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 June 14, 2013: “This is about budget priorities. There is money, but it’s not going to public education”
Daily 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.
expected, the Pennsylvania House passed a budget yesterday that does next to
nothing to help our public schools. The debate now moves to the Senate, but if
the strict party-line vote in the House was any indication, Republicans in Harrisburg are sticking
to their mantra that the state is broke and can’t afford to adequately fund
education. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai from here in AlleghenyCounty
claims that this proposed budget “lives within our means, just like families
and businesses across the state.” [Penn
Live, 6-12-13] But when Rep.
Turzai or Gov. Corbett and others say we have to “live within our means,” what
they really mean is that our schools must continue to cut into the bone –
ditching art, music, library, tutoring, Kindergarten, books, supplies, field
trips, athletics, and thousands of teachers – while families struggle to make
up the difference. That’s not living within our means, that’s just mean.
about budget priorities. There is money, but it’s not going to
public education (or our other public goods).
“Ward said she believes
the defunding of education has less to do with fiscal necessity than the state
government’s vision of what education should look like.
priorities were privatization; they were vouchers and charter schools,” she
said. “So they clearly wanted to move in a different direction, and so public
education was not and is not the administration’s priority.””
State cuts to education spur Philadelphia school budget crisis
turn. There the school district is moving forward with plans to lay off some
3,783 education professionals and scrap 23 schools as part of a plan to
reduce its $304 million deficit. Defenders of the new budget have called it
Philadelphia has had a disastrous year of school
closings, budget cuts, and a report recommending privatization of large numbers
of public schools. Now, as parent activist Helen Gym reports, the situation is
even more dire after massive layoffs. The state of Pennsylvania
and the mayor of Philadelphia
seem content to let private corporations take over public education in
the city. This is an ominous sign, not only for Pennsylvania, but for other urban districts.
This is purposeful abandonment of a basic public function.
Council’s failure to move a liquor-by-the-drink tax yesterday disappointed
parents and school supporters all across the city.
100 parents, students, and community members packed City Council chambers—in
the middle of a workday afternoon—and testified for over three hours to demand
movement on the liquor-by-the-drink tax. For weeks, parents and other
community members have made thousands of phone calls, sent hundreds of letters,
spent hours on lobbying visits, and gathered countless petition signatures in
support of raising desperately needed funds for our public schools. Opposite us were a handful of lobbyists,
whose sole job is to be paid to gain access to City Council members and state legislators.
Philadelphia approves $2 per pack cigarette tax if state will
Newsworks By Kevin McCorry, @byKevinMcCorry June 13, 2013
effort to raise funds for the cash strapped public school system, Philadelphia
City Council unanimously passed a new cigarette tax today that raises prices by
$2 a pack.
vote, ShawmontElementary school music teacher Hugh
Williamson — one of the 3,800 district employees to receive a budget-related
pink-slip last week — addressed council with the backing of 20 of his students.
"Our hope is in the members of council, that you will find a way to
adequately fund the schools regardless of the politics, otherwise these
students and thousands of students will be silenced," said Williamson.
Council unanimously passed the measure, loud cheers came from Williamson and
the rest of the gallery of onlookers who came to vocalize support for education
the cheers, the tax cannot be implemented without a blessing from lawmakers in Harrisburg, a prospect
that at this point seems unlikely.
Are plans to raise money
struggling schools unraveling?
Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein June 13, 2013
City Council declined to vote on a bill Wednesday that would generate $22
million for the school district by increasing the liquor-by-the-drink tax to 15
percent from 10 percent. For now, it seems that there is not enough support for
it to pass.
President Darrell Clarke said the drink tax proposal is not dead. It is also
needs state-enabling legislation to become a reality. If that comes through, he
said, Council could theoretically reconsider it.
PUBLISHED: JUNE 13, 2013 EST Guest Voice: Help Erie youngsters go to preschool
MICHAEL A. PLAZONY Contributing writer
A. PLAZONY is a senior vice president of Erie Insurance Group.
and families must allocate their resources carefully, choosing investments that
generate the strongest and most solidly measurable returns.
Erie, the Erie Community Foundation, the United Way of Erie County, Success by
6 in Erie County, Erie Together and the Early Learning Investment Commission
lead a broad coalition called Erie's Future Fund, dedicated to providing
scholarships that give young, at-risk children the benefits of quality early
childhood education. It's that important.
Dennis Bloom faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison
Hall, Of The Morning Call 1:38 p.m. EDT, June 13, 2013
SCRANTON – The Rev. Dennis Bloom, the embattled founder of a Pocono
charter school, admitted Thursday in federal court he failed to report a
$180,000 transfer of property from his CoolbaughTownship
church into his own name. Bloom, a former
police officer turned unordained minister, pleaded guilty before U.S. District
Judge Robert D. Mariani to a single count of tax evasion.
The Philadelphia school
system will open a new, full-time online school this coming fall, a program
that the district promises will offer the academic flexibility and customized
learning that many students and families demand.
district officials also see the virtual program as bringing at least one clear
benefit to the city school system itself: the ability to compete.
the financially troubled district see the online program as a tool to stave off
families' temptation to choose "cyber charters" and other options
outside the district.
Brownstein, the executive director of Pennsylvania’s
says that it is time to stop trusting the claims of cyber charter promoters.
For years, they have promised that students would get “innovative” education
and that wondrous things would happen when virtual charters became reality,
now knows that none of that turned out to be true.
Pennsylvania has allowed unchecked growth of
cyber charters. They have drained funding away from public schools while
providing a low-quality of education.
mandates to operate running out in just a matter of days, leaders of 10 charter
schools are deep into negotiations with District
officials determined, at least for now, to defer plans by the
schools to expand. Citing the budget
crisis, Superintendent William Hite last month announced hewould
not recommend any charter expansions in the coming year -- a
setback to the publicized ambitions of 21 charter schools to add
more than 15,000 students over the next five years. Such expansion would
cost the District $500 million.
“But it's not like Pennsylvania does not
have the money to fill the debt. Rather, PA's GOP-controlled Houseof
Representatives recently passed a tax break for corporations that will
cost the state an estimated $600 million to $800 million annually.”
Philly Closes 23 Public Schools, Generously Builds
$400 Million Prison Where Kids Can Hang Instead
Philadelphia is so broke the city is closing 23
public schools, never mind that it has
the cash to build a $400 million prison. Construction on the penitentiary said to be
"the second-most expensive state project ever" began just days after the
Pennsylvania School Reform Commission voted down a plan to close only four of
the 27 schools scheduled to die. Facing a $304 million debt, the Commission
instead approved a measly $2.4 billion budget that would shut down 23 public
schools, wiping out roughly 10% of the city's total.
found that the expulsion rate is 7.6 times higher at Noble than in the city's
noncharter public schools, while another network, Perspectives Charter Schools,
had an expulsion rate that is almost 16 times higher than Chicago Public
Schools' traditional public schools.”
A group of
students and advocates in Chicago
are taking their protest against strict disciplinary policies in some charter
schools in the city to the state legislature and the State Board of Education.
protesters appeared before the Illinois
state charter commission earlier
this week but got little traction with their concerns, said Emma
Tai, a coordinator for Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, which is supporting
more oversight and consistent regulation of charter schools' expulsion and
discipline policies from both the state commission and the Chicago Board of
Education—especially as those schools are expanding at the same time the school
district is closing
almost 50 of its noncharter schools.
"Charter schools can't claim to be 'nonselective' and
'higher-performing' public schools while relying on expulsion to systematically
choose which students they will educate with taxpayer dollars," says a
multiple-choice question: if the federal government penalises states where
pupils do badly in school, but lets the states themselves set the pass mark,
will the states a) make the tests harder; or b) dumb them down?
the answer has been b). The National Centre for Educational Statistics (NCES),
a federal body, looked at how the states’ definitions of “proficiency” at maths
and reading compared with its own rigorous one. For grade 4 reading in 2009,
not one state held its pupils to as high a standard (see map). Fifteen states
labelled a child “proficient” when the NCES would have called her skills
“basic”; 35 bestowed that honour on children performing at “below basic” level.
CAPS Forum on Community Schools Saturday June 15, –
KensingtonCAPAHigh School, Front & Berks
Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS)
Over the past year, in forums, workshops, listening
sessions, and through surveys, thousands of students, parents, community
members and school staff voiced their desire for an educational system that
provides a well-rounded education parallel to what affluent districts offer,
but that also addresses the challenges that come with poverty. We understand
that all of our schools must provide:
· A rigorous academic curriculum
· Enrichment activities such as sports, art, music, drama
· Coordinated supports and services that address the
social-emotional as well as the academic needs of students and their families.
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public
Schools (PCAPS) has done our research! After meeting with experts from
around the country, we have concluded that the most equitable, effective, financially
sound strategy for our city is one that embraces community schools for all
Please join us on Saturday, June 15th for
the Community Schools Conference (9am-2pm) at Kensington CAPA High School
(Front & Berks St.) to learn more from national experts and work with
others on a strategy to make this a reality for our city.
With more than 350 graduates in its first
fourteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity
for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community
leaders. State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to
certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers,
district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board
members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders,
education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows
are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day
retreat on September 12-13, 2013 and continues to graduation
in June 2014.
Building One America 2013 National Summit
July 18-19, 2013 Washington,
Brookings Institution to present findings of
their “Confronting Suburban Poverty” report
Building One America’s Second National Summit
for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions will involve local leaders and
federal policy makers to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common
challenges around housing, schools and infrastructure facing America’s metropolitan
regions and its diverse middle-class suburbs. Participants will include local
elected and grassroots leaders from America’s diverse middle class
suburban towns and school districts, scholars and policy experts, members of
the Obama Administration and Congress. The summit will identify
comprehensive solutions and build bipartisan support for meaningful action to
stabilize and support inclusive middle-class communities and promote
sustainable, economically competitive regions.