Friday, April 20, 2012

In Texas, New York, Illinois and other states, education reform protests pick up steam

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

Our take: Stop playing the blame game on school costs
Updated:   04/18/2012 08:04:08 AM EDT
York Daily Record editorial:
Gov. Tom Corbett is right, as far as it goes, that taxpayers fed up with rising public school costs should blame school boards.  ….But there's plenty of blame to go around, and the governor and state lawmakers deserve their share.

“The Rev. Terrence Griffith, president of the Black Clergy, said he ignored Roebuck's request for support this year, in part because of the voucher issue. Griffith's group got $6,000 last month from Students First.”
Posted: Thu, Apr. 19, 2012, 3:01 AM
Vouchers at issue in race: Roebuck's opponent is backed by Black Clergy
BY CHRIS BRENNAN Philadelphia Daily News Staff Writer
THE BATTLE in Harrisburg over school vouchers has placed state Rep. James Roebuck Jr. in political peril to a newcomer with well-heeled campaign contributors. Roebuck, 67, who has represented West Philly's 188th District since 1985, says he is using his post as the ranking Democrat on the state House Education Committee to stymie legislation that would allow tax dollars to be used to pay for private-school tuition.
He is being challenged in Tuesday's primary election by Fatimah Muhammad, 27, who favors the voucher plan and tells a compelling story about being homeless as a child and about how education improved her life. A political-action committee for Students First PA, a pro-voucher group, gave Muhammad $25,000 in February. It also gave $12,000 last month to a newly formed PAC, Public Education Excellence, which has been hammering Roebuck with mailers that attack his record on education.

Posted: Fri, Apr. 20, 2012, 5:39 AM
SRC begins process to shut 3 charter schools
By Martha Woodall Inquirer Staff Writer
For the first time in four years, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Thursday night began the process of closing city charter schools.
The commission voted to put three schools on notice that their five-year operating charters would not be renewed: Truebright Science Academy, Arise Academy, and Hope.
The district's charter-school office had recommended the actions for all three schools based on problems with academics and administration and failing to meet state requirements, such as having 75 percent certified teachers. Arise was also flagged for its financial instability.

Posted: Fri, Apr. 20, 2012, 5:39 AM
3 schools are given to charters; 4th wins a reprieve
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to hand three schools over to charter providers, but gave one school a reprieve - for now.

Allentown teachers oppose merging social studies, English for sixth-graders
'I struggle daily with students who argue that Allentown is the capital of Pennsylvania or the United States,' one tells board.
By Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call 11:17 p.m. EDT, April 19, 2012
This year, Tara Beaky's daughter is getting less social studies, science, art, music and physical education instruction in the classrooms of Allentown's Lehigh Parkway Elementary School. But still her daughter is one of the lucky ones.

Duquesne district seeks grade change

By Rachel Weaver, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, April 20, 2012
Duquesne City School officials are seeking approval from the state to alter the educational program in an attempt to keep the district operating for at least one more year.
The three members of the state-appointed board of control unanimously authorized Superintendent Paul Rach on Thursday to request an OK from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to designate grades 7-8 as junior high grades for the 2012-13 school year. The district now designates grades K-8 as elementary.
The change would allow the district to send tuition students in grades 7-8 to other districts. Neighbors THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2012
Despite her frustration, Sarah Armstrong was calm and poised when she made her remarks over the Radnor Township School District board directors' agenda item up for vote – a 3.28 percent tax increase.  ….The numerous speeches from Radnor Township citizens against the 3.28 percent tax increase didn't prevent the increase from happening. In a 6 to 3 vote, the school board approved the preliminary 2012-2013 school year budget, which included the tax hike. The budget costs, more than $82 million, is an almost $10 million jump from the 2011-2012 budgetary costs.
These increases aren't completely unfamiliar to residents in neighboring Main Line towns. Lower Merion School District had community concern because of its original 3.9 percent increase, which was reduced to 1.99 percent last week, the smallest increase in the school's recent years.
The Haverford Township School Board's 2012-2013 budget originally proposed a 2.49 percent increase, but could increase as much as 2.73 percent, the board said last month.
The problems leading to Haverford's probable increase that simultaneously concerns Radnor Township School Board directors are the state referendums imposed on school districts: The Act 1 index and the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 04/20/2012

Education reform protests pick up steam

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
In Texas, New York, Illinois and other states, protests by parents and educators are getting louder against school reform that insists on using standardized test scores as the basis for evaluating students, educators and schools.

April 19, 2012, 6:01 PM

Test Scores and Housing Costs

New York Times Economix Blog By MOTOKO RICH
Parents hoping to enroll their children in the best public schools have long known that where you live matters and that housing prices can be dictated by the quality of the nearby schools.
A new study from the Brookings Institution quantifies that price gap, and the differences between the cost of living near a high-scoring public school and a low-performing one are striking.

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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