The Brief: State Moves Closer to Taking Over Philly Schools — Again
Friday, June 12, 2015
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 12: Advocates Demonstrate Locally For Better Education Funding Across Pennsylvania
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3600 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 June 12, 2015:
Advocates Demonstrate Locally For Better Education Funding Across
House Democrats report more inclusion in budget discussions
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, June 10, 2015
In an exclusive interview with The PLS Reporter, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) said his caucus is more involved with budget discussions and negotiations on other major pieces of legislation than at any other time in his caucus leadership. “We are in the room and that’s very, very important,” he said. “I think the governor has made it clear that he’s not going to move forward without us.” He stated he believes the budget and related legislation will not be passed without Democratic votes. “Everybody recognizes that,” he said. “That being the case, we need to be in the room, in the negotiating process.” Rep. Dermody said House and Senate Democrats have a standing meeting with the governor on Mondays and Republicans are meeting with the governor on Tuesdays.
Budget cold war continues between Wolf, GOP
CAITLIN MCCABE AND BEN FINLEY, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS LAST UPDATED: Friday, June 12, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2015, 8:05 PM
After meeting behind closed doors in Harrisburg earlier this week, Gov. Wolf and state House Speaker Mike Turzai said little about their talks to find common ground on a new budget. But as both swung through the Philadelphia region Thursday, they left little doubt their gap was as wide as ever. Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, used a stop in Delaware County to rip Wolf's plan to tax natural-gas drillers, a key plank in the Democratic governor's budget proposal. Fifty miles away, in Doylestown, Wolf and his wife sat with school officials extolling his plan to levy a 5 percent tax on extracted natural gas, which they say would raise about $1 billion for schools. He also has proposed a per-cubic-foot fee on the gas produced. "The point I'm trying to make is that we can save education across the commonwealth, because it's morally the right thing to do," Wolf said during a forum at Central Bucks High School East. "Not only is that true, but it's smart."
"If I were in the state Legislature, I wouldn't be making any big plans for the July 4th weekend."
Delco Times Heron's Nest Blog by Editor Phil Heron Friday, June 12, 2015
Harrisburg, Mr. Wolf.
So, you think you're having a bad week? Consider yourself lucky. You could be governor of the
Wolf, who rolled over incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by painting
himself as a Jeep-driving non-politician, someone not tainted by the political
process, is taking his lumps in the rough-and-tumble of life in Keystone State Harrisburg. Last week he saw his much-hyped budget plan
get shot down by the House, 193-0. Yes, it was unanimous, even his own
Democrats voted against it. Of course, as with everything that goes down in the
capital, it's not exactly what it appears. Republicans, who control both the
House and Senate, put the entire package of tax hikes Wolf wants to fund his
budget, out on the line. Of course, all these people who must run for office
every two years gave it a thumb's down. Wolf and the Democrats called it a
Senate questions Wolf's plan to broaden state sales tax
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette
Bureau June 11, 2015 12:00 AM
"Consider, first, that the state Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) concluded in a March 2014 report the money
collects from the drilling industry is the lowest of 11 natural-gas producing
states. Dead last. IFO also says that
most of the tax that Gov. Wolf has proposed likely would be paid by
out-of-state consumers." Pennsylvania
For schools and the future - here's why lawmakers need to support a shale tax: David Fillman
PennLive Op-Ed By David Fillman on June 10, 2015 at 2:00 PM, updated June 11, 2015 at 10:54 AM
David Fillman is the executive director of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. He writes from Swatara Twp.
Gov. Wolf's energy tax plan would drive industry away, discourage growth: PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor by GEOFF FIX, Spring Garden Twp., York County on June 11, 2015 at 3:00 PM
resident, who's proudly employed in the commonwealth's natural gas supply
chain, I am deeply concerned about Gov. Tom Wolf's efforts to enact even higher
energy taxes. His highest-in-the-nation energy tax, as stated by the
Independent Fiscal Office, would hurt local businesses and consumers as well as
our state's broader economy, which desperately needs more jobs. Mr. Wolf's proposal would drive the industry
away, decrease investment and discourage growth – and for me, and my neighbors
in York County , that means fewer jobs, less tax
revenue for our communities and less opportunity. York County
"The United Way said in 2014 that it is ramping up its community schools efforts in the
neediest schools. The organization is focusing on 22 schools in which
73 percent or more of the student body lives in poverty." Lehigh Valley
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 11, 2015 at 10:03 PM, updated June 12, 2015 at 1:13 AM
The Allentown School Board will vote later this month to establish another community schools site in partnership with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, St. Luke's University Health Network, the Boys and Girls Club in
Allentown, PPL Corp. and Communities in Schools of the . The community school model strives to turn
schools into neighborhood hubs that connect parents and students with
resources. The Lehigh Valley United Way
acts as the intermediary, pairing schools with a lead and corporate partner. Allentown is expected to
pay a $5,000 match. The district is hoping to soon have both of its high
schools and two more elementary schools designated as community schools, said
Jacqulyn Scott, district director of community and student services. The United
Way provides funding to the lead partner to hire a
coordinator who will design annual plans to boost educational outcomes. Typically,
the lead and corporate partners also help pay the coordinator's salary.
A play and pleas for
WHYY Newsworks BY SARA HOOVER JUNE 11, 2015
The debate over how to fund
schools is heating up as the governor and lawmakers face a June 30 budget
deadline. The advocacy organization Public Citizens for Children & Youth
held press conferences demanding a fair school funding formula today at various
spots around southeast Pennsylvania.
On the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse, Norristown superintendent
Janet Samuels said Pennsylvania
is one of only three states in the country without an education funding
formula. She says the also has one of the
widest gaps between wealthy and poor school districts. "A funding formula must be put in place
that considers factors such poverty, English language proficiency,
homelessness, and foster care placement — items that greatly affect each
district's' budget," she said. Samuels says fewer
federal and state dollars have placed an unfair burden on her school district's
local tax base, which makes up 73 percent of the district's revenue. Keystone
Advocates Demonstrate Locally For Better Education Funding Across
CBS Philly By Jim Melwert June 11, 2015 1:49 PM
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Advocates for better state funding for education in Pennsylvania took their cause to the steps of the courthouses today in Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties. Norristown school district superintendent Janet Samuels pointed out that
is one of only three states in the United States that doesn’t have a
basic formula to distribute resources fairly and consistently to districts
across the state. “ Pennsylvania has one of the widest gaps
between the wealthy and less-endowed, or poorer, school districts as compared
to any other state in this country,” she said.
And that, she says, forces her district, like so many others in the
state, to rely heavily on local resources such as real estate taxes.
By Brendan Wills, The Times Herald POSTED: 06/11/15, 2:16 PM EDT
NORRISTOWN >> The day after the Basic Education Funding Commission extended its deadline to deliver a recommendation for a funding formula for Pennsylvania basic education to the Legislature, public school administrators and teachers across the commonwealth took to their local courthouse steps to urge the legislature to fairly fund schools. Norristown Area School District Superintendent Janet Samuels stood on the steps of the Montgomery County Court House Thursday in front of education advocates to ask that all legislators think of students attending school districts that struggle to come up with funds to adequately educate their children. Samuels noted how economic advancement is directly linked to educational achievement, and that despite education being the great equalizer,
Pennsylvania has no formula to distribute
equally the funding provided by the state.
Superintendents Call for
Funding Fair School
WeAreCentralPA by Christian Heilman June 11, 2015
-- One day before he's set to
retire, Dr. Gerry Zahorchek made one last stand for education funding. Gerald Zahorchak, Superintendent Greater
Johnstown School District, said, "I grew up in CAMBRIA COUNTY Johnstown. I saw it in a better time and I
knew that there were kids there if they had more attention, would've done
better." He set up a rally in the
shadows of the Cambria County Courthouse -- calling for Harrisburg to change what he calls unfair
funding. "It's not adequate,” he
said. “There's not enough money put into children's education based on a
legislative study done about eight years ago." He thinks the state should change how they fund schools - including using money
from shale fees, a property tax increase and a broader sales tax. He says the
return on the money will be people getting jobs and an education. "So we either do it right in the first
quarter of life or we sponsor people for the last three quarters of their
life,” Zahorchak said. “We're asking to get it right and it begins by building
a great public education system."
"The number of findings and recommendations indicates a systemic breakdown in accountability, effectiveness and transparency," he said. "Our audit shows not only a clear need for changes within this charter school, but for legislative reforms of the charter school laws and the Department of Education's regulations, guidelines, and policies."
State auditor general: 'There is no way to account for every dollar' at York charter school
By Candy Woodall | firstname.lastname@example.org Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 11, 2015 at 10:15 AM
A state audit shows a York City charter school double billed students, didn't have enough certified staff and failed to keep proper financial and health records. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Thursday said the record keeping at Helen Thackston Charter School was so deficient it was "nearly impossible to draw sound conclusions" on how the institution functioned and spent money. "In the Thackston charter school's case, there is no way to account for every dollar, or to know if the school operated as intended because a breakdown of internal controls," he said. The 63-page report reveals a potential ethics violation, issues with teacher certifications, concerns about reimbursements and double billing for tuition reimbursements from local school districts. DePasquale's audit reviewed school operations from 2010 to 2013 and includes 12 findings, two observations and 52 recommendations for improvement.
State audit shows multiple concerns at York City's Thackston Charter
A state audit on a
charter school revealed multiple areas of concern, including a general lack of
accountability and transparency as well as an insufficient number of certified
teachers and a failure to keep proper financial and health records. The routine audit, which reviewed York City
operations from 2010 to 2013, also exposed a potential ethics violation,
concerns about reimbursements and double-billing for tuition reimbursements
from local school districts, said Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. "In the Thackston charter school's case,
there is no way to account for every dollar, or to know if the school operated
as intended, because a breakdown of internal controls," DePasquale said.
"The lack of documentation makes it nearly impossible to draw any sound
conclusion." DePasquale emphasized
that this was not only a local issue, but reimbursements are also coming from
the state's Department of Education. Helen Thackston
"Those are all of our tax dollars..." he said. "We owe it to parents, taxpayers, and especially the students to make sure that every education dollar is focused on improving learning opportunities."
Audit finds 'systematic breakdown of accountability' at charter school
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the findings on
Thursday in York
York Daily Record By Dylan Segelbaum email@example.com @dylan_segelbaum on Twitter 6/11/2015
Describing the report as a "Reader's Digest for how to have bad governance," Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Thursday released the results of a 63-page audit of Helen Thackston Charter School, which documents record-keeping so poor that it's almost impossible to account for every dollar it spent. "The number of findings and recommendations indicates a systematic breakdown in accountability, effectiveness and transparency," he said at a news conference. The audit includes 12 findings and states that
districts for student tuition; got reimbursed by the state for a certified
nurse when it did not have one; and reported that all of its employees were
professionally certified - though the number was actually less than 75 percent. In 2011-12, DePasquale said, eight school
districts - York City; Central York; Dallastown Area; Dover Area; Donegal;
Northeastern; West York Area; and York Suburban - paid $5 million in tuition to
Helen Thackston Charter School. But because of the record-keeping, he said,
auditors were unable to determine how each district might have been affected. Helen Thackston Charter
West Shore School Board approves a more than 5 percent tax increase for Cumberland,
Penn Live ` By Rachel Bunn | firstname.lastname@example.org Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 11, 2015 at 7:20 PM, updated June 11, 2015 at 8:09 PM
The West Shore School Board approved a more than 5 percent increase in its tax rate in both Cumberland and York counties to fund the $105,662,739 budget for next school year Thursday. The tax increase is 5.15 percent for Cumberland County to 10.1788 mills; in York County, the increase is 5.26 percent to 13.2522 mills, according to the district's budget information. Under the new rates, a Cumberland County resident with a $100,000 property assessment will pay $985.40 per year; a York County resident will pay $1,282.
Bald Eagle Area school board approves budget
Centre Daily Times BY CLAYTON OVER email@example.com June 11, 2015
Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2015/06/11/4790154_bald-eagle-area-school-board-approves.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 11, 2015 at 1:42 PM, updated June 11, 2015 at 3:01 PM
The Saucon Valley School Board says that its teachers union's contract proposal is at least $3.9 million more expensive than the board's best offer. The school board and Saucon Valley Education Association both released their final, best contract offer this week ahead of a July nonbonding arbitration hearing.
"It would seem the most likely impact of this legislation on the city, if it should pass, would be to accelerate — perhaps dramatically — the conversion of traditional neighborhood public schools into charters. That prospect alarms Superintendent Bill Hite, because of the stranded costs created by charter conversions."
The Brief: State Moves Closer to Taking Over Philly Schools — Again
The Brief: State Moves Closer to Taking Over Philly Schools — Again
Philly Mag Citified BY PATRICK KERKSTRA | JUNE 10, 2015 AT 7:34 AM
1. A state Senate committee approved a bill that would put low-performing Pennsylvania schools into a state-run system.
The gist: The Inquirer’s Chris Palmer reports that the Senate Education Committee moved the legislation, which would give the lowest-performing five percent of schools statewide two to three years to improve, and compel those that don’t to convert to charter schools or contract with outside education providers. If enacted, Palmer reports, about 100 Philadelphia public schools could be impacted. They’d join a state takeover district, or “achievement district,” which would be overseen by a statewide board. Republican Education Committee Chair Lloyd Smucker says the bill has bipartisan backing, but it’s not clear which Democrats are supporting it. Philadelphia State Senator Vincent Hughes will introduce a rival bill ordering up a different set of reforms for low-performing schools, including smaller class sizes, more school hours and enhanced social services, Palmer reports. Why it matters: It seems unlikely the Republican-controlled state legislature will approve significant new funding for schools without tying some big, thick strings to the cash. This certainly qualifies.
Read more at http://www.phillymag.com/citified/2015/06/10/state-takeover-district/#wq3l2FWdgGkEq0rb.99
COMMENTARY: The Opt-Out Movement Is Gaining Momentum
Education Week By Michael P. Evans & Andrew Saultz Published Online: June 9, 2015
Michael P. Evans is an associate professor of family, school, and community connections at
Andrew Saultz is an assistant professor of educational leadership at Ohio . Miami University
While addressing a group of state schools superintendents in 2013, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described opposition to the Common Core State Standards as driven by "white suburban moms" whose primary concern was that "their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought." In essence, Secretary Duncan dismissed parental opposition as the byproduct of self-interested parents who were more concerned about solidifying their social status than with the quality of education their children received. Unfortunately, this line of thinking has been all too common in education circles and has resulted in families being pushed to the margins when it comes to education policymaking.
Two years later, opposition to both the common core and its affiliated assessments has grown exponentially.
Testing Resistance & Reform News: June 3 - June 9, 2015
The Center for Fair and Open Testing Submitted by fairtest on June 9, 2015 - 12:36pm
With stories from more than half of the 50 states, this week's news clips show the expanding breadth, depth and clout of the assessment resistance and reform movement. You can help strengthen support for grassroots activism by making contributing to the campaign for Less Testing, More Learning
"Religious leaders, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, are pushing for the measure. So is an assemblage of wealthy financiers, including several billionaires, who have helped fund the Coalition for Opportunity in Education, which has run an elaborate lobbying campaign to persuade lawmakers. A version of the proposal, released last month by Mr. Cuomo, offers tax credits for people and businesses that donate money to nonprofit organizations to pay for scholarships for students at private schools, including religious ones. Donors would receive a tax credit for 75 percent of their donation, with a maximum credit of $1 million. Their tax bill would be reduced by the amount of the credit, making it much more valuable than a charitable deduction."
Cuomo Seeks to Link Bills on Rent Regulation and Private School Tax Credits
New York Times By THOMAS KAPLAN JUNE 11, 2015
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday that he was trying to get two contentious legislative issues — rent regulations and a tax credit meant to expand access to private schools — approved by the Assembly and the Senate by linking the fates of both. In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Cuomo said he was trying to play “a mediation role” in the final days of this year’s legislative session, which is scheduled to end Wednesday. “Part of my job is to get both parties to agree to a solution, right?” Mr. Cuomo said, explaining that the Senate “badly” wants the education tax credit, and the Assembly “badly wants rent regulations increased.”
EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, June 14 at 3:00 p.m.
Part 1: Marcus S. Lingenfelter discusses the National Math & Science Initiative and how it supports improved math and science education in Pennsylvania and other states.
Marcus Lingenfelter is the Vice President of State & Federal Programs with the National Math + Science Initiative
Topic 2: Dr. Terry Madonna discusses Pennsylvania's political and legislative landscape, and implications for funding for public education.
Dr. G. Terry Madonna is the Director of the Franklin & Marshall College poll, Professor of Public Affairs, and Director of the Center for Politics & Public Affairs
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell.
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to education and school funding issues.
Rally in West Chester for a State Budget Chester County Kids Deserve
Tuesday, June 16th at Noon Location: Old Courthouse Steps in
West Chester Corner of High and Market Streets
Join parents, teachers, students, school staff, community advocates, and local leaders to demand a state budget that invests in your community, your students, and your schools.
Speakers include: Carolyn Comitta, Mayor of West Chester
Dr. Robert Langley, Lincoln University,
Dr. Curry Malott, West Chester University
College of Education
Dr. Kenneth Mash, East Stroudsburg University,
Susan Carty, President, PA League of Women Voters, Retired Educator
Contact Doug Brown at 717-236-7486 for more information
Come to Harrisburg on June 23rd for an All for Education Day Rally!
Education Voters PA website June 1, 2015
On June 23 at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Education Voters will be joining together with more than 50 organizations to send a clear message to state lawmakers that we expect them to fund our schools in this year’s budget. Click HERE for more information and to register for the June 23 All for Education Day in Harrisburg. Join us as we speak up for the importance of funding our schools fairly and at sufficient levels, so that every student in PA has an opportunity to learn. Community, parent, education advocacy, faith, and labor organizations will join together with school, municipal, and community officials to hold a press conference and rally at 12:00 in the main rotunda and to make arrangements to meet with legislators before and after the rally. We must send a strong message to state lawmakers that we are watching them and expect them to pass a state budget that will fund our schools this year. Please come to Harrisburg on June 23 to show broad support for a fair budget for education this year.
Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno). Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:
Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 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 400 graduates in its first sixteen 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, charter school leaders, 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 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
Sign up here to receive a weekly email update on the status of efforts to have Pennsylvania adopt an adequate, equitable, predictable and sustainable Basic Education Funding Formula by 2016
Sign up to support fair funding »
Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live. To make that happen, we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. The current system is not fair to students or taxpayers and our campaign partners – more than 50 organizations from across Pennsylvania - agree that it has to be changed now. Student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. Lawmakers have the ability to change this formula but they need to hear from you. You can make a difference »
COMMUNITY MEETING: PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING IN BERKS COUNTY
Berks County IU June 23, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 Time:7:00 – 8:30 p.m. | Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.
Location: Berks County Intermediate Unit, 1111 Commons Boulevard, Reading, PA 19605
Local school district leaders will discuss how state funding issues are impacting our children’s education opportunities, our local taxes, and our communities. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how you can support fair and adequate state funding for public schools in Berks County. State lawmakers who represent Berks County have been invited to attend to learn about challenges facing area schools.