Friday, April 13, 2012

"I would love to see the taxpayers speaking up at the school board meetings," he said. The governor should make a trip to the next Upper Darby School Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. on May 1.

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

A Run For Their Money
Big corporate money in support of school vouchers hits primary races statewide.
Will it tip the scales in Philly?
By Daniel Denvir, City Paper Posted: Thu, Apr. 12, 2012, 12:00 AM
The names on the fliers — candidates for state office like upstart Fatimah Muhammad and anointed Philly insider Jordan Harris — may look and sound like homegrown legislative hopefuls. But follow the money and a different picture emerges: that of a statewide campaign, funded by wealthy donors, to stack the Pennsylvania primary battles on April 24 in favor of those supporting school vouchers, which allocate taxpayer funds for private and religious school tuition. The pro-voucher political action committee (PAC) Students First — funded by Pennsylvania hedge-fund managers and American Federation for Children, a Washington, D.C., pro-voucher group headed by Amway heiress and major right-wing donor Betsy DeVos — emerged on the state's political scene with a bang for the 2010 elections. And they are back to spend big in 2012.

Fear of cuts in state funding stalling teacher negotiations

By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 12, 2012 7:37 am
Traditionally, teacher contract negotiations are tedious processes that sometimes pit teachers unions against school directors and can involve endless rounds of posturing and maneuvering that, in some instances, erupt into work stoppages.  Yet in the past, the opposing sides in most districts have found ways to eventually meet in the middle and settle on multiyear contracts that satisfy both sides within a reasonable amount of time.
In the past year, an unseen but influential third party has been at the bargaining table -- Gov. Tom Corbett. District and union officials say the nearly $900 million in cuts to education funding in 2011 and a proposed maintenance of that funding level for 2012 has made their budgets too tight to offer teachers raises or other perks.

Pittsburgh City schools start planning shifts, cuts
April 13, 2012 12:00 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
About one in four classroom teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools today will get an email saying the teacher won't be working in the same building in the fall.  Issuing 450 building displacement notices is the first step in putting into effect the district's cost-saving plan that is expected to result in an unprecedented number of teacher layoffs for the district
The district plans to reduce its force of 2,245 professionals represented by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers -- including teachers, counselors and social workers -- by about 400.

Delaware County: Big cuts in staff, curriculum proposed in Upper Darby schools

Delco Times By LINDA REILLY Times Correspondent
UPPER DARBY — An estimated $4 million will be shaved off the 2012-2013 Upper Darby School District budget if school directors approve a proposal to cut staff and elementary and middle school classes in the areas of art, music, physical education and library.  District officials blamed the governor’s lack of support to public education, No Child Left Behind and the millions of dollars it costs to fund charter schools for the cuts.
The “Save the Music in Upper Darby” Facebook page lists comments posted by thousands of community members concerned with the loss of the arts.
Upper Darby School District cuts hits sour note with parents
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Delco Times By LINDA REILLY Times Correspondent
UPPER DARBY — By daybreak Thursday a Facebook page was up and running to address the elimination of the “specials” classes of art, music, gym and library in the Upper Darby School District’s elementary and middle schools.
The “Save the Music in Upper Darby” Facebook page lists comments posted by thousands of community members concerned with the loss of the arts.

"I would love to see the taxpayers speaking up at the school board meetings," he said.
Take tax gripes to school boards, not state, Corbett says
Reading Eagle by The Associated Press 4/12/12
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvanians who are concerned about rising school taxes should take their complaints to local school boards, not the state government, Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday.  "I think the taxpayers need to help themselves," Corbett replied when a caller on Philadelphia's Talk Radio 1210 WPHT asked what can be done to help ease the pressures on taxpayers.
In his monthly appearance on the "Dom Giordano Program," the Republican governor suggested that excessively small class sizes and overly generous contracts with teachers unions are part of the reason many school districts are struggling financially.
"I would love to see the taxpayers speaking up at the school board meetings," he said.

EDITORIAL: U.D. parents will heed guv’s call to 'speak up'

First, the Chester Upland School District teetered on the brink of insolvency, with funds so low teachers were warned that they might not be paid.  Now Upper Darby is the latest poster child for distress in the classroom. A proposed budget unveiled this week would cut $4 million, chop 57 teaching jobs in elementary and middle schools, consolidate other positions, and eliminate “special” art, music, gym and library classes in elementary and middle schools. Teachers will cover those subjects as part of their regular classroom instruction.

Allentown, Bethlehem school districts could close Vitalistic Charter School
Allentown school officials recommend sending notice that could start process.
By Steve Esack and Devon Lash, Of The Morning Call 11:39 p.m. EDT, April 12, 2012
Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School's money problems run so vast and so deep students are not getting legally mandated special education services, other children may be getting misdiagnosed, and none of them is getting the state-required number of classroom hours, according to an investigation by the Allentown School District.
Those and other findings were unveiled Thursday night by Superintendent Russ Mayo's administration. The school board's Education Committee then moved to recommend the full board vote this month on sending "a notice of violations" outlining five reasons the board could shut down the troubled school.

39th House District: Levdansky for the Dems, D'Alessandro for the GOP
April 13, 2012 12:00 am
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sofo moving to Pittsburgh charter school

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:00 pm
By Bill Utterback
NEW SEWICKLEY TWP. -- Presented with school choice, Beaver County's most persistent voice for charter school funding reform chose a job with a charter school.  Ron Sofo, superintendent at Freedom Area School District since November 2002 and a 19-year district employee, has been hired as the chief executive officer at City Charter High School in downtown Pittsburgh.

Education Inc.
How private companies are profiting from Texas public schools.
Texas Observer by ABBY RAPOPORT Published on: Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Pearson, one of the giants of the for-profit industry that looms over public education, produces just about every product a student, teacher or school administrator in Texas might need. From textbooks to data management, professional development programs to testing systems, Pearson has it all—and all of it has a price. For statewide testing in Texas alone, the company holds a five-year contract worth nearly $500 million to create and administer exams. If students should fail those tests, Pearson offers a series of remedial-learning products to help them pass. Meanwhile, kids are likely to use textbooks from Pearson-owned publishing houses like Prentice Hall and Pearson Longman. Students who want to take virtual classes may well find themselves in a course subcontracted to Pearson. And if the student drops out, Pearson partners with the American Council on Education to offer the GED exam for a profit.

A Leader of Brooklyn Charter Schools Is Indicted for Fraud
New York Times By PATRICK McGEEHAN Published: April 12, 2012
When state investigators demanded last year to see personal tax returns filed by Eddie Calderon-Melendez, the founder and chief executive of a troubled network of charter high schools in Brooklyn, he produced them. One problem, according to the investigators, was that those state tax returns were falsified and had never been filed.
Then, when the investigators studied the books of one of the schools, Williamsburg Charter High School, they found that Mr. Calderon-Melendez had used a school credit card to pay for parts of a European vacation, including accommodations at a Paris hotel and some expenses in England, they said. On Thursday, a grand jury in Brooklyn indicted Mr. Calderon-Melendez on 11 felony counts, including tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records.

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

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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