EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, February 11, 2005

  • Gov. Ed Rendell delivered his 2005-2006 proposed State Budget on February 9. The budget provides a 2.5% increase for basic education ($4,470.050 million), special education ($952.404 million), and Career and Technical Education ($59.636 million). The budget also maintains funding for Accountability Block Grants at $200 million, doubles funding for Education Assistance (tutoring) to $76 million, doubles funding for Head Start Supplemental Assistance to $30 million, and increases funding for reimbursements to school districts for payments to charter schools by 2.5% to $82.602 million. Teacher Professional Development also saw a significant increase from $4.167 million to $13.867 million.

    All sectors of higher education saw an increase in this year's budget proposal. Community Colleges received a $22.8 million increase, approximately 10%.. The State System of Higher Education, state-related universities, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency each received significantly smaller increases.

    The keystone of the 2005-2006 Budget is the Governor's "Job Ready Pennsylvania" initiative, which will coordinate workforce development and education efforts across state agencies. The education piece of the initiative focuses on providing continuing education and job training opportunities for Pennsylvania's incumbent workers to enhance their skills, increasing access to post-secondary education, and ensuring that high school students graduate with the skills needed for jobs in today's economy. In addition to increased funding for Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges, the initiative includes $5.0 million for dual enrollment programs for high school students, $4.7 million to support the Department of Education's High School Reform Initiative, and $80 million in public and private funds distributed over five years to support career and technical education equipment and curriculum. New funding from PHEAA and its Foundation will provide additional higher education grant funding for students and provide expanded opportunities for grants for working adults to return to postsecondary education part-time. Other proposals in the Job Ready Pennsylvania initiative will: create a system that gives adults returning to the classroom credit for life experience that can be applied toward a certificate or degree, require 4-year colleges and community colleges to align courses to provide for easy transfer of credits, and create targeted workforce training programs organized by sector.

    To view the proposed budget for the Department of Education, see www.budget.state.pa.us/budget/lib/budget/2005-2006/exec_budget/Education.pdf.

    To view the proposed budget for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, see www.budget.state.pa.us/budget/lib/budget/2005-2006/exec_budget/HigherEd.pdf.

    For additional information about Gov. Ed Rendell's 2005-2006 Executive Budget and details about the Job Ready Pennsylvania initiative, see http://www.governor.state.pa.us/governor/cwp/view.asp?a=1101&q=440128

  • President Bush sent his proposed 2006 budget to Congress earlier in the week, which decreases overall education spending by 1%. The budget provides $13.3 billion in Title I funding to support No Child Left Behind, includes a new initiative to expand NCLB into high schools, and increases Pell Grants awards for low-income students. The budget also eliminates or significantly reduces funding for 150 government programs, 48 of which are from the Education Department, including vocational education, GEAR UP, Upward Bound, and Even Start. To review the President's 2006 Education Budget request, see www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget06/index.html.


  • On February 8, the Senate Education Committee passed legislation that requires school districts to establish parent involvement programs, policies, and committees. Senate Bill 143 also requires the state Department of Education to develop a clearinghouse of parent involvement information. The Committee also passed Senate Bill 145, which increases the reimbursement for school breakfast and lunch programs. Increased reimbursements would cost approximately $4.5 million. Both bills await consideration by the full Senate.

  • The Senate Appropriations Committee moved forward legislation pertaining to technical assistance for school districts in which one or more schools did not meet the state's academic performance targets. Senate Bills 146, 147, and 148 were previously approved by the Education Committee and await further consideration by the full Senate.

  • John Siptroth will become the newest member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. On February 8, the Democrat was elected to fill the 189th House District seat (Monroe and Pike Counties) held previously by Rep. Kelly Lewis who resigned to become President and CEO of the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania.


  • High-performing, high-poverty schools have high expectations, a nurturing atmosphere, an academic focus with instruction tailored to individual student needs, and a careful and intentional teacher recruitment, hiring and placement process, according to a new study from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. The Committee looked at eight high-performing, high-poverty Kentucky elementary schools and identified common characteristics shared by the schools compared to low-performing, high-poverty schools. "Inside the Black Box of High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools" says the successful schools employ curriculum that is better-aligned, engage in ongoing professional development that is connected to student achievement data, and utilize resources and instructional time more efficiently. Read the report at www.prichardcommittee.org/Ford%20Study/FordReportJE.pdf.

  • Almost 40% of recent high school graduates said they were not adequately prepared for the demands of college or work in a survey conducted by Achieve, Inc. College instructors and employers agreed. Postsecondary educators said approximately 42% of their students are not prepared for college-level work, while employers said 39% of recent graduates are not prepared for entry-level jobs. Achieve conducted a survey of 1,487 recent high school graduates, 300 college instructors, and 400 employers. The survey found that students who faced high expectations in high school were more likely to say they felt well-prepared for the expectations of college or the work force, and more than 80% of recent high school graduates said they would have worked harder if their schools had placed greater expectations on them. Read more about what recent students, college instructors, and employers had to say in "Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work?" at www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/pollreport/$file/pollreport.pdf.

  • Next week...EPLC will host two Pennsylvania Education Policy Forums in Harrisburg on Wednesday and in Philadelphia on Thursday. Panelists will discuss the 2005-2006 proposed State Budget. The Institute for Community Leadership in Education (ICLE) - Pittsburgh program site begins its Winter/Spring 2005 session on Wednesday. The House Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on Sallie Mae and PHEAA on Thursday in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Association of Vocational Administrators hosts its annual Symposium on February 17-18 in Hershey. For details, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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