EPLC Education Notebook

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    -  State House

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



    EPLC will hold a Community Forum on Education Issues in the Harrisburg region on Thursday evening, May 6.  This is an opportunity to join other concerned citizens in the region to discuss key education issues and to develop policy recommendations to be delivered to state and local policymakers.  The Forum is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania PTA and Capital Area Intermediate Unit 15.

    Panelists include:
    Diane Barber - PA Partnerships for Children
    Jonelle Darr - Executive Director, Cumberland Co. Library System
    Jenny Hershour - Executive Director, PA Citizens for the Arts
    Amy Morton - Executive Director, Capital Area IU
    Kris Newbern - PA PTA Legislation and Advocacy Chair   
    James Testerman - President, PA State Education Association
    Ron Cowell - President, EPLC

    For more details about the event and to register online, see www.eplc.org/communityforums.html.



    Data from state reading and math tests show that the larger the "adequacy gap" - the difference between what a district should spend per student and what it is spending per student - the lower the student performance.  As shown on the graph below, 80 percent of students in districts with adequacy gaps per pupil of less than $2,000 were proficient or advanced on last year's reading and math PSSA exams, compared to only 55 percent in districts with adequacy gaps above $4,000 per pupil.  Whether based on fiscal or academic need, the high adequacy gap districts require the most state support to help their students meet academic expectations.  The school funding formula adopted by the General Assembly in 2008 is designed to close these adequacy gaps.

    Take action today.  Contact your local legislators to let them know their school funding formula is helping students and districts that need the most help and that they should sustain that commitment.


    PSSA-FundingGap Graph

    If Pennsylvanians want even more students to meet academic expectations, then the Commonwealth must support public education – in good and bad financial times.  Federal stimulus funds that have been used to support basic education will disappear after next year, so now is the time to restore state funding that was cut in 2009-10 and ensure that school districts with large adequacy gaps receive the funds they need to help their students achieve.

    Contact your local legislators to let them know you want the state to maintain its support of public schools so all students have a fair opportunity to learn.

    For more information on the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, please visit www.paschoolfunding.org.



    State House

  • On Wednesday (April 28), the House Education Committee debated and approved legislation (House Bill 1163) that would require public schools to teach comprehensive sex education and establishes criteria for that instruction.  Bill sponsor Rep. Chelsa Wagner (D-Allegheny) said the purpose of the legislation is to address a public health crisis surrounding sexually transmitted diseases and to curb teen pregnancy.  Some members argued that it is the parents’ or church’s responsibility to address sex education and that the bill is overstepping the state’s boundaries.  Others argued that local school boards already have the right to establish health-related education curriculum and that a state mandate to do so is unnecessary.  The bill includes a provision that allows parents to exempt their child from sex education curriculum; it was further amended to require school districts to notify parents about the curriculum so that parents can exercise their right to withdraw students from the class.  The bill would not apply to parochial or private schools.  HB 1163 awaits further consideration by the full House.

  • The House Appropriations Committee passed Senate Bill 441 this week, which 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.  SB 441 awaits consideration by the full House.



  • Governor Ed Rendell has nominated Thomas Gluck to serve as Pennsylvania’s next Secretary of Education.  Gluck has served as Executive Deputy Secretary in the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the past five years.  Current Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak recently resigned effective May 7 to become the new Superintendent in Allentown.  Gluck’s nomination requires Senate approval.

  • The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges this week launched a new campaign – AdvancePA – that calls on policymakers and candidates to prioritize expanding opportunities at community colleges.  College leaders highlighted the accessible and affordable education options provided by their institutions that play a key role in strengthening Pennsylvania’s economy, and released new statewide polling data that shows 8 in 10 adults support giving community colleges additional resources.  There are 14 community colleges in the Commonwealth with nearly 26 campuses and 79 sites across the state.  Currently, 1 out of 5 Pennsylvania undergraduates attends a community college, and 4 out of 5 community college students are enrolled in workforce development courses.  Click here for more information about the AdvancePA initiative.



    Next week…

  • EPLC’s Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program meets for a Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets in Harrisburg on Wednesday and Thursday.

  • EPLC hosts a Community Forum on Education Issues on Thursday in Enola.

  • For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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

To return to the EPLC Education Notebook homepage, click here.

To return to The Education Policy and Leadership Center homepage, click here.