Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gates Foundation joins Kraft, Coca Cola and PepsiCo in withdrawing support for ALEC

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

Please note that the Allegheny County Legislative Forum scheduled for Thursday, April 12th at North Hills High School has been cancelled due to a number of scheduling conflicts 


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pull support from ALEC

Joins Kraft, Coca Cola and PepsiCo in withdrawing support

This and other updates to our April 5th ALEC posting



Yinzercation Blog APRIL 9, 2012
A pro-public-education piece in Harrisburg’s Patriot News unleashed a torrent of nasty comments, as we reported last week, and has now drawn a reply from the state. In a letter to the editor, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education Tim Eller argues once again, “Corbett’s first two budgets increased state funding to public education.” We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, this claim is “Dishonesty Disguised as Generosity.”



Education Policy and Leadership Center Education Notebook

Friday, April 6, 2012

EPLC Education Notebook – Friday, April 6, 2012


Legislators plan lawsuit to trim aid to shrinking Pa. schools

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 8, 2012 12:00 am
With ever tightening state money for education and pressure from taxpayers to hold the line on taxes, education funding is becoming a zero-sum game.
If one school, program or student gets more money, then something or someone else gets less.
Now legislators in growing parts of the state are planning a lawsuit in the next few months that, if successful, would take money from shrinking school districts, such as 24 of 43 school districts in Allegheny County.
The legislators -- 10 so far have signed on -- plan to file suit in Commonwealth Court against the "hold harmless" provision of the state basic education funding formula, saying it is unconstitutional.  The hold harmless provision is designed to ensure school districts receive at least the same amount of state basic education subsidy for the next year as the current year even if enrollment falls. It has been used since 1991.

Education advocates draw attention to state budget issues with cookies
Public Opinion Online BY MORGAN YOUNG 04/09/2012 04:44:39 PM EDT
SHIPPENSBURG -- Armed with chocolate chip cookies, concerned Shippensburg area community members brought attention to Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget cuts to public education at a mock bake sale Monday.
Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, in conjunction with other education advocacy groups, held their second annual state-wide mock bake sale to protest the proposed cuts. Although no baked goods are actually being sold at the events, protesters gave away cookies to passersby.  Along with a larger protest at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, local bake sales were planned throughout the state.

Fake bake sale protests budget

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Early returns MONDAY, 09 APRIL 2012 12:38
A group of parents led by a Democratic candidate for the state House held a mock bake sale at the Capitol this afternoon to protest Gov. Tom Corbett's proposals for education funding.

“Consistently with previous school library impact studies, this analysis found that test scores tend to be significantly higher for schools that have full-time certified school librarians as well as for those that have such a librarian with support staff.”

WHAT WORKS: Schools with full time librarians

First Results from PA’s IMLS-Funded 21st Century School Library Infrastructure Study

In 2011, school libraries throughout Pennsylvania responded to a survey commissioned by the state legislature.  The survey asked questions about school library staffing, staff activities, collections, technology, hours and access, visits, expenditures, and more.  As the first part of Pennsylvania’s IMLS-funded National Leadership Grant research project, Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of 21st Century School Library Programs, these data on the state’s school library programs were analyzed in relation to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s PSSA reading and writing test scores.
The results of this analysis are being released over the next several weeks in a series of PowerPoint presentations.  First up are findings about the relationship between school library staffing and test scores.  Consistently with previous school library impact studies, this analysis found that test scores tend to be significantly higher for schools that have full-time certified school librarians as well as for those that have such a librarian with support staff.

“…new study from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute runs the numbers and finds that on purely economic grounds, there are huge returns to society on an investment in kids before they reach kindergarten.”

WHAT WORKS: Pre-K education pays off, $16 to $1

Wausau (Wisconsin) Daily Herald by Robert Menzer 11:00 PM, Apr. 5, 2012
Early childhood education is not a particularly controversial subject, and it might not be an area where advocates are used to marshaling reams of data to make their case. But a new study from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute runs the numbers and finds that on purely economic grounds, there are huge returns to society on an investment in kids before they reach kindergarten.  There are lots of reasons to value education of all sorts, and they aren't all economic. But it is true an overall rise in education levels leads to a higher standard of living for everyone.
WPRI is a right-leaning think tank but not a propaganda shop, and its study, "The Economic Power of Early Childhood Education in Wisconsin," was authored by Minneapolis Federal Reserve economist Rob Grunenwald and former Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau analyst Don Bezruki. They conclude that in the long term, the economic returns on early childhood education can be "as high as $16 for every $1" spent.

Dallas ISD board may join other Texas districts in signing resolution condemning standardized testing

Dallas News by ROBERT WILONSKY, Editor
Published: 09 April 2012 01:47 PM
Attention, Dallas ISD parents -- students too. You're not the only ones who hate standardized testing. Matter of fact, the loudest critic is none other than Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott, who, as you may recall, referred to teaching to the test as nothing less than a "a perversion of its original intent."
The reason: Students spent most of their days these days either studying for or taking standardized tests. The district's even offering prep sessions for the STAAR test.
And while some in the state Lege refuse to budge (hello, Florence Shapiro), districts statewide are beginning to speak up for themselves. As Valerie Strauss noted on her Washington Post ed blog recently, more than 100 districts across the state have passed a resolution condemning the state's "over-reliance on standardized, high stakes testing."

How Finnish schools shine

Teachers are respected, exams are shunned and league tables simply don't exist – but if the Finnish system is so good why is it so hard to emulate?
Adam Lopez Monday 9 April 2012 03.15 EDT
One western country that has excelled in PISA ratings consistently over the years and is highly regarded across the globe as a leading education nation is Finland. Their sustained success has for many years prompted educationalists to consider how they have achieved this.

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?
Finland's teens score extraordinarily high on an international test. American educators are trying to figure out why.
Wall Street Journal Online By ELLEN GAMERMAN February 29, 2008
High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don't start school until age 7.
Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world's C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they're way ahead in math, science and reading -- on track to keeping Finns among the world's most productive workers.

Early Results Out From Teacher-Transfer-For-Cash Study

 Stephen Sawchuk  
A cash incentive appears to have helped seven school districts attract effective teachers to low-income schools, though the longer-term impact of the transfers on teacher retention and student achievement results remains to be seen, a recently released analysis concludes.
The results are the first findings from the Talent Transfer Initiative, a U.S. Department of Education funded project. There's a short description of the initiative in this Education Week story. The basic idea is to offer bonuses of $20,000 to teachers with high-value-added scores to transfer to positions in a low-achieving schools and to study the results, in up to 10 districts.

La. adopts school charter, voucher, tenure changes

Thetowntalk (Louisiana) 3:28 PM, Apr. 6, 2012
BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Bobby Jindal triumphed Thursday in his bid to embark on a historic overhaul of public education in Louisiana, receiving final House passage of his centerpiece proposals.  In a state where student performance lags that of the nation, the complex bills will make it harder for teachers to gain tenure while establishing a statewide voucher program for private school tuition and multiplying the ways to establish charter schools. The bills also lessen local school board authority in hiring and firing decisions, expand online schools and restructure public financing of education.

Moderate Voice Blog APR 9TH, 2012
A Tale of Two Crows by Catherine Tanguis
As if the Stand Your Ground law and the current efforts to restrict voter registration hadn’t reminded us that discrimination is alive and well in the 21st century, Senator A.G. Crowe of Slidell, Louisiana introduced Senate Bill 217, that if passed, would reincarnate institutional segregation practices reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. The Louisiana Senate Committee advanced this bill, which would prevent non-discrimination protections by any state entity beyond what is designated by state law, and it awaits final hearing.
On the surface, Senate Bill 217 almost appears as innocuous as Senator Crowe would like us to believe. Supported by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Louisiana Family Forum, SB 217 would require that all state entries prohibit discrimination based upon race, religion, national ancestry, age, sex, or disability. To the casual observer, this seems entirely reasonable and fair. In a series of rhetorical equivocations that would make the Jesuits proud, Senator Crowe explained the reason he introduced the bill ” is because public entities throughout the state have not been following current law.”
As St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica reminds us, sometimes what it is omitted is what is most heinous. Omitted from SB 217 are the broader anti-discrimination policies as defined by the Department of Education which protects children from being discriminated against, among other things, for sexual orientation, athletic ability, ability to speak English and mental or physical disability. If SB 217 becomes law, those seeking state contracts, including charter schools (which are supported by tax payer dollars), would not be bound by the broader Department of Education’s anti-discrimination policies. This is at the very time when the Louisiana Legislature has decided through a series of controversial bills to expand the state’s charter school program.

MON APR 09, 2012 AT 03:43 AM PDT
Important piece critical of Teach for America……
DailyKOS by teacherken
Important piece critical of Teach for America was posted this morning by my good friend Anthony Cody.  Titled Deepening the Debate over Teach For America: Responses to Heather Harding, it appears at his Living In Dialogue blog at Ed Week / Teachers.
A brief explanation.   Anthony has over the past few months put up guest posts by people who have been critical of Teach for America.  As a result, he psted exchange/interview with TFA's Director of Research, titled Tough Questions for Teach For America: Heather Harding Responds, at the end of which he asked “Readers, what do you think?”

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

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 swope@ptd.net

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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