Thursday, February 9, 2012

Auditor general seeks criminal probe of Pocono Mountain Charter School


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

If you are a public education stakeholder in southeastern PA come show your support at tonight’s meeting.

Dinniman Announces Meeting to Discuss Governor’s Proposed Education Budget Cuts

WEST CHESTER (February 7) – State Senator Andy Dinniman said he is troubled by Gov. Corbett’s latest proposal to cut public-education spending and will convene a public meeting on Thursday to discuss the proposed cuts, their impact on local schools, and the future of public education in Pennsylvania.
Thursday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and be open to the public. It will be held in the auditorium of Downingtown High School East at 50 Devon Drive, Exton.

PA House Education Committee Changes, January 24, 2012
Rep. Duane Milne, Chester County, is resigning as a member of the Education Committee and is elected as a member of the Commerce Committee.
Rep. Jim Christiana, Beaver County, is elected as a member of the Education Committee.
Rep. Steven Santarsiero is elected as a member of the Education Committee.

Auditor general seeks criminal probe of Pocono Mountain Charter School
Auditors flag $3 million in public education funds paid to a church run by the school's founder.
By Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call, 11:21 p.m. EST, February 8, 2012
Auditor General Jack Wagner will ask the Monroe County District Attorney's Office to begin a criminal probe of Pocono Mountain Charter School after auditors flagged more than $3 million in public education money that had been paid to a church run by the school's founder and CEO.
According to Wagner, the financial transactions in question occurred when the Rev. Dennis Bloom, acting in his dual role as head of the school and president of Shawnee Tabernacle Church, signed lease agreements that went up about 144 percent — to $964,996 — between 2006-07 and 2009-10 after taxpayers paid for $765,763 worth of building improvements that benefited the church.

Corbett's budget plan would give more money to schools, but most would go to pensions
Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2012, 2:34  By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News
Midstate school boards worried about cutting programs, bigger class sizes and pay-to-play fees found little relief in Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 2012-13 budget.  For homeowners, higher school property tax rates are almost inevitable.
The governor has proposed spending $10 billion on public schools. It’s an increase of about 3.4 percent, but that’s really not extra money for the classroom.
Most of the new funding simply covers the mandated $316 million increase to cover the state’s contribution to school employees’ pensions.
School districts would lose about $100 million from the disappearance of grant funding they had received to support programs aimed at raising student achievement, such as tutoring, full-day kindergarten and class-size reductions.

Corbett budget gets mixed local reaction from educators
The Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt, ebrandt@pottsmerc.com Posted: 02/08/12 12:01 am
Local school officials reacted with caution to Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed $27.1 billion budget Tuesday while the head of Montgomery County’s fast-growing community college system expressed “disappointment” at the proposed cuts there.

Budget: $30 million in cuts to early childhood education programs; $95 million in cuts to public schools thru elimination of ABG; Keystone Exams scaled back


Chester Community Charter supporters appeal to Corbett for funding
Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP, jkopp@delcotimes.com, @DT_JohnKopp
CHESTER – More than 200 students, parents and teachers gathered inside the gymnasium at Chester Community Charter School this afternoon to publically appeal to Gov. Tom Corbett and state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis to ensure the charter receive the funding it needs to continue operations throughout the school year.

Duquesne schools run out of time, cash, ideas
Pittsburgh TribLive By Nafari Vanaski, GATEWAY NEWSPAPERS, Thursday, February 9, 2012
The eleventh hour for the Duquesne City School District is well under way.  And as school board member Burton Comensky says, "Twelfth-hour heroics are achieved only in fiction."
On Tuesday night, the elected board called a community meeting to decide what's best for the approximately 475 students in grades K-8 still attending school there. Try to get the state board of control to give more money so the district can keep running in place? Send students to West Mifflin schools? How about a Propel charter school?
No one is sure about what to do. What they are sure about is that what's happening now isn't acceptable: children failing en masse.
Duquesne schools continue to be among Pennsylvania's worst-rated districts in academic performance measurements. The state took over the district in 2000, and the move hasn't helped. Scores on state tests in reading and math remain in the basement, and the district's incident reports place it among the most violent in the state. In short, nothing has changed.

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Texas schools chief calls testing obsession a ‘perversion’

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
The Republican education commissioner of Texas, Robert Scott, might not be the first person you’d think would find common ground with California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, but Scott has savaged high-stakes testing in language that would make Brown smile.
Speaking to the Texas State Board of Education late last month, Scott said that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be.
What’s more, he called “the assessment and accountability regime” not only “a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex.” And he attacked the Common Core Standards Initiative as being motivated by business concerns.

Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 02/08/2012

Education Department’s obsession with test scores deepens

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Apparently it’s not enough for the Obama administration that standardized test scores are now used to evaluate students, schools, teachers and principals. In a new display of its obsession with test scores, the Education Department is embarking on a study to determine which parts of clinical teacher training lead to higher average test scores
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/education-departments-obsession-with-test-scores-deepens/2012/02/06/gIQAP7yuyQ_blog.html

Published Online: February 8, 2012
Students Forgo Taking AP Exams
Education Week By Caralee J. Adams
Premium article access courtesy of Edweek.org.
In all but four states, more public school students in the class of 2011 took and passed at least one Advanced Placement exam—18.1 percent on average—up from 16.9 percent for graduates the year before, according to a report released Wednesday.
Yet the 8th annual "AP Report to the Nation" shows that many students who had the academic potential to succeed in AP didn’t take exams, either by choice or because they attended a school that did not offer the subjects.


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