Chart: School Performance Profile Scores for PA Cyber Charters 2013 through 2016
Keystone State Education Coalition October 16, 2016
Source: PA Department of Education website; A score of 70 is considered passing
Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.
Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.
Politico By CAITLIN EMMA 05/18/2017 08:17 AM EDT
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to offer details about the Trump administration’s vision for a federal investment in school choice in a major policy speech Monday. DeVos is slated to speak at an Indianapolis summit hosted by her former group, The American Federation for Children, which advocates for school choice, the Education Department confirmed Wednesday night. She is believed to be preparing to unveil an education tax credit scholarship proposal, which the Trump administration has been considering for some time, according to multiple sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. What DeVos is expected to outline could look different than a bill pushed by Republicans Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana. If passed by Congress, the proposal could channel billions of public dollars to working class families to help them pay for private schools, including religious schools.
Here are K-12 education programs Trump wants to eliminate in 2018 budget
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss May 18 at 9:03 AM
Mental health services. Civics and arts programs. International education and language studies. Anti-bullying activities. Gifted and talented initiatives. Full-service community schools.
These are some of the K-12 education programs that President Trump is proposing be eliminated in his first full budget, as explained in a story published on The Washington Post’s website, here.
[Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice] The story, based on documents obtained by The Post, details the $10.6 billion in cuts the administration wants to make in federal education initiatives, and how it wants to reinvest part of the savings into efforts to promote school choice. Here are some details that aren’t in the story. First is a list in the budget documents of proposed discretionary programs targeted for elimination, which the documents say will save $5.9 billion, and following that are the given justifications for each. They were targeted, the documents say, because they “achieved their original purpose, duplicate other programs, are narrowly focused, or are unable to demonstrate effectiveness.” The president’s budget also eliminates funding for a program in the ESSA known as Title IV, meant for academic enrichment and student support. Details are at the bottom of this post.
Five key questions about Trump’s education budget
Washington Post By Emma Brown May 18 at 12:59 PM
The broad outlines of President Trump’s vision for education are clear: Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos want to cut $10.6 billion from federal education programs and reinvest $1.4 billion of the savings in expanding school choice, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. But there are plenty of important details that remain unclear. Here are five key questions from The Post that remain unanswered in the documents.
Is There a Point to All This Cruelty?
Betsy DeVos knows nothing about public education.
Esquire BY CHARLES P. PIERCE MAY 18, 2017
While we're on the subject of bad hiring in the executive branch, let's not forget that Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, was the single most obviously unqualified Cabinet nominee—Grizzlies!—in the history of the republic. On Thursday, from The Washington Post, we find that DeVos is finding ways to fulfill her life's dream of destroying public education and monetizing all those bright shiny faces.
The cuts would come from eliminating at least 22 programs, some of which Trump outlined in March. Gone, for example, would be $1.2 billion for after-school programs that serve 1.6 million children, most of whom are poor, and $2.1 billion for teacher training and class-size reduction. The documents obtained by The Post — dated May 23, the day the president's budget is expected to be released — outline the rest of the cuts, including a $15 million program that provides child care for low-income parents in college; a $27 million arts education program; two programs targeting Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students, totaling $65 million; two international education and foreign language programs, $72 million; a $12 million program for gifted students; and $12 million for Special Olympics education programs...
...The Trump administration would dedicate no money to a fund for student support and academic enrichment that is meant to help schools pay for, among other things, mental-health services, anti-bullying initiatives, physical education, Advanced Placement courses and science and engineering instruction. Congress created the fund, which totals $400 million this fiscal year, by rolling together several smaller programs. Lawmakers authorized as much as $1.65 billion, but the administration's budget for it in the next fiscal year is zero.
Is there a point to all this gratuitous cruelty? Why, yes, there is.
The cuts would make space for investments in choice, including $500 million for charter schools, up 50 percent over current funding. The administration also wants to spend $250 million on "Education Innovation and Research Grants," which would pay for expanding and studying the impacts of vouchers for private and religious schools. It's not clear how much would be spent on research versus on the vouchers themselves.
Betsy DeVos should know robbing Peter to pay Paul is a sin in education
Education budget could end proven programs in favor of perilous policies
Hechinger Report Degree of Interest Column by ANDRE PERRY May 18, 2017
Dr. Andre Perry, a contributing writer, is the former founding dean of urban education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich.
President Trump’s full education budget cuts funding for college work-study programs in half, eliminates public-service loan forgiveness and takes away hundreds of millions of dollars that schools use for mental health services and advanced coursework in order to pay for one of his campaign promises – more school choice, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. Trump and his besieged education secretary Betsy DeVos would rob Peter, the public schools, to pay the Paul of charter schools and vouchers. Specifically, the administration plans to spend approximately “$400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies,” the Post reports. Work-study provides low-income students the opportunity of a part-time job that helps pay for school. By limiting work hours and offering many on-campus job options, work-study increases the likelihood of graduation and reduces indebtedness. Public-service loan forgiveness also reduces indebtedness that burdens low-income students while encouraging college graduates to seek jobs in areas of critical need, including education and public health.
“One statistic puts the potential impact of the AHCA on children in stark relief: Children make up about a quarter of the U.S. population, but are about half of the entire Medicaid population. They constitute the single largest eligibility group in the Medicaid program and would be affected by changes to its funding structure the most. And the AHCA certainly aims to change that funding structure: Its rollback of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and its changes to Medicaid financing would slash the program even below pre-Obamacare levels, to the tune of a cumulative $880 billion reduction between 2017 and 2026.”
How Kids Would Fare Under the American Health Care Act
The Republican bill, now in the Senate’s hands, would constrain the health-care safety net for children who need it most.
The Atlantic by VANN R. NEWKIRK II May 2017
Since the American Health Care Act’s passage in the House, the future of U.S. health policy now rests in the hands of the Senate. What happens next is unclear: The Senate’s version of the legislation could move to the left or right, or the chamber could draft an entirely new bill as a starting place. Still, the broad strokes of Republican health-care reform—a repeal of insurance mandates under the Affordable Care Act, massive cuts to long-term Medicaid spending, federal grants for state high-risk pooling, loosening of restrictions on insurers, and a private-insurance tax-credit scheme that makes care more expensive for poor people and the most costly patients—seem unlikely to change. Given those elements, it’s possible to predict how the GOP’s reform would affect the groups of people most in need of affordable health care. For one such group—children—the AHCA or a similar plan represents a drastic change to how care is typically delivered and how health-insurance coverage works.
PA House Dems: Trumpcare would hurt PA schools and the special needs children they educate
Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus May 15, 2017
Trumpcare, now being considered by the U.S. Senate, could result in Pennsylvania schools losing hundreds of millions of dollars in special education funding.
Trumpcare makes deep cuts to Medicaid, which helps pay for things like therapy equipment, teacher aides, and other health-related services that help students with physical and developmental disabilities do their schoolwork.
Pennsylvania receives about $143 million a year for these services.
Schools are required by federal law to provide these services; even if the federal money disappears, the services cannot, nor should they.
That means the state and school districts will have to make up for these lost federal dollars.
Which would mean higher state taxes and local property taxes -- or cuts in other programs for students and higher fees for parents.
We hear Republicans complain endlessly about unfunded mandates at the state level.
Now, congressional Republicans at the federal level are preparing to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in mandated costs to local schools and taxpayers.
o much for consistency.
And so much for any claim by Trump or congressional Republicans that they care about providing a quality education and a chance for academic success to all of our kids.
We're long past 'how did we get here' on pensions - now it's time for real fixes: Barry Shutt
PENNLIVE OP-ED By Barry Shutt Posted on May 18, 2017 at 8:30 AM
Barry Shutt, a retired state employee, writes from Lower Paxton Township.
The analysis of Pennsylvania's pension crisis by Miriam Fox (PennLive, May 8 "This is the pension reform issue no one is talking about") was intriguing. However, if not the "rest of the story," Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve more of the story. The enactment of Act 9 in 2001, was passed by a Republican-controlled House and Senate and signed into law by former Gov. Tom Ridge so it would have been easy for Ms. Fox to blame Republicans. But she knows that without Democrats joining with Republicans to form the "Bonnie and Clyde" team that stole the surpluses of the two major pension funds, Act 9 would not have passed. Fox also knows that the pressure to pass Act 38, which dipped even deeper into the surpluses to give COLAs to retirees, could have been easily defused had Act 9 never passed. And she knows that had statesmen from any of the four caucuses stood up in loud opposition to the underfunding of Act 40 and Act 120, and instead insisted on proper funding of pensions in each budget year, Pennsylvania would not be facing a $75 billion pension debt.
(Reprise) Brewster: Charter School Reform Will Create Partnerships, Reward Students and Protect Taxpayers
Senator Brewster’s Website on FEBRUARY 27, 2017
Harrisburg – February 27, 2017 – The relationship between school districts, charter schools, students and taxpayers would be fundamentally realigned and restructured if comprehensive charter school reform legislation soon to be introduced by state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) was enacted, the lawmaker said today. “The goal of my legislation is to realign and redefine how local school districts, charter schools, students and taxpayers interact,” Brewster said. “The legislation is heavy on accountability to the local taxpayers and school board; flexible enough for charters and cyber charters to function as they were designed; and full of sensible reforms that will result in qualitative and fiscal improvements over the long haul.” Brewster said that he is proposing two separate legislative proposals that will, as a package, accomplish his goal of having charters and local school boards working in concert to promote educational opportunities. “The evidence points to a system that has devolved into an unrecognizable unaccountable approach to education that is fueled by outside interests,” Brewster said. “My proposal organizes the disjointed pieces that are now strewn across the education spectrum into a pattern that will help children and ensure that taxpayer concerns are addressed.” “Charters were intended to be an outlet for innovative education and function within the goals of the school district, not be an ad hoc group attached by a financial cord to local taxpayers,” Brewster said.
Brewster’s plan includes financial reforms such as the following:
Vo-tech cuts could crush programs
By Howard Frank Pocono Record Writer Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:40 PMUpdated May 15, 2017 at 11:40 PM
Proposed state funding cuts could have a damaging effect on programs at the Monroe County Career and Technical Institute. State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-115, visited the school Monday to discuss the impact of the cuts. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a budget that includes a 15 percent cut in funding for vocational and technical school equipment purchases, like those of MCTI. Those cuts could diminish the quality and relevancy of education in programs like diesel technology. Madden stood surrounded by students amidst oversized tractor-trailer cabs under repair in the diesel technology shop at the school. “The absence of many technical vocations plague us in many aspects in the state,” Madden said. “Our job is to make sure they are trained so when they enter the workforce, they are ready.” The lack of funding could jeopardize programs like the giant-screens that link students to manufacturer’s technical sites, used to repair the engines, according to Diesel Technology Instructor Ed Chipalowsky. “The diagnostic sites help them step-by-step in repairing the engines,” he said. The program has 43 students and a waiting list for next year. Madden called her republican colleagues in the house outdated when it comes to vocational training education.
School funding unfair, insufficient
Number of new wells drilled last year at lowest level since 2008, but gas production sets record
Beaver County Times By Jared Stonesifer firstname.lastname@example.org May 17, 2017
The number of new shale gas wells drilled across Pennsylvania last year was at its lowest level since 2008, but the volume of gas produced was the highest on record. The state Department of Environmental Protection released its annual oil and gas report Wednesday, and it included in-depth data about drilling across the state. The report noted that 1,321 drilling permits were issued across the state last year, a 59 percent decrease over 2014 numbers when 3,182 permits were issued. Despite the decline in the number of permits issued and the number of wells actually drilled, Pennsylvania last year produced 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The state produced so much natural gas that it is the second-highest producer in the country behind Texas.
PA Reps. DiGirolamo, Warren push for Marcellus Shale gas extraction tax
Bucks County Courier Times By James Boyle, staff writer May 17, 2107
Pennsylvania needs to stop being the only natural gas-producing state that does not charge extractors a severance fee, according to an activist group lobbying for such a tax. Organizers from the CLEAR Coalition hosted a small rally in the courtyard of the Bucks County Administration building Wednesday morning, inviting local state representatives and local community members to speak about how an additional tax on natural gas extraction would benefit the state. "It's not going to solve every problem, but it's a good start," said state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-18, Bensalem. "A severance tax would benefit everybody in the state. It's fair and reasonable." DiGirolamo is gathering support for a bill he introduced this week that would create a 3.2 percent severance tax on natural gas extraction. He was joined Wednesday morning by state representatives Perry Warren, D-31, Yardley, Tina Davis, D-141, Levittown, and Madeleine Dean, D-153, Abington.
Haverford OKs new budget with 2.5 percent tax hike
Delco Times By Lois Puglionesi, Times Correspondent POSTED: 05/18/17, 9:04 PM EDT
HAVERFORD >> School directors voted unanimously at a recent meeting to adopt a $117.6 million proposed final budget, touting the 2.5 percent tax rate increase it contains as “the lowest increase in many years.” Slated for final adoption on June 1, the budget would raise rates from 30.2964 to 31.0538 mills, adding an additional $2.2 million in revenue. For the average residential property assessment of $165,000 taxes would increase $125. The 2.5 percent increase complies with this year’s Act 1 index and does not require exceptions. Last year’s $111.9 million budget required a 2.8 percent tax increase. On the revenue side, local taxes will provide $95.1 million. State sources will contribute $19.8 million, with $1.4 million from federal.
Spending will exceed revenue, requiring $1.1 million from the district’s fund balance to close the gap. The ending fund balance is estimated at $8.4 million, which is 7.2 percent of the budget.
New contract approved for Interboro teachers
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, email@example.com,, @KevinTustin on Twitter
POSTED: 05/18/17, 9:04 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Prospect Park >> A new contract for Interboro teachers has been reached with new health care options and salary increases. The collective bargaining agreement with the approximately 290-member Interboro Education Association approved by the school board in April will run July 1 through June 30, 2020, and will include a pay freeze for the first year, but step movement salary increases in the contract’s second and third years. According to union President Dan McGarth, the first year salary freeze was seen as being sensitive to the needs of the taxpayers and provides the district with some relief in a tight budget year. Premium health care share contributions will hold until 2019-20 when rates will bump to 12.5 percent. A deductible health care plan option has also been introduced with this latest agreement. Paul McNichol was brought on as labor attorney to work with the district and union on the contract, but most of the negotiations were done in-house, according to school board President Ed Harris.
The agreement was approved with months to go before the end of the union’s current contract, and it was a process without major contention points.
Great New Documentary–“Backpack Full of Cash”–is Finished and Ready for Screenings in Your Community
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch May 18, 2017 //
Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow announce that their long-awaited film “Backpack Full of Cash” has been completed, and they are now taking it to film festivals and community screenings. This is the film that tells the story of the dangers of public school privatization and the undermining of public education in many districts.
Dear BACKPACK Friends and Supporters,
We want to share some good news. BACKPACK FULL OF CASH––a documentary film narrated by Matt Damon, that explores the impact of privatizing public schools––is now finished, updated and complete with a new Epilogue. With the appointment of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos––a longtime advocate of charter schools, vouchers and online schools, there is a pressing need for public awareness of these issues. BACKPACK seems to be striking a nerve with audiences. We just showed BACKPACK to sold-out crowds at film festivals in Nashville and Washington, DC where the film won Runner Up–Audience Award, Best Documentary. We are getting many requests for screenings from around the country–and the world! If you or someone you know would like to host a screening, please visit our website. You can also make a donation––now urgently needed––to help us launch the outreach/ distribution campaign for the film.
New National Map Shows That Education Privatizers Have Burrowed into Almost All 50 States
Charter schools, voucher programs, private school tax subsidies and more.
By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet May 17, 2017
Only three states do not have some form of privatized K-12 education in their public schools, a new nationwide map and accompanying analysis has found, showing how much the charter school and school choice movement has grown in recent years. Those states are North Dakota, Nebraska and West Virginia, the only states given an “A” grade by the Network for Public Education, a non-profit that opposes privatization, loss of local control, over-testing of students, and other non-governmental efforts that seek to commoditize public schools. All the other states and the District of Columbia have some mix of charter schools, charter authorizing authority outside local school districts, online charter school, voucher programs where taxpayers pay for private schools, tax credits for sending children to private schools or educational savings accounts, which is another form of a voucher program, according to the NPE State Report Card 2017.
Nominations for PSBA Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16th
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators. The 2017 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 15, 2017. The application due date is July 16, 2017 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Electing PSBA Officers; Applications Due June 1
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.
Thomas Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership