Wednesday, July 11, 2012

“The PA General Assembly has pulled a curtain around the EITC & Scholarship programs, allocating $150 million while prohibiting state agencies from collecting all but the most basic data.”

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.

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“The General Assembly has pulled a curtain around the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Scholarship programs, allocating $150 million while prohibiting state agencies from collecting all but the most basic data.”
State budget places more burdens on taxpayers and neediest citizens
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 5:40 AM
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Sharon Ward
Sharon Ward is director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in Harrisburg. ( 
For several weeks now, I have started each day by pouring my morning coffee and reading a new story about a Pennsylvania school district laying off teachers, ending art and music programs or raising local taxes. Or a story about the nearly 68,000 people about to be cut off from a modest, temporary stipend that helps them to get back on the path to self-sufficiency. 
Contrast this bad news with the picture of Gov. Tom Corbett and state lawmakers smiling as the budget was signed on June 30. When the ink has dried, there is little in this budget to smile about. It maintains the deep cuts to schools that have forced many into financial distress. It makes it harder for people who are sick or disabled to get by.
And it will continue to cost tens of thousands of jobs at a time when our economy is still fragile. Rather than building our economy, this budget continues to strangle it and compromise our children’s future. Lawmakers are smiling to keep up the fiction that they haven’t raised taxes. We know better: This budget shifts responsibility and costs onto you, the local taxpayer.

Posted: Wed, Jul. 11, 2012, 3:00 AM
Budget offers a crash course in Pennsylvania politics
Philadelphia Inquirer OP/ED By Madeleine Dean
Madeleine Dean is a Democratic state representative from Montgomery County.
Well, we did it. As Gov. Corbett boasted in a Capitol news conference minutes before midnight on June 30, the legislature passed the 2012-13 budget balanced and on time.
But I have my doubts. Two months ago, I was sworn in as a new member of the state House, and this was the first budget I participated in. And from my perspective as someone inexperienced in Harrisburg but experienced in the real world, yes, we passed a budget on time — that is, before the clock struck 12. But we failed to pass a budget that struck the right balance.

United Way: BCG funding arrangement messy, but no conspiracy
by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/Newsworks on Jul 09 2012
Private philanthropists have been using a complicated series of pass-throughs to fund the Boston Consulting Group’s far-reaching work to help overhaul the School District of Philadelphia.  
But where critics see a coordinated back-channel effort to privatize the city’s public education system, Jill Michal sees evidence of an unusual consensus among Philadelphia’s civic leadership to actively engage in the city’s troubled school system.

Despite Obesity Concerns, Gym Classes Are Cut
New York Times by AL BAKER Published: July 10, 2012
More than a half-century ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower formed the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, and today Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Michelle Obama are among those making childhood obesity a public cause. But even as virtually every state has undertaken significant school reforms, many American students are being granted little or no time in the gym.
In its biennial survey of high school students across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionreported in June that nearly half said they had no physical education classes in an average week.

TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2012
Students Get Their Chance to Grade Teachers
National Education Writers Association Ed Beat by Mikhail Zinshteyn
As policy makers rush to set up systems to evaluate teacher performance, they often overlook input from those who actually spend the most time watching the educators: students.
That oversight might start to change as more studies suggest students’ evaluations of their teachers can be strong indicators of how much the pupils will learn—and, by extent perhaps, also offer a reasonable gauge of how well those teachers are performing their jobs.
This week, researchers at a think tank in Washington, D.C.—the Center for American Progress—released a study that showed many students across the country are not feeling challenged at school.

Charting a better course
Charter schools raise educational standards for vulnerable children
The Economist Jul 7th 2012 | CHICAGO AND MINNEAPOLIS | from the print edition
“EVERYONE’S pencil should be on the apple in the tally-mark chart!” shouts a teacher to a class of pupils at Harvest Preparatory School in Minneapolis. Papers and feet are shuffled; a test is coming. Each class is examined every six or seven weeks. The teachers are monitored too. As a result, Harvest Prep outperformed every city school district in Minnesota in maths last year. It is also a “charter” school; and all the children are black.
Twenty years ago Minnesota became the first American state to pass charter-school laws. (Charter schools are publicly funded but independently managed.) The idea was born of frustration with traditional publicly funded schools and the persistent achievement gap between poor minority pupils and those from middle-income homes. Charters enroll more poor, black and Latino pupils, and more pupils who at first do less well at standardised tests, than their traditional counterparts.

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grassroots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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