Friday, May 11, 2012

Here’s $161 million in additional PA revenue without raising taxes

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Here’s $161 million in additional revenue without raising taxes
CORRECTION: Yesterday I inadvertently quoted a figure of $300 million per year for Pennsylvania’s EITC program.  The correct amount is $75 million per year; still not peanuts.
(Apologies for any inconvenience this might have caused.  I have disciplined our entire research department; they will have to serve on a school board for another 4 years.)
This is $75 million in forfeited tax revenue that is NOT available for the state to meet its constitutional obligation: “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth (Sec.14),"  Last time I looked the PA constitution said nothing about providing for a system of private and religious education.

Here is a clear “school choice” that the legislature is making and that the voters in Upper Darby, York, Erie, Chester Upland, Pittsburgh, Philly, etc. should take note of:
While the Governor’s budget cuts ABG kindergarten funding by $100 million and districts all over the state are cutting programs, cutting staff and raising taxes, if we were to combine this $75 million with the $86 million that the Auditor General reported we are overpaying cyber charter schools annually there would be an additional $161 million available without raising any new taxes.

A Dozen Education Policy Questions the Press Should Ask
Nieman Watchdog ASK THIS | February 07, 2012
By Diane Ravitch                                  

Keystone Exams:

State Board of Education favors reducing graduate requirement tests

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 11, 2012 12:34 am
With $23.2 million already invested in developing mandatory state tests for high school graduation, the state Board of Education has voted to move forward with the exams but to require fewer of them.  The state board Thursday recommended considering changes to the plan it passed in 2010 for Keystone Exams. The plan had called for the state to develop 10 Keystone Exams in various disciplines and require students to be proficient in six of them.
But on a 13-0 vote, the board favored reducing the number of exams required for graduation to five. It also called for developing five others that would be voluntary -- if enough money is available.
The change isn't final until it goes through the regulatory process, including input from the public, state legislators and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

York Area Regional Police Chief: Good preschools prevent crime
York Daily Record Letter to the Editor 05/07/2012
Regarding "Save Funding For Preschools," letter to the editor of April 23:
I write in support of General Dennis Benchoff's recommendation to legislative leaders that funding for early learning programs be restored in next year's state budget. Such targeted education interventions are investments in crime prevention.
Too many times in my career, I've seen the cycle repeated in which criminal behavior is passed from one generation to the next.
As a police chief, I am impressed with the research showing that at-risk children who benefit from high-quality early education programs are more likely to enter school ready to learn, do better in school, graduate from high school, and avoid the pitfalls of juvenile crime and violence that ultimately require incarceration, which is a huge drain on state government and our economy.

EDITORIAL: School-funding cut outrage felt in Harrisburg

It’s been a rough year for public schools in Delaware County. They’re always under the gun from local taxpayers to control costs. But the Great Recession – and decreased revenues to state coffers — has put even more strain on a system that’s very nearly broken.
It’s very likely the GOP-controlled Senate charted a course in conflict with their Republican governor because they are hearing from their constituents – the folks who are bearing the burden of Harrisburg’s tight fists. They, and members of the GOP-controlled House, are closer to their neighbors who are trying to do more with less. They’re seeing the pain the cuts are causing in their hometowns.

PUBLISHED: MAY 10, 2012 12:01 AM EST
Erie School District might use furlough days to cut deficit
Erie School District officials didn't secure a teacher wage freeze last year, but Superintendent Jay Badams believes one could help the district cope with its financial crunch.  Badams is also hoping to institute four unpaid furlough days for all district employees to chip away at a projected $10 million to $12 million deficit heading into the next school year.

School Voucher Debate Still Heated in Pennsylvania
National Institute on Money and State Politics
Posted on May 10, 2012 by Anne Sherwood
The Philadelphia City Paper recently reported that issues surrounding a school voucher program are heating up in the Pennsylvania statehouse, again. A top priority of Gov. Tom Corbett, the controversial bill passed the state senate last year but has failed to progress in the house. Pennsylvania, like many other states, already has an Education Improvement Tax Credit, or EITC, which provides an average scholarship of $1,000 to low-income families who want their children to attend private schools.
The legislation is supported by the American Federation for Children (AFC) and their state political action committee (PAC), Students First. AFC is a “national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.” Part of AFC’s mission is to “focus time and resources on supporting state-level efforts to provide low-income and middle class families with access to great schools through publicly funded private school choice.”

Please help Philadelphia: Poster child for disasters of corporate reform
Parents Across America website by Helen Gym May 9, 2012
Dear parents and PAA colleagues:
It’s taken me a while to talk about what’s happening in Philadelphia because of the destructive forces threatening public education in our city.
In case you haven’t read the news, Philadelphia’s Chief Recovery Officer – a gas industry executive paid $150K over six months – hired the Boston Consulting Group for a cool $1.4 million to create a “Blueprint for Reform”. The Blueprint sets out a five year course of action which calls for closing one-fourth of Philadelphia’s schools, 40 alone next year (64 total), placing 40% of students into charters, and dividing up the remaining schools into NYC-inspired “achievement networks” run by third party operators under a five year performance contract.

Editorial: Senate Education Committee should say no to rule-changing bill
West Chester Daily Local Editorial Posted: 05/09/12 12:01 am
The method by which voters choose the officials who are charged with overseeing the operation of local public schools was the topic of a state Senate Education Committee hearing held recently in Downingtown, and a better school district to hold such a session could not be found in our Commonwealth.  Downingtown, from our vantage point, is a school district that has over the years shown an ability to manage itself well both for school students, school teachers, administrators and staffs, and taxpayers. Not everyone gets what they want, and there certainly are tensions that come to a head at times. But the system that is in use to elect the school board members has not been called into question because in the end it works.

Just think about how much money we could save if our NCLB testing nationwide were done on a sampling basis instead of testing every student…LAF
Students Make Gains in Testing on Science
New York Times By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA Published: May 10, 2012
American eighth graders have made modest gains in national science testing, with Hispanic and black students narrowing the gap between them and their white and Asian peers, the federal government reported Thursday.  Students tested last year scored an average of 152 out of a possible 300, up from 150 in 2009, a small but statistically significant improvement. The latest results are based on a representative sampling of 122,000 students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, part of the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign Education Funding Advocacy Week May 21-25
Education Funding Advocacy Week is not a single event but a series of activities sponsored by individuals and organizations that oppose the Governor’s proposed Budget for 2012-2013 because it reduces learning opportunities for students in Pennsylvania 
·         Education Voters of PA “Call to Action for Public Education” Day  on May 23rd.  Get involved! Learn how, click here.
·         Harrisburg public school supporters will hold a rally for increased state funding for public schools at the State Capitol on May 23 at 10:00 AM.
·         The Media Area NAACP and CU Keystone Honors Program is hosting 2012 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania “Calling for a Trauma-Informed Education System” on Friday, May 25.  Click here for registration details.

The Education Policy and Leadership Center is pleased to invite you to attend the PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM Western Pennsylvania Breakfast Series Thursday, May 17, 2012
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Holiday Inn Pittsburgh University Center, (100 Lytton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213)
SUBJECT: College Completion Agenda
·         Gregg Fleisher, National AP Training and Incentives Program Director, National Math+Science Initiative 
  • Marcus S. Lingenfelter,  Director, State Government Relations, The College Board
  • Dr. Peter H. Garland, Executive Vice Chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education 
The College Board's College Completion Agenda Report is available at
Please RSVP Today!   
Registration is free, but everyone must RSVP at
Please share this invitation with your friends and colleagues.

Here are more than 400 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:


Has your board considered this draft resolution yet?

PSBA Sample Board Resolution regarding the budget

Please consider bringing this sample resolution to the members of your board.

PA Partnerships for Children – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The governor’s budget plan cuts funding for proven programs like Child Care Works, Keystone STARS and the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. These are among the most cost-effective investments we can make in education.  Gov. Corbett’s budget plan also runs counter to a pledge he made when he ran for governor in 2010. He acknowledged the benefits of early childhood education and promised to increase funding to double the number of children who would benefit from early learning opportunities.
We need your help to tell lawmakers: if you cut these programs – you close the door to early learning! Click here to tell your state legislators to fund early childhood education programs at the same level they approved for this year’s budget.

Education Voters PA – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The Governor’s proposal starts the process, but it isn’t all decided: our legislators can play an important role in standing up for our priorities.  Last year, public outcry helped prevent nearly $300 million in additional cuts.  We heard from the Governor, and we know where he stands.  Now, we need to ask our legislators: what is your position on supporting our schools?

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