Monday, March 19, 2012

“You just have to close your eyes” You can choose to look away, Governor Corbett.

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


State pensions: The storm is approaching fast

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 11:15 AM
Harrisburg Patriot News Editorial By Jeanette Krebs 
This week students are hunkering down to take state assessment exams and seeing where they and their classmates stand academically.
At the same time, it turns out their superintendents and school boards are facing their own kind of test, seeing where they stand financially.
In unprecedented numbers, school districts around Pennsylvania are facing tough budgets and deficits. From urban and suburban to rural, schools are talking about cutting programs, asking students to pay to participate in sports and laying off staff.


Inside Chester Community Charter: Drawing praise, money, criticism

By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Sun, Mar. 18, 2012, 5:39 AM

A look inside Pa.'s largest charter

A group of well-mannered kindergarten students navigate a brightly decorated hallway of the Chester Community Charter School as principal Christine Matijasich looks on.

"Don't forget: Fingers on lips, hands on hips," Matijasich says as the children file by quietly.

The charter school, it seems, is an island of order in a sea of troubles, surrounded by the struggling Chester Upland School District, which remains on life support through June.

Backers hold it up as the epitome of charter success, a school that outperforms the district where most of its student live.  But others see it as a financial drain that's sinking the district. Chester Upland this year is paying the charter $36 million, more than a third of its budget.

Critics also challenge its academic achievements, especially in light of an ongoing state investigation into possible state test score cheating, and question how much the owner's management company is getting to run the school.


Virtual schools face increased attention of politicians, researchers

by thenotebook on Mar 16 2012

The Notebook has a content-sharing agreement with Education Week, where this piece originally appeared as part of an edition focused on virtual learning. For-profit and nonprofit providers operate and support cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, which have been receiving attention recently.

Education Week by Ian Quillen

As researchers, politicians, and the general public have begun to question the results of fully online virtual schooling, private providers—particularly for-profit companies—that supply curriculum, content, and sometimes instruction and school management for online education are facing the most scrutiny.


“You just have to close your eyes”

You can choose to look away, Governor Corbett.

Here are over 300 articles since January 23rd from local newspapers in every corner of Pennsylvania detailing the budget cuts, elimination of programs, loss of jobs and tax increases being discussed by school boards in response to a second year of proposed state cuts to public education funding.


Educators worry about less money for early childcare in proposed state budget March 12, 2012 by Manasee Wagh
It’s early child care programs like this one at Jolly Toddlers in Upper Southampton that will suffer if Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposals to cut money to early childcare are implemented, said Nancy Thompson, the center’s founder and director.
The state budget for next year shows a $24.16 million, or 7.4, percent cut to child care funding. The cuts would affect providers, families and children, worry child care professionals. State education dollars for early child care have been dwindling over the past year and show no sign of improving.


This is March Madness

Yinzercation Blog March 16, 2012

This week parents at our school were trying to figure out how to buy copy paper and pencils so that we could keep our librarian and music teacher, at least part time. Crazy conversations like this are taking place in schools all over the state at the same time Governor Corbett is arguing that he increased funding to public education. And it's not even April Fools Day for two more weeks.


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.


Research for Action responds to the What Works Clearinghouse

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 16, 2012
NAACP Statement on Chester-Upland Receivership Petition
The Pennsylvania State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is deeply concerned about the conditions that surround and impact the education of the children of Chester Upland School District. The far reaching consequences of the State’s behavior toward the district directly relate to the capacity of these children to achieve to their potential and to plan for their futures.  The Chester Upland children, as citizens of Pennsylvania are entitled to their constitutional inheritance of a thorough and efficient education.


Jim is an engineer and school board member in suburban Philly….

Rich Student, Poor Student…Our Next Horizon

Jim Butt’s Blog Posted on March 18, 2012 by Jim Butt

While I do not for one second believe we are done addressing the racial achievement gap, a new report linked and discussed in this recent article suggests that we clearly have a serious challenge ahead in removing the socioeconomically-driven gap in student achievement.


Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 03/16/2012

A new poverty-doesn’t-really-matter-much argument

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
And so the poverty-doesn’t-really-matter-in-student-achievement drumbeat keeps getting louder, most unfortunately.  This time we hear it in the new edition of the magazine Education Next, in an article called “ Neither Broad Nor Bold,” by Harvard’s Paul E. Petersen. He attacks a school reform effort called the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education but manages to mischaracterize it, and he savages a speech and an op-ed by a Duke University professor — all the while accusing her of saying things she didn’t say.


“Perhaps the notion of pay for performance would make sense if schools were allowed to operate like businesses. But they're not. Public schools by law must enroll all students who show up at their doors regardless of their ability or motivation, and they can't be expelled except for the most egregious behavior.”

Pay Teachers Like CEOs

 Walt Gardner  
Teachers are slated to be judged and rewarded in the next school year largely on how well their students perform on the basis of quantifiable outcomes. The usual rationale is that this strategy is how top executives in business are evaluated and compensated. If adopted, the corporate model will transform schools and allow the U.S. to compete in the global economy.
But the argument is dead wrong.


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

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:

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