in our region now sit in crowded classrooms of 30 or more students. They share out-of-date textbooks with their classmates. They have lost courses ranging from technology education and upper level math to music and foreign language.  Because of our state’s broken funding system, children in many school districts throughout PA receive far fewer learning opportunities than their brothers and sisters who came before them and will enter college and the workforce less prepared than their peers.

Shippensburg rally targets education funding gap
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By Dale Heberlig dheberlig@publicopinionnews.com @DaleHeberligPO on Twitter UPDATED:   05/30/2015 06:13:24 PM EDT
Shippensburg >> A 6:30 p.m. rally Wednesday at the Spring Lot Gazebo in the 100 block of West King Street (U.S. 11) in Shippensburg is intended to send a message to Harrisburg to highlight the state's failure to fund public schools.  Organizer Susan Spicka of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley points to the state's lack of an allocation formula and the subsequent political deals that deprive poor school districts of educational opportunities. She predicts a large turnout.  "Pennsylvania is one of only three states that does not use a formula to allocate state taxpayer dollars to school districts," Spicka said. "Instead, the current state funding system is based on political considerations and deals lawmakers cut in Harrisburg. This must change. A child's ZIP code should not determine opportunities school."  According to Spicka, some legislators may not "get it."  She said, "I don't think they (legislators) know how tough it is and how much people care about their children's education."

Lancaster City school district challenges signatures on Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School's petition
Lancaster Online By TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2015 5:50 am
Some of the signatures were collected by a convicted criminal, others reportedly by minors.
Some of the signers listed a homeless shelter as their address.  Several pages were temporarily lost, and an expert says multiple signatures are in the same handwriting.  The question: Should those irregularities, and others, invalidate the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School’s petition to have an appeal heard by the State Charter School Appeals Board?

A closer look at the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School petition
Lancaster Online By TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2015 5:45 am
The School District of Lancaster says it found numerous problems in the petition signatures collected by the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School, or ABECS. 
The charter school law says individuals who live in the school district must sign affidavits personally vouching for the signatures collected as part of an appeal petition.  ABECS’ petition lists three such “affiants”: Sothorn Buthdy-Santiago, Dante Enrique Felipe and Ethan Vaughn.

SRC members talk taxes, negotiations at Q&A session
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, June 1, 2015, 9:21 PM
There is little appetite for a tax increase to help Philadelphia schools. School Reform Commission members can spend 20 hours a week, easily, on their unpaid and often frustrating job. Contract negotiations with the teachers' union are proceeding, even if the union doesn't find them productive.  And, yes, the SRC talks behind closed doors about eliminating itself. (But says it's not the right time yet.)  Those and other tidbits came to light during a Monday meeting at which the commission attempted to be more responsive to parents and community members. Four commissioners - Sylvia Simms was absent - sat in armchairs facing the audience, fielding questions in an Oprah-style format.

Editorial: Keystone quagmire
By the Notebook on Jun 1, 2015 12:34 PM
The elephant in the room when discussing graduation rates is Pennsylvania’s Keystone exams. This year’s sophomores will have to pass tests in algebra, biology, and English to earn a diploma when requirements take effect in 2017. If they fail, they can repeat the test or try to pass a “performance-based assessment” that takes an estimated 10 hours to complete.  The District has estimated that only 22 percent of this year’s seniors would meet the new graduation standards. Even in high-performing districts, barely 70 percent of students are passing biology Keystones.  Unquestionably, we must ensure that a high school diploma actually means something is necessary. As districts push hard to improve graduation rates – and as administrators try to avoid the “failing school” label – pressure mounts to graduate students even if they haven’t met basic requirements. Beyond the horror stories of functionally illiterate, unemployable Philadelphia grads is the more widespread problem of students who should be college-ready but can’t place out of remedial community college classes.

Budget vote in two weeks for South Middleton School District
Penn Live By Elizabeth Gibson | Special to PennLive  on June 01, 2015 at 8:51 PM, updated June 01, 2015 at 9:52 PM
A final vote on South Middleton School District budget numbers will take place on June 15.
That date was set by the school board, which will vote during its 7 p.m. meeting in the Boiling Springs High School cafeteria.  Under the proposal, property taxes would rise 1.9 percent – from a 9.1549 mil rate to 9.3288 mills.  School board members including, from left, Robert Winters,The $33.8 spending plan million for the 2015-16 school year, if approved, will cost a property owner with a home assessed at the district average of $198,000 a total of $1,847 next year.

Saucon Valley district, union to post best contract offers
By Jacqueline Palochko Of The Morning Call June 1, 2015
Saucon Valley School District, teachers union will post best contract offers
The Saucon Valley School District and its teachers union will post their final best contract offers no later than June 10 and allow the public time to comment on both proposals.
District solicitor Jeffrey Sultanik sent a news release Monday saying the two parties will post the contract offers on the Web to prepare for the July 29 hearing before attorney Timothy Brown.  The school board is expected to vote at its June 9 meeting on the last best contract offer that it will post, Sultanik said.

'Education reform' needs to focus on learners, not numbers
Daun Kauffman has been a teacher in north Philadelphia Public Schools for 14 years. Daun also blogs at LucidWitness.com.
 “Education Reform” is, in effect, false advertising and deceptive packaging, brought to you by sponsors who are not professional educators, but rather executives, politicians, philanthropists, and business barons — and even by national political programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Their promise is sort of like: "Lose 30 lbs. in 30 days!"  Yes, we need a fresh vision of reform — true ”learning” reform. We need a fresh look at schools, learning, the whole child, public health data, and even neuroscience. We need fresh, transparent language, and evaluation by trained professional educators throughout.  Meanwhile, essential knowledge and evidence-based decisions are completely missing in their goal of a seismic shift. Public education becomes vulnerable to privatization. 

"Among the participants from the most disadvantaged families, just 14 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree.  That is, one out of four of the disadvantaged students who had hoped to get a bachelor’s had done so. Among those from the most advantaged families, 60 percent had earned a bachelor’s, about two-thirds of those who had planned to."
For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap
New York Times by Susan Dynarski JUNE 2, 2015
Rich and poor students don’t merely enroll in college at different rates; they also complete it at different rates. The graduation gap is even wider than the enrollment gap.  In 2002, researchers with the National Center for Education Statistics started tracking a cohort of high school sophomores. The project, called theEducation Longitudinal Study, recorded information about the students’ academic achievement, college entry, work history and college graduation. A recent publication examines the completed education of these young people, who are now in their late 20s.

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.

Sign up here to receive a weekly email update on the status of efforts to have Pennsylvania adopt an adequate, equitable, predictable and sustainable Basic Education Funding Formula by 2016
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 »

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.

PILCOP: Adequately and Fairly Funding Pennsylvania Schools: What are the Needs and Where Does the Money Come From? (Live Webinar)
June 8, 2015, 12:00 — 2:00 P.M.
Staff attorney Michael Churchill will speak about what schools need and where the money comes from in this Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) webinar on June 8. Click here to register.
Governor Wolf has proposed $500 million in new funding for public schools starting this July. He has proposed as shale extraction tax and increases in personal income and sales taxes to pay for this.  This Philadelphia Bar Association Education Law Section and PBI are hosting a webinar that will focus on how much public schools need and differing proposals on how state funds should be distributed this year and in the future. Other focuses will include the current local tax burdens for public schools and issues concerning how the state should raise revenues to pay for these programs.  The program will also provide information about the components of a good funding formula and look at the work of the Basic Education Funding Commission and the state-wide Campaign for Fair Education Funding, of which we are a leading member.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.