Close enough for government work: This town reveals the problem with family and politics

April 23, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

ONE BIG FAMILY: Council members from the tiny Northeastern Pennsylvania borough of Throop have a history of hiring their family members.

By Will Swaim |

There’s an old aphorism, sometimes attributed to Harper Lee, that goes, “You can pick … Read the rest

Philly ghost teachers made more than $1.7M last year

April 23, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman |

At least 18 public school teachers who never stepped foot in a classroom last year made more than $1.7 million from the School District of Philadelphia.

Those teachers worked full-time for the Philadelphia Federation of … Read the rest

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rejects school funding lawsuit

April 22, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

The Commonwealth Court spiked a school-funding lawsuit this week, ruling that education spending is not in its wheelhouse.

“This is a legislative policy determination,” Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote, referencing state Supreme Court rulings that eliminate … Read the rest

Book-starved Philly schools forced to fend for themselves

April 17, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman |

The School District of Philadelphia does not have enough books for students.

And it doesn’t seem to care.

BOOK CHECK: While Philly schools need supplies and books, the district does nothing to track where donated

Read the rest

Pennsylvania pension funds could run dry in as little as 10 years

April 16, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Without higher contributions from workers and taxpayers, Pennsylvania’s public sector pension plans may not be able to pay for their promises.

And if investment returns fail to live up to expectations, the two pension … Read the rest

Advocates present plan to fix failing Pennsylvania schools

April 10, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

Despite massive taxpayer investments, some Pennsylvania schools continue to fail.

How to fix that problem is the subject of much debate in state and local government, but one education reform group says the state should … Read the rest

Teachers union gets free office space from broke Philly school district

April 8, 2015 | By | Posted in Investigations

By Evan Grossman |

While local students are forced to go without basic supplies like toilet paper and textbooks, the School District of Philadelphia is giving away thousands of dollars of free office space each year to the … Read the rest

Kane revoked subpoenas in casino investigation involving DeNaples, Inky says

April 3, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

More bad news for Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Already facing questions over why she closed a criminal probe into corrupt state lawmakers, Kane will now have to answer to allegations she shut down an … Read the rest

Philadelphia schools tread on rocky fiscal footing

April 3, 2015 | By | Posted in General News, Legislature

By Evan Grossman |

PHILADELPHIA — If the School District of Philadelphia gets every penny it expects from increased state and local funding, massive investments in city schools will only temporarily solve the district’s financial woes.

Another reason for … Read the rest

With limited reach, Philadelphia mayoral foes are talking out of school

March 27, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

PHILADELPHIA — No issue more seems to be important to Pennsylvanians at the moment than education, according to several polls.

So it makes perfect sense that Philadelphia mayoral candidates have made schools a top talking … Read the rest

Mixed messages making school budgets a challenge

March 26, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman |

Imagine sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him everything you want for Christmas. Then, imagine Santa removing his beard and telling you, Don’t count on it.

In a way, that’s what’s happening in Pennsylvania.


Read the rest

Nine of Pennsylvania’s 10 largest cities have more pensioners than workers

March 24, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Eric Boehm |

Meet the new poster child for Pennsylvania’s municipal pension problems.

York is a mid-sized city of 43,000 residents in central Pennsylvania near the state’s southern border that’s facing more than $64 million in pension-related debt.… Read the rest

Despite high marks, Pennsylvania charter schools still under attack

March 24, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

PHILADELPHIA — A national education reform organization charges school choice and education freedom are under siege in the City of Brotherly Love.

NO CHOICE: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has taken an adversarial position against charter

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Bills aim to protect Pennsylvania’s best teachers

March 19, 2015 | By | Posted in Legislature

By Evan Grossman |

Twin bills seek to eliminate the fat-cat mentality protecting weak Pennsylvania teachers from layoffs because they’ve been on the job longer than some of their more talented peers.

HIGH STANDARDS: Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland, introduced

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Are Philly school reformers the silent majority?

March 17, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

PHILADELPHIA — Union-financed activists are drowning out the voices of parents who want better opportunities for their kids, some believe.

Last month’s well publicized School Reform Commission meeting tested this theory. Anti-charter groups repeatedly shouted … Read the rest

Former School Reform Commission chairman backs off lawsuit

March 11, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

Bill Green won’t sue Gov. Tom Wolf to get his old job back, but the former chairman of the School Reform Commission is not backing off his critical claims against the governor’s perceived alliance with … Read the rest

Lawsuit aims to bust Philadelphia ‘ghost teachers’

February 27, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

A lawsuit filed in Philadelphia County Court is taking aim at the practice of using so-called “ghost teachers” to work for the local teachers union on school time.

GHOST BUSTERS: Fairness Center lawyers are challenging

Read the rest

SRC taking teachers to Pennsylvania Supreme Court

February 26, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

The School Reform Commission and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are going back to court.

The SRC, which controls the cash-strapped School District of Philadelphia, will appeal a Commonwealth Court decision that blocked it from … Read the rest

Philly gets 5 more charter schools during wild SRC meeting

February 20, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman |

Five charter schools were approved, four people were arrested and both sides of Philadelphia’s thorny education debate left a marathon meeting Wednesday feeling a sense of loss.

“From the perspective of who lost, it was … Read the rest

Commentary: Wolf’s death penalty moratorium forces conservatives to confront their views on the subject

February 17, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Many conservatives will be familiar with — and most will likely agree with — Grover Norquist‘s view that government should be small enough to be drowned in a bathtub.

Yet many who … Read the rest