Friday, July 31, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 31: Campaign for Fair Education Funding 2015 Summer Reading List

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3750 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

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 31, 2015:
Campaign for Fair Education Funding 2015 Summer Reading List

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

Campaign for Fair Education Funding 2015 Summer Reading List
For lawmakers, the Campaign for Fair Education Funding has compiled a summer reading list of must-read nonfiction supporting the need for an overhaul of Pennsylvania's broken school funding system. And don’t worry, these are much shorter than The Hobbit or The Grapes of Wrath!

Public urged to contact political leaders about Pennsylvania budget
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO July 30, 2015 
STATE COLLEGE — State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham is determined to see the state pass its budget.  But she needs help from the community.  On Thursday afternoon, Goreham, members of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, and other local educators held a news conference at Schlow Centre Region Library to urge lawmakers to take action on a budget that could increase basic education funding by about $410 million.  To get the state’s attention, Goreham and EVP Advocacy Coordinator Susan Spicka said the public must contact their local political leaders.  “We must strongly urge state lawmakers to go back to Harrisburg now to work together with their colleagues and our governor to pass and restore (millions) in state funding to schools this year,” Spicka said. “Communities are doing everything they can to ensure that children receive the educational opportunity they need. Now it is time for lawmakers to step up their game and make sure that the state does its part.”  Most Centre County school districts can make it a few months without benefits from the state until they would have to tap into reserve funds, administrators have said.  But Travis Lee, principal at Williamsburg Community School District in Blair County, said his district has been “underfunded” causing the district to fail in its mission to provide a “thorough and efficient public school system.”

Think tank points out common ground in Pa. budget tussle
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JULY 31, 2015
In a state budget stalemate with few compromises, a left-leaning think tank has proposed focusing on property tax relief in Pennsylvania to prompt some bipartisan agreement.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf made his pitch to offer property tax relief central to his budget plan.  And in May, the state House passed a GOP-crafted proposal with bipartisan backing. It included the kind of broad-based tax increases Republican leaders now say they can't support.  After the liberal Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center compared the two plans, a co-author of a three-part report said they're similar enough to suggest common ground is within reach.  "This is the area where, if we're going to manage to escape the partisan kabuki play, this is an area that might begin that," said Stephen Herzenberg.

"But I also agree with Wolf that it's time to stop giving the natural gas companies a free ride in the only state without a severance tax, and that it's appalling that our state officials haven't been providing our school districts the funding they need and a fair formula for doing it. We're being slammed at the local level so our governors and legislators can boast on their campaign mailers that they never voted to raise taxes. That's one reason I admire Wolf's attempt to shift some of that funding from local property taxes to Harrisburg, even though I don't buy all aspects of his tax increase proposals."
Here's the real truth about state budget impasse
THE MORNING CALL Opinion by Bill White bill.white​ @whitebil July 30, 2015
Here is the proper state budget narrative, as  explained by four Republican state representatives at a media event Tuesday morning in the Lehigh Valley.
• Gov. Tom Wolf's budget drastically increases taxes on working families and was voted down unanimously when it was presented to legislators, so even Democrats don't like it.
• Legislative Republicans offered a sensible budget that doesn't increase anyone's taxes and still provides more money for education, privatizes the liquor control system and addresses exorbitant public employee pensions. What's not to like?
• Gov. Wolf's hasty veto of the entire budget, when he could have exercised his line-item veto to retain the parts both sides agreed on, was irresponsible and now is putting social service providers and their clients at risk because they may not get the timely funding they need.
• Wolf has brought Washington, D.C., style politics to Harrisburg, which apparently was gentlemanly before he got here.
Local GOP Reps. Gary Day, Justin Simmons and Doyle Heffley joined House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler Tuesday to promote their side of the state budget impasse that has dragged on for a month and shows no sign of ending. Events such as this one, which was held in front of Lehigh County's Cedarbrook nursing home in South Whitehall, are being staged around the state and euphemistically billed as the Republican Truth Tour.  Day concluded, "We think what we are trying to put out there is the truth of what's going on."
The problem is that parts of their narrative are false or misleading.

Pa. budget needs to invest in schools
Morning Call Opinion by Lynette Zambelli Allentown July 30, 2015
It's hard to take seriously legislators who tout an "increase" in public school funding that amounts to just $4.60 per student for the entire year, but that's what Republican legislators have proposed. After years of cutting hundreds of millions from school budgets, they come to the budget negotiating table with just $8 million more for schools than last year.  I was a substitute teacher for Allentown School District, and I know what better funding can do. Cuts to our schools have brought overcrowded classrooms, teachers paying for supplies out of their own pocket, fewer learning programs and rising property taxes.  We need a budget with a common sense tax on Marcellus Shale drillers, who have used their lobbying power for special treatment too long. As legislators in Harrisburg negotiate with Gov. Wolf on a state budget, I ask Sen. Pat Browne, who has worked on behalf of families in the past, to think about the paltry amount his party leaders want to spend on students after so much has been lost.  We need a budget that invests significantly in our schools — and it's going to take a lot more than $5 a student.

Op/Ed: Massive tax increases would kill Pennsylvania jobs
Philadelphia Business Journal Opinion by Gene Barr Guest Columnist Jul 30, 2015, 5:19pm EDT
Gene Barr is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
The 2015-16 fiscal year is officially underway and with no state spending plan in place, it seems as if we are reverting back to the old days of budget impasses and standoffs. Despite the General Assembly meeting its constitutional obligation of getting a budget to the governor’s desk by the June 30th deadline – a $30.2 billion plan that included a $1 billion increase in state spending, invested more in education and didn’t raise taxes – Gov. Wolf chose to veto the measure and is sticking to his proposal that includes broad-based tax increases and nearly $5 billion in new spending. This massive tax increase plan failed to garner a single vote when it was brought up for consideration by the House of Representatives.  The legislature approved budget would have made historic state investments in education funding – including a $100 million increase to the basic education funding line. It’s important to note that Pennsylvania already invests more than $27 billion in education (in total local, state and federal funds). According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, the Commonwealth ranks among the top 10 states in the nation in per-pupil spending. Clearly, when viewed in a national context, Pennsylvania doesn’t suffer from a lack of dedicated education funding. What we do suffer from is the ability to ensure those education dollars are being invested in student achievement and the classroom. That’s why pension reform is so critically important.

Business leaders petition against Gov. Tom Wolf's tax hikes
Penn Live By Sam Janesch | Special to PennLive on July 30, 2015 at 4:22 PM
A group of local small business owners stopped by a quiet Capitol on Thursday to start a petition against a budget with new taxes.  Andrew Lewis, partner of Tradesman Drywall in Lower Paxton Twp., said Gov. Tom Wolf'sproposed increases in sales and income taxes will put a burden on the state's businesses and consumers. The taxes will drive commerce away and make Pennsylvania less competitive with other states, he said.  "Do not balance the budget on the backs of small businesses," Lewis said. "That is all we're asking."  Wolf's spending plan features an increase in the 

"Simply increasing funding is not enough. We need to stem the hemorrhaging of school district finances and look for long-term, systemic changes.  DePasquale listed districts' financial stresses which include tuition payments to charter schools, dwindling real estate tax bases, and the failure of the Department of Education to follow through on construction reimbursements."
York City School District credit rating downgraded
York Dispatch By JESSICA SCHLADEBECK 505-5438/@JessDispatch POSTED:   07/30/2015 05:04:59 PM EDT
A recent credit-rating report has ranked several Pennsylvania school districts — York City among them — amid the most financially dire in the country.  The report by Moody's Investor Service, titled "Small Group of Troubled Pennsylvania Schools Unlikely to Recover Soon," revealed York City School District along with seven others, had been downgraded to a junk bond rating category.  The report said "the outlook on ratings remains negative" for the city district.  Bond ratings indicate an organization's credit rating, and those classified as junk bond ratings will likely have low financial strength and a lack of ability to pay a bond's principal and interest in a timely fashion, according to Moody's.  "This is troubling news for school districts and for residents because when bond ratings are downgraded it drives up the costs when schools need to borrow money to repair or upgrade their facilities," state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in a press release.

"This week, The Washington Post offered a chart on the state of journalism showing that in just one year the profession lost 10 percent of daily newspaper workers. In the last decade, the loss was nearly 40 percent."
Less journalism = more corruption
John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist POSTED: THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2015, 2:00 PM
It's hard not to notice -- as I note in a Thursday column -- the uptick in public corruption, especially in Philly and Pennsylvania.  The number of investigations, the nature of the charges and the ongoing outcomes of guilty pleas and convictions points to serious lapses leading to criminality among many serving in public life.  But it's also hard not to notice simultaneous declines in journalism which, when at its best, is THE public watchdog of those in public posts. And it's equally hard not to think there's a correlation between such declines and the rise of wrongdoing.  Put simply, when fewer are watching more are able to act like no one's watching.

Fair budget for Pa., fair contract for PFT
Inquirer Opinion by Jerry T. Jordan POSTED: THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2015, 3:46 PM
Jerry T. Jordan is president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
As August approaches, educators across Pennsylvania are preparing lessons and purchasing materials for the upcoming school year. And, once again, the month will be fraught with uncertainty for students and families across the commonwealth.  By now, Pennsylvania should have a budget. And the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers should have a new contract with the School District. But the status of the contract and budget remain unresolved for the same reason: discord over values. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Vice President Biden: “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”  If Gov. Wolf had capitulated to House and Senate leadership and accepted their refusal to prioritize children over gas drillers, we would have a budget. He hasn’t, because when he was elected to office in November, he was given a mandate to carry out his campaign promises to re-invest in public education by restoring the $1 billion in education cuts enacted by his predecessor.

Folmer, Legislature should look to themselves before cutting schools: PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor  by BARRY SHUTT, Lower Paxton Twp.  on July 30, 2015 at 3:00 PM, updated July 30, 2015 at 3:10 PM
Senator Mike Folmer's "As I See It" column in the Sunday Patriot (July 26) says more about the arrogance of the Legislature than it does about the cost of education in Pennsylvania.    His expressed frustration that 62 percent of the cost of education goes to "salary, health care, continuing education, pensions and other benefits of the adults in education" is a cheap shot; especially since he fails to mention that over 80 percent of the legislature's budget ($252 million of its $313.2 million for FYE 6/30/14) went to salaries and benefits!    Folmer also failed to note that the pensions and health care benefits his colleagues enjoy as members of the Legislature, which also accrue to his legislative staff and the staff of his colleagues, far exceed pension and health care benefits available for rank and file state employees, teachers and school administrators. 

To get support for education bill, senators conjure lost art: Compromise
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton July 28  
Sen. Lamar Alexander walked into Sen. Patty Murray’s office and closed the door.
Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, had just taken control of the education committee in the new GOP-led Senate and was determined to rewrite No Child Left Behind, the main K-12 federal education law. It was early February, and he had released a draft of his ideal bill, inviting lawmakers to amend it with their own ideas in committee before bringing it to the full Senate.  Murray, the committee’s ranking Democrat from Washington state, was equally serious about crafting a new law. But she bluntly told Alexander that his way wouldn’t work.  Using a Republican draft as a starting point would only lead to yet another partisan logjam that has come to define Congress, and it would doom their chances of passing an education law that was eight years overdue, she said.  As their staffs anxiously waited in an ante room, Murray and Alexander made an old-school deal —they would find common ground and together write a bipartisan bill. They would compromise.

House and Senate continue efforts to replace NCLB, Rep. Klein recommended to chair conference committee
NSBA on July 30, 2015    Charlotte Blane
The Education and the Workforce Committee issued a press release today stating that:
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and House Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) today met to discuss proceeding with a conference committee to resolve differences in the House- and Senate-passed bills to replace No Child Left Behind. The House and Senate Education Leaders agreed to recommend House Chairman John Kline to chair the conference committee.
The full press release is available on the Education and The Workforce committee’s webpage.

So what if teachers were treated like athletes?
Key & Peele - TeachingCenter
Boyd Maxwell and Perry Schmidt report on the latest developments in the exciting world of pro teaching. Watch more Key & Peele:

Save the Date: School Funding Forum in Pittsburgh August 6th
School Funding Forum in Pittsburgh, PA Thursday August 6th 2-4pm
With Hear Me and our western PA partners in the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, the Education Law Center is convening a school funding forum with a focus on the most at-risk students. Join us to hear stories of students directly impacted by a lack of education resources and to discuss the latest updates from Harrisburg. While fighting for fair and adequate school funding impacts all children, we’re excited to use this forum to highlight the importance of school funding for the most at-risk students whom ELC serves, including students experiencing homelessness or in foster care, English language learners, and students with disabilities.
Location: Gates Hillman Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Room 8102. Suggested parking is in the East Campus Garage. Here’s a map of walking directions from the garage to the room.
To join us, please email Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman at

Nominations for PSBA's Allwein Advocacy Award now open
PSBA July 7, 2015
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 2015 Allwein Award nomination process will close on Aug. 28, 2015. The 2015 Allwein Award Nomination Form is available online. More details on the award and nominations process can be found online

Save the Date for PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 14-16, 2015 Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Save the date for the professional development event of the year. Be inspired at more than four exciting venues and invest in professional development for top administrators and school board members. Online registration will be live soon!

Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

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