Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the war on public schools, commonly referred to as ‘school reform,’ the weapon of choice is the test.” FOLLOW THE TESTING MONEY: PEARSON, MURDOCH, KLEIN

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

State concern over cyber-school funding mirrors criticism from local administrators

Shamokin Published: April 9, 2012 by justin strawser
Thomas Marks' testimony before the state House Education Committee last month matches what local school district superintendents have been saying for years about flaws in funding for charter and cyber-charter schools.
Marks, state deputy auditor general for audits, said the funding formula for the ever-increasing number of such schools results in tuition inequities for public schools, which are already battling rising expenses and funding cuts.

$86 million cyber school imbalance would surely help budgets

Editorial - Shamokin Published: April 9, 2012
Talk about a windfall.
Gov. Corbett and the Legislature, in their quest to adequately fund public schools, have an extra $86 million or so at their disposal.
That's what the state Auditor General's Office reported was overpaid to charter and cyber-charter schools by public school districts in the 2009-10 school year. The overpayment represents nearly one-third of the total $266 million payout to such schools.

 “The culture of testing has created an enormous opportunity for profit for those connected with the testing and data industry as well as well-paid professional consultants. In the war on public schools, commonly referred to as ‘school reform,’ the weapon of choice is the test.”
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 04/11/2012
By Carol Corbett Burriss
….When she returns from spring break she will not be learning. Instead, she will be subjected to six days of New York State exams. Her teacher must allot 90 minutes for six days — a total of nine hours — not counting 60 minutes of “prep time” to pass out materials. The New York State Education Department estimates that each test book will take 60 minutes to complete for a total of 6 hours of testing of students from Grades 3 to 8. For students with a learning disability who get extra time, it can be as much as 12 hours of testing.
Let’s put those into perspective.
·         The LSAT for Law School admissions takes 2.9 hours plus a 35 minute writing sample.
·         The NYPD Officer Written Exam designed to measure the cognitive ability, observational skills, and mental acuity of applicants to the NYPD takes one hour and 30 minutes to complete.
·         The NCLEX (National Council Licensure EXamination) is an examination for the licensing of registered nurses. Nurses are permitted up to six hours to complete it.
·         The Series 7 exam, which licenses stockbrokers, is a six hour test, too.
·         Only the American Board of Dermatology certification exam exceeds the NY State test time for third graders. It is eight hours long. But that does include breaks.
Why are our 9 year olds subjected to state exams that last as long or are longer than entrance and certifying exams for adult professionals who make life and death decisions?  Why are the 75-minute third-grade state exams of 2005 no longer enough?
The honest answer is that testing is now hardly about students at all.

Texas Association of School Administrators
In Texas, over 230 school districts have now adopted a resolution concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Public School Students.

Pittsburgh - City schools to cut back on special ed

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 11, 2012 12:00 am
About $5 million of planned budget cuts in Pittsburgh Public Schools will come from special education, including the elimination of six central office positions, 58 teachers and 14 paraprofessionals this fall, city school officials said.
Even so, Mary Jane Conley, executive director of special education, told the school board Tuesday night, "We can be assured our high quality of service will continue to be provided as best practice for our students."  Trying to reduce projected budget deficits, the board previously approved changes that will result in the reduction of nearly 400 school-based professionals. The announcement that 58 of them will be special education positions was the first detail on some of those cuts.

New Pre-K Yearbook Documents State Pre-K Cuts

 Sara Mead  
The National Institute for Early Education Research released its annual "State of Preschool Yearbook" today. The report, which my colleague Andrew Rotherham teased at TIME last week, is a comprehensive national look at spending, enrollment, and a host of other features in state-funded pre-k programs.
The big headline for this year's report is that states cut spending on pre-k in 2010-11: To the tune of some $50 million in nominal terms and $60 million after adjusting for inflation. At the same time, state pre-k enrollment increased nationally--and in 22 states--bringing the total number of children served to 1.3 million, or 28 percent of 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds.

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

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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