Knowing how to read, and read well, are basic rights for all Philadelphia children.
Read by 4th Website
Right now, two out of three Philadelphia school children are unable to read at grade level by 4th grade. This presents a crisis for our city because students failing to reach the critical read-by-4th milestone are likely to remain or fall even further behind in schooling as classroom instruction shifts quickly from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn, making it less likely they will graduate from high school on time. The good news is that research also shows us that all children are capable of making great strides, if not leaps, in reading ability with help from those who care for and love them inside and outside the classroom and through small changes in everyday interactions. Together we can make reading-by-4th a reality for all Philadelphia children. Read by 4th is an unprecedented citywide effort, managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia, with the goal of doubling the number of children reading at grade level by 4th grade by 2020. Through Read by 4th’s ever-growing coalition of partners (91 at last count) and ongoing community outreach, we are coming together as Philadelphians to embrace our collective responsibility of giving all our children their best shot at success.
Editorial: There has to be a better way to fund a budget than raiding rainy day funds
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board September 7, 2017
THE ISSUE: House Republicans in the state Capitol have revealed a plan to pull more than $2.4 billion from various government agency reserve funds and other accounts to fill the state’s budget deficit, LNP reported Wednesday. The plan would include one-time transfers such as $100 million from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund; $359,000 from the Job Training Fund; $357 million from the Public Transportation Trust Fund; $27 million from Conservation Easement Fund; $72 million from the Environmental Stewardship Fund, among others. State lawmakers passed a $32 billion 2017-18 spending plan in July without a way to pay for it. The money for the budget has to come from somewhere, and you have to hand it to some House Republicans for performing the fiscal gymnastics required to locate the remote outpost we now call “Somewhere.” Who knew such a place existed? It’s a place where, apparently, large sums of surplus cash are just waiting to be wheelbarrowed away and used to fill this year’s budget crater. We’d like to think there is a better way to fund a state budget than raiding the rainy day funds of some state agencies that were responsible enough to operate in the black. Although, one could argue that, at least for Pennsylvania, this is the rainiest of days.
Editorial: Why House Republicans aren't serious about Pa.'s budget deficit
It’s no secret that Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai wants to be the next governor.
by The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 — 1:38 PM EDT
The games being played by House Republicans to avoid passing a budget that makes sense will work only if Pennsylvanians stop paying attention. Unfortunately, after three months of a stalemate more about politics than the state’s structural deficit, many already have. Pennsylvania ran out of money last year and had to borrow money this year because it hasn’t matched revenue to spending. Some combination of cutting spending and increasing revenue would cause the least pain to residents, who don’t want to see taxes go up or essential services decreased. But House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) doesn’t seem to care. It has become apparent he won’t take any step that he believes would negatively affect his chances to become the state’s next governor. Most of Turzai’s compadres in the House Republican caucus don’t have to worry about reelection. Pennsylvania’s gerrymandered legislative districts have virtually guaranteed their victories. But, following his lead, they oppose any revenue measure levied against their political donors, including the fracking industry. Instead, they have proposed a wide array of spending cuts and money transfers that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
Is the budget pain coming for Pennsylvanians?
Trib Live by STEVE ESACK THE (ALLENTOWN) MORNING CALL | Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, 10:51 p.m.
Ho-hum. Another year, another state budget crisis over how to pay for rising government costs amid falling tax revenue and a perpetual $2.2 billion deficit. For the second time in three years, the majority House Republican Caucus finds itself at odds with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and a bipartisan group of senators. House Republicans, led by fiscal conservatives, have declined to negotiate bills to pay for the budget. No taxes or bonds of any kind, they say, to cover costs. Wolf, with the backing of enough Senate Republicans and Democrats to pass a measure, has sought various tax increases and other methods to fully fund programs and stave off Wall Street's threat of imposing higher interest costs on taxpayer-backed bonds. Up until now, citizens, state workers and school teachers have been unscathed by the Capitol infighting. Workers have been paid through normal tax dollars or short-term loans from the state Treasury or private banks, alleviating layoffs and program cuts. But this pain-free gravy train could come to an end for Pennsylvanians if a deal to pay for the nearly $32 billion budget is not done by Sept. 15.
Former Pa State Treasurer Candidate Otto Voit says Pennsylvania is Without Leadership
WFMZ 69 News Opinion by Otto Voit Posted: Aug 29, 2017 11:08 AM EDT
A person is leaving Pennsylvania every 12 minutes. Why? Because as President Harry Truman said: “In periods when there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” Pennsylvania has no leadership. There are no Republican leaders and there are no Democratic leaders. Is Governor Wolf, Speaker Turzai, or Senate Majority Leader Corman providing courageous, skillful leadership? Do they provide a set of common goals? Are they authentic and open? Do they have integrity? Can you trust them to look out for you? Do they build consensus and bring solutions to problems? Do they inspire us? With a person leaving Pennsylvania every 12 minutes, I would argue no. It is now August. Our State budget was to be completed by June 30th. For years we have had a growing deficit with our state budget. It is now $2.2Billion! State Treasurer Torsella said that our bank balance would fall below $0 by August 29th. Is anyone really solving the problem or are we going to raise taxes again and again … and again. Pennsylvania is already the 3rd highest taxed state. Are we going to borrow money again and again… and again? And of course we will depend on revenue from gambling programs that have yet to be voted on.
LOWMAN S. HENRY: A Pennsylvania budget glossary
The Mercury Opinion By Lowman S. Henry, Columnist POSTED: 09/05/17, 7:47 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO
Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are scheduled to return to session on Sept. 11 to finish work on a state budget which was due at the end of June. Late budgets have become a hallmark of the Tom Wolf administration as the governor habitually proposes spending that vastly exceeds available projected revenue. The governor and legislators are in somewhat uncharted waters as they approved a spending plan by the budget deadline, but have yet to reach agreement on how to fund that spending. Gov. Wolf, of course, is advocating for higher taxes and 14 compliant Republican senators joined with Democrats to grant his wish. However, the Senate plan to place yet another tax on the natural gas industry, raise a wide range of consumer taxes and borrow money from future revenue landed with a thud in the state House. In the weeks since the Senate vote conservative Republicans in the state House have been working on an alternative that would fund the budget without raising taxes and borrowing from future revenue sources. They say they have found enough dollars squirrelled away in difference agency accounts to accomplish that goal.
Easton students sent home for not being vaccinated
Morning Call by Binghui Huang, Jacqueline Palochko and Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporters Of The Morning Call September 6, 2017
Dozens of students were sent home from Easton area schools Wednesday after administrators began enforcing a new statewide rule that requires students to be up to date on vaccinations within five days of school starting, a far more rigid deadline than the previous eight-month time frame. The state Health Department implemented the change to reduce illness outbreaks and improve reporting on vaccinations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lehigh Valley schools have been planning for the change since the policy was announced in the spring, notifying parents and helping families arrange for vaccinations. Still, hundreds of students across the Lehigh Valley have not met the requirements, district officials say, prompting some schools to bar students from classes.
Alain Locke Elementary named as 12th community school
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy September 6, 2017 — 4:45pm
The city’s community schools initiative continued to expand this week as Alain Locke Elementary in West Philadelphia was named to a list of schools that aim to serve as hubs for families and locals. Under the initiative – which the Mayor’s Office of Education began last year – Locke will have a community schools coordinator who will work with the school, students, families, local service providers, and city agencies to identify the needs of the community and bring resources to the school to address those needs. In essence, the school is intended to become a community center offering services such as job training, health services, and afterschool programs. “We want parents and neighbors to see Locke as a hub that can address their social, emotional, academic, and health-care needs,” said Locke principal Katherine Carter. “A community schools approach will expand what we have to offer to the community and complement our efforts to improve students’ reading and math levels and prepare them for success.”
The evolving Philadelphia high school
The District’s innovation schools use a problem-solving approach to learning. Such a significant shift has not been easy.
The notebook by Melanie Bavaria September 6, 2017 — 12:04pm
Note: This is a longer version of a story that appeared in our Fall Guide to High Schools.
With the sound of drills and nail guns in the background, two ninth-grade boys tried to solve a math problem. “How many 2-by-4, 8-foot planks am I going to have to buy when I go to Home Depot this afternoon?,” asked Jared Lauterbach, the students’ teacher, “and how many 6-foot planks?” This is what studying Shakespeare looks like at the Workshop School, one of seven (soon to be eight) schools in the District’s Innovation Network. They are part of a growing national movement to reinvent the high school experience by re-aligning learning with skills students actually need to lead successful and productive lives. Two 9th-grade classes at Workshop, which grew out of West Philadelphia High School’s Automotive Academy, had spent the prior several weeks reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Museums coming to Philly's neighborhoods with $2M William Penn grant
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 — 3:57 PM EDT
In an effort to help make Philadelphia’s museums and other cultural organizations more accessible to families, the William Penn Foundation is spending nearly $2 million to take arts, science, and literacy programs to low-income neighborhoods, officials announced Wednesday. The two-year program will reach 1,800 children, pairing institutions with schools, day care centers, homeless shelters, and city recreation centers. It aims to build literacy skills in informal settings, giving children opportunities to access resources that might not be available to them otherwise. Officials announced the effort at Mander Recreation Center in North Philadelphia, one of the sites for the program. While dignitaries made speeches outside, a group of preschoolers got down to business inside: working with professionals from the Barnes Foundation, dipping Q-Tips into paint, and decorating letter-B worksheets in a pointillist art activity inspired by Georges Seurat’s Port of Honfleur.
New effort aims to bring cultural arts learning to eight low-income Philly neighborhoods
WHYY Newsworks by Tom MacDonald SEPTEMBER 6, 2017
For years, arts and culture groups in Philadelphia have tried to make it easier for kids in poor neighborhoods to come and visit. A new initiative is designed to bring that experience and learning opportunities directly to eight lower-income neighborhoods. It's called informal learning, using fresh, literacy-rich opportunities to educate young people and give them a taste of culture at the same time. During an event Wednesday to announce the initiative, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he remembers his first trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art when he entered high school. He said it was an eye-opening experience. "That same freshman year, I had the opportunity to go to the Walnut Street Theater to see the great late Alvin Ailey and his dance troupe and to watch Judith Jamison dance solo," he said. "Now, when you are a freshman in high school, going to a modern dance performance is not something you get excited about — until you see Judith Jamison dance." The William Penn Foundation is spending almost $2 million on the project. Community groups will join with cultural institutions to experiment, said Janet Haas, foundation board chair.
Fiscal watchdog required for all tax dollars
Inquirer Opinion by Alan Butkovitz Updated: SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 — 10:01 PM EDT
Alan Butkovitz is the Philadelphia city controller.
With a reported $11 million of tax dollars spent in the first six months for Philadelphia’s new pre-K program and almost double that amount scheduled for this year, the chickens have already hatched. The recent Daily News editorial indicates there should be no oversight of the program because there haven’t been enough tax dollars spent to warrant a watchdog’s review. Unfortunately, this type of logic is allowing the rooster to roam the hen house with no one ever checking in. It would be fiscally irresponsible not to account and monitor these funds at present before millions more are disbursed in the future. These are tax dollars collected into the City’s General Fund, and the public deserves to know how their money is being spent. Turning a blind eye just because it is a new program is not a sound practice, and certainly not a policy that the City Controller’s Office follows.
Senate Panel Rejects Trump Teacher-Funding Cut, School Choice Proposals
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 6, 2017 12:40 PM
Lawmakers overseeing education spending dealt a big blow to the Trump administration's K-12 budget asks in a spending bill approved by a bipartisan vote Wednesday. The legislation would leave intact the main federal programs aimed at teacher training and after-school funding. And it would seek to bar the U.S. Department of Education from moving forward with two school choice initiatives it pitched in its request for fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1. The bill, which was approved unanimously by the Senate budget subcommittee that oversees health, education and labor spending, would provide $2.05 billion for Title II, the federal program that's used to hire and train educators. Both the House spending committee and the Trump administration have proposed scrapping the program, so it remains in jeopardy despite the Senate's support.
The measure rejects another high-profile cut pitched by the Trump administration, $1.2 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which helps school districts cover the cost of afterschool and summer-learning programs. The House also refused to sign off on the Trump administration's pitch to eliminate the program. Instead, it voted to provide $1 billion for 21stCentury, meaning the program would almost certainly see some funding in the 2018-19 school year. The panel also dealt a blow to the administration's school choice ambitions. And the bill seeks to stop the Education Department from moving forward on a pair of school choice programs it proposed in its budget request.
New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students
New York Times By SEAN PICCOLI and ELIZABETH A. HARRIS SEPT. 6, 2017
Lunch at New York City public schools will be available free of charge to all 1.1 million students beginning this school year, Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, said on Wednesday in the basement cafeteria of a Hell’s Kitchen elementary school. The new school year begins on Thursday. “This is about equity,” Ms. Fariña said. “All communities matter.” This move has been long sought by food-policy advocates and many members of the New York City Council, who said that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford to pay for lunch. Nationally, the practice of “lunch shaming” — holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — has garnered attention. The vast majority of New York City public school students are poor: About 75 percent of them had already qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, officials said, and in New York City those who qualified for the lower cost received it for free, as well. Still, the new initiative will reach an additional 200,000 students and save their families about $300 per year. The full price for a school lunch is $1.75 per day.
NSBA statement on Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program
National School Boards Association Executive Director & CEO Thomas J. Gentzel today released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
"Public schools are a beacon of hope and opportunity for students and our country. The schools in our neighborhoods have educated generations of children, regardless of factors such as race, ethnic background, and immigration and socioeconomic status, enabling them to contribute to our economy and strengthen our democracy. “Since the first public school was founded, they have gladly accepted the immense responsibility given to them to help students achieve their full potential. Today, our schools are educating the most diverse student population in history, providing equitable access and ensuring that all students are educated at levels no previous generation attempted to achieve. “Public schools continue to make progress in helping students prepare for college, careers and life. However, progress is threatened if students are fearful of coming to school. NSBA is deeply concerned by the administration’s decision to end the DACA program. We’re long-standing supporters of educating all students regardless of immigration status. Now that the issue is solely before Congress, we urge it to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to authorize the cancellation of removal, resolve immigration status, and work toward U.S. citizenship of undocumented students who are long-term residents.”
Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?
New York Times Magazine By ALINA TUGEND SEPT. 7, 2017
Millions of federal and state dollars are spent each year on increasing the number of Advanced Placement classes in low-income majority black and Latino high schools. Is this a benefit to the students or a payday for the testing company?
The West and Asian education: a fatal attraction
New Internationalist by Yong Zhao Aug 31, 2017
Why is the West racing to copy Asia’s education system as fast as the East scrambles to reform it? Yong Zhao takes to task an unhealthy and deluded romanticization of education.
Mistaking high test scores in China as a measure of quality, the West has adopted an exam-orientated system.
Across the world, Western governments are hard at work making their schools more Chinese. In 2016, the UK Schools Standards Minister, Nick Gibb, announced that over 8,000 primary schools would adopt Chinese-style teaching of mathematics, backed with $53 million in funding. Less than a year later, publisher HarperCollins announced that it would bring Chinese maths textbooks to British classrooms. The government has also flown in teachers from Shanghai to help improve education.1 The Chinese, on the other hand, seem to be equally eager to embrace an English-style education. In 2016, Wycombe Abbey, a girls’ boarding school in Buckinghamshire, opened a sister school to students in Changzhou, a medium-sized city in China’s Jiangsu Province.2 Harrow, Dulwich College, Malvern and Wellington had already opened branches in larger cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu. At a starting price of $20,000 the cost of such an education is hefty, especially as the average per capita income in Beijing and Shanghai was about $7,000 in 2016. But demand has been growing.
Follow the Money: A Handy Guide to Some of the Organizations on the School Choice Gravy Train
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch September 6, 2017 //
The One Wisconsin Institute compiled a list of the organizations that have been funded by the far-right Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee. It is a remarkable documentation of the largesse that is showered on advocates for privatization of public schools. You will notice the relationship with Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children, adding more shekels to the school choice honey pot. DeVos’ AFC has pumped millions of dollars into Wisconsin legislative races to assure that its privatization agenda is protected by the legislature. We are reminded again that our Secretary of Education is an extremist who opposes public schools. Bradley-funded activities work to prevent any accountability or audits for private schools that receive public funds. And they seek every opportunity to siphon money away from public schools to benefit voucher schools.
“IBCK Educational Center is a Christ-centered mission school whose sole purpose is to equip all students of the community in the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ…” Teachers must “have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and have the “ability to integrate Biblical truth in their academic subject.” Female students must wear shorts under their dresses or skirts — no pants of course — and white or black undershirts under their blouses “at all times.” Students can be expelled if they live in a home where there is “sexual immorality, homosexual orientation, drug/alcohol use, or inability to support the moral principles of the IBCK Educational Center.” Hey, it’s what Jesus would do, right? Those who want to give their kids a religious or private education using tax dollars have been a powerful force in recent years — spending on McKay students has risen 60 percent since 2010 when the state shelled out $148.6 million. With the appointment of private school and charter advocate Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, count on more public tax dollars being diverted to schools with almost no financial accountability.”
Commentary: Millions spent on schools with almost zero accountability
Lauren Ritchie Contact Reporter Orlando Sentinel
Top of Form
Florida is on track this year to spend nearly $35 million educating disabled kids in private, mostly religious schools in Central Florida — without bothering to check how the money is spent.
Just dump cash from the McKay Scholarship program into the bank accounts of the schools and hope for the best — that’s pretty much all the law requires. Florida Department of Education officials said the state can do a financial audit if some savvy parent complains that autistic little Ricardo isn’t getting the extra help he should, but otherwise the schools can carry on as they please. Statewide, about $235 million in taxpayer dollars is disappearing into what seems like a bunch of tiny, bush-league religious schools that don’t even have to hire teachers with a college education, let alone those certified to teach disabled kids. The McKay scholarships allow special needs students to attend whatever private schools their parents choose. Take, for example, Iglesia Bautista Central de Kissimmee, which will collect about $1.4 million this school year for educating 196 disabled children. A peep at the student handbook of the single largest McKay recipient in Central Florida makes the school’s purpose crystal clear:
CONSIDER IT: SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE CASES FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Reading
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017