Monday, August 17, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 17: Wolf, GOP leaders have a shot to make progress on state budget this week

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3750 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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 17, 2015:
Wolf, GOP leaders have a shot to make progress on state budget this week



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



"According to a co-sponsorship memo for the bill, House Bill 1499 will reform Pennsylvania’s state-managed public pension systems by halving the cost of benefits provided to future employees to 2.5 percent, directing an estimated $11 billion to $15 billion in savings toward the unfunded liability, reducing the risk of poor market conditions and political management through the defined contribution portion of the plan, and establishing an adequate and sustainable benefit for future employees by guaranteeing a benefit above the poverty level along with money from the 401(k)-type portion of the plan."
New pension reform bill could reshape the debate over system overhaul
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, August 6, 2015
Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill) is resurrecting his hybrid pension reform plan that was discussed at length last session, but failed to gain enough support to bring the concept up for a vote on the House floor.  He’s hoping that with the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1 and the vetting of a defined contribution pension reform plan that the time is ripe for this idea to clear the hurdles that were erected in front of his plan last session.  “After that bill in the last session had gone through the process of some agreed-to amendments, this is kind of the product that eventually came out of that effort,” Rep. Tobash told The PLS Reporter. “It’s the growing expectation of Pennsylvania citizens that we accomplish something in this regard.”  He said he hesitated to introduce the plan because multiple viable options would not be productive to the process.  “But with the veto of Senate Bill 1 and two bodies that have exhibited their ability to vote on meaningful pension reform, I think that alternative options at this point in time are helpful to the process,” he added. “It’s an important time to continue and further the conversation.”  Rep. Tobash’s bill was filed on July 30th, but the text has not been formally introduced.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
"Pennsylvania Failing Schools" List
PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 16: If the district’s 44 Blended School students attended cyber charter schools it would cost about $757,000. However, actual cost to the district for the entire Blended School program is $49,557
Keystone State Education Coalition Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Any final pension agreement is contingent upon the Republicans moving on education funding," Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said Saturday. "The governor is committed to his $400 million (proposed increase) for basic education."  Wolf says the larger investment in public schools to make up for the effects of sustained cuts during Gov. Tom Corbett's administration. The logic in tying the two issues together is that pension costs are among the fastest-rising costs in school district budgets these days, eroding the chance for new investment in educational programming."
Wolf, GOP leaders have a shot to make progress on state budget this week
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on August 16, 2015 at 7:00 AM, updated August 16, 2015 at 9:55 PM
It's been said that the players on the stage that is Pennsylvania's state government can always strike a deal when they want to strike a deal.  This week, we should find out a lot about who wants to make a deal to reach a state budget before the impacts of living without onestart to pinch a much broader cross-section of their voting constituents.  State government has been without a budget since July 1, and talks have made little progress thus far.  Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, hit a potentially important reset button Wednesday by opening the door to consideration of a new type of pension benefits plan for future state and public school employees.

Pa. needs a plan to fix its credit rating and Gov. Wolf has it: Sharon Ward
Penn Live By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on August 16, 2015 at 1:00 PM
By Sharon Ward
Sharon Ward is the director of the Wolf administration's Budget Office. 
Our commonwealth is at a critical crossroads.
On June 30, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Republican budget, a budget that fell short of what is needed to fix our schools, improve early childhood education, and help our seniors by providing much-needed property tax relief.  Equally important – the budget was not balanced. Accepting it would have increased the deficit to more than $3 billion.  By failing to adequately pay our bills or plan for the future, the budget would have had significant ramifications for Pennsylvania's financial status for many years to come. 

Editorial: Wolf, lawmakers need to reach a budget deal
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board  Aug 16, 2015
THE ISSUE
As of today, the Pennsylvania budget is 47 days late. Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed met Thursday, with Reed saying they had unresolved issues and plan to meet again this week. The governor insists he has a mandate to significantly increase education funding and to institute a natural gas severance tax; he vetoed a Republican budget that he said was filled with gimmicks. He also vetoed Republican bills that would have privatized the state liquor system and ended defined-benefit pensions for new state and public school employees.
We are seven weeks into the new fiscal year, with no budget in sight.
Can you imagine running your household like this? Refusing to figure out how you intend to pay your bills, or how you intend to pay for the essential needs of those for whom you are responsible? Bickering with others, instead of seeking a solution?  As our op-ed contributors to Perspective detail today, the state budget impasse is not merely a political issue. As it drags on, it’s likely to have a real impact on the lives of Pennsylvanians, particularly our most vulnerable citizens — children, the poor, victims of violence, people with intellectual disabilities. And it’s going to make life difficult for business owners who contract with state government, who need to be paid in order to pay employees and their own vendors.

Pennsylvania school funding, explained
Lancaster Online By TIM BUCKWALTER | Data Journalist August 16, 2015
Funding for public schools is one of the key disagreements as Pennsylvania plows through its second month without a state budget.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders in the Legislature have been unable to agree on how much of an increase is needed, and how to pay for it.  Wolf wants to increase K-12 funding by $400 million for 2015-16 and pay for it with a new severance tax on natural gas. The GOP is proposing a $100 million increase with no new taxes.  School funding in Pennsylvania involves a complicated soup of revenue sources but relies heavily on local real estate taxes. Many say the system is uneven, unfair and unsustainable, and major changes have been proposed. Let's take a look at how school funding currently works.

Top Pa. lawmaker says added rigor of state tests calls for spending increase
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY AUGUST 17, 2015
A top Pennsylvania Democrat is calling for substantial new investment in education in light of more rigorous state standardized tests.  State Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia said poor results on recent tests make a clear argument for lawmakers to adopt Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to increase state education funding  The 2014-15 school year was the first in which the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests – taken in grades three through eight – were aligned with Pennsylvania's version of the Common Core state standards.  Based on the added difficulty of the tests and the state's higher expectations for performance, proficiency rates dropped on average by 35.4 percentage points in math and 9.4 percentage points in English language arts.  In some schools, math proficiency rates dropped by more than 40 percentage points.  Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Education say it is misleading to compare student proficiency rates to prior years; 2014-15 should be considered the "new baseline," the department said.  The sharp declines in scores have been making waves across the state, as educators and parents grapple with how to adjust to the higher expectations.  "High standards are appropriate, but the thing that's the crime in this is not having the resources available to meet those standards," said Hughes.

Ten Allegheny County school districts still negotiating teacher contracts
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 17, 2015 12:00 AM
About a week before classes are scheduled to start in many school districts, 10 Allegheny County districts and their teachers are still in contract negotiations.  “The big thing right now is the uncertainty with the [state] budget,” said Matthew Edgell, region advocacy coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, as the state passed the seven-week mark without a budget for 2015-16.  “With the lack of movement at the bargaining table in Harrisburg, there’s a lack of movement at the bargaining table of the local school districts,” he said.  The largest school district without a new contract is Pittsburgh, where the contract expired in June.


NYT Letters: The Teacher Shortage
New York Times Letters AUG. 15, 2015
Educators cite low pay, lack of respect and support, and high-stakes tests as causes.
To the Editor: Re “Across Country, a Scramble Is On to Find Teachers” (front page, Aug. 10):  We applaud you for shining a light on the economic forces that helped create the national teacher shortage: low pay, higher student loan debt and recession-linked layoffs. But if you ask teachers why young people are shunning the profession, and why so many abandon it after just a few years, you’ll get an earful.  We have always asked teachers to be a combination of Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Mom and Dad. Now, we judge them by a faulty, narrow measure — one standardized test in English and one in math — and then blame them for not being saviors. Teachers are used to the pressure cooker but are stressed out because they aren’t getting the support, resources, time and respect they need to do their jobs.

Hotline's Senate Rankings: The Senate Seats Most Likely to Flip in 2016
National Journal By Alex RoartyAndrea DruschScott Bland and Josh Kraushaar August 13, 2015
Much has changed since our spring Senate power rankings. Some previously unexpected candidates like Alan Grayson and Joe Heck have jumped in, while some anticipated ones like Kay Hagan have passed on the 2016 elections. One thing we do know, though, is that the race for control of the Senate remains precariously balanced between the two parties.  Three clear tiers of Senate races have emerged 15 months away from the next election, when Democrats would need to win four seats (five if they lose the White House) to recapture control of the chamber.  Republicans look more likely than not right now to lose two blue-state seats. But after that, it's far too early to say whether one party or the other holds a definitive advantage in five toss-up seats—four held by Republicans and one by retiring Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.  After that, another handful of five swing states could potentially come into play later—but only if something dramatic happens. Ultimately, many if not all of these races are going to track closely with the presidential campaign, but each party is still maneuvering and preparing to raise and spend millions of dollars in the hope that a percentage-point swing here or there could end up swinging the Senate.  Without further ado, here's our look at the 2016 Senate landscape, ranked in terms of which seats look most likely to change hands next year:


PCCY: Get on the Bus to Harrisburg August 25th
As parents, teachers and advocates, you know first hand how difficult it is to get the resources needed to support our students. Harrisburg continues to be mired in political gridlock and has failed to pass a budget for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. 
Teachers, parents and students have no idea what they will be walking into come September for the start of school. We say enough is enough.
We are contacting you because on August 25th the PA House is scheduled to return to the Capitol—and we want to be there to meet them. Could you give us a few hours of your day and help make it clear that we demand a budget? 
  • Join your neighbors and other concerned citizens who believe that investing in our kids is non-negotiable
  • We’ll provide: FREE Transportation to and from the Capitol and lunch; a brief training on the bus, materials, and day of schedule
  • Scheduled visits with elected officials  
Kids are off from school so bring them with you – after all, it concerns their future!
Details:
  • Bus will depart from in front of the United Way Building at 7:45am at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
  • We will return to Philly by approximately 4:30pm.  (Discounted parking ($8) available at the Sheraton Hotel at 17th & Race)
  • If you plan to drive yourself, we will meet at the Capitol between 10am and 10:30am.

The John Stoops Lecture Series: Dr. Pasi Sahlberg "Education Around the World: Past, Present & Future" Lehigh University October 8, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Baker Hall | Zoellner Arts Center | 420 E. Packer Avenue | Bethlehem, PA 18015
Free and open to the public!
Ticketing is general admission - no preseating will be assigned. Arrive early for the best seats.
Please plan to stay post-lecture for an open reception where you will have an opportunity to meet with students from all of our programs to learn about the latest innovations in education and human services.

Register now for the 2015 PASCD 65th Annual Conference, Leading and Achieving in an Interconnected World, to be held November 15-17, 2015 at Pittsburgh Monroeville Convention Center.
The Conference will Feature Keynote Speakers: Meenoo Rami – Teacher and Author “Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching,”  Mr. Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Heidi Hayes-Jacobs – Founder and President of Curriculum Design, Inc. and David Griffith – ASCD Senior Director of Public Policy.  This annual conference features small group sessions focused on: Curriculum and Supervision, Personalized and Individualized Learning, Innovation, and Blended and Online Learning. The PASCD Conference is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for innovative change in your school or district.  Join us forPASCD 2015!  Online registration is available by visiting www.pascd.org <http://www.pascd.org/>

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

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online
PSBA website July 31, 2015
The slate of candidates for 2016 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online, including bios, photos and videos. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openAug. 17 and closes Sept. 28. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in August or September. Each person authorized to register the school entity's votes has received an email on July 16 to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to register the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

Register Now for PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 14-16, 2015 Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Save the date for the professional development event of the year. Be inspired at more than four exciting venues and invest in professional development for top administrators and school board members. Online registration is live at:

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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