Monday, April 2, 2012

Who’s been bankrolling the attacks on Pennsylvania Public Education? Read what Wikipedia has to say about Betsy DeVos.

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.

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Who’s been bankrolling the attacks on Pennsylvania Public Education and the kinds of attack ads we have seen against Republican State Senator Pat Vance, House Education Committee Chairman James Roebuck and State Senator Daylin Leach?

Read what Wikipedia has to say about Betsy DeVos:

Elisabeth "Betsy" DeVos (née Prince) is an American politician and school choice activist from the state of Michigan. She is a former chairperson of the Michigan Republican Party.

Read more:


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Those few of us who are not yet billionaires still apparently cling to the quaint and outdated notion that public education is indeed the foundation of our democracy and that Article 3, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution clearly indicates that public education is, in fact, a core mission of our Commonwealth.


PA Constitution, Article 3, Section 14.  Public school system.

The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.


It would appear that Mrs. DeVos’ does not share those sentiments or beliefs; on the contrary, her very well-funded hobby appears to be the elimination of public education.


A total of $1 million in new out-of-state “Big Voucher Money” was poured into Pennsylvania by  Betsy Devos’ American Federation for Children (AFC) in two payments of $500K each on 2/21/12 and 3/2/12 according to Campaign Finance Reports filed by Students First PAC.  In April 2011 AFC contributed $120,000, and in October 2010 AFC posted 3 payment totalling $1.2 million to the Students First PAC.  Joel Greenberg, one of three Main Line mega-millionaires who have bankrolled the Students First PAC locally, also serves on the Board of Directors of DeVos’ AFC.

Last year Governor Corbett and Senator Anthony Williams were both featured speakers at AFC’s national school choice summit in Washington D.C.

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“Voucher money—including big-time hedge fund dollars—could play a major role in Pennsylvania's 2012 Democratic primary. The pro-voucher PAC Students First has already spent $590,682.”
CityPaper Naked City Blog by Daniel Denvir FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012
A mysterious third-party group that supports school vouchers, which use taxpayer dollars to fund private and religious school tuition, has sent out a second round of mailers attacking West Philadelphia State Rep. James Roebuck.  A Penn graduate named Fatimah Lorén Muhammad, backed by the powerful pro-voucher State Sen. Anthony Williams, is challenging Roebuck in the 188th District. The neighborhood stretching from Penn through Clark Park and out to 52nd Street is plastered with Obama-fied Shepard Fairey-style posters of Muhammad's face, but the attack flyers are attributed only to a shadowy third-party group called Public Education Excellence and do not mention her name.
Voucher money—including big-time hedge fund dollars—could play a major role in Pennsylvania's 2012 Democratic primary. The pro-voucher PAC Students First has already spent $590,682.


Test scores improve for Milwaukee voucher schools; still lagging behind public school students
Journal Times, Associated Press | Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Students who received vouchers to attend private or religious schools in Milwaukee improved their performance in mathematics and reading last year but still lagged behind public school students, according to a report released Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction found that in the second year of testing last fall, about 40 percent of Milwaukee voucher students showed they were proficient or advanced in math, up nearly 6 percent from last year. Nearly 49 percent of local public school students and 78 percent of public school students statewide reached that mark.
On reading scores, about 56 percent of voucher students were advanced or proficient an increase of about 1 percent from last year compared with about 58 percent of Milwaukee public school students and nearly 82 percent of public school students in Wisconsin.


School Vouchers Have No Strong Effect on Student Achievement

According to Review of 10 Years of Voucher Research and Action

Huffington Post By Jack Jennings, President and CEO for the Center on Education Policy

Posted: 7/27/11

This week, the Center on Education Policy released a report that reviews ten years of research on voucher programs in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and Washington, D.C. The main conclusion is that students using vouchers to attend private schools do not generally attain higher test scores than public school students. The report also points out that much of the research over the last ten years has been conducted by pro-voucher organizations, and yet these organizations have not conclusively shown higher academic achievement resulting from vouchers.


Delaware County: William Penn SD asking state for increase in funding

By Laura Wiseley, Delco Times Correspondent
LANSDOWNE — The William Penn School Board recently adopted a resolution supporting increased state funding for public education.  “The William Penn School District strongly urges the General Assembly to take legislative action in the 2012-13 state budget to increase funding for K-12 education,” the resolution reads. “Such increases include, at a minimum, additional funding for the basic education and special education subsidies and restoration of funding for charter school reimbursement and Accountability Block Grants.”
The resolution cites recent achievements by William Penn students — such as AYP status at five of the district’s schools, students’ above-state-average graduation rates and student participation in Advanced Placement, honors and college-level courses — to forecast the district’s potential should funding be increased.  The school board voted unanimously a recent business meeting to pass the resolution, which will be sent to state senators and representatives of the William Penn School District and to Corbett.


The Notebook Blog by Erika Owens on Mar 30 2012

In Philly SRC votes: Stanton, Sheppard spared; eight other schools to close

Last night the School Reform Commission voted on the proposed school closings, and with that aimed to keep open high-performing options.


In Texas, 213 school districts have now adopted a resolution concerning high stakes testing. That's 1/5 of all districts in the state.

Texas Association of School Administrators website March 29,2012
The total confirmed number of Texas districts that have adopted the board resolution concerning high stakes, standardized testing of Texas public school students is now 213.

Read TASA's sample resolution.

Public Education on Public Radio
Yinzercation Blog — MARCH 30, 2012
We told the White House that “public education is a public good,” and now that message is picking up speed. This week we took to the airwaves with a feature spot on Essential Public Radio, Pittsburgh’s new NPR station. Have a listen, in case you missed Paul Gugenheimer interviewing Yinzercation’s Jessie Ramey (Wednesday, March 28, 2012):

Education Law Center’s March 2012 Issue of Education Index
The Education Law Center's monthly analysis of opportunities to learn in Pennsylvania public schools

Research for Action Posted by Alison Murawski on Mar 28, 2012
Save the date: April 10 Join us for a forum on RFA’s evaluation of Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative
Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative has been the source of much discussion and debate since it was implemented in 2009 with the goal of dramatically improving chronically low-performing schools in a short period of time. Last month, RFA’s evaluation of the Renaissance Schools found that the first year saw impressive gains in student achievement, which generated further discussion about the reform effort, its effectiveness and its sustainability.
We want to hear your questions and comments, too. You are invited to a public forum to discuss RFA’s Renaissance Schools report on Tuesday, April 10 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. The forum is an opportunity to hear from the researchers who conducted the study, as well as education officials and community leaders.
Space is limited. RSVP to
Details: RFA’s Renaissance Schools Forum, Tuesday, April 10 4:00 – 5:30 pm
International House, South American Room (2nd floor)
3701 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19104

Stanford study finds widening gap between rich and poor students
Analysis of standardized tests over a 50-year period shows the achievement gap between rich and poor has grown steadily.
Stanford University News BY BROOKE DONALD Stanford Report, February 13, 2012
It's long been known that the better off your family is, the better you tend to do in school.
Yet despite this knowledge – and programs to help level the playing field – the classroom achievement gap between rich and poor students has grown steadily over the past half-century, according to research by Sean Reardon, associate professor of education at Stanford.

Updated PA House Republican Caucus Members List with Facebook pages:

The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

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

Stand Up for Public Education!

Thursday April 12th, 7:00 pm Allegheny County Legislative Forum

WHERE: North Hills Senior High School 53 Rochester Road Pittsburgh, PA 15229
WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 7:00pm
REGISTER for this event:
All public education stakeholders are invited to this special event, which will be moderated by the League of Women Voters. Join us on Thursday, April 12th at North Hills Senior High School at 7PM for an evening with several key state legislators from Allegheny County and other education experts who will help explain local impacts. State Representatives and Senators representing surrounding school districts have been invited to attend and discuss their positions on public education as they head into negotiations over next year’s budget.

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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