Monday, June 4, 2012

PBPC: Memo to Editors & Reporters: With Final Push for State Budget On, Here’s Where We Stand

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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School Directors, I strongly urge you to read the details of this bill, which directly addresses funding, transparency and accountability -  and come show your support at the Capitol on Monday…..LAF
Stand in Support of Charter School Reform on Monday June 4
PSBA Website May 31, 2012
Join Rep. Fleck at 11:00 am on Monday, June 4 in the Capitol Rotunda to Introduce Charter School Reform Bill HB2364
School officials are welcomed and encouraged to join Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin) on Monday, June 4, by gathering on the Capitol steps as he conducts a news conference to announce the introduction of HB 2364, legislation supported by PSBA that ensures greater taxpayer protection and accountability of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania.
Speaking at the news conference in addition to Fleck will be other legislators who are co-sponsors of the bill as well as PSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, and representatives from the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools (PARSS), and the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).  The news conference will be held at 11 a.m. in the Main Rotunda of the Capitol.  School officials who attend will be invited to stand behind the speakers to show support of HB 2364.  Those who cannot attend can view the event through live webstreaming at

Lawmakers to battle Gov. Corbett on cuts to schools, human services

Published: Sunday, June 03, 2012, 12:00 PM
By Jan Murphy, Harrisburg Patriot News
When lawmakers return to the Capitol this week, the bulk of their work will center around passing a new state budget.  If Republican legislative leaders in the GOP-controlled General Assembly have their way, the 2012-13 budget will invest more money in education and social services than Gov. Tom Corbett proposed.
Overall spending will be higher, too, though, still below the state’s high-water mark of $28 billion seen in the last year of former Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration.
Republican legislative leaders will meet tonight to reach a meeting of the minds on shared priorities. Then they will take them to a meeting with Corbett on Tuesday to gauge his reaction to their proposal.

Memo to Editors & Reporters: With Final Push for State Budget On, Here’s Where We Stand

To: Editorial Page Editors, Editorial Board Members, Capitol Reporters & Columnists
From: Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Date: June 1, 2012
Re: With Final Push for State Budget On, Here’s Where We Stand
Next week begins the final push in Harrisburg for a state budget. The Senate passed its budget bill on May 9, and it is now before the House of Representatives. Legislative leaders say things could wrap up as soon as mid-June.

Watch Gov. Tom Corbett field questions on the budget, school funding and property taxes at forum with regional editors (VIDEO runtime 58 minutes)

By Evan Brandt Journal Register News Service
NORRISTOWN — Gov. Tom Corbett likes to describe Pennsylvania’s $27.1 billion budget as a shrinking pizza.  “In prior years,” he said, “we had an eight-inch pizza and now we’re down to a six-inch pie, but we have the same demands. In fact, we have an increase in demands.”
This observation was among many made during an hour-long meeting Wednesday afternoon with editors and reporters from Digital First Media, the company which oversees The Advance of Bucks County and other local newspapers in the region.

Pizza and Silver Bullets
Yinzercation Blog — JUNE 1, 2012
This governor is full of metaphors. He’s very fond of comparing the state budget to pizza, saying helpful things like, “we had an 8-inch pizza and now we’re down to a 6-inch pie, but we … have an increase in demands.” [Delco Times, 5-30-12] Back in March, he explained to an unhappy audience of University of Pittsburgh students that public education accounts for 40% of the state budget: “Pennsylvania looks at education as its No. 1 priority … When the pizza pie goes from an 8-inch pie to a 6-inch pie, you still have that percentage, but not enough money.” [Pitt News, 5-31-12]
………Here are some ideas for rolling the crust back out to a real size pizza:
  • Close the Delaware Loophole: costs our state $500 million in missed tax revenue every year and more than 20 other states have already closed this loophole.
  • Impose a severance tax on Marcellus shale: most states with major mineral resources like ours have a severance tax and not having one has cost Pennsylvania over $314 million since October 2009 alone.
  • Get rid of the new bonus depreciation rule: The state itself estimates that more than half of the current budget gap is due to a huge shortfall in corporate tax revenues – to the tune of $260 million. (See “We Have a Priority Problem.”)
  • Keep the capital stock and franchise tax: Corbett wants to eliminate these as a gift to corporations, costing the state $200 million in revenue every year.
  • Eliminate sales tax exemptions: helicopters and gold bullion top the list of hard-to-swallow exemptions. And what about smokeless tobacco?
  • Rescind the new Voter ID bill: it solves no actual problem in the state, will most certainly face expensive legal challenge, and will cost taxpayers an estimated $11 MILLION to implement. (See “There Goes $11-million for Our Schools.”)
  • Fix the cyber-charter funding formula: Taxpayers and school districts could have saved approximately $86 million in 2009-2010 if cyber charter schools received funding based on what they actually spent per student. (See “Trouble Seeing the Money.”)
  • Shut down the EITC program: it costs us $75 million per year by funneling corporate tax money that should have gone to the state for our budget needs into the hands of private schools instead. (See “EITC: No Credit to PA.”)

Area schools focus on increasing revenue
Struggling to balance budgets, districts are looking for ways to make more money.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 10:14 p.m. EDT, June 2, 2012
It had everything a benefit dinner should have. Sport jackets and dresses, musical performances, coconut shrimp and fancy hors d'oeuvres.
Bidders could win a trip to Las Vegas in a silent auction. Guests enjoyed a three-course dinner while the keynote speaker talked of overcoming obstacles. But the event wasn't to benefit a needy family or to cure a crippling disease. The fundraiser was for an unlikely recipient: the Parkland School District, which is raising taxes 3.67 percent, cutting 60 jobs and freezing teacher pay for the 2012-13 school year.

PISA 2009 Results:  What Makes a School Successful?
Resources, Policies and Practices (Volume IV)
OECD 2010

Gauging Charters' Impact on Catholic Schools

 Sean Cavanagh   
Are charter schools siphoning students from Catholic schools?
A recent analysis out of New York examines that question and reaches a provocative conclusion: that the growth of charters is a "significant and growing factor" in declining Catholic school enrollment. Abraham M. Lackman, the president of Praxis Insights, an education and government consulting organization, and a former top staffer on the New York state Senate Finance Committee, says that competition from charter schools, and broader demographic trends, are hurting Catholic schools—and that the losses among the church's schools are likely to become more severe in the years ahead.

Notorious P.H.D.

 Nancy Flanagan  
A long-time, much-valued reader of Teacher in a Strange Land, Carl Rosin of Radnor, Pennsylvania, sent me one of those Emperor-has-no-clothes stories this weekend: The school board in nearby Tredyffrin-Easttown--citing a budget shortfall--is proposing that the most expensive teachers (those with a Ph.D.) be demoted to part-time. 

Ravitch on MSNBC’s Ed Show: Attack on Public Education

For the sake of public education, Walker has to go

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Opinion By Diane Ravitch June 1, 2012
If you are concerned about the future of public education in Wisconsin, vote to oust Gov. Scott Walker. Since his election in 2010, he has proved himself to be a steadfast enemy of the public schools.  In the world according to Walker, the best way to reform public education is to demoralize its teachers, attack the teachers' union and hand over more taxpayer dollars to privately managed charters and voucher schools.
He is wrong on every count. In his role as governor, he has a constitutional duty to preserve, protect and strengthen the state's democratic institutions. He has violated that trust by his ongoing efforts to undermine public education, which is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Louisiana's bold bid to privatize schools
Chicago Tribune June 01, 2012 by Stephanie Simon | Reuters
 (Reuters) - Louisiana is embarking on the nation's boldest experiment in privatizing public education, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children.
Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 06/02/2012

15 critical questions about school reform

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by educator Anthony Cody, who worked for 24 years in the Oakland schools, 18 years teaching science at a high-needs school and six years as a mentor and coach of teachers. He is a National Board-certified teacher. This post appeared on his Education Week Teacher blog, Living in Dialogue .
By Anthony Cody
Educators in the United States are once again headed for a very big trap. We are being seduced by the idea that a common set of standards and assessments to match will deliver equitable outcomes from our schools. This is the siren call that draws us into endless top-down reforms that never work, but never stop promising that the next time, we will get it right, and ALL students will achieve at high levels. But this time, maybe we can learn from the last big national experiment along these lines, No Child Left Behind.

In Lists of Best High Schools, Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story

New York Times By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: June 3, 2012
This is the time of year when the lists of best high schools in the United States are published. For anxious consumers, the number of lists can be daunting, whether national in scope (U.S. News & World Report; The Washington Post; Newsweek and The Daily Beast) or local (Boston magazine; New Jersey Monthly; The Chicago Sun-Times).

Tina Fey Fights to Save the Arts in Pa. Hometown

Upper Darby native Tina Fey is speaking out in support of Save Upper Darby Arts after being recruited by movement leaders. Fey has encouraged friends to view theSave U.D. Arts YouTube video and to sign a petition that will be presented to the governor June 6.
The school district, which is currently facing a $13 million deficit according to thePhiladelphia Inquirer, will vote this summer on making significant cuts to extra-academic programs, commonly referred to as “specials.”

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

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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