Monday, August 27, 2012

EITC 2.0: Religious schools fare best under new state’s ‘voucher lite’ program

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, 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

Pa. lawmakers set priorities for fall session

By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau August 27, 2012 12:21 am
HARRISBURG -- Education again ranks high on the priority list of issues for Republican state lawmakers, who will return to the state Capitol for a brief fall session beginning late next month.
Also on the list of issues for their handful of session days: reducing the state's debt load, changing sentencing for juvenile offenders and possibly blocking the federal health care law.
Democrats have other things on their to-do list, including finding new dollars to pay for the state's backlog of road and bridge repairs.
Absent from either list is liquor store privatization, which the governor suggested in June could be resurrected this fall. And no action is expected yet on fixing the state's pension funding crisis, an issue that promises to make next year's budget process another exercise in mathematical gymnastics.  Much of the GOP list involves wrapping up loose ends, including the new methods for regulating charter schools and distributing special education dollars.

Weekend Updates/Opinions on Chester Upland and Chief Recovery Officer Joe Watkins
Philadelphia Inquirer, Delco Times, Diane Ravitch

EITC 2.0: Religious schools fare best under new state’s ‘voucher lite’ program
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt Posted: 08/26/12
The first of two parts
POTTSTOWN — As the state program which labeled   Pottstown High School    an “under-achieving” school gears up for the new school year, an analysis shows that Christian schools make up vast majority of those which have signed up to accept the scholarships the program provides.  Called “vouchers lite” by some and adopted during this year’s budget process in Harrisburg, the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program allows businesses to make donations to non-profit organizations, for which the businesses receive a tax break of as much as 90 percent of the contribution.

What Your State Representatives Said About the 'Vouchers Lite' Law
Digital Notebook blog by Evan Brandt August 26, 2012
Published in today's edition of The Pottstown Mercury is a story I wrote about the fact that so far, the schools benefiting from the state's new "vouchers lite" program, seem to be primarily Christian schools.  In writing the story, I sent identical e-mails to the offices of 11 area state legislators on Tuesday, Aug. 21, seeking their response to this discovery.

How many schools have to make AYP 'failure' list before we get reform?

By Patriot-News Editorial Board  Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012, 12:23 AM
The latest round of Adequately Yearly Progress listings for schools is out, and it feels a lot like that scene in “Alice in Wonderland” where the queen of hearts goes around yelling “Off with their heads!”  The premise behind the No Child Left Behind Act that passed in 2001 was to hold schools accountable and improve student achievement. As controversial as it has been, some testing has to be part of that accountability process. But we have reached the point where the state and federal governments are going around condemning schools like the nonsensical queen of hearts.

New cyber charter high school attracting Chester Upland students
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP, @DT_JohnKopp
A new cyber charter high school emphasizing social justice is gaining popularity among students living within the Chester Upland School District.
The Achieve Community Transformation Academy is set to debut this fall with a curriculum that promotes social change. Russell Gallagher, the school’s principal, said that ACT Academy already has enrolled 49 students from Chester Upland.

 “We found that an additional 198 schools eliminated or reduced their services from the previous year,” said Kern.  “This amounts to about 100 thousand students with limited access to their library programs over the previous year.”
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 22:58
Study finds PA’s school librarians spread thin
School librarians do more than shush students – they help teachers with reading curricula, encourage kids to read outside of school, and they’re proven to be linked to high student achievement.  If they have the time.
About 73 percent of the commonwealth’s public schools have taken part in a study that reveals school libraries are hurting for funding and resources. 

CityPaper by Daniel Denvir  FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2012
The Philadelphia Schools Partnership (PSP) yesterday announced that it has raised half of the $100 million goal for its Great Schools Fund. What readers might not glean from press reports is that PSP is an integral part of a broad and well-funded campaign to privatize public education in Philadelphia.
PSP received $15 million from the William Penn Foundation, as City Paper first reported, at the same time that the foundation appears to be cutting off groups like the Philadelphia Student Union that have been critical of privatization. And PSP's board is loaded with key wealthy figures in the privatization movement: Real estate developer Michael O’Neill, whose brother Brian O’Neill, according to a Daily News investigation, is close to a major Catholic Church-aligned pro-vouchers PAC; Janine Yass, wife of conservative Bala Cynwyd hedge-fund manager Jeffrey Yass, is among the state’s most high-profile voucher supporters who has together with his business partners spent millions to support pro-voucher candidates. 

Third and State Blog Posted by Jamar Thrasher on August 24, 2012 10:17 am
Advocates of Pennsylvania's new Opportunity Scholarship Program often say the goal is to give parents more choice in where their children go to school. An article this week in the Reading Eagle suggests it may be the other way around.

What the Polls Say
Yinzercation Blog — AUGUST 25, 2012
Two polls out in the past week show some surprising findings for public education with important implications for our grassroots movement here in Pennsylvania.
First, Americans are now clearly saying that the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act has made education worse, not better. [Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, 8-20-12] Overall, 29% of those polled said that the decade old law signed by President Bush has negatively impacted our schools, compared to 16% who thought it has improved them. But among those surveyed who said they are “very familiar” with the law, 48% said NCLB has made things worse, versus only 28% who said education is better.

Video: CNN’s Randi Kaye speaks to former assistant secretary of education Diane Ravitch on the state of our schools.
CNN Newsroom Interview August 24th  Runtime 7:34

Who Could Be Romney's Education Secretary?

 Alyson Klein  
With the Republican National Convention about to kick off, it's officially time to start speculating about who could be presumptive GOP Mitt Romney's education secretary if he wins the presidential election.  After all, way back in 2008 (Aug. 8, to be exact), Politics K-12 guessed that then-Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan could be then-Democratic contender Barack Obama's pick on Aug. 8. So we're actually late to the dance this year.

The Finnish Alternative: Reclaiming Public Education From Corporate Reform

Monday, 20 August 2012 By Dan Archer and Adam Bessie, Truthout | Graphic Journalism
In our first two episodes of "The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum," we took readers to Washington, DC, and post-Katrina New Orleans, tracking how the spread of GERM - the Global Education Reform Movement - is transforming public education into private enterprise. Once born of neoconservative economic philosophy, GERM is now fully bipartisan, and, thus, because there is so little public debate between Democrats and Republicans, the corporate media portrays competition, testing and school choice as our only choice for school improvement.
But there is another way.

Bios of candidates slated for 2013 PSBA offices 8/15/2012
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.

Upcoming PSBA Professional Development Opportunities
To register or to learn more about PSBA professional development programs please visit:

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!  Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA

EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center

Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!

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 grass roots 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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