Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WHAT WORKS: Bill Frist - 3 ways to fix America's child poverty problem

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

Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg


State prohibits Philly teachers from administering PSSA to their own students

The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 28 2012

In the wake of concerns about cheating on state exams, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has prohibited Philadelphia teachers – but apparently not teachers in other districts across the state – from administering the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test to their own students.


State Board of Education proposes changes to Chapter 4 regulations for Keystone Exams

PSBA 2/27/2012

The State Board of Education is proposing changes to the Chapter 4 regulations regarding graduation requirements and Keystone Exams.  The proposal clarifies that the regulations regarding Keystone Exams and graduation requirements apply to charter and cyber charter schools, in addition to school districts and AVTSs.


PA House Education Hearing of January 12, 2012 Showcasing Career and Technical Education

YouTube Video Runtime 7:41.  The House Education Committee held an informational meeting on Thursday, January 12, 2012 at Middle Bucks Institute of Technology to showcase the quality education obtained through the state's career and technical schools.


Here’s an opportunity to tell the President what you think about his education policy:


If you tried to read this editorial yesterday, my apologies -  the link was changed after I posted it.  This one works…

Editorial: Fundraisers, not politics, the focus of schools

Delco Times February 27, 2012

Just when you think you’re watching a press conference about the fate of Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, it becomes a photo op for state legislators touting vouchers. In all fairness, they were obviously invited to last Friday afternoon’s media event at archdiocesan headquarters in Center City by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.
After announcing that all four high schools originally recommended for closure by the archdiocesan’s Blue Ribbon Commission would now remain open, he segued into the importance of education improvement tax credits and “opportunity scholarships,” otherwise known as taxpayer-funded vouchers.

Here are a few minor inconvenient details that are worth mentioning periodically in this discussion about vouchers:
Pennsylvania Constitution and Vouchers
Here’s the oath of office taken by Pennsylvania elected officials:
§ 3.  Oath of office.
Senators, Representatives and all judicial, State and county officers shall, before entering on the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation before a person authorized to administer oaths.
“I do solemnly swear (of affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”
Here’s what the Pennsylvania Constitution actually says:
Article III, Section 15 Public school money not available to sectarian schools.
No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.
Article III, Section 29 Appropriations for public assistance.
No appropriation shall be made for charitable, educational or benevolent purposes to any person or community nor to any denominational and sectarian institution, corporation or association…The only exception to this constitutional prohibition is for state grants and scholarships for higher education.
Article III, Section 30 Charitable and educational appropriations.
No appropriation shall be made to any charitable or educational institution not under the absolute control of the Commonwealth, other than normal schools established by law for the professional training of teachers for the public schools of the State, except by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House.


 “Though K12’s lobbying prowess is legendary, there are mounting signs that states are openly questioning whether K12 and the idea of cyber charter schools are an effective use of declining pools of education dollars -- from Des Moines, where this editorial cautioned against a headlong rush into cyber schooling, to Pennsylvania, where Agora’s Board of Trustees signaled (see underlined portion) that it wants to renegotiate its contract with K12 downwards in price when it comes up next. Even Florida is getting into the act, with K12 losing an appeal three weeks ago to expand its cyber charter school activity throughout the state.”

K12 Manifesting Its Corporate Destiny February 27, 2012
An April 23, 2010 e-mail from Kevin Corcoran to a host of his colleagues is likely the sort that, in one form or another, millions of Americans deal with regularly during the work day.  Bluntly noting “We have not made the progress we need to in this area,” Corcoran adds, “More than $1[million] in funding” is in the balance.”
“Anyone who has not fulfilled their obligation in this area should not be surprised….when it’s time to discuss performance evaluations, bonuses and raises.”
The $1 million in question isn’t from a customer but represents tuition and fees from Pennsylvania’s various school districts to an online public charter school called Agora. In turn Agora pays Corcoran’s employer, K12 Inc. (LRN) many millions of dollars annually to provide the curriculum and administer the school. There is a lot at stake in collecting this money since Agora and a sister school in Ohio, the Ohio Virtual Academy, represent about 26% of K12′s annual revenues.


Education Voters PA Blog Posting on the Feb. 27th, 2012  Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing for the Department of Education


EPLC Education Notebook – Monday, February 27, 2012


Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
2012 Education Issues Workshops for Legislative Candidates
A Non-Partisan One-Day Program for Pennsylvania Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff and Interested Voters 
Tuesday, March 6 - Monroeville - 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Monroeville Convention Center
Monday, March 12 - Harrisburg - 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
800 North Third Street, EPLC's 5th Floor Conference Room
Tuesday, March 13 - Valley Forge - 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Valley Forge Casino Resort, King of Prussia, PA


School Delays and Closings
Yinzercation Blog— FEBRUARY 28, 2012
Reading through the list of school districts in Yinzer Nation affected by these devastating state budget cuts, I had the peculiar feeling I was a kid again and it was a snow day. We would wake up to snow on the ground, turn on KDKA, and listen through the looong list of school districts announcing two-hour delays: being at the end of the alphabet in Upper St. Clair, we had to listen impatiently to all those other schools, hoping to hear that we would have a day off.
Only now that long list of school delays has turned onto real delays for our children’s education. The snow storm is a man-made disaster with white-out conditions hitting our schools. Take a look at the numbers below, compiled by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.


US House Panel Gives Partisan Approval to ESEA Bills

 Alyson Klein  
On a partisan vote, the House Education and the Workforce Committee today gave its stamp of approval to GOP-backed legislation reauthorizing portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
A pair of bills, both of which were introduced by U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the committee, would scale back the federal role in education and give states much more running room when it comes to K-12 policy, a 180-degree pivot from the current version of the law, the decade-old No Child Left Behind Act. The measures passed on a party-line vote of 23-16.
Debate around the measures at today's committee markup was predictably partisan.
Rep. George Miller, the top Democrat on the committee, said the legislation "turn[s] its back on the civil rights promises of this nation: that every child deserves a fair shot at success, no matter what their background."
Not surprisingly, Kline sees it differently. He said the legislation "untie[s] the hands of state and local leaders who are clamoring for the opportunity to change the status quo and revive innovation in our classrooms."

Here’s the R spin on the ESEA action:

Committee Approves K-12 Education Reform Legislation 
Bills reduce federal overreach, grant states and school districts freedom to innovate, and support more effective teachers
US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce – Republicans

WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 28, 2012 -
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today approved two pieces of legislation to rewrite elementary and secondary education law. The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) was approved by the committee in a vote of 23 to 16. The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) was approved in a vote of 23 to 16.  “With these proposals, we aim to shrink federal intrusion in classrooms and return responsibility for student success to states and school districts. We’ll untie the hands of state and local leaders who are clamoring for the opportunity to change the status quo and revive innovation in our classrooms. And we will free states and school districts to provide every child access to the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed,” Chairman Kline said.


Here’s the D spin on the ESEA action:

Despite Opposition Raised By Education & Business Communities, Committee Republicans Push Through Radical Bill to Rewrite Nation’s Education Law

US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce – Democrats

Feb 28, 2012 Issues: Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, ESEA

WASHINGTON –  On a partisan vote, House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans today pushed through highly partisan legislation, H.R. 3989 and H.R. 3990, that would turn the clock back decades on equity and accountability in American public education.  The bills approved today would dismantle the federal role in education and the core principals of equal opportunity incorporated into federal policy since 1965.


“Poverty, especially during formative early years, can be an enormous hurdle for a child's development. At U.S. schools where less than 10 percent of the student body is impoverished, reading scores rank first in the world. Yet these same scores for U.S. schools where 75 percent or more of the student body is impoverished rank 45th. “

WHAT WORKS: Bill Frist - 3 ways to fix America's child poverty problem

One in five American children suffers through extreme financial hardship. It doesn't have to be that way


Dr. William H. Frist is a nationally acclaimed heart transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, the chairman of Hope Through Healing Hands and Tennessee SCORE, professor of surgery, and author of six books. Learn more about his work at

Americans hear a lot about decline. Declines in manufacturing, fading productivity, plummeting home values, spiraling deficits, and sadly, dwindling faith in the American dream.

Let me tell you where I see the worst decline — but also our nation's best hope.

One in five kids in America lives in poverty. That's 20 percent of America's future left behind. Left to drop out of high school, suffer through shorter lives, commit crimes, have a child in their teens — and then perpetuate this cycle with their own children.


Huffington Post by Gregory Mullenholz Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow

For Students to Excel, the U.S. Must Respect Teachers

Posted: 02/28/2012 10:28 am

This month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan formally launched a new initiative in the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen and elevate the teaching profession. It's called project RESPECT, an acronym that stands for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching. RESPECT is all about, well, respect -- about making sure that teaching is not only one of America's most important professions but one of America's most respected professions.


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, State Representative Nick Kotik, Education Policy & Leadership Center Director Ron Cowell, 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.

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

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.

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:

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