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EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, January 30, 2012

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/



The Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Senate reconvene in voting session today, Monday, January 30 at 1:00 PM.

PA Supreme Court Throws Out Legislative Redistricting Plan 


On January 25, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by a vote of 4-3, deemed the state legislative redistricting plan previously approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission  "contrary to law" and ordered them to be re-drawn.  Pennsylvania's current district lines, framed in 2001, will remain intact while the plan is sent back to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission to be revamped.  As a result of the Supreme Court's ruling, new campaign deadlines for the April 24 primary Election are as follows:


    • Jan. 26:  First day to circulate nominating petitions
    • Feb. 16:  Last day to circulate nominating petitions
    • Feb. 23:  Last day to submit objections
    • Feb. 27:  Last day for hearings on objections
    • Mar. 2:    Last day to withdraw candidacy and last day for courts to make rulings on ballot eligibility.

To view the Supreme Court's Order re: Reapportionment Plan, click here. 



On January 17, the Senate approved three measures impacting the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE):


Senate Bill 1133  (Sen. Don White, R-41) would allow all Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education  (PASSHE) universities to offer professional doctorate degrees, which are also known as applied doctoral degrees, a level of education currently only available at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Universities would have to demonstrate to the Board of Governors the cost-benefit and need for the proposed programs and provide a capacity analysis when the proposed degree program is offered at another member university.

Senate Bill 1308 (Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-6) would remove a provision in current law that prohibits the PASSHE and its employees from entering into economic development agreements to develop or market intellectual property, such as research.  Professors in the state-related and private universities do not have such a prohibition. The agreements would also be subject to the Right-to-Know-Law and would be listed on the State Treasury Department website.

Senate Bill 1322 (Sen. Lloyd Smucker R-13) would allow the PASSHE to enter into an agreement with any entity for the cooperative use of supplies and services.  All purchases and agreements would have to be the result of a system of competitive bidding and in accordance with state laws.


On January 24, the Senate Education Committee held an informational meeting on fiscally distressed school districts.  Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis spent several hours responding to lawmakers' questions and concerns about school districts on the brink of financial collapse. Both chairmen of the Committee called for open and bold leadership from the administration to develop a workable plan for the state's growing number of fiscally distressed districts.  Committee members expressed their frustration at the Department's unwillingness to provide information about the number of districts in financial peril.  Information, they believe, will help them craft a long term solution to this rapidly escalating problem.  In addition to the Secretary of Education, the Committee also heard from representatives of the Education Law Center, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Pennsylvania State Education Association and the Pennsylvania Coalition for Public Charter Schools.  The Pennsylvania School Boards Association submitted written testimony.


To watch the hearing and to read the written testimony submitted, click here.



On January 24, the same day the Senate Education Committee held its hearing on fiscally distressed

school districts, Democratic leaders in the House held a press conference and released this analysis of the financial condition of the Chester Upland School District.

The House Education Committee cancelled the informational meeting on cyber charter school funding that was scheduled for Thursday, January 26.  To date, the meeting has not been


The House Appropriations Committee held public hearing on the funding and financial status of the Chester Upland School District at Widener University in Chester on January 27.  The EPLC

Education Notebook will report on the outcome of that meeting in its next edition.








Earlier this month, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its "2011 State Teacher

Policy Yearbook" which finds dramatic changes in states' teacher evaluation policies, with

unprecedented efforts to adopt policies that use student achievement as a significant gauge in

measuring educator effectiveness. This year's edition includes a progress rating for states on

goals that have been measured since 2009.  In addition to receiving an overall grade, states also receive overall progress rankings, showing how states compare to each other in terms of their teacher policies.  To download individual state reports and the National Summary, visit www.nctq.org/stpy.

The recently released annual Grapevine study, conducted by the
Illinois State University Center for the Study of Higher Education and the State Higher Education Executive Officers, finds that state appropriations for colleges and students fell by 7.6 percent in 2011-2012, the largest such decline in at least a half century. To read the full report, click here.



On January 20, Thomas Knudsen, the retired CEO of the Philadelphia Gas Works, was appointed as the chief recovery officer of the Philadelphia School District by the School Reform Commission.


EPLC's PA School Choices Forum will be held in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, February 1.  There

is no fee.  For more information and to register, click here.


EPLC will again conduct a series of regional workshops for school board candidates and other

voters interested in education issues.  The workshops will be held on Tuesday, March 6 in

Monroeville; Monday, March 12 in Harrisburg; and Tuesday, March 13 in Valley Forge.  Click here for

registration details.


On February 14, students and parents from across the state are coming together to demand that

Governor Corbett and the Legislature make equitable school funding a top priority in the next budget. To register for the "Fall Back in Love with Education:  Valentine's Day Rally for Public

Education" visit www.showloveforeducation.eventbrite.com.  For more information about the event, contact megan@phillystudentunion.org.  



The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have announced their state budget hearing schedules. The Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is on Monday, February 27 at 9:30 AM.  The House Appropriations Committee hearing for PDE is scheduled for Monday, March 5 at 10:00 AM.  


The State Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention will meet on February 2 from 12-3 PM at the PaTTAN offices in Harrisburg. 


The Governor's Budget message is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7.


The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 1381, which provides for employment history review, on Wednesday, February 8 at 10:00 AM.


The 2012 Pennsylvania Progressive Summit, a major gathering of progressive activists and leaders in Pennsylvania, will be held February 10-12 in Philadelphia.   Click here for more details and to register.


The Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference will be held February 12-15 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.  For more details, click here.


The Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators (PACTA) is holding its 22nd annual conference "Preparing Students for the Workforce of Tomorrow: An Education and Workforce Development Symposium" February 21-22 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey. For more information and registration details, click here.


The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will hold a 2012 Budget Summit at the Harrisburg Hilton on Thursday, February 23 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  To register online, click here.


The Pennsylvania Department of Education's Annual Conference "Making a Difference: Educational Practices that Work! " will be held February 29 - March 2 at Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey.  For more information and registration details, click here.


The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) will hold its 57th Annual Conference and Exhibits March 6-9, 2012 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey. For more information, click here.

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.