EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, May 18, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - PA Department of Education
    - State Senate
    - State House
    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.

    Please remember to vote.  Tuesday, May 19 is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania. Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.  More than 2,000 school board positions are on the ballot with elections in every school district except Philadelphia.



    Pennsylvania Department of Education

    The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced a three-year transition plan for the Scranton State School for the Deaf (SSSD).  As part of his 2009-2010 budget proposal earlier this year, the Governor announced that the state would no longer run the SSSD.  Under the transition agreement, the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) will take over and continue the existing day and residential programs for deaf and hard of hearing students through the 2009-2010 school year.  The transition plan calls for establishing a permanent day program in 2010-2011 for elementary and middle school students, while continuing to enroll new students in the day program.  The residential program will be phased-out over the next three years.  The employees of the SSSD will receive information on benefits and placement services.  The WPSD will consider and interview current SSSD employees who are qualified and apply for positions with the WPSD in Scranton. 

    State Senate

    The Senate Education Committee met in Lebanon on Wednesday for a public hearing on alternative education funding and standards.  For more information, contact the office of Committee Chairman Jeff Piccola at (717) 896-7714.

    State House

  • The House Education Committee approved the following legislation last week:

    House Bill 1304: Requires the Office of Safe Schools within PDE to develop anonymous telephone hotlines for use by students, parents, teachers, school employees and members of the community to report potential or actual acts of violence or possession of weapons on school property.

    House Bill 1121: Requires the State Board of Education to develop World Language standards for elementary and secondary curricula.

    House Bill 1274: Makes costs related to an increase in the school district's portion of the maintenance of a community college of which the district is a local sponsor an exception to the public referendum provisions under Act 1 of 2006 (Taxpayer Relief Act).

  • The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee last week approved House Bill 592, which extends educational leaves of absence to spouses of members of the Pennsylvania National Guard or other reserve components of the U.S. armed forces who are called to active duty.  Under current law, institutions of higher education are required to grant an educational leave of absence to members of the PA National Guard or reservists called to active duty.  Upon release from military duty, guard members are restored to the academic status they had attained before their call to duty.

  • The House Gaming and Oversight Committee held its third public hearing on the Governor’s tuition relief plan (House Bill 1317) last week at Kutztown University.  This legislation would legalize video lottery machines in bars, restaurants and private clubs and use those revenues generated by the machines to support the Governor’s proposed tuition relief plan.  The committee heard from representatives of PDE; the PA State Police; Dr. John Cavanaugh, Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; Dr. Arthur Scott, President, Northampton Community College; and parents.  For more information, contact the House Gaming and Oversight Committee at (717) 783-3290.



    The Brookings Institute recently released a new report titled “Transforming America’s Community Colleges: A Federal Policy Proposal to Expand Opportunity and Promote Economic Prosperity”.  The study identifies the challenges and limitations in transforming and preparing community colleges for the 21st century.  The report makes several recommendations about the federal government’s role in supporting community colleges.  According to the recommendations, the federal government should:

    • Establish national postsecondary goals and create a performance measurement system to support the effective use of federal resources;

    • Double its current level of support in order to account for more than 10 percent of community colleges’ budgets, ultimately awarding three-quarters of these funds based on colleges’ performance in meeting key goals around student credit, credential, and degree completion;

    • Stimulate instructional innovations and practices to increase the quality of community college education, devoting half of the administration’s proposed $2.5 billion state-federal partnership fund to improve and evaluate practices enhancing sub-baccalaureate education; and,

    • Support the improvement of student data systems necessary to measure and track college student outcomes, guide funding, improve accountability, and promote continuous improvement in educational quality.



    The Pennsylvania State Senate and the House of Representatives are currently in recess and will return to session on Monday, June 1.

    This week…

  • The House Republican Policy Committee holds a public hearing on school consolidation on Monday in Pottstown.

  • The 2009 Family Support Conference takes place on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets May 20-21 in Harrisburg.

  • The House Appropriations Committee holds a public hearing on the Senate’s state budget proposal (Senate Bill 850) on Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • The House Gaming and Oversight Committee holds a public hearing on the Governor’s tuition relief plan (House Bill 1317) on Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • EPLC hosts a Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum in Philadelphia 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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