Friday, July 10, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 10: Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvanians have a choice of investing adequately and fairly in our public education system, or not doing that

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 10, 2015:
Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvanians have a choice of investing adequately and fairly in our public education system, or not doing that

Gov. Wolf vetoes pension reform bill as budget stalemate rhetoric intensifies
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, July 9, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf Thursday vetoed the General Assembly-passed pension reform plan as rhetoric from both sides intensified and Pennsylvania’s budget stalemate entered its ninth day.  In vetoing the pension reform bill—which would have moved new state and public school hires into a hybrid cash-balance and 401(k)-like pension plan—Gov. Wolf said there were portions of the legislation he could support, but the plan would hinder the Commonwealth’s ability to attract new, highly qualified employees.  “I understand the need for pension reform, but this legislation provides no immediate cost savings to taxpayers and does not maximize long-term savings for taxpayers. We need pension reform that works," he said in a statement on the veto. "There are provisions within this legislation, which as part of a comprehensive pension proposal I could support; however, Senate Bill 1 does not address the problems facing our pension system comprehensively and fairly."

"Between them, the pension funds for state employees and teachers may be more than $50 billion short. And teacher pensions are “the giant sucking sound for school budgets,” said John Callahan, senior director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Rising pension costs account for the “overwhelming majority” of school tax increases, he said, and passing SB 1 “was an important initiative” to rein in the expense."
Wolf says he'll veto public pension bill; GOP criticizes his actions
By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 9, 2015 11:30 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-drafted overhaul of Pennsylvania’s public pensions Thursday, a move that is raising temperatures in what is already becoming — legislatively, at least — a long, hot summer.  The legislation, Senate Bill 1, would have ended the traditional defined-benefit pension for future state and public school workers, instead enrolling them in a 401(k)-style plan. The bill would have applied to the legislators’ own future paychecks, but not to public-safety workers or to existing employees.  Mr. Wolf’s veto follows similar rebukes last week of a Republican budget and liquor privatization plan. Public-sector unions, who were staunch backers of Mr. Wolf’s 2014 election, hailed the move.

"Rather than detailing his position on the proposed shift to a 401(k)-style system, Wolf offered a few other reasons for rejecting the Republicans' pension bill. He said one piece of it would have violated federal tax law. He also wants to see immediate savings to help school districts facing big pension bills. For that short-term relief, Wolf has proposed borrowing money."
Wolf cagey on pension position as Pa. impasse drags on
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JULY 10, 2015
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf isn't ruling out a switch to 401(k)-style retirement plans for Pennsylvania's future state and school employees.  "I think we can actually come up with a pension plan that's fair to employees and that meets the concerns that have been expressed by taxpayers," said Wolf when asked if he could sign such a proposal.  After nine days of review, Wolf vetoed a GOP-backed bill Thursday to overhaul the state's public retirement benefits. The measure's biggest change would be for new hires of the state and public schools. Instead of a guaranteed pension payout upon retirement, they would invest employee and employer contributions into a 401(k)-style savings plan.

Surprising no one, Gov. Wolf vetoes pensions - hope you didn't make plans: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 09, 2015 at 1:02 PM, updated July 09, 2015 at 1:10 PM
It took Gov. Tom Wolf all of 10 seconds on Thursday to confirm what most of Pennsylvania's political and chattering class had suspected for the last 10 days:   A mere 24 hours before the deadline, he's finally vetoed a Republican-authored pension reform plan.  "I'm going to veto it," Wolf said during an early morning interview on KQV-Radio in Pittsburgh.   Hours later, Wolf made it official, and issued a statement confirming the veto. And with it, whoever was silly enough to make summer vacation plans flung them out the window, as the prospect of a weeks-long stalemate calcified from mere supposition into a reality nearly as suffocating as Harrisburg's August humidity.

"Wolf’s press secretary, Jeff Sheridan, said, “The entire commonwealth would be worse off” if Wolf signed off on the Republican’s budget.  “Chairman Adolph and the other Republican leaders have given us multibillion dollar deficits, struggling schools and rising property taxes. It is time for Chairman Adolph and the Republicans to stop ignoring math and to stop pretending that their same gimmicks, irresponsibility and deficits will help move the commonwealth forward.”
Adolph: Guv’s veto withholds $13B from service providers
By Kristina Scala, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 07/09/15, 10:55 PM EDT
HARRISBURG>> State Rep. Bill Adolph responded Thursday to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget veto, saying it potentially withholds $13 billion from state agencies and government service providers. “Gov. Wolf’s veto was an overreaching knee-jerk reaction that unnecessarily withholds billions from service providers,” Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, said in a prepared statement. “His veto of funding for nonprofits, schools and social service providers to gain leverage in his quest for higher taxes is unfortunate and will negatively affect innocent people and organizations.” The governor’s veto last week of the Republican-driven budget followed Wolf’s journey across the state touting his plan to increase school funding by implementing a natural gas drilling tax and significantly reducing property taxes from personal income tax and corporate sales tax hikes.

"Republicans are ignoring the will of the people of Pennsylvania. The public has spoken time and again that they also prioritize more funding for schools and property tax relief and a majority of Pennsylvanians support a common-sense severance tax. They voted for divided government — not dysfunction."
Gov. Wolf compromises, GOP won't (letter)
York Daily Record Letter By Mark Nicastre UPDATED:   07/09/2015 02:11:49 PM EDT
Mark Nicastre is a spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf.
In his budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf told Republicans and Democrats alike to bring him different ideas and he would listen. But, he also said that simply saying no is not an option.
In an effort to hear from Republican leaders and members, the governor made outreach a priority. He went above and beyond. The governor put on his calendar time for weekly meetings with Republican leadership; he dropped in on dozens upon dozens of Republican members around the Capitol and invited every member of the Legislature — some on multiple occasions — to break bread, literally, with him at the governor's residence over breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the night before and the morning of the governor's budget address, Sens. Corman and Scarnati were no shows for traditional briefings where the governor explains his budget proposal. Immediately following his address, Republican leaders rejected the governor's budget outright — without ever having a conversation.  In the end, the Republicans passed a budget that contained their priorities and nothing else. The Republican budget failed to include a common-sense severance tax, it does not restore cuts made by Republicans to education over the last four years or reduce property taxes, and the Republican budget would increase — rather than responsibly address — the structural budget deficit.

Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve better
Centre Daily Times Opinion BY KERRY BENNINGHOFF July 10, 2015 
Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, represents the 171st state House District.
The hard truth is that Pennsylvania is in an unnecessary budget stalemate because Gov. Tom Wolf has chosen politics over governing.  The governor recently vetoed a responsible spending plan, withholding billions of dollars in undisputed state and federal funds from day care centers, nursing homes, public schools and other organizations that serve our most vulnerable citizens, putting them and those they serve at risk for no good reason.  The balanced budget vetoed by Wolf makes record investments in pre-K-12 education (more than any budget in Pennsylvania’s 239-year history), provides more money for our higher education institutions, enables the state police to hire 350 new troopers and increases funding for critical health line items.

"A state government commission has recommended a new funding formula for distributing state funds to school districts, but Manderino says its still up in the air whether that formula would be applied to all state appropriations or only new state dollars. The recommendation also doesn’t specify how to fill in various education funding cuts made over the last several years.  Manderino says that school districts have been increasingly forced to rely on local sources to stay up and running – which has led to higher taxes and uneven funding across the state. School districts in wealthier areas have weathered the storm okay, but many poor districts in rural or urban areas have not.  “We have the hugest gap between rich and poor school districts, and therefore rich and poor students, of any state,” Manderino says."
Labor and Industry Secretary Talks Budget & Education in State College by Michael Martin Garrett on July 09, 2015 11:19 AM
Pennsylvania’s new Secretary of Labor and Industry Kathy Manderino doesn’t mince words.
She wants to foster economic development and job creation in Pennsylvania – but she freely admits there’s just one small problem with that. The state government is currently without a budget, and may be without one for an extended period of time while lawmakers wage fiscal war in Harrisburg.  Speaking to business and community leaders at a meeting of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County on Wednesday, Manderino says the budget stalemate reveals an important truth about the state of the Keystone State.   “We have a structural deficient, and we need to restructure how the state brings in revenue,” Manderino says.

Gov. Tom Wolf says Republican budget made him 'sad' for public schools
Lancaster Online By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015 4:58 pm | Updated: 5:27 pm, Thu Jul 9, 2015.
Pennsylvanians have a choice, said Gov. Tom Wolf in a visit to Hambright Elementary School in Manor Township  on Thursday.  “That choice involves investing adequately and fairly in our public education system, or not doing that.”  Wolf promoted his school funding proposal to Penn Manor School District staff and residents as part of his “Schools That Teach” tour, even as he and the Republican-controlled Legislature remain at a budget impasse.

Where Pa. stands with education funding
the notebook By WITF staff on Jul 9, 2015 09:53 AM Audio Runtime 19:36
Last month, the Basic Education Funding Commission unveiled its updated school funding formula after more than a year of work reviewing the process. The Senate Education Committee crafted a bill around the recommendations made by the Basic Education Funding Commission to more equally distribute resources to schools. The bill was vetoed last week.
On today's program, Keystone Crossroads' Kevin McCorry joins WITF's Dennis Owens to discuss the funding situation for school districts across the commonwealth. Also in the studio will be Sens. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Robert Teplitz (D-Perry), who were part of the Basic Education Commission, John Callahan from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera. 

Here's why you should ignore Scott Wagner's distorted view of public schools: Art Haywood
PennLive Op-Ed  By Art Haywood on July 09, 2015 at 2:00 PM
State Sen. Art Haywood, a Democrat, represents the Philadelphia-based 4th Senate District.
A recent op-ed from State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, regarding public education spending in Pennsylvania ("Pa. doesn't need to spend more on schools, it needs to spend more wisely") contained some glaring omissions that must be addressed.  As a result of these omissions, Wagner makes the false argument that Pennsylvania schools are already adequately funded.    Wagner says that Pennsylvania is 12th in the nation for per-pupil spending. Per-pupil spending is a calculation of the average dollars spent on each student in Pennsylvania.  This figure has little relevance for students in poor and minority districts. In a state with the largest gap between poor and wealthy education funding, average school district spending is not actual spending. We have schools without librarians in short distance of schools with state-of-the-art technology labs.

PA: Ugly Cut Scores Coming
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Thursday, July 9, 2015
Brace yourself, Pennsylvania teachers. The cut scores for last years tests have been set, and they are not pretty.   Yesterday the State Board's Council of  Basic Education met to settle their recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding cut scores for the 2014-2015 test results. Because, yes-- cut scores are set after test results are in, not before. You'll see why shortly.  My source at the meeting (don't laugh-- I do actually have sources of information here and there) passed along some of the results, as well as an analysis of the impact of the new scores and the Board's own explanation of how these scores are set. The worst news is further down the stage, but first I have to explain how we get there.

US Senate approves Pat Toomey effort to ban schools from recommending suspected abusers
Morning Call By Laura Olson Call Washington Bureau July 10, 2015
The U.S. Senate approved an amendment from Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey on Thursday that aims to prevent school employees from quietly taking a job in a new district after being suspected of sexually abusing a child.  The proposal is a scaled-back version of a bill that Toomey has sponsored with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. The Pennsylvania Republican has been persistently promoting that measure in Senate floor speeches and in TV ads purchased by his re-election team.  Toomey's legislation attempted to do two things: require tougher, standardized background checks for school workers in every state, and prohibit school districts from assisting an employee suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor from taking a position in a new district.
The effort faced opposition from both sides of the aisle, with some teachers' groups' seeking exceptions to the background check rules. Some Republicans — including Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is shepherding the chamber's education bill through debate — had concerns about imposing on the rights of state and local governments to regulate schools.

"He has restored the reputation to a system that was so lacking when he arrived.
That is called credibility.  He has consistently shown grace under pressure, which is one definition of courage.  Hite makes a good salary. But, it's no surprise, given his performance, that the SRC wanted to give him a $60,000 bonus. And it's no surprise that Hite turned it down, saying it would be unfair given the district's finances.  We call that leadership."
DN Editorial: SAVING PRIVATE HITE: The superintendent got a vote of confidence. He deserves the Medal of Honor
Philly Daily News Editorial POSTED: Friday, July 10, 2015, 12:16 AM
IN A VOTE of confidence, the School Reform Commission last week said it owed Superintendent William Hite what it called a "performance bonus."  It should have been called combat pay. That's the extra pay given to members of the U.S. military who serve in "designated combat zones or hazardous duty areas." That pretty much describes the Philadelphia School District, certainly in 2012 when Hite took over after the SRC fired Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

Interim receiver appointed for Chester Upland
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 07/09/15, 10:53 PM EDT
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> President Judge Chad F. Kenney granted a petition from the state’s Department of Education during a Thursday morning hearing to appoint Dr. Francis Barnes as interim receiver of the Chester Upland School District.  Barnes has been serving as the district’s chief recovery officer since January, after an attempt by the department to remove Joseph Watkins as receiver. Watkins announced last month that he was moving on to a new position with a private social media company effective July 1. He agreed to stay until Thursday to allow a new receiver to be appointed.  A former secretary of education under Gov. Ed Rendell, Barnes has been a school administrator for 45 years and attorneys for the district and the elected school board supported his appointment.  Kenney praised the efforts of Watkins during his tenure, which began in December 2012, saying that most of the issues facing the district have been resolved. Educational programs have seen improvement, schools are safer and the condition of the district’s school buildings is getting better, he said. The only thing left to correct is the chronic underfunding that leads to its structural deficit, Kenney said. The judge felt it was important to note that to manage expectations for Barnes’ tenure as receiver.

Haverford OKs budget, 2.8 percent tax hike
Delco Times By Lois Puglionesi, Times Correspondent POSTED: 07/09/15, 10:55 PM EDT
HAVERFORD >> The Haverford School Board voted 8-0 at a recent meeting to adopt a $107 million final budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, with no changes from the proposed version. Included is a 2.8 percent millage increase that raises rates to 29.4719 mills.  The new rate will add $132 to taxes on the average residential property assessed at $164,121, for a total $4,837. The balanced budget did not require a draw down from the fund balance, which has recovered to $7.47 million.  Also approved was a $171 Homestead/Farmstead exclusion, which will appear as a credit for those enrolled in the program.  This year’s Act 1 Index allowed for a 1.9 percent tax increase. However, the district obtained an exception for Public School Employees’ Retirement System costs.

Two kinds of community schools
the notebook Commentary By James H. Lytle on Jul 9, 2015 11:30 AM
James H. Lytle is Practice Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, a former District administrator, and a former superintendent in Trenton.
During their primary campaigns, Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke both said community schools were part of their vision for improving public schooling. Their frequent allusions to this school model suggest that community schools will gain more attention as the November election nears and might even become a key part of Clarke’s and presumptive Mayor Kenney's education agenda in 2016.  For Kenney, "community schools" are educational facilities that house schools but also offer things like medical care, social services, and community educational resources. They create a single point of contact that can keep students from missing school for things like doctor’s appointments and can reach families where they are.  Clarke shares that view. He sees schools as community centers, where kids and families can receive health care, psychological counseling, employment training, and referrals to other public assistance. These centers could be in or near schools and would host a multidisciplinary team of service providers, including social workers, alcohol and drug counselors, and other health professionals. They would also provide other services like tax education, GED preparation and college-readiness programs.
The concept of a community school, however, has a range of interpretations in both policy and practice. More broadly, community schools typically fall under two types of approaches: “communities in schools” and “communities and schools.” Understanding the differences can help clarify and extend Kenney and Clarke's vision for how this approach might play out in Philadelphia.

Are We Paying Too Much in Taxes, or Not Enough?
Education Week Opinion By Dave Powell on July 8, 2015 10:37 AM
I've written several times already about the politics of education in my local community, and how they played out in a recent school board election. My sense is that the issues we face here—especially with regard to funding education and ensuring that the needs and interests of students come first, ahead of the needs and interests of others—are issues that people face in a lot of communities around the country.  They came to a head in that election because five people ran together as a group for seats on the school board promising to advance school policies that were simultaneously good for taxpayers and good for students. These five candidates made it clear that they were mad as hell and just weren't going to take it anymore. Their brand of rebellion was a kind that we have all become accustomed to in the age of "Taxpayer Protection Pledges" and reductions in government services: the famous plan concocted by conservatives to starve the beast until we can get it down to the size where it can be drowned in the bathtub, as professional activist Grover Norquist once so eloquently put it, is slowly coming to fruition. That bathtub image is a chilling one when you think of our government as something that was created of, by, and for the people, to borrow the words of a somewhat more thoughtful political actor. 

Some states would lose big money with proposed education funding changes
Washington Post By Emma Brown July 10 at 6:00 AM  
Congress’s debate about rewriting the nation’s main education law has featured high-profile disagreements over testingvouchers and school accountability, but there is another issue that has just as much potential to derail the legislation: Money.  A forthcoming amendment from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would change the formula used to allocate Title I funds, a move that would create big winners and losers among the states.  Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia would gain Title I dollars, which are meant to educate poor children. But that leaves 14 states that would see cuts, including big losers New York (whose districts would lose $310 million), Illinois ($188 million) and Pennsylvania ($120 million).

Senate passes amendment to restore local governance in public education
NSBAwire on July 9, 2015   Charlotte Blane
As the leading voice for public education, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) continues to advocate on behalf of school board members throughout the country to ensure that their policy concerns are represented during the modernization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). NSBA has worked closely with senators on both sides of the aisle to consider provisions that underscore the importance of strong local governance and community ownership for our nation’s 90,000 school board members who work to provide all students with a high quality public education.    The Senate voted this morning on several amendments, including Amendment 2079 to the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which would help ensure that local stakeholders have a stronger voice in both the regulatory and guidance processes for ESEA. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a former school board member and past president of the Nebraska Association of School Boards, introduced the amendment with Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to “ensure that communities have ultimate authority over their school districts,” and “strengthen the relationship among local school board members and parents.” NSBA is pleased that the amendment passed by a voice vote.

House narrowly votes to renew No Child Left Behind after drama
The Hill By Cristina Marcos July 08, 2015, 06:53 pm
The House on Wednesday voted to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law, resurrecting a bill that Republican leaders were forced to pull from the floor earlier this year due to conservative opposition.  Passage fell narrowly along party lines on a vote of 218-213, with 27 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition to nearly derail it on the floor.   For most of the roll call, the bill had more votes against it than in favor. Many Republicans either held out their votes until the last minute or changed their votes under pressure from GOP leaders.  Conservative lawmakers had pushed for the adoption of several amendments allowing schools to opt out of No Child Left Behind requirements. Only one of those amendments, from Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), was adopted, with lawmakers voting 251-178 to allow parents to exempt their children from testing.
“Parents are becoming increasingly fed up with such constant and onerous testing requirements, as well as the teachers,” Salmon said during floor debate.  A separate proposal from Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) would have allowed states to opt out of No Child Left Behind and still receive federal funding. That amendment failed 195-235, as 49 Republicans aligned with Democrats to defeat it.

"An analysis of local news reports and school district data by The New York Times found that at least one out of every six students eligible to take the third- through eighth-grade tests in New York State sat at least one of them out this past school year, part of the so-called opt out movement. Parent groups and the state teachers union fueled the movement to try to force changes to the tests and how they are used (test results are an important factor in teacher evaluations)."
New York Swaps State Test-Makers Amid Strife Over Exams
New York Times By ELIZABETH A. HARRISJULY 9, 2015
A new company has been chosen to develop the assessments for New York State students in third through eighth grades, a contentious group of tests that spawned a backlash in recent years.
Questar Assessments, a company based in Minneapolis, received a five-year, $44 million deal, the State Education Department said on Thursday. The previous contract, for $32 million, was held by Pearson, an international education company based in London that has become a lightning rod in education policy around the country.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: July 1 - 7, 2015
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on July 7, 2015 - 12:57pm 
After victories reining in testing misuse and overuse in several states and good proposals continuing to move forward in other state legislatures, the assessment reform movement's focus shifts to Capitol Hill where the Senate will debate a bipartisan proposal to replace the failed "No Child Left Behind" law with a bipartisan package. FairTest and its allies are pushing for further amendments to take Washington's foot off the testing accelerator by reducing the volume of federally mandated tests.
National Finally, Congress to Debate "No Child Left Behind" Overhaul
Black and Brown Parents' Groups Call for End to "Oppressive, High-Stakes Standardized Testing and Sanctions"
What You Can Do NOW! -- Tell Your U.S. Senators to Kill Every-Kid-Every-Year Testing

"This era has not been good for students; nearly a quarter live in poverty, and fully 51% live in low-income families. This era has not been good for teachers, who feel disrespected and demeaned by governors, legislatures, and the U.S. Department of Education. This era has not been good for parents, who see their local public schools lose resources to charter schools and see their children subjected to endless, intensive testing.  It will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan’s policies have inflicted on public education. He exceeded the authority of his office to promote a failed agenda, one that had no evidence behind it. The next president and the next Secretary of Education will have an enormous job to do to restore our nation’s public education system from the damage done by Race to the Top. We need leadership that believes in the joy of learning and in equality of educational opportunity. We have not had either for 15 years."
Diane Ravitch’s devastating Arne Duncan critique: The education secretary earned his F
It will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan's policies have inflicted on public education by DIANE RAVITCH THURSDAY, JUL 9, 2015 10:43 AM EDT
Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post has written a sympathetic article about Arne Duncan and the waning of his powers as Secretary of Education. He is a nice guy. He is a close friend of the president. He cares about individual children that he met along the way. The pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will prohibit him and future Secretaries from interfering in state decisions about standards, curriculum and assessment. His family has already moved back to Chicago. But he will stay on the job to the very end.
When Obama was elected, many educators and parents thought that Obama would bring a new vision of the federal role in education, one that freed schools from the test-and-punish mindset of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. But Arne Duncan and Barack Obama had a vision no different from George W. Bush and doubled down on the importance of testing, while encouraging privatization and undermining the teaching profession with a $50 million grant to Teach for America to place more novice teachers in high-needs schools. Duncan never said a bad word about charters, no matter how many scandals and frauds were revealed.

"But now his children will attend a progressive private school in Chicago, a school that does not follow key school reform policies that his Education Department has set for public schools.  It does not, for example, use the Common Core State Standards (though many teachers there support them). It does not bombard its students with standardized tests or spend weeks each semester in test-prep mode. It does not evaluate teachers by student standardized test scores. In 2013, 20 Lab teachers signed a letter to Duncan protesting his policies that promote standardized test-based school reform. Also among the signatories were teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school founded by a team of people that included Duncan."
Education Secretary Duncan’s children to go to Chicago private school he attended
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 9 at 1:32 PM  
Education Secretary Arne Duncan grew up in Chicago and attended the private, prestigious University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. The pre-K-12 Lab Schools are progressive institutions that, according to its Web site, “ignite and nurture an enduring spirit of scholarship, curiosity, creativity, and confidence” and “value learning experientially, exhibiting kindness, and honoring diversity.”  The teachers there are unionized and respected by administrators. President Obama’s two daughters attended the school before moving to Washington in 2009, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s children are enrolled there now. And in the fall, Duncan’s children will be attending Lab, too, while his wife works there.

Budgets, Testing Commanded State Lawmakers' Attention
Education Week by By Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: July 7, 2015
State legislatures began their sessions this year as they did in 2011, on the heels of a year heavy on state elections—and victories by Republicans.  But for the most part, their recent K-12 action hasn't set off shock waves the way Wisconsin lawmakers did four years ago when they and GOP Gov. Scott Walker curtailed collective bargaining for public school teachers and most other public employees.  Instead, legislatures continued to rebuild and revamp their K-12 budgets during a modest economic recovery, at the same time they re-examined how to deliver educational services and assess students' performance.

EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, July 12 at 3:00 p.m. 
Part 1: Discussion on the Financial Condition of School Districts in Pennsylvania
Jay D. Himes, Executive Director, PA Association of School Business Officials and
Dr. Tim Shrom, Business Manager, Solanco School District
Part 2: An Interview with Dr. Don Francis, President, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to education and school funding issues.
"Focus on Education" is a monthly program focusing on education issues in Pennsylvania. The program has most recently covered topics including  the National Math + Science Initiative; Pennsylvania's Political and Legislative Landscape and Its Implications for Funding Education; Ethics in School Districts, the Role of Intermediate Units, Reactions to Governor Wolf's 2015-2016 State Education Budget Proposal; and Physical Education and Health Education Issues for Students. Past programs are posted on the EPLC site.
"Focus on Education" airs on the second Sunday of each month at 3:00 p.m. EST on Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) and then airs again several times throughout the same month.

Nominations for PSBA's Allwein Advocacy Award now open
PSBA July 7, 2015
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  The 2015 Allwein Award nomination process will close on Aug. 28, 2015. The 2015 Allwein Award Nomination Form is available online. More details on the award and nominations process can be found online

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.

Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Formula Video
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association gives an overview of the newly proposed Basic Education Funding Formula.

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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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