EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, September 20, 2004

  • On September 16, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education approved an alternative method through which certain already-certified teachers can achieve "highly qualified" status required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NCLB requires all teachers to be highly qualified in the subjects they teach by the end of the 2005-06 school year. Middle school teachers and secondary special education, English as a Second Language, and alternative education teachers who do not hold certificates in the core academic subjects they teach may apply for a "bridge certificate" from the Department of Education that will allow them to work toward subject-area certification. In addition to the bridge certificate, these teachers may achieve highly qualified status by passing a Praxis subject-matter exam or going back to college. Bridge holders have three years to earn a subject-area certificate by accumulating 30 points; points are awarded for a variety of activities including satisfactory teaching, professional development (programs must be related to the subject area in which certification is being sought), tutoring in the subject area, and publication in an academic journal.

  • Collection of local earned income taxes should be consolidated under the state Department of Revenue in order to create a more efficient tax collection system, according to a report released by the Governor's Center for Local Government Services. The report says the current system is fragmented and that interpretation of the tax code varies among the state's 560 tax collectors, leading to inefficiencies and costly redundancies. The state could collect the EIT for approximately $17 million, about $34 million less that the current local system. Pennsylvania has 2,900 local taxing jurisdictions, more than all other states combined. Read the full report at www.inventpa.com.

  • Pennsylvania gets a B- for preparing students for college, but has a poor record of 11th and 12th graders taking and scoring well on Advanced Placement exams. Also, Pennsylvania (like most states) gets an F grade for failing to provide students with affordable higher education opportunities, even with the state's large need-based financial aid programs, according to "Measuring Up 2004," a report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The report grades states in six categories: preparation, participation, affordability, completion, benefits, and learning. According to the report, the share of family income needed to pay for college has grown over the past decade; today, Pennsylvania's low and middle-income families would need 52% of family annual income to cover the net costs of a public 4-year college or university. While the state's higher education "participation" rate is relatively good (a B grade), "the college participation gap between young adults from high-income and those from low-income families has also widened. Young adults from high-income families are almost three times as likely as those from low-income families to attend college." Read the full report at www.highereducation.org.

  • This week...On Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum in Harrisburg, James Nevels, Chair of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, will address "Progress and Issues for the Philadelphia School District." The House Finance Committee will hold two public hearings in Harrisburg on Tuesday and Wednesday on the Commonwealth Caucus' tax reform proposal. The House Education Committee will meet in Philadelphia on Tuesday to discuss the use of part-time faculty at PA colleges and universities. The House Republican Policy Committee will hold a special hearing on the effects of impact fees in Jamison (Bucks County) on Tuesday. The House Judiciary Committee will meet in Pittsburgh on Thursday to discuss reporting of higher education crime statistics. The Capitol Complex in Harrisburg is closed on Monday due to the flood conditions. This may affect some legislative committee activities scheduled for later this week.

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