EPLC Masthead
EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, December 12, 2011

In this issue

The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC web site at http://www.eplc.org/publications-reports/weekly-policy-notebook/




On December 6, the Senate Education Committee voted to recommend confirmation of the Governor's nominee, Feather Houstoun, to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. In other business, the Committee received an update on the Corbett Administration's proposal for a statewide educator evaluation system from Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis and Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Carolyn Dumaresq. Tomalis explained the need to revamp the current teacher evaluation system and replace it with a four-tiered rating system that would include the following educator performance levels: distinguished, proficient, needs improvement, and failing. The current system provides only for a rating of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Under the Administration's proposal, the measures to evaluate educators would be split 50-50 between traditional teacher practices (planning and preparation, classroom environment, and instruction) and multiple measures of student achievement. This includes student achievement data on statewide assessments and student growth data from the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS), and other measures of student achievement for grades and content areas not assessed.


Also on the Committee's agenda was a presentation by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on the importance of enacting Senate Bill 1303, introduced by Senator Anthony Williams (D-8), which seeks temporary relief from Act 46 of 1998 to remedy an inaccurate and inequitable property assessment system in the city of Philadelphia.


To read the written testimony submitted or to view a visual/audio account of the Senate Education Committee meeting, click here.



On December 7, the House Education Committee unanimously reported the following bills that now await further consideration by the House:


House Bill 1823 (Rep. Joe Emerick, R-137) / Senate Bill 743 (Sen. John Rafferty, R-44) would allow a driver education instructor from a private driver training school to provide classroom instruction for driver education. HB 1823 and SB 743 are identical proposals.


Senate Bill 560 (Sen. Bob Mensch, R-24) would establish the State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative Program


On December 8, the House Tourism and Recreation Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 137 (Rep. Robert Godshall, R-53) which amends the Public School Code to prohibit school districts from starting classes before Labor Day. For more information on today's hearing, contact the office of Representative Jerry Stern, Chairman of the House Tourism and Recreation Committee, at (717) 787-9020.





On December 6, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis recognized two outstanding educators and fourteen Blue Ribbon Schools during the Keystone Awards of Excellence banquet in Hershey, PA. Tricia Miller, a literacy coach in the Penns Valley Area School District (Centre County) was named 2012 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. Pennsylvania's Teacher of the Year program is co-sponsored by the PDE and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the national State Teacher of the Year, which was founded in 1995.


Steven Scoville, an 11th and 12th grade Advanced Placement Physics teacher at Brashear High School in the Pittsburgh Public School District, was awarded the 2011 Milken Educator Award. The Milken Educator Award is a national teacher recognition program that honors exemplary K-12 teachers, principals and education specialists with a $25,000 individual, unrestricted grant.


In addition to commending the awardees, Tomalis also lauded Pennsylvania's fourteen Blue Ribbon Schools, which include a mix of public and private schools at both the elementary and secondary level. They are:


--Memorial Elementary School, Bloomsburg Area SD

--Carbondale Area Elementary School, Carbondale Area SD

--Corpus Christi Catholic School, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
--Forest City Regional Elementary School, Forest City Regional SD
--Fred L. Aiken Elementary School, Keystone Oaks SD
--Nativity of Our Lord School, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
--Northern Bedford County Elementary School, Northern Bedford County SD
--Coebourn Elementary School, Penn-Delco SD
--Pleasant Valley Elementary School, Peters Township SD
--Rose Tree Elementary School, Rose Tree Media SD

--Central High School, School District of Philadelphia
--Case Avenue Elementary School, Sharon City SD
--New Eagle Elementary School, Tredyffrin-Easttown SD
--Pocopson Elementary School, Unionville-Chadds Ford SD



On December 1, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency announced that Kelley Hodge will serve as the Safe Schools Advocate for the School District of Philadelphia, advocating on behalf of students who are victims of crime on school property. Hodge will coordinate her efforts with police, prosecutors, the courts and victim service providers. In addition to her advocacy role, she will be in charge of monitoring the school district's compliance with reporting violent incidents to the Philadelphia Police Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Hodge brings more than 14 years of legal experience as a prosecutor and public defender to the position. Most recently, she worked as assistant chief for the Juvenile Court Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.


For more information about PCCD or the Office of Safe Schools Advocate, visit www.pccd.state.pa.us.


On December 7, the Obama Administration hosted a White House forum recognizing the importance of the teaching profession. Honoring one hundred of the 6,200 teachers that achieved National Board Certification in 2011-- the most advanced professional credential available to educators, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan engaged in dialogue with the participants about how the Administration can support educators to ensure that every child receives high quality instruction. The daylong event is just one of several activities scheduled to elevate the teaching profession. For more information on USDE efforts to improve teacher quality and effectiveness, click here.



On December 6, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children released their annual State of Child Welfare 2011 report as part of their Children's Porch Light Project. According to the findings, Pennsylvania's family-focused approach to foster care is helping to reduce the number of children placed in foster care. Data show a marked increase in the number of Pennsylvania children and families being helped through in-home services that allow children to remain with their families and out of foster care.  While the report notes improvements in the foster care system, it also highlights where challenges remain. The state's foster care system needs to place greater emphasis on assisting older teenagers in finding permanent homes through adoption or legal guardianships.


The Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children began publishing this annual report in 2009 which includes comprehensive data for each county, including foster care placements, children leaving or re-entering foster care, and efforts to reunify children with parents or relatives.



The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, December 12 at 1:00 PM.


The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee will discuss and release a report on Community and Technical College Programs and Rural Communities conducted pursuant to Senate Resolution 147 on Wednesday, December 14 at 10:00 AM.


The State Board of Education will meet January 11-12 in Harrisburg.


For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on "Events Calendar".
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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 the Education Policy and Leadership Center is to encourage and support the development and implementation of effective state-level education policies to improve student learning in grades P-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.