Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What would you like to ask Gov. Corbett?

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The Heron's Nest: What would you like to ask Gov. Corbett?
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
By PHIL HERON,, @philheron
Ever since the Upper Darby School District announced its controversial - and extremely unpopular - 'realignment' program, including cuts of the special classes in music and art at the elementary level, there is one thing I have heard again and again from parents and others concerned about the effect.
Gov. Corbett is going to sit down with a group of newspaper editors from our Journal Register Company group of newspapers across the Philly region Wednesday in Norristown. I will be there, face-to-face with the governor.  I have some questions for him, but what I'm really interested in is what readers - particularly those in Upper Darby - would like to ask the governor.
Email me your questions for the governor and I'll try to get him to answer them.

“When Gov. Corbett insists that he is simply taking us back to the days before federal stimulus dollars, he is not being truthful. This governor actually spent $372 million less last year on public preK-12 education than the state spent before it started using federal stimulus money. It’s convenient to blame the loss of stimulus dollars for our current budget woes, but these numbers make it clear that Gov. Corbett is using that as a cover story.”
The Truth About the Numbers
YINZERCATION Blog — MAY 30, 2012
Oh those halcyon pre-stimulus days. Governor Corbett and his allies have a habit of making outrageous claims about our state budget, then repeating them over and over again hoping that people will believe them. Lately we’ve been hearing again that the governor is merely returning state education funding to its level before Pennsylvania accepted federal stimulus dollars. (This has been a common claim since January, see “A Shameful Betrayal.”)

Pa. Pension changes proposed
TribLive By Clara Ritger
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 5:32 p.m.
HARRISBURG - New state employees would get a retirement plan like a 401(k) instead of a guaranteed state pension under legislation Senate Republicans are crafting.
Three members of the Senate Republican leadership said the change they'll propose is intended to reduce the system's cost to taxpayers. The switch from the current defined benefit plan would affect all state and public school employees hired on or after Dec. 1, 2012.

Rep. Mike Fleck to Hold June 4th News Conference on Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Bill
Press release 5/24/2012
WHAT: Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin) has introduced legislation (House Bill 2364) that ensures greater taxpayer protection and accountability of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. There are currently more than 50,000 students enrolled in charter and cyber charter schools throughout the Commonwealth, but regulation and guidance of these schools have gone largely unaddressed. 
WHO: Fleck; other legislators who are co-sponsors of the bill; representatives from the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools (PARSS). 
WHEN: Monday, June 4, 11 a.m. 
WHERE: Main Rotunda, Pennsylvania State Capitol. 

Digital Notebook Blog by Evan Brandt SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2012
All the news that doesn't fit in print
Welfare for the White and Wealthy
I hate to keep picking on Lower Merion School District (almost), but hey, they're right down the road; they've got buckets of money; and they are a tantalizingly close school district to best illustrate how wealthy constituencies benefit from the current public school funding system in Pennsylvania.

Candidates slated for 2013 PSBA offices
PSBA website 5/29/2012
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.  They are:
Marcela Diaz Myers -- President (automatically assumes the office of president)
Jody Sperry -- President-Elect
Richard Frerichs -- President-Elect
Mark B. Miller -- First Vice President
Larry Breech -- Second Vice President
Edward J. Cardow -- Second Vice President
The Nominating Committee recommends these candidates to be considered by the entire PSBA membership during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Oct. 16-19.

Posted at 03:01 PM ET, 05/29/2012

Tina Fey protests cuts in her old school district

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
It’s not a bad thing when someone who is high-profile lends their name to a good cause. This time it is Tina Fey.
Fey attended public schools in the Upper Darby School District in Pennsylvania. She was in the choir and drama club while an honor student at Upper Darby High School, and performed in plays. She was Frenchie in a performance of “Grease.”
So when the three-time Emmy Award-winner heard that her old school district had proposed eliminating specialized elementary school classes in arts and music (along with library and gym) to help deal with a multimillion-dollar deficit, she decided to join the fight against the changes.

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 05/30/2012

High-stakes testing protests spreading

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Opposition to high-stakes standardized testing is growing around the country, with more parents choosing to opt their children out of taking exams, more school boards expressing disapproval of testing accountability systems and even a group of superintendents joining the fight.
Just last month I wrote about the growing resistance, noting that it wasn’t yet full-fledged but that it seemed to be picking up steam. It has and still is.
A national resolution protesting high-stakes test that was released in Aprilalready has support from more than 300 organizations and more than 8,000 individuals.

No Child Left Behind Law: 8 States Get Waiver From Education-Testing Rules

Huffington Post By DORIE TURNER 05/29/12 03:27 PM ET AP
ATLANTA — Another eight states are gaining flexibility from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.
The Education Department has approved waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. Eighteen other states and Washington, D.C., also applied for a waiver and could receive approval in coming weeks.

Are Charter Schools Public Schools?

 Diane Ravitch  
I noted in my blog last week that the visionaries of the charter school idea—Raymond Budde of the University of Massachusetts and Albert Shanker of the American Federation of Teachers—never intended that charter schools would compete with public schools.

Albany’s Unkindest Cut of All
New York Times By BILLY EASTON Published: May 25, 2012
IN most states, top-ranked high school seniors are shoo-ins to attend their local state universities. But that’s not how it goes in New York these days. In one recent, glaring case, the valedictorian of a rural school district outside Rochester was rejected by a nearby State University of New York campus — not because her grades were too low, but because her high school didn’t offer the courses needed to compete for college admission.

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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