Monday, April 25, 2011

Voucher Contributions/ Budget Cuts/ Performance Pay/ Common Core

Voucher opponents, proponents donated heavily to candidates
By Brad Bumsted and Mike Wereschagin
Monday, April 25, 2011
HARRISBURG -- Two main combatants in the clamor over whether to use public dollars for private schooling donated a combined $8.3 million to legislative and gubernatorial candidates, state campaign finance records show.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association, which opposes school vouchers, spent $1.9 million last year. Students First, the leading proponent of them, spent $6.4 million, although $3.4 million went to an unsuccessful candidate for governor, state Sen. Anthony Williams, in the Democratic primary.

Read more: Voucher opponents, proponents donated heavily to candidates - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


William Penn facing tough decisions with budget cuts

By LAURA WISELEY , Delco Times Correspondent
LANSDOWNE — William Penn School District officials are weighing nearly $4 million in budget cuts — including the elimination of about two-dozen staff positions — as it faces an "unprecedented" $9 million budget gap for the 2011-12 school year.  Gov. Tom Corbett last month announced sweeping cuts to state education funding that eliminate the accountability block grants that fund full-day kindergarten programs in the district, as well as the Education Assistance Programs that fund district tutoring programs.

Schools' arts programs threatened by budget cuts

Published: Sunday, April 24, 2011, 12:00 AM
 By DAVID N. DUNKLE, The Patriot-News 
Add it up, and it's not a pretty picture for the arts as public school districts prepare to tackle one of the toughest budget seasons in memory, facing the prospect of cutting thousands or even millions of dollars from their 2011-12 budgets.

More schools assess fee to play sports
Levies on students due to tight budgets
Monday, April 25, 2011
By Anya Sostek and Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
High school sports are an integral part of many Western Pennsylvania communities. But increasingly, they're coming with a price tag.  In its preliminary budget passed earlier this month, the Seneca Valley school board approved a $75 fee for students per athletic activity, not to exceed $225 per family. Wednesday night, the West Mifflin school board voted to delay hiring coaches for fall sports while it investigated similar "pay-to-play" fees.

Programs seek teacher pay system that works
Monday, April 25, 2011
By Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
On the surface, the concept is simple: Pay teachers based on their performance.
As a practical matter, the idea is so complex that many such systems come under criticism for being unfair or unproven to improve the quality of education for children.
But there is no shortage of people trying to find a performance pay system that works.

A Trial Run for School Standards That Encourage Deeper Thought

New York Times, By FERNANDA SANTOS, Published: April 24, 2011
In three years, instruction in most of the country could look a lot like what is going on at Hillcrest, one of 100 schools in New York City experimenting with new curriculum standards known as the common core.
Forty-two states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have signed on to the new standards, an ambitious set of goals that go beyond reading lists and math formulas to try to raise the bar not only on what students in every grade are expected to learn, but also on how teachers are expected to teach.

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