Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PHILLY: We don't need no stinking vouchers; we've got privatization!

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

Couple of Primary Notes
In the 188th legislative district where Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children (AFC) and Students First PA PAC had used several other PACs to contribute$62K of the $76K raised by Democratic primary challenger Fatimah Muhammad, incumbent House Education Committee Minority Chairman James Roebuck prevailed 56% - 44%.

In Cumberland/York County 31st senatorial district where AFC/Students First PAC contributed  through the Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania PAC to run a media blitz against incumbent Pat Vance (who voted against the voucher bill SB1), Vance prevailed over challenger Andrew Shaw 57%% - 42%.

5 Incumbents Lose: State House & Senate Primary Recap
PoliticsPA Written by Sy Snyder, Editor-In-Chief  posted Wed. April 25th, 2012 12:18 am
The biggest headline of the night was the almost unseating of Speaker of the House Sam Smith in his Punxsutawney based legislative district. He was running against Chris Dush, completely unknown to the Pa. establishment until this evening. In the end, Speaker Smith won by 458 votes out of the 6,381 votes cast in the race.

In Philly, Radical District reorganization, 64 school closings planned
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 24 2012
District staff and consultants are recommending a sweeping overhaul of how public schools in Philadelphia operate, planning to close 64 schools over the next five years and divvy up those that remain among “achievement networks” led by teams of educators or nonprofit institutions.

Citypaper Naked City Blog by Daniel Denvir
Philadelphia public schools are on the operating table, reeling from a knockout blow of heavy state  budget cuts. It was too much to bear after decades of underfunding and mismanagement at the hands of shortsighted Philadelphians and mean-spirited politicians in Harrisburg.
So the District is today announcing that it's going to call it quits. Its organs will be harvested, in search of a relatively vital host.
Philadelphia public schools is not the School District,” Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen told a handful of reporters at yesterday's press conference laying out the five-year plan proposed to the School Reform Commission. “There's a redefinition, and we'll get to that later.” 

Budget: This is what austerity looks like
The Notebook by Paul Socolar on Apr 24 2012
The District's transformation plan announced today includes a five-year budget plan. The District also published its annual 43-page budget-in-brief document today. Here are 10 details that stand out about this far-reaching plan to bring the budget, which now has a $218 million gap, back into balance:

Commentary: You're not speaking to me, Mr. Knudsen
The notebook submitted by Helen Gym on Tue, 04/24/2012
Dear Mr. Knudsen:
I am the mother of three children in District and charter schools in this city. I have been actively involved in stopping good schools from decline and helping low-performing, violent schools turn around. I believe in the essential role that a high-quality public school system plays and have fought for that vision. My 7th grader will soon have outlasted four superintendencies, including yours. And I’m here to tell you that you’re not speaking to me.

SRC 'restructuring' plan isn't about students or achievement
It's a business model to privatize schools.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers website by Jerry Jordan, President 4/24/2012
I released the following statement to the news media after the School Reform Commission news conference today:
This restructuring plan has nothing to do with raising student achievement. The district provided a business model, not a research-based plan for turning around or supporting schools.

Think that its only the struggling school districts that are grappling with their budgets this year?
Tredyffrin-Easttown is one of the top districts in the state academically and financially…..

How to Close $1.5 Million Budget Gap is TESD’s $1.5 Million Question!

Community Matters Blog Posted on   by Pattye Benson
With channel 6 ABC news cameras rolling and with a standing room crowd, Tredyffrin-Eastttown School Board held its monthly school board meeting last night.

The Keystone State Education Coalition has endorsed this resolution
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/24/2012

National resolution against high-stakes tests released

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
A national resolution protesting high-stakes standardized testing was released Tuesday by a coalition of national education, civil rights and parents groups, as well as educators who are trying to build a broad-based movement against the Obama administration’s test-centric school reform program.
This is the latest in a series of recent initiatives taken around the country by academics, educators, parents and others to protest the use of student standardized test scores for high-stakes decisions, including teacher and principal evaluation, student grade promotion and high school graduation.

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:


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

National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing
This resolution is modeled on the resolution passed by more than 360 Texas school boards as of April 23, 2012. It was written by Advancement Project; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; FairTestForum for Education and Democracy; MecklenburgACTS; Deborah Meier; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.;National Education AssociationNew York Performance Standards Consortium; Tracy Novick; Parents Across America; Parents United for Responsible Education - Chicago;Diane Ravitch; Race to Nowhere; Time Out From Testing; and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.
Organizations and individuals are encouraged to publicly endorse it (see link below). Organizations should modify it as needed for their local circumstances while also endorsing this national version.

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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