It's easy to see where the blame lies for state's fiscal failures
Lancaster Online Opinion By State Rep. P. Michael Sturla | Special to LNP September 7, 2017
State Rep. P. Michael Sturla, whose district includes all of Lancaster city and parts of Lancaster and Manheim townships, is chairman of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee.
We’ve passed the fiscal year budget deadline of June 30, the July Fourth holiday, and now Labor Day. So why has no revenue plan been approved for Pennsylvania? In spite of all that Pennsylvania has going for it, the state is in some dire financial straits. Through a series of bad decisions that have compounded over the years, Pennsylvania has descended from near the top of the heap when compared to other states, to near the bottom when it comes to state finances and our ability to attract outside investment, businesses and jobs. So that begs the question, who is to blame? Looking back over the last 24 years, we’ve had multiple governors, both Democrats and Republicans — in fact, twelve years for each party. First blush says to blame all politicians regardless of political party. But a closer look is much more enlightening. Any governor (executive branch), Republican or Democrat, needs to deal with the co-equal branch of government, the Legislature — the House and Senate. On this mark, the culprit is pretty clear. Republicans have controlled the Senate for the entirety of the past 24 years, including all the way back to 1981. In the House, the Republicans have been in control for 20 of the last 24 years, with the brief exception of 2007-10, when Democrats had a one-vote and then five-vote edge compared to the Republicans’ current 39-vote edge. Ironically, the Republican House and Senate leaders continue to place blame on other factors instead of coming to the realization that their fiscal policies are the problem.
Area school districts not feeling state budget strain –– yet
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org Sept. 7, 2017
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School districts across the four-county region aren’t feeling the strain of the state budget impasse –– at least for now. But Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials says that districts should expect to see no subsidy payments after Sept. 15 until the budget situation is settled. For the Otto-Eldred School District, the pressure would not felt until December as long as property tax revenues are typical, Otto-Eldred School District Superintendent Matthew Splain said. “We are watching developments from Harrisburg closely,” he told The Era on Tuesday. “Last Thursday, we received our most recent subsidy payment.” The attention should be concentrated on educating students, instead of funding the state spending plan, Splain said. Otto-Eldred gets about 75 percent of its funding from the state, he explained. “That is a significant amount compared to most districts in the Commonwealth,” Splain said. “The lack of action in Harrisburg we have endured two of the three past years disproportionately affects districts like O-E compared to wealthier districts that have a much larger tax base.”
Republican lawmaker proposes income tax increase to solve Pennsylvania's budget puzzle
Penn Live By Charles Thompson email@example.com Updated on September 7, 2017 at 6:18 PM Posted on September 7, 2017 at 6:00 PM
As Pennsylvania's budget "un-crisis" continues to slowly unfold in Harrisburg, a Bucks County lawmaker Thursday put his name behind a solution that, to date, there has been something of a gentleman's agreement to avoid. Rep. Eugene DiGirolamo called for an increase in the state's personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.32 percent - an increase of about 8.1 percent - as the main plug in a $2.2 billion budget hole. That hike would raise the tax bill of a Pennsylvanian making $50,000 an extra $125 per year, from $1,535 to $1,660. DiGirolamo would marry that with a 3 percent tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production - on top of existing drill-site impact fees; authorization of a string of satellite casinos in second-tier markets around the state and several hundred million in fund transfers. The combination, he said, would solve this year's funding problem without borrowing, and set the state up for long-term stability because of the more than $1.5 billion in recurring revenues.
Congressman Charlie Dent will not seek re-election in 2018
Morning Call by Laura Olson Contact Reporter Call Washington Bureau Sept. 7, 2017
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Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent stunned his colleagues and constituents Thursday evening when the seven-term Lehigh Valley lawmaker announced that he will not seek re-election next year. An outspoken figure within the dwindling center-right of the Republican Party, Dent has gained national prominence for this role within what he describes as the “governing” wing of the party. He is a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of moderates within the GOP, and from that post, he has called out colleagues who he views as blocking action in Congress. He also told President Donald Trump — whom Dent declined to support in last year’s election — that he would not support the White House’s first major legislative push on health care. Dent, 57, said his decision against an eighth term was one that had been building since 2013 and became final in mid-summer, after consulting with his family, close friends and senior staffers.
'It's been the honor and privilege of a lifetime': U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent will not seek re-election
Penn Live By John L. Micek firstname.lastname@example.org Updated on September 7, 2017 at 9:04 PM Posted on September 7, 2017 at 7:54 PM
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a veteran Allentown Republican, who's represented the Lehigh Valley-based 15th Congressional District since 2004, will not seek re-election in 2018. Dent, who has emerged as a voice of Republican moderation, had been considering hanging up his spurs for some time. On Thursday night, he made it official. The insider site City & State Pa. first reported Thursday evening that Dent would stand down in 2018, as he faced a brutal primary challenge from state Rep. Justin Simmons, a firebrand conservative from suburban Allentown. Dent, 57, has frustrated conservatives with his opposition to the repeal of Obamacare and his vocal criticism of President Donald Trump's travel ban. In multiple television appearances, Dent groused that the erratic Trump White House was standing in the way of the House GOP's legislative agenda.
“Critics say PSP puts charter schools over traditional public schools, working to weaken the public system through its advocacy and giving. Few, though, doubt the organization's influence. That means regardless of one's ideological orientation, it's worth paying attention to the priorities PSP laid out Thursday.”
Major Philly education group looks to expand reach
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT SEPTEMBER 7, 2017
One of the most influential education organizations in Philadelphia announced plans to raise and distribute $60 million over the next three years. Since its founding in 2011, the Philadelphia School Partnership has doled out $80 million — $58 million in the form of direct contributions to schools. With this latest round of fundraising, PSP will create 15,000 more "high-quality" seats across the city. The organization, which said it's already raised $15 million, on Thursday announced it will give $2.5 million from that initial bounty to five schools:
Here’s a link to the list of individuals, corporations and foundations that have funded the Philadelphia School Partnership:
Group wants to raise $140 million for city's charter, parochial and public schools
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | email@example.com SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 — 9:46 AM EDT
The Philadelphia School Partnership, a powerful nonprofit that has raised and distributed $80 million to city charter, parochial and public schools since its inception in 2011, wants to raise $60 million more, it announced Thursday. The nonprofit (PSP), already the Philadelphia School District’s largest private funder, aims to expand its reach. Its investments have already affected 25,000 students, the organization says; the new initiative would reach 15,000 more. It has launched a new fund still centered on its initial goal — creating and expanding educational opportunities for low-income students, with an emphasis on rewarding innovation. But it is now investing in different ways — in career and technical schools; in teacher development and retention; and in helping growing schools and charter networks scale up with management expertise.
“The school offers instruction in performing arts — such as dance, theater and music — as well as studio arts, digital arts, literary arts and more. About 60 percent of their academic work will be done online, freeing up the remaining time to focus on whichever course of arts study they choose.”
Westinghouse Arts Academy charter school opens in Wilmerding
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lbehrman@post-gazette.com 12:00 AM SEP 8, 2017
When her daughter began to show a love for theater and performing at a young age, Dawn Frank said her family considered moving from North Versailles into the city so she could qualify to audition for Pittsburgh CAPA. But they wound up staying in the East Allegheny School District so her son could finish at their neighborhood high school, and decided to bolster Emma’s arts education with as many extracurricular activities as she wanted to do. They joke now that the opening of the new Westinghouse Arts Academy charter high school in Wilmerding, which welcomed its first students this week, was a sign that Emma was meant to attend. “This school has been such a blessing that happened to open right in our laps,” Ms. Frank said. As of last week, 103 students had enrolled in the new high school, principal Amy Heathcott said. The school will occupy the former Westinghouse Elementary School building, which was sold in the spring to RPA Holding Company LLC, which is renovating and leasing the building to the charter school.
Amid the challenge of expansion, CTE thrives
The program is growing, but not as quickly as District officials had hoped. Equipment costs, for one thing, can be high.
The notebook by Darryl C. Murphy September 7, 2017 — 2:29pm
Five years after receiving a $5.7 million grant from John S. and Leigh Middleton to revamp its career and technical education program, the Philadelphia School District continues to strive to give students a head start in finding gainful employment after graduation. The program now offers training in 40 career fields through 117 programs at 30 schools in the District, where career-focused students can learn from industry professionals and gain hands-on experience that can lead to industry certification and college credits. Students can choose from such fields as business and administration, horticulture, animal science, fashion, auto technology, and much more. According to School District data, interest in CTE has been rising, with a 41 percent year-over-year increase in the number of program applicants in the fall of 2015. In addition, enrollment in CTE is on an upward trend. In the 2014-15 academic year, 5,542 students enrolled in CTE programs; in the following year, 5,886 students enrolled.
Philly's new head of behavioral health: We want to help improve grad rates
The notebook by Paul Jablow September 7, 2017 — 11:38am
David Jones, the new head of the city’s behavioral health system, has a two-word description of what will be at the top of his personal report card in evaluating his work with the city’s public schools: “Graduation rates.” Jones, named in July as commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), says he wants to keep expanding the department’s role beyond helping students with learning disabilities and mental health issues to include helping with overall school climate. Graduation rates, he says, will be the best measure of success. As part of this change, his department, the City of Philadelphia, and the School District of Philadelphia announced recently that full-time social workers would be placed in 22 public schools in a pilot program that would be expanded to include other behavioral health workers.
Later school start times could save U.S. $9 billion a year
GoErie By Christopher Ingraham / The Washington Post Posted at 2:00 AM Sept. 7, 2017
A study by the Rand Corp. says that delaying school start times to 8:30 a.m. would have economic benefits that outweigh costs, such as the price of reorganizing bus schedules.
The United States would realize roughly $9 billion a year in economic gains by instituting a simple, nationwide policy change: starting public school classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
That’s according to an exhaustive new study by the Rand Corp., the first of its kind to model the nationwide costs and benefits of later school start times. The economic benefits would come primarily from two sources: greater academic performance (and hence, lifetime earnings) among more well-rested students, and reduced rates of car crashes among sleepy adolescent drivers. Those benefits would greatly outweigh the annual costs of implementing the policy change, which include the price of reorganizing school bus schedules (estimated at $150 per student per year) and a flat, one-time cost of $110,000 per school to install additional infrastructure, such as lighting, to support later dismissals, sports team practices and other student activities.
Schools around the US are finally pushing back their start times — and it's working
Business Insider by Chris Weller Sep. 4, 2017, 10:15 AM
“The current head of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, has been silent on the president's DACA decision.”
Five Former Education Secretaries to Congress: Save the 'Dreamers'
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 7, 2017 4:43 PM
Five former education secretaries, who served both Democratic and Republican presidents, are calling on congressional leaders to come up with a legislative fix to save hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" from potential deportation, now that President Donald Trump has rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The letter sent to congressional leaders Wednesday was signed by the last five education secretaries, including both of President Barack Obama's secretaries—Arne Duncan and John King—and both of President George W. Bush's secretaries—Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings. Also signing was President Bill Clinton's only education secretary, Richard Riley. DACA, which grew out of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, gave about 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children the chance to get a two-year work permit and remain in the country legally. The program has certain eligibility requirements. Enrollees must have been 16 or younger when they arrived in the U.S. and must have lived here since 2007.
CHIP: Will Congress Continue Health Care For 9 Million Children?
NPR by PHIL GALEWITZ September 6, 20175:38 PM ET
A popular federal-state program that provides health coverage to millions of children in lower- and middle-class families is up for renewal Sept. 30. But with a deeply divided Congress, some health advocates fear that the Children's Health Insurance Program could be in jeopardy or that conservative lawmakers will seek changes to limit the program's reach. Other financial priorities this month include extending the nation's debt ceiling, finding money for the Hurricane Harvey cleanup and keeping the government open. "With all that is on Congress' plate, I am very worried that a strong, wildly successful program with strong public support will get lost in the shuffle and force states to begin the process of winding down CHIP," said Bruce Lesley, president of the advocacy group First Focus. The program covers more than 9 million kids — typically from families not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal program that covers health care for people with low incomes.
Trump School Choice Proposals, K-12 Cuts Again Rebuffed by Senators
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 7, 2017 1:08 PM
Senators doused more cold water on U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' vision of a big new investment in school choice, approving legislation that seeks to bar the administration from using federal funding for vouchers or public school choice. The legislation received bipartisan support from the full Senate appropriations committee Thursday, a day after a subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy made the same call. It also rejects the Trump administration's plans to dramatically slash spending at the U.S. Department of Education. It would continue funding for two high-profile programs the Trump administration is seeking to scrap entirely: Title II, which provides $2.05 billion in federal funding to hire and train educators, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which provides $1.2 billion for after-school and school and summer programs.
But the teacher training program isn't out of the woods just yet. The House of Representatives spending bill, which will have to be conferenced with the Senate measure, would seek to scrap that program entirely. The House's version of the bill would provide $1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, meaning it is almost certain to stick around in the 2018-19 school year.
Gerrymandering: Bipartisan, forward-looking solutions on redistricting
The Hill BY REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA.), OPINION CONTRIBUTOR 09/07/17 05:00 PM
The Framers of our Constitution intended the House of Representatives to be the ‘People’s House’—an institution directly accountable to the electorate through more frequent, localized elections. In Federalist 56, James Madison wrote, a representative should possess “a local knowledge of their respective districts” and remain “acquainted with the interests and circumstances of his constituents.” The House was seen as an integral part of a representative government of citizen-legislators, selected by their peers to work on their behalf, serving honorably, and driven towards solutions for a young nation. These citizen-legislators would return home to live under the laws they’ve passed, making way for a new generation of leadership with innovative ideas and a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, we as a nation have strayed from this vision of our founders. Too many of my constituents now see a system of career politicians and elite insiders more focused on preserving the status quo than addressing our most pressing challenges. Extreme partisan redistricting – or gerrymandering – has undermined community-focused representation by forcing lawmakers to ideological extremes and exacerbating electoral complacency that causes lawmakers to focus on accumulating power rather than serving constituents.
The false narrative behind a glitzy live television show about school reform
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss September 7 at 12:53 PM
If you are watching television on Friday night and happen to look at one of the four big networks — NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox — you will see something rather extraordinary: the same live show about a school reform project funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs is using the occasion to promote the “XQ: The Super School Project,” an initiative to which she gave $50 million to “disrupt” the American high school and redesign it for the 21st century. On hand to help promote the initiative will be Tom Hanks, along with Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Common and other celebrities, as well as students, parents and educators. The executive producers of the show: Oscar-winner Viola Davis and her actor-producer husband, Julius Tennon. The XQ Institute was co-founded by Jobs and Russlynn H. Ali, who previously worked in the Obama administration as the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights. It is leading a competition in which teams of people, including educators, inventors and people in other fields, are invited to design a high school that can “give our students the education they deserve,” the website says. Jobs is also the founder of Emerson Collective, an organization that advocates for education and immigration reform, social justice and environmental conservation. Here’s a post about what author Jack Schneider says is the mistaken premise behind the initiative and the television show.
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