Teachers Union Hikes Dues To Fight Choice

The Pennsylvania State Education Association — the union which represents public school teachers, school nurses, guidance counselors, librarians and such — has announced it will raise the dues of its 190,000 members by 11 percent according to Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania . 

The new revenue is apparently aimed at fighting the pending school choice legislation .

The PSEA already gets about $90 million from dues which it uses to pay for 230 employees, including eight full-time lobbyists who make about $150,000 a year apiece.

The dues hike is expected to bring in about $9 million more.

All public school teachers (librarians, nurses etc.) must contribute to this very anti-child union whether they want to or not. The money ultimately comes from the taxpayer anyway.

Hat tip Bob Guzzardi.


Would SB 1 Have Helped Nadin Khoury?

A nationally publicized incident of teenage cruelty in Upper Darby, Pa. has driven the 13-year-old victim from the public schools and placed the unplanned burden of home school on his parents.

Seven gangsta wannabees brutalized the slight Nadin Khoury Jan. 11 outside the school district’s “Opportunity Center” which is the school district’s facility for behavioral problems.

Nadin said he was targeted because he was small and his mother was from Africa. One of the wannabees posted a video of the attack on YouTube.

Six of the attackers were arrested Jan. 31 with the seventh being brought in the next day They are charged with kidnapping, criminal restraint, recklessly endangering another person,
aggravated assault conspiracy and making terroristic threats.

Despite the arrests, Nadin was terrified of returning to class fearing retaliation from the wannabees’ friends hence the home schooling.

Would the recently introduced school choice bill, SB 1 , help Nadin if it were to become law?  Maybe not, and certainly not with regard to the first two years it would take effect. Leaving aside the financial circumstance of Nadin’s family, the only Upper Darby school that  falls into the category of  “persistently lowest achieving school” as per eligibility for vouchers for years 1 and 2 is Charles Kelly Elementary School , which Nadin does not attend.

SB 1 is a good bill and if it should pass it would one day  deliver thousands of Pennsylvania children from the despair and terror of corrupt and unaccountable failed institutions.

But school choice is a good idea for suburban middle class parents too. Parents who are as happy as clams with their school district until they find their child assigned to crazy Ms. X for a year would be a bit grateful to have a voucher as a parachute. Vouchers would have the additional benefit of communicating to the educational powers-that-be that Ms. X shouldn’t be teaching as parent after parent bailed out on her.

Regardless, for those wishing to expand the benefits of SB 1 to more students more quickly, Nadin’s story makes a compelling case.

Freind Wants To Swing For The Fence On Vouchers

Conservative columnist Chris Freind sent me a note in response to yesterday’s item in which I took issue with his opposition to SB 1, the school choice bill recently introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Chris sent me this link to a follow-up column, “Some School Choicers Have Defeatist  Attitude” he wrote on his blog at The Philly Post to clarify his position. The Philly Post is  affiliated with Philadelphia magazine.

The follow-up makes it clear that what Chris is advocating is that all Pennsylvania children should have access to vouchers, not just the poor as would be the case with SB 1 .

Chris wants to swing for the fence which is admirable but to swing for the fence one must be in the game and the only school choice player in the game right now is SB 1, and there is nothing wrong with bunting for a base hit either.

Those who have issues with SB 1 should, rather than attack it, find a legislator willing to introduce a competing bill.

Vouchers for all Pennsylvania children is a wonderfully radical idea. You won’t find any objection to it here.

With that said, Pennsylvania would be much improved if SB 1 should pass and this includes the burden on suburban taxpayers. Not only would less of their money be wasted in incompetent pits of corruption like The School District of Philadelphia, they might actually find an unexpected windfall when the refugees — most of whom would come from loving families eager for them to learn — flock to vacancies in their successful districts carrying that $9,000 in state money with them. Note, vacancy  means no new teachers to hire and no new classrooms to build.

In other words it means found money.

So those with concerns about SB 1, please be careful about attacking it. Be especially careful about giving ammunition to the self-proclaimed “liberal, tolerant, caring, sensitive” crowd who will certainly play the race card in mounting opposition to the bill.

Further, one would not want to alienate allies like state senators Anthony H. Williams and  LeAnna Washington as we do seek to expand choice to all children.

Conservative Takes Fire For Opposing School Choice Step

Conservative columnist Chris Freind is taking heat for opposing the school choice bill recently introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The bill, S.B. 1 , sponsored by Republican Jeff Piccola of the 15th District and Democrat Anthony H. Williams of the 8th District, which includes a large section of Delaware County, would, among other good things,
eventually allow the parents of any needy child in the state to take the
state subsidy — about $9,000 — that would have gone to their home
school district and apply to the public, private or parochial school of
their choice.

This would, for many children, break the chains shackling them to incompetent cesspools of corruption falsely flying the flag of education, and save taxpayers from being forced to throw money into these rat holes.

Freind, however, wrote on his Philadelphia Magazine blog, Jan. 27 , that the bill is merely “legislation stuck in the past, once again pandering to the wrong crowd — the Black Caucus” and said it would be almost impossible to pass comparing it to the failed attempts to bring school choice to Pennsylvania in the 1990s.

He repeated the claims albeit a bit more gently, yesterday, on Philly.Com .

For this he is appropriately being taken to the woodshed by other conservative leaders. Tea Party activist Bob Guzzardi tells Freind and others who live in safe suburban school to re-read the fable of the Dog and The Manger in which the dog would not let the horse eat to the detriment of all.

Further, Guzzardi notes that there has been a “paradigm shift” among the coalitions that support the Pennsylvania Democrat Party. Black legislators such as LeAnna Washington who opposed vouchers during the Ridge years are now 100 percent behind them.

Vouchers would likely not have failed then with the support of Philadelphia Democrats.

In a response to Freind’s Inquirer column, Nathan Benefield of Commonwealth Foundation notes that he is dead wrong with the bill only benefiting the poor. Benefield points out that the bill almost doubles the amount of money available for Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarships to $75 million. The eligibility for EITC scholarships is $60,000 plus $10,000 per child.

Still, Freind’s reaction brings to light one thing that will be done by defenders of the educrat establishment. The race card will be played.

But that’s nothing new. I have a strong recollection of a certain self-thought sophisticated, tolerant, sensitive suburban school superintendent slickly warning the parents of his district back in the ’90s that their high school will “have a great basketball team” if the choice plan wasn’t defeated.

School Choice To Be S.B. 1 In Pa.

A bi-partisan school choice bill will be the first order of business in the Pennsylvania Senate.

S.B. 1 , will soon be introduced by Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey E. Piccola, the Republican  who represents the 15th District which consists of parts of Dauphin and York counties, and Anthony H. Williams, the respected Democrat who represents the 8th District which consists of parts of Philadelphia and Delaware counties.

The bill would eventually allow the parents of any needy child in the state to take the state subsidy — about $9,000 — that would have gone to their home school district and apply to the public, private or parochial school of their choice.

The plan would be implemented over three years with only low-income students currently attending persistently failing schools eligible the first year; low-income students residing in the attendance boundary of those schools but currently attending private schools becoming eligible in the second year; and all low income students becoming eligible in the third year.

Low income will be defined as families whose incomes are at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level so a family of four would qualify at $28,665.

The bill would also add $25 million to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program bringing the total tax credits available under it to $100 million.

Gov-Elect Tom Corbett is a supporter of school choice but expect the teacher unions to shriek like banshees if it should be signed into law and mount a state constitutional challenge citing Article III Section 15 .

Hat tip Bob Guzzardi

Poll Shows Pa. Warming To School Choice

A poll released by Commonwealth Foundation , Nov. 9, shows that 50 percent of Pennsylvanians support using “education vouchers which help parents pay the cost of the school of their choice” with only 30 percent opposed.

If the wording is changed from “education vouchers” to “tax-credit scholarship funds”  the support drops to 46 percent with the opposing remaining the same and those saying “not sure” rising to 24 percent.

The poll of 500 likely voters was conducted Nov. 1 by Public Opinion Research.

Republicans supported the voucher question 63 to 21 percent while independents supported it 38 to 32 percent. Blacks, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat, supported it 69 to 7 percent.

Democrats, in total, supported it 45 to 31 percent.

Men supported vouchers 54 to 27 percent while woman supported it 46 to 32 percent.

Those with children at home supported it 48 to 31 percent percent while those without supported it 51 to 29 percent.

Significantly different results garnered by the “tax-credit” worried included independents expressing opposing to the idea 37 to 34 percent, with support from those with children at home growing to 56 with just 27 percent in opposition.

Hat tip to GrassrootsPa.com

Senator Williams School Choice Bill

Senator Williams School Choice Bill — Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams , the Democrat whose 8th District includes a large swath of southeastern Delaware County, introduced to little fanfare last month a bill in Harrisburg that would pay the private school tuition of poor kids in crappy school districts.

SB 1405 — cosponsored by Republicans Stewart Greenleaf (12 ), Donald White (41) and Mike Folmer (48) — would provide children living in a district with at least one “chronically failing school” scholarships if their families have a low enough income. The value of the scholarships would be the state per-pupil  aid plus half of the district per-pupil aid times the household income ratio which would be between 1 and .5.

“Chronically failing school” is specified in the bill as is the family income level. Two districts to which this would obviously apply are Philadelphia and Chester.

So kudos to Sen. Williams for taking on some of the evil that so horribly corrupts his party. For the Democrats to once again be respectable, the party is going to have to condemn and disassociate themselves from the vile groups that have so much sway over their agenda — and the anti-choice, anti-child National Education Association is among them — just as they once had to disassociate themselves from the Ku Klux Klan.

Hat tip to GrassrootsPa.com and Pennsylvania Independent .


Senator Williams School Choice Bill
Senator Williams School Choice Bill

Choice Is The First Step In Solving Philly’s School Violence

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer had several stories involving school violence, and with the exception of one rather one-sided whine, all concerned serious incidents involving city schools.

This one, for instance, has girl gangs brawling outside of Bartram High school over comments on Facebook. Their fight ended up with three people — one girl and two boys — getting shot apparently by the boys they brought along. The boys were in critical condition as of this morning.

This one –granted it’s from the Daily News but the Inky had a similar story — concerned a hearing  incidents at Audenried High School in which a mother described how officials failed to discipline a school bully who had broken her son’s ribs, and how a teacher watched helplessly as a group of 20 students barged into her classroom and attacked a girl.

And this is on top of the incidents last December in which parents of Asian students kept their children home because of the unwillingness of officials to act against those attacking them.

If parents were allowed to chose their children’s schools most of these problems would go away. Schools and officials who did not respond to bullying would soon be weeded out because the parents would have the ability to cut off their money simply by  choosing to send their children elsewhere.

This would also apply to incompetent teachers.

The biggest opponents to school vouchers are, in fact, inattentive officials and incompetent teachers.

If the state legislators summed enough courage to oppose the teachers unions and approve school vouchers, parochial schools such as St. Joseph Grade School in Collingdale would be saved, and the kids who want an education in Philly would not have to attend class in fear.

It Looks Like Charter Schools Work

The Philadelphia Archdiocese announced today that it will be closing Cardinal Dougherty and Northeast Catholic high schools in the city due to declining enrollment.

Apparently, the biggest reason for it is due to the success of publicly funded charter schools in the city.

Hey, here’s an idea let’s turn all the city’s schools into charter schools. Tens of millions in dollars will be saved and tens of hundreds more children will learn to read and right.

We can do the same for the suburbs. Make it so the very-well paid central office gang has to actually do some labor.