Gov. Corbett delivered his annual budget address in Harrisburg yesterday, indicating that public school funding would see an increase of $369 million. Two-thirds of that – $241 million – will be directed to the "Ready to Learn" block grant focused on early learning, STEM education, and supplemental instruction. Basic education funding, however, remained flat. Philadelphia will get a $29 million increase through the grant program.
The Notebook gathered reactions to the budget proposal from several education advocates and organizations.
The State Senate approved the nominations of City Councilman Bill Green and People’s Emergency Center executive director Farah Jimenez to the School Reform Commission in a vote of 44-2 this afternoon. Sens. Vincent Hughes and Andrew Dinniman were the dissenting votes.
Gov. Corbett nominated both Green and Jimenez to the five-member panel last month. Green will fill the chair position left vacant by Pedro Ramos, who resigned in October, citing family issues. Jimenez will fill the seat left vacant by Joseph Dwortezky, whose term expired in January.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
On a frigid January morning nearly halfway through a school year marked by draconian cuts to services and staff, Gov. Corbett -- plagued by a low approval rating and an impending November election -- braved the eastbound lanes of the Turnpike to make his first gubernatorial appearance at a Philadelphia traditional public school.
At least that's the way it was written up in the playbook.
Notebook sources and other news reports indicate that Gov. Corbett intends to nominate Councilman Bill Green as chair of the School Reform Commission on Friday and appoint Farah Jimenez, executive director of the People's Emergency Center, to fill a second seat on the commission being vacated by Joseph Dworetzky.
by Naveed Ahsan
Teachers, parents, students, and education activists will gather at 4:30 p.m. today outside Gov. Corbett’s Philadelphia office, 200 S. Broad St., as part of the National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.
Education advocates will stage actions in more than 60 cities across the country, demanding better schools for America’s children. The day of action was planned by an alliance of teachers' unions and community groups to fight back against what they see as an unprecedented attack on the public school system.
Hundreds are expected to convene outside Corbett’s office, including members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), the Rev. Kevin Johnson of Bright Hope Baptist Church, and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan.
by Isaac Riddle
Five of the eight Democrats vying to challenge Gov. Corbett next year gathered in front of education and community groups at a candidate forum held at Temple University last Saturday.
The forum opened to chants of “whose children, our children” and “whose jobs, our jobs” by members of the audience.
Pedro Ramos resigned from the School Reform Commission and his position as chair this week for personal reasons. The letter he sent to Gov. Corbett talks of operational reforms that were made under his watch while the District dealt with deep fiscal challenges.
Although he uses careful language to describe the response of the state and city to the District's request for additional funds, he blames the recession, and not political decisions, for the District's financial woes.
In the letter, Ramos tells Corbett that "financial support" is necessary, along with "a system and a culture of adult accountability," in order to deliver on the promise of a ''safe, high-quality seat for every child."
"I remain optimistic that all our leaders will continue to work together for the benefit of all the Commonwealth's children, including Philadelphia's children," Ramos wrote.
Pedro Ramos, who has served for two years as School Reform Commission chair, has resigned from his post and the commission, citing family matters.
Ramos’ term on the SRC expires in 2014. His replacement on the commission has not yet been named. Commissioner Wendell Pritchett has previously filled in as acting chair in his absence.
Ramos was a gubernatorial appointee. The governor appoints three of the five commissioners, and the mayor appoints two.
Ramos, 48, a former Philadelphia school board president, city solicitor, and managing director, was appointed to the panel by Gov. Corbett in 2011. He joined the SRC at a time of unprecedented financial crisis in the District and worked with school, city, and state officials to bring the District's budget back into balance. Advocating a fiscally responsible stance, he presided over deep cuts in spending.
by Dale Mezzacappa for the Notebook and Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The tug-of-war between the city and the state over how to keep the Philadelphia School District solvent heated up on Wednesday, with City Council President Darrell Clarke announcing that he is not on board with a key piece of the funding package worked out in Harrisburg -- dedicating $120 million to the schools in future years by extending a 1 percent local sales tax.
Instead, Clarke wants to direct just $70 million of the sales tax revenue to the schools and use the rest of it for debt service and the city's chronically underfunded pension system.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The Pennsylvania House passed a bill Monday that directs $45 million in additional state aid to Philadelphia's cash-starved schools, but only under certain conditions.
One of those conditions is that the money actually materializes.
The state has apparently persuaded federal officials to forgive a years-old debt, freeing up millions of dollars for public education.
However, Gov. Corbett's office said that negotiations between the state and feds over the debt have not been finalized. Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni declined to provide more details.