EPLC Education Notebook
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Content in this edition:
The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.
Governor Ed Rendell last week authorized funding for state-related universities, which had continued to be held up as part of the protracted state budget debate. Rendell signed legislation appropriating a total of $657 million in state dollars plus $31 million in federal stimulus dollars to support the universities in FY 2009-10. Among the state-related schools, Penn State University will receive $333 million ($318 million in state dollars & $15.8 million in federal stimulus dollars); the University of Pittsburgh will receive $168 million ($160.5 million state & $7.5 million stimulus); Temple University will receive $172.7 million ($165 million state & $7.8 million stimulus); and, Lincoln University will receive $13.8 million ($13.6 million state & $159,000 stimulus).
But legislative action on state budget issues for 2009-2010 is still not complete. Rendell also signed funding legislation for a number of other colleges and medical centers that are typically funded through non-preferred appropriation bills, however he reduced funding for these institutions by about half (except for the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary school) because legislation to authorize table games at state casinos has not been finalized. Debate on table games is slated to resume on January 5. Legislation providing funding for several museums still awaits legislative approval. Click here for a list of the non-preferred appropriations and veto amounts approved by Rendell.
Senate Bill 1011: Creates a residency teaching certificate to allow uncertified professionals to teach in subject areas where there are statewide or regional shortages of qualified teachers and work toward earning their teaching certificate while actively employed as a teacher. To qualify for a residency teaching certificate, an individual must hold a doctoral degree in the subject area of shortage, hold a master’s degree plus two years work experience in the area of shortage, or hold a bachelor’s degree plus five years work experience in the area of shortage. Further, the individual must be continuously enrolled in an approved residency program and must present evidence of satisfactory achievement on the appropriate subject area content test. A residency certificate would be valid for three years. The Secretary of Education would be responsible for developing guidelines to address pre-placement instruction and training, oversight and mentoring, classroom observation and professional development. A residency certificate may be converted to an Instructional I teaching certificate upon the completion of all state residency requirements and the completion of three years of satisfactory teaching in Pennsylvania public schools.
Senate Bill 1073: Requires PDE to establish the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program as a competitive grant program for eligible students. SB 1073 directs PDE to develop guidelines for Pre-K Counts providers to engage in outreach and coordination with Head Start, Child Care Works and other child care programs regarding student eligibility requirements for Pre-K Counts and the number and availability of openings for children on the waiting lists of these other programs. In awarding Pre-K Counts grants funds, higher priority would be given to programs serving students who were or are on Head Start or Child Care Counts waiting lists. In disbursing grants funds among that high priority group, consideration would be given to providers that received funds and successfully implemented programs in the preceding year, as well as to ensure that funds are geographically dispersed throughout the state. Additionally, the bill requires residency and income verification of program applicants and allows PDE or the Auditor General to conduct audits and reviews of the grant programs as necessary or appropriate. Copies of the audit reports or reviews must be made available to the chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees. The bill was amended to require the Legislative and Budget Finance Committee to conduct a study on the appropriateness and efficacy of Pre-K Counts’ fees or co-payments; the study must be completed by September 30, 2010.
Senate Bill 1086: Ends partisan school board elections. SB 1086 would eliminate school board primaries in the May municipal elections and have school directors elected at the November municipal election, beginning in 2011. Further, candidates for school director would not have to list or disclose their political party affiliation. The bill delineates the minimum number of qualified elector signatures that a school board candidate must collect to get on the ballot; this number would vary based on school district size.
Senate Bill 1135: Requires the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), with the approval of its Oversight Committee, to adopt and adhere to a records access policy consistence with the state’s “Right-to-Know-Law” of February 14, 2008. SB 1135 exempts the PIAA from the state’s “Right- to- Know Law” for five years, after which the Oversight Committee must recommend to the General Assembly whether or not to extend the exemption for an additional five years.
In addition to the above referenced bills, members of the Senate Education Committee received a briefing on House Resolution 424, which designates Valley Forge Military College as the Official Military College of Pennsylvania and establishes the Valley Forge Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative Program, which allows each member of the House and Senate to establish a local committee to select an appointee to the program. The bill requires the House and Senate Committees on Ethics and Official Conduct to develop guidelines to govern local selection committees. The House adopted HR 424 on September 30, 2009.
On December 15, the House Education Committee approved the following measures (each bill has been re-committed to the House Appropriations Committee):
House Bill 1944: Prohibits home addresses of employees of school entities (school districts, intermediate units, area vocational-technical schools, charter schools, cyber charter schools, community colleges, the State System of Higher Education and any school funded and administered by the Department of Education) from being considered public records under the state’s “Right to Know Law.
House Bill 2026: Requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education to create a model dating violence policy to assist school districts in developing policies for date violence reporting and response. Additionally, districts would be required to make date violence education part of the health curriculum (grades 7-12), publish date violence policies in student conduct handbooks and provide training to appropriate school personnel.
Senate Bill 441: Allows a certified registered nurse practitioner or a licensed or certified physician assistant to perform the physical exam necessary to receive a teaching certificate. SB 441 also updates the criteria that disqualify an individual from receiving a teaching certificate to include the illegal use of alcohol or controlled substances. Individuals disqualified for this reason may receive a teaching certificate if, upon review by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, they are determined to be of good moral character.
RESEARCH AND REPORTS
Public Agenda recently released the first in a series of reports that examines (from a student perspective) viewpoints on higher education and college completion. Using results from a national survey of young adults ages 22-30, the report dispels common myths about why students drop out of college and what policymakers, higher education and business can do to help students stay in school. According to the findings, half of the students that leave college do so because they are often going it alone financially and eventually the stress of being a student and working takes its toll. The report also found that among students who don’t graduate, the college selection process is far more limited and often seems happenstance and uniformed. Finally, the survey revealed that while students recognize a college degree as an asset, they may not fully recognize the impact that dropping out will have on their future. For more information, read “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them.”
The Pennsylvania House has released its session schedule for the beginning of 2010:
The Pennsylvania Senate has released its session schedule for the beginning of 2010:
Is your organization hosting an upcoming education policy event? Submit event information to firstname.lastname@example.org for publication in the EPLC Education Notebook and on EPLC’s web site calendar.