Wednesday, July 1, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 1, 2015: Tired of hearing about failing schools? Here are four that work. Happy Fiscal New Year; Wolf Vetoes GOP Budget

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 1, 2015:
Tired of hearing about failing schools? Here are four that work.
Happy Fiscal New Year; Wolf Vetoes GOP Budget

Just a heads-up that the PA Ed Policy Roundup may be intermittent and/or late this week

Gov. Wolf to veto entire GOP-crafted budget, calls proposal “a mess”
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Shortly after Republicans were praising the historic and substantial nature of passing pension reform, liquor privatization, and a no-tax increase $30.2 billion budget, Gov. Tom Wolf put the brakes on the spending plan, announcing he intends to veto the proposal in its entirety. “It’s what I feared, this is a budget that absolutely doesn’t work,” said Gov. Wolf in announcing his intention to veto the entire proposal. “The math doesn’t work, it doesn’t address the challenges Pennsylvania faces.”  Gov. Wolf also argued the budget is not balanced and will lead Pennsylvania to face a $3 billion deficit for the FY 2016-2017 budget.

Wolf hits budget reset button much to GOP's disappointment
PennLive By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on June 30, 2015 at 11:52 PM, updated July 01, 2015 at 6:47 AM
Stepping behind the podium in the Governor's Reception Room on the eve of the new fiscal year, Gov. Tom Wolf declared:  "It's what I feared. This is a budget that actually doesn't work. It simply doesn't work. The math doesn't work. It's not balanced and it doesn't address the challenges that Pennsylvanians face," he said. "So I'm going to veto the entire budget."  Wolf Vetoes BudgetGov. Tom Wolf vetoes Republican budget Tuesday night.  At a Tuesday evening news conference that lasted not even 13 minutes, Wolf essentially hit a reset button on the budget process and told the Republican lawmakers who control the Legislature it's back to the drawing board after rejecting the $30.2 billion budget bill they sent him just a couple hours before.

'This budget is simply not balanced': Gov. Wolf vetoes Republican spending plan
By Karen Langley & Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau June 30, 2015 11:59 PM
HARRISBURG — Let the standoff begin.
After a whirl of activity Tuesday, the Republican majorities of the Pennsylvania House and Senate sent the governor a GOP-crafted budget, along with legislation to disband the state system of wine and liquor sales and end defined-benefit pensions for most future state and public school workers. Shortly after 9 p.m., Gov. Tom Wolf undid their planning on the budget.  Mr. Wolf vetoed the full budget proposal, the first time in recent history that a governor has rejected a budget in its entirety.  “This budget is simply not balanced,” he said at a nighttime news conference. “I ran a business, and if I took a budget that looked anything like this to my bank, they would have thrown me out of the office.”  The governor said he would study the companion bills on liquor sales and pensions and respond to the GOP today.  The Republican budget would accomplish none of Mr. Wolf’s priorities: no enactment of a severance tax on natural gas to provide education funding; no increase in the personal income and sales tax rates to provide subsidies to property tax bills; and a closing of the shortfall by means he has rejected as irresponsible.

“Wolf called on legislative leaders from both parties to meet with him at 2 p.m. Wednesday in his office to resume negotiations. It was not clear whether Republicans would attend.  Longtime political observers said Wolf's decision to veto the budget in its entirety marked the first time in more than 40 years that a Pennsylvania governor had done so.”
Wolf vetoes entire GOP budget, says 'math doesn't work'
HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf vetoed the Republican-backed $30.1 billion budget in its entirety Tuesday night, a move that leaves Pennsylvania without a spending plan and sets the stage for a partial government shutdown.  A visibly frustrated Wolf told reporters shortly after 9 that the spending plan the Republican-controlled legislature sent him was riddled with "gimmicks," as well as "smoke and mirrors, and a lot of kicking the can down the road."  He said it failed to adequately fund public education or provide property-tax relief to homeowners, and contended it would worsen the state's finances.  "This isn't partisanship. This isn't ideology," the Democratic governor said. "The math doesn't work."

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes Republicans' budget
Morning Call By Sam Janesch and Steve EsackCall Harrisburg Bureau July 1, 2015
HARRISBURG — Wasting little time Tuesday night, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the entire budget the Republican-controlled Legislature sent him earlier in the evening, saying it was unworkable and leaving the state without a spending plan as the new fiscal year begins Wednesday.  Wolf's ax fell after lawmakers passed a trio of major bills that would spend $30.1 billion on programs and services without raising taxes and make the state's Prohibition-era liquor laws and public pension systems relics of the past.  Republican leaders of the House and Senate stood shoulder to shoulder in support of the legislation they advanced to Wolf, who had been threatening vetoes.

Pa. senator says school bill would allow state takeovers
ABC27 By Dave MarcheskiePublished: June 30, 2015, 5:39 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – State Senator Rob Replitz (D-Dauphin/Perry) said the move by Republicans to pass a state takeover of schools bill was done out of spite over budget disputes. He’s concerned Harrisburg schools could be caught in the middle.  Four words are what Teplitz said he wanted from Republicans. However, his request was denied and Senate Republicans passed Senate Bill 6 without his proposed amendment to include “or Chief Recovery Officer” to a list that would exempt schools from a state takeover.  Teplitz said to not include that “simple fix” language in the bill could leave individual schools in Harrisburg vulnerable to a state takeover. “(Senate Bill 6) was passed in the middle of the night,” he said. “It’s not a good idea for anyone and I don’t want my districts subject to it.”

Philadelphia's universal pre-K commission begins work
WHYY Newsworks BY BILL HANGLEY JUNE 30, 2015
Philadelphia's push to make quality preschool available citywide has taken another step with the inaugural meeting of the Mayor's Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.  The 17-member commission, established by a voter referendum last May, now faces a long list of questions, including where preschool programs should be located and who should be hired to provide them. But the commission's co-chair, Sharon Easterling, said the biggest question the group must contend with is how to pay for them.  "High quality programs are not cheap, but make no mistake," said Easterling, head of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. "They're far less expensive than ... special education, juvenile justice, incarceration, welfare dependency, and chronic health problems — all of which are ameliorated when children get off to a good start in life."

Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes Republican budget proposal. Now what?
By Christian Alexandersen | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 30, 2015 at 10:02 PM, updated July 01, 2015 at 6:04 AM
In an historic move, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Republican-crafted budget hours after it passed the full Pennsylvania General Assembly on Tuesday.  The Pennsylvania Senate voted 30-19 Tuesday to pass the $30.2 billion budget proposal after it passed the House of Representatives mostly along party lines on Saturday. The deadline to pass a budget is midnight Tuesday.  Here's a breakdown on what happens next and how the governor's veto affects you:

Day 1: Waiting for a Pa. budget
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 5:45 am
While we would have preferred a slightly earlier kickoff, let the state’s budget negotiations begin. Both sides have put their plans on the table.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf did so in his budget address in March.  The Republican-controlled General Assembly has done so in bills passed over the weekend and Tuesday, the end of the current fiscal year.  Today is the first day of the new fiscal year. We’ll be counting the days until a new budget is approved.

Smart Talk: Where do Gov. Wolf and Republicans differ on budget?
WITF Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 30, 2015 3:39 PM
Wednesday is July 1 -- the first day of Pennsylvania's 2015-2016 fiscal year.  A new state budget is supposed to be in place but as budget negotiations heated up in the last few weeks between the Democratic administration of Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders in the Senate and House, it became apparent the two sides were far apart in several key areas.
A little over a month after being inaugurated, Gov. Wolf outlined a spending plan that totaled $33.8 billion.  It included property tax relief and a reduced corporate net income tax but called for a new tax on natural gas drillers and higher sales and income taxes.  To fulfill a promise he made during his successful campaign for office, the governor wanted a significant increase in money for Pennsylvania's public schools.  From the beginning of the process, Republicans, who have majorities in both chambers of the legislature said their priorities were a solution to a $50 billion unfunded public pension debt and privatizing the state's liquor stores.

Senate sends GOP budget bill to Wolf’s desk to await veto
West Chester Daily Local By The Associated Press POSTED: 06/30/15, 7:51 PM EDT 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> A veto awaited a Republican-penned spending plan sent Tuesday to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk, as the GOP used its huge legislative majorities on the final day of the state government’s fiscal year to try to wrap up an ambitious agenda.  The nearly $30.2 billion budget bill passed the House and Senate without a single Democratic vote after negotiations between GOP leaders and Wolf stalled in recent weeks.  In the meantime, Republican worked to pass bills to license private companies to take over the marketing, shipment and sale of wine and liquor from the state, and to squeeze savings from the large pension systems for school employees and state workers, in part by moving new hires into 401(k)-style plans. Democratic lawmakers also opposed those bills.  Wolf said Tuesday it was only a question of whether he will veto the entire budget or part of it, as he seeks to force concessions from Republicans on his agenda.  After a brief meeting with House GOP leaders Tuesday morning, Wolf said both sides “will have some things to talk about tomorrow.”

Pa Budget Now Headed to Governor 06/30/2015 05:53 PM
The fate of the Republican-created budget proposal is now in Gov. Tom Wolf's hands after it has passed both house in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Erie's Democratic Senator Sean Wiley doesn't like it a bit and neither will Governor Tom Wolf.  House Bill 1192, the $30.1 billion GOP led spending plan, made a brief stop in the Senate on its collision course with a veto by Governor Tom Wolf.  In advance of the midnight deadline, the Senate of Pennsylvania approved the 2015-2016 Commonwealth Budget by a vote of 30-19.  “I am remarkably disappointed by this process, as there was nothing bi-partisan or in the best interest of the citizens of this   commonwealth in what happened here this week,” said Senator Sean D. Wiley (D-Erie). “We are once again faced with a spending plan full of stunts, one time transfers and creative accounting at its finest.”

Pennsylvania education advocates making big push for fair school funding 
Pittsburgh CityPaper By Rebecca Nuttall @PghReporter July 1, 2015
Montgomery County, Montour County, Northumberland County, Allegheny County and Philadelphia. Shoulder to shoulder, hundreds from across the state stood on the white steps of the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol in the Harrisburg last week.  Clad mostly in blue T-shirts, the diverse crowd formed a backdrop with signs that read: "Fund Our Schools," "All PA Kids Are Our Children," "Strong Schools = Strong Communities" and "Every Baby Needs a Laptop."  Among them were teachers and librarians, preschoolers and high schoolers, parents and recent graduates. Along with the line of speakers who graced the podium one by one, the riser of Pennsylvanians 10 rows high formed a patchwork quilt of concern.   "We are all here today because we have a problem in Pennsylvania," said Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters Pa. "That problem is that every child does not have access to an education that allows them to learn what we expect someone to learn to graduate from high school. Why? Because we are not providing it. The primary cause of this is unfair and insufficient funding, resulting in disparities in opportunity from community to community." 

Editorial: Legislature should follow equitable subsidy proposal
Reading Eagle  Tuesday June 30, 2015 12:01 AM
The Issue: A bipartisan commission's report makes recommendations for a new school-funding formula.  Our Opinion: State lawmakers should adopt its fairer distribution of education dollars. On the surface it doesn't seem too shabby that the Reading School District ranks 51st in state education dollars per student. There are, after all, 500 school districts in the state.  But here's the rub: Reading is still Pennsylvania's poorest city. That makes its funding a farce.  Shouldn't Reading be close to first in school funding, if not at the very top? How are the schools in the state's most impoverished place supposed to educate their students when 50 wealthier districts get more money?  Reading is hardly alone. Erie, the 29th-poorest in the state, ranks 196th in per-student aid. Allentown, No. 36 on the poverty list, is 231st on the funding list. And 141 districts get more state funds per student than Philadelphia, the state's 58th poorest city.

Philly SRC adopts $2.8 billion budget, but with a caveat
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night unanimously adopted a $2.8 billion budget for Philadelphia public schools that relies on more than $100 million in new but unlikely state funding. The district's budget includes $159 million in additional dollars proposed by Gov. Wolf, andneeds a minimum of $18 million from Harrisburg to close a projected deficit and avoid any further cuts. Although officials said they hope for the full amount to begin making new investments in the cash-strapped schools, the budget contains a clause that prohibits spending any additional money until the state budget is approved.

Substitute teachers angry with company
RETIRED TEACHER Linda MacNeal is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, but yesterday she found herself back in the union's office to vent.  The school district's new system of placing substitute teachers had been introduced at a morning informational session, prompting frustration and anger among some teachers over a cut in compensation.  The new per-diem rates teachers would earn under Source4Teachers is "just insulting to me. And it says that [the company] doesn't value teachers," said MacNeal, who worked for the district for 34 years.  The School Reform Commission approved a three-year, $34 million contract earlier this month with the Cherry Hill firm Source4Teachers and moved on from their longtime partner, the PFT.

Tired of hearing about failing schools? Here are four that work.
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 1 at 5:00 AM  
Here are four new profiles of some of the winners in a pilot project calledSchools of Opportunity, which is highlighting schools that are creating healthy environments for students, teachers and staff. Seventeen schools were named as inaugural winners in initiative to identify and recognize public high schools that seek to close opportunity gaps through practices “that build on students’ strengths” — not by inundating them with tests. (You can see the list here.)

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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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 »

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