Thursday, June 7, 2012

Attytood: Corbett not destroying Pennsylvania schools fast enough for the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks

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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…..citing Reuters on LA voucher program: “The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
 ”The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.
 At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.
 ”We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children,” Carrier said.
Corbett not destroying Pennsylvania schools fast enough for the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks
Philadelphia Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch
You may have been under the impression that Tom Corbett was working around the clock to destroy public education in Pennsylvania with his funding cuts and his staunch support for charter schools, vouchers, and a politically loaded scholarship program called EITC.
But FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-flavored group that has been heavily funded by the same Koch brothers who just paid millions to keep their pal Scott Walker as Wisconsin governor, thinks he could be doing so much more:

Voucher advocates target Corbett in TV ads Commonwealth Confidential Blog Posted by Amy Worden
A conservative political action committee, which has launched negative ad campaigns against lawmakers who don't support school tuition vouchers - is now calling out their most powerful ally for not doing enough to advance their isssue.
The PAC FreedomWorks says it is launching a radio ad campaign aimed at putting the heat on Gov. Corbett to approve a voucher bill this month, according to PoliticsPA, a political news website.

June 6, 2012
Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek
Tea-Time Budget Update: Republicans, Corbett Continue Budget Talks.
Senior legislative Republicans and Corbett administration officials concluded a second consecutive day of  budget negotations this afternoon, saying, as they did the day before, that they're still working and that their talks are continuing.

Budget: Plan to boost Pa. school aid delivered to governor

Pocono Record By Associated Press June 06, 2012
HARRISBURG — A $27.7 billion budget plan written behind closed doors by Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania state House and Senate would send more money to public schools than a plan approved previously by the Senate, but it could face a tough reception from Gov. Tom Corbett.  The plan was delivered to Corbett's staff Tuesday and was not released publicly, but some details were obtained by The Associated Press. Top Republican lawmakers were scheduled to meet later Tuesday with Corbett, who has poured cold water on lawmakers' hopes that he will approve their proposed spending figure.

Posted: Wed, Jun. 6, 2012, 3:00 AM
With budget talks looming, GOP leaders want Corbett to budge
HARRISBURG — In hope of getting a state budget signed into law early this year, Republican legislative leaders delivered a $27.6 billion spending proposal to Gov. Corbett on Tuesday that would restore money to public and higher education, as well as social services.

Details of top GOP lawmakers' budget plan emerge

By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau June 6, 2012 12:14 am
HARRISBURG -- As state House lawmakers spent much of the afternoon debating budget amendments, top Republicans in each chamber were prepping to meet with the governor Tuesday evening on a spending plan they crafted behind closed doors.
GOP leaders, who control the House and Senate, have been working on a joint plan since senators approved a $27.65 billion budget in May. The new proposal has not been released, although details that began circulating indicated it includes funding restorations similar to those in the Senate plan.
Those are reported to include higher education funding nearly equal to this year's and $100 million in block grants for full-day kindergarten. Another $26 million would be available for distressed school districts, according to House sources.

Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? Charter school funding, accountability and transparency
The bill is now posted on the General Assembly’s website:
Here’s more info on HB 2364 from PSBA:

HB 2364: Push is on to fix charter school funding
House members propose bill, while the Corbett administration wants commission to study the issue.
By Patrick Lester, Of The Morning Call 11:25 p.m. EDT, June 4, 2012
The acrimonious tug of war over tax dollars used to fund charter and virtual charter schools in Pennsylvania is intensifying with the latest attempt at reform that educators on both sides of the issue say is overdue.
Public school officials, who have long clamored about the high cost of funding and lack of oversight of schools responsible for teaching more than 100,000 Pennsylvania students, joined state representatives in Harrisburg on Monday to pitch a bill they say will improve accountability and protect taxpayer dollars.
The proposal, backed by several state education groups, including the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania State Education Association, will rival a charter school-backed bill that calls for a state commission to study the funding issue, something the state Department of Education supports.
The issue could come to a head over the next three weeks as lawmakers try to hammer out a 2012-13 budget.

Published on Jun 5, 2012 by PSBAvideo
Check out Monday's HB 2364 charter school press conference video.
State Representative Mike Fleck Introduces Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Bill HB 2364.  Video runtime 22:16
Others speaking include Richard Fry, superintendent, Big Spring SD, representing the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA); James Estep, superintendent, Mifflin Co. SD, representing the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS); Tom Gentzel, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA); Tim Shrom, business manager, Solanco SD and Laura Cowburn, assistant superintendent for business services, Columbia Borough SD, both representing the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO).

PA House Education Committee Minority Chairman Roebuck welcomes HB 2364 charter/cyber school reform bill, lays out principles for immediate savings
Press Release HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, welcomed the introduction of a new charter and cyber charter school reform bill, while also laying out four principles Roebuck believes must be in any bill to reform those schools.
"At a time when public schools are still coping with last year's state education funding cuts and local property taxpayers want to avoid another round of trickle-down tax hikes, it's only fair to taxpayers for all schools play by the same rules," Roebuck said.
"These reforms should be in effect starting with the 2012-13 school year. We can provide this relief immediately to school districts and their taxpayers. These reforms would provide at least $45.8 million in savings for the coming school year, and probably much more than that."
Roebuck said the new bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin, is a good start.

Tax Dollars Pay for Cyber Charter School Ads
Canon-McMillan Patch By Zandy Dudiak June 6, 5:59 am
As the state House considers HB 2364, a proposed Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Bill, Canon-McMillan officials question whether public tax dollars should be used to support these schools.
Joe Zupancic wonders why taxpayers aren't outraged when they view billboards along the highways, newspaper ads or television commercials—or hear radio spots—for Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.
It's their tax monies paying for those ads to recruit students away from Canon-McMillan and other public school districts, the C-M school board director said in an interview with Patch.
"As a school board member, if I voted to pay $2,000 a month (for an advertisement) to get students to come back to Canon-McMillan, my taxpayers would roast me over an open fire. It outrages me because those are the same tax dollars that should go to the education of our (C-M) kids."

Upper Darby's fight for education funds finds way to Capitol steps
Published: Thursday, June 07, 2012
Delco Times By VINCE SULLIVAN @vincesullivan
HARRISBURG — Armed with protest signs, petitions and plenty of bottled water, a dedicated group of supporters rallied outside the Capitol in sweltering heat Wednesday morning in an effort to restore education funding and save the arts in Upper Darby.
Gathered near the east entrance to the colossal seat of Pennsylvania’s government, individual parents, students, teachers, administrators, alumni and elected officials came together for the common cause from as far away as Indiana.
For four hours, many took a turn at the podium to explain their positions, led by Rachel Ruitberg of the Save Upper Darby Arts movement.  “It’s not just an Upper Darby issue. … It’s a statewide issue,” she said. “We want to get the message out that we are done taking these cuts on the backs of our children.”

Harrisburg School District could drop kindergarten, sports to save money

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 4:30 PM
By MELANIE HERSCHORN, For The Patriot-News 
The Harrisburg School Board approved a $125 million preliminary budget for 2012-13 this afternoon that includes devastating cuts and a tax hike.
The proposed spending plan includes a $6.6 million budget deficit; cuts kindergarten, athletics, band, teachers and administrators; and tacks on a 2.5 percent tax increase.
The school board plans to vote on a final budget on June 27.

Posted: Wed, Jun. 6, 2012, 6:11 PM
Suit: Philly school-closing policy an attempt to "dismantle traditional public schools"
A group of city parents whose children's North Philadelphia public school is scheduled to shut for good next week have filed a federal lawsuit to try to stop the closing.
The lawsuit, recently filed by several Harrison Elementary School parents and by District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, argues that children will be adversely impacted by the closing. Many of the union's members are Harrison parents.
The suit blasts what it calls a strategy of "flooding the area of North Central Philadelphia with charter schools."

No More Teachers, No More Books
Yinzercation Blog — JUNE 6, 2012
Next week is going to be a sad one for Pittsburgh Public School students. Facing over $30 million in cuts from the state, and struggling to get its own per-pupil costs down, Pennsylvania’s second largest school district is laying off 285 teachers and other educators. (That’s one out of every eight teachers.) Next Wednesday will be their last day in the classroom with students.
While most kids are excited about summer vacation, this year students all across the state will be saying goodbye to thousands of beloved teachers. That comes on top of over 14,000 educators who lost their jobs in the commonwealth last year. [PASA & PASBO Sept. 2011 report] The old school-yard rhyme, “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks,” could be shortened to simply, “no more teachers, no more books.”

Education Voters PA ‏@EdVotersPA
Please take 2 minutes to send an email to your state reps, ask them to restore public ed funding:

“They are in crisis because they serve poor communities, have little local tax base and rely heavily on state funding. They are struggling to provide an education for their students because their state funding was cut even more deeply than their suburban neighbors.”

'Distressed' schools need help, not blame

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 5:00 AM
Patriot-News Op-Ed By Michael Crossey
Michael Crossey is a teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District and president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
It’s one thing for Gov. Tom Corbett to turn his back on school districts in “financial distress.” It’s another thing entirely for the governor to blame these school districts for the crisis he caused. But that’s what Gov. Corbett and some of his legislative allies are trying to do. 
The state Senate could consider House Bill 1307 any day. It would put Corbett appointees in charge of four school districts — Chester-Upland, Duquesne City, York City and Harrisburg — right away. The bill would give these political appointees nearly unlimited powers to cut programs, staff and contracts. And it would allow them to do it without input from parents and taxpayers.
H.B. 1307’s proponents say that these school districts are at fault for the financial distress they are experiencing. That is ludicrous. These school districts are in “financial distress” because Gov. Corbett cut nearly $1 billion in public school funding.

Senator Jeff Piccola: Status quo doesn't work in education

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 5:10 AM
Patriot-News Op-Ed By Sen. Jeffrey Piccola
The May 30 Patriot-News editorial page prompted me to write this op- ed. No educational system is perfect. But the current system we have — particularly for those school districts in dire financial straits — is not sustainable. 
Taxpayer costs are too great and student achievement is too low to continue down this path. Instead of clamoring to throw more money at it, it is time to get responsible, creative and embrace new ideas, including school choice and charter schools. Protecting the status quo does nothing for the kids and families trapped in failing schools.

Diane Ravitch on PBS Newshour June 5th, 2012

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:

If you are not familiar with satirist Andy Borowitz, you should be…….”Speaking at the state capitol, Gov. Walker seemed philosophical about his legacy: “I’m not worried how history will remember me, because if I have my way there won’t be any history teachers.”
Canada Bracing for Massive Influx of Wisconsin Boat People
Coast Guard on Alert
OTTAWA (The Borowitz Report) – The Canadian coast guard was on alert today, preparing for what it fears could be a massive invasion of  boat people from Wisconsin.
Conor McGlindon, commander of the Royal Canadian Mounted Coast Guard (RCMCG), said that satellite photos had revealed a “substantial flotilla” in the making, as Wisconsinites prepared to flee their state for their neighbor to the North.
“Word has gotten around that we have policemen, firemen, and basic school lunches up here,” Mr. McGlindon said.  “You can’t blame these boat people for seeking a better life.  But we are under orders to intercept them.”

June 29 is deadline to submit proposals for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform
Your school board is invited to submit proposals for consideration for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform. The association is accepting proposals now until Friday, June 29, 2012.  Guidelines for platform submissions are posted on PSBA’s Web site.  The PSBA Platform Committee will review proposals and rationale submitted for the platform on Aug. 11. The recommendations of the committee will be brought before the Legislative Policy Council for a final vote on Oct. 18.

PSBA accepting nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
Last year, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA's Legislative Platform. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 22, 2012. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. For more information and criteria details, see the Allwein Advocacy Award page. To obtain an application form, see the Allwein Advocacy Award Nomination Form. Completed forms should be returned no later than June 22 to: Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Advocacy Award Selection Committee, PO Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0790.

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

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