Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ASTROTURFING: Right-Wing, Anti-Public Education Group Funds Gay, Muslim Democrat as Stealth Candidate in PA House District

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg


WIKIPEDIA: “Astroturfing is a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to another political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.” 
Here’s a classic example; make sure to check out the chart in the link below……

Right-Wing, Anti-Public Education Group Funds Gay, Muslim Democrat as Stealth Candidate in PA House District

Alternet Posted by racheltabachnick  at 9:14 am April 23, 2012
How far is the school privatization juggernaut willing to go to disguise and promote their agenda?  The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children, through its PA affiliate Students First and its funding recipients, is financing the campaign of Fatimah Muhammad. She is an openly gay, African American, Muslim candidate for State Representative in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary in the 188th District.
Campaign finance reports show that Students First and its grantees and employees have provided $62,639 dollars of Fatimah Muhammad’s total receipts of $76,030 dollars.  See the chart in the link below. 

Posted: Tue, Apr. 24, 2012, 5:12 AM
Phila. School District plan includes restructuring and school closings
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia School District will massively restructure itself in the coming months, fundamentally altering the way it is organized and run - and possibly closing 40 low-performing, underused schools next year and shifting many more students to charters.

Archdiocese joins Great Schools Compact
Philadelphia Public School Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 23 2012
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has officially joined the Great Schools Compact, with Mayor Nutter calling it a "historic" move toward cooperation by two once-rival systems – both of which face shrinking enrollment, excess buildings, dwindling resources, and questions of quality.
Instead of considering themselves competitors, the two systems will cooperate in an effort to increase the number of “high quality” seats in neighborhood schools, Nutter said, and give parents more choices.

National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing
This resolution is modeled on the resolution passed by more than 360 Texas school boards as of April 23, 2012. It was written by Advancement Project; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; FairTestForum for Education and Democracy; MecklenburgACTS; Deborah Meier; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.;National Education AssociationNew York Performance Standards Consortium; Tracy Novick; Parents Across America; Parents United for Responsible Education - Chicago;Diane Ravitch; Race to Nowhere; Time Out From Testing; and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.
Organizations and individuals are encouraged to publicly endorse it (see link below). Organizations should modify it as needed for their local circumstances while also endorsing this national version.

School daze: Cuts to basic educational programs leave state with less hope for future

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, 6:01 AM
No one has looked to Harrisburg these past few years for any best government practices especially related to finances.
It turns out, however, that school districts and taxpayers throughout central Pennsylvania would do well to study what has gone on with Harrisburg School District as it has wrestled with a crumbling fiscal base and what that has meant for the education of its students.
For city schools, there are only bad choices available. The elimination of kindergarten, because it is not mandated, is now on the table. So are the arts and music programs. Pay to play for district sports is being considered. Bigger class sizes already are happening. Core programs are on the chopping block. Even if the district raised property taxes to the maximum amount allowed, it would barely pay for the increased pension costs.

Right-Wing Campaign to Privatize Public Ed Takes Hold in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, voucher proponents have spent more than $1 million on election season so far. Will the state set a national precedent in privatizing public schools?
Alternet by Daniel Denvir April 23, 2012
A nationwide movement to promote school vouchers, funded by a coterie of wealthy corporate and Wall Street donors, has once again made Pennsylvania a battleground state in the fight over privatizing education. Voter turnout in the April 24 primary is expected to be low, and national media attention has moved on now that Rick Santorum has dropped his presidential bid. But voucher proponents have so far spent more than $1 million on an election season generally defined by low-budget state legislative races.

It’s All About the Money, Money, Money
Yinzercation blog— APRIL 23, 2012
With Election Day tomorrow and politics on our minds, we might be reminded of the advice from Deep Throat, the secret informant in the Watergate scandal, who famously said, “Follow the money.” At least he did in the movie version. Right now with corporate money bankrolling our elections and paying for specific legislation, we would be wise to follow the money trail in education policy. It turns out that the facts are stranger than any movie fiction when it comes to politics and public education.
There are two groups you should know about, both pouring gobs of money into Pennsylvania politics in an attempt to privatize public education: Students First PAC and ALEC. Today we’ll deal with Students First PAC, which effectively channels money from multi-millionaires and billionaires – many from out-of-state – into the campaigns of candidates who support vouchers and expanding charter legislation.

Changing the Classroom | Putting a number on teachers' value not an easy task
April 23, 2012 10:45 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This is one in an occasional series on teaching in Pittsburgh's public schools
It's a vexing and critical question for teachers, parents and students: How much does a teacher contribute to a student's success?  For more than two decades, educators and researchers have been trying to answer that question with a variety of "value-added" methods.

Charter schools should be viewed as public education allies

Post-Gazette Letter to the Editor April 24, 2012 12:00 am
By BOB FAYFICH, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools
I find the initiatives and perceptions of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the district representatives quoted in Eleanor Chute's article ("School boards group offers aid to charters" April 16) ironic, misinformed and unfortunate for the children of Pennsylvania.

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012
Philly.com Main Line Neighbors Posted by Josh Fernandez

Radnor Middle School named a 2012 Green Ribbon School Award winner

Radnor Middle School’s 2007 environmentally conscious remodel paid off, not only saving it thousands of gallons of water throughout the school year, but also garnering it a first-ever 2012 Green Ribbon School Award.  The middle school learned it was among 78 schools nationwide to receive the award during an April 23 news conference, where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the winners. The award, presented by the U.S. Department of Education, honors a school’s high performance related to environmental impact, health and education.

SAVE THE DATE May 14, 2012 3:30 - 4:30 PM
Please join Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units for an update on statewide efforts to ensure every student in our public schools benefits from an effective teacher in the classroom. We'll follow up on the well-received "Making the Grade" town hall we hosted last November by providing the latest news on:
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education's ongoing teacher evaluation pilot program, including plans for the next phase of the pilot
  • Use of federal "Race to the Top" funds and School Improvement Grants to improve teacher evaluations  
The hour-long webinar will feature updates from PPC President and CEO Joan Benso and Carolyn Dumaresq, deputy secretary for PDE's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mark the date now and we'll send you information soon on how to register for this important webinar.

Posted: Mon, Apr. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM
At high-poverty schools, lack of stability starts at the top
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
L.P. Hill Elementary in Strawberry Mansion has gone through five principals in nine years.
Parent Dawn Hawkins says that has led to real turmoil at Hill, where virtually all students live below the poverty line and stable leadership is crucial.

New battle brewing on property taxes

April 23, 2012 10:55 am
By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- With a state proposal that would allow counties to halt their court-ordered property reassessments halfway to the governor's desk, there's now a pack of bills following in its wake aiming to reduce or eliminate the property tax entirely.

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:



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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