Educators, administrators pan state assessments at House hearing

Educators, administrators pan state assessments at House hearing

The House Education Committee held a marathon hearing Wednesday getting input on state education assessments from frontline players who deliver and develop the tests. Most testifiers panned the state assessments as costly, unnecessary, and misapplied.

The committee’s aim was not to take testimony on any specific bill, but to get a ground-level understanding of what the tests do, how they’re viewed, and whether students are prepared for them.

“What we wanted to hear today is what exactly we Pennsylvania are required to do in terms of testing as far as the federal government requirements are concerned, what’s been going on at PDE and the Board of Education, but also to hear from different teachers, superintendents, and board members as to exactly what’s going on in each of the districts,” said Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York). “Let’s hear from individuals who are involved in the testing day in and day out to give us an explanation.”

It was noted the topic of state assessments has drawn a lot of interest lately, particularly in terms of preparedness for the exams after the adoption of Pennsylvania CORE standards in 2013.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

House members return to session with deep divides

The House of Representatives returned to Harrisburg Tuesday for a rare mid-July voting session and rank-and-file members of that chamber expressed frustrations and divides as deep as those in their leadership responsible for negotiating a new spending plan.

Rep. Lee James (R-Venango) told The PLS Reporter that while his district hasn’t seen the mailers sent to mainly Republican House districts in the southeast, he reported those of his district are happy with his vote in support of the Republican-crafted budget plan.

“I’m trying to hold the line on increasing taxes and that’s their main concern,” he said.

While he said he received about 100 “canned presentations” from school teachers, after he explained to people why he voted the way he did many reported that their union did not tell them about what the governor’s revenue plan would mean for them.

Giving a literal thumbs down to whether he’d support new revenue sources, Rep. James indicated new taxes are a non-starter for him.

“It’s kind of a non-event out in the western part of Pennsylvania as long as I hold the line on taxes,” he stated.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

GOP House member unveils budget alternative

Standing alone Thursday, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) unveiled what he called a “middle of the road” budget alternative.

“I’ve been here a long time, I’ve been through a lot of these debates on the budget and I think it’s time we start to get serious about doing this,” he said at Thursday morning’s news conference unveiling his proposal. “It doesn’t appear to me that much progress is being made.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Gov. Wolf vetoes liquor privatization, budget implementation bills

Gov. Wolf vetoes liquor privatization, budget implementation bills

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday afternoon his veto of a liquor privatization bill passed by the General Assembly as well as two budget implementation bills in the form of the School Code and Fiscal Code.

In vetoing House Bill 466, liquor privatization legislation sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), Gov. Wolf said the legislation is irresponsible.

“This legislation falls short of a responsible means to reform our state liquor system and to maximize revenues to benefit our citizen,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “It makes bad business sense for the Commonwealth and consumers to sell off an asset, especially before maximizing its value. During consideration of this legislation, it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers.”

House Bill 466 is the first liquor privatization bill sent to a governor and would have phased out the current state retail liquor market according to a formula.

Thursday, July 2, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Senate Democrats say working with Republicans is a frustrating affair

Senate Democrats say working with Republicans is a frustrating affair

Talk to Senate Democrats about what it’s like working with Republican counterparts in the Senate and the buzz word is “frustrating.”

Frustrating, they say, in both trying to advance their proposals and then also receive credit for legislation they’ve sponsored that passes under a different bill number and with a Republican co-sponsor.

“It’s certainly frustrating, this whole process has been frustrating,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) told The PLS Reporter Monday. “It’s been very frustrating for us through this whole process, the unwillingness to want to move on some of these issues.”

One particularly scorned member of the Senate Democratic Caucus is Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) who has had two proposals he’s put forward advance in the Senate, though without him being named as a sponsor or getting credit for the legislation.

Monday, June 29, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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