Monday, December 21, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 21: #PABudget Day 174: Only 3 shopping days til Xmas; "Rep. Adolph: “It’s difficult times, it’s difficult times.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup December 21, 2015:
#PABudget Day 174: Only 3 shopping days til Xmas; "Rep. Adolph:  “It’s difficult times, it’s difficult times.”

"Pennsylvania, an anomaly among states for its late budgets and long stalemates, is close to breaking its modern-day record — Wednesday, Dec. 23 — for a budget fight, set in 2003 by another first-year Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, and a Republican-controlled Legislature."
Pa. lawmakers weigh funding plan amid latest setbacks
Trib Live By The Associated Press Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, 9:18 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Top Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania met in the quiet and dark Capitol on Sunday night as they sorted through the wreckage of a deal with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to end the nearly six-month budget stalemate that is days from shattering the state's modern-day record.  House Republican majority leaders announced a plan for a Tuesday vote on a short-term emergency spending bill, but could give no details about the duration or dollar amount. They said little after they left a meeting with leaders of the Senate's Republican majority.  “We're negotiating,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware. “We'll be here a while.”  The meeting was a day after the huge House Republican majority swatted away yet another facet of six-week-old budget deal — legislation to restructure benefits in the state's two mammoth, debt-ridden public pension systems.  Along with Illinois, Pennsylvania is one of just two states still fighting over a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

"Rep. Adolph may have said it best: “It’s difficult times, it’s difficult times.”
Pennsylvania’s budget impasse grows to 174 days on Monday."
As Christmas looms, lawmakers still can’t find agreement on state budget
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Sunday, December 20, 2015
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate took Sunday to regroup from Saturday’s disappointment after a vote to reform Pennsylvania’s state run pension systems suffered a resounding defeat, putting in serious doubt the viability of a once-agreed-to budget framework.  While rank-and-file members returned home to their families or milled around Harrisburg Sunday, Republican legislative leadership gathered to discuss how to move forward with a state budget plan. Their efforts saw little agreement, however.  House Republicans were the first to hold an internal pow-wow early in the afternoon Sunday.  Following that meeting, House Appropriations Majority Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) said the caucus leadership is still moving in the direction of an 11-month emergency funding stopgap proposal.  “We’re still talking, we really want to get this money out and we’re seeing what’s the fastest way to get it out, and continue to negotiate,” he said. “If I was a betting man right now, I’d lean toward an 11-month stopgap and that way we can still negotiate with the administration. I don’t want one school to close the first of the year and this is the fastest way to do that.”  Later in the afternoon, House and Senate Republican leadership met, with little consensus on how to move forward.

Wolf, Senate: No stopgap budget by Chris Palmer, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: DECEMBER 21, 2015 1:08 AM
HARRISBURG - Legislative leaders huddled behind closed doors Sunday to determine how to resolve the state's budget crisis after a so-called framework agreement seemed to implode a day earlier.  But after hours of negotiating, it seemed another contentious battle could emerge before Christmas: While House leaders said they might soon propose a temporary spending plan to free up money for schools and nonprofits, Senate Republicans and Gov. Wolf said they wanted to work instead toward enacting a full-year budget.  "We'll see what they do and react to that," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre), as he left a meeting with House Republican leaders.  The competing visions for how to move forward could further complicate a budget impasse on the verge of becoming the longest in state history.  While an end to the 173-day stalemate appeared imminent as recently as Friday, negotiations fell apart over the weekend, creating doubt about how or when lawmakers might be able to reach a final agreement.

"remove these restraints and leave this cell with the door open" ...and pass a #*^@#%!!! #PABudget
If you spent the whole weekend shopping or watching the new Star Wars movie, here's what transpired Saturday and Sunday in the #PABudget saga…..
PA Ed Policy Roundup Saturday Dec 19: House tax vote could end budget impasse; Bill Greene: School Code changes would make ensuring charter accountability impossible

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sunday December 20, 2015: #PABudget? Bah… Humbug!

After pension overhaul collapse, Pa. legislators regroup in battle to pass budget
By Kate Giammarise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 21, 2015 12:25 AM
HARRISBURG — How exactly Pennsylvania’s nearly six-month budget impasse will end remained unclear Sunday, the day after the collapse of a pension overhaul bill that was part of a deal many hoped would end more than 170 days of state budget gridlock.  Legislative staffers and some elected officials were meeting behind closed doors in the Capitol on Sunday, with the hallways of the building largely dark, save for tourists photographing the Christmas tree in the Rotunda.  “This is not over. We still need a budget,” Jeffrey Sheridan, a spokesman for Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, said Sunday.  Mr. Wolf and the Republicans who control the state House and Senate appear to be caught in a bind: Senate Republicans have said they want reforms to pensions for state and public school employees — a large cost driver in the state’s budget — and they won’t vote for the new taxes Mr. Wolf seeks for increased education spending without pension changes.  The pension overhaul they proposed went down to a resounding defeat Saturday in the House in a 149-52 vote, with all Democrats and more than half of the Republicans opposing the bill. House Republicans have indicated they will likely move toward passing a so-called stopgap or partial-year budget, something the governor and Senate Republicans have said they oppose.

House GOP's turn to solve Pennsylvania budget stalemate
AP State Wire By MARC LEVY December 21, 2015
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - After rejecting piece after piece of a bipartisan deal to end Pennsylvania's five-month-old budget stalemate, House Republican majority leaders are planning procedural votes on a short-term emergency spending package.  The House Rules Committee was scheduled to meet Monday at 11 a.m., with a floor vote possible Tuesday  House Republicans haven't given details about the amount or duration of the spending package. Gov. Tom Wolf's office isn't saying whether he'd sign it.  Wolf, a Democrat, says he has enough support to pass a $1 billion-plus tax increase he wants to boost aid to public schools and human services. But House Republicans went back on their commitment to put it up for a vote.  On Saturday, House conservatives helped defeat pension legislation that Senate Republican leaders had tied to their support for the tax increase.

With budget deadlocked House Repubs try to squeeze Tom Wolf
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 20, 2015 at 6:02 PM, updated December 20, 2015 at 6:46 PM
With the state budget stuck in park and the Christmas holiday looming, some House Republicans are mulling the mother of all squeeze plays to shake a deal loose with the Democratic Wolf administration.  In an email chain obtained by PennLive, two rank-and-file House members, who are among a conservative faction the most loudly critical of Gov. Tom Wolf, war-gamed out legislative maneuvers to end the six-month-old stalemate.  The lawmakers, Reps. Eli Evankovich, R-Allegheny, and Jim Cox, R-Berks, want to force Wolf to veto his own funding if he tried a similar tactic on the General Assembly.  Critics on Sunday saw the move as an attempt on the House to put its funding ahead of cash-strapped schools and nonprofit organizations. Evankovich strenuously denied that was the case.

Attytood: Washington-on-the-Susquehanna
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch Updated: DECEMBER 20, 2015 9:21 PM
While tens of millions of Americans were huddled around their TV sets on Saturday, leaving rum-soaked holiday parties or in the middle of the new "Star Wars" flick to race home for the all-important Democratic presidential debate*, Harrisburg was up to its new-old tricks. Lawmakers failed for the umpteenth time to pass the state budget that was due back on July 1, way back when Donald Trump was still seen as a reality-show reject and not as the Dear Leader of the pending Fourth Reich.  Gov. Wolf and some legislative leaders had assured Pennsylvanians -- the handful who hadn't tuned out this three-ring circus months ago, anyway -- that the latest handshake was the real deal. There's growing concern  that Gov. Wolf's vote counting skills were, in the famous words of sportscaster Bob Uecker, jussssst a bit outside. In fact, the first element of the deal -- an overhaul of the state pension system that would have freed up dollars for other parts of the budget plan -- was defeated by 152-49. (House Republicans had promised the votes to pass the pension piece; Wolf is still hopeful he has bipartsan support for the main revenue package.) But to put the pension loss in context, even the Sixers haven't lost won that badly this season (...yet).  It's all sort of hysterically funny -- except for the kids in struggling school districts that might have to shut their doors as early as next month without their state education aid, not to mention all the non-profits that have been squeezed nearly to death in their missions to help the needy and the poor.

CDT Letter: State legislators serving themselves
Centre Daily Times Letter by BRIAN ALTERIO, BELLEFONTE December 21, 2015
If ever you needed proof as to whose interests our state’s legislators serve, look no further than their efforts to overhaul our state’s pension benefits, and the failed attempts at a state budget.  Our lawmakers changed the pension reform bill under consideration to allow themselves to keep their pension benefits, while slashing in half the benefits of future state employees.  Additionally, our legislators don’t seem to mind that we have no state budget because, budget or no budget, legislators continue to receive their full salary. Yet there are school districts and human service agencies, dependent upon state funding for continued operations, which are now considering shutdowns for lack of operational money.  How many of you would continue to draw your full salaries and pension benefits while failing to perform the most important aspect of your job?

"Vocabulary development begins early, she said, and her scholars are required to independently read 40 books per year. When she rewards them for achievements such as positive behavior or good grades, she does so with bookstore gift cards. Local authors frequently visit the school, she said, to discuss their writing methods, sources of inspiration and the importance of literature.  “Reading is everywhere and they can’t get away from it. We expect them to develop an appreciation for reading and if you expect it, they’ll do it.”
With little public attention, Urban Academy becomes a model of success
By Clarece Polke / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 21, 2015 12:00 AM
Every morning, a little after 8 a.m., a soaring, echoing rendition of more than 100 children singing “I Believe I Can Fly” echoes through the halls of the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh.  Posters of historical figures such as Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters and Shirley Chisholm hang on the walls of the cafeteria as the children engage in a morning ritual that includes a school chant, black history fact and singing of the “black national anthem,” “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” The scholars, as Gail Edwards, school principal and CEO calls them, start every morning with the routine.  “It helps set the tone for the entire day,” she said of the practice. “I think it not only helps inspire them, but gets them in the mindset where they’re ready and excited to learn.”  Founded by the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh in 1998, the school officially changed its name from the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School in August, signifying its becoming a separate entity from the area nonprofit. The tiny K-5 charter school with a student body made up of mostly black students, 81 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, has received little public attention tucked away in the former B’nai Israel Synagogue in East Liberty.

This superintendent has figured out how to make school work for poor kids
Washington Post By Emma Brown December 20 at 9:47 PM  
JENNINGS, Mo. — School districts don’t usually operate homeless shelters for their students. Nor do they often run food banks or have a system in place to provide whatever clothes kids need. Few offer regular access to pediatricians and mental health counselors, or make washers and dryers available to families desperate to get clean.  But the Jennings School District — serving about 3,000 students in a low-income, predominantly African American jurisdiction just north of St. Louis — does all of these things and more. When Superintendent Tiffany Anderson arrived here 3 1/years ago, she was determined to clear the barriers that so often keep poor kids from learning. And her approach has helped fuel a dramatic turnaround in Jennings, which has long been among the lowest-performing school districts in Missouri.  “Schools can do so much to really impact poverty,” Anderson said. “Some people think if you do all this other stuff, it takes away from focusing on instruction, when really it ensures that you can take kids further academically.”  Public education has long felt like a small and fruitless weapon against this town’s generational poverty. But that’s starting to change. Academic achievement, attendance and high school graduation rates have improved since Anderson’s arrival, and, this month, state officials announced that as a result of the improvements, Jennings had reached full accreditation for the first time in more than a decade.

PSBA New School Director Training
School boards who will welcome new directors after the election should plan to attend PSBA training to help everyone feel more confident right from the start. This one-day event is targeted to help members learn the basics of their new roles and responsibilities. Meet the friendly, knowledgeable PSBA team and bring everyone on your “team of 10” to get on the same page fast.
  • $150 per registrant (No charge if your district has a LEARN PassNote: All-Access members also have LEARN Pass.)
  • One-hour lunch on your own — bring your lunch, go to lunch, or we’ll bring a box lunch to you; coffee/tea provided all day
  • Course materials available online or we’ll bring a printed copy to you for an additional $25
  • Registrants receive one month of 100-level online courses for each registrant, after the live class
Remaining Locations:
  • Butler area — Jan. 9 Midwestern IU 4, Grove City (note: location changed from Penn State New Kensington)
  • Allentown area — Jan. 16 Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville
  • Central PA — Jan. 30 Nittany Lion Inn, State College
  • Delaware Co. IU 25 — Feb. 1
  • Scranton area — Feb. 6 Abington Heights SD, Clarks Summit
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2016; January 24 - 26 in Washington, D.C.
Housing and meeting registration is open for Advocacy Institute 2016.  The theme, “Election Year Politics & Public Schools,” celebrates the exciting year ahead for school board advocacy.  Strong legislative programming will be paramount at this year’s conference in January.  Visit for more information.

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Thursday, February 11 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17 - 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania)
Thursday, February 25 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Pittsburgh
Invitation and more details in January

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

The Network for Public Education 3rd Annual National Conference April 16-17, 2016 Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Network for Public Education is thrilled to announce the location for our 3rd Annual National Conference. On April 16 and 17, 2016 public education advocates from across the country will gather in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

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

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