BLOG: Years of Underfunding Have Crippled Pennsylvania’s Schools

first_imgBLOG: Years of Underfunding Have Crippled Pennsylvania’s Schools By: Mark Nicastre, Communications Director March 11, 2016 Education,  Schools That Teach,  The Blog Pennsylvania’s schools are struggling. It didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not the result of the budget impasse. Right now, Governor Tom Wolf is fighting to make sure that all schools have the sustainable resources they need to provide a high quality education for our students, but the legislature continues to stand in the way. Governor Wolf has proposed historic investments that would put Pennsylvania’s schools on the right track after years of devastating cuts. But instead of working with the governor to help fix our schools, Republicans simply sent him another out of balance budget that would cut $95 million from education and grow the deficit.For years, Pennsylvania’s schools have been underfunded. The previous administration cut $1 billion from public education, which resulted in teacher layoffs, program cuts, and higher property taxes. But in addition to the previous administrations cuts, schools’ finances have been structurally damaged by the lack of funding over the course of the past five years. Since 2010, there have been many credit downgrades to school districts. This is the result of a lack of commitment in state funding, and it means that it costs every district more money to borrow in order to finance important projects or secure loans for operations.The number of schools considered distressed increased from two in 2010 to nine in 2015, including schools in financial watch status. Furthermore, the state has been spending millions beyond typical appropriations just to keep the lights on at many schools. Since 2010-11, the commonwealth has had to make nearly $90 million in extraordinary payments to eight school districts. Several school districts have faced closure over the past several years, only to be saved at the last minute with a solution that is unsustainable. Philadelphia schools would have closed without the enactment of dedicated sales and cigarette taxes and other schools have wobbled at the precipice for years.Governor Wolf visits the Alexander D. Goode School on the Schools That Teach TourWith so many school districts facing such dire fiscal realities, we had hoped that there would be an effort to address the problem but the passage of House Bill 1460 was another clear indication that the legislature was not serious about funding our schools or addressing our deficit. Their budget failed to include $305 million in unpaid school construction reimbursements – costs the state simply cannot pay for because of its poor credit and unbalanced budget – which would lead to a net $95 million cut.There are real consequences for years of gimmicks, underfunding, and neglect. And we have reached the end of the line. There won’t be any more extraordinary payments. It’s going to be much harder for school districts to get loans. Whether those consequences hit in the next few months or the next few years, school districts should be ready. If we provide nothing more to school districts than the levels that would have been provided in the inadequate funding plan that did reach the governor’s desk in the end of December, there would be several school districts who may not be able to open this fall, and certainly would not be able to keep their doors open through the end of the school year. That’s the reality. In challenging times, you can be fiscally responsible while still looking out for the people you serve. These values are not mutually exclusive; they are closely linked. Governor Wolf knows firsthand how to make this balance work — throughout his career in the private sector, he had to make payroll each week while running a highly successful business. He understands it takes diligence and commitment to pay the bills on time.It’s time for an honest budget that funds our schools, fixes our deficit, and finally addresses the fiscal challenges facing Pennsylvania and our schools.It’s time for Republicans to finally work with the governor and fund our schools. We don’t need another gimmicky budget that cuts education funding like the one they passed in December. We need a real, sustainable solution that puts our schools on the right path.That is what Governor Wolf is fighting for.center_img To learn more about Governor Wolf’s commitment to Schools That Teach, click here.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

AP1 return doubles in 2016 to 9.3% as property, forex lift result

first_imgSwedish pension buffer fund AP1 produced a 9.3% return in 2016, with real estate and currency factors boosting results.However, the fund warned it would be hard to keep producing current levels of return given the AP funds’ mandatory fixed-income allocation.In its 2016 annual report, AP1 said its net investment income amounted to SEK27bn (€2.8bn) after expenses, equating to a 9.3% return — more than double 2015’s 4% return.Johan Magnusson, AP1’s chief executive, said: “The main contributions came from real estate as well as from allocation and foreign exchange.” Total assets grew to SEK310.5bn at the end of last year, from SEK290.2bn at the end of 2015.AP1 said it paid out SEK6.6bn to the state to help pay state pensions during the year.Over the last 10 years it said it made a real return of 4.3% annually after expenses, which meant it had beaten its target in both the short and long term.However, Magnusson said AP1 faced a challenge in maintaining this development and reaching the target of a real 4% return on a rolling 10-year basis.“This is due to several factors, such as the many uncertain market factors around the world as well as our relatively high percentage of fixed-income assets which are governed by the investment rules that apply to AP funds,” he said.In the annual report, Magnusson said AP1 has refocused strategically and organisationally in the last year with renewed energy following the shelving of reform plans.“Before the turn of the year 2015/2016 the plan to reform the AP Pension fund system was shut down, which meant that we could seriously and credibly dedicate ourselves to further development of our corporate culture and strategic direction,” he said.Real estate – which made up 12.5% of the total portfolio at the end of 2016 – was the most profitable asset class during the year, generating an 18.8% return.last_img read more

Raiders’ most recent signing boosts offensive line depth

first_imgThe Raiders announced Thursday they signed free-agent offensive lineman Jordan Devey, who spent the last three seasons with the Chiefs.Devey fills the void created when Jon Feliciano signed with the Bills. Feliciano served as the Raiders’ backup center and guard last season, filling in at left guard when starter Kelechi Osemele was sidelined with various injuries. Devey played center and right guard in seven appearances for the Chiefs last season, with two starts at center.Devey entered the …last_img

With Firefox OS, Mozilla Takes On The ‘Closed’ Internet—Again

first_imgTags:#app development#Firefox OS#Mozilla#smartphones So Eich knows a little bit about breaking down walled gardens. And he does it with open, non-proprietary standards and the Web.Nothing about Firefox OS is secret. Mozilla has been extremely open about the whole development process for the two years that it has taken to build the operating system, a project that started as a set of code called “Boot2Gecko” and eventually turned into a smartphone.With Firefox OS, Mozilla doesn’t play cloak-and-dagger games about what features are coming to the operating system or when new smartphones will launch the way mobile giants like Apple and Samsung do. Using HTML5, Firefox OS is built on open application programming interfaces (APIs) intended to be shared with the world. If that means that portions of Firefox OS end up in iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone or even upstarts like Tizen or Jolla, so be it. Given a world in which “when is the new iPhone coming?” is a very, very popular search term, Mozilla’s openness with Firefox OS is extraordinarily refreshing. Yet Mozilla doesn’t hold any illusions that it can unseat the likes of Apple and Google when it comes to smartphones. Instead, Eich and company want to create opportunity for developers, smartphone manufacturers and carriers and, ultimately, consumers.Mozilla’s Chris Lee shows off Firefox OS deviceThe Gift Of Openness“What we aspire to is giving them the open-endedness of the Web,” Eich said. “I am staking my reputation, as I have, on open standards and continue to do so.”Mozilla is launching Firefox OS with 20 mobile carriers who will launch its smartphones across the world. Telefonica, a Spanish telecom that operates in Spain, Latin America and Asia, plans on bringing Firefox OS devices to its entire coverage area by the end of 2014. These devices, which will be extraordinarily cheap by today’s smartphone standards, are intended to get first-time smartphone users (or even first time Web users) on the Internet. Mozilla isn’t going to measure success of Firefox OS with numbers of smartphones shipped. Making money is not what Mozilla has, or has even been, about.“We want to pioneer the category of open web devices and show that it is competitive,” Eich said.  dan rowinski Firefox maker Mozilla once helped break up a stagnant monopoly on the Internet. Now it’s trying to do the same sort of thing again. Today, the organization announced the first smartphones running its new Firefox OS, which will first ship to countries like Poland and Spain before making their way across the world. Mozilla calls these Firefox OS smartphones “open Web devices,” and wants them usher in a new way of developing for mobile devices that embraces open Web standards instead of closed, proprietary approaches. In other words, Mozilla aims to undermine the proprietary Apple-Google duopoly of iPhone and Android by giving manufacturers, developers and consumers another choice that’s tied directly to the technologies that underpin the Web itself.Brendan Eich introduces Firefox OS smartphonesAnd it thinks it has an army of developers to enlist in its cause. What’s An “Open Web Device”?Despite some visual similarities, Firefox OS is not like Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android, much less like BlackBerry or Microsoft’s Windows Phone. These are platforms that run on operating systems built with “native” code specific to that platform. They all feature browsers that handle quite a bit of a smartphone’s basic functions, but they still live in proprietary ecosystems. As such, they’re all vying for developer attention to their platforms, with varying degrees of success.From Mozilla’s perspective, the Web is the operating system. If you can write code to design and build a website, you can write code to design and build an app for Firefox OS. Mozilla chief technology officer Brendan Eich says the organization estimates that here are nearly eight million Web developers in the world. The number of developers for all proprietary operating systems, he says, are “an order of magnitude or two less, in the hundreds of thousands.”“There was no reason that the Web couldn’t be a first class platform for mobile apps,” Eich said today at a press conference in San Francisco announcing the two new Firefox OS smartphones.The Secret Is That There Is No SecretMozilla sees the current smartphone duopoly—Android and iOS—much the same way that it viewed the monopoly Internet Explorer held over Web browsing in the late 1990s. Eich was instrumental in breaking up that monopoly. This is, after all, the guy who invented the Javascript coding language (which runs much of the functions on the Web) and helped build the Netscape browser—you remember, the one that threw such a scare into Microsoft that it overreacted and brought down major antitrust enforcement on itself. Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more