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.
PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 15: When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world
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Education-funding issues heat
THOMAS FITZGERALD, INQUIRER POLITICS WRITER LAST UPDATED: Sunday, September
14, 2014, 1:09 AM POSTED: Saturday,
September 13, 2014, 10:45 PM
Gov. Corbett took Pennsylvania
voters to school last week in "Statistics Class," a 30-second TV
spot, complete with bar graphs, that asserts he has increased state education
spending to "its highest level ever." Democratic challenger Tom Wolf "and his
special-interest friends," Corbett says into the camera, "have spent
millions trying to mislead you that I cut education spending."
Wolf responded with his sharpest attack ad yet, a compendium of
news clippings that say Corbett "took an ax" to schools with a $1
billion cut in education dollars that caused 27,000 layoffs and big jumps in
local property taxes. "Tom
Corbett," a woman announcer concludes. "Can't trust him on education.
Can't trust him to be for us." Those sentences are highlighted in red in
the final frame. So, the natural
question arises: Who's right?
Norristown Times Herald
Editorial: Can a bipartisan commission fix Pa.’s educational funding system?
Norristown Times Herald
Editorial POSTED: 09/13/14, 8:20 PM EDT
Editor’s note: This is the 11th in a yearlong series of
occasional editorials from the editorial board of Digital First Media
newspapers in Pennsylvania
focusing on the crucial “Keystone” issues of education and property taxes.
Delco Times Editorial:
Education funding: Keep it fair for all
POSTED: 09/13/14, 10:44 PM EDT |
Tom Corbett and Tom Corbett are breaking out the big guns.
‘Tom-my’ guns, maybe?
Actually these are geek guns. Calculators. The embattled Republican governor and his
Democratic challenger are waging a war of numbers – to say nothing of big-money
television ads – over education funding.
Wolf, the York
businessman, continues to hammer away at what has been a constant criticism of
the governor, that he slashed $1 billion from education funding via the austere
budgets of his first term. Corbett is
now countering with an ad of his own, pointing a finger at former Gov. Ed
Rendell for papering over serious budget concerns with millions in federal
stimulus dollars. When those funds expired, Corbett says he was left holding
the bag. He points out, correctly, that he actually has increased the basic
education subsidy, and notes that this year’s subsidy of $10.05 billion is the
highest in state history.
It’s easy to see why Corbett is fighting back. Education
funding has hung around his neck like a millstone during his first term.
"A central argument is that there is no
need for a radical change in curriculum or testing. Substantial improvement
will come only when we deal with the real problem: Poverty. When researchers
control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the
world. Our unspectacular overall scores are because the US has the second highest level of child poverty
among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 23%, compared to
Common core doesn't fix
the real problem of education– poverty.
Schools Matter Blog by Stephen Krashen September 13, 2014
PUBLISHED in the Christian Science Monitor Weekly Magazine,
September 15, 2014
Arguments for opposing the common core presented by Gov. Jindal
("Common Core: Bobby Jindal says Obama forcing a national curriculum,"
August 27) do not include the
reasons many professional educators and researchers oppose it.
A central argument is that there is no need for a radical
change in curriculum or testing. Substantial improvement will come only when we
deal with the real problem: Poverty. When researchers control for the effect of
poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world. Our unspectacular
overall scores are because the US
has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced
countries (now over 23%, compared to high-scoring Finland’s 5.4%). Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate
health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these
negatively impact school performance. Instead of protecting children
from the effect of poverty, the common core is investing billions in an
untested curriculum and massive testing, despite research showing that
increasing testing does not increase achievement.
Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern
Philly schools counting on
cigarette-tax pingpong match to end
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN
MCCORRY SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
Will the pingpong game finally come to a rest?
That's the question Philadelphia
education advocates are asking as Pennsylvania's
Legislature reconvenes Monday and promises to again consider authorizing a
$2-per-pack tax on cigarettes sold within city limits to help fund schools. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai assured
district leaders in August they could count on cigarette tax revenue by
October. That promise followed a summer
of legislative pingpong in which the bill bounced between the House and Senate
largely because of disputes about amendments unrelated to taxing Philadelphia cigarettes. Turzai spokesman Steve Miskin said the House
will strip those ancillary provisions out in a rules committee meeting Monday
and then take up a clean bill Wednesday.
"Everyone's goal is to get this legislation to the governor's desk
as quickly as possible," he said.
"Steve Miskin, spokesman for
Republican leaders in the House, said he expects the chamber to vote on the
cigarette tax by Wednesday. It will then go to the Senate, where officials say
it ranks high on the list of priorities.
"Both chambers are interested in finishing it as soon as possible.
Nobody wants that bill to linger," said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate
Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware).
Gov. Corbett has said he will sign the cigarette tax bill if it reaches his
Philly cigarette tax bill
tops agenda as Pa. lawmakers return
AMY WORDEN AND ANGELA COULOUMBIS, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
POSTED: Monday, September 15, 2014, 1:08 AM
HARRISBURG - It's do-or-die for
a new cigarette tax to help Philadelphia
schools, as well as scores of other bills, when the state legislature returns
from its summer break Monday.
The fall legislative agenda is packed with bills touching on
everything from public employee pensions to public records. Not only will it
play out against the backdrop of a contentious election season, but it will
also contend with a time crunch: Any bills that don't get approved this year
will effectively die and have to be reintroduced come January, when a new
two-year session begins.
Topping the agenda in both chambers is legislation authorizing Philadelphia to enact a $2-a-pack cigarette tax to help
plug the School District's budget gap. The
matter was left unresolved and in the House's hands when the General Assembly
recessed in July. For the PhiladelphiaSchool District, the cigarette tax is critical.
And time is of the essence.
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau September 15, 2014 12:00 AM
— Legislators returning today to the Capitol are expected to take up several
bills during their monthlong stint before the election, but there is little
sign yet that the pension overhaul promoted by Gov. Tom Corbett will be among
those headed to his desk.
House Republicans’ efforts to pass the legislation remaking
retirement benefits for future state and public school workers consumed
significant energy in the lead-up to the signing of the state budget in July.
Mr. Corbett urged legislators to send him the bill, which would limit the
defined pension benefit while adding a 401(k)-style plan, but with Democrats
opposed, Republicans in the House were unable to rally enough votes from their
Lawmakers will have a full plate waiting for them when they
return to work Monday.
After spending the summer in their district and the occasional
appearance at a hearing, the General Assembly will reconvene for the first of
12 scheduled days of the fall legislative session.
There’s not much time to address issues such as unfunded
pension liabilities, property tax reform or changes to the state-owned liquor
system. And historically, fall sessions
are far less productive than spring session. But after leaving many
high-profile issues unfinished in June, lawmakers have been feeling the heat to
take swift action on proposed legislation.
lawmakers made a few predictions about the issues likely to dominate the
conversation in Harrisburg
Debt Reduction and PhiladelphiaSchools
on House Agenda Next Week
The House returns to session on Monday, Sept. 15. Live web
streams of House session and the majority of committee meetings are available
Important information and events may also be viewed by visiting Facebook.com/PAHouseGOP.
"The reduction is so large in grades 3
to 5 that it amounts to 33 hours, equal to about more than five days of
Pittsburgh’s reduction in student tests wins applause
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette September 15, 2014 12:00 AM
It’s almost like adding about a week of instruction to the
Pittsburgh Public Schools announced last week that it is
reducing the amount of time students in K-5 spend taking required tests this
The reduction is so large in grades 3 to 5 that it amounts to
33 hours, equal to about more than five days of instructional time. Smaller
reductions are being made in K-2, which already had less testing time. “I think this is wonderful,” said Nina
Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. “Teachers have complained for so long. This
isn’t just in Pittsburgh.
This is nationally. They spend so much time testing the kids, which takes away
from instructional time. It adds to the stress of the kids.” Parents also are complaining about too much
testing. More than 300 signed an online petition drive calling for reduction in
testing in the district.
YorkCounty educators confused by Corbett's Core hearings
York Dispatch By NIKELLE SNADER
505-5431/@ydschools 09/14/2014 10:45:28 PM EDT
educators expressed concern this week that Gov. Tom Corbett's call for public
hearings about the state's academic standards brings uncertainty and worry
about consistency in education, with several officials questioning whether the
announcements were a campaign maneuver. Last
Monday, Corbett announced that Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq
would appear before the state board of education to lay out a plan for public
hearings about the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, also known as PA Core
That same day, Corbett's campaign sent out an email saying the
governor had "announced his support for the complete elimination of Common
Core in Pennsylvania."
"Simply put, charter schools in Pennsylvania are big
business and there are no signs of the business slowing down. It is estimated that over the last decade $4
billion dollars have gone to charter schools in Pennsylvania. In the 2007–2008 school year alone, Pennsylvania school
districts paid out $627,984,205 in “tuition” payments to charter schools and in
the 2010–2011 fiscal year, $1.129 billion, $322.3 million of which went to
cyber charter schools."
the "Business" of Charter Schools in Pennsylvania
BrighamYoungUniversity Education and Law Journal Volume 2014 Issue 2
William Penn Foundation and DrexelUniversity
Partner to Improve Early Education in West Philly Promise Zone
Generocity By Alex
Vuocolo | Posted on Friday, September 12th, 2014
University and the William Penn Foundation are partnering to improve the
quality of West Philadelphia child care
centers by working with parents, caretakers, and community organizations. The
effort will be coordinated by Drexel and funded by a three-year $1.8 million
grant from William Penn. The West
Philadelphia Promise Zone (a place-based community development program
initiated by the Obama Administration earlier this year) is the target area.
The zone is bounded by Girard
Avenue to the north, Sansom street to the south, 48th Street to the
west and the SchuylkillRiver to the east. It
contains the low-income neighborhoods of Mantua,
Belmont, SaundersPark and West
Powelton. Drexel has made
improving education in surrounding neighborhoods a major goal of its community
engagement strategy, which has been amped up since President
John Fry was appointed in 2010. The University started by working with
K-8 schools, but soon took a more comprehensive approach.
“When you start working with K-8, you realize that you have to
go back and you have to go forward,” said Lucy Kerman, vice provost for
University and Community Partnerships at Drexel.
This initially meant working with pre-K classrooms with a focus
on early literacy to help children
WHYY Newsworks CENTRE SQUARE A BLOG BY CHRIS SATULLO SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
What I'll miss most - and there is so much that I'll miss about
Tony Auth - is the joy.
The buoyant joy that Tony found in his work, in his colleagues
in craft, and in a world that, while never quite living up to his bold
expectations, never failed to fill him with delight, curiosity and hope. People seem frequently to imagine the
editorial cartoonist as a dour, sarcastic sort, all curmudgeonly snarls. Those people never had the privilege to hang
around Tony Auth's drawing board as he wove his wonders. Yes, his pen could be a rapier that flew to
its mark. But he never wielded it in sour cynicism. Always in hope. Sometimes
anger, too, but always hope.
Here's an enduring image of him, from the 14 years we spent
together in the trenches at The Inquirer editorial board, and the blessed bonus
of two more at WHYY...
WHYY Newsworks BY JESSICA
MCDONALD SEPTEMBER 14, 2014
Kids may notice their usual snacks are not available in school
vending machines and cafeterias this year.
In an effort to reduce obesity and improve nutrition for kids, new USDA standards went into effect on July 1 to
restrict the types of snacks available in schools. They must now be a fruit,
vegetable, whole grain, dairy product or protein food with less than 200
calories--and meet additional limits on the amount of fat, sodium, and sugar. The standards are the first nutritional
update to snacks in schools in more than thirty years and apply to any
food sold a la carte in cafeterias, in school stores, or in vending machines. Jessica Donze Black, Director the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project for the
Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said some of the
changes might not seem that dramatic.
Act Locally: Let Local School
Districts Identify Healthy Meals Students Will Want to Eat
Huffington Post by Thomas J. Gentzel
Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA Posted: 09/11/2014
5:21 pm EDT Updated: 09/11/2014 5:59 pm EDT
A new poll released by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Heart Association concludes
that a majority of parents agree with strong federal nutrition standards for
school breakfasts and lunches. These
parents are in favor of sound nutrition for their children. The National School
Boards Association (NSBA) agrees with them. All school board members -- and nearly
40 percent are parents of school-age children -- understand the critical
importance of student health. That is
why NSBA supports flexibility that would allow
communities to feed their students healthy food that also reflects school
districts' unique needs, resources, and circumstances. Using sound nutrition as
a base and their communities as partners, districts can serve healthy food that
students will eat -- not throw away and go home hungry.
Gates Money Attempts to Shift
the Education Conversation to Successes
Anthony Cody Living in Dialogue Blog September 12, 2014
In 2010, a stark image was broadcast around the nation. It
showed a child seated at a school desk surrounded by absolute devastation and
ruin. That image was used promote the movie, “Waiting For Superman.” The movie
was boosted with a $2 million advertising grant from the Gates Foundation, and
was further promoted on Oprah and NBC’s Education Nation – also underwritten by
the Gates Foundation. The clarion call was “public schools are broken and bad
teachers cannot be fired.” But that is
not what we hear now, for some reason. Now, we have stories of success popping
up in the media – strangely sponsored by some of the same people who were
shouting warnings of calamity just a few years ago.
How and why has the prevailing story advanced by sponsors of
education reform shifted over the past four years from one of failure and doom
to one of success? And how is our media cooperating with the crafting
of these dominant narratives?
Time For a New Conversation
Indeed: PUBLIC Education Nation is Here
Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody September 14, 2014
In 2014, most of the communications media is carrying
messages sponsored or controlled by the wealthy. When speech is redefined
by the Supreme Court to include the spending of money, then those with
unlimited money have a nearly unlimited ability to speak via the
week I described how that money, often funneled through
“philanthropies,” has been used to create recent narratives of failure and
success in education.
NBC’s Education Nation has been a prime vehicle for this
propaganda over the past several years. Sponsored by the Gates Foundation, it
arrived with the release of “Waiting For Superman,” and promoted Michelle Rhee
and Bill Gates as the nation’s leading experts on what needed to happen with
our schools. But this year NBC appears to have abandoned the broadcast, and the
billionaires are investing elsewhere in efforts to “reset”
the conversation. Some of us have been organizing an event that will do
just that, though perhaps not in the way that Gates, Bloomberg and the Waltons
have in mind.
AS our children were growing up, one of their playmates was a
girl named Jessica. Our kids would disappear with Jessica to make forts, build
a treehouse and share dreams. We were always concerned because — there’s no
polite way to say this — Jessica was a mess.
Her mother, a teen mom, was away in prison for drug-related
offenses, and Jessica had never known her father. While Jessica was very smart,
she used her intelligence to become a fluent, prodigious liar. Even as a young
girl, she seemed headed for jail or pregnancy, and in sixth grade she was
kicked out of school for bringing alcohol to class. One neighbor forbade his
daughter to play with her, and after she started setting fires we wondered if
we should do the same.
Jessica reminded us that the greatest inequality in America is not
in wealth but the even greater gap of opportunity. We had been trying to help
people in Zimbabwe and Cambodia, and
now we found ourselves helpless to assist one of our daughter’s best friends.
PUBLIC Education Nation October
11 The Network for Public Education will hold a historic event in one
PUBLIC Education Nation will deliver the
conversation the country has been waiting for. Rather than featuring
billionaires and pop singers, this event will be built around intense
conversations featuring leading educators, parents, students and community activists. We
have waited too long for that seat at someone else's table. This time, the
tables are turned, and we are the ones setting the agenda. This event will be livestreamed on the web on
the afternoon of Saturday, October 11, from the auditorium of Brooklyn New
School, a public school. There will be four panels focusing on the most
critical issues we face in our schools. The event will conclude with a
conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.
Where: Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh in Green Tree, PA
"Forecasting the Fiscal Future of Pennsylvania's Public
A panel of legislators and public
officials will respond to a presentation by Penn State Professor William
Hartman and Tim Shrom projecting the fiscal trajectory of Pennsylvania’s 500
school districts over the next five years and by University of Pittsburgh
Professor Maureen McClure discussing the implications for school finance of an
aging tax base.
Session II: "Why Smart
Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic
Following an address by Eva Tansky
Blum, Chairwoman and President of the PNC Foundation, a panel of business
and labor leaders will discuss the importance of public school funding
reform to the competitiveness of regional and state economies.
Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education
Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker
Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event
will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association;
Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State
Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia
regional leader on at-risk youth issues.
Pennsylvania Arts Education
Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be
held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum
of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA. Join us for a daylong convening of
arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about
the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person.
To register, click
here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page. The Symposium will include the following:
Register Now – 2014 PAESSP
State Conference – October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL
EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be
held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh,
Pa. Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan
November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen. This year’s conference will provided PIL
Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an
opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.
PASA-PSBA School Leadership
Conference (Oct. 21-24) registration forms now available online PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education
conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA
School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new
ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details
are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the
next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration
forms are available online now. Other important links are available
with more details on:
Voting for PSBA officers
and at-large representatives opens Sept. 9
PSBA Website 9/8/2014
The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large
representatives is available online. Photos, bios and
videos also have been posted for candidates. According to recent PSBA
Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting
will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply
Voting. Voting will open Sept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school
entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to register the vote on
behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its
agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person
authorized to cast the school entity's votes received an email on Aug. 13 and a
test ballot was sent to them on Aug. 28. In addition, a memo from PSBA
President Richard Frerichs will be mailed in the coming days to all board
secretaries and copied to school board presidents and chief school