Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our failing public schools: “When asked to evaluate the school their oldest child attends, an astonishing 77% give it an A or B. This is the highest rating in 20 years."

“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

Posted: Thu, Aug. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM
Joe Watkins: Concerns over school choice advocate taking charge of Chester's struggling schools
BY WILL BUNCH Philadelphia Daily News Staff Writer
IT MIGHT HAVE once seemed unthinkable: Handing the keys to a large, troubled public-school district over to a high-profile advocate for increasing privatization, including vouchers and for-profit private schools.  But activists said that last Friday's surprise announcement that Gov. Corbett had named the Rev. Joe Watkins - an MSNBC pundit who headed the Students First PAC, the pro-voucher group that's dumped millions of campaign dollars on Corbett and other pols - as chief recovery officer to run the Chester Upland schools in Delaware County marks a tipping point.

Joe Watkins: What Will Happen to Chester Upland?

Diane Ravitch’s Blog August 21, 2012
Sometimes something happens that is so astonishing, so breathtaking, and simultaneously so disturbing that I don’t know how to characterize it.

“Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse”
Joe Watkins: Taking the Public out of Public Education
Yinzercation Blog — AUGUST 22, 2012
Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis just picked Joe Watkins to be the Chief Recovery Officer (CRO) for the struggling school district in Chester Uplands. Under new laws passed with the budget this summer, the state can now appoint a CRO to develop a “financial recovery plan” for districts like Chester Upland over in Eastern PA and Duquesne, right here in the heart of Yinzer Nation.
The CRO has enormous power to close schools and convert them to charters, to cancel contracts with vendors, and to renegotiate teachers’ contracts. He can even force local school boards to raise property taxes. And if school board members don’t go along with the plan, the state actually now has the ability to prevent individuals from resigning their posts! 

“When asked to evaluate the school their oldest child attends, an astonishing 77% give it an A or B. This is the highest rating in 20 years. Only 6% give it a D or F. This question elicits the views of informed consumers, the people who refer to a real school, not the hypothetical school system that is lambasted every other day in the national press or condemned as “obsolete” by Bill Gates.”

What We Can Learn from the New PDK/Gallup Poll

Diane Ravitch’s Blog August 22, 2012 
The annual Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup poll on education was released today.
The sponsors characterize public opinion as split, which is true for many issues.
We must see this poll in the context of an unprecedented, well-funded campaign to demonize public schools and their teachers over at least the past two years, and by some reckoning, even longer.
The media has parroted endlessly the assertion that our public schools are failures, they are (as Bill Gates memorably said to the nation’s governors in 2005) “obsolete,” and “the system is broken.” How many times have you heard those phrases? How many television specials have you seen claiming that our education system is disastrous? And along comes “Waiting for ‘Superman’” with its propagandistic attack on public education in cities and suburbs alike and its appeal for privatization. Add to that Arne Duncan’s faithful parroting of the claims of the critics.
That is the context, and it is remarkable that Americans continue to believe in the schools they know best and to understand what their most critical need is.

PDK/Gallup Poll Offers Glimpse into Americans Views of Public Education

 Emily Douglas  
Seventy-one percent of Americans have "trust and confidence" in our country's public school teachers, 48 percent would give the public schools in their community an A or B, and three of four people in the country believe the Common Core State Standards will provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and states. These are just a few of the findings from the 44th Annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, which was released today.

Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 08/22/2012

Poll: Americans’ views on public education

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
A major annual poll on how Americans view public education shows divisions on vouchers, charter schools, evaluating teachers by standardized test scores of students and whether President Obama or Mitt Romney would be better for public education. Yet Americans largely agree that they trust public school teachers but want them prepared more rigorously.
As has been true in previous years, Americans give relatively high grades to the public schools in their own communities — this year 48 percent gave them a grade of an A or B, compared to 40 percent in 1992. But they give lower to grades to public schools in the nation as a whole.

New Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll Finds Nation Divided On Education Issues

EdMedia Commons National Education Writers Association Posted by Emily Richmond on August 22, 2012 at 8:31am in Education in the News 
By Mikhail Zinshteyn, EWA
Americans believe lack of school funding is the biggest issue facing public schools but balancing the federal budget should take priority, according to a new Phi Delta Kappa/ Gallup Poll on public attitudes toward education.

David Shulick, the owner of Delaware Valley High School was a member of Governor Corbett’s education transition team
Philly School District severs ties with alternative school provider
Philly School File Blog by Kristen Graham
The Philadelphia School District has severed ties with a for-profit alternative education company that runs alternative schools in the region.  Delaware Valley High School, which laid off its staff in July, will no longer run a disciplinary school and a program for at-risk students, as it has in the past, district officials said.

Posted: Wed, Aug. 22, 2012, 7:16 AM
Charter schools drain much needed funds
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion BY REP. JAMES R. ROEBUCK
Roebuck, who represents the 188th District (West Philadelphia), is Democratic chairman of the state House Education Committee.
IN PHILADELPHIA, 2,700 blue-collar workers recently agreed to contribute more than $100 million from their own pockets to save the city's schools and help close the school district's budget shortfall. For these men and women who work every day to keep our schools clean and safe, this is a very real sacrifice. Most earn less than $40,000, even after years on the job.
Their sacrifice has brought an end to one battle for now. But the larger war against our public schools and the working people of our state goes on.

Failing grade for Corbett / A new law stomps on the rights of the Duquesne school district and others

August 22, 2012 12:04 am Special to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
State Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, represents the 35th Legislative District.
The financial crisis in the Duquesne City School District should have been a wake-up call to state government that comprehensive education reform is needed immediately. Instead, Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed a new law written by legislative Republicans that stomps on the local rights of financially distressed school districts, like Duquesne and possibly Clairton and Jeannette in the future.
Property taxpayers in neighboring school districts should be worried, too. You could be on the hook for thousands of dollars for every student transferring into your district.

Lawmakers, area school officials criticize Corbett's education cuts

Wilkes-Barre Citizens voice BY PETER CAMERON (STAFF WRITER)
Published: August 22, 2012
EXETER - They would have been preaching to the choir if it hadn't been standing behind them.
Backed by an army of about 60 teachers, several politicians, school board members and union leaders bashed Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts to education at a press conference in front of the Wyoming Area Secondary Center Tuesday afternoon.  The speakers included state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, state Treasurer Rob McCord, Wyoming Mayor Bob Boyer and Ransom Young, who is running against state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township.

Why are tycoons, politicians pushing ‘rigor’ for preschoolers?
Parents Across America By Caroline Grannan, San Francisco Aug 22, 2012
Parents Across America founding member
An author with whom I collaborate as editor asked me to write her a brief summary explaining who’s behind the current brand of education reform. Her topic – and concern – is the increasing academic “rigor” being imposed on young children.
 Here’s the question behind this: Teachers overwhelmingly – and parents generally – know that mandating academic rigor for young children is developmentally inappropriate. So if teachers and parents know that it’s wrongheaded and harmful to impose academic rigor on kindergartners and preschoolers, who is making it happen?

The 30 Top Education Policy Tweeters, 2012

Education Next By Michael Petrilli 08/23/2012
Top 30 Education Policy Organizations and Individuals for Online Influence, as Measured by Klout, August 2012

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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