Archives for category: Budget Cuts

Politico.com reports a wonderful story from Arizona, where public education is underfunded and embattled as a result of years of budget cuts and yet another round of deep cuts:

“Nearly 50 Phoenix-based Teach for America members and alumni are asking TFA to return a $500,000 budget set-aside. They say public schools – which will see a net loss of about $100 million under the new budget – need the money more than TFA does. ‘There is a massive contradiction that exists when an organization that claims to work for the education of all children is part of a process that robs Peter to pay Paul,’ the group said. However, the organization’s Phoenix arm already said it intends to accept the state funds.”

More from the New Times: http://bit.ly/1Msto7t.

Art Tate, the superintendent of Davenport, Iowa, public schools announced at a school board meeting that he was going to break the law by spending more money for his students than state law allows. He said the district has ample reserves to pay for the additional spending. The Legislature imposed a formula that gives Davenport schools less than 170 other districts. Two-thirds of the students in the district are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Art Tate joins the honor roll of this blog for his courage and readiness to take a stand on behalf of students.

 

Davenport schools Superintendent Art Tate Monday said he intends to “violate state law” and use more money than the state of Iowa has authorized.

 

The move will stave off budget cuts that Tate and the board had been discussing for months.

 

“I am taking this action after careful consideration and understanding the possible personal consequence,” Tate said. “I take full and sole responsibility for the violation of state law.

 

“With this action, I am following the example of our state Legislature, which has ignored the law this year by not providing districts with the state supplemental aid amount by Feb. 12, 2015.”

 

Tate’s address to the board and the audience was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

 

Tate said a legislative forum on Saturday, when he saw some of his students wearing T-shirts that said “I’m Worth-Less,” influenced his decision.

 

Three students wore those T-shirts to the Monday board meeting and spoke about the inequity of the state funding system for education.

 

“We won’t stand for our schools being underfunded,” North High School student Anthony DeSalvo said. “We won’t stand for inequality. Our students are not worth less than anyone else.”

 

All three students briefly stood behind Tate during the board meeting.

 

The forum, Tate said, made him realize his personal responsibility as the district leader to take action. The students’ T-shirts, he said, are literally correct….

 

Earlier, Tate had planned for the district to slash $3.5 million from the general fund budget for the 2015-16 school year and $5 million from the next year’s budget.
Several board members spoke in support of Tate.
“I think it’s criminal that we’re put in this position and that our children are made to wear shirts that say ‘I’m Worth-Less,'” said board member Jamie Snyder. “What investment does the state of Iowa think is more important than our children?”
“I applaud you, Dr. Tate,” said board member Ken Krumwiede, who also attended the Saturday forum. He said he was disappointed in the legislators who were there. “I hope you’re all listening out there … you need to contact your legislators to get things changed in Des Moines.”
Board Vice President Rich Clewell said, to much laughter, that he felt like he had “walked out of a board meeting and into a Baptist revival.”
“Although the cost of education might be high, what is the cost of ignorance?” Clewell asked.
Tate said he will make budget cuts with early retirement, utility savings through an energy conservation program, moving maintenance contracts from the general fund to the management fund and curtailing professional development during the school day, amounting to $1.4 million in savings.
“I will be asking no other reductions to programs and personnel, and most notably, I will not be increasing class size in order to reduce teacher positions,” he said.
Tate said he intends to use up to $1 million to support new programs to reduce the achievement gap, to “fight the effects of poverty, and to address diversion programs needed to turn around our out-of-school suspension numbers.”

 

 

After four years of deep budget cuts to public education, Pennsylvania’s New Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has proposed large increases in school funding, coupled with property tax reductions. However, the legislature is controlled by Republicans, and they oppose his plan.

Here are some articles from the website of the Keystone State Education Coalition, a valuable source of information about the state’s education issues.

How would Gov. Wolf’s proposed tax shifts affect you? Here are 8 scenarios

Penn Live By Teresa Bonner | tbonner@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on March 06, 2015 at 6:46 PM, updated March 07, 2015 at 6:59 AM

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget is proposing to raise the state’s personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent, increase the sales tax from 6 to 6.6 percent and broaden the number of items to which it will apply, and use the money raised from those tax increases to reduce school property taxes. His administration said most families will pay less under his plan, with the average family receiving a net tax decrease of about 13 percent. But the determination of who gains and who loses depends on several factors – income, whether you own or rent your home, which school district you live in, and how much you spend on taxable items each year.

To try to give a clearer idea of what effect the tax plan could have on an individual, PennLive calculated how large a reduction in homeowners in different school districts would see in their school property tax homestead exemption.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/03/how_would_wolfs_proposed_tax_s.html

Wolf Administration Denounces Senate Republicans ‘Just Saying No’ To Helping Schools

Governor Tom Wolf’s website 03/06/2015

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today denounced a letter sent by the Senate Republican leadership to school districts across the state. The letter warned district superintendents to lower their expectations about the levels of funding to be provided by the commonwealth in the 2015-2016 budget. On Tuesday, Governor Wolf presented a budget proposal calling for the restoration of massive cuts made over the past four years to Pennsylvania’s struggling schools. The Senate Republicans’ response rejected this push for a historic reinvestment in education.

“Unfortunately, the Republican leadership is just saying no to challenging the status quo by putting forth the same old Harrisburg obstruction instead of real ideas to help Pennsylvania’s struggling public schools,” Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said. “Governor Wolf has proposed a bold and expansive plan to reinvest in our schools and our economic future. The Governor called for robust debate and collaboration in his budget address. This is the opposite of that. This is a political stunt.” In contrast to the negative expectations being set by Republican leaders, Governor Wolf’s budget sets the table for historic investments in education. Over the last four years schools across Pennsylvania have suffered from $1 billion cuts that led to massive layoffs, huge property tax increases, and the elimination of valuable programs. The data also shows that as education classroom funding fell, so did student scores in reading and math.

http://www.governor.pa.gov/Pages/Pressroom_details.aspx?newsid=1593#.VPpmoPnF_wq

How would Gov. Wolf’s proposed tax shifts affect you? Here are 8 scenarios

Penn Live By Teresa Bonner | tbonner@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on March 06, 2015 at 6:46 PM, updated March 07, 2015 at 6:59 AM

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget is proposing to raise the state’s personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent, increase the sales tax from 6 to 6.6 percent and broaden the number of items to which it will apply, and use the money raised from those tax increases to reduce school property taxes. His administration said most families will pay less under his plan, with the average family receiving a net tax decrease of about 13 percent. But the determination of who gains and who loses depends on several factors – income, whether you own or rent your home, which school district you live in, and how much you spend on taxable items each year.

To try to give a clearer idea of what effect the tax plan could have on an individual, PennLive calculated how large a reduction in homeowners in different school districts would see in their school property tax homestead exemption.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/03/how_would_wolfs_proposed_tax_s.html

“About 400,000 Philadelphians live in poverty. That’s close to the total population of Pittsburgh and Allentown combined – the state’s second- and third-largest cities. It includes nearly four out of every 10 children in Philadelphia.”

Reducing poverty would benefit all Philadelphians

PHIL GOLDSMITH, FOR THE INQUIRER OSTED: Sunday, March 1, 2015, 3:01 AM

Phil Goldsmith has been managing director of Philadelphia and chief executive officer of the Philadelphia School District.
Several years ago, I offered to give a new resident of Philadelphia a tour of the city. She was grateful but declined. Having lived in the suburbs, she said she knew Philadelphia quite well. After some back and forth, it was clear what she knew was Center City. My tour included the other Philadelphia: the good, the bad, and the ugly. One Philadelphia is vibrant. New condos, ample restaurants, an exciting cultural scene, fashionable shops – something for every generation from millennials to baby boomers. The energy is palpable as you walk the streets – safely.

But there is the other Philadelphia, where poverty lives and gives birth to unemployment, crime, high dropout rates, and, worst of all, hopelessness. For many people, this part of Philadelphia is out of sight and out of mind.

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20150301_Reducing_poverty_would_benefit_all_Philadelphians.html#vDV8pVZDcTolhTHW.99

So what does Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget mean for the average Pennsylvanian living in the Philadelphia area? Let me introduce you to two of my friends.

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/79291-what-happens-to-your-taxes-under-wolfs-budget-plan

“About 400,000 Philadelphians live in poverty. That’s close to the total population of Pittsburgh and Allentown combined – the state’s second- and third-largest cities. It includes nearly four out of every 10 children in Philadelphia.”

Reducing poverty would benefit all Philadelphians

PHIL GOLDSMITH, FOR THE INQUIRER OSTED: Sunday, March 1, 2015, 3:01 AM

Phil Goldsmith has been managing director of Philadelphia and chief executive officer of the Philadelphia School District.

Several years ago, I offered to give a new resident of Philadelphia a tour of the city. She was grateful but declined. Having lived in the suburbs, she said she knew Philadelphia quite well. After some back and forth, it was clear what she knew was Center City. My tour included the other Philadelphia: the good, the bad, and the ugly. One Philadelphia is vibrant. New condos, ample restaurants, an exciting cultural scene, fashionable shops – something for every generation from millennials to baby boomers. The energy is palpable as you walk the streets – safely.

But there is the other Philadelphia, where poverty lives and gives birth to unemployment, crime, high dropout rates, and, worst of all, hopelessness. For many people, this part of Philadelphia is out of sight and out of mind.

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20150301_Reducing_poverty_would_benefit_all_Philadelphians.html#vDV8pVZDcTolhTHW.99

Mike Klonsky wrote about the resistance to charters in the suburbs of Chicago. But not every suburb repelled charters, according to this reader:

“There is a charter in the south suburbs; specifically Rich Township H.S. District 227. It was ok’d by the state as part of Race to the Top. The effects have been devastating to our district. More than $8 million (actual figure–I’m one of our union negotiators) dollars of our already diminished general state aid goes straight to the charter because it is a public institution serving students from our district. We have had our school day shortened from 7 periods to 6, This, of course resulted in fewer choices for our students, particularly in the areas of electives, and massive lay-offs in both our certified and classified staff groups.

“As for their results: they graduated their first class last May. Of the original 125 in the class, only 71 remained by graduation. They of course claimed huge success because all 71 were accepted into some kind of post secondary education. Not many people thought to ask about the other 54 students who came back to us.”

There is much talk in Ohio about accountability for charters, but here is the real deal: the governor’s budget has more funding for charters, while half the state’s public school districts get budget cuts. Here is the latest from the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy:

“All charter schools get a funding increase while half of the school districts are cut

The Legislative Service Commission, a non-partisan office controlled by the legislature, has determined that all charter schools will receive an increase under the Governor’s budget proposal, while half of the school districts will be cut.

An article in the February 18 Columbus Dispatch indicates that Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) will receive 11% of all charter school funds by FY 2017. Of course, the ECOT operator contributes extremely large sums to the political campaigns of those in control of the Statehouse.

Kasich budget plan increases funding to all charter schools
Gov. John Kasich

THE DAILY BRIEFING

By Jim Siegel The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday February 18, 2015 5:52 AM

Charter-school funding in Ohio could exceed $1 billion by 2017 under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year budget, which provides increases to every school.

Most of the attention thus far has focused on the charter-school accountability and transparency provisions included in Kasich’s budget. Lawmakers more recently got a look at the breakdown in charter-school funding.

About half of traditional public schools would see funding cuts over the next two years under Kasich’s education funding plan, though it spends $459 million more. The non-partisan Legislative Service Commission calculated that charter-school funding will rise 5.4 percent over two years, with no schools facing a cut.

The commission estimates total charter-school funding of $990 million by 2017, though that figure does not assume any growth in enrollment over the next two years. It also does not include the additional $25 million in facilities money that Kasich would allow top-performing charter sponsors to use.

In 2017, about 11 percent of all charter-school funding would go to the online Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, better known as ECOT. With more than 15,000 students who take classes from home, it is by far the largest in the state. Nearly one-third of all charter-school students in Ohio take classes at an online school.

Innovation Ohio, a liberal research group and frequent charter-school critic, questions the fairness of the charter-school funding while so many traditional districts face cuts.

“With school funding levels not keeping pace with inflation, Gov. Kasich’s plan makes matters worse by funding charter schools at the expense of local school districts,” said Keary McCarthy, president of Innovation Ohio.

Very little of the increased charter-school funding, McCarthy said, is going to districts with a performance index score above the state average.

Greg Harris, state director of StudentsFirst Ohio, a supporter of school choice, disagrees that charter-school funding is hurting traditional schools.

“We want to move more towards a system of school funding where parents are empowered over the state to determine what’s best for their children,” he said. “We don’t think public charter schools ‘rob’ traditional public schools.”

But StudentsFirst Ohio and Innovation Ohio largely agree on the charter-school oversight provisions in Kasich’s budget, including requirements that fiscal officers be independent of sponsors and operators, and that every sponsor be approved by the state Department of Education. Sponsors would be prohibited from selling services to their schools.

“We support quality school choice, not crappy school choice,” Harris said. Under the budget and a priority House bill that includes other charter-oversight provisions, “sponsors with bad track records will increasingly find Ohio a hostile state to conduct business,” he said.

Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Education Association also argued for some additional concepts, such as a process for closing failing charter schools faster, a requirement on following state public-records laws, and funding that ensures that traditional schools are not financially penalized.

“If parents want to send their kids elsewhere, there should be a viable choice,” said spokesman David Williams of the OEA, the state’s largest teachers union. “Unfortunately, there are too many charter schools that are underperforming the local public schools, so there is no real choice in a situation like that.”

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

Every so often, I run into someone who says that he or she cannot take seriously the claim that there is such a thing as a “privatization” movement. They think that charter schools are public schools (I do not) and they scoff at any concern about for-profit schools. They say things like, “There have always been for-profit businesses in education, selling tests, textbooks, supplies, etc., why does it matter if some corporations run schools for profit?” In their eyes, corporate reform is innovative and risky, and no one—not even the for-profit corporations—is trying to privatize public education.

 

To anyone who questions the existence of the privatization movement, I recommend Doug Martin’s “Hoosier School Heist.” Martin is a blogger who holds a Ph.D. in nineteenth century American literature. He is a native of Indiana who is deeply versed in that state’s school politics and its major (and minor) players. His book is eye-opening; actually, his book is eye-popping. It is a no-holds-barred critique of Indiana’s politically and financially powerful privatization movement.

 

Martin’s critique shows the linkages among the free-marketeers, the Religious Right, and the greedy.

 

A few examples of his snappy style:

 

“Academic progress is irrelevant to voucher supporters, for the goal is not to improve schools through competition, as they claim, but to completely dismantle traditional public schools altogether. In fact, those calling for school privatization don’t want to hold anyone with profit motives accountable, as Florida has proven.”

 

He recognizes that vouchers and charters drain funding from public schools, leaving the latter with fewer teachers, fewer aides, fewer programs—“so for-profit education management companies can take them over with temporary teachers or justify starting charter schools by deeming the neighborhood schools as ‘failing.’”

 

He sees why Wall Street is involved in the charter industry. “Making money from disasters is a Wall Street specialty, and investors have jumped on the opportunity for school privatization. Besides generating tax-exempt bonds, stocks, and other shady financial gimmicks, school privatization allows big bank CEOs, private equity firm honchos, and hedge fund managers to collect interest on loans to non-unionized charter schools which employ a temporary teacher workforce….Unlike traditional public school boards, charter school boards are unelected, undemocratic, and cloaked in mystery. Their conflicts of interest enable schemes like high rent to waste public education money.”

 

Martin challenges the corporate-sponsored claims that the public schools are failing to produce a good workforce. He says that Indiana’s newspapers and TV stations “advertise corporate school talking points, portray front group spokespeople as ‘experts,’ and seldom, if ever, question that profit motives and rigged research behind the corporate-sponsored statements that our schools are failing.”

 

The Republican-dominated legislature has taken steps to cripple the funding of public schools. “To sneak more politically connected for-profit charter schools into Indiana, in 2010 legislators cut $300 million annually from the public school budget and mandated tax caps to purposely ensure the destruction of public schools….Since the state controls the purse strings, Republican lawmakers have purposely bolted in place everything needed to start closing down Indiana schools and expanding for-profit charter schools.”

 

Martin shows how the overuse of standardized testing has benefited corporate politicians like Mitch Daniels. Not only do they stifle the critical thinking skills needed in a democratic society, not only do they send millions to testing corporations, but they demoralize and drive out good teachers. This too sets public schools up for failure.

 

One of the valuable aspects of Doug Martin’s book is his careful dissection of the sponsors of corporate reform in Indiana. A key player is called the Mind Trust, which Martin cites as an exemplar of “crony capitalism.” Martin writes:

 

“The Mind Trust typifies America’s counterfeit political Left. Mouthing the rhetoric of class warfare, civil rights, and female empowerment, the mock liberals at Education Sector, the Center for American Progress, and the New America Foundation, all supportive of the Mind Trust specifically or school privatization in general (and most bringing home six-figure salaries), attack teachers unions and public schools and connive to mount in place a school system based on corporate profit, one which disenfranchises the female teachers and minority and poor students they claim to be helping.”

 

Martin calls out the enablers of the school privatization movement, such as Eli Lilly and the Lilly Endowment, reliable funders of privatization activities, and of Teach for America and the New Teacher Project, which will recruit the temporary teachers needed for the charters. He cites the power of ALEC in the Indiana legislature, whose members pushed to evaluate teachers by their students’ test scores and to judge colleges of education by the test scores of students taught by their graduates. He provides overviews of the anti-teacher, anti-union, privatization agenda of Stand for Children, DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), the Christian right, the Bradley Foundation, the DeVos family of Michigan, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), which promotes charters and vouchers.

 

Martin doesn’t offer any suggestions about how to combat the well-funded, interconnected organizations that are advancing the privatization agenda. His book contains valuable information about the privatization movement, its goals, its major players, and its strategies. He leaves it to voters to figure out how to save public education in Indiana.

 

Whether or not you live in Indiana, you should read this book. The major players like DFER and BAEO operate nationally. The activities in Indiana follow a script that is being enacted in many states, probably including yours.

 

Hoosier School Heist is listed on amazon.com, or you can obtain a copy by going to the website http://www.hoosierschoolheist.com.

Newly elected Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled his budget proposal, which includes $6 billion in cuts to universities, health care, and public sector pensions (except police and firefighters).

Rauner, a private equity investor until he ran for governor, proposed no new taxes on the wealthy.

““This budget is honest with the people of Illinois, and it presents an honest path forward,” Mr. Rauner said as he laid out what he deemed a “turnaround budget” before lawmakers in Springfield, the state capital. “Like a family, we must come together to address the reality we face. Families know that every member can’t get everything they want.”

“The fate of Mr. Rauner’s $31.5 billion spending plan, however, is uncertain, particularly given that Democrats hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the legislature. Democrats said it would harm middle-class families and the poor, while asking little more from wealthy residents. The proposed budget calls for no tax increases or new taxes.

“Governor Rauner’s plan includes proposals that will undermine access to health services, child care, affordable college and retirement security for working- and middle-class families,” said John J. Cullerton, the Democratic president of the State Senate, adding that the contents of the plan raised “significant questions about its viability” in the legislature.”

There has been much discussion on the blog about the “Coffee Cup” ad sponsored by the political action arm of the California Charter Schools Association. (See here and here.)

 

Here is the ad. 

 

Kayser is accused of being anti-public school, when in fact he has been a strong supporter of public schools and public school teachers. He is a strong critic of charters. That is why the CCSAA is spending big bucks to defeat him. He has voted to reduce class size, increase teacher pay, and restore programs lost to budget cuts.

 

The broken coffee cup, Kayser and his allies believe, is a subtle reference to his hands shaking because of Parkinson’s. Why else would he drop his coffee cup? If that was the intention of the ad, it is reprehensible. If it was not, CCSA has some explaining to do.

 

 

Peter Greene has done an amazing investigative review of the Boston Consulting Group. What is BCG? Why do reformers in so many cities hire this management consulting firm? What is its connection to the Gates Foundation and Arne Duncan?

Greene writes:

“Word went out today that immediately after Arkansas decided to make Little Rock Schools non-public, the Walton family called a “focus group” meeting “in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group. This is worse than finding the slender man in the back of your family portrait. For a public school system, this is finding the grim reaper at your front door. And he’s not selling cookies.”

Greene reveals BCG’s business strategies, which are totally inappropriate for education but beloved by reformers.

“Bottom line? Say a little prayer for the formerly public schools of Little Rock, because BCG is in town and they’re sharpening their axe.”

Thanks to reader GST for bringing this important story to our attention: a court in Pennsylvania ruled that the School Reform Commission may not cancel the contract of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. This is a battle that has gone on for two years, as the unelected School Reform Commission looks for ways to cut the budget. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia schools are suffering from former Governor Tom Corbett’s deep budget cuts, and the Legislature has refused to fulfill its responsibility to the children of Philadelphia.

 

Commonwealth Court judges have handed a win to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, ruling that the School Reform Commission cannot throw out the teachers’ union’s contract and impose new terms.

 

The decision was confirmed by Jerry Jordan, PFT president, on Thursday morning.

 

“This is a very big victory,” Jordan said.

 

After nearly two years of negotiations, the district had moved on Oct. 6 to cancel the teachers’ contract and impose health-benefits changes that would save the cash-strapped system $54 million annually, officials said.
In the decision, judges said that neither the state Public School Code nor the Legislature have expressly given the SRC the power to cancel its teachers’ contract.

 

“This Court is cognizant of the dire financial situation which the Districtcurrently faces and the SRC’s extensive efforts to achieve the overall goal of properlyand adequately meeting the educational needs of the students,” Judge Patricia A. McCullough wrote for the court. “There have been numerous difficult decisions that the SRC has been forced to make in an effort to overcome these economic hurdles, including a one-third reduction in staff and theclosing of 31 schools in recent years.”

 

But the law does not give the SRC the power to cancel a collective bargaining agreement.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/school_files/District-cant-impose-contract-court-rules.html#GVqP31QcrCMOdFmZ.99

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