Friday, April 27, 2012

Senator Daylin Leach and State Representative Bernie O’Neill honored as outstanding champions for public education

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An open invitation to Gov. Corbett

Delco Times Heron’s Nest Blog by Editor Phil Heron
Last night we had a chance to hash out some of the issues causing controversy in the Upper Darby School District on ‘Live From the Newsroom.’
I am grateful to state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, who rushed over to our Primos offices after sitting down at a meeting with a group of concerned parents.
Several of those Upper Darby moms joined us on the show. They made it clear they believe the district is making a huge mistake by attempting to balance the books by eliminating “special” classes in music, art, physical education and library at the elementary and middle school levels.

Save Upper Darby Arts (

We are citizens of all backgrounds, united in the ideal of a complete and public education for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, within Upper Darby, PA.  We think that Upper Darby School District should not suffer, year after year, with massive cuts in their budget. We fight to protect art, music, foreign language, library, and physical education programs that our community DESERVES.
More info and a petition at this site:

Senator Daylin Leach and State Representative Bernie O’Neill honored as outstanding champions for public education
More than 100 southeastern Pennsylvania school board members, superintendents and administrators recognized the strong and consistent efforts of both legislators on behalf of Pennsylvania’s 1.8 million public school students.  Pennsylvania School Boards Association Region 11 Director Valentina Viletto, representing the 35 school districts in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and PSBA Region 15 Director Lawrence Feinberg, representing the 27 school districts in Chester and Delaware Counties, presented the awards to Senator Leach (D-17) and Representative O’Neill (R-29) in a meeting at the Upper Merion Middle School in King of Prussia last evening

Lehigh Valley Forum discusses future of public education

Author: Emily Thiel, Reporter,
Published On: Apr 26 2012 01:20:37 AM EDT
EMMAUS, Pa. - East Penn housed a public forum discussing education Wednesday night for parents and citizens who are concerned with what is at stake for their children in public education.
The panel answered questions that were focused on “What’s at stake?” within the public school system in regards to the state budget and cuts.
Last year, Pennsylvania schools saw more than $960 million less in their budgets.

Rally in Support of Public Education on Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m. on the steps of the Chester County Courthouse (corner of High and Market Streets) in West Chester. The rally is rain or shine.
Email from Senator Andy Dinniman, April 25, 2012
Dear Friends,
A number of you have sent me letters and emails expressing your concerns regarding education fiunding and Governor Corbett’s proposed cuts to education in next year’s budget.
First, let me emphasize that I share your concerns and I stand strongly against such significant and widespread cuts to education. Cutting support for early childhood and basic education and slashing funds for higher education will be disastrous for students at all levels and even more devastating in the years to come.
That is why I have worked with the Chester County Coalition for Public Education to organize a Rally in Support of Public Education on Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m. on the steps of the Chester County Courthouse (corner of High and Market Streets) in West Chester. The rally is rain or shine.
We know that cuts to basic and early education mean increased local property taxes, larger class sizes, teacher layoffs and less individualized attention and specialized programs. We know that cuts to higher education mean significantly increased tuition and fees, greater student borrowing and debt and more people on the unemployment rolls. Altogether these cuts will set Pennsylvania back decades and undermine all of our efforts for long-term economic growth and prosperity.
This is an issue that affects every Pennsylvanian – from current students and their families, to teachers and professors, to high school seniors and prospective college students. I urge you to come out on May 3 and make your voice heard! After all, this not just a rally for education, it’s a rally for our future.
In addition, please help me spread the word about the rally by circulating this e-mail to anyone who may be interested.
We must stand together to ensure that our message is loud and clear!

In Philly, New York is no model, Ravitch says
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 25 2012
If Philadelphia is looking to New York City as the exemplar of "best practices" for improving schools by organizing them into support networks, it is looking in the wrong place, according to historian and education analyst Diane Ravitch.
"New York City has not had any great success," said Ravitch, in town Wednesday for the conference of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. "New York used to boast of dramatic test score gains, but they disappeared in 2010."
In that year, the state's Department of Education acknowledged that the cut scores had been dropping on the standardized tests. "All the gains disappeared," she said.

Pittsburgh school board wants end to seniority-based layoffs

April 26, 2012 12:00 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board is asking the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers to do what no teachers union in the state has done: Agree to furloughs not based on seniority.
The board Wednesday night approved a resolution directing school superintendent Linda Lane to talk with union leadership "to improve the current furlough process for teachers in order to consider factors beyond seniority in light of the growing body of evidence around teacher effectiveness as well as the disproportionate impact that seniority-based furloughs have on the district's most vulnerable schools."

Published online April 24, 2012

Studies Test for Ways to Spot Good Teachers

Education Week By Sarah D. Sparks
Vancouver, British Columbia
The latest results of the massive Measures of Effective Teaching Project may give pause to districts working to develop teacher-effectiveness evaluations.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's MET project, one of the largest instructional-observation studies in the country, has found that teacher-effectiveness assessments similar to those used in some district value-added systems aren't good at showing which differences are important between the most- and least-effective educators, and often totally misunderstand the "messy middle" that most teachers occupy.

“….But the state constitution applies to all children. So what is the state supposed to do? What happens when the ultimate state-imposed school reform— takeover—itself fails?
The answer is "Whatever it takes.’’ New Jersey has to do whatever it takes. And those words just happen to be the informal slogan of a rising educational powerhouse, the nation of Finland.”

N.J. school privatization debate rages on, leaving parents in the dark

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012, 6:45 AM
By Bob Braun/Star-Ledger Columnist 
HIGHLAND PARK — Marilyn Valentine of Franklin Township was one of the few African-Americans in the audience the other night at Highland Park’s Bartle School. She came to hear a panel discussion about charter schools. Much of the discussion was critical of state policies concerning the privately managed but publicly-funded alternatives.
Valentine, who raised two children into successful adulthood, said she understood the criticisms but pointed out that many parents who looked like her despaired of traditional public schools. "Where are the solutions?" she asked.
If charter and other privatized schools aren’t the solution—and she didn’t say they were—then what are parents to do? "You’re telling the people there is nothing for you.’’

As of April 26, 2012, 412 districts representing more than 2 million students have adopted the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students.

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.

The Keystone State Education Coalition has endorsed this resolution
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.

Education Talk Radio: At the Chalkface
Listen online; One hour talk show dedicated to education.  SUNDAY MORNINGS AT 9am
Hosts Tim Slekar and Shaun Johnson cover the biggest issues in education, from standardized testing to No Child Left Behind.
If you want a text reminder send "CHALK" TO THE NUMBER 60193." 
Audio clips of prior shows are available too.

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:


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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