EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, December 11, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State Senate
    - State House
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Research and Reports
    Announcements
    Datebook

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

     

    PENNSYLVANIA POLICYMAKERS

    State Senate

    On December 8, the Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on the state’s education costing-out study which was completed in November, 2007.  The study provides an analysis of the resources necessary to provide every student with an education that will permit them to meet the state’s academic standards.  The information provided by the study was then used in 2008 by the Governor and General Assembly to develop a new school funding formula to provide more adequate and equitable state support for public education.  This formula was also used to distribute K-12 Basic Subsidy funding for the current 2009-2010 fiscal year.

    The Committee met with representatives of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA) – the consulting firm that conducted the 2007 study – to discuss the process and methodology used in their analysis.  Three methods were required in the request for proposals to conduct the study put forth by the State Board of Education in consultation with leaders of all four legislative caucuses.  Click here for opening remarks from State Board of Education member Larry Wittig that address the basis of the study.  Click here for a presentation on the study by APA.  The Committee also heard presentations on the impact of the study from representatives of the Commonwealth Foundation and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC).  Click here for remarks by Nate Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation.  Click here for remarks by Joan Benso of PPC.

    State House

  • On December 9, the House Education Committee held a public hearing on two legislative proposals concerning sex education programsHouse Bill 1162 would require school districts to notify parents if they teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in grades 6 through 12 and provide parents the option to opt-out of all or part of the program.  House Bill 1163 would require school districts to provide comprehensive and age appropriate sex education.  Parents would have the option to excuse their child from all of part of the curriculum.  Under the proposal, the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Health, would develop and maintain a list of sexual health education curricula that would be made available through PDE’s website.

    The Committee received testimony from three panels of experts in comprehensive sex education programs, teen pregnancy prevention and abstinence education.  To read the panelists’ testimony, click here.


  • On December 9, the House Finance Committee approved the following bills:

    House Bill 1598: Amends the definition of “income” under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006 to allow retired federal employees to exclude half of their annuities on the Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms to make it the same as current Social Security recipients.

    House Bill 2066: Establishes a Sales and Use Tax Study Commission to study and analyze the existing sales and use tax law, and to propose recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly for amending the law to: eliminate obsolete and unnecessary provisions, expand the tax base as necessary, ensure a competitive economic market in the Commonwealth, and protect the stability of the Commonwealth’s budget.  The report would be due on or before July 1, 2010.

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    U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    On December 8, the U.S. House Labor and Education Committee held a hearing focused on states’ efforts to improve the nation’s competitiveness by adopting a common core of college and career readiness standards.  Currently, 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA).  For more information on the hearing, click here.

     

    RESEARCH AND REPORTS

    The Alliance for Excellent Education has released a new report on “The Economic Benefits of Reducing High School Dropout Rates in America's Fifty Largest Cities”.  The analysis answers the questions: 1) How much in additional wages would each metro area benefit from if it reduced the number of high school students who fail to graduate with their class by 50 percent; 2) What percentage of these new graduates would continue their education after high school and what percentage would earn bachelor’s degrees; and, 3) How much will annual state and local property, income, and sales tax revenue grow as a result of these new graduates’ higher incomes?

    According to the report, there were 16,419 dropouts in the Philadelphia metro area in the class of 2008.  Reducing the numbers of dropouts in this class by half would garner nearly $125 million in additional wages over the course of an average year and increase state and local tax revenue by nearly $18 million annually.  Click here for the report’s profile on Philadelphia.

    Nationally, there were 599,755 dropouts in the nation’s 50 largest metro areas in 2008.  Cutting this number in half would garner more than $4.1 billion in additional wages over the course of an average year and increase state and local tax revenues by nearly $536 million.  Click here for the combined economic analysis for all 50 cities.

     

    ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Estelle Richman resigned this week as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW), effective December 31, to become the new Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Gov. Ed Rendell has nominated Harriet Dichter to become the new DPW Secretary.  Dichter currently leads the state’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).  Todd Klunk is slated to take over for Dichter as Acting Deputy Secretary of OCDEL.  Klunk currently serves as OCDEL’s Director of Finance and Administration.
  • Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education John Pittenger passed away this week from complications of Parkinson’s disease.  Pittenger served as Education Secretary in the administration of Governor Milton Shapp.  He also served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and later served as dean of Rutgers University Law School.

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    DATEBOOK

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is scheduled to return to session on Monday, December 14.

    The Pennsylvania Senate is scheduled to return to session on Tuesday, December 15.

    The Pennsylvania House has released its session schedule for the beginning of 2010:
    January 5(Non-voting), 25, 26, and 27
    February 8, 9, and 10
    March 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24
    April 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28
    May 3, 4, 5, 24, 25, and 26
    June 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30

    The Pennsylvania Senate has released its session schedule for the beginning of 2010:
    January 5(Non-voting), 25, 26, and 27
    February 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10
    March 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24
    April 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21
    May 3, 4, 5, 24, 25, and 26
    June 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, and 30

    Next week…

  • The House Education Committee meets Tuesday (December 15) to consider House Bill 1944, House Bill 2026 and Senate Bill 441.


  • The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on public pension issues on Wednesday (December 16) in Harrisburg.


  • The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on property tax issues related to the Hazleton Area School District on Thursday (December 17) in McAdoo, PA.


  • 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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