Monday, May 14, 2012

Here’s $282 million in additional sources of PA Revenue with no new taxes:

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
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Here’s $282 million in additional sources of PA Revenue with no new taxes:
$121 million surplus in the Legislature’s leadership accounts.
(That’s a reserve that amounts to $478,000 for each of our 253 lawmakers.)
$86 million in windfall overpayments to cyber charter schools
$75 million in taxes diverted to discretionary EITC program funding private and religious schools

“The state budget is about priorities, and it’s hard to think of anything more crucial to the future of this state than kindergarten. …..Telling school districts, “it’s your problem,” as the governor has done, is not good public policy. We all appreciate the need for being prudent with finances, but Harrisburg has slashed its budget by close to 20 percent in two years. That’s not belt-tightening. That’s starvation.”

Yes, kindergarten might not happen next year in Harrisburg

Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 1:32 PM     Updated: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 8:03 PM
By HEATHER LONG, The Patriot-News Heather Long is deputy editorial page editor. 
Harrisburg School District might not offer kindergarten next year. We’re not talking about going from full-day to half-day, we’re talking about no kindergarten at all.
There’s been plenty of finger-pointing about education funding lately, but for me, this entire debate comes back to this: There’s a plausible scenario where a school district in this state is not going to be able to offer kindergarten next year. If that happens, shame on Gov. Tom Corbett and state lawmakers.
Almost all the research done on educational success in America comes to the conclusion that early childhood education is critical. Children in lower-income families are typically not exposed to as many vocabulary words or other educational stimuli. 
Preschool and kindergarten are the only chance that kids from poor backgrounds have to possibly catch up to their better-off peers.

Cash on hand: Why do legislators need such a surplus?

By Patriot-News Editorial Board  Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012
It might be tough budget times for the state, but not so for our lawmakers.
An audit on legislative spending released Tuesday showed the House and Senate ended June 30, 2011, with a $183.5 million surplus. Lawmakers say $62.7 million of that money was given back to the state to plug a budget hole in a prior year’s budget. Even so, that leaves about $120 million of taxpayer money in legislative coffers.

Tim Slekar: Pennsylvania Schools get the Shock Treatment

 Anthony Cody  
Guest post by Tim Slekar.
About a year ago I published a blog that detailed how Pennsylvania governor, Tom Corbett, was using the shock doctrine to dupe the citizens of Pennsylvania into believing that a $1 Billion dollar cut to public education was necessary to help with the state's budget deficit. I quickly pointed out that these cuts would actually weaken public schools and help push Corbett's real education agenda (dismantling public schools) and that in the end, no money would be saved anyway. However, these cuts would hinder real learning and create the appearance of failing schools.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School chief Trombetta exits

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 11, 2012 1:13 am
Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School CEO Nick Trombetta has announced he is leaving the school he founded which, at 11,300 students, has grown to become the largest cyber charter school in the state.

Here’s a related background posting from 2007:
Cyber-school empire under attack
First Published March 18, 2007 By Jonathan D. Silver / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the past seven years, Nicholas Trombetta has climbed from small-town Beaver County school administrator to the head of a sprawling educational network fueled by millions of taxpayer dollars.

Why Isn't Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News? By Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report Thursday, 10 May 2012 09:30
In what should be the biggest story of the week, the city of Philadelphia's school system announced Tuesday that it expects to close 40 public schools next year and 64 by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of current enrollment to charter schools, the streets or wherever, and put thousands of experienced, well qualified teachers, often grounded in the communities where they teach, on the street.
Ominously, the shredding of Philadelphia's public schools isn't even news outside Philly. This correspondent would never have known about it save for a friend's Facebook posting early this week. Corporate media in other cities don't mention massive school closings, whether in Chicago, Atlanta, NYC, or in this case Philadelphia, perhaps so people won't have given the issue much deep thought before the same crisis is manufactured in their town. Even inside Philadelphia the voices of actual parents, communities, students and teachers are shut out of most newspaper and broadcast accounts.

Claim: PA taxpayers footed $234K bill for "corporate front group" that pushes legislation.

Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek
Liberal advocacy groups are stepping up their attacks on the American Legislative Exchange Council  (ALEC), charging this week that the think-tank has been the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars in Pennsylvania taxpayers' money.

California Congressman Joe Baca Sponsors Legislation to End No Child Left Behind Testing Requirements
May 9, 2012
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that creates a moratorium on the testing provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act, which currently govern the assessment standards used by each of the 50 states.  The Save our Schools (S.O.S.) Act amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to remove all mandated testing provisions, freeing school districts and teachers from the “teaching to the test culture” and ending an inequitable system that punishes, instead of assists, those schools and students in the most dire need.
“Since its enactment in 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act has been a complete and utter failure,” said Rep. Baca.  “Instead of ensuring all of America’s children have access to a quality education, the legislation has tied the hands of teachers and school administrators, forced students to learn inane testing strategies instead of real-life skills, and made billions in profits for standardized testing companies.  I am proud to introduce this long overdue legislation, which can finally put America’s education policy back in the hands of local officials, teachers and parents, and remove the influence of big corporations and Washington bureaucrats.”

U.S. vs. the world in education reform
Philadelphia Inquirer April 26, 2012 By Christopher Moraff
Last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the nation’s most expansive school voucher program into law. Since the GOP sweep of statehouses in 2010, similar measures have been introduced by the legislatures of more than 30 states — including Pennsylvania, where a bipartisan school voucher bill was defeated in the House in December.
Few doubt that there is a crisis in America’s public schools. But focusing so much attention on where money is spent — instead of how — oversimplifies a complex problem.
Last fall, the National Center on Education and the Economy updated the findings to develop a series of recommendations for U.S. policymakers.  A glance reveals a handful of tried-and-true strategies, most diametrically opposed to America’s. They include diverting resources to students who need them most, putting less emphasis on class sizes and more on teacher autonomy, and keeping standardized testing to a minimum.

Protesters denounce Gov. Corbett's Pittsburgh Opera lifetime achievement award
By Deborah M. Todd / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 13, 2012 12:36 am
An event honoring Gov. Tom Corbett for achievements and contributions to the arts was met with a resounding protest by demonstrators who said he has undermined arts education programs in Pennsylvania.  More than 200 protesters, led by a parade of Pittsburgh Public School marching band students and peppered with operatic costumes, trekked to Pittsburgh Opera's Strip District headquarters Saturday to voice displeasure over the organization's decision to award Mr. Corbett and his wife, Susan, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sour note: The opera makes an ill-timed bow to the governor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 11, 2012 12:22 am
The Pittsburgh Opera last weekend finished its production of Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio," which involves the adventures of a young Spanish nobleman, his lover and their servants, who are kidnapped and placed into the service of a pasha (a person of high rank in Turkey).  Now it seems that those who run the opera also have been kidnapped and placed into the service of a pasha. You know him as Gov. Tom Corbett, whose service to arts education in Pennsylvania -- by way of school funding cuts -- has been unkind these last two years. Call it "The Abduction by Harrisburg."
It's a stretch, of course, but so is the idea that the opera should honor Mr. Corbett and his wife Susan with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual gala on Saturday. What's next? A posthumous prize for engineering excellence to the designers of the Titanic?

‘Why Don’t We Have Any White Kids?’
The Explore Charter School in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is 92.7 percent black.
New York Times By N.R. KLEINFIELD Published: May 11, 2012
IN seventh-grade English class, sun leaked in through the windows. Horns bleated outside. The assignment was for the arrayed students to identify a turning point in their lives. Was it positive or negative? They hunched over and wrote fervidly.

A Dozen Education Policy Questions the Press Should Ask
Nieman Watchdog ASK THIS | February 07, 2012
By Diane Ravitch                                  

Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign Education Funding Advocacy Week May 21-25
Education Funding Advocacy Week is not a single event but a series of activities sponsored by individuals and organizations that oppose the Governor’s proposed Budget for 2012-2013 because it reduces learning opportunities for students in Pennsylvania 
·         Education Voters of PA “Call to Action for Public Education” Day  on May 23rd.  Get involved! Learn how, click here.
·         Harrisburg public school supporters will hold a rally for increased state funding for public schools at the State Capitol on May 23 at 10:00 AM.
·         The Media Area NAACP and CU Keystone Honors Program is hosting 2012 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania “Calling for a Trauma-Informed Education System” on Friday, May 25.  Click here for registration details.

The Education Policy and Leadership Center is pleased to invite you to attend the PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM Western Pennsylvania Breakfast Series Thursday, May 17, 2012
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Holiday Inn Pittsburgh University Center, (100 Lytton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213)
SUBJECT: College Completion Agenda
·         Gregg Fleisher, National AP Training and Incentives Program Director, National Math+Science Initiative 
  • Marcus S. Lingenfelter,  Director, State Government Relations, The College Board
  • Dr. Peter H. Garland, Executive Vice Chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education 
The College Board's College Completion Agenda Report is available at
Please RSVP Today!   
Registration is free, but everyone must RSVP at
Please share this invitation with your friends and colleagues.

Here are more than 400 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:


Has your board considered this draft resolution yet?

PSBA Sample Board Resolution regarding the budget

Please consider bringing this sample resolution to the members of your board.

PA Partnerships for Children – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The governor’s budget plan cuts funding for proven programs like Child Care Works, Keystone STARS and the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. These are among the most cost-effective investments we can make in education.  Gov. Corbett’s budget plan also runs counter to a pledge he made when he ran for governor in 2010. He acknowledged the benefits of early childhood education and promised to increase funding to double the number of children who would benefit from early learning opportunities.
We need your help to tell lawmakers: if you cut these programs – you close the door to early learning! Click here to tell your state legislators to fund early childhood education programs at the same level they approved for this year’s budget.

Education Voters PA – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The Governor’s proposal starts the process, but it isn’t all decided: our legislators can play an important role in standing up for our priorities.  Last year, public outcry helped prevent nearly $300 million in additional cuts.  We heard from the Governor, and we know where he stands.  Now, we need to ask our legislators: what is your position on supporting our schools?

1 comment:

  1. In Philly, the city is owed over $400 million in delinquent property taxes, some of it years, even decades old, on properties in valuable neighborhoods like mine, Southwest CC.

    This property can be sold at sheriff sale. Why is the state allowing Philly to let 1 in 5 property owners avoid paying property taxes?

    That is real revenue schools need now. Sign the petition:


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