Monday, August 3, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 3: New PSSA levels: “all of a sudden they weren’t good teachers anymore and they weren’t good students”

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 3, 2015:
New PSSA levels: “all of a sudden they weren’t good teachers anymore and they weren’t good students”


Note: PA Ed Policy Roundup may be late, intermittent or abbreviated this week depending upon the beach weather.



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



“Gov. Wolf has been very explicitly positive about HB504 and this may be our best chance in a generation for bipartisan compromise and an opportunity to achieve something that has been a top legislative priority for Republicans for years,” Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the research center, said in a call with the media last week.”
Editorial: Is this finally the time for property tax reform?
Delco Times POSTED: 08/01/15, 10:04 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Day 33 of the Pennsylvania state budget impasse, and neither side is budging.
Issues keeping apart Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican Legislature are as deep as the chasm of education funding shortfalls on which Wolf staked his campaign for governor and as entrenched as opposition to Marcellus hale extraction tax, liquor store privatization and the debate over the best way to solve the public pension crisis.  The differences are so sharp that it seems improbable the two sides can agree on anything.  But, in fact they agree in one area, and it’s an area of great potential for Pennsylvanians.  According to a report released last week by the Keystone Research Center, property tax reform holds promise as the one topic on which the two sides share common ground.  The goal that has remained elusive for three decades in Pennsylvania could be the catalyst to break the budget logjam, a guiding light to compromise and consensus.  The report comes from a study comparing House Bill 504, the property tax plan that recently passed the House, and Wolf’s property tax relief proposal included in his budget plan.

Pottstown a winner under competing property tax reform plans
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 08/02/15, 10:01 AM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
POTTSTOWN >> Homeowners in the area school district with the highest poverty rate and the lowest property values would receive the greatest relief under either property tax reform plan now under discussion in Harrisburg.  An analysis of the property tax reform plansproposed both by Gov. Tom Wolf, and the one approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, shows Pottstown as the area school district where homeowners would get the most relief under both plans.  This is likely because Pottstown is also the area school district with the highest student population living in poverty, the greatest local share of school funding, and the district where paying property taxes consumes the highest percentage of household income.  The analysis of both plans, which includes a breakdown of the two plans for each of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, was performed by the Keystone Research Center for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

“Only in Pennsylvania is the extraction tax considered a partisan idea.”
Severance tax on gas drillers makes sense for Pa.
Philly.com opinion By Lance Haver POSTED: Monday, August 3, 2015, 1:06 AM
Lance Haver is director of civic engagement for Philadelphia City Council.
If you have been following the political question of whether Pennsylvania should pass an extraction tax on natural-gas wells, here are five things to keep in mind:
Under Gov. Wolf's proposed budget, the severance tax would be used to help fund our schools and develop sustainable energy. Without the tax, not only will our schools suffer, but we will lose an important opportunity to move toward a sustainable future.  Taxing natural-gas wells is not a contentious issue in other states. Pennsylvania is the only state that has large reserves of natural gas and/or oil that does not have a severance tax. States led by Democratic officeholders, like California, tax natural-gas wells, but so do states led by Republicans. Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, all states led by self-described conservative Republicans, tax natural-gas wells. So do Wyoming, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, and Utah. Other states with a similar tax are Ohio, North Dakota, West Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico. Even Kansas, which many believe has the nation's most conservative governor in Sam Brownback, has a severance tax on natural-gas wells. Only in Pennsylvania is the extraction tax considered a partisan idea.

Ads seek to mobilize public opinion in Pennsylvania budget battle
Lancaster Online By TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer Posted: Sunday, August 2, 2015 5:45 am
 “Don’t raise taxes on Pennsylvania-made energy,” urges an ad from Citizens to Protect PA Jobs.  “Tell the legislature to get serious and pass a real budget,” says one from America Works USA.  With Republican legislators and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf stalemated on the state budget, interest groups on both sides are waging ad campaigns to win the hearts and minds of voters.   Citizens to Protect PA Jobs is an offshoot of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. America Works USA is affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association.  The two organizations have each spent more than $1 million so far on their Pennsylvania media campaigns, primarily on television spots, spokesmen said.

“They were able to pass and do well last year and the teachers were able to teach last year and do well, but all of a sudden they weren’t good teachers anymore and they weren’t good students,” she said.  In a letter recently sent to state lawmakers, Rivera said comparing this year’s scores with previous year’s is not a “valid” comparison and may not “provide an accurate depiction of student learning or school performance,” and that scores will steadily rise in the future as students and staff get accustomed to new standards and resources.
“It is important to remember these scores represent a snapshot in time and meant to determine a baseline for measuring future growth,” Rivera stated in the letter.”
Upper Darby PSSA proficiency level at 41 percent
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@delconewsnetwork.com@KevinTustin on Twitter
POSTED: 08/02/15, 11:37 PM EDT | UPDATED: 49 SECS AGO
Only 41 percent of Upper Darby’s elementary and middle school students from the past year have performed at the proficient level on the spring Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests based on data released early to the district.  Of the approximately 5,000 third- through eighth-grade students tested in English/language arts and math on the standardized tests, 47 and 23 percent, respectively, were proficient. This equates to 2,400 and 1,100 students who earned passing marks on the respective sections.  The science test portion of the test yielded its highest proficiency score of the three subjects. Taken only by fourth- and eighth grade-students, 53 percent (897 students of 1,700) scored proficient or advanced. Fourth-grade students were 63 percent proficient while eighth-graders were 43 percent proficient.  The PSSAs administered in the spring were the first to fully incorporate the more “rigorous” PA Core Standards, which were adopted in the fall of 2013.  Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera had expected the scores to be lower due to these new core standards, but said the department was “committed” to help increase student achievement.

“The reason for the downgrade is our lack of fund balance,” said Mid Valley Board Vice President Paul Macknosky. “The lack of a fund balance exists because the commonwealth owes us nearly $1 million in back payments.”
Mid Valley School District bond rating plummets
Scranton Times-Tribune by KATHLEEN BOLUS, STAFF WRITER Published: August 1, 2015
Facing rising pension costs and delayed state reimbursement for a construction project, Mid Valley School District saw its bond rating significantly downgraded by a major rating agency.
Mid Valley’s rating fell three notches from A3 negative, a prime rating, to Baa3 negative, which is still an investment grade rating, but in the lower medium grade category. A bond rating is an evaluation of credit risk that grades the chance of a bond defaulting. Bonds with the highest rating — AAA — carry the least amount of risk and the lowest interest rates.
In a Moody’s Investor Service Report released July 20, Mid Valley was highlighted along with eight other districts across the state for its severe financial stress.

Hazleton Area awaits $2.5M PlanCon payment from state
Standard Speaker by MARIA JACKETTI Published: July 30, 2015
Pennsylvania still does not have a budget, and for school districts such as Hazleton Area that are waiting for reimbursement on building projects, it means no checks are in the mail — and won’t be until the stalemate is resolved.  Robert Krizansky, the district’s assistant business manager and treasurer, said the PlanCon payments are figured into the district’s budget and normally would have been received in June.  Hazleton Area is awaiting approximately $11 million in reimbursement for work done on Maple Manor Elementary/Middle School, McAdoo/Kelayres Elementary/ Middle School and Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences.  “We don’t get all the money back at one time,” Krizansky said, “but we have a $2.5 million scheduled reimbursement coming for the new academic year.”

Western Pennsylvania school districts brought down by pension debt
By Yaël Ossowski  /   July 31, 2015  Watchdog.org
A frank assessment from Moody’s rating agency this week has given several Pennsylvania school districts sour financial notes, and western PA’s schools top the list.  Schools in Allegheny, Washington, and Fayette County have all been downgraded to junk status, according to the rating service’s latest report, deemed “unlikely to recover” and it seems exploding pension costs may be to blame.  Allegheny County alone has four separate school districts that have been downgraded since March, including McKeesport Area, East Allegheny, West Mifflin Area and Penn Hills school districts. They, along with the other school districts mentioned in Moody’s report, have a particular problem with mounting costs mandated by law.  The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials put out a report last month detailing costs for the state’s school districts. They took special note of the costs that are mandated, including charter payments, health benefits, special education and costs related to retirement plans of school district employees.  According to school districts surveyed, pension costs account for 22 percent of all mandatory spending increases. Charter school spending, the next highest category, is set to increase by 11 percent on average.

Beaver County judge temporary stops seven PA Cyber school layoffs
Beaver County Times By David Taube dtaube@timesonline.com  Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015 5:00 pm | Updated: 9:15 pm, Fri Jul 31, 2015.
MIDLAND -- A Beaver County judge has temporarily stopped layoffs for seven of 43 employees let go last week from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School after questions were raised on whether its board executed the action properly.  Beaver County Judge Deborah Kunselman temporarily nullified part of the layoffs Friday after a hearing  between the employees and the Midland-based school.  The school announced layoffs for 43 people on July 21, and a group of three individuals filed a motion for injunctive relief on Thursday with attorney John Havey. That group was extended to seven people, which ranges from administrative to teaching staff, who are nonunion employees, Havey said.  Havey said the layoffs were improperly conducted. In the initial petition, he argued the board violated state open-meeting law by taking a vote behind closed doors July 20 on the layoffs, thereby leading a director of technology, Carl Humes, and another PA Cyber employee to shut down computers of the laid-off individuals the following day.
The school also announced the layoffs in an email to employees that morning, according to an email provided by Havey.

Pa. Teacher of the Year finalist makes sure kids have a ball while they're learning
WHYY Newsworks BY SARA HOOVER AUGUST 3, 2015
Yoga balls have helped one Delaware County teacher become a finalist for this year's Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.  Pam Gregg, a language arts teacher at Springton Lake Middle School in Media, is among a dozen teachers up for the honors.  As class begins, Gregg's students bounce on yoga balls as they wait for the team activity that will soon have them running around the room. The ball chairs and academic lessons that include physical activity help the students become less fidgety and more focused, Gregg said.  "I incorporate movement into the lessons because, you know, they're middle school -- they need to move," she said. "They'll be more engaged and take in more information when they can move."

Op-Ed: Gov. Wolf – Politics before People
North Central PA  By Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) JULY 31, 2015
Like many of my colleagues in the Pennsylvania Senate, I was deeply disappointed that Governor Wolf chose to veto a $30.18 billon, no-tax, balanced state budget plan that would have made new investments in education, improved the funding mechanism for our schools and provided funding for critical state services. The Governor’s impractical veto of the entire spending plan leaves us no closer to an agreement now than when he first introduced his budget proposal in March, which is a true disservice to the people who elected him on the promise of a “fresh start.”  The real question here: What is the Governor’s motive?  The only thing to be gained by threatening an interruption of government services is political leverage. To put the well-being of millions of state residents at risk for the sole purpose of getting his own way is unbelievably arrogant and thoughtless. In pursuing this scorched-earth policy, the Governor has jeopardized funding for numerous programs and services relied upon by millions of state residents. He has done so not for the sake of good public policy, but rather for the worst of reasons – politics and a perceived political advantage.

"As you can see, four of the original six schools are still in the bottom 5% while the other two have now ‘catapulted’ to the bottom 6%.  Perhaps this is one reason that Chris Barbic recently announced he is resigning at the end of the year.
Throughout the country, there are states that are considering creating their own ASD based on the supposed success of this one and the Recovery School District in Louisiana, on which this one is based.  Senate Democrats actually tried, and failed, to get an amendment into the reauthorization of the ESEA that would mandate that the bottom 5% of schools in each state become an ASD, essentially.  I hope that my very simple calculations are compelling evidence that the ASD does not live up to the hype.  Getting two out of six schools from the bottom 5% to the bottom 6% has not earned them the right to replicate around the country."
The Underachievement School District 2015 Edition Part I
Gary Rubenstein's Blog Posted on July 31, 2015by garyrubinstein
Three years ago, the Achievement School District (ASD) in Tennessee began their mission, summarized in the statement on their website under the heading ‘Building the Possible.’
“The Achievement School District was created to catapult the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee straight to the top 25% in the state.”  The timetable for this goal is just five years from the time the school enters the ASD.  As I wrote to current ASD superintendent, Chris Barbic, who I’ve known for over 20 years from back in the days when we were both TFA teachers in Houston at the same time, this is not a feasible goal.  It isn’t that I don’t think schools or teachers are capable of improvement, I just think that there is a limit to what can be accomplished by only focusing on replacing teachers and giving schools over to charters.

Childhood Trauma: What’s Missing in Education “Reform”  ?
Lucid Witness Blog by Daun Kauffman 2014
The child  – the customer –  is what is missing from Education “Reform” discussions.  
Specifically, the massive incidence of childhood trauma, and its laser-like connection to cognition and education is missing.  The scope of childhood trauma is measured in a range, from  25%  to 50% of children, seemingly highest in urban settings, as detailed below.  (Also see “Failing Schools or Failing Paradigm ?”).  Not only is the child missing,   but Education “Reform” is often  ANTI-child in its effect,  at least for our most vulnerable children.  (See  “Danny goes to school”)



Conference Process to Rewrite ESEA Gets Underway
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Lauren Camera on July 30, 2015 11:43 AM
The conference process for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act began in earnest Thursday morning, as a bipartisan "Gang of Four" met to lay out the groundwork for brokering a proposal that can pass both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
All the expected characters were at the table: Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the Senate education committee who co-authored the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate with overwhelming support, and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., the chairman and the ranking member of the House education committee.  The four released a statement after their meeting, which didn't contain too many specifics, though that didn't stop us from reading between the lines.  "There is a lot of work to do in the coming months, and I am confident we will be able to craft a bicameral education bill that reduces the federal role, restores local control, and empowers parents and education leaders," said Kline. "Those are the kind of education reforms the American people expect and we must deliver."  Alexander went a step further, throwing down the gauntlet with a fall deadline.

Books in home as important as parents' education in determining children's education level
Science Daily Source: University of Nevada, Reno May 21, 2010
Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study.  Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.  For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.  Being a sociologist, Evans was particularly interested to find that children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. She has been looking for ways to help Nevada's rural communities, in terms of economic development and education.  "What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" she asked. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed."


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 ckleiman@elc-pa.org.

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

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online
PSBA website July 31, 2015
The slate of candidates for 2016 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online, including bios, photos and videos. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openAug. 17 and closes Sept. 28. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in August or September. Each person authorized to register the school entity's votes has received an email on July 16 to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to register the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

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.

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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



STUDENTS ARE GETTING READY TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL, CROSSING REQUIRED SUMMER READING BOOKS OFF THEIR LISTS.
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 bmilazzo@centredaily.com 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​@mcall.com @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: http://on.cc.com/1RUEbiW


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 ckleiman@elc-pa.org.


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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 30: Testing under scrutiny in Pa. House hearing

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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 30, 2015:
Testing under scrutiny in Pa. House hearing



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



Education Voters of Pennsylvania, local school officials urge lawmakers to fairly fund schools in state budget
Campaign for Fair Education Funding/Education Voters PA  July 29, 2015
 BETHLEHEM (July 28, 2015) – Education Voters of Pennsylvania and local school officials today held a press conference at Liberty High School to urge state lawmakers to put students first by making fair funding for education their top priority in the state budget. "We send lawmakers to Harrisburg not to do the least they can do, but to do what needs to get done," said Susan Gobreski of Education Voters of Pennsylvania. "It is time for our lawmakers to go back to Harrisburg. They must pass a budget that includes not only a way to divide up money, but also includes enough money to begin to get school funding back on track in the Commonwealth. "If we want Pennsylvania's economy to grow, it will only grow if we invest in education," she said. Parents, educators and school officials want legislators to take action right away to enact a state budget that increases basic education funding by at least $410 million to help restore past funding cuts, targeted at bringing districts back to the 2010 funding level as base year. In addition, they want lawmakers to begin implementation of the new funding formula unanimously adopted by the Basic Education Funding Commission, cochaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-16th District), who also co-sponsored a bill that would implement the new formula.

Lawmakers 'put drillers before our students,' official says at education rally
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 29, 2015 at 2:59 PM, updated July 29, 2015 at 4:17 PM
Education advocates and Lehigh Valley school officials Wednesday urged lawmakers to return to Harrisburg and put students first.  Almost a month into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania remains without a state budget.  "We send lawmakers to Harrisburg not to do the least they can do, but to do what needs to get done," said Susan Gobreski, of Education Voters of Pennsylvania. "It is time for our lawmakers to go back to Harrisburg."  The Bethlehem Area School District passed its budget June 15 with no knowledge of its state funding and it still has no idea today, said Michael Faccinetto, board president. Ironically, school districts would normally be starting to receive their state funding right now, he said.  "Quality education costs money," Faccinetto said. "We cannot play political games with out children's future."

Testing under scrutiny in Pa. House hearing
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau July 30, 2015 12:06 AM
HARRISBURG — Concerns about the statewide testing of students in Pennsylvania dominated an hours-long hearing Wednesday before the House Education Committee.  During testimony from educators, panel members heard worries that testing is detracting from the quality of education while adding to its cost.  Officials from the state Department of Education described the tests that Pennsylvania students take. They focused on two: the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, which is taken in math and English language arts in grades 3 through 8 and in science in grades 4 and 8; and the Keystone Exams, end-of-course assessments in algebra 1, literature and biology that are scheduled to serve as a high school graduation requirement, though one with exceptions, beginning with the class of 2017.

"A panel from the Pennsylvania Department of Education said while the curriculum implementation from Pennsylvania CORE varies across the state, the assessments cost Pennsylvania around $55 million annually: $30 million devoted to the PSSA exams, $20 million for Keystone exams, and $5 million for classroom diagnostic tools."
Educators, administrators pan state assessments at House hearing
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The House Education Committee held a marathon hearing Wednesday getting input on state education assessments from frontline players who deliver and develop the tests. Most testifiers panned the state assessments as costly, unnecessary, and misapplied.  The committee’s aim was not to take testimony on any specific bill, but to get a ground-level understanding of what the tests do, how they’re viewed, and whether students are prepared for them.  “What we wanted to hear today is what exactly we Pennsylvania are required to do in terms of testing as far as the federal government requirements are concerned, what’s been going on at PDE and the Board of Education, but also to hear from different teachers, ssuperintendents and board members as to exactly what’s going on in each of the districts,” said Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York). “Let’s hear from individuals who are involved in the testing day in and day out to give us an explanation.”
It was noted the topic of state assessments has drawn a lot of interest lately, particularly in terms of preparedness for the exams after the adoption of Pennsylvania CORE standards in 2013.
“Testing assessments has become a focal point of interest across the Commonwealth,” said Minority Chairman James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia). “I think it’s important we get the input from those on the frontlines of the discussion and implementation.”

Educators criticize PSSAs, Keystone Exams in Harrisburg
By Jacqueline PalochkoOf The Morning Call July 29, 2015
Educators from across the state vent to lawmakers over PSSAs, Keystones.
HARRISBURG — Educators across Pennsylvania blasted the state's standardized exams as time-consuming, stressful for students and not an accurate gauge of what students learn.
School administrators, teachers and school board members testified Wednesday before the state House Education Committee on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams, which students in Grades 3-8 take every spring, and the Keystone Exams that high school students take at the end of a course.  District leaders also criticized the state's graduation requirement that says high school students, starting in 2017, must pass three Keystones — algebra, English and biology — to graduate.  Jack Silva, assistant superintendent of the Bethlehem Area School District and a vocal critic of the state tests, testified the PSSAs aren't useful.  "I have never met a leader of a university or the owner of a business who asked me for a student's PSSA score," Silva said. "I propose that the state allow districts to establish a menu of more meaningful data indicators to meet accountability standards."  Lawmakers also showed concern about the standardized tests, asking about the costs, time and anxiety they bring on.  The hearing came just a few weeks after the state Department of Education admitted this year's PSSAs scores plummeted. The tests were more rigorous this year because they were aligned with the Pennsylvania Core Standards, so a dive in scores was expected.  Results for the Keystone Exams, also aligned with the Core Standards, are not yet out.

Local educator blasts Keystone Exams mandate in state hearing
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 29, 2015 at 6:03 PM, updated July 29, 2015 at 7:06 PM
A Lehigh Valley educator testified in Harrisburg Wednesday about the harm he says state graduation mandates and high stakes testing are causing Pennsylvania children.  He wasn't alone in that sentiment.  Wednesday the state House Education Committee held a public hearing on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, which students in grades three through eight take each year, and the high school end-of-course Keystone Exams.  Educators blasted the state's standardized tests during the hearing and on Twitter, tweeting with the hashtag PAassessments.

Four unintended consequences of using student test scores to evaluate teachers
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 29 at 12:45 PM  
As any even semi-regular reader of this blog knows, the practice of using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers is riddled with problems. I’ve written before about some of the more ridiculous consequences, such as teachers being evaluated by students they don’t have and/or by subjects they don’t teach. (See here and here.) There are other consequences as well, some of them likely unintended. Here’s a post on the subject by Susan Moore Johnson, Jerome T. Murphy Research Professor in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Johnson directs the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, which examines how best to recruit, develop, and retain a strong teaching force. This appeared on the the Shanker Blog, the voice of the Albert Shanker Institute,  a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to honor the life and legacy of the late president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: July 22 - 28, 2015
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on July 28, 2015 - 2:43pm 
As the assessment reform movement monitors Capitol Hill where a congressional conference committee will soon take up the rewrite of "No Child Left Behind," pressure to cut back testing volume and reduce high-stakes consequences continues to build at the grassroots. Be sure to check out the excellent new public education resources available for your local campaigns listed at the end of the news clips.

Wolf meets with Republican leaders about Pennsylvania budget
Philly.com by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 3:23 PM
YORK, Pa. (AP) - There's been another meeting aimed at resolving Pennsylvania's state budget standoff, but participants aren't reporting any breakthroughs.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf met Wednesday at the Yorktowne Hotel in York with the Republican floor leaders, Rep. Dave Reed and Sen. Jake Corman.  Reed spokesman Steve Miskin says they talked about proposals to cut public sector pensions, privatize the liquor system, add money for public education and reduce local property taxes.  Miskin says negotiators are making progress, but it's slow and there were no developments to make him think a deal will be reached in the next week or two.

Gov. Wolf and state GOP 'making progress' on budget talks
Penn Live By Candy Woodall | cwoodall@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 29, 2015 at 4:55 PM, updated July 29, 2015 at 4:58 PM
A month into the state budget impasse, Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday morning met with Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, and House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, to hash out what have seemingly been irreconcilable differences.   "We're making progress," Wolf said.  The governor said he has been meeting with Republican leaders since the previous budget expired on June 30.  He enters these conversations respecting the other side, hoping to make some movement in a direction toward agreement, he said.  "I'm continuing to work on that. They're continuing to work on that. We're going to get to a good place," Wolf said.

Call for compromise on property tax relief in budget impasse
WITF Written by Mary Wilson | Jul 29, 2015 3:56 AM
 (Harrisburg) --  In a state budget stalemate with few compromises, a left-leaning think tank says focusing on property tax relief could prompt some bipartisan agreement.  Democratic Governor Tom Wolf made his pitch to offer property tax relief central to his proposed budget.  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.    The liberal Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center compared the two plans.  Stephen Herzenberg, a co-author of the report, says they're similar enough to suggest common ground is within reach.
"This should be an area ripe for bipartisan compromise. Republican champions for property tax relief do have a once in a generation opportunity to achieve what has been their top priority in many cases for a decade or more," he says. "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."

Gov. Tom Wolf pushes budget plan in front of hometown crowd
York Daily Record By Ed Mahon UPDATED:   07/29/2015 09:49:09 PM EDT
Gov. Tom Wolf returned to familiar territory Wednesday.
He spoke at The Yorktowne Hotel — a property his former business used to partially own. The host was the Rotary Club of York — a group that his father used to be the president of.  State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, one of the local politicians in the crowd, said Wolf was probably personal friends with two-thirds of the people in the room, if not more.  At the start of the Rotary Club of York meeting, the club's president, Dr. Marsha Bornt, gave him an honorary membership and invited him to speak at another event for the group's centennial year celebration.  "It is really good to be home again," Wolf, a York County Democrat, told the crowd.
Here are four things to know about Wolf's visit.

Neshaminy teachers ratify contract; it’s the board’s turn
Inquirer by Ben Finley LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 7:18 AM
LANGHORNE Following its approval by the teachers’ union, the Neshaminy school board is expected to vote on a teachers’ contract at an Aug. 6 meeting.  The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers voted Monday to ratify the one-year deal, which will apply retroactively from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.  The tentative agreement has no base salary increases. Union members will continue to make contributions of 16 percent toward their health insurance premiums.  Elementary specialists and special education teachers, however, will get a total of 160 minutes per week of preparation time, ending a lawsuit the union filed in Bucks County Court.

Addressing childhood trauma takes a village
Support our campaign to distribute our documentary to schools and child advocates.
the notebook By Lauren Wiley on Jul 29, 2015 10:45 AM
Have you watched the Notebook documentary,Glen’s Village? Were you moved by the story of Glen’s journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the University of Pennsylvania?
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook is seeking to bring Glen's Village to a wider audience – particularly to education professionals and advocates who work with children affected by trauma. We are raising funds to distribute the film by launching our first crowd-funding campaign at http://igg.me/at/glensvillageGlen’s Village, produced by the Notebook and 5th Borough Films, immerses viewers in Glen's West Philadelphia neighborhood and the nearby Penn campus in University City. Although just a few blocks apart, the two communities might as well be separated by oceans. Glen's journey from being a 9th-grade troublemaker dealing crack cocaine on the streets to attending an Ivy League institution is filled with bumps, bruises and redemption.
The film's message needs to be heard: that there are many Glens out there whose behavior may be misunderstood and who aren't getting the support they need.

GSE NEWS: PBS’s NewsHour features Penn GSE’s Richard Ingersoll
July 24, 2015 — Education Policy professor Richard Ingersoll’s work around the teaching workforce is the gold standard in education in research nationally. He’s featured in a recent PBS NewsHour story examining the state of the teaching workforce, and the career outlooks for recent teacher education graduates. Ingersoll adds insights about the rising percentage of female teachers in the classroom, efforts to recruit and retain minority teachers, and why 40 percent of teachers leave the field in the first five years.  “The biggest set of reasons has to do with the quality and the caliber of the job,” Ingersoll said. “It’s the amount of support, the amount of student discipline and behavioral problems in the building, how much say teachers have in the decisions in the building that affect their job. Do they have input and voice?”

IB: Schools With Tough Tests Send More Low-Income Kids to College
Education Writers Assoc. Educated Reporter JULY 28, 2015 MIKHAIL ZINSHTEYN
Schools that that teach low-income students a notoriously demanding curriculum are almost twice as likely to see those students enroll in college, a new report shows.  This news comes on the heels of growing research suggesting that challenging assessments, which are a staple of the International Baccalaureate program featured in the report, help students develop a deeper understanding of key subjects like math and history. That “deeper learning,” in turn, may lead to more college opportunities.   The International Baccalaureate, a nonprofit organization that sellsits stable of intensive coursework for various subjects to schools around the world, released the study last week, calculating that more than half of the 1,650 schools in the United States that use IB material fit the federal designation of Title I schools, which means they enroll a large low-income student population. In fact, the number of Title I schools offering IB programming increased by 50 percent between 2009 and 2013, the report said. 

A low-income Brooklyn high school where 100 percent of black male students graduate
One motivating factor is a student-founded, student-sustained “fraternity”
Hechinger Report by MEREDITH KOLODNER July 14, 2015
NEW YORK — Last fall, a Howard University sophomore was fielding dozens of phone calls between midnight and 3 a.m. from seniors at Brooklyn College Academy.
The young men had a million questions about applying to college, and as a leader of the Sophisticated Well Articulated Gentlemen’s Group (SWAGG) to which they all belong, Jude Bridgewater had pledged to always answer their calls.  Bridgewater, 20, says one of his best days of the year came this spring, when a member named Turel Polite, who had clashed early and often with high school administrators, was accepted into his top choice college — the Academy of Art University in California. Polite credits high school staff members who stayed on his case, and the close-knit network of SWAGG.

Traveling the path least taken successfully requires preparation
Center for Public Education The EDifier July 29, 2015
Nearly two-thirds of employers believe that our public schools are not adequately preparing recent high school graduates for the workforce, according to a new survey from our friends over at Achieve. However, this percentage would likely drop significantly if recent high school graduates were properly prepared in high school, according to CPE’s most recent report The Path Least Taken: Preparing non-college goers for success.  While much of the rhetoric surrounding education reform has centered on the phrase ‘college and career ready,’ much of the discussion and policies have focused on the former rather than the latter. So CPE decided to take a closer look at what high schools could do to prepare their graduates who don’t go onto college for success after high school. Not surprisingly we found that on-average high school graduates who go onto college are more likely to see success in terms of getting a good job than their fellow graduates who never attended college. Yet, when we took a closer look at the preparation non-college goers received in high school and beyond, a much different picture emerged. A picture that showed non-college goers were more likely to find career success if they were properly prepared in high school.

"In contrast, they acknowledge, the foundation’s investments in education here in the United States haven’t paid off as well.  “There’s no dramatic change,” Bill acknowledged. “It’s not like under-5 mortality, where you see this dramatic improvement.”  But both Bill and Melinda insist that they aren’t dispirited by the lack of transformational progress in education. “We’re still very committed,” Bill says.  One giant leap: Bill and Melinda say the foundation is now going to further expand beyond K-12 to also invest nationwide in early childhood programs. I’m thrilled, for I’m a believer that helping children aged 0 to 5 (when the brain is developing rapidly) is crucial for the most at-risk children."
Bill and Melinda Gates’s Pillow Talk
New York Times Opinion  by Nicholas Kristof JULY 18, 2015
WHAT do Bill and Melinda Gates argue about?
Not whose turn it is to wash the dishes or take out the garbage, it seems, but headier stuff. The prospects for eradicating polio. The utility of empowering women. The best ways to save lives.
Oh, and maybe how much to acknowledge to a prying columnist that they sometimes do argue.
It has been 15 years since Bill and Melinda Gates created what is now the largest foundation in the world. This milestone seemed the right moment to ask them what they have learned from giving away $34 billion, what mistakes they have made, and what they disagree about.
But first, just a reminder of how historic this foundation has been. It has played a central role in a campaign to transform health and nutrition for the world’s poor.

School Funding Fight Back in Hands of Washington State's Supreme Court
Education Week State Ed Watch Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on July 28, 2015 11:07 AM
After a tumultuous special legislative session this year that saw a boost for K-12 spending, Washington state officials are telling the state's highest court: Stop holding us in contempt. But advocates who believe lawmakers are still falling short are instead telling the court to either levy sanctions or walk away.  If the court ends up agreeing with those advocates, sanctions against the state could follow, including a ban on spending state funds on budget areas other than public education.  A quick review: Last year, the state's supreme court held the state in contempt for failing to adequately respond to a 2012 ruling in the McCleary v. Washington case. That ruling found the state to be delinquent in its constitutional duty to make providing for a public education its "paramount duty" by not providing enough money for schools. Lawmakers responded by boosting school spending by roughly $1 billion in its 2013-15 biennial budget, but that didn't prevent the supreme court's 2014 contempt ruling.   This year, lawmakers had to head to special session to finalize a deal to increase spending on K-12 for the 2015-17 budget, with Democrats and Republicans advocating for different approaches. According to a report filed by lawmakers with the supreme court July 27, the final 2015-17 budget deal, combined with the funding increase from 2013-15, has increased education spending by about $4.8 billion (up to $18 billion in the biennial budget) from where state spending stood in 2012, when the court issued its McCleary ruling.


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.