EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, November 11, 2005

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

    House Actions

  • The House Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom held two days of public hearings in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday. The Select Committee was established by House Resolution 177 of 2005, which directs the body to investigate "the academic atmosphere and the degree to which faculty have the opportunity to instruct and students have the opportunity to learn in an environment conducive to the pursuit of knowledge and truth and the expression of independent thought" at state-supported colleges and universities. For more information about the hearings, contact the office of Committee Chair Thomas Stevenson at (717) 787-2047.

  • The House Consumer Affairs Committee held an informational meeting on the student loan application process on Wednesday. For more information, contact the office of Committee Chair Robert Flick at (717) 787-8597.

  • Other Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • Governor Rendell recently announced a number of initiatives aimed at assisting school districts with construction and renovation projects. The new Early Childhood Capital Investment Fund will provide small, low-interest loans to school districts to configure space to offer pre-K, full-day kindergarten or reduced class size. Loans from the $5 million revolving fund may be used for construction, renovation, or to purchase equipment and furniture. For early childhood construction loan guidelines, see www.pde.state.pa.us/early_childhood/cwp/view.asp?Q=115615&A=179. A loan application is available through the eGrants system at http://egrants.ed.state.pa.us/v2/default.asp.

    The Governor also announced the Pennsylvania High-Performance Green Schools Planning Grants program, which "will help defray costs which are not typically included in the design fee but which are critical to the design of a high-performance building." For details on how the $200,000 annual fund will be made available to school districts, see www.gggc.state.pa.us/gggc/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=153779. Grants will be funded by the Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority. The Governor also has directed the Authority "to invest $6.5 million in loans, grants, and program upgrades to help public schools provide the best possible facilities and save taxpayers money."

    Finally, the Governor announced an online School Design Clearinghouse that will be available on November 21. The Clearinghouse was established through legislation signed into law this summer (Act 46 of 2005). Architectural designs available on the clearinghouse will meet or exceed state standards for cost-efficiency, education, health and safety. Districts that choose to use a design from the web clearinghouse will receive a 10-percent increase in their state construction reimbursement.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education held a public roundtable discussion and public hearing on Monday in Allentown to discuss two issues - proposed changes to the regulations that govern teacher certification (Chapter 49) and proposed new regulations governing early childhood education that would affect Chapters 4, 11 and 12. Details about the proposed regulations are available at www.pde.state.pa.us/stateboard_ed/site/default.asp?g=0&pde_internetNav=|. Additionally, proposed changes to Chapter 49 were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on October 29 and will undergo a 30-day public comment period from the date of publication. Both the proposed changes to Chapter 49 and information on how to submit comments on the proposal are available at www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol35/35-44/1983.html.

  • The Governor's Commission on Training America's Teachers held a regional meeting in the Philadelphia area on Tuesday and met in Harrisburg on Friday, November 11. For more information about the Commission, see www.pateach.org.

  • All legislation from the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including bills cited in this Notebook, can be found at www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm.

    Research and Reports

  • The Pennsylvania School Boards Association has released Standards for Effective School Governance and a revised Code of Conduct for school board members. The Association is encouraging school boards to adopt and adhere to the voluntary standards and code of conduct as guiding principles "important to maintaining an efficient and respected board that is committed to student excellence." Access the documents at www.psba.org/psba/boardstandardsandcode.asp.

  • IssuesPA looks at "Higher Education Financing in Pennsylvania: How Does the State Measure Up?" in a recent policy brief, available at www.issuespa.net/articles/14728/. In a separate brief, IssuesPA looks at how well Pennsylvanians use the state's higher education system at www.issuespa.net/articles/14729/.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics recently released the following reports:

    An Examination of the Conditions of School Facilities Attended by 10th-Grade Students in 2002 at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006302

    Fourth-Grade Students Reading Aloud: NAEP 2002 Special Study of Oral Reading at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/studies/2006469.asp

    The Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate for Public High Schools from the Common Core of Data: School Years 2001-02 and 2002-03 at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006601

  • Other

  • Next week...SPECIAL SESSION COMMITTEE MEETINGS: The House Special Session Subcommittee on Local Control Initiatives meets Monday (November 14) in Harrisburg. The House Special Session Subcommittee on Property Tax Reform meets Monday in Harrisburg. Three Special Session House Subcommittees meet on Wednesday in Harrisburg - Subcommittees on Local Control Initiatives, Income Tax Initiatives, and Alternative Revenue Sources. The House Special Session Subcommittee on Sales Tax Initiatives meets Thursday in Harrisburg.

    OTHER EVENTS: EPLC hosts an Education Finance Symposium on Monday and Tuesday. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets in Harrisburg on Wednesday and Thursday. EPLC hosts a Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum - Western Pennsylvania Breakfast Series in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, will be the guest speaker. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association, in association with the legislative Local Tax Policy Caucus, hosts two public meetings on property tax reform on Thursday in Levittown and Williamsport. The Governor's Commission on Training America's Teachers holds a regional meeting in the Pittsburgh area on Friday. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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