Friday, January 29, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 29: Day 212 - F&M Poll: Only 15% think PA General Assembly is doing a good job

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup January 29, 2016:
Day 212 - F&M Poll: Only 15% think PA General Assembly is doing a good job

"Southeastern Region Forum Series" Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Networking and Coffee - 9:30 a.m.  Program - 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Penn Center for Educational Leadership (5th Floor)
University of Pennsylvania - 3440 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104-3325
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
RSVP for Southeastern Forum on-line at

"Capital Region Forum Series" Thursday, February 11, 2016
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Harrisburg Hilton Hotel - Two North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
RSVP for Harrisburg Forum on-line at 

For Act 2, Gov. Wolf is readying a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' budget: Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 28, 2016 at 2:30 PM
If you were a school-kid back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the chances are pretty good you remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" paperbacks that were  a staple of middle and elementary school book fairs.  And there were dozens of them, each more luridly titled than the last, with front cover illustrations to match: "The Cave of Time," "The House of Danger," and "Lost on the Amazon," are just a few of the titles that rush to mind.  They were the "Goosebumps" and "Harry Potter" series of their day - but with a twist: The reader, not the author, decided how the story would end.  At the end of each chapter, you were confronted with a choice. Turn to one page, and you might continue your adventure or be rewarded with a spectacular prize. Turn to another, and you might find yourself facing fiery and certain death in a volcano or something.  And with his first budget still undone after more than seven months,  that's about the best way to describe the new spending document that Gov. Tom Wolf will roll out to a joint session of the state House and Senate in just a couple of weeks' time.  "There are two paths - one of greater destruction - which is the path we've been on for the last four or five years or one where we move forward and fix the deficit and fund schools," administration spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said. "The Legislature will have to decide which way to go."

With 2016 campaign season opening, Gov. Tom Wolf pledges to be a player in legislative campaigns
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM, updated January 28, 2016 at 2:30 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he expects to be an active player in the 2016 election cycle, and the context was not delivering Pennsylvania for fellow Democrats Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  It was, in Wolf's words, working to elect more "reasonable" people to seats in the state House and state Senate.  Wolf's vow came just days after the opening date for candidates to gather petition signatures needed to place their names on their respective parties' ballots for the April 26 primary election.  "I will do what I can to help build the ranks of reasonable, responsible legislators," said Wolf, who has struggled mightily to advance his priorities in the current Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“The more surprising result is those polled said state government and politicians were the No. 1 problem facing Pennsylvania, twice as high as education at 18 percent.  …Only 15 percent think the General Assembly is doing a good job.”
New Polls: Wolf Just As Popular As Corbett; Kane, Sestak, Clinton, Trump Leading
PA Capitol Digest by Crisci Assocaites January 29, 2016
A new Franklin & Marshall Poll released Thursday found Gov. Wolf is just as popular as Gov. Corbett was-- 33 percent to 31 percent; Kane is leading the Democratic contest for Attorney General; Joe Sestak is leading the Democratic race for the state’s U.S. Senate seat; and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are leading in the presidential race.   The more surprising result is those polled said state government and politicians were the No. 1 problem facing Pennsylvania, twice as high as education at 18 percent.  Overall, 67 percent of those polled think the state is on the wrong track (up 5 percent from October).  52 percent blame the Legislature and 32 percent the Governor (36 percent in October). Only 15 percent think the General Assembly is doing a good job.

Pennsylvania voters register disgust with Harrisburg antics in poll
Trib Live BY TOM FONTAINE  | Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016
Nine months ago, Pennsylvania's registered voters felt more optimistic about the state's future than they had in five years.  Now, according to a poll released Thursday, they are more discouraged about the state's direction than they have been in at least six years. More than four out of five voters think state government needs to be reformed, starting with the Legislature, the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows.  “Scandal and dysfunction have touched every branch of our government,” said pollster G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall's Center for Politics and Public Affairs.

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll
The January 2016 Franklin & Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvania registered voters shows increasing dissatisfaction with the direction of the state and with the state’s politicians. Two in three (67%) registered voters believe the state is “on the wrong track,” up from 62% in October, and two in five (38%) say that government and politicians are the biggest problems facing the state. Four in five (82%) voters believe that state government needs reformed. These sentiments are continuing to affect Governor Wolf’s job performance ratings; 33% of registered voters believe he is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as governor, which is down from 36% in October and 39% in August. The January Poll shows that more registered voters continue to hold the state legislature (52%) than the governor (32%) responsible for the state’s late budget.
View the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll (PDF):

State Auditor General to see if Bethlehem charter school violated state bidding laws
By Jacqueline Palochko  The Morning Call January 28, 2016
 The Pennsylvania auditor general will look into whether a Bethlehem charter school violated state law when handling construction contracts for its $26 million new building.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in a statement Thursday that he received separate letters from attorneys representing the Bethlehem Area School District and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts and will begin an audit this summer.  The school district alleges the charter school did not follow Pennsylvania Charter School Law when it constructed a building at 321 E. Third St. in Bethlehem. The district said the charter school approached construction companies about bids, rather than following state law and advertising for submissions.  The district also says the charter school did not request bids for subcontractors for work such as heating and plumbing, as required by law.

Marple Newtown approves teachers’ contract with 7 percent raise over term
Delco Times By Leslie Krowchenko, Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/27/16, 8:33 PM EST 
NEWTOWN >> Following ratification of the tentative agreement last week by the Marple Newtown Education Association, the Marple Newtown School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the new contract. The agreement, signed following the Nov. 9 negotiating session, is for the period July 1, 2015-June 30, 2018.  The teachers inked a two-year agreement in June 2013 which expired June 30. The union, members of the school board and administration and a mediator began contract negotiations in January 2015. Despite the situation, the 299 union members continued their in-class and extra-curricular activities without interruption.  According to the terms, the new money added to the salary schedule is 2.45 percent for 2015-2016, 2.4 percent for 2016-2017 and 2.21 percent for 2017-2018. Most employees will receive annual increases close to those percentages. In 2015-2016 all union members will move up one step on the salary schedule and remain on that step for the next two years. The teacher year will continue as 191 days this year and next, moving to 192 days for 2017-2018.

New interactive map highlights Penn GSE's work in Philadelphia
Penn Graduate School of Education January 27, 2016
The crisis of Philadelphia’s schools drew preeminent teaching expert Pam Grossman to the deanship of Penn GSE.  Philadelphia is a national testing ground for many of the issues facing American education: school reform, charters, school funding, deep poverty, and a diverse and diversifying student body. Grossman felt compelled to make a difference here – hoping her work at Penn could have an impact on the community and in national discussions.  Crucial to her strategy was understanding Penn GSE’s direct work with Philadelphia schools, which she was surprised to learn extends into every city neighborhood. Grossman also discovered that faculty within Penn GSE and on the Penn campus, although united in their commitment to Philadelphia, do not always have a detailed understanding of the many projects underway. Without that shared knowledge, it is difficult to foster the alchemy necessary for larger change.  To illustrate Penn GSE’s work and partnerships in the city, the school launched an interactive and evolving “heat map.”

State rep salutes Wallingford-Swarthmore school board
Delco Times by  NEIL A. SHEEHAN POSTED: 01/28/16, 8:05 PM EST
NETHER PROVIDENCE >> A state legislator hand-delivered certificates of recognition to members of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board at their most recent meeting.
State Rep. Leanne Krueger‐Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, who was elected last year, said it was important to her to present the certificates in person.  “I want to thank you for your service,” particularly as a resident of the district, she said, noting school board members do not receive any financial compensation.  The salute was on behalf of the Pennsylvania School Board Association and in conjunction with January serving as School Board Appreciation Month.

“It would require a 4.89 percent tax increase to balance the budget as it stands today. The board approved filing with the Department of Education for 2016-17 referendum exceptions for special education expenditures ($1.7 million) and retirement contributions ($949,000) for a total estimated amount of $2.7 million.”
Spring-Ford board OKs $150M preliminary budget, blames state impasse for woes
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 01/28/16, 6:35 PM EST | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Royersford >> The Spring-Ford Area School Board blamed the budget impasse in Harrisburg for causing its financial headache as it tries to prepare a 2016-17 budget.  The district still has not said how it intends to balance the $150 million preliminary budget it approved Wednesday night. It could raise taxes, cut expenses and/or pull from its reserves. For now, all options on the table.  “We’re going into the budget process without the state telling us what we’re doing,” said board Vice President Joe Ciresi. “It’s time for the state to do their job, what they’re hired for and not leave the districts hanging. And stop blaming the districts for raising taxes when they’re not properly funding education.”  Ciresi is currently campaigning as a Democrat to serve as state representative for the 146th District. The 146th District includes the boroughs of Trappe, Royersford and part of Pottstown, as well as Limerick, Lower Pottsgrove and Perkiomen townships.

'Working educators' caucus challenges status quo in Philadelphia teachers union
The leadership and direction of the politically influential Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will be up for grabs over the next few weeks.  The incumbent leadership slate — known as the Collective Bargaining Team — is seeing its most robust challenge in decades from a rank-and-file division that calls itself the Caucus of Working Educators, also known as WE.  WE prides itself as a proponent of "social-justice unionism" that aims to place trauma-informed care of students at the core of its agenda.  "We have to address those issues of poverty, or things will never get better in the classroom. And I think that is a big scary notion, but 11,000 caring teachers and other professionals can do this," said Amy Roat, WE's nominee for union president.

U.S. Education Department threatens to sanction states over test opt-outs
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss January 28 at 1:12 PM  
Members of Congress, education leaders and students applaud after President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act on Dec. 10 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  Anyone who thought that the U.S. Education Department’s power over states in regard to standardized testing was over because of the new K-12 education law passed in December should think again.  The Every Student Succeeds Act was the result of a compromise among Republicans and Democrats who were intent on ending No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of former president George W. Bush, and the Obama administration’s micro-managing of education policymaking. It did send a good deal of education policymaking power back to the states but did not eliminate the federal role in education.  ESSA carries over the No Child Left Behind mandate of annual standardized testing from grades 3-8 and once in high school, and it has left enough room for the Education Department to threaten to sanction those states where too many students refused to take the state-mandated standardized “accountability” test.

Test-Participation Mandate Puts States on Spot
How to deal with opt-outs remains tricky under ESSA
Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: January 26, 2016
As states prepare for the transition to the new federal education law passed last month, one of the thornier policy questions is how they'll consider test-participation rates in their accountability systems, after a year in which the testing opt-out movement rose to national prominence.
States are considering various approaches to try to ensure schools meet the requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (the newest iteration of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act) that 95 percent of eligible students take state exams in English/language arts and math.  The plans to deal with high opt-out numbers in at least a few states follow suggestions from the U.S. Department of Education about how to respond to relatively low participation numbers. The department also notified 13 states that, according to data, the 95 percent participation requirement was not met either by districts in their state or statewide for the 2014-15 academic year. But even those plans could shift once states' ESEA waivers end and life under ESSA gets under way.

“All but two of the GOP candidates — former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — are also promising that they will rid the country of Common Core, the K-12 academic standards in math and reading adopted by more than 40 states and the District of Columbia.  The trouble is, the president has no power over the Common Core. States decide academic standards. That has been true for years but was spelled out explicitly in the new federal education law.”
When it comes to K-12 education, goals of GOP contenders are moot
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton January 28 at 2:41 PM  
To hear the top-tier Republican presidential candidates tell it, on their first day in office, they will shift power over education from the federal government back to states and local communities.
Problem is, Congress already took care of that.  In December, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a new law that dials back the power of the federal government when it comes to local classrooms. It marked a profound reset of the relationship between federal and state governments. States, not the federal government, decide curricula, teaching methods, academic standards, what to do about struggling schools and how to define success or failure, among other things. 

"Southeastern Region Forum Series"Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Networking and Coffee - 9:30 a.m. Program - 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Penn Center for Educational Leadership (5th Floor)
University of Pennsylvania - 3440 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104-3325
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
An Overview of the Proposed 2016-2017 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director, Education Law Center
Dr. George Steinhoff, Superintendent, Penn Delco School District
One or more representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
RSVP for Southeastern Forum on-line at

"Capital Region Forum Series" Thursday, February 11, 2016
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Harrisburg Hilton Hotel - Two North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
An Overview of the Proposed 2016-2017 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
Dr. Brian Barnhart, Executive Director, Lancaster-Lebanon IU #13
Thomas Gluck, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units
Representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.
RSVP for Harrisburg Forum on-line at 

PSBA New School Director Training Remaining Locations:
  • 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
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

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

Attend the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia February 26-28
United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Reform will hold its annual conference on Philadelphia from February 26-28.

Save the Date | PBPC Budget Summit March 3rd
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
The 2015-2016 budget remains in a state of limbo. But it's time to start thinking about the 2016-17 budget. The Governor will propose his budget for next year in early February.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will hold our annual Budget Summit on March 3rd. Save the date and join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2016-17 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, the environment and local communities.  And, of course, if the 2015-2016 budget is not complete by then, we will also be talking about the various alternatives still under consideration.
As in year's past, this year's summit will be at the Hilton Harrisburg.  Register today!

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

PenSPRA's Annual Symposium, Friday April 8th in Shippensburg, PA
PenSPRA, or the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association, has developed a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your district's brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends.  Join us the evening before the Symposium for a “Conversation with Colleagues” from 5 – 6 pm followed by a Networking Social Cocktail Hour from 6 – 8 pm.  Both the Symposium Friday and the social events on Thursday evening will be held at the Shippensburg University Conference Center. Snacks at the social hour, and Friday’s breakfast and lunch is included in your registration cost. $125 for PenSPRA members and $150 for non-members. Learn more about our speakers and topics and register today at this link:

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.

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:

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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