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EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, November 27, 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/   



Legislative Leaders Elected

During the week of November 12, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate held leadership elections for the 2013-14 legislative session. Both the Senate and House caucuses re-elected all current leaders for the next session, with the only two exceptions being changes in House Democratic leadership resulting from vacancies.


Senate Republican Leaders:

  • Senate President Pro Tem-Joe Scarnati (R-25)
  • Senate Majority Leader-Dominic Pileggi (R-9)
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman-Jake Corman (R-34)
  • Senate Majority Whip-Pat Browne (R-16)
  • Majority Caucus Chairman-Mike Waugh (R-28)
  • Majority Caucus Secretary-Bob Robbins (R-50)

 Senate Democratic Leaders:

  • Senate Minority Leader-Jay Costa (D-43)
  • Senate Minority Appropriations Committee Chairman-Vince Hughes (D-7)
  • Senate Minority Whip-Anthony H. Williams (D-8)
  • Senate Minority Caucus Chairman-Richard Kasunic (D-32)
  • Senate Minority Caucus Secretary-Tina Tartaglione (D-2)
  • Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairwoman-Lisa Boscola (D-18)
  • Senate Minority Caucus Administrator-Wayne D. Fontana (D-42)

 House Republican Leaders:

  • Speaker of the House-Sam Smith (R-66)
  • Majority Leader-Mike Turzai (R-28)
  • Majority Whip-Stan Saylor (R-94)
  • Majority Appropriations Chairman-William Adolph (R-165)
  • Majority Caucus Chairman-Sandra Major (R-111)
  • Majority Policy Committee Chairman-Dave Reed  (R-62)
  • Majority Caucus Administrator-Dick Stevenson (R-8)
  • Majority Caucus Secretary-Mike Vereb (R-150)

 House Democratic Leaders:

  • Minority Leader-Frank Dermody (D-33)
  • Minority Whip-Mike Hanna (D-76)
  • Minority Caucus Chairman-Dan Frankel (D-23)
  • Minority Policy Committee Chairman-Mike Sturla (D-96)
  • Minority Appropriations Committee Chairman-Joe Markosek (D-25)
  • Minority Caucus Secretary-Ron  Waters (D-191)
  • Minority Caucus Administrator-Neal  Goodman (D-123)

Committee chairs and members will be assigned by House and Senate leaders when the General Assembly convenes the new legislative session in January.    


In early November, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) released two education-related reports. The first report "Museum Funding in Pennsylvania" came about as a result of the adoption of Senate Resolution 268 of 2012, which directed the LBFC to evaluate current museum funding and make recommendations for improving how the Commonwealth funds museums. Among the key LBFC findings:  

  • The economic impact of museums on the overall economy of the state and in the communities in which they are located is significant.
  • State funding for museums has occurred primarily through three agencies. Museums have received funds through the PA Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), the PA Council on the Arts (PCA), the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), and through specific nonpreferred line item appropriations. While this rather disjointed "system" is not unusual among states, it has been criticized as lacking coordination.
  • Funding has been dramatically reduced for both state-owned and nonstate-owned museums.
  • Museums cite consistency of funding as the most important factor in any new grant program.  

The second report of interest to the education community is an "Interim Report on Pennsylvania's Continuing Professional Education Program" pursuant to Act 105 of 2012 which charged the LBFC to study the cost and benefits of Pennsylvania's continuing professional education program requirement for professional educators (Act 48 of 1999) and issue an interim report in November 2012. The LBFC interim findings show:  

  • Almost all states have continuing professional development requirements for teachers to maintain active teaching certificates.
  • Continuing professional development helps promote teacher quality and can lead to improved student performance.
  • Continuing professional development also helps meet federal and state mandates, and supports state and local education reform initiatives.
  • Most Pennsylvania school district professional educators meet Act 48's requirements through public school offerings.
  • Statewide, the average number of Act 48 hours per public school district professional educator substantially declined from FY 2008-2010 to FY 2011-2012.  

The LBFC final report on continuing professional education, due in March 2013, will include the costs of Act 48 requirements for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and public school districts --based on a statewide sample of districts.


Click here to read the full text of the reports mentioned above and their highlights. Click here for additional information on Act 48 requirements/moratorium update from the PDE.



On November 16, Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis declared Duquesne City School District in financial recovery status and appointed Paul B. Long to serve as the district's Chief Recovery Officer. Long, of Pittsburgh, is originally from McKees Rocks (Allegheny) and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He earned a master's degree in business administration and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy, he began a career in school administration at the North Allegheny School District (Allegheny). He then served as business administrator, acting superintendent, and chief executive officer for the Pennsbury School District (Bucks). Long is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO).


Click here for more information on fiscally distressed school districts from the PDE.  


The 311th meeting of the State Board of Education was held on November 14-15 in Harrisburg. While there were no action items on the agenda, the Advisory Committee on Financial Recovery (Chapter 18) reported on their continuing work in identifying criteria that may be used for determining whether a school district is placed in financial recovery status.  


Earlier in the day, the Advisory Committee met and discussed amendments to the working draft (Chapter 18) relating to definitions and other criteria the Secretary may consider in declaring a school district in financial recovery status. There was also conversation about the designation of moderate and severe recovery status, noting that the main difference between the two designations is the amount of time the Department has to offer technical assistance to fiscally distressed districts. Members of the advisory panel expressed their thoughts about whether the proposed regulations should be more prescriptive or less so in identifying certain factors or a combination of factors that the Secretary may consider in designating a school district to be in moderate or severe financial recovery status.


The next meeting of the Advisory Committee on Financial Recovery is Thursday, December 6 at 2:00 PM. The committee plans to present its proposed draft of Chapter 18 to the full board for its approval at the January 2013 meeting. Upon approval, the proposed regulations will then undergo the state's regulatory review process beginning with the State Board of Education scheduling a series of roundtables across the state seeking public input. Click here for additional information about the work and composition of the Advisory Committee on Financial Recovery.


In addition to the report from the Advisory Committee, the board was presented information on Professional Educator Discipline by Carolyn Angelo, Executive Director of the Professional Standards and Practices Commission. To view the materials, click here.




On November 14, Governor Corbett's thirty-one member  Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education issued its report including recommendations. The commission, created by  Executive Order 2012-01, was charged with considering and making recommendations around critical issues and challenges affecting the delivery, quality, and sustainability of postsecondary education.

The commission identified the following four key goals under which recommendations are framed: (1) affirm opportunities for lifelong learning; (2) ensure greater public access, affordability, and usability of postsecondary education; (3) recognize and support diversity and richness of the postsecondary education system; and (4) enhance Pennsylvania's economic vitality and the ability for the Commonwealth to compete globally. The following list includes some of the Commission's recommendations presented in the report:

  • Establish a long-term finance and accountability funding model, and link any future increase in funding to performance and outcome-based measures;
  • Create an online presence to help students and their parents make informed choices about higher education or training programs as well as financial plans;
  • Implement targeted, flexible, work-ready dual enrollment programs that will produce graduates ready for careers;
  • Examine opportunities for postsecondary education institutions and programs to consolidate and collaborate;
  • Advocate for tax incentives and in-kind contributions for businesses to contribute to science and technology programs;
  • Improve access to programs that will help ease the transition for students from high school to postsecondary education, with special attention on adult family literacy and job training programs;
  • Encourage and improve specific programs such as the PA Targeted Industry Program, offering scholarships in specific areas producing graduates who will meet the state's workforce needs;
  • Develop outreach programs to veterans informing them of postsecondary education opportunities, grants and scholarships;
  • Make every effort to increase affordability through tuition containment, identifying potential barriers and possible solutions for traditional and non-traditional, part-time and/or adult students; and
  • Promote research in fields of science, engineering, energy and medicine, and expand research opportunities in order to support and finance future programs to keep Pennsylvania competitive.  

Click here to read the Advisory Commission's full report with recommendations.



On November 15, Pennsylvania's Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released "The Economic & Budget Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012-2013 to 2017-2018" which provides an overview of the demographic, economic, revenue and expenditure trends that will affect the Commonwealth's fiscal position through fiscal year 2017-2018. Some major findings include:

  • The Pennsylvania economy will continue to expand, but at a lackluster pace. Demographic trends and continued tax base erosion will constrain revenue growth. There are important downside risks associated with global economic weaknesses and the uncertainties of federal tax policy.
  • The number of working-aged residents between ages 20 and 64 will decline by one percent between 2010 and 2020. The number of residents age 65 and over will increase by nearly 27 percent over this same period. A decline in the working-age population, combined with a dramatic increase in the elderly, will diminish tax revenues while placing additional pressures on Medical Assistance expenditures.
  • Expenditure growth is driven by rising healthcare costs and mandated employer contributions for pensions, which are expected to outpace the growth in revenues.

The IFO was created by Act 120 of 2010 to provide revenue projections for use in the state budget process along with impartial and timely analysis of fiscal, economic and budgetary issues. To learn more about the IFO, visit www.ifo.state.pa.us.


Click here to read the IFO's report.  


On November 13, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized 314 schools as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The National Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is "Exemplary High Performing," in which schools are recognized among their state's highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is "Exemplary Improving," in which schools where at least 40 percent of students are from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The following eight Pennsylvania schools were honored as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools:      

  • Allegheny One Elementary School (Hollidaysburg Area SD)
  • Infinity Charter School (Penbrook)
  • Juniata Elementary School (Altoona Area SD)
  • Paradise Elementary School (Spring Grove Area SD)
  • Ridge Park Elementary School (Colonial SD)
  • Seneca Valley Middle School (Seneca Valley SD)
  • Spring-Ford Middle School 8th Grade Center (Spring-Ford Area SD)
  • Windber Elementary School (Windber Area SD)  

 Click here for a complete list of the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools and to learn more about the program.  

Donna Cooper
, former Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Rendell administration, has been named Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). Cooper will fill the position previously held by Shelly Yanoff, who announced her retirement earlier this year. Cooper will assume her position with PCCY starting January 2013.

David Transue
will be joining the House Republican staff to serve as Senior Education Advisor to Republican leadership. Transue served as Executive Director of the Senate Education Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Jeffrey Piccola (R-15).  

Chris Minnich
has been named Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to replace retiring Gene Wilhoit, who announced his plans earlier this year. Minnich currently serves as the Senior Membership Director at CCSSO. He joined CCSSO in 2008 and has also served as Strategic Initiative Director for Standards, Assessment and Accountability where he oversaw the state development and widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards. In order to ensure a smooth transition, Wilhoit will remain as the organization's Executive Director until mid-January 2013.  
  • A newly released report by the  Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) on School Readiness in Pennsylvania shows that the Commonwealth needs to get back on track with making investments in early childhood education. While the report delivers some good news, it also reveals some troubling indicators that significant progress is lacking in many critical areas that affect young children and their families. The PPC report reveals:  
    • There are 303,555 Pennsylvania children ages 4 and under living in low-income families, only slightly fewer children than a year ago.
    • About 1 in 20 Pennsylvania children between birth through age 4 still lack health insurance- roughly the same ratio as last year and a slight increase from other recent years.
    • Access to child care subsidy has remained flat, with fewer than 42,000 slots available to infants, toddlers, and preschool children whose families are income-eligible. In most cases, these children are in households at or below poverty level, making the subsidy a critical part of their parents' efforts to be employed and achieve economic self- sufficiency. 
    • For more information on the 2012 School Readiness in Pennsylvania report and to see county-specific data tables, click here.  
  • On November 9, the  National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a snapshot report that examines the postsecondary outcomes of students who transferred from two-year to four-year institutions in three different academic years. According to the report, about 60 percent of all two-to-four transfer students graduated with a bachelor's or higher degree within four years of transferring. In addition, 12 percent of all transfer students had not yet graduated, but were still enrolled at a four-year institution in the last year of analysis. In total, about 72 percent of students either graduated or persisted. Graduation rates were highest for the students who transferred after receiving an associate's degree. About 71 percent of these students earned their bachelor's degree within four years, and nearly 80 percent either graduated or persisted at a four-year institution.  
  • Recently, the Education Commission of the States  (ECS) released the "2012 Education-Related Ballot Measures" report which provides the results from 35 ballot initiatives that immediately impact on education policy or could have an effect in the near future. Ballot measures include: civil rights/equity; school choice; postsecondary education; teacher issues; and finance-taxes/revenues.  


  • The House Select Committee on Property Tax Reform will meet to consider its final report pursuant to HR 774 on Thursday, November 29 at 11:30 AM in Harrisburg. Click here for details.  
  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics will hold its 2012 Fall Conference in Chicago, IL November 28-30. Click here  for details.  
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) will hold its 2012 Fall Forum in Washington, DC December 5-8. Click here for details.

For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on "Events Calendar".

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.

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