“Though charters are popular with parents, overall charter achievement is a black box. Some schools perform well. Many don’t. But there is no definitive study or agreement on how charters hold up against traditional public schools. It’s as though the state has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars with its eyes closed, saying: “Don’t tell us how our investment is doing.”
For 20 years.”
Editorial: The true cost of charter schools
Charter schools are having a costly effect on Pennsylvania school districts.
Inquirer by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
Two studies were released last week that at first glance have nothing to do with each other. The first was a report by Research for Action, a Philadelphia educational research firm, that measured the fiscal impact of charter schools on six school districts around the state, including Philadelphia’s. RFA’s model accounts for variables like rates of charter growth, size of districts, and short- and long-term impact. The bottom line: the burgeoning charter system, which now numbers more than 130,000 students (70,000 in Philadelphia) has hit districts around the state hard. In Philadelphia, the report found, charters cost the district $8,000 per student initially and $4,000 each subsequent year, even after five years. This is the first time fiscal impact has been measured so rigorously, though the news that charters have been costly is not altogether surprising. Districts pay tuition for every student enrolling in a charter school — about equal to the per-pupil allotment the state issues for education. The more students who go to charters, the more money flows from district schools.
“On Tuesday, Pennsbury’s board is poised to approve plans for an ambitious school-based drug-intervention program. Beyond increasing training, school programs and adding full-time staffers from a drug treatment facility, the district hopes to offer after-school individual and family therapy, a possibly unprecedented step for an area public school.”
As heroin deaths pile up, one Bucks school district weighs unusual step
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer @Kathy_Boccella | email@example.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 — 6:58 PM EDT
In June, a woman approached the podium at the Pennsbury School Board meeting to tell a story rarely heard at such gatherings. Maureen Johnson revealed that her son, Luke, a 2013 graduate of the Lower Bucks County school district, was dead. He had battled pills since his student days, graduated to heroin, and overdosed in his Florida apartment. Johnson said she’d been shocked to watch an untold number of Pennsbury graduates die from drug addiction or suicide. Within two weeks of Luke’s death, five others succumbed to drugs. The next generation of Pennsbury students faced a similar fate, she warned, if the schools didn’t launch a massive intervention. Some wept as Johnson spoke that night. No one seemed more moved than board member Jacqueline Redner. What few knew at the time was that Redner and her husband were in their own hellish struggle with a son hooked on heroin.
Speaker educates Valley Progressives about gerrymandering
By Rick Dandes The Daily Item September 18, 2017
SUNBURY — The leader of a statewide movement determined to change the way redistricting is done in Pennsylvania spoke to 15 Valley activists at a Monday night meeting at the Degenstein Library, where strategies were discussed and ideas shared among the attendees. Carol Kuniholm, co-founder and chair of Fair District Pa., noted that "almost every district in the state has been gerrymandered to keep incumbents in power, to maintain the power of the leadership. And the people of Pennsylvania — their concerns are not important at all. If you think the 10th and 11th districts are the most gerrymandered in the state, I can show you a map that says almost all of the districts in the state are." Pennsylvania, Kuniholm said, "has the worst gerrymandered districts in the U.S., by a long shot." Kuniholm was invited to the meeting by Nicole Faraguna, of Herndon, the co-founder of the Susquehanna Valley Progressives group. "We are in this fight for the long haul," Faraguna said. "Carol is here to show us what other groups are doing across the state to organize and gain influence with our legislators." Faraguna is working with Kuniholm to bring her group into the North Central Region of Fair Districts Pa, which is divided into six regions.
Stark differences persist as Senate returns to budget talks
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 19, 2017 6:14 AM
(Harrisburg) -- The state Senate is back in session, and is gearing up to respond to a budget package the House passed last week. Senate leaders aren't revealing much about their plans--though they indicate they have fundamental disagreements with House leaders. Meanwhile, the standoff is prompting credit rating agencies and budget experts to put the commonwealth on their watch lists. The Senate initially passed a revenue package in July. It balanced the $2.2 billion budget deficit on a combination of borrowing and new taxes--including ones on Marcellus Shale gas drilling and utilities. Senate GOP leader Jake Corman noted, that wasn't anyone's preference. "The Senate voted the plan that we did because we thought that was really the only way out of this," he said. But House Republicans have rebuffed it; their own proposal includes essentially the same borrowing, but no new taxes. It uses internal fund transfers to make up the difference. The whole plan creates very little recurring revenue. Senate Appropriations Chair, Republican Pat Browne, said that's a big disagreement the GOP-controlled chambers will have to work through.
Governor Wolf sees downgrade without budget deal soon
WITF Written by The Associated Press | Sep 19, 2017 4:27 AM
(Harrisburg) -- Democratic Governor Tom Wolf says it's urgent that he and state lawmakers end a fight over patching a $2 billion budget deficit to avoid a downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating. Wolf said in a statement that, without a responsible budget deal, state government also will face more disruptions in programs and payments. Wolf and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature spoke by telephone over the weekend, amid a three-month stalemate over how to fully fund a $32 billion budget bill lawmakers approved June 30. Senate Republicans say they're considering changes to the House GOP's no-new-taxes plan that passed last week. In July, the Senate passed a $500 million-plus tax package that hits utility customers and natural gas production. The chamber's ranking senator, Republican Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, says the state will continue to be unable to pay its bills in the future if it doesn't get more money.
“Where we’re at financially is not good,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, the chamber’s ranking senator. “We’re out of money. I don’t know by any means you can put lipstick on that or spin that any way to make it look better or sound better. But we’re out of money and we’ve never been in this position before, being out of money.”
Pennsylvania Senate GOP confronts no-tax package in 80-day budget fight
By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 09/18/17, 3:41 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> The Pennsylvania Senate returned to Harrisburg on Monday, Day 80 of an increasingly ugly budget stalemate, as senators began picking apart the House’s no-new-taxes plan and raising questions about whether huge parts of it are realistic. The Senate’s Republican majority was divided over going along with the House’s GOP-penned plan, as lawmakers grapple with how to resolve state government’s largest cash shortfall since the recession, now a projected $2.2 billion gap in a $32 billion budget. After a two-hour closed-door meeting in the Capitol, Republican senators said they will seek changes to the House GOP’s plan, saying it would worsen the state’s long-term finances. Senate Republicans also say the House GOP plan to borrow to plug part of the deficit is unduly expensive, and it otherwise has holes of hundreds of millions of dollars in it. Top Senate Republicans continued to make the case to find hundreds of millions of more dollars for the budget — such as a tax increase of some sort — to give the deficit-riddled state government the ability to pay its bills farther into the future.
"Engagement" is the theme of the day for Pa. budget talks, as pillars of agreement take shape
Penn Live By Charles Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org Updated on September 18, 2017 at 9:21 PM Posted on September 18, 2017 at 9:20 PM
Welcome to the stretch run! (And, apologies if you've read that here before.)
But just as the state of Pennsylvania has started delaying payments to some creditors, it appears all sets of legislative leaders are ready for what they hope are close-out talks with Gov. Tom Wolf on a $2.2 billion revenue package needed to support the 2017-18 budget. We arrived here after the House Republican caucus put its marker down last week on a no-new-taxes, almost all one-time-fixes plan last week, carried by a starkly partisan majority. While the House plan won't be the final answer, it did help set the stage for talks that many around the Capitol said Monday could get things finished. Wolf was leading the new chorus of optimism. "I believe we can reach a compromise in the coming days," the governor said in a statement released by his press office after a series of contacts with legislative leaders this weekend.
Editorial: Looking for answers in Harrisburg
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 09/18/17, 9:05 PM EDT | UPDATED: 24 SECS AGO
Unlike most of us, some of our state legislators spent this long, languorous weekend enjoying the last days of their summer vacation. That’s right, our fine elected representatives of the Pennsylvania will head back to work at the state Capitol in Harrisburg today. It’s not as if the state faces any pressing issues or anything. When we last left you on Friday, an increasingly perplexed Gov. Tom Wolf was moving to withhold payment on nearly $1.2 billion in payments to Medicaid providers. It’s not that the governor holds any grudge against the crucial program that delivers health care to the state’s neediest children, elderly and the disabled. It’s that the state is flat broke. As in, “Boing!” Next up is a $581 million payout for the state’s share of the massive pension plan heaped on the state’s two large public employee pension plans. And if a resolution is not reached soon, funding for the state’s universities, schools and roads may wind up on the chopping block. That’s what happens when you pass a state budget – but don’t bother to implement a funding package to pay for it.
REP. MUSTIO: Pennsylvania has a solution to balance the budget, will we use it?
Pottstown Mercury Opinion By State Rep. Mark Mustio, Guest Columnist POSTED: 09/18/17, 9:39 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO
Rep. Mark Mustio is a Republican who represents the 44th House District, which includes portions of Allegheny County, in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Pennsylvania finds itself amidst a budget impasse. To put the severity of the situation into perspective, we are dealing with a $2.2 billion budget gap. We must all work together to help fill this hole, while at the same time helping local, small businesses. What’s most frustrating and concerning is that the Governor and some in the General Assembly have blatantly overlooked arguably the most common sense option for substantial, recurring revenue. Legalization of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) would bring in $300 to $400 million annually for Pennsylvania’s state budget while at the same time generate millions of dollars for our local municipalities. Thus, keeping all of our taxes from being increased.
Budget plan does not move Pa. forward (letter)
York Daily Record Opinion by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans (D-York) Published 12:56 p.m. ET Sept. 18, 2017
On Sept. 13 night, the House of Representatives passed a “revenue” plan to go with the spending package agreed upon earlier in the summer. That might sound like progress, but the plan that was approved does not move Pennsylvania forward, nor does it address Pennsylvania’s chronic structural deficit. Instead the plan relies on one-time sources of funding, which only continues to kick the can farther down the road. I did not vote for the plan, and neither did any of my Democratic colleagues – along with 15 Republicans who joined us in opposing this short-sighted proposal. We didn’t support it because we know there’s much we could have done to responsibly address our budget crisis – and it is a crisis.
“On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest county-level economic estimates for the nation. The figures show poverty is on the rise in Bucks County, with Hispanic and Latino residents among the most likely to fall below the federal poverty line. One in five Hispanic and Latino residents in Bucks — or 6,538 people — was considered poor, according to census data.”
U.S. Census: Bucks County poverty rate at 10-year high
Intelligencer by James McGinnis, staff writer September 19, 2017
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Our Lady of Guadalupe is among the first to arrive for the passion of Spanish Mass on Sunday at Queen of the Universe Church in Middletown. The patron saint of Mexico spends each week in the home of a family from the parish. The 4-foot statue returns to the church on Trenton Road as its parishioners, many of them natives of Mexico, strum guitars and sing traditional Spanish hymns through the early afternoon. "These men and women are hard-working people, but many of them are undocumented and they live in fear," explained the Rev. John Bednarik. "Many of them also send money home to Mexico." And many of them might also be living below the poverty line.
One in four Beaver County residents who didn't graduate high school live in poverty
Beaver County Times By Daveen Rae Kurutz email@example.com September 19, 2017
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Fewer Beaver County residents lived in poverty in 2016 than a decade prior, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, if you don’t have at least a high school diploma, you’re more likely now to live in poverty. According to one-year estimates on poverty, 1 in 4 Beaver County residents who don’t have at least a high school diploma lived in poverty in 2016. That’s an increase from 2006, when 1 in 6 residents without a high school diploma lived in poverty. “I think you can look at those numbers in so many ways,” said Mike Rubino, executive director of the United Way of Beaver County. “It used to be that people thought the mill jobs and labor jobs, that you didn’t need a degree for, would always be here.” In 2006, a family of four was considered to be in poverty with a household income of $20,000 or less. In 2016, that family had to earn less than $24,250. In 2016, it’s estimated that 8.2 percent of the population lived in poverty. That’s about 5,000 fewer people than 10 years prior, when 10.2 percent of the population lived in poverty. In nearby Lawrence County, the percentage of people living in poverty increased slightly during the past 10 years, from 12.3 percent to 12.8 percent.
Pennsylvania submits its Every Student Succeeds Act plan to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
Pennsylvania's plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday. Now state officials wait for the feds' reaction to it.
Penn Live By Jan Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Updated on September 18, 2017 at 7:09 PMPosted on September 18, 2017 at 6:51 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on Pennsylvania's roadmap for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act on Monday and submitted it to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for her approval. The plan, which was made public at 4:59 p.m. Monday, establishes what the department describes as "ambitious yet attainable" goals of raising student performance, increasing graduation rates and having English learners move toward achieving English language proficiency. It responds to the oft-heard complaints about too much class time spent on testing by shortening the state exams that third through eighth graders take in English language arts and math. It also establishes a new school report card that expands the indicators used to measure performance, placing less emphasis on state test scores which educators had sought. The indicators chosen include academic progress, graduation rates, English language proficiency, chronic absenteeism, and career exploration and preparation rates of fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders.
Pa. turns in its plan to comply with federal Every Student Succeeds Act
MOLLY BORN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette email@example.com 5:53 PM SEP 18, 2017
The Pennsylvania Department of Education turned in one of its most important homework assignments Monday: A new school accountability plan for the state's more than 1.7 million students. Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on the plan required under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was then sent to federal education officials for review. Passed with bipartisan support in 2015, ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind, the controversial former federal education law. Pennsylvania's blueprint “represents the culmination of more than 18 months of collaboration between PDE and a diverse group of stakeholders from around the state,” education Secretary Pedro Rivera said in a news release. “We are proud of the plan that resulted and our efforts to provide all students with a world-class education and the opportunity to succeed after graduation.” The state education department released a draft in early August and received more than 400 comments from the public, some of which were incorporated into the final version. State plans across the country were due today.
Pennsylvania submitted its ESSA Consolidated State Plan to the United States Department of Education on September 18, 2017.
Pennsylvania Department of Education Website
Has soda tax led to job cuts in Philly? It depends who you ask
Inquirer by Laura McCrystal, Staff Writer @LMcCrystal | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 — 5:36 PM EDT
Mayor Kenney’s administration sought to claim a victory Monday in the ongoing fight over Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax: Wage tax collections suggest that the beverage industry has not lost jobs due to the drink levy, officials said. Hours later, Controller Alan Butkovitz fired back with criticisms of the so-called soda tax — and the city’s assessment of its own wage tax data. The numbers were not detailed enough to prove that jobs weren’t lost, he said, and the beverage tax would not have even been necessary if the city had not decreased the wage tax. The exchange marked the latest skirmish over the controversial tax. Since the 1.5-cents-per-ounce levy on sweetened beverages went into effect in January to fund pre-K, community schools, and other programs, its supporters and detractors have been scrambling for statistics to bolster their positions. In addition to analyzing wage tax data Monday, both the mayor’s office and Butkovitz released reports about the economic impact of the beverage tax.
Pennsylvania budget limbo could put schools in danger: 5 things to know today
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES | Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 10:42 a.m.
The Emmys were Sunday and it looks the Washington, D.C. public school system was the unexpected star of the evening. The hashtag #DCPublicSchools was trending on Twitter Sunday night after comedian Dave Chappelle—a former student of D.C. schools—gave the school system a shout-out as he started to read from the teleprompter. Later in the show, fellow comedian John Oliver—not a former D.C. schools student—joined in.
School Start Times: SCASD teachers contract requires extended day proposal to be implemented by next school year
Centre Daily Times BY LEON VALSECHI email@example.com SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 11:34 PM
The proposal to extend the State College Area School District’s elementary school day is a possibility under the contract with the teacher’s union. When the school district and the State College Area Education Association negotiated its current teacher contract, which began on July 1, 2015, and ends June 30, 2020, and addition was added to address the possibility of extending the elementary school day. That resulted in an agreement between the two sides that requires the district to implement its extended day proposal, which adds 44 minutes to the elementary school day and pushes back the start time for middle and high school students, prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year. Last week, district administrators presented the school board with its most recent version of the proposal. The elementary school start time would move from 8:44 a.m. back to 8:10 a.m. and the day would end at 3 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m. Middle and high school students would start at 8:40 a.m. instead of 8:10 a.m. and their day would end at 3:42 p.m. and 3:40 p.m., respectively, instead of 3:12 p.m. and 3:16 p.m..
“At secondary schools, starting later would meet teenagers’ research-documented sleep needs, allowing for healthier, alert students to be able to learn fully.”
School day change vital for students
Centre Daily Times Letter by BOB O’DONNELL, STATE COLLEGE SEPT. 18, 2017 10:15 PM
The writer is superintendent of schools at State College Area School District.
As shown by the State High referendum in 2014, our community places a premium on education. Overwhelmingly, voters approved a new high school that will serve students well for decades to come. Reflecting local values, the State College Area School District is considering a change that would be even more vital for students. We’re proposing to extend our shorter-than-average elementary school day by 44 minutes, and to begin the middle and high school days 30 minutes later while keeping their overall length. Starting in the fall of 2018, both would improve school experiences and enhance learning for all students, reinforcing our daily commitment to helping them develop and preparing them for lifelong success. For example, we’re adding time for core elementary subjects — not to increase the material taught but to provide more opportunities with our present curricula for enriched learning and responsive teaching. The proposal also incorporates a fifth specials period, as well as additional teacher planning time for collaborating on innovative lessons. At secondary schools, starting later would meet teenagers’ research-documented sleep needs, allowing for healthier, alert students to be able to learn fully. We appreciate our teachers formally approving a contract change that endorsed our proposal. Information meetings are coming up — Tuesday at Park Forest Middle School and Sept. 27 at Mount Nittany Middle School, each at 7 p.m. — and we welcome public comment. The bottom line: We believe this change would support our community’s desire for all students to learn, grow and thrive.
Editorial: There is room in school to talk about race
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board Sep 17, 2017
THE ISSUE - Though Lancaster County is increasingly diverse, teaching about race “isn’t a priority at most schools here and around the country, and some educators say that’s a problem if high school graduates are going to find their way in a multicultural world,” Jeff Hawkes reported in the Sept. 10 Sunday LNP. He interviewed students in the class of Penn Manor High School history teacher Todd Mealy, who is offering a seminar on race, ethnicity and gender this year. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that 11 a.m. Sunday is the most segregated hour in America. He would be disappointed to see some local high school cafeterias over the lunch hour 57 years later. Race remains a thorny subject in the United States, and in schools, too. Ignoring the subject is not going to make it go away. Failing to equip our young people to talk about it openly isn’t going to help, either. As Nakeiha Primus Smith, assistant professor of educational foundations at Millersville University, told LNP’s Hawkes, the reason we wrestle with race is because we’re not facing it squarely. “You have students who are not being confronted with values or perspectives that are not similar to their own,” she noted.
Methacton teachers on strike; other districts in Philly region without contracts
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT SEPTEMBER 18, 2017
School bells didn't ring Monday morning for children in Methacton, a district of nearly 5,000 students in Montgomery County Pennsylvania. That's because of the district's first teacher strike since 1985. Methacton teachers followed colleagues from the Scranton-area Abington Heights School District who had already walked out. Pennsylvania is among a small handful of states where teachers strikes are legal — although teachers in the state's largest district, Philadelphia, cannot walk off the job. But where Pennsylvania teachers can strike, they do so with greater frequency than educators in other states. A 2015 analysis by the publication Education Week found strikes were more common in the Keystone State than anywhere else. Potential explanations for that include the fact that Pennsylvania has 500 school districts.
Darling-Hammond: Where have all the teachers gone?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 18 at 2:10 PM
Where are all the teachers? That’s what education expert Linda Darling-Hammond asks and answers in this post about the teacher shortage in many parts of the United States — and what can be done to finally end it. While teacher shortages are not new, they are getting worse in many parts of the country. A report by the nonprofit Learning Policy Institute found that teacher education enrollment dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35 percent reduction, between 2009 and 2014 — and nearly 8 percent of the teaching workforce is leaving every year, the majority before retirement age. Darling-Hammond is founder and president of the Learning Policy Institute, which conducts independent, high-quality research to improve education policy and practice. She is also professor of education emeritus at Stanford University, where she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and former executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, whose 1996 report “What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future,” was named one of the most influential reports affecting U.S. education in that decade. In 2008, she served as the leader of President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team. Her book, “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future,” received the coveted Grawemeyer Award in 2012.
Q&A: One-on-One with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 18, 2017 3:36 PM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has faced some big challenges in her more-than six months in office—setbacks in Congress on her school choice proposals, difficulty staffing her department, protestors greeting her at every turn, not to mention the political stickiness of serving a controversial president. She's also come into the agency at a consequential time, with every state filing a plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first update to the main federal K-12 law in over a decade. And she may well be at the department when Congress next considers an update to special education laws. We talked about all of that and much more in a wide-ranging interview Friday, the final day of the secretary's "Rethink School" tour, which kicked off last Tuesday and covered six states.
Our Schools at Risk: How to Stop Funding Cuts, Bensalem HS, October 3 at 7 PM - 9 PM
Public Meeting Hosted by Education Voters PA Tuesday, October 3 at 7 PM - 9 PM
Bensalem HS, North Wing Audion, 4319 Hulmeville Rd., Bensalem 19020
Learn about the threats to our public schools and how YOUR advocacy efforts can make a difference. Join Education Voters of PA to learn about how state policies and school funding are impacting your local schools and how you can come together in your communities to stand up for public school students.
CONSIDER IT: SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE CASES FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Doubletree Reading
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017