Saturday, July 18, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 18: Wolf campaign asks Pennsylvanians to call lawmakers about budget impasse; budget talks to resume Tuesday

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 18, 2015:
Wolf campaign asks Pennsylvanians to call lawmakers about budget impasse; budget talks to resume Tuesday

PA House Education committee hearing on PA State Assessments is scheduled for 10:00 am July 29, Room 250 Irvis office bldg.

Bears Repeating 1: Pa. schools are the nation’s most inequitable. The new governor wants to fix that.
Washington Post By Emma Brown April 22, 2015 

Bears Repeating 2: Poor schools hit hardest by budget cuts in Pennsylvania
By The Associated Press on August 07, 2011 at 8:12 PM, updated August 07, 2011 at 8:28 PM

"Pennsylvania's school funding crisis has often been discussed as if it is just an urban problem or a "Philadelphia" problem.  But a new report shows that 49 out of all 50 State Senate districts have school districts that are getting less than their fair share of state funds."
Bears Repeating 3: 49 out of 50 Pennsylvania Senate Districts have Underfunded School Districts
POWER Press Release July 15, 2015  Click here to see chart

"In the message, Wolf said: “When you get them on the line, talk about how budget cuts have negatively impacted your school district, talk about how property taxes have gone up, and talk about how kicking the can down the road harms our state's prospects for economic growth.”
Wolf campaign asks Pennsylvanians to call lawmakers about budget impasse
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Friday, July 17, 2015, 4:00 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Claiming Republican legislative leaders have refused to negotiate in a meaningful way, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's campaign sent emails to Pennsylvanians this week asking them to call GOP leaders to express their displeasure.  “I will do what Pennsylvanians elected me to do: restore funding for education, make big oil and gas pay their fair share, and fix the fiscal mess Harrisburg has ignored for years,” Wolf said.  “Unfortunately, Republican leaders have so far refused to negotiate in earnest. They seem to believe they can get away with a status quo budget that creates a $3 billion structural deficit.”  Republicans dispute Wolf's deficit projection.  “He's a consistent candidate who has yet to transition to government,” said Stephen Miskin, spokesman for the House Republican Caucus. “The email borders the line between politics and lobbying. It is his campaign lobbying for his budget.”
Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500
Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

Wolf, GOP leaders to resume budget talks Tuesday
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 17, 2015 at 4:23 PM, updated July 17, 2015 at 6:31 PM
Budget negotiations between Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders from the Republican majorities in the Legislature will resume Tuesday under the threat of a potentially disruptive impasse.
At the private meeting, House and Senate leaders plan to go over the line items that were part of Republican-backed budget that Wolf vetoed last month, said Jay Ostrich, a spokesman for House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.  Ostrich said Republicans hope to better "understand" the basis of the Wolf camp's objections.  Tuesday's meeting would be the first time both sides had sat down formally since Monday. After that prior meeting, Wolf said he hoped to move past the political "posturing."

GOP lawmaker proposes severance, income tax hike to break budget stalemate: Friday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 17, 2015 at 8:20 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
A Republican lawmaker from Bucks County thinks he's found a way to break Pennsylvania's three-week-old budget stalemate -- by doing something very un-Republican and raising taxes.  
Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, of Bensalem, wants to boost the state's personal income tax from the current 3.07 percent to 3.3 percent. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has called for a 3.7 percent tax rate, The Tribune-Review reports.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman On Where Budget Talks StandCorman said the governor wants a broad-based tax increase but his caucus isn't going to go along with that. Until that issue is resolved, talks are at an impasse.  Wolf is also seeking a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drillers and wants to boost the state sales tax from 6 percent in most parts of the state to 6.6 percent and to expand the range of products and services covered by the levy.  Republicans leaders in the state House and Senate have rejected any general tax increases and have said they won't consider new revenue sources until Wolf signs off on pension reform (Senate) and booze privatization (House).

Still waiting, Harrisburg, for a Pennsylvania budget and school tax relief
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board  Thursday, July 16, 2015 6:00 am
THE ISSUE: Fourteen of 17 Lancaster County school boards voted to raise property tax rates for 2015-16. The tax increases range from 1 percent in the Hempfield and Manheim Central school districts to 4 percent in Elizabethtown.  An average property tax increase of 1.7 percent in Lancaster County may not seem like much to a family with two incomes and some wiggle room in the budget, but to a senior citizen living on a fixed income, any such increase can be daunting.  School districts are seeing their costs rising all of the time, too.  They — and the homeowners paying school taxes — need relief.  Gov. Tom Wolf knows this. Our state lawmakers know this. And still they remain locked in an impasse over the state budget.

Wolf critic: Public being misled on projected use of shale tax money
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Friday, July 17, 2015, 11:30 p.m.
HARRISBURG — The Wolf administration and its allies are misleading the public by implying a proposed severance tax on natural gas would exclusively fund education, the president of an industry group said Friday.  In a letter to the Marcellus Shale Coalition board, obtained by the Tribune-Review, David Spigelmyer said “revenues generated from (Wolf's) severance tax proposal would not be directed exclusively to fund education, as frequently stated.
“Instead, more than $300 million would fund various areas other than education, including $225 million for current impact tax distributions and another $55 million that would fund a $675 million one-time bond to help subsidize renewable energy,” Spigelmyer said.  That bond issue would fund solar and wind energy projects, as well as other alternative sources.  “We have always made it clear not every cent is going to education,” said Wolf's spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan.
Recap: Pa. House Democratic  Leader Dermody and Rep. Schreiber talk state budget with YDR editorial board
UPDATED:   07/16/2015 03:55:40 PM EDT Video Runtime 48:08
Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody and Rep. Kevin Schreiber discussed the state budget impasse with the YDR editorial board today.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Adolph: Wolf’s Severance Tax Revenue Estimates Wildly Overstated
PA House GOP website 7/17/2015
HARRISBURG – House Appropriations Chairman William F. Adolph, Jr. (R-Delaware) said “Governor Wolf has tried to justify his unnecessary, knee-jerk veto of the state budget by saying it was necessary to achieve his goal of imposing a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas in Pennsylvania to fund education.”   On March 3rd, the governor presented a plan with his budget proposal to enact a severance tax—a tax the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office characterized as the highest state severance tax in the country— as a way to raise one billion for state education spending.   To determine if the governor’s severance plan would actually deliver the revenue the administration suggests his severance tax would generate, the House Appropriations Committee analyzed the governor’s proposal to see what revenue it would generate given current market conditions. 

Pennsylvania budget impasse drowns out property tax relief conversation
By Andrew Staub  /   July 13, 2015  | PA Independent
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 & Marshall College.  “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.

"According to Todd Hosterman, research director for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the 17 school districts in Westmoreland County paid $35 million more for PSERS in their 2013-14 budgets than they did in 2008-09, an increase of 261 percent.  In Allegheny County, the 42 districts paid $128 million more in pension contributions over the same span, for an increase of 251 percent."
Pensions listed as top reason for school tax increases
Post Gazette By Margaret Smykla July 17, 2015 12:00 AM
In the Hempfield Area School District, the property tax rate for the 2015-16 school year was raised by 1.79 mills, with each mill generating $625,000.  Business manager Wayne Wismar said the district needed to raise taxes for the $89.4 million budget for three reasons: contractual salary increases, higher health care costs, and state-mandated pension obligations to the Public School Employees Retirement System.  The last reason is the biggest culprit, as the district will pay $1.7 million more in pension costs than it did during  2014-15.  In a recent survey of 69 percent of school districts statewide by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, a large majority reported sizable burdens in, first, increased mandated pensions, followed by health benefits, special education and charter schools.

State again sends Allentown charter school money it shouldn't get
By Sara K. Satullo | For Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 17, 2015 at 11:08 AM, updated July 17, 2015 at 12:10 PM
The Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown again received $100,000 in improper lease reimbursements from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  The school has implemented previous audit recommendations but continued to receive reimbursements it was ineligible to receive during the audited school years from 2010-12, Audtior General Eugene DePasquale said Friday.  The improper lease reimbursements were identified in a previous audit released in 2013 that showed the charter school received nearly $200,000 it wasn't entitled to for the 2006-07 through 2009-10 school years. 

Pennsylvania education secretary 'jumps into'' educational roundtable
Post Gazette By Deana Carpenter July 17, 2015 12:00 AM
State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera paid a visit to the McKeesport Area School District and talked about school funding during a roundtable with district administrators, local officials and community members.  “Let’s jump right into it,” Mr. Rivera said at the start of the July 14 meeting, which was part of his visit to Pittsburgh.  Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2015-16 invests $1 billion in early childhood education, K-12 and higher education funding and a costs-savings, according to the Department of Education. Over the next four years, the governor has a goal of investing $2 billion in pre-K through 12 education.  The McKeesport district was forced to raise taxes this year to offset a lack of funding in the past. Superintendent Rula Skezas said since 2010 the district has eliminated 110 positions, which included more than 70 administrative positions.

In Philly, 29 District schools to get new principals
Fewer schools see a leadership change than in previous years.
By the Notebook on Jul 17, 2015 04:15 PM
For two tumultuous years, an alarming number of schools in the School District of Philadelphia opened with new principals at the helm. This year, there have been far fewer principal departures.  Come fall, 29 of 224 District schools will open with new principals, according to the most recent list of school principal assignments released earlier this month. Last year, one-fifth of all schools had new leaders; the year before that, a quarter of them did  Six of the 29 schools did not yet have new principals chosen when the list was published.   Of the 23 principals already named, 14 will be new to their schools this year. Five of those 14 are also new to the School District. Eleven of the 23 appointees are first-time school leaders. 
Below is the list of schools that will see new principals this coming school year.

Revising NCLB: Compare the House and Senate Bills
Revising the No Child Left Behind Act: Issue by Issue
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 16, 2015 4:42 PM
The U.S. Senate has voted to pass a bipartisan bill to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which hasn't gotten a facelift since 2002, when then-President George W. Bush signed the law's current version, the No Child Left Behind Act. Now the legislation will have to go to conference with a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month.  And lawmakers have a lot of key issues to discuss—including whether the updated law should include a preschool program, whether states should be able to allow federal funding to follow students to the school of their choice, and just how states should measure school performance.  How are the bills different from each other? And how do they compare to the existing version of the law, as well as the Obama administration's NCLB waivers, which are currently in place in 42 states and the District of Columbia?
We've got your cheat sheet right here. 

"Dramatic test score gains and improved community relations would go farthest in justifying shifting the ASD’s considerable costs to taxpayers. But both of those things have proved difficult to elicit so far."
Chris Barbic, founding superintendent of Tennessee state-run Achievement School District, to exit
Chalkbeat By Daarel Burnette @@Daarel  July 17, 2015  5:56 am
Chris Barbic, the hard-charging superintendent of Tennessee’s school turnaround district, is resigning at the end of the year.  Now that the Achievement School District is no longer new, it needs a different leader, Barbic told senior officials on Thursday, according to multiple people who were informed about his departure plans. They said he also cited health reasons, including the 2014 heart attack that kept him out of work for weeks, for deciding to move on.  Barbic shared his news during a series of meetings and phone calls with ASD staff members on Thursday afternoon and evening, according to multiple people who said they were told not to discuss the change publicly before the district made an official announcement.

Seven lessons Chris Barbic says he learned from trying to turn around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools
Chalkbeat By Philissa Cramer @philissa July 17, 2015 - 6:48 am CDT
When Chris Barbic became the founding superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District in 2012, he was taking on a challenge that had foiled many others.  That challenge: to take large numbers of low-performing schools and catapult them into the top tier. Barbic vowed to move schools from the bottom 5 percent of test scores in the state into the top 25 percent in just five years — without displacing their populations of very high-need students.  States and districts have long stumbled to reach far more modest improvement goals. Many have turned to closing schools — in many cases destabilizing student populations — as a last resort.  In a letter sent to supporters early Friday morning announcing his planned departure from the district later this year, Barbic said he had learned that the work of overhauling neighborhood schools had proved more difficult than he had envisioned. But he also said he is confident that Tennessee is on the right track.  And he outlined seven lessons that he is taking away from his work in the state, which has so far focused on schools in Memphis. Those lessons are instructive for the growing number of initiatives to replicate the ASD’s work in other states.

"When testing day finally arrived in high schools across Washington, Elijah was one of more than 42,000 11th-graders — roughly half of the state's junior class — who did not show up for their exams. At least 22,000 of them formally refused to test. Many of the rest were AWOL."
Testing Revolt In Washington State Brings Feds Into Uncharted Waters
NPR from KYLE STOKES JULY 16, 201512:03 PM ET
Seattle 11th-grader Elijah Falk added it all up and decided: It made no sense to take the tests.  The Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced exams, Elijah was told, were grueling — but Washington state didn't require this year's juniors to pass them to graduate from high school. In fact, the only thing compelling Elijah to take the tests this past spring was No Child Left Behind, the federal law. And, by federal standards, Elijah's school was all but certain to be labeled "failing" whether he passed the tests or not.  "If there's something you might risk failing but, regardless, you'll learn something or you'll be stronger because of it ... that's great," Elijah said in April as he organized a boycott of the tests at his school. "But if there's not a real benefit to passing or failing, then it's not worth it."

"Perhaps the reason you are doing TFA is because you want to put it on your resume for great career prospects, and or applying to grad school. Please don’t move forward, you will be the first one to lose yourself. If you are passionate about changing the education system —  I will tell you that you will not be the next superman for your students. Coming and then leaving within 2 years will not help the cause of fixing a broken school system.  TFA is just a bandage, nothing more. You are one of their cheap laborers that allow TFA to collect millions of dollars from inner-city or impoverished school districts, foundations and our government. They are essentially a big business with well-compensated leaders and administrative structure that does not pay taxes since they are a “non-profit.” Don’t fall for their marketing disguise of a non-profit that puts their employees and kids first, perhaps when they started, but not anymore."
Rebecca’s letter to new #TeachForAmerica recruits #NN15
Cloaking Inequity Blog July 17, 2015 | Julian Vasquez Heilig | 0 Comments
I received this open letter unsolicited from a Teach For America alum. She was assigned to teach special education in California in 2013. After her letter, I have also included a clip at the end from the Network for Public Education’s new series Truth For America.
Dear SPED TFA Corps Members 2015,
Congratulations! You’ve survived TFA Summer Institute. Those broken down moments, sleepless nights, dealing with exhaustion, anxiety moments are finally over. No more lesson planning for another month or so. I know you may be anxious to start, especially to receive the class list.
Yet, I suspect there is a part of you that also feels like something just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps, its because you never really taught a class more than 10 students on your own without any supervision. Or maybe, it could be knowing that the summer session students did not have an IEP. Or maybe, you hear the term “IEP”, which has you a bit confused and lost. Take it from me, I have been in your shoes. I had no real idea the weight and the depth of what an IEP was. I knew it was a legal document that states required services that the school district must provide; however, I had no idea what were the IEP goals and or track/update the IEP goals. But don’t worry that’s not as big of an issue as everything else.

‘You’re Not Going to Give Up’
In Washington, D.C., charter schools offer an unorthodox education in grit and perseverance.
Politico Magazine By DEBRA BRUNO July 16, 2015
Success, it turns out, is quiet. It’s a sunny and warm spring Thursday at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Anacostia, one of the poorest areas of Washington, D.C. The halls are hushed, and students walk by wearing maroon polo shirts embroidered with the school name. They smile and greet teachers respectfully. There are no jangling PA announcements, no clanging bell to mark the end of class, no metal detectors at the front door.  It’s quiet too inside teacher Joshua Biederman’s AP history class as Jeremiah Garland, a tall junior, wraps up his opening argument in a mock trial of Lt. William Calley, the officer behind the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. In the art room down the hall, it’s downright peaceful as students put finishing touches on their portraits in pastels, while a three-paneled mural honoring the life of the school’s namesake rests against a nearby wall.  But make no mistake: These almost Rockwell-esque scenes represent a genuine revolution, a triumph of a two-decade-long education reform experiment that has turned the nation’s capital into ground zero for an ambitious overhaul of its failing schools. Thurgood Marshall—and dozens of other public charter schools that range across a wide variety of teaching styles and program themes—are the result.

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.

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