If you’ve watched television in the Philadelphia area recently, you’ve probably met Madison. The precocious computer science major used to be a spokesperson for Commonwealth Connections Academy, Pennsylvania’s second-largest cyber charter school. In the 30-second spot, Madison demonstrated the benefits of online learning by chatting with a seventh-grade version of herself. The commercial is still airing, but now at the end of her spiel an announcer directs parents to enroll in Reach Cyber Charter, the first new cyber charter to open in Pennsylvania since 2012. The similarities between the commercials speak to the similarities between the schools. Reach is managed by Connections Education LLC, a for-profit cyber charter management company with 34 schools across 28 states and a long-time player in the Pennsylvania cyber charter scene. Connections used to run Commonwealth Connections Academy, but the two split earlier this year. A few months later, Reach earned state approval and suddenly Connections had a brand new cyber charter to promote.
Intelligencer Editorial Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:15 am
Funding public education at adequate levels has always been a somewhat contentious issue among Pennsylvania lawmakers. More controversial than the total amount of dollars, however, has been the way those dollars have been divvied up among the state's 500 school districts. Said state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, Horsham: "For more than two decades, taxpayers in my (eastern Montgomery County) school districts have been shortchanged by an unfair school funding formula." The same could be said for school districts in Bucks County. The tax money being sent to Harrisburg from suburban school districts in our region was not coming back in fair proportion. One of the major reasons: the so-called "hold harmless" rule, which has meant a school district's aid could not be cut even if the student population declined. As a result, state Rep. Bernie O'Neill, R-29, Warminster, said, "Many districts have become cash cows," receiving ever more in state subsidies even though enrollment figures couldn't justify it. Finally, however, thanks to the work of O'Neill and others on a bipartisan commission charged with reviewing the outdated and unfair school funding formula, a new formula is in place that should gradually give each school district the amount of state funding to which it is entitled. No more, no less.
PA Capitol Digest August 9, 2016 by Crisci Associates
An NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll released Tuesday afternoon is the third poll in a week to show Clinton with a 10 point or more lead over Trump in Pennsylvania-- 48 to 37 percent-- with registered voters. In a four-way race Clinton gets 45 percent to Trump’s 36 percent, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson gets 9 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein receives 3 percent. A Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday shows Clinton leading Trump 52 to 42 percent in Pennsylvania among likely voters. With the complete slate of candidates on the Presidential ballot, Clinton leads Trump 48 to 39 percent, followed by Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3 percent. Don’t nos are at 3 percent. A Franklin & Marshall Poll released last Thursday has Clinton leading Trump 49 percent to 38 percent among likely voters.
The U.S. Education Department solicited public comment on draft regulations it has created for states to implement the school “accountability” and data reporting provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act — and, boy, did it get feedback, some of it scathing. When Education Secretary John B. King Jr. announced the proposed rules in May, he said they were designed to “give states the opportunity to work all of their stakeholders … to protect all students’ right to a high-quality education,” and that they “give educators room to reclaim for all of their students the joy and promise of a well-rounded educational experience.” King was referring to the mess created by No Child Left Behind, the K-12 education law that ESSA was passed last December to replace. NCLB, with accountability goals literally impossible to meet, had led to a severe narrowing of the curriculum and an over-emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing. Congress finally replaced No Child Left Behind — eight years late — because of NCLB’s flaws and because of criticism from across the political spectrum that the Obama administration had become too prescriptive and heavy-handed in education policy. Now, the deadline for public comment of the proposed regulations has just passed, and education officials in some states as well as teachers, superintendents and others have told the Obama administration that it is still overreaching with its proposed ESSA regulations — and in at least one instance, went further and blasted the Education Department. Here’s a taste of a letter from the Vermont Board of Education, signed by chairman Stephan A. Morse (and you can see the full text below):
• Assessment Participation and Opt-Outs
• Innovation Assessment Pilot
• Indicators of School Quality or Student Success
• English Learners and Accountability
• Supporting Low-Performing Schools
• Teachers and School Leaders
• Title I's Supplement-Not-Supplant Provision
• Title IV - 21st Century Schools
• State Plans
The Muslim ban, the David Duke denial, the “Mexican” judge flap, the draft dodger denigrating John McCain’s military service, the son of privilege attacking an immigrant Gold Star mother and the constant revisionism and lying about past political positions taken are but a few of the lowlights that have punctuated Donald Trump’s chaotic chase for the presidency. Any one of these offenses would have disqualified any other candidate for president. But the Republican nominee remained competitive against a historically weak Democratic nominee on the promise of bringing radical change and dramatic disruption to Washington. That appears to be changing. Post-convention polls show Trump falling behind by double digits both nationally and in must-win swing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Virginia. And the political ride will only get rockier for Trump in the coming days after he suggested that one way to keep a conservative Supreme Court after Hillary Clinton got elected would be to assassinate her or federal judges. Trump and his supporters have been scrambling wildly all day to explain away the inexplicable, but they can stop wasting their time. The GOP nominee was clearly suggesting that some of the “Second Amendment people” among his supporters could kill his Democratic opponent were she to be elected.