July 20, 2014 – by Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post Gazette – The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools will vote Wednesday on Code of Student Conduct revisions that replace zero tolerance with more discretion, incorporate ideas from a student-proposed bill of rights and provide explicit protection of students for sexual orientation and gender identity expression.
Cheryl Kleiman, an attorney with Education Law Center, which worked with the district on the proposal, said this version eliminates remaining zero tolerance policies and allows individual discretion.
UPDATED July 22, 2014
Governor Corbett’s 2014-15 state budget does little to address Pennsylvania’s systemic public education funding crisis.
“This budget was a missed opportunity for the legislature and the Governor — and a loss for public school students,” said Rhonda Brownstein, Executive Director of the Education Law Center. “There were several options for our state leaders to not only provide adequate funding to our schools, but to also enact cost-saving measures.”
The General Assembly pursued a fix to the state’s special education funding system that would have addressed the flawed approach to providing funding to students with disabilities in public schools — both charter-operated and district-run. The fix would have more accurately calculated costs and aligned resources to those costs, providing a significant savings to school districts throughout the state and ensuring that children with disabilities receive the services they need. Instead, the whims of political insiders thwarted that effort — resulting in a job half done that does not fix the admitted problem.
The effort to secure a consistent state revenue source for schools was also abandoned, leaving the legislature and Gov. Corbett to fall back on one-time funding schemes and last-minute deals to create a patchwork of public school funding that remains completely disconnected from the cost to provide all students with the necessary resources to meet the state’s academic standards.
“We cannot continue to rely, year after year, on political horse-trading and last-minute budgeting contortions that, ultimately, leave our schools lacking basic resources and leave our communities struggling to make up the difference with local revenues,” said Brownstein. “Our public schools require, and deserve, a thorough and efficient system — an actual system — of education funding as mandated by our state’s constitution.”