Pennsylvania school officials turn against charter bill
Bucks County Courier Times By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer Thursday, July 14, 2016 5:30 am
After pensions, school officials see mandated charter school funding as the next biggest obstacle to fiscal stability. Many thought House Bill 530 would initiate relief from charter payments, because it would create a Charter School Funding Commission to recommend appropriate cost levels for charters. But in the past two weeks, initial supporters of the measure fought to defeat it because changes to the bill would have ultimately cost districts more money. "They took a bill that's been hanging around and started adding amendments to it that would really decimate public school districts," said Mark Miller, a Centennial school director and president-elect of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Many charter schools, including Monroe County's Evergreen School, are well run and well respected. Yet nearly all of them operate under the radar, with little public involvement or scrutiny in their decision-making and operations. By contrast, local school boards are elected by their constituents and operate openly. Love them or hate them, voters can hold them accountable in public meetings and through the ballot box. Without that control, school results can be devastating. In 2005 the married couple who'd run the "Pocono School of Excellence" took the money and ran, leaving 230 students and their teachers without a word. Tonya and Kenneth Cabarrus later pleaded guilty to felony theft for embezzling taxpayer money through the school. Several years later, the erstwhile Pocono Mountain Charter School violated its own charter by failing to maintain fiscal management standards, failing to comply with academic performance and special education law and mingling church and school funds. In 2012 the state Auditor General's office alleged the school may have misused more than $3 million in tax dollars, partly through improper entanglement with its landlord, Shawnee Tabernacle Church. Now the state Senate is considering two House bills that would make it harder for school boards to assess charter schools' performance and would let such schools open or expand with little or no public input or school board authorization.
WITF Written by Katie Meyer | Jul 13, 2016 8:46 PM
(Harrisburg) -- After two days with an underfunded state budget, lawmakers have approved a revenue plan to balance the $31.5 billion spending bill. Governor Tom Wolf has signed it Wednesday evening, putting an end to the 2016/17 budget process. Wolf said the action saved the commonwealth from a repeat of last year's budget debacle. "Today's passage of a revenue package means we avoid another lengthy impasse," he said in an official statement. "Our budget is balanced this year, and we have greatly reduced the budget's structural deficit."
There's an odd word being bandied about in Harrisburg. Compromise.
Yes, miracles do happen. And it doesn't always take nine months to put them in place.
In other words, our elected representatives signed off Wednesday on a new state budget - nine months before they were able to accomplish that seemingly routine task last year. The $31 billion spending plan is not what everyone wanted. That's where the compromise part comes in. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf did not get all the spending - nor the tax hikes to pay for it - that he wanted. But he is getting an additional $200 million in education spending.
More Philly families with school-age children are leaving the city than moving into it still, according to a new Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative analysis of migration patterns in Philadelphia. At 45 percent of the total number of households moving out, families with children under 18 make up the largest single group of out-migrants. By contrast, only 28 percent of households moving into the city had children under 18. Households with children under 18 account for 48 percent of all households citywide. While the census did not ask people why they came to or left Philadelphia, the report states that “these numbers appear to validate concerns about families leaving the city… due to the ongoing problems of the public school system.” Among those arriving in Philadelphia and those leaving it, college graduates and non-Hispanic whites were overrepresented compared with their presence in the city as a whole. African-Americans were less likely than members of other groups to move in or out.
AG: Boston Compact not subject to Open Meeting law
NSBA Legal Clips July 13, 2016
Mississippi Today reports that a group of parents in Jackson Public School District (JPSD), who are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), have filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court against Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, the Mississippi Department of Education and JPSD challenging the state’s charter school law. The governor asserts charter schools give better options to students in Mississippi, a state that regularly ranks at the bottom in education. The lawsuit points to two sections in the Mississippi constitution that indicate that a school district’s ad valorem taxes – or local funding – may only be used for the district to maintain schools it oversees. It also cites another section that says the state legislature must not appropriate any money to a school that is not a “free school.” The suit contends: “A ‘free school’ is not merely a school that charges no tuition; it must also be regulated by the State Superintendent of Education and the local school district superintendent. Charter schools … are not ‘free schools.’”
Job security for bad teachers hurts minority students most
Post Gazette OpEd By George F. Will July 14, 2016 12:00 AM