EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State Senate
    - State House
    - IRRC
    Federal Policymakers
    - U.S. House of Representatives
    - 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’s Education Issues Workshops for legislative candidates, campaign staff and interested voters began this week.  There is still time to register for the Workshops in Valley Forge (March 17) and Monroeville (March 26).  Click here for program details and registration information.



    State Senate

  • Last week, the Senate approved Senate Bill 766, which would establish the Science Technology Partnerships Program (better known as Science in Motion) in state law.  Under the proposal, state funding would be made available to higher education institutions to purchase high tech science equipment to augment science curricula and provide professional development activities to science teachers employed in partnering schools and school districts.  SB 766 has been referred to the House Education Committee.

  • The Senate Aging and Youth Committee met in Westmoreland County on March 11 for a public hearing on Senate Bill 1137 which would require the state Departments of Education and Welfare to develop a child abuse recognition and reporting training program for school employees who are mandated to report suspected child abuse.  For more information, contact the office of Committee Chair Kim Ward at (717) 787-6063.

  • State House

  • The House recently adopted the following legislation:

  • Senate Bill 206: Prohibits limitations on wearing military uniforms on school property or visitations by members of the armed services with school employees or students.  Individuals who violate this provision could be charged with a summary offense and fined up to $500.  The bill now heads to the Governor for his approval or veto.

    House Bill 2066: Creates a special commission to study the state’s sales and use tax and make recommendations about eliminating obsolete and unnecessary provisions, expanding the tax base as necessary, ensuring a competitive economic market and protecting the stability of the state’s budget.  A report of the commission’s findings is due by March 1, 2012.  HB 2066 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

    House Bill 101: Requires the PA Department of Education (PDE) to disseminate economic education and personal financial literacy curriculum materials to public and private schools and to develop a clearinghouse of these resources on the PDE web site.  A separate fund in the State Treasury would be established to support the implementation of this program.  The legislation also requires PDE to recognize schools that implement exemplary economic and personal financial literacy programs.  HB 101 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.

    House Bill 689: Requires green building standard costs to be submitted to PDE at the same time that construction cost estimates are submitted for approval.  The bill clarifies that additional costs incurred by a school district in the construction of a school building that meets green building standards are excluded from the costs calculated for the purpose of determining whether a referendum or public hearing is required to seek approval for funding the project.  HB 689 awaits referral to a Senate Committee.

    House Resolution 592: Directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the various models and costs associated with establishing the supplementary virtual learning program recently recommended by Pennsylvania’s Virtual High School Study Commission.  The LBFC is directed to deliver a report of its findings to the House within six months.

  • On March 10, the House Education Committee approved the following bills:

    House Bill 1090: Requires PDE to develop a school social worker certificate.  HB 1090 was amended to grandfather those currently employed as school social workers by public or private schools and those persons currently exempt under the “Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Counselors Act” from holding the certificate.  Under the bill, school social workers may work under the supervision of a superintendent or other school administrator as determined by the school entity.  Currently, school social workers must be supervised by individuals holding a home and school visitor certificate.  HB 1090 has been re-committed to the House Appropriations Committee.

    House Bill 1863: Establishes a residency teaching certificate, which would permit skilled professionals to teach in subject areas where the Secretary of Education determines there is a statewide or regional shortage of qualified teachers, such as science, technology, engineering and math.  Under the proposal, the Secretary of Education could issue a three-year residency teaching certificate in shortage areas.

    To qualify for a residency certificate, an individual must either hold a doctoral degree in the subject he/she will be teaching, have a master’s degree in the subject plus one year of related work experience, or have a bachelor’s degree in the subject plus three years of related work experience.  The individual also must be continuously enrolled in the residency program and present satisfactory achievement on the appropriate subject area content test.

    The Secretary of Education would be required to develop guidelines for the residency program, including instruction and training in child development, emotional support, academic standards and assessments.  The program would require mentoring for participants throughout the 3-year life of their certificate, with more intensive mentoring required during the first three months.  At the end of the three years, a residency certificate could be converted to an Instructional I teaching certificate.  HB 1863 also requires the Secretary to annually report to the State Board of Education on the number of residency certificates issued.  HB 1863 has been re-committed to the House Appropriations Committee.

  • Last week, the House Appropriations Committee began to move legislation related to the state budget.  The Committee passed a General Fund budget bill (House Bill 2279) that includes funding for the Department of Education, community colleges, state-owned universities and PHEAA, and which could be considered by the full House on March 22.  The Committee also approved non-preferred appropriations bills that provide funding for the operating expenses of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (House Bill 2283), Penn State University (House Bill 2292), the University of Pittsburgh (House Bill 2293), Temple University (House Bill 2294), Lincoln University (House Bill 2295) and the University of Pennsylvania (House Bill 2296).

    The Appropriations Committee also approved legislation (House Bill 870) that would require the state to develop standards for business, computer and technology courses.  HB 870 awaits further consideration by the full House.

  • The House Local Government Committee last week held a hearing on legislation that addresses property assessment appeals.  For more information, contact the office of Committee Chair Robert Freeman (D-Northampton)at (717) 783-3815.


    Independent Regulatory Review Commission

    Pre-K regulations that were slated to be considered by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRR) last week have been held off.  On March 9, IRRC approved PDE’s request to toll the Pre-K regulations so that issues identified through the regulatory review process could be resolved.  IRRC has asked PDE to revise or delete sections of the regulations that were not subject to review by the legislature, IRRC or the public.  In addition, it was requested that sections that violated or contradict federal laws or regulations pertaining to the “Americans with Disabilities Act” either be removed or that PDE explain how it is legally permissible.  In addition to these recommendations, several technical amendments also were put forth for consideration.  PDE must deliver to IRRC and the legislative education committees either the revised regulations or written notice that the regulations will not be revised by April 7, 2010.  The regulations will be withdrawn if no notice is given.  For more information on the IRRC process, click here.



    U.S. House of Representatives

  • The U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor recently held a hearing on reforming the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – also known as No Child Left Behind.  The hearing was the first in a series focused on H.R. 4330, known as the “All Students Achieving through Reform Act,” which would establish a new competitive grant program to expand and replicate academically successfu charter schools that serve low-income students or students that attend schools with low graduation rates.  To read the panelists’ testimony on this federal proposal, click here.

  • The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee also recently met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss how strong and innovative education reforms can help rebuild the U.S. economy and restore our competitiveness.  Among the items discussed by Secretary Duncan were the Obama administration’s education agenda and its proposed budget request for FY 2011, which includes plans for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, adoption of College and Career Readiness standards and efforts to close achievement gaps by establishing a Teachers and Leader Innovation Fund.  To read the Secretary’s full testimony or watch a webcast of the proceeding, click here.

    U.S. Department of Education

    Last week, the US Department of Education announced its final priorities for grant applications for the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3).  The i3 program will provide $650 million in competitive grants to individual school districts, school district consortiums and entrepreneurial nonprofits in partnership with school districts with a record of improving student achievement and attainment.  Applicants will need to show how they are meeting goals in one of four areas of the Obama administration’s education reform plan: supporting effective teachers and principals, improving the use of data to accelerate student achievement, complementing the implementation of standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and careers, and turning around persistently low-performing schools.  The i3 fund will award three types of grants based on three levels of evidence – strong evidence, moderate evidence and a reasonable hypothesis.

    Scale up Grants (up to $50 million each) will provide funding to “scale-up” practices, strategies or programs for which there is strong evidence of improving student achievement.

    Validation Grants (up to $30 million each) will provide funding to support practices, strategies, or programs that show promise, but for which there is currently only moderate evidence that the proposed practice, strategy, or program will have a statistically significant effect on improving student achievement.

    Development Grants (up to $5 million each) will provide funding to support high potential and relatively untested practices, strategies, or programs whose efficacy should be systematically studied.  An applicant must provide a rationale for the proposed practice, strategy, or program that is based on research findings or reasonable hypotheses.

    Applications are due in mid-May and grants will be awarded in September. Over the next few weeks, the USDE will hold pre-application informational workshops in Atlanta, Baltimore and Denver.  For more information, click here.



    A draft of K-12 standards being developed as part of the National Common Core State Standards Initiative has been released for public comment.  Comments will be accepted through April 2.  Leaders in 51 states, territories, and the District of Columbia (including Pennsylvania) have signed on to participate in the initiative, which is being led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Click here to learn more.



    This week…

  • EPLC hosts an Education Issues Workshop for legislative candidates, campaign staff and interested citizens on Wednesday in Valley Forge.

  • REL Mid-Atlantic hosts two programs on “Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades: Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice” on Tuesday in King of Prussia and on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

  • The Senate Education Committee holds a public hearing on mandate waivers on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

  • The Senate Finance Committee holds a public hearing on public pensions on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

  • The House Education Committee holds a public hearing on charter and cyber charter schools on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education holds its regular bimonthly meeting on Wednesday and Thursday at Chester County Technical College High School in West Grove.

  • The Association of Governing Boards holds its National Conference on Trusteeship on March 19-23 in Orlando, FL.

  • 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.

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