Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Corbett's education chief defends budget cuts
Says money won't make better schools
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
By Amy Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer
HARRISBURG -- Facing a bipartisan barrage of criticism, the state's education chief Tuesday defended Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to slash $1 billion in aid to school districts, saying money won't make better schools.
"Education achievement or achievement of any kind cannot be measured in dollars and cents," Ron Tomalis told the House Appropriations Committee.

Pennsylvania education secretary says money doesn't equal achievement
Patriot News/AP
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 12:41 PM     Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 5:48 PM
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's top education adviser acknowledges that poorer school districts will be hurt disproportionately by proposed funding cuts, but he says spending more on schools does not buy higher achievement.

Corbett adviser defends state school cuts

By Amy Crawford
TRIBUNE-REVIEWWednesday, March 30, 2011
Raising property taxes, furloughing teachers and increasing class sizes are among the difficult decisions state budget cuts will force school districts to make, acting secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis acknowledged to state senators and representatives in budget hearings on Tuesday.

Read the Education Law Center's blog coverage of the House and Senate Education Budget Hearings:

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Just six months ago Governor Rendell's office issued the following press release:

Sept. 14, 2010
Pennsylvania Students Post Record Gains in Reading, Math Scores;Eight of 10 Schools Meet 'No Child Left Behind' Targets for 2010PA Student Achievement Rises for 8th Consecutive Year
Harrisburg – Eighty-two percent of Pennsylvania schools met the required academic goals for the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law for 2010, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today, with record numbers of students performing at grade level in reading and math on the state's PSSA tests.
 Overall, three quarters of Pennsylvania students are now achieving at grade level,and the smallest percentage of students ever, scored at the lowest level since theinception of the PSSAs.
 "The Center for Education Policy told us last year that Pennsylvania was the only state in the nation to make academic gains across the board from 2002 through 2008," said Governor Rendell. "These terrific numbers show that we are continuing that trend and more. Student achievement has increased in every subject, at all tested grade levels and for all ethnic, racial and economic subgroups of students since 2002 -- the eighth straight year of student performance gains. I congratulateour teachers, the entire education community, the General Assembly, and, especially, our students for these outstanding achievements."

It would seem that the current reform agenda requires that we completely disregard the gains made by Pennsylvania students over the past eight years.  At the EPLC breakfast last week Mike Masch noted that Philadelphia students had gone from 20% proficient to 50% proficient on the PSSA's during that time.

Increased funding through Accountability Block Grants paid for math coaches and reading coaches in districts throughout the state and were effective in providing remedial help to raise the test scores of students who needed it.  These same programs are now being cut in response to the Governors' proposed budget.  The proficiency target scores under NCLB will continue to rise.  With ABG funding eliminated it will be increasingly daunting to continue the progress noted above.

However, I suppose that if the real agenda is to privatize education then cutting this funding will help to insure that more of our public school students and more of our schools can be labeled failing, to further justify giving tax dollars to private and parochial school that will have no accountability.

Although there have been many education related bills introduced this session I have not seen even one provision in any of the proposed legislation that is directed towards improving student achievement and learning in our public schools.  None. 

If you have not already done so, please consider contacting your legislators and key legislative leaders using the link below, and please pass it on to any and all public education stakeholders.

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Click here for links to quickly and easily contact key legislative leaders on the budget


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