Gov. Wolf Acts to Ensure Charter Schools Better Serve Students and Taxpayers

first_img Education,  Press Release Allentown, PA – Recognizing Pennsylvania’s flawed and outdated charter school law is one of the worst in the nation, Governor Tom Wolf is taking executive action, overhauling regulations, and will propose legislation to comprehensively reform the law. The governor outlined his vision that will strengthen charter school quality, accountability and transparency to control costs and improve outcomes for students.“Pennsylvania’s charter school law is unfair for students, parents, school districts, and taxpayers,” said Governor Wolf. “While many charter schools are succeeding, others, especially some cyber charter schools, are underperforming and we are not doing enough to hold them accountable to the taxpaying public and the children they serve.“Today I’m announcing comprehensive charter school reform through executive action, regulation, and legislation. These changes will level the playing field for all taxpayer-funded public schools, strengthen the accountability and transparency of charter and cyber charter schools, and better serve all students.”Brick-and-mortar charter and cyber charter schools, and for-profit companies that manage many of them, are not held to the same ethical and transparency standards of traditional public schools. Despite the rising costs of charter schools to school districts and property taxpayers, school districts and state government have limited authority to hold charter schools accountable.The poor academic performance of some charter schools is also a concern. A recent report from Stanford University found overwhelmingly negative results from Pennsylvania’s cyber schools and called for the commonwealth to take urgent action.Governor Wolf’s proposal promotes innovation and choice, while ensuring that charter schools are providing a high-quality education and meeting the same standards Pennsylvanians expect from traditional public schools.Executive ActionsGovernor Wolf is tasking the Department of Education (PDE) with developing regulations to achieve the following:Access to High-Quality Education for All StudentsAllow school districts to limit student enrollment at charters that do not provide a high-quality, equitable education to students.Require transparent charter school admission and enrollment policies that do not discriminate based on intellectual or athletic ability, race/ethnicity, gender, or disability, among other student characteristics.Transparency and Accountability for All School LeadershipHold charter schools and their operators to the same transparency standards as school districts because they are public schools and receive more than $1.8 billion in state and property tax dollars annually.Require that charter school Board of Trustees and operating companies– like school district School Boards – are free from conflicts of interest and prohibit them from making decisions that provide a financial benefit to themselves, friends, and/or family members.Require charter schools to use sound fiscal management, provide regular financial audits to state regulators, publicly bid contracts for supplies and services, use fair contracting practices, and engage their communities.Provide greater oversight over charter school management companies, the businesses that often profit at the expense of Pennsylvania students and families.Establish a model state application to start a new charter school or renew an existing charter school that provides school districts with comprehensive information on how the school will be run and allow for rigorous analysis.Fair and Predictable Funding for All Public SchoolsEstablish a clear process that requires charters to accurately document their costs.Prevent charters from over charging districts and taxpayers for the educational services they provide.Accountability on Behalf of TaxpayersInitiate a fee-for-service model to cover the department’s costs associated with implementing the charter school law.Recoup taxpayer costs for thousands of hours of currently free services that the Department provides to charter schools when it reviews applications, processes millions of payments, and provides legal and administrative support.Comprehensive Charter School Reform LegislationIn addition to executive action, the governor will propose comprehensive charter school reform legislation containing the regulatory changes and would:Establish performance standards that hold charter schools accountable for the educational outcomes of students and a moratorium on new cyber charter schoolsCap student enrollment in low performing cyber charter schools until outcomes improve.Require charter management companies be subject to the Right to Know Act, State Ethics Act, and post employee salaries on PDE’s website, similar to requirements already in place for public school districts.Create fair, predictable, and equitable funding for school districts, including in the areas of special education funding and cyber charter tuition payments.Establish a charter school funding commission to make recommendations on additional charter school funding reforms.“We have some high-quality charter schools in our commonwealth and my proposal holds charters accountable to the same standards we set for traditional public schools. Through hard work and bipartisan compromise in Harrisburg, we have achieved pension reform and liquor reform. It’s time to reform the charter school law. That’s good for every child, family, and taxpayer in Pennsylvania.”The governor announced charter school reform at press conferences today in Allentown and in Pocono Summit, Monroe County. The Allentown School District’s structural budget deficit cannot be fixed without charter school reform.“Before opening the doors, a potential charter school must demonstrate community support, academic innovation and financial stability. Once the charter school is up and running, though, meaningful oversight seems to go away,” said state Rep. Peter Schweyer. “There isn’t enough accountability on how tax dollars are spent, how the kids are being taught or if they’re even learning at all. Governor Wolf’s executive actions are a big step forward to bring about meaningful oversight to protect kids in charter schools.”“One out of every six dollars spent by the Allentown School District goes to educating kids at charter schools – an increase of over 2000 percent in twenty years,” said state Rep. Mike Schlossberg. “This inequity is wildly unfair to our students, taxpayers and teachers. These moves will help control costs and increase educational opportunities for all Allentown students. I fully support these moves and appreciate the governor for having the courage to stand up for our students and taxpayers.” SHARE Email Facebook Twitter August 13, 2019center_img Gov. Wolf Acts to Ensure Charter Schools Better Serve Students and Taxpayerslast_img read more

Penn engineers develop faster way to make drug microparticles

first_img Source: May 9 2018Pharmaceuticals owe their effects mostly to their chemical composition, but the packaging of these drugs into specific physical formulations also need to be done to exact specifications. For example, many drugs are encapsulated in solid microparticles, the size and shape of which determine the timing of the drug’s release and its delivery to specific parts of the body.When engineering these drug microparticles, consistency is key, but common drug manufacturing techniques, such as spray drying and ball milling, produce uneven results. The ideal method involves microfluidics, a kind of liquid assembly line that drips out perfectly sized microparticles, one at a time.University of Pennsylvania engineers have now developed a microfluidic system where more than ten thousand of these devices run in parallel, all on a silicon-and-glass chip that can fit into a shirt pocket.Scaling up microfluidic systems has been a major challenge, as they depend on a tightly controlled flow rates to produce particles of a consistent size. The Penn team’s innovation is new fluidic architecture, built with the technology used to manufacture computer chips, resulting in a system that can manufacture these drug particles a thousand times faster than ever before.The team, led by David Issadore, assistant professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Bioengineering, and Sagar Yadavali, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab, outlined the design of their system in the journal Nature Communications. Daeyeon Lee, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Heon-Ho Jeong, then graduate student in his lab, contributed to the study.The Penn team is currently testing their system with David Lai, a research investigator at GlaxoSmithKline.Current pharmaceutical microparticle manufacturing techniques involve spraying them in liquid form from a nozzle and letting them dry, or milling larger solid particles down in a tumbler. However, since the microparticles are being made en masse, there can be significant variations in their size and shape.”These manufacturing problems mean that an enormous amount of time and money is spent on size reductions,” Yadavali said. “That leads to higher costs.”Microfluidics provides a potential solution to these problems. By synthesizing the drugs in a network of microscopic channels and chambers, surface tension and drag forces can be finely tuned to generate particles of a consistent size and shape. However, there are intrinsic limitations to how fast these microscale devices can work.”The bottleneck for increasing the throughput of microfluidics is a fundamental physics problem,” Issadore said. “We cannot run the individual microfluidic devices faster than any other lab, because the microfluidic phenomenon that enables the drug microparticles to be precisely fabricated stops working above a critical flow rate?–?they go from making bubbles to making unstable jets.”Typical flow rates are a milliliter-per-hour, far too slow to be of use in an industrial setting. Since increasing the flow rate is not an option, the only way to scale up production is to increase the number of devices.Related StoriesRevolutionary cancer drugs that target any tumor to be fast-tracked into hospitals by NHSSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchArtificial DNA can help release active ingredients from drugs in sequencePrevious attempts at large-scale parallelization struggled with another trade-off. In order to distribute flow evenly to all of the devices on the chip, each individual device must have a large pressure drop across it relative to the pressure drop along the delivery channels that feed it. This results in each device running slower than they would if they were fed individually.The Penn researchers solved this problem by separating the devices into two, one component that provides the required pressure drop and another downstream that makes the particles. This allows many devices to be incorporated in parallel without having an effect on the throughput of each one.”By incorporating high-aspect-ratio flow resistors upstream of each device,” Yadavali said, “we can decouple individual droplet design from the system-level design. which allows us to incorporate any type of microfluidic particle generator we want, and as many as we can fit onto a chip.”Using lithography to simultaneously etch 10,260 devices into a four-inch silicon wafer, sandwiching it between two glass plates to make hollow channels, and hooking up its single sets of inlets and outlets, the Penn team’s system produces an effective flow rate than is more than ten thousand times faster than what can be typically achieved in a microfluidic device.The Penn team first tested their system by making simple oil-in-water droplets, at a rate of more than 1 trillion droplets per hour. To demonstrate it with materials more relevant to drug manufacturing, they also made biocompatible microparticles out of polycaprolactone, at a rate of about 328 billion particles per hour.”Drugs can be mixed into polycaprolactone microparticles, so that controlled amounts of drug can be gradually released as the particle dissolves,” Sagar said. “The rate that the drug leaves the particle is dependent on the particle size, which is why having a consistent size is so important.”The researchers only mixed the polycaprolactone with water; testing on a real drug would have been prohibitively expensive given their system’s rate of production.”We at GSK are delighted to be part of a research collaboration with Daeyeon and David’s research groups. Congratulations on an exquisite and impactful publication,” said Lai.The researcher’s microfluidic system is currently capable of this kind of simple drug packaging, but other, more complicated manufacturing techniques are possible.”We are now working to implement additional microfluidic operations onto our chip, including miniaturized versions of solvent extraction, crystallization, and other traditional chemical engineering processes,” Issadore said. “By bringing more of the operations necessary to formulate the drug onto our chip, precise ‘designer’ microparticle drug formulations can be produced at an industrial scale.”last_img read more