Friday, August 17, 2012

The Public Purpose of Public Education

“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

Right-to-know ruling in favor of the Notebook is now a precedent
The Notebook by Paul Socolar on Aug 15 2012
Last spring’s Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruling in favor of the Notebook in a right-to-know case involving public access to School Reform Commission resolutions is now a legal precedent.  Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini ruled last week in support of a motion filed by the Notebook to “report” the decision, meaning that it will now be treated as a precedent in similar cases in Pennsylvania.
In an April decision, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer upheld a lower court ruling that once the District introduces a resolution before a public meeting of the SRC, it becomes a public record and is accessible under the Right to Know Law.

PA House hearing considers public pension changes

Published: August 15, 2012
HARRISBURG - House lawmakers considered a wide range of public pension issues Tuesday, including putting new hires for state government and school district jobs under plans similar to private sector 401(k) plans and expanding the list of pension forfeiture crimes.
The House State Government and Finance Committees held a joint hearing on an issue expected to be on the front burner in Harrisburg next year.
Gov. Tom Corbett said recently that public pension issues need to be addressed because of escalating costs, while Senate Republican leaders have announced plans to also introduce legislation affecting pensions for new hires in state government and school districts.

PO LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The for-profit cyber school scam

Chambersburg Public Opinion LTE by Erica Burg August 16, 2012

One day as I was driving down U.S. 11 I noticed an enormous billboard advertising a cyber school. Later in the day, I was over by Big Lots and noticed another billboard advertising the same school.  Curious about these billboards, I did some research and learned that the Chambersburg Area and Shippensburg Area school districts paid $2.4 million to for-profit cyber schools last year. Some of that money paid for those billboards.
Students in our local brick-and-mortar schools will be paying for activities this fall, they will be sitting in larger classes, and they will receive fewer opportunities than the students who came before them.  Meanwhile, for-profit cyber schools are making money hand over fist because they charge our school districts tuition that is far above what it actually costs them to educate a child.

Overheard on CNN:

Debate between Ravitch, Rhee – Teacher: 'Just let me teach.'

Editors note: A recent Schools of Thought reader made this comment: "Equal air time for Ravitch – all this can and should be debated fairly – the blog space is welcome but insufficient." Diane Ravitch is scheduled to appear on CNN Newsroom Weekend with Randi Kaye this Saturday, August 18.
CNN Schools of Thought Blog by John Martin, CNN August 16, 2012
(CNN) – Education historian and professor Diane Ravitch took issue with a recent CNN appearance by former D.C. Schools chancellor Michele Rhee. Rhee and Ravitch both believe that quality teaching can make a difference in the classroom. But the two have fundamental differences in their beliefs about the quality of America's education system and its teachers.
Rhee told CNN, "The problem is that people don't understand where we stand right now in international rankings on academics. We are behind countries like Hungary and Luxembourg."  On Schools of Thought, Ravitch responded, "[Rhee] is obviously unaware that our nation has never had high scores on those tests. When the first international test was given in 1964, our students ranked 11th out of 12 nations. Yet our nation went on to become the most powerful economy in the world."
Rhee's organization, StudentsFirst, says on its website that "an effective teacher produces three times more learning than an ineffective teacher," but Rhee's critics, including Ravitch, say the group ignores the influence of poverty in America. Ravitch says that, "Family poverty is the most reliable predictor of low test scores," and that America has a much higher poverty rate than other countries.

Message on Public Education  2013
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
Resources to support stronger and more equitable public schools
The Public Purpose of Public Education
by Jan Resseger, Minister for Public Education and Witness
For more information, contact Jan Resseger (216-736-3711),
As Stanford University professor Linda Darling Hammond recently told the graduates of Teachers College, Columbia University, “The new scientific managers cleverly construct systems that solve the problems of the poor by blaming the teachers and schools that seek to serve them, calling the deepening levels of severe poverty an ‘excuse,’ rewarding schools that keep out and push out the highest-need students.” “The United States now has a far higher poverty rate for children than any other industrialized country… Our leaders do not talk about these things.  They simply say of poor children, ‘let them eat tests.’”


Education Voters PA Advocate Summit Sept. 22 Harrisburg

Building Community Leadership for Public Education.
On Saturday, September 22, 2012, Education Voters will be hosting an Advocate Summit to building community leaders for public education.
Saturday, September 22, 2012 Harrisburg, PA 8:30am - 4:30pm
What is it?
The Education Voters Institute of Pennsylvania is hosting a day-long forum to bring together advocates from across the Commonwealth. This summit will be an opportunity for individuals to learn about key issues affecting education policy, develop successful advocacy techniques and strategies to influence public policy and network with other advocates from around the state.
Who should attend?
If you are:
·         Someone who would like to learn more about education policy,
·         Interested in learning how to get involved in education advocacy,
·         Interested in learning new ways to organize locally,
·         Interested in learning what other education advocates are doing,
Then you should attend the EVPA Advocate Summit!
How to register?
Registration is easy, just click the link below or go to
The cost of the summit is only $25 and includes continental breakfast and boxed lunch and all training materials.  Space is limited.
To download a flyer, CLICK HERE.

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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