Friday, May 4, 2012

Who's Killing Philly Public Schools? Underfunded. Overburdened. About to be sold for scrap.

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Posted: Thu, May. 3, 2012, 12:00 AM
Who's Killing Philly Public Schools?
Underfunded. Overburdened. About to be sold for scrap.
Daniel Denvir City Paper
Thomas Knudsen, the man who was temporarily put in charge of Philadelphia schools in January, was running late to last Monday's press conference.  He had been delivering the same presentation all day, and doomsday rumors had already leaked: The plan he was about to lay out would dismantle the central office and parcel out school management, at least in part, to private companies.
Knudsen, paid $150,000 to hold the newly created post of Chief Recovery Officer through June, made a point of shaking the hand of every single reporter in the room before beginning his presentation. "Philadelphia public schools is not the school district," he announced, laying out the five-year plan before the School Reform Commission (SRC). "There's a redefinition, and we'll get to that later."
He got to it, using terms like "portfolios," "modernization," "right-sizing," "entrepreneurialism" and "competition." In short, it was a plan to shutter 40 schools next year, and an additional six every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would be herded into "achievement networks" of 20 to 30 schools; public and private groups would compete to manage the networks. And the central office would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. (About 1,000-plus positions existed in 2010, and district HQ has already eliminated more than a third of those.) Charter schools, the plan projects, would teach an estimated 40 percent of students by 2017.

Posted: Thu, May. 3, 2012, 7:18 AM
Tough cuts on table for Upper Darby schools
Gearing up for Tuesday’s Upper Darby school board vote on a proposed 2012-13 budget that includes the elimination of elementary school music and art classes, physical-education teachers and librarians, more than 500 parents, students, and supporters turned out at a board meeting to protest.  District administrators at the Tuesday night meeting presented a sobering budget picture. They blamed a $13 million budget shortfall on state funding cuts, increased payments to charter schools, and eroding local revenues. Cutting elementary school arts and other programs would save about $3 million; eliminating middle school foreign language and technology classes would save an additional $645,000. The cuts would terminate 52 jobs.

Legislative boost for open campus

Intelligencer Journal Lancaster New Era
Updated May 02, 2012 22:59
By TOM KNAPP  Staff Writer
Legislation paving the way for a new style of schooling got a boost Tuesday in Harrisburg.
Senate Bill 1492, which amends the Pennsylvania school code to provide for an open-campus initiative in the works by three Lancaster County school districts, "passed unanimously out of committee, and now will go to the Senate floor," according to Hempfield district superintendent Brenda Becker.  Hempfield, along with Manheim Township and Penn Manor school districts, will offer 12 online, traditional and hybrid courses to juniors and seniors from all three districts' high schools beginning this fall. The collaborative effort is believed to be the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.
More than 150 students from the three districts have signed up for the courses.

“In Pennsylvania, according to the National Education Association, a $4.1 billion reduction would translate into:
·         A $50.8 million cut to Title I, impacting 47,646 disadvantaged students and resulting in a loss of 622 jobs.
·         A $24.7 million cut to Head Start, impacting 3,399 students and resulting in a loss of 1,313 jobs.
·         A $39.2 million cut to IDEA state grants, impacting 24,287 students with disabilities and resulting in a loss of 481 jobs.
·         A $3.9 million cut to Perkins Career and Technical Education Basic State Grants, impacting 17,465 students and resulting in a loss of 48 jobs.”

We must avoid sequestration: Savage cuts in education funding would cripple our schools

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette By Jamie Baxter May 3, 2012 12:15 am
Jamie Baxter, director of legislative policy and advocacy for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, is president of the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of more than 90 education organizations.
In Washington and in Harrisburg the theme seems to be cut, cut, cut. The question is ... when will the cuts end?  They surely will not end early next year when a huge reduction in federal funding is scheduled to take place. "Sequestration" is set to occur Jan. 2. This means that, unless Congress acts, all federal discretionary spending, including education, will be cut by as much as 9.1 percent.

New Annenberg report: School closings don't lead to improved school quality.
The Way Forward: From Sanctions to Supports
Report of the New York City Working Group on School Transformation, April 2012
With support from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University

Ten Steps in the Right Direction:

How Feds Can Strengthen Public Education

 Learning First Alliance  
By Dan Domenech, Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators 
Nothing is simple in the process of strengthening our national approach to public education.  These ten steps, however, provide a framework for invigorating our schools and creating an environment for positive change.

“We don’t need under-trained teachers in our schools.  We don’t need the costs of the infrastructure for charter schools for the low number of positive outcomes from them.  We especially don’t need the for-profit charter management organizations to come into our state and help to make education into a profit center instead of the public service it is to the young citizens of Washington state.”
Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 05/03/2012

A state that just says ‘no’ to charters, other reforms

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Melissa Westbrook, a public education activist and co-writer of the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog, based in Seattle.
By Melissa Westbrook
Quietly marching to its own drummer, Washington State has mostly turned its back on the education reform movement that is sweeping much of the rest of the country.

“…accountability has morphed into The Thing That Sucks Life Out of Public Schools”

Spring Branch board is fed up with testing monster By Patricia Kilday Hart
Published 07:39 p.m., Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Adopting a resolution imploring the Texas Legislature to control the testing monster it created, Spring Branch joined a national movement of parents and educators who believe the benign idea of "accountability" has morphed into The Thing That Sucks Life Out of Public Schools.
From Alamo Heights to Anahuac, from Highland Park to Huntsville, from Katy to Karnes City, school boards representing a great swath of Texas have united behind a revolutionary concept: Making high school students spend 45 days of the 180-day school year penciling in little bubbles does not constitute a good education.

Flood of Texas school districts staging revolt against high-stakes standardized tests

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 3:46 pm | Updated: 9:09 am, Wed May 2, 2012.
Perland News By KRISTI NIX
A backlash against the state’s standardized testing system is taking shape as hundreds of school districts are now backing a resolution by the Texas Association of School Administrators that says high-stakes testing is "strangling our public schools."  In addition, parents are also speaking out in opposition.

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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