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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 18, 2014 09:27 AM
From: Representative Will Tallman
To: All House members
Subject: Amending School Code
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that amends the Public School Code to change the makeup of the State Board of Education to increase the General Assembly’s representation on the Board, to provide that the members of the Board shall elect the chairman of the Board and the chairmen of each Council within the Board, and to ensure that when the Board establishes policies, principles, standards, rules, and regulations the Board shall consider the economic impact of those actions.

As you may be aware, the State Board of Education is the body to which the General Assembly has granted broad powers to establish policies, principles, standards, rules, and regulations relating to education in the Commonwealth. The Board is composed of 21 members, 17 of which are appointed by the Governor, and only 4 of which represent the interests of the General Assembly (the majority and minority chairmen of the Senate and House Education Committees). In addition to appointing 17 of the 21 members of the Board, the Governor also designates the chairman of the Board and the chairmen of the Councils of Basic Education and Higher Education.

As you may also be aware, in recent years the State Board of Education has come under a good deal of scrutiny and criticism for dramatic shifts in education policy, such as the creation of Keystone Exam graduation requirements, as well as the adoption of the controversial Common Core State Standards in 2010. While such actions were within the purview of the Board, these actions were made with little cognizance by, and little input from, the General Assembly. Additionally, concerns have been raised in recent years regarding the importance of considering the economic impact the Board’s actions have on the Commonwealth and on school districts.

My legislation will specifically accomplish the following:
  • Provide the President Pro Tempore of the Senate with 3 appointments to the Board, including 1 member of the Senate, 1 school board member, and 1 public school teacher or administrator.
  • Provide the Speaker of the House with 3 appointments to the Board, including 1 member of the House, 1 school board member, and 1 public school teacher or administrator.
  • Require the members of the Board, with the recommendation of the Governor, to elect the chairman of the Board by a majority vote.
  • Require the members of the Councils of Basic Education and Higher Education, with the recommendations of the Governor, to elect the chairman of each council by a majority vote.
  • Provide that the chairman of the Board shall select an executive director for the Board to serve at the chairman’s pleasure.
  • Provide that when the Board is adopting and establishing policies, principles, standards, rules, and regulations the Board shall consider the economic impact and cost of implementation for those actions.

I believe that these are positive changes which will provide the General Assembly with more influence in the direction of education policy in the Commonwealth, and which will provide more accountability within the State Board of Education.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Carol Hoffman at (717) 783-8875 or by e-mail at choffman@pahousegop.com .



Introduced as HB128