Follow by Email

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Statement from Education Voters of Pennsylvania on NAEP results

In response to the release of the new NAEP scores and the press conference held by Governor Rendell today, Education Voters issued a statement commenting on the direction of the legislature.

Susan Gobreski, Executive Director said:

“Imagine that. When we actually provide children with the opportunity to learn, they do. Imagine what the results would be if we’d provide the appropriate resources, including complete instructional programs and reasonable class size, for the entirety of a child’s education. Parents don’t want gimmicks and shortcuts – they want a quality public school in their community, where their child is safe, entitled to attend and getting the same quality education and opportunity as other kids. Yet, this legislature continues to distract itself with politically motivated, ideological, expensive and unproven schemes like vouchers. If they want voters to think they are doing something, they should be doing the real work of committing to a funding formula that: is based on what we want students to learn and actual costs, is fiscally responsible, predictable for communities and is both fair and ethical instead of political. We had a funding formula and it was working, until they threw it under the bus.

“We need to dedicate the resources to education if we want to protect our future. What most people who work for a living know, and our legislature doesn’t seem to realize, is that sometimes there are no shortcuts. You just have to do the work and pay the bills. If we want the educational results, we need to provide the resources. And look, this report shows that when we do it properly, we get results. It’s so simple, even our legislature should be able to do it.”

Education Voters of Pennsylvania is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization who focuses on mobilizing Pennsylvanians and engaging voters to promote pro-public education agenda.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Voucher Bill Moving in the Senate..Call your Senator TODAY!

Information taken from the PSBA | Legislative Action Center:

Call your senator today. Click here to find out the contact info of your legislators. Afterwards, let us know how the call went by emailing us at yesenia@educationvoterspa.org.

Taxpayer Funded Voucher Bill Positioned to Move Quickly: Call Your Senator Today

This morning in the Senate Education Committee:
The Senate Education Committee will be meeting at 10 am today to consider amendments to SB 1, voucher legislation originally sponsored by Sen. Jeff Piccola. The expected plan is to gut the existing language from SB 1 and insert a comprehensive amendment that includes proposals for taxpayer funded vouchers that is phased in over a three year period for low-income children. and expansion of charter schools and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The amendment will be offered by Senators Piccola and Anthony Williams as Amendment # A05700. (It is not being offered on behalf of Gov. Corbett’s office and does not include all elements of the plan suggested by the governor earlier this month.) PSBA received a copy of the amendment late yesterday and a summary is provided below.

What’s Next:
If reported out of the Senate Education Committee this morning, SB 1 is expected to be placed on the calendar for third and final consideration by the full Senate on Wednesday. It is critical that you call or email your senator as quickly as possible to voice your opposition to SB 1. Ask your senator how he or she intends to vote, and press for a commitment if necessary. Tell them to vote “No” on SB 1.

Piccola/Williams Amendment Summary:
Vouchers: The amendment creates a voucher program that provides taxpayer dollars to religious institutions without accountability. Beginning in 2012-13, low-income children who both: (1) attend a low achieving school during the current (2011-12) school year or will be a kindergarten student during the 2012-13 school year, and (2) will live within the attendance boundary of a low achieving school as of the first day of classes of the 2012-13 school year are eligible for a voucher. In the following year, 2013-14 and each school year thereafter, low-income children who will live within the attendance boundary of a low achieving school as of the first day of classes of the school year for which the opportunity scholarship will be awarded.

The amount of the voucher is 100% of the state’s per pupil subsidy to the resident school district for those household income up to and including 130% of poverty. The amount of the voucher would be 75% of the state’s per pupil subsidy to the resident school district (not to exceed the actual tuition) for those individuals in households above 130% of poverty, up to and including 185% of poverty. Accountability for the use of those taxpayer dollars is not equal to those of district-led school districts. Beginning in 2012-13 school year, the amendment defines low achieving schools to be those public elementary or secondary schools ranking in the lowest 5% of its designation as elementary or secondary, based on combined math and reading scores from the assessment administered in the most recent school year. In 2018-19 school year and each school year thereafter, the voucher is applied to low achieving schools, but the definition shifts to include a public elementary or secondary school with this Commonwealth in which 50% or fewer of its students scored proficient or above in math or 50% of fewer students scored proficient or above in math or 50% or fewer of its students scored proficient or above in reading on the assessment administered in the most recent school year.

Charters: The amendment does not include language creating a statewide authorizer for charter schools and retains school boards as the authorizing body. The State Charter School Appeal Board (current law) within the Department of Education is expanded from seven members to nine. The amendment includes a charter school administrator and a cyber charter school administrator to that panel, as well as a parent of a student who attends a charter/cyber charter school. The amendment expands the renewal term of a charter school from five years to 10 years without adopting any self-executing revocation of low-performing charter schools. Equally troublesome is the amendment removes any requirement from the law that would require the charter school to serve as a model for other public schools, which runs contrary to the original public policy objective of giving charter school greater freedom from state-imposed mandates in exchange for creating innovation in education and serving as a model to district-run schools. A statewide advisory committee would be created to explore charter school and cyber charter school funding issues and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the governor. The bill requires payments from the Department to flow directly to the charter or cyber charter school. The school district will no longer serve as a pass-through for funding to charters or cybers. The department will be charged with developing forms for all charter school applicants and school board directors to follow throughout the process. The application will also contain more information upfront about the role the education management service provider will play in the charter school, if any.

EITC Tax Credits: The amendment also expands the educational improvement tax credit (EITC) program from $67 million to $92 million for the next two fiscal years and then to $115 million in 2014-15 for scholarship organizations and educational improvement organizations. It also proposes a 5% escalator (beginning in 2015-2016 and each fiscal year thereafter) in the amount of the tax credits if 90% of the total aggregate amount of tax the tax credits available are approved. There is no additional accountability of those tax credits.

Talking Points in Opposition to SB 1 and the Piccola/Williams Amendment

Vouchers:
* Unaccountable to Pennsylvania taxpayers as there is no provision to require any follow-up on the academic progress of students who enter into nonpublic or private schools using a voucher and no oversight of the taxpayer dollars that will flow to private and religious schools.
* Unaffordable to taxpayers, to schools, and to the students who will remain in struggling schools. The costs of this program would come at a time when many taxpayers are facing unemployment or under-employment and the loss of benefits and when many school districts are facing severe economic challenges. Sending valuable taxpayer dollars out the door to private and religious schools undermines a school district’s ability to provide the remaining students with the quality education they deserve.
* Unpopular with Pennsylvania residents, as 65% of residents opposed taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers based on a recent survey by Terry Madonna Opinion Research. This is the third time in a year that the majority of Pennsylvanians have responded to this question with a resounding “no”.
* Unconstitutional, possibly violating three provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Charter School Reform:

* Perpetuates the injustices of the current charter school funding formula to taxpayers and school districts. In these challenging economic times, our school districts are losing valuable taxpayer dollars to charter schools based on a funding formula that is based upon the cost of educating a student in the resident district, not in the charter school. Any charter reform proposal must include modification of the funding formula to reduce or eliminate the financial burden of charter schools on school districts, ensuring that taxpayers are not overpaying for the services these schools provide. Moving forward with this proposal before remedying the funding formula is irresponsible to taxpayers and school districts, especially as this proposal gives charter schools direct funding and places the burden of proof on school districts to show that funding has been incorrectly allocated to a charter school.
* Purges charter schools of innovation. Despite the fact that charter schools were originally granted freedom from many of the state-imposed mandates so they could develop innovative educational techniques and practices that could serve as a model for school districts, this important public policy objective has been exorcised entirely from Amendment #A05700, no longer obligating charter schools to strive for innovation in education. If charter schools are no longer required to fulfill these public policy goals for which they were created, then there is no longer any need to continue to relieve them of state-imposed mandates.

The expansion of the EITC program:
* Must include increased accountability. Where public tax dollars are involved, in this case state tax credits, accountability to the public is necessary. Public schools are accountable on many levels for compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. While public school performance on assessments and corrective action is all public, nonpublic school students are not required to take the PSSA, Keystone Exams or any state measure of student achievement, and nonpublic schools do not have to tell anyone anything about how their students perform. Students who enter into nonpublic or private schools using EITC scholarships should be subject to follow-up on the students’ academic progress. Any school entity benefitting from public tax dollars should be subject to the same fiscal and academic reporting standards as public school entities.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gov. Corbett Continues to Advocate for an Unsuccessful Voucher Program

Last week the Governor outlined his plan for education. It included plans to implement a voucher program, expand the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) program, and make changes to the way charter schools are approved and regulated, in ways that could take away community oversight. But as State Senator Piccola mentioned, “This isn’t anything new.” Vouchers are still an breathtakingly expensive program that has no evidence of successfully increasing student achievement. After having more than $900 million cut in state funding for public schools, Pennsylvanians cannot afford it.

We know that every child, not just some select children, should get an opportunity to learn, regardless of where they live and how much money their parents make. The critical problem with vouchers is that they don’t solve the problem. It turns a blind eye to the fact that we have significant opportunity gap. What is worse than that? We know what we should be doing and are simply flat out refusing to do it.

By nearly a 2-1 margin, Pennsylvanians oppose vouchers. A recent poll by Terry Madonna Opinion Research shows that (65%) strongly oppose and (43%) somewhat oppose the use of tax dollars to send to school to private school. This poll strongly reflects a recent national PDK/Gallup poll that was recently released that stated that only one of three Americans favor allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend with public dollars. Despite this opposition to vouchers, Corbett seems more concerned with catering to a few special interests rather than what his constituents want or need.

The Governor is hoping to change the way charter schools are governed, allowing an expansion of authorizers that could take away a community’s ability to have a say in how schools are handled (so much for “choice” eh?). This will force local taxpayers to pay for charter schools that never had input from local voters.

Vouchers take precious state resources away from children in traditional public schools and are not an effective strategy in closing the opportunity gap: they don’t raise student achievement, they reduce the rights of students, they are unconstitutional and they are expensive. We need REAL solutions that support all of Pennsylvania’s students and are proven to work. Every child deserves an equal opportunity for a successful future.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What would SRC reform look like? | Philadelphia Public School Notebook

What would SRC reform look like? | Philadelphia Public School Notebook: "What would SRC reform look like?"

It is very clear at this point that the SRC needs to change. It needs to rebuild trust, engage with the public and be responsive, establish credibility and guidance for ethical conduct, define its role more clearly and share that with the rest of us. I would add, the SRC also needs to demonstrate that they are in control, get a handle on the District's finances, and improve transparency.

How will we know that change is happening? What does each of these things look like? What will be the manifest signs of change?

Reconstituting the SRC

For starters, we need a short timetable and transition to an all-new SRC. That means the two current long-serving members, Joseph Dworetzky and Denise McGregor Armbrister, should step down. In turn, the slots need to be nominated and confirmed quickly so the body can get to work. The governor, the mayor, the state senate, and the current members should coordinate and cooperate in order to make it happen. Each will have to be flexible about political prerogatives, demonstrating that they want a new era as well. My two cents? I think we need an education expert and a financial expert.

They need to talk about students, education, and community. I would like to know what each member thinks should be:

  1. the biggest priority for the next 12 months, and

  2. their personal priority and where they will devote their focus and energy?

The members should make some public statements. Tell me what your platform is. You may have the job, but let me know what you are going to do with it. Woo me a little.

Focus on finances

We need clear signs that the SRC is getting a handle on the budget. I think we are going to need some multi-year projections, or perhaps even multi-year budgets. We need an aggressive inventory of existing contracts and some sort of metric for contract review. Show us the money. I would like to hear, sometime by early December, some steps that the SRC will take to improve the financial situation. They don’t have to be earth-shattering, just specific.

Improve accessibility and community engagement

This is a government body. They represent us and need to make that clear. They can do so by having meetings that are accessible to people, at times that, let’s say, parents, students, and teachers could attend. They can have some discussion and ask questions in public, so we see what the process is. Listen to some complaints and acknowledge them. We know it isn’t the most fun part of the job, but do it anyway. Then have a monthly report that demonstrates that you had a few of them checked out. Hold a listening tour. Build a direct relationship with the people you represent.

My big wish? The SRC will take on the role of the keeper of the flame: the body that provides both vision and stability through transitions, and helps represent the public in discussions with the superintendent. I’d know it was happening from what they choose to focus on in the coming year.

For me, this would be a start. What about you? What would have to happen, what would you want to see, for you to start a sentiment that goes something like this: “Actually, I think things have started to change…”?



Thursday, September 1, 2011

A plan first, then a superintendent | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/01/2011

A plan first, then a superintendent | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/01/2011:

By Susan Gobreski

As we begin the search for a new superintendent in Philadelphia, we need to first crystallize what we want and then hire someone to carry out a program-centered plan. It is the programs that need our focus, not the individual. In that spirit, here are a few priorities that can change the quality of our children's education.

Early education: We need to make more education available earlier to every child in Philadelphia. Studies show that early education improves outcomes. It is also cost effective. Every dollar spent on prekindergarten and full-day kindergarten saves between $7 to $16 in later costs.

Strong school leaders and a focus on teaching quality: We need to improve teacher quality by focusing on what makes them most effective and by providing training and mentoring to support them. We need to elevate and empower our principals: They need to be given responsibility for making changes to improve outcomes and evaluated based on performance. Principals should provide a sophisticated review of every teacher, based on teaching practice, participation in school-based plans to improve outcomes, and classroom management skills, not just test scores. In turn, principals must build collaborative leadership in their schools and empower teachers and parents.

School climate: Children live what they learn. We must stop treating some schools as holding pens for kids on their way to prison. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn in a high quality, well-resourced environment. It is what we see in the successful districts, and we must insist on it for all children. We need high standards, tools, and resources and a demanding training program for adults to promote culture change. We need to consult students: Wonderful work is being done on creating positive social environments in schools by students and youth groups in programs such as Positive Behavior Support and efforts to stop what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Build community: Our next superintendent must be a champion, not a combatant, for our schools. We need that person to focus on programs and to inspire all of us to link arms with parents, political leaders, and business people and help us all claim our schools as our own. We need someone who invites the community into the building. We need someone who can help the city's political leadership be inspired, not cynical, and help promote the role of schools in economic development and as worthy of investment and support.

To create such a plan, we need in-depth community conversations, not about choosing a superintendent, but about setting priorities for the district. Perhaps this conversation could be a partnership of The Inquirer, WHYY, the city, the district, the state, the chamber of commerce, and maybe even some "anonymous donors" - to pay for the process.

We need to know what the job is before we hire another superintendent. Otherwise, we will get their vision, not our own.


Susan Gobreski is the executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, a public interest advocacy organization and the mother of three Philadelphia school children.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is This Really a Choice?

This week the Pennsylvania House Education Committee is hosting hearings on various voucher proposals, which are taxpayer funded tuition payments to private and/or religious schools. Advocates of these proposals argue that vouchers provide a true "choice" to parents and provide an opportunity to children that otherwise would not be allowed. But unfortunately for them, there is no research that proves this.

Recently, the Center on Education Policy released a report that reviews ten years of research on voucher programs, showing that students attending private schools do not generally attain higher scores than public school students.

At a time when money is tight and public education just received over $900 million in funding cuts, should our legislature throw taxpayer dollars into programs that have not proven to be successful? Is this really the time to experiment on Pennsylvania’s students? Especially when neither the sponsors of these bills nor the private proponents of choice know how much these programs would cost and how many children would be eligible (or how many of those eligible children are already attending a private school).

As Jack Jennings stated in his article on Huffington Post, (Jack Jennings: School Vouchers: No Clear Advantage in Academic Achievement):

“…we as a nation want good public schools for all students….If we really cared about improving the education of low-income students, we would guarantee them high-quality preschool programs, experienced elementary and secondary teachers, high academic standards and fair funding. This is what research tells us will really help those kids and what we are to commit to doing”

Unfortunately, this past budget proves that the majority of members in the General Assembly and Governor Corbett disagree...

Learn more about the facts and myths of vouchers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Education Cut Hurt Low-Income Communities the Most

In the final budget agreement for FY 2011-2012, the inequities that were in the House budget were NOT fixed and limited funds were restored to both wealthy and poor districts. For example, Chester County’s Tredyffin/Easttown School District, located in a well-off community, will receive 83% of the funding they were going to lose under Corbett’s budget proposal. On the other hand, Delaware County’s William Penn School District will only receive 17%, most likely forcing them to eliminate 45 positions.

Why is this occurring?

Well, one reason is because the funding formula used to determine how much each school district receives is not determined by any data. A data-driven formula was put into law in 2008, but has been ignored. Another reason is the decrease in state funding and support. Over the last 30 years, the state’s share of education funding has decreased from 55% to 35%. This puts the burden of funding education on local property taxes. Pennsylvania needs a data-driven funding formula for public education. We need our legislators to know that economic times are getting better and they need to STEP UP and do want is needed to get public education on the right track and to make sure EVERY CHILD is receiving a QUALITY education.

General Assembly Passes Budget Where Children are the Biggest Losers


LINE ITEM

FUNDING CUT IN FY 2011-2012 BUDET

K-12 Public Education

($421,457,000)

Charter School Reimbursement

($244,083,000)

Accountability Block Grant

($159,456,000)

Pre-K Counts

($2,456,000)

Head Start

($1,106,000)

State-Related Universities

($142,309,000)

PASSHE Universities

(52,446,000)

On June 30th, the PA General Assembly passed a budget that included $927.7 million in funding cuts to public education. These historic cuts were made despite having $700 million more than expected in revenue collections (we collected more than the budget assumed we would, which means we have $700 million more on the income side that could have been used to reduce harmful cuts). This will result in increased property taxes and a reduction or elimination of programs that have proven to be successful in increasing student achievement. There was a 3% decrease in funding for both Head Start and Pre-K Counts, over $150 million cut in Accountability Block Grants, used for programs such as full-day kindergarten, summer classes and tutoring and the elimination of a fund used to help districts offset the costs they have related to charter schools. Schools are increasing class size, cutting programs like music and athletics, laying off teachers (aka your friends and neighbors – and the people we depend on to care for our children). The victims of this budget are students across the commonwealth.

Politicians in Harrisburg want to be able to take credit for cutting spending, even if the cuts are irresponsible and bad for Pennsylvanians! They are hoping you won’t notice that. They seem to be forgetting that the job is really about making sure we build strong communities – which we attract jobs, that our children have a good future and that our communities are safe. Their job is to make decisions about spending our money well – not just running a political agenda so they can pretend they accomplished something when, in fact, they did worse than nothing.

Where do we go from here?

This budget is the wrong direction for Pennsylvania and does not represent our values Public education is central to our well being as communities and our economy, and is being undermined – and even attacked m-- on all sides: there were devastating level of cuts and the cuts were distributed in an unfair, political ways instead of using a fair formula, low-income communities had the HIGHEST levels of cuts and members of our legislature are promoting an agenda to use tax dollars to pay tuition for some kids to attend private school rather than investing in education and opportunity for all.

We must start working NOW to prepare for next year, but we need your help! Check below for ways to help “spread the word.” Together we can and will hold our legislators responsible for the decisions they make in Harrisburg. Over the next few months, we’ll help keep you up to date on what our elected officials are doing for (or to) education.


Lastly, take a sneak preview of our new survey! We want to understand more about what “education voters” want to know. Participate in our sneak preview, answer the questions and suggest any other questions you feel are important for EVPA to ask our membership!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Video from Luigi while on his way to Harrisburg

I arrived at 9:00 pm last night . We are planning to get started again here 9:00-9:30, a local running group and some concerned parents/teachers....beep-beep! Henderson High School in West Chester.

This was Ridley park for dinner yesterday...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Luigi Runs – showing how much people do care about public education.

On the morning of Thursday, June 23, 2011, Luigi “Lou” Borda took off on a journey of 100 miles as he runs to Harrisburg in the hopes of bringing attention to the importance of public education and the massive budget cuts it faces.

Luigi stated at his press event Thursday morning:

"In order to draw attention to the importance of public education for our children, our communities, our economy and the future of the entire Commonwealth."

"I am a teacher, a parent and a runner and I want to combine the three to get people informed and involved," explains Borda.

Luigi will be running for the next four days with the goal of ending his journey Monday at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Supporters are urged to come see him run. Updates on his progress can posted on Twitter (#LuigiRuns). Stay tuned....

Philly Teacher Sets Off On 100 Mile Run


Philly Teacher Sets Off On 100 Mile Run: MyFoxPHILLY.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Masterman Teacher to Run 100 Miles to Harrisburg in Support of Public Education

School District of Philadelphia teacher Louis “Luigi” Borda announced last week that he will run 100 miles from Philadelphia to the State Capitol building in Harrisburg in order to draw attention to the importance of public education for our children, our communities, our economy and the future of the entire Commonwealth.

Borda will begin his journey at the School District’s headquarters, 440 N. Broad St., on June 23 at 9:30 a.m., and plans to make stops along the way in other school districts, encouraging parents, teachers and students to run with him for different legs as he makes his way across the state.

Borda will be joined by more than 20 District teachers pledging to run with him for the first leg of this trip to Harrisburg. Before he leaves, a few speakers will offer words of encouragement to the runners and express support for the cause.

The goal of this event is to draw attention to the state of education in Pennsylvania, engage people around the issue and prompt a larger dialogue about our collective priorities for education in the short and long term.

“I am a teacher, a parent and a runner and I want to combine the three to get people informed and involved,” explains Borda.

To see Lou start his journey, go to his event page.

Check out Lou's route!


Check to see if Lou will be passing through your local school district:

Philadelphia
Upper Darby
Haverford Township
Marple
Newton
Great Valley
West Chester
Downingtown
Coatesville
Pequea Valley
Conestoga Valley
Lancaster
Hempfield
Manheim Central
Donegal
Elizabethtown
Lower Dauphin
Middletown
Steelton Highspire
Harrisburg City

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You can't "vouch" for this proposal!

Things are moving in Harrisburg - and for those of you who remember the notorious pay raise (when they voted themselves a pay raise late at night trying to pass it before a session deadline) we know we have to pay attention to what they are doing. Just yesterday, we sent you an alert regarding the budget but recently a new voucher threat has surfaced. In the past two days, two voucher bills have been introduced and there are rumors that there could a vote in the upcoming days. This process is moving quickly and we need to make sure your voices are heard by your legislators -- again!

We know that investments in schools get results so why are they a) cutting budgets and b) trying to pass a policy that is unproven and would direct money at just a small number of kids, instead of focusing on improving things for all kids.

Vouchers are bad policy:

  • They costs hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, have not been proven to be successful and lack any accountability (fiscal or academic).
  • Voucher programs drain resources from public schools that are already hurting from massive state budget cuts.
  • Instituting a voucher program is a radical shift and should be considered separately from the budget; not agreed upon by a handful of legislators behind closed doors at the last minute, with no real public input or time for the policy to be reviewed and discussed.

Email AND call your legislator and tell them we cannot afford a new, unproven, and unaccountable school voucher program!

To learn more about vouchers, click here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

We need a solution that fixes the problem...

Last week op-ed article by Sharon Kletzien and Larry Feinberg, explained how proponents of tuition vouchers erroneously promote the bill as a tool to help children in low-income families have a better education. I agree Sharon and Larry; SB 1 is not the answer.


Pennsylvania’s current funding system for public education is inequitable. A 2007 study showed that 474 out of PA’s 500 school districts are spending below the levels needed for their school to reach performance standards. On average, only 36% of education funding comes from the state which puts a lot of pressure on school districts to raise revenue locally. This puts a bind on school districts that have lower wealth to tax than other school districts.


If the General Assembly (and proponents of school vouchers) want to help children in low-income families have a better education, the why not come up with a solution that helps ALL children and not just a few (and those already enrolled in private school)? Let’s provide all children with a QUALITY education and fix the school funding formula

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How is this budget going to affect your community?

As we near the end of the fiscal year, school districts are coming to terms with the cuts they will have to make with the budgets that the Governor and the House are proposing. Below are some of the cuts school districts are expecting to make:

Harrisburg School District – will furlough 226 employees and close four school buildings on top of dropping its in-house vocational and technical programs and ending full-day kindergarten.

York City School District – is facing a $25 million deficit, has laid off at least 140 employees already, and taxpayers are expecting to have to pay a 5.21% tax increase.

School District of Philadelphia – is facing a $629 million deficit for the next fiscal year that may have devastating consequences on full-day kindergarten, transportation services, class size and alternative schools.

Bethlehem School District - will cut 147 jobs, increase taxes by 1.7%, scale back their pre-k program, and institute an activity fee.

Brandywine Heights Area School District - 1.8% tax increase

South Williamsport Area School District - an 8% tax increase

A survey conducted for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, shows that 64% of the 263 school districts who responded would eliminate tutoring and 51% would end summer school. In addition, more than 30% of school districts will eliminate full-day kindergarten, a program which has proven to be successful in improving student achievement and future economic gains.

How is your community and local school district handling these cuts?

Friday, June 3, 2011

It is time for a new era for education in Philadelphia

The Mayor and City Council are, at this moment, engaged in what is happening at the School District of Philadelphia in a way that we haven’t seen in a long time… maybe longer. They are talking about whether or not the City should provide more money for schools, where that money should come from and what strings should be attached.

We are asking people to show support for increasing revenue, which could include something like a small tax on sugary drinks, increased metered parking or perhaps a modest increase in property taxes. We know the “all taxes are bad” people will be heard from, so let’s make sure that the “Hey we want a nice city and we want our taxes to pay for our priorities” quarter is heard from as well. We are also asking people to send a message to City Council that we want them to stay focused on this issue into the future and to engage more with the District in an ongoing way, both to connect more to what is working and to be more involved when things aren’t.

Show your support now!