Thursday, December 8, 2011

Auditor General Jack Wagner Again Urges General Assembly to Fix Flawed Charter School Funding Formula Says fix needed before more money is spent on new education initiatives

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators and members of the press via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg


Voucher update:

We are hearing that the Piccola/Williams bill SB 1 may be dead in the House, but vouchers are still very much in play.  We may see action amending other bills with voucher and charter provisions before the session ends.  Please continue to let your House members know that no voucher plan is acceptable.


Auditor General Jack Wagner Again Urges General Assembly to Fix Flawed Charter School Funding Formula

Says fix needed before more money is spent on new education initiatives

Press Release HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 6, 2011 – Auditor General Jack Wagner today urged the General Assembly to fix an oversight in an education reform bill that recently passed the Senate to address the flawed charter school funding formula, which, he said, is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.  “Money is being spent without a clear idea of what it actually costs to educate a child, resulting in a system that is unfair to school districts, charter and cyber charter schools, and most importantly, taxpayers,” Wagner said. “The charter school funding formula must be fixed before the General Assembly considers spending more money on alternative forms of education.”


Here’s a link to collection of some previous KSEC postings on charter and cyber funding and accountability:

Charter and Cyber Funding and Accountability Recap 12/8/11


The case for school vouchers -- with improvements to SB 1

Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 6:00 AM
The state House of Representatives is the last hindrance to passing school vouchers in Pennsylvania. In the coming days, lawmakers should take the proposed bill, amend it for the better, and pass it.

In Florida, McKay Scholarship voucher program exposé prompts reform of a billion-dollar educational catastrophe
Miami New Times By Gus Garcia-Roberts Thursday, Dec 8 2011
Five months ago, Miami New Times exposed a taxpayer-funded voucher program that, even on the overblown Floridian scale of dysfunction, is a stunning boondoggle. Students who receive the John M. McKay Scholarship for disabled students are taught in public parks or not at all, the story showed. Administrators and teachers at schools given millions by the program have rap sheets that include cocaine dealing, kidnapping, witness tampering, and burglary. Kids in these schools are even sometimes paddled, a tactic outlawed in most Florida counties. Fraud is rampant.

Pittsburgh Public Schools OKs budget that contains staff reduction
Thursday, December 08, 2011
by Taryn Luna, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board approved the 2012 district budget, and the subsequent reduction of more than 400 employees by next fall, at a special legislative meeting Wednesday night.

In Philly, parents come to the rescue of a cherished public school
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer, Posted: Thu, Dec. 8, 2011, 3:01 AM
The school, like many, still finds itself in a tough spot. To make the math work, Farlino has zeroed out her budget for the rest of the year, meaning that with over half of the school year left, she has no money left for things such as paper, books, and ink for school printers.  Schools started the year already cut close to the bone. A $629 million district shortfall announced last year meant less staff and fewer programs.
Even though Meredith's Home and School Association chipped in $14,500 over the summer to help absorb some of the cuts, "it's bare bones - myself and the counselor," Farlino said. "We run the lunchroom. We are the nurse three days a week."
The school lost its gifted-and-talented teacher. It has no assistant principal, no dean of students, no academic coach or reading and math teachers to work with struggling or high-achieving small groups of students.  Things are as dire as anyone has ever seen.
"This is the first time that I've seen the academic programs be affected by a budget," Farlino said. "We're no longer talking about fluff or support impact. We're talking about the ability to have kids achieve."

Bensalem Charter school application withdrawn

Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 5:50 pm | Updated: 1:30 am, Thu Dec 8, 2011.
By James McGinnis Staff writer 
Middletown businessman James Jones said he wanted a charter school that teaches students to “think, talk and act like chief executive officers.”
But his enterprising plan for a business centered high school simply couldn’t stand up to questions from the Bensalem school board Wednesday night.

Align Pre-K and early grades, coalition says

NSBA School Board News, December 2011
High-quality preschool is essential for ensuring that all children — particularly disadvantaged children and English Language Learners — are launched onto a path of academic and career success, says a new report by the Pre-K Coalition, a group that includes NSBA and six other education organizations. Yet, as important as this advantage is, Pre-K is not some kind of educational “silver bullet,” and its successes must be built upon in early elementary school,
To get the most impact from Pre-K, the programs should be closely aligned with early elementary school (kindergarten through third grade) so gains made in preschool can be maintained and enhanced throughout the K12 years and beyond, says the coalition’s report, The Importance of Aligning Pre-k through 3rd Grade.

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