Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can Public Education as We Know it Survive?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1750 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, 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

First Book works through existing community programs, literacy efforts and schools to provide an ongoing supply of new books and reading materials – at low or no cost.
Your tax-deductible donation to First Book will fund new books for children in need and help knock down the greatest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond — access to books. 97% of donations go directly to programming, providing new books for children in need.

Coalition proposes alternative solutions for Philly schools
POSTED: Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 8:26 PM
The solution for avoiding school closings and continued, painful budget cuts in the Philadelphia School District?
A coalition of community and student groups and the city teachers' union says it has found it: Focus on improving instruction. Ditch the School Reform Commission. Shift the way schools think about safety and discipline. Halt charter school growth.  And, most important, force Harrisburg to fund the Philadelphia School District equitably, making up billions in aid that would fix a broken school system, the advocates said.
The Philadelphia Community Education Plan, announced Tuesday by the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, is a 44-page document developed as an alternative to recommendations issued this year by the Boston Consulting Group, which was hired to study the district and recommend ways to radically overhaul its finances and operations.

Here’s the Philadelphia Community Education Plan:

Harrisburg School Board looks to "work collectively" with chief recovery officer Gene Veno

By ERIC VERONIKIS, The Patriot-News  on December 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM,
The Harrisburg School Board and the state-appointed official overseeing the district’s financial recovery started their relationship off on a good note tonight.  The board expressed a willingness to work with Gene Veno during its first public meeting since the state tapped him to develop and implement a fiscal recovery plan for the district on Dec. 12.

Allentown school board grills charter school applicant

Director addresses 'elephant in the room,' asks if applicant has ties to Gulen Movement.

 11:03 p.m. EST, December 18, 2012
For several hours Tuesday, the Allentown School Board asked a charter school applicant seeking to open a school dedicated to engineering about curriculum, money, parental support and other such issues.  They were normal questions school boards regularly pepper applicants seeking to open publicly funded independent schools in their jurisdiction under the 1997 charter school law.
But then Director David Zimmerman said he would address the "elephant in the room" by asking a question the consultant for Allentown Engineering Academy Charter School had earlier in the night called "obscene."

2 western Pa. districts arming police at schools

Hanover Evening Sun By JOE MANDAK Associated Press 12/17/2012 09:03:22 AM EST
PITTSBURGH—A western Pennsylvania school district whose board voted to eventually arm its school police instead got a court order over the weekend so officers in each of its schools could carry guns Monday in the wake of last week's school shooting in Connecticut.
Butler County President Judge Thomas Doerr's Sunday court order affecting the Butler Area School District and another for police in the South Butler County School District, both about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, were first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Michigan Governor Snyder vetoes concealed weapons bill

Detriot Free Press by Kathleen Gray 3:54 PM, December 18, 2012  |  
Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill this afternoon that would have allowed gun owners with extra training to carry their concealed weapons in schools, day care centers, churches and stadiums.
In his veto letter sent to the legislature shortly before 4 p.m, Snyder said the bill had a fatal loophole that didn’t allow for those institutions to opt out of the new legislation and prohibit weapons from their buildings

School Officials Look Again at Security Measures Once Dismissed

New York Times By MOTOKO RICH Published: December 18, 2012
In 1999, the year of the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, Heath E. Morrison was a middle school principal in Maryland, shocked by what he and his colleagues saw as a terrible but unique episode. “There was this intense desire not to overreact,” said Mr. Morrison, who is now superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina.
Since then, Mr. Morrison has come to view schools as much more dangerous places. In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings last week, he finds himself contemplating heightened measures to protect students, including increasing the number of security officers in schools who carry their own guns

A Connecticut Parent’s Letter to President Obama
Parents Across America by Wendy Lecker
Parents Across America grieves with the community of Newtown, Connecticut over the loss of their precious children and educators. The following letter, sent yesterday to President Obama from the founder of Parents Across America-CT, expresses some aspects of what many of our members are feeling at this difficult time.

“private vision of public education…severs the connection between public schools and the civic purposes for which they were established and that justify the use of taxpayer dollars to fund them.”

Can Public Education as We Know it Survive?

Huffington Post by Edward Fiske and Helen F. Ladd Posted: 12/18/2012 6:40 pm
Americans are now confronted with two radically different visions of public education. Which vision ultimately prevails will go a long way toward determining the quality of the education available to future generations of children.

Stop Federal Funding Cuts to Education

NSBA Video (runtime 1:41) Published on Nov 15, 2012
National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC)
Federal education programs face more than a $4 billion reduction for the 2013-14 school year under sequestration, unless Congress intervenes. View this video and visit to learn more about sequestration and the effect it would have on our students and schools. Join your local school board in urging Congress to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.

Sequestration Impact to Public Education
NSBA Video (runtime 12:44) Published on Dec 16, 2012
The National School Boards Association discusses the impact to public education from sequestration. Learn more at www,

Arts as Antidote for Academic Ills
New York Times By PATRICIA COHEN Published: December 18, 2012
Stationed in front of one of his large self-portraits, the artist Chuck Close raised his customized wheelchair to balance on two wheels, seeming to defy the laws of gravity.  The chair’s unlikely gymnastics underlined the points that Mr. Close was making to his audience, 40 seventh and eighth graders from Bridgeport, Conn.: Break the rules and use limitations to your advantage.
The message had particular resonance for these students, and a few educators and parents, who had come by bus on Monday from Roosevelt School to the Pace Gallery in Chelsea for a private tour of Mr. Close’s show. Roosevelt, located in a community with high unemployment and crushing poverty, recently had one of the worst records of any school in the state, with 80 percent of its seventh graders testing below grade level in reading and math.

The President’s Committee’s Turnaround Arts initiative
The President’s Committee’s Turnaround Arts initiative, created in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, is a public-private partnership designed to help transform some the nation’s lowest performing schools through comprehensive and integrated arts education. Developed from the recommendations in PCAH’s recent report Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools, the Committee’s landmark research publication of May 2011, Turnaround Arts will test the hypothesis that high-quality and integrated arts education can be an effective tool to strengthen school reform efforts-boosting academic achievement and increasing student motivation in schools facing some of the toughest educational challenges in the country.

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