EPLC Education Notebook

Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State House
    - State Board of Education
    U.S. Department of Education

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



    EPLC will host its Parent and Community Leadership Institute (PCLI) this spring in Philadelphia and in Harrisburg.  The PCLI is a free twelve-hour, four-session introduction to Pennsylvania K-12 education policy and advocacy issues for parents, educators, advocates, community leaders and other interested citizens.  Click here for details about the program and how you can apply.



    State House

    The House Finance Committee this week held its first hearing in a series on the challenges facing the state’s pension systems.  Representatives of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) prepared a joint statement for the Committee which provided an overview of the two pension systems, options for addressing the projected rate spike and plateau, and a comparison of future funding scenarios including the Governor’s proposal.  PSERS and SERS testified that there is no single solution to the Systems’ funding issues and that the solution likely will require a combination of several approaches and will only smooth out the projected rate hike and lower the peak.  Under all options, there is a need for significant additional funding for PSERS and SERS.

    State Board of Education

    The State Board of Education has released a draft of its proposed regulatory changes to Chapter 12 that address student nutrition and physical activity.  The Board’s Health and Wellness Committee held its first public roundtable on the proposed changes on April 6 in Fort Washington, and will continue to solicit public feedback during future roundtables on April 20 in Lancaster and on April 26 in Clarion.  Click here for more information about the roundtable times and locations and how you can participate.

    The changes proposed to Chapter 12 add new provisions that address nutritional content requirements of drinks and foods that are served in schools, physical activity practices during the school day, physical education curriculum, the safety and adequacy of facilities as they relate to physical education programs, and assessing students’ attainment of physical education learning objectives.



    U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced this week that up to $350 million of the Race to the Top grant dollars have been set aside to support a consortia of states in developing and implementing valid and instructionally-useful assessments.  The Race to the Top Assessment program is designed to ensure that new assessments provide accurate information about students’ knowledge and are anchored in standards to give students the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in college or the workplace by the time they graduate from high school.  Funding will be awarded to consortia of states to create assessments that:

    • Measure standards that are rigorous, globally competitive, and consistent across the states in the consortium;
    • Provide accurate information about what students know and can do – including both students’ achievement of standards and students’ academic growth from year to year;
    • Reflect and support good instructional practice so they inspire great teaching;
    • Include all students from the outset – including English learners and students with disabilities; and,
    • Present data to everyone who needs it – students, parents, teachers, administrators, policymakers – in ways that are clear, useful and actionable.

    Also, the USDE will award up to $30 million from the $350 million RTT Assessment program to fund better assessments for high schools.  These “end-of-course” tests will support high school improvement efforts in consortium-member states by promoting broader and more equitable access to rigorous courses and a diverse set of course offerings in both academic and career/technical areas.



    Govern for Kids will host a kick-off event on Wednesday, April 14 at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  The Southwestern PA coalition is asking gubernatorial candidates to step up as champions for children and support a pro-children agenda that addressed early care and education, K-12 education, children’s health, after school, drop-out re-engagement, college access and child welfare.  Click here to learn more about the Govern for Kids campaign.

    How can you get involved with Govern for Kids?  Click here to sign a letter to candidates asking them to make children’s issues a priority.  And, if you live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, plan to attend the kick-off rally.  Click here for details about the April 14 community kick-off event.



    The Pennsylvania Senate returns to session on Monday, April 12.  The Pennsylvania House returns to session on Monday, April 19.

    Next week…

    • The House Education Committee holds a public hearing on accelerating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education on Tuesday, April 13 in Pittsburgh.

    • The House Education and Consumer Affairs Committees hold a joint public hearing on House Bill 1286, which establishes requirements related to publishing and selling college textbooks, on Wednesday, April 14 in Pittsburgh.

    • The Senate Education Committee meets Wednesday to consider Senate Bill 982.

    • The Institute for Educational Leadership hosts its annual Washington Policy Seminar for participants in the Education Policy Fellowship Program, including EPLC’s Pennsylvania Fellows, on April 14-17.

    • The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association holds its annual conference on April 15-17 in State College.

    • The Pennsylvania PTA holds its annual convention in Grantville on April 16-18.

    • The American Association of University Women holds its Pennsylvania Convention in Carlisle on April 16-18.

    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.

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