Wednesday, May 1, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 1: Here are the top 40 EITC recipients for FY 17-18

Started in November 2010, daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Here are the top 40 EITC recipients for FY 17-18

Just a quick heads-up that the PA Ed Policy Roundup will be offline tomorrow while we are attending and speaking at the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools Conference. We plan to be back online on Friday.

Education Committee Chairman Curt Sonney’s Cyber Charter Funding Reform Bill HB526 now has over 50 cosponsors
Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?
Has your state senator cosponsored SB34?

Blogger commentary: While the legislature seems comfortable telling students in our most underfunded districts that they will just have to wait 20 years to have the resources prescribed by the legislature’s own basic education funding formula, Speaker Turzai is championing a $100 million increase in the cap for diverted tax dollars going to private and religious schools via the EITC and OSTC programs along with an automatic escalator in future years.

The data below are from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which administers these programs. By law, there is virtually no fiscal or academic performance accountability associated with these programs.  Accountability seems to be something that is reserved for our regular public schools.

Here are the top 40 EITC recipients for FY 17-18.  While most of them are affiliated with religious organizations, some are cream of the crop prestigious main line private schools.

The full list has about 1170 recipients who received a total of about $139 million; the separate OSTC program has about 185 recipients receiving about $52 million.

EITC Organization
 Contributions Received 
Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) - SO
 $      18,562,407
Foundation for Jewish Day Schools of Greater Philadelphia - SO
 $        7,906,130
Pittsburgh Jewish Educational Improvement Foundation
 $        4,605,811
Faith Builders Educational Programs, Inc. - SO
 $        3,755,819
Scholastic Opportunity Scholarship Fund (SOS) - SO
 $        3,372,774
Neumann Scholarship Foundation - SO
 $        3,024,539
Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia
 $        2,253,335
STAR Foundation - SO
 $        2,096,761
Central Pennsylvania Scholarship Fund - SO
 $        2,052,516
Bridge Educational Foundation - SO
 $        1,957,018
Eastern Pennsylvania Scholarship Foundation - Diocese of Allentown - SO
 $        1,790,865
Mennonite Foundation, Inc., The - SO
 $        1,757,868
Henkels Foundation - SO
 $        1,366,658
ACSI Children's Education Fund d/b/a Children's Tuition Fund of Pennsylvania - SO
 $        1,188,285
The Episcopal Academy
 $        1,068,723
Friends Council on Education
 $        1,033,833
Second Century Scholarship Fund - SO
 $           946,736
Pittsburgh Jewish Pre-Kindergarten Educational Improvement Foundation
 $           940,444
Shady Side Academy - SO
 $           905,841
Central Pennsylvania Scholarship Fund - EIO
 $           903,000
The Delphi Project Foundation
 $           833,333
Bravo Foundation, Inc. - SO
 $           818,499
Project H.O.M.E.
 $           785,258
Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School
 $           779,073
Silverback Educational Foundation for the Arts, Dance & Athletics
 $           773,333
Foundation for Jewish Day Schools of Greater Philadelphia - PKSO
 $           764,432
Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) - PKSO
 $           750,111
PJHS Scholarship Organization  (St. Joe's Prep & Scranton Prep)
 $           743,625
Logos Academy Scholarship Organization
 $           743,500
Agnes Irwin School
 $           671,928
Penngift Foundation, Inc. - SO
 $           668,082
Children's Scholarship Fund of Pennsylvania - SO
 $           628,950
Commonwealth Charitable Management, Inc. - EIO
 $           628,862
Foundation for Catholic Education
 $           577,510
KIPP Administrative Services Corporation
 $           558,273
3890 North 10th Street, Inc. d/b/a The Lenfest Center - EIO
 $           542,000
Erie Catholic Preparatory School d/b/a Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy
 $           533,950
Joey F. Casey Memorial Foundation
 $           522,500
Diocese of Scranton Scholarship Foundation - SO
 $           518,935

HB800: EITC/OSTC: Pennsylvania’s secret school tax is about to get raised again | Editorial
The Inquirer Editorial Board Updated: April 30, 2019 - 6:08 AM
It’s not hard for property owners in Pennsylvania to find out what portion of their tax bill goes to schools. They may think that’s all they pay to support education, but they’d be wrong. A secret school tax is not only funded by all taxpayers, but has been steadily increasing. And a new bill sponsored by Republican Speaker Mike Turzai that passed the House Education Commission Monday will increase this stealth tax even more. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit allows corporations to help underwrite tuitions to private and parochial schools instead of paying their tax to the state. Paired with a related program, the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit, the two programs have grown from $35.7 million nine years ago to $160 million last year. Turzai’s bill would raise the amount of total tax credits by $100 million. Along with a third program that provides tax-credit funding for pre-K and extracurricular activities, the total cost will rise from $210 million to $310 million — with a built-in hike each year after a certain threshold is reached. The EITC/OSTC is often called a “voucher lite” program because it diverts tax revenues to go directly to families in the form of scholarships and tuition payments for private and parochial schools. It is supposedly targeted to low- and middle-income families, but the maximum annual income for participating families will, under the bill, be raised from $85,000 to $95,000. That maximum rises with each additional child from a single family that takes advantage of the program. The salary max is nearly three times that for families of some special-education students. In no country in this world is a $285,000 salary considered “middle income.”

“Pennsylvania ranks among the lowest in the nation for adequate funding for elementary and secondary education. There is also has a tremendous gap between the rich and poor districts, according to information in the resolution.
“Pennsylvania ranks 46th among the 50 states in the amount of state subsidies allocated to support elementary and secondary education, among the lowest in the nation, with state’s share of funding public education at 38 percent; and Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country,” Gilbert said as she read the resolution.
The one-page resolution also said the state has “failed to keep pace with the rising cost of mandated special education for students with disabilities.”
According to its statistics, the costs for special education for students with disabilities have increased by $1.6 billion over the last decade. But, the state’s share has fallen from 36 percent to 25 percent.”
Lower Merion school board joins other districts asking for fair school funding
Delco Times By Richard Ilgenfritz @rpilgenfritz on Twitter
LOWER MERION — The Lower Merion Board of School Directors this week joined a growing chorus of school boards across the region to pass resolutions asking for increases in funding for lower-income districts across Pennsylvania. The resolution grew out of a board legislative committee meeting April 1 when some area state representatives attended. The meeting was designed to discuss state legislative issues. Along with the politicians, representatives from Public Citizens for Children and Youth were there to discuss the fair funding issue. “We had a robust discussion about several issues. The first of which was the current fair funding initiative underway across Pennsylvania and this is an effort to fund a fair funding formula so districts that don’t have the ability to raise enough local resources to support public education at an adequate level would receive more funding and create more equitable funding for all public education students across the state,” said board member Laurie Actman, chairwoman of the district’s legislative committee.
The resolution was read into the record by Melissa Gilbert, board president. “Whereas, Pennsylvania’s more than 1.7 million public school students deserve the highest quality education; and the state’s public schools work best when they have the resources to give all students the opportunities they need to succeed,” according to the resolution.

State education chief to present plan
May 16 meeting set on Erie School District’s finances
Erie Times By Ed Palattella
The Erie school directors will be able to go straight to the top if they have any questions about the final version of the Erie School District’s state-mandated financial improvement plan. State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera is scheduled to present the plan to the School Board at a public meeting on May 16 at 5:30 p.m. inthe auditorium at East Middle School, 1001 Atkins St. The School Board announced Rivera’s visit on Monday, during a special board meeting that included the approval of the sale of the former Wayne School. The press secretary for the Department of Education, Rick Levis, confirmed Rivera’s visit. The district’s statea ppointed financial administrator, Charles Zogby, has been working on the fiveyear improvement plan for more than a year. Zogby on Jan. 31 submitted a 54-page first version to the state Department of Education, and Rivera on March 19 asked Zogby to revise several areas of the plan to include clearer directives. Zogby has been working with the department since then, though he and Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito said they expect the final version to include no major changes. The draft plan recommended that the School Board, among other things, at some point consider outsourcing the district’s janitorial services to save money.

Radnor, Strath Haven rank among US News top 10 high schools in Pa.
Radnor and Strath Haven high schools earned highest marks among county schools in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of secondary education institutions. The publication’s 2019 Best High Schools Rankings places Radnor at number 3 in Pennsylvania and 237 in the nation, with Strath Haven not too far behind at number 6 in Pennsylvania and 323 in the national rank. Radnor earned an overall score of 98.63 with recorded academic achievements of 73 percent of students taking at least on Advanced Placement exam (85 percent passing at least one of those exams), mathematics and reading proficiency at 91 percent or higher, and a graduation rate of 99 percent. Additionally, Radnor was also ranked as the 156th top STEM school in the nation. “A thriving school system depends on a range of people working together to provide students the greatest opportunities for success and a solid support network to help them pursue these opportunities,” said Radnor Director of Communications Michael Petitti. “We are fortunate in Radnor to have caring adults at all levels who are truly dedicated to positively shaping the futures of young people. We are also fortunate to have pretty special students.

Lampeter-Strasburg, Manheim Township among U.S. News' best high schools
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Apr 30, 2019
For the first time in five years, there’s a new top-ranked high school in Lancaster County. U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday released its annual Best High Schools list, which ranks Lampeter-Strasburg High School atop the county’s 18 public high schools and 53rd in the state. The county’s top 5 also includes Manheim Township (62nd in the state), Conestoga Valley (85th), Hempfield (89th) and Cocalico (100th). Penn Manor, the reigning champion since 2015, dropped to sixth place. U.S. News has published high school rankings since 2007. Using data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education and The College Board, it scores high schools from zero to 100 based on student performance in reading and math state assessments, graduation rates and student success on advanced placement and International Baccalaureate tests. With help from the North Carolina-based social science research firm RTI International, the magazine evaluated nearly every public high school in the nation — more than 17,000 this year, up from more than 2,700 last year.

Paul Muschick: Allentown high school deserves 'A' for developing next generation of voters
lamented last week that too many people blow off elections and don’t bother to vote. For whatever reason, they don’t think it’s important. Maybe efforts like one at an Allentown high school can reduce that apathy over time. Students and staff at Building 21 were honored Monday by the state for its student voter registration drive. The drive signed up 58 students, representing 87 percent of the students who were eligible to register. That earned the school a gold level Governor’s Civic Engagement Award. “You can almost view registering to vote as a final exam,” said Shannon Salter, Building 21′s founding social studies teacher who advised the students. “Registering to vote should be as exciting as getting a driver’s license or anything else they do as they come of a certain age.” Salter and three students — seniors Jelissa Santiago, Keitly Ramirez, and Destiny Santiago — received the award Monday at a ceremony at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg. Building 21, a unique high school that allows students to work at different levels under personalized plans while in the same classes, is only four years old. So this was the first year there was a senior class and enough students who were old enough to have a registration drive.

Gov. Wolf joins regional leaders at event to discuss rural broadband crisis
Centre Daily Times BY SARAH PAEZ APRIL 24, 2019 10:51 AM, UPDATED APRIL 24, 2019 09:21 PM
STATE COLLEGE - With the rollout of Gov. Tom Wolf’s broadband initiative aimed at providing high-speed internet to every household and business in Pennsylvania, and the recent launch of 5G wireless technology, the rural broadband crisis is gaining the attention of leaders all around the country. Wolf provided opening remarks Wednesday morning at the Pennsylvania Priorities Summit, a Centre Daily Times and McClatchy-led panel discussion on the rural broadband crisis and potential solutions held at The State Theatre. Later in the day, he stopped by Penns Valley Area High School to talk with students about their challenges accessing broadband to do schoolwork. “Broadband is absolutely essential to life in the 21st century. If we don’t have it, that’s a problem,” said Wolf. Not having broadband, he said, limits Pennsylvanians’ ability to do business, apply for jobs, complete schoolwork and attract new businesses and economic development to the state. Over 6% of Pennsylvania’s population — about 800,000 people — reportedly lack access to broadband, most concentrated in rural areas.

State College Area School Board Moves Forward with Proposed Budget, Tax Increase by Geoff Rushton on April 30, 2019 9:56 AM
State College Area School Board on Monday unanimously approved a proposed 2019-20 budget, including a 1.95 percent property tax increase. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 28, with a final vote scheduled for June 3. The planned property tax increase is below the state's Act 1 inflation index limit of 2.3 percent and is a smaller increase than the 2.4 percent hike in the 2018-19 budget. With the tax increase, the district's millage rate would increase to 46.0875. The average district taxpayer with an assessed residential property value of $81,128 would see a tax increase of $72 for a total tax due of $3,739 in 2019-20, according to a memo from district administrators to the board.

Philly’s Teacher Action Group celebrates 10th birthday
A look back on a decade of building community and emphasizing social justice.
The notebook by Greg Windle April 30 — 3:24 pm, 2019
Educators gathered Saturday, April 27, to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Teacher Action Group (TAG), bringing cake and dancing to its annual Education for Liberation conference. Held at the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures (FACTS) Charter School in Chinatown, the day began with a panel of educator-activists talking about the history of the group and the various projects it has helped found. Anissa Weinraub, a TAG co-founder, said the group was started as a response to educational injustice. “We were dealing with our racist state government that had been shortchanging our public schools for decades,” said Weinraub, a veteran city teacher who now runs the Academy at Palumbo’s theater program. “And we were under the No Child Left Behind regime … where high-stakes standardized testing was used to sort and label our schools as failures and blame our ‘underachievement’ on our schools, even though we were incredibly under-resourced.”

Girls outpace boys on national technology and engineering exam
Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss May 1 at 6:00 AM
If you put a lot of stock in standardized test results, and if you think the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress is a useful snapshot of student achievement, these results will interest you: Newly released scores on NAEP’s 2018 Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) exam, which is administered every four years, found that America’s eighth-graders scored overall two points higher than they did in 2014 — and that girls outpaced boys. NAEP is often referred to as “the nation’s report card” or the “gold standard” in student assessment because it is seen as the most consistent, nationally representative measure of U.S. student achievement since the 1990s and because it is supposed to be able to assess what students “know and can do.” Critics say that its benchmarks are not scientifically valid. The one-hour TEL assessment was given to 15,400 eighth-graders from 600 schools on laptops between January and March 2018. According to the new results, female eighth-graders in 2018 not only scored higher than their male peers overall, but also scored higher than their male peers in more content areas and practices compared with 2014. Girls did better than boys in 2014, too, by three percentage points, but in 2018, the difference widened to five percentage points.

School Funding Briefing Thursday, May 23, 2019 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Drexel Hill Middle School, 3001 State Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026
In 2019, the Public Interest Law Center is celebrating 50 years of fighting for justice, and preparing for 50 more, through a series of 50th anniversary events.
As part of this series, the Upper Darby School Board is pleased to host the Public Interest Law Center at Drexel Hill Middle School on Thursday, May 23rd, for a School Funding Briefing.
Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap in the country between low-wealth and high-wealth school districts. Pennsylvania is also ranked 46th in the share of funding that comes from the state, leaving local taxpayers to take on rising costs. How did we get here? At the briefing, you will learn the basics of education funding and how it works in Pennsylvania, as well as ways you can get involved in advocacy for fully funded public education. You will also learn about the latest developments in the Law Center's school funding lawsuit.
Afterward, you will have a chance to meet Law Center attorneys working on this landmark case, as well as mingle with other interested in Pennsylvania education.

Do you have strong communication and leadership skills and a vision for PSBA? Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to submit an Application for Nomination no later than May 31 to PSBA's Leadership Development Committee (LDC).
The nomination process: All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall file with the Leadership Development Committee chairperson an Application for Nomination (.PDFon a form 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 no later than the application deadline specified in the timeline established by the Governing Board to be considered timely-filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 6.E.). Application Deadline: May 31, 2019
Open positions are:

PSBA Tweet March 12, 2019 Video Runtime: 6:40
In this installment of #VideoEDition, learn about legislation introduced in the PA Senate & House of Representatives that would save millions of dollars for school districts that make tuition payments for their students to attend cyber charter schools. 

PSBA Summaries of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Statewide Cyber Charter School Funding Reform

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 256

How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat tuition rates of $5000 for regular ed students and $8865 for special ed.? See the estimated savings by school district here.
Education Voters PA Website February 14, 2019

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.

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