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Stories tagged: November

So the charter funding formula is unfair – but to whom?


Dan Hardy

on Oct 20, 2014 12:36 PM

With education funds scarce in the commonwealth, the debate over how charter schools get their money has never been more polarized.

The stakes are huge: Last school year, 176 charter schools educated 129,000 students statewide, at a cost to Pennsylvania school districts of more than $1.2 billion. About half those schools and students are located in Philadelphia; they consume 30 percent of the District’s operating budget.

Charter schools are independently run public schools paid for by tax dollars, authorized and primarily funded by the school districts from which their students come. Districts send charters a per-student payment, based on a state-established formula.

Cybers get the same as brick-and-mortar schools


Dan Hardy

on Oct 20, 2014 12:35 PM

Pennsylvania’s 14 cyber charters enroll more than 36,000 students. Their model is very different from that of school districts – students learn at home via computer and generally don’t go to a physical location. But they are paid based on school district costs, not their actual expenses. In a 2012 report, Auditor General Jack Wagner said that Pennsylvania cybers were getting $105 million more than the national average for cyber spending.

State's special education funding rules are slow to change


Dan Hardy

on Oct 20, 2014 12:36 PM

Pennsylvania’s special education funding system is complicated and in flux. But it has generally discouraged districts from identifying too many special education students while rewarding charters that do so.

Organizer-turned-teacher connects with bilingual communities


Hina Fathima

on Oct 7, 2014 12:49 PM

Zac Steele has been passionate about education since he was a student at Swarthmore College. There he delved into issues of race and class in urban education, so when he came across a copy of the Notebook during his senior year, it was a welcome resource for topics he was already exploring.

Cartoon: It's getting crowded on the corner


Eric Joselyn

on Oct 3, 2014 03:48 PM

A look back: How Pennsylvania has distributed money for education since the 1960s

By the Notebook on Oct 2, 2014 10:39 AM


There were 2,277 school districts in Pennsylvania. Under Gov. William W. Scranton, a series of consolidations reduced the number of districts to fewer than 700 (it fell to 505 by the late 1970s).

Without a formula, Pa. allocations lack logic, predictability


Dale Mezzacappa

on Oct 2, 2014 10:40 AM

The point of a state education funding formula is to be fair, help all districts reach spending levels adequate to their needs, and adjust for demographic and other changes. Funding should be predictable so that districts can plan.

But Pennsylvania long ago abandoned such a system for distributing education aid, according to advocates and experts. And this has exacerbated inequities among districts and frustrated educators.

What is a state education funding formula?


Dale Mezzacappa

on Oct 2, 2014 10:37 AM

Although most education funding comes from local sources, all states contribute to school district costs, compensating for differences in property wealth, income levels, and taxing capacity among districts. Most states have a formula that guides how the aid is distributed among districts, based on factors such as enrollment, local wealth, and student characteristics.

Ideally, formulas are designed to make sure all districts have adequate funds and increase equity among districts. The particulars of each formula differ, but normally, richer districts get less state aid, while poorer districts depend on the state for much of their education money.

Padres demandan al estado por condiciones en las escuelas


Payne Schroeder | Traducción por Mildred S. Martínez

on Sep 30, 2014 02:13 PM

Siete padres de estudiantes del Distrito presentaron una demanda en el Tribunal Estatal en septiembre, aseverando que el Departamento de Educación del estado fue ilegalmente negligente y no investigó reportes de “deficiencias masivas de currículo” dentro del Distrito.

Coalition, parents win bill to improve academics for dyslexic children


Diane Reott and Nancy Scharff

on Sep 30, 2014 01:38 PM

Progress continues on efforts to advocate for children with dyslexia. On June 26, the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program was signed into law by Gov. Corbett. Through this pilot, the Pennsylvania Department of Education will be able to analyze how early screening and high-quality, evidence-based instruction can improve reading performance for all students and reduce special education referrals, particularly for dyslexic students.

The passage of House Bill 198 represents a year of hard work by then-State Rep. Ed Neilson and the Pennsylvania Dyslexia Literacy Coalition, formerly Pennsylvania Dyslexia Legislative Coalition. The coalition includes parents of dyslexic students who were not identified in early elementary school, did not receive evidence-based instruction, and felt stupid for not being able to read.

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