Friday, April 8, 2011

New Reports Pan EITC Accountability and Cyber Performance/ Public Ed is Under Attack In PA - Take Action

New Report Finds No Accountability in Existing State EITC Program Funneling Tax Credits to Private Schools
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/
Despite receiving roughly a third of a billion dollars in taxpayer funds over the past decade, a state program that funds scholarships for students attending private and religious schools lacks fundamental accountability measures.
The Keystone Research Center made this finding in a new report assessing the state's decade-old Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program. View the Executive Summary and the full report, No Accountability: Pennsylvania's Track Record Using Tax Credits to Pay for Private and Religious School Tuition, at
The report is designed to help guide a growing debate around a plan to offer taxpayer-funded vouchers to all low-income school-age children for tuition at private and religious schools — and what accountability measures will be put in place in such a voucher program.
"With no educational or financial accountability in EITC scholarships for private school tuition, the state is simply not ready for a new voucher program with a price tag to taxpayers that is at least 10-times as big," said Stephen Herzenberg, PhD, the report's author. "Policymakers instead should focus on strengthening accountability in the EITC." April 7th, 2011
You Mean It's Not About the Kids?
New Stanford/CREDO Report Finds PA Cyber Charters Lacking
An independent study released by Stanford University yesterday found that "cyber" charter schools in Pennsylvania do an overwhelmingly worse job educating children than traditional public schools, and that other charter schools are a mixed bag – at best.  Yet as the Allentown Morning Call reported, "Under the governor's plan to expand charter schools in Pennsylvania, taxpayers could lose their ability to say no to new charters while still having to foot the bill."  But if it's not good for students, why does Gov. Corbett want to expand charters – with even less oversight?  The short answer: Follow the money.  The state's largest charter school operator, Vahan Gureghian, personally gave over $300,000 to Corbett's gubernatorial campaign.  Just like with the voucher debate, this one seems to be more "donors' choice" than "school choice."

This report covers academic achievement growth at charter schools in Pennsylvania over a four-year period. Overall, charter school performance in Pennsylvania lagged in growth compared to traditional public schools. Looking at the distribution of school performance, 60% of the charter schools performed with similar or better success than the traditional public schools in reading and 53% of charter schools performed with similar or better success in math compared to traditional public schools. Performance at cyber charter schools was substantially lower than the performance at brick and mortar charters with 100% of cyber charters performing significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts in both reading and math.

Here's a link to the full study report pdf (22 pages, summary on page 20)


Bills make property tax hikes harder

HARRISBURG - As state education cuts are debated, the Senate took initial steps Tuesday to place limits on the ability of school boards to hike property taxes to provide offsetting revenue.
One bill approved by the Senate Education Committee would require a two-thirds vote rather than a majority vote by a school board to hike property taxes. Another bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee would erase exceptions that allow a school board to avoid a public referendum on a property tax hike that exceeds an inflation index.
Read more:

Unions Move in at Chicago Charter Schools, and Resistance Is Swift

New York Times, By REBECCA VEVEA,  Published: April 7, 2011
In a trend that worries charter school operators, teachers at 12 of Chicago's charters have formed unions over the past two years, and the Chicago Teachers Union is seeking to organize all 85 of the schools.

Mandate Relief Bills – April 5th Senate Education Committee Hearing Video (1:56) and Bill Summaries

Public Education in PA is Clearly Under Attack – Make More Noise


Pennsylvanians Opposed to Vouchers is a broad coalition of statewide organizations. Click here to see POV's new website and to email your legislators regarding the voucher bill SB1:

You Can Now Visit the Keystone State Education Coalition on Facebook

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