Monday, March 30, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 30: The Haverford School ($500,500), Episcopal Academy ($498,750), Baldwin ($448,250), Shipley ($273,000), Agnes Irwin ($192,000) among elite main-line private schools receiving diverted tax $$$ under PA's OSTC tax credit program

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 30, 2015:
The Haverford School ($500,500), Episcopal Academy ($498,750), Baldwin ($448,250), Shipley ($273,000), Agnes Irwin ($192,000) among elite main-line private schools receiving diverted tax $$$ under PA's OSTC tax credit program



Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center, 340 North 21st Street, Camp Hill.
More info/registration: http://www.educationvoterspa.org/index.php/site/news/2015-events/



Basic principles of school funding
The Sentinel by David W. Patti GUEST COLUMN March 29, 2015
David W. Patti is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council, which works to define policy strategies and solutions that it believes make the commonwealth more competitive and elect candidates who offer the best capacity to create and sustain a better Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Business Council believes the commonwealth’s public schools must be provided with funding adequate to educate our students to the level of proficiency required by our state academic standards and graduation requirements.  All Pennsylvania students should graduate from high school prepared to be successful in post-secondary education and careers. Adequate, fair, predictable state funding of basic education is essential to Pennsylvania’s competitiveness. The Pennsylvania Business Council shares with many others several basic principles of school funding:

"Basic education funding is the top issue for policymakers in Harrisburg and it is an issue that affects every single Pennsylvanian," said Susan Spicka of Education Voters of Pa. and Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, a co-sponsor of the forum. "The bottom line is that we have an obligation as a commonwealth to make sure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live."
State education funding focus of Wednesday community forum in Camp Hill
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 27, 2015 at 10:35 AM
Statewide education funding will be the topic of a community forum set for Wednesday in Camp Hill.  The forum begins at 7 p.m. at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center at 340 N. 21st St.  Panelists will address the need for a student-driven, sustainable and predictable system for funding public schools that the state has lacked for more than two decades. Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the nation that lacks a formula, which some attribute to the reason school property taxes have risen.  In a Franklin & Marshall College poll released this week, voters put increased school funding and reforming the state's tax system to lower property taxes as the top two priorities facing Pennsylvania.

In 1975, 41% of the PA budget was public education compared to 33% today.

40 years of state budgets: How spending priorities have shifted in Pennsylvania (interactive)

Penn Live By Nick Malawskey | nmalawskey@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on March 03, 2015 at 12:30 PM, updated March 03, 2015 at 3:31 PM
The following interactive graphic shows how Pennsylvania's budget priorities have shifted over the last 40 years. For desktop users, Click and drag the bar at the top of the graphic to change the year. For mobile users, click at different points along the bar to change the year.

Gov. Wolf’s chief of staff touts tax relief package in upcoming budget proposal
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 03/29/15, 10:24 PM EDT |
UPPER DARBY >> Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff visited the Daily Times on Friday to tout the governor’s budget proposal, calling the plan the largest tax relief package in many years.  Wolf introduced his first budget on March 3, more than three months before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, and it includes reductions in some taxes, but increases in others.  “This package as a whole proposes the biggest tax relief for both individuals and businesses in a couple of generations,” Katie McGinty said. “It is absolutely an urgent package for where Pennsylvania finds itself.”  Among the chief concerns addressed by Wolf’s plan are the unfunded pension liabilities for state employees and education funding. The governor’s proposal calls for a 5 percent gas extraction tax that would provide upwards of $2 billion for basic education funding over the next four years, including $1 billion in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Weighing the Pennsylvania pension debt
Despite different political perspectives, experts can agree on some solutions
York Daily Record By Flint McColgan fmccolgan@ydr.com @flintmccolgan on Twitter UPDATED:   03/29/2015 10:48:41 PM EDT
Pension problems in Pennsylvania transcend the municipal borders and crises covered locally.  The two Pennsylvania state pension programs — the State Employee Retirement System and the Public School Employees' Retirement System — combined are now $53 billion short of being funded. With such a large number, all political sides can agree there is a problem.  That huge number comes straight from Mark Ryan, the deputy director of the state Legislature's Independent Fiscal Office. He presented the information as background ahead of a public forum at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg.  The forum featured speakers representing different perspectives and fixes for the issue, but each one agreed something needed to be done.
Here are some takeaways from the forum:

Did you catch our weekend postings?
Did you know that EITC/OSTC scholarship organizations get to keep up to 20% of the money as administrative fees under PA's tax credit programs?
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 29: PA HB752 would divert additional $100 million in tax dollars to unaccountable private and religious schools

The Haverford School ($500,500), Episcopal Academy ($498,750), Baldwin ($448,250), Shipley ($273,000), Agnes Irwin ($192,000) among elite main-line private schools receiving diverted tax $$$ under PA's OSTC tax credit program
PA Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Scholarships Awarded Descending by Amount Received Fiscal Year 2013-2014
Source: PA Dept of Community & Economic Development

A school choice victory: Follow the child
Editorial By The Tribune-Review Sunday, March 29, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Overturning a lower court's ruling, Alabama's Supreme Court has upheld that state's tax-credit scholarship program, premised on the understanding that children shouldn't be stuck in failing schools — regardless of teacher unions' insistence.  Alabama teachers and their liberal allies filed a lawsuit against Alabama's Accountability Act of 2013, arguing that the scholarship program illegally used state money, which includes scholarships to religious schools.  Au contraire, ruled Alabama's high court. The state's not picking the religious schools; funding recipients select the private schools of their choice. The money “follows the children.”
Pennsylvania: Legislators Want More Vouchers
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch March 29, 2015 //
In Pennsylvania, both Republicans and Democrats want to expand the state’s “tax credit” (aka voucher) program, allowing public funds to pay for private and religious tuition.  The tax credits drain funds from public school support, which is already inequitably funded and suffered deep budget cuts. The state’s public schools are in financial crisis, and the last thing they need is another stealth cut to their funding.  Why don’t the legislators put vouchers to a vote of the people? Are they afraid to find out how the public will respond?

Parents, teachers implore Allentown School Board to restore cut music, art gym and library programs
By Kevin Duffy Special to The Morning Call March 29, 2015
Parents, teachers implore Allentown School Board to restore cut programs
Included among the teachers and parents who pleaded Thursday to the Allentown School Board to restore programs lost due to budget cuts, the words of Gwen Mullen may have made the strongest case.  "My mom always tells me, 'You won't know until you try it!'" the second-grader from Ritter Elementary School said, reading from a single sheet of paper while standing on tippy-toes at the podium, the microphone curled downward, as close to her face as possible.  She was talking about bringing back music, art and gym classes and library time for elementary students, all of which have been cut significantly since 2011. She asked for them back because participating in them might someday make her "a music teacher, a singer, a gymnast, an art teacher, a librarian, or any of these things."

 “A proposed reinstatement of the moratorium is not viewed as good news for our member districts,” said Steve Robinson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, which represents elected school board officials from nearly every one of the state’s 500 school districts. “Right now there are 300 public school construction projects that were in the pipeline … so it’s critical that the districts that have moved forward with those projects get that reimbursement.”
Capitolwire: PlanCon moratorium lift could be short-lived
PSBA's website By Christen Smith, Staff Reporter, Capitolwire
HARRISBURG (March 27) — The Legislature’s lift on the PlanCon moratorium last summer may continue only another few months if Gov. Tom Wolf gets his way.  It’s a step backwards for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who’ve struggled with reforming the popular reimbursement program that, for decades, school districts have used to draw down reimbursement payments from the state for construction and renovation projects.  The most recent PlanCon reform bill, House Bill 210, authored by York County Rep. Seth Grove, awaits a final vote in the House. Grove championed similar legislation last session that twice passed in the chamber before dying on the Senate floor..

Wolf has a vision for ending Philly's SRC, not a blueprint
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY MARCH 30, 2015
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission is here to stay, at least for a little while longer.
Gov. Tom Wolf campaigned on the idea that he'd like to replace the SRC with a locally elected body, but proponents of that plan shouldn't hold their breath. 
There are two ways the SRC can end: either the state legislature would pass legislation to repeal the 2001 bill that created it in the first place. Or the five-member body can vote to self destruct.  Wolf would prefer Philadelphia's schools to be overseen by a democratically elected governing board, but he says he's not going to put immediate pressure on either of those two options.

"There are five 55+ adult communities in the school district (Fox Hill Farms, Belmont, Concord Riviera, Foxfield, and Maris Grove). These five communities make up 40 percent of the tax base for the schools."
Letter to the Editor: Wondering what the teachers are really after
Delco Times LTE by Frank Kuders POSTED: 03/29/15, 2:04 PM EDT |
To the Times: The Garnet Valley School Board and the Garnet Galley Education Association have been in negotiations pertaining to a new contract for the teachers.  When agreement couldn’t be reached, both parties agreed to enlist the aid of an unbiased mediator. The mediator was given all the information and facts.  After reviewing everything, the mediator presented both parties with a resolution that was deemed fair and equitable to all parties. The teachers rejected the resolution, saying they want more.  As a resident of the Garnet Valley School District for over 41 years I recognize and appreciate the skill and dedication that the teachers have exhibited both in the past and currently display. However, it was frustrating to watch and listen to the comments made by the teachers at the school board meetings. Their claim is, “It’s all about the children.” Let’s get real — “it’s all about the money.” Some residents have even bought into the teachers’ claim. They are willing to pay higher taxes to do so, but when do you say enough is enough. Let’s look at some of the sidelined facts.

The Charter School Quality Conundrum
Education Writer's Association Educated Reporter Blog MARCH 30, 2015 EWA STAFF
Charter schools increasingly are being scrutinized for the exact problem many advocates hoped they would help solve: poor student outcomes. How exactly to deal with those schools that do not meet academic expectations—or fail in other regards, such as employing questionable business practices or not being equitable in welcoming all students—have become key concerns.  At a recent Education Writers Association seminar in Denver, experts discussed steps needed to ensure that charters uphold the original bargain of getting autonomy and flexibility in exchange for academic results. Many charter advocates lament that too many low-performing charters are permitted to operate year after year.

Report: Big education firms spend millions lobbying for pro-testing policies
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss March 30 at 4:00 AM  
The four corporations that dominate the U.S. standardized testing market spend millions of dollars lobbying state and federal officials — as well as sometimes hiring them — to persuade them to favor policies that include mandated student assessments, helping to fuel a nearly $2 billion annual testing business, a new analysis shows.  The analysis, done by the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit liberal watchdog and advocacy agency based in Wisconsin that tracks corporate influence on public policy, says that four companies — Pearson Education, ETS (Educational Testing Service), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill—  collectively spent more than $20 million lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014.


Who will be at the PSBA Advocacy Forum April 19-20 in Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg?
  • Acting Ed Sec'y Pedro Rivera
  • Senate Ed Committee Majority Chairman Lloyd Smucker
  • House Ed Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne
  • Diane Ravitch
  • House Majority Leader Dave Reed
  • House Minority Leader Frank Dermody
  • 2014 PSBA Tim Allwein Advocacy Award winners Shauna D'Alessandro and Mark Miller
How about You?
Join PSBA for the second annual Advocacy Forum on April 19-20, 2015. Hear from legislative experts on hot topics and issues regarding public education on Sunday, April 19, at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg. The next day you and fellow advocates will meet with legislators at the state capitol. This is your chance to learn how to successfully advocate on behalf of public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.
Details and Registration for PSBA members (only $25.00) https://www.psba.org/event/advocacy-forum-day-hill-2015/

INVITATION: Join next Twitter chat on PA education March 31, 8:00 pm
PSBA's website March 23, 2015
The next monthly Twitter chat with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, March 31 at 8 p.m. Use hashtag #FairFundingPA to participate and follow the conversation.

Join NPE in Chicago April 25-26
Curmuducation Blog Saturday, March 21, 2015
I don't get out much. I'm a high school English teacher in a small town, and kind of homebody by nature. When I leave town, it's for family or work. But in just over a month, on the weekend of April 25-26, I am taking a trip to Chicago for neither.   The Network for Public Education is the closest thing to an actual formal organization of the many and varied people standing up for public education in this modern era of privatizing test-driven corporate education reform. NPE held a conference last year, and they're doing it again this year-- a gathering of many of the strongest voices for public education in America today. Last year I followed along on line-- this year I will be there.

Register Now for EPLC Forum on the State Education Budget –  Philadelphia on April 1
Education Policy and Leadership Center Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum
You are invited to attend one of EPLC’s Regional Education Policy Forums on Governor Wolf’s Proposed Education Budget for 2015-2016    Space is limited. There is no cost, but an RSVP is required.  The program will include a state budget overview presented by Ron Cowell of EPLC and a representative of the PA Budget and Policy Center. The presentations are followed by comments from panelists representing statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations. Comments from those in the audience and a question and answer session will conclude the forum.  Wednesday, April 1, 2015– EPLC Education Policy Forum on the Governor’s State Budget Proposal for Education – 10 a.m.-12 Noon – Penn Center for Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA –RSVP by clicking here.

Delaware County and West Philly Dentists to provide FREE dental care to children 0 – 18 years old during spring break the week of March 30 – April 3 for “Give Kids a Smile Day.” 
For this event, sponsored by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local dentists will provide free screenings and cleanings for children.  Give Kids a Smile Day is especially for children who do not have health insurance or who have not had a dental exam in the last six months. Appointments are necessary, so please call PCCY at 215-563-5848 x32 to schedule one starting Monday, March 16th.  Volunteers will be on hand to answer calls. Smile Day information can also be found on the school district website and on PCCY’s website - http://www.pccy.org/resource/give-kids-a-smile-day/


Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center, 340 North 21st Street, Camp Hill.
More info/registration: http://www.educationvoterspa.org/index.php/site/news/2015-events/

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