Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Federal Education Policy: Fewer public elementary schools are offering visual arts, dance and drama classes than a decade ago. High schools with large numbers of poor students that do not offer music.

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.

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Posted: Tue, Apr. 3, 2012, 11:13 AM

Philly Charter school founder admits stealing $860,000


A former board president of a charter school in Northwest Philadelphia this morning admitted that he stole $522,000 in taxpayer funds from the school.  Hugh C. Clark, 65, who helped establish the New Media Technology Charter School in 2004, also admitted defrauding the Wilmington Savings Fund Society of $339,000 when appeared in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

Clark, an attorney who had been scheduled to go to trial on the federal charges this week, informed the court last month that he planned to plead guilty to the 28 counts, instead.

The charges included conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from a federally funded program, and bank fraud.  Ina M. Walker, the school's former chief executive, and Clark's codefendant, pleaded guilty in January. Sources have said that New Media is among at least 18 area charter schools that have come under federal investigation since 2008.


Bethlehem Area School District moving forward with cyber academy

Published: Monday, April 02, 2012, 11:08 PM By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times 
The Bethlehem Area School District hopes to create a cyber academy where within three years all high school students are taking at least one online class.
Bethlehem plans to offer a cyber school option next year  
for seventh- through 12th-grade students enrolled in another full-time cyber education program. Bethlehem plans to first tie into  Colonial Intermediate Unit 20's online learning consortium, Virtually Linking Instruction and Curriculum, or VLINC. That program works with Edison and Blended Schools, private online course providers.
Bethlehem is joining other Lehigh Valley schools in a quest to get back students who have left the district for cyber schools with the promise of quality curriculum and a bricks-and-mortar public school diploma. Bethlehem has 264 students enrolled in cyber schools at a cost of about $10,000 per student, or $2.64 million a year.


Posted: Tue, Apr. 3, 2012, 7:05 AM

Report: Arts classes at elementary schools reduced

CHRISTINE ARMARIO The Associated Press

MIAMI - Elementary schools without drama classes. High schools with large numbers of poor students that do not offer music.  Those are two of the bleaker pictures that emerged Monday from a report by the U.S. Department of Education on the state of arts education.

Fewer public elementary schools are offering visual arts, dance and drama classes than a decade ago, a decline many attribute to budget cuts and an increased focus on math and reading. The percentage of elementary schools with a visual arts class declined from 87 to 83 percent. In drama, the drop was larger: From 20 percent to 4 percent in the 2009-10 school year.


You can see the state of arts education report at the US ED site below.

No – the answer is NOT more bubble testing for visual arts, dance and drama classes.

I remember watching when the Berlin Wall fell and thinking what a terrible waste of two generations of human potential; someday we will look back at this era of pervasive high stakes testing and “Race to Nowhere” and truly understand just how incredibly damaging it has been to our kids and to public education.  What a stark waste of time, money and human potential…..LAF

US Department of Education

ED Releases New Report on Arts Education in U.S. Public Schools

On Monday, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the U.S. Department of Education, released the findings of the first nationwide arts survey in a decade that comprehensively documents the state of arts education in U.S. public schools.


WHAT WORKS: Involving Parents in Partnerships to Boost Student Outcomes

 Michele Molnar   | 1 Comment
Successful school, family, and community partnership programs can be elusive. How do schools successfully get parents involved?  Research from the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) identifies eight "essential elements" for effective leadership as it relates to these programs.
The keys: leadership, teamwork, action plans, implementation of plans, funding, collegial support, evaluation, and networking.
"We help district leaders work with schools in ways that improve student success," says Joyce Epstein, founder and director of NNPS, located at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.


School Boards on the Hill

American School Board Journal April 2012 Issue
Each winter, about 750 school board members attend NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference in Washington, D.C. Participants, who are chosen by their state school boards associations, spend two days in sessions learning about current federal legislative issues and trends, then head to Capitol Hill for meetings with their congressional representatives and staff.
In this all-important election year, ASBJ sent four editors to follow delegations from Ohio, Georgia, Montana, and Texas and write about local advocacy at work. NSBA’s top priorities for 2012 are to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to ensure that federal K-12 funding increases by at least $1 billion each for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title I.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican who spoke at a luncheon meeting during the conference, emphasized the importance of constituents coming to Washington to inform him and other members of issues schools face.  “There are an overwhelming number of issues that Congress has to deal with,” he said. “I work very hard to educate myself, and surround myself with a very good staff, but there are limitations to that. That’s why it’s important that you’re here, because the experts in education are not to be found in Washington.”
Here’s what the local experts had to say, and what they learned in the process.


Group Aims to Counter Influence of Teachers’ Union in New York

New York Times By ANNA M. PHILLIPS Published: April 3, 2012

Leaders of a national education reform movement, including Joel I. Klein and Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellors in New York and Washington, have formed a statewide political group in New York with an eye toward being a counterweight to the powerful teachers’ union in the 2013 mayoral election.

The group, called StudentsFirstNY, is an arm of a national advocacy organization that Ms. Rhee founded in 2010. Like the national group, the state branch will promote the expansion of charter schools and the firing of ineffective schoolteachers, while opposing tenure.


“Teachers in schools with the highest Black and Latino enrollment were paid an average of $14,699 less than teachers in schools with the lowest Black and Latino enrollment. This gap is the greatest of the top 20 largest school districts in the country. By comparison, the gap is $8,222 in New York City and $950 in Los Angeles, the nation’s two largest districts. The average gap nationally is $2,251.”

What federal civil rights data says about Philadelphia

The notebook by Guest blogger on Apr 03 2012 Posted in Community voices

This guest blog post comes from Harold Jordan, Notebook board chair and staff member at ACLU of Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) recently released comprehensive data about the educational opportunity offered to the nation’s public school students. Known as the Civil Rights Data Collection, this dataset draws from a national survey of 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation’s public school students during the 2009-2010 school year. The data include a profile of the School District of Philadelphia, which paints a disturbing picture, especially in the areas of discipline and the equitable assignment of experienced teachers.


Corbett cuts school districts to the core

Patriot News OP-ED By Erica Burg Published: Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 5:00 AM
Imagine being a student who spends more time in study halls than in classes with teachers or who sits on a windowsill for class because there are not enough desks for the 45 children in your class. Imagine navigating to your desk around buckets that catch water leaking through the roof of your dilapidated building.  Thanks to Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Legislature’s massive cuts in state funding to public K-12 education last year, these are the experiences that some children in Pennsylvania face.


Chester Fund for Education appeals Chester Upland charter denial
Published: Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP  @DT_JohnKopp
The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts formally appealed the Chester Upland School District’s denial to allow the nonprofit foundation to open a charter school.
The Chester Fund presently partners with the district to operate Chester Upland School of the Arts, but seeks to transform the elementary school into a charter. The district denied its charter application in January.


“Ironically, the cure proposed for the non-existent crisis will prevent schools from improving: The money we are spending on national standards and starting to spend on national tests, could be used to provide better nutrition, improved health care, and libraries for children of poverty. In other words, we can protect children of poverty from at least some of the effects of poverty. This will not only raise overall test scores, it will lead to a better life for millions of American children.”

Stephen Krashen Pulls the Rug Out From Under the Standards Movement

 Anthony Cody  
Some Comments on Paul Farhi's "Flunking the Test"
Guest post by Stephen Krashen.
In "Flunking the Test," Paul Farhi concludes that the media has seriously under-reported the successes of American education and have taken the pronouncements of self-proclaimed "reformers" at face-value. Farhi backs up his argument with real data: American students' performance on international tests is much better than critics say it is, and college attendance has increased enormously.
Farhi cites Pedro Noguera, who in turn mentions a Dan Rather program that "explored the link between school performance and poverty, a subject often ignored or noted only in passing in many stories about academic achievement." As Farhi notes, research shows that poverty is "the single greatest variable in educational achievement."


Finnish far ahead of U.S. schools

The education system in Finland — one of the world’s best — focuses on the students first
Appeared in print: Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012, page G1
Imagine! Imagine an equitable national public school system, one that:
Dedicates itself to the care, development and future of children.
Requires only one test of its students at age 16 — yet its students are among the top performers in the world, scoring among the highest in science, math and reading.
Requires that teachers graduate in the top 10 percent of their university class, are paid well, have fewer class hours than American teachers, and have smaller classes to teach. International education expert Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, author of “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn From Educational Change in Finland,” stated that in Finland “It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine.”
Has 96 percent of public school teachers unionized.
Does not admit children to public school until they are 7 years old.
Rarely has high school students doing more than a half-hour of homework a night.
Has no exclusive classes for gifted students, but music, art and drama are an important part of the curriculum.
Provides high-quality pre-school and primary education for every single child, and, in these early years, focuses on social behavior and personal responsibility.


Dan Rather Reports, "Finnish First" excerpt

You Tube 6:22 Uploaded by HDNET on Jan 16, 2012

In just 30 years, Finland transformed its school system from one that was mediocre and inequitable, to one that consistently produces some of the world's best students, while virtually eliminating an achievement gap. And they do it without standardized testing


The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

Stand Up for Public Education!
Wed., April 11, 2012 7:00 pm Town Hall Meeting on Education at Bucknell University
Meeting with legislators from Columbia, Northumberland, Montour, Snyder & Union counties
Where: The Forum, Room 272, Elaine Langone Center Bucknell University 701 Moore Avenue Lewisburg, PA 17837
7 p.m. – School directors and administrators meet with legislators (PSBA Legislative Meeting)
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Meeting on Education – Please invite your PTO/PTA and other parent/ community groups to join us!  The purpose of the 7 p.m. meeting is for school directors and administrators to discuss the impact of the governor’s 2011-12 budget proposal on their school districts. At 7:30 p.m., the meeting will be open to all interested parents and other members of the community who would like to come out in support of their public schools and ask their legislators to take their message back to Harrisburg.
Please RSVP By April 4, to Kathy Swope, PSBA Region 6 director, at (570) 523-3336 or email

Stand Up for Public Education!

Thursday April 12th, 7:00 pm Allegheny County Legislative Forum

WHERE: North Hills Senior High School 53 Rochester Road Pittsburgh, PA 15229
WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 7:00pm
REGISTER for this event:
All public education stakeholders are invited to this special event, which will be moderated by the League of Women Voters. Join us on Thursday, April 12th at North Hills Senior High School at 7PM for an evening with several key state legislators from Allegheny County and other education experts who will help explain local impacts. State Representatives and Senators representing surrounding school districts have been invited to attend and discuss their positions on public education as they head into negotiations over next year’s budget.

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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