Tuesday, August 28, 2012

EITC 2.0 is just what the private and religious schools were looking for in a voucher program: diverted public tax dollars for students who were already attending their schools - with no strings attached.




Middle-class American students who attend well-funded schools rank at the top of the world on international tests. Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California August 12, 2012 


Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, 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


EITC 2.0 is just what the private and religious schools were looking for in a voucher program: diverted public tax dollars for students who were already attending their schools - with no strings attached.  No accountability for dollars or student performance, no messy or inconvenient Gumint rules or regulations, no sunshine laws, no state meddling with curriculum, no annoying state tests; no requirements to accept any students – just the money, free and clear.
“Mike Shaker, director of development for Shalom, said the school has received the most inquiries from families who live within the geographic areas of the "low-achieving" schools and already have students attending Shalom.  The purpose of the school remains the same.
"Our mission is to prepare students for a life of consequence in the kingdom of God," said Shaker. "That's the hard thing. You have to be a good fit. It's about offering parents a certain type of education. The Bible is the main textbook from which we do all of our teaching.
"We try to make people aware the goal is not to add students to enrollment, but to find students who fit and want a Shalom-type education."

EITC 2.0 Voucher Lite: Franklin County area students from lower-achieving schools look into private schools

Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By BRIAN HALL @bkhallPO
FRANKLIN COUNTY - Area private schools have reported some interest in the new Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program after it was passed by the state earlier this summer.
The program will provide students who live within the boundaries of determined "low-achieving" schools a chance to apply for funding to attend a school approved by Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Representatives from Shalom Christian Academy, Cumberland Valley Christian School and the Montessori Academy said their schools have been specifically contacted about the new program.

“In just under two years, the nonprofit partnership has raised an impressive $51.9 million. The funds are to be split among traditional public schools, charters, and private schools. But so far, no regular schools have received grants through the program.”
Posted: Tue, Aug. 28, 2012, 3:01 AM
Inquirer Editorial: Good to see foundations trying to help schools
The Philadelphia School Partnership is well on its way toward a $100 million fund-raising goal for Philadelphia schools. That type of effort in the aftermath of a crippling recession deserves loud applause.  But the fund-raising drive also should raise questions about the future of public schools if their survival must depend on the goodwill of charitable sponsors because government funding has become woefully inadequate.
In just under two years, the nonprofit partnership has raised an impressive $51.9 million. The funds are to be split among traditional public schools, charters, and private schools. But so far, no regular schools have received grants through the program.

“….Ask a parent who can’t dream of paying a $26,100 tuition bill from Penn Charter whether a high-quality, free public elementary school in their neighborhood is a matter of meaningless, “esoteric debate.”
Commentary: Mayor missed the meaning of "public" in public ed
The Notebook by Helen Gym on Aug 27 2012
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear a Pennsylvania politician questioning the very definition and premise of public education. It may surprise you that Philadelphia’s leading Democrat is on record saying public vs. private ought to be meaningless when it comes to education.
….Ask a parent who can’t dream of paying a $26,100 tuition bill from Penn Charter whether a high-quality, free public elementary school in their neighborhood is a matter of meaningless, “esoteric debate.”
Philadelphia public schools are 85 percent students of color and 80 percent economically disadvantaged. We have 20,000 children classified as having special needs and almost 12,000 English language learners. Is it “meaningless” that private and religious institutions hold the right to discriminate against and exclude those whom they choose not to serve? There’s no mandate for private schools to provide language services for new immigrants, serve special-needs students, or take recently adjudicated youth. They have the right to promote religious scripture and denounce same-sex orientation. They have the right to deny collective bargaining and employ non-certified teachers.

Contracts still unresolved in Clairton, Duquesne, East Allegheny, Steel Valley
McKeesport Daily News By Patrick Cloonan Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Contracts remain unresolved in four area districts as a new school year begins.
“As long as we’re talking anywhere, it is a plus,” said Butch Santicola, field director and communications specialist for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Easton Area tries to maintain education after budget cuts
Easton Area administrators say district is doing more with less. Others aren't so sure.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call  10:14 p.m. EDT, August 26, 2012
The hope in the Easton Area School District is that the kids won't notice.
If all goes as planned when students start class Monday, they will receive plenty of individual attention even though kindergarten through eighth-grade classes are almost universally larger.
Middle-school team teachers will be just as effective despite losing their daily period to strategize with colleagues, and the cafeteria tables will be spotless even though the district has cut eight custodians.  In the wake of massive budget cuts that slashed 135 jobs, including 72 teachers, the district's line is that it's "doing the same with less." But Easton will have to prove that to parents, teachers and experts who question whether it can maintain its educational standards.

Upper Darby officials discuss controversial NCLB elementary school choice plan
Delco Times By LINDA REILLY Times Correspondent Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
UPPER DARBY — School district officials met with parents of five elementary schools for an hour on Monday night to discuss transferring eligible students to meet the federal No Child Left Behind rulings……“In the past, Upper Darby has asked for a waiver,” McGarry said. “This past year, we wrote to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (for another waiver) and they informed us we must offer school choice. The PDE did provide a waiver for use of Aronimink.”

Editorial: Watkins: Man with a mission of choice?

So Joe Watkins has 30 days to come up with a plan to save the Chester Upland School District.
The joke around the city is: After he comes up with his plan, what’s he going to for the next 29 days?
Watkins, a University of Pennsylvania-trained educator, has a record of not only being very supportive of charter schools, but also of being employed by them and their owners.
He has been appointed by the Corbett administration, which has also very supportive of the charter school movement.
So will anyone be very surprised if Watkins’ plan to save the Chester Upland School District involves the closing of more of the old public schools and opening even more charters?

EITC 2.0 ‘Voucher lite’ program won’t help high school students who scored poorly
By Evan Brandt ebrandt@pottsmerc.com Posted: 08/26/12 10:15 pm
Second of Two Parts
POTTSTOWN — A state scholarship program designed to help rescue students from failing schools cannot easily rescue the students from Pottstown High School who put it on a “under-achieving” list because they have already completed their senior year.
It all comes down to timing, and the delay between the time a student takes the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test (PSSA) and when the results are known.
Last month, as the result of the new Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, Pottstown High School was   declared as an “under-achieving” school    on the basis of the result of a standardized test taken by students two school years ago.
This year’s list was, by law, released on Aug. 1, but subsequent lists will be released on Feb. 1, Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education wrote in an email response to questions posed by The Mercury.

School Finance 101 Blog by Bruce Baker Posted on June 5, 2012
Data and thoughts on public and private school funding in the U.S.
The Commonwealth Triple-Screw: Special Education Funding & Charter School Payments in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has among the least equitable state school finance systems in the country. Pennsylvania operates a school funding system that on average provides systematically less state and local revenue per pupil to the state’s highest need large and mid-size city districts. Among the nation’s most “screwed” city districts are Philadelphia, Reading and Allentown.  But amazingly, in Pennsylvania, the pain doesn’t end there. Pennsylvania also has one of the least fair, least logical approaches to special education funding, both in terms of the way in which special education aid is distributed to local public school districts and in the calculations for determining how much should be paid by local public school districts to charter schools for serving special education students.

At the Chalk Face Blog Talk Radio August 26, 2012
"What is Michelle Rhee famous for? Firing people." Diane Ravitch
Discusses school reform, common core on blog talk radio; runtime 29:47

“Beating up on public education is practically our national sport. I often do it myself. But overlooked in the ongoing assault is strong evidence that U.S. schools actually are worldbeaters -- except for the problem of poverty.”

Newsday: Poverty, not bad teachers, is what plagues our schools

Newsday August 26, 2012 5:21 PM By DANIEL AKST
Are American schools the best in the world? The answer is a resounding maybe -- which is good news indeed for this back-to-school season.  Beating up on public education is practically our national sport. I often do it myself. But overlooked in the ongoing assault is strong evidence that U.S. schools actually are worldbeaters -- except for the problem of poverty.
When it comes to reading, in fact, our schools may well be the best in the world. As Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond points out, U.S. 15-year olds in schools with fewer than 10 percent of kids eligible for free or cut-rate lunch "score first in the world in reading, outperforming even the famously excellent Finns."
This 10 percent threshold is significant because, in high achieving countries such as Finland, few schools have more poor kids than that. In other words, if you look at American schools that compare socioeconomically, we're doing great.
But wait, it gets better. U.S. schools where fewer than 25 percent are impoverished (by the same lunch measure) beat all 34 of the relatively affluent countries studied except South Korea and Finland. U.S. schools where 25 to 50 percent of students were poor still beat most other countries.

Bios of candidates slated for 2013 PSBA offices 8/15/2012
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.

Upcoming PSBA Professional Development Opportunities
To register or to learn more about PSBA professional development programs please visit:  www.psba.org/workshops/

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!  Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA
www.psba.org/workshops/school-leadership-conference/

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/


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.

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