Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf’s Plan

Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf’s Plan

By Nathan Benefield

Gov. Tom Wolf, Aug. 13, unveiled a “reform” plan that has the potential to drastically reduce the ability of Pennsylvania families to send their kids to charter schools. He’s telling the students, families, teachers, and administrators of charter schools that they don’t matter.

Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf's Plan
Any resident of Philadelphia who supports this guy’s party is cutting his wrist.

Ironically, he is constructing this wall to prevent students from leaving their current school for a better opportunity on the anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall.

But we aren’t fooled. This overhaul, some of which he is planning to implement via executive action, would cut funding for charters, cap enrollment, and place a moratorium on new cyber charter schools, even as tens of thousands of students are on waiting lists for charter schools across the state. In short, it would deny families the schooling options they seek.

Wolf’s charter strategy, along with his June veto of tax credit scholarship expansion legislation, makes it clear his administration is treating the 350,000 students in charter and private schools like second class citizens. Because of that mindset he is unafraid of treating them with a dubious double standard.

For underperforming district-run schools, his solutions are to move away from standardized testing, water down tests, and increase funding. But for charter schools, Gov. Wolf proposes funding cuts and halting growth through the heavy hand of the law, regardless of performance or what families desire.

The governor’s motivation is clear: He wants to appease teachers’ union leaders. Unlike most charters and private schools, district schools are unionized. Under contracts with the AFT and NEA/PSEA, school districts collect campaign contributions for teachers’ union PACs. Since 2013, Wolf received $4 million from teachers’ unions.

This is a politically shrewd announcement from our governor, but disastrous for families and children.

Pennsylvania’s families deserve better. That’s why we won’t stop fighting until every child can attend the best school possible, no matter what Gov. Wolf’s campaign donors prefer.

Mr. Benefield is vice president and chief operating officer of Commonwealth Foundation.

Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf’s Plan

Wolf Condemns Children To Failed Schools

Wolf Condemns Children To Failed Schools

By Leo Knepper

In 2018, over 50,000 students were denied education scholarships through the EITC (Education Improvement Tax Credit) and OSTC (Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit) due to a lack of funds thanks to statutory limits. There is currently a waiting list of eligible businesses willing to provide $80 million to the programs in exchange for the tax credits offered. Who could possibly think that standing in the way of expanding educational opportunities is a good idea? The answer is, sadly, Governor Tom Wolf.

Wolf Condemns Children To Failed Schools
Does he really hate children that much? Yes, yes he does.

Almost immediately after passage, Governor Wolf announced his intention to veto HB 800. The legislation would have increased the EITC and OSTC limits by a combined $100 million. The bill would have also expanded scholarship eligibility to include more middle-class families. Despite his lofty rhetoric that a zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of a student’s education, his veto guaranteed that children will be trapped in failing schools. Pennsylvania currently spends more than $16,000 per student, on average, per year. Despite that amount being well over the national average, too many schools fail to provide the education that students deserve.
 
The EITC and OSTC provide assistance to families who live in school districts that underperform and allow students an opportunity to reach their full potential. Our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation estimated that the increased tax credits and eligibility requirements in HB 800 would have benefited 90,000 students over the next five years.
 
Expanding educational opportunities and empowering parents should be a bipartisan issue, but it isn’t. Thanks to the opposition from teachers’ unions and their allies in the Governor’s Mansion and General Assembly, Pennsylvania’s students pay the price.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Wolf Condemns Children To Failed Schools

School Choice Expansion Clears Committee

School Choice Expansion Clears Committee

By Nathan Benefield

The Pennsylvania House Education Committee passed HB 800, April 29, which represents the most significant expansion of the state’s popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) school choice scholarship program since its inception.

The EITC program is funded by business donations (businesses earn tax credits in return) and allows Pa. kids to attend a school they otherwise may not be able to afford. But arbitrary limits on the program prevent tens of thousands of kids from attending a school of choice.

HB 800, sponsored House Speaker Mike Turzai along with 59 other members, including several Democrats, would increase the tax credit cap for EITC K-12 scholarships by $100 million next year and further raise the cap by 10 percent when 90 percent of tax credits are used in the prior year. 

I cannot stress enough: This bill is a huge step toward helping families access the education choices they deserve. Tax credit scholarships are so popular the programs could double in size and still not meet demand. 

The bill passed along party lines, you can see the roll call hereThank you to the representatives that voted to expand opportunity for thousands of Pa. kids!

An EITC scholarship may be a family’s only lifeline to provide their child with a chance at a brighter future. It’s time to raise the limits so kids can reach their dreams. We’re excited to see HB 800 progress in the legislature, and will keep you posted as key votes occur.

School Choice Expansion Clears Committee
School Choice Expansion Clears Committee

Coup d’ecole Common Core

Coup d’ecole Common Core was sent to us courtesy of Joanne Y.

By Bruce Deitrick Price

Bill Gates is among the richest, most successful people on the planet. He enjoyed a lot of victories until he ventured into a dangerous part of town called Education.  He squandered a few billion dollars by becoming entangled with a shady character named Common Core. 

Since 2010, Gates endured a long, slow defeat, as more people turned against Common Core, and he himself realized that it was not what he had dreamed of.

So how did Bill Gates lose his golden touch?

Gates, computer man and businessman, trusted data neatly arrayed on monitors.  Digital tools could give predictability, consistency, and control.  Add standards that everyone agreed on.  Not only would children learn more efficiently, and be tested and tracked more accurately, but his companies could market educational services by the cubic mile because every school would welcome the same products.  Gates could make a new and separate fortune.

So this digital leviathan abruptly became the law of the land.  Local control of schools, long an American tradition, was euthanized without mercy.  But victory was temporary.  Common Core seemed to have one objectionable feature after another.

Surely, we can stipulate that Gates is too smart to be a useful idiot, too patriotic to be a secret leftist trying to destroy the country.  So why did he align himself with what many consider blatant malpractice?  Was he blinded by predictions of a giant payoff?  Or was it a case of trusting the wrong people? 

Perhaps Gates, a college dropout, assumed that the professors at the top of the Education Establishment (many of them at his alma mater, Harvard) were smart guys who knew their business.  However, these were the same people who had been mismanaging American K-12 for a long time — so much so that McKinsey and Company, the super-consultant, summed up the situation in 2007: “The longer American students remain in public schools, the dumber they get.”  This is not a track record that a shrewd person would invest in.

There were warning signs from the start.  Never mind all the blather about a state-led initiative.  Common Core is best understood as a coup d’état, or more exactly a coup d’ecole.  This vast, top-to-bottom takeover of American public education was achieved by the old-fashioned tactic of throwing grants (some would say “bribes”) at the politicians in charge, state by state, even as Obama lent some dignity to the shenanigans.  Obama had just swept into office and was in his honeymoon phase.  Common Core was effectively ObamaEd, and nobody wanted to say no to the first black president. 

Coup d'ecole Common Core

But Bill Gates should have felt some uneasiness.  Common Core was untested, unproven, and micromanaged by David Coleman, a man with limited credentials but reliably far to the left.  Nobody in the business world launches a big new product without years of research and refinement.  Instead, Common Core was wrapped in $1 billion’s worth of propaganda and dumped on the country as a fait accompli.

The late, great Siegfried Engelmann, a real educator, was asked what he thought of this approach: “A perfect example of technical nonsense.  A sensible organization would rely heavily on data about procedures used to achieve outstanding results; and they would certainly field test the results to assure that the standards resulted in fair, achievable goals.  How many of these things did they do?  None.”

Did Gates realize that Common Core, supposedly a new and higher instruction, incorporates all the dubious ideas from decades prior?  New Math and Reform Math were the basis for Common Core Math.  Similarly, Whole Language and Balanced Literacy were rolled into Common Core’s English Language Arts (jargon for reading).  Constructivism, which prevented teacher from teaching, has been undermining American schools for decades.  Nothing new and higher about these clunkers.

An earlier generation of Gates’s business partners had created so much illiteracy that Rudolf Flesch had to write a book to answer every American’s favorite question: “why can’t Johnny read?”

Did Bill Gates reflect empathically on the proposals in his billion-dollar baby?  Everyone should try to imagine he’s eight years old and has to struggle with Common Core every day.  The verbiage is convoluted and pompous; at every step, there are absurdly unnecessary steps.  Only one way to tie your shoes?  Don’t be silly.  Every student needs to learn at least four or five!  Finally, the kids are encumbered by a backpack full of bricks and not much else.  One has to suspect that this mumbo-jumbo was never intended to improve education, but to stupefy a generation.

There are hundreds of videos made to show how wonderful Common Core is.  Instead, they show the opposite. Here’s a single abominable video that can stand for all the others.  The title is “Strategies for Addition and Subtraction.”  Notice the new layer added there.  Instead of learning to add, children learn strategies for adding — five of them, no less.  Everything will now remain in first gear as children struggle with Regroup or BorrowDecomposeCross Number PuzzleUse or Draw Base Ten Blocks, and Solve Using Money.  Think how many hours you can waste debating which strategy to use in each situation.

We have to wonder if Bill Gates performed due diligence, that being the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or property.  In other words, before putting your business funds to work on anything, you should make yourself an expert.  That’s what we need in this country: everybody becomes an expert.  For sure, nobody should trust the official experts.  If Bill Gates had observed that simple rule, he would still have a billion or two he doesn’t have now.  And the country would have tens of millions of better educated students it doesn’t have now. 

It’s annoying to study Common Core because, it seems to me, it’s on the same intellectual level as the food fight in Animal House.  Did Gates fly to Hong Kong to buy a new operating system from the local bazaar?  Or did he fly to Russia to buy something sinister from the Pavlov Neuro-Disruption Institute?  Point is, the resulting curriculum is way overpriced and relentlessly dysfunctional — a pig in a poke that you never stop paying for.
The teacher in the video actually admits that you may find this or that strategy “confusing at first.”  But that’s all right, because Common Core recommends frustration and difficulty.  The premise is that students respond to doing things the hard way — exactly the opposite of what’s true.

For years, people have tried to sue school systems when their children don’t learn to read.  It would be helpful if such lawsuits went forward.  Next, parents could sue the system for introducing Common Core, which is arguably a fraud designed to lower academic standards.  If parents can’t succeed with those lawsuits, they can start demanding an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for their children, an IEP that emphatically excludes Common Core.

Trump said he would cancel this preposterous thing, and he should.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org.

Coup d’ecole Common Core was sent to us courtesy of Joanne Y.

Cotcus Education Event Is Saturday

Cotcus Education Event Is SaturdayConversations on the Culture (Cotcus.com) will host a breakfast panel, 8:30-10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 23, at the Court Diner, 104 E. Baltimore Ave., Media Pa. 19063.

Terry Doyle founder of Champions for Children will speak from 8:45-9:05 a.m. on how businesses and individuals can redirect state tax money to provide scholarships for children to attend private schools of their choice with little out of pocket cost as part of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program.

Dr. Patricia Divine-Jackson, a Liberian immigrant, who has practiced medicine in Africa, England and the United States, will from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. describe her Parent Child Learning Project which she started in Philadelphia. The project allows low-income parents to equip their children to learn.

From 10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m., there will be a panel discussion led by William and Jane Bonner.

Cotcus Education Event Is Saturday
Cotcus Education Event Is Saturday

Anthony Buttacy Our Time Guest

Anthony Buttacy Our Time Guest — John Haenn’s most recent Our Time addressed the twisted depths that those running (ruining?) public education have brought those institutions that they had been trusted to shepherd.

Free clue: Boys and girls are different. It is bad to teach otherwise. Really, it’s bad. The tendency is something to discourage, not embrace.

Anyway, John’s guest was Anthony Buttacy, the headmaster of West-Mont Christian Academy in Pottstown.

While Mr. Buttacy doesn’t address the transgender issue — which John brings up in his opening monologue — he points out that our society is suffering from a noted rejection of objective truth.

He also says the today’s students are overbooked with regard to time and that parents don’t spend as much time with them as they once did. Listen to it below. It’s an interesting conversation and he has interesting things to say.

Our Time airs 8:30-9 a.m., on WFYL 1180AM the first Monday of the month.

Anthony Buttacy Our Time Guest
Anthony Buttacy Our Time Guest

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

By Leo Knepper

Every June an unholy alliance of Big Government special interests and politicians gathers in Harrisburg to decide how to spend your money. Governor Wolf provided an outline of what he wanted to see back in February. His focus was on more education spending, more taxes on natural gas, and a higher minimum wage. As we noted at the time:

Pennsylvania currently spends more on education than forty-one other states. More money is not going to help students in failing schools…The worst performing school district [in Pennsylvania], Wilkinsburg Borough, spends over $30,000 per pupil. However, only fifteen percent of their students are proficient in math, and twenty-six percent are proficient in reading. On top of poor performance in math and reading, less than half of Wilkinsburg’s students graduate. More money is not the solution for our education system’s failings…

“In his budget address, Wolf repeated the lie that natural gas companies aren’t paying their ‘fair share’ and he advocated for raising their taxes. He stated that Pennsylvania was the only state not collecting an extraction tax, but the Governor failed to mention that we are the only state to levy an impact fee. In 2017, the natural gas companies paid over $200 million into Pennsylvania’s coffers due to our impact fee. Natural gas companies are also subject to the Commonwealth’s corporate net income tax, which happens to be the second highest in the country. On top of that, the Treasury gets a cut of any royalties paid to individuals by the gas companies. At what point will Governor Wolf be satisfied that natural gas companies are paying their fair share?

“The final item trotted out by the Governor was an increase in the minimum wage. If Governor Wolf wants to make it harder for lower-skilled workers to find employment, setting an artificially high wage floor will undoubtedly make that happen. Minimum wage increases enacted by other states and localities have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and Pennsylvania would not be exempt from that trend.”

As far as we can tell, none of the Governor’s proposals are entirely off the table. In fact, Senate Republican leaders and Democrats included another shale gas tax in their fiscal code last year, along with several other tax increases. The House nixed the worst of the fiscal code, including the shale tax increase. So far this year, we haven’t heard anything from Senate Republican leaders shutting the door on targeted tax increases.

We have yet to see a budget proposal from the Pennsylvania House or Senate. The General Assembly doesn’t provide a budget framework until closer to the June 30th deadline, making it harder for taxpayers to weigh in on how their money will be spent over the next year. We will be sure to update you as soon as there is anything to report.

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

Carla D’Addesi Joins BigLeaguePolitics.com

Carla D’Addesi Joins BigLeaguePolitics.com — Carla D’Addesi, who hosts “Family Matters” on 1180 AM WFYL, is now writing for BigLeaguePolitics.com.

She is quoted in this article concerning how a bizarre woman who encourages kindergartners to “transition” into the opposite sex has been named California’s “Teacher of the Year.”

It is time to end public schools.

Carla D’Addesi Joins BigLeaguePolitics.com

Carla D'Addesi Joins BigLeaguePolitics.com

$16,533 Per Pupil In Pennsylvania

$16,533 Per Pupil In Pennsylvania — Kurt Holland sent us this great link for FairFundingPa.org which details public school spending in Pennsylvania by district.

The average cost per puil in Pennsylvania is $16,533.

Check out what they spend where you live.

$16,533 Per Pupil In Pennsylvania

$16,533 Per Pupil In Pennsylvania

 

Dennis Prager Visiting Havertown

Dennis Prager Visiting Havertown — Dennis Prager, the mind behind PragerU that is brilliantly upsetting the narrow-minded bigots who enforce the status quo, will appear 7 p.m., April 10 at the Llanerch Country Club in Havertown.

Tickets are $75 and include a cocktail reception and light dinner fare. A $250 VIP ticket is also available that provides admittance to a pre-event reception with Mr. Prager at 6 p.m.

The event benefits Regina Angelorum Academy, a 10-year-old private Catholic School in Ardmore  that provides a classical education.

For information about the event with Mr. Prager call 215-287-6218.

Dennis Prager Visiting Havertown

Dennis Prager Visiting Havertown