Monday, June 8, 2015
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 8: Report: Pa. gets a 'D' for school funding distribution
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 8, 2015:
gets a 'D' for school funding
gets a 'D' for school funding
SOLOMON LEACH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903 POSTED: Monday, June 8, 2015, 12:16 AM
Inequitable school funding called ‘one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time’
Funding for public education in most states is inadequate and inequitable, creating a huge obstacle for the nation’s growing number of poor children as they try to overcome their circumstances, according to a set of reports released Monday by civil rights groups.
Students in the nation’s highest-spending state (
receive about $12,000 more each year than students in the lowest-spending state
according to the reports, and in most states school districts in wealthy areas
spend as much or more per pupil than districts with high concentrations of
School Funding in Most States Unfair
Inequitable Funding Systems Shortchanging Nation's Students
Public school funding in most states continues to be unfair and inequitable, shortchanging the nation’s 49 million school public school students, especially those living in poverty, out of the educational opportunities they need to succeed. Despite an economic rebound, states have been slow to restore the cuts to K-12 education triggered by the 2007 downturn, and school funding remains below pre-recession levels in many states. There are wide disparities in the amount spent on public education across the country, from a high of $18,507 per pupil in
New York, to a
low of $6,369 in Idaho.
In addition, most states do not systemically provide additional funding to
low-income districts, depriving at-risk students of the resources and supports
essential for academic success. These
are among the key findings from the 4th Edition of Is School Funding Fair? A
National Report Card released by Education Law Center (ELC) today. The Report
Card is the most sophisticated comparative analysis of public school finance in
the United States,
examining the level and distribution of school funding within each state in
relation to student need.The 4th Edition is based on funding data from 2007 through
“We don’t believe money fixes everything,” he said. “But if you have children that are already challenged by poverty and give them less money—that definitely doesn’t work.” That, according to studies published by the Education Trust and the National Forum on Educational Statistics is exactly what Pennsylvania has been doing."
Coalition to rally for fair school funding from state
In three weeks, a coalition of corporations, nonprofits, faith organizations and education advocates from across the state will meet in Harrisburg to send a single message to legislators ahead of state budget negotiations: put a fair school funding formula in place. The Campaign for Fair Education Funding includes more than 50 organizations all concerned with Pennsylvania’s dismal standing with respect to funding disparities among its school districts. Two recent reports place it last, or near last in the nation. Allies for Children Executive Director Patrick Dowd, a former teacher, school board member and Pittsburgh councilman, said the scope of the coalition is unlike he’s seen but they are galvanized by the issue of improving educational equity for children across the state
Property tax reform: Comparing Gov. Wolf's plan with the House Republicans
Post Gazette By Eric Holmberg / PublicSource June 7, 2015 12:00 AM
Both Gov. Tom Wolf and the state House of Representatives have advanced plans that give significant property tax relief to homeowners by increasing the state sales and income taxes.
But the two plans diverge when it comes to who would benefit most. The $4.9 billion property tax relief plan backed by House Republicans directs more money to residents in school districts with the highest property tax bills, which would favor wealthier school districts. The plan also reduces the property tax rate in every school district, extending more of the perks to businesses than under Mr. Wolf’s proposal. “We tried to drive [property tax relief] to the areas that had the highest property taxes, but in a way that helps everyone,” said state Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Property taxes provide a portion of the funding for schools. Mr. Wolf’s $3.8 billion plan focuses on relief for homeowners, especially in school districts with lower property values and high tax rates. It would reduce the property tax rate in 311 of the state’s 500 school districts, and some of the state’s poorest school districts would be able to completely eliminate property taxes.
Non-native speakers feel lucky to graduate before
Keystone test requirement Pa.
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY JUNE 8, 2015
Keystone Exams: PSBA asking legislators to ‘push pause’ on graduation requirements
PSBA website June 5, 2015
With growing concerns across the state over the graduation requirements effective for the Class of 2017, the time is right now to call for a pause on the high-stakes use of Keystone Exams and project-based assessments for granting diplomas. Let’s get this issue fixed before the start of the next school year! Various bills that address this critical issue have been introduced from both Republican and Democratic legislators.
Senate confirms Pedro Rivera as education secretary
PSBA News June 5, 2015
This week the Senate unanimously confirmed the governor’s appointment of Pedro Rivera as education secretary. PSBA congratulates the new secretary, noting that his extensive experience as teacher, principal and superintendent in the Philadelphia Public Schools and the School District of Lancaster have prepared him well for the role of state secretary. Through the years, he has demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities and has gained a “real-life” perspective of the needs and concerns of Pennsylvania school officials, teachers and students. His practical knowledge of school operations makes him well qualified to be a key policymaker in education matters. Under his leadership, the school community anticipates an open dialogue and opportunities to provide input with the Department of Education on key education issues, including the establishment of a fair, sustainable and predictable process for funding all public schools.
Wayne Burton: Retiree group sees merit in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget blueprint
Times Leader by Wayne Burton Contributing Columnist Last updated: June 04. 2015 11:10PM
"Holmes doesn’t just fly over his district he lives in its trenches and says educating kids in poverty just costs more. Ninety percent of the students in
qualify for free or reduced lunches. “We’re providing psychological care, we’re
providing health care, we’re providing lunch and breakfast,” Holmes said. “All
the services that under normal circumstances the child would get at
home. Our kids deserve the same quality of education that every other
child gets in the York .” commonwealth
Tale of two states, school funding inequities exposed in York
ABC27 By Dennis Owens Published: June 5, 2015, 7:36 pm Updated: June 5, 2015, 7:37 pm
The swimming pool at
once a crown jewel in the county. It’s
been bone-dry for five years, drained in 2010. “If you’re looking
at whether you’re gonna be buying books or dealing with special programs for
students, or spending money on filling the pool you have to make tough
decisions,” said York Superintendent Dr. Eric Holmes. “And this is one of the
tough decisions we had to make.” William Penn
Senior High School
The pool is empty. Holmes says the rest of his budgetary cup is half empty.
“We’ve cut guidance, elementary art, elementary music, elementary PE,” Holmes said. “We have cut sports programs.” The super says he’s felt like Eric Scissorhands the past few years. “They’ve had to eliminate a number of programs and professionals over these last couple of years,” said Representtive Kevin Schreiber (D-York). Schreiber invited us on a walking tour through William Penn’s reality in reaction to the helicopter flight with Senator Scott Wagner a few weeks ago. Wagner showed us the overhead opulence of some suburban districts and suggested schools aren’t as decimated as Governor Wolf has been insisting.
State Senator Who Can Afford To Charter Helicopters On Whim Says Public Schools Overfunded
The Huffington Post | By Samantha Lachman Posted: 06/05/2015 5:51 pm EDT
A Republican state senator illustrated his belief that the state's schools aren't suffering financially by chartering a helicopter ride for himself and a local reporter last week. According to ACB27 reporter Dennis Owens, Sen. Scott Wagner pointed at various schools from 1,600 feet up to make the argument that their expansive facilities mean the state spends "a lot of money" on all schools. “This looks like a college or university campus if you look at the sports fields," he said of one. "And they have tennis courts down there.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who unseated former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in November, is pushing for the state legislature to increase education funding by $1 billion. Corbett was one of the few Republicans to lose statewide in an excellent year for GOP candidates. “Senator Wagner should get out of the helicopter and go visit a school,” Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan told Owens, suggesting that the legislator cherry-picked the districts he flew over. “Nobody has said that every school district across the state was devastated. But we’ve said, and maintain, and stand by that school districts across the state are struggling.”
Two groups, two school districts, one township
WITF Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 5, 2015 5:50 AM
-- Some parents in a township want
their children to jump from one school district to another. The case, one of the more extraordinary in
recent years, would allow York
County Washington Township to move from Dover
District to . Daniel Fennick,
attorney for the group pushing for the change, says it's relatively
straightforward. "All the data
shows that Northern out-performs Northern
York County Dover, and most
of the people in Washington Township are in favor of moving from Dover to Northern," he says.
But if the scores are adjusted for poverty levels,
actually as good, or slightly better than . Northern York
"This isn't a debate about athletic facilities you can see from a helicopter. This is a debate about making sure that every child in
gets a good education, even if they don't live in a wealthy district." Pennsylvania
OP-ED: Scott Wagner's clueless helicopter stunt
If there were a contest to come up with the most out-of-touch way to assess Pennsylvania's education crisis, Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner's renting a helicopter and doing a flyover of some hand-selected central Pennsylvania schools, declaring that Pennsylvania schools aren't underfunded, would be the winner. You couldn't even make this stuff up if you tried. Wagner took the media up in a helicopter and told them that because the schools down below had tennis courts, that means
schools are doing just fine. Never mind that the schools Wagner chose to fly
over are some of the most well-funded schools, while so many others would
present an entirely different picture.
Could he miss the point any more if he tried?
Inquirer Editorial: Invest more in schools
INQUIRER EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: Sunday, June 7, 2015, 1:09 AM
Now that the May election is over, City Council members have stopped campaigning and gotten serious about filling the hole in the
budget, right? Actually, no, they haven't. Compared with the need, the paltry
$70 million that Council would generate by tepidly hiking three taxes is a
joke. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.
has made it very clear that the schools need at least $85 million just to
maintain the terrible status quo, which means a continuation of crowded
classrooms with too few counselors, librarians, and nurses. To restore some of
the drastic recent cuts in programs and personnel, the district needs $103
City should cut other spending for education
Harold Jackson, Inquirer Opinion Columnist POSTED: THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 2015, 2:36 PM
The scoffing language that some Philadelphia City Council members have been using in discussions with School District officials asking them for more money is not only inappropriate, it suggests that the elected leaders don’t take seriously the dire consequences of not providing a better education for this city’s children. “I want to help the schools, but not at the expense of hurting people in the neighborhoods,” said Councilman David Oh at a recent public hearing. How can he not see that the worst thing he can do to “people in the neighborhoods” is to condemn their children to an inferior education that limits their opportunities to become productive, tax-paying citizens of this city.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/under-the-sun/City-should-cut-other-spending-for-education-.html#0OLVB8FSAAfRK09f.99
Philly Principals: Give us the tools to succeed
SOLOMON LEACH & MENSAH M. DEAN, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS LEACHS@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5903 POSTED: Friday, June 5, 2015, 12:16 AM
GIVE US THE resources and we will have better outcomes.
That was the message yesterday from dozens of school principals as City Council continues to debate the Philadelphia School District's request for $103 million in new funding. In a letter delivered to Council and signed by more than 75 principals throughout the district, administrators described an "ongoing crisis in our schools" due to insufficient city and state funding. "It is a crisis that affects the daily lives of children and whether or not they develop their skills and capacities," the letter reads. "It sends a message to them about how much we value them. It is a crisis that causes there to be too few adults with too few tools and thus affects the ability of our teachers to teach and meet student needs."
If taxes are raised to fund the schools, who will have control of that extra money?
Inquirer by Claudia Vargas @InqCVargas POSTED: FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2015, 3:03 PM
One of the biggest differences between Mayor Nutter’s school funding plan and City Council’s plan is who would control the money. As my colleague, Julia Terruso reported in today’s Inquirer, City Council offered a plan Thursday to increase three different taxes - property tax, parking and Use & Occupancy – for an estimated revenue total of $70 million. (The school district asked the city for $103 million). Nutter previously proposed increasing property taxes by 9.3 percent for a total new revenue of $105 million. The obvious difference: Nutter’s single source of funding vs. Council’s multiple sources.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/heardinthehall/If-taxes-are-raised-to-fund-the-schools-who-will-have-control-of-that-extra-money-.html#Jsixp2SwbpDVcO5M.99
Tax hikes for 10 school budgets
07 Jun 2015 — Erie Times-News By MADELEINE O'NEILL firstname.lastname@example.org and ERICA ERWIN email@example.com
But homeowners in most other districts throughout the region might not be as fortunate.
Ten school districts in the region, including Millcreek,
and Crawford Central, have included tax increases in their proposed final or
final budgets for 2015-16, and two others have yet to decide whether to
increase taxes. Figures below for
2015-16 budgets are based on budgeted expenditures.
Warrior Run teachers authorize strike notice
Sunbury Daily Item by Joe Sylvester Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 7:57 pm
TURBOTVILLE — Warrior Run School District teachers authorized a strike notice more than a month before their contract expires, the district reported on its website. But not only is there a stipulation in the current contract that teachers won’t strike while the agreement is in effect, today is the last day of school for this school year, and any walkout would not come until the 2015-16 school year, unless the contract is settled. According to a posting on the website, Warrior Run Education Association President Michael Freeborn informed the district on May 27 that the union authorized the notice. The posting also states the district and the teachers union have held just four negotiation sessions. The district said if the union decides to strike, it must give the district 48 hours’ notice, and that has not happened.
Ambler Gazette By
Erin Weaver 21st
Century Media News Service June
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED:June 7, 2015, 1:09 AM
Abington School Superintendent Amy Sichel has gained national recognition and high marks from school board members and colleagues, but the generous terms of a recent contract extension for the state's highest-paid superintendent have raised concerns in the
district. Her $304,532 annual
salary gets bumped up to $319,714 on July 1 - even before a just-inked
five-year pact goes into effect in February.
"It's very sensitive right now," said Phyllis Jablonowksi,
chairwoman of the Abington Educational Foundation, a fund-raising group that
works with the district. Sichel's salary
is higher than William Hite's, the Montgomery
schools chief, who makes $300,000. The Philadelphia
district has about 250,000 students, compared with 7,600 in Abington, one of
the state's smaller districts.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20150607_Pa__s_top-paid_school_chief_-_at__300_000-plus_-_gets_raise.html#mbHkMxaYSUBzZP44.99
Battle of Unionizing a Philly Charter School
How a Philadelphia charter operator can spend tens of thousands of public dollars to fight a union.
The American Prospect by RACHEL M. COHEN JUNE 4, 2015
On April 30th, faculty at North Philadelphia’s Olney Charter High School voted 104-38 in favor of forming a union, an NLRB election that Olney’s charter operator, ASPIRA, has since announced they’re challenging. Olney’s union campaign is only the latest in a small but rapidly growing wave of charter union drives nationwide. But few efforts have been as contentious, or as revealing, as this one. Ever since the campaign began three years ago, ASPIRA has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into an elaborate union-busting effort, even as the beleaguered district it’s funded by struggles with massive debt. Unionizing Olney also threatens to shine light on ASPIRA’s questionable finances, at a time when authorities at the state and district level have failed to act. More broadly, the union drive in Philadelphia reveals how charter management organizations can use lax regulation to dodge financial accountability.
In These Times BY ARIELLE ZIONTS THURSDAY, JUN 4, 2015, 5:21 PM
On Wednesday, a majority of Urban Prep teachers voted to join the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS). Fifty-six teachers voted for, and 36 voted against, joining Chicago ACTS—a joint Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers project. However, the vote’s results are not yet set in stone because the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is looking into 21 other votes cast by employees like counselors and department chairs with debatable union eligibility. Currently, 60 percent of teachers voted to unionize—the lowest percentage of any of the 29 schools that have voted to join Chicago ACTS. Union organizers say they are confident they will retain a majority. At the request of Urban Prep COO Evan Lewis, the vote was conducted via an NLRB-sanctioned secret-ballot election. Lewis said this process is the most “fair and democratic” one, the argument often put forward by management about such elections. Teachers had wanted administers to recognize the union through “card check,” a count of how many employees signed union cards. Secret ballot elections can be viewed as benefitting bosses, who are able to use the time between the announcement of the intention to form a union and the union vote itself to organize against the union.
Don't write off a school basic
Philly.com Letter By Jannie L. Blackwell and Blondell Reynolds Brown June 5, 2015, 1:08 AM
As classrooms advance into the 21st century, they are no longer in the golden age of the blackboard and chalk. Nevertheless, a timeless and elegant writing style should be preserved in the school curriculum. The Common Core Standards, released in 2010 and so far adopted by all but five
call for replacing the teaching of cursive handwriting in favor of tech-based
literacy learning. However, the reintroduction of cursive writing in our
schools is important and desirable. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are the
foundation of education in our society, and handwriting remains a relevant
skill in many settings. And yet the
Common Core standards for English language arts curriculum will no longer
explicitly require cursive instruction for elementary school students, setting
the stage for a national debate on the importance of handwriting instruction.
What’s Next on
Backfill? Charter School
In the media and in real life it seems clear that the charter school “backfill” issue is big and getting bigger — especially in districts where charters are a large and growing percentage of students: A new report on charter backfilling is coming up from the
CRPE soon. A national charter group is adding the topic to its annual survey. A
group of state charter organizations is going to announce a new commitment to
quality (but no position on backfilling). Meanwhile, there are a handful of
states with backfill requirements on the books, a few authorizers making
backfill part of what they’re looking for, and and a few districts and charter
networks that have come up with policies regarding what to do with open spaces
during the year or between years. University of Washington
on June 23rd for an All for Education Day Rally! Harrisburg
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
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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.