The Senate budget hearings will be held in Hearing Room 1 in the North Office Building, and the House hearings will be in Room 140 of the Main Capitol Building.
Monday, March 6, 2017 House: 10:00AM Department of Education
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Senate: 10:00AM: Department of Education
2017-2018 Budget Hearing Schedule
PoliticsPA Written by Paul Engelkemier, Managing Editor February 20, 2017
Governor Tom Wolf delivered his budget address two weeks ago, now the State Senate and House will kick off their side of things. Over the next three weeks, both Appropriations Committees will hear from all of the departments and groups who receive state funding.
In his budget address Wolf struck a tone of working together. How the members of the Appropriations Committees respond to this during the hearing may be a window into how the 2018 election will be played out. PoliticsPA has combined both schedules to show what each side will be hearing each day
PA: How Much Does Your District Pay in Charter Costs
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Friday, February 17, 2017
An extremely handy spread sheet has been circulating lately, and if nothing else, I want to put a link here so that I can more easily find it. If you're in Pennsylvania, you'll want to look at this, too. The document covers every school year from 2009-2010 through 2014-2015 for every single one of our 502 pubic school districts (yes, that is a high number, but that's another conversation). It shows how much money left the district to go to charters, broken down by nonspecial education students and special education students (the pay rate is different). I recommend that you browse on your own, but let me hit just a couple of points.
"There is definitely more momentum behind tuition tax credits," notes Matt Jacob, spokesperson for People for the American Way. "They have the same effect as vouchers, but they don't scare the public as much." Or, as Joe Overton of the ultra-conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy said in explaining why Michigan conservatives are focusing on tuition tax credits after that state's voucher referendum failed miserably in 2000: "In Michigan, the word 'voucher' is radioactive. Tax credits are much more politically viable."
Reprise 2003: Keeping Public Schools Public
Tuition Tax Credits: Vouchers in Disguise
Rethinking Schools By Barbara Miner Winter 2002/2003
I have been writing about vouchers for more than a decade. Hardened as I am to often arcane voucher debates, three words still send shivers into my brain. Tuition tax credits.
Please, don't stop reading. Yes, taxes scare everyone. And only nerdy policy wonks - you know, the ones with plastic pocket protectors in their shirts and combination watch/calculators on their wrists - like to talk about taxes. But as they say, death and taxes are two things you can't avoid in life. Since you can't avoid the controversy about tuition tax credits, you might as well learn a little. And I promise I won't make any references to obscure tax codes (such as Form B, page 3A, line 2C, if you said "no" on line 8 on page 5.) If you think tuition tax credits aren't worth worrying about, think again. While there are only three voucher programs - in Cleveland, Milwaukee, and a statewide program in Florida - there are six statewide tuition tax credit schemes, and most passed in recent years.
Reprise 2012: EDUCATIONAL TAX CREDITS ARE OFTEN A BAIT-AND-SWITCH
Third & State Blog Posted by Stephen Herzenberg on May 23, 2012 2:19 pm
A story in Monday's New York Times explores the use of state tax credit programs to pay for "scholarships" for students who attend private schools. The story suggests that many of the students who receive such scholarships already attend private school and are not low-income. To the extent that this is true, the political marketing of these programs as alternatives (for a select few students) to public schools in distressed communities is a "bait and switch." Educational tax credits actually siphon taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools, reducing state revenues available for public schools. Is this how the scholarships to attend private schools work under Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program? Probably: there is no prohibition on EITC scholarships going to students already attending private schools; middle-class families are eligible to receive scholarships (the income limit for a family of four is $84,000); and there is no evidence that even this income limit is enforced. In fact, Pennsylvania's Act 46 of 2005 prohibits the state from requesting from scholarship organizations any information other than the number and amount of scholarships that they give out. I guess we're just supposed to trust the scholarship organizations to self-enforce the income limit.
Reprise 2012: Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools
New York Times By STEPHANIE SAUL MAY 21, 2012
When the Georgia legislature passed a private school scholarship program in 2008, lawmakers promoted it as a way to give poor children the same education choices as the wealthy. The program would be supported by donations to nonprofit scholarship groups, and Georgians who contributed would receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits, up to $2,500 a couple. The intent was that money otherwise due to the Georgia treasury — about $50 million a year — would be used instead to help needy students escape struggling public schools. That was the idea, at least. But parents meeting at Gwinnett Christian Academy got a completely different story last year. “A very small percentage of that money will be set aside for a needs-based scholarship fund,” Wyatt Bozeman, an administrator at the school near Atlanta, said during an informational session. “The rest of the money will be channeled to the family that raised it.” A handout circulated at the meeting instructed families to donate, qualify for a tax credit and then apply for a scholarship for their own children, many of whom were already attending the school. “If a student has friends, relatives or even corporations that pay Georgia income tax, all of those people can make a donation to that child’s school,” added an official with a scholarship group working with the school. The exchange at Gwinnett Christian Academy, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times, is just one example of how scholarship programs have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children.
Education Tax Credits. This is nothing but a way to implement vouchers without using the dirty word "vouchers". Legislation enabling Pennsylvania's EITC and OSTC programs was carefully crafted to circumvent the state constitution's explicit prohibition on tax dollars going to private and religious schools:
Article III § 15. Public school money not available to sectarian schools.
No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.
Up to $150 million per year in tax dollars are now diverted to schools that have virtually no fiscal or student performance accountability to the taxpayers. Rep. Turzai's HB250 would increase that by another $75 million. Why do the intermediary organizations that distribute these scholarships get to keep 20% of the money? In Florida they only keep 3%. Ms. DeVos and the Commonwealth Foundation share a common goal; to privatize public education, a common good that has been the foundation of American democracy.
There’s nothing to fear from Betsy DeVos and much to cheer
Lancaster Online Opinion by JAMES PAUL | Special to LNP Feb 19, 2017
James Paul is a senior policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free market think tank
What child hasn’t heard the story of Chicken Little? His encounter with a falling acorn leads him mistakenly to conclude the sky is falling. Mass hysteria ensues when his friends buy in to his doomsaying. Unfortunately, misguided panic isn’t confined to fairy tales. In the aftermath of Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, opponents predict she could decimate public education. DeVos is a well-known school choice advocate who believes in empowering parents and students with options. Unfortunately, critics view this not as a step forward but as a disaster. Their perspective is misguided, unsupported by facts, and ultimately harmful for the future of American education. But here’s one thing DeVos’ supporters and detractors agree on: Every student deserves access to a quality education. The goal is not in question, only the means. Some believe traditional public schools assigned to students based on their ZIP code can meet every student’s individual needs — every time, in every town in America, in every situation. Advocates of choice, though, believe traditional public schools work well for some students, but public charter schools, private schools, cyber schools, home schools, or some combination of these work best for others. And proponents of choice have the evidence on their side. Indeed, when educational options increase, students perform better, traditional public schools improve, and taxpayers save money. For proof, look no further than Pennsylvania's highly popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs, which allow businesses to direct a portion of their tax liability to fund scholarships to families dissatisfied with their assigned public school. Since 2001, more than 500,000 such scholarships have been awarded.
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Website
Post Gazette Letter by PATRICIA KLINE JUST February 21, 2017 12:00 AM
Post Gazette By Anne Cloonan February 20, 2017 9:28 PM
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 20, 2017 9:01 PM
Citizens Voice BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER / PUBLISHED: FEBRUARY 20, 2017
WITF Written by The Associated Press | Feb 17, 2017 5:39 AM
(Philadelphia) -- Tax revenue data released from the School District of Philadelphia shows ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have brought in more than $44 million in their first two months of legal operation in the city. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the district said Thursday it received nearly $358,000 in tax revenue from the July-to-September period during which the companies operated under a temporary authorization that then included a 1 percent tax per ride. In November, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill that allowed ride-sharing companies to operate legally in the state. The legislation levied a 1.4 percent tax on each ride provided through the companies' apps. The school district receives two-thirds of that. It expects the industry to generate between $2 million to $2.5 million for the city's schools annually.
For many years, PSBA has urged its members to work with transgender students and their families to meet the needs of individual students and to provide them with a safe and supportive school environment. In addition to continuous updates on the law, PSBA has provided in depth training and materials on practical ways to accommodate transgender students. However, there are lawsuits pending in Pennsylvania and the United States that still must be decided before we know whether Title IX can be used to protect individuals from discrimination based on gender identity. Some of these cases have been in the news in recent weeks and interim orders have been issued. Links to these orders are found at the end of this article.
The briefings are free and open to the public, but we ask that you please RSVP.
Forum #2 – Harrisburg Area (Enola, PA) Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – Capital Area Intermediate Unit – 55 Miller Street (Susquehanna Room), Enola, PA 17025
Forum #3 – Philadelphia Thursday, March 2, 2017 – Penn Center for Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, 3440 Market Street (5th Floor), Philadelphia, PA 19104
Forum #4 – Indiana University of Pennsylvania Tuesday, March 14, 2017 – 1011 South Drive (Stouffer Hall), Indiana, PA 15705
Forum #5 – Lehigh Valley Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit #21, 4210 Independence Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.