Friday, January 28, 2011

Vouchers, Vouchers, Vouchers............

PSBA: Ten reasons why vouchers are not the answer

Senator Piccola’s Jan. 26 Weekly Column: Families Vouch for School Choice

A School Choice Bill That Doesn’t Offer True Choice

Poor African-American kids would benefit, but no one else
Philadelphia Magazine: Chris Friend’s Blog Posted on 1/27/2011 at 4:27PM

Op-ed from WGAL-TV President and General Manager Paul Quinn

Madonna Poll shows 67% of Pennsylvanians oppose giving public money to parents so they can send their children to private school

Poll shows public opposes the concept of taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Notes from the Field Blog: Voucher Rally: The Wrong Kind of Civics Lesson/ 2009 NAEP Results/ EDWEEK Blog: Duncan, Key Senators Sing Off Same Page on ESEA Renewal/ WP: Obama seeks to make No Child Left Behind more flexible

Notes from the Field Blog Jan. 27, 2011
Voucher Rally: The Wrong Kind of Civics Lesson
Submitted by Frank Murphy, Jan. 27, 2011
Pennsylvania school choice advocates staged a rally this past Tuesday in Harrisburg.  They gathered in order to demonstrate their support for the passage Pennsylvania State Senate Bill 1.  If enacted, this proposed legislation would establish a school voucher program for low-income children in the state of Pennsylvania.
The merits of Senate Bill 1 should be the subject of a civil and thoughtful debate within the legislative chambers of our Government.

2009 NAEP Science Results and Coverage

Education Week Politics K-12 Blog

Duncan, Key Senators Sing Off Same Page on ESEA Renewal

 Alyson Klein  
The ESEA Bipartisan Ship is still sailing the day after the State of the Union.
Three of the four members of the U.S. Senate's "Big 8" on education policy, along with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, told reporters today that they intend to move quickly and collaboratively on a bill that fixes some of the key issues with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose current incarnation is the nine-year-old No Child Left Behind Act.

Obama seeks to make No Child Left Behind more flexible

Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, January 26, 2011
North Chevy Chase Elementary School, with a demanding curriculum, strong faculty and high student test scores, meets nobody's definition of a failure. Nobody's, that is, except the federal government's.

2009 NAEP Science Results and Coverage

Few Students Show Proficiency in Science, Tests Show
By SAM DILLON, Published: January 25, 2011
On the most recent nationwide science test, about a third of fourth graders and a fifth of high school seniors scored at or above the proficiency level, according to results released Tuesday

NAEP Science Results Demonstrate Importance of Developing Next Generation Science Standards; Ability to Innovate and Compete Globally Linked To U.S. Science Knowledge
January 25, 2011

 The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2009

PA 2009 NAEP Grade 4 Science Report:

PA 2009 NAEP Grade 8 Science Report:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Madonna Poll shows 67% of Pennsylvanians oppose giving public money to parents so they can send their children to private school/Agenda for 2/16 Senate Ed Committee Hearing on Voucher Bill/SB1 now posted/Voucher Press Coverage

Do you know your State Senator’s and State Representative’s positions on SB 1?

Madonna Poll shows 67% of Pennsylvanians oppose giving public money to parents so they can send their children to private school

Poll shows public opposes the concept of taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers


Agenda for Senate Education Committee Public Hearing Senate Bill 1 February 16, 2011

On February 16, 2011, the PA Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1, which would provide taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers for parents to send their children to private or religious schools.

According to the PA Department of State’s Campaign Finance Reporting website, during 2010 the Students First PAC, a voucher advocacy PAC, contributed $5,956,913.07 to Pennsylvania candidates, including 6 members of the Senate Education Committee.
I have noted the amounts contributed to each of the cosponsors of SB 1 listed below.

Senate Bill 1 is now posted on the General Assembly’s website:
Sponsors Listed: PICCOLA, WILLIAMS ($5,077,413.07), SCARNATI ($100,000),
 PILEGGI ($100,000), FOLMER ($20,000), BROWNE ($15,000),
PSBA is tracking statewide press coverage of the Voucher issue:

Madonna Poll shows 67% of Pennsylvanians oppose giving public money to parents so they can send their children to private school

N E W S  R E L E A S E

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION                                           01-26-11-03
Tim Allwein, Assistant Executive Director, Governmental & Member Relations
Pennsylvania School Boards Association
(717) 506-2450, ext. 3325

Poll shows public opposes the concept of
taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers

According to a recent public opinion poll, most Pennsylvanians oppose giving public tax money to parents so they can send their children to a private school. The poll presents the findings of a survey of 805 Pennsylvania adults designed by Terry Madonna Opinion Research. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.5%.
“As proponents gear up for pushing taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers through the legislature, the results of this survey show there clearly is not the public support for such a program,” said PSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “If improving public education is truly the goal, the governor and General Assembly would be well advised to take up more widely supported initiatives such as relief from unfunded mandates currently burdening school entities.”
There are some studies that claim the public supports vouchers. However, the Terry Madonna Opinion Research study used the term “taxpayer-funded” when describing tuition vouchers. Understanding this distinction, respondents overwhelmingly said “no” to tuition vouchers.
The survey results show:
• About two out of three Pennsylvanians (67%) oppose giving public money to parents so they can send their children to a private school. Only a small minority (13.7%) of Pennsylvanians strongly favor taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers. Most older Pennsylvanians, aged 55 or older, oppose taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers and, in fact, 51% strongly oppose them. Over 70% of individuals surveyed under the age of 34, strongly or somewhat oppose tuition vouchers, more so than any other respondent age group.

• For respondents declaring a political affiliation, a majority of  both Democrats and Republicans indicate opposition to taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers. Democrats more so than Republicans, however, oppose taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers 69% to 58%, respectively. Independents also do not embrace tuition vouchers with 68% of them indicating that they either somewhat or strongly oppose them.

• Regardless of zip code, opposition to tuition vouchers is universally held across all Pennsylvania regions. More than two-thirds of Pennsylvanians oppose tuition vouchers in all areas of the state except in the northeast (61% oppose tuition vouchers) and the southwest (64% oppose tuition vouchers).

• Strong opposition to tuition vouchers is almost equally shared by whites and non-whites alike. More than two-thirds (69%) of non-white individuals indicated that they somewhat or strongly oppose taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers. This is slightly more than whites where 66% said the same. Only 10% of non-white respondents said they strongly favor taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers.

• Two-thirds of Pennsylvanians (66%) oppose state law that requires school districts to pay the tuition of students attending privately operated charter and cyber charter schools. Like the issue of vouchers, Pennsylvanians hold very strong opinions on charter school tuition.  Respondents holding opinions of strong opposition against charter tuition payment by school districts (44%) is almost four times greater than those strongly favoring tuition payments to charters by districts (11%).

PSBA is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for the public schools of the commonwealth. Founded in 1895, PSBA was the first school boards association established in the United States.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Agenda for Senate Education Committee Public Hearing Senate Bill 1 February 16, 2011

Senate Education Committee Public Hearing
Senate Bill 1
February 16, 2011

9:15 – 9:30 am Opening Remarks: Senator Jeff Piccola, Majority Chairman,
                        Senator Andy Dinniman, Democratic Chairman,
                        Senator Anthony Williams

9:30 – 10:00 am Secretary-Designate, The Honorable Ronald Tomalis,
                          PA Department of Education

10:00 – 10:30 am REACH Alliance

10:30 – 11:00 am Education Law Center (ELC)

11:00 – 11:30 am Students First

11:30 – noon Break

Noon – 12:30 pm PA State Education Association (PSEA)

12:30 – 1:00 pm Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)

1:00 – 1:30 pm AFT Pennsylvania

1:30 – 2:00 pm Center for Education Reform

2:00 – 2:30 pm PA Association of School Administrators (PASA)

2:30 – 3:00 pm Commonwealth Foundation

3:00 – 3:30 pm PA School Boards Association (PSBA)

Ravitch at PSBA/Canada at Haverford College/"Race to Nowhere" screening in Bryn Mawr/BC Times:Christiana to propose open-enrollment legislation

Diane Ravitch will be featured speaker at PSBA Legislative Conference April 17-18
The nationally-known education policy analyst and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, will address PSBA members via teleconference during the PSBA 2011 Legislative Advocacy Conference to be held April 17-18 in Harrisburg
Ravitch video trailer from “Education is not a Business”:

Geoffrey Canada to speak at Haverford College February 4, 2011
Geoffrey Canada: The Crisis Facing Youth
Talk by Geoffrey Canada, 7:30pm in Marshall Auditorium, Haverford College, followed by a book signing and reception (Sponsored by the Students Council Speakers Committee)
Geoffrey Canada is a social activist and educator. Since 1990, Canada has been president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, New York, an organization whose goal is to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem.
He is prominently featured in Waiting for Superman (2010), a documentary on the state of American public education by Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim.

“Race to Nowhere” screening at the Baldwin School March 10th, 2011 7:00 pm
Race to Nowhere is a call to action for families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.
Venue: The Baldwin School
Address: 701 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Tickets: $10 in advance or $15 at the door

Christiana to propose open-enrollment legislation

By: J.D. Prose, Beaver County Times, Saturday January 22, 2011 10:03 PM

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dissent Magazine: Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools/EPI: Leading experts caution against reliance on test scores in teacher evaluations/ New PSBA website on taxpayer funded school vouchers

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools
The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

The following study was cited in the above article:
News from EPI: Leading experts caution against reliance on test scores in teacher evaluations
August 30, 2010: Student test scores are not reliable indicators of teacher effectiveness, even with the addition of value-added modeling (VAM), a new Economic Policy Institute report by leading testing experts finds.

New PSBA website on taxpayer funded school vouchers:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

WITF Video "The School Choice Debate"

 WITF, the mid-state PBS station, aired a discussion of proposed taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers on January 20th.  This video runs about 57 minutes.

Participants include:
Dr. Don Bell, Superintendent of the Northern Lebanon School District
Senator Jeff  Piccola, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee
Otto Banks, Executive Director of the REACH Foundation
Tim Allwein, Assistant Executive Director for Governmental and Member Relations, PA School Boards Association

Who needs football anyway?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Krashen & Ohanian:protect children from poverty before we discuss pedagogy/PTR: PSBA to oppose school choice measure/Inky: NJ Voucher Plan/CAP Report: Return on Educational Investment

Do you know your state senator’s position on SB1?

SchoolsMatter Blog 1/21/11
Policy: protect children from poverty before we discuss pedagogy
The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) invited suggestions for its policy platform for 2011.
Suggestion for NCTE Policy Platform
Submitted by Stephen Krashen and Susan Ohanian, January 18, 2011
Single sentence summary: The NCTE platform should focus on removing the overwhelming barriers to student learning: food insecurity, lack of health care, toxins, and of special interest to us, access to books.

State school board group to oppose school choice measure

By Jodi Weigand
Friday, January 21, 2011
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is prepared to challenge a proposal to use taxpayer dollars to pay for private school education.

Posted on Fri, Jan. 21, 2011

N.J. school-voucher plan clears Senate panel

TRENTON - A pilot program for school vouchers moved one step closer to reality Thursday, after a New Jersey Senate committee released the bill following hours of heated debate.
FYI, CAP is where Donna Cooper ended up……
Center for American Progress

Return on Educational Investment

A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity

This report is the culmination of a yearlong effort to study the efficiency of the nation’s public education system and includes the first-ever attempt to evaluate the productivity of almost every major school district in the country. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inky and PPG: Vouchers/PN: CAIU Director Morton to take position in Corbett Administration/WP: Policing the rush to charter schools

Posted on Thu, Jan. 20, 2011

Corbett appears set to push school vouchers

HARRISBURG - The reference was a fleeting one, just 21 of 1,689 words in the new governor's sweeping inaugural message:
"Our education system must contend with other nations and so we must embrace innovation, competition, and choice in our education system."
But to anyone in the ever-contentious arena of public education and school reform, Tom Corbett's signal on Tuesday was clear: He thinks Pennsylvania is finally ready for school vouchers.
Opponents speak out against tuition vouchers
Thursday, January 20, 2011
By Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HARRISBURG -- In his inaugural speech, Gov. Tom Corbett barely hinted at what is sure to become one of the most hotly debated issues of the spring -- "school choice," also known as "tuition vouchers."

Capital Area Intermediate Unit executive director Amy Morton resigns post

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 4:08 PM 
In a letter to friends and staff today, Capital Area Intermediate Unit executive director Amy Morton announced her resignation to take a position in Gov. Tom Corbett's administration.

Bio on Amy C. Morton, Executive Director, CAIU

Washington Post Answer Sheet
Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Policing the rush to charter schools

By Valerie Strauss
Here is an editorial that was published in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne about education policies in Indiana. It specifically refers to reform plans by Gov. Mitch Daniels that include promoting vouchers for students to use to attend private schools, greatly increasing the number of charter schools, and paying teachers according to how well their students do on standardized tests, while limiting collective bargaining between teachers unions and schools. This was written by Tracy Warner, editorial page editor, who has worked at The Journal Gazette since 1981.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

RFA Contributes to Discourse on Vouchers/Inky: Many area school districts without contracts/PA House Standing Committee Assignments Announced/PR Newswire: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Releases Annual Ranking of State Charter Laws

RFA Contributes to Discourse on Educational Vouchers
Research for Action e-news:
As you are well aware, educational vouchers have come to the forefront of policy priorities in Pennsylvania recently. State Senators Jeffrey Piccola and Anthony Williams are set to introduce Senate Bill 1, a bipartisan-supported measure that would dramatically expand the role of educational vouchers as a school reform strategy. Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Corbett, has also signaled his intent to support vouchers. To be sure, Pennsylvania’s policy decisions on this issue will have significant implications on school districts across our state.
Research for Action strives to produce timely, relevant research and analysis focused on enduring and emerging educational reform issues.  As such, we produced a briefing paper – Questions and Answers about Educational Vouchers: Facts, Figures, and a Summary of the Research – to enrich the policy and legislative dialogue about this critical issue.

Posted on Wed, Jan. 19, 2011

Many area school districts without contracts

As the school year nears its halfway point, more than one in five school districts in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs remain without teacher contracts.
Thirteen of the 63 districts lack agreements, with talks in two of them dragging on for more than a year. Many show little sign of movement; teachers are working under the terms of their last settlements.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Releases Annual Ranking of State Charter Laws
WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/  
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) today released its second annual report which ranks the nation's charter school laws from the strongest to the weakest.  Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws analyzes the country's 41 state charter laws and scores how well each supports charter school quality and growth based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS' model charter school law.

State Specific report for Pennsylvania: