EPLC Education Notebook
Monday, June 22, 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.
PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL FUNDING CAMPAIGN
The state Senate’s 2009-10 budget bill (Senate Bill 850) takes Pennsylvania in the wrong direction and puts the state’s economic recovery and future economic competitiveness in jeopardy. While the bill was defeated in the House Appropriations Committee, proponents of the legislation continue to defend the legislation’s education cuts. Take action today. Contact your local legislators to let them know you want the state to maintain its support of public schools and use federal stimulus funds to provide increased funding.
Senate Bill 850 would use state and federal stimulus dollars to fund next year’s basic education subsidy only at current year levels – an amount $711.4 million less than that proposed by the Governor. And they would abandon Pennsylvania’s six-year plan to fix the inequity and inadequacy of the current method by which schools are funded.
For more information on the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, please visit www.paschoolfunding.org.
Gov. Ed Rendell last week proposed a temporary state income tax increase of one-half percent that would set the rate at 3.57 percent and return it to the current 3.07 percent after three years. Rendell said despite already making $2 billion in cuts, the increase is necessary to balance the state’s $3.2 billion budget deficit and protect critical services for children and families. The proposed increase would cost the average Pennsylvania family less than $5 per week and raise approximately $1.5 billion per year in new revenue. In addition to hundreds of program cuts and eliminations, Rendell previously proposed also taxing smokeless tobacco and cigars, increasing the cigarette tax, placing a levy on natural gas extraction, and tapping the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Click here for a video of Governor Rendell discussing the need for new revenue and making strategic investments in education. Click here to read a statement from the Governor.
Last Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the following bills:
Senate Bill 55: Expands the list of criminal offenses that would prohibit a person from being employed in public or private schools. The bill creates a tiered system for certain offenses ranging from a three to ten year waiting period before a person could be employed by a school. SB 55 would authorize school districts, at their own cost, to request a state and federal background check when they have a reasonable belief that an employee has been arrested or convicted of a crime. This proposal also would require school employees to report convictions to their school’s administrator. Under the bill, an employee’s failure to report a conviction would result in termination from employment and a fine of up to $2,500. SB 55 awaits further consideration by the full Senate.
The amended bill also removes certain offenses (simple assault, terroristic threats and indecent exposure) from the list of crimes that must be reported by a chief school administrator and adds those to list of offenses that an administrator may report. Under the proposal, charter schools would be required to report incidents of school violence in the same manner as other school entities. The bill requires school districts to enter into an MOU with police departments that have jurisdiction over school property. The MOU must contain certain conditions, including immediate notification of police, emergency plans, and a data review process. The bill references current federal law that pertains to reporting requirements for crimes committed by a student with a disability. SB 56 also allows PDE to take disciplinary action against any chief school administrator or principal who intentionally fails to submit the report, enter into MOU, or report an incident. In addition to possible disciplinary action imposed by the Professional Standards and Practices Commission, administrators could be subject to criminal prosecution and possible civil penalties ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. SB 56 awaits further consideration by the full Senate.
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Last week, Governor Rendell announced a plan to attract mid-career professions with expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to the teaching profession by creating a streamlined process to earn a “residency” teaching certificate. The initiative is designed to help address a projected national shortfall of 280,000 teachers in the math and sciences by 2015. The proposal is in response to President Obama’s call for state innovation to address math and science education. Click here for details on eligibility for a residency certificate and requirements for obtaining such a certificate.
RESEARCH AND REPORTS
The Center on Education Policy (CEP) released the first in a series of reports examining student performance on state reading and math tests from 2002 (year No Child Left Behind took effect) through 2008. The 50-state study provides data on student performance at the proficient achievement level, and, for the first time, includes information about student performance at the advanced and basic levels. According to the findings, “even though NCLB creates incentives for schools to focus on ensuring students reach the proficient level, states posted gains at the advanced and basic and above levels as well. More gains have been made in math than in reading.” The report also notes that while there has been some improvement in high school achievement, it still lags behind elementary and middle school achievement.
Applications are available now for the 2009-2010 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 225 graduates in its first ten years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders. Act 48 credits are available to individuals holding Pennsylvania teaching or administrative certificates, and State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 10-11, 2009 and continues through June 2010.
Applications are being accepted now. Click on http://www.eplc.org/fellows.html for complete details.
Since space is limited to approximately 30 positions, it is advisable to submit an application as soon as possible. The application may be downloaded online, but must be submitted by mail with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.