Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Submit your Questions About the State's Education Budget

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.

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Experts disagree on impact of gambling revenue on school tax bills
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In 2004, during the debate over whether to legalize gambling in Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell predicted that slot machine revenue one day would be able to cut school property taxes by an average of 23 percent.  About 71/2 years and 10 casinos later, many homeowners are still waiting for that day.

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Submit your Questions About the State's Education Budget

PA SchoolTalk Posted by Brett Schaeffer on January 31, 2012
On Feb. 7, Gov. Corbett will make his annual budget address, indicating his funding priorities for 2012-13. Education funding and reform issues will play an important role in the Governor’s new proposals.  In the weeks that follow, several hearings will be held in the Capitol to review the Governor’s education budget. Members of the General Assembly will have the opportunity to ask both Budget Secretary Zogby and Education Secretary Tomalis detailed questions about the priorities outlined in the Governor’s budget. The legislature will use the hearings to gather information, before presenting their own budget proposals.
The Education Law Center is going to present legislators with a list of questions to ask the Corbett Administration officials during the budget hearings. The Law Center is encouraging parents, students, community members, business leaders, advocates, and organizers to submit their own questions they'd like legislators to ask.  Follow this link to submit your question:

PA House Democratic Caucus Website
As districts consider their preliminary budgets and we await the Governor’s February 7th budget announcement, the PA House Democratic Caucus has begun daily tracking of press coverage on school district budgets statewide:


Latest Updates on Chester UplandFebruary 1, 2011


Chester Upland teacher set for ‘Ellen’ appearance

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Delco Times By PAUL LUCE,

The Columbus Elementary School teacher who was a guest of the first lady for the State of the Union address will be a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

After being invited to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as Michelle Obama’s guest Jan. 24, Sara Ferguson was invited on to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” for an episode airing Thursday.


USDA school nutrition regs add major costs for food services

NSBA School Board News by Joetta Sack-Min January 31, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rules for nutrition standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs still fail to provide adequate funding for schools, NSBA says.

The USDA estimates that the new rules will cost schools an additional $3.2 billion to implement, a more than 50 percent decrease from its initial $6.7 billion estimate. However, NSBA is concerned that the new estimate is based on faulty accounting.


Building a better evaluation system: At a glance
Includes questions for school board members
Center for Public Education by Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst
The push to change teacher evaluation systems, and especially to include statistical measures of teachers’ effect on student learning, is here. In 2005, 13 states were able to link teachers to their students’ performance data; in 2010, 35 states were able to do so and the number is expected to grow. The Obama administration’s Race to the Top effort urged states and districts to use this teacher-student link in teacher evaluations in order to be eligible for grants. In response, 17 states reportedly changed their evaluation systems to improve their chances of receiving RTTT funds. Private foundations like the Gates Foundation have also used their resources to examine teachers’ effectiveness and encourage the use of such measures. Clearly, this is a fast-moving train that will likely affect many if not most school districts eventually. In order to prepare, here’s what you should know


Does President Obama Know What Race to the Top Is?

 Diane Ravitch  
I don't know about you, but I am growing convinced that President Barack Obama doesn't know what Race to the Top is. I don't think he really understands what his own administration is doing to education. In his State of the Union address last week, he said that he wanted teachers to "stop teaching to the test." He also said that teachers should teach with "creativity and passion." And he said that schools should reward the best teachers and replace those who weren't doing a good job. To "reward the best" and "fire the worst," states and districts are relying on test scores. The Race to the Top says they must.


Can Khan Move the Bell Curve to the Right?

Math instruction goes viral

Education next By June Kronholz Spring 2012
Salman Khan’s short videos remain the centerpiece of Khan Academy (there already are 2,576 of them and counting). In each one, Khan’s voice describes a discrete math concept, such as solving a quadratic by factoring or interpreting inequalities, while only his hand-scribbled formulas appear on-screen. Khan’s idea was that youngsters would watch the videos at home and work on problems in class, essentially “flipping” the classroom (see “The Flipped Classroom,” What Next, Winter 2012). But teachers told me that youngsters also are using the videos as a just-in-time solution when they’re stumped on a problem in class, or to move ahead when they feel ready.
The data that the web site churns out and the site’s gaming features seem to be the real learning motivators. Youngsters become “proficient” in a concept by answering a “streak” of 10 consecutive computer-generated questions: miss one and the computer sends you back to the start. Youngsters earn “energy points” for correct answers, and badges for accomplishments as diverse as working speedily (that’s a meteorite badge) or becoming proficient in the Pythagorean theorem (that’s a moon badge).

County Legislative Guides by Education Voters PA
These legislative guides list contact information, committee assignments and school districts for PA State Representatives and State Senators.  They also include tips on being an effective advocate for public education: contacting your elected officials and writing letters to the editor

Map of Pennsylvania School Districts and Intermediate Units

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