Thursday, July 5, 2012

Accountability? Not with PA EITC........


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Posted: Thu, Jul. 5, 2012, 3:00 AM
EITC: Education tax credits a good idea, but at what cost?
Daily News Editorial Philadelphia Daily News
DO THE DOLLARS we spend on vacation really count? Most of us spending money on cheap trinkets and overpriced T-shirts don't believe they do — until we get the credit-card bills.
Similarly, it appears state lawmakers believe that the money earmarked for tax-credit programs don't really count, either. That might explain the ease with which they doubled the amount of tax credits earmarked for corporate contributions to education.
…..And the tax-credit program builds in additional protections from scrutiny. The program is overseen and administered not by the Department of Education, but the state Department of Commerce and Economic Development. A legislative committee's detailed review revealed a number of problems with oversight, including the fact that the DCED doesn't even staff its program-monitoring units. And there is no monitoring of outcomes for students who get scholarships to non-public schools. It's like the kids get public money to go off the grid and we never get to find out if that money actually improved achievement.

Posted: Thu, Jun. 28, 2012, 3:00 AM
EITC: Pa. taxpayers underwrite Sandusky charity
By Will Bunch Daily News Staff Writer Philadelphia Daily News
PENNSYLVANIA TAXPAYERS have underwritten nearly $1.4 million in contributions to the Second Mile, the disgraced charity founded by convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky where testimony showed he groomed some of the boys he later molested.
The taxpayer-subsidized donations — which support the Second Mile's summer camp and an annual Leadership Institute — come through a controversial scholarship program called the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, or EITC, that may be dramatically expanded as lawmakers in Harrisburg look to pass a new state budget this weekend.

Why Elected Local School Boards Matter
Diane Ravitch’s Blog July 3, 2012 //
Lance Hill in New Orleans knows what it is like to have no democratic control of schools funded with taxpayer dollars (so do people in New York City, but that’s another topic).  He writes:
Local democratic control of schools is the last remaining obstacle to the complete privatization of public education. For that reason alone, the movement to save public education needs to make this a central program tenet.
Locally elected boards are the only entity that has the mission of keeping public schools public. They have a vested interest in retaining public control of schools and ensuring quality education since their actions directly impact local community life. That don’t always live up to that mission, but democracy allows us to hold them accountable.

Delco Times EDITORIAL: School funding remains uneven playing field
Published: Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Much has been made about the so-called “uneven playing field” when it comes to education funding in Pennsylvania.  Recently the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board approved a budget that included a 2 percent tax hike. It did not draw a single comment from the public, administrators or school board at the meeting where it was passed.
Last week the William Penn School Board approved its spending plan. In a 5-4 vote that was described as “gut wrenching” and that moved one board member to tears, the board rejected a call for a 1.8 percent tax hike and decided to hold the line on spending.
Now all the board has to figure out is what else to cut in order to close a $754,000 funding gap.

Taxpayers paying more for lawmakers’ benefits
Health benefits and annual cost-of-living adjustment could total $6,000 per-member increase
By Jared Sichel | PA Independent July 3, 2012
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania taxpayers, who are struggling with tough economic decisions, will be paying Houseand Senate lawmakers more for their prescription and dental benefits this year.  And those same lawmakers also are expecting a salary increase in December just in time for the holidays.
The recently approved $27.656 billion budget includes $1.7 million, mostly for prescription and dental benefits with $1.4 million going to the House’s 203 members and $300,000 to the state Senate’s 50 members.
If lawmakers receive the cost-of-living increase, House and Senate members’ annual compensation, including salary and benefits, could increase by at least $6,000 per member, according to Senate Chief Clerk’s Office.

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/05/2012
Is ‘filling the pail’ any way to train teachers?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Carol Corbett Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State.
By Carol Corbett Burris
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” I keep this quote on my desk. No one knows who authored it — it is often misattributed to William Butler Yeats. Whoever created it was wise indeed for those whose vocation is educating students upon hearing it, recognize its truth.
I reflect on that quote often these days. I worry that the pail fillers are determining the fate of our schools. The ‘filling of the pail’ is the philosophy of those who see students as vessels into which facts and knowledge are poured. The better the teacher, the more stuff in the pail. How do we measure what is in the pail? With a standardized test, of course. Not enough in the pail? No excuses. We must identify the teachers who best fill the pail, and dismiss the rest.

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