Wednesday, October 26, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 26: Legislature focus shifts to pensions; charter bill #HB530 languishes

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup October 26, 2016
Legislature focus shifts to pensions; charter bill HB530 languishes

Blogger Update: Charter Expansion HB530 was not voted out of the House Rules Committee yesterday and its fate is undetermined at this point.  If it is not considered any further before the legislative session ends the bill will be dead.

“how it works, what it measures and why it’s important for Pennsylvania’s school districts”
Reminder: November Workshops and Webinar on the New PA School Funding Formula
PASA, PSBA, PAIU, PARSS, the PA Principals Association and PASBO have scheduled nine on-site workshops across the commonwealth and one webcast to provide an in-depth discussion of the new basic education funding formula: how it works, what it measures and why it’s important for Pennsylvania’s school districts. The workshops, funded through a grant from the William Penn Foundation, will be offered at IUs 3, 4, 8, 10, 15, 17, 18, 20 and 24 beginning in November. Click here for workshop dates and details and information about registration. Capacity is limited at all locations, so registration is required and is first come, first served.

“The plan is expected to lower roughly $200 billion in projected pension payments by the state and school districts by $2.6 billion over 32 years, according to an analysis by the state's Independent Fiscal Office. The plan does not have any short-term savings.”
Pa. legislature takes on pension changes for future workers
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis and Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: OCTOBER 26, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
HARRISBURG - With only one voting day left before it breaks for the election, the Republican-controlled legislature worked late into the night Tuesday to position a bill that attempts to deal with the rapidly rising cost of public employee pensions.  If both legislative chambers approve the plan Wednesday and Gov. Wolf signs it, it would end what has been a years-long struggle to strike a compromise on one of the most divisive policy issues in the Capitol - one that has threatened to derail budget talks in recent years.  The measure the House and Senate will consider Wednesday would change the retirement benefits for future state and public school workers.  Starting in 2018, those new employees would choose from three new benefit plans, all of which would require varying levels of participation in a 401(k)-style plan.  Current employees will continue to be eligible for pensions that are calculated using the traditional - and more generous - formula that relies on their years of service and highest three years of pay.

Legislature gears up for pension reform vote
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau October 25, 2016
 The Legislature is gearing up for a do-or-die vote Wednesday on a bill to change the state's debt-ridden pension plans for most new workers.  Beginning in 2018, the bill would force all new school employees and most new state workers to pick from one of three pension plans that offer fewer benefits than current workers earn, in an effort to reduce market risk to taxpayers.  Wednesday's vote was set up through a rare conference committee meeting Tuesday evening of a small panel of lawmakers. Conference committees, controlled by the majority parties, are legislative tools used to get the House and Senate to agree on a controversial bill.  The committee's 4-2 vote at about 9:45 p.m. now sets up a straight yes-or-no vote Wednesday in the House and Senate. Lawmakers will not be able to offer amendments to change the bill.  With the vote coming just two weeks before Election Day, it's unclear how it will go. If the bill fails in either chamber, it dies and will have to be brought back up when a new legislative cycle begins in January.

Blogger note: this Penn Live coverage includes link to SUMMARIES OF THE BILL FROM SENATE REPUBLICANS AND HOUSE DEMOCRATS
General Assembly tees up 'historic' pension reform bill for a vote
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on October 25, 2016 at 11:15 AM, updated October 25, 2016 at 11:23 PM
After four years of kicking around various proposals to reform the two state pension systems, it appears a potential landmark plan that would alter the plans for future state government and public school employees is poised to get a vote in the General Assembly on Wednesday.  The GOP-crafted plan would give those future employees a menu of three options from which to choose for their retirement savings plan. They could enroll in a 401(k) plan or one of two hybrid plans that are a combination of defined benefit and defined contribution plan. (See Senate Republican-prepared highlights of those plans below.)  Despite a vigorous effort by the public sector unions, particularly the Pennsylvania State Education Association, to quash this effort to create a separate pension system for future hires, the House on Tuesday proceeded with setting it on a course for Wednesday's expected vote.

Pennsylvania: Charter Sharks Zooming in for the Kill with HB530
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch October 25, 2016 //
Pennsylvania became an ATM for the charter industry under Republican Governor Tom Corbett. He is gone now, but the legislature remains indebted to the fat, happy charter owners. Many public school districts are on the brink of bankruptcy due to the rapacious charters that snare their students with deceptive advertising. Pennsylvania has more virtual charter schools than any other state, despite the fact that study after study (including one by CREDO, funded by the Daltons) has shown that virtual charters are educational disaster zones. Students who enroll in them don’t learn anything, but the virtual charter industry is rolling in dough. Two different virtual charter leaders have been indicted for theft in Pennsylvania; one admitted stealing millions of dollars, the other saw her trial dismissed because of age and infirmity but was indicted for theft of millions.  Into this land of struggling public schools and thriving charters comes a new legislative plot to privatize and monetize public school funding. It is called HB530. Under the (usual) guise of “reform,” the bill would open the door to the vaults that hold taxpayer money meant for children and welcome the charters to help themselves.  HB530 is a blank check for a rapacious, greedy industry.

Why SRC Haters Finally Have a Real Shot at Abolishing It
A new mayor, a newish governor, a teachers union with growing political clout, and three soon-to-be-open seats are creating a perfect storm that could end the School Reform Commission.
Citified BY HOLLY OTTERBEIN  |  OCTOBER 25, 2016 AT 1:05 PM
The School Reform Commission is astonishingly unpopular in Philadelphia: Only 11 percent of residents think it should exist. Donald Trump has more support than that here!
And it’s been like this since the beginning: When the SRC was created in 2001 as a compromise between Mayor John Street and Republican leaders in Harrisburg, education activists were furious. The deal gave the governor the ability to appoint three members to the SRC, while the mayor only got two — and it led to the turnover of several local schools to a for-profit company. “In the first few months, their meetings were incredibly raucous. People would yell at the chairman,” says Paul Socolar, who was editor of the Public School Notebook at the time. “There was a view that it was a takeover being engineered to put the GOP’s buddies in charge of the school district.”  But for the last 15 years, the legions of SRC critics had no real chance of abolishing it — until now.  A perfect storm, which consists of a new mayor, a (relatively) new governor, a teachers union with growing political clout, and three soon-to-be-open seats on the SRC, has suddenly made the dissolution of the SRC a possibility. “This is the best shot there’s been,” says Socolar, who now works part-time for the Notebook and part-time for Councilwoman Helen Gym, a proponent of replacing the SRC with a board appointed by the mayor.

CCBC Health Academy gives high school students a head start
Beaver County Times By Katherine Schaeffer October 25, 2016
CENTER TWP. -- It’s Wednesday morning, and classes are in full swing in the Community College of Beaver County’s Health Sciences Building.  Upstairs, students in radiologic technology professor Michele Houston’s class take turns operating an X-ray machine to master abdominal and chest X-rays -- minus the radiation.  In the building’s new virtual classroom downstairs, nursing professor Sherri Busch has divided her class into groups of two or three for the day’s activity: taking one another’s blood pressure. At one of the room’s square, glass-topped tables, Ambridge Area High School senior Zachary Ernst, Beaver Falls High School junior Adriona Miller and Western Beaver Area High School junior Louie Hapach take turns finding one another’s pulse, securing the blood pressure cuff and pumping the pressure gauge.    Students in both classes are enrolled at the community college, but not in any traditional two-year program. When class is over, they’ll board a school bus and head back to their respective high schools before afternoon dismissal.  Ernst, Miller and Hapach are three of 54 students participating in CCBC’s new Health Academy for High School Students this fall. The most recent addition to the college’s high school academies program allows students to spend half their day on campus, taking college classes with CCBC professors.  Through CCBC’s academies, students can earn up to 28 credits -- the equivalent of one year of college -- by the time they graduate from high school.

How The Barber, And Other Caring Adults, Help Kids Succeed
NPR by ANYA KAMENETZ October 25, 201611:03 AM ET
In a working-class city in southeast Michigan there's a barbershop where kids get a $2 discount for reading a book aloud to their barber.  "Any help these kids can get with reading and ... comprehension is a big thing," said Ryan Griffin, the veteran barber who instituted the program. "You know, maybe someday some kid will grow up and be a journalist, be a writer, and he'll say, 'You know what, when I was young, my barber used to make me read.' "  We published a story about Griffin and the shop two weeks ago and ever since they have been overwhelmed with praise, donations and requests for interviews from all over the country ... and the world. That left of us wondering why exactly this story went viral.  Maybe it's because Griffin's sentiment, about helping kids succeed, resonates with a lot of us.  Take this recently released first-of-its-kind study that found for every one percent increase in the adult-to-youth ratio in a given community, there was a one percent decrease in the rate of young people dropping out before graduating high school.  In other words, simply having more grownups around helped kids to stay on track.

How Will ESSA Be Different When it Comes to School Turnarounds Than SIG?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on October 25, 2016 5:50 PM
The U.S. Department of Education doled out $427 million for the very last round of School Improvement Grant funds Tuesday.  The program, which has gotten more than $7 billion over the course of the Obama administration,yielded decidedly mixed results when it comes to student achievement, was eliminated under the Every Student Succeeds Act.  So what will replace it? And how school improvement under ESSA be similar to or look different from SIG?

What Could Be in Store for Education if Democrats Get More Power in Congress?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on October 25, 2016 7:46 AM
After the presidential election, perhaps the most pressing political question in Washington is this: Can Republicans maintain their majorities in both the House and Senate? So if Democrats gain control in one or both chambers, who's likely to take control of the key K-12 committees? And what does that mean for public school policy?  First, keep in mind that it's not easy to answer these questions, and the latter in particular, without first considering whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump becomes president. And of course, the GOP might keep control of both chambers of Congress, which would obviously hamper, if not cripple or kill, big education initiatives a President Clinton might want to see done.   Remember also that each time a new session of Congress starts, lawmakers shuffle between committees, subcommittees, and different leadership posts, regardless of whether there's a new party in charge of the chambers or not.   We've broken down this analysis into two separate pieces, one on the Senate and one on the House. We've also split up each analysis into sections on potential leadership changes, and on possible issues lawmakers could tackle.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: October 19 - 25, 2016
Submitted by fairtest on October 25, 2016 - 12:49pm 
The national wave of opposition to test misuse and overuse continues to swell even as media attention focuses on the closing days of election season. All winning candidates will have to pay heed to the rising tide of grassroots pressure for many fewer standardized exams, an end to high-stakes testing and support for better assessments.

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The Sixth Annual Arts and Education Symposium – October 27, 2016
The 2016 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on October 27 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg Convention Center.  Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Arts Education network and EPLC, the Symposium is a Unique Networking and Learning Opportunity for:
·         Arts Educators
·         School Leaders
·         Artists
·         Arts and Culture Community Leaders
·         Arts-related Business Leaders
·         Arts Education Faculty and Administrators in Higher Education
·         Advocates
·         State and Local Policy Leaders
Act 48 Credit is available.
Program and registration information are available here.

REGISTER NOW for the 2016 PA Principals Association State Conference, October 30 - November 1, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.
PA Principals Association website Tuesday, August 2, 2016 10:43 AM
To receive the Early Bird Discount, you must be registered by August 31, 2016:
Members: $300  Non-Members: $400
Featuring Three National Keynote Speakers: Eric Sheninger, Jill Jackson & Salome Thomas-EL

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

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