Monday, June 3, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 3, 2013: EITC: up to $150 million LESS tax revenue available to fund constitutionally mandated public education

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1900 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 3, 2013:
EITC: up to $150 million LESS tax revenue available to fund constitutionally mandated public education

Delay the cut in the capital stock and franchise tax
We urge the legislature to delay planned tax cuts rather than making additional budget cuts to schools, health care, and human services.
Help spread the message of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for the 2013-2014 State Budget

“Diminished state aid for education and human services over the years has steadily shifted costs to school districts and municipalities, overburdening local taxpayers”
Parkland school director to advocate for more education spending in Harrisburg
By Precious Petty | The Express-Times  on June 01, 2013 at 5:00 AM
Parkland School Board member is slated to be among at least nine officials who'll urge Gov. Tom Corbett and state legislators next week to put education and human services above corporate interests.  Roberta Marcus, a Parkland school director and co-chair of the Keystone State Education Coalition, will join officials from across Pennsylvania in Harrisburg on Tuesday to push for a state budget that invests in schools and communities rather than tax breaks for corporations, according to a news release.

Better Choices for PA Press Conference--Local Government Officials Raise Concern About Tax Cuts
Tuesday, June 4th at 1pm; Main Rotunda, State Capitol, Harrisburg PA
On Tuesday, June 4th, local government officials from across the state will gather inHarrisburg to make the case against new business tax cuts that are scheduled to take effect this year.  Citing the need to restore funding to local schools and county human services, officials will argue that Pennsylvania simply cannot afford new tax cuts this year.
Please RSVP to

Early Childhood Education Caucus to discuss state budget at June 4 news conference
Rep. Phyllis Mundy’s website  May 30
The Early Childhood Education Caucus will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, at the Capitol Media Center where its members will voice support for adequately funding early childhood care and education programs in the 2013-14 state budget. Speakers will include:
  • State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, and state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh/Northampton/Monroe, co-chairmen of the caucus;
  • Lloyd Lamm, regional banking executive for the capital region of First National Bank of Pennsylvania;
  • Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed;
  • Retired Army Brigadier Gen. Jerry G. Beck who will represent Mission Readiness; and
  • Members of the caucus.
The 125-member Early Childhood Education Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral alliance of legislators who advocate for the continued funding and development of high-quality early childhood care and education programs in Pennsylvania.
The caucus has worked together on many issues with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, whose co-chairman is Peter Danchak of northeasternPennsylvania.

PA House Education Committee Voting Meeting on HB 618
Monday June 3, 11:00 am Room G50 Irvis Office Building
Representative Emrick; Cyber Charter Pension Double Dip

Schwank Hears Pros, Cons of Bill Affecting Cyber Charter School Funding
Senator Schwank’s website on MAY 30, 2013
FREDERICKSBURG, May 30, 2013 – State Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and the Senate Education Committee today listened to school district and charter school officials about legislation affecting cyber charter school funding.  Schwank’s Senate Bill 335 would exempt school districts from paying cyber charter schools if that district offers a cyber program similar to the one offered by the non-district cyber charter school.
“My goal is to alleviate the pressure school districts are experiencing in using limited fiscal resources to pay outside providers of cyber education. If a school district can offer a comparable or better cyber schooling option, then it shouldn’t have to pay for both options,” Schwank said while emphasizing she is not an opponent of charter schools.  Schwank – who earlier this year was appointed to a new Special Education Funding Commission to recommend a new funding formula to more effectively pay for special education throughout the commonwealth – said districts would only be exempt from paying the cyber charter funds if that district had a comparable program within its borders.

Senate Education Committee Hearing Held in North Lebanon
21 Century Cyber Charter School website by Kimberly Ely, May 31, 2013
On Thursday, May 30, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing at North Lebanon High School to discuss the charter and cyber charter funding formula effecting schools across the state. See the agenda for this hearing here. This has been a heated topic for many years, as the funding structure currently employed fails to support learning methods in an equitable way.
The hearing discussed Senate Bill 335, which was recently drafted by Senator Schwank of the 11th District. Among other things, the most considerable piece of this legislation will allow school districts to retain 100% of student funds should that school district offer an in-house cyber program. This eliminates the concept of school choice for parents and their children, so long as a home school district develops and offers its own cyber program.
The hearings gave voice to several groups, offering opinions and perspectives from opposing sides of this argument. 

"The biggest problem is that no one owns the schools" - not Harrisburg, not City Council, not the mayor - "so no one owns the problem the schools have become," Katz said.
Philly: Budget will turn schools into empty warehouses for kids
The proposed school budget won't educate our kids. It will warehouse them.
This isn't school
POSTED: Saturday, June 1, 2013, 10:14 AM
USED TO be, when young urban parents asked me if they should send their kids to Philadelphia public schools, I'd give them my "gap" speech. It was honed from 12 years of using district schools to educate my daughter, now a high-school junior.  "When you use the public schools," went my patter, "there are gaps. Thankfully, my husband and I have been able to fill the gaps that come with educating a child in the chronically underfunded district."

Philadelphia passes ‘doomsday’ school budget
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: June 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm
It isn’t called a “doomsday” budget for nothing: Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission approved a budget this week that includes cuts so drastic that if they are implemented, schools will be forced to open in the fall without funding for things such as paper, new books, athletics, arts, music, counselors and more.  The budget was passed Thursday night as parents and others shouted “Disgrace!” and other things at the commission members who ignored the warnings of more than 55 speakers about the importance of the programs being gutted,  the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“Instead of yelling at Bill Hite, folks, why don't you hop on the Turnpike and go confront the main source of the problem? It's a building with a dome on it, and it ain't on Broad Street. It's by the Susquehanna.”
In Philly schools drama, many boo the wrong 'villains'
WHYY Newsworks By Chris Satullo June 3, 2013
I'm not sure how much of this I can take.
It's so painful to see so much well-meaning energy so misdirected through naivete and misconception.  I speak, of course, again and ever more sadly, of the Philadelphia schools.
The School Reform Commission last week took a preliminary vote in favor of what has become known as its doomsday budget. Staring at a $300 million budget gap for next year, the commission approved a tentative budget that takes a meat cleaver to classrooms, cutting 3,000 jobs, including classroom aides, assistant principals and a lot more.

State OKs Harrisburg School District's financial, academic recovery plan
By Emily Previti |  on May 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Department of Education has approved the recovery plan for the capital city's public school system.  The approval was contingent on Harrisburg School District providing clarification of some aspects of the plan that deal with real estate transactions, according to a letter written Friday by the department's Executive Deputy Secretary Amy Morton.

Pennsylvania’s EITC and EITC 2.0 programs divert up to $150 million in tax dollars that would be contributed to the state’s general fund (and available to fund constitutionally-mandated public education as part of the budget process) to private and religious schools with virtually no accountability for how those diverted tax dollars are spent or how the students in the program are performing academically.
Keep that $150 million in mind for context as this year’s budget process proceeds; special ed funding has been flat for six years, Philly is looking at “warehousing” students; the accountability block grant program is $171 million less than it was pre-ARRA stimulus, $65 million in tutoring budget line no longer exists, $226 million in charter school reimbursement to school districts no longer exists….
Private schools hope Pa. tax-credit program will grow larger
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 3, 2013 12:02 am
After a slow start, money is starting to come in to a tax-credit scholarship program aimed at providing scholarships for students who live within the attendance areas of the state's lowest-performing schools to transfer to other higher performing schools.  Ronald Bowes, assistant superintendent for policy and development for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the diocese has raised about $500,000 for scholarships through the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program and hopes to double that number by July 1, after which it will determine the number and amounts of scholarships it will be able to award for the 2013-14 school year.

Here’s a background piece from last year when the original EITC program was increased by $25 million (to $100 million) and the new EITC 2.0 program was created ($50 million).
Posted: Mon, Jul. 2, 2012, 3:01 AM
Pennsylvania corporate tax credit will pay for private-school scholarships
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer July 2, 2012
Gov. Corbett, who has pushed hard for a school-voucher program, achieved much of that goal Saturday night through the expansion of a corporate tax credit that for the first time will pay for public school students to attend private schools.  As part of the budget deal concluded just before midnight, the legislature broadened the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC), adding $50 million in tax breaks to businesses that donate money for scholarships to students in the state's lowest-performing schools.

Pension reform? What pension reform?: Friday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on May 31, 2013 at 7:46 AM, updated May 31, 2013 at 8:16 AM
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If you've been paying even scant attention to state government these last few months, then you'll no doubt know that lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett were supposed to have been working on a Holy Trinity issues in the run-up to the June 30 budget deadline.
But just in case you've been trapped under something heavy and couldn't get to a newspaper, or, like us, you've been transfixed by that pretend mermaid show on Animal Planet, here's a quick refresher:

Corbett has sold the pension crisis, but not his solution: analysis
By Robert J. Vickers | 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 02, 2013 at 7:06 AM
There have been plenty of instances where Gov. Tom Corbett has gotten out ahead of an issue, only to find the matter didn't carry the weight he anticipated.  The first-term Republican governor's efforts to change the way the state tallies its electoral college votes, require voter ID, privatize the state lottery, and mandate pre-abortion ultrasounds were largely seen as immaterial to the challenges facing the commonwealth.  But unlike those ancillary distractions, Corbett has found his administration's cause celebre that should be grabbing the attention of voters and state lawmakers.

Full-time flop: In June, the Legislature punts on the big issues
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial June 2, 2013 12:08 am
The $23.8 billion budget proposed by House Republicans last week was $110 million short of the amount Gov. Tom Corbett put forward in the plan he unveiled in February. That's not all that was missing.  The House blueprint does not incorporate three major initiatives under discussion that come with big revenue impacts: the new transportation funding package, the end of the government liquor monopoly and reform of the public employee pension system. All three issues are before the Legislature and all three have been crying out for resolution for years.

“Under the new system, 20 to 25 percent of each teacher’s rating score would be determined by state-approved measures of students’ growth, another 15 to 20 percent by measures established by the schools, and 55 to 60 percent would be based on in-class observations or performance assessed by video recording.”
New York to Evaluate Teachers With New System
By CHANNING JOSEPH Published: June 1, 2013
The New York State education commissioner broke a long and acrimonious impasse on Saturday by imposing a new evaluation system that would rate New York City teachers in part on their students’ test scores and streamline the disciplinary process.  The new system, announced after three hectic days of meetings, testimony and arbitration that involved the Bloomberg administration and the teachers’ union, finally brought New York City into compliance with state law — the last district in the state to do so.

“But many educators teach subjects for which there are no widely used tests. In response, the city is developing assessments in a range of subjects, including English as a second language, special education and music. City officials are also working on assessments for kindergarten, first grade and second grade, where exams are less common.”
NY Teacher Assessments Extending to Art and Gym
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: June 2, 2013
New York City students have grown accustomed to the restless routine of state tests in math and reading every year. But soon they will face assessments in subjects typically spared from standardized testing, including art, gym and foreign languages.

The Network for Public Education
Newsletter Volume 1, Issue #10 May 31`, 2012

Need to feel good about the Common Core and Keystone Exams?
What would it take for us to see similar events focusing on high quality early childhood education and community schools?  Generous sponsors?
“The Pennsylvania Education Summit is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Business Council Education Foundation, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Team Pennsylvania Foundation with the support of generous sponsors.”
Pennsylvania Education Summit
Harrisburg, PA Thursday, June 13, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM (EDT)
The Pennsylvania Education Summit: Building a Pathway to College and Career Success will gather business leaders, teachers, school superintendents, curriculum specialists, state lawmakers, legislative staff, executive agency professionals, workforce investment board members and staff, and other education stakeholders for a civil conversation on the public policy required to ensure our Commonwealth's young people are "college and career ready."  The Pennsylvania Education Summit will highlight and support the efforts of the Corbett Administration and Pennsylvania General Assembly to design and implement education reforms that increase student achievement and accountability in Pennsylvania's K-12 education system.
Agenda and registration here:

“What’s the least bad option going forward? Who should bear the brunt of this legacy of fiscal irresponsibility? Current retirees? Today’s teachers? New teachers? School districts? Taxpayers? The students themselves?”
No Way Out? How to Solve the Teacher-Pension Problem
Live or Webinar June 6, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. EDT
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 1016 16th Street NW, 7th Floor Washington, DC 20036
America’s teacher-pension systems (with up to a trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities according to some estimates) present a raging public-policy dilemma. Career teachers absolutely deserve a secure retirement, but lawmakers promised them benefits that the system cannot afford, as those promises were based on short-term political considerations and bad math. Now the bill is coming due, and someone’s going to get soaked.
  • Sandi Jacobs, vice president and managing director of state policy, National Council on Teacher Quality
  • Josh B. McGee, vice president of public accountability, Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Charles Zogby, secretary of the budget, Pennsylvania
  • Leo Casey, executive director, Albert Shanker Institute
Moderator: Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
This event will be webcast. Visit our website,, at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, June 6, to watch the proceedings live.
Register now to join the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality for a timely look at the teacher-pension crisis and various state efforts to address it.

EPLC Education Policy Fellowship Program – Apply Now
Applications are available now for the 2013-2014 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 350 graduates in its first fourteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 12-13, 2013 and continues to graduation in June 2014.

Turning the Page for Change celebration, June 11, 2013
Please join us for the Notebook’s annual Turning the Page for Change celebration on June 11, 2013, from 4:30 - 7 p.m. at the University of The Arts, Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad Street. We will be honoring a member of the Notebook community for years of service to our mission as well as honoring several local high school journalists. Help us celebrate another year of achievement that included two awards from the Education Writers Association and coverage of other critical stories like the budget crisis and the school closing process.

Building One America 2013 National Summit July 18-19, 2013 Washington, DC
Brookings Institution to present findings of their “Confronting Suburban Poverty” report
Building One America’s Second National Summit for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions will involve local leaders and federal policy makers to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common challenges around housing, schools and infrastructure facing America’s metropolitan regions and its diverse middle-class suburbs. Participants will include local elected and grassroots leaders from America’s diverse middle class suburban towns and school districts, scholars and policy experts, members of the Obama Administration and Congress.  The summit will identify comprehensive solutions and build bipartisan support for meaningful action to stabilize and support inclusive middle-class communities and promote sustainable, economically competitive regions.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District March 2013

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight Keystone State Education Coalition (updated May 2, 2013)
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

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