EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, September 26, 2008

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    -  State House
    -  State Senate
    Early Childhood Panels

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

    REMINDER:  The deadline for voter registration or change of address to participate in the November 4 Election is October 6.  Information about registering to vote is available at www.votespa.com.



    State House

  • The House approved the following legislation this week:

    House Bill 923: Establishes the Beginning Educator Support and Training (BEST) Program.  HB 923 requires new teachers employed in an eligible school district to participate in this two-year induction program (eligible school districts are districts with a high teacher turnover rate for first and second-year teachers, that are economically disadvantaged as determined by the Secretary of Education, and that are selected to participate by PDE).

    HB 923 requires PDE to adopt and implement criteria and standards for participation in the program, including criteria for eligibility of educators and standards for local program quality and intensity.  The BEST program must support locally designed, high-quality induction programs that provide intensive, mentor-based individualized support for each participant and a performance-based assessment.  PDE also must provide for the development and administration of a system to ensure the quality and effectiveness of local teacher induction programs.  Finally, the Department must conduct and track research related to best practices for teacher induction and professional development.

    An eligible district or consortium of eligible districts may apply for funding to establish a local teacher induction program.  A district would receive up to $1,500 for each new teacher who participates in the program.  Funding for an educator with a level I certificate is limited to two years or until the educator has completed the program, whichever occurs first.  Finally, no more than 10% of the amount appropriated can be granted to any single eligible school district.

    HB 923 awaits referral to a Senate Committee.

    House Bill 2466: Provides for drop-out prevention and data collection programs within the Department of Education.  PDE would be responsible for creating a statewide definition of dropout (if none is provided by federal law) and reporting graduation rates, drop-out rates and graduation-gap rates for all school entities and charter schools.  Data must be uniformly reported and disaggregated by: limited English proficiency, low income, special education, gifted education, race/ethnicity, school entity, charter or cyber charter school, gender and geographic area.

    In addition, PDE also would be charged with: increasing coordination and collaboration among communities, school entities, business, higher education institutions and others to help lower the drop-out rate; increasing efforts to re-engage youth who have previously dropped out; providing technical assistance to school districts in developing drop-out prevention plans; and serving as a resource for schools and community partners aimed at establishing and maintaining drop-out recovery programs.  HB 2466 also provides for grant funding to support drop-out prevention programs and drop-out recovery programs.  The bill awaits referral to a Senate Committee.

  • This week, the House Education and Appropriations Committees each gave their approval to House House Bill 2518, which would authorize the Commonwealth to join the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children for the purpose of easing school transitions for military families.  The Appropriations Committee amended the bill so it would take effect on July 1, 2009.  HB 2518 now awaits further consideration by the full House.

  • The House Education Committee this week adopted the following legislation (all three bills have been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee):

  • Senate Bill 219: Requires the Department of Education to prescribe a method for teacher applicants to submit a set of fingerprints to the FBI for federal criminal history record information as required by federal law.  The bill also amends the section relating to disqualifications for teacher certification.  SB 219 would add certified registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of professionals who can certify that an applicant for a teaching job is neither mentally nor physically by reason of a communicable disease or mental disorder able to perform their job-related duties.

    House Bill 153: Creates the Veteran’s Tuition Rate Act.  Veterans admitted to public institutions of higher education, who meet certain eligibility criteria, would be charged a tuition rate no greater than in-state residents.  Under the proposal, a veteran student would have to be eligible for federal post-9/11 education assistance, remain domiciled in the state during the course of study and accept a community service position or internship approved by the chief administrator of the institution.

    Senate Bill 731: Requires school entities to amend their policies that allow students to possess and self-administer allergy medicines to include epinephrine auto injectors.  The updated policy must be distributed with the student code of conduct and made available online.  Any student who wants to possess and self-administer an epinephrine auto injector in school must demonstrate the capability for self-administration.  The policy also must specify conditions under which a student may lose the privilege to carry the epi-pen if school policies are abused or ignored.  The school also may require an updated prescription and parental approval on an annual basis.  The legislation grants school districts the authority to prevent a student under the age of 11 from carrying an epi-pen.  The bill includes language that protects school entities and employees from civil liability.

    State Senate

  • The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted a resolution this week (Senate Resolution 309) that directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a fiscal impact study on the pension and postretirement health benefits of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System.

  • This week the Senate Education Committee reported as amended Senate Bill 739, which would allow community colleges, state-related or state-owned institutions of higher education to charge resident tuition rates to any active military personnel, their spouses or dependents who are taking college courses or receiving other education services through the Internet or by electronic means.  SB 739 awaits further consideration by the full Senate.



    Individuals interested in serving on two new panels created by Governor Ed Rendell to address early childhood education - the Early Learning Council and the Early Learning Investment Commission - should contact Harriet Dichter, Deputy Secretary, Office of Child Development and Early Learning at Hdichter@state.pa.us.


    Next week…

  • The Pennsylvania House and Senate will be out of session next week and will return to Harrisburg on October 6.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education holds a public roundtable discussion on Chapter 33 (College and University Security) and Chapter 34 (Branch Campuses for State Supported Institutions) on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

  • The House Education Committee Subcommittee on Special Education holds a public hearing on House Bill 2536 (due process) and House Bill 2438 (returning the burden of proof to school districts) on Thursday in West Chester.

  • EPLC hosts a Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

  • 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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