Monday, January 4, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 4: S&P calls state budget plan "structurally unbalanced"

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup January 4 2016:
S&P calls state budget plan "structurally unbalanced"

"While GOP leaders called the budget financially sound, the Standard & Poor's assessment disagrees.  "While we have previously stated that we could consider a negative rating action or outlook if the state fails to address its budgetary imbalance or reverses course on addressing its pension liabilities, we are waiting for further developments on a corresponding revenue package," the company stated Wednesday."
Standard & Poor's calls state budget plan "structurally unbalanced"
By Kevin Flowers  814-870-1693 Erie Times-News December 31, 2015 05:55 AM
Standard & Poor's Rating Services has weighed in on Pennsylvania's $30.3 billion state budget package, which was partially rejected by Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday.  The company, which rates the credit of governments and municipalities, does not like what it sees.  In a news release issued late Tuesday, Standard & Poor's called the budget plan passed by state legislators "structurally unbalanced" and said that it does not include needed pension reforms.  "As proposed, the budget had a $500 million budget gap for fiscal 2016 and left a $2 billion budget gap for fiscal 2017," according to the company's release.

"Pensions here are badly enough funded that Moody's and Standard & Poor's rate Pennsylvania among the states most likely to default on their bonds - only New Jersey and Illinois are rated worse. So Pennsylvania taxpayers pay millions in extra financing costs."
As budget impasse starts new year, business community braces for consequences by Joseph N. DiStefano  @PhillyJoeD Updated: JANUARY 4, 2016  3:01 AM EST
Of all the things Pennsylvania's divided government failed to fix in 2015 - the budget, pensions, schools, liquor sales - the one that leaves the business community feeling extra bemused is taxes.  So many proposals: A natural gas extraction tax! An end to local property taxes, balanced by higher income taxes or broader sales taxes! Liquor-sale reform, to fund the cash-starved pensions! Special rates for business buildings!  So far, it's none of the above. Gov. Wolf's selective vetoes of the budget, his demands for more school funds, Republican insistence that new spending be paid for, and the lack of consensus on who should pay have business

School districts find welcome relief in release of state funding
Citizens Voice BY KATHLEEN BOLUS Published: December 31, 2015
School districts across Pennsylvania, including in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, will get a financial boost going into the second half of the school year after Gov. Tom Wolf said he would release funds for schools, county governments and social services amid the ongoing budget impasse.  The Democratic governor on Tuesday rejected parts of a $30.3 billion new proposed state budget from the GOP-controlled Legislature, but freed up $23.4 billion to fully fund county governments and social services and give school districts half of their basic education subsidy. More than $3.5 billion is set to go toward basic and special education.  The districts will receive money owed to them through Dec. 31, said Nicole Reigelman, Pennsylvania Department of Education spokeswoman. Pennsylvania districts have not received money from the state since the 2015-16 school year began.  The formula for the partial funding was not immediately available Wednesday. If the state goes by last year’s numbers, Carbondale, for example, would receive around $3.9 million, half of its $7.8 million allocation.

Local school districts expect to begin receiving state funding by next week
Bucks County Courier Times by Joan Hellyer, staff writer Posted: Friday, January 1, 2016 4:30 am
Business administrators of area school districts and community colleges expect to begin receiving state funding by the end of next week, now that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has partially approved the 2015-16 state budget.  Wolf, a first-term Democrat, exercised his line-item veto ability Tuesday to free up $23.3 billion of state funding to send to schools and social service providers in the latest chapter of the ongoing budget impasse in Harrisburg. That's about $7 billion less than the total budget Wolf received from the state Senate last week.   Details on how much will be released "as quickly as possible" to school districts and colleges were to be finalized this week, said Nicole Reigelman, a spokeswoman for the state education department.

Budget plan failed to meet needs
Centre Daily Times Letter by MEGAN HEALEY, HARRISBURG JANUARY 1, 2016 7:40 PM
Megan Healey is deputy press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf.
Before leaving Harrisburg for the winter holiday, Republicans in the legislature failed to finish their work on the budget. They passed a spending plan that ballooned the deficit and cut education funding by $95 million.  This legislation failed to fund Pennsylvania’s institutions of higher learning — including Pitt, Penn State, Temple, Lincoln and the Penn Vet school.  The legislature did not pass a fiscal code or a school code.  Most importantly, lawmakers did not fund our schools or fix our deficit.  This left Gov. Tom Wolf with no choice but to use his line-item veto power on the Republican budget.  That budget is unacceptable. The legislature needs to come back and immediately pass the bipartisan, pro-education compromise budget that is ready for a final vote in the House.  Passing the compromise budget now will provide the early childhood, special education, basic education and higher education investment that our children and Pennsylvania need for a better and sustainable future.

"After six months without state subsidies, the release of $3.5 billion for basic and special education was “extremely important,” said Jay Himes, director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.  “I think it moved some districts back from the edge in terms of the need to borrow,” Mr. Himes said. It also helped “back down the frustration and skepticism level of schools throughout the state.”
Pennyslvania’s new year did not ring out old budget issues
Post Gazette By Peter Jackson / Associated Press January 3, 2016 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — The partial state budget Gov. Tom Wolf signed last week brought good news for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, provided a stage for political venting by the leaders of state government and underscored the bad news: The budget standoff will stretch into a seventh month.  The Democratic governor exercised his line-item veto power to erase about one-quarter of the $30.3 billion in spending approved by the Legislature’s Republican majorities. He signed off on $23.4 billion that includes long overdue financial relief for school districts, social service providers and county governments.

"Lawrence Feinberg, a longtime school board member in Haverford Township, Delaware County, noted that most districts soon have to start budget planning for the next school year - even though they have little to no idea how much they'll receive for this year.  "This only injects more uncertainty into planning and budgeting for the future," he said."
New year brings no hint of Pa. budget breakthrough
Inquirer by Chris Palmer, HARRISBURG BUREAU. Updated: JANUARY 3, 2016 3:01 AM EST
HARRISBURG - New year, same old issues.
Boosting education funding. Changing the state's pension systems. Reforming how liquor is sold. Modifying taxes on homeowners and natural gas drillers.  Each of those big-ticket items was, at some point during Gov. Wolf's first year in office, part of an ambitious budget discussion that he and the Republican-led legislature hoped could transform Pennsylvania.  But after six months of back-and-forth negotiations - and, often, gridlock - all of those issues remain unresolved.  Wolf's line-item veto Tuesday of a more modest GOP budget proposal than he wanted left no obvious path for lawmakers to approve a full spending bill at the start of 2016 - let alone tackle peripheral legislative priorities that have lingered in the Capitol for years.  

Pa. budget: A look ahead
York Daily Record by Flint L. McColgan, fmccolgan@ydr.com1:39 p.m. EST January 2, 2016
On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf released roughly $23.4 billion of the $30.3 billion state budget appropriations bill presented to him. He called the bill "garbage" in a news conference and called on the legislature to return to finish the budget.  Later that day, state House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, released a memo saying the House will stay on break until Sunday.  And late last week, the two sides remained at odds.  On Thursday, Jeffrey Sheridan, Wolf's press secretary, said the only thing the legislature sent the governor was an appropriations bill and nothing to back it up. Multiple code bills, which support how appropriations are funded, remain undone. He said "the governor wants to fix the deficit" and that Republicans are unwilling to make the necessary, if uncomfortable, revenue choices that need to be made for balance.
Nonsense, said state House Republican Caucus spokesman Stephen Miskin.

"Top legislative staffers said Thursday work has begun to reconcile the $23.4 billion partial budget with annual fiscal and school code bills that direct how that money flows and, in some cases, what it can be spent on.  That legislative drafting is expected to be wrapped up next week."
With Pennsylvania state budget talks at a reset, the Capitol is on a holiday footing
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 31, 2015 at 5:24 PM, updated December 31, 2015 at 6:25 PM
After a frenetic pre-Christmas week (and you thought last-minute gift shopping was unnerving) the state Capitol was clearly on a relaxed, holiday footing Thursday.  Besides the Christmas tree, the only occupants of the Rotunda were tourists like the family from Chicago who said they'd stopped by as part of a long-term tour of America's state capitols.  Quick aside to architect John Huston: The people are still digging your work.  As far as the people's business here goes, there are still some i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed on the partial state budget Gov. Tom Wolf signed Tuesday. And it's that work that is likely to next bring the Legislature back into voting session.

"Before they begin work on the new budget, the General Assembly should approve, and Wolf should swiftly sign, a bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin, that would cut off paychecks for the Legislature and the executive branch if a budget isn't passed by the June 30 deadline."
A few modest proposals for a better and more civil budget season: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on December 31, 2015
When he ran his line-item veto pen last week across the budget the Republican-controlled state Senate dropped on his desk just a few days before Christmas,Gov. Tom Wolf cut a wide swath, trimming a $30.3 billion budget to a $23.4 billion stopgap plan.  Winners and losers abounded.  He slashed a half-year's funding, respectively, for the Department of Corrections and Pennsylvania's medical assistance program, which serves some of the state's neediest residents.  Also affected were the appropriations for Pennsylvania's four, state-related universities, who have yet to receive their state subsidies for the 2015-16 fiscal year.  But there are numbers behind the numbers, smaller, but of equal importance.

Legislators pass budgets more swiftly if there's fallout, review finds
Trib Live By Natasha Lindstrom Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, 10:20 p.m.
Pennsylvania has virtually no consequences when lawmakers fail to pass a budget on time — a dynamic that is unusual among the 50 states, a national review of state budget rules shows.  
Six months into what has become the state's longest budget stalemate in at least 40 years, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership decided to examine consequences for late budgets elsewhere.  In Ohio, all facets of government shut down if the Legislature ends its session without at least agreeing to an interim budget by the deadline, the nonprofit advocacy group found.  In Virginia, the governor presents a budget proposal in December, and the part-time Legislature cannot adjourn until it agrees to a budget, which typically gets enacted by the end of February.  California has contemplated removing its governor and lawmakers from office if they breach their June 30 deadline. Its constitution prohibits lawmakers from drawing any travel or living expenses until a budget gets enacted.

Editorial: State voters’ resolution: Demand better governance
Citizen's Voice BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: December 30, 2015
It strains the obvious to say that the Pennsylvania General Assembly is a resolution-ready institution. Entering the new calendar year without a state budget that was supposed to be passed by the July 1 start of the fiscal year, lawmakers have put on gaudy display the governance dysfunction that results from self-indulgent politics.  The Republican House majority has stymied compromises on the budget itself, but more important, on the underlying policy matters that cry for reform. Local governments and school districts can’t resolve to reduce local taxes because lawmakers have failed to reform the state’s obsolete property taxation, along with state and local pension systems, while continuing to shield narrow special interests.  A small core of House Republicans has dug in its heels on ideological grounds, steering the debate and the government, while a few hundred other members of the nation’s largest full-time state legislature stroll the hallways looking for something to do.

The GOP budget failed our schools, increased the deficit: Jeffrey Sheridan
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jeffrey Sheridan on December 31, 2015 at 12:00 PM, updated December 31, 2015 at 12:02 PM
Jeffrey Sheridan is press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf. He writes from Harrisburg.
The Republican budget is another display of fiscal irresponsibility. It increases the deficit and it cuts education by $95 million.  That's right -- the Republican budget once again underfunds education and uses gimmicks that will actually lead to a $95 million cut in funding for our schools.  As we have seen for years, Republicans continue to refuse to adequately fund Pre-K through 12 education in Pennsylvania. This year, their budget fails to fund over $305 million in school construction reimbursements.  Instead, they propose to pay for school construction by issuing billions in debt.

"In the spirit of the season, perhaps those voters who decided on change in the governor’s mansion last year should consider doing the same in the Legislature.
And making a New Year’s resolution to seek change and a bipartisan sense of compromise in Harrisburg.  It’s called governing.  It’s long past time that Harrisburg embraced it."
Editorial: A failure to govern in Harrisburg
Delco Times POSTED: 01/02/16, 9:53 PM EST |
There is some good news emanating from Harrisburg these days.  Unless you happen to be a schoolkid hoping for an extended holiday break. Try not to laugh. We’d snicker, too, if it didn’t hurt too much.  Gov. Tom Wolf, who has been engaged in a months-long hissing match with Republican leaders in the Legislature over taxes and a new spending plan, finally relented and freed up emergency funds for state schools and social services. It’s a six-month reprieve.  So those schools in western Pennsylvania that had been threatening to keep their doors closed after the holiday break will open as expected in January. Sorry, kids.  Actually, what we’re really sorry about is what passes for governing these days in Harrisburg.

"Christiana said his shift on a severance tax is not so drastic because his proposal differs from Gov. Tom Wolf’s. “I don’t believe it is a flip-flop as much as it is providing a solution to this problem,” he said.  Under Christiana’s proposal, there would be an initial 3 percent severance tax beginning July 1. The tax would be tied to market prices in Pennsylvania so it could increase to as much as 5 percent depending on the price of natural gas.  While Wolf has proposed keeping the impact fee after adding a 3.5 percent severance tax and a 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet charge, Christiana’s proposal would eliminate the impact fee. Last year, the state distributed $223.5 million under Act 13, which created the impact fee."
State Rep. Jim Christiana poised to introduce severance tax legislation
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose December 31, 2015
EQT Corp. pumps natural gas in Bentleyville, Washington County, in October 2104. Natural gas industry representatives have voiced their opposition to a severance tax, saying it would hurt job growth and dissuade investment in Pennsylvania. State Rep. Jim Christiana, R-15, intends to soon introduce legislation to create a severance tax, but abolish the state impact fee.  With the state’s budget battle still lingering, state Rep. Jim Christiana plans on introducing legislation soon to abolish the state’s impact fee and replace it with a severance tax on natural gas drilling.  “Despite what critics say, many Republicans support the concept of a severance tax, but simply reject the governor's punitive approach,” Christiana, R-15, Beaver, tells his colleagues in a co-sponsorship memo to be circulated. “We've maintained a seemingly unpopular yet factual argument — that Pennsylvania's impact fee, combined with the nation's second-highest Corporate Net Income Tax rate, means our drillers are paying more than their fair share. However, the governor and his anti-industry allies continue to say we are the only state without a severance tax, making it difficult for advocates of the industry to explain to the public and the media the absurdity of his proposal.”  In an interview with Calkins Media, Christiana, who represents a portion of gas-rich Washington County and has opposed a severance tax, conceded that Republicans “have lost the public relations battle in explaining that the impact fee is a severance tax.”

House Appropriations Chairman and longtime Republican state Rep. Bill Adolph will not seek re-election
By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 12/31/15, 12:43 PM EST
SPRINGFIELD >> After three decades in public service — staring as a township commissioner and ending as Majority Chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, state Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, announced he will not seek re-election in the upcoming year.  As pictures of each of the 32 football teams he coached throughout the years hung on his district office walls, Adolph said it’s time for him to spend more time in the place he started, here in Springfield, and he plans to do that when his term ends Nov. 30, 2016.  “I felt that at this time, I wanted to let the residents of the 165th district that have placed a lot of faith in me over the years in getting re-elected, to let them know early enough that I’m not running for re-election,” he said. “I enjoy the job tremendously but it’s now a time in my life to spend more time here, here in Delaware County.”

"Long Nyquist has particularly close ties to Republican leaders in the Senate, whose cautious approach to liquor reform has sometimes frustrated conservatives. The firm’s two named partners, Michael Long and Todd Nyquist, previously worked for Joseph Scarnati, the Senate president pro tempore. Its vice president of government relations, Megan Crompton, is married to Drew Crompton, general counsel for the Senate Republicans.  Mr. Wagner, meanwhile, has a different connection to the firm: Long Nyquist worked on behalf of his Republican opponent in a bruising 2014 election campaign. In a Harrisburg TV news report that year, Mr. Wagner called the firm a “cancer.”
Pennsylvania Legislature aims at lobbying overhaul; reaction mixed
By Kate Giammarise and Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 4, 2016 12:00 AM
As 2016 begins, a group of Pennsylvania legislators is making a resolution to overhaul the state’s lobbying laws. But some insiders say a few proposals indulge in an old Harrisburg habit: political payback.  As proposed by five Senate Republicans, including Allegheny County’s recently elected Guy Reschenthaler, the “Lobbyist Reform Package” includes six measures, among them: stricter reporting of gifts to state officials, increasing fines on lobbyists who violate such requirements, and requiring state officials to disclose when a spouse or other family member is a lobbyist. Another proposal would prohibit lobbyists from being paid to work on political campaigns or having financial ties to a consultant who does.  “Lobbyists have their place … but the influence they wield continues to grow exponentially,” Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, said in a statement last month. He blamed their “overwhelming outside influence” for hindering budget talks and initiatives such as privatizing the state’s liquor stores.

Philly schools seek to settle whistle-blower suit by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer. Updated: JANUARY 4, 2016 — 1:07 AM EST
Five years after revelations surfaced about a massive no-bid contract - and after nearly $2 million in legal fees - the Philadelphia School District is poised to settle a federal lawsuit with the man who blew the whistle.  The School Reform Commission is expected to vote this month on ending a lawsuit by a former top administrator who federal jurors found had been wrongfully suspended and fired for telling The Inquirer about a $7.5 million no-bid contract for security cameras.  The district's law department will ask the SRC to pay Francis X. Dougherty, a former acting chief of operations, $725,000 to settle his federal claims and cover part of his lost wages and legal bills, according to a draft resolution obtained by The Inquirer.

Kenney's inaugural fundraiser for Philly schools: where's the money going?
Seven hours after he's sworn in as Philadelphia's 99th mayor,  Jim Kenney will attend a private fundraiser for the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.  The minimum donation: $5,000.   During the event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Kenney will thank major donors such as the city's carpenter's union, which sent $100,000 to the fund in honor of his inauguration (but won't attend because the union is locked in a battle with the convention center). Later, attendees of his inaugural block party will be encouraged to give what they can to the nonprofit, with no minimum.  The fund's president and CEO Donna Frisby-Greenwood said Kenney approached her in June, one month after winning the Democratic primary, about ways to tap the private sector to make up for a lack of state aid.

"There were 11,000 applications received by the school district for available seats in the fall of 2014. But there were far fewer seats available to the incoming ninth-grade class: 2,500, to be exact."
Career, technical programs popular in Philly city schools
Philly Trib by Wilford Shamlin III Tribune Staff Writer Posted: Saturday, January 2, 2016 12:00 am
Officials say demand for Philadelphia’s Career and Technical Education programs is extremely high.  There were 11,000 applications received by the school district for available seats in the fall of 2014. But there were far fewer seats available to the incoming ninth-grade class: 2,500, to be exact.  Swenson Arts and Technology High School received about 2,500 applications, but only had room for 275 ninth-grade students, said Ryan Stewart, deputy superintendent for the Office of New School Models.  Stewart said plans for expanding new training could grow the current number of offerings to 160, up from 130. Culinary programs are extremely popular, helped by reality TV cooking competitions and Philadelphia’s robust restaurant and hospitality industry.

Three Dems will seek nod to run against U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 01/03/16, 6:46 PM EST 
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Unseating first-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey won’t be easy, and the Pennsylvania Democrats vying for the party nomination will first have to figure out how to capture voters’ imagination.  None of the three — Joe Sestak, Katie McGinty and John Fetterman — are household names or have held statewide office. They are also virtually identical on bedrock Democratic Party issues, from supporting the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights to backing President Barack Obama on immigration reform and climate change.  With less than five months until the April 26 primary, the unpredictable mood of the electorate may determine how Democrats will choose among the candidates, analysts and party strategists said.

"Politics and ideology prevail.  Being worst in the nation in terms of educational disparity and among the worst in job growth are secondary concerns to the primary concerns of political donors and constituencies, including unions and big energy.  Harrisburg always has been best at doing little or nothing, though mostly nothing, on long-term problems such as public pensions or liquor reform or political reform or tax reform.  And bipartisanship isn't exactly a by-word in the Capitol."
Pa. politics: What lies ahead?
by John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist. Updated: JANUARY 4, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
A NEW YEAR in state politics begins, all too fittingly, with no resolutions.
No resolution to the festering fiasco of the state budget process.
No resolution to lingering lunacy surrounding Kathleen Kane.
No resolution to fixing one of the most corrupt and worst run states in America.
Instead we start with questions.  Can the powers that be, such as they are, shake off a year of landmark failure in governing and public service?  Does the year of no budget become another year of no budget?

What the new federal education law means for one group
WITF Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 31, 2015 1:27 PM
(Harrisburg) -- President Obama recently signed a new federal education law to replace the long-standing No Child Left Behind, and some are just starting to figure out what the changes actually mean.  The Every Student Succeeds Act, also known as ESSA, is a re-make of No Child Left Behind.  It stops much of the accountability that came attached to the law signed by President George W. Bush, and restores more control to states.  The measure also allows groups like "Communities in Schools" to compete for federal grants.  They help kids get food, health care and school supplies, and are already working in York City schools.  Pennsylvania chapter President Ryan Riley says he's thrilled at the opportunity to try to win federal money.

Lancaster County's two school planetariums have roots in the Cold War but future with STEM
Lancaster Online by KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer  Jan 3, 2016
Standing in the dark at Manheim Township High School, junior Ross Campanella directs a laser pointer toward three stars on the domed ceiling above him.  "This is a pretty easy one to find," he tells the other 15 students in the room. "You find Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon, they make a triangle. Very bright, easy to find. When the Winter Triangle is up, you know it's winter."  As Campanella speaks, his classmates shine small, red flashlights onto star charts and scribble notes next to asterisms and constellations.  The astronomy class at Manheim Township spends several days each week in the school's planetarium, which is one of two in local public schools. The other is at Pequea Valley Intermediate School. Built with federal funds during the Space Race, the existence of the planetariums is a testament to the Cold War's past influence on schools.   Today, driven by calls for American students to compete in a global economy, science — along with technology, engineering and math — is once again at the center of education conversations. Although astronomy is not dominant in the discussion, schools with planetariums have a unique advantage for sparking STEM learning, teachers say.

Looking ahead into 2016: A message from PSBA President Kathy Swope
PSBA website January 3, 2016
Dear School Director,
As I begin my term as president of PSBA, I am honored to serve and will do my best to promote the important role of school directors and public education in Pennsylvania. I hope to strengthen two-way communication between PSBA and school boards throughout the commonwealth.
We have several new initiatives planned for the year. Among them, are the new Principles for Governance & Leadership. They set a new standard for best practices for school boards and replace the old Code of Conduct and Standards for Effective Governance. We want all school boards to function at the highest levels of integrity and effectiveness, by voting to adopt and abide by these Principles.  The PSBA Governing Board has supported plans to create a President’s Caucus, which you will be hearing about in the near future. You have a dedicated PSBA Governing Board, and I will be sharing more about the work of the board with you throughout the year.  Among the challenges we will face in 2016, will be Pennsylvania’s response to the passage of the Federal “Every Student Succeeds Act.” I believe this is an opportunity for positive changes in education and it is my hope that PSBA will play a key role in shaping these changes.
We want your input. Let us know about your needs as a school director and as a board. Send me an email at  I’m looking forward to an exciting year as we all strive to make a difference for the education of children. Thank you for your dedication!

"It’s time for media outlets sponsoring presidential debates to step up to the challenge of holding candidates accountable for answering hard questions about education policy.  So what should they ask? Every candidate should be able to answer four basic questions about education, and then should be able to back up their proposals with how they plan to get them done. In the last few months, I have talked to multiple news outlets and encouraged them to ask the candidates the following:
  • Today we are 27th in the world in access to preschool. What’s your goal for preschool access in the next five years?
  • High school graduation rates are the highest ever at 82 percent, but they are not nearly high enough. What’s your goal for high school completion in the next five years?
  • Today, far too many students graduate high school and still need remedial classes in college. What’s your goal for true college readiness in the next five years?
  • A generation ago, we were the world leader in the college graduation rate of our young people; today, we are 13th. What’s your goal for the next five years?
  • Finally, for each of these goals, what are your concrete strategies to achieve them, and what financial resources and political capital are you willing to expend to get us there?"
Duncan: Five questions the presidential candidates need to be asked, immediately
The presidential race has been ignoring education. That needs to stop.
Politico By ARNE DUNCAN 12/30/15 09:05 AM EST
The people who want to lead this country when President Obama leaves office have gathered eight times to debate issues that matter to Americans. They’ve argued over foreign policy, the economy and immigration.  But education – one of the most critical issues to the future of the United States – has been largely ignored.  Those other topics are important, certainly. As a nation, a strong military is our best defense, but our best offense is education—a great system that leads to success in college, careers, and life for all students, no matter their zip code. That’s the only way to ensure our economic future. And it matters not just in our choice of President, but in elections at every level.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 1-4-16

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
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

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.

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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