Challenges piled high for new PA secretary of education

January 22, 2015 | By | Posted in Governor

By Evan Grossman |

Gov. Tom Wolf is counting on Pedro Rivera to usher in a fresh start for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.

Pending Senate approval, Pedro Rivera will have his hands full as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education.

Rivera … Read the rest

High price of free tuition goes beyond dollars and cents

January 20, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman │

Free tuition will be expensive.

President Obama in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address layed out a proposal, introduced earlier this month, offering interested students free community college tuition. Obama made the announcement in a … Read the rest

Does No Child Left Behind nurture a culture of cheating?

January 20, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman |

With millions in federal money and jobs at stake, has No Child Left Behind created an incentive for teachers to cheat on standardized tests?

The high-stakes testing required by NCLB has been one of the … Read the rest

New website opens school finances for public review

January 19, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman /

It’s one small click for man and one giant leap for government transparency.

Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver) introduced a new online tool Wednesday that gives the public greater access to school finances, how the … Read the rest

Union-funded nonprofit that attacked Corbett faces IRS fine

January 14, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a labor union-funded political action committee that spent more than $1 million attacking Gov. Tom Corbett during the past two years, is in trouble with the IRS.

The group failed to … Read the rest

Week in Review: New year, old problem for Pennsylvania’s pension funds

January 9, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By PA Independent Staff

It might be a new year, with a new crop of state lawmakers in Harrisburg and a new governor on the way, but at least one thing hasn’t changed: Pennsylvania is still deep in public pension … Read the rest

Another Philadelphia principal accused of altering test scores

January 9, 2015 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

Another Philadelphia school principal was busted this week for cheating on standardized tests.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Lolamarie Davis-O’Rourke, formerly principal at Alain Locke Elementary School from 2009-12, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly directing … Read the rest

Updated: After banner year, PA school pension fund still deep in red

January 5, 2015 | By | Posted in General News

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Even after a fantastic year on the stock market, the pension fund for Pennsylvania’s public school employees is deep in the red.

The Public School Employees Retirement System reported in December that it earned … Read the rest

‘Hold harmless’ harmful to some schools

December 31, 2014 | By | Posted in Features, Investigations

By Evan Grossman │

UNFAIR? All Pennsylvania schools get a minimum dollar amount that varies little from year to year, despite fluctuations in enrollment.

The flawed formula Pennsylvania uses to fund its school districts forces some of its best and … Read the rest

Advocates, analysts debate merits of natural gas severance tax

December 30, 2014 | By | Posted in General News

By Rachel Martin |

PITTSBURGH — To tax or not to tax?

Opponents and proponents of a severance tax on fracking in Pennsylvania aren’t shy in making sure people understand their respective positions and have access to research on … Read the rest

Philadelphia teachers want schools to look elsewhere for financial relief

December 29, 2014 | By | Posted in General News

By Evan Grossman |

The Philadelphia teachers union says making teachers pay for part of their health benefits isn’t the way to plug the city’s hemorrhaging public school budget, and the district should look elsewhere for relief.

In October, … Read the rest

Wolf wants to hand Philadelphia schools back to city

December 19, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

When governor-elect Tom Wolf takes office next month, Philadelphia schools might get released from state control.

In 2001, the School District of Philadelphia was taken over by the five-member School Reform Commission — three appointed … Read the rest

Philadelphia drops civil asset forfeiture case against family

December 19, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

The city of Philadelphia has dropped its attempt to seize two homes using civil asset forfeiture laws.

HOME SWEET HOME: Chris Sourovelis and his family will be allowed to return to their home after

Read the rest

Two Philly Dems charged in once-abandoned bribery sting

December 17, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm |

Two more Philadelphia lawmakers were charged Tuesday in connection to a sting operation that caught them accepting bribes in return for votes.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced charges against state representatives Vanessa Lowery Brown … Read the rest

Report finds teachers woefully unprepared for classroom challenges

December 12, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Evan Grossman |

Teachers are not ready to teach.

That was the bold message delivered by the National Council on Teacher Quality this week in a scathing national report on educators.

Pennsylvania got particularly poor marks on retaining … Read the rest

Why 2015 could be the year for medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania

December 10, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Medical marijuana legislation will get a second chance in 2015.

The bipartisan pair of state senators who pushed for legalization during 2014 announced this week they will re-introduce the same text of a bill … Read the rest

Pennsylvania pension costs to climb by $466 million next year

December 5, 2014 | By | Posted in General News

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Lawmakers and governor-elect Tom Wolf will head into next year’s budget process with lots of new obligations to fulfill and little excess revenue with which to do it.

State-level contributions to Pennsylvania’s two pension … Read the rest

SEPTA lawsuit: Does the First Amendment allow comparisons to Hitler?

December 2, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm |

A controversial ad comparing Islamic fundamentalists to Adolf Hitler could soon be appearing on buses and trains in the Philadelphia area.

The group paying for the ads says it has a right, under the First … Read the rest

New bosses look a lot like the old bosses after leadership shuffle in Harrisburg

November 26, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Gov. Tom Corbett and state Sen. Dominic Pileggi were given the boot earlier this month, reshuffling political power heading into 2015.

Corbett was ousted by the voters, who chose governor-elect Tom Wolf as … Read the rest

PA Senate leader: Complicated bills unlikely to reach Corbett before term ends

November 25, 2014 | By | Posted in Legislature

By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

Republicans have controlled the governor’s office, state House and state Senate the last four years, but couldn’t push liquor privatization past the finish line or muscle through public pension reform before the November election … Read the rest