Friday, January 6, 2012

“Citing Dinniman’s support for SB1, the vouchers/school choice bill Houghton accused the Senator of failing to support public education.” Former Rep. Houghton to Primary Sen. Dinniman

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Major issues in education converge in Delaware County today – funding, school closings, vouchers and charter schools are all in the mix.  Kudos to Phil Heron and the crew at the Delco Times for their coverage.

“Citing Dinniman’s support for SB1, the vouchers/school choice bill Houghton accused the Senator of failing to support public education.”

Former Rep. Houghton to Primary Sen. Dinniman

PoliticsPA By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor, posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2012
Pa. Senator Andy Dinniman has drawn a primary challenge from one-term Pa. Rep. Tom Houghton, the former lawmaker confirmed to PoliticsPA.  Citing Dinniman’s support for SB1, the vouchers/school choice bill Houghton accused the Senator of failing to support public education.
“He’s supposed a Democratic leader on education. Not only has he supported a voucher bill, but he’s taken a lead on it,” Houghton said. “He’s giving cover to right-wingers who are threatening to defund our public schools.”

Guest Column: Anti-voucher foe: Pols need to be educated
Delco Times By KATE SHAW, Times Guest Columnist, Published: Friday, December 23, 2011
Kate Shaw is Executive Director at Research for Action
As a New Year’s resolution, legislators ought to commit themselves to a discussion that asks the hard questions: What has been the experience of states and districts nationwide that have implemented voucher systems?  Do these reforms expand access and educational opportunity for the most vulnerable students? And do vouchers increase student achievement and readiness for college and meaningful careers?
My organization recently conducted a review of the research on school vouchers to inform these questions and provide Pennsylvania policymakers, parents, stakeholders, and students with the evidence and answers they need about this important issue.

Voucher bill fails again for a reason
Centre Daily Times Opinion By Michael J. Crossey Posted: 12:01am on Jan 5, 2012
Michael J. Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District and president of the 193,000-member Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Here we go again. That’s what many Pennsylvanians said as they watched Gov. Tom Corbett push for tuition voucher plans and charter school expansion. It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day,” where the same scene repeats over and over. Voucher proponents and people who profit from charter schools made the same tired arguments they’ve been using for 20 years, proposing to take money from public schools to pay for programs that will not improve student performance.
Read more here:

The official announcement of school closings by the Philadelphia Archdiocese will be at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 6th but word could come out on Friday morning as schools are told in advance of the announcement.  Commission members are expected to deliver their findings between 10 a.m. and noon today at Neumann University to pastors, grade school principals and high school presidents, who will then inform their faculties and students of the news. 
Catholic school crisis hurts all
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion By Robert H. Palestini
Robert H. Palestini is executive director of the Center for Catholic Urban Education at Saint Joseph's University
Posted: Thu, Jan. 5, 2012, 3:01 AM
An Archdiocese of Philadelphia blue-ribbon commission is expected to release its final report on the future of Catholic schooling in the five-county region on Friday. The plan will likely recommend closing and merging many elementary and high schools. Although this presents a particular challenge to Catholics, the impact will go well beyond them. These schools are a valuable community resource, and their sustainability should be of universal concern.

Live-stream of archdiocese press conference on school closings

School principals, presidents and pastors will gather at Neumann University in Aston at 10 a.m. to get advance word on the findings, including which schools will likely be closed.  They will then return to their prospective schools to deliver the word at noon.
The archdiocese will hold a press conference to announce the findings at 4 p.m. at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center on North 17th Street in Philadelphia.
YOU CAN CLICK HERE to watch a live-stream of the 4 p.m. press conference.

Senator Piccola is Majority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee
Senator Piccola asks state to declare Chester Upland a distressed school district
Delco Times Published: Thursday, January 05, 2012
State Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, R-15, of Dauphin County, has called for Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis to declare the Chester Upland School District a “district in financial distress” and consider implementing a board of control to oversee the district’s finances.

Senator Dinniman is Minority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee

Chesco Senator Dinniman blasts education department

State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-19, of Chester County, the minority chairman of the Senate Education Committee, blasted the Pennsylvania Department of Education Thursday, saying he was dismayed the state refused to advance funding to the Chester Upland School District.
Dinniman argued that the only option left is the local charter school.
“As a legislator, I have a fundamental responsibility to ask a question that needs to be asked and I don’t know the answer to: ‘Is it just a coincidence that the operator of the for-profit charter school serving the students of this district is also one of the biggest Republican contributors in the commonwealth?’” Dinniman asked.

Chester Upland owes intermediate unit $1.08 million

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 By JOHN KOPP
The Chester Upland School District, struggling to meet its payroll beyond December, owes $1.08 million to the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.
Chester Upland incurred a $2.94 million debt to the DCIU for various services provided during the 2010-11 school year. The district has paid $1.86 million of that, including two payments within the last month totaling $500,000, leaving Chester Upland’s outstanding debt at $1.08.
Officials from the DCIU, Chester Upland and the Pennsylvania Department of Education have been meeting to construct a repayment plan, DCIU Executive Director Lawrence J. O’Shea said. State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, is also involved in conversations.

Interesting connection here - Joe Watkins, who is cited in the following article as the spokesman for Vahan Gureghian’s Chester Community Charter School is also the Chairman of Pennsylvania's Students First PAC, the PAC that contributed over $6.66 million to support pro-voucher candidates in Pennsylvania last year. Which BTW, included $45,000 given to Senator Dinniman discussed in the first article above.  Students First PAC raised that $6.66 million from just 19 contributors.
Chester Community Charter School Sues School District, State Over Funding
December 30, 2011 7:59 AM
CBS By David Madden
CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – One of the two charter schools in Chester has filed suit in Commonwealth Court, seeking millions of dollars it insists is owed to them, either by the Chester-Upland School District or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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