Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If we can’t afford to fund Pennsylvania public schools why is anybody even talking about vouchers?

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

Yesterday the Keystone State Education Coalition Blog got its 50,000th hit.  Thank you for your continuing interest and support.

Central Dauphin School Board plans to cut 84 jobs, raise taxes to balance budget

By MARY KLAUS, The Patriot-News  Published: Monday, March 26, 2012, 11:43 PM
The Central Dauphin School District must slash jobs and programs and raise taxes to avoid bankruptcy, the school board was told Monday night.
Up to 84 employees, including 74 teachers, could lose their jobs, district officials said.
Middle schools would lose foreign language, family and consumer science programs, and kindergarten offerings including art, music, physical education and library would be eliminated.
Taxpayers in the 118-square-mile district could also expect a 3.3 percent property tax increase in the upcoming budget based on preliminary budget reports.


Corbett’s budget puts the ‘hurt’ on Tioga County schools

March 25, 2012
By CHERYL R. CLARKE (cclarke@sungazette.com) , Williamsport Sun-Gazette
WELLSBORO - Tioga County school districts are not alone in trying to deal with a budget from Gov. Tom Corbett that threatens to leave both programs and staff out in the cold.
All three school district superintendents and business managers in Tioga County recently discussed their options should nothing change before the budget is passed in June.

Pittsburgh City schools learning to do more with less

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 26, 2012 12:00 am
Cutting school budgets is in vogue these days, but Pittsburgh is trying to save money this fall by approaching cost-cutting from a different angle.
The first question is not cost but equity: What should all children have in the Pittsburgh Public Schools?  The second is: How can that be accomplished and save money?
The result is a plan -- now in its final stages of development -- that changes the way the district determines how much money each school gets, increases class sizes and is part of an expected $29.1 million in annual savings.

Chester County: Avon Grove School Board talks state mandates with legislators
By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY Journal Register News Service Posted: 03/26/12
PENN — Avon Grove school officials recently discussed their problems with unfunded state mandates and other requirements with state legislators.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and state Reps. John Lawrence and Chris Ross attended a March 22 Avon Grove School Board Meeting to discuss views on education and the state’s education budget.

Lawmakers seek clarity on Duquesne schools

By Rachel Weaver, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Sen. James Brewster said he and other legislators will meet this morning with Education Secretary Ron Tomalis to discuss the future of the embattled Duquesne City School District.
"The folks in Duquesne need to have clarity as to what's going on," said Brewster, D-McKeesport. "There are a lot of unanswered questions."
Since 2000, a state-appointed board has managed the district, which has struggled financially and academically. In October, the board sent a letter to parents stating it was unlikely Duquesne would continue to function in its current form beyond the 2011-12 school year.
Residents soon could learn what that means. The board has scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. April 5 on the direction of the district.

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


“Here’s what I want you to say,” ….. “Public schools are a public good.”
I told the White House to stop talking about failing schools as if they were the rule rather than the exception, which only serves to paint all public education with the same toxic brush. That’s not to say we shouldn’t fix problems where they occur, or focus on significant issues such as graduation rates for some populations. I believe we have to address trenchant disparities along lines of race, class, and gender. But we’ve got to shift the larger debate and start talking about the good that public education serves. Because public education is one of America’s great success stories. Because public education is the key to our children’s future. Because it’s for our common good.
What I Told the White House
Yinzercation Blog MARCH 26, 2012
You have five minutes to talk to the White House about something that you really care about – what are you going to say? I had this rare opportunity last Friday when the President’s Office of Public Engagement invited 150 community leaders from Pennsylvania to the White House for a briefing. Through my work with our grassroots public education movement and Yinzercation, I was invited to attend the White House with Education Voters PA and Keystone Progress.

John Kuhn Roars Back: Texans Rebel Against Testing

 Anthony Cody  
Texas has become a hotspot of rebellion against standardized testing. Earlier this year, state education commissioner Robert Scott compared test publishers to the military industrial complex. More than 100 school districts have passed a resolution saying standardized testing is "strangling" their schools. And on Saturday, several thousand Texans gathered at the state capitol in Austin for the Save Texas Schools rally. One of the speakers was a man we first heard at a similar protest more than a year ago, Superintendent John Kuhn.
Here is what Superintendent Kuhn had to say.

Tenn. Senate Passes Bill Allowing Anti-Evolution Talk in Classroom

Neatoday March 26, 2012 by twalker  
The Tennessee Senate has approved a bill that guarantees that teachers won’t be subject to discipline for challenging the science of evolution and climate change. The bill is being called a “monkey bill” by critics who say it promotes creationism in class. It was criticized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Center for Science Education. Source: The Wall Street Journal


ALEC: Lobbyists, Guns and Money

By PAUL KRUGMAN Published: March 25, 2012
Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.
What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.

NPR WBUR Boston Friday, March 23, 2012
Schools Abandon Textbooks To Go All iPad
Apple reports schools in more than 600 districts have bought iPads for all of their students. And it’s not happening just in wealthy suburbs. Schools in urban districts like New York City and Chicago are also handing out iPads.
In the Boston area, Burlington High School launched a one-to-one iPad program in the fall, providing a tablet for each student.  It cost the school about $500,000 for the devices, and the principal, Patrick Larkin, said the school paid for them within its existing budget.

“I will also give you the best advice I can, advice from the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Juan Ramón Jiménez. Ray Bradbury thought this was so important, he used it as the epigraph at the beginning of Fahrenheit 451: “When they give you lined paper, write the other way.”

About Those Tests I Gave You • An Open Letter to My Students

Rethinking Schools Spring 2012 By Ruth Ann Dandrea
Dear 8th Graders,
I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.
I spent last night perusing the 150-plus pages of grading materials provided by the state in anticipation of reading and evaluating your English Language Arts Exams this morning. I knew the test was pointless—that it has never fulfilled its stated purpose as a predictor of who would succeed and who would fail the English Regents in 11th grade. Any thinking person would’ve ditched it years ago. Instead, rather than simply give a test in 8th grade that doesn’t get kids ready for the test in 11th grade, the state opted to also give a test in 7th grade to get you ready for your 8th-grade test.
But we already knew all of that.  What I learned is that the test is also criminal.

Chester Upland's Stetser Elementary School students help first lady plant garden

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama planted vegetables and plants at the White House with children from across the country as part of her broader initiative to promote healthy eating Monday.  The first lady was helped by school children from Stetser Elementary School in Chester, among others, in planting potatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, radishes and onions at her fourth annual spring planting.

Students' Basketball-Playing Robots Face Off at Rebound Rumble

 Bryan Toporek  
Worried that you won't be able to get your fill of youth basketball once the NCAA tournament wraps up next week?
Allow me to introduce you to the Rebound Rumble, the 2012 edition of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Ever since January, teams of high school students and volunteer engineers have gathered together to design robots created entirely to shoot basketballs into hoops.

Stand Up for Public Education!
Wed., April 11, 2012 7:00 pm Town Hall Meeting on Education at Bucknell University
Meeting with legislators from Columbia, Northumberland, Montour, Snyder & Union counties
Where: The Forum, Room 272, Elaine Langone Center Bucknell University 701 Moore Avenue Lewisburg, PA 17837
7 p.m. – School directors and administrators meet with legislators (PSBA Legislative Meeting)
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Meeting on Education – Please invite your PTO/PTA and other parent/ community groups to join us!
The purpose of the 7 p.m. meeting is for school directors and administrators to discuss the impact of the governor’s 2011-12 budget proposal on their school districts. At 7:30 p.m., the meeting will be open to all interested parents and other members of the community who would like to come out in support of their public schools and ask their legislators to take their message back to Harrisburg.
Please RSVP By April 4, to Kathy Swope, PSBA Region 6 director, at (570) 523-3336 or email swope@ptd.net

Stand Up for Public Education!

Thursday April 12th, 7:00 pm Allegheny County Legislative Forum

WHERE: North Hills Senior High School 53 Rochester Road Pittsburgh, PA 15229
WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 7:00pm
REGISTER for this event: NorthernAreaLegislativeForum.eventbrite.com
All public education stakeholders are invited to this special event, which will be moderated by the League of Women Voters. Join us on Thursday, April 12th at North Hills Senior High School at 7PM for an evening with several key state legislators from Allegheny 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.

Please join EPLC this Wednesday, March 28, 8:00 am at the Harrisburg Hilton for breakfast and discussion about the Arts and Education Initiative's (AEI's) new policy report: Creating PA's Future through the Arts and Education. 
Hear from AEI staff and Study Group members and share about plans for advocacy in 2012.  Breakfast begins at 8 am and the program starts at 8:30 am.  This EPLC program is free of charge, but online registration is required:
To learn more about the Arts and Education Initiative (AEI) and to read the new policy report, please visit www.aei-pa.org.

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.
Please RSVP by March 12 to dressm@arcadia.edu

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.


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?

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