Thursday, June 14, 2012

“If we can’t provide kindergarten for the children in our own state capitol and other communities across the commonwealth, how can we justify diverting more tax dollars to private education?”

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
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg


Posted: Wed, Jun. 13, 2012, 10:00 PM

Teachers, students protest proposed school cuts at Pa. capital


HARRISBURG — While legislative leaders met behind closed doors Wednesday to hash out the final elements of the state education budget, hundreds of parents, children, and laid-off teachers staged protests over proposed school cuts at several locations in the capital city.

With sidewalk chalk in hand, several dozen schoolchildren from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and their parents took their message to the governor's front door, several blocks from the Capitol. On their hands and knees, they drew stick-figure pupils in threatened classrooms, art studios and computer labs, and scrawled "Help Our Schools" in fluorescent colors on the pavement outside the executive mansion as police officers looked on.


Posted: Wed, May. 9, 2012, 1:31 PM

Corbett too dislikes cuts, but doesn't see clear way out


HARRISBURG — Gov. Corbett on Wednesday said that no one — not even state government — is recession proof, and that despite a smaller budget shortfall this year, his administration is going to think hard before it begins restoring cuts to education, social services and other programs taking hits in next year’s proposed state budget.

The governor made his remarks after a morning speech before the Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.


PA House Sets Budget Priorities, Laying Groundwork for Final Budget Negotiations

PA Budget and Policy Center June 12, 2012
On June 6, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives debated and amended the Senate’s budget bill — adding $91 million to the Departments of Education, Environmental Protection and Public Welfare, while subtracting a comparable amount from the Governor’s office, economic development programs and general government operations. 
House leaders established rules for the floor debate that any amendment to the budget had to be paid for through spending cuts elsewhere. As a result, the total budget remains at the Senate’s mark of $27.656 billion.   
The amended budget (SB 1466, PN 2261) was sent back to the House Appropriations Committee, where it will serve as the vehicle for the final budget agreement.


New York Times EDITORIAL

Pink Slips

Published: June 12, 2012 65 Comments
The school district in Reading, Pa. — the nation’s poorest city — laid off 110 teachers last week, along with hundreds of other employees. As elementary students watched in shock, many of their favorite teachers were pulled out of an assembly one by one and given the bad news by district officials, The Reading Eagle reported.
The layoffs will mean larger classes and an end to public prekindergarten in the city. Many special-education students will lose their mentors. A city where only 8 percent of the residents have a bachelor’s degree (compared with the national average of 28 percent) will fall further behind, largely because Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, chose not to find state money to replace $900 million in federal aid that ran out after the stimulus expired. Instead, he further drained his public coffers by cutting business taxes by $250 million this year.


“If we can’t provide kindergarten for the children in our own state capitol and other communities across the commonwealth, how can we justify diverting more tax dollars to private education?”

Letter to PA General Assembly regarding proposed EISC program


Editorial: Businesses must rally for kindergarten

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 6:02 AM
By Patriot-News Editorial Board 
Eliminating kindergarten in the Harrisburg School District is akin to throwing a child who can’t swim well into the deep end of the pool without a flotation device.
It is a huge mistake to cut kindergarten next year in the city, but the district might not have a choice as it looks to close a $6 million deficit.
State lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett should step up for this vital cause. It’s difficult to think of any greater funding priority. In fact, it’s difficult to comprehend why kindergarten is not mandatory in our state.


Editorial: School vouchers: Lawmakers need to find compromise

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 6:05 AM
By Patriot-News Editorial Board 
While many school districts this year face cutting programs, boosting taxes and laying off teachers, none is being hit as severely as the districts that educate our poorest students.
Harrisburg School District is working on a $6 million budget hole, Pittsburgh School District was faced this year with a nearly $22 million deficit and Reading School District is making cuts because of a $53 million shortfall.
Beyond the arguments of who’s to blame for the budget problems are the students who deserve the same quality of education to meet their particular needs as any other students in the state.


Above Average Jane Blog Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SB1115: Special Education Reform Resources

On June 4th the Pennsylvania Senate passed a special education reform bill (SB 1115); it will now move to the Pennsylvania House.  There are several resources about this bill online as part



Voting meeting on SB 1115, and any other business that may come before the Committee.

Monday June 18th, 11:00 AM, Room 60, East Wing


HB1776: PA House tables bill to fund schools with income, sales taxes

By Tom Barnes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 11, 2012 9:54 pm
HARRISBURG -- A bill to eliminate school property taxes basically died today when the House Finance Committee voted to take no action on it at least until late September.
Legislators said they were nervous about increasing the state sales tax to 7 percent (and 8 percent in Allegheny County) and increasing the personal income tax rate to 4.01 percent (from the current 3.07 percent) -- moves that would have been needed to replace the $10 billion that would have been lost by eliminating school property taxes.

Lehigh Valley public schools go on offensive to lure students back from Pennsylvania cyber schools

By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 4:30 AM
There's a battle being waged for Pennsylvania's schoolchildren.
Traditional public schools are on the offensive trying to lure back students from cyber and charter schools with their own cyber academics. Public school officials tout better standardized test scores and diplomas from known schools.
Superintendents argue they're grappling with tight budgets, cutting programs and laying off teachers. Yet, they're funneling tax dollars to growing home-based cyber schools that aren't meeting state standards but can afford to offer things districts cannot -- like foreign languages in elementary school.


Pittsburgh Public Schools mulls online education

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 13, 2012 12:13 am
Pittsburgh Public Schools may start its own online school serving grades 6-12 as a way to win back students who have chosen cyber charter schools.
"We've got to start being competitive," Jerri Lynn Lippert, district chief academic officer, told the school board at an education committee meeting Tuesday night.
While she said the district is ahead in some areas, she said, "This one we're trailing behind, and we need to start catching up very quickly."
The reason is cyber charter schools are costing the district big bucks. The district must pay $13,000 for each resident who is a regular charter school student and $28,000 for each resident who is a special-education student at a charter school.
In the 2011-12 school year, charter school students are estimated to cost the district more than $45 million for about 3,125 students, including $11 million for 789 students who attend cyber charter schools.


Posted: Tue, Jun. 12, 2012, 8:50 AM

In praise of the benefits of cyber-schooling

Letter to the Editor by Robert Maranto Philadelphia Daily News

Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and serves on the AHCCS board. His two children attend traditional public schools.

It's nice to celebrate success.

Back in 2009, Achievement House Cyber Charter School, then located above the Bryn Mawr Mattress Giant and in the middle of the Villanova pub crawl, was by any standard a failing school. Academically mediocre, AHCCS lost well over 60 percent of its students every year and struggled to maintain enrollment above 200.

Then, the AHCCS board and a new leadership team turned things around with a new cyber platform, emphasis on measurement and a new focus on orienting and reaching out to students and parents. Today, AHCCS has a home office in Exton with branch campuses in New Florence and Pittsburgh serving more than 800 middle- and high-school students all over the state, who take online courses on school-issued laptops in the comfort of their own homes.


End taxpayer funding of for-profit cyber charter schools

Pottstown Mercury Letter to the Editor by GEORGE BONEKEMPER, Pennsburg Posted: 06/01/12 12:01 am

The General Assembly should stop cyber charter schools from maximizing profits for investors and minimizing education outcomes for students. On the 2011-12 PSSA tests, 467 or 93.7 percent of Pennsylvania’s public schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). On the same assessments, 2 or 16.6 percent of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools made AYP.

In a legislative district composed of six school districts (Lewisburg, Midd-West, Mifflinburg, Milton, Selinsgrove and Warrior Run), it costs $2.9 million to educate 363 cyber charter school students, who basically participate in the PA Cyber, Commonwealth Connections, SusQ and Agora charter schools. PA Cyber was one of the two schools to make AYP, the other (21st Century) was administered by public school and IU staff. SusQ had 6.7 percent attain AYP in math and 33.3 percent in reading. Agora, operated by k12inc whose CEO made $5 million in compensation in 2011, had the following AYP status: Warning, 2006, School Improvement 1 and 2, 2007-8, Corrective Action 1 -2009, Corrective Action , 2010- 11. A National Education Policy Center Report issued in January showed that 27.4 percent of virtual schools run by for-profit Educational Management Organizations achieved AYP.

Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? Charter school funding, accountability and transparency…..

More info on HB 2364 from PSBA:


Federal Special Education Budget Gets Initial Boost

 Nirvi Shah  
A budget proposal approved with a 10-7 vote today by a U.S. Senate subcommittee would boost special education spending for students age 3 to 22 by $100 million.
However that and other proposed increases to special education spending, while promising to the disability community, face the hurdle of approval by the full Senate Appropriations committee later this week, and eventually, all of Congress.
The proposed increase to special education spending for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would mean a total budget of $677 million for these students, and it would get the federal investment in special education a little closer to 40 percent of the cost. That's something advocates have been clamoring for since it was introduced as a possibility more than 35 years ago. Current spending levels put the federal share of special education spending at about 16 percent, with districts and states picking up the rest of the tab.

“The Wall Street Journal reports that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute estimates the national cost for compliance with common core will be between $1 billion to $8 billion and the profits will go almost directly to publishers.”
Huffingtom Post by Alan Singer Social studies educator, Hofstra University
Protest Builds Against Pearson, Testing, and Common Core
Posted: 06/13/2012 10:21 am
At the end of May, the Obama administration granted eight states, including New York, waivers from Bush era No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education mandates. The waivers were necessary because a highly partisan Congress would not mend the law and because it is now clear that it is impossible for every child, no matter what their circumstances, to achieve at the top level in every subject. Lyndon Johnson could have made any rule he wanted to in the 1960s, but there was no way I was going to learn to speak French, study for chemistry, or carry a tune. Nineteen states have been granted waivers already and more are in the pipeline.
It is always good to get rid of a silly law, but based on an examination of the New York State waiver, it looks like the Obama Administration has sold out the American educational system to the Pearson publishing company and its now infamous pineapple. In exchange for its waiver, New York State had to promise to implement "common core standards" for students and "Develop and adopt guidelines for local teacher and principal evaluation and support systems" that use student scores on standardized tests as a significant measure of teacher performance.
In the meantime, Pearson is busy marketing common core textbooks, common core staff development, and common core student and teacher assessments. Its website brags "Pearson's close association with key authors and architects of the Common Core State Standards ensures that the spirit and pedagogical approach of the initiative is embodied in our professional development."

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

Diane Ravitch on PBS Newshour June 5th, 2012

Here are more than 800 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:

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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