Saturday, December 1, 2012

Louisiana Judge Rules Voucher Program Unconstitutional

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1700 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, 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

This is a favorite quote of Pennsylvania’s own Commonwealth Foundation….

Over the past 40 years, the per-student cost has doubled but achievement has remained flat….right?

You’ve heard it so often you almost believe it.  Here’s Bill Gates saying in the Washington Post:
Over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained virtually flat. Meanwhile, other countries have raced ahead. The same pattern holds for higher education. Spending has climbed, but our percentage of college graduates has dropped compared with other countries.
But it’s wrong.

Franklin County falls behind in preparing children for kindergarten

Chambersburg Public Opinion By BRIAN HALL Staff writer November 30, 2012
Franklin County's youngest learners are less prepared for school, compared to children around Pennsylvania, a statewide report shows.
The Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children released its annual School Readiness in Pennsylvania report this month and compared 16 indicators for children.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Pennsylvania's Progress in Preparing Young Learners Shows Signs of Slowing
Follow this link for a press release and the full School Readiness Report

Louisiana Judge Rules Voucher Program Unconstitutional

Diane Ravitch’s Blog November 30, 2012 
A Louisiana judge ruled against the state’s new voucher program, agreeing with the plaintiffs that it violated the state constitution by diverting public funds to private schools.  The state will appeal.
The attorney for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers explains here why the teachers are suing to block Governor Jindal’s Act 2.  It’s not because the law is “illegal,” but because it expressly violates the state constitution.

Why a Louisiana judge ruled school vouchers unconstitutional

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping private school voucher program, ruling that it is unconstitutional because it improperly diverts public state and local money intended for public schools to private institutions.
Exactly what will happen to the more than 4,900 students now receiving money for vouchers is unclear, though it doesn’t seem likely that they will have to return the cash. Expect an appeal. Still, Jindal and members of his education team, who unsuccessfully argued that they had set up the program by the constitutional book, are now going to have to rethink it.

Philly Schools Superintendent shares vision of public education during Mt. Airy visit

By Jana Shea for WHYY NewsWorks November 30, 2012
Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. received a warm welcome Thursday night from a group of teachers and concerned residents who gathered in Mt. Airy to hear about his vision for the city's beleaguered school system.  The intimate event, organized by The Philadelphia Alliance of Black School Educators, welcomed folks from across the city.
Observing what happens when Dr. Hite meets with educators rather than civic leaders is what brought Sylvia Simms to the event. "It's a different conversation," noted Simms, a North Philadelphia resident who runs Parent Power, an advocacy group

Corbett’s Record
Yinzercation Blog November 29, 2012
Governor Corbett has a “record of success” on education? Are you kidding me? I’m not sure what planet GOP spokeswoman Valerie Caras lives on, but she just said exactly this while boasting that the Governor actually increased state funding for our schools. Here on Earth in the state of Pennsylvania, where 89% of all our children attend public schools, we can tell you that Governor Corbett cut nearly $1 BILLION from education last year – and then carried those cuts forward into this year’s budget as well. The heartbreaking consequences of those cuts point to anything but a record of success.
The spokeswoman was responding to the announcement yesterday by the first Democratic contender for the 2014 governor’s race. Throwing his hat into what promises to become a crowded ring, Harrisburg lawyer John Hanger put public education at the very top of his candidacy launch statement, vowing to restore Corbett’s historic budget cuts and going on record opposing vouchers. He said he would “make education the first priority for state funding; not the last,” and pledged to “honor and encourage Pennsylvania’s teachers, for an excellent education begins with excellent teachers and with the amount of time spent learning.” He noted that, “Verbally beating and attacking teachers is now common in some quarters and is incredibly destructive to attracting top talent to teaching and improving education.” [Hanger Launch Statement, 11-28-12]

K12 spokesman Jeff Kwitowski: "We try our best to ensure that all families know that these options exist," Kwitowski told USA Today. "It's really about the parents' choice -- they're the ones that make the decision about what school or program is the best fit for their child."
Blogger Comment: What about the taxpayers – you remember, the folks actually paying for the advertising, the windfall profits and the corporate bonuses – when do they get to decide how their money is being used?
 “USA Today reports K12 strives to target children with its television and web ads; the for-profit online learning company spent an estimated $631,600 to advertise on Nickelodeon, $601,600 on The Cartoon Network and $671,400 on It also bought $3,000 worth of ads on, which claims to be "the Web's largest community for dark alternative culture."

Online Charter Schools Spent Millions Of Taxpayer Dollars On Advertising To Recruit New Students

Huffington Post  11/29/2012 2:46 pm EST
An analysis by USA Today has revealed that 10 of the largest online charter schools spent an estimated $94.4 million in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years. The largest, Virginia-based K12 Inc., spent approximately $21.5 million in just the first eight months of 2012.
The estimates are based on advertising rates and buys compiled by Kantar Media, a New York-based provider of “media and marketing intelligence,” according to the paper.

Wireless Generation (Rupert Murdoch/Joel Klein) Wins Common Core Contract

Diane Ravitch’s Blog November 30, 2012 //
From NYC Parent blog (by Leonie Haimson):
Wireless Generation, owned by Murdoch/run by Joel Klein, Wins the $4.9M Contract to develop the software that will be used to report & analyze results for the new #CommonCore Assessments – both the interim and “summative” exams being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for 25 states (blue states in map below.)
Wireless is also developing the software/ infrastructure for the Gates-funded Shared Learning Collaborative, which is collecting confidential student & teacher data in states throughout the country, including NYS, & planning to turn this information over to for-profit commercial ventures, without parental consent, to help companies develop and market their “learning products.” The information will include among other things, names, addresses, grades, test scores, disciplinary and attendance records, and learning disability status.

Moving the Education Agenda Forward

 Learning First Alliance   By Dan Domenech, Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
America's public educators are frustrated. Teachers, principals, and school superintendents feel besieged by a relentless attack on a system that we love, believe in, and have worked in for most of our professional lives. It is not as if we are complacent and sitting on our laurels. We are proud of what we have accomplished. But for most of our careers we have attempted to reform a system replete with laws, rules, and regulations — a bureaucracy that often stands in the way of true reform, a bureaucracy that is not the work of educators, but of legislators. Of late, these legislators seem to think that they know pedagogy, curriculum, and instruction better than the people who have spent a lifetime in schools working with children.
We are not totally without guilt. We have failed to put forth a vision of what true reform should look like. We spend too much time being reactive and not enough being proactive. The American Association of School Administrators this winter will put forth a vision of what a 21st century American public educational system should look like. Superintendents around the country have been working on this vision for years now, and we have commissioned Richard Rothstein to summarize their work into one document.

“And this brings us to the crux of the matter. After failing miserably to convince suburban and middle-class voters that reforms designed for dysfunctional urban systems and at-risk kids are good for their children and their schools, Common Core advocates now evince an eerie confidence that they can scare these voters into embracing the "reform" agenda.”

The Common Core Kool-Aid

 Rick Hess  
In a number of conversations this week over at Jeb Bush's annual edu-fest, at AEI, and around DC, I was struck by the degree to which the Common Core seems to have become Dr. Pendergast's miracle cure for everything that ails you (seemingly including heat blisters). The exchanges were eerily reminiscent of the run-up to Waiting for Superman, when smart, enthusiastic people kept telling me how everything was about to change--how suburban voters would wake up and leap on the reform bandwagon. And it reminds me more than a little of conversations had earlier this decade or back in the '90s about how NCLB, school choice, or site-based management were going to change everything as well.

Elementary Pupils Immersed in Foreign Language

Education Week By Jamaal Abdul-alim Published Online: November 30, 2012
When it comes to lessons in other tongues, Kevin Fitzgerald, the superintendent of the Caesar Rodney school district in northeastern Delaware, is never at a loss for words.
He speaks with pride about the fact that his district’s high school, Caesar Rodney High School, offers six foreign languages: French, Spanish, German, Latin, and, more recently, Arabic and Mandarin.
This school year, the district introduced a more novel and potentially more effective foreign-language initiative to talk up: a new Chinese-immersion program for 101 kindergartners, which the district plans to offer those children and successive kindergartners through 8th grade.
The immersion program, which provides instruction in math, science, and literacy in Chinese for half a day and in English for the remainder, is one of three such programs funded though Gov. Jack Markell’s recently created World Language Expansion InitiativeRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader. The initiative operates with $1.9 million annually from Delaware’s state budget.

November 13, 2012

In Ohio, New Movement To Announce Plans For Public Schools and Communities

COLUMBUS – Strong Schools Strong Communities is a new statewide, grass roots coalition to promote the ties between strong communities and strong public schools.
Deb Papesh, a volunteer in her community for public schools, said at a press conference Monday she is joining the movement to help promote and protect our public schools and communities.
“Strong Schools Strong Communities will inform and engage Ohioans at the community level to understand, appreciate and support our system of common public schools,” Papesh said.
Donna O’Connor, a teacher in the Columbus area, said Strong Schools Strong Communities community members need to join together to become active advocates, fighters on the frontlines, for their communities and their public schools.

Education Law Center invites you to a special evening December 5th
Honoring Len Rieser
Welcoming Rhonda Brownstein
And celebrating public education champions
Mary Gay Scanlon, Harold Jordan, Arc of PA, The Bridges Collaborative and School Discipline Advocacy Services
Food, Drink and Silent Auction
December 5, 2012 , 5:30 PM
Crystal Tea Room The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

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