Thursday, May 10, 2012

“The people of Upper Darby, Chester Upland and York can tell you all you need to know about the school of hard knocks. And they can tell you that if it’s not “knocking” on your district’s door now, it will be soon.”

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
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“The people of Upper Darby, Chester Upland and York can tell you all you need to know about the school of hard knocks.  And they can tell you that if it’s not “knocking” on your district’s door now, it will be soon.”
Delco Times Editorial: State needs to fight education’s fiscal abyss
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Upper Darby, meet Chester Upland. And Philadelphia. And a number of other school districts that find themselves peering over the edge into the fiscal abyss.
And it’s not just here in the suburbs and Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania. In York, out in central Pennsylvania, they are considering the notion of school without kindergarten. Or art. Or gym, band or choir. And sports? Forget them. The York City School District is considering eliminating them. It’s part of a slash-and-burn proposal to attack a projected $19 million budget.
Kind of makes Upper Darby and its $4 million in red ink look like small potatoes.
Just don’t try selling that to parents and concerned citizens here. They packed a meeting of the Upper Darby School Board Tuesday night to voice their opposition to a proposal to cut curriculum and a slew of teaching jobs.

PA GOP Senate sends its budget to the state House.
Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek, May 9, 2012
Gov. Tom Corbett weighed in Wednesday on the $27.6 billion budget backed by fellow Republicans in  the state Senate, warning that even though the state has some extra money in its pocket, it’s still going to finish the fiscal year about $300 million in the red.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 39-8 to approve its version of the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. It restores Corbett’s proposed cuts to state colleges and universities and provides additional money for public schools and social welfare programs.

Majority Leader Senator Pileggi Comments on FY 2012-13 State Budget
Pennsylvania Senate Republicans website May 9,2012
HARRISBURG – Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) today made the following comments during debate on the Senate floor regarding Senate Bill 1466, the state budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13:
Last year, the General Assembly faced the challenge of assembling a state budget during extraordinarily difficult economic times. Working together with Governor Corbett and the House of Representatives, we made the tough choices that were necessary to craft a budget that reflected those times, spending only what the state could afford.

PBPC: PA Senate Approves State Budget Plan

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center May 9, 2012
The Pennsylvania Senate approved a $27.6 billion budget plan today by a vote of 39-8. The plan improves upon the budget proposed by Governor Corbett, but deep cuts to education and health services remain.  On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a rare display of bipartisanship, adopted two Democratic amendments and unanimously approved the spending plan.
The plan reduces the allocation to the public school retirement system by $60 million and restores funding for a number of programs. The plan does not include the Governor’s proposed student achievement block grant, maintaining the original line items for basic education, pupil transportation, employee Social Security and services to non-public schools. 
  • Adds $50 million for Accountability Block Grants;
  • Adds $50 million to the Basic Education line for "distressed schools," although the allocation formula was not discussed. Basic Ed would increase to $5.405 billion;
  • Restores $4.1 million to Pre-k Counts;
  • Restores $1.9 million to Head Start;
  • Maintains special education funding at $1.026 billion;
  • Restores $2.7 million to the Public Library Subsidy; and
  • Increases pupil transportation by $4.3 million.

Chester County: Packed Tredyffrin Easttown finance committee meeting
Published: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
By Alan Thomas
They came back again, students, teachers and parents, mostly, as they had been there for the regular Tredyffrin Easttown School Directors meeting on April 23, filling the meeting room, many sitting on the floor. The issue was the same one – teacher demotion as a budget strategy.

Philly: Enon meeting draws upwards of 2,000 people
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on May 09 2012
After a long day at City Council, Pedro Ramos, Thomas Knudsen, and Penny Nixon sped to Northwest Philadelphia on Tuesday night to face about 2,500 people at the city's largest African American religious congregation, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
In the vast sanctuary, their faces projected on TV screens, the three officials faced dozens of pointed questions regarding plans for the future of education in Philadelphia that made Council's questions look easy.

-------------------------------  Begin Commentary  -------------------------------
Who needs SB1?

Happy Birthday to Pennsylvania’s Education Improvement Tax Credit; this “Super Voucher” program diverted $75 million in tax dollars to private and religious schools last year, including some of the state’s most elite private schools, with virtually no accountability for how that money is spent or for student performance.

That’s $75 million that is not available for consideration in this year’s budget.  Keep that in mind if you are in Upper Darby, Chester Upland, York, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia and “school choice” means choosing between cutting kindergarten, guidance, art, music, gym, sports, band, choir, foreign language, safety officers, nurses, social workers……LAF
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May 9, 2012

On school tax credit's birthday, lawmakers and advocates renew call for school choice.

Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog by Intern Mike Macagnone
State legislators have the chance now to save themselves from the judgement of history  —  on the subject of school choice, at least  —  according toRep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver.
Christiana, like the other half- dozen legislators who spoke at the 11th birthday rally for the Education Improvement Tax Credit, made the event a showcase of rhetoric and calls to action.

MSNBC’s The Ed Show: Teachers under fire
Video Runtime 6:00
The Republican assault on public education continues in Pennsylvania. Poor school districts are hurting the most. State Rep. Matt Bradford, D-Pa., and York Education Association President Kim Schwarz are fighting against Governor Tom Corbett's budget cuts. They talk to Ed Schultz about the fight to save public schools.

“Common Core could take another hit Friday when the 23-member board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of more than 2,000 state lawmakers and business members who back limited government and free markets, among other conservative goals, is set to vote on a resolution to formally oppose the standards.”
Updated May 8, 2012, 11:42 p.m. ET
School-Standards Pushback: Conservative Groups Oppose National 'Common Core' as an Intrusion on States
The Common Core national math and reading standards, adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia two years ago, are coming under attack from some quarters as a federal intrusion into state education matters.  The voluntary academic standards, which specify what students should know in each grade, were heavily promoted by the Obama administration through its $4.35 billion Race to the Top education-grant competition. States that instituted changes such as common learning goals received bonus points in their applications.
Supporters say the Common Core standards better prepare students for college or the workforce, and are important as the U.S. falls behind other nations in areas such as math proficiency.
….But conservative lawmakers and governors in at least five states, including Utah and Alabama, recently have been pushing to back out, or slow down implementation, of Common Core. They worry that adoption of the standards has created a de facto national curriculum that could at some point be extended into more controversial areas such as science.

How My Child Skipped the State Tests
New York Times By ROBERT KULESZ May 9, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
As one of the parents who decided to have their children “opt-out ” of this year’s standardized high-stakes testing, I am most struck by the lack of empowerment that parents have in the education of their own children. When we try to explain the reasons behind our protest, we are met with bland bureaucratic platitudes, and even attempts at subtle intimidation.

Obama and Romney Draw Battle Lines over Education
By ERIC PIANIN, The Fiscal Times, May 7, 2012
On the surface at least, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney see eye to eye on a number of key education issues:
Both politicians place great store in standardized testing to evaluate teacher performance and student progress, and both generally back former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program. Both favor charter schools as an alternative to failing public schools and merit pay to attract better teachers. And both have had their run-ins with teachers unions.
Just recently, the former Massachusetts governor agreed with Obama that Congress should spend an additional $6 billion this year to block a scheduled doubling of the interest rate on millions of federal college loans. Addressing the problem of mounting college debt has become a political rallying cry across the country.
Yet on critical issues of funding and government aide to colleges and local schools, the two rivals couldn’t be further apart, and some experts say those are the most telling and significant differences between the wo rivals.

Research for Action Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research (PACER)
Charter School Authorization and Accountability: An Overview for State Policymakers, Dec 2011
The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research - or PACER - is designed to inform state education policy discussions using rigorous, objective research. PACER briefs will be decided upon through policy scans and stakeholder and policymaker input. For each issue, PACER will review the current Pennsylvania context, reforms in states nationwide, and provide research from leading scholars and nonpartisan organizations.

The Education Policy and Leadership Center is pleased to invite you to attend the PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM Western Pennsylvania Breakfast Series Thursday, May 17, 2012
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Holiday Inn Pittsburgh University Center, (100 Lytton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213)
SUBJECT: College Completion Agenda
·         Gregg Fleisher, National AP Training and Incentives Program Director, National Math+Science Initiative 
  • Marcus S. Lingenfelter,  Director, State Government Relations, The College Board
  • Dr. Peter H. Garland, Executive Vice Chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education 
The College Board's College Completion Agenda Report is available at
Please RSVP Today!   
Registration is free, but everyone must RSVP at
Please share this invitation with your friends and colleagues.

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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