Rep. Ryan Aument discusses potential funding for education in the upcoming state budget.
Rep. Mindy Fee discusses education funding for today’s students.
HARRISBURG, PA – Undocumented Pennsylvania residents who complete high school would have an improved chance of attending college under a bill sponsored by state Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-West Lampeter). More than a dozen states have adopted some version of a Dream Act in recent years.
“Young people who graduate from our high schools have established a presence here, and we have made an investment in them,” Smucker said. “They are part of our future, so it only makes sense to lower barriers to additional educational advancement and achievement. The more education they attain, the better positioned they are to become contributing citizens.”
The Smucker legislation is based on Maryland’s Dream Act, which was approved by the legislature in 2011 and then upheld overwhelmingly in a ballot referendum in the November 2012 election.
Under this proposal, eligible individuals must offer proof of having attended at least two years of high school and must meet all Commonwealth residency requirements for financial aid. If admitted to college, the students would then be charged the lower in-state tuition rate.
“Pennsylvania increasingly represents opportunity for people from many different places, and this seems a practical incentive to offer those who are working and studying to make their way in our Commonwealth,” Smucker said. “This has the potential to expand the pool of skilled workers and prospective job creators. In the converse, we limit our capacity to grow if we deny opportunities to intelligent and industrious young people because of actions their parents took years ago.
“This does not reduce admission standards for anyone, nor does it guarantee you a spot,” Smucker said. “It merely removes a significant financial penalty that prevents some highly capable students from pursuing higher education.
“The intent is to make Pennsylvania more hospitable to and competitive for emerging talent,” Smucker said. “The benefits of giving every student the same tools to succeed will become clear as we watch them grow into contributing members of the Commonwealth.”
— Sen. Dominic Pileggi (@SenatorPileggi) January 23, 2013
Lancaster Online also has a story on the bill.
LANCASTER, PA (Jan. 23) – The Pennsylvania affiliate of the Council on American Private Education announced today that recently retired Senator Jeffrey E. Piccola (R-Dauphin) will be the recipient of the group’s School Choice Champion award.
PA-CAPE provides a framework for communication and cooperation among nonpublic preschool through secondary schools in Pennsylvania. The association promotes the vital role of private schools and their significant contributions to educating the public and promoting the common good in Pennsylvania. It encourages excellence and pluralism in education and promotes the right of private schools to fulfill their unique missions; promotes the rights of parents to educate their children in the schools of their choice; and advocates the equitable opportunity of private school students to participate in appropriate state and federal education programs.
PA-CAPE also fosters the participation of the private school community in shaping Pennsylvania’s education agenda by advocating positions on education policy. “Last year school choice supporters achieved a big win with the expansion of Educational Improvement Tax Credits and the creation of the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program,” said Sean McAleer, co-director of PA-CAPE and education director for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. “Senator Piccola had the guts to pursue school choice and the leadership to see it through to the finish line.”
“The religious and private nonpublic schools of Pennsylvania are proud to honor Senator Piccola with this award,” added D. Merle Skinner, co-director of PA-CAPE and executive director of the Christian Family & Children’s Center of the Association for Christian Schools International Northeast Chapter. “He is a true champion to the thousands of school children and their parents who now can choose the school that best meets their needs.”
Yesterday Students First published a State-by-State analysis and report card that looks solely at education policy environments and provides a road map for schools’ success. From the press release.
Sacramento, CA. – Today, national education reform advocacy organization StudentsFirst published its first-ever State Policy Report Card, a new tool for improving student achievement that doesn’t look at individual or school-wide test scores or teacher effectiveness, but instead gauges how well each state’s education policies are serving students and schools.
“The most powerful way to improve student achievement from outside the classroom is to shape policy and implement laws at the state level that govern education,” said StudentsFirst CEO and Founder Michelle Rhee. “That is why our report card focuses singularly on the education policies in place in each of our states. And when we look solely at policy, it’s clear that we have a long way to go toward improving our education system in America.”
The report raises serious questions about whether states’ education laws and practices are contributing to student success. Nearly ninety percent of states received less than a “C” grade on the State Policy Report Card, and no state earned higher than a “B-”.
Pennsylvania scored a D and currently ranks 19th among the other states. Click on the image to view the full report.
Pennsylvania has made great strides when it comes to considering and enacting policies that will impact the success of the education system and increase student achievement. Pennsylvania has adopted meaningful educator evaluations that will identify excellent teachers and principals. Pennsylvania has always tied consistent ineffectiveness to potential dismissal and with new evaluations that measure an educator’s impact on student achievement, the state can develop and maintain an effective workforce that will have the greatest impact on students. Pennsylvania has also recently enacted the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program aimed at helping low-income students attending low-performing schools. The Commonwealth has also embarked on a mission to update the state’s antiquated charter school law and should consider including better authorizing and accountability structures for all charters. These policies will all have meaningful impacts on students, and the state should continue enacting policies that put students first.
The report card from Students First has bipartisan support from PA Lawmakers. The Patriot News reported these comments from Rep Aument and Rep Boyle.
Two lawmakers who have been briefed in advance about the group’s report card saw value to it. Rep. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, who authored the educator evaluation system legislation, said he thinks the report card should be used as a map for education reform.
Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, called it “a thoughtful, well-researched tool” that should help lawmakers “work toward creating policies that give parents more information, reward good teachers, and force government to spend tax dollars wisely.”
It’s good to see student focused organizations such as Students First and Pennsylvania lawmakers who are willing to talk about the issues facing Pennsylvania students and put ideas for real reform on the table.
Crossposted from EthanDemme.com
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, reportedly on Gov. Mitt Romney’s short list of prospective vice-presidential candidates, is expected to visit Lancaster County on Monday to rally supporters and stump for the Republican nominee.
Portman, a rising star in national Republican politics, is scheduled to arrive at theLancaster County Farm & Home Center, 1383 Arcadia Road, Lancaster, at 11:30 a.m. and take the stage at noon to address a throng of Republicans. The event is free and open to the public. Organizers say this will be an opportunity for Romney supporters to join coalitions, purchase Romney memorabilia and meet the man who may very well be the next vice-president of the United States.
“The fact that Lancaster is a primary stop for the potential vice-presidential nominee demonstrates the importance of our county in this election,” said Scott Boyd, Chairman of the Republican Committee of Lancaster County. “Make no mistake, Pennsylvania is in play, and Lancaster County is pivotal to turning PA red.”
To RSVP, please call 717-746-8098 and leave your name and phone number, or send an email TeamPA@MittRomney.com.
h/t to LancasterRepublicans.com
Romney’s campaign has released the list of stops this Saturday in Pennsylvania. See below for the full information.
Weatherly Casting and Machine Company
300 Commerce Street, Weatherly, PA
Doors Open 7:45 AM | Program Begins 8:45 AM
Cornwall Iron Furnace
94 Rexmont Road, Cornwall, PA
Doors Open 3:45 PM | Program Begins 4:45 PM
To RSVP, visit: www.mittromney.com/states/pennsylvania
HARRISBURG – The House Health Committee today unanimously approved legislation authored by Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom), with the cooperation of Rep. Ron Waters (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), to require the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to verify the eligibility of recipients of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program.
“House Bill 1991 will deter fraud in the LIHEAP and weatherization programs, which are meant to assist the truly needy,” said Cutler. “This legislation has been a long time in the making, and I believe this year we can finally get this proposal to the governor’s desk. The measure is a bi-partisan effort to clean up these fraud-ridden programs, and the administration and auditor general are on board with this language.”
Along with the income eligibility verification provisions, House Bill 1991 also includes a fraud reporting requirement for DPW and DCED employees, recipients, applicants and contractors. Cases of suspected fraud would be reported directly to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
As another safeguard for taxpayer dollars, the legislation directs the auditor general to conduct periodic performance audits of the programs. A 2007 audit by this office uncovered hundreds of cases of individuals collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits using the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. The audit also led to the OIG and the City of Philadelphia collaborating to investigate, and eventually arrest, 16 government employees and two co-conspirators for fleecing LIHEAP of a half-million dollars.
“The disturbing case of Philadelphia LIHEAP employees creating a culture of fraud and abuse demonstrates the need for this reform,” said Cutler. “Government employees are expected to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars they oversee. What was uncovered in Philadelphia was a systematic effort to defraud the taxpayers, with employees training each other to steal while others turned a blind eye to the deception. The reporting provisions included in my legislation would act as a safeguard against future cases of employee and applicant theft.”
Cutler began his crusade to reform the LIHEAP and weatherization programs in 2007, when he was first elected to office. As a co-leader for the House Majority Policy Committee Welfare Policy Team, he has been a champion for returning integrity to all public assistance programs, including helping to usher in a series of welfare reforms signed into law in 2011.
House Bill 1991 will now go before the full House for debate and consideration.
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