Monday, April 30, 2012

“….arts advocates are looking to the state legislature for solutions. "Our fight is not with the school district. It's with the state."

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
Posted: Mon, Apr. 30, 2012, 3:01 AM
Music and art may soon join languages on the endangered list at Pennsylvania elementary schools
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
Art and music classes in Pennsylvania's elementary schools may be headed down the same road as language instruction - desirable but dispensable, too costly in an era of ever-tightening public education budgets.
In Delaware County's blue-collar Upper Darby school district, pressure to allocate more money and more classroom time to core academic subjects could trigger the elimination of elementary school music and art classes, physical-education teachers, and librarians this fall.
In high-achieving and prosperous Tredyffrin/Easttown, in Chester County, budgetary woes threaten elementary and middle school instrument instruction.
A statewide survey of school districts last summer showed that among those responding, 44 percent reduced course offerings not required for graduation, including foreign languages, arts, music, physical education, and some elective English, science, and social-studies courses.

Continuing reactions to Philadelphia school restructuring plan
Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Tribune, Washington Post, CityPaper, Notebook….

Cyber Charters and your tax dollars; Heads Up for KDKA broadcast tonight at 6
KDKA Pittsburgh is slated to run a story on cyber charter funding during tonight’s 6:00 p.m. newscast.  We hope to pick up a YouTube link for tomorrow’s email blast.

Cybercharters Grow, Despite Evidence

Diane Ravitch’s Blog April 27, 2012

There is no “reform” these days that has less evidence to support it than the expansion of cyber-charters. This is the (usually for-profit) business that enrolls students, provides them a computer and textbooks, then teaches them online while they sit at home in front of a computer. Both the New York Times ( ) and the Washington Post ( ) have published exposes of the for-profit cyber-charter corporations.

“There is another story we rarely hear: Our children who attend schools in low-poverty contexts are doing quite well. In fact, U.S. students in schools in which less than 10 percent of children live in poverty score first in the world in reading, out-performing even the famously excellent Finns.”
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/27/2012

Education and the income gap: Darling-Hammond

Washington Post Answer Sheet By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Stanford University Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who directs the Stanford University Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and was founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. A former president of the American Educational Research Association, Darling-Hammond focuses her research, teaching, and policy work on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.
By Linda Darling-Hammond
There is much handwringing about low educational attainment in the United States these days. We hear constantly about U.S. rankings on assessments like the international PISA tests: The United States was 14th in reading, 21st in science, 25th in math in 2009, for example. We hear about how young children in high-poverty areas are entering kindergarten unprepared and far behind many of their classmates. Middle school students from low-income families are scoring, on average, far below the proficient levels that would enable them to graduate high school, go to college, and get good jobs. Fewer than half of high school students manage to graduate from some urban schools. And too many poor and minority students who do go on to college require substantial remediation and drop out before gaining a degree.
There is another story we rarely hear: Our children who attend schools in low-poverty contexts are doing quite well. In fact, U.S. students in schools in which less than 10 percent of children live in poverty score first in the world in reading, out-performing even the famously excellent Finns.

Budget completion a priority for state legislators
April 30, 2012 12:27 am
By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- With the primary campaigning done, Pennsylvania lawmakers will return to the Capitol today with one main agenda item for the remainder of their spring session -- completing the state budget.  There's a handful of other items also set to move forward in the state House of Representatives and Senate, dealing with business taxes, the unemployment compensation system, rules for charter schools and potentially even liquor sales.

Delco Times BLOGS > HERON'S NEST by Phil Heron, Editor
Friday, April 27, 2012
Another problem for Corbett: Casey?
While Gov. Tom Corbett is furiously trying to wipe the egg off his face after his anointed candidate in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate got his behind handed to him, he just might have other worries. His popularity continues to tank. Party insiders are moving away from him. He’s on something of an island. Now he needs to focus not on the November general election, but on his own future.

Betsy Devos’ American Federation for Children contributed $1.25 million to Pennsylvania’s Students First PAC between 1/1/12 and 4/9/12.  In turn, on 2/28/12, Students First contributed $350,000 to the Citizen’s Alliance PAC noted in Amy Worden’s article below.
The PA Dept. of State Campaign Finance Reporting website has no filings posted for the Citizen’s Alliance PAC for 2012 thus far.
Posted: Fri, Apr. 27, 2012, 3:00 AM
Primary brought some unexpected losses in Harrisburg
HARRISBURG — At least five House lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh — lost their seats Tuesday in head-turning upsets in what would usually be predictable legislative primary races.  Among those who fought down to the wire to hold on to their seats was House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson), who withstood a challenge by an anti-incumbent conservative by a whisper-thin margin.
Longtime House Transportation chairman Rep. Rick Geist (R., Blair) was not so lucky. Geist, in his 33d year as a lawmaker, was unseated by John McGinnis, a college finance professor and political unknown. McGinnis was backed by a well-funded Harrisburg interest group, Citizens’ Alliance, that for the last year has targeted a number of Republicans they deem “not conservative enough” or too cozy with Democrats.

APNewsBreak: Legislature's reserve $184M last year
April 26, 2012, 6:12 p.m. EDT AP – LehighValleyLive
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — An annual financial audit of the Pennsylvania Legislature expected to be approved next week says lawmakers' reserve cash cushion was almost $184 million last June 30.  The chairman of the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission, Rep. Gordon Denlinger, R-Lancaster, on Thursday confirmed the figure in a copy of the preliminary financial audit obtained by The Associated Press. 
The figure is about $5 million lower than the previous year's cash reserve, and the Legislature has since committed $50 million to a program that benefits public schools called accountability block grants.

Good News From Around the State
Yinzercation Blog — APRIL 27, 2012
It’s Friday and we could all use some good news, so here is a wrap-up of positive public education budget items from around the state:

Oh Good – just what our kids need - more testing that is not used to inform instruction . 
Looks like you’ll just have to go to private school if you want an education.  Everybody else will just be doing test prep for Pearson……BTW, that Texas resolution concerning high stakes testing has now been adopted by 412 Texas school districts…..LAF
“That move is welcomed by Fritz Fischer, a history professor at the University of Northern Colorado, in Greeley, and a former chairman of the National Council for History Education.
"In the educational world we live in, it is a positive development," he said of the plans by his state and some others to include history and social studies in their accountability systems. "I am very sympathetic to those who think we test too much and we are obsessed with testing, but that battle is over."
Published Online: April 24, 2012
Accountability Moving Beyond Math, Reading Tests
State accountability plans counting more subjects
Education Week By Erik W. Robelen
As states seek waivers under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, one effect may be to chip away at the dominance reading and math have had when it comes to school accountability.
Many state waiver applications include plans to factor test scores in one or more additional subjects into their revised accountability systems. Seven of the 11 states that won waivers in the first round intend to do so, and about a dozen of those that applied in the second round have the same intent.
Science is the most popular choice, followed by writing and social studies.

A Very Pricey Pineapple

Published: April 27, 2012
We have turned school testing into a huge corporate profit center, led by Pearson, for whom $32 million is actually pretty small potatoes. Pearson has a five-year testing contract with Texas that’s costing the state taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars.
This is the part of education reform nobody told you about. You heard about accountability, and choice, and innovation. But when No Child Left Behind was passed 11 years ago, do you recall anybody mentioning that it would provide monster profits for the private business sector?
Me neither.

Politics and Education Don't Mix

APR 26 2012, 10:10 AM ET
The Atlantic Monthly by P.L. THOMAS - P.L. Thomas is an associate professor of education at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.
Governors and presidents are no better suited to run schools than they are to run construction sites, and it's time our education system reflected that fact.
Universal public education needs a new wall, paralleling the wall of separation between church and state: a wall between education and government and corporate America. Power over funding and broad performance benchmarks can remain vested in political leaders. But granular operational details should be left to educators and local administrators, the people best suited to achieve these goals in their schools and classrooms. Education should be treated no differently than a civil engineering project: government provides funding and ensures the goals of the civil function, and then expert builders and engineers fill in the details, taking into account realities on the ground and utilizing a wealth of experience and training that is completely unavailable to most elected officials. Governors and presidents are no better suited to run schools than they are to run construction sites, and it's time our education system reflected that fact.

Education Talk Radio: At the Chalkface
Listen online; One hour talk show dedicated to education.  SUNDAY MORNINGS AT 9am
Hosts Tim Slekar and Shaun Johnson cover the biggest issues in education, from standardized testing to No Child Left Behind.
If you want a text reminder send "CHALK" TO THE NUMBER 60193." 
Audio clips of prior shows are available too.

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:


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?


  1. Hi. I write a blog about how corporate education reform is harming our children, and the importance of the arts in education. I am an art teacher and parent in Allentown, PA. I write to inform parents about what's really going on in our schools.

  2. This is a great post. I was looking for something like this and you gave me what i wanted to know.

    Online Schools


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.