Monday, May 16, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 16: Reach Out and Read/First Book Promote Early Literacy and Reading

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3900 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 16, 2016:
Reach Out and Read/First Book Promote Early Literacy and Reading

Make the new funding formula permanent; pass a budget for 2016-17 that increases funding for public schools by at least $400 million
Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy & poor schools in the country.
Contributing only 36%, PA is ranked 46th in the US for its share of education funding.
Campaign for Fair Education Funding Website

Legislature resumes session, budget decisions loom
Inquirer by MARC LEVY and MARK SCOLFORO, The Associated Press Updated: MAY 15, 2016 — 11:16 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania lawmakers still fatigued from a record budget standoff with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf may not get much of a break from the partisan battles as the start of the new fiscal year approaches.  Both chambers of the Legislature resume session in Harrisburg on Monday, with six weeks for Wolf and Republican majorities in the House and Senate to iron out sharp differences over taxes and spending for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which starts July 1.  The fall election campaign looms for most incumbents, and no one in the Capitol seems to want a repeat of the stalled approval of a final 2015-16 spending plan that was resolved only last month.  Despite lawmakers' talk of an improved relationship and optimism about the process ahead, negotiating positions at this point suggest the coming weeks could be rocky.  Wolf has proposed a $33.3 billion spending plan, an 11 percent increase over the Republican-crafted $30 billion budget package that Wolf let become law without his signature to end the stalemate. It did not, he has said, fix a long-term deficit that has damaged Pennsylvania's credit rating or do enough to help public school systems that had the nation's biggest funding disparity between wealthy and poor districts.  Big increases for public schools, pension obligations, human services and prisons would drive up the spending, under Wolf's proposal.

Wolf, GOP at odds over teacher layoff bill
Times Tribune BY ROBERT SWIFT, HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF Published: May 16, 2016
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican lawmakers are at sharp odds over another education issue — teacher layoffs.  Lawmakers gave final approval last week to a bill that changes ground rules for determining how public school administrators carry out teacher layoffs. The final action on the House bill came with a Senate vote largely along party lines.  The bill’s passage quickly drew a veto threat from Mr. Wolf, and GOP legislative leaders urged him to reconsider that position. This opens another front in battles over education policy between Mr. Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature. The two sides have clashed over school funding to restore earlier cuts, distribution of state subsidy aid and charter schools since the governor took office in 2015.  The bill being sent to the governor would enable schools to lay off professional employees for economic reasons, expanding a list that currently ties layoffs to declines in student enrollment, changes in educational programs and school consolidation. Lawmakers have worked on teacher furlough bills for several years, an issue highlighted when thousands of school employees lost their jobs when a bad economy led to cuts in state aid during 2011-12.

Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 14: San Francisco gives TFA a timeout; Schools react to Transgender Directive

NAACP conference at Cheyney focuses on trauma and funding disparity
Delco Times  By Adam Farence, on Twitter POSTED: 05/15/16, 8:01 PM EDT | UPDATED: 9 HRS AGO
THORNBURY >> In an effort to address trauma and other issues affecting impoverished youth in disadvantaged school districts, the Media branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons held a conference at Cheyney University Saturday.  Citing trauma as one of the leading detriments children face in the classroom, Joan Duvall-Flynn, president of the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP branch and the Media area unit of the NAACP, delivered a presentation advocating a need to better prepare teachers in the classroom to handle children who have undergone traumatic experiences.  “What we are looking for is policy,” she said. “To address the pervasiveness of emotional and psychological trauma being experienced by our youth, we recognize it has to begin with our lawmakers.”   Duvall-Flynn explained that students living in impoverished areas are more likely to suffer from trauma because of drug abuse and crime, which in turn impacts their ability to learn in school.

“Spending would increase by more than 4 percent over the current school year, an increase driven by a $1.3 million spike in costs as part of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, the board said.  “The (PSERS) rate continues to climb each year out of our control,” said board President Merle Esh.”
Conestoga Valley school board set to approve tax hike
Lancaster Online STAFF REPORT May 16, 2016
Residents of the Conestoga Valley School District would pay nearly 5 percent more in property taxes under a 2016-17 budget proposal that has the support of a majority of board members.  The increase, which would exceed the state’s cap on tax hikes, is necessary to cover pension costs that have risen dramatically and prevent program cuts amid a bleak financial picture, board members said.  The increase would cost the owner of an average home in the district — assessed at $167,121 — $119 more in the tax year that begins July 1. The total tax bill would be $2,657.  The school board is expected to vote on the $66.6 million budget at its 7 p.m. meeting tonight at the district office, 2110 Horseshoe Road.

Autism and education: Flexibility helps students thrive by DAVIN JURGENSEN, The Associated Press Updated: MAY 14, 2016
HANOVER, Pa. (AP) - Kaela Dutterer is a head banger.  More than a year ago, her mother, Heidi Dutterer, received concerned calls from her teacher about this behavior in the classroom. Kaela, the teacher said, was repeatedly banging her head against a cement floor.  The calls alarmed Dutterer - not just because she worried for her daughter's safety, but because the calls, she felt, indicated that Kaela's teacher couldn't handle her.?  Although schools around Hanover and Adams County offer specialized services for children with autism, parents, like Dutterer, often have to step in to advocate for their children.

Pa. legislators call for financial literacy courses in public schools
Abc27 By Myles Snyder Published: May 13, 2016, 2:46 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s public high school students would have to complete a personal finance course before graduating under legislation introduced in the state House.  ouse Bill 1961 would mandate a course teaching money management, earning income, borrowing money, financial services, risk management, saving and investing in the 11th or 12th grade.  Co-authoring Reps. Leslie Acosta and Mike Driscoll (D-Philadelphia) said too many young people are entering college and the workforce without the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their money.  They said a recent report found that less than half of Pennsylvania’s school districts require a course in personal finance for graduation.

Pa. lawmaker wants mental-health checks in schools
Abc27 By Myles Snyder Published: May 13, 2016, 3:24 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants public schools to have a role in reducing teen suicides by offering mental health checks to students.  Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) has introduced legislation that would require at least a depression screening for each student by age 14.  His bill would add brain health/mental health screenings to the list of other medical requirements such as vision tests, hearing exams, scoliosis screenings, and immunizations.  “We need to recognize that mental health is arguably even more important than physical health and we need to improve our early diagnosis capabilities to get those who need treatment the help they need to improve their quality of life,” he said in a statement Friday.
Parents would have the right to opt their children out of the screening.

Supt. Hite to have his own test — going before Philly City Council
WHYY Newsworks BY TOM MACDONALD MAY 16, 2016
The School District of Philadelphia comes to City Council to testify Tuesday.  This year will be different than the past few ones.   In previous years, it wasn't if the Philadelphia School District needed more money, it was how many millions would be needed to balance the struggling districts budget.  This year Superintendent William Hite says the district comes to City Hall without hat in hand.  "It's not giving a break because people still have taxes, so everyone still pays taxes, but we are finishing the year with a surplus, a small surplus," Hite said. "So we want to recognize it's hard to ask for additional money when you have a surplus."

DN editorial: Philly School District's structural deficit
Philly Daily News Editorial Updated: MAY 16, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
THE STATE auditor general's report released last week that revealed the School District has a structural deficit hardly qualifies as big news. It isn't even new.  The words "deficit" and "school district" have appeared next to each other for years. The district has been running a deficit for more than five years. In the past, it was so great that the district had to lay off thousands of workers, close schools, and cut its budget to the bone.  The key word in Auditor General Eugene DePasquale's report is "structural."  A structural deficit isn't caused by a once-in-a-decade incident. It is caused when your expenses always exceed your revenue.

Giving young children a foundation for success
Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.  The Reach Out and Read evidence-based program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Reach Out and Read incorporates early literacy into pediatric practice, equipping parents with tools and knowledge to ensure that their children are prepared to learn when they start school.
Reach Out and Read serves nearly 4.5 million children and their families annually. Reach Out and Read families read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills. During the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help start children on a path of success when they enter school.

First Book Story
First Book provides access to new books for children in need.
To date, First Book has distributed more than 135 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.  We are proud of our past success and even more excited about the future. First Book is uniquely positioned to become a leader in providing digital resources so that children in need don’t miss out.
No matter how formats and technologies change, children from low-income families will still need access to rich and varied content. First Book is helping guide the publishing industry as it evolves so that all children can benefit from new technologies and flourish as readers.

Joint public hearing on Every Student Succeeds Act Wednesday May 18th
PA House and PA Senate Education Committees
Harrisburg Wednesday May 18th 9:00 AM Hearing Room #1 North Office Building

Join the Pennsylvania Principals Association at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at The Capitol in Harrisburg, PA, for its second annual Principals' Lobby Day.
Pennsylvania Principals Association Monday, March 21, 2016 9:31 AM
 To register, contact Dr. Joseph Clapper at by Tuesday, June 14, 2016. If you need assistance, we will provide information about how to contact your legislators to schedule meetings.  Click here for the informational flyer, which includes important issues to discuss with your legislators.

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:

When: September 9, 2016, 10:00 am PST/1:00pm EST
Where: Schools across America
Sponsor: American Public Education Foundation (APEF)
The National Anthem “Sing-A-Long” is a movement to teach K-12 students the words, meaning,
music and history of the Star-Spangled Banner. This annual event is held each year on the
second week of September to honor 9/11 families, victims and heroes and celebrate the historic
birthday of the National Anthem on September 14. Those who join the “Sing-A-Long” are singing in unison at the exact same time at multiple sites across the U.S. The APEF has also created a robust, companion curriculum recognized by numerous State Departments of Education, available online at (see the “Educate” tab) for free download.
The Foundation hopes to have the support of the Alabama Department of Education as we
commemorate the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 this year. Teachers are encouraged to sign up
before the end of the school year at Also online is a "how-to" guide on
holding an event at your school and sample press release. If you do not wish to hold a full
ceremony at the school, your students can simply stand up and sing at 10 am PST/1:00pm EST.
The Star-Spangled Banner Movement is a simple, elegant way to honor 9/11 while also teaching students how the world came together in the days, weeks and months after the September 2001 terrorist strikes. The APEF also offers a host of other free educational material on its website, including polls, contests and grant information.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC), a statewide children's advocacy organization located in Harrisburg, PA has an immediate full-time opening for an Early Learning and K-12 Education Policy Manager.  PPC's vision is to be one of the top ten states in which to be a child and raise a child. Today, Pennsylvania ranks 17th in the nation for child well-being. Our early learning and K-12 education policy work is focused on ensuring all children enter school ready to learn and that all children have access to high-quality public education. Current initiatives include increasing the number of children served in publicly funded pre-k and implementing a fair basic education formula along with sustained, significant investments in education funding.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.