Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pennsylvania’s EITC 2.0 Supervoucher program for 2012-2013 diverts $50 million in public tax revenue with essentially no public accountability for the funds or for student performance


“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 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

Tax-credit program offers new opportunities to families living near low-achieving schools
Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 5:00 AM
By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News 
Families who live near low-achieving public schools can take advantage of a new state program to help pay for a better education elsewhere.  This month, Gov. Tom Corbett signed a law creating the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program.

Pennsylvania’s EITC 2.0 Supervoucher program for 2012-2013 diverts $50 million in public tax revenue with essentially no public accountability for the funds or for student performance
No public budgets, no public check registers, no public meetings, no sunshine laws, no right-to-know laws, no PSSA's. Just public money with virtually no public scrutiny. 
 How do we find out how much of the $50 million the "scholarship organizations" will get to keep?
The state or any school district may not:
  • Prescribe the course content or admissions criteria for any religiously affiliated school;
  • Compel any private school to accept or enroll a student;
  • Impose any additional requirements on any private school that are not otherwise authorized; or
  • Require any school to accept or retain a student if the school does not offer programs or is not structured or equipped with the necessary facilities to meet the special needs of the student or does not offer a particular program requested.

…students are not required to have attended the underperforming school, and may qualify for a scholarship even if they are currently attending a private school.

The commonwealth or any of its agencies or officers or political subdivisions may not impose any additional requirements on a nonpublic school which are not otherwise authorized under the law or require the nonpublic school to enroll a recipient if it does not offer appropriate programs or is not structured or equipped with the necessary facilities to meet the special needs of the recipient or does not offer a particular program requested.

Christiana, Vereb's key roles in passage of EITC 2.0
Capitolwire Under the Dome July 30, 2012
 Vouchers could not pass the state Legislature — not this past June and likely not in the near future. So with less than two weeks before the budget deadline, a pair of legislators set their sights on a different target. Reps. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, and Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, became the public face of what became “EITC 2.0,” the largest expansion of private school scholarship tax breaks since the original program’s inception in 2001. To read about the roles the two lawmakers played in getting EITC 2.0 to the governor’s desk, CLICK HERE(paywall) for a story from Capitolwire Correspondent Michael Macagnone.

Investigation Shows Rep Jim Christiana’s Ties To School Choice Groups Could Top $170,000
Published on July 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm
by John Paul - Founder of BeaverCountian.com
State Representative Jim Christiana (R-Beaver) has raised over $50,000 so far this year from political action committees (PACs) promoting “school choice” initiatives, and an investigation by the Beaver Countian has revealed hidden ties between the legislator and an additional $120,000 in PAC money.
The funds originated from two well-financed political action committees: The Fighting Chance PA PAC, which shares the name of a purported grassroots campaign affiliated with the Pennsylvania Catholic Coalition, and the Students First PAC, which has spent millions promoting school choice and voucher initiatives.

July 29, 2012
OUR VIEW: Education department’s plan for failing students off target
Sharon Herald Editorial
Everyone is familiar with the phrase: “Shape up or ship out.” That obviously has been accepted as the credo of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
A story in Thursday's Herald revealed that five schools in Mercer County -- all in Sharon and Farrell -- are regarded as "failing." That, although they have been meeting Adequate Yearly Progress standards as regulated by the state.
That means that students whose families meet certain income guidelines can apply for “scholarships” that will pay tuition to other public or private schools where they can transfer.
Therefore students can leave some of the 414 worst-performing schools in the state and attend another school. There are so many things wrong with this policy.

Chester Upland reaches an agreement with Pa. on district's debts
July 29, 2012 By Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Chester Upland School District has reached an agreement in legal action against the state Department of Education where the department will provide about $30.2 million to pay off the district's debts and allow it to open for the coming school year.
The settlement was presented before U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson on Friday. A final hearing is set for Aug. 15.
In a related settlement, the state agreed to pay Chester Community Charter School more than $12 million. In June, the school received $5.5 million from the state related to delinquent charter-school payments from the district.

School tax bills put on back burner

Legislature uneasy about eliminating property tax
July 29, 2012 8:55 am
By Tom Barnes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HARRISBURG -- The state Legislature can't bring itself to vote on the thorny issue of eliminating school property taxes, and yet it can't stop battling over the idea either.
"We have met the enemy and it is us," state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, quipped last week at a hearing on Senate Bill 1400.
He's a co-sponsor of the bill, which is risky to lawmakers because it would cost state school districts at least $9 billion a year, while shifting the job of collecting property taxes from the 500 local districts to state officials. Opponents wonder if the state will send back to local districts the full amount they are owed.

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012

Louisiana’s pretend voucher ‘accountability’ plan

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
From the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department: Louisiana’s governor and schools chief are championing an “accountability” plan for private schools in the state's voucher program that doesn’t hold these schools accountable if they have fewer than 40 voucher students.
Yes, as this Reuters story makes clear, a school can allow its 39 voucher students to fail to show basic competency in reading, math, social studies and science and still keep receiving state funds. Most of the schools in the voucher program this coming year, it turns out, will be covered by this provision.

For-profit schools labeled 'abject failure'
Federal report blasts costs, tactics, graduation rates
July 31, 2012 12:21 am
"The student has debt around his or her neck . . . they don't have a degree to show for it and they're worse off than when they started," == Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
By Tracie Mauriello / Post-Gazette Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- A federal report on for-profit colleges singled out Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp. as having one of the highest numbers of dropouts but credits it for spending more on instruction than similar institutions.
The report came after a two-year audit by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Its chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has long been concerned that companies like EDMC put profits ahead of students.
Issued Monday, the scathing 5,000-page document blasts the for-profit education industry for recruiting too aggressively, for spending more on marketing than teaching, for producing too few graduates, for charging significantly higher tuition than comparable public schools, for tying salaries to recruitment and for giving prospective students unrealistic impressions of potential post-graduate employment and earnings.
"This is a failure, an abject failure," Mr. Harkin said in releasing the report.

A Dialogue with the Gates Foundation: How Do We Build the Teaching Profession?
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by ANTHONY CODY , IRVIN SCOTT
July 30, 2012
This post originally appears on Anthony Cody's blog, Living in Dialogue. It is the first post in a weekly series of posts, over the next five weeks, between teacher Anthony Cody, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Irvin Scott, Deputy Director in the College Ready program.
Two weeks ago I traveled to Seattle and spent most of the day meeting with leaders of the Gates Foundation, discussing their work around education reform. I have been critical of the impact their agenda has had, but they expressed an interest in opening up a dialogue. This blog post will be the first in a series of exchanges that will explore some of the key issues in education. We plan a process where we will take turns posting our perspective on a given theme, followed by a response from the other party. All posts will be carried here, and at the Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog. We will ask everyone to join in a lively discussion. The education reform debate has deteriorated at times—our goal is to engage in a constructive conversation, to turn down the heat, and to seek a bit more light.

A Response: How Do We Build the Teaching Profession?
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by IRVIN SCOTT
July 30, 2012
Tough, complicated issues like education often don’t get the kind of debate they deserve. People who disagree don’t see where they have common ground. Each side isn’t willing to concede that the other has a valid point of view. So it is especially gratifying that against this often vitriolic backdrop Anthony Cody was willing to come to the Gates Foundation and participate in a dialogue about our work and our shared concerns. Like him, we agree that the education debate often deteriorates to shouting past one another so we welcome the opportunity to engage in a public dialogue about some of the areas where we have common ground. Our goal here is to better understand the perspectives of those with whom we occasionally disagree and to more clearly state where we stand and where we simply just don’t know the answers. 

EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to aei-pa.org for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!

http://www.aei-pa.org/


Who’s Failing?
One third of the 415 schools on Pennsylvania’s “Failing Schools” List made AYP (105) or were making progress (33) on the 2011 PSSAs
PSBA has concerns with EITC 2.0 program 7/27/2012
The Pennsylvania Department of Education yesterday published the list of low-achieving elementary and secondary schools to be used in determining eligibility for scholarships through the EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program under the new Act 85 of 2012.
This proposal would broaden the current EITC program to create a school voucher-type system making students who live in the attendance boundary of one of the schools on the list potentially eligible for scholarship under the program.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association remains concerned of the effects this voucher-lite program will have on school districts. While PSBA continues to review Act 85 and its implementation, including the list of low-achieving schools, we raise several concerns which include:
  • Despite being categorized as a low-achieving schools, several schools on the list, which was prepared using 2010-11 PSSA results, actually reached their student achievement targets and achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2010-11. Labeling these schools as low-achieving when they have met the student achievement standards set by the state and federal government functions to create two separate and conflicting measurements for student achievement. (Download PSBA's enhanced list of 15% lowest-performing schools (XL file).)

 

Details on Act 85 of 2012, PA’s new EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit “Supervoucher” Program.

Pennsylvania’s "Failing Schools" List For the 2012-2013 school year.
Here the list of low achieving schools released by PDE this week

PSBA 2013 Officer Candidates Slated
If you are not planning to attend the October Leadership Conference and would like to vote for any of these candidates please see the absentee ballot information below and note the August 15 deadline for absentee ballot requests
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.
They are:
Marcela Diaz Myers, Lower Dauphin SD, Dauphin County
President (automatically assumes the office of president)
Jody Sperry, Conneaut SD, Crawford County
President-Elect
Richard Frerichs, Penn Manor SD, Lancaster County
President-Elect
Mark B. Miller, Centennial SD, Bucks County
First Vice President
Larry Breech, Millville Area SD, Columbia County
Second Vice President
Edward J. Cardow, Chichester SD, Delaware County
Second Vice President

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
Absentee ballot requests must be received no later than August 15
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 home 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 administrativerequests@psba.org.

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grass roots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

1 comment:

  1. Though there are lots of facilities in the non-public schools but in my view public schools are more reasonable for all and about the curriculum I wanna request to keep a balance between these two so that students of both can be benefited. Hope the authority will take a better decision at the end. Good luck!
    compare a voucher

    ReplyDelete