(Apr 18) Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis discusses education issues with the Times-Tribune editorial board

By Sarah Hofius Hall, The Times-Tribune

During Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Tomalis addressed many issues in education. Topics discussed included:

– The state will continue to analyze Scranton’s Pennsylvania System of School Assessment results, including erasure patterns. Scranton was one of six districts identified by the state in September for possible manipulation of answer sheets for standardized tests taken between 2009 and 2011, and the state has accepted the investigation by Superintendent William King.

– Mr. Tomalis touted the governor’s proposed Passport for Learning Block Grant program, which would take proceeds from the privatization of the state’s liquor stores and give districts a four-year boost in funding. A privatization plan was approved in the House and is awaiting approval in the Senate.

Statewide, Mr. Tomalis said between $800 million and $1 billion could be generated, and over four years, districts would receive funding for use for school safety, quality kindergarten programs, individualized learning programs, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. Superintendents have criticized the program because they will not be able to sustain initiatives once funding runs out, but Mr. Tomalis said they must find one-time uses for the money.

– Approval of a waiver for flexibility of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act is expected from the U.S. Department of Education this year, Mr. Tomalis said. The waiver would eliminate the Adequate Yearly Progress classifications for schools and districts.

– Mr. Tomalis acknowledged that charter school funding must be examined, but said accountability and authorization must also be discussed. The state should be looking at how other states are funding cyber charter schools, he said. Many educators and lawmakers have called for a complete overhaul of the funding system.

Find the full article, here: State education secretary discusses school funding Sarah Hofius Hall, published in The Times-Tribune, 4/18/13



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