Monday, April 16, 2012

Funding is cut for Pa. pre-school programs


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Funding is cut for Pa. pre-school programs
National Institute for Early Education Research report says upward trend has been reversed.
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader By MARK GUYDISH, April 15, 2012
After nearly a decade of increases, states have started cutting funding for pre-kindergarten classes nationwide, reducing both the number of students enrolled and the quality of programs, a national study contends. The pattern is apparently playing out in Pennsylvania and Luzerne County.  The National Institute for Early Education Research released its “State of Pre-school 2011” report last week, and the emphasis was on a reversal of what had been an upward trend in state funding for pre-kindergarten programs.

Posted: Sat, Apr. 14, 2012, 3:01 AM
Abington superintendent to lead national group
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
Amy Sichel, superintendent of the Abington School District, has been named the next president of the American Association of School Administrators. The superintendent of Montgomery County's Abington School District has been elected president of the American Association of School Administrators, the first time in the organization's 147-year history that it will be led by a Pennsylvania school chief.

Watch: Students Demand Equitable, Adequate School Funding
Video Runtime 6:35 Posted by Megan Williamson on April 9, 2012 at 5:20pm
This action was organized by Philadelphia Student Union, Project Peace, A+ Schools' TeenBloc, Juntos, & Campaign for Nonviolent Schools. Many other organizations & individuals participated and helped make this action a success.
Students are committed to organizing across geographic, racial & economic barriers to win a new school funding formula that will ensure all Pennsylvania students receive the high quality public education they deserve.
For more info visit www.phillystudentunion.org
This video was produced by Media Mobilizing Project.

Hundreds gather to decry education funding cuts

Hazelton Standard Speaker BY DAVID FALCHEK AND SAM GALSKI (STAFF WRITERS) Published: April 15, 2012
With chants of "enough is enough," 600 people crammed the area in front of the monument to labor leader John Mitchell, spilling into one of the lanes of Adams Avenue, to decry cuts in education funding.  The "Kids, Cuts and Consequences" rally was organized by two labor unions: the American Federation of Teachers and the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Members of the unions filled the crowd with blue and white shirts and signs.

Allentown School District to significantly scale back full-day kindergarten

Published: Friday, April 13, 2012, 6:47 AM
Lehigh Valley Live By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times 
In the face of a $12.3 million budget gap, the Allentown School District is looking to significantly reduce its full-day kindergarten offerings.
The amount of full-day kindergarten classrooms will be scaled back from 38 to 14, for a savings of about $1 million, according to Karen Boardman, executive director of elementary education.
That means the all-day classes previously available to 800 students will now only be available for 250, Boardman said during a school board education committee meeting Thursday.
School board members and officials alike called full-day kindergarten a great benefit for students that they hate to cut. But, they said, it is not a mandated service and must fall victim to this year’s budgetary cuts.
“What I’ve learned in 11 years is sometimes we have to make difficult decisions for the greater good,” Boardman said. “This is one of those decisions.”

Anger with Pennsylvania governor unites school administrators, unions
By Michael Sadowski Pocono Record Writer April 12, 2012
Traditionally, relationships school boards and administrations have shared with teachers unions are tolerated at best, contentious and acrimonious at worst.
But now as potential layoffs and position eliminations loom, both sides have a common enemy bringing them closer together: Gov. Tom Corbett.
Each of the sides will be represented Saturday at a union-sponsored rally in Scranton to restore what education officials have said are cuts made by Corbett in his first two budgets.

Blame Harrisburg, not school boards, for education cuts
Allentown Morning Call Letter to the Editor 5:28 p.m. EDT, April 13, 2012
School boards seem to be bearing the full brunt of the anger from parents, students, bus drivers and teachers alike for teacher layoffs, changes in programming and outsourcing bus drivers. While it is true they bear some responsibility, I don't understand why no one is blaming who is really responsible, and that is Harrisburg. Those responsible are our governor, who seems to want to destroy public education as we know it, and our legislators who voted for his budget and budget cuts.

Where is the $1 billion in property tax relief from slot machines?

Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 6:00 AM
By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News 
So much for the promised $1 billion in property tax relief that slot machines were supposed to offer Pennsylvanians by now.  Former Gov. Ed Rendell made that billion-dollar promise to sell the legalization of slots casinoseight years ago. The state’s share of slot proceeds for 2012-13 fell more than $217 million shy of that goal.

West Mifflin school board opposes taking more Duquesne students
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 13, 2012 12:00 am
The West Mifflin Area school board has authorized its solicitor to prepare the legal groundwork for an injunction against the state Education Department if state officials announce plans next week to send Duquesne elementary or middle school students to West Mifflin schools.
A meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Duquesne Elementary/Middle School auditorium at which state officials are expected to discuss options for the education of Duquesne students in grades K-8. State officials have said at various times during the past year that the district cannot continue in its current form because of its failing academics and finances but have announced no specific plans for how the students would be educated in the 2012-13 school year.

Lt. governor touts record education dollars

By Joe Napsha, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, April 13, 2012
Despite criticism that the state is reducing financial support for public school education, Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor said on Thursday that the Corbett administration has proposed spending more money on education in the upcoming budget.
Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed a $22 million increase in basic education spending, boosting the total to $5.3 billion, the largest amount of state tax dollars ever earmarked for basic education, Lt. Gov. James Cawley told more than 35 business and community leaders who gathered for a forum at St. Vincent College in Unity.

Parents Serve City Hall Cookies in Philly Schools Rally
Residents pleaded with Philadelphia City Council members to help with schools.
Roxborough-Manayunk Patch By Sam Fran Scavuzzo
"Crumbs for Children," "There Aren't Enough Cookies," and "Corbett to Schools" Bake Your Way Out" were signs written by parents that were more than puns based on baked goods.  Parents from schools throughout Philadelphia rallied at City Hall Thursday for a "Mock Bake Sale on Education." Distributing cookies of all shapes and sizes to City Council members, the parents urged their local representatives to take greater ownership over the School District of Philadelphia.

The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Public Schools are being honored as the grand prize winner in the over 20,000 enrollment category for its outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in the district’s schools. “Take a Father to School Day” is an annual event which invites fathers, grandfathers, and other male role models to spend a day at their child’s school. 
NSBA’s School Board News April 12, 2012 by Alexis Rice
Pittsburgh’s “ Take a Father to School Day” wins national recognition
2012 Magna Awards honors Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania school districts
Missouri’s Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, New York’s Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, and Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Public Schools have been named the grand prize winners in the American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) 18th annual Magna Awards program.

School boards group offers aid to charters

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 16, 2012 12:00 am
Since the charter school law was passed 15 years ago, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association has been providing occasional help to charter schools as long as the chartering school districts approved.  They always did, said PSBA executive director Thomas Gentzel.
Now the PSBA is preparing to reach out more deliberately and offer to help bricks-and-mortar charter schools -- as long as they pay a $1,500 access fee and the member rate for services, such as workshops, policy manuals and joint purchasing.
This time, not all are saying yes.

Robots are taking over Temple!
BY VINNY VELLA Daily News Staff Writer Posted: Fri, Apr. 13, 2012, 7:15 AM
MARCH MADNESS may be over, but the hardwood at the Liacouras Center is still packed with players.  The Owls' nest is hosting the mid-Atlantic region championship for FIRST, a national robotics competition for high school students. Throughout the weekend, 53 teams from across Delaware, New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania will put their mechanical creations through "Rebound Rumble" (basketball adapted for robots) for a shot to qualify for the finals in St. Louis and the title of national champions.
But, according to the adults mentoring these students, FIRST is about much more than bragging rights.  "In some sense, it's a chance for students to interact with other kids who share their interests," said David Cohen, an engineer with Chant Engineering in Chalfont, Bucks County, and the mentor for the joint Springfield-Cheltenham High School team. "Ideas get nurtured here like nowhere else. It's very empowering."

Why Are McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Intuit Fleeing ALEC?

Bloomberg Businessweek By Brendan Greeley on April 13, 2012
 The American Legislative Exchange Council describes itself as a nonpartisan champion of free markets. …..What’s happening to ALEC this week provides a valuable lesson for those who would limit the influence of money in politics. It’s difficult—and evidently unconstitutional—to keep people and corporations from speaking through money. But people and corporations do respond to embarrassment. Embarrassment is impossible without disclosure. ALEC should be free to advocate for whatever it likes, and people should be free to support the candidate who pleases them. In ALEC’s case, it’s been interesting to watch embarrassment do its work once disclosure showed up. It might be a rule for campaign and super PAC contributions as well: You can do whatever you like, as long as you cop to it.

“Frank Shrontz, David Kearns, Lou Gerstner, and their generation of business leaders, had it right.  If one is serious about addressing the underlying problems on the scale needed to make a difference for the vast majority of American school children, then one has to change the system charged with their education, however difficult that may be.  “

School-by-School vs. System Reform: Why Business Leaders Need to Go Back to the Future

 Marc Tucker  
Do you remember the 1980s, when the United States spawned a whole new breed of education governors, people like Bill Clinton, Lamar Alexander, Jim Hunt, Tom Kean, Terry Branstad and Richard Riley?  These men made education the heart and soul of their term in office. Many continued when they left office, Hunt, for example, chairing the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Branstad running a university and Alexander becoming Secretary of Education, as did Riley.

Leaders of New Group Have an "Interest" in Education

Posted: 04/13/2012 4:45 pm
Huffington Post NY by Gail Robinson
Few people define themselves as being a member of a special interest. That term applies to the folks on the other side -- the people you disagree with. New Yorkers got more evidence of that this month with the formation of StudentsFirstNY. In a nutshell, the group wants to preserve and extend the education policies of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and battle the teachers union, which has had an increasingly rancorous relationship with Bloomberg. In its mission statement, the group declares, “StudentsFirstNY will be New York's leading voice for students who depend on public education for the skills they need to succeed, but who are too often failed by a system that puts special interests, rather than the interests of children, first.”

POSSE Program That Sends Urban Students to Elite Colleges Comes to Houston This Fall
NY Times - THE TEXAS TRIBUNE By REEVE HAMILTON Published: April 14, 2012
Starting this fall, high school seniors in the Houston Independent School District will have an opportunity to vie for one of 30 golden tickets to a unique higher-education experience.
Teachers, principals and community leaders will get to nominate students to become members of the city’s inaugural “posses” — groups of students from large, urban districts organized by the Posse Foundation, which sends them to elite colleges and universities as a unit to serve as a pre-established peer support network.

STATEWIDE PRESS COVERAGE OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGETS
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:

http://www.pahouse.com/school_funding_2011cuts.asp?utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3a%2f%2fwww.pahouse.com%2fschool_funding_2011cuts.asp&utm_campaign=Crisis+in+Public+Education


REMEMBER TO VOTE! TUESDAY, APRIL 24th

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.

http://www.psba.org/issues-advocacy/issues-research/state-budget/Budget_resolution-02212012.doc


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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