Friday, March 16, 2012

There Goes $11 million for Our Schools

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School group asks for state funding

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 15, 2012 5:55 am

School boards locally and across the state are soon expected to consider a proposed resolution drafted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association that calls for the state Legislature to reinstate some funding for K-12 education in the wake of last year's $860 million cut and the proposed reduction this year of $100 million in Accountability Block Grant funding.

The draft resolution calls for school boards to ask the General Assembly to take action to provide, at a minimum, additional funding for basic education and special education subsidies and to restore reimbursements for charter school tuition and Accountability Block Grants.


“Tim Eller, press secretary for the state Department of Education, maintains that the governor has not cut funding to education but rather increased it by $338.1 million over the 2011-12 budget. However, $315.8 million of that increase is slated for the state's portion of increased pension obligations.  Much of the rest is earmarked for Social Security and transportation costs.
Mr. Eller also argued that the greatest gains in academic achievement in the 2000s came in the first half of the decade before additional money went to education and that it plateaued in the second half of that decade when additional funding was put into the system.”


Here’s a vintage press release from “the second half of the decade” with a different view on that……

Press Release Sept. 14, 2010  Office of the Governor

Pennsylvania Students Post Record Gains in Reading, Math Scores;

Eight of 10 Schools Meet ‘No Child Left Behind’ Targets for 2010

PA Student Achievement Rises for 8th Consecutive Year

Harrisburg – Eighty-two percent of Pennsylvania schools met the required

academic goals for the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law for 2010, Governor

Edward G. Rendell announced today, with record numbers of students performing

at grade level in reading and math on the state’s PSSA tests.

Overall, three quarters of Pennsylvania students are now achieving at grade level,

and the smallest percentage of students ever, scored at the lowest level since the

inception of the PSSAs.

“The Center for Education Policy told us last year that Pennsylvania was the only

state in the nation to make academic gains across the board from 2002 through

2008,” said Governor Rendell. “These terrific numbers show that we are continuing

that trend and more. Student achievement has increased in every subject, at all

tested grade levels and for all ethnic, racial and economic subgroups of students

since 2002 -- the eighth straight year of student performance gains. I congratulate

our teachers, the entire education community, the General Assembly, and,

especially, our students for these outstanding achievements.”


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.


There Goes $11 million for Our Schools
Yinzercation Blog — MARCH 15, 2012
Earlier this week, Governor Corbett asked where he was supposed to get the money to fund public education in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, he signed into law a new Voter ID bill, which does not appear to solve any actual problem in the state, will most certainly face expensive legal challenge, and worse, will cost taxpayers an estimated $11 MILLION to implement.


Charters serving at-risk students plead for another chance

The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 15 2012 Posted in Latest news

Recent recommendations from District staff to close two charters pose a difficult dilemma for the School Reform Commission.

Should charters whose mission is to take in the students who are most at-risk – those in foster care, children who have suffered trauma, youth returning from juvenile placement – be shut down if their test scores don't match up to the standard applied at other schools?


Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative: 18 Month Interim Report

U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

What Works Clearinghouse Quick Review

The study examined the effectiveness of Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative after one year of implementation. The Renaissance Schools Initiative, which began in the 2010–11 school year, aimed at improving low-performing schools by providing new management, additional resources, and new educational strategies.


Philadelphia Schools Study Doesn't Meet Clearinghouse Standards

 Christina Samuels  
The What Works Clearinghouse, an initiative of the federal Institute of Education Sciences, said today that a widely publicized study on Philadelphia's "Renaissance Schools" model did not meet its standards for evidence because the Renaissance schools were not measured against a set of schools with similar achievement levels.
That ranking is the lowest that the clearinghouse can give a research report; the other ratings are "meets evidence standards" or "meets evidence standards with reservations."
In response to the rating, Research for Action, the Philadelphia-based organization that authored the report , said that it is sticking by its conclusion that early results showed positive academic results among the 11 K-8 Renaissance schools.


Statement on the Institute of Education Sciences/What Works Clearinghouse Rating of Renaissance Schools Initiative: 18 Month Interim Report

Research for Action Posted by Alison Murawski on Mar 16, 2012 in Blog

March 16, 2012 – The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) yesterday released a rating of Research for Action’s most recent evaluation of Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative. The rating – does not meet WWC’s evidence standards – was assigned with the explanation that “the Renaissance schools and comparison schools did not have similar achievement levels in the year before the Renaissance Schools Initiative began. Therefore, any changes in student achievement or attendance cannot be attributed solely to the implementation of the Renaissance Schools Initiative.”  However, further explanation is required to clarify the WWC’s rating. 

Read more:

PRESS RELEASE March 7, 2012, 12:09 p.m. EST

STREAM Academy - Free Cyber Charter School Opens to Students

Innovative new K-12 school offers free traditional online courses with unique "On-Location" learning - first of its kind in the region.

PITTSBURGH, March 7, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Starting today, the Allegheny IU's new STREAM Academy, is accepting students interested in attending a dynamic K- 12 cyber charter school where courses focus on Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Students can enroll immediately at

Unlike most charter schools, STREAM Academy will be governed by a board of directors comprised of superintendents and educators from Allegheny County school districts, and overseen by a board of credentialed, public educators


Little Relief in Sight

 Learning First Alliance  
By Dan Domenech, Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators
Today, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) released the latest in its reports examining the impact of the economic recession on schools. The news is not good.
The study, "Weathering the Storm: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Schools," is the twelfth in a series conducted by AASA. The study is based on a survey of 528 school administrators in February 2012.


Listen! Youth Produced Radio about Public Education

On Blast is the youth-produced radio show of the Philadelphia Student Union. This show is created by high school students who are actively organizing to improve public education. Subscribe to the On Blast podcast to have the latest shows sent to your iTunes.
On this month's 30-minute show:
Students from across PA unite against education budget cuts.
Experts share insights on how to create nonviolent schools.
Philly teachers banned from administering PSSA test to their own students.
Young people are growing the Food Justice movement in Philly.
Plus music and other news.

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.

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

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?


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:


PA House Democratic Caucus Website
The PA House Democratic Caucus is tracking press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

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