Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 12, 2013: State "very concerned" about reports of too much PSSA prep
postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1900
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 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education
advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.
Stuart L. Knade is interim executive director of the PennsylvaniaSchool
charter school law was enacted in 1997, the overall concept seemed promising.
Independently operated public schools, freed from many of the regulations and
mandates constraining traditional public school systems would be laboratories
for educational innovation, producing new strategies and methods that could
benefit students in all schools. Sadly,
the promise has yet to become reality due to major flaws in that law and its
companion cyber charter school law.
State "very concerned" about
reports of too much PSSA prep
daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch Thursday, April 11, 2013,
Following up on my
story earlier this week about a small but growing protest movement of
parents opting their kids out of Pennsylvania's standardized PSSA tests, an
official said the state Department of Education is "very concerned"
about anecdotal reports of too much test prep and not enough conventional
learning in the weeks leading up to the exams.
But Timothy Eller, the spokesman for the state Department of Education,
also gave a full-throated defense of the high-stakes test that the state uses
to evaluate which schools are rated as "failing" and will soon be
used to grade teacher performance. Indeed, he compared the experience to an
annual physical exam.
Amid all the debate about
addressing the achievement gap, one obvious explanation has
escaped attention: the amount of time that kids from different backgrounds
spend engaged in school or school-related activities. Having worked in or observed both public and
private schools -- including inner-city, magnet, suburban, independent, and
boarding schools -- I’ve concluded that there is a striking and straightforward
explanation for why kids in the inner city do relatively well through 3rd grade
before starting to fall by the wayside. They are not getting nearly enough
time in structured learning environments.
Using high school as the point of comparison, let's see how learning
time varies among the different types of schools.
“Before enacting new tax cuts, Pennsylvania
should get its fiscal house in order, addressing transportation, education and
growing pension costs. Then perhaps, with loopholes closed and real
accountability in place, some of the new revenue could go to modest tax
Pennsylvania should close its tax loopholes: As I See It
For public policymakers, as for
doctors, a guiding principle should be “first, do no harm.”
Unfortunately, Harrisburg has not taken this principle to
heart in recent years. The last two state budgets cut more than a billion
dollars for public schools and universities. Infrastructure investments have
been delayed, and county human services funding has been slashed. Classrooms
are more crowded, unemployment is rising, and local taxes are higher.
There is more harm to come.
Hidden deep within Gov. Tom Corbett’s latest budget plan are major income tax
cuts for corporations beginning in 2015 that, when fully phased in, will cost
hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Profitable corporations will pay
less, hardworking families will pay more, and our schools and communities will
President Obama’s plan to pay
preschool for 4-year-olds by doubling the federal tax on cigarettes
was quickly attacked by tobacco companies, which argued Wednesday that it is
unfair to saddle smokers with the costs.
In discussing the administration’s proposed 2014 budget, Education
Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters that raising the federal tobacco
tax by 94 cents would generate $75 billion over the next decade, enough to pay
for federal subsidies to states to enroll all low-income and some
moderate-income 4-year-olds in quality preschool.
The president’s plan would
expand such preschool services to 1.1 million additional four-year-olds from
low- and moderate-income families, according to the Education Department.
The education advocates took up
that fight early Wednesday. The Center for American Progress, a left-wing think
tank with close ties to the administration, released an analysis showing the expansion is badly needed. The
analysis by Juliana Herman, Sasha Post, and Melissa Lazarin found that while many
states are expanding access to state-funded preschool -- such as Mississippi, which
recently established its first program -- many of these programs won't be
available to any 3-year-olds. And for 4-year-olds, the wait lists are long.
"This investment could
help jumpstart preschool programs in states without adequate preschools and
could also help states with programs reach the lowest-income children,"
the authors wrote. "This would free up state dollars to expand access for
higher-income children and improve program quality.
POTTSTOWN — To say that Pottstown’s early education efforts are community-wide is
to understate the matter. Recognizing
when it was established in 2006, that some of the most important years in a
child’s education career happen before they ever get to school, Pottstown’s
program — Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness, or
PEAK — does more than just train preschool
teachers and provide curriculum to local pre-schools, it reaches out to parents
who, coordinator Mary Reick will happily tell you, are a child’s first, best
filmmaker who made a short film about Pottstown’s
pioneering early education program called PEAK has alerted the district of his
desire to make a full-length documentary film about the first children to
benefit from the program. Superintendent
Jeff Sparagana told the school board recently that filmmaker John Harrington,
president of Virginia-based Madison films, has
expressed an interest in building on the work he did in 2009 when he put some
film shorts together for a presentation on Pottstown’s
early education efforts for the Pennsylvania Office of Childhood Development
and Early Learning.
The video, which won an award,
highlights the PEAK approach, developed with the help of the National Institute of School Leadership . Harrington hopes to track some of the
students he first filmed through their education in Pottstown
to explore how their early education experience may have helped “and have the
students and parents tell their story about their partnership with PEAK,” Sparagana
reform sought by SenecaValley – Eliminate the
Post-Gazette By Laure Cioffi April 11, 2013
SenecaValley school board members want to reform Pennsylvania's cyber
charter school law, and they want the public to join their quest. Board members plan to vote on a resolution
Monday calling for the state Legislature to make changes to the law that would
make those schools more accountable for the public funds they receive. SenecaValley officials contend
there is "double dipping" because school districts are required to
pay pension costs as part of the cyber charter school tuition formula. But
under the state retirement code, the schools are reimbursed for up to 50
percent of their pension costs.
Obama Budget Increases Education Spending,
Flatlines Key Funds For Poor And Students With Disabilities
Huffington Post by Joy
While President Barack Obama's
2014 budget proposal asks for an overall spending increase
to education, most of that will go to new programs and competitive grants as
two key funds devoted to poor students and students with disabilities flatline.
According to the
administration's budget documents, amid a slew of other budget cuts, the Obama
administration is asking for $71.2 billion in discretionary funding for
education, an ask that represents a 4.6 percent or 3.1 billion increase over
With the indictment of former AtlantaSchool Superintendent Beverly A. Hall
and 34 other public school employees in a massive cheating scandal, the time is
right to re-examine other situations of possible illegal behavior by educators.
Washington, DC, belongs at the top of that list.
Michelle A. Rhee, America’s most famous school reformer, was fully
aware of the extent of the problem when she glossed over what appeared to be
widespread cheating during her first year as Schools Chancellor in Washington, DC.
A long-buried confidential memo from her outside data consultant suggests
that the problem was far more serious than kids copying off other kids’ answer
sheets. (“191 teachers representing 70 schools”). Twice in just
four pages the consultant suggests that Rhee’s own principals, some of whom she
had hired, may have been responsible (“Could the erasures in some cases have
been done by someone other than the students and the teachers?”).
Webinar: How to Organize a
Grassroots Group; Saturday, April 13 at EDT
Many of those who have joined our network want to get involved in
grassroots work to change the direction of education in our communities. We are
now planning a series of web forums to share concrete ways to do just that. The
first will focus on how to organize grassroots groups.
Phyllis Bush and members of the North
East Indiana Friends of Public Education will share their experiences
in getting organized. Formed just two years ago, this group helped elect
teacher Glenda Ritz as state superintendent of education.
The webinar will take place on Saturday, April 13, at Eastern time, Pacific time. You can register
here. You will be emailed a link to the webinar a day or two before the