Saturday, September 8, 2012

Our “failing public schools”: List of Pennsylvania’s 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Our failing public schools: 104 of 141 members of JPL’s Curiosity mission to Mars team graduated from public schools

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 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

We Won’t Back Down, Either
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey— SEPTEMBER 7, 2012
Have you heard the buzz around “Won’t Back Down,” a major new Hollywood movie opening here in three weeks? It’s time for that buzz to start sounding like a swarm of angry bees coming from anyone who cares about our public schools. Here’s why.
The film, which was shot here in Pittsburgh and also set in our fair city, claims to be “inspired by real events.” Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Holly Hunter, it tells a stirring tale of parents fighting for their kids against downright cruel teachers and uncaring school administrators while also vilifying teachers’ unions. But there is absolutely no evidence that anything like the events depicted in the movie ever occurred in Pittsburgh. In fact, “Won’t Back Down” is very clearly an attempt to promote school privatization and ALEC-backed parent trigger laws, which have not even been on the radar screen here in Southwest Pennsylvania. [For more on ALEC, see “There’s Nothing Smart About ALEC.”]

If you have received an absentee ballot for PSBA officers it must be postmarked by this Monday, September 10th
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.

Commentary: Will Mayor Nutter match his education rhetoric to reality?
The Notebook by Helen Gym on Sep 07 2012
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter took the national stage last nightat the Democratic National Convention to deliver a key platform issue of President Obama’s agenda: education.
I, for one, couldn't be happier to have education, and especially public education, play such a central role in the president's campaign message.

Posted: Sat, Sep. 8, 2012, 3:01 AM
2 Montco schools win national honor
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
Two Montgomery County schools were selected as 2012 Blue Ribbon schools Friday.
Blue Ribbon is a U.S. Department of Education national award program, with recognition based on high math and reading scores on state tests or improved performance in schools with students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Windber elementary named Blue Ribbon school
VICKI ROCK Johnstown Daily American Staff Writer
12:22 p.m. EDT, September 7, 2012
Windber Area Elementary School was the only school in Somerset County, and one of eight in Pennsylvania, honored Friday by the U.S. Department of Education as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recognized 269 schools as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their academic excellence or for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels.

Our “failing public schools”: List of Pennsylvania’s 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Troubled Vitalistic Charter School delays its opening

Bethlehem school official says the independent public school still doesn't have a building.

 11:35 p.m. EDT, September 7, 2012
Children will not be going back to the troubled Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School on Monday because they don't have classrooms.  Vitalistic informed the Bethlehem Area School District that the first day of classes, scheduled for Monday, would be delayed until Sept. 17 "because they don't have a facility," Bethlehem Superintendent Joseph Roy said Friday.


UPDATE 1-White House to release spending cuts report next week

Fri Sep 7, 2012 9:18pm IST
(Reuters) - The Obama administration plans to deliver a report to Congress late next week that details spending cuts that will be required if congressional leaders fail to reach a deficit reduction deal by year end.  White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling to New Hampshire on Air Force One that the administration will provide details of spending cuts later than planned. Under a law signed on Aug. 7, President Barack Obama had 30 days to inform Congress of how billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts would be carried out.

NSBA and federal officials warn that sequestration will damage public schools
NSBA’s School Board News by Joetta Sack-Min July 26th, 2012
The U.S. Department of Education says that sequestration would not affect 2012-13 school year budgets, except for districts that receive Impact Aid funds.
However, sequestration—the across-the-board budget cuts slated to occur in all federal discretionary programs in Jan. 2013—could have a profound impact on K-12 budgets beginning in the 2013-14 school year, according to the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

Stubborn Facts About Obama Education Policies That No Amount of Convention Sugarcoating Can Cover Up. by Mark Naison

At the Chalk Face Blog September 7, 2012 by slekar
If you watched the Democratic Convention, you would never know that the Obama Administration’s education policies were extremely controversial with America’s teachers and had provoked outrage among many of the nation’s most distinguished education scholars.

Obama Warns of Ed. Cuts, Touts Vision on K-12

 Sean Cavanagh  
Charlotte, N.C.
President Obama argued that his economic policies would do more to protect the needs of students and schools than those of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in a speech Thursday night in which he accepted his party's nomination to pursue a second term.
Obama's address at the Democratic National Convention stuck mostly to broad themes articulating his view of government's important role in society—a role which includes supporting a strong education system, and the needs of impoverished students within it.

Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/06/2012

The ed speech Obama should give to help him win

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Many of the nation’s more than 3 million teachers are unhappy with Obama administration school reform policies that they believe are using them as scapegoats for problems in failing schools.
Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers — the two teachers unions with, collectively, more than 3 million members — have endorsed Obama because they see important differences between the Democratic and Republican investment in public education. But many teachers are unhappy with the president’s support for initiatives such as standardized test-based teacher evaluation systems. Some have said they won’t vote for either Obama or Mitt Romney.
Here is a piece written by education historian Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” This first appeared on her blog.

Reading, Math and Grit

New York Times By JOE NOCERA Published: September 7, 2012
Early in his acceptance speech Thursday night, President Obama gave a nod to his administration’s backing of education reform. “Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading,” he said, calling on the country to add 100,000 math and science teachers in the next decade. Then he moved on to other topics, like foreign policy and Medicare, that he clearly views as more vital to the campaign as it enters the home stretch.
It is hardly a surprise that education isn’t a heated subject in the presidential race. Not when the economy is still sluggish, and the fight over the role of government so central. Besides, Republicans and Democrats alike have tried to fix education: George W. Bush with “No Child Left Behind,” and Obama with his administration’s “Race to the Top.” Those “real gains” notwithstanding, progress remains fitful and frustrating. Too many disadvantaged children remain poorly educated. Too many high school graduates don’t attend — or drop out — of college, which has become the prerequisite for a middle-class existence.

NEW: PSBA Leadership Institute Oct 16th  at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey
Opportunities for engagement in your association at the regional and state levels
Target audience: PSBA liaisons, assistant regional directors, regional directors, and all school board members who want to learn, network, and get more involved in public education leadership locally, regionally and at the state level. 
When and where: Tues., Oct. 16, 2- 3:30 p.m. in Trinidad Room at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, PA
Panel of speakers: PSBA members currently serving in leadership roles at the local, region and state level.
Facilitator: Tom Gentzel, PSBA executive director
Why attend? Make the most of your membership by learning about the current and proposed governance structure of your state association and the many ways in which you can become more involved in public education leadership locally, regionally and at the state level. If you are already engaged in the work of the association, learn more about how you can enhance your role and make it most meaningful for you, your local board, region, and at the state level. You will be hearing from a panel of “experts” who are already serving in various governance positions for the association. 
Regional Cabinet Meetings/ Region “Meet and Greets” are being held in the Trinidad Room and Wild Rose A&B following the institute from 4-5:30 p.m.
Refreshments will be served and registration is free!
 To register for the Leadership Institute and Region Meetings, contact Becky Mehringer by Oct. 9.
 Contact Karen Devine at for further information about the institute and region meetings.


Education 2020—September 13th Forum will focus on where we want to go

Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 1:01 AM
Harrisburg Patriot News By Letters to the Editor 
The Patriot-News is holding a community forum focused on education on Sept. 13 at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center in Camp Hill to address these big questions.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis will join a panel that includes Mechanicsburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Leidy, Infinity Charter School founder Nancy Hall and Patriot-News Capitol bureau chief and longtime education reporter Jan Murphy.
We also have interviewed numerous teachers, students, administrators, school board members and parents about what's working and what isn't in our current system. Their voices will play a role in the forum as well.

Education Voters PA Statewide Advocate Leadership Session Sept. 22nd
Added by Ian Moran
Time: September 22, 2012 from 8:30am to 4:30pm
Location: Temple University Harrisburg, 234 Strawberry Square
Education Voters of Pennsylvania will be holding a day-long summit for public education advocates across the state on Saturday September 22 in Harrisburg, PA. 
With public education coming under attack on multiple levels, the goal of this event is to bring together community members who are standing up for public schools in their own communities for training, planning and coordinating statewide efforts to maximize the impact that we all have.  We'll have a chance to brush up on and learn more about key policy issues, get training on effective advocacy tools and techniques and share stories and idea about local effort and how we bring this work together in a unified way.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Click HERE for more details on parking, directions, etc.

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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