Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 29: Wolf announcement at 10:30 am today on GOP passed #PABudget

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup December 29, 2015:
Wolf announcement at 10:30 am today on GOP passed #PABudget

Gov. Wolf makes a budget announcement 10:30 a.m. Tuesday

"We are public education. Stop shooting at us. Join with us."
Pennsylvania is failing Philly's schools — so, close the schools?
Daun Kauffman teaches in North Philadelphia public schools and blogs at LucidWitness.com. He lives in Hunting Park where he has served the children and families for 15 years. Kauffman has an M.Ed. from Temple University and an MBA from Harvard University Graduate School of Business.
The Pennsylvania Senate's effort to amend the PA School Code (H.B. 530), is part of the backroom wrangling over our state budget.  Senate amendments to the bill require the state to directly take over or close five individual schools every year. This Senate incursion into education is a textbook example of aggression and obstruction with no advance intelligence, no input, from "frontline ground troops." So politicians with uninformed philosophies push more and more state bureaucracy into sectors where the state is ignorant and, in fact, failing.  It is impossible to continue silently enduring simplistic views of learning and teaching practice (by non-practitioners) and simplistic "solution pills" to "fix" or increase learning, which instead continue generating more and more collateral damage: academic damage, systemic damage, financial damage, social damage, personal damage, and more.  Newsflash: There is no simplistic, quick fix, or someone would have done it long ago! In fact, Pennsylvania took over the School District of Philadelphia 15 years ago already! The state's record of academic decline, and their consistent record of precise underfunding of Philadelphia in particular, is a prime cause of our condition, a contrived disaster.
Ask yourself: After 15 years of state management, is the School District of Philadelphia better off today or worse off?

Wolf to make announcement today on GOP-passed budget
Post Gazette By Marc Levy / Associated Press December 28, 2015 6:27 PM
HARRISBURG — Lawmakers waited Monday for Gov. Tom Wolf to take action on the budget bill on his desk and saw no clear way to resolve their differences as Pennsylvania’s record-long impasse approached its seventh month.  Mr. Wolf scheduled a news conference this morning in the Capitol to discuss the budget. His press secretary declined to say what Mr. Wolf would announce.  Members of legislative leadership reported no progress over the weekend in efforts to revive a bipartisan compromise budget after it stalled last week.  “I guess at this point, the ball’s in the governor’s court,” said Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler, the House GOP’s caucus administrator. “We’re waiting to hear from him.”  With lawmakers rushing to leave town for Christmas, the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday sent Wolf the main appropriations bill in a last-ditch, $30.3 billion budget package that had been written by House GOP majority leaders.

Aide to governor calls Republican budget irresponsible
John Hanger says it will cut $95 million for education
 69 News , follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com Posted: 4:16 PM EST Dec 28, 2015 HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Republicans' latest proposal for a state budget "is another display of fiscal irresponsibility that will lead to a $95 million cut to local schools," maintains an aide to Gov. Tom Wolf. "The Republican budget underfunds education and uses gimmicks that will actually lead to a $95 million cut in funding for our schools," said John Hanger, secretary of policy and planning in the governor's office, in a news release. The state has failed to pass an annual budget, something it was required to do by June 30. "Republicans continue to refuse to adequately fund Pre-K through 12 education and their budget fails to fund over $305 million in school construction reimbursements," continued Hanger in his statement. "Instead they propose to pay for school construction by issuing billions in debt. "However, because the Republican budget fails to take any meaningful steps to fix Pennsylvania’s structural budget deficit - which has already led to five credit downgrades - the commonwealth will be unable to issue debt to fund school construction.
Read more from WFMZ.com at: http://www.wfmz.com/news/aide-to-governor-calls-republican-budget-irresponsible/37162782

Wolf to announce his budget decision on Tuesday
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 28, 2015 at 5:37 PM, updated December 28, 2015 at 7:36 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf will announce on Tuesday his decision about what he is doing with the House GOP-crafted $30.3 billion state spending plan that the Senate sent him last week to end the nearly six-month budget impasse.  It provides for a $150 million increase in direct support for school districts – $200 million less than Wolf had agreed to as part of the framework budget deal struck last month with legislative leaders. But it also likely avoids the need for increases in income or sales taxes to pay for it.

Will Wolf's decision on $30.3 billion budget bill be a 'blue-line bonanza'?
Penn LiveBy Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 28, 2015 at 7:28 PM, updated December 28, 2015 at 10:14 PM
Pennsylvanians are waiting to see what Gov. Tom Wolf will do about the $30.3 billion state budget proposal that sits on his desk  – and apparently, we will learn in the morning.  Wolf is scheduled to make an announcement at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.  He has some choices beyond just signing it or vetoing it in its entirety. It is the middle ground that lies between them that legislative sources shared they heard is the path the governor will take.  That means Wolf is expected to use his line-item veto authority that allows him to reduce or eliminate funding entirely for certain budget lines. One source indicated what we could see is what was described as a "blue-line bonanza," meaning funding on several budget lines throughout the budget document were cut or eliminated.

Wolf should sign #PaBudget, but use veto pen to force further talks: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on December 28, 2015 at 12:47 PM
Character, the old saying goes, is what you do when no one is looking.  Leadership is what you do, then, when everyone is looking. And Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf faces this week what may well be the greatest test of his leadership.  And the entire Commonwealth is watching.  Does he sign a $30.3 billion, Republican-authored budget he professes to oppose, ending Pennsylvania's six-month-old budget standoff, even as he stands to sacrifice some of his key legislative priorities?  Does he line-item veto some portion of it to force lawmakers to the table to continue negotiations?  Does he veto it in its entirety, as he has before, thus prolonging the agony, and possibly force some school districts to shut their doors in 2016?  Or does he allow it to lapse into law without a gubernatorial signature?  At this writing, only Wolf and his inner circle of advisers know that answer.

Gov. Wolf could line-item veto
York daily record by Flint L. McColgan, fmccolgan@ydr.com5:37 p.m. EST December 28, 2015
Multiple sources around the capitol say Wolf is likely to partially veto bill, but Wolf's office said no decision has been made.
While the Pennsylvania state Capitol was largely quiet Monday, there was talk among members of the state House and Senate that Gov. Tom Wolf might line-item veto the state budget bill that has been on his desk since Thursday.  Wolf's press secretary, Jeffrey Sheridan, disputed the speculation and said the governor had "not made any final decisions" around 1:30 p.m. Monday.  Just after 5 p.m. Monday, Wolf tweeted that he would make a budget announcementat 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.  Still, the line-item veto theory "seems to be the consensus" around the Capitol, Jason High, chief of staff to state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said.  "Admin is going line by line through the budget," said state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, by text message. "Probably a signature with line item vetoes."

Budget clock ticking, Wolf stays mum
Philly.com by Chris Palmer, HARRISBURG BUREAU. Updated: DECEMBER 29, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
HARRISBURG - Will he sign or veto?
Five days after the Republican-led legislature handed him a proposal that could end the state's six-month budget stalemate, but also cast aside his call for a historic increase in school funding, Gov. Wolf did neither Monday.  But he also suggested the wait for an answer wouldn't be long.  After remaining silent on the budget issue for most of the day, the governor's office said it would hold a Tuesday morning news conference for "a budget-related announcement."  There were no clues on what that announcement would be, and the Capitol was largely empty.  Earlier in the day, a top Wolf aide lashed into the GOP's plan, specifically for underfunding schools - a priority issue for the first-term Democratic governor.

Lawmakers can't get to yes
Philly.com Opinion By Kate Harper Updated: DECEMBER 29, 2015 — 3:01 AM EST
State Rep. Kate Harper (R., Montgomery) represents the 61st District.
The loss of civil discussion has caused some of the dysfunction we are experiencing in our nation's capital and in state capitals, including Harrisburg. Competition with hashtags and the substitution of Twitter feeds for listening get in the way of getting things done.  When I was a young commercial litigator, someone gave me the book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by William Ury and Roger Fisher. This short book, based on the Harvard Negotiation Project, teaches a style of negotiation focused on interests and common ground, rather than dwelling on the people or positions of the "other side." I found it useful in business litigation where, despite the lawsuits, there were advantages to maintaining a long-term relationship with the other parties and neither side wanted to spend a lot of money on lawyers in courtrooms. Getting a "good result," rather than "winning at all costs," was good for business.

Philly lawmaker calls on House colleagues to return for budget work
WHYY Newsworks by Tom MacDonald DECEMBER 28, 2015
A Pennsylvania lawmaker said it's time to get back to the bargaining table and come up with a budget that better adheres to the framework worked out by all sides early this month.   State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, said he's ready to return to Harrisburg and hammer out a spending plan that provides the funding for schools and social services sought by Gov. Tom Wolf.   "I am still waiting for House Speaker Mike Turzai to call the Pennsylvania House of Representatives back to Harrisburg,  so that we can work on the framework that was agreed to," Harris said Monday morning during groundbreaking ceremonies for a South Philadelphia playground makeover.  Harris said he can't believe lawmakers left the capital without a finished budget.

Harrisburg schools could be viewed a credit risk through no fault of their own
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 28, 2015 at 3:54 PM, updated December 29, 2015 at 6:10 AM
Harrisburg School District anticipates it has enough money to get through a few more weeks without having to borrow money while waiting on state funding to materialize.  But if it would come down to having to take out a loan to keep schools open, the capital city's school district that moved from the brink of insolvency two years ago to improved fiscal health could revert back to being considered a credit risk in lender's eyes as a consequence of the late state budget.  The district is one of dozens across the state impacted by S&P's recent withdrawal of its ratings of a state government intercept program. That program helped districts get more favorable loan terms by giving bondholders a guarantee of repayment from state funds a district was owed.  S&P's decision to pull the ratings was based on the nearly six-month state budget impasse, along with the state's track record of not passing an on-time state budget in 10 of the last 13 years.

Yikes! Only 37 more shopping days until #PaBudget 2016: Monday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 28, 2015 at 8:24 AM, updated December 28, 2015 at 10:23 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
We enter this final week of 2015 much as we left the previous one, with Pennsylvania still in the throes of a budget deadlock.  And while some of you may still be shaking off the postprandial torpor of that giant Christmas lunch or the hangover induced by that final round of cocktails, the Wolf administration begins the week facing the kind of decision no one wants to face as they ransack the medicine cabinet for that roll of Rolaids or the bottle of Aleve back behind the expired prescription for Vicodin that you swear you're going to throw out one of these days.  Like the worst gift you could imagine (sansreceipt), the administration finds itself with a $30.3 billion budget sitting in its lap that it considers a size too small and in the worst color in the known universe (banana yellow, perhaps?).

Disappear? Indeed.  EITC/OSTC funding comes from up to $150 million in diverted tax dollars that go primarily to private and religious schools, including elite Main Line private schools, that never make it into the general fund and are therefore not available for budget discussions
EITC/OSTC: Last-minute holiday gift from Wolf frees student aid
by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer. Updated: DECEMBER 29, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
Even though Pennsylvania is still waiting for a state budget, Gov. Wolf left a little something in the stockings of scholarship organizations and other educational nonprofits.  On Thursday, he directed the Department of Community and Economic Development to send out tax-credit approval letters that will enable corporations to fulfill promised scholarships for thousands of students in 2016-17.  State law permits corporations to obtain tax credits for donations they make to approved scholarship and educational programs.  For months, organizations that rely on funding from those programs had been urging the Wolf administration to release the tax-credit approval letters. They warned that if those letters were not sent by the end of the year, up to $150 million in philanthropic dollars would "disappear."

Letter: Pa. still needs the right budget
Delco Times Letter by Lisa Esler Posted: 12/29/15, 5:20 AM EST
Lisa Esler, Penn Delco School Board Director
To the Times: As a school board member, I understand that after nearly six months without a budget, lawmakers may be tempted to pass any budget and move on to 2016. But Pennsylvania’s state budget has to be done right. There is too much at stake, most importantly tax hikes on working families. Now is not the time to raise taxes but a time to downsize Harrisburg and make it more efficient.  School districts are borrowing money and facing the prospects of closing down after Christmas. Social service providers are laying off staff. The pain is real.  Moody’s Investor Services has downgraded Pennsylvania’s general obligation bond outlook to negative as a result of the budget impasse. In particular, Moody’s noted the impact of the commonwealth’s largest pension liabilities, poor financial position following years of structural imbalance, and challenged political environment.  The solution to these problems, however, is not broad-based tax hikes. Pennsylvanians already shoulder the 10th-highest state and local taxes. A reasonable, no-tax increase budget can provide needed funds for school districts, nonprofits, and other state priorities and protect taxpayers. State constituents balance their personal budgets and school board directors are required by law to pass a budget on time once a year.
So perhaps the answer is to start looking within the walls of Harrisburg and trim the fat instead of digging into the pockets of hard-working Pennsylvanians. Eliminating corporate welfare would be a good start. Just one of many examples would be the race horse industry which receives 250 million in taxpayers dollars a year.

"These are not mom and pop companies," he said. "They can afford to pay it because they pay it everywhere else. The idea that they are going to leave the area is a specious argument."
The question of a severance tax is not likely to go away
Williamsport Sun-Gazette By MIKE REUTHER mreuther@sungazette.com December 26, 2015
State lawmakers struggled into the holiday season to pass this year's state budget plan but one of the bargaining chips removed from the table was a severance tax on the natural gas industry.  The tax, long seen as a viable revenue source for the state by many Democrats, including Gov. Wolf, isn't expected to disappear for good, however.  Some feel it has taken nothing more than a temporary leave of absence - not unlike the drilling for natural gas in central Pennsylvania.  "I don't think it's ever going to go away," said state Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township. "I think Wolf will revive it."

Muslim cleric living in Poconos at center of lawsuit alleging human rights abuses in Turkey
Tom Shortell Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call December 28, 2015
From his 26-acre compound in Ross Township, Gulen controls $25 billion religious movement
SAYLORSBURG — A tale of international intrigue surrounding a Muslim cleric living in exile in the Poconos continues to grow as three Turkish citizens claim they were wrongfully imprisoned in their country on his orders.  Turkish officials last year issued an arrest warrant for Fethullah Gulen, claiming the cleric was staging a coup meant to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While Gulen supporters claim Erdogan is trying to destroy opponents in an effort to secure power, Turkish officials claim Gulen instructed his followers to crack down on critics with doctored evidence.  In a new lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Bunyamin Ates, Turgut Yildirim and Murat Ozturk are seeking unspecified punitive damages against Gulen, claiming he masterminded a plan that left them stuck in prison.  The three men follow the Dogan Movement, a rival Muslim theology with origins similar to the Gulen Movement. Ates controls several publishing houses that support the Dogan Movement and have criticized the Gulen Movement.

Objectives of charter schools with Turkish ties questioned
Charter schools inspired by Fethullah Gulen operate in 100 countries, including the USA.     
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY Updated 8/17/2010 9:36 AM
They have generic, forward-sounding names like Horizon Science Academy, Pioneer Charter School of Science and Beehive Science & Technology Academy.  Quietly established over the past decade by a loosely affiliated group of Turkish-American educators, these 100 or so publicly funded charter schools in 25 states are often among the top-performing public schools in their towns.  The schools educate as many as 35,000 students — taken together they'd make up the largest charter school network in the USA — and have imported thousands of Turkish educators over the past decade.  But the success of the schools at times has been clouded by nagging questions about what ties the schools may have to a reclusive Muslim leader in his late 60s living in exile in rural Pennsylvania.

Top Education Commentaries of 2015: Education Week's Most-Viewed
Published Online: December 28, 2015
To give a sense of which opinion essays our readers found most compelling in 2015, the editors at Education Week have compiled a list of our 10 most-viewed Commentaries. Below, they are ordered by the number of online page views they generated. Revisit these Commentaries and examine perspectives you may have missed in 2015.

Five 2015 victories that put cracks in the ‘testocracy’
NEA Education Votes Blog by Guest blogger: Jesse Hagopian Posted December 28, 2015
Never in U.S. history have more students, parents, and teachers engaged in acts of resistance to standardized tests. During the 2015 testing season, over 620,000 public school students around the U.S. refused to take standardized exams, according to a report by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). Advocates for authentic assessments scored these five significant victories in 2015 against the “testocracy” and its test-and-punish model of education:

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

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 www.nsba.org/advocacyinstitute 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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