EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, June 4, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC - Education Policy Fellowship Program
    Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    PA 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 is now accepting application for the 2010-2011 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  Many alumni have described this ten-month program as the “best professional development experience” of their career.  The EPFP is a nationally-recognized professional development program with sites in multiple states and the District of Columbia.  Through the program, EPFP Fellows develop a broadened understanding of the policy process and the various aspects of education policy; enhance communication and decision making skills; refine their potential for leadership; and expand their network of professional colleagues.  Click here for an application and to learn more about the program.



    Nearly 100 districts have proposed or approved cuts for their upcoming budgets, including more than one-third of ALL districts in southeastern Pennsylvania!  Cuts include teaching positions, full-day kindergarten, foreign languages, technology, extra-curricular activities and more.  Statewide, the educational opportunities and services available to students next year are diminishing on a daily basis as districts make tough decisions about how to handle insufficient resources.  .

    The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign has been monitoring media sources and compiling information about cuts in districts across the state.  Click here to learn more about the cuts Pennsylvania school districts are considering and have approved for the 2010-11 budgets.



    Pennsylvania Department of Education

    Pennsylvania is among 35 states and the District of Columbia that submitted new applications to the U.S. Department of Education this week for the second phase of the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant competition.  Pennsylvania is hoping to receive up to $400 million of the $4.3 billion provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for RTTT.  The state’s new application includes agreements from 122 school districts and 69 charter schools who signed on to participate in the reform effort, as well as endorsements from 154 organizations that support the state’s proposal. 

    The Race to the Top program is designed to incentivize excellence, drive reform, and promote the adoption and use of effective policies and practices.  The U.S. Department of Education plans to announce the Phase 2 winners before the end of September.  Only two states – Delaware and Tennessee – won funding in the first round of the RTTT competition; Pennsylvania’s application ranked seventh in round one.  For more information about Race to the Top, visit the program website.



    The American Heart Association and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education this week released their 2010 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA, which provides a current picture of physical education (PE) in the U.S. education system.  Preliminary findings for the 2010 report show incremental improvements in the last few years in the number of states that require PE and student assessment in PE.  But the report also reveals that while the majority of states mandate physical education, there are significant inadequacies with more states now allowing waivers and exemptions from PE classes and no progress in providing daily physical education in all grades K-12.  Further, the report found that only five states require physical education in every grade level, and that while 48 states have standards for PE, only 34 states require local districts to comply or align with those standards.  For more information about the status of PE across the nation and recommendations for how states and school districts can address childhood obesity and promote physical education as an important part of a healthy lifestyle, visit www.naspeinfo.org.



  • Governor Rendell announced that 46 school districts will receive more than $600 million to support school district construction projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  These low-cost bonds will save districts and taxpayers an estimated $513 million in financing costs.  To receive the funding, projects had to relate to boosting early childhood education, reducing energy or water consumption, or increased access to science, engineering, or technology labs.  Of the 101 projects funded in the 46 school districts, 63 increase energy and water efficiency; 28 will improving childhood education; and 27 will increase science, engineering, or technology labs.  The funds were allocated through the federal Qualified School Construction Bonds program and the federal government essentially pays 100% of the interest on these bonds.  In addition, the state decreased costs of the construction projects issuing a single bond through the Public School Building Authority, meaning the 46 districts will each pay a portion of the legal cost for the one-time bond issue rather than requiring each school district to pay for its own bond counsel and underwriting.  Click here to find a list of the projects that will be funded.

  • The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) this week released the final version of Common Core State Standards.  The Common Core is a state-led initiative organized by the NGA Center and CCSSO to develop voluntary common academic standards in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12.  The standards were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, teachers, school administrators and parents.  These standards define the knowledge and skills students should attain during their K-12 education experience so that they graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers.  In the coming months, each state will follow its own procedures for adoption of the Common Core State Standards.  The NGA Center and CCSSO also will continue to work closely with a range of partners to support states and districts as they move from adoption to implementation.  In Pennsylvania, the State Board of Education is poised to adopt the Common Core at its June 30-July 1 meeting.  If adopted, the Common Core would represent 85% of Pennsylvania’s academic standards in English and math.  The remaining 15% would be developed by the Board with public input at a later date.

  • Applications for the Federal Even Start Family Literacy Program are now being accepted by Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Even Start renewal and new applications must be completed online and submitted via the eGrants web site on or before June 7, 2010.  For more information about how to apply, see the May 29 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.



    Next week…

  • The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign presents a new report, “Student Achievement Gains at Risk: Schools Cutting Staff and Programs as Revenues Decline”, on Monday.  The report will highlight findings from a recent survey of school districts across the state.  The survey was coordinated by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA).

  • The Senate Government Management and Cost Study Commission holds a public hearing to gather testimony related to cost saving items for the Commonwealth on Monday.  EPLC president Ron Cowell is among those who will offer testimony.

  • Tuesday is Early Childhood Action Day at the State Capitol in Harrisburg.

  • EPLC’s 2009-10 class of the Education Policy Fellowship Program graduates on Tuesday.

  • The House Education Committee meets Wednesday to consider House Bill 2060, House Bill 2460, House Resolution 720 and Senate Bill 766.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education holds a public roundtable discussion on proposed Common Core academic standards in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

  • Education Voters PA holds public dialogues on public education issues in State College on Thursday and in Bellefonte on Friday.

  • The Governor’s Conference on Higher Education takes place June 10-11 in Lancaster.

  • 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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