Wednesday, February 22, 2012

There is no prohibition against lawmakers and elected officials or heads of public agencies being associated with charter schools. But there should be.

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


WHAT WORKS: Full-day kindergarten lauded in Franklin Regional presentation

By Renatta Signorini, TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The Franklin Regional school board plans to decide on March 19 whether to maintain the district's full-day kindergarten program or revert to half-day.  Sloan Elementary kindergarten teacher Libby Carr presented the board last night with an analysis of the full-day program and its benefits.
"This is powerful data," she said.

Read more: Full-day kindergarten lauded in Franklin Regional presentation - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Research study gives good marks to Phila.'s school turnaround effort

By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Wed, Feb. 22, 2012, 3:01 AM

Philadelphia's nationally watched school turnaround effort gets high marks from a research study to be released Wednesday.  Growth in student achievement and attendance both at district-run overhauled K-8 schools and at those turned over to charters outpaced gains at comparable city schools, the Philadelphia nonprofit Research for Action found.


“Of course, we have a rich history of lawmakers' involvement: Until last year, state Sen. Anthony Williams served as chairman of the board of the Hardy Williams Charter School; John Perzel's wife founded a school and served on its board; Vincent Fumo and Dwight Evans have been instrumental in establishing charter schools.

Lawmakers who are committed to improving education can, and should, do it the old-fashioned way - through budget allocations. They should stay far away from the obvious conflicts of interest that stem from starting their own schools.”

DN Editorial: Lawmakers should drop out of charter involvement

Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Posted: Wed, Feb. 22, 2012, 3:01 AM

WHEN the School Reform Commission next votes to approve new charter schools, it'll review one application that carries two familiar names - State Reps. Bill Keller and John Taylor.  Keller and Taylor are part of the "founding coalition" of Philadelphia Polytechnic Charter School. The coalition also includes Vincent Fenerty, director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

There is no prohibition against lawmakers and elected officials or heads of public agencies being associated with charter schools.  But there should be.


Corbett’s budget foreshadows surge in PA pension costs

Increases begin this year, but the big numbers are a few years away
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent February 17, 2012
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett’s second proposed budget contains an ominous warning about the state’s two major pension funds and the taxpayer contributions they will require in the coming years.  The state’s contribution to the two pension plans is increasing by more than $300 million in the newly proposed budget, up from $705 million last year to more than $1 billion in the fiscal year that will begin July 1.


“Standardized tests may be lucrative for educational publishers and useful for politicians who want to control school resources, but they seldom improve learning. …. Although accountability and data-driven instruction are often the stated goals of educational testing, politicians may be eager to expand it for other reasons. The most obvious one is control: The easier it is to label schools as failing, the easier it is to take them over - at which point politicians can influence their policies and curriculums and dole out more of the associated money and resources to whomever they want.”

The mighty testing juggernaut

Philadelphia Inquirer By Christopher Paslay Posted: Tue, Feb. 21, 2012, 9:00 AM

Christopher Paslay is a Philadelphia schoolteacher and the author of "The Village Proposal" (Rowman & Littlefield). His blog, "Chalk and Talk," is at

There's an old saying that weighing a cow doesn't make it fatter. When it comes to educational testing in Pennsylvania, however, Gov. Corbett may beg to differ. His proposed 2012-13 budget calls for a 43 percent increase in funding for educational assessments, to $52 million, even as it keeps school funding generally flat and cuts spending on state-related universities.


An open letter to Gov. Tom Corbett: Now is the time for meaningful mandate relief

PSBA Executive Director Tom Gentzel 2/21/2012

Dear Governor Corbett:

Last week, you presented to the General Assembly a challenging budget for 2012-13. It reflects the continued concerns related to the economy and the need to carefully select priorities for state spending. Certainly, in times like these, tight budgets mean that difficult choices must be made.

In your budget address, you emphasized that the state's revenues do not match mandated, escalating costs. You proposed the use of block grants to "give school districts the flexibility to adjust to their own, unique needs" You said that "right now, education spending is bound up in a thicket of outdated and time-consuming regulations and mandates."

Governor, we couldn't agree more, and the time to address this problem is now.


Parkland school district approves ads inside buses

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania school district plans to put advertisements on the inside of its buses as it tries to deal with cuts in state funding.


Financial Collapse Threatens Pennsylvania District

No rescue yet for Chester Upland schools

Education Week By Christina A. Samuels Published February 21, 2012

The financially troubled Chester Upland school district in Pennsylvania, which made national news when its teachers promised to stay on the job even if the district could not pay them, continues to teeter on the brink of financial collapse despite a court-ordered meeting with state officials this month to seek a rescue.


Cumberland Valley officials target elementary strings and band programs for elimination

Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 7:10 AM

By DAVID N. DUNKLE, The Patriot-News

Both the elementary strings and band programs are slated to be eliminated as district officials try to close an anticipated $2.7 million budget deficit for the 2012-13 school year.


About Yinzercation:

Outraged by the $1 BILLION state cuts that are now hitting our schools, a group of Pittsburgh Colfax K-8 parents formed a “Harrisburg Strategy” group in late 2011 to work at the state level. With the Governor’s recent announcement that he proposes cutting an additional $100 MILLION, that initial group has quickly grown into a region-wide movement as folks from across Southwest PA have joined the fight to stop this attack on public education. We welcome you to join us.

You can signup for emails at:

Yinzercation Blog — FEBRUARY 21, 2012
The letter wars continue on the editorial pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Today’s letter-to-the-editor ( is a spot-on rebuttal to two of the most commonly repeated, and false, claims about the budget cuts to public education. But it is also an excellent example of how Yinzer Nation is growing through our personal networks — and how this most basic strategy of networking is working.


State to switch from PSSA to Keystone Exams

By Barbara Phillips Long, Shippensburg Bureau Chief, Posted: February 20, 2012 7:00 am

Pennsylvania will switch from using the PSSA exams in high school to using the Keystone Exams on specific subjects, despite a tight state budget for education, Assistant Superintendent Beth Bender told Shippensburg Area School District board members Feb. 13.

Read more:


The authors suggest a multifaceted response to Obama’s agenda, including that Congress “should immediately pass legislation clarifying that the department cannot impose conditions on waivers requested by states under ESEA.”

Obama imposing national school curriculum

Posted by on February 21, 2012 
‘The department has simply paid others to do what which it is forbidden’
A new report compiled by several former Education Department insiders for the Pioneer Institute warns that the Obama administration is imposing a national school curriculum, even though the law doesn’t allow it, by making trades with districts seeking waivers from other program requirements.  “In three short years, the present administration has placed the nation on the road to a national curriculum,” said the authors of the reported called “The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers.”


“But what we cannot support is reshaping the program into one that caters to the middle class - and that's where the voucher program is headed after last year's revamp.”

Choice enrollment boost shows a worrisome trend

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal Editorial February 20, 2012

At least some of the growth in the voucher program came from kids already enrolled in private schools. Poor students should be the priority.

More than 2,000 new students entered the school voucher program this year after the Legislature relaxed requirements. That's the good news. The bad news? Much of that growth came from kids whose parents already were paying out-of-pocket for their children to attend private or religious schools, according to a new study by the Public Policy Forum. The trend is the result of a misguided shift in philosophy that we warned against when lawmakers were considering these changes last year.


“If legislators give charter schools the construction money, in many cases they will be transferring dollars out of classrooms and onto the bottom lines of for-profit firms. That's not innovation. That's traditional corporate welfare.”

Cash grab by big business

By THE PALM BEACH POST- Jac Wilder VerSteeg, for The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board

Posted: 6:04 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012

Charter schools supposedly are great innovators. They promised better academic results than traditional public schools, and they promised to do it for less money. Taxpayers, for example, would not have to underwrite their budgets for construction and maintenance.


Posted at 03:26 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Santorum’s children went to a cyber charter school

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said some pretty provocative things about public education on the campaign trail recently, declaring that it is not the job of government to educate children but rather the responsibility of parents.  That didn’t stop him from enrolling his children for a time in a Pennsylvania cyber charter school and insisting that taxpayers there pay for it, even though his children lived primarily in another state.


February 23: 9 am to 3 pm Harrisburg Hilton 2012 Budget Summit: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for our 2012 Budget Summit on Thursday, February 23, 2012 for an in-depth look at the state and federal budget plans and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania. The Summit will also feature workshops on how to talk about budgets, government and state services and lessons from successful budget campaigns in other states.

Time: February 23, 2012 from 9am to 3pm
Location: Harrisburg Hilton
Website or Map: 

Click here to RSVP


February 29th: Partners for Public Education at 6PM in the South Fayette High School Theater

Statewide kickoff meeting of PSEA's Partners for Public Education (PPE) Program

PPE is all about connecting parents, community leaders, elected officials, and teachers together for one goal - the support of public education.  State Senator Wayne Fontana, State Representative Jesse White, PSEA President Mike Crossey, along with members of the SFEA Representative Council, SF School Board, SF Administration, and SF Student Government will stand together to recruit parents and other interested parties add their voices to the chorus of those who care about public education.

SAVE THE DATE: March 8, 7 pm Lehigh County Legislative Forum on Public Education
Thursday, March 8th, 7:00 pm at Lehigh Carbon Community College, Community Services Center
All public education stakeholders are invited to this special event.  Join us on Thursday, March 8th at Lehigh Carbon Community College at 7PM for an evening with several key state legislators from Lehigh County and other education experts who will help explain local impacts. 
State Representatives and Senators representing surrounding school districts have been invited to attend and discuss their positions on public education as they head into negotiations over next year’s budget.  This event will be moderated by the League of Women Voters.

The Education Committee of the League of Women Voters of Chester County
March 19th LWV Chester County Public Meeting: The Real Impact of the Proposed State Budget on Public Education
PA Auditor General Jack Wagner
Monday March 19th 6:30 pm at Stetson Middle School, West Chester
Location: Stetson Middle School Auditorium
The Auditor General will speak to the public followed by Q & A Session.

March 26th: Last day to register to vote in the April 24th PA Primary Election
You do have the power to change the direction of education policy in Pennsylvania
The last day to REGISTER before the primary is March 26 , 2012.  Make sure that you, your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers are all registered to vote in the April 24th Pennsylvania Primary.  Ask your incumbent state representative and state senator for their positions on public education.  Let them know how important these issues are to you.  Forward this reminder to any and all public education stakeholders.

Budget Hearing - Department of Education
Monday, February 27, 2012  9:30 AM  Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg.

10:00 AM Department of Education
1:00 PM State System of Higher Education
Monday, March 5, 2012 10:00 AM  Room 140 Main Capitol

Education Voters PA – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The Governor’s proposal starts the process, but it isn’t all decided: our legislators can play an important role in standing up for our priorities.  Last year, public outcry helped prevent nearly $300 million in additional cuts.  We heard from the Governor, and we know where he stands.  Now, we need to ask our legislators: what is your position on supporting our schools?

At The Chalk Face - Education Talk Radio – Listen Anytime
Educated Educators Talking Education.
A new one hour talk show dedicated to education.  Hosts Tim Slekar and Shaun Johnson cover the biggest issues in education.  From standardized testing to No Child Left Behind.

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 22, 2012

District is slated to lose an additional $980,000 under the Governor’s proposed 2012-2013 budget

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