Wednesday, June 13, 2012

EISC: If you liked that $1 billion cut to PA public education here’s another $450 million for ya!

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Education Voters PA website MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012
Last week, Rep. Christiana (R-Beaver) proposed legislation that would create a new Education Improvement Scholarship Credit (EISC). EISC would authorize a total of $450 million in tax credits over the next three years.
This program would re-direct dollars away from revenue collections, therefore reducing the amount of revenue the Commonwealth has to use for programs and services. In addition, the proposal calls for an increase in the current EITC program from $75 million to $100 million next fiscal year and $200 million for subsequent years. So money would be taken out of our coffers, and directed at private schools, even as we cut current funding for our public schools, which serve the vast majority of our children.

Commentary - E.I.S.C: How do you spell Chutzpah?
Keystone State Education Coalition June 12, 2012
Commentary and a couple of press reports about Rep. Christiana introducing a bill today that would take another $450 million away from constitutionally mandated public education and give it to private and religious schools via a new Supervoucher -  Educational Improvement Scholarship Credit program.

Yinzercation blog by YinzerThing June 12, 2012
Problem solved! Apparently, Rep. Jim Christiana, a Republican from our neck of the woods over in Beaver County, believes we have an extra $200 million lying around for schools. That’s perfect, since the Post-Gazette is reporting today that the governor’s office and Republican leaders in the Senate and House have negotiated their different budgets down to just about that figure: “the two sides appear to be about $233 million apart in how much money they believe the state should have left over at the end of next fiscal year.” [Post-Gazette, 6-12-12]
Ah, but wait – Rep. Christiana wants to give those public tax-dollars to private schools under a new scheme that he may introduce today in the House. Seriously? We can’t find enough money for the block grant program that lets school districts all acrossPennsylvania fund Kindergarten, but he wants to talk about taking more money out of our state coffers for private and parochial schools?

Republicans weighing new Corbett budget pitch
Talks are to continue today as the June 30 budget deadline approaches.
Pennsylvania Republicans are seeking a year-end balance of $267 million. Governor Tom Corbett is looking for a landing pad of about $500 million.
By John L. Micek, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:17 p.m. EDT, June 12, 2012
HARRISBURG—— Efforts to reach an agreement on how much Pennsylvania should spend in fiscal 2012-13 inched along Tuesday, with legislative Republicans leaving a negotiating session loaded down with a Corbett administration budget proposal that would spend about $27.4 billion starting July 1.
Neither side would discuss specifics, but Gov. Tom Corbett did lay "out in more detail what the possibilities were that he would support, different levels of spending, different spending lines, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said as he left a morning session.
"I think we get a greater level of clarity at each meeting," Pileggi continued. "We're going to take the information the governor provided to us today and prepare a more formal, comprehensive response for a meeting scheduled for [Wednesday] at 2 p.m."

Anger, frustration envelop Philadelphia schools
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution By KATHY MATHESON The Associated Press
12:16 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, 2012
PHILADELPHIA — The school system's chief recovery officer was trying to explain how broke the district is, but no one could hear him.
"Save our schools! Save our schools!"
More than 200 protesters had packed the Philadelphia school board meeting and were drowning out the official presentation; they also waved signs expressing "No confidence" in next year's austere budget. It was the second major demonstration at district headquarters in just over a week.
The City of Brotherly Love is boiling over with frustration. It's not just the $700 million in education cuts this past year. It's not just a loss of state aid, which led to a massive rally and 14 arrests. And it's not just the plan to close 40 of Philadelphia's 249 schools within a year.
"For 10 years we've lived with promises that privatization and choice options would be the magic bullet to a lot of the problems," said parent Helen Gym. "What we found is chasing after these silver bullets has really drained schools of resources and starved them to the point of dysfunction."

Posted: Wed, Jun. 13, 2012, 3:00 AM
State proposal to control distressed schools needs scrutiny
Daily News Editorial Philadelphia Daily News
A PROPOSAL recently passed by the Senate Education Committee that would allow immediate state takeover of four distressed school districts — Chester-Upland, Duquesne, Harrisburg and York — could be interpreted as the state taking last-ditch responsibility for the educational lives of students.
We fear the reality, though, makes this move more akin to the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. The madness goes like this: keep cutting funding to public schools, and make sure the lion's share of those cuts fall on the poorest districts. Then, when those districts fall into crisis, come in and take them over, wielding unilateral power over contracts, school composition, leadership and funding.

Posted: Tue, Jun. 12, 2012, 6:26 AM
Bill would put Chester Upland schools under state oversight
In a proposal reminiscent of the 2001 state takeover of the Philadelphia public schools, Delaware County’s Chester Upland and three other financially distressed districts in Pennsylvania would be overseen by state-appointed administrators under legislation recently passed by the Senate Education Committee and endorsed by the Corbett administration.
The bill would give "chief recovery officers" broad powers to recommend, for instance, converting schools to charters, handing them over to education management organizations, and cutting teachers’ pay. It would suspend the right to strike while a district is insolvent. It also would establish an interest-free loan fund for school systems that Harrisburg deems distressed; many more are thought to be on the brink.

Yet another suggested state pension fix.
Capitol Ideas Blog From Clara Ritger:
A Chester County Republican says he wants to fix the state's pension system  by switching current and  future state and school employees from the current defined benefit system to a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k).
The bills sponsored by Rep. Warren Kampf would set up defined contribution funds in which an employer annually contributes 4 percent and the employee contributes a minimum of 4 percent. The contributions pool in an individual account, controlled by the employee.
Kampf adds H.B. 2453 (state) and H.B. 2454 (school) to the pot which already includes a defined contribution proposal backed by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware.

PA: GOP pension plan would give incentive for current workers to leave state system

All new employees would be forced into 401(k)-style system
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — A group of Republican lawmakers want to move all future state employees into a new pension system as a way to stop the increasing unfunded liability that is becoming a lead weight around Pennsylvania's budgetary neck.
The proposal is contained in House Bills 2452 and 2453, which state Rep. Warren Kampf, R-Chester,introduced Tuesday in the state House, will not reduce the unfunded liability in the state's two major pension systems, but promises long-term savings by moving employees out of the unsustainable pension systems.

Education funds ruling splits court

June 11, 2012 12:20 am
By Zack Needles / The Legal Intelligencer
Commonwealth Court panel has ruled that the state Department of Education may not withhold state subsidies from a school district for the current school year for a claim made by a charter school alleging underfunding in a previous school year.
The ruling comes nearly two years after the court found the department must first withhold funds from a district accused of underfunding a charter school before it can hold a hearing to sort out whether those claims are true.

“In Pennsylvania, where student enrollment in public schools is declining, the cost of testing has quintupled i n the last 15 years, even after adjusting for inflation. And it is set to jump 40 percent next year, to $52 million, as the state rolls out new standardized tests for every core high school course, from geometry to literature. The tests count for at least a third of a student's grade in each course and are required for graduation.  Despite the growth, testing costs still make up a tiny fraction of state spending on education - in Pennsylvania, 0.5 percent.”

Standardized Testing Protests By Parents, Teachers, Administrators Growing Nationwide

Huffington Post By Stephanie Simon Reuters  |  Posted: 06/12/2012 5:59 am
June 12 (Reuters) - A backlash against high-stakes standardized testing is sweeping through U.S. school districts as parents, teachers, and administrators protest that the exams are unfair, unreliable and unnecessarily punitive - and even some longtime advocates of testing call for changes.
The objections come even as federal and state authorities pour hundreds of millions of dollars into developing new tests, including some for children as young as 5.  In a growing number of states, scores on standardized tests weigh heavily in determining whether an 8-year-old advances to the next grade with her classmates; whether a teen can get his high school diploma; which teachers keep their jobs; how much those teachers are paid; and even which public schools are shut down or turned over to private management.

Education Voters PA ‏@EdVotersPA
Please take 2 minutes to send an email to your state reps; ask them to restore public ed funding:

Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? Charter school funding, accountability and transparency

Diane Ravitch on PBS Newshour June 5th, 2012

Here are more than 800 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:

June 29 is deadline to submit proposals for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform
Your school board is invited to submit proposals for consideration for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform. The association is accepting proposals now until Friday, June 29, 2012.  Guidelines for platform submissions are posted on PSBA’s Web site.  The PSBA Platform Committee will review proposals and rationale submitted for the platform on Aug. 11. The recommendations of the committee will be brought before the Legislative Policy Council for a final vote on Oct. 18.

PSBA accepting nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
Last year, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA's Legislative Platform. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 22, 2012. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. For more information and criteria details, see the Allwein Advocacy Award page. To obtain an application form, see the Allwein Advocacy Award Nomination Form. Completed forms should be returned no later than June 22 to: Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Advocacy Award Selection Committee, PO Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0790.

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

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