Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 13: Senate Expected to Finish Work on NCLB Rewrite This Week
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now
reach more than 3700 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
Don't look now, but
the Senate is actually having a constructive debate on a contentious issue. In an environment that has been tense and
marked by bullying on everything from defense spending to trade policy to the
fate of the Export-Import Bank, the Senate's debate over a carefully negotiated
bipartisan education bill has gone remarkably smoothly. The chamber has held
dozens of votes on amendments, some of which were controversial and voted down,
and accepted dozens more without conflict. Everyone seems to be breathing a
sigh of relief. The Senate is
expected to finish its work on the education bill this week, marking a major
milestone for educators and advocates who have been looking for a rewrite of No
Child Left Behind for eight years. The House passed its more-conservative
version of the legislation last week, with an eye toward a conference committee
with the Senate. Democrats oppose the House version, but they also know that it
can't move any further to the right in conference if President Obama is
expected to sign it.
York Dispatch By JESSICA SCHLADEBECK
505-5438/@JessDispatch POSTED: 07/13/2015 12:40:09 AM EDT
An amendment to the No Child Left Behind act, one that is
expected to face a vote in the Senate sometime this week, could provide more
than $30 billion to be invested in voluntary, locally driven pre-K programs. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., introduced the
amendment, which would fund universal pre-kindergarten classes by ending the
corporate inversions tax loophole that allows American companies to claim they
are headquartered overseas and, ultimately, avoid taxes. "Upon enactment, it would provide an innovative federal
and state partnership to improve early learning," Casey said.The amendment would provide more than $30
billion in paid-for mandatory formula and grant funding to states for
high-quality, full-day preschool for 4-year-old children from families earning
less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that
would be an annual income of $48,500.Pennsylvania could see
$817 million over five years, serving an estimated 93,930 children, according
to Casey's office.
“Our students deserve the
best education possible, but our public education has become overly burdened by
standardized tests,” he said. “Frustrated teachers and parents – not to mention
students – are all saying the same thing. We need to do something about
excessive testing in our public schools.
“My bipartisan amendment provides a solution to many of the redundant,
low-quality and unnecessary testing,” he said. “It will empower teachers and
parents by enabling already-existing federal funds to state and local education
agencies to develop curriculum plans to make better use of tests for the
student. “I have heard from teachers,
students, and administrators from across the Sixth District on the burdens of
redundant and excessive testing in our schools, and my amendment helps to
address this concern,” said Costello, who has frequently pointed to his own
family’s role as local educators.
New education bill has Costello amendment
West Chester Daily Local By Michael P. Rellahan,
email@example.com, @ChescoCourtNews on Twitter POSTED: 07/11/15, 2:58 PM
Legislation that would re-write the so-called No Child Left
Behind education law adopted by Congress during the Bush Administration has
narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives, containing an amendment
co-authored by a ChesterCounty legislator. U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th, of West
Chester and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, wrote an amendment to the new
bill that would scale back what they called excessive standardized testing in
public schools. Following passage of the
new Elementary and Secondary Education Act on Wednesday, Costello issued a
statement about its importance, and his amendment’s intended effect.
House Education Bill
Includes Meehan Proposals to Protect Students from Predators, Give Flexibility
Congressman Meehan Press Release Jul 9, 2015
An education bill passed by the House this week includes language authored by
Rep. Patrick Meehan that prevents school districts from facilitating the
out-of-state transfer of employees who have abused children. H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, reauthorizes
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The legislation was approved
by the House on Wednesday evening. The legislation ends the practice of
interstate confidentiality agreements between schools and child sex abusers.
Blogger's note: it is anticipated that
the PA Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the pending school
funding lawsuit sometime this fall…..
"The winners could play
a role in deciding state policy on issues such as school funding, labor
regulations, and the death penalty. They also could change the court's
political make-up, now 3-2 in favor of Republicans, with two vacancies."
Money makes a difference
in state judge races
JASON LAUGHLIN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: July 13, 2015, 1:07 AM
How many lawyers does it take to fund a Supreme Court race?
Almost a thousand, according to recently filed documents
that provide a detailed picture of who gave to whom in this year's race for
three seats on the state's high court. Why
they gave - and what the benefits may be - are not always clear. Among the lawyers who collectively gave about
$1.5 million to judicial candidates are some who likely will eventually
represent clients before the state's high court. The host of litigators is joined by political
action committees, unions, business owners, and regular folks who, from Jan. 1
to June 8, made 4,130 contributions totaling $5.6 million in a state that has
no limits on individual spending. Money
is essential in typically low-profile judicial races to build name recognition,
and 12 candidates spent at least $2.7 million on advertising, primarily
television, before the May 19 primary. Now
Democrats Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, and David Wecht and Republicans
Anne Covey, Judy Olson, and Michael George will compete for 10-year terms on
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 07/11/15, 10:08 PM EDT
Tom Wolf stormed into the governor’s mansion vowing to be a
different kind of governor. Well, if
you’re comparing him to his predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett, he’s been good
to his word. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Regardless of what else you think about
Corbett, one thing he did manage to do was something his predecessor, Democrat
Ed Rendell, did not. Corbett delivered four consecutive budgets – on time and
without a tax hike. Of course, it very
well may have been those austere spending plans that opened the door for his
exit. Wolf believed he came to Harrisburg
with a mandate for change.
Unfortunately, voters who could not wait to dump the unpopular Corbett
did not do the Democrat Wolf any favors when it comes to the Legislature.
Republicans actually increased their majorities in both the House and Senate.
Wolf willing to explore sales, income tax hike alternatives
WPXI By MARC LEVY The Associated Press Posted: 2:48 p.m.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday
that he would listen to ways to wipe out a long-term deficit and increase
education aid without raising sales or income taxes, but he also insisted that
the deficit be addressed honestly and without what he calls "smoke and
mirrors." Wolf's comments to
reporters, following a speech to the Pennsylvania American Legion convention at
a downtown Harrisburg
hotel, came on the 10th day his administration is without signed budget
legislation that gives it the authority to pay all of its bills in the new
fiscal year. A key sticking point
identified earlier in the week by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman was Wolf's
insistence on an income or sales tax increase to support state spending. Asked
if he could get what he wanted for education and the deficit without raising
income or sales taxes, Wolf, a Democrat, said he was not sure. "I don't know how you do that, but I'd
like to see," Wolf said. "There might be some ways and I'd be happy
to work with ways" to do it. He
added that budget-makers must be honest about a long-term budget deficit that
has prompted rating agency downgrades and left Pennsylvania's creditworthiness in the
nation's basement. "We can't use
smoke and mirrors that we've used in the past," Wolf said. "We've got
to get to it in a real way to a balanced budget. I'm willing to talk about
things, but I haven't heard anything yet."
Negotiations were at a standstill Friday, with no new talks
Pottstown Mercury By Peter
Jackson, The Associated Press POSTED: 07/11/15,
12:23 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> It’s almost time to get serious at
the Pennsylvania Capitol.
Almost, because this
is only the second week that the state government has been operating without a
budget — not long enough for most taxpayers to feel the legal constraints on
spending $30 billion-plus of their money they rightfully expect to see invested
in programs and services this year.
There’s still time for the Republicans who control the Legislature and
freshman Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to come to terms on a compromise budget
before the stalemate becomes a crisis. But there had been
time before the fiscal year ended June 30, too, and both sides spent it mostly
talking past each other. Ultimately, Wolf vetoed a rash of bills the
Legislature’s Republican majority passed without input from Wolf or
Democrats.Amid growing anxiety among
nonprofits and county agencies over a potentially lengthy disruption of money
that supports the state’s social-services safety net, there’s no indication of
a restart of budget talks or that positions are softening.
"It all overshadows the
fact that lawmakers and Wolf have staked out some common ground on the property
tax issue, no matter how rough the rhetoric gets."
impasse drowns out property tax relief conversation
By Andrew Staub | PA Independent July 13, 2015
Finding a way to give Pennsylvania
homeowners relief from their school property taxes is hard enough on its own,
but doing it during a budget impasse that’s lurched two weeks into July is even
more difficult. While there’s some
consensus on how to shift billions of dollars of school funding onto other
taxes, Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf are fighting over
the budget and other complicated issues, such as privatizing wine and liquor
sales, public pension reform and more taxes on the gas-drilling industry. Adding property tax reform to the list might
be putting too much on the plate of a Legislature that will never be accused of
moving quickly, said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor and
pollster at Franklin & MarshallCollege. “I think it’s the least likely of all the
things that are being discussed to take place because you don’t have to have
the budget contingent on it,” he said. Wolf
vetoed a GOP budget that didn’t raise taxes and ignored his top priorities,
property tax relief among them. He also vetoed a Republican liquor
privatization plan and followed that Thursday with a veto of the party’s
pension reform bill, a move that only further inflamed discord at the Capitol.
How do you resolve the current budget stalemate now that we
are a week and a half into the new fiscal year without a legal state spending
plan? Quick. Take a yellow legal pad and
draw a vertical line dividing the sheet into two equal halves. Head the left column with "Three things
the Governor wants." Head the right hand column with "Three
things the GOP leaders want." Put
this in column one: Extraction tax on Marcellus Shale; More money for basic
education and tax reform. In the GOP
column write: Liquor reform; pension reform and no major new taxes We know this has to be the basic list for
each side because they broadcast their demands early and often.
Thirty years ago the "bible" for negotiators was
"Getting to Yes," the work product of the Harvard Negotiation
Project. Its premise is that
"principled negotiators" can find acceptable solutions by determining
which needs are fixed and which are flexible.
The book, which appeared on Business Week's "Best-Seller" list
for more than three years, said that principled negotiation was based on
several propositions, including separating people from the problem and
insisting on using objective criteria. As
we head into the hot days of summer without any sign of white smoke from the
budget enclave chimney, the 200-page volume should be mandatory reading.
A sequel, "Getting Past No," should be on the
list, too. Sadly, that's where we're stuck right now.
budget passed on party-line votes by the House and Senate-- that Wolf
rightfully vetoed -- is the kind of budget Pennsylvanians might have
expected if former Gov. Tom Corbett had been reelected."
Gov. Wolf has compromised
- your turn Republicans: Kevin J. Schreiber
State Rep. Kevin J.
Schreiber, a Democrat, represents the York County-based 95th House District.
Gov. Tom Wolf's original budget proposal promised real
action on longstanding policy problems that politicians from both parties had
long given lip service without action, and for which Pennsylvanians across the
political spectrum had long been asking.
These included new investments in our schools and students, an end to
over-reliance on property taxes that burden homeowners and harm communities,
and an end to gimmick-based budgeting that results in perennial deficits and
harmful credit downgrades for Pennsylvania. While disagreement and debate on a large and
complex budget are natural and desirable, the refusal to even consider Wolf's
policy priorities or to seek common ground is unacceptable.
Veto override tough
proposition for GOP as Pa.
budget impasse drags on
Trib Live By Brad
Bumsted Sunday, July 12, 2015, 9:30 p.m. HARRISBURG — If
a state budget impasse continues, conservative Democrats eventually will be
willing to join Republicans and override Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of a no-tax-hike
budget, House Speaker Mike Turzai predicts.
In an interview with the Tribune-Review, the Marshall Republican said he
couldn't predict when that might happen, although observers say privately they
suspect pressure will ratchet up on Wolf and lawmakers by August when
nonprofits run low on cash and lawmakers' reserve funds dwindle. “It's very difficult to say” whether
so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats — mostly Western
Pennsylvania conservatives — would support a veto override, said
their leader, Rep. Nick Kotik of Coraopolis.
“It's pretty tough for a lot of guys, going against the governor,” Kotik
said. He has said many don't support boosting state taxes.
Pa. tweaks law on background checks for those working
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JULY 13, 2015
Administrative staff, certain volunteers, and university
employees are no longer required by Pennsylvania
law to be fingerprinted and submit to criminal history and child
abuse-background checks. The tweaks to
the child protection law were signed by Gov. Tom Wolf July 1. Lawmakers had beefed up background-check requirements last
legislative session in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. But
some groups thought the changes went too far – such as university professors
who balked at having to be fingerprinted in order to teach their 17-year-old
students.Others were confounded by the
employment descriptions lawmakers used to determine who would need the
background checks. Schools weren't sure if parent volunteers would need
clearances. Fire companies couldn't tell if their "junior
firefighters" program meant all firefighters would need to be fingerprinted."We thought we'd been specific ...
giving kind of generalized definitions of who would need a background
check," said Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks, who sponsored the changes.
"We really weren't. It still confused people."
The new law clarifies that only those who are direct
supervisors and responsible for the welfare of children must get the background
Damaris Rau’s first day as superintendent at the School District of Lancaster is Monday. The first in her family to attend college,
she will be the first Latina
superintendent in the district’s history.
And she’ll mark another first, too: At a salary of $181,000 for 2015-16,
Rau tops the list of highest-paid local school superintendents. Just last year, she would have been in third
place. But since then, the highest-compensated superintendents in LancasterCounty — former Hempfield superintendent
Brenda Becker and Rau’s predecessor in Lancaster, Pedro Rivera — have
stepped down. Despite the departure of
the highest-paid superintendents in the county, the average salary for local
school chiefs continues to rise. The average figure at the 11 area districts
that have set the superintendent’s salary for the 2015-16 school year is
$156,615. In 2012-13, the average salary
for superintendents at all 17 districts that serve LancasterCounty
students was $144,701.
BOARD POSTED: Sunday, July
12, 2015, 1:09 AM
It's hard to argue with an independent arbitrator's recent
ruling that the School Reform Commission must provide a full-time counselor for
school. The need is glaring and should be a priority. But putting the decision
in the context of the School District's poor
financial condition provides a different perspective. It's too bad the arbitrator didn't issue his
opinion until after City Council began its summer recess. Maybe the need to
restore more of the 283 counselor positions vacated to save money in 2013 would
have prompted Council to meet the district's request for an additional $103
million. Council budgeted only $70 million more. Council won't reconvene until Sept. 10, which means the city
schools have joined other Pennsylvania
districts in shifting their attention to Harrisburg.
The prognosis for relief there is guarded, with Gov. Wolf so far failing to get
a Republican-dominated legislature to agree with his plan to add $1 billion to
the education budget.
YorkCity schools could be affected by proposed second state
question what it could mean in York,
because city schools already has state intervention
York Daily Record
By Angie Mason firstname.lastname@example.org @angiemason1
on Twitter UPDATED: 07/11/2015 09:24:56 AM EDT
District already has state intervention as a
result of past financial problems, but if a legislative proposal passes, some
of its schools could end up in a second state-controlled process that could
conceivably revive talk of charter schools.
Senate Bill 6 would create the AchievementSchool District,
a state-run district that would have the ability to take over individual
schools that fall among the state's lowest-performing. It would also give
school districts some additional powers to take action in those schools. The
bill has passed the Senate and now sits in the House education committee. The state already has a recovery program,
which YorkCitySchool District
is in, but that's for districts deemed in financial distress. The Senate bill would
focus on academic performance. Sen.
Lloyd Smucker, the prime sponsor of the bill, said that if the state is going
to drive additional money to needy schools, as a proposed funding formula would
do, there's also a need to make sure those schools are improving. "If we are going to provide additional
resources, we ought to also provide as many tools as possible," to improve
performance, he said. But some have
questions about the tools the bill would provide and how it would work in
districts that are already seeing state intervention.
is on Track to Spend More on Interest Payments Than Investments in Kids
Corporation for Enterprise
Development By Bruce Lesley, Guest
Contributor on 06/24/2015
In this guest post, First Focus President Bruce Lesley
describes the alarming trend in federal spending on children's programs. CFED
President Andrea Levere spoke on a panel earlier today at the release of the
First Focus "Children's Budget 2015," highlighting the potential for
asset building and financial capability to improve the lives of children and
The federal government makes more than 200 distinct
investments in children. These include traditional children’s initiatives like
education and child abuse and neglect prevention. They also include other
investments that improve the lives of kids, like Medicaid and the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). Every year, First Focus publishes a Children’s
Budget offering a detailed guide to federal spending on children and
an invaluable resource for those seeking to improve the lives of America’s
"Opponents of the
program suggest that TFA corps members are replacing traditionally certified
teachers, that TFA operationalizes and reinforces deficit ideologies about the
students they work with by relying on a White-savior mentality, and that giving
corps members only 18 hours of student teaching not only undermines the
profession but hurts students. More
recently, others have pointed out that TFA has shifted entirely from focusing
on teachers and teaching and more on influencing policy decisions as it seeks
to install alumni of the organization as political puppets who work as
principals, school board leaders, and other elected political positions."
Calling Out Teach for America's Myths
Huffington Post by T. Jameson Brewer Ph.D. Student,
Researcher, Writer, Educator Posted: 07/10/2015 12:31 pm EDT Updated:
07/10/2015 12:59 pm EDT
Teach For America (TFA) turns 25 this year and, for at least
the first 23 of those years, the organization was able to mark each year as a
success as the organization grew in numbers, financial support, political
clout, and wild public support. However, those years are slowly drawing to a
close. While TFA still receives tens of
millions of dollars from the federal government and from private philanthropic
organizations like the Walton Family Foundation -- an organization that
benefits from systemic inequality and poverty yet is somehow interested in
undermining the business of Wal-Mart by improving education (another
conversation for another day) -- TFA has had a rough couple of years
recently. Notably, recruitment is down
at TFA and they have shut down numerous offices and training sites throughout
(though, they continue to thrive internationally through the spin-off
organization Teach For All). Much of TFA's current woes lie in the growing tide
of criticism waged against the organization.
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:
now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
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.
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 »