EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, May 14, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    Election Day
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State House
    - State Senate
    - Independent Regulatory Review Commission
    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.



    REMEMBER TO VOTE!  Tuesday, May 18 is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania.  Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m.  Click here to find your polling place.  During the Primary, registered members of the Republican and Democrat parties are eligible to vote to nominate the candidates that will represent their party on the ballot in the November General Election.

    This year, Pennsylvania will elect a new governor and lieutenant governor.  Additionally, all 203 members of the Pennsylvania House as well as half of the Pennsylvania Senate are on the ballot.  Where do the candidates for Governor stand on education issues?  Use the links below to learn more about their education platforms.

    Gubernatorial Candidates

    Tom Corbett (R)
    Sam Rohrer (R)
    Joe Hoeffel (D)
    Dan Onorato (D)
    Jack Wagner (D)
    Anthony Williams (D)

    Voters also will nominate candidates for United State Senator and the U.S. House of Representatives.



    State House

    Last week, the House Finance Committee passed legislation (House Bill 2155) that would prohibit levying a tax on college tuition.  The bill was introduced in response to the Pittsburgh Mayor’s proposal to impose a 1 percent tax on the tuition of students attending Pittsburgh colleges and universities to help fund city services.  HB 2155 has been placed on the House Tabled Bills Calendar.

    State Senate

    Last week, the Senate passed legislation (Senate Bill 629), which would require the PA Department of Education to develop a certificate for school social workers and require school entities that employ social workers to hire individuals that hold a school social worker certificate issued by PDE.  Persons that meet the exception for a school social worker under the “Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act” or who are employed as a school social worker in a public or private school prior to the development of a certificate by PDE would be excluded from the new provisions.  The bill also would allow school social workers to work under the supervision of a superintendent, assistant superintendent or other school administrator or employee as determined by the school entity.  Currently, school social workers are supervised by individuals holding a home and school visitor certification.  SB 629 has been referred to the House Education Committee.

    Independent Regulatory Review Commission

    The Independent Regulatory Review Commission this week approved new regulations that will govern state-funded pre-kindergarten programs in Pennsylvania.  The regulations establish a structure, framework, standards and procedures for providing high-quality pre-K to 3- and 4 year-olds through the PA Pre-K Counts program, including the process for applying for Pre-K Counts competitive grants, planning and coordinating pre-K programs, reporting requirements, operational criteria and fiscal responsibilities.  The regulations will take effect upon their publication in the Pennsylvania BulletinClick here for more information about the new pre-K regulations.



  • Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) recently released its 2008-2009 Reach and Risk Assessment Report which found that while the state continues to make progress serving young children, gaps remain in serving those children who could benefit the most from a quality early education experience. According to the report, children in three-quarters of the state’s counties face a moderate to high risk of failing in school in part because they lack access to high-quality education resources in their earliest years. Among the findings of the report:

    • Children in 51 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and 24 of the state’s 27 largest cities are at moderate-to-high risk or high risk of school failure.
    • More than one-third of children under age 5 are living in low-income families, which the report identifies as one of the seven major risk factors for school failure.
    • In every Pennsylvania county, at least 15 percent of children under age 5 live in low-income households.
    • In 20 of the 27 largest cities, more than half of children under 5 live in low-income households.

    The report found that only about one-third of Pennsylvania children under age 5 currently participate in state or federally funded early education programs.  The majority of these children are served through the Keystone STARS program, which ensures technical assistance and high voluntary standards for child care providers in the community.  However, only three percent of children under age 5 in Pennsylvania were served in high quality STAR 3 and 4 programs.  Click here for the full “Reach and Risk” report.

  • Pennsylvania's alternative education schools serve more than 30,000 students.  If those schools were assembled as a single school district, it would be the third largest school district in Pennsylvania.  Yet there is little information available on how these programs are run, who is teaching these students, and what these students are learning.  A new Education Law Center report offers legal and policy solutions to improve alternative education in Pennsylvania.  Click here to read the executive summary and click here for the full report, “Improving Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth in Pennsylvania.”


    Pennsylvania will begin conducting school safety and climate reviews in buildings designated as “persistently dangerous schools” and other schools that have significant safety needs.  The state has contracted with Safe Havens International, Inc. to conduct reviews in schools in the Philadelphia and Harrisburg City School Districts.  Safe Havens then will make building-level recommendations to ensure a safe and orderly educational environment.  Click here for more information.



    Next week…

  • Tuesday is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania.

  • EPLC hosts a Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum in Philadelphia on Thursday.

  • EPLC’s Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program meets Friday in Harrisburg.

  • 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.