Friday, June 24, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 24: Proposed PA $250M ed funding bump wouldn’t cover school districts’ 16-17 mandated increased pension costs

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 24, 2016:
Proposed PA $250M ed funding bump wouldn’t cover school districts’ 16-17 mandated increased pension costs

Coverage here includes special ed, charter reform, cybers, cost drivers
Notebook Series: Pennsylvania's School Funding Crisis
Series coverage by the notebook June 2016

“PSSA opt-outs doubled statewide this year, reaching more than 7,500 for math and language arts.”
PSSA opt-outs triple in Lancaster County, double across Pennsylvania
Lancaster Online KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer June 24, 2016
The wave of Lancaster County parents objecting to state-mandated tests continued to swell in 2016.  The number of local students who were opted out of the Pennsylvania System of Standardized Assessment exams this year surged to almost 700. Just three years ago, there were 15.  A local opt-out advocate applauded those figures, and school officials here said they weren't surprised by the increases, which come amid several years of nationwide backlash against standardized testing.  Under Pennsylvania law, parents can opt their children out of state tests based on a religious exception. Many who do so say they disapprove of the amount of testing in public schools and the degree of stress it places on children.  PSSA opt-outs doubled statewide this year, reaching more than 7,500 for math and language arts.  At most local schools, opt-outs represent less than 5 percent of test-takers, but if the trend continues, it could call into question the significance of the test results, according to some school leaders.  Test scores make up the bulk of the state's rating system for schools, called School Performance Profiles, and also play a role in teachers' job evaluations.

"It's really the pension crisis, the PSERS contribution, that is really impacting every district in the commonwealth," Darchicourt said. "... I think this PSERS crisis is more substantial than the average citizen realizes."
'A perfect storm': Most central Pa. school districts approving tax hikes to weather rising costs
Penn Live By Julianne Mattera | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 23, 2016 at 7:00 AM, updated June 23, 2016 at 7:08 AM
Most school districts in central Pennsylvania are looking to raise taxes next school year, and for a handful, those increases will be as high as 5, 6 or 7 percent over last year's rates.  Out of 46 school districts PennLive contacted in Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, Lebanon, Lancaster and northern York counties, 39 have either approved a final budget with tax increases or have been considering such a measure.  Hannah S. Barrick, director of advocacy at the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, said the overwhelming number of districts in central Pennsylvania that are aiming to raise taxes is representative of a statewide trend reflected in the association's latest survey of school districts.  In the survey, which included 371 of the state's 500 school districts, 85 percent of the respondents said they planned to increase property taxes in 2016-17, Barrick said. The prior year, only 71 percent of respondents said they planned to raise taxes in 2015-16.

Pa. Senate sends pension reform plan back to drawing board
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JUNE 23, 2016 7:00 PM EDT
HARRISBURG - For now, at least, the Pennsylvania House and Senate are agreeing to disagree on the best way to deal with the skyrocketing cost of public employee pensions.  The Senate on Thursday rejected the pension reform proposal approved this month by the House. One prominent Republican said the chambers will form a joint committee to resolve their differences and craft a stronger bill.  "We want to get it done and we want to get it right," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre), later adding: "It's by far the Number One problem facing the commonwealth . . . and we are not giving up on it."  Pension reform became a key sticking point during last year's historic budget impasse between the legislature and Gov. Wolf. But Corman said he does not view it as a prerequisite to a deal this year.

Nearing deadline, 'What I continue to be focused on is a balanced budget': Gov. Tom Wolf
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 23, 2016 at 1:27 PM, updated June 23, 2016 at 2:30 PM
With seven days to go to pass a new state budget, the Wolf administration is waging a new public relations campaign, plugging what it describes as "significant compromises" aimed at avoiding a repeat of last year's stalemate.  Whether that's enough to get a deal is still anyone's guess, but Gov. Tom Wolf is looking on the bright side.  In a brief telephone conversation Thursday, the York County Democrat said that while he hopes lawmakers hit the June 30 deadline to pass a new spending plan (currently pegged at $33.3 billion), he's equally concerned with "balancing the budget and making sure we do have funding for our schools."  "We still have seven days [to go]," he said. "I really don't think people are focused as much on June 30 that they want to get something done sooner rather than later, don't want another nine month" deadlock, as was the case with the administration's fiscal 2015-16 spending plan.  "What I continue to be focused on is balancing the budget," he said. 

House leader says budget negotiations within "hundreds of millions of dollars"
WITF Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 23, 2016 7:50 PM
 (Harrisburg) -- The state budget deadline is creeping closer.  But this time, Governor Tom Wolf and legislative leaders are optimistic their work will be done close to on time.  First, both sides point to compromises.  Wolf's office says he's holding off on broad-based sales and income tax increases, has reduced his spending request by well over $1 billion, and agreed to pension and liquor changes.  GOP House Majority Leader Dave Reed says those changes were compromises from other pieces he wanted, and his caucus is supporting a boost in education funding.  He says negotiators are closer on a final spending number.  "You know, I think it's not just us and the governor, it's all five parties. I think we're within hundreds of millions of dollars of each other, and if you look at it where we were last year at this time, we were billions of dollars apart," says Reed.

A severance tax by any other name? Lawmakers could revive another natural gas levy, report: Friday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 24, 2016 at 6:59 AM, updated June 24, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If you are a regular reader of this space (and we know many of you read it with a Zapruder-like attention to detail), then you are no doubt familiar with our famed Pizza Rule of Budgeting.  
That's the one where we ask you to return to your misspent youth and those days where you'd upend the couch cushions, break open the piggybank, sell some old CDs and even contemplate parting with your own plasma to afford the two large pies and six-pack of Special Adult Beverage on a Friday night.  Well, now that Gov. Tom Wolf says the 2016-17 budget can be balanced without a sales or personal income tax hike, state lawmakers are getting all kinds of creative when it comes to balancing the books in time for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.  Thus do we bring you a report by our friends at The Associated Press (via The Tribune-Review), in which we learn the state Senate is considering whether to reinstate a gross receipts tax on natural gas sales. 

Pa. budget makers eye revival of natural gas gross receipts tax
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 06/24/16, 5:22 AM EDT |
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Budget makers in an 11th-hour search for cash to support a deficit-strapped budget are considering reinstating a gross receipts tax on natural gas sales in Pennsylvania, senators said Thursday.  The idea is one of several that have been brought up in closed-door budget negotiations with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, although House and Senate Republican majority leaders have yet to publicly embrace any part of Wolf’s election-year effort to raise taxes.  The state ended the tax in 2000 as part of a broader restructuring of regulations over natural gas utilities and service, but gross receipts taxes still apply to some other services, such as freight, telecommunications and electricity.  Democrats say it could potentially raise a substantial sum, in excess of $500 million a year. It is on a list of options including a cigarette tax increase being discussed by negotiators to help boost aid to public schools and close a deficit estimated at $1.8 billion by the Legislature’s Independent Fiscal Office.  “What we have is a list of options that are out there and we’re trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” said Philadelphia Sen. Vince Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.  Part of the exercise is to figure out exactly how much money each option, including a gross receipts tax, would raise and what could pass the Legislature, Hughes said.

PA-BGT: One Week to Cut Deals
PoliticsPA Written by Jason Addy, Contributing Writer June 23, 2016
Having only passed the 2015-16 budget in the last week of March - nine months after the June 30th deadline – Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers now seem optimistic they can pass the 2016-17 on time, or at least before too long.  On Wednesday, Wolf made it clear that he has been willing to bend on key issues for legislative Republicans, but now he wants some new funding in return.  “Four months after his budget address, and after talking with Republicans and Democrats about how to achieve a responsible budget, Gov. Wolf has compromised on issues ranging from taxes to liquor reform, while making it clear that we need to invest in education, fight the opioid crisis and truly balance the budget with sustainable revenue,” Wolf’s press secretary Jeff Sheridan said in a press release.

House OKs legalization of online gambling, daily fantasy sports but not club, bar video terminals
Trib Live BY BRAD BUMSTED AND CARLEY MOSSBROOK | Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 8:27 a.m.
HARRISBURG — The state House on Wednesday approved legislation to legalize online gambling and daily fantasy sports, after pulling a provision that would have allowed video gambling terminals in bars and clubs that was the target of heavy lobbying by casinos.  The vote to approve iGaming and fantasy sports was 115-80. The bill will be reviewed for fiscal impact on Thursday and won't be put immediately before the full House for final approval.  The state's 12 casinos united in their efforts to kill video terminals.  In a blow to GOP leadership, the proposal that included video terminals was defeated 116-79. Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, and Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County, voted for that amendment, proposed by Rep. George Dunbar, R-Westmoreland.  Miskin disputed it was a blow because “there was no push to get people to vote.”  House Republican leadership is driving the expansion of gambling as an alternative to raising taxes.

Editorial: When all else fails, roll the dice
The Pennsylvania House has approved a measure that would clear the way for online gambling in the state. 
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 06/24/16, 5:03 AM EDT | UPDATED: 18 SECS AGO
Pennsylvania is flat broke.  Actually, it’s worse than that. We’re swimming in red ink.  But we’re not just out of money. We’re out of ideas on how to remedy the situation.  The state direly needs new sources of revenue, but Republicans in the Legislature refuse to consider tax hikes. Even Gov. Wolf this week raised the white flag on that issue, abandoning another call for hikes in both the sales and personal income taxes to bankroll his spending plans.  So how is the state planning to bridge this gulf of red ink that most experts now say is north of a cool $1 billion. Can you say more gambling? It’s beginning to look like a sure bet.  Wednesday the Pa. House backed a measure that would push legal gaming onto the internet as well as in airports. This is now what we do every time we need a revenue fix in Pennsylvania. Since both the House and Senate are controlled by the GOP, and they will not consider raising taxes something akin to anathema, that does not leave a lot of wiggle room.  Ah, but there’s always that reliable standby. That would be legalized gaming. First it was lotteries to fund services for senior citizens. Then it was casinos, supposedly to help with property taxes. Now our state reps are standing on the corner with a cup in their hand one more time, desperate for revenue to attack a mounting deficit.

Editorial: School funding: Never 'enough'
Editorial BY THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Thursday, June 23, 2016, 8:55 p.m.
In the run-up to another state budget showdown in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf and his educratic acolytes are demanding more money for public schools. State lawmakers likely will provide it, too, though probably less than what Mr. Wolf wants. But it still won't be “enough,” critics will wail.  For all the factitious factoids about state education spending, the reality from the federal government and even the nation's largest teachers union is that Pennsylvania far outspends most states — and by a comfortable margin.

OPED: Authentic improvements, not quick fixes, for York City schools
York Dispatch OP/ED by Dr. Eric Holmes, Superintendent of the York City School District 3:35 p.m. EDT June 23, 2016
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. With this philosophy, the School District of the City of York has completed one more mile of our journey to realizing full financial and academic recovery. We do this not because we were placed in financial recovery status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We do this because our students deserve nothing less than the very best educational experience possible.  The implementation of the initiatives outlined in our Recovery Plan has been, and will continue to be, our primary goal as a school district. We are focused on authentic, educationally sound improvements – not quick fixes. The initiatives that support this philosophy will take time to bear fruit, but we are committed to real, sustainable and positive change.

No tax increase from York City Schools
York Dispatch by  Alyssa Jackson, 505-5438/@AlyssaJacksonYD11:02 p.m. EDT June 23, 2016
The York City School District approved its 2016-17 school budget in a unanimous vote at Wednesday evening's school board meeting. The budget  includes no tax increase and did not cut any programs or teachers.  The district's total expenditures rest at $128 million. District business manager Richard Snodgrass said much of the budget remained the same as the 2015-16 school budget in an effort to continue saving money for the district.  This is the second year in a row that the district has actually increased its fund balance, which is money set aside for an emergency or unforeseen circumstances.

Interboro passes final budget with tax increase, job cuts
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter
POSTED: 06/23/16, 10:55 PM EDT | UPDATED: 12 SECS AGO
Prospect Park>> In what one community member called “one of the worst years” compiling a budget, the Interboro School Board Wednesday night narrowly approved a $65.7 million budget for the 2016-17 school year that includes one of the highest tax increases and most expansive jobs cuts to hit the school district in recent memory.  The board voted 5-4 on a budget that furloughs more than 20 positions and increases property taxes 2.9 percent. The real estate tax millage rate increases just shy of one point to 34.9203, bringing the tax bill of the averagely assessed home value of $90,000 to $3,141, an increase of $89.  In total, 19 support staff positions are being cut, 15 of them being classroom size assistants that were contractually slated to be reduced at the end of the 2015-16 school year. Three hall monitors and a technology assistant were other support cuts.  Four teachers in 3.5 positions are also being furloughed.

“Expenditures are set to increase $9.6 million over the current year, with retirement contributions accounting for $3.76 million of that. Charter school expenses and special education placement tacked on $1.9 million and purchasing of professional/technical services adding on $1.6 million more.”
Upper Darby School Board passes budget without tax hike
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, on Twitter
POSTED: 06/23/16, 10:53 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 SECS AGO
Upper Darby>> Despite a $6.5 million shortfall in a $189 million budget, the Upper Darby Board of School Directors have agreed to an unprecedented move to hold the line on taxes for the 2016-17 school year.  The budget was adopted by a 7-1 vote Thursday night during a special meeting of the board, making Upper Darby the first school district in Delaware County this year to pass a budget without a tax increase, yet using the highest amount of unassigned fund balance from all school districts to supplement its budget.  School board director Heather Boyd cast the sole no vote, citing the use of $6.5 million in unassigned fund balance to make up for the budget gap as a bad move.  “I fully support the zero percent tax increase,” Boyd said before the board’s poll vote, “but what I cannot support is a budget that hides a $6.5 million shortfall with gimmicks and one-time fixes.

Baldwin-Whitehall approves final budget with staff cuts, tax increase
Post Gazette By Margaret Smykla June 23, 2016 11:32 AM
The Baldwin-Whitehall school board Wednesday night adopted a $62.36 million budget for the 2016-17 school year that raises taxes by 0.83 mills and includes professional and operations staff reductions.  The vote was 7-2, with board members Martin Schmotzer and Elliot Rambo dissenting.  The new tax rate is 19.25 mills, with the increase generating an additional $1.5 million for the district. Homeowners with property assessed at $100,000 will pay an additional $83 in real estate taxes next year.  The budget was balanced by using $961,250 from the fund balance to offset the amount of state reimbursements for some construction projects that the district has not yet received for 2016-17. The funding to local districts was delayed because of the months-long state budget impasse.  The district also did not receive reimbursements — via the state PlanCon (Planning and Construction Workbook) program — for 2015-16 that totaled $1.03 million, which took the district’s pre-budget deficit to $3.5 million.

Gateway approves budget with no tax increase
Post Gazette By Deana Carpenter June 24, 2016 12:00 AM
The property tax rate in the Gateway School District will remain unchanged for next school year under the $71.15 million budget the board adopted in a unanimous vote Tuesday.  The tax rate will remain at 19.3264 mills, or about $1,932 per $100,000 of assessed property value.  For the first time since 2006, the district did not have to use any of its fund balance, which totals about $8 million, to balance the budget.

“McNamee said a big chunk is the money the district is mandated to pay into the Pennsylvania State Retirement System. He said that amounts to $282,000 more than what the district paid this past school year.  Another major expense, he said, is $422,000 to charter and cyber schools for students who live in the district but attend those schools.  “We had to increase our budget by $72,000 because we underestimated the number of students going to charter or cyber-charter schools,” McNamee said.”
Leechburg Area School District to increase taxes
Trib Live BY TOM YERACE | Thursday, June 23, 2016, 11:15 p.m.
Property taxes in Leechburg Area School District for the coming school year are increasing between about 4 percent and 6 percent, depending on which county the taxpayer calls home.  The bottom line is an additional $74 in real estate taxes for a typical property in Leechburg and Gilpin and another $132 for West Leechburg residents.  The difference is due to different property tax assessment formulas in the two counties.  Leechburg Area's 2016-17 budget calls for a tax hike of 3.87 percent in Leechburg and Gilpin Township, the district's Armstrong County communities, and 6.18 percent in West Leechburg, its lone Westmoreland County member.  Leechburg Area was supposed to be limited to a 3.5 percent hike, based on an inflation-based tax index. But the district was able to exceed that by filing for exceptions due to high special education and retirement costs, which the state approved.

Vote set for Greensburg Salem board on plan including maximum tax hike
Trib Live BY JACOB TIERNEY  | Thursday, June 23, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Richard Mignogna is a homeowner who is tired of seeing his Greensburg Salem school taxes go up nearly every year, but he's resigned himself to the proposed 2.7-mill increase in the budget under consideration for 2016-17.  The 1972 Greensburg Salem graduate, who has attended school board meetings regularly for about five years, sees a gloomy fiscal future for the district.  “As far as I can see, they're between a rock and a hard place,” Mignogna said of the school board. “There's nothing they can do, unless there's some big pots of money somewhere that can help them. They're just kicking the can down the road.”  School board members have been debating how to approach a projected six-figure deficit that would be the district's fourth in a row. At a discussion meeting this week, the arguments focused on whether to raise taxes to the state maximum and cover the remaining $281,000 deficit with reserve funds that have dwindled below $2 million.

New Ken-Arnold finalizes budget of $37.4M
Trib Live BY LIZ HAYES | Thursday, June 23, 2016, 11:15 p.m.
The New Kensington-Arnold School Board finalized next school year's budget, but how many teachers the district will employ remains up in the air.  Board members and Superintendent John Pallone were quick to note the $37.4 million spending plan does not raise property taxes nor does it utilize the $525,000 the board anticipates receiving when Greenwald Memorial School is sold.  Pallone said the money from the school sale will be set aside as a contingency fund and won't be used to balance the budget.  The budget does call for draining the current $2.2 million in reserve funds to just $57,000 — or 0.15 percent of the operating budget.  School districts typically keep at least 5 percent in reserve.

Kenderton surrenders charter, returns to district control
Abandoned by its charter operator and stymied in its attempt to find a new charter company, Kenderton Elementary in North Philadelphia will be reabsorbed by the School District of Philadelphia.  The final word on Kenderton's fate came Wednesday night when the district announced in a press release that the school's former management organization had surrendered its charter. A spokesperson for the school's board confirmed the news.  "The School District of Philadelphia is ready with a comprehensive plan to ensure that Kenderton Elementary opens ready for students to succeed in 2016-17 school year," said Assistant Superintendent John Tupponce in a statement.  The charter surrender ends a chaotic month-and-a-half for Kenderton, which had been part of the district's Renaissance charter initiative. Through the much-debated turnaround program, the district cedes low-performing schools to charter operators with the expectation they improve quickly. Renaissance charters are considered some of the toughest schools to manage for charter companies, and Young Scholars, the management organization in charge of Kenderton, ran aground quickly.

Longtime Philly District spokesman Fernando Gallard to depart in August
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa June 23, 2016 — 3:06pm
Longtime Philadelphia schools' spokesman Fernando Gallard is departing the District after 13 years, six different  District leaders, and nearly perpetual turmoil.  With the District, albeit temporarily, working with a slight fund balance and not facing an immediate crisis, he said he thought the time was right for an exit.   "It's been a long tour, and I want to do something different," he said in an interview.  Gallard, a native of Nicaragua, joined the District in 2003, drawn by "the vision Paul Vallas had set forward to improve the schools." He answered an ad for a bilingual spokesperson and rose to head the office. He now has the title Deputy Chief, Office of Communications.   His job has been nigh impossible: presenting the District's best face even as it closed schools en masse, cut cut key positions like counselors and nurses, fought with the teachers union or charter operators. He has faced reporters during a cheating scandal and a crisis in hiring substitute teachers.  Gallard has had to deal with student abductions and suicides, assaults on teachers, and the ethnically-tinged violence that engulfed South Philadelphia High School in 2009.    Through all of this he maintained a professional, calm demeanor, always maintaining a respectful relationship even when he couldn't or didn't provide the requested information.

“The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last month that the state's education funding system remains unfair to poor districts and violates the state constitution, despite three revisions of school finance laws in the past three years. The justices warned that schools might not be able to reopen after June 30 if lawmakers don't make further changes by then.”
Kansas lawmakers convening special session on school funding
Lancaster Online By JOHN HANNA AP Political Writer June 23, 2016
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators worked Thursday in a special session to address a court mandate on education funding and avert a threat that public schools might not reopen next month as dozens of protesters outside the Statehouse chanted, "Do your job!"  Republican legislators outlined a $38 million plan to increase aid to poor school districts and immediately scheduled hearings, with votes by committees in both chambers expected later in the day. With the state facing a budget crunch, the plan redistributes existing education dollars — moving some aid from wealthy to poorer districts — and diverts funds from other parts of the budget.  About 150 parents, teachers and other advocates rallied outside the Statehouse for lawmakers to find a quick fix, and to criticize Republicans who control both chambers.  "I want my students to have the same chances and equal opportunities as students in any district," said Aubrey Kennedy, a 28-year-old middle school teacher from Kansas City, Kansas.

GOP opens Kansas special session by blocking introduction of Democratic schools plan
House, Senate dig into funding fix for K-12 equity flaw, ponder amending constitution
Topeka Capitol Journal By Jonathan Shorman Posted: June 23, 2016 - 9:25am
Partisan division almost immediately reared its head as the Legislature kicked off its school finance special session Thursday, with a Republican-controlled panel blocking a Democratic attempt to introduce legislation.  The House Appropriations Committee rejected a request by Democrats to introduce their school finance plan. Lawmakers did allow introduction of a GOP-led proposal, and a similar plan was successfully introduced in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  Blocking lawmakers of either party from introducing legislation is rare, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jerry Henry, of Atchison, expressed dismay.  “It’s set up a pretty difficult couple days when we can’t even get a bill introduced in committee,” Henry said.

Chaos, Change And No Change At All: 3 Stories Of School Money
NPR by CORY TURNER June 23, 20167:00 AM ET
"My goal for this special session is to keep the schools open," said Sam Brownback, Republican governor of Kansas, talking about a high-stakes gathering today in Topeka.  He called lawmakers back from their vacations for a special session after the state's Supreme Court doubled-down on its demand that they make school funding more equitable across districts or risk a calamitous funding freeze.  "We cannot allow our children to be caught in a constitutional struggle between branches of government," Brownback said. But that's exactly what's happened.  The latest from Kansas is one of three follow-ups we have to the NPR Ed Team's recent School Money project, a collaboration with some 20 member station reporters exploring inequities in school funding and the impact those inequities have on students and families across the country.  All three stories — as explained by reporters in Kansas, Texas and Arizona — began with lawsuits but have led to radically different outcomes, ranging from chaos to change to no change at all. We'll start with chaos:

“Estonia’s performance on PISA isn’t in spite of its poor students; it’s because of them.”
Is Estonia the New Finland?
With a focus on equity, the northern European country has quietly joined the ranks of the global education elite.
The Atlantic by SARAH BUTRYMOWICZ  JUN 23, 2016
TARTU, Estonia—Most educators and policymakers can rattle off a list of international educational powerhouses: Korea,  Singapore,  Japan, and Finland.  But there’s an overlooked member of the list: Estonia. Even as educators from around the world flock to Finland to discover its magic formula, Estonia, just a two-hour ferry ride away, has not aroused the same degree of interest.  That could change if the country remains on its upward trajectory. In 2012, Estonia’s 15-year-olds ranked 11th in math and reading and sixth in science out of the 65 countries that participated in an international test that compares educational systems from around the world (called the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA).  In addition to beating out western nations such as France and Germany and essentially tying Finland in math and science, Estonia also had the smallest number of weak performers in all of Europe, about 10 percent in math and reading and 5 percent in science.    Those numbers differ markedly from how the United States is performing, which continues to be stuck in the middle of the pack in all three subjects. More than a quarter of U.S. students were low-performers in math. But few people are asking what meaningful lessons we can draw from Estonia’s success. In fact, many U.S. researchers and educators argue it’s misleading and unhelpful to compare the United States to any top performing country because of demographic and cultural differences.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 6/23/2016

Apply Now! EPLC’s 2016-2017 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program

Nominations now open for PSBA Allwein Awards (deadline July 16)
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. The 2016 Allwein Award nominations will be accepted starting today and all applications are due by July 16, 2016. The nomination form can be downloaded from the website.

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:

PA Supreme Court sets Sept. 13 argument date for fair education funding lawsuit in Philly
Thorough and Efficient Blog JUNE 16, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI LEAVE A COMMENT

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