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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



K-12 Public Education


Charter School Reimbursement


Accountability Block Grant


Pre-K Counts


Head Start


State-Related Universities


PASSHE Universities


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:

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:

Upper Darby
Haverford Township
Great Valley
West Chester
Pequea Valley
Conestoga Valley
Manheim Central
Lower Dauphin
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!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Early Education & Race to the Top

Federal officials announced last week that there will be a third round of funding for the Race to the Top program. Of the $700 million that will be awarded, $200 million will be used to improve k-12 education and $500 million will be awarded to states that plan to transform preschool programs and promote quality child-care.

The nine finalist states that did not win grants in the earlier rounds will be able to compete for the $200 million by resubmitting their applications. Pennsylvania has participated in the program’s two previous rounds and though it was a finalist, it was not one of the 12 states who were chosen to be funded.

The question now is whether Governor Corbett will submit any part of Pennsylvania’s original application in order to compete for the available federal dollars. In a Pittsburgh Tribute-Review article, the Corbett Administration stated that the Administration “was unsure whether the Commonwealth would apply for the new rounds of grants.” Again, the Governor wants to leave available funds on the table while implementing drastic education cuts that hurt our children and working families. Let us know what you think.