EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, December 8, 2006

    EPLC News

  • EPLC's annually updated Pennsylvania Education Finance Primer is now available. The Primer explains how Pennsylvania funds its public school system, providing historical background and briefly describing each of the major sources of funding. This resource tool is designed to provide useful information to policymakers and others about Pennsylvania's complex $19.6 billion funding.

    The November 2006 edition includes an update on the 2006-2007 state education budget enacted this past summer and also reviews the new property tax relief legislation - Special Session Act 1 of 2006. The Primer also reports on new education costing-out research underway in Pennsylvania, as well as policy considerations for the next legislative session. The Pennsylvania Education Finance Primer is available for either individual or bulk purchase. Click here for an order form.

  • The Education Policy and Leadership Center, Good Schools Pennsylvania and the Education Law Center jointly will hold a media briefing Tuesday, December 12 on education funding issues, including the pending statewide costing-out study mandated by the legislature in Act 114 of 2006. Members of the media are invited to join us for a briefing on Pennsylvania's current school finance system, the origins of Pennsylvania's costing-out study, and a review of how costing-out studies and independent commissions have been used in other states to improve public education. There will be two briefing opportunities. An in-person briefing will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the EPLC offices in Harrisburg, 800 N. Third Street, 5th floor conference room. A statewide conference call for reporters and editorial writers will be held from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.; to register for the conference call, contact erin@goodschoolspa.org. For more information about the event, contact Janis Risch at (215) 332-2700.

  • Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • On Wednesday, the State Board of Education held an invitational roundtable to solicit public comment on revisions to the state's special education and gifted education regulations. For more information, contact the State Board at (717) 787-3787.

  • Following last week's count of absentee ballots in the 156th House District race which tipped the balance of power in the State House to Democrats by 102-101, House Democrats gathered on Tuesday for a second round of caucus leadership elections. Rep. William DeWeese was selected as the caucus' nominee for Speaker of the House, a position the caucus did not think it would be holding when it held its initial leadership elections. Previously, the Republican caucus selected Rep. John Perzel as its nominee for Speaker when it looked like it would remain the majority party. The GOP has petitioned for a recount of ballots in the 156th District in which the Democratic candidate currently leads by 23 votes.

    The House Speaker will be elected by the full House when the new legislative session convenes in January. Rumors still fly that one or more members of the House may switch party affiliation before the election occurs. Stay tuned...

  • Research and Reports

    High School Dropout

  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) this week issued a report on "Dropout Rates in the United States: 2004". According to NCES, almost 5 out of every 100 students dropped out of high school in 2004 and, despite some year-to-year fluctuations, there has been no real change in dropout rates since 1990 (based on the number of students who left high school between the beginning of one school year and the beginning of the next without earning a high school diploma or its equivalent). In 2004, there was no measurable difference in the dropout rate for males and females; Hispanic students were the most likely to drop out, followed by African American and Caucasian students. Additionally, the dropout rate for students from low-income families was almost four times higher than that of students from high-income families. NCES calculates graduation and dropout rates using three additional measures (status dropout rate, status completion rate and averaged freshman graduation rate) to provide a more complete picture of the issue. Access the report at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007024.

  • The National Education Association (NEA) has issued a 12-point action plan to reduce the national high school dropout rate. The plan recognizes that the dropout crisis cannot be overcome through singularly-focused approaches. Rather, combating the growing high school dropout rate requires joint efforts by parents, educators, business leaders and lawmakers. Studies indicate that high school dropouts earn about $260,000 less over their lifetime than those who earn a diploma. The NEA action plan to stem dropout rates includes mandatory graduation or equivalency for everyone under the age of 21; early intervention through high-quality and universal preschool and full-day kindergarten programs; and improved educator training to prevent dropout. Read the full recommendations for action at www.nea.org/presscenter/actionplan.html.

  • Datebook

  • Next Week...The State Board of Education hosts two public roundtables on the state's special education regulations in Pittsburgh on Monday and in Harrisburg on Wednesday. EPLC, ELC and GSPA host a media briefing on education funding issues on Tuesday in Harrisburg. The Task Force on School Cost Reduction meets Wednesday in Harrisburg. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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