Monday, April 23, 2012

There are 16 million children in our nation living in poverty, the highest number in two decades, and in low-income neighborhoods, there is only one book for every 300 children.

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


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.

Education Voters PA Endorsements for the 2102 Pennsylvania Primary
Education Voters Pennsylvania is an independent public interest organization that advocates for public education and pushes for action to improve all schools in Pennsylvania.  We work to increase the focus on education issues, promote a more robust dialogue with elected officials and voters about the issues and hold leaders accountable for taking action to address the issues. 
Below is a list of candidates for the 2012 primary race that Education Voters is endorsing.  Education Voters did not make endorsements in all races, choosing to focus on a small list of districts, targeting resources.
  • Erin Molchany (HD-22)
  • Shauna D’Alessandro (HD-39)
  • State Representative Duane Milne (HD-167)
  • State Representative Babette Josephs (HD-182)
  • State Representative Jim Roebuck (HD-188)
  • State Senate Pat Vance (SD-31)

“While the law's directions for how a charter can open are precise, its oversight provisions are not. The law states school districts are to oversee a charter's academic and financial performance while the state oversees cyber charter schools.
The law does not explain how school districts or the state are supposed to conduct the oversight since school districts have no authority over charters' day-to-day operations or annual budgets. Nor does the law spell out how districts are supposed to force charters to correct problems they may find.”
Closing a charter school is a long, costly process
Allentown board expected to start process against Vitalistic this week.
By Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call 10:37 p.m. EDT, April 21, 2012
The Allentown School Board was hoping not to go down this path. But the facts, rattled off in measured tones by district administrators at a meeting this month, forced its hand:
Children have not been receiving speech therapy and soon might lose physical and occupational therapy. Federal education dollars were used to pay the electricity bill. Some children were misdiagnosed. None is getting the required number of classroom hours.
Charter school revocation hearings are costly, rare and time-consuming in Pennsylvania, which has 167 charter schools. Only eight charters have been revoked and those decisions were appealed to the state Charter School Appeal Board, state Department of Education records show.

Chester parents take stand for education

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Delco Times By KATHLEEN E. CAREY @DTBusiness
CHESTER — With her eyes welling up with tears, Virgie Blakney put her passion into action Saturday at the Community Forum on Education as she agreed to organize groups to attend the Chester Upland School Board meetings.
The forum was hosted by the Education Collaborative of Chester and featured a panel including Michael Churchill, an attorney from the Public Interest Law Center that has filed the lawsuit on the district’s behalf, Mayor John Linder and school board members Charlie Warren, Anthony Johnson and Bettie McClaren.

Pa. lawmakers near busy season with unclear agenda
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 12:12 pm
Beaver County Times Associated Press by Mark Scolforo
Pennsylvania lawmakers will soon return to Harrisburg after taking off more than three weeks for Easter and the spring primary election.
House and Senate sessions on April 30 start the busiest time of the year in the state Capitol, an intense period ahead of the looming end of the state government's fiscal year. That's particularly true in even-numbered years, during the last six months of the two-year legislative session.

“Rather than realistically address the crisis, Tom Corbett incites the public against all school boards with no regard for the adverse impact the tactic will ultimately have on a generation of Pennsylvania’s children.”

Corbett keeps throwing school boards under the bus

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, 12:50 AM
Patriot News Letters to the Editor by Jay Purdy
It’s getting crowded beneath the bus that Gov. Tom Corbett has been throwing individuals and institutions under. Now he paints all school boards as to blame for any need to raise property taxes, automatically including the Central Dauphin School Board, which is, and always has been, entirely Republican.

Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 04/22/2012

Does Congress know reading is fundamental?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Carol H. Rasco, president and chief executive officer for the non-profit Reading Is Fundamental, the nation’s largest nonprofit children’s literacy organization.
By Carol H. Rasco
Currently there are 16 million children in our nation living in poverty, the highest number in two decades, and in low-income neighborhoods, there is only one book for every 300 children. The most recently reported National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that students in the United States continue to struggle with the most fundamental educational skill — reading.
According to NAEP, more than a third of all fourth grade public school students cannot read at even the most basic level. Another third only reaches the level of “proficient.” We are in the midst of a reading crisis in America, and Reading Is Fundamental is taking a new approach to ignite a love of reading across the United States.

Letter to Obama by NSBA’s President

NSBA School Board News by Mary Broderick April 17, 2012
Dear President Obama:
The night of your election, in Grant Park, you said, “I will listen to you especially when we disagree.” We are all committed to the best educational future for the children of America. Yet, as the nation prepares for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), school board members and top educational thinkers overwhelming urge abandoning the current “command-and-control” federal educational oversight. America’s treasure lies in unleashing the creativity of our youth. Though well-intentioned, the current federal direction is ignoring and working against much of what we know about student motivation and achievement. Instead, the federal government should support local efforts to ignite curiosity, creative potential, and a drive for excellence among students and staff.

Are Pre-K Programs About To Get Gutted?

New cuts in early education spending are endangering young children and costing all of us
Time Magazine By ANDREW J. ROTHERHAM | @arotherham | 
There are plenty of legitimate debates about what works in education, but the importance of early-childhood education is not one of them. High-quality early-childhood programs help kids in school and in life. Why? Research shows that good programs can improve a variety of outcomes and University of Chicago economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman points out that dollars invested early are higher leverage than later remediation. But it’s also common sense. Tina’s teachers say that until she learned behavioral and participatory skills she was simply unable to engage with and benefit from instruction at school. It’s good for parents, too, because good programs teach them about how to be involved and advocate for their child’s education.
So why aren’t we ensuring that more students and families at-risk of school failure get this sort of support? 

ALEC: Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

New York Times By MIKE McINTIRE Published: April 21, 2012
Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state.
It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

Published Online: April 20, 2012
ALEC: Controversial Policy Group Casts Long K-12 Shadow
Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa
In nearly 40 years of legislative advocacy, the American Legislative Exchange Council—a free-market, limited-government group now drawing intense scrutiny for its support of a controversial self-defense law—has had a significant influence in K-12 education through its model legislation and work with state lawmakers to promote such policies as private school vouchers and “parent trigger” laws.

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

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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