Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Education was mentioned several times in the debate, yet got very little attention."

Education Voters PA County Legislative Guides Available

Great resource – for each county they list your state senators and state representatives along with their contact information, committee assignments and the school districts that they represent.
A full list of legislative guides can be viewed and downloaded HERE:

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, teacher leaders, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

The PA Senate is in recess until October 15th
Please consider contacting your state senator and state rep regarding charter school reform during this break
You can bet that the charter school lobbyists are not taking a break

Delco Daily Times Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Officials: Voter registration deadline is 10/9

The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 9, state and county officials said.

Debate fact check: On education, gains difficult to demonstrate
Los Angeles Times By Howard Blume October 3, 20127:59 p.m.
On education, President Obama correctly noted that his ideas for reform have been drawn from ideas championed byDemocrats and Republicans, an overlap that also has drawn criticism in some quarters from allies of the president such as teacher unions.

Posted at 12:22 AM ET, 10/04/2012

A dozen debate tweets about education

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Here are some tweets from the presidential debate on the subject of education (and one setting the record straight on the state really ranked No. 1 in public education):

“It seems both candidates love teachers as long as they compete for a bonus and don’t have tenure.”

The Debate’s Education Blather

Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 4, 2012
Education was mentioned several times in the debate, yet got very little attention.
President Obama mentioned Race to the Top three times (at the Democratic convention, neither he nor Arne Duncan mentioned it even once). He claimed it was already showing results. I wish Romney had asked him what the results are. The President seems to think that the fact that states have adopted the Common Core standards shows that reform is working, but it will be years before their effects will be known. Might be good, might not. No one knows.
The President has this strange belief that Race to the Top was not top down, but that’s simply not the case. To qualify for the $5 billion in federal funds, states had to agree to meet specific federal requirements, such as evaluating teachers by their students’ test scores and opening more privately managed charter schools.

Charter Reform: James Roebuck’s Common Sense Reforms for Greater Charter School Accountability

Keystone Politics Blog Posted on  by Jon #
I’m more pro-charter schools than I would guess the median KP reader is, but one thing I think PA’s charter skeptics are absolutely right about is the lack of accountability. The key virtue of a liberal regulatory approach to charters is supposed to be that we let charters experiment with different education approaches, and then public schools rip off the best stuff they come up with. Under the current regulations though, they’re just kind of a black hole of unaccountability, and not only can’t we measure whether or not their approaches are working, we can’t even see what they’re doing with the public money they get. It’s like the worst of all worlds.

Charter Reform: Now That’s More Like It
Yinzercation Blog — OCTOBER 3, 2012
See, it can be done. Yesterday, state representative James Roebuck, a Democrat from Philadelphia and chair of the House Education Committee, announced a new bill that would represent a big step forward in really reforming the rules governing charter and cyber charter schools. [For an explanation of Gov. Corbett’s current attempt to impose anti-reforms, overriding local elected officials, and hiding the actions of his friends operating some of the state’s largest charter schools, see “Real Charter Reform.”]
House Bill 2661 would subject charter school fund balances to the same regulations that traditional public schools must follow (so they can’t keep huge sums of public taxpayer dollars essentially as profit). It would also tighten up pension funding rules that are allowing charters to “double dip” right now and limit special-education payments to charter schools to the actual amounts spent by the school district on special ed (currently, special-ed can be a cash cow for some charters). Significantly, this bill would not exempt charter operators from our Right to Know Laws. (H.B. 2661)

Charter Reform: Legislative Alert from Education Voters PA Oct. 1, 2012
With only 8 more days left in the fall session, it still looks like the Governor is going to try to rush a charter reform bill through - and attempt to hijack the special ed reform bill to do it! During the final days of budget negotiations last spring, both the House and Senate were unable to come to an agreement on charter reform. The proposed pieces of legislation were inadequate - they did not address the issues that need to be addressed. Charter schools are part of the public education landscape and we need high quality reform in order to help ensure that good charters can thrive and that we address the problems that have occurred. Good charter reform legislation would:
  • Fix the funding formula that hurts ALL kids: we need to address the reality that current law means that funding charter schools siphons funds from community schools. A good funding formula would help both charter schools and traditional community schools,
  • Address the financial and quality problems with virtual charter schools,
  • Ensure that communities continue to have a say in how all public schools function in their community, and
  • Improve fiscal and operational transparency, protecting the rights of students and taxpayers.
Charter reform should:
·                     Fix funding formulas
·                     Fix the ways cyber charter schools are funded, not just create a commission
·                     Increase accountability and transparency
·                     Protect the interests of students, taxpayers and communities, including community schools and good charter schools, not just create a free-for-all
Help us spread the word. Forward this email to your friends and neighbors and share this alert on your social networks. 
Thank you for your continuous support on this issue, 
Susan Gobreski  Executive Director

“…in state after state, full-time online schools have posted poor test scores and abysmal graduation rates.”

Online Schools Face Backlash Amid Exploding Popularity, States Question Academic Results

Reuters  |  Posted: 10/03/2012 7:54 am EDT Updated: 10/03/2012 10:39 am EDT
Huffington Post By Stephanie Simon
Oct 3 (Reuters) - Virtual public schools, which allow students to take all their classes online, have exploded in popularity across the United States, offering what supporters view as innovative and affordable alternatives to the conventional classroom.  Now a backlash is building among public officials and educators who question whether the cyber-schools are truly making the grade.
In Maine, New Jersey and North Carolina, officials have refused to allow new cyber-schools to open this year, citing concerns about poor academic performance, high rates of student turnover and funding models that appear to put private-sector profits ahead of student achievement.
In Pennsylvania, the auditor general has issued a scathing report calling for revamping a funding formula that he said overpays online schools by at least $105 million a year. In Tennessee, the commissioner of education called test scores at the new Tennessee Virtual Academy "unacceptable."
And in Florida, state education officials are investigating a virtual school after it was accused of hiring uncertified teachers; in the past two weeks two local school boards in the state have rejected proposals for virtual schools.

Teachers Lead Philly Press Release October 3, 2012 
New Philadelphia Organization Works to Foster Teacher Leadership
Launched by a group of Philadelphia educators in September, Teachers Lead Philly (TLP) is a new organization aimed at promoting teachers as key leaders in the quest to transform education in the U.S.  Practicing teachers, after all, are some of our best sources of information about students’ successes and struggles, about how education policy translates into practice, and about the kind of changes that can help schools thrive and students learn. Schools and education systems need more leaders who are current teachers, the group believes. Meaningful opportunities to lead, they say, will help keep good teachers in the profession. 
Teachers Lead Philly grew out of a series of monthly meetings co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Education Fund and the U.S. Department of Education  in the Spring of 2012, and organized by Gamal D. Sherif, a teacher at Science Leadership Academy and a 2012 Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education the U.S. Department of Education. In those monthly gatherings, Philadelphia teachers came together to research and discuss innovative classroom practices, effective professional collaboration and the importance of teacher-led professional development.
…..Teachers Lead Philly will hold its first public event on October 18, 2012, when the group invites teachers from across the city to gather to explore the subject of “Effective Teacher Networks.” TLP plans three additional large-group gatherings as well as smaller group meetings and optional classroom visits throughout the year. The October 18 event will run from 5pm to 7pm in the regional offices of the U.S. Department of Education on the 5th floor of Philadelphia’s Wanamaker Building.
….On Wednesday, October 10th, Teachers Lead Philly will be among several groups presenting at a SEED 2.0 event at City Hall. SEED  (Supporting Entrepreneurship in Education) is a crowd-funded and crowd–sourced opportunity for education innovators to compete for cash prizes and, just as important, to present their ideas before an engaged audience of potential funders, users, collaborators, and community members.  SEED 2.0 will take place on October 10th in Conversation Hall on the 2nd floor at 6pm, and moving the City Council Chambers at 7 pm. For more information about Teachers Lead Philly, go to or contact Gamal Sherif, TLP Communications Phone: 215-888-4203.

"Education Economy" Continues to Suffer in Pennsylvania

 Andrew Ujifusa  
In a new survey about the financial health of Keystone State school districts, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators report that while the labor market for Keystone State public school workers isn't as disastrous as it used to be, the numbers will still cause some school funding advocates to gulp.  The two groups estimate that over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, the state's school districts have eliminated or left unfilled approximately 18,360 positions.

Interview: Diane Ravitch Talks School Reform, the Chicago Strike, and the "Testing Vampire" Part 1 of 2

Diane Ravitch is famous for two things: championing the education reform movement, then leading the opposition to it. The movement, which broadly supports an agenda that emphasizes student assessment (a.k.a. testing) and school choice (a.k.a. charter schools), has come to dominate American education policy. For the most part, both Democrats and Republicans now push to make school systems resemble economic markets. They want fewer teacher protections, more testing, and more charter schools for parents to choose from. President Obama's Department of Education, headed by education reformer Arne Duncan, shares many policy goals with those of George W. Bush's administration. Ravitch herself was once part of the movement, promoting student assessments and helping to create voluntary academic standards. After serving as Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, she held positions at the pro-school reform movement Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and was a member of the Koret Task Force at Stanford's Hoover Institution, which focuses on school choice and "accountability." But in 2009, Ravitch left both positions and wrote a book announcing her move to the other side of the debate.
This is part one of our interview. Tomorrow, I'll offer more of Ravitch's views on charter schools, virtual schools, and the role of non-profit foundations.

Bill Moyers on ALEC

Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 3, 2012 //
Because I was traveling in Texas over the weekend, I didn’t see Bill Moyers’ report on ALEC. I watched it last night, and I hope you will too.  If you want to understand how we are losing our democracy, watch this program.  If you want to know why so many states are passing copycat legislation to suppress voters’ rights, to eliminate collective bargaining, to encourage online schooling, to privatize public education, watch this program.
Moyers could do an entire special on ALEC’s education bills. ALEC promotes the parent trigger, so that parents can be tricked into handing their public schools over to charter chains. ALEC promotes gubernatorial commissions with the power to over-ride the decisions of local school boards to open more charters. ALEC promotes vouchers. ALEC, as he noted, promotes virtual charter schools (Pearson’s Connections Academy and K12 wrote the ALEC model law). ALEC has model legislations for vouchers for students with special needs. ALEC has a model law to allow people to teach without credentials. ALEC has legislation to eliminate tenure protection. ALEC has model legislation for educator evaluation.

Tweet from NASA October 3, 2012
Celebrate World Space Week Oct 4-10! @NASAedu has #STEM resources available for teachers & students: 

Building One Pennsylvania 2012 Statewide Public Meeting
Promoting sustainable, inclusive and economically prosperous communities
Saturday, October 13, 2012 10 am to 11:30 a.m.  (doors open at 9:30 for registration)
Franklin Commons, 400 Franklin Avenue, Phoenixville, PA
Declining local tax bases, aging infrastructure, unfair state and federal policies are undermining our communities. It's time to stand together to support our diverse, middle class communities.
Join local elected, faith and civic leaders from across Pennsylvania for a public meeting to call on state and national policy-makers to act on bi-partisan solutions to the pressing problems impacting our communities.  
·                     Reduce our local property tax burdens  
·                     Invest in our schools  
·                     Redevelop our infrastructure while creating local jobs 
·                     Promote more balanced housing markets 
 The event is free but you must register in advance to reserve your seat. Register at or by emailing name, title, organizational affiliation, address, phone and email to   To defray the cost of the event, we are accepting donations. Suggested donation: $5-$10. 

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!

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