Friday, March 23, 2012

Philly Daily News Editorial: Charter reform held hostage by voucher proponents

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.

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Thursday April 12, 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:
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.


When asked if the state would pull Frontier's charter, (PDE Spokesman) Eller said, "that's a possibility, but I don't want to say that's going to happen. But that is an option."

Frontier cyber-school students: All we want is to learn

BY DAVID GAMBACORTA Daily News Staff Writer Posted: Fri, Mar. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM

CAREY STONE is living Ferris Bueller's life - just the complete opposite of it, actually.

Every morning, the high-school senior calls her school's administrators, trying to find out where they are, wondering when they'll have classes for her to attend or let her hand in a report on "The Great Gatsby."  And every day, her calls go unanswered. "I feel like they're just brushing me off," she said. Carey, 18, and her sisters, Rachel, 15, and Harmony, 14, are enrolled at the Philadelphia-based Frontier Virtual Charter High School.

The school laid off its teachers and principal on March 8 and hasn't held any classes since.


“In both the House and the Senate, various bills have tried to address charter oversight and funding issues. One such bill would establish an independent authority to oversee all charters in the state. And Auditor General Jack Wagner has called for fixing the broken funding formula for charters, especially that cybers get as much as "brick and mortar" schools.

Those efforts have gone nowhere; some of them been have been held hostage by forces in Harrisburg that are pushing vouchers.”

Philadelphia Daily News Editorial: Cyber-charter blues

Posted: Fri, Mar. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM

WITH OVER 150 charter schools - nearly half of them in Philadelphia - and an additional 13 "cyber schools," which operate online, Pennsylvania has a strong profile among states for embracing charters as a key part of education reform.

Unfortunately, we're lagging when it comes to coherent and consistent regulations governing the oversight of these schools, which are funded with public money but are free of many of the mandates of public school systems. "Bricks and mortar" charters are overseen by the school districts from which their students are drawn; cyber charters are overseen by the state Department of Education.

And while many bills that would govern charter oversight and funding have made their way through Harrisburg in the last few years, virtually none has been passed. It's high time.


Pittsburgh Public HS Students Billboard: Cutting our Funding is Cutting our Future
Yinzercation Blog — MARCH 22, 2012
Ninth grade students at Pittsburgh’s Barack Obama public high school are putting up outdoor advertising to protest the devastating state budget cuts. Check out the billboard they put up in Harrisburg this week right by the State Capitol building (on Forster Street near Susquehanna Street, in case you’re in the neighborhood):


Education, voter IDs top issues at candidates forum in Harrisburg

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 11:40 PM    

By M. Diane McCormick, The Patriot-News

Education, voter identification and government spending topped the issues aired at a forum featuring candidates for the state House 103rd and 104th and Senate 15th districts Thursday night sponsored by the Harrisburg Chapter of the NAACP.

All candidates who spoke deplored the depletion of public education budgets.


Educators, legislators debate merits of economic furloughs

Daily American Staff Writer
A House bill that would allow school districts to furlough teachers for economic reasons is in the state education committee.
State Rep. Scott Boyd, R-Lancaster, and 35 other lawmakers introduced legislation that would also allow districts to consider performance, not just seniority, in deciding whom to let go. A spokesman for Boyd said on Wednesday that House Bill 855 is still active and is in the education committee.,0,5626853.story


The Education Policy and Leadership Center

EPLC Education Notebook – Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign

PSFC Urges PA Lawmakers to Oppose Governor’s 2012-2013 K-12 Education Budget

Click here to read the full text of the letter sent to all members of the PA General Assembly from the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign (March 20, 2012).


The Inky ran this opinion piece as a news story yesterday.

The authors, Robert Maranto and Patrick Wolf are professors in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and John Witte is a professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Walton Family Foundation provided $680,000 to the University of Arkansas in 2010 and an additional $80,000 in 2011 to support research on their school choice agenda.  Similarly, the University of Wisconsin received $435,000 in 2011 and $275,000 in 2010 from the Waltons.

Perhaps this “news story” should have correctly been entitled

Evidence that funding works; or at least labeled as opinion……….

Evidence that vouchers work

Philadelphia Inquirer By Robert Maranto, Patrick Wolf, and John Witte

School vouchers have stalled in the Pennsylvania legislature, and President Obama's budget proposes to end the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which allows children from low-income families to attend private schools with government aid.


WHAT WORKS: Formative Assessments, Differentiated Instruction, Targeted Interventions

“A total of 92% of the teachers surveyed reported that formative, ongoing assessments were absolutely essential or important in measuring student achievement. Furthermore, more than 90% of teachers actively use student performance data of this sort to differentiate instruction, target interventions for students in need of help, and otherwise improve their teaching.”

Gates/Scholastic Teacher Survey Challenges Assumptions About Test-Based Reform

 Anthony Cody  
The  big headline from the recent Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers is that only 28% of teachers see standardized tests as an essential or important gauge of student assessment, and only 26% say they are accurate as a reflection of student knowledge. Another question reveals part of the reason this may be so - only 45% of teachers think their students take these tests seriously, or perform to the best of their ability.


It’s Spring – and the Scaife funded Commonwealth Foundation’s dreams turn once again to vouchers….stay tuned as this will certainly ramp up through the budget process.

Commonwealth Foundation MARCH 22, 2012 by NATHAN BENEFIELD

Does School Choice Reduce Crime?


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:…
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

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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