Monday, May 21, 2012

700+ articles since Jan. 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts & tax increases being discussed by local school districts

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

Please take 5 minutes to join parents and community members across the Commonwealth in calling their legislators and Governor Corbett on Wednesday and urge them to change the direction we are heading and INVEST IN PUBLIC EDUCATION!  Use our Call to Action Guide for all the information you'll need to participate.  It's that easy!
Spread the word Forward this email to your friends, post on Facebook and Twitter or do what others are doing, encourage parents and neighbors by passing out flyers.

Here are more than 700 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:

Gov. Corbett adds pension reform to budget agenda

May 21, 2012 12:36 am
By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- It's an iceberg on the horizon. A vicious Pac-Man chomping larger and larger chunks out of the state's upcoming spending plans. A massive gorilla lurking the hallways of the Pennsylvania Capitol.
The commonwealth's pension liability for public employees is about to make state budgeting even more of a nightmare, and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has put pension reform next on his to-do list.

Despite control, fractious state GOP allows reform to languish

By Brad Bumsted Tribune-Review Saturday, May 19, 2012, 9:36 p.m.
HARRISBURG -- School vouchers. An end to teachers' strikes. Privately-run liquor stores. Making Pennsylvania a right-to-work state.
These reforms professed by some Republicans when the party took control of the Legislature and governor's mansion remain stalled 17 months later. That has given rise to restlessness among conservative activists and lobbyists for businesses.
As lawmakers prepare to pass a second budget under Gov. Tom Corbett, outspoken conservatives question why the Republicans have been unable to deliver key legislation many assumed would pass. With a summer recess looming, and then another for the November election, only 19 scheduled legislative session days remain.

Posted: Sun, May. 20, 2012, 6:51 AM
Teachers want a say in Philadelphia School District plans
The flyers were not subtle, bold black text on fluorescent yellow sheets: “FOR SALE. Your Child’s Education to the Highest Bidder.”
With the nearly broke Philadelphia School District poised to essentially blow up its current structure, close 64 schools over the next five years, and shift thousands more students to charter schools, the time for subtlety is gone, said teachers who picked up picket signs and took to the streets Friday.

“In fact, Pennsylvania ranks in the bottom ten out of all fifty states in spending on public education. And the PA legislature appropriates almost $500 per student per year less than the national average, and less than all of our contiguous states. (See “A New Mantra” for details.) We don’t have an accountability problem, or a teaching problem, or a labor problem. We have a funding problem.”
The Accountability Hoax
Yinzercation blog — MAY 18, 2012
Governor Corbett’s secretary of education doesn’t want to talk about the $1 BILLION in cuts to our public schools. In a speech to the Chamber of Business and Industry in State College earlier this week, all Ron Tomalis wanted to talk about was accountability. That’s a nice word, accountability: very grownup, responsible, implies you are thinking about outcomes and consequences. But the poor word has been hijacked by the forces of school privatization.

Posting from Sunday, May 20, 2012
Archbishop calls for Catholics to lobby for taxpayer funded voucher bailout that could take another billion dollars out of our public schools

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 05/18/2012

How standardized tests are affecting public schools

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Florida’s standardized testing program is being misused and has “severely impacted student learning,” according to a new white paper that says that school districts in the state are required to give as many as 62 tests a year to students.  The white paper, called “The Ramifications of Standardized Testing on our Public Schools,” was just released by the Central Florida School Board Coalition, a group of top officials from 10 school districts.
While the specifics are about Florida, the general conclusions about thenegative impact of state standardized programs are relevant across the country — not only because other states have their own version but because some looked to Florida as a model as they developed their own school accountability systems.
The white paper that follows is long but worth your time. It points out in great detail the negative effects on students and teachers of Florida’s testing program, and shows convincingly that the testing program is being used in ways that it was never intended.

“The failure of the No Child Left Behind regimen to narrow the achievement gap offers the sobering lesson that closing underperforming public schools, setting high expectations for students, getting tough with teachers and opening a raft of charter schools isn’t the answer.”
Making Schools Work
New York Times Opinion By DAVID L. KIRP Published: May 19, 2012
AMID the  ceaseless and cacophonous debates about how to close the achievement gap, we’ve turned away from one tool that has been shown to work: school desegregation. That strategy, ushered in by the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, has been unceremoniously ushered out, an artifact in the museum of failed social experiments.

Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 05/20/2012

‘Is this really what education is about?’

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Vicki Abeles, a parent of three and the director of the documentary, “Race to Nowhere” and Jo Boaler a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University. “Race to Nowhere” challenges common assumptions about how children are best educated.
By Vicki Abeles and Jo Boaler
Welcome to standardized testing season, when students nationwide are clearing their desks, sharpening their pencils and fighting feelings of anxiety to meet our schools’, states’, and federal government’s desire for a simple, quantifiable way to measure them. Is this really what education is about?

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Ask your House member to restore full funding of the Accountability Block Grant program
Last week, the Senate approved a state budget proposal that restores $50 million to the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program – the key funding stream to support full-day kindergarten in school districts. This decision demonstrates a commitment to smart budgeting by investing in programs that work, like full-day kindergarten. Student performance on PSSA exams shows that children in full-day kindergarten programs are likely to do better on reading and math achievement tests in third grade.
While the Senate’s action to partially restore ABG funds is a promising step, House members can do even better for the graduating class of 2025 – they can ensure full restoration of $100 million in ABG funding when they put forth their budget proposal.
Educators and policymakers acknowledge the benefits of full-day kindergarten – that’s why they created a targeted funding stream several years ago to help expand full-day kindergarten opportunities. Since the ABG program was created, 70 percent of districts invested ABG dollars in full-day kindergarten and the number of full-day kindergarteners increased 91 percent. Simply put, the ABG program was a success and we can’t let lawmakers forget that fact.
Full-day kindergarten is slated for reductions and elimination in many school districts across the state – maybe even yours! Please help protect this proven program by asking your House member to support full restoration of $100 million for ABG.
Thank you for your commitment to Pennsylvania’s children and their academic success!

Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign Education Funding Advocacy Week May 21-25
Education Funding Advocacy Week is not a single event but a series of activities sponsored by individuals and organizations that oppose the Governor’s proposed Budget for 2012-2013 because it reduces learning opportunities for students in Pennsylvania 
·         Education Voters of PA “Call to Action for Public Education” Day  on May 23rd.  Get involved! Learn how, click here.
·         Harrisburg public school supporters will hold a rally for increased state funding for public schools at the State Capitol on May 23 at 10:00 AM.
·         The Media Area NAACP and CU Keystone Honors Program is hosting 2012 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania “Calling for a Trauma-Informed Education System” on Friday, May 25.  Click here for registration details.


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?


Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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