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 Nov 8: A long-planned lawsuit faulting the state's funding system will be announced Monday.
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
EPLC "Focus on
Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, November 9 at 3:00
Education Policy and LeadershipCenter
Guest 1: Kathy Manderino, Campaign Manager of the new Campaign for Fair
Education Funding and FormerPennsylvaniaState
Guest 2: Pennsylvania State
Representative and House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer who is planning to retire on November 30,
at the end of the current legislative session All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted
by EPLC President Ron Cowell.
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various
resources related to school funding, adequacy and equity issues.
After 40+ years of reporting about education, I am absolutely
convinced that, in the very best schools, thestudents are the
workers and the work they are doing is meaningful. What they do–their
product–depends upon their ages and stages, but the concept doesn’t change.
In these schools, teachers are conductors, directors,
supervisors, guides or docents.
This observation flies in the face of conventional wisdom,
which holds that teachers are workers whose job is to produce
capable students. That gets further bastardized when ‘capable’ is
defined by test scores until we end up thinking, “The work of teachers is to
add value, which is measured by higher test scores.”
If you had been traveling with me the past few weeks, you
would have seen three examples of outstanding education: My 3-year-old
granddaughter’s pre-school, a 12th grade science class in a public high school
in Philadelphia, and a journalism class at Palo AltoHigh School
"Stark" and "alarming" are words that were
used Friday to describe the results of arecently
published analysis of state education aid. It shows that Pennsylvania districts
with similar rates of poverty that are almost all White get higher per-pupil
amounts of basic education funding than districts that are more racially
diverse. "I think that it’s stark,
breathtaking when you look at it," said Susan Gobreski, executive director
of Education Voters PA, a statewide advocacy organization. "We think we
know these things. But it’s one thing to talk about it in generalities, it is
another to see it so vividly."
Education advocates poised to
take Philly SRC to court over lack of transparency
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN
MCCORRY NOVEMBER 7, 2014
When the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to
unilaterally cancel the district teachers union contract last month, it did so
in way designed to attract the least immediate pushback. Education advocates believe the SRC's action
violated the state's government transparency laws. The SRC scheduled its vote for a Monday
morning, when teachers were in class. The only public advertisements were a
back-page notice in the Sunday Inquirer and a legal notice on Philly.com.
Reporters were alerted only about an hour before the event. The SRC members
heard public testimony, but only after they voted to kill the
contract. "We do believe that a
judge will say, 'When you don't allow comment before you pass a resolution,
you've violated the Sunshine Act. When you don't deliberate on this type of
resolution, you're violating the Sunshine Act,'" said Lisa Haver, a
retired teacher and co-founder of the advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Haver's group filed a writ of summons in the
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas this week. The move preserves the group's
right to file suit if the SRC doesn't offer a further explanation of its
York Dispatch EDITORIAL: Will Wolf save YorkCity
York Dispatch POSTED: 11/07/2014
10:32:57 AM EST
The YorkCity teachers union
rejected a state fact finder's report this week, ensuring a lengthy contract
negotiation will drag on even longer. The
union and school board have been at it for more than a year now, and it's safe
to say they're farther apart than ever — especially since we were led to
believe, in the beginning, the deal was all but signed. The proposal calls for major wage and benefit
concessions, but the teachers reportedly agreed to those terms last year to
avert a charter conversion of all district schools. The charter plan was being considered by the
state-appointed financial recovery officer when the union and administration
presented an "internal transformation" option. That model was supposed to reverse a trend of
poor academic performance and financial distress by creating themed magnet
schools and academies, adding pre-K classes and assigning advisory committees
to each school building. It also called
for major concessions from the union beginning with the 2014-15 school year. That was in April 2013, and the union has yet
to sign the new contract.
Without the concessions, other key components of the
transformation model couldn't be implement, according to the recovery officer,
David Meckley. He's now exploring other options, which once again include a
full charter conversion.
Lancaster Online Editorial: Wolf has a mandate on education
funding; Republican-controlled Legislature should work with him
The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014
A key plank of Gov.-elect Tom Wolf's campaign was increased
state funding of public education, with a tax on natural gas extraction, the
end of unproductive business tax credits and an increased income tax rate.
Republicans -- whose majorities in the state House and Senate supported Gov.
Tom Corbett's no-tax agenda won even bigger majorities Tuesday.
Tom Wolf has a big job ahead of him and he deserves the support
of all Pennsylvanians — including the Republican majorities in the General
Assembly — to get moving on the key issues of his campaign. “This is not just about the honor of getting
votes,” Wolf said in his acceptance speech in York. “It’s about the necessity of doing
things for Pennsylvania.” That’s what voters expect, of both Wolf and
the winners of Tuesday’s state House and Senate races.
Thursday, the Basic Education Funding Commission held its
seventh hearing aimed to help in its mission to provide the legislature with a
new basic education funding formula for consideration.
According to Commission Co-Chairman Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh),
the focus of the commission is starting to narrow to common themes of concerns
expressed at the hearings.
“We’ve talked about your starting point for funding and how you
adjust for certain student-based factors,” he said. “The one that we really
need to work on to qualify what that would be are both the poverty of the
student and the concentration of poverty in the district.”
He said the challenge in this area is not necessarily in
knowing that this factor in school funding has to be weighted, but rather how
that should occur. It was this topic
that permeated many of the questions of Thursday’s hearing, which focused on
factors relevant to school funding.
"Allison Still of the district’s
multicultural office said that dual language programs don’t require many
additional funds because teachers are still hired based on enrollment numbers.
In fact, Still said, the language and cultural diversity in Philadelphia schools should be highlighted as
a way to sustain public education by remaining competitive. “To be able to learn a second language with
peers that speak that language is an opportunity that a lot of private, charter
and suburban schools don’t have. We think it’s a huge draw and it’s a way to
see language and culture as an asset instead of a deficit,” Still said. “Being
taught to be bilingual and biliterate is going to set these students
That’s what 6-year-old Sebastian told his bilingual American
mother and Costa Rican father when they read him a Spanish-language book or
prompted him to practice speaking. Sebastian’s mother, Jessica Esquivel, had
enrolled him in a Catholic school where he received 30 minutes of
Spanish-language instruction every week.
“We were hoping for him to become bilingual,” Esquivel said.
She and her husband speak Spanish at home and while their son understood, he
refused to speak. That’s why they decided to increase Sebastian’s formal
learning in Spanish from less than an hour each week to more than six hours
every day. It started with a tweet. The
Passyunk Post published an article on SouthwarkElementary School’s new dual language
program where Spanish, English and bilingual kindergarteners sat in one classroom
to learn in both languages what every Philadelphia
public school kindergartener learns in one. Esquivel crossed the city from her Northwest Philadelphia home to attend the school’s
parents’ night, hear the research, meet the principal and take a tour. She was
“He'd be getting Spanish all day long and getting it for free,”
Esquivel said. “We are really impressed because he is definitely speaking
Spanish now. He is initiating conversations with us in Spanish and he never did
School Board Blogger by David Hutchinson Friday, November 7,
Tuesday’s keynote speaker at last month’s PSBA conference was
the highly respected education researcher and writer, Amanda Ripley. She
recently spent a year looking at education policy and practice around the
world, particularly through the eyes of students. With the large caveat that
education policy is extremely complex and difficult to compare across national
and cultural boundaries, her research suggests:
need for coherent national standards. (See “Common Core”)
should wait as long as possible before ‘tracking’ students.
need to improve teacher and principal training
involvement in their child’s education should be primarily in the home.
Wall Street Journal Opinion By ALLYSIA FINLEY Nov. 6, 2014
4:50 p.m. ET
Liberals are seeking small solace from their Tuesday drubbing
by flogging Pennsylvania Gov.Jord Tom Corbett’s 10-point defeat, the only
governorship Democrats picked up amid losses in Massachusetts,
Illinois and Maryland. Democrats ought to give credit
where credit is due: Mr. Corbett. The
lesson the teachers union and liberals have gleaned—or rather, the narrative
they’re spinning—is that Democrat Tom Wolf won because Mr. Corbett’s
conservative policies were out of step with voters. The rout, they say, is a
harbinger for the 2016 presidential election when Republican Sen. Pat Toomey
will face re-election among an even more liberal electorate. In 2010 Mr.
Corbett led Mr. Toomey by 150,000 votes statewide.
But as even Mr. Wolf acknowledged, “the people of Pennsylvania voted for me not thinking about any national
trend, but what was going on in Pennsylvania.”
The state’s economy has continued to lag both the nation and region during the
governor’s tenure. Pennsylvania’s 0.7% real
GDP growth last year trailed neighboring Ohio
(1.8%), West Virginia (5.1%), Delaware (1.6%), and even New Jersey (1.1%).
GOP Leaders in Congress
Outline Education Priorities
Education Week By Lauren Camera Published Online: November 7, 2014
After easily capturing the number of seats they needed take
control of the U.S. Senate—and padding their majority in the House of
Representatives—congressional Republicans have laid out an aggressive education
policy agenda that includes overhauling the long-stalled No Child Left Behind
law and the mammoth Higher Education Act.
While divided government will remain, as the White House is in
Democratic hands at least until President Barack Obama finishes his second
term, the new political calculation in Congress will likely spur movement on
education bills. Lawmakers who play major roles on the chamber’s education
committees were quick to outline their priorities, which also include school
choice measures, funding issues, and generally scaling back the federal
footprint on K-12.
The North Carolina State Board of Education
has issued a warning to a charter-school chain for failing to comply with an
agency order to disclose the salaries of school administrators. The schools
have been put on "financial probationary status," which could lead to
sanctions if their board does not comply within 10 business days. This is the same charter-school chain,
Charter Day School, Inc., that ProPublicawrote about last month. As we reported, the four charter
schools channel millions in public education dollars each year to for-profit
companies owned by the schools' founder, businessman Baker Mitchell. One of the
for-profit companies, RogerBaconAcademy,
is paid to run all the day-to-day operations of the schools.
journalists, praise from John McPhee was — and is — the ultimate reward
PRinceton Alumni Weekly By Joel Achenbach ’82 Published in
the November 12, 2014, issue
John McPhee ’53 has many moves as a writer, one of which
he calls a “gossip ladder” — nothing more than a stack of quotations, each its
own paragraph, unencumbered by attribution or context. You are eavesdropping in
a crowd. You take these scraps of conversation and put them in a pile. Like
“A piece of writing needs to start somewhere, go somewhere,
and sit down when it gets there.”
“Taking things from one source is plagiarism; taking things
from several sources is research.”
“A thousand details add up to one impression.”
“You cannot interview the dead.”
“Readers are not supposed to see structure. It should be as
invisible as living bones. It shouldn’t be imposed; structure arises within the
“Don’t start off with the most intense, scary part, or it
will all be anticlimactic from there.”
“You can get away with things in fact that would be tacky in
fiction — and stuck on TV at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes the scene is
carried by the binding force of fact.”
The speaker in every instance is John McPhee. I assembled this
particular ladder from the class notes of Amanda Wood Kingsley ’84, an
illustrator and writer who, like me, took McPhee’s nonfiction writing class,
“The Literature of Fact,” in the spring of 1982. In February, McPhee will mark
40 years as a Princeton professor, which he
has pulled off in the midst of an extraordinarily productive career as a staff
writer for The New Yorker and the author of more than two
Philadelphia City Council Hearings
on High-stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement, Wednesday, November 19, 2014,
Education Committee of Philadelphia City Council
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM, Room 400 City Hall
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Councilman Mark
Squilla and The Opt-Out Committee of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public
Schools urge all who care about the future of education to attend: Parents, students and educators will testify
on the effects of over-testing on students and teaching, including the crisis
of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Webinar: Arts Education - Research Shows Arts Education Boosts
Learning, So Where's the Rush to Teach Arts?
Education Writers Association NOVEMBER 12, 2014
- 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Decades of research suggest that some types of arts education
can lead to academic improvements. But even though No Child Left Behind
designated arts a core subject, student access to dance, theater and visual
arts declined between 2000 and 2010. What are the challenges educators
face in teaching a discipline many researchers say spurs student achievement,
reduces absences and boosts graduation rates? This webinar will look at
state-level arts education policy and student access to arts programs, the arts
education research landscape, and offer a spotlight on city programs that are
galvanizing arts education.
James Catterall, Centers for Research on Creativity,
Professor Emeritus, UCLA
Sandra Ruppert, Director, Arts Education
Children with Autism - Who’s Eligible? How to get ABA services?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway,
Join us on November 19th, 2014 to discuss eligibility services for children with Autism. This
session will teach parents, teachers, social workers and attorneys how to
obtain Applied Behavioral Analysis services for children on the autism
spectrum. Presenters include Sonja Kerr (Law Center), Rachel Mann
(Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania), Dr. Lisa Blaskey (The Children's
Hospital of Pennsylvania), and David Gates (PA Health Law Project).
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
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