Thursday, October 11, 2012

Should Pennsylvania have a statewide authorizer for charter schools?

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
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COMMENTARY:Should Pennsylvania have a statewide authorizer for charter schools?
Keystone State Education Coalition, October 11, 2012
While there are some great charter schools, sixteen years of charters in Pennsylvania have not shown them to be systematically more effective than traditional public schools.

Pennsylvania has a long and valued tradition of local control – locally elected officials, accountable to local voters, making decisions that they deem to be in the best interests of their neighbors and communities.  Locally elected volunteer school directors are responsible for local spending and taxing decisions and for setting local education policy; these may vary considerably from one school district to another throughout the Commonwealth.

A statewide panel of political appointees has no obligation or responsibility to local communities or local taxpayers.  It would however, be beholden to the ideology and whims of a sitting governor.

It comes down to this question:
Should public education be the responsibility of locally elected officials who are responsible and accountable to their neighbors and the communities they live in or should public education be a business opportunity for friends, political allies and financial supporters of a sitting governor?

“In fact, Terry Mutchler, head of the state Office of Open Records, has publicly denounced charter schools' lack of openness. Since the open-records law was passed four years ago, she says, charter schools have provided more obstacles to opening their records to the public than has any other type of agency.
Mutchler says charters are "one of the top violators across the commonwealth, repeatedly, at every level. When a citizen appeals, they are flat-out ignored. We order them to release records, and those orders get ignored. Their response borders on arrogant."
Of the 1,741 appeals received by the Office of Open Records for denied information requests, 23 percent pertain to charter schools.”
DN Editorial: We need more info, not less, about Pa. charter schools
Philadelphia Daily News Posted: Thu, Oct. 11, 2012, 3:01 AM
SINCE ACT 22 enabled charter schools in the state 15 years ago, charters have expanded exponentially; Pennsylvania taxpayers now spend about $1 billion a year on 73,000 students enrolled in "bricks and mortar" and cyber-charter schools. With charters championed by lawmakers as a key alternative to traditional public schools, expect even more.

Patriot News Editorial: Education funding: Charter school reforms are a must
By Patriot-News Editorial Board  Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 1:08 AM
Today in Pennsylvania, 105,000 students are getting their education through a charter school.
This is an impressive number — 6 percent of the school student population — especially considering that the charter school system has only been around in our state for 15 years.
In that time, 180 bricks and mortar and cyber charter schools have opened and, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, as many as 44,000 students are on a waiting list, wanting to enroll in one of the schools.
While the expansion overall has been a good move, giving parents more choices for their children’s education, the law governing the schools has not been updated significantly since 1997. It woefully lacks enough oversight for the growing system to make certain there is consistency and academic and financial safeguards.

Published in Print: October 10, 2012
COMMENTARY: Public Schools: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Education Week By Malbert Smith III, Jason Turner, and Steve Lattanzio
This year, Gallup's Confidence in Institutions survey revealed a disheartening lack of faith in U.S. public schools. The percentage of participants indicating "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public K-12 education fell to an all-time low of around 29 percent—a drop of 29 percentage points from 1973, when Gallup first began including public schools in its survey and public confidence in schools measured 58 percent.
Unfortunately, faith in the public schools has been steadily eroding since 1973. But are things really this dismal?

Education Business Blog Posted On: October 10, 2012 by Lee Wilson

Secretary Duncan Calls for Digital Textbooks In Two Years - Four Essential Questions

Last Tuesday the Secretary of Education said: "I think we should be moving from print to digital absolutely as fast as we can over the next couple of years. Textbooks should be obsolete."  He was clear that he sees the digital transformation in schools as a "critical game changer" for the American education system.

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

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!  Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA

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