Institute of Politics
Stan Thompson Rod Ruddock

EDUCATION POLICY COMMITTEE

RECENT AND UPCOMING PROGRAMS

In May 2016, the Institute participated in ReMake Learning Week by hosting over 150 students from 10 schools for a design challenge led by the Sprout Fund.

In May 2015, the Education Committee partnered with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the Sprout Fund, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the Remake Learning Network to host a forum on innovative learning practices in the region and policy options to expand them statewide. This program, Advancing Innovation in Education, brought together students from four school districts as well as libraries, superintendents, foundations and community leaders, to discuss advances in education practice that focus on engaging students from K-12 in new methods of learning.

In October 2014, the Education Policy Committee, in collaboration with the Center on Regional Politics at Temple University, hosted a forum on basic education funding.

COMMITTEE WORK

In 2011 it became clear that with tight federal and state budgets, the financial stability for many school districts is uncertain.  Federal stimulus money that had been supplementing state basic education funding and providing additional funding for other education-related programming had long expired and the governor’s then budget proposed eliminating several line items on which districts had depended.

As a result, following the announcement of the 2011/12 state budget, school districts began to examine options both to reduce costs and to generate revenue.  In April 2011, the Institute’s Education Policy Committee expressed an interest in knowing more about the efforts that school districts were engaging in along these lines.  Using local media as the primary source for information, the Institute was able to report on the potential cost-cutting/revenue-generating strategies that were under consideration in 82 school districts in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The resulting report identified 32 categories of strategies, ranging from personnel reduction through attrition and furloughs to more creative strategies such as holding alumni fundraisers and starting a musical instrument lending library in lieu of purchasing new band instruments. In October 2011, the Institute provided testimony based on this report to the House Democratic Policy Committee.

<<Click here to view this report, entitled "Maintaining Student Achievement">>

After receiving this information, and recognizing that school districts had used up many of their one-time cost-cutting options to balance budgets in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the committee decided in 2013 to examine shared services to see if there was room for an expanded use for shared services among districts as a way of potentially weathering the financial challenges that lie ahead.  This white paper, Shared Services and Cooperation:  Creating Opportunities for Students in the Face of Financial Challenges, examines the status of shared services in Pennsylvania, especially as provided through Pennsylvania’s intermediate units. It also examines state and local efforts around cooperation across district lines.

<<Click here to view "Shared Services and Cooperation">>

In April of 2014 Institute staff met with Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq to discuss the report and its recommendations as well as future policy priorities for the administration.  The secretary indicated that administration priorities were aligned with some of the recommendations made in the report; however, the recent projected budget shortfalls make it less likely that any new education initiatives will be enacted this year.

Also in April 2014, the Institute received a request to partner with the Center on Regional Politics at Temple University on the topic of education funding.  A three-part series will be held in various locations throughout the state; the Institute’s Education Committee hosted the second forum on October 3, 2014.

MEMBERSHIP

The Education Committee is co-chaired by the Honorable Rod Ruddock and Dr. Stanley Thompson.

Click here for a complete list of members>>>

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COMMITTEE CALENDAR

The Education Committee is not currently scheduled for a meeting. Please contact Briana Mihok with any questions at bnd2@pitt.edu or 412-624-7792.

Jim Turner

 

Education Policy Committee

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