Wednesday, June 20, 2012

EITC/EISC “Scholarships”: My Big Fat Pennsylvania Voucher

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
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“Asked what, if anything, lawmakers and the administration had agreed upon,Scarnati shot back, "Not a god***n thing."    Using not quite the same language, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, confirmed Scarnati's diagnosis.”

Dinner Hour Budget Update: Second round of talks inconclusive, tensions mount.

Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek June 19, 2012
A second round of budget talks ended this afternoon without legislative Republicans and Corbett administrationnegotiators reaching agreement on a bottom-line spending number for the fiscal year that starts July 1.  Testy Republican bosses stuck to a contention, voiced during this morning's round of talks, that the logistics of moving a general fund budget bill and at least a dozen pieces of enabling legislation through the House and Senate will require that an agreement be reached within the next 24 hours.


Third and State Blog June 19 2012 reports that there is some hope for the ongoing state budget talks as officials now expect a $100 million revenue surplus in June. 
Peter L. Decoursey, — Projected $100 million June revenue surplus hopeful sign in budget talks (subscription required):
While Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett discussed his 12 legislative priorities, the leaders hailed some good revenue news: June’s revenues are projected to be $100 million above estimate.

HB1307: Pennsylvania Senate approves financial recovery bill that could lead to takeover of Harrisburg and other fiscally distressed school districts

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 7:05 PM  
By ERIC VERONIKIS, The Patriot-News 
The Senate today passed legislation that would provide financially struggling school districts with extra funding, but also could lead to the state takeover of the same school districts.
House Bill 1307, legislation championed by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola,R-Dauphin County, would appoint a chief recovery officer to struggling school districts deemed to be in fiscal distress by the state.

SB1115: Special education funding aims to fund actual number of students based on need
Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania school districts have received the same proportionate funding for special education, regardless of the actual number of students with special needs, but this session, lawmakers want to right-size that funding.
Senate Bill 1115, sponsored by Majority Whip Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, would create a commission to establish a new funding formula based on a three-tiered system categorizing the severity of disabilities, with more funding going toward those with more severe disabilities. The formula would take into account the specific number of students with disabilities, using state Department of Education data.
The bill unanimously passed through the House Education Committee on Monday and awaits a final vote in the state House. The state Senate passed the proposal earlier this month.

SB327: Education Committee Approves Dinniman School Board Election Reform Bill
Press Release from Senator Dinniman’s office
HARRISBURG (June 19) – Today in a 10-1 vote, the Senate Education Committee  approved Senator Andy Dinniman’s Senate Bill 327, legislation that would end partisan school board elections for the betterment of communities and school districts throughout the Commonwealth.
Under the bill, the names of individuals seeking election to school boards would appear on ballots without affiliation to political party. School board elections would occur only at the November general election and would no longer be part of spring-time primary elections.

Commentary: EITC/EISC “Scholarships”: My Big Fat Pennsylvania Voucher
Capitolwire Bureau Chief Peter L. DeCoursey writes there’s still plenty to resolve in budget negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett, even if the governor told reporters Monday that he’s hopeful the discussions will yield an agreement on a total spending figure “in a day or two.”  If Jim Christiana’s EITC/EISC bill HB2468 becomes law, the spending figure next year will be $125 million less; $125 million more in tax revenue will be diverted from the general fund to private and religious schools, $125 million that will not be available to fund PA’s constitutionally mandated public schools.  One big $125 million voucher…..
Guest Column: Now's the time for school vouchers
Delco Times Published: Monday, June 18, 2012
By Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Since the announcement by Archbishop Chaput in February that Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast would remain open, local legislators have heard overwhelmingly from Catholics in Delaware County about the desire and need for school choice legislation to be immediately passed. At the urging of the Archbishop, Catholics have called, written, emailed and rallied to advocate support for expanded EITC and school vouchers. And in Harrisburg, our voices have been heard.
On June 12, Representative Jim Christiana introduced House Bill 2468, which is aimed at expanding Pennsylvania’s current EITC Program by $25 million (Raising it from $75 million to $100 million) as well as establishing the Educational Improvement Scholarship Credit (EISC). Co-sponsored by Representatives Bill Adolph and Thomas Killion, this new program would create a second pot of “opportunity scholarship” funding -- beyond traditional EITC -- at $100 million in 2012-13. EISC funding would only be available to students within the bottom 15 percent of “failing schools” in the state. If this bill is passed before June 30, it would infuse a new $125 million into educational school choice for this September. Further, it would be funded by tax-credited contributions targeted to designated opportunity scholarship organizations, such as BLOCS in Philadelphia, and it would not take funds away from public schools.

TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2012

Sense and Sensibility

Education Voters PA Blog
Yesterday, the House Education Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 1115. The bill establishes a legislative commission to create a funding formula that would distribute special education funding to schools in a more equitable manner. This bill has been around for a few years now and has been a bipartisan effort.
During the meeting, Rep. O’Neil mentioned that this bill stems from the costing out study that was commissioned in 2007 to determine the “cost” to educate a student. The study concluded that Pennsylvania was under-funding K-12 education by more than $4 billion and that the system then in place relied too heavily on local property taxes.

Facts vs. Truth
Yinzercation Blog— JUNE 19, 2012
Facts lie. And as Mark Twain said, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Tim Eller, Press Secretary for the PA Department of Education, was feeling defensive in a letter to the editor on Sunday, writing, “Let’s face it, the media’s attacks on the governor’s budget are nothing more than a call for higher taxes. Facts seem to be ignored when the argument is made that more money is needed.” [Penn Live, 6-17-12]

Charter Schools Still Enroll Fewer Disabled Students
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: June 19, 2012
Charter schools in most states continue to enroll proportionately fewer students with disabilities than traditional public schools, a new government report shows.
Across the country, disabled students represented 8.2 percent of all students enrolled during the 2009-10 year in charter schools, compared with 11.2 percent of students attending traditional public schools, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis of Department of Education data.

Charter School Reform:
Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? If not, why not?
If they tell you that we should make it easier to authorize charters or that they are already accountable enough have them read this:

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

More details on HB 2364 from PSBA:


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

Diane Ravitch on PBS Newshour June 5th, 2012

Here are more than 800 articles since January 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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