Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gentzel & Brouillette do a Duet on Mandate Relief

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 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

Monday 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.


Public Schools Can Do More with Less -- If We Let Them

Editorial: Thomas Gentzel, Matthew Brouillette 3/19/2012

Thomas J. Gentzel is executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Matthew J. Brouillette is president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation.

As families across Pennsylvania try to figure out how to do more with less in this difficult economy, our local public schools must also do the same. But unlike fiscally sound kitchen-table decisions that can be made in the morning and implemented by lunch, elected school board members are forced to waste taxpayer money because of antiquated and unfair mandates from Harrisburg that do nothing to improve the quality of public education.

Although the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Commonwealth Foundation are policy opponents in the debate over school choice, we strongly agree on the need to give elected school boards the ability to better manage their taxpayer resources.



Prevailing sentiment: It's time to repeal arcane wage law

Published: Monday, March 19, 2012, 6:09 AM
It’s time the state Legislature repeals the prevailing-wage law.
We continue to ask our local governments and school districts to cut costs and find ways to deal with decreasing state funding and shrinking tax bases, but yet we don’t give them meaningful ways to do that.
Who knows better what local governments need to cut costs and do more with less than the local governments themselves? And they say — from county commissioner, city, township and school board associations — repeal the prevailing-wage law.
The mandate adds an extra 5 percent to 30 percent onto the costs of public school, municipal and state building projects compared with private sector costs, according to many studies nationwide. This notion of increasing the cost makes no sense in 2012.



PA seeks to swap property taxes with hikes in sales, income taxes

Bill has bipartisan support
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent March 19, 2012
HARRISBURG  A new proposal might eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania, only to replace them with a 1 percent increase in sales and personal income taxes.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers believe this trade-off would help taxpayers and school districts alike.  The plan, being crafted by state Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, is expected to be introduced formally within the next two weeks as House Bill 1776.
The legislation would offset the state’s $12 billion in annual property tax revenue with the new revenue from the higher personal income and sales taxes. Pennsylvania's property tax system is the fundamental local funding source for school districts.



More oversight sought for growing charter schools

By Rachel Weaver, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Charter school enrollment continues to climb in Pennsylvania, but educators still argue over how to fund the schools and who should grant or renew charters.
Read more: More oversight sought for growing charter schools - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_787317.html#ixzz1pe27mylW


The West Chester Daily Local News will host a State of Education discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday in its Community Media Lab.

The roundtable discussion will include local education leaders and officials answering questions from a live audience and from those watching remotely via a live stream on the Daily Local News website.  The event is free to the public. The Community Media Lab is upstairs at the Daily Local News offices at 250 N. Bradford Ave. in West Chester.

While topics will come from those in attendance or watching at home, the focus will likely be about where education stands in Pennsylvania and nation, how education is or should be funded, and what options exist for students who may be entering school or looking for an alternative.

The discussion will be moderated by Daily Local News staff writer Eric S. Smith.

The panel will include home-school parent Lynne Burkholder; Coatesville Area School Board President J. Neil Campbell; state Sen. Andy Dinniman, minority leader of the state Senate Education Committee; Downingtown Area Education Association President Craig Krusen; West Chester Area School District Superintendent James Scanlon; Director of Career, Technical and Customized Education for the Chester County Intermediate Unit Alan Slobojan; state Rep. Dan Truitt, a member of the state House Education Committee; and Collegium Charter School CEO Bill Winters.



WHAT WORKS: On Borrowing Best Practices and Even Better Policies

 Marc Tucker  
Last week, I attended the Second International Summit on the Teaching Professionin New York City.  Like the first, this is a meeting of education ministers and teachers' union heads from countries around the world, most of which outperform the United States.  They've been talking about the strategies they've been using to improve their education systems.  Like the first Summit, it is fascinating.

After looking all over the world at the ways various countries addressed this issue, the Shanghai Education Commission decided to ask the best school principals and their faculties to take responsibility for managing other schools that perform less well.  Now the best school principals manage up to six schools.  When they do that, they often send some of their best teachers to the poor-performing schools for which they take responsibility.  Those teachers are, of course, very successful in those schools, and the result is that support grows among the whole faculty for making one of these teachers the new principal in that school.  In that way, over time, one good school and five bad ones become six good schools.
Guess where Dr. Zhang said the Shanghai Education Commission got the idea for doing this?  The answer is the United States



In Defense of Facing Reality

Huffington Post by Diane Ravitch Posted: 03/18/2012 9:24 pm
I recently wrote two review articles for the New York Review of Books about the teaching profession. The first was a review of Pasi Sahlberg's Finnish Lessons, about the exceptional school system of Finland, which owes much to the high professionalism of its teachers.
The second of the two articles was a review of Wendy Kopp's A Chance to Make History, and it focused on her organization, Teach for America.
I expressed my admiration for the young people who agree to teach for two years, with only five weeks of training. But I worried that TFA was now seen -- and promoting itself -- as the answer to the serious problems of American education. Even by naming her book A Chance to Make History, Wendy Kopp reinforced the idea that TFA was the very mechanism that American society could rely upon to lift up the children of poverty and close the achievement gaps between different racial and ethnic groups.



Graduation rates on the rise

Center for Public Education Edifier Blog — Jim Hull @ 5:01 pm March 19, 2012

On-time high school graduation rates have been increasing while the number of so-called “dropout factories” have declined dramatically since 2001, according to the report Building a Grad Nation released by America’s Promise Alliance. The release of the report corresponded with the group’s Building a GradNation Summit taking place this week in Washington, DC.



Blended Learning Sports Variety of Approaches

As schools mix online instruction and face-to-face learning, educators are identifying promising hybrid approaches

Education Week By Katie Ash Published Online: March 12, 2012

Premium article access courtesy of Edweek.org.

As blended learning models, which mix face-to-face and online instruction, become more common in schools, classroom educators and administrators alike are navigating the changing role of teachers—and how schools can best support them in that new role.



Posted at 02:00 AM ET, 03/20/2012

Condi Rice-Joel Klein report: Not the new ‘A Nation at Risk’

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
A new report being officially released today — by a Council of Foreign Relations task force chaired by Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice — seems to want very much to be seen as the new “A Nation at Risk,” the seminal 1983 report that warned that America’s future was threatened by a “rising tide of mediocrity” in the country’s public schools.
It’s a pale imitation.
The U.S. Education Reform and National Security report, to be sure, has some similar language and themes of a Nation at Risk. It says (over and over) that America’s national security is threatened because America’s public schools aren’t adequately preparing young people to “fill the ranks of the Foreign Service, the intelligence community, and the armed forces” (or diplomats, spies and soldiers).
But it takes a very different view of the public education system than the authors of “A Nation at Risk,” who sought to find ways to improve public schools and treat the system as a civic institution. The new report seems to look at public schools as if they are the bad guys that need to be put out of business, with a new business taking over, funded with public dollars.



Has your board considered this draft resolution yet?

PSBA Sample Board Resolution regarding the budget

Please consider bringing this sample resolution to the members of your board.


Arcadia University's Education Department presents:
Panel: Unpacking the PA School Budget: What Does This Mean for Me?
March 29, 2012 from 5:30pm to 8pm at Arcadia University
Website or Map: http://www.arcadia.edu/direct…
Join us for a panel discussion that will delve into details of the Commonwealth's School Budget as announced by the Governor in February 2012.  This event will tell you how the budget will affect your schools, community, and children.
Host:  Dr. Bruce Campbell, Coordinator, Educational Leadership Master's Program, Arcadia University
Moderator: Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy and Senior Staff Attorney, Education Law Center
Christopher McGinley, Superintendent, Lower Merion School District
Art Haywood, President, Board of Commissioners, Cheltenham Township
Nofre Vaquer, Director, ARC of Philadelphia
Hiram Rivera, Executive Director, Philadelphia Student Union
Dale Mezzacappa, Contributing Editor, Philadelphia Public School Notebook 
Dan Hardy, Contributing Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
Please RSVP by March 12 to dressm@arcadia.edu

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?


PSBA officer applications due by March 31
PSBA Website 3/12/2012
Candidates seeking election to PSBA officer posts in 2013 must file an expression of interest for the office desired to be interviewed by the PSBA Nominating Committee. Deadline for filing is March 31.  For more info and forms:

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