Education

Third and State This Week: Public Health Experts on Alcohol Privatization and a Paid Sick Days Follow Up

It was a short week at Third and State, but Steve Herzenberg managed to pen blog posts on a group of public health experts' recommendation against further privatization of alcohol sales and how a paid sick days bill could make Philadelphia a high road city of opportunity. Plus, the Friday Funny is back.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On workplace issues, Steve Herzenberg asks whether Philadelphia wants to attract employers that have advanced and effectively enforced labor standards, including paid sick leave, or employers with low standards.
  • On privatization, Steve writes that national public health experts are recommending against further privatization of retail alcohol sales based on evidence that it would increase excessive alcohol consumption and related problems.
  • Finally, today's Friday Funny brings a little of The Simpsons' sense of humor to the question of how we prioritize spending on schools and prisons.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Friday Funny: Our Schools, Our Prisons

I've been thinking a lot about this classic episode of The Simpsons, in which school administrators, faced with a funding crisis, decide to rent out the cloakrooms at Springfield Elementary to the overcrowded prison system.

What, you ask, has me thinking about a 1995 episode of The Simpsons?

Could it be that the budget approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives cuts close to a billion dollars for schools, while increasing the state's corrections budget by $171 million?

Third and State This Week: Teacher Salaries, Legislative Updates & Paid Sick Leave in Philadelphia

This week at Third and State, we blogged about teacher salaries and a paid sick leave bill in Philadelphia City Council, along with providing legislative updates on efforts to cut unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania and advance a state budget with deep cuts to education and human services.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On workplace issues, Steve Herzenberg takes apart an analysis by an economist for the National Federation of Independent Business that vastly overstates the impact of a paid sick leave bill now before Philadelphia City Council.
  • On unemployment insurance, Mark Price reports on the defeat of an anti-worker unemployment compensation bill in the state House, and has a follow-up post with data on income in York County to explain what is at stake when politicians tinker with unemployment.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal writes about House passage of a state budget that cuts $1 billion from public schools and reduces Governor Corbett's budget by $471 million for health and human services for women, children and people with disabilities.
  • Finally, on education, Steve Herzenberg highlights a project that is educating Americans on the relatively low teacher pay in this country compared to the most successful educational systems in the world.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Teacher Salaries and the Medieval Bloodletting of the Public Schools

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Many people know Dave Eggers for his entertaining first book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It's the story of the death of both his parents from cancer within a matter of months, and Eggers' subsequent raising of his younger brother to adulthood.

A few weeks ago, a New York Times op-ed, "The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries," introduced me to the efforts of Eggers and his colleagues to educate the public on the need to elevate the status and salaries of teachers. The op-ed starts with a compelling analogy: when the U.S. runs into challenges in military conflicts, it doesn't start pointing fingers at men and woman fighting in the trenches for low pay and little recognition. Instead, we ask questions about the performance of military leaders and whether we are providing training and supports that give soldiers a chance to succeed.

Third and State This Week: Closing Loopholes, a Flawed School Vouchers Plan and More

This week, we blogged about closing tax loopholes on Tax Day, a deeply flawed school vouchers plan in the state Senate, Governor Corbett's claims about property taxes in Texas, and much more. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On education, Steve Herzenberg wrote that despite amendments made to the Senate school voucher bill, it remains a deeply flawed and expensive new program, with little to no accountability.
  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared her Tax Day op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she suggests that instead of grumbling about taxes this year, we start the work of closing tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit the well-connected few. Meanwhile, Chris Lilienthal passed on Tax Day resources from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Demos' Taxes Matter Project to provide a fresh perspective on how we think about taxes. And Michael Wood posted a video clip from a Monday press conference, hosted by Common Cause Pennsylvania, where he and good government advocates called on lawmakers to close tax loopholes before cutting schools, colleges and services for vulnerable Pennsylvanians.
  • Finally, on the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood sets the record straight on what taxes Texas drillers do and don't pay, in response to recent comments by Governor Corbett.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Despite Changes, Senate Voucher Plan Deeply Flawed

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Next week, the Pennsylvania Senate may take up an amended plan to create the largest-in-the nation private school vouchers program.

While Senate Bill 1 was amended last week, the bill remains deeply flawed.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of April 11

This week, we blogged about  adultBasic and (Not So) Special Care, a lack of accountability in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, a fact check on claims about gas drilling in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and much more. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On health care, Sharon Ward writes that few adultBasic enrollees who lost their health care last month are enrolling in the Blues' Special Care Program.
  • On education, Steve Herzenberg explains that we don’t know much about the 38,000 students who received taxpayer-funded scholarships in 2009-10 to attend private and religious schools under the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC)
  • On the state budget, Kate Atkins (in her Third and State debut) shares the story of a Delaware County man who pulled his life together thanks to a state-funded program that might be defunded next year.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mike Wood has a fact check on claims made by Acting Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser on gas drilling in West Virginia, with a drilling tax, and Pennsylvania, without one. 
  • Finally, in this week's Friday Funny, Chris Lilienthal writes that the City of Altoona has gone "Pom Wonderful" - selling naming rights to the city to documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to promote his upcoming film about product placement.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Don't Know Much About History ...

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Last week, we released a report at the Keystone Research Center that has me humming an old Sam Cooke song. You probably know it. It goes:

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

So why am I humming this oldie but goodie?

Well, because in Pennsylvania, we don’t know much about the 38,000 students who received taxpayer-funded scholarships in 2009-10 to attend private and religious schools under the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).

Budget Should Concern Parents and Property Taxpayers

I have an op-ed in today's Morning Call of Allentown responding to Governor Corbett's budget proposal. It takes a close look at severe cuts to public schools and support for Penn State and other colleges and universities proposed by the Governor:

If you have children or pay property taxes in Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett's budget proposal should trouble you. His budget cuts public school aid by a billion dollars, setting funding back three years. Support for Penn State and other colleges and universities is cut in half.

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