Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thousands take to streets to demonstrate against cuts to education in Pa.

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Thousands take to streets to demonstrate against cuts to education in Pa.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Delco Times By KATHY MATHESON, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators statewide took to the streets Wednesday to protest education cuts they say have decimated school districts across Pennsylvania, and they called for lawmakers to reject further reductions Gov. Tom Corbett proposes for next year.
A total of 25 people were arrested during massive demonstrations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as they blocked traffic downtown in both cities, police said. Hundreds more demonstrated at the Capitol in Harrisburg, and organizers said similar rallies were scheduled in cities including Doylestown, Hollidaysburg, Bethlehem, Hazleton, and Greensburg.

State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola discusses education funding crisis with Harrisburg students following morning rally

By ERIC VERONIKIS, The Patriot-News  Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 4:38 PM  
More than 1,000 students, teachers, administrators and others from the community participated in the protest organized by the school district and the Parent Support Network to show state legislators and Corbett the faces of those affected by cuts to public education funding.

11 arrested in Pittsburgh protesting Gov. Corbett's planned education cuts
May 23, 2012 6:37 pm
By Jon Schmitz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Eleven people were arrested Downtown this morning after blocking traffic at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street while protesting proposed cuts to public education funding near Gov. Tom Corbett's Pittsburgh office.  The 11 were among a crowd of about 200 demonstrators protesting proposed cuts to education funding, first at the United Steelworkers Building on the Boulevard of the Allies and then peacefully on foot to Mr. Corbett's office on Fifth.

Financial outlook for Pennsylvania schools in crisis stage, survey shows
Districts again plan to increase class sizes, drop electives, delay purchases.
By John L. Micek, Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau 11:03 p.m. EDT, May 22, 2012
HARRISBURG — Buffeted by the economy and declines in state and federal funding, the financial condition of Pennsylvania's public schools has reached a crisis stage with districts making ever deeper cuts to staff and programs to make ends meet, a new survey of districts by school administrators has found.
"These are, without question, challenging times for public education," Stacy Gober, business administrator of the Bethlehem Area School District, said Tuesday during a Capitol news conference unveiling the results of the third annual survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.

Budget crisis in public schools
State funding cuts, stagnant local revenues and soaring costs precipitate financial storm for districts, new report warns
David Mekeel Reading Eagle Originally Published: 5/23/2012        
Despite the claims by some in Harrisburg that school districts are overstating their financial distress, the crisis of public school funding is very real and incredibly damaging, a new report says.  A report released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators says public school districts are surviving financially through cuts unheard of since the Great Depression, and there doesn't appear to be much relief on the horizon.
The situation is so bad, the report says, that 3 percent of Pennsylvania school districts reported they're already in financial distress. Some are even on the verge of bankruptcy.
"I think it's a good report because it shows that the crisis is real," said Dr. Martin D. Handler, Brandywine Heights superintendent, adding that his district has already trimmed about as much as it can.

The Education Policy and Leadership Center

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012
Philadelphia Daily News Attytood Blog Posted by Will Bunch
How fracking fortunes are undermining public education in Pa.
The New York Times lifted up a large rock over Pennsylvania this morning, and the slime they found underneath was remarkable even by the low muck standards of the Keystone State. Under the headline " Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools," a remarkable expose by reporter Stephanie Saul (whom I worked with at Newsday many years ago) reveals a tangled web involving the Corbett administration, fracking money, and the ongoing crusade to favor private schools at the expense of public education.
The focus of the article is private-school scholarship programs now operated in Pennsylvania and seven other states (around these parts it is better known by the bureaucratically benign name of EITC, for Educational Improvement Tax Credit, launched here in 2001). Instead of the government providing direct help for parents to send kids to private or religious schools through vouchers, EITC provides tax credits to private donors for scholarship money that does essentially the same thing.
The Times article quotes experts calling this "a shell game" and it's not hard to understand why: The tax credits that finance the scholarships mean there's less revenue coming into to Pennsylvania's coffers -- at a time when the Corbett administration has been slashing spending for public schools.
But it gets better. Frankly, this looks like the Iran-Contra of the Corbett administration -- one unifying theory that ties together our governor's ridiculously close ties to the fracking industry with his jihad against public schools while benefiting people with close ties to his administration.

“Here's what oil taxes do for Alaska: Residents pay neither state sales nor state income tax, and in 2010 each and every resident got a $1,305 check from the state. In its 2011 budget, the Alaska legislature forward-funded K-12 education for 2012 to the tune of $1.2 billion.”

PO GUEST ESSAY: School funds available, given correct priorities

Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By MIKE BRESLIN SR. May 23, 2012
In a May 22 letter to the editor responding to Public Opinion's May 21 editorial, Tim Eller, press secretary for the state Department of Education, tells us, "Make no mistake about it, the economy is flailing."  Really? Flailing? And he goes on, "It's incumbent for both state and local governments to tighten their belts and live within available revenues.

Early childhood education pays off: 21st-century skills must start to be instilled in the first years of school

May 24, 2012 12:20 am
Post Gazette Opinion By Audrey Russo
Audrey Russo is president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council 
Even in times of economic hardship, Pennsylvania should support early childhood education and plan for growth. This is the time to close gaps in early learning to save money in the long term and assure businesses a steady stream of employees ready to meet the increasingly complex demands of the 21st-century workplace.

Published on May 21, 2012 by SaveUDArts
Sign the Petition
This isn't just about the Upper Darby School District. All over Pennsylvania and in many other states as well, WAR has been declared on Public Education, on children.  Our children deserve the very best that we can give them, no matter what test scores say. Help us take a stand and stop school districts from being forced to cut programs which cultivate who our children become.
We will be in Harrisburg on June 6th, 2012 to gather support for the proper funding of education. All are welcome to join us!
Please visit to learn more and join the fight.

Romney Considering Big School Choice Expansion

 Alyson Klein  
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been mulling some big changes to federal K-12 policy if elected, including allowing federal funding to follow students—even if they want to attend private schools—according to a campaign documentobtained by Politics K-12.
Disadvantaged families and parents of students in special education could choose to spend federal funds at any district or charter public school, tutoring provider, or online course, according to the document circulated over the weekend. It outlines a series of ideas that have been considered by Romney and his advisers, which could be announced as early as this week. Under the proposal, students could also federal money at a private school, as long as that was consistent with state guidelines.
According to the document, states would also be encouraged to adopt open enrollment policies, and to eliminate caps on charter and online schools. The document also indicates that Romney may seek to expand the DC Opportunity Scholarship program, a federally funded program in the District of Columbia that supporters fear has been put on thin budget ice by the Obama administration.

Romney Calls for Using Title I, IDEA Funds for School Choice

 Alyson Klein  
WASHINGTON—Presumptive GOP nominee Gov. Mitt Romney called today for making federal funding for special education and disadvantaged students portable—meaning the money would follow students to any school their parents choose, including a private school.
Under his proposal, parents could also choose to use the funds under Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at charter schools, for online courses, or for tutoring. Title I is funded at $14.5 billion this year, and IDEA is funded at $11.6 billion, and any proposal to radically shift the use of that money would be almost certain to face a host of administrative, budgetary, and political hurdles from the Congress and statehouses on down.

“The challenge for Mr. Romney is that many of the ideas he touched on — increasing the number of charter schools, holding teachers more accountable for student success — have already been adopted by the Obama administration, whose education policies have all but co-opted traditional Republican positions.”
Romney Calls Education ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Era’ and Urges Shift
New York Times By TRIP GABRIEL Published: May 23, 2012
Lamenting that millions of American children receive “a third world education,” Mitt Romney on Wednesday called for poor and disabled students to be able to use federal funds to attend any public, private or online school they choose.

Posted at 12:48 PM ET, 05/23/2012

Romney’s education speech — text

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Here is the full text of Mitt Romney’s remarks on education reform as prepared for delivery on Wednesday at The Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in Washington, D.C.:
Mitt Romney Speech As Prepared for Delivery to Latino Coalition

Wall Street's Investment in School Reform

 Diane Ravitch  
Dear Deborah,
You and I used to have lively debates about standards, curriculum, pedagogy, and a lot of other matters where we disagreed. Now those debates seem antique compared with the current uncertainty about the future of public education.
The question today is whether a democratic society needs public schools subject to democratic governance. Why not turn public dollars over to private corporations to run schools as they see fit? Isn't the private sector better and smarter than the public sector?

Here are more than 700 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign Education Funding Advocacy Week May 21-25
Education Funding Advocacy Week is not a single event but a series of activities sponsored by individuals and organizations that oppose the Governor’s proposed Budget for 2012-2013 because it reduces learning opportunities for students in Pennsylvania 
·         The Media Area NAACP and CU Keystone Honors Program is hosting 2012 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania “Calling for a Trauma-Informed Education System” on Friday, May 25.  Click here for registration details.

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