Monday, December 5, 2011

PA Voucher Status Update December 5th, 2011

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The PA House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene at 1:00 pm today, Monday December 5th. 

There are two education bills slated for second consideration in the House:

HB 1454, which would provide for value added assessment

SB 612, which provides for suspension of professional employees for economic reasons as part of a plan to reduce or control school district costs.


Take Five Minutes for the Statewide “Call” to Action for Public Education on Monday, December 5th

Please consider passing this info on to any and all public education stakeholders.

 “There is strong opposition to the voucher legislation among educators, school directors and teachers unions, which argue that it's unfair for private schools to receive state money without being held to the same accountability in the forms of standardized testing, financial audits and compliance with state open records and open meeting laws.
They also argue that it is unconstitutional for public money to go to religious schools. It's expected that much of the voucher money will be used by students to attend parochial schools.”
State House to take up vouchers, economic furloughs in schools
Sunday, December 04, 2011
By Mary Niederberger and Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HARRISBURG -- Republican State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola wants to see students in Pennsylvania's lowest-achieving school districts qualify for taxpayer-funded vouchers that would allow them to attend private schools.  State Sen. Mike Folmer, who's also a Republican, wants school boards to be able to operate like corporate boards and furlough teachers during tough economic times.  The state Senate has approved both measures, which are among the bills that supporters hope the state House will consider when lawmakers return here Monday.

Guest Opinion

Vouchers a bad choice for Pennsylvanians

Bucks County Intelligencer Posted: Sunday, December 4, 2011 12:00
By Andrea Kircher and Connie Borichevsky co-presidents of the Bucks County League of Women Voters.
Educational vouchers are a bad choice for Pennsylvanians. Why? Passing the bucks from public schools to nonpublic educational agencies only makes troubled schools that are low-performing more at risk. There will be fewer resources for public schools and little, if any, accountability for how money is spent outside public purview. Vouchers do little to solve the disparity between rich and poor school districts.

Gov. Corbett hopes to sign bill for voucher program by end of month

Published: Saturday, December 03, 2011, 10:24
This should be the time for the final charge to deliver a school voucher program to Pennsylvania, advocates say.
Gov. Tom Corbett says he wants families to have taxpayer-funded vouchers so they can move children out of bad schools. With a General Assembly controlled by his fellow Republicans, Corbett hoped to see a voucher program in place for parents next fall.

School-voucher debate is underscored by opinions, circumstances of parents in failing school districts

Published: Sunday, December 04, 2011, 12:00 AM
“If schools start to accept state funding, we must ask whether a requirement is their willingness and capacity to serve challenging kids. It’s easier to post higher test scores when you don’t have to keep struggling kids in your school. Our public schools don’t have that option.” 

Archive: January 3, 2011

Follow The Students First PAC Voucher Money

"The legislation Sen. Williams and I will introduce in the next session will be somewhat broader than the bill he introduced last session," Piccola said. "Our bill, which will be Senate Bill 1, would provide opportunity scholarships to low-income children across the Commonwealth who wish to attend either a private school or a public school in a school district other than where they reside."

School chiefs blast charters 

Area superintendents see lack of oversight, unfair funding, under-performing students.
By Samantha Marcus, Of The Morning Call, 11:11 p.m. EST, December 2, 2011
Reporter John L. Micek contributed to this story.
A coalition of superintendents from five area counties released a report Friday, on the eve of a House debate in Harrisburg, condemning charter schools for operating without the same intense scrutiny and mandates as public schools while producing lesser achievement across the board.
The report compared state test scores of public and charter school students in Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton and Pike counties, its findings generally reinforcing standard criticisms of the public schools' counterparts.
The report, initiated by 26 superintendents, also rips the funding formula that allows cyber and charter schools to use local tax revenue — often amounting to millions of dollars — from public school systems.
"Using vouchers to fund private schools or to funnel public school dollars away from local schools to fund charter schools is fundamentally wrong and inequitable," the group said in a news release.

Should Schools Be Run for Profit?

Education Week Bridging Differences Blog By Diane Ravitch on November 29, 2011 9:10 AM
Dear Deborah,
The next big idea in "education reform" is online instruction and cyber charters. I know that teachers are doing wonderful, creative activities with technology, and there is no doubt that technology can bring history, science, and other studies to life in vivid ways. But there is a cloud on the horizon, and that is the growth of the for-profit cyber charters. I confess that it troubles me to think of children sitting at home, day after day, with no opportunity for discussion and debate, no interaction with their peers, no face-to-face encounters with a real teacher.  
I recently read several shocking articles that have reinforced my concern about for-profit companies that provide virtual schooling. One must-read is Lee Fang's remarkable investigative article, titled "How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools." It is a chilling account of a well-developed campaign to persuade state legislatures to endorse for-profit virtual schools.

I'm a New School Board Member, Now What?
PSBA New Board Member Orientation, 2 day Program November 2011-April 2012
Guided by our mission of leadership, service and advocacy, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association is committed to providing practical and up-to-date professional development to help the commonwealth's school directors and other school leaders provide public education of the highest quality. This unique learning opportunity will help prepare you for the challenging life of a school board member. Learn school governance basics and gain the knowledge you will need to become a successful member of the Team of 10!
For more info and to register:

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 12/04/2011

Choking on the Common Core Standards

This was written by Joanne Yatvin, a longtime public school educator,author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teachers part-time at Portland State University and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools.
By Joanne Yatvin
Many things that are commonplace activities for adults — driving, voting, and paying taxes, for example — are not appropriate for children. I count the Common Core State Standards, proposed for all our country’s public schools, among them.

If you are in the Camp Hill, Cumberland Valley, East Pennsboro, Mechanicsburg or WestShore School Districts please consider attending this legislative forum.
Reps. Grell, Delozier to Co-Host Town Hall Meeting on Education Reform
Wednesday, December 7th 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Press Release 11/30/2011
HARRISBURG – Rep. Glen Grell (R-Hampden Twp.) and Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Lower Allen Twp.) announced today that they are co-hosting a special town hall meeting on educational reform legislation currently under consideration in the General Assembly. The event will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 7 -9 p.m. at Good Hope Middle School, 451 Skyport Road in Hampden Township. Residents of the 87th and 88th Legislative Districts are invited and encouraged to attend. 
Among the speakers expected to attend are Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis, and representatives from the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Pennsylvania-American Civil Liberties Union, and the Commonwealth Foundation

The Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project’s
Second Annual Fundraiser and Inaugural Awards Ceremony
Thursday, December 8, 2011 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Twentieth Century Club, 84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, PA 19050
Join the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project to celebrate our organization’s progress in realizing our collective vision to make southeastern Pennsylvania a fair, stable, and prosperous place to live.
Keynote Speaker — Estelle Richman, U.S. HUD Acting Deputy Secretary
U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach
State Senator Ted Erickson
Rev. Ed Crenshaw, Victory Christian Fellowship
Kirby Hudson, City of Coatesville Assistant Manager
For tickets and info:

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