Thursday, May 31, 2012

Only Romania ranks higher, with 25.5 percent of its children living in poverty, compared with 23.1 percent in the U.S.

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

Catholic Church and new “Fighting Chance PAC”actively lobbying for taxpayer-funded voucher bailout and expanded EITC program that would take another billion dollars away from public schools

“At the same time that parochial schools demand state support, they bristle at the suggestion that they become accountable for their policies and curriculum. The state should only pay for schools that it controls, those that accept every student and teach a state-supported curriculum.”
Letters to the Editor
Philadelphia Inquirer May 29, 2012
No public money for private schools
I disagree with those calling for the state to bail out the parochial schools with our tax dollars ("Catholic students lobby for vouchers," May 21). Parents who send their students to parochial schools, especially in the suburbs, are not fleeing failing public schools. They are making a decision to give their children a religious education. That is their right, but don’t ask the rest of us to pay the freight.

No problem!  Our response to this is to give these same kids more standardized tests, fire their teachers and open more charter schools.  That’s the Obama/Duncan/Gates national policy, the Corbett/Piccola PA state policy and will soon be the Philadelphia SRC policy…….

UNICEF Report: U.S. Child Poverty Second Highest Among Developed Nations

Huffington Post By
Posted: 05/30/2012 8:03 pm
Can government spending lift poor children from poverty?
A new report from UNICEF suggests it's possible. The latest edition of UNICEF's report on child poverty in developed countries found that 30 million children in 35 of the world's richest countries live in poverty. Among those countries, the United States ranks second on the scale of what economists call "relative child poverty" -- above Latvia, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, and 29 others. Only Romania ranks higher, with 25.5 percent of its children living in poverty, compared with 23.1 percent in the U.S.

Related chart: Child Poverty Rate % of children living in households with equivalent income lower than 50% of national median:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Poverty Level at 144 SB1 Failing Schools is 80.8% vs PA State Avg 39.1%
This chart lists the poverty level (percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch) for each of the 144 schools on the "failing schools" list under Senate Bill 1.
The Pennsylvania statewide average is 39.1%.  For these 144 schools the average is 80.8%.

American students in schools with less than 10% of students on free and reduced lunch averaged 551, higher than the overall average of any OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development country.

Those in schools with 10% to 25% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch averaged 527, which was behind only Korea and Finland.

In contrast, American students in schools with 75% or more of children in poverty averaged 446, second to last among the 34 OECD countries.

Posted at 10:11 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

How poverty affected U.S. PISA scores

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, wrote the following, which was posted on the Schools Matter blog.
…..But data available now tells us that poverty, as usual, had a huge impact on PISA reading test scores for American students. American students in schools with less than 10% of students on free and reduced lunch averaged 551, higher than the overall average of any OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development country. Those in schools with 10% to 25% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch averaged 527, which was behind only Korea and Finland.
In contrast, American students in schools with 75% or more of children in poverty averaged 446, second to last among the 34 OECD countries.


Stephen Krashen: Children need food, health care, and books. Not new standards and tests.

 Anthony Cody  
Decades of research confirm that poverty has a huge impact on student learning. Many studies show that more poverty means lower scores on all measures of school achievement. There are also many studies that show us just how poverty negatively impacts school performance.

Pittsburgh Public Schools sends 285 layoff notices

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 31, 2012 1:11 am
Pittsburgh Public Schools today is sending out 285 provisional furlough notices to teachers and other professionals, a prelude to what is expected to be the largest number of teacher layoffs in the district's history.

Chester Upland OKs $99M tentative budget
May 29, 2012 By Dan Hardy and INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The school board in Delaware County’s Chester Upland School District passed a $99 million tentative budget Tuesday that leaves it with a $9 million gap between revenues and spending that it has to close by June 30.
The budget woes are only the latest problems for the beleaguered district, which last fall had to lay off about 40 percent of its teaching staff and eliminate arts and music instruction and honors classes. The district almost ran out of money in January; it managed to stay open but ran up millions in debt in the process.

Politically Incorrect: Public Education Financing Flawed
PoliticsPA May 29, 2012 Written by G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young
The "Property Tax Independence Act" sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks) may be a solution to our public education woes.
These days, the word “crisis” has become a tedious cliché, much overused and abused by those for whom every problem becomes a looming catastrophe. But the unparalleled challenges now confronting the financing of Pennsylvania’s public education system do comprise a genuine crisis, one that if left unsolved threatens to transform Pennsylvania—educationally, economically, culturally, and even socially—into a permanent backwater.
Across the Commonwealth dedicated teachers are being furloughed, vital programs are being curtailed, entire schools are being shut down, and an entire generation of students may be losing their access to a quality education. That’s just the good news.

“What motivates her?  "I believe strongly that all kids are our kids," Yanoff, the daughter of a barber who emigrated from Latvia, said in an interview Tuesday. "That democracy is not a spectator sport. That people have to be engaged and care enough to tell their elected representatives to do something better."
Posted: Wed, May. 30, 2012, 7:10 AM
Shelly Yanoff leaving a legacy of advocacy for children
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
In 1986, Shelly Yanoff accepted a job as executive director of what was then called Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth. She thought she would stay a few months at the organization so tiny the only employees were Yanoff and a secretary.
Plans changed.

Many school districts tapping reserve funds to close budget gaps
Governor says schools must spend such money rather than rely on state
Third in an eight-part series
Reading Eagle by Erin Negley Originally Published: 5/29/2012      
When budgets are tight, school districts sometimes have to dip into reserve funds to make ends meet.  It's not something they like to do, but these are desperate times.
"We can't count on doing this every year," said Dr. Paul B. Eaken, Fleetwood superintendent.

“Corbett’s admonition to local school boards to come clean with taxpayers about money in reserve is a fair assessment, and urging school districts to use their reserves within reason is good advice. But that’s only part of the story. Blaming local districts for not using reserves doesn’t absolve the state of the greater responsibility for fairly funding schools in Pennsylvania.”
School reserve funds are issue, but not the full story
Pottstown Mercury Editorial Posted: 05/30/12 12:01 am
At a time when most school boards are raising taxes or cutting staff and programs, Gov. Tom Corbett is encouraging districts to dip into their reserve funds, statewide totaling $3.2 billion, to cover operating expenses. So far only one district in the Pottstown tri-county area has heeded the advice.  Corbett’s analysis that school districts “are making a concerted effort not to go into those reserves” is apparently being played out locally.

New nutrition regulations force schools to raise prices
By Rossilynne Skena Tribune-Review Published: Monday, May 28, 2012, 11:10 p.m.
Students in a number of local districts will have to shell out a little more cash for school lunch next school year.  District officials attribute the price increases to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, new federal regulations that dictate requirements for lunches, as well as other commodity cost increases.

In Philly, District rejects Creighton teachers’ proposal
by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks on May 30 2012
District officials have shot down an effort by teachers at Creighton Elementary to stave off charter conversion and lead their own school turnaround effort.
A teacher-led proposal calling for a council of teachers and community members to assume control of the school “does not provide sufficient evidence of the…ability to implement, manage, and sustain a large-scale school turnaround at Creighton,” wrote Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon in a memo dated May 29.

Commentary: The choice before the Philadelphia SRC on May 31
The Notebook by Ron Whitehorne on May 29 2012
In one community hearing and meeting after another, the School Reform Commission has been told in no uncertain terms that its privatization plan and austerity budget are not acceptable to parents, students, educators, and community members.

CityPaper TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2012

On MSNBC, Daniel Denvir discusses Philly as ground zero for school privatization

Putting Philly's (and Pennsylvania's) school funding crisis in a national context, CP's Daniel Denvir continued his media tour with an appearance on "Melissa Harris-Perry" on MSNBC this weekend. Denvir calls Philly's current situation a "manmade disaster" crafted by the same forces who wish to privatize. Check out the video and refer back to his cover story, "Who's Killing Philly Public Schools?" for the background.

Sneak Attack on Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Rights in Pennsylvania
Friday, 25 May 2012 14:43 By Mike Elk, In These Times
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania is pushing a bill that could stealthily strip teachers' collective bargaining rights in some of the state's financially struggling school districts, according to members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. 
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania State Senate Education committee passed H.B. 1307, a bill allowing the state to declare school districts financially distressed and subsequently appoint an overseer to approve plans made by the school board. To the dismay of teachers' unions, the bill would also allow public schools to be turned over to private charter companies and give the receiver the power to null and void any collective bargaining contracts.

Broward school board passes anti-FCAT resolution
By Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel 5:12 p.m. EDT, May 30, 2012
Broward County school leaders are speaking out against what they see as a nasty four-letter word: FCAT.
The School Board unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday opposing standardized testing as the primary means for evaluating schools, students and teachers. They say there is so much focus on students doing well on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test that it's thwarting teacher creativity and hindering students' ability to learn.
They say many students are being poorly educated on subjects not directly tested on the FCAT, including history, art and music. At the same time, the tests have become so stressful that kids are staying home sick, skipping school and dropping out, they said.
"This is destroying public education, destroying the teaching profession and destroying children," School Board member Robin Bartleman said. "The classroom should be fun. Kids should be excited about learning and not be afraid they're going to be punished for one test."

Two Polls Show Floridians Want an End to Reliance on High Stakes Test

The Florida Current and the Northwest Florida Daily News have polls which shows that by  61% to 39% and 83% to 17% , respectively,  Floridians want something else for their children.
Rebukes continue for Jeb Bush’s test-based system. Such polling data when combined with the outrage that Bush’s hand-picked education commissioner in Gerard Robinson is facing on his FCAT Listening/Apology/It’s Here to Stay Tour indicate significant opposition by Floridians – voters and taxpayers all.

Published on May 21, 2012 by SaveUDArts
Sign the Petition
This isn't just about the Upper Darby School District. All over Pennsylvania and in many other states as well, WAR has been declared on Public Education, on children.  Our children deserve the very best that we can give them, no matter what test scores say. Help us take a stand and stop school districts from being forced to cut programs which cultivate who our children become.
We will be in Harrisburg on June 6th, 2012 to gather support for the proper funding of education. All are welcome to join us!
Please visit to learn more and join the fight.

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:

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