Please take a moment this morning to contact your senators. Click here to send a letter to your senator.
Yesterday afternoon the Senate Education Committee pushed out House Bill 97 (Rep. Reese, R-Westmoreland), faulty charter school legislation that was approved by the House of Representatives in April. The bill was approved by the committee with a 7-5 vote. All Democrats and Sen. Tomlinson (R-Bucks) voted against the bill. The next stop for the bill is the Senate floor. If the bill passes the Senate, it will return to the House for concurrence.
Prior to passage, the committee approved an amendment. A positive change under the amendment revises the composition of the Charter School Funding Advisory Commission to include only legislators (similar to the effective BEF and Special Education Funding Commissions) and limits the scope of the commission to funding issues only. This is the approach that PSBA has been seeking. However, among other changes the amendment also eliminates language that provides for a reduction in the calculation for funding cyber charter schools. If the provision had been adopted, school districts would have saved an estimated $27 million for school districts for 2017-18.
*The funding formula for charter school entities must be changed to reflect the actual cost needed to educate students in these alternative environments.
*The cost of special education students attending charter school entities must reflect the actual cost to instruct the students through the IEP process.
*Over-identification of special education students by charter school entities must be addressed.
*Professional educators in charter school entities must meet the same certification requirements as educators in traditional public schools.
*Charter schools must be evaluated by the same measures as traditional public schools to ensure the public can compare the effectiveness of all educational entities supported by public tax dollars.
*Public school districts must have the authority to properly oversee and evaluate charter schools.
*The Charter School Appeal Board must consist of neutral, bi-partisan members that will be objective in the hearing process.
*Billing discrepancies between school districts and charter school entities should be reconciled between the two agencies. The process of automatic withholding of subsidies from school districts based on a charter school entity claim must cease.
*Charter school entities must display the same level of transparency with their finances that are required of traditional public school districts.
*The enrollment and selection process of charter school entity students must be transparent and free of any form of discrimination.
*More scrutiny and review must be applied to cyber charter school entities as their academic performance is significantly lower than brick-and-mortar charter schools and traditional public schools.
We need your help now to block passage of House Bill 97 in the Senate. Please take a moment to contact your senators. Click here to send a letter to your senator. (In addition, click here for links to additional contact information for senators.)
Ask your Senator to oppose House Bill 97 because:
Editor's Note: Rachel Hampton is a policy analyst and Barry Rabe is the director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan. An earlier version of this essay was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better poster child for the hydraulic fracturing industry than Pennsylvania. Billboards promoting natural gas litter the state’s highways. A Matt Damon film dubbed the state the Promised Land. As natural gas production has soared, the Keystone State has become an increasingly prominent energy exporter. But the poster child of fracking has a dirty secret. It lags behind other major oil and gas producing states in tax policy. While most energy-producing states—as many as 38—tax resource extraction, Pennsylvania does not. All others, from Alaska to North Carolina, levy so-called “severance” taxes on oil, gas, or coal extraction. Revenues from such taxes allow these states to either address budget shortfalls, minimize other taxes, or invest in their future once drilling declines. Yet again, the Pennsylvania legislature is exploring the possibility of severance tax adoption, with yet another looming budget deadline and looming deficit. Governor Tom Wolf continues to push for such a step but still faces a difficult fight in Harrisburg.
READING, PA The Reading School Board voted 5-4 Wednesday to appeal a recent decision by the state Charter School Appeal Board that allowed I-LEAD Charter School to remain open. Earlier this month the appeal board - a panel of seven with one vacancy, chaired by state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera - overturned the city school board's 2016 decision to revoke the charter of I-LEAD, a school for Reading children in grades nine through 12. Immediately after the ruling, district officials said they would wait for the appeal board to release its written opinion on the case before determining whether to appeal the decision to Commonwealth Court. The opinion had not been released when the board voted Wednesday to go ahead with the appeal.
Education Week By Benjamin Herold June 12, 2017
Millions of K-12 students now spend time taking online classes.
But what those experiences look like, the reasons such courses are offered, and the entities that provide them all vary tremendously. And despite the rapid proliferation of online courses, it’s still hard to pin down how many students take part in different types of online-learning options, let alone how well they are doing. So, what do policymakers, administrators, educators, parents, and students need to know? What follows is an overview of the types of supplemental online learning you can now see in most schools and states, as well as a breakdown of what we know about how many students are taking advantage of such opportunities, and how well they are doing. To keep things manageable, we’re not talking about students who attend school online full time (although you can certainly check out Education Week’s extensive coverage of the cyber charter sector.) Nor do we include here all the students in traditional classrooms who go online as part of individual lessons and school activities.
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