EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, January 9, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania General Assembly
    Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
    Pennsylvania Auditor General
    Pennsylvania Bulletin
    U.S. Department of Education
    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.



    EPLC will sponsor a series of regional full-day workshops for 2009 School Board Candidates.  Workshops will be held in the Philadelphia region (Saturday, February 7), Pittsburgh region (Saturday, February 14), Harrisburg region (Saturday, February 21) and the Lehigh Valley (Saturday, March 7).  Conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, the Workshops are intended for those considering a run for school board (incumbents and non-incumbents), anyone interested in helping others run for school board, or those who just want to know more about the work of school boards and school directors.  Click here for details and to register online.



  • Representative Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) has been selected Minority Chair of the House Education Committee.  Clymer succeeds Rep. Jess Stairs as Republican Chair.  Stairs retired from the legislature in November.  Rep. James Roebuck (D-Phila.) will continue in his role as Majority Chair of the House Education Committee.  The House has not yet announced which members will serve on the Committee for the 2009-2010 session.

  • The Pennsylvania Senate has announced its legislative committee assignments for the 2009-2010 session.  The following members will serve on the Senate Education Committee: Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-15; Majority Chair), Sen. Patrick Browne (R-16; Vice Chair); Sen. Joseph Scarnati (R-25; ex-officio); Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48), Sen. John Pippy (R-37), Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-6), Sen. Mary Jo White (R-21), Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19; Minority Chair), Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1), Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-7), and Sen. Raphael Musto (D-14).

  • Dave Transue has been appointed Executive Director of the Senate Education Committee by new Committee Chair Sen. Jeff Piccola.  Transue, who currently represents the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, has prior legislative experience as Piccola’s former Chief of Staff and as Executive Director of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.  He also served as Deputy Director of Government Affairs under Governor Tom Ridge and has represented the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities.

  • The executive directors for the Senate Democratic education committee members and the House Republican committee members are still to be named.



    The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue reported that the state collected $2.1 billion in General Fund revenue in December 2008, 6.9 percent ($156.6 million) less than expected.  Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $11.2 billion, 6.8 percent below estimate ($814.5 million).



    An Auditor General’s report of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Classrooms for the Future Initiative shows that state funds are being well spent to bring cutting-edge yet cost effective technology to high school students across the Commonwealth.  The audit found that the Department’s use of a comprehensive application process ensured that the funds were appropriated responsibly, but made several recommendations to remedy concerns about public disclosure and equipment security.  In addition, the AG’s report commended the initiative for generating greater enthusiasm for learning at the high school level and recommended continued funding in 2009-2010 in order to implement the program fully and reach all districts that want to participate.



    A revision to Chapter 14 (Special Education) regulations regarding disciplinary placements took effect with its publication in the January 3 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  On December 18th, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the change to align Chapter 14 with the Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Citizens (PARC) Consent Decree by correcting an overly broad reference to federal regulation.  The regulation does not change existing reporting, record keeping or other paperwork requirements.



    The U.S. Department of Education recently released non-regulatory guidance to assist states and local educational agencies (LEAs) with implementing new requirements that require uniform reporting of high school graduation rates.  The final NCLB regulations, published in October 2008, require states and LEAs to report on their annual report cards a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, disaggregated by subgroups, at the school, LEA and state levels.  The uniform reporting requirement will begin with the reports that include information from state assessments administered during the 2010-2011 school year.  This information will be made available to the public, allowing educators and parents to compare how students of every race, background and income level are performing.



  • Education Week this week released its annual report card, Quality Counts 2009, which provides a state-by-state analysis of key indicators of student success.  For the first time, this year’s report focuses on English-language learners.  So, how did Pennsylvania do?  According to Quality Counts 2009, the state received an overall grade of B-.  In the category of Chance-for-Success, which takes into account family income, parental education and employment, Pennsylvania scored a B.  The Commonwealth earned a B- in both the Transition and Alignment and School Finance categories.  Transition and Alignment judges states using 14 indicators in the areas of early childhood education, college readiness and the economy and workforce.  School Finance analyzes spending patterns and how equitably funding is distributed among the school districts within each state.

  • The National Governors Association along with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, Inc. convened national, state and local education and policy leaders to serve on an International Benchmarking Advisory Group.  In late December, the Advisory Group released its report, “Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-class Education”, which identifies five actions states must take to ensure that American workers have the knowledge, skills and talents to compete internationally.  In addition to the recommendations for states, the report reaffirms the critical partnership between the federal government and states to meet these goals.  It identifies the need for the federal government to provide adequate funding to support state costs, invest in research and development and streamline assessment strategies so that international comparisons of student performance can be made in a cost-effective manner.



    Next week…

  • The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors meets January 14-15 in Harrisburg.

  • The Learning Policy Center at the University of Pittsburgh hosts a colloquium with Kati Haycock, President of the Education Trust, on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

  • 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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