Monday, October 8, 2012


Send a Letter to the President on October 17

Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 3, 2012 /
Earlier I posted the draft of a letter to President Obama and asked for your help.
I got some excellent suggestions.
To begin with, this is not an online petition, but an invitation to join together to write your own individual heartfelt letter to the President and to email the White House on the same day.

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

Doonesbury Considers Life Without the Press
Slate – thanks Amy Worden @inkyamy for the tweet

 “As a result, 44 of the 77 charter schools that PDE has recently classified as having made AYP for 2011-12 in fact fell short of the targets for academic performance that other public schools had to meet, some even declining in proficiency percentages rather than making gains.”
PDE using unapproved formula to artificially inflate charter school AYP numbers
PSBA 10/5/2012
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has implemented a new way of determining whether charter schools have met student achievement milestones for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The new method is less stringent than the standards that must be met by traditional public schools, and which until this year were also applied to charter schools. As a result, 44 of the 77 charter schools that PDE has recently classified as having made AYP for 2011-12 in fact fell short of the targets for academic performance that other public schools had to meet, some even declining in proficiency percentages rather than making gains.

October 7th Email to Chairmen of the PA Senate and PA House Education Committees

My spies tell me that guests for this discussion may include Matthew J. Brouillette, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives and Helen Gym, former Notebook editor and a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education
WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane
Radio Times discusses parent trigger Monday October 8th at 10 am
Are you familiar with the 'parent trigger' laws? And how do you feel about parents taking schools into their own hands to ensure the outcome of the children's education and safety? Some states have enacted such laws, and there's a bill in the Pa legislature to move this along in the commonwealth. Join us Monday morning at 10 to hear a debate on the controversial issue.
You can listen live on Monday at this link:
Want to call in with questions/comments during the show?

Spin test: More than cheating was at work on student scores

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial October 8, 2012 12:13 am
The percentage of Pennsylvania schools that met federal standards on reading and math tests dropped precipitously this year, and that was bad enough. But equally shocking was Education Secretary Ron Tomalis' conclusion that cheating was the reason.
His conclusion, however, may have been premature and undervalued the influence of a reduction in dollars available to school districts.

Survey: Budgets cut opportunities for Pa. students
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt Posted: 10/07/12 12:01 am
Chances are growing that a Pennsylvania child in public school today sits in a class with more and more students with each passing year.  Further, that child’s chances of taking a field trip to the zoo, learning how to play a musical instrument or even attending kindergarten are decreasing just as quickly.
Those are among the findings of an August statewide survey of public schools which was released Oct. 1 and showed districts responding to financial stress by cutting electives, cutting tutoring and cutting teachers.  With headlines declaring a dip in this year’s test scores, the logjam over the property tax school funding puzzle continuing and a debate over charter school reform on the horizon, discussions about public education in Pennsylvania can often seem detached from the actual students around which all this debate revolves.
But the release of results from a survey sent out jointly by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators paints a statistical picture of the impact some of those policy debates have on the ground in public schools across the Commonwealth.

Public school cuts threaten the future
Pottstown Mercury Editorial October 7, 2012
……“Public education is the foundation of our democracy,” said William LaCoff, Owen J. Roberts School Board member. “You need an educated populace to make good decisions about the nation’s future and education is expensive.  If we have no public schools, or if they are the school of last resort, not everyone is going to get an education and then we have a permanent under-class?  That’s the last thing we want.”
Put that way, it’s clear we’re talking about more than art class.
Public schools represent the future of our nation; we must find a means of adequately funding public schools or that future is threatened.

Chichester School District claims achievement report is misleading
Published: Monday, October 08, 2012
Delco Times By TINA DiSERAFINO Times Correspondent
……Since 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act signed by former President George W. Bush was designed to cater to students who struggle with academics and provide extra help they need to succeed. Tied into this law is a measurement called Adequate Yearly Progress. AYP is constructed of three measures: attendance, performance and participation. The goal of reaching AYP is increased by 10 percent each year. By 2014, the goal is to have each student reach 100 percent in reading and math, which to some may seem impossible.
“We are losing funding from the government because of budget cuts. In the last two years, we have cut $6 million from our financial plan,” said Sherman.  Because of this, Chichester schools are forced to do more with less, which has included decreasing the number of teachers, increasing class sizes and cutting valued programs.
Another factor that influences school performance are subgroups, these categories include, but are not limited to, students who are classified as economically disadvantaged, African-American, Hispanic, and special education. Some schools have more subgroups than others. Each subgroup must meet the goal in order to make AYP. If one subgroup fails, AYP is not met even if every other subgroup passes. Chichester schools have eight subgroups, where other schools in Delaware County may only have one or two.

A new blend of public and private
Districts are looking to an array of providers to create high-performing schools. The approach has raised concerns about the future of public education.
The notebook by Connie Langland October 7, 2012
School closings. Private providers running public schools. Downsizing the central office while giving principals the reins to hire, budget, and set curriculum. Rapid expansion of charters.
Not too many years ago these might have been radical ideas. Now, they are commonplace, with two dozen urban districts – including New York City, Washington, New Orleans, and Los Angeles – embracing what is called the portfolio model.

Posted: Mon, Oct. 8, 2012, 5:41 AM
Once afraid, parochial converts praise kids' new public schools
BY REGINA MEDINA Philadelphia Daily News Staff Writer
WHEN the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced in January that it was closing St. Bridget's elementary school in East Falls, Nancy DiGiovanni couldn't imagine transferring her two children to the local public school.  For years, she had heard scary things about the neighborhood school, Thomas Mifflin: Its hallways were "unruly," school police were always there and employees yelled at each other.
But, with the prospect of higher tuition at St. Blaise, a new regional school where Nancy and her husband, Michael, would have sent their children, a teacher friend urged her to give Mifflin a look.

Commentary: PA charter school reform should protect taxpayers, not just K12, Inc. CEO Ron Packard and CSM CEO Vahan Gureghian
Keystone State Education Coalition October 4, 2012
Pennsylvania lawmakers should consider the following principles in any charter school reform legislation:

The PA Legislature is in recess until October 15th
Please contact 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

Before a Test, a Poverty of Words

New York Times By GINIA BELLAFANTE Published: October 5, 2012 
…..Children of professionals were, on average, exposed to approximately 1,500 more words hourly than children growing up in poverty. This resulted in a gap of more than 32 million words by the time the children reached the age of 4.

Chinese funding Florida charter schools
Miami Today October 4, 2012 By Meisha Perrin
Investment money is pouring into Florida from wealthy Chinese who find that Florida has exactly what they are looking for — and what they need to secure US green cards.
Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called "green card via red carpet," by putting millions into Florida's charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida. 
Under the EB-5 program, through investments of at least $1 million — or $500,000 for "targeted employment areas" — foreign nationals are able to obtain legal residency in the US so long as the money they invest will help secure or create at least 10 full-time jobs. 
A group of Chinese investors have put $30 million into the state's charter school program to date and are looking to invest three times that amount in the next year, Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, said in a US-China roundtable discussion last week. 

 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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