EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, November 17, 2008

    Content in this edition:
    In Memoriam
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    Research and Reports

    The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.



    Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll

    Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll passed away November 13, ending her brief battle against neuroendocrine cancer.  Knoll served two terms as State Treasurer before being elected Pennsylvania’s first female Lieutenant Governor in 2002.  Knoll was 78.  As the state constitution provides, State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) will assume the position of Lieutenant Governor while simultaneously retaining his Senate post.

    John Godlewski

    John Godlewski, a 34-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, passed away on November 12.  Godlewski most recently served as Director of the Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management at PDE.  He was 56.



    EPLC’s annual Pennsylvania Education Finance Symposium takes place this week in the Harrisburg area on Thursday, November 20.  Sessions include:

    • Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Jerry Zahorchak.
    • Review of Pennsylvania and national education finance issues.  Molly Hunter of the Education Law Center in New Jersey, one of the real experts on what is happening around the nation of education funding issues, will be a presenter.
    • Pennsylvania Education Policymakers panel including Ian Rosenblum of the Governor’s Office.
    • Concurrent sessions on Pennsylvania’s New Fiscal Accountability System; Special Ed Funding; Social and Economic Benefits of Public Education; and The Coming Storm: Education Funding in a Weakened Economy.

    For Symposium details and registration information, see www.eplc.org/financesymposium.html.



    The House Education Committee gathered on Thursday for a public hearing on the PA Department of Education’s guidelines for implementing the state’s new teacher training rules.  Changes to state regulations that govern teacher certification (Chapter 49) – approved last year by the State Board of Education – establish new teaching certificates in grades pre-K through 4th and grades 4th-8th, require dual certification for special education teachers, and require all Education majors to receive training in working with special education students and students who are English language learners as part of their undergraduate education.  Some college faculty members contend that the state’s guidelines for revising teacher training programs to comply with the new regulations are too prescriptive and impinge on the autonomy of professors or the institutions.  Click here to read testimony presented to the Committee.

    Representatives of private colleges expressed concern over the ability to integrate new course requirements into a balanced liberal arts education within a four-year program, citing potential increased costs to both universities and students.  While independent college faculty expressed general support for the competencies and standards being emphasized by PDE, they oppose the specificity in the Department’s guidelines for implementation.  Faculty members also raised concerns that the new certificates could eventually reduce the number of available middle school and special education teachers.  Finally, concerns were expressed over a state-developed matrix to document the qualifications of teacher education faculty.

    However, the Executive Vice Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) said PASSHE’s 14 universities are well on track to complying with the new guidelines and said many of the changes are long overdue given the realities of our classrooms.  Representatives of the state’s community colleges and early childhood teacher educators also spoke in support of the guidelines and urged continued support for a provision that requires transfer and articulation agreements between 2-year and 4-year institutions, which is opposed by some private colleges.

    Kate Shaw, PDE Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education, said the guidelines were developed with extensive input from the field and offer clarity about the state’s expectations for teacher preparation that has not previously existed.  Shaw acknowledged the challenges facing the state’s diverse higher education community, but said the guidelines provide flexibility for institutions in meeting the Department’s standards and PDE stands ready to provide technical assistance in meeting each institution’s individual needs.  Recognizing the tight timeline for change, Shaw announced that colleges and universities may apply for a 6-month extension of the deadline by which students must graduate under the new certificates.  Applications for the extension are due by December 31, 2008.



    The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) recently identified a set of policy recommendations for middle grade reforms to better prepare students for academic success in high school.  The NASBE proposals are intended to address what they refer to as the “benign neglect” by educators and the public to place greater emphasis and attention on these significant years – grades 6, 7 and 8.   According the NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn,  "Whether students later thrive or falter in high school is largely determined at this time, making improvements in these areas critical if we are to increase high school achievement overall.”  The full report and recommendations, “Beginning in the Middle: Critical Steps in Secondary School Reform”, is available from NASBE for $14 by calling (800) 220-5183 or via the Internet at www.nasbe.org.



  • Former State Representative Steve Stetler (D-York) will replace Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, who announced his resignation earlier this week.  Stetler, who currently heads the Pennsylvania Economy League, spent 12 years working in the Revenue Department prior to his 16-year career in the State House.  Wolf is scheduled to step down on November 30.  There is speculation that Wolf is considering a run for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2010.

  • This week, as the nation honors its military veterans, the American Council on Education has announced a broad based initiative – Serving Those Who Serve: Higher Education and America’s Veterans.  This project was established to promote access to and success in higher education for more than 2 million service members and their families who are eligible for newly expanded benefits under the Post- 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.  The program will assist colleges and universities in building capacity to serve veterans.  Competitive grants to veteran friendly institutions, a college planning website and an outreach campaign to inform veterans about these new GI Bill benefits will be part of this effort.



    This week…

  • November 16-22 is American Education Week

  • The Public Education Network hosts its annual conference on November 16-18 in San Francisco.

  • The Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic hosts an English Language Learners Practice Guide Forum on “Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice” in Mechanicsburg, PA on Monday.

  • “Comprehensive Educational Equity: Overcoming the Socioeconomic Barriers to School Success”, the 4th Annual Equity Symposium at Teachers College, takes place November 17-18 in New York City.

  • The House Education Committee Subcommittee on Special Education holds a public hearing on special education funding in Pennsylvania on Tuesday in Harrisburg.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

  • EPLC hosts the Pennsylvania Education Finance Symposium on Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

    EPLC Education Notebook is published by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Permission to reprint or electronically redistribute the Notebook in whole or in part is granted provided attribution to EPLC is provided.

    The Education Policy and Leadership Center is an independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit organization. The Mission of EPLC is to encourage and support the enactment and implementation of effective state-level education policies in order to improve student learning in grades P-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.

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