Thursday, June 5, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 5: Corbett and GOP lawmakers talk bare-bones 'budget scenario' that would cancel hikes in education funding

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 5, 2014:
Corbett and GOP lawmakers talk bare-bones 'budget scenario' that would cancel hikes in education funding

"The report is not a finalized budget, said Mike Stoll, spokesman for House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware.  Stoll, speaking after The Morning Call got a copy of the report, said it was a primer to show Republican lawmakers the state's existing fiscal reality and the administration's ideas to help close the two-year cumulative deficit.  "There was no finalized plan presented in caucus," Stoll said. "We presented members of the caucus with all the information we have at this point so they can begin to give leaders feedback for the way they want to proceed."
Corbett and GOP lawmakers talk bare-bones 'budget scenario' that would cancel hikes in education funding
House GOP proposal outlines Corbett administration's call to cut most agencies by 5 percent and transfer $294 million out of special funds to help close deficit without tax hikes.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:36 p.m. EDT, June 4, 2014
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to spend more money on public schools and human services would be wiped out in a bare-bones $28.6 billion "budget scenario" prepared by House Republicans after discussions with the administration.  The document — presented to the House Republican Caucus on Tuesday and obtained by The Morning Call — also shows Corbett's proposal to reduce the state's and school district's pension payments to free up spending may not have support among the House GOP majority.  The document opens a window into early, ongoing budget talks between the administration and the Legislature's Republican leaders as they look to plug a $532.5 million deficit that's expected to grow to $1.3 billion or more by June 30, 2015.  The proposal, prepared by House Republican Appropriations staff, does not include pension savings and assumes no tax increases in 2014-15. Nor does it mention possible freezes in ongoing business tax cuts.
Budget time ... and the living is hardly easy: John L. Micek
By John L. Micek | on June 04, 2014 at 3:32 PM
So here's how you can tell it's Budget Season in the state Capitol:
Everyone has a theory on how state lawmakers are going to reach a deal on theCorbett administration's $29.4 billion budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
And everybody -- from the lobbyists who ringed the upper balcony of the Capitol rotunda outside the House and Senate chamber, to the activists and supplicants who gathered on the Rotunda's main floor below -- wants something.  For one veteran lobbyist, who asked not to be named for fear of angering his well-paying clients -- it's making sure they don't take too bad of a tax hit. If you're wondering, those well-paying clients include companies doing business in the realm of what I'll just euphemistically refer to as Scharscmellus Schmale.
 Veteran lobbyist David Tive, who did speak on the record and doesn't represent the interests discussed just above, said he couldn't remember a budget season with so much uncertainty.
"The level of confusion up here is higher than I've seen it in the past," he said.

Now is the time for Gov. Corbett to approve a shale tax to pay for Pa. schools: Tom Wolf
By PennLive Op-Ed  By Tom Wolf on June 04, 2014 at 11:30 AM
Tom Wolf, of York County, is the Democratic candidate for Governor. 
In the next few weeks, school districts across Pennsylvania will dismiss for summer break.  But we should all be alarmed at what our kids and teachers will return to once school resumes in the Fall.   Schools will begin another year without the resources needed to provide our kids the kind of education that will give them the skills necessary to take advantage of an ever-changing, highly competitive economy.   There is no greater risk to our Commonwealth's future.  And it's time, now, for the Legislature and Governor to finally act to impose a severance tax on natural gas extraction with an effective rate of at least 5 percent.  The result of such a tax will mean billions of additional dollars in the coming years.   Let's put politics aside – and let's act now.  Don't wait for the coming elections.  Don't wait for a new governor or a new legislature.  Our kids deserve immediate attention 

Democratic challenger Tom Wolf leads Governor Corbett by 20 points in poll
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette No Byline June 4, 2014 9:07 AM
Tom Wolf, the businessman from York County, who won the Democratic nomination for governor in a primary race last month, tops Gov. Tom Corbett, 53 to 33 percent, a poll released this morning says.  The Quinnipiac University Poll of registered voters across the state shows that voters disapprove of Mr. Corbett’s performance by 55 to 35 percent and 58 percent of voters say Mr. Corbett does not deserve to be re-elected.   "The election is five months away, but Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett looks like easy prey for Democratic challenger Tom Wolf," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a press release.

An alternative budget for Pa. Opinion By Gene DiGirolamo POSTED: Thursday, June 5, 2014, 1:08 AM
State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks) represents the 18th Legislative District
As the state considers next year's budget, legislators must remember that people and communities hang in the balance.  Each month brings more bad news about shortfalls in revenue that had been expected in state coffers. At this point, it's clear that revenues for the next two fiscal years will be $1.3 billion short of what the Corbett administration expected.
We now face a fundamental choice: Arrive at a balanced budget by making even bigger cuts in education, health care, environmental protection, and human services or invest in programs that grow the economy and create jobs by raising new revenue.  Given these choices and the current economic circumstances, why would we leave money on the table?
I cannot support further cuts to education and vital service programs, so I went to work and developed the Roadmap for a Stronger Pennsylvania, a proposal that puts families first in a responsible, sustainable approach to the budget.

Centennial officials: change school funding, mandates
Bucks County Courier Times By Gary Weckselblatt Staff Writer Gary Weckselblatt: 215-345-3169; email:; Twitter: @gweckselblatt Updated 8 hours ago
Two Centennial School District officials criticized for-profit charter schools, the state’s special education funding formula and unfunded mandates for putting public education in a perilous situation.  “We are struggling to provide an adequate education to students because of pensions, unfunded mandates and tests that don’t measure learning,” said Joyce Mundy, Centennial’s superintendent.  Mark Miller, vice president of the Centennial School Board and a member of several other education organizations, said, “We want to be able to balance our budgets without breaking the backs of taxpayers, without cutting programs for students, without reducing personnel.”  With the General Assembly working on a new budget that’s nearly $1.8 billion in the red, the two education leaders spoke with the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times on Wednesday about the plight public school districts are facing.

"The legislation, which drew bi-partisan support, now is on track to be considered by the full House but could make it on to the books by getting inserted in a budget-related bill that is tied to school funding."
HB1722:  Education reform bill eliminates seniority-based layoffs and allows furloughs for economic reasons
By Jan Murphy | on June 04, 2014 at 5:22 PM
A controversial education reform measure that Gov. Tom Corbett identified as a priority in his first year of taking office is once again getting legs.  The House Education Committee today voted 17-7 to advance legislation that would add economic reasons to the list of permitted situations when teachers and other professional school employees could be furloughed.  Current law only allows districts to layoff professonal staff if there is a reduction in enrollment, if a program is curtailed or eliminated, or if schools are consolidated or reorganized.

"It's not going to have significant impact on savings, but you know what? I think it sends a strong message that we're serious about getting our finances under control," said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County
Sen. Joe Scarnati determined to boot elected state officials out of pension system
By Jan Murphy |  on June 04, 2014 at 8:54 PM
If no other pension reform gets done before lawmakers break for the summer, the highest-ranking state senator is calling for the Legislature to at the very least act to move all elected officials in the legislative, executive and judicial branch out of the state's defined benefit pension plan.  "It's not going to have significant impact on savings, but you know what? I think it sends a strong message that we're serious about getting our finances under control," said Senate President Pro TemporeJoe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County.  Scarnati offered this last-resort pension proposal in a telephone interview after expressing concern that none of the pension- reform plans being worked on in the House or Senate has yet to draw the votes needed to pass.
He said if any consensus plan does gain traction, he wants to see elected officials in all three governmental branches be treated like new employees and pushed out of the guaranteed pension system and into a 401k-style plan upon their election or re-election.

Blogger's note: William Bartles' organization, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, has received three separate grants from the Gates Foundation to sponsor Common Core. These three grants total $935,859.
Keystone Exams will ensure students are ready for the workforce: PennLive letters
Letters to the Editor on June 04, 2014 at 1:17 PM, updated June 04, 2014 at 11:26 PM
WILLIAM J. BARTLE, Education Policy Director, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Patriot-News reporter Jeff Franz is to be commended for his article "High school diploma has renewed value for graduates headed to the workforce," which stresses the increasing importance of students pursuing post-high school learning.  Today's jobs require an unprecedented level of academic skills.  But for years, Pennsylvania has graduated tens of thousands of students who failed to show proficiency in core subjects like reading and math. This left employers with no real assurance that a high school graduate had the required basic skills to be successful in an entry-level job.  To address this, Pennsylvania recently adopted stronger, internationally benchmarked academic standards called the Pennsylvania Core Standards, along with assessments aligned to those standards. Those assessments include the Keystone Exams in English, algebra I and biology. 

OP-ED: The sinister truth about supporting Common Core
York Dispatch Opinion By RYAN M. BANNISTER Pennsylvanians Against Common Core
UPDATED:   05/01/2014 09:34:38 AM EDT2 COMMENTS
In response to a recent op-ed by William Bartle, education policy director for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, I would like to point out some conveniently ignored truths regarding Common Core.   Mr. Bartle, with either willful ignorance or contempt for the "regular class," has lacked the integrity to offer full disclosure in his April 18 piece titled "Nothing sinister about Common Core." The title itself screams "nothing to see here."  I offer a public response to Mr. Bartle in order to enlighten him with the facts and further educate him on honesty in communication.

Retired Upper Perkiomen superintendent back at $335 per day
By Frank Otto, The Mercury POSTED: 06/03/14, 4:15 PM EDT | UPDATED: 28 SECS AGO
PENNSBURG — Taxpayers will soon find themselves paying a new salary to a superintendent who last year received a retirement package the state’s Auditor General blasted as being “excessive.”  Thanks to a unanimous Upper Perkiomen School Board vote, Timothy Kirby will return to his previous post as the top administrator in the district on July 1.  Telling a reporter, “file (a) Right-to-Know request,” school board President William Scott refused to release Kirby’s new salary, but The Mercury’s Right-to-Know request revealed Kirby will be paid $335 per day until Dec. 31.

No financial returns from roadtrip to Harrisburg for Philly schools, but still hope
The leader of Philadelphia City Council took a road trip to Harrisburg Tuesday in search of additional funding sources for the city, but did not return with any commitments. 
Council President Darrell Clarke isn't talking much about the results of his lobbying trip to Harrisburg.   "I've learned the simple reality is as it relates to trying to get some support from the state is it's best practices to keep the conversation relatively tight as it relates to members of the General Assembly and not have a negotiation in the public," Clarke said Wednesday. 
The goal of the trip to the Capitol was to secure more money for the Philadelphia School District that has been reduced to operating on what the superintendent calls "a doomsday" budget.

Council bill aims $120 million at schools - but red ink still flows
TROY GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, June 5, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 10:00 PM
Philadelphia City Council took a big step Wednesday toward resolving a piece of the School District's budget woes, giving preliminary approval to a bill that would guarantee the district $120 million in sales tax revenue next year.  But that money would hardly cure the district's profound financial troubles.  In fact, the district likely is going to need tens of millions of dollars in city funding before the end of this month just to make ends meet.  Mayor Nutter plans to send a bill to Council on Thursday that would let the city borrow the needed funds and pay back the loan from future sales tax revenue.  Council President Darrell L. Clarke has introduced a bill that would give the district the money in exchange for closed school buildings the city then could sell.

At Muñoz-Marín, a contentious lead-up to delayed Renaissance vote
the notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. on Jun 04 2014 Posted in Latest news
When District officials delayed the vote on the Muñoz-Marín School’s future one month ago, they hoped the extra time would allow parents to become better informed about the choice they faced.
Instead, over the last four weeks, the campaign for the North Philadelphia school has grown increasingly contentious, culminating with a complaint filed this week by charter school officials against the School Advisory Council (SAC), alleging that the SAC had undercut their efforts to reach out to parents.  The vote is scheduled for Thursday.
Officials at ASPIRA Inc., a charter provider matched with Muñoz-Marín by District officials as part of this year’s Renaissance transformation process, say that SAC president Maria Cruz has effectively “sabotaged” their attempts to reach other SAC members and bring them on tours of its schools.

Charter pupils get $100,000 scholarships to Widener U.
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 2:35 PM POSTED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 11:26 AM
Widener University is awarding $100,000 scholarships to every 8th grade graduate of Widener Partnership Charter School, officials announced Wednesday.  Those meeting admissions criteria to the Chester university will receive $25,000 per year for four years. There are 37 students in the charter school's first graduating class.

Neumann offers workshops for Chester Upland parents by Laura McCrystal LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 1:08 AM
Workshops offered for parents
ASTON The Chester Upland School District and Neumann University are working together to send parents back to school.  The university will offer a series of free workshops this summer to parents of students in the school district. The program allows parents to earn a free college credit for completing the workshops.  The content of the workshops will "vary from academic readiness for higher education to financial aid to technological fluency for returning to college," said Stephen Bell, a spokesman for Neumann.

Common Core implementation concerns raised
NSBA School Board News Today by Alexis Rice|June 4th, 2014
AASA, the School Superintendents Association, has newly released a survey of superintendents on the adoption and implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The survey, “Common Core and Other State Standards: Superintendents Feel Optimism, Concern and Lack of Support,” found that although superintendents were overwhelming optimistic about the new standards, a majority also expressed concern about a lack of implementation support at the local level.  Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have adopted CCSS, which establish grade-level expectations in math and English language arts for K-12 students. The standards go into effect next school year, with the first state-wide student assessments expected in the spring of 2015.  Of note in the AASA survey is that many superintendents expressed concern that their districts will not be prepared for implementation of the standards, especially the year-end assessments

Teachers Hit The Common Core Wall
NPR by CORY TURNER June 03, 2014 4:08 PM ET
This time next year, millions of schoolkids in the U.S. will sit down for their first Common Core test. In some places, the stakes will be high — for kids, their teachers and their communities. The goal of the Core benchmarks in reading and math is to better prepare students for college, career and the global economy. But the challenges are huge.  For one, the standards are higher than many of the state standards they're replacing. And, as we reported earlier, new standards as rigorous as the Core require lots of other changes, too — to textbooks, lesson plans, homework assignments. You name it.  Right now, many teachers are in a bind. They're being asked to implement these tough new standards without being given better materials.

S.C. Governor Signs Bill Requiring State to Replace Common Core
Education Week State EdWatch By Andrew Ujifusa on June 4, 2014 3:18 PM
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has signed a bill that requires the state to adopt new content standards for the 2015-16 school year and drop the Common Core State Standards.
In effect, this means that South Carolina has become the second state to drop the common standards, although the actual replacement of common core with "new" standards won't take place until the 2015-16 year. The common core will remain in place in South Carolina for the 2014-15 school year. So the so-called repeal of the common core in the Palmetto State hasn't technically gone into effect yet.
Haley, an outspoken opponent of the common core, signed the bill May 30.

Look out, Chris Christie: The new war on public schools just might be defeated
Signs of optimism in public school fight, and warning signs for any politician who pushes privatization, charters by JEFF BRYANT TUESDAY, JUN 3, 2014 01:18 PM EDT
It’s no exaggeration at all to say that for many who claim to be part of a “school reform” movement, the goal really is to get rid of traditional public schools.  If that sounds like an unreasonable conclusion to you, cast your eyes toward New Orleans where the last traditional public schools were just closed for good.  Writing for the Washington Post, Lindsay Layton reported the NOLA district closed the remaining neighborhood schools as part of a “grand experiment in urban education for the nation,” shifting local control of public schools by voters and their elected representatives to privately operated charter schools.  School governance in the “all-charter district” will now be up “to dozens of independent school operators” unencumbered by the “bureaucracy” of democratic control.  The NOLA model is what the reform crowd has been recommending for the rest of the nation.

Pearson: Follow the Money
It is curious indeed that Pearson has been so effective at buying a controlling interest in American education. It is curious because in school we were always taught that heathy competition produces better products, that America reveres an open field for new products, and that monopolies are clumsy and inefficient. We were also taught that the public sector belongs to the public, not to private corporations.  This post, by Jennifer Job of UNC Chapel Hill, follows the money in trying to understand how Pearson inverted these axioms. How did Pearson become a dominating force American education? She examines the tentacles of power. Maybe the CEO of Pearson should be our next Secretary of Education. But no, that would mean taking a salary cut.

Julian Vasquez Heilig  |  | 1 Comment
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Do you believe in public education? Do you want US policymakers to understand why decision makers in Chile have now judged vouchers to be problematic after 30 years of universal implementation? Do you have frequent flier miles you can donate? Sponsor a grad student today!  This summer, I along with eight UT-Austin graduate students will travel to Santiago, Chile in August 2014 with Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig to conduct field research that will result in a policy brief, op-eds and a peer-reviewed academic paper detailing recent changes in Chile’s market-based education policy proposed this past April by Chile’s current Education Minister Nicholas Eyzaguirre.

Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education After 60 Years -
EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - June 8 at 3:00 p.m. 
The next EPLC "Focus on Education" episode will air this coming Sunday, June 8 at 3:00 p.m. on PCN television.  This June 8 panel will discuss the significance of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and its significance today; the current picture of racial segregation in public schools; whether, in Pennsylvania, we are improving or getting worse; the responsibility of state government; the effects of the "school choice" movement on segregation and integration in public schools; and much more.
The panel will include: 
·         Ron Cowell, President of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and Host of the "Focus on Education" programs;  
·         Homer C. Floyd, Former Executive Director, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission;
·         Rhonda Brownstein, Esq., Executive Director, Education Law Center; and
·         Erica Frankenberg, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Education Policy Studies, Penn State University.
Visit the EPLC web site for related resources.

PSBA opens nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
The nomination process is now open for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award. This award 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.  Applications will be accepted until July 16, 2014. The July 16 date was picked in honor of  Timothy M. Allwein's birthday. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. More details and application are available on PSBA's website. 

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Click here to read more about EPLC’s Education Policy Fellowship Program, including: 2014-15 Schedule 2014-15 Application Past Speakers Program Alumni And More Information

PCCY invites you to get on the School Spirit Bus to Harrisburg on Tuesday June 10th for Fair and Full School Funding!
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
On Tuesday June 10th, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will be going to Harrisburg.  Join committed parents, leaders, and community members from around state to make it clear to Harrisburg that PA students need fair and full funding now!  We are providing free transportation to and from Harrisburg as well as lunch.   Please arrive at the United Way Building located at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway no later than8:15am.  The bus will depart at 8:30am sharp! Reserve your seat today by emailing us at or calling us at 215-563-5848 x11. You can download and share our flyer by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

Pennsylvania Education Summit Wednesday, June 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (EDT) Camp Hill, PA
PA Business-Education Partnership
Welcome By Governor Tom Corbett (invited)
Remarks Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq (confirmed)
Perceptions & comments of business leaders, educators, college presidents, and advocacy groups

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

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