She literally sat on the board and worked with several sitting members of CAB when she was part of the Corbett administration. Now all these years later she appears before CAB for a hearing asking them to overrule the Harrisburg School Board that had originally denied her charter school’s application.
Guess who won?
The CAB unanimously sided with Dumaresq over elected members of the local community.
So Wolf finally gave these privatization zealots their walking papers.
It’s a pattern we’ve become sickeningly familiar with in Pennsylvania.
Previous CAB members have refused to let school boards consider the financial impact of opening a new charter school. However, the state constitution requires public schools to provide a quality education to students in their district. Therefore, if opening a new charter school would adversely affect a districts finances, doesn’t the constitutional necessity to provide a quality education take precedence?
Many school privatization critics think it does. Will Wolf’s nominees?
Unfortunately, they have several hurdles to clear before the senate would vote on them and we’d find out.
How dare he endanger short term fossil fuel profits just to provide a cleaner environment for our kids and grandkids!
As a result, they’ve vowed to block the Governor’s appointment to a state utility commission. It’s doubtful they’d let CAB nominees through while blocking Wolf’s other appointment.
Moreover, there will doubtless be legal challenges to the Governor’s firing of previous CAB members.
In the meantime, there are at least nine cases scheduled to be decided by CAB from Souderton, Southeast Delco, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. And that’s not even counting a recent pair of charter schools in Philadelphia where backers said they would appeal the local school board’s decision to deny their request to open.
Republicans may find themselves forced to choose between waiting out protracted legal challenges while their pet charters languish in appeals limbo or swallowing their pride, doing their damn jobs and voting on Wolf’s nominees!
Do you live in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania? I’m running for County Council in District 9
The $660 billion federal initiative was intended to help businesses keep employees on the payroll and off unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans will be forgiven if businesses meet certain conditions such as retaining or rehiring employees.
Since Imagine writes the Environmental Charter’s operating budget, the management company ends up paying itself for a number of services.
After the school gets funding from state, federal and community taxes (this year including bailouts from PPP and the CARES act), it pays 12 percent back to Imagine. This came to $406,000 in 2009, according to an independent financial audit.
The school also pays Imagine on a $250,000 loan that the charter operating company took out to launch the program. Payments come out to about $2,500 per month over 20 years with an interest rate of 10.524 percent.
The charter also pays Imagine rent on its building which was purchased in 2006 by Schoolhouse Finance – Imagine’s real estate arm – for $3 million.
Like the Environmental Charter, this so-called nonprofit hires a management company. In this case, it’s the infamous K12 Incorporated – a nationwide cyber charter network with a record of academic failure and financial shenanigans.
In 2016, the company reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state of California. The state claimed K12 had reported incorrect student attendance records and otherwise lied about its academic programs. The company ended up settling with the state for $2.5 million with an additional $6 million to cover the state’s investigation and K12 voided $160 million in credits it had given to the affiliated schools to cover the cost of their contracts.
Hill House offers a blended model with in-person teachers and virtual classes somewhat different than most K12 schools.
Penn Hills School Board – a duly elected body, not government appointees – outlined criticisms of the charter that do not put the entrepreneurial venture in a positive light.
Penn Hills School Board said the charter had failed to produce current student rosters, failed in record management, failed to accurately maintain student tuition payments, improperly billed the school district for special education students, failed to maintain and develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs), had poor academic growth and is under a Department of Education Corrective Action Plan setting forth 31 areas of needed improvement.
Finally, the charter school sucks away necessary funding from the authentic public school. The Penn Hills School District paid Imagine about $3 million in 2014-15. Costs increased to $12 million a year and continue to rise.
Nina Rees, executive director of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) has spoken out of both sides of her mouth on the issue. She has insisted that charter schools be regarded as public schools and eligible for emergency aid – all the while advising charter schools also to apply for federal rescue funds for small businesses devastated by the pandemic.
Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education, did not mince words.
“Once again, the charter sector, through the lobbying efforts of Nina Rees…worked behind the scenes to gain fiscal advantage for the privately operated schools they claim are public schools.”
ProPublica has put all the information into an easy to use search engine. Just enter a zip code and it will display all the businesses located there that received PPP loans.
This includes high tuition private prep schools like Sewickley Academy and Shady Side Academy both of which got $2 – $5 million, Winchester Thurston School which got $1 million – $2 million, and the charter schools listed above.
So for 12 months, there will be no state cuts to basic and special education or block grant programs for K-12 schools. Nor will there be state cuts to pre-kindergarten programs or colleges and universities receiving state funding such as community colleges.
That’s really good news in such uncertain times.
School directors can get their own financial houses in order for 2020-2021 without wondering whether the state is going to pull the rug out from under them.
The federal government pays about 10% of the cost across the board. The problem in Pennsylvania is that the state isn’t meeting its obligations thereby forcing local neighborhoods to shoulder most of the costs.
In rich neighborhoods, the local tax base can pick up the slack. In middle class neighborhoods, they can try. But poor communities end up relying more on the state to help or else their kids (who already have greater needs growing up in poverty) have to do without.
Those with greater problems are not given more money to deal with them. Instead, the money is being divided nearly evenly.
If you think that’s fair, imagine dividing $10 so a rich person, a middle class person and a poor person could get lunch. They’d each get $3 and change. The poor person can eat off the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant. The middle class person can use it to pay for tip at a sit-down restaurant. And the rich person can light his cigar with it on the way to a fine dining establishment.
In the case of theCOVID-19 stimulus money, each school district will get a minimum of $120,000 while each intermediate unit, career and technical center, charter school, regional charter school and cyber charter school gets $90,000. If there is any money left over, those funds will be distributed to school districts based on 2018-19 average daily membership.
However, why should cyber charter schools receive this money at all? They don’t have any extra costs for transitioning to distance learning. That is their stock and trade already. Moreover, they don’t have buildings that need deep cleaning or remodeling. This money is a no strings gift to such enterprises while other educational institutions go wanting.
Moreover, brick and mortar charter schools almost always serve smaller student populations than authentic public schools. Why should they receive a flat $90,000? Wouldn’t it be better to given them a portion of this money based on the number of students they serve and the degree of poverty these kids live in?
In fact, wouldn’t it make more sense to do the same among authentic public school districts, too? Why should a rich district where almost everyone already has wi-fi and personal technology devices get the same as a poor one where these services are much less widespread? Why should the state give the wealthy as much help as those who can’t meet their basic obligations to children without it?
It’s not like the Commonwealth doesn’t already have a measure to allocate funding more fairly. The legislature passed a bipartisan Basic Education Funding formula that we could have used to ensured districts would have received funding proportionate to the needs of their students.
The fact that the legislature neglected to use it here shows too many in the Republican majority are not committed to equity. In fact, they revel in being able to bring unnecessary money to their wealthier districts.
THE COMING STORM
These measures from the state legislature are a start at addressing the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis.
In Pennsylvania, districts anticipate $850 million to $1 billion in revenue shortfalls.
That could result in massive teacher layoffs and cuts to student services just as the cost to provide schooling increases with additional difficulties of life during a worldwide pandemic.
The state legislature can’t fix the problem alone.
The $13.5 billion in CARES Act stimulus provided to states is a fraction of the $79 billion that the federal government provided during the Great Recession. U.S. Congress needs to step up federal aide to protect our children and ensure their educations aren’t forfeit for economic woes they played no part in causing.
Now I’m oversimplifying a bit since you can only use the EITC for up to $750,000 a year, but it’s still a sweet deal for those who take advantage of it.
Meanwhile, this is less money for the rest of us to pay for much needed services. We lost $124 million in 2018-19, alone, to this program. Yet the legislature still voted to increase the program by $25 million last year.
We cannot afford to give away hundreds of millions of dollars annually to private and parochial schools while our authentic public schools which serve more than 90% of our children are underfunded.
The Republican Speaker of the state House is expected to propose a school voucher bill Monday that will treat Harrisburg Schools as nothing more than carrion fit for plunder by school privatization vultures.
There are already 612 children living in district boundaries who attend nonpublic schools who would immediately benefit. So even if no additional students decided to take advantage of the program, that’s a $2.5 million cost to cover partial tuition for students the state is not currently paying to educate. If any additional students decided to take advantage of the program, the cost would increase.
It’s unclear where the other half of the money would even come from that the state is supposed to match.
Thinking people know this is nonsense on so many levels. If the public schools have problems, there’s no reason to believe school vouchers hold the answer. After all, the best way to save yourself from drowning is to patch up the boat you’re already on. You shouldn’t jump to a lifeboat willy-nilly with no assurance that your escape craft is more seaworthy than the one you’re already sailing on.
And in fact, there is no evidence that voucher schools are better than authentic public schools.
A 2018 Study from the University of Virginia found that once you take family income out of the equation, there are absolutely zero benefits of going to a private school. The majority of the advantage comes from simply having money and all that comes with it – physical, emotional, and mental well-being, living in a stable and secure environment, knowing where your next meal will come from, etc.
While Republicans have the numbers to overturn any veto, it is doubtful they would actually do so. Historically they only need to show DeVos and her billionaire friends like the Koch Brothers that they tried to pass their ALEC-written legislation. They don’t actually have to pass it. In fact, doing so would make them responsible for it and could result in voters – even in such gerrymandered districts – turning against them.
What if instead they took to the streets with signs and placards, bullhorns and chanted slogans.
“Hey! HEY! Ho! HO! This Unfair Funding Has to Go!”
“What do we want!? FAIR FUNDING! When do we want it? YESTERDAY!”
The problem is that from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and all places in between, the Keystone state has the most unequal school funding system in the country. And no one in Harrisburg seems able and/or willing to do a damn thing about it.
The Denver strike ended Thursday morning with an agreement between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and Denver Public Schools. After three days on the picket line, teachers may be returning to their classrooms having achieved their goals.
Such a move would be unprecedented. To my knowledge, teachers strikes in the Commonwealth have always involved educators and staff at one of the hundreds of districts, not a unified action of teachers throughout the state. A movement on this scale would require cooperation and buy in from the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT). And union bosses are rarely motivated to endorse such measures without being forced to it by grassroots pressure from members.
Moreover, it would put teachers unions in a dangerous position. Each district contract has a no strike/no lockout clause guaranteeing that membership won’t walkout during the life of a contract. Where we’re seeing these major nationwide strikes either the contract has expired like in Denver and Los Angeles or they’re so-called “Right-to-Work” states without these explicit worker protections.
The federal government pays about 10% of the cost across the board. The problem in Pennsylvania is that the state isn’t meeting its obligation thereby forcing local neighborhoods to shoulder most of the cost.
In rich neighborhoods, this is no problem. In middle class communities, it’s not much of one. But in poor communities, there isn’t enough money to make up the difference. Their kids have no choice but to do without.
According to an Associated Press analysis of 2016-17 state data on school district spending, middle class districts spend as much as $673 more per student than poor districts. Rich districts spend about $4,300 more per student.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, poor schools in the Commonwealth spend 33 percent less on their students than rich ones. That’s a significantly larger difference than the next-closest state, Vermont, where the spending difference between rich and poor schools is only 18 percent. Three other states — Illinois, Missouri and Virginia — have gaps of 17 percent.
We can’t keep kicking minorities and the destitute to the curb. We can’t keep giving the rich and middle class every opportunity to succeed while depriving the poor of that same chance.
Wolf, the Democrats and a few Republicans have tried several times to fix the problem.
First, they attempted large increases in education funding to catch up to where funding would be if the Corbett cuts hadn’t happened coupled with the rising costs caused by inflation.
In 2015, the governor proposed a $400 million increase but funded it with a tax increase on the rich that almost all Republicans refused.
The lawsuit – now in its fourth year – is scheduled for trial before the state Supreme Court in 2020. So at best, relief is still a ways in the future. Many are hoping justices will order the legislature to dramatically increase its investment in public schools. But the outcome is certainly not a sure thing.
Could striking teachers in red and blue states be showing us in Pennsylvania the solution?
Might it be time to raise our teacher voices in the purple states, too?
And is there a path to equity through collective action that doesn’t hang teachers out to dry?
That’s incredibly significant – especially for an industry that enrolls about 35,000 students across the state.
These are charter schools operating without a charter. They only get the right to operate because a local school district or the state has signed a contract allowing them to do so.
If you hire a plumber to fix your toilet, you give him the right to enter your house and do what needs to be done. That doesn’t mean the plumber can walk in anytime he feels like it. There is a limited term of service. Once that term is up, the plumber needs to get out.
In the case of these cyber charters, the authorizer is the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
Charters are initially issued for three to five years. They are an essential contract between the schools and the supervisory body. The school details how it will operate, what curriculum and education strategies will be used, etc.
The state has the option to revoke the charter if the school violates its agreement or fails to meet requirements for student performance or fiscal management.
After the initial period, charters must be renewed every five years in the state.
Yet for the majority of the Keystone state’s cyber charter schools, this has not happened. The charter agreements have been left to lapse without any decision being made by state officials to renew or cancel them.
Some of the reluctance to decide may stem from the fact that the state Charter Appeal Board – the body which decides on appeals of charter applications – are all serving out expired terms, themselves. They were all appointed by the previous governor, Republican Tom Corbett, a notable privatization ideologue.
The current Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat now elected to his second term of office, still hasn’t gotten around to appointing new ones.
Another issue gumming up the works could be staffing issues at PDE that make it impossible to handle the reviews in a timely manner. It could be because the cyber charter schools have not provided all the data required of them by the state for the review to be completed on time. Or it could be because state officials are struggling with a fair and adequate metric with which to assess these schools.
Even the state’s own data shows lower graduation rates and standardized test scores at cyber charters than at traditional public schools.
According to a 2015-16 state PDE report, about 86 percent of public school students across the Commonwealth finished high school in four years. During the same time, only about 48 percent of cyber charter school students graduated in four-years.
And when it comes to special education funding, it gets worse. In Pennsylvania, our funding formula is so out of whack that charters schools of all stripes including cyber charters often end up with more funding for students with special needs than traditional public schools get. However, because of this loophole in the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania online charters have been increasing the number of special education students they enroll and even working to label as many of their students as possible as needing special services on the flimsiest of pretexts.
PA Cyber Charter founder Nicholas Trombetta was found guilty of tax fraud in relation to the theft of public funds. He used that money to buy an airplane, a $900,000 condo, houses for his girlfriend and mother, and nearly $1 million in groceries and personal expenses, according to the grand jury. Trombetta allegedly set up numerous for-profit and nonprofit businesses to provide goods and services to the cyber charter. Federal investigators filed 11 fraud and tax conspiracy charges against him and indicted others in the case.
It’s no wonder the state has been tardy renewing these schools’ charters!
Frankly, there is no good reason to continue lavishing taxpayer dollars on a system of education that provides subpar services at an exorbitant expense and is subject to runaway fraud.
But lawmakers have always been reluctant to do the right thing.
After all, there are a slew of wealthy investors who want to make sure the money train of taxpayer dollars keeps flowing to their shady businesses. And lawmakers who enable them are assured hefty campaign contributions.
With Ohio and California, Pennsylvania was in the “big three” cyber-charter states in 2016, accounting for half of cyber charter enrollment nationally, according to the industry’s authorizers’ association. While 35 states and the District of Columbia allow full-time cyber charter schools, eight do not, including neighboring New Jersey.
The right course is clear.
We just need a people-powered movement to force our lawmakers to do it.
Pam tried to bring up a few other topics – about how Republicans in our state of Pennsylvania are actively working to cut this man’s healthcare, calling this man’s generation “the greediest generation” and other topics.
But it did no good. Fox News had gotten there first.
So we handed him our campaign literature, thanked him and went on our way.
Sometimes that’s the best you can do.
And it’s not nothing.
If you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming you’re a lot like me.
It will take all of us, doing incremental good, every day we can.
So my suggestion is to make a commitment to voting this Nov. 6.
I know our electoral system is a mess. I know many people are being purged from the rolls and our districts are gerrymandered and the entire system is set up against us.
But if all of us try to vote, we can still win.
Find a candidate you can support and go out there and campaign for him or her.
I know there are a lot of phonies running for office. There are an awful lot of fake progressives who will talk nicely to your face and then sell you out to corporations and the wealthy at their first opportunity.
Just know that they’re not all like that.
Find yourself someone you can trust – probably someone new to the game coming on the scene to change things.
She’s an amazing lady with real conviction running for State Senate in the 38th District – that’s most of Northern Allegheny County from Franklin Park eastward, as well as Highland Park and sections of East Liberty in Pittsburgh.
When her campaign literature says she “won’t back down” fighting for working families. That’s what it means.
And her priorities – education, healthcare and labor – aren’t pie in the sky promises. She has a fiscally responsible plan to support them by creating a severance tax on natural-gas drilling and closing a loophole that allows businesses headquartered in other states to avoid state taxes. She wants to keep taxes low for homeowners while making sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share.
Perhaps that’s why a conservative dark money organization aligned with her Republican challenger, Jeremy Shaffer, has created knockoff campaign signs that look just like Williams with the word “Socialist” emblazoned on them.
It’s a desperation tactic.
Shaffer is down in the polls. The district – once a Republican stronghold – went to Hillary Clinton in the last election.
Even Shaffer, a Ross Township supervisor, is a throwback – he’s a far right extremist who primaried incumbent state Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Shaler) in May.
So not only is Williams a candidate I can believe in, her race really matters to the overall state picture. If the Democrats only pick up her seat in November and don’t lose any others, we’ll crush the GOP’s veto-proof majority!
But I didn’t come out this weekend just for Williams.
I also was there to canvass for Betsy Monroe, a Fox Chapel medical professional at Highmark running for State House in the same North Hills area.
She noticed that state Rep. Hal English (R-Hampton) had run unopposed in the last two elections, so she decided to run against him, herself.
Monroe was particularly angered by English’s vote to criminalize abortions after 20 weeks for all women in the Commonwealth. (The bill was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf back before the GOP had a veto proof majority.) She thought it was unfair for lawmakers to decide what adult women can do with their own bodies.
However, there was one other woman I was there to support – my own daughter.
For someone in elementary school, she is incredibly interested in politics. I caught her on Saturday literally writing political stump speeches for her stuffed animals. Let me tell you, Eeyore the donkey from the Hundred Acre Wood has some mighty progressive views on women’s rights!
I wanted my little one to see real women in politics, fighting to make a difference.
The news is always so grim. I wanted her to see that there are people out there fighting for the good.
And you know what? It helped me, too.
At this point I need to pause and give a huge “Thank You” to two people – Pamela Harbin and Jodi Hirsch.
Jodi is an amazing organizer who put together the event in the first place.
I wanted to get more involved in the election and Jodi knew exactly how I could do that and which candidates I’d be most interested in.
The defining moment of Pennsylvania’s one and only gubernatorial debate wasn’t made by incumbent Tom Wolf or his challenger Scott Wagner.
It was made by former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
At least it was made by him seven years ago.
Before voters overwhelmingly choose the Democratic Wolf to replace him, Corbett told a whooper about his administration and education funding – namely that he DIDN’T cut almost $1 billion from the poorest schools in the Commonwealth.
“Trebek: What you have not mentioned is education suffered immensely about seven years ago when Gov. Corbett knocked off about a billion dollars. And…
Wagner: That’s totally false.
Trebek: Oh, it’s false.
Wagner: That’s totally false. Those were federal stimulus dollars. Gov. Wolf went around and told that. It was a lie. Gov. Corbett … (Clapping)… And the stimulus money came in during Gov. Rendell’s administration. And so Gov. Corbett’s here tonight. People need to know that Gov. Corbett did as much for education as really any governor. (Clapping) And he needs to be remembered for that. He didn’t cut the billion dollars. It was a billion dollars of stimulus money that came in and they were told – the education system – I wasn’t there – Don’t hire teachers, don’t… They did all that. Guess what? Here’s the problem with the system, Alex. The billion dollars. It’s gone. We have nothing to show for it.”
Here’s the crux of the bedtime story he’s telling.
The big bad federal government gave us money, and when that money was spent, we didn’t have it anymore. So what mean ol’ Gov Wolf calls a budget cut was no one’s fault.
It’s as if someone gives you a couple hundred dollars for your birthday and then your boss stops paying you your salary. That may work this week, but next week you need your paycheck. Otherwise you don’t have money to pay the bills.
Your boss can’t say to you: I’m not cutting your wages. Look I gave you just as much money this week as last week.
But now that his campaign has seen how unpopular that position is, very recently he’s changed his tune.
Suddenly he says we should increase education funding.
And good for him.
However, if he’s using the Corbett playbook, it seems that “increase” really won’t be anything of the sort.
It will just be more creative accounting and fantasy storytelling. He’ll pay for pensions and say he’s increasing school funding. Or maybe he’ll fudge something else from column A and pretend it’s funding column B.
It’s disingenuous, dishonest and Pennsylvanians aren’t going to put up with it.
Perhaps that’s why Wolf is leading in the polls.
Wagner may have found a way to get his supporters into the debate hall – they certainly clapped loud at his points – but they are a minority among voters.
I wish Trebek had called him out on it.
I wish Gov. Wolf had challenged him.
But time was running short and Wagner still had to complain about a college swimming coach with too high a pension, and he had to whine about mean old Wolf demanding the Marcellus Shale industry pay its fair share of taxes.
There were plenty of other sparks at the debate.
Wagner raged about this and lied about that. He thinks running a state like Pennsylvania is like managing his $75 million garbage hauling company. But if given the chance, it will be our children’s future’s that are left in the trash.
Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf looked like the adult in the room, soberly explaining the improvements he’d overseen in his term in office (a balanced budget, healing some of the Corbett education cuts, etc.) and outlining where we need to go in the future.
Every time Wagner slammed him for taking support from unions, I wished he’d spoken up. But he just let it pass like Casey at Bat looking for a perfect pitch.
Twitter squeaky wheels thought the Jeopardy host’s moderation was weird. I’ll admit a tangent into the Catholic church and pedophile priests may not have been necessary. But he made the entire event more watchable and he called out Wagner’s lies more often than not.
He hates science. He hates schools. He hates teachers. And if students get in the way, he’ll hate them, too.
These are the qualities he thinks Pennsylvanians are looking for in their next governor.
The York Township Republican will challenge incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf on Nov. 6, 2018.
So who is this guy?
Wagner’s a college dropout who made a fortune starting a garbage hauling firm. He became a state senator four years ago after winning a write in campaign during a special election where only 17% of the electorate could be bothered to vote.
And ever since, he’s been consistent about one thing: he really, Really, REALLY hates teachers.
“We have 180,000 teachers in the state of Pennsylvania,” Wagner said in 2015. “If we laid off 10 percent of the teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, we’d never miss them.”
That’s a deficit we still haven’t recovered from. Even today, state schools are staffed at a 10-year low. Class sizes are at an all time high.
Yet Wagner wants to fire even more teachers!?
That’s not the policy of a man who wants to help improve life throughout the state for all. That’s not the policy of a man who wants to help kids learn.
It’s the policy of a man who has a personal grudge against educators.
And his other legislative objectives?
Wagner wants to further slash education funding. He wants to spend whatever is left inequitably. And he really wants to help his heroes Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos enact school vouchers so business people like him can continue to cash in on children from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and all places between.
By contrast, in his four years in office, Gov. Wolf has pushed to increase education funding, pushed to spend it more fairly, and even cut the time it takes for students to take high stakes standardized tests.
The good news: voters throughout the Commonwealth have never had a clearer choice for governor.
The bad news: when has that ever stopped them from getting it wrong?
“We have created a special class in this state and the special class is the public sector union employee,” Wagner told Keystone Crossroads in a 2015 interview.
“Teachers are doing very well in this state,” he said. “People would be appalled if they knew what their teachers made, in certain areas.”
Unfortunately, Wagner has no idea, himself.
He keeps quoting a bogus salary figure that I’m not going to repeat. It’s not true statewide, it’s not an average, nor is it true in his home district.
In truth, the low end for teachers entering the field nationwide is around $30,000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). So go to college, get a four – sometimes five – year degree including a rigorous internship of student teaching and you make a mere $10,000 above the most generous minimum wage!?
According to that data, Pennsylvania teachers make on average $63,063 per year. Of neighboring states, teachers in Maryland ($65,247) and New Jersey ($71,687) make more. Teachers in Ohio (59,063) and Delaware ($59,853) make less.
In other words, if prospective teachers want to make more money, all they have to do is switch majors.
That may be part of the reason for our national teachers shortage. Not only have states like ours laid off tens of thousands of educators, many don’t stay in the field if given the chance. Across the country , 46 percent of educators quit before reaching the five year mark. And it’s worse in urban districts, where 20 percent quit every single year!
“There are teachers that will exceed expectations while teaching a classroom of 100 of the toughest-to-teach students. There are also teachers that would struggle to teach just one student at a time. I want the first teacher to make a small fortune, and I want the second teacher to find a new career that is better suited for him or her.”
So if you teach the best students, you should make the most money? And if you teach struggling students, you should be fired?
But It’s Not Just Teachers. He Hates Other Working People, Too
If there is a corner to cut, he wants to take it – especially if it screws a working person. As a state senator, Wagner even introduced a bill that would exempt school districts from paying laborers the “prevailing wage” on construction projects.
Cheaper labor, shoddier work. That’s surely a recipe for success in buildings housing school children!
I’m sure reducing teaching to a career without benefits, workers rights or protections will do wonders for the educational quality students receive.
Teachers working conditions are students learning conditions. Putting children in a building that has fewer safety precautions because there’s no union to collectively bargain for them is a great way to cut costs. But parents aren’t thrilled about having their kids try to learn in a sweat shop filled with Trump brand Russian asbestos.
Charter schools, funding private and parochial schools with public tax dollars. He’s in for all of it.
So long as it hurts public schools and enriches private businesses without helping students learn at all.
Go ahead! Take scarce funding from public schools and divert it to programs with little to no accountability. Let private school operators fraudulently misrepresent enrollment data. Let them fail to provide safe and academically appropriate learning environments. Let them game the system in any and every way.
That’s what Wagner calls fiscal accountability.
It doesn’t matter that these schools don’t improve student achievement. Evaluations of voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., have all found no statistically significant differences in the academic achievement of voucher students compared to public school students. And recent evaluations of programs in Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana revealed that voucher students scored lower than their peers attending public school.
But who cares about facts? This is all ideology for Wagner.
Vouchers have a record of undermining student’s civil rights – especially students with disabilities. Private school students give up due process and other rights guaranteed in public schools. Private schools are allowed to discriminate by denying admission based on religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, English language proficiency and disability. Private schools that enroll students with disabilities may decide not to provide the services or accommodations guaranteed to such students in public schools. Or they may charge parents extra for them. Moreover, there is nothing to stop them from segregating these kids from other children. And, finally, private schools often suspend or expel students without due process.
This may be Trump and Wagner’s ideal. But it is certainly not what Commonwealth voters want for their children.
He Wants to Get Rid of Many State Colleges
Wagner caused an uproar when he said the state’s 14 state colleges will not be around in four years. “So, for those of you who think your school’s going to be around four years from now, it isn’t going to be around,” Wagner said.
Fewer institutions of higher learning. Fewer opportunities to get a college degree. That sounds like the policy of a college dropout.
But that’s either too complicated for Wagner or he just doesn’t care.
He supported Gov. Corbett’s plan to decimate Pennsylvania’s schools. And he doesn’t think the culling should be over.
When asked point blank about Corbett’s cuts in 2011, he said, “Yes, I believe that Governor Corbett needs to stick to his plan.”
He’s said repeatedly that we spend “enough money” on public schools, while stressing the need for frugality and fewer regulations.
He Wants to Play with How Schools Are Funded
He’s an advocate for legislation that would eliminate school property taxes and replace them with increased state sales and income taxes.
True we need a better funding mechanism than local property taxes. But you can bet Wagner’s plan is worse than the current system.
It would lock funding inequities among Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts into place.
He Thinks Global Warming is Caused by the Earth Getting Closer to the Sun
Wagner is an incredibly stupid man who thinks he’s rather intelligent.
But of all the dumb or evil things that come spewing out of his mouth, this one has to be my favorite.
When asked about global climate change, he didn’t simply deny that it was happening. He had an alternative theory to why it was taking place.
It’s not business and industry or fossil fuels that is causing global temperatures to rise. He actually said that it’s because the earth is getting closer to the sun every year. Another cause? Human bodies on the planet are giving off enough heat to raise the global temperature.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a person who hates schools and teachers so much knows very little, himself.
These comments made him a national laughing stock.
His words were repeated on every late night comedy show across the country for giggles and guffaws.
The question is “Will the joke be on us come Election Day?”
It’s not “How dumb is Scott Wagner?”
It’s “Is Pennsylvania dumb enough to vote for him?”
NOTE: Special Thank you to Sue Goncarovs for the Wagner cartoon with which I began this piece. I love your work!
“Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a Special Election (March 13). Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!”
Of course, Trump immediately had to walk back this comment because his trip to the keystone state was being paid for with public tax dollars. He had to say that it was an official White House event and not (as he indicated in the tweet) that it was a campaign event.
You know, for once I agree with Trump.
Rick Saccone IS Trump’s kind of guy.
He has lots of experience as a Yes Man. That’s really all he’s done in Harrisburg.
We used to have our own version of Trump – a Republican Governor who had no idea how to do his job – Tom Corbett.
Of course, Corbett’s reign was short lived. Like the President, his popularity plummeted and he was voted out of office like yesterday’s garbage.
But he had his loyal bobble head Saccone backing him every step of the way.
In fact, he voted for Corbett’s initiatives 95% of the time giving him the nickname of Corbett’s “Mini-me.”
Even when Corbett proposed something deeply unpopular, like cutting almost $1 billion from the state’s poorest public schools, Saccone went out there to explain why our children, our future, just weren’t worth the investment.
The Swamp recognizes Saccone as one of their own.
That’s why big moneyed interests are pouring cash on the sycophantic lawmaker. That and the fact that the district in question went for Trump in the last election by 20 points.
Congressional Leadership Fund has put aside at least $1.6 million for ads, not to mention funding from outsiders like the 45Committee and Ending Spending – a group founded by the mega-donor Ricketts family.
All this money just to serve out the remainder of Murphy’s term!
Whoever wins would be up for re-election in November to secure a full two-year term.
Moreover, now that the state Supreme Court has overturned the Commonwealth’s gerrymandered districts that unfairly favor Republicans, that November race is likely to include newly drawn legislative lines.
So this GOP wonderland that boosted Trump and Mitt Romney in 2012 will likely become more competitive.
In fact, it may already be.
Some polls have Saccone up over Lamb by only a 3 point lead. This may be in part because of Trump’s steadily deflating support – even among Republicans. The President’s approval rating in the district has dropped to 49 percent – not far from the national picture where 47 percent disapprove of his job performance.
This is not good news for Saccone.
The SuperPACS supporting him are trying to paint Lamb, a former federal prosecutor, as a Nancy Pelosi puppet.
But Lamb has repeatedly criticized Pelosi, telling The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he would not support Pelosi as the Democratic leader. There is a “need [for] new leadership on both sides,” Lamb said.
Taking his cue from the Commander in Chief, Saccone took to twitter to express his feelings:
“I’m humbled that @realDonaldTrump for President, Inc, has officially endorsed my campaign for Congress!”
I’m not sure why he wrote “President, Inc.”
Perhaps Saccone thinks the office belongs to a private company.
Perhaps he doesn’t understand that a politician’s job is to serve the needs of his or her constituents.
Judging by his less than stellar performance in state government, this would seem to be the case.
He’s come a long way from earnestly trying to legislate past the establishment clause of the first amendment to fighting to starve our schools to running for a position as Trump’s favorite puppet.
That depends on voters this March.
Full Disclosure:I am not a Saccone fan. Along with teachers, parents and students from across western Pennsylvania, I’ve picketed outside of his offices demanding he do his job and provide for students. He was deaf to our cries. Do you hear me now, Rick?