Wolf Attack On Popular Charter Schools

Wolf Attack On Popular Charter Schools By Nate Benefield

I watched, Sept. 16, as hundreds of charter school students flooded the Capitol and dozens of parents spoke out against Gov. Wolf’s attacks on charter school families. After they rallied in the Capitol rotunda, 1,700 letters were delivered to Gov. Wolf—letters from parents and students fearful of losing this critical educational opportunity.

The event was organized by our friends at the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools and comes at a desperate time. Gov. Wolf is taking unilateral executive action that would seriously threaten these public schools of choice as an educational option for parents.

In August, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed cutting funding for Pennsylvania charter schools, capping charter enrollment, and banning new cyber charter schools. Then, Gov. Wolf—without legislative authority—imposed new fees on charter schools.

At the rally, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools again asked the governor to visit a charter school. While touting his “Schools that Teach Tour” since he entered office, nearly 5 years later, his tour has visited 167 schools across the state, but not a single one was a private or charter school.

Yet he seems to think he singularly knows best how their students should be treated.

By ignoring the 140,000 students attending public charter schools and 240,000 enrolled in private schools, Wolf is treating nearly 25 percent of Pennsylvania students as second-class citizens.

We need your help protecting educational opportunity for these kids. Legislation that would address charter school transparency and financial accountability has already passed the Pa. House, while legislation to create a commission on charter school funding has passed the Senate. These bills would address problems in the charter school law without taking educational opportunity away from students.

For reasons he alone knows, Gov. Wolf has chosen to ignore these legislative solutions and go his own way.

Commonwealth Foundation will continue our intellectual leadership on all types of educational opportunity, be it charter schools, tax credit scholarships, or public school funding. And we’ll keep sharing our message across the state via TV, radio, social media, and print.

Please reach out to your lawmakers to ask them to stand up for charter schools, and against Wolf’s unilateral action, by taking action on these positive steps.

You can do so here.

Nate Benefield is vice president and COO of Commonwealth Foundation.

Wolf Attack On Popular Charter Schools
Wolf Attack On Popular Charter Schools

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

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

Matt Damon School Choice Film Screening Nov. 2

Matt Damon School Choice Film Screening Nov. 2 — A film concerning school choice will be aired, 7 p.m., Nov. 2 at the Bryn Mawr Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010. It’s called Backpack Full of Cash and will be narrated by noted Hollywood star, Harvey-Weinstein enabler and Howard Zinn fan Matt Damon.

The tagline is “Why are vouchers and school choice killers of local public schools?”

Attend if you can. As Joanne Yurchak wisely notes conversation is good.

The event is free and sponsored by Parents Across America — Suburban Philadelphia, and the Moms’ Group of Bryn Mawr Church of the Redeemer.

 

Matt Damon School Choice Film Screening Nov. 2

Matt Damon School Choice Film Airing Nov. 2

Charter School Salvation In NOLA

The black clouds of Hurricane Katrina had a pretty bright silver lining. Charter School Salvation In NOLA Drastic measures were required after the storm hit a decade ago to get the children of New Orleans back in the classroom so the public education system -- which was one of the nation's worst -- was scrapped and replaced with one based on charter schools

Drastic measures were required after the storm hit a decade ago to get the children of New Orleans back in the classroom so the public education system — which was one of the nation’s worst — was scrapped and replaced with one based on charter schools.

By every measure things have gotten better.

Naturally, the stooges of the teachers union are upset but then they really don’t care about the kids now, do they?

If a decentralized, parental choice based charter school system can improve education for poor black kids it can certainly do the same for middle class white ones.

It should be noted that rich liberal kids already benefit from school choice.

Ben Howe of Redstate.com has created a documentary about it and can be seen below.

Charter School Salvation In NOLA

Failing Schools Enabled By Gov. Wolf

By Leo Knepper Failing Schools Enabled By Gov. Wolf

“…I’m in this spot where I have to call the school that failed my kids and re-enroll them…I’m heartbroken over this.”

That quote comes from Amy Millar via a Philadelphia Inquirer story on the State Education Department’s recent action to “clarify” what services cyber-charter schools can offer. According to the article, two of Ms. Millar’s children have special education needs. However, her children have flourished at the Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School (Ed Plus).

What did Ed Plus do to bring the wrath of the state education bureaucracy down on their heads? They offered their students services like art, gym, and “face-to-face” learning opportunities at their learning centers. In other words, they looked at the needs of their students and provided for them. The State Department of Education evidently frowns on the hybrid model used by Ed Plus. As a result parents like Ms. Millard will be forced to send their children back to schools that were failing to meet their needs in the first place.

Although the Governor purports to want “quality” education for all. His administration’s actions in this and other cases clearly illustrate that is not entirely accurate. The Governor’s interest is in making sure that his patrons at the teachers’ union are happy and that there is as little competition as possible in the public education sphere.

If the Wolf administration was interested in ensuring every child received a quality education, they would be applauding Ed Plus. Furthermore, they would be examining what that school is doing differently and seeing how it might be replicated in other schools. The Department of Education should be looking at how they could make it easier for others schools to provide the same education experience. Instead, they seem more interested in erecting barriers to a quality education.

Mr. Knepper is with Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania

Failing Schools Enabled By Gov. Wolf

Wolf Mocks Philly Parents

Wolf Mocks Philly Parents
Gov. Tom Wolf mocks Philly parents with his charter school opposition.

Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, a man bought and paid for by the teachers unions, stripped Bill Green of his chairmanship of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, Sunday night, March 1. Why? Because Green heard the pleas of Philly parents and allowed for  five new charter schools.

This was in defiance of Wolf and the unions who wanted no new ones.

Of the school district’s, 206,567 pupils, 64,301 now attend charter schools.

There is a waiting list of thousands more that has been estimated at 40,000.

The objection of Wolf and his cronies is that the charter school’s take money from the Philadelphia School District. The answer to this is that the Philadelphia School District prevents parents from sending their children to schools where they won’t be pushed around, threatened, mocked for “acting white” and actually get an education.

When are the residents of Philadelphia going to wake up to the reality that the Democrat Party is anything but their friend?

There is an opportunity here for the Republicans.

Wolf Mocks Philly Parents

 

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has launched paschoolperformance.org giving residents greater access to the balance sheets of Pennsylvania’s schools, says State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).

He says the website shows school spending by district, including total revenue, total expenditures, per-pupil expenditures and average staff salaries, albeit we could not find the average staff salaries and we had to figure out the per-pupil expenditures ourselves.

The website also tracks charter and cyber charter schools, and comprehensive career and technology centers, Cox says.

And it includes academic performance.

We decided to have some fun with it comparing Philadelphia Academy Charter School with the Springfield School District  in Delaware County.

Philadelphia Academy spends $9.475 million on instruction for 1,180 pupils which is $8,029 per pupil.

Springfield spends $34,054,290 for 3,907 pupils or $8,716 per pupil.

The extra $687 per pupil — which translates to $2,684,109 per year to the taxpayer — isn’t something to sneeze at but if it means more engineers and doctors and a cure for cancer who will object, right?

Some cynic here might chime in and and ask what if it doesn’t, well, we’ll get to that.

Philadelphia Academy’s total spending is $15,598,815 or $13,219 per pupil.

Springfield’s is $59,441,901 or $15,214 per pupil.

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield High SchoolThat’s $1,995 more per pupil which adds up to $7,794,465 per year to the taxpayer. While salaries to attract great teachers might be justifiable, one can see where the extra money for non-instructional use and support might make someone laid off or living on a fixed income feel a mite resentful.

But if a cure for cancer is coming, it is worth it, right?

Which gets us to the academics.

We should note here that 33 percent of Philadelphia Academy’s pupil population is “economically disadvantaged” with 20.76 percent in special education compared to 14.5 percent “economically disadvantaged” with 15.87 percent in special education for Springfield.

The school performance of Philadelphia Academy is higher than Springfield High School for mathematics/algebra (84.22 percent proficient or advanced on PSSA to 75.27) and science/biology (68.71 percent to 42.96) although SHS wins on reading/literature (87.36 percent to 77.28)

Regarding elementary education specifically, at least with regard to reading, Springfield wins with 89.7 percent of Scenic Hills pupils and 83.65 percent of Sabold’s pupils being  proficient or advanced on reading as per the PSSA while  Philadelphia Academy’s score was 80.6 percent.

We kind of think the great engineers and doctors and the cure for cancer are more likely to come out of Philadelphia Academy.

Really Springfield, a 42.96 percent proficiency in science/biology?

Hey, let’s build a $144 million Taj Mahal. That’ll fix it.

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield
As per paschoolperformance.org a Philly charter school beats Springfield public school district.

Yes, a Philly charter school beats a highly regarded suburban school district on several metrics.

And Philly charter school Philadelphia Academy Beats Springfield