Monday, October 1, 2012

The United States of ALEC: Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws

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

“Midland's rejuvenation has been underwritten by virtually everyone who pays state taxes and school property levies.  PA Cyber gets around $100 million a year from districts whose kids choose its online school.”
Midland still upbeat on economy despite probe of charter schools
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 30, 2012 12:13 am
Long a steel town until the mill shut down 30 years ago, Midland has an economy rebuilt around an unusual anchor: the charter school movement, in the form of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding from school districts all over the state have flowed into the two schools across Midland Avenue from each other. The results for this Beaver County town are undeniable.

Delco districts struggle with PSSA results
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
By JEFF WOLFE @delcoreporter
When the PSSA test scores are released each year, it’s a set of numbers that call for a range of analysis from school administrators and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  And while the majority of Delaware County school districts met the state requirements of having 81 percent of students proficient in reading and 78 proficient in math in grades 3-5 and grades 6-8, when it came to results of the tests taken by high school juniors, the numbers tell a different story.

President of Harrisburg teachers union thinks new evaluation system will hurt urban, rural teachers

Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
By ERIC VERONIKIS, The Patriot-News 
Teachers at more affluent suburban school districts will have an unfair advantage over urban and rural educators when the state’s new teacher evaluation system is implemented next year, the president of Harrisburg School District’s teachers union said.
Public school teachers have always been graded through classroom observation, but starting next year the new evaluation model also will assess student achievement.
And the state’s 501 districts will use the same criteria to measure achievement, which Harrisburg Education Association President Sherri Magnuson said puts teachers in low-income districts such as Harrisburg at a disadvantage due to the overwhelming negative socio-economic factors present among the student population.
The spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the executive director of the Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools disagreed.

“If I wasn't educated and lived in the poorest of neighborhoods would your perspective of me have been different? Because my perspectives wouldn't have changed!

Where All the Children Are Above Average

In the new my-kid-first world of education, anxious moms like Charissa Stone are demanding pricey special help from their public schools. It's what any good parent would do ... isn't it?
Philadelphia Magazine by Sandy Hingston
I’m really hoping Charissa Stone will turn out to be crazy.
It’s been a week now since Stone sent me an email out of the blue, suggesting I write about her eight-year-old daughter, Erin, and how the Council Rock School District has refused to acknowledge that her needs aren’t being met by the regular curriculum in her classroom. Erin, Stone wrote, has a learning disability that qualifies her for special education. Council Rock ought to recognize this, she said, because while Erin’s IQ is above the district’s 130-point “gifted” designation, her academic performance is only average.

The Top 100 Philadelphia-Area Public Schools 2012
Philadelphia Magazine

The United States of ALEC: Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws


Video runtime 42:36  - Segment covering the role that Connections Academy and K12, Inc. had in writing Tennesee’s cyberschool legislation and subsequent no-bid contract starts about 26:00
Democracy Now! premieres "The United States of ALEC," a special report by legendary journalist Bill Moyers on how the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council has helped corporate America propose and even draft legislation for states across the country.

Apollo 20: One Man’s Plan to Fix Failing Schools
PBS FRONTLINE September 25, 2012, 8:37 pm ET by Sarah Childress
Like many of the kids who wind up in failing public schools, Harvard economist Roland Fryer grew up amid violence and drugs, and with little hope for the future.
Now, Fryer is the youngest African-American tenured professor at Harvard and a leading expert on education reform. His latest project: figuring out the right formula to help kids excel in school.
Most education experiments today are being done in charter schools — some of which have flourished, while others have failed. But at the slow rate charter schools are growing, Fryer said he realized that it could take decades to close the achievement gap in education.
So a few years ago, Fryer and his team at Ed Labs, a Harvard education research “laboratory,” spent a year scrutinizing 40 charter schools in New York to find out what they did right — and wrong. They analyzed lesson plans and homework. They also videotaped classrooms and broke the footage down into two-minute chunks to see what was happening.
Of the 500 variables they studied, Fryer’s team found that five accounted for a full 40 percent of the schools’ success. “That was just astonishing to us,” Fryer said, especially since so many seemed, at least on paper, to be relatively common-sense notions:

Fostering Tech Talent in Schools

New York Times By NICK WINGFIELD Published: September 30, 2012 25 Comments
SEATTLE — Leandre Nsabi, a senior at Rainier Beach High School here, received some bluntly practical advice from an instructor recently.  “My teacher said there’s a lot of money to be made in computer science,” Leandre said. “It could be really helpful in the future.”
That teacher, Steven Edouard, knows a few things about the subject. When he is not volunteering as a computer science instructor four days a week, Mr. Edouard works at Microsoft. He is one of 110 engineers from high-tech companies who are part of a Microsoft program aimed at getting high school students hooked on computer science, so they go on to pursue careers in the field.
In doing so, Microsoft is taking an unusual approach to tackling a shortage of computer science graduates — one of the most serious issues facing the technology industry, and a broader challenge for the nation’s economy.
There are likely to be 150,000 computing jobs opening up each year through 2020, according to an analysis of federal forecasts by the Association for Computing Machinery, a professional society for computing researchers. But despite the hoopla around start-up celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, fewer than 14,000 American students received undergraduate degrees in computer science last year, the Computing Research Association estimates. And the wider job market remains weak.

Weekend Posting - Our Failing Public Schools

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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