Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 8: Movement Toward No Child Left Behind Rewrite; PA Budget Remains Deadlocked

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 8, 2015:
Movement Toward No Child Left Behind Rewrite; PA Budget Remains Deadlocked

"NSBA applauds the Senate for advancing the Every Child Achieves Act for floor consideration,” stated NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “We will continue to advocate on behalf of America’s 90,000 school board members for final legislation that allows local education leaders to stimulate innovation and creative thinking to improve student achievement versus imposing a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Gentzel.
NSBA Applauds Lawmakers for Promising Movement Toward No Child Left Behind Rewrite
NSBA Press Release July 7, 2015
Alexandria, Va. (July 7, 2015) -- The National School Boards Association (NSBA) commends the U.S. Congress for taking up the outdated No Child Left Behind law. As debate commenced today for floor action of the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), NSBA sent a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators urging their strong support for moving forward on a final bill that restores community ownership to local school districts, maximizes authorized funding for Title I, and advances academic achievement among all students.  During the Senate floor action, key amendments were introduced for debate and consideration. NSBA is pleased that Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced a bipartisan amendment focused on strengthening local governance. NSBA worked closely with Senator Fischer and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Angus King (I-ME), who co-sponsored the amendment, to assure that S. 1177 includes strong support for local autonomy in managing school administration, budget development and related operations that support school district responsibilities for student achievement.  Additionally, the White House released a Statement of Administration Policy affirming the President’s intent not to veto the final Senate bill.

Congress Might Finally Overhaul No Child Left Behind. Here's What That Means For Kids.
The Huffington Post By Rebecca Klein 07/07/2015 7:57 pm EDT Updated: 07/07/2015 10:59 pm EDT
The No Child Left Behind Act, a George W. Bush-era law that expired in 2007, may finally be on its way to becoming fully defunct.  On Tuesday, the Senate debated its version of a No Child Left Behind rewrite, called the Every Child Achieves Act. Later this week, the House of Representatives is set to do the same with its version, called the Student Success Act. It is currently unclear where a final bill may land, but civil rights groups, politicians and teachers unions agree -- it is time for an update.  The No Child Left Behind Act, a 2002 bipartisan law enacted by Bush, emphasizes standardized tests and penalties for bad scores. Since 2011, the Obama administration has offered waivers to states, allowing them to elude some of the law's most stringent requirements. Amid this patchwork of state waivers, previous attempts to overhaul the law have failed.  This time around, Congress appears determined to make something work. Here are three things you should know about the Senate and House bills that are up for debate.

Day One of Senate ESEA Debate: Rift Over Accountability Grows
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Lauren Camera on July 7, 2015 7:56 PM
For the first time since 2001, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday began debating a bill that would overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—though the fireworks are yet to come.  Day One of the likely two-week-long federal K-12 debate was more ceremonial than anything, with the bill's co-authors, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., thanking each other for their hard work and dedication to preserving the bipartisan aspect of the measure to rewrite the law's current version, the No Child Left Behind Act.   Alexander spent a fair amount of time on the chamber floor outlining what he considers the most important aspects of the bill, namely that it would roll back the influence of the federal government and provide additional flexibility to states and local school districts, especially when it comes to creating their own accountability systems.  "If you, like I do, believe high standards and teacher evaluations are the underpinning of a great education system ... you do not want to create a backlash to those efforts by insisting on them from Washington, D.C.," he said.  The Senate education committee chairman also dedicated much of his floor time to emphasizing that the bill would prohibit the federal government from mandating or incentivizing any particular set of academic standards, including the Common Core State Standards.

WaPo Editorial: Senate proposal to rewrite No Child Left Behind falls miserably short
Washington Post Editorial By Editorial Board July 7 at 7:15 PM
THE FEDERAL government each year gives states about $37 billion for elementary and secondary schools and students. Of that, about $15 billion goes to Title I, which is intended to help local school districts improve achievement for underserved students. Taxpayers have a right to expect results from that investment; one would hope their elected representatives would agree. Remarkably, though, as they debate a renewal of the No Child Left Behind law, many legislators are fighting to abandon any such accountability. Their success would mark a defeat for the nation’s neediest students.  Congress this week began debating the long-overdue reauthorization of the 2001 law that was a landmark achievement of former president George W. Bush and Democrats including the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.). On the Senate floor is a bill that in April won unanimous, bipartisan approvalfrom the Senate education committee. House Republicans are expected to try to revive legislation that earlier was withdrawn for lack of support.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: July 1 - 7, 2015
Fiartest 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

National anti-testing activist leads rally in Philly
WHEN JESSE TURNER first walked from Connecticut to Washington, D.C., in 2010 to mobilize opposition to high-stakes testing, he was essentially a voice in the wilderness. Now on his second trek - which included a stop in Philadelphia yesterday - the outspoken advocate has plenty of company.  What a difference five years makes.  Joined by a few dozen parents, educators and students on Independence Mall, "The Walking Man" Turner ignited activists, calling the push for standardized testing the biggest education reform failure in the country's history.

Parent, teachers protest exams
MADELINE R. CONWAY, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 3:26 PM
Charging that standardized tests harm students and waste government resources, a group of teachers and parents took to Independence Mall on Tuesday to promote the small but growing movement to opt out of such testing.  The 25 protesters were joined by Jesse Turner, an education professor at Central Connecticut State University, who set out from Connecticut on June 11 on a march to the federal Department of Education in Washington to highlight and protest testing policies.

COMMENTARY: Wolf aims to fix our schools
Shippensburg News Chronicle Opinion by Susan Spicka, Advocacy Coordinator, Education Voters of PA Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 6:00 am
When Pennsylvania voters elected Gov. Tom Wolf last November, they put their faith in someone they knew would fight for public education – reverse the damaging cuts made to schools over the last four years, and invest in every level, from pre-K to college. That’s exactly what Gov. Wolf did in his first budget proposal, dedicating $1 billion this year with a pledge to invest $2 billion over four years — funded through a commonsense severance tax on oil and natural gas extraction. Unfortunately, the recent budget that was proposed has — once again — demonstrated misguided priorities: it caters to special interests at the expense of Pennsylvania's public school children.  Gov. Wolf vetoed this budget plan, first and foremost, because it failed to fix our schools. The budget passed by the Republican House and Senate members only provided an additional $8 million for public education. That’s less than 2 percent of the $500 million for basic and special education proposed by the governor, and needed to restore the cuts to education over the last four years. The reason for this massive difference can be traced directly to the unwillingness of many lawmakers in Harrisburg to even consider a severance tax.

“Shuttle diplomacy” being used to find a budget solution
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, July 7, 2015
A week to the day after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-crafted FY 2015-2016 spending plan, the use of “shuttle diplomacy” has been used as the key force to move budget negotiations further as another face-to-face meeting between the governor and Republican leadership failed to make any significant progress toward a budget agreement.  “There’s both a formal and an informal process,” said House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna (D-Centre).  “The formal process you receive notice of meetings that have been scheduled…a lot of the formal process involves high-level staff looking at the various proposals, looking at what we can agree to and what we do disagree about, and hopefully that will refine things where we can focus on what we need to resolve to make this deal work.”  However, he said the informal process can sometimes be more productive in resolving big ticket items.  “The fact that the governor met yesterday with Republican leaders…and he also met yesterday with Frank Dermody, the House Democratic leaders, so those informal discussions about the big ticket items, where the major disagreements are takes place in these informal discussions and that’ll lead to a more formal process that will hopefully get a budget resolved,” he stated.

Negotiations over Pennsylvania taxes, budget remain deadlocked
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau July 8, 2015 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — As he left the governor’s office Tuesday, a week after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a GOP-crafted state budget, Senate Republican leader Jake Corman said neither side is yielding on whether Pennsylvania should raise its sales and personal income taxes.  “This is going to be awhile,” Mr. Corman said. “The governor’s holding to the fact that he needs a broad-based tax increase. We don’t believe that we do. And until that issue can be resolved, we’re going to be here awhile.”  Legislators are charged with approving a state budget each fiscal year, which begins July 1. Without a budget, Pennsylvania loses its authority to make certain payments. The Wolf administration has said that operations will continue at state facilities, such as state parks and PennDOT offices, and in areas affecting health and safety, but that most payments to vendors and grant recipients will be delayed.

Gov. Tom Wolf attacks GOP budget; senator pins stalemate on him
Lehigh Valley Live By Associated Press on July 07, 2015 at 4:38 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf stood behind his demand for a new state budget, while a top Republican lawmaker on Tuesday said the week-old stalemate will last as long as Wolf insists on an income and sales tax increase to prop up state spending.  The first-term Democratic governor told KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh that it might have been popular or easy to sign a $30.2 billion document passed solely by Republican state lawmakers, but it also would have been irresponsible.  "We can't put up with this," Wolf said. "We need to get serious about putting the finances of Pennsylvania in order."  He cited the state's five credit downgrades by three rating agencies in the past three years and said, "That's going to continue unless we get serious about presenting honest financial statements and doing the budget the right way."

Pa. has 'democratic deficit," Wolf says as budget talks drag on: Tuesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 07, 2015 at 8:37 AM, updated July 07, 2015 at 10:05 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Well we're back at work this morning after a long weekend at our ancestral manse along the New England shoreline, a land of verdant lawns, humid evenings and the best lobster rolls you're likely to find anywhere.  There, we spent an agreeable long weekend gazingly longingly toward a green light in the distance, only to discover that it was not the home of a beautiful, but unreachable woman, but rather a traffic light outside a shopping mall in Merrick.  And if there is a more apt metaphor to describe the current state of budget talks - which remain just as unresolved as when we departed last week, we don't know what is.

The #PaBudget is among the priciest in the nation, study finds
By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 07, 2015 at 2:39 PM, updated July 07, 2015 at 2:45 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf met with Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, on Tuesday afternoon as the two sides worked toward a resolution of the state's week-old budget stand-off.  The two sides broke without reaching any settlement, leading Corman to conclude that it's going to be a long summer.  For those of you tuning in late, Wolf, a Democrat, has proposed spending nearly $34 billion for the fiscal year that started July 1.  Last week, Republicans who control the General Assembly sent the Democratic governor a $30.2 billion budget that didn't include any tax increases. Amid Republican protests that his plan spent too much, Wolf vetoed the GOP alternative.  But how does Wolf's proposal stack up to other executive budgets nationwide? A recent study by The National Association of State Budget Officers, a professional organization, provides some guidance.

GOP leader: Pa. budget impasse could last 'a while'
HARRISBURG - If Gov. Wolf continues to insist on raising taxes as part of any state budget deal, "we're going to be here for a while," a top Republican warned Tuesday.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) made the prediction after emerging from a brief closed-door meeting with the governor.  He said the Republicans who control the legislature are open to raising new revenue but cannot support Wolf's plan to raise the state's personal income and sales taxes. The governor wants to use a block of that money to pay for a sweeping property tax-relief plan.  "I don't want to give any sort of illusion that we're getting closer or we're having productive meetings," Corman told reporters. "They're very cordial. The governor makes his case - he wants enough revenue so he doesn't have to worry about this for four years. I respect that.

Impasse in Pa. budget talks? This meets Sen. Jake Corman's test
By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 07, 2015 at 4:04 PM, updated July 07, 2015 at 5:08 PM
It takes 102 House members, 26 Senators and one governor to ratify a budget deal, but it only takes just one of the above to declare an impasse.  And Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, after his second meeting in two days with Gov. Tom Wolf on the delayed state budget, went there Tuesday over what he called Wolf's refusal to drop his demands for broad-based tax increases.  "I think it needs to be made very clear that this is going to be awhile as long as the governor holds on to the need for broad-based tax increases," Corman said as he left his early afternoon meeting.

Broad-based tax increases off-limits, GOP leaders tell Gov. Wolf
Trib Live By Brad Bumsted Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 2:21 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Republican leaders are drawing “a bright line” in budget negotiations with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, declaring broad-based tax increases off-limits, a top senator said Tuesday.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said GOP leaders reject Wolf's plan to raise the state income tax, sales tax and expand the base of the sales tax to dozens of items.  The Republican leaders are “open to helping the governor” but not to increasing taxes.  “We're certainly at an impasse,” Corman said.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County, attended the meeting but did not comment afterward.  Wolf is open to ideas but believes the Legislature needs to close a state deficit and raise money to cut property taxes, said Jeffrey Sheridan, the governor's spokesman.
Air wars over Pennsylvania budget standoff to hit TV screens
Pottstown Mercury By Marc Levy, , The Associated Press POSTED: 07/08/15, 5:27 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> A forthcoming TV ad from a national Democratic group that supports Gov. Tom Wolf will expand the air war over his week-old budget standoff with Republicans who control the Pennsylvania Legislature.  The Democratic Governors Association says the 30-second statewide TV ad by an affiliate group starts Wednesday. It will criticize Republicans over the budget bill Wolf vetoed, saying the Republicans’ plan let the oil and gas industry off the hook, didn’t adequately fund education and deepened the deficit.  The group says it’s spending over $500,000 to run the ad for 10 days.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman says Republicans don’t support Wolf’s pursuit of a tax increase on income or sales. Corman isn’t ruling out other kinds of tax increases, such as on gas drilling, to help Wolf meet his goals, within reason.

Toomey pushes his amendment to education bill
By Tracie Mauriello / Post-Gazette Washington Bureau July 8, 2015 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON – Lawmakers are debating sweeping federal education changes that would dismantle the unpopular 2001 No Child Left Behind Law, but Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has a narrower focus for now.  His mission, he said Tuesday, is to persuade his colleagues to include a measure to require more extensive background checks for teachers and to penalize administrators who knowingly recommend suspected child predators to other districts.  His proposal has been introduced as an amendment and could get a vote this week.  The underlying bill’s sponsors — Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash. — have been working with other senators to incorporate other proposals into their bill, but it’s unlikely Mr. Toomey’s legislation will get similar treatment.  Mr. Alexander has been one of the measure’s most vocal opponents, saying background checks are an issue for states and local school boards, not the federal government.

Senate must act on child-protection legislation Opinion By Senator Pat Toomey POSTED: Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 1:08 AM
No one doubted that the fifth-grade science teacher at Prospect Park Elementary School was a pedophile. Child after child, boys 10 to 12 years old came forward and told the Delaware County school stories of the teacher groping boys' crotches, stripping boys naked, and performing multiple sexual acts on young children - raping at least one.   The school, amazingly, decided to take the teacher's side. The principal wrote the teacher a letter of recommendation and helped him land a new job in Fayetteville, W.Va.

Pat Toomey's early (quiet) pitch for reelection
PAT TOOMEY'S Running a TV ad in Philly about fighting child predators.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running a TV ad for Toomey, "a true leader fighting for Pennsylvania."  Toomey just wrote an Inquirer opinion piece pushing his child-protection bill.
It's a kidz-&-biz tour; the start of the freshman Republican senator's run for re-election - next year.  But Toomey's not talking about it. He declined an interview. His campaign says he's focused on his legislation.  So let's look at his legislation and the early ads.

Arbitrator faults Philly district for ignoring seniority when rehiring school counselors
An independent arbitrator has ruled against the Philadelphia School District for not taking seniority into account when rehiring laid-off school counselors in 2013.  Facing a large budget shortfall in the summer of 2013, the school district furloughed all guidance counselors.  As school began, and additional funding came through, many were hired back, but without regard for seniority.  Following a union complaint, arbitrator Ralph Colflesh has now ruled against that action – saying that the district must provide back pay for those more senior counselors bypassed by the district.  The district also must follow a provision in the union contract that requires all schools to have at least one full-time counselor, Colflesh directed.

Philly must re-hire counselors, official finds
Inquirer Philly School Files Blog by Kristen Graham POSTED: TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2015, 5:43 PM
Every Philadelphia public school could have a full-time counselor in September, and dozens of laid-off counselors stand to be re-hired if a recently-issued arbitrator’s decision stands.
Handing the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers a significant victory, the independent arbitrator ruled that district was out of bounds when it bypassed seniority in recalling laid-off employees, and that it is in violation of its contract for failing to have one full-time counselor at every school, union officials confirmed Tuesday.  The district has vowed to appeal the decision, throwing into doubt whether the changes will be in place when school opens in the fall.

PFT wins arbitration on counselors; District vows appeal
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 7, 2015 05:58 PM
An arbitrator has sided with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in a dispute over the School District's layoffs of counselors and the way they were rehired and placed.  The School District said it would appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas.  If upheld, the decision, by arbitrator Ralph H. Colflesh, could result in the return of a full-time counselor to every school by the start of the next school year and a reshuffling of current counselors to different schools, based on seniority.  In 2013, the District laid off all of its 283 counselors and ultimately recalled all but 36 of them. It conducted the recall based not on seniority, as the PFT contract calls for, but based on the District's determination of the needs of the schools in which they worked. 

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

Congress: House, Senate Bills Would Cut Ed. Dept. Funding
Education Week By Lauren Camera Published Online: July 7, 2015
Despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama, Republicans in both chambers of Congress are pushing through appropriations bills for fiscal 2016 that adhere to congressionally mandated spending caps and would cut billions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Education and eliminate a slew of federal education programs.  The Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives passed its funding bill on a party-line vote, 30-21, on June 24. The proposal would provide $64.4 billion for the Education Department, a $2.8 billion cut from fiscal 2015, and eliminate 20 programs, including School Improvement Grants, the Preschool Development Grant, and Investing in Innovation.  A day later on the other side of the Capitol, the Appropriations Committee in the Senate passed its spending plan on a party-line vote, 16-14. The proposal would provide $65.5 billion for the Education Department, a $1.7 billion cut, and eliminate 10 programs, including Investing in Innovation and Preschool Development Grants—both major Obama administration initiatives—and Striving Readers, a literacy program.

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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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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