Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PA Charter Schools: $4 Billion in Public Funding without Public Scrutiny

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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!  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.

Today is Charter School Day on the Hill in Harrisburg.  This Keystone State Education Coalition commentary piece was faxed to all members of the PA General Assembly on Monday May 21st….
Keystone State Education Coalition May 21, 2012
PA Charter Schools:
Public funding without public scrutiny
$4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

Here are some prior related charter school postings:

Here's the press release for the April 2011 CREDO Report on Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania: http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/PAReleaseApril62011.pdf
Here's the complete April 2011 CREDO Report on Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania (22 pages): Download PDF
Here's the executive summary for the June 2009 CREDO report on Charter School Performance in 16 States http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_EXECUTIVE%20SUMMARY.pdf
Here's the complete June 2009 CREDO report on Charter School Performance in 16 States (51 pages): http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_CREDO.pdf

“For example, the districts say 32 percent of Vitalistic students are diagnosed with needing speech therapy, which is double the state average and three times Allentown's average. Although taxpayers are paying for Vitalistic to deliver the service, none of the students is getting speech therapy because the private company providing the service pulled out over $31,010 in unpaid bills…..At the same time, none of the school's students is diagnosed with emotional disturbance disabilities, which can be a more costly service to deliver than speech therapy.
Since 2001, Vitalistic has received more than $20 million from federal, state and local agencies.”

Bethlehem School Board sets Vitalistic Charter School revocation hearing

By Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call May 22, 2012
About three and half months.
That's how long administrators of Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School have before they must defend their school in front of the Bethlehem Area School Board.  The school board voted 8-0 Monday to hold a charter revocation hearing on Sept. 10 in which directors could vote to revoke Vitalistic's right to operate as an independent public school.

Education Voters PA Blog May 21, 2012
Is it only a rainy day for local school districts and not for the state budget? 

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012
The PA state budget: GOP lawmakers put a date on it
Philadelphia Inquirer Commonwealth Confidential by Angela Couloumbis
And that would be June 13.
At least, that's what two high-level Republican legislators seem to think.

Pa. Keystone exams test patience

Originally Published May 20, 2012 21:32
Lancaster Online By BRIAN WALLACE Staff Writer
Lancaster County school officials are expressing both praise and frustration at a revised proposal to require students to pass a series of state exams to graduate from high school.
The praise stems from the decision to require five subject tests for graduation, two more than the number Gov. Tom Corbett proposed earlier this year.  The frustration arises from yet another round of changes to the long-debated Keystone Exams proposal.

Pennsylvania School funding Campaign
Education Funding Advocacy Week May 21-25

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 Partnerships for Children
Ask your House member to restore full funding of the Accountability Block Grant program
Last week, the Senate approved a state budget proposal that restores $50 million to the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program – the key funding stream to support full-day kindergarten in school districts. This decision demonstrates a commitment to smart budgeting by investing in programs that work, like full-day kindergarten. Student performance on PSSA exams shows that children in full-day kindergarten programs are likely to do better on reading and math achievement tests in third grade.
While the Senate’s action to partially restore ABG funds is a promising step, House members can do even better for the graduating class of 2025 – they can ensure full restoration of $100 million in ABG funding when they put forth their budget proposal.
Educators and policymakers acknowledge the benefits of full-day kindergarten – that’s why they created a targeted funding stream several years ago to help expand full-day kindergarten opportunities. Since the ABG program was created, 70 percent of districts invested ABG dollars in full-day kindergarten and the number of full-day kindergarteners increased 91 percent. Simply put, the ABG program was a success and we can’t let lawmakers forget that fact.
Full-day kindergarten is slated for reductions and elimination in many school districts across the state – maybe even yours! Please help protect this proven program by asking your House member to support full restoration of $100 million for ABG.
Thank you for your commitment to Pennsylvania’s children and their academic success!

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.


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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