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 Oct 10: In Lehigh Valley, Education Voters Action Fund endorses Pat Browne and Mike Beyer
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now
reach more than 3500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors,
administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's
staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Superintendents, PTO/PTA
officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business 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, Twitter and LinkedIn
— Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris
Christie made dueling pitches Thursday in Pennsylvania's race for governor, appealing
to voters in a state that could factor into potential 2016 presidential
implored Pennsylvania Democrats to back Tom Wolf's gubernatorial campaign in
large numbers, warning against complacency despite his large lead in the polls
against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. "You never know what can happen in an
election," she said.
Without mentioning the polls, Christie gave a nod to the size
of the task of changing voters' minds and asked the GOP faithful to volunteer
an hour a day doing just that.
Wolf: Abolish SRC, make
Philly school board elected
THOMAS FITZGERALD, INQUIRER POLITICS WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, October 9,
2014, 3:32 PM
Democrat Tom Wolf said Thursday he would push as governor to
abolish the School Reform Commission and transfer state control of Philadelphia schools to a
locally elected school board.
Wolf took exception to the dramatic step the SRC took Monday
when it canceled its contract with the teachers' union and imposed terms
requiring members to pay 10 to 13 percent of the cost of their health-care
benefits; currently they pay nothing. "I'm
against what they [the SRC] did," Wolf said. "What I would do is
restore the funding to the Philadelphia
school system that would make unpalatable choices like that unnecessary." Wolf discussed the issue during a
wide-ranging 70-minute meeting with members of The Inquirer and Daily News
The District giveth, the District taketh away -- at least for
school principals got a memo Wednesday providing
additional per pupil allocations for their schools as a result of the School
Reform Commission's move tocancel the teachers' contract and cut health care costs. But for many principals, it was no windfall.
At dozens of schools, the extra money was accompanied by a decrease in teacher
allotment because of “leveling,” or the adjustment of staff size to match
actual, instead of projected, student enrollment.
Instead of simply figuring out what to do with extra money,
they were given less than 24 hours – by close of business Thursday – to provide
a memo with “compelling” reasons why they shouldn’t lose staff. The principals
are being forced to choose the least bad alternative for reducing staff and
then explain why they don't want even to do that.
York City teachers, officials
'blindsided' by blended district option
York Dispatch By ERIN JAMES and NIKELLE SNADER 505-5439/@ydcity
POSTED: 10/09/2014 08:48:45 PM EDT
YorkCity teachers and school
officials are digesting the surprise alternative to complete charter conversion
announced by the district's state-appointed financial recovery officer
The concept is interesting, said Carol Hill-Evans, a member of
the Community Education Council and president of the York City Council. But it also came with "no warning or
notice or anything," she said. Recovery
officer David Meckley has also attached a mid-November deadline for the new
plan to be developed and approved.
"I'm wondering, is there enough time for them to work out
all the details?" Hill-Evans said.
Blended approach: On Wednesday, Meckley announced
at an education council meeting that he is willing to consider a blended
approach to academic and financial reform that would include both charter
schools and traditional district schools — though he, personally, would prefer
to see the district's eight buildings converted by July 2015 to charter
However, in the interest of building consensus among skeptical
school board members and other stakeholders, Meckley said he is willing to
consider a compromise.
York Dispatch By ANDY DINNIMAN Pennsylvania Senate 10/09/2014
01:07:10 PM EDT
Do you remember a teacher who changed your life? One whose
patience, encouragement and passion for learning stayed with you and made a difference
in who you are today? Now, do you
remember a great test that you took that had the same impact? I bet you don't,
and I bet today's students won't either.
Of course testing has its role, but when days of instruction time are
devoted to test-taking and entire classes are spent on teaching to high-stakes
tests, this regimen eats away at the very core of learning.
All this focus on testing came to a head when Gov. Tom Corbett
and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) instituted the Keystone Graduation
Exams in Pennsylvania.
Starting with the Class of 2017 (current freshmen and sophomores) students will
have to pass exams in three subject areas (Algebra I, Biology and Language
Arts) in order to graduate.
It is important to note that while the federal government
requires tests be given to students, using them to determine graduation,
instead of just remediation, is the sole decision of the Corbett
administration. Testing to identify problem areas and helping students overcome
learning difficulties is one thing — make-or-break graduation exams are quite
Local legislators, law
enforcement officials meet in Lower Providence to support Pre-K for PA
By Brendan Wills, The Times Herald POSTED: 10/09/14,
4:08 PM EDT |
LOWER PROVIDENCE >> During a Pre-K for PA campaign
workshop Thursday morning at the Play and Learn Collegeville early childhood
education center, local law enforcements officials, legislators and education
specialists unanimously voiced their support for increased funding to early
childhood education. Play and Learn
Program Coordinator, Melanie Godhania; Play and Learn Collegeville Center
Director, Jill Law; State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Bruce Clash;
Limerick Township Police Chief, William Albany; Upper Gwynedd Township Police
Chief, David Duffy; District Attorney, Risa Ferman; State Rep. Mike Vereb (R –
150th Dist.); State Rep. Todd Stephens (R – 151st Dist.); and State Sen. John Rafferty
(R – 44th Dist.), met to discuss how access to early childhood education not
only helps children succeed in life, but also helps to lower the costs of
incarcerating criminals who did not have adequate education to guide them
"Education Voters Action Fund PA
announce their endorsement of candidate for PA Governor Tom Wolf, candidate for
PA Senate District 16 Senator Pat Brown, and candidate for PA House District
131 Mike Beyer."
Political odd couple gets
education group endorsement
Republican state Sen. Pat Browne and Democratic state House
challenger Mike Beyer won the endorsement of a pro-public education advocacy
Browne is a two-term state senator and influential majority
whip in the Republican controlled state Senate. Beyer is a first-time political
candidate and Democratic challenger to two-term Republican state Rep. Justin
Simmons in the LehighValley's 131st
An odd couple? Not when it comes to education, said Bob
Previdi, spokesman for the Education Voters Action Fund.
If you’ve been paying attention to the race for the state’s top
post this summer, then you know public education has emerged as one of the key
issues of the campaign.
Results of recent Franklin & Marshall College polls consistently
show that improving public education is the issue that matters most when
respondents are considering which candidate they will support. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association
knows that so they created a new website for the public to get a closer look at
where the candidates stand on education-related questions before voters head to
the polls Nov. 4. The questions cover charter school reform, public pension
reform and property tax reform.
The local candidates that filled out the questionnaire include:
Ryan Aument in the 36th Senatorial District; Ann Schott in the 13th House
District; Brian Kresge in the 37th House District; Brett Miller in the 41st
House District; Steve Mentzer in the 97th House District; Charlie Hample in the
97th House District; and Bryan Sanguinito in the 99th House District.
A legislator’s Next
Steps in Student Success: Lew Frederick
Yong Zhao's Blog 10 OCTOBER 2014 128 NO COMMENT
Frederick has served in the Oregon
House for the past five years. Before that, he was a teacher, a reporter, and a
district administrator Oregon.
“He has witnessed how manufactured crises, extreme deprivation of resources,
and radical overhaul proposals work together to repurpose public education in a
way the public has not voted on.”
Next Steps in Student Success By Lew Frederick
Before we talk about “rigor” and “discipline” and
“accountability” for kids, we have to insist that adults are held to that
standard. When we design school programs, especially when we propose to impose
some new system on the whole enterprise, we should demand a degree of certainty
that the turmoil of change will be worth it. We should demand evidence that it
will make things better. We should demand that when a crisis is
described, it is real and correctly described, and when a solution to the
crisis is prescribed, we should demand that the solution actually addresses the
problem. And somebody should be
accountable, but I don’t think we currently understand that word. We say that
teachers should be accountable for results, but who defines the results? Who
will be accountable if the entire approach of making schools, especially those in
poor neighborhoods, pressure cookers that stress kids out of their minds, turns
out to be destructive of the qualities we need in the adults of the future?
“I’ve never seen this level of anger about what policymakers
have done in some places to our schools,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
Weingarten thinks it’s not only underfunding that’s made education a top-tier
issue but also the effect of efforts to privatize public education. “The
market-based reforms, the top-down reforms, the testing and sanctioning as
opposed to supporting and improving has taken hold so much and has been so
wrong-headed that you’re seeing this fight back,” she said.
The Nation: This Is What
Happens When Republicans Try to Destroy Public Education
A month out from the midterm elections, Republican candidates
around the country are confronting a shared, and significant, vulnerability:
education. The conservative wave of 2010
allowed Republicans to implement slash-and-burn governance in several
states—what Kansas Governor Sam Brownback called a “real live experiment” in tax cuts for
corporate interests and cuts to services for everyone else. One of the most
devastating casualties was public schools and universities. Now, several Republicans could fall victim to
their own experiment. Conservatives are on the defensive in Kansas,
North Carolina, Michigan,
Florida and Wisconsin over their records on education.
The issue features prominently not only in local and gubernatorial campaigns
but also in Senate races that many predicted would be referenda on Barack
Obama, not on conservative governance at the state level.
Sweeping budget cuts have created “a perfect storm that’s put
education at front and center at every level of every office,” said Karen
White, political director for the National Education Association, the country’s
largest teachers union. “It’s really taken a couple of years for these cuts to
reach down to the individual level, but that’s now happened.”
In several cities throughout the country, there is a fierce
conflict raging over the direction of education reform. At the center of this
increasingly acrimonious debate is the question of whether or not charter
schools—publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules (and often the
control) of traditional public-school systems—should be allowed to proliferate.
Given their steady growth (from no more than a handful twenty years ago to over
6,000 today), charter schools and their advocates appear to have the upper
hand. A new bipartisan bill—the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter
Schools Act, sponsored by Republican senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and
Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Democratic senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana
and Michael Bennet of Colorado—would provide new funds to launch, replicate and
expand charter schools nationwide.
The concept of the charter school was originally developed in
1974 by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts,
who envisioned it as a way to bring innovation to schools by freeing them from
the regulations that frequently limit and constrain traditional public schools.
The idea was later embraced by American Federation of Teachers president Albert
Shanker, who felt, like Budde, that there was a need for schools that could operate
with greater flexibility and could serve as a laboratory for innovations that
would then be applied to public schools. In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a
charter-school law. Today, forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws providing for
the operation of charter schools. The vast majority of charter schools are
located in large cities, and their numbers are growing rapidly. However,
instead of collaborating with public schools as envisioned by Shanker, charter
schools have become the centerpiece of a market-based reform strategy that
places greater emphasis on competition.
Big school districts around the country
— including in New York City
— are starting to lessen their misplaced reliance on student standardized test
scores to evaluate schools, as this roundup of “test reform” news shows. And
some are doing it in unusual ways. In
Kentucky, for example, “accountability” reports on schools that used to rely
exclusively on scores from Common Core high-stakes tests will now include an
assessment by school officials “of the quality of its instruction in writing,
arts, humanities and practical living — rather than relying on a test showing
what students learned,” according to the Courier-Journal. That data point will count for 23
percent of a school’s grade. The
following list — with pieces from 15 states and Washington D.C. — was assembled
by the National Center for
Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest,which publishes a weekly list of
education news from around the country that highlights efforts to reduce
federal and state mandates for high-stakes testing.
New website offers closer
look into candidate' views on public education
PSBA NEWS RELEASE 10/6/2014
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) has created a
new website for its members and the general public to get a closer look into
candidates' views on public education leading up to the 2014 election for the
Pennsylvania General Assembly. Following
the primary elections, PSBA sent out a six-question questionnaire to all
Pennsylvania House and Senate candidates competing for seats in the November
election. Candidates are listed by
House, Senate seat and county. Districts can be found by visiting the 'Find My
Legislator' link (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/).
·Candidate images, if provided
·Candidates are tagged by political party and
seat for which they are running
·Candidates who did not respond are indicated by
"Responses not available."
Visit the site by going to
http://psbacandidateforum.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the link tweeted out
Candidates wishing to complete the questionnaire before
election day may do so by contacting Sean
Crampsie (717-506-2450, x-3321).
Register Now – 2014 PASCD
Annual Conference – November 23 – 25, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PASCD Annual Conference, “Leading
an Innovative Culture for Learning – Powered by Blendedschools Network” to
be held November 23-25 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA.
Featuring Keynote Speakers: David Burgess - - Author of "Teach
Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and
Transform Your Life as an Educator", Dr. Bart Rocco, Bill Sterrett
- ASCD author, "Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead
and Learn as a Principal?" and Ron Cowell.
This annual conference features small group sessions (focused
on curriculum, instructional, assessment, blended learning and middle level
education) is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches
for cultural change in your school or district. Join us for PASCD
2014! Online registration is available by visiting www.pascd.org
Upcoming PA Basic Education
Funding Commission Meetings*
PA Basic Education Funding
Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 10
AM, Perkiomen Valley
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11 AM, Pittsburgh
* meeting times and locations subject to change
Health Issues in Schools:
"Mom I can't find the Nurse"
October 21, 2014 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway,
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Philadelphia has one of the worst childhood asthma rates in the
country. We need more nurses in Philadelphia's schools to aid children suffering
from this and other health issues. Join us to discuss Pennsylvania laws
governing nursing services.
Tickets: Attorneys $200
General Public $100 Webinar $50
What About the Schools? A
Community Forum on the Next Governor's Education Agenda Oct. 15 7:00 pm WHYY
Pennsylvania's public schools, especially in Philadelphia, are
in dire straits. Many hope that the upcoming gubernatorial election will help
shine a light on the state's education issues. But how will Harrisburg politics
and financial realities limit the next governor’s agenda for education?
Join Research for Action, WHYY, and the United Way of Greater
Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey for an interactive community forum
designed to suggest an education agenda for the next administration—and to
assess the politics of achieving it. Hear
from local educators about what they see as priorities for the schools, and
from seasoned policy practitioners on the political realities of Harrisburg. Then, make your voice heard. Discuss your
thoughts and perspectives with other event guests and interact with the
panelists. You’ll come away from this spirited discussion with a more nuanced
view of the politics of education in both Philadelphia and at the state level.
This event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Doors open at
WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia,
Questions? Call 215-351-0511 during regular business hours,
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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.
Register Now – 2014 PAESSPState
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:
January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The ScienceLeadershipAcademy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both
in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will
be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the