Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Learn More About Fair School Funding Thursday

The meeting will be held at Rupert Elementary School, starting at 7 p.m.

I know, I know; the phrase "joint school board/borough council meeting" does not have you rushing to your calendar to check your schedule.

But maybe you should  -- at least if you care about fair public school funding, an issue which is currently giving Pottstown the very short end of a very sharp stick.

Right now in Pennsylvania, the amount of resources your public schools can bring to bear on your child's education has more to do with your zip code than the innovative financing of the administration.

In fact the innovation is more likely to be found in places like Pottstown and Daniel Boone school districts where enfeebled tax bases make the raising of local public revenues both burdensome and unequal when compared with wealthier locales.

In a state where about 34 percent of public school funding comes from the state -- the national average is closer to 44 percent -- that means local taxes make the difference.

So while financial contortions are happening in places that are stringing together programs with Scotch tape and wishful thinking, places like the Merions (Upper and Lower), resplendent in the benefits of more affluent households, an opulent tax base, and a funding formula that favors the already favored, build a second pool.

Well if this kind of situation burns your bunions the way it burns mine, you might actually want to pencil in the Jan. 29 joint meeting.

Because one of the featured presenters on the agenda is Lawrence Feinberg. 

"And just who is Lawrence Feinberg?" you ask.
All photographic evidence suggests
Lawrence Feinberg has a sense of humor.

I'm glad you did, because I'm about to tell you. 

In addition to being a Haverford school board member and the operator of an extremely helpful and informative list serve of articles about education in Pennsylvania, he is one of Pennsylvania's 11 circuit riders.

"And what....?" Hold on, I'll tell you.

A circuit rider is someone who is trying to build support, or "political will," among educators to support a fair funding formula for public education.

Currently the matter is being reviewed by a task force set up by former Gov. Tom Corbett and this group has some thoughts on the results.

The guidelines for what they would like to see in a new formula are simple and straightforward:
  • Accuracy is important: The formula should be based on real costs, and real data;
  • Students and schools need stability: The new system must be transparent, sustainable, equitable, and long-range — and supported with sufficient, stable, and broad-based resources
  • Responsibility is shared: The new system must operate based on shared fiscal responsibility among the local community, the state, individuals, and commercial taxpayers;
  • Accountability is required: The new system must include strong accountability standards to ensure that schools invest efficiently and effectively to boost student achievement and help ensure post-secondary success
And Feinberg is no slouch.

In 2011 he was the Recipient of Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s first annual Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award. 

In 2012, Feinberg was the Recipient of Media Area NAACP’s Foot Soldier for Justice Award; and was part of a group of 40 education leaders from Pennsylvania invited to meet with President Obama’s senior education policy advisors as well as top staff from the U.S. Department of Education.

And, among other things, Feinberg is Founder and Co-Chair, Keystone State Education Coalition, a statewide, bipartisan grassroots advocacy organization of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from Pennsylvania school districts who evaluate, discuss and inform their school boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest.

Let's face it, the list goes on and on. In other words, this guy knows his stuff and, if you get your butt over to Rupert Elementary School Thursday, he's going to share some of that knowledge with you and the school board and borough council

The meeting starts at 7 p.m., and if you want a tour of the newly refurbished Rupert Elementary, get there at 6:30.

Be warned, after the joint meeting, the regular school board meeting that was postponed Monday for a snow storm that never showed up, will take place.

But don't worry, you can leave whenever you want.

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