Friday, May 18, 2012

Restore full funding of the Accountability Block Grant program

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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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.

Parents Across America’s Response to Testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing held May 16, 2012
Exploring State Success in Expanding Parent and Student Options”
Yesterday, a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing which was promoted as a discussion on “state efforts to expand parental engagement.”
However, the title of the actual hearing (see heading above) and the testimony of three of the four invited speakers, made it clear that the leadership defines parent engagement solely as parental choice.

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!

Delco Times by Editor Phil Heron Thursday, May 17, 2012

More voices heard in Upper Darby school controversy

The controversy surrounding proposed curriculum cuts in the Upper Darby School District paid a visit to the township council last night.
A group of concerned parents urged the pols to get involved, assuring them that what happens in the schools will spill over to the township.
In the meantime, we devoted another ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet broadcast to this crucial issue.
We were joined by state Sen. Ted Erickson, R-26, who represents Upper Darby; former Upper Darby Superintendent Joe Batory; and Larry Feinberg, Haverford School Board member and representative of the Keystone State Education Coalition.

“over 70% of the state’s school districts are already spending down their reserves to balance their budgets this year”
Insane, Irrational, Irresponsible
Yinzercation Blog — MAY 17, 2012
The Governor has added another new talking point. Now he is suggesting that we should blame school districts for cutting programs because they aren’t tapping their supposedly vast reserve accounts to pay for them. Speaking during his regular appearance on a Philadelphia radio program, Gov. Corbett criticized school districts because they “are making a concerted effort not to go into those reserves.” [Delco Times, 5-16-12]
Actually, as Gov. Corbett well knows, over 70% of the state’s school districts are already spending down their reserves to balance their budgets this year.

Hostile Witness; Make 'Em Pay
Opinion by Daniel Denvir City Paper Posted: Thu, May. 17, 2012, 12:00 AM
The fiscal crisis facing our public schools is being exploited by a movement to privatize public education, break unions and subject students to high-stakes test-prep regimes. But it is a crisis nonetheless — one that requires long-term solutions, immediate band-aids and, critically, a substantial commitment from Philly's largest stakeholders.
As I've reported, the state, whose School Reform Commission (SRC) has controlled Philly schools since 2001, has underfunded poor districts for decades. This fiscal year, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Republican legislature slashed nearly $300 million of Philly's funding. The district now faces a $218 million deficit for the coming year and a $1.1 billion cumulative five-year shortfall.

Teacher layoffs: Seniority shouldn't be only consideration

By Patriot-News Editorial Board  Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 6:08 AM
Remember the teacher or teachers who made the most difference in your life? When you think of them, you likely don’t recall their age.
What stands out is how enjoyable it was to be in their classroom and the many lessons you learned — about whatever subject it was and about life.

Posted: Thu, May. 17, 2012, 5:30 PM
Unvaccinated kids booted from Pa. classrooms
MICHAEL RUBINKAM The Associated Press
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Get stuck or get out.
That's the message Pennsylvania school districts gave to students and their parents this year as they approached a deadline to comply with new state vaccination rules.
The message , and the vaccines , seem to have penetrated.
Spot checks of most of the 20 largest districts Thursday show the success of a Herculean effort by school nurses to get students vaccinated in the months, weeks and days leading up to the deadline, with many districts now reporting full or nearly full compliance.

NYC: New Coalition to Challenge Bloomberg’s Education Policies
New York Times By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM Published: May 17, 2012
A coalition of labor unions and liberal advocacy groups is planning an ambitious effort to support mayoral candidates who pledge to reverse some of the Bloomberg administration’s more-contentious public education policies.  The coalition, to be announced on Friday, is a direct response to another well-financed political group, StudentsFirstNY, which was formed this year as a counterweight to critics of the administration’s stewardship of the city’s schools, and is led by former schools chancellors of New York and Washington. The new coalition will be called New Yorkers for Great Public Schools.
The dueling groups underline the highly visible role that public schools are expected to play in next year’s mayoral race, as the contenders debate the merits of policies like the expansion of charter schools and the use of teacher evaluations in firing faculty members. 
They also highlight the potential role that outside money could play in the mayoral race. The new coalition has the backing of many of the city’s big unions, including the United Federation of Teachers. StudentsFirstNY, which is looking to raise $10 million a year, has been financed primarily by hedge fund managers and venture capitalists.

WHAT WORKS: Heads Up about The Coalition for Community Schools
The Coalition for Community Schools, housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership, is an alliance of national, state and local organizations in education K-16, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks. Community schools are both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. There are a number of national models and local community school initiatives that share a common set of principles: fostering strong partnerships, sharing accountability for results, setting high expectations, building on the community’s strengths, and embracing diversity and innovative solutions.

Virtual Schools Need a Grounding in Reality

 Learning First Alliance 
By Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association
We've all seen the fast-growth of online learning in the K-12 public education sector, and the many new opportunities emerging for students and schools. But with all this rapid growth, are too many students getting lost in cyber space?
Quite possibly, yes. That's the conclusion of a new report by the National School Board Association's Center for Public Education, "Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools," which looked at what little data exists on student outcomes, from a single online class to full-time virtual schooling.

A Dozen Education Policy Questions the Press Should Ask
Nieman Watchdog ASK THIS | February 07, 2012
By Diane Ravitch                                  

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.

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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