Friday, June 15, 2012

What do PA House Republican Policy Chairman Dave Reed (R-Indiana), and PA House Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), have in common?

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.

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GEE – this sounds familiar…..

“The voucher-like scheme would be on top of deep Republican cuts already made to pre-K and K–12 funding in North Carolina.
Add the law enacted last year to permit an unlimited number of charter schools and you have the Republicans' three-step privatization plan:

  • Cut state spending overall;
  • Shift some of the remaining money to charter schools, where parents may supplement public aid;
  • Shift more of the remaining money to private schools, where parents will supplement what the public contributes.
Actually, it's a four-step plan. Republicans and their allies argue that as a result of the new competition, traditional public schools will be forced to improve even though their per-pupil budgets are reduced and they're left with high numbers of students from very low-income families—the ones whose parents aren't looking for charter or private school options.”

GOP plan would send public funds to private schools 

Durham NC Independent Weekly by Bob Geary 

A year ago, when the Republican-led General Assembly enacted a small tax-credit subsidy for special-needs kids whose parents transfer them from public to private schools, critics warned that it was just a foot in the door. Soon, they said, the GOP would try to divert a lot more public money from traditional K–12 schools to Christian and other nonpublic schools.
The critics were correct.
The shift would occur as the result of an indirect voucher scheme. Corporations doing business in the state and owing income or excise taxes would be allowed to instead pay for private-school scholarships of up to $4,000 per student. The scholarship money would be collected by nonprofit "scholarship-granting organizations" certified by the state; contributing corporations would be given tax credits from the state equal to the amount of their donations.
Eight other states have similar programs, all of them controversial and based on a model drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, among others. ALEC's model was designed to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against public funding for religious education. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the Arizona version of ALEC's legislation.


Editorial: Crunch time: What are Gov. Corbett's priorities?

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 5:45 AM
By Patriot-News Editorial Board 
Now would be an opportune time for Gov. Tom Corbett to demonstrate true leadership. 
His poll numbers continue to sag — only 36 percent approve of the job he’s doing — and even some in his own party are questioning his inertia.
He has a lot to prove.
It’s crunch time in the state Capitol.
The budget deadline looms on June 30, and every lawmaker is trying to make a final push for funding projects important to his or her district and other initiatives before summer recess and the campaign season.
House Republican leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, is making another pitch for liquor store privatization. Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver County, has a new twist on school vouchers, and Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery County, is championing prison reforms.


Harrisburg shouldn't consider cutting kindergarten, education reform advocate Michelle Rhee says

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 10:47
By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News 
Killing kindergarten in the Harrisburg School District is not something the city school board should be considering as it looks to close a $13 million budget gap, a national education reform advocate said.“Given where Pennsylvania is right now with less than 50 percent being proficient, I think the state can ill afford to, and a district can ill afford to, put in place a policy that is going to lessen the amount of time that kids are in school,” said Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a bipartisan group based in Washington, D.C., during a visit to Harrisburg.
She said the same goes for other districts that are looking at axing art or muting music.
“Those, I believe, are integral to any child’s high quality education,” she said.


What do PA House Republican Policy Chairman Dave Reed (R-Indiana), and PA House Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), have in common?

Along with House Majority Whip Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), and House Education Committee Minority Chairman Rep. Jim Roebuck (D-Phila), they are among the 43 bipartisan cosponsors of Mike Fleck’s (R-Huntingdon, Blair, Mifflin) HB2364 Charter School Reform bill which substantively addresses accountability, funding and transparency issues.

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:


“His district is paying an average of about $9,000 per pupil to attend charter schools, most of them online cyberschools. Meanwhile, Solanco spends less than $4,000 per student  attending its own online school, Shrom said.”

Bill targets charter school costs

Intent, sponsor says, is to bring tuition in line with cost of educating students
Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era Updated Jun 10, 2012 20:05
To Tim Shrom, the formula used to determine how much Solanco School District pays for charter school tuition is "perverse."  It penalizes his district for rising pension and special-education costs that Solanco can't control, boosting tuition rates well beyond what charter schools are spending, said Shrom, Solanco business manager.
His district is paying an average of about $9,000 per pupil to attend charter schools, most of them online cyberschools. Meanwhile, Solanco spends less than $4,000 per student  attending its own online school, Shrom said.
Reducing that disparity is the intent of a bill introduced last week to revamp the public charter school funding formula and impose more financial controls on charter school operators.

Read more:


Posted: Thu, Jun. 14, 2012, 12:04 PM

Archbishop: Pass voucher bill now - or else

Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion By Charles J. Chaput

When I decided in February to keep four financially distressed archdiocesan high schools open, I said that school vouchers and expanded tax credits for scholarships are urgently needed — and not just sometime in the future, but right now, during the current legislative session. If such legislation had been enacted a decade ago, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would not have had to consider closing or consolidating elementary and high schools this year.

What I noted in February is even more pressing today: Without new scholarship tax credits and school vouchers to relieve costs, more archdiocesan schools will close soon, and more of the financial burden of educating young people will fall on the public.


Rock the Capitol Posted by Terry Shaffer at 19 September, 2011 at 12 : 35 PM
December 1, 2018
In 2010, the voters of Pennsylvania loudly voiced their support for the cause of reform by electing Tom Corbett to as their Governor.  As we approach the final days of the Corbett Administration, let’s take a look at the impressive accomplishments of the last eight years which have transformed Pennsylvania from a nationwide laughing stock into a veritable role model for the national reform movement.
While we heard whispers of what was to come during his first term, it was only after his re-election over some guy in jail, in which the voters sounded a ringing endorsement of his policies by a margin of 51% – 49%, that the hero of “Bonusgate” began the process of putting the Commonwealth’s government where it belonged – back in the hands of the people…who could afford it.  (CEO’s are people, too, you know?)  So let’s take a look at that second term – perhaps the most prosperous four years in Pennsylvania’s history.


The Florida School Boards Association's board of directors voted unanimously to recommend that the full membership, which meets Thursday, adopt a resolution that criticizes how the state uses FCAT scores.

Key education group takes aim at state's FCAT culture
By Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel 7:38 p.m. EST, June 13, 2012
TAMPA — Frustrated with the FCATand a school-accountability system they think tramples educational quality, a key panel of the Florida School Boards Association on Wednesday urged state leaders to scale back Florida's use of standardized tests for important school decisions.
The hour-long discussion before the vote showed deep discontent with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and how the state uses FCAT scores to judge students, teachers and schools.
School Board members from coast to coast and from the Panhandle to South Florida said they — and the families they represent — were upset by a system that over-emphasized test scores and, as a result, narrowed the curriculum and forced districts to spend "growing amounts" of money on test-related expenses.
"We're all just fed up," said Joie Cadle, an Orange County School Board member who is to become the state association president Thursday.
The association's board of directors voted unanimously to recommend that the full membership, which meets Thursday, adopt a resolution that criticizes how the state uses FCAT scores. Given the vote by the panel of about 30 members, Cadle predicted the resolution likely would win support from the full association, too.


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 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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