Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Remember when “the family” was just a bunch of ruthless guys in good suits?

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

One Page Primer on the Education Reform Debate
From Education Week, Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue Blog January 1, 2013

“…. Applicants must believe that unions are bad; vouchers are good; charter schools are good and mustn't be subject to the same scrutiny as conventional public schools; standardized test scores are to be taken as gospel; democratically elected school boards are bad for education; state education boards that take charter school applications seriously must be sidestepped and new agencies created that don't take the review so seriously; public universities must teach this dogma and reject countervailing views, and, finally, might makes right.”
Waltons expand political push on school measures
Arkansas Times Arkansas Blog Posted by Max Brantley on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 3:38 PM
Wow, when the Walton family — which has put more than $1 billion into "education reform" through its foundation and spent untold millions more in separate political activities — indicates it's going to increase its political effort it's time for political opponents to build a bomb shelter.

Remember when “the family” was just a bunch of ruthless guys in good suits?
Here’s the Walton Foundation letter referenced in the blog entry above.

Increasing Momentum for K-12 Reform Sparks Changes at Walton Family Foundation

National search for director of education reform focus area begins; Jim Blew to focus on Walton family's engagement in special political and philanthropic initiatives in education reform
The Walton Family Foundation is driven by the urgent need to dramatically raise student achievement, particularly in low-income neighborhoods across our nation. Our board and staff are proud of how we’ve helped cultivate today’s education reform movement by investing more than $1 billion in initiatives that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education.
As our board reflects on the movement’s recent gains and momentum, they see many new and compelling opportunities to help accelerate the pace of reform.  In order to make the most of those opportunities, the board has decided to further expand its leadership role in education reform. Here’s what is taking place:

Hite’s Philly schools blueprint praised, slammed
Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 5:36 AM
People think William R. Hite Jr.'s new blueprint for the Philadelphia School District is "focused" and "diligent." They say it's "thorough" and the "serious and good work" of a "thoughtful practitioner."  But on Monday, it was also judged by some local education watchers as "disappointing," "same old same old," and "lacking in specifics."

Why isn’t the list of companies participating in the EITC program available to the public?
Why do accountability and transparency apply to traditional public schools but not to EITC recipients?

'Onerous' process for Opportunity Scholarship in Pennsylvania may deter donors

Program aims to attract donations from businesses
By Mary Niederberger and Karen Langley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 6, 2013
Education groups promoting a new tax credit for businesses funding scholarships are reporting confusion with an electronic application process that they fear could dissuade potential donors.
The Opportunity Scholarship tax credit was created last summer by state lawmakers seeking to provide scholarships for children living in the sending areas of low-performing schools. Modeled after an existing scholarship tax credit, the program allows businesses to reduce their tax liability by donating scholarship money the students can use to attend another school.
Businesses had applied to the original Educational Improvement Tax Credit with a paper form, but the Department of Community & Economic Development, which oversees the tax credits, included the new Opportunity Scholarship credit in its transition to electronic applications, which officials say reduce processing time.
The list of companies participating in the program is not public, but organizations seeking or promoting donations have reported frustration with the online form that they fear could dampen contribution rates.

National Opt Out Day
Yinzercation Blog January 7, 2013
Today is national Opt Out Day. Today is the day that United Opt Out, a group of grassroots public education advocates from across the country, has called on parents, students, teachers, administrators, school board members, and anyone else who cares about what is happening to our schools to challenge corporate style education “reform” in our own communities. It’s time to think about what opting out means.

Two Viewpoints: To test students or not to test students. That is the question
Michigan Live By Paula Holmes-Greeley | pholmes@mlive.com 
on January 07, 2013 at 8:46 AM, updated January 07, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Education reforms and student testing are hot topics among educators, parents, lawmakers and business owners with little agreement on what's best.
Today is National Opt Out Day, an event created by educators and parents concerned about high stakes testing to protest corporate education reform proposals. One of the sponsors, United Opt Out National, says high stakes testing does not promote quality public education because it is used to punish children, to malign educators, and to provide financial gain for testing corporations and their political sponsors.  Others argue testing is needed to determine if students understand what is being taught and it teachers are being successful.
Following are two views on testing. The first one, "Why My Children Don't Take The MEAP," is from a teacher and parent, Scott Baker of Shelby. The second, "Why Testing Students is Worthwhile," is by Dave Sipka, superintendent of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.

Oregon charter school founders accused in $20 million racketeering lawsuit
By Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian  on January 04, 2013
Tim King and Norm Donohoe, who ran a chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools across small-town Oregon from their headquarters in Clackamas, scammed the state out of $17 million and must repay that plus $2.7 million more, the state said in a court filing this week.
The legal claim, brought Thursday by the Oregon Department of Justice in Marion County Circuit Court, accuses the pair of racketeering, money laundering and other fraud from 2007 to 2010.

Michelle Rhee’s new state reform report card

StudentsFirst, her lobbying organization that has taken aim at teachers unions, just released a "reform" report card that grades states on whether they have followed the reforms that she likes. That means that D.C. schools did better than Maryland and Virginia. Really. Here's more about the report card and what else Rhee is up to.

Michelle Rhee Grades States as Press Serves Up Hard-Hitting Reports on Her

Education Writers Association EdMedia Commons
Posted by Emily Richmond on January 7, 2013 at 2:28pm
It would be tough to find a more polarizing figure in the education reform debate than Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, who is the focus of a new Frontline documentary debuting Tuesday on PBS.

U.S. public schools cut 11,000 jobs in December

Reuters By Anna Yukhananov and Lisa Lambert
WASHINGTON | Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:44pm EST
Local U.S. governments cut jobs for the fourth straight month in December, including 11,000 in public schools, dragging down the nation's fragile economic recovery, jobs data showed on Friday.  Local government jobs are now at their lowest level since October 2005, with the bulk of the decline coming from layoffs of teachers and other school employees, according to the Labor Department.  For more than a year, persistent declines in public sector employment - particularly at the city, county and school district level - have stood in contrast to steady job gains in the private sector.

American Association of School Administrators Leading Edge Blog
House and Senate Education, Appropriations, Budget Committee Rosters for 113th Congress

House and Senate Education Committee Members Finalized

Who's Who: House Appropriations and Budget Committee Rosters for the New Congress

Who's Who: Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee Rosters for the New Congress

You Made This Happen: 213,802 Books in the Hands of Kids
First Book Blog January 4, 2013
That’s right. Thanks to everyone who donated to First Book over the holiday season – and thanks to a generous matching offer from our friends at Disney – First Book was able to provide 213,802 brand-new, high-quality books to schools and programs serving children from low-income families across the country.

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
SAVE THE DATE: 2013 Pennsylvania Budget Summit Feb. 21st
Many Pennsylvanians have sent a clear message to Harrisburg in recent months: The state budget cuts of the past two years were too deep. It is time to once again invest in classrooms and communities.  Next month, Governor Tom Corbett will unveil his 2013-14 budget proposal. Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for an in-depth look at the Governor's proposal and an update on the federal budget -- and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania.
2013 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hilton Harrisburg, 1 North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA
Registration is free and lunch is included.


The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2013 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Registration is $45 and includes coffee/donuts, lunch, and materials.  
Philadelphia Region Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 1605 W. Main Street, Norristown, PA 19403
Harrisburg Region Saturday, February 9, 2013– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 23, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh/Monroeville, 101 Mall Blvd., Monroeville, PA 15146
To register, please click here.

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