Content in this edition:
2011-2012 State Budget Watch
State Board of Education
The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at https://www.eplc.org/category/education-notebook/.
Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are planning to have the House vote on the state budget legislation this week.
HB 1485 (Rep. William Adolph, R-165), the General Appropriation Act of 2011, was originally introduced in a form that represented the Governor’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2011-2012. But soon thereafter on May 11, the House Appropriations Committee amended HB 1485 to eliminate the Governor’s budget proposal and replace it with the House Republican Caucus budget proposal. The revised budget offered by House Republicans restores some of the significant cuts to K-12 and higher education as proposed by the Governor. On the other hand, it provides for cuts not included in the Governor’s budget, including significant cuts for child care services and for the arts.
Neither the Governor’s budget proposal nor the House Republican version uses the growing surplus that is anticipated at the end of the current fiscal year. In contrast, Senate Republican leaders have suggested that they are open to using at least some of the surplus to further reduce cuts to basic and higher education.
Last week, the following bills were introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee:
- Senate Bill 1065 (Sen. Richard Alloway, R-33), which would make the contract between a local board of school directors and a superintendent null and void (after a majority vote of the school board) if the superintendent is removed from office for neglect of duty, incompetency, intemperance or immorality. A superintendent or assistant superintendent removed from office under this provision would not be entitled to receive any salary, or payment of any kind in lieu of salary, from the school district.
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
The State Board of Education approved the following items during its May 18, 2011 meeting:
- A Resolution regarding standards for consideration of future alternative certification program requests. The resolution authorizes a pilot alternative certification program involving the Pittsburgh School District and The New Teacher Project.
- Authorization to utilize $12,500 from the State School Fund to support a study of Pennsylvania’s school libraries, as required by House Resolution 987.
In addition, the Board approved three Resolutions honoring the service of the former board chair Joseph Torsella, and student members Andy Youstic and Travis Gilbert.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education has announced in the Pennsylvania Bulletin (41 Pa. B. 2622, May 21) its request for proposals from nonprofit organizations or partnerships of organizations for a competitive College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) from the US Department of Education. If awarded, Pennsylvania would be eligible for up to $3.8 million in CACG funding for 2011-2012. Information on the Federal College Access Challenge Grant Program is available at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/cacg/index.html.
Earlier this month, the Center for Reinventing Public Schools released its findings from a meeting convened in February 2011 to assist public school districts implementing school choice under the US Department of Education (USDE) Voluntary Public School Choice program, The report: “Reforming Districts through Choice, Autonomy, Equity and Accountability—An Overview of the Voluntary Public School Choice Directors focuses on how choice districts can actively manage the supply of schools in the district, make careful decisions about the allocation of resources across newly independent schools, build fair and transparent enrollment systems, effectively communicate to all parents about their choices and invoke creative solutions to ensure that students with special needs are well served. To read additional essays written by conference participants, click here.
- EPLC will hold a Capital Region Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum (Harrisburg, PA) on Wednesday, May 25. The topic of the forum is the recently published RAND report on “Expanding Measures of School Performance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.” Look for details and registration information at www.eplc.org.
- The Arts and Education Initiative, a new project of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC), will hold its first Community Forum in Altoona during the evening on Wednesday, May 25 from 6:30 –9:00 PM. Future forums will be held in other regions (tentatively) including Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, Williamsport, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. This event is free and open to the public, but please do RSVP to reserve a seat to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On May 18, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus (PLBC) held a press conference to express their grave concerns about the cuts to basic education that Governor Corbett and the House Republicans have proposed for the 2011-2012 budget. Citing data compiled by the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, the Governor’s budget would cut education spending, on average, by $819 for a low income student; by $867 for a Hispanic student and $1,091 for a black student. The typical Caucasian student would experience only a $493 cut. Statewide, the average cut would be $623 per student.
Under the House Republican plan, the average cut would be about $509 per student. The typical low –income student would experience a $715 cut while the spending reductions would be $781 for a Hispanic student and $1018 for an African-American student compared to $385 for a white student. To read the PLBC press release, including the data graphs, click here.
- On May 19, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators released a new report that showcases the damage the proposed budget will do to student achievement. The report is based on a survey of school districts this spring and tells a very stark story of program and personnel cuts that will do serious damage to the educational progress made in recent years by Pennsylvania students. These cuts are the result of weaker local revenues, the end of federal stimulus funds (including the loss of IDEA and Title I funds) and the Governor’s proposed $1 billion-plus cut in education funding for 2011-12. To read the report, click here.
- Legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives that would eliminate the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program at the US Department of Education. Click here to access an on-line advocacy tool that allows you to send an e-mail message directly to your US Representative on this vital issue. The bill (H.R. 1891), the “Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act,” would terminate 43 K-12 federal education programs, including the Teaching American History grants program. Teaching American History grants is the only federal program that funds K-12 history education. The House Education and the Workforce Committee is expected to consider H.R. 1891 at any time.
- The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently announced a series of upcoming professional development opportunities offered as part of the agency’s Project WILD program. Classroom teachers, early childhood teachers, informal educators, homeschool leaders and Scout and youth group leaders are welcome to participate in these workshops. For a complete list of courses being offered, go to the agency’s website and click on “2011 Teacher Workshops.”
The Pennsylvania House and Senate will reconvene at 1:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet on Monday, May 23 to consider: SB 1056.
For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on “Events Calendar”.