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Guv wants university funding tied to performance

Plus, a national leader in exonerations.

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Thursday, March 21, 2024
Today: New mechanism, exoneration leader, SEPTA software, old MacDonalds, abortion pills, and the 'holy grail' of lost TV history. This is PA Post.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro is proposing a performance-based funding model for four state-related universities — Lincoln, Penn State, Temple, and Pitt — while calling for a 5% increase in state support.

Details are still being ironed out.

The proposed performance-based funding model is used by more than half of states across the country, but experts warn such plans can have disadvantages if not properly mapped out.

One expert said while the funding model does not necessarily improve outcomes, it can grow public trust in higher education. Another said it can unintentionally hurt marginalized student groups if, for example, a funding model prioritizes only degree completion. That could lead to universities and colleges becoming more selective in who they admit.

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: What a performance-based funding model could mean for Penn State, other state-related universities.


"We're eager for his administration's continued progress on our core issues."

—The United Steelworkers union endorsing President Joe Biden a week after he came out against the sale of U.S. Steel to a Japanese corporation
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TRUSTING ELECTIONS: Join us Tuesday, April 2, at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live panel Q&A with Al Schmidt, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of State, and Beth Schwanke, of Pitt‘s Disinformation Lab, on creating trust in our election system and how to combat misinformation. Register for the event here and submit your questions here or to events@spotlightpa.org

March snow in the Allegheny National Forest, via Katherine B. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
Snowy tree branches in front of a bright blue sky.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.EXONERATION DATA: Pennsylvania was one of four states that led the nation in exonerations last year, per the National Registry of Exonerations. All 16 here were for murder convictions, and only one was not from Philly. That means one out of every 10 exonerations in the U.S. last year happened in Philly, professor Matthew Stiegler noted
  • CNN's Jake Tapper helps raise money for Philly man wrongfully convicted in 2011 shooting, via Philly Voice.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.SOFTWARE STOP: SEPTA quietly ended a contract for AI gun detection technology in December, without spending any of the $5 million state grant it received to implement the technology, The Trace reports. A SEPTA police captain said the software's failure to detect some guns during testing factored into the decision.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.FARMER DROUGHT: Pennsylvania wants more young farmers, but student loan debt and steep prices for materials are driving them away, Politico found. Pennsylvania has policies designed to encourage more newcomers, but, Politico adds, it's still struggling to "buck national trends." The average age of beginning farmers is over 47. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.SCOTUS WATCH: Medication abortions have become more common in states like Pennsylvania since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Another U.S. Supreme Court case, set for oral arguments next week, could have "sweeping consequences" for telehealth access to the option — regardless of a state’s abortion laws, The 19th reports. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.IN BRIEF: Six new Allegheny County mail-ballot drop-off sites were approved Wednesday after a short-lived lawsuit — a day after a bill that would ban the option statewide cleared a state Senate panel; and a bill to offset student loan debt by incentivizing employer contributions to employee tuition savings accounts is also on the move.

TRAIN REPORT: PennDOT will reveal the highly anticipated findings of a Lehigh Valley passenger rail study at a meeting next Wednesday, March 27, Morning Call (paywall) reports. You can join virtually here.

  • Upgrades, outages coming to Amtrak Harrisburg Line, via WHTM

COMPLIANCE SURVEY: Most retail businesses are complying with Pittsburgh's plastic bag ban two months in, a recent survey found, but restaurants have been particularly slow adopters, WESA reports. 

'HOLY GRAIL': A recording of Super Bowl I, considered the holy grail of lost TV history, was found in a Northumberland County attic years ago, WFMZ reports. A stalemate with the NFL followed over its value.

BIRD RETURN: Northern bobwhite quail were released in Franklin County Tuesday in hopes of bringing the birds back from state extinction, FOX43 reports. The species' disappearance was tied to habitat loss.

ECLIPSE TIPS: Preparing for next month's total solar eclipse? Here's a handy guide from DCNR. The action starts around 2 p.m. on April 8.


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