Monday, June 6, 2011

Pennsylvania: 'Selectively Dismantling' Public Education?/ HB 1326 on House calendar today

HB 1326, which would remove all Act 1 exceptions, is the second item on the agenda when the PA House reconvenes at 1:00 pm today.

If you have not already contacted your Representatives regarding HB 1326 please consider doing so this morning.

For more info:


A toxic mess: We don't need Washington mudslinging here in Pennsylvania

Published: Sunday, June 05, 2011, 9:30 AM, By Patriot-News Editorial Board 
The gloves are off.
It's not a good sign in a boxing ring and it's not a good sign in a democracy. Yet that is exactly what has transformed Congress into a kind of perpetual brawl. 
Those brawls are shifting to state Capitols. We saw it in Wisconsin over teacher unions and now it is happening in Harrisburg.
On the conservative side, national tea party group FreedomWorks has focused on Senate Bill 1, the sweeping voucher bill. SB1 would, for the first time, give state aid to parents who send their children to private or parochial schools.


Republican Pileggi proposes severance tax to help seniors

Published: June 3, 2011
HARRISBURG - A Senate Republican leader wants to levy a state Marcellus Shale severance tax as a way to pay for a freeze on school property taxes for senior citizens.
Read more:

Pileggi: Budget surplus should be used now to provide program relief

By WM. SHAWN WEIGEL, Staff Writer
The state budget continues to dominate the discussion in Harrisburg, according to State Sen. Dominic Pileggi.  "There's a general sentiment to try and do more for schools," Pileggi said of the current discussion among the Senate. "I like the direction that the House took, but I don't think they did enough for K through 12 education. I think that's where our primary responsibility is and we should try to do more there."

Pennsylvania: 'Selectively Dismantling' Public Education

Huffington Post by  Timothy D. Slekar

Posted: 06/ 2/11 01:07 PM ET
In my last two blogs, I have used Pennsylvania as a case study to help illustrate how market-based reformers are trying to destroy our community-based public school system by pushing voucher bills that will divert money from public schools to private schools (Remember, Pennsylvania is not unique. Look at Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey,Michigan, and Indiana. Same tactics, different state.).

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog, Valerie Strauss, 06/03/2011

Are we creating dual school systems with charters, vouchers?

This was written by Bill McDiarmid, dean and alumni distinguished professor of the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
By Bill McDiarmid
Recently I participated in a panel discussion following a showing of the film " Waiting for Superman ." The film is deeply moving. Only a heart of granite would remain unmoved by the plight of the children and caretakers as they learn they would not get into their schools of choice.
In the discussion, Jim Johnson, a UNC-Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School professor and founder of the Union Independent School in Durham, made a crucial observation. He noted that the debate around public charter schools versus traditional public schools, or private versus public schools, deflected us from the underlying issue: the plight of children who have no adult advocates.

Helping Teachers Help Themselves

New York Times By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: June 5, 2011
ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Montgomery County Public Schools system here has a highly regarded program for evaluating teachers, providing them extra support if they are performing poorly and getting rid of those who do not improve.
The program, Peer Assistance and Review — known as PAR — uses several hundred senior teachers to mentor both newcomers and struggling veterans. If the mentoring does not work, the PAR panel — made up of eight teachers and eight principals — can vote to fire the teacher.  Unfortunately, federal dollars from the Obama administration's Race to the Top program are not going where Dr. Weast and the PAR program need to go. Montgomery County schools were entitled to $12 million from Race to the Top, but Dr. Weast said he would not take the money because the grant required districts to include students' state test results as a measure of teacher quality. "We don't believe the tests are reliable," he said. "You don't want to turn your system into a test factory."

Who's Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It?

Rethinking School Bog, Spring 2011, By Stan Karp
The short answer to this question is that far too many people are bashing teachers and public schools, and we need to give them more homework, because very few of them know what they're talking about. And a few need some serious detention.
But the longer answer is that the bashing is coming from different places for different reasons. And to respond effectively to the very real attacks that our schools, our profession, and our communities face, it's important to pay attention to these differences.

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