Monday, January 23, 2012

The uncommon wealth and media holdings of the Scaife family provide support for Pennsylvania’s conservative Commonwealth Foundation, a long-time evangelist for vouchers.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators and members of the press via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Ongoing Chester Upland Financial Situation Updates
Updated Daily - Corbett/Pileggi Joint Statement: school will remain open; Tomalis Statement; State Rep. Kirkland Meeting, more commentary…….

PA Senate Education Committee to hold a public hearing on fiscally distressed school districts
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:00 AM
Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg.

PA House Education Committee to hold informational meeting on cyber charter school funding and operating issues
Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:00 AM
Room 60 East Wing

Former CEO of Philadelphia charter school pleads guilty to theft, fraud charges.  Her admitted frauds total $861,000.
By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer, January 21, 2012
The former chief executive officer of a charter school in Northwest Philadelphia pleaded guilty Friday to stealing more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds intended for the school.
Ina M. Walker, the onetime top official of New Media Technology Charter School, appeared Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court and told Judge Jan E. DuBois that she wanted to change her plea to guilty to theft and fraud charges.
In her plea agreement, Walker, 59, of West Mount Airy, admitted to all 28 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from a federally funded program, and bank fraud.
Her admitted frauds total $861,000. DuBois scheduled sentencing for April 27.

The uncommon wealth and media holdings of the Scaife family provide support for Pennsylvania’s conservative Commonwealth Foundation, a long-time evangelist for vouchers.  In 2010 the Commonwealth Foundation also launched its own political PR/news hybrid outlet, the Pennsylvania Independent.
Duvall-Flynn: Race baiting with the voucher issue must stop
Montgomery County Times Herald By JOAN DUVALL-FLYNN, ED D
Doctor Flynn is the State Conference Education Committee Chairwoman for NAACP PA Posted: 01/19/12 06:19 pm
In a January 12 article by Matthew Brouliette, CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, he describes a school where only two out of 10 students are proficient in reading and math. This may be real. We do not know. Yet, we do know that he expresses no concern as to why. He simply identifies the children as criminals and suggests only some of them are worthy to attend schools where all children are safe and have the resources needed to receive a quality education. His solution, take public tax dollars and pay private school tuition for “the worthy”.

Catholic leaders push school vouchers at Capitol

Posted: Jan 20, 2012 7:05 PM ESTUpdated: Jan 21, 2012 4:52 PM EST
By Dennis Owens
School vouchers seem to be a dead issue at the Capitol, but supporters promise to continue pushing lawmakers. 
The archbishop of Philadelphia is pushing his flock. He recently linked nearly 50 Philly school closings to the fact that Catholics haven't complained vigorously enough to their elected officials for vouchers, and he pointed a finger at Harrisburg.

Harrisburg bishop: Hitler would love America's public school system

By Justin Vacula , Scranton Examiner, January 21, 2012

Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of the Roman Catholic diocese of Harrisburg, an outspoken proponent of school voucher programs in which taxpayer monies go to private religious schools, has recently criticized the American public school system claiming that “totalitarian governments would love our system” in an interview with an ABC affiliate. McFadden also said, “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all those who tried to establish -- a monolith -- so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”

Students First PA, Freedomworks, the Commonwealth Foundation, the PA Catholic Conference and the REACH Foundation are sponsoring a legislative forum on vouchers
Wednesday January 15, 2012 10:00 AM
Meeting Room 1 North Capitol Building

In West Philadelphia, a public school so good parents line up to get their kids in
By Miriam Hill. Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Mon, Jan. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM
Niambi Love doesn't mess around when it comes to her children's education.
Friday night, her husband parked their car outside the Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia. She kept checking to see whether anyone had lined up to grab one of the coveted kindergarten spots at the public school.  When no one had by 9 a.m. Sunday, Love donned fuzzy green ear muffs, bundled up in several layers of clothing, and plunked herself down in a lawn chair - first in line.
Penn Alexander is part of the School District of Philadelphia but it receives a yearly subsidy of $1,300 per pupil from the University of Pennsylvania. Parents perceive it as one of a few good options in a district beset by budget cuts, poor test scores, and reports of violence.

Published in Print: January 18, 2012
WHAT WORKS: What Works in School Turnarounds?
Education Week Commentary By Alan M. Blankstein and Pedro Noguera
An important feature of the Obama administration's Race to the Top initiative is the call to turn around failing schools. The policy calls for persistently failing schools to be subjected to specific turnaround strategies, and $3.5 billion in federal School Improvement Grant funds has been allocated to support the effort.
We applaud President Barack Obama's desire to address this pervasive problem. However, we are concerned that the approach prescribed by the U.S. Department of Education, while well intentioned, is misguided. Because of the vast sums of federal dollars that have been directed toward this effort and the narrow timeline under which changes are expected to be made, we are seeing a new industry of "turnaround experts" emerge, most of whom have no track record of helping struggling schools. We are concerned that desperate schools will waste scarce resources on efforts that will promise much but deliver little. Meanwhile, millions of children throughout America will continue to languish in failing schools.

WHAT WORKS: Creating Teacher Incentives for School Excellence and Equity
National Education Policy Center by Barnett Berry, Jon Eckert, Scott R. Bauries
January 12, 2012
Ensuring that all students in America’s public schools are taught by good teachers is an educational and moral imperative. The teacher is the most important school-based influence on student achievement, and poor children and those of color are less likely to be taught by well-qualified, experienced, and effective teachers than other students. Yet teacher incentive proposals — including those promoted by President Obama’s Race to the Top program — are rarely grounded on what high-quality research indicates are the kinds of teacher incentives that lead to school excellence and equity

Charter schools are failing the York community
York Daily Record Opinion by JEFF KIRKLAND
Updated: 01/19/2012 11:02:12 AM EST
As we move from Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday towards Black History Month, the state of public education and its impact on our children's futures should be at the forefront of our discussions and actions.
The School District of the City of York has been inundated with requests by various groups to allow them to set up, run or expand independent charter schools as alternative educational options for this city's school children. What should be the overriding question is: Do they work? A report by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes warned in unmistakable terms that, "in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as students in traditional schools."
Our community - like many others across the country - is swarming with financial businesses that take advantage of the American dream's particular resonance in poor, largely black and brown neighborhoods.
There are the rent-to-own furniture sellers that make the trappings of middle-class life wildly expensive. The tax "refund" shops that strip away an estimated $600 million in Earned Income Tax Credits each year. The small-money lenders and check cashing joints, pawn shops and other predatory businesses that have built a $30 billion national business from debt-credit schemes. All these operations are feasting off the economic carcasses that 20th-century policy makers created. Back in the 1960s we called these people "poverty pimps," people who capitalized on the misery and suffering of others. Charter schools in this community are just another form of predatory action.
Public schools in the United States were the backbone of the great economic and social growth this country has seen over the past century. Where did we go wrong? I know charter schools are here to stay, but they should be held to the same, if not more, stringent accountability procedures as the public schools.

Underfunded Pennsylvania Pension Funds Need Real Reform
Community Matters Blog Posted on January 21st, 2012   5:15 PM  by Pattye Benson
Pennsylvania is facing a multi-billion dollar public pension crisis – now is the time for pension reform in Harrisburg.  The Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employees Retirement System (SERS), the two systems administering retirement accounts for state and public school employees, are severely underfunded and will become insolvent without an increase in taxpayer contributions.

Op-Ed: Change the Pension System to Help Taxpayers
State Rep. Warren Kampf weighs in on pension reform.
Phoenixville Patch January 21, 2012
Editor's Note: The following was written by state Rep. Warren Kampf (R-157), who represents much of the Phoenixville area. To submit a response or your own letter to the editor, e-mail
All across Pennsylvania, homeowners are facing property tax increases or potential reductions to services like police protection in response to a single cost driver facing local governments and school districts: the spiraling cost of meeting pension obligations.

In Race to the Top, the Dirty Work Is Left to Those on the Bottom
New York Times By MICHAEL WINERIP January 23, 2012
Even if you think the Obama administration’s signature education program, Race to the Top, will not help a single child in America learn more, you have to admire its bureaucratic magnificence.  First, it has had a major effect — reaching into most public schools in America — while costing the Obama administration next to nothing.
The Education Department will spend about $5 billion on the program, and even if you’re thinking, hey, I could use $5 billion, consider this: New York won the largest federal grant, $700 million over the next four years. In that time, roughly $230 billion will be spent on public education in the state. By adding just one-third of one percent to state coffers, the feds get to implement their version of education reform.  That includes rating teachers and principals by their students’ scores on state tests; using those ratings to dismiss teachers with low scores and to pay bonuses to high scorers; and reducing local control of education.
Second, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and his education scientists do not have to do the dirty work. For teachers in subject areas and grades that do not have state tests (music, art, technology, kindergarten through third grade) or do not have enough state tests to measure growth (every high school subject), it is the state’s responsibility to create a system of alternative ratings.

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