Wednesday, April 18, 2012

According to latest campaign reports, pro voucher Students First PAC shoveled $1.1 million in out of state money to local Pennsylvania primary races

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.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

According to latest campaign reports, pro voucher Students First PAC shoveled $1.1 million in out of state money to local Pennsylvania primary races
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Campaign Finance Report filed by Students First PAC
Second Friday Pre-Primary filing covering receipts and expenditures from 3/6/12 through 4/9/12
A total of $250,000 was received during the reporting period from Betsy Devos’ American Federation for Children (AFC) on 3/27/12.  Contributions to local candidates totaling just over $528K were recorded during the period.  This is in addition to $590K spent during the reporting period from 1/2/12 through 3/5/12, when AFC contributed $1 million.

How Do We Improve Public Schools? Take Away Their Funding, Terrorize Teachers, and Send Kids Somewhere Else (According to lawmakers)

Rock the Capital Guest Posting By Elizabeth Walters, April 17, 2012
How can we improve public education for our children?
The answers to this question–and the perspectives on the current quality of public education in the United States–are as varied and individualized as the 55 million students who attend public school in this country. Recently, legislators in Louisiana, like their counterparts in many other states, have sought to improve their state’s educational climate. They have good reason for doing so–in its annual Kids COUNT ratings, meant to evaluate quality of life for children in each state and based on measurements that include educational indices, the Annie E. Casey Foundation consistently ranks Louisiana as 49th (thank you, Mississippi).

Posted: Wed, Apr. 18, 2012, 3:01 AM
19 top Phila. schools to add students in September
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
Nineteen top Philadelphia public schools will expand this year, offering 2,300 new seats to students citywide.  The high-achieving schools - including Greenfield Elementary, E.M. Stanton Elementary, Girls High, Carver High of Engineering and Science, and Franklin Learning Center - will all add seats in September.
The expansion "lets the city of Philadelphia know that the School District of Philadelphia is investing in the growth of high-quality, high-performing school options," Penny Nixon, the district's chief academic officer, said at a news conference Tuesday at Girls High.

Harrisburg School District faces $15.8 million budget shortfall, could cut kindergarten, art and music programs next

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 11:41 AM
Harrisburg School District administrators have shaved more than $23 million from the district’s budget during the past two years and say there is no fat left to cut. But the district still faces a $15.8 million budget shortfall, they say.
Kindergarten, art and music programs likely will be cut, and the school district will have to look at instituting a pay-to-play system for athletics to cover next year’s budget hole, said Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney.


With Test Week Here, Parents Consider the Option of Opting Out

New York Times By HITEN SAMTANI April 16, 2012, 2:29 p.m.
While thousands of New York public school students will sit for mandated standardized tests this week, only a handful will be deliberately kept from picking up their No. 2 pencils to fill in the test sheet bubbles. That doesn’t mean more parents aren’t thinking about keeping their children home.  In a show of protest against high-stakes testing that they say warps the curriculum, takes precious weeks away from substantive learning, and doesn’t measure a child’s true ability, some parents are opting to keep their children out of the tests this year. In New York and across the nation, they have been sharing information, discussing concerns about potential ramifications, and asking other parents and educators to join their cause.

APRIL 16TH, 2012
Opting Out in New Jersey
Will Richardson’s Blog
Just wanted to share that next week while thousands of New Jersey school children will be subjected to the annual ASK standardized tests, my 12-year old son Tucker will not be among them. We made a formal request to opt out, which is our legal right in NJ, and he’ll be staying home during the testing periods. (The absences are excused, btw.)

In NY, Tutoring for state tests Surges With Fight for Middle School Spots

April 16, 2012 1:09 pm
By ANNA M. PHILLIPS / The New York Times
As their parents sat anxiously in a waiting room, five children were sharpening their test-taking skills in a tutoring center in TriBeCa, underlining words that might hold clues to the answers and crossing off the illogical multiple-choice options intended to trip them up. For homework, there were more practice problems.
The tutoring business has come a long way from Stanley Kaplan's basement in Brooklyn, and test-preparation courses for college or private school admission are practically a rite of American education. But in New York City, where even seats in public schools can be the rewards of a Darwinian contest, the industry has found a whole new lode to mine.
The students in the Manhattan center, all high achievers in their elementary schools, were practicing for the state standardized tests that begin this week, exams that for years had typically been overlooked, if not ignored, by the parents of top performers.

ALEC Sharpens Focus on Jobs, Free Markets and Growth — Announces the End of the Task Force that Dealt with Non-Economic Issues
 (Washington, D.C.) ALEC PRESS RELEASE April 17, 2012—David Frizzell, Indiana State Representative and 2012 National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), issued the following statement today on behalf of ALEC’s Legislative Board of Directors:

At a Brooklyn School, the Cool Crowd Pushes the King Around
Published: April 17, 2012
The classroom at Intermediate School 318 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was filled on Tuesday with the thumping and clattering of a half-dozen high-speed chess matches, played with a rambunctious energy more reminiscent of a hockey game than of Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue.  The school’s conquering heroes — its chess players — were blowing off steam. On Sunday, in Minneapolis, they became the first middle school team to win the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship. The team, mostly eighth graders, beat out top high schools like Stuyvesant in Manhattan and Thomas Jefferson in Alexandria, Va.
The victory burnishes what is already a legend in the chess world. At I.S. 318, more than 60 percent of the students come from families with incomes below the federal poverty level.

Here are more than 400 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:


Tuesday, April 24 is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania.

Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. Click here to find your polling place. During the Primary, registered members of the Republican and Democrat parties are eligible to vote to nominate the candidates that will represent their party on the ballot in the November General Election. ALL voters will be required to show a photo ID before voting at a polling place in the November 2012 Election. Click here for more information on the new Voter ID law.


Stand Up for Public Education!
East Penn Education Forum on April 25th 7:00 – 9:00 pm
What’s at Stake?  Discover how high-stakes testing and funding cuts are impacting our kids and schools.
Hosted by: East Penn Invested Citizens (EPIC), Salisbury Parent Advisory, Allentown Parent Groups and a coalition of Lehigh Valley Parents
Where: East Penn Administration Building School Board Meeting Room, 800 Pine Street, Emmaus

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.

PA Partnerships for Children – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The governor’s budget plan cuts funding for proven programs like Child Care Works, Keystone STARS and the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. These are among the most cost-effective investments we can make in education.  Gov. Corbett’s budget plan also runs counter to a pledge he made when he ran for governor in 2010. He acknowledged the benefits of early childhood education and promised to increase funding to double the number of children who would benefit from early learning opportunities.
We need your help to tell lawmakers: if you cut these programs – you close the door to early learning! Click here to tell your state legislators to fund early childhood education programs at the same level they approved for this year’s budget.

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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