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GOP touts charter school deal after voucher setback

Plus, eviction touches off Pittsburgh shootout.

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Thursday, August 24, 2023
Charter deal, massive shootout, wage hikes, COVID wave, terminal plan, election workers, and State College backs off eminent domain push.  

Spurned by the collapse of a private school voucher deal in this year's budget, Republican leaders in Harrisburg are turning their focus to boosting charter schools and say Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro is on board with the plan.

GOP leaders told The Inquirer they have an agreement with Shapiro — who line-item vetoed $100 million for private school vouchers, which he supports — to change the state's charter school appeals board.

The board’s members are appointed by the governor — and most of its seats are up for grabs. A spokesperson for Shapiro said “consideration of potential appointees to the charter appeals board is ongoing.”

Read the full paywalled report: Republicans say they have a deal to change Pa.’s Charter School Appeal Board. Here’s what to know.

THE CONTEXT: Charter advocates have seen the board as hostile and hope Shapiro appoints members favorable to the industry and its expansion.

Public education advocates are alarmed. “It’s really surprising to see this announced so publicly, that essentially Gov. Shapiro agreed with Republicans to rig the charter appeals board,” said Susan Spicka of Education Voters PA.

The Inquirer reported that "backroom deals" and one-on-one meetings with GOP leaders helped Shapiro get the state's main $45.5 billion budget bill over the finish line, though talks continue around fiscal code bills needed to enable more than $1 billion in spending on key programs and initiatives.


"A freak encounter changed everything."

—Filmmaker Werner Herzog in a first-person New Yorker piece on what his time in Pittsburgh taught the native of Germany about America

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» Will school vouchers cause more budget delays?, via LNP (paywall)
» New option for Pa. students earning high school equivalency, via WHTM
» Advocates want conservation money in next Farm Bill, via StateImpact
» Pa. lawmakers eye anti-swatting bill as schools open, via WTAE
» U.S. Rep. Kelly draws Pa. primary challenger, via PoliticsPA
As seen by Don H. on Clarion River Lands Trail in Cook Forest State Park. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A closeup of a mushroom on forest floor covered in brown leaves. The cap of the mushroom appears to be molting.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.EVICTION VIOLENCE: A massive shootout blocks from Pittsburgh's children's hospital on Wednesday was tied to an eviction carried out by sheriff's deputies, per WTAE. A long standoff ensued and ended in the death of the home's occupant, identified as 63-year-old William Hardison. President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation.
  • RELATED: Philly evictions resume after tenants shot, via CBS3
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.WAGE FIGHTS: The New York Times (paywall) says hardly anyone is making the federal minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour, which is also Pennsylvania's minimum wage, in the current red-hot labor market. And that's coincided with less pushback over attempts to raise the rate here. But what happens when the market eventually cools?

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
COVID COUNTS: While far below their peak, COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising in Pennsylvania and a new variant, EG.5, is dominating new infections nationwide. Axios reports Pennsylvania's COVID-19 hospitalization rate rose 17% between June and July as a summer wave raises new questions about a familiar virus.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.CITY CONCERNS: Capital-Star reports the presumed next mayor of Chester, Democrat Stefan Roots, wants to stop a natural gas facility supporters say would benefit the economy and that opponents say would add to an industrial legacy the bankrupt city is trying to shake. A former top state environmental official works for the developer.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
POLL WORK: Pennsylvania elections chief Al Schmidt, Gov. Shapiro's secretary of the commonwealth, is looking for a few good poll workers. Ahead of November's balloting — including these key judiciary races — Schmidt is getting the word out that poll workers are needed, paid for their time, and can be too young to vote themselves, per WHTM.
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ABOUT-FACE: State College has dropped plans to build more parking by using eminent domain to acquire a building that houses several popular businesses. StateCollege.com reports the plan was rescinded Monday.

FIRST-PERSON: Delaney Parks reflects on her "union girl summer" as an intern for a publication run by striking Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff.

BUG CITY: The spotted lanternfly might be scarce in central Pennsylvania this summer, but Pittsburgh is under siege (no, seriously), via TribLIVE.

WORK FROM HOME: The Wall Street Journal (paywall) delves into Philly's new reputation as "one of the emptiest office districts in America." 

SPECIES STATUS: The salamander mussel, which is found in Pennsylvania, could be the next species added to the endangered list, via KDKA-TV.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

*Note: There are two possible answers today. We'll accept either.

Yesterday's answer: Acceleration

Congrats to our daily winners: Kimberly D., Richard A., Susan N.-Z., Eric F., Jody A., Brooke S., Jon W., Don H., Dennis M., John E., Kim C., Kimberly B., Elaine C., Vicki U., Dan A., Tom M., Stacy S., Wendy A., Judith D., William Z.
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