Tuesday, October 2, 2012

PASBO/PASA Pennsylvania survey shows huge education cuts - 18,800 positions eliminated over 2 years as a result of tight funding

“Tuition free online public schools” are not free.
They take significantly more of your local tax dollars than it costs them to educate their students, accumulating large balances of excess funds, spending your local tax dollars on advertising and corporate bonuses while achieving lackluster academic results. Only 1 of 12 Pennsylvania cyber charter schools made AYP for 2012.  Most have never made AYP.

Are there excess funds?  In addition to being the only Pennsylvania cyber charter to make AYP for 2012 and for 6 out of the past seven years, the 21st Century Cyber Charter School reportedly has a $3 million accumulated balance of excess funds over actual costs that it would like to return to school districts and their taxpayers but there is apparently no provision in the existing charter school law that would enable them to refund the money.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, teacher leaders, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

PASBO/PASA Pennsylvania survey shows huge education cuts

18,800 positions eliminated over 2 years as a result of tight funding
October 2, 2012 3:33 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In his 17 years as executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Jay Himes can't recall a time of bigger cuts in education than last year and the current year.  "I can't think of anything even close," he said, commenting on a survey released Monday on the impact.
The electronic survey, done by PASBO and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators in August, was answered by 264 of the state's 500 school districts.
More than $900 million in public school funding was reduced in 2011-12, largely as a result of the end of the federal economic stimulus.
That money was not restored in the 2012-13 state budget.

Head of national teachers union: Touring Philadelphia schools, assessing political obstacles
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Tue, Oct. 2, 2012, 7:18 AM
Walking and driving around Philadelphia on Monday, Randi Weingarten was struck by the vibrant, dynamic city she saw. "This is a booming town," the American Federation of Teachers president said.  The reality inside the city's public schools doesn't match, said Weingarten, who visited Philadelphia as part of her national back-to-school tour.

INFOGRAPHIC: The Changing Face of the Teaching Force: How teaching became a workforce dominated by beginners.
Penn Graduate School of Education

2012 PSSAs: State scores down, regional school districts up
Pottstown Mercury By Frank Otto fotto@pottsmerc.com Posted: 09/30/12 12:01 am
POTTSTOWN — Although the Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released the 2012 PSSA test scores revealing a downward trend across the state, most of the school districts in the area experienced higher, positive scores since scores were last released.

An Act 47 for fiscally distressed schools takes shape

Scranton Times-Tribune BY ROBERT SWIFT (HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF) Published: October 1, 2012
HARRISBURG - School districts are being evaluated this fall to determine if they belong in fiscal watch status, a new category for designating local government entities on a slippery financial slope.  The state Department of Education is identifying which districts need monitoring because of such factors as low cash on hand or limited ability to generate tax revenue and take on more debt as it implements the School District Financial Recovery Law enacted in July.
The law establishes a state oversight process for school districts similar to what Act 47 offers for fiscally distressed municipalities.  Four urban districts - Harrisburg, York City, Chester-Upland and Duquesne - have received preliminary declarations as districts in financial recovery, the ultimate distress category that triggers the appointment of a chief officer to develop a recovery plan.
Harrisburg and York are contesting their declarations, and hearings have been scheduled this month to review the cases, Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis told the Senate Education Committee last week.

EITC 2.0: ‘Voucher-Lite’ Program Subsidizes Mostly Religious Schools In Pennsylvania

Americans United October 2012
Religious schools in Pennsylvania are reaping a financial windfall from a new law that diverts tax aid to them through backdoor channels.  The so-called “Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit” program allows businesses to make donations to non-profit organizations that in turn distribute scholarships to students who want to attend private schools. The businesses making the donations are given a tax break of up to 90 percent.
The scheme has been adopted in other states and has been called “neo-vouchers” or “vouchers lite.” In Pennsylvania, the public aid is given to students in public school districts deemed “under-achieving” and whose family income does not exceed $60,000.
A recent analysis by the Pottstown Mercury found that most of the schools taking part in the program are religiously affiliated. Although the law allows for public schools to participate by accepting students from outside their boundaries, only five have chosen to do so.
The newspaper reported that 340 schools – 89 percent of those taking part in the program – are religious. Most of those schools are Christian. Catholic, evangelical Christian and Quaker schools are on this list, among others.

COMMON CORE: Heritage’s Opposition to National Education Standards Advances Public Debate
Heritage Foundation by Lindsey Burke September 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Federal intervention into education has been a growing problem over the past four-and-a-half decades and is being supersized by the Obama Administration’s current efforts to push states to nationalize their standards, tests, and, ultimately, curriculum.
Heritage has been sounding the warning bell about the Common Core national standards push and has been particularly critical of federal efforts to incentivize their adoption. It is part of our effort to restore good constitutional governance in education and promote conservative public policy solutions to improve our nation’s education system.

SEQUESTRATION: Leaders at Work on Plan to Avert Mandatory Cuts

New York Times By JONATHAN WEISMAN Published: October 1, 2012
WASHINGTON — Senate leaders are closing in on a path for dealing with the “fiscal cliff” facing the country in January, opting to try to use a postelection session of Congress to reach agreement on a comprehensive deficit reduction deal rather than a short-term solution.
Senate Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on the details, and House Republicans continue to resist any discussion of tax increases. But lawmakers and aides say that a bipartisan group of senators is coalescing around an ambitious three-step process to avert a series of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts.

Building One Pennsylvania 2012 Statewide Public Meeting
Promoting sustainable, inclusive and economically prosperous communities
Saturday, October 13, 2012 10 am to 11:30 a.m.  (doors open at 9:30 for registration)
Franklin Commons, 400 Franklin Avenue, Phoenixville, PA
Declining local tax bases, aging infrastructure, unfair state and federal policies are undermining our communities. It's time to stand together to support our diverse, middle class communities.
Join local elected, faith and civic leaders from across Pennsylvania for a public meeting to call on state and national policy-makers to act on bi-partisan solutions to the pressing problems impacting our communities.  
·                     Reduce our local property tax burdens  
·                     Invest in our schools  
·                     Redevelop our infrastructure while creating local jobs 
·                     Promote more balanced housing markets 
 The event is free but you must register in advance to reserve your seat. Register at www.buildingonepa.org or by emailing name, title, organizational affiliation, address, phone and email to  info@buildingonepa.org.   To defray the cost of the event, we are accepting donations. Suggested donation: $5-$10. 

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!  Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA

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!


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