Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NYT - EITC: Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools; appear(s) to benefit all involved — donors with business before the legislature, lawmakers and lobbyists.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Please take 5 minutes to join parents and community members across the Commonwealth in calling their legislators and Governor Corbett on Wednesday and urge them to change the direction we are heading and INVEST IN PUBLIC EDUCATION! 
Tell them to support the following additional improvements to funding for school districts:
·          Restore an additional $50 million to the Senate-approved funding for Accountability Block Grants, restoring the line item to this year’s level of $100 million (still $150 million below the 2010-2011 budget level).
·          Add at least $50 million for Charter School reimbursement to school districts to begin to restore the cut of $224 million made last summer.
·          Provide at least a cost-of-living increase to the Basic Subsidy and Special Education line items, which will help to mitigate the seriously negative effects of last summer’s huge cut in state funding for school districts.
Use our Call to Action Guide for all the information you'll need to participate.  It's that easy!
Spread the word Forward this email to your friends, post on Facebook and Twitter or do what others are doing, encourage parents and neighbors by passing out flyers.

Posted: Tue, May. 22, 2012, 6:08 AM
Survey: Pa. schools in dire financial straits
A survey of Pennsylvania school districts to be made public Tuesday shows many headed toward insolvency in the next few years, and to avoid it they are weighing cuts to music, art, physical education, and electives while increasing class size and raising taxes.
Two hundred and eighty-one of the state’s 500 districts — 56 percent — participated in the late April survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO).

PASA/PASBO Survey Press Release May 22, 2012 2:30 PM
Student Learning Opportunities Slashed Across State
As Financial Condition of School Districts Continues to Deteriorate
New survey provides insight on impact of state education policy choices
HARRISBURG, PA—(May 22, 2012)—A new survey indicates that, for a second
consecutive year, school districts’ are again forced to consider  cuts  to instructional
programs and school personnel actions as they anticipate continued worsening of their
financial condition, unless state and local funding improves. Having already made cuts
this fiscal year as a result of steep state budget cuts and declining local revenues, school
districts will be forced to implement even deeper cuts, further limiting students’
opportunities to learn.
Two hundred and eighty-one, or 56 percent, of the state’s 500 districts participated in
the third annual school budget survey conducted in late April by the PA Association of
School Administrators (PASA) and the PA Association of School Business Officials
(PASBO). The survey asked school districts to answer questions related to their financial
health and the impact of the enacted FY 2011-12 and proposed  FY 2012-13  state

  • Class sizes will increase in about 60 percent of the districts surveyed.
  • Students in 58 percent of districts will face reduced instruction in art and music, reduced physical education classes, and fewer elective and advanced placement course offerings.
  • Nearly half of the districts are delaying textbook purchases.
  • Forty-six percent are trimming or eliminating field trips and extra-curricular programs, including sports.
  • Thirty-seven percent are cutting tutoring programs and 34 percent are eliminating summer school.
  • Research-proven early childhood education programs such as full-day kindergarten will be reduced or eliminated in 19 percent of responding districts.

Easton Area School Board adopts final budget with 102 job cuts
District raises property taxes 2.2 percent under $133.4 million spending plan.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 11:04 p.m. EDT, May 22, 2012
Easton Area School Board approved its second major staff cut in three years Tuesday night, adopting a final budget that eliminates 102 jobs, including 49 teaching positions.
The number of cuts was higher than originally presented because it includes a number of part-time positions that the district had combined when it initially released details about the budget, Chief Operating Officer Mike Simonetta said. In all, the district will cut 49 teachers, a security guard, 31 full-time support positions and 21 part-time support positions.

Published on May 21, 2012 by SaveUDArts
Sign the Petition
This isn't just about the Upper Darby School District. All over Pennsylvania and in many other states as well, WAR has been declared on Public Education, on children.  Our children deserve the very best that we can give them, no matter what test scores say. Help us take a stand and stop school districts from being forced to cut programs which cultivate who our children become.
We will be in Harrisburg on June 6th, 2012 to gather support for the proper funding of education. All are welcome to join us!
Please visit to learn more and join the fight.

Help me out with a reality check here , folks; can anyone cite any evidence of any state takeovers actually (a) improving student achievement or (b) straightening out distressed district’s finances?

“Under the proposal, a state-appointed receiver ultimately would have the power to undo labor contracts and convert schools into charters.

Pennsylvania advances bill (HB1307) that paves way for state takeovers of struggling school districts

Patriot News By The Associated Press Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 1:58 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Republican-penned bill that would pave the way for state takeovers of Pennsylvania school districts veering toward financial collapse has the support of Gov. Tom Corbett and is advancing in the Legislature.  The Senate Education Committee voted Tuesday to send it to the full Senate. The legislation is spurred by fears of a wave of collapsing districts and is being fast-tracked so it can receive quicker consideration in the House if it passes in the Senate.

Pa. Senate panel offers recovery plan for troubled school districts

May 23, 2012 5:18 am
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- Duquesne City and other financially distressed school districts could see charter schools opened, students sent to other districts and collective bargaining agreements revamped under a proposal approved by a Senate panel on Tuesday.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, chairman of the Education Committee, borrows from laws addressing distressed municipalities and the Philadelphia schools to lay out a process intended to help districts right their finances. As written, it would apply to Duquesne, which state officials have said cannot continue in its current form after years of financial and academic struggles, as well as the Chester Upland, York and Harrisburg districts.

Press Release Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeff Piccola, May 22, 2012
Senate Panel Approves Legislation to Assist Fiscally Distressed Schools
Providing a Lifeline & Recovery Process for Struggling Districts
HARRISBURG --- The Senate Education Committee endorsed today legislation sponsored by Chairman Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) that will provide a lifeline to Pennsylvania school districts in financial distress and require their adoption of a state recovery plan to ensure long-term fiscal stability.
House Bill 1307, as amended today to include the provisions of Senate Bill 1450 which I introduced, creates a program for monitoring and assisting school districts showing signs of financial distress.  Under the bill, a district could enter financial recovery status upon declaration by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education if it meets certain criteria, such as receiving an advance on state funding or entering litigation against the Commonwealth seeking financial assistance to allow the school district to continue operating.  A Chief Recovery Officer would be named to develop and implement a financial recovery plan, which could include renegotiation of contracts or the conversion to a charter school.  Districts adopting and implementing a financial recovery plan would also be eligible for a long-term interest-free loan.

Dueling Rallies
Yinzercation Blog — MAY 22, 2012
Oh the irony. It just so happens that when our public education advocates get off their buses in Harrisburg this morning, they will be greeted by another group rallying at the capitol for cyber charter schools. While our colleagues are meeting with legislators today urging them to restore public funding for public schools, the PA Families for Public Cyber Schools group will be meeting with legislators asking them to instead send more public money to largely private corporations.

Pennsylvania’s “successful” EITC program is featured prominently several times in this article.  .In addition to diverting $75 million per year in forfeited tax revenue to private and religious schools, the New York Times reports that our EITC program “ appear(s) to benefit all involved — donors with business before the legislature, lawmakers and lobbyists.”

EITC: Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools

New York Times By STEPHANIE SAUL Published: May 21, 2012
Spreading at a time of deep cutbacks in public schools, the programs are operating in eight states and represent one of the fastest-growing components of the school choice movement. This school year alone, the programs redirected nearly $350 million that would have gone into public budgets to pay for private school scholarships for 129,000 students, according to the Alliance for School Choice, an advocacy organization. Legislators in at least nine other states are considering the programs.
….Some of the programs have also become enmeshed in politics, including in Pennsylvania, where more than 200 organizations distribute more than $40 million a year donated by corporations. Two of the state’s largest scholarship organizations are controlled by lobbyists, and they frequently ask lawmakers to help decide which schools get the money, according to interviews. The arrangement provides a potential opportunity for corporate donors seeking to influence legislators and also gives the lobbying firms access to both lawmakers and potential new clients….. Pennsylvania’s program lets them get scholarships and also lets scholarship organizations retain up to 20 percent in administrative fees.

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012
Philadelphia Daily News Attyttod Blog Posted by Will Bunch
How fracking fortunes are undermining public education in Pa.
The New York Times lifted up a large rock over Pennsylvania this morning, and the slime they found underneath was remarkable even by the low muck standards of the Keystone State. Under the headline "Public Money Finds Backdoor to Private Schools," a remarkable expose by reporter Stephanie Saul (whom I worked with at Newsday many years ago) reveals a tangled web involving the Corbett administration, fracking money, and the ongoing crusade to favor private schools at the expense of public education.
The focus of the article is private-school scholarship programs now operated in Pennsylvania and seven other states (around these parts it is better known by the bureaucratically benign name of EITC, for Educational Improvement Tax Credit, launched here in 2001). Instead of the government providing direct help for parents to send kids to private or religious schools through vouchers, EITC provides tax credits to private donors for scholarship money that does essentially the same thing.
The Times article quotes experts calling this "a shell game" and it's not hard to understand why: The tax credits that finance the scholarships mean there's less revenue coming into to Pennsylvania's coffers -- at a time when the Corbett administration has been slashing spending for public schools.
But it gets better. Frankly, this looks like the Iran-Contra of the Corbett administration -- one unifying theory that ties together our governor's ridiculously close ties to the fracking industry with his jihad against public schools while benefiting people with close ties to his administration.

What is Pennsylvania's EITC program and which organizations received contributions through this tax credit program for FY 2011?

Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC)

Department of Community and Economic Development

General program information and FAQ's on Pennsylvania's EITC program


Top 100 EITC Contributions Received by DCED for FY 2011

For the full list alphabetically by recipient organization name see these 3 links:

EITC Contributions Received by DCED for FY 2011 Part 1 of 3

EITC Contributions Received by DCED for FY 2011 Part 2 of 3

EITC Contributions Received by DCED for FY 2011 Part 3 of 3


EITC  -  No Accountability: Pennsylvania's Track Record Using Taxpayer Dollars to Pay for Private and Religious School Tuition

Keystone Research Center, Author  Stephen Herzenberg, Publication Date:  April 7, 2011

This briefing paper reviews the experience of the EITC program, including its size and growth over time, the areas of the state it primarily serves, and the accountability mechanisms that oversee schools that receive taxpayer dollars to educate Pennsylvania school children under the EITC.

East Penn issues call to action over education funding
Allentown Morning Call 1:51 p.m. EDT, May 21, 2012
East Penn School District is asking voters to join a Call-To-Action for Public Education telephone campaign on Wednesday, May 23.  Education Voters is organizing the campaign in the wake of the loss of $900 million in public education funding.
As part of the campaign, voters are being asked to call the governor's office, as well as local state representatives and senators on Wednesday, May 23, to urge legislators not to allow more cuts to public education.  Across the state, funding cuts have led to larger class sizes, shuttered school buildings, reduction and elimination of programs, including full day kindergarten and tutoring sessions, and job losses, including instructional and support staff.
Government links and phone numbers are available at

Do Our Public Schools Threaten National Security?
New York Review of Books by Diane Ravitch JUNE 7, 2012
US Education Reform and National Security
by Joel I. Klein, Condoleezza Rice, and others
Council on Foreign Relations, 103 pp., available at

Duncan’s “March to the Sea” continues……

Rules on Way for District Race to Top Contest

 Alyson Klein  
School districts that want a slice of the latest, nearly $400 million in Race to the Top competitive grants will have to put a major focus on helping schools tailor instruction to the needs of individual students—and agree to evaluate school board members and superintendents—under draft regulations slated to be released by the U.S. Department of Education today.
The department anticipates giving out about 15 to 20 four-year grants, of up to $25 million each. Districts will be able to apply for the funds individually, or as part of consortia with other districts, even those in other states. And charter schools—as well as other organizations that are defined as a "local education agency" by their states—can compete, too.

Now if we could just get President Obama to name some education advisors……

Romney Names Education Policy Advisers

 Michele McNeil  
From guest blogger Christina A. Samuels
Presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign has released a list of people who are advising the campaign on education issues, including a former U.S. Secretary of Education and a current state schools chief.

Here are more than 700 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:

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.

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