Monday, June 11, 2012

“…the percentage of state funding for PA public education has declined - from 55 percent in 1980 to 35 percent today”

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Commentary: 'We don't want the state's financial problems thrown on the backs of our kids'

Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 5:09 AM
Proposed state funding cutbacks are forcing districts to raise taxes, increase class sizes, cut course offerings and slash extracurricular activities.  This generation could be the first to go backwards — not forwards — in its education. And that means we’ll be paying the price for their failed schooling as they get older. Spending less on education today means spending more on welfare, law enforcement, social service programs and health care in the long run.
Bet on it.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed slashing $100 million for public education. The reduction hits city districts the hardest, but all schools are feeling the pain.
Corbett and his team say they’re not really cutting state funding. They’re just not replacing federal stimulus dollars that have gone away. But if kids are the bottom line — it’s a cut. And our kids are paying the price.

“…the percentage of state funding for PA public education has declined - from 55 percent in 1980 to 35 percent today”

LTE: Persuade legislators to reform school funding

Published: Monday, June 11, 2012, 12:12 AM
Patriot News Letters to the Editor by Jill Bartoli
Sen. Jeffrey Piccola is right. The status quo is not working - particularly for the children in poorly funded public schools with closing kindergartens. The status quo of inequitable, declining public school funding leaves Pennsylvania ranking high in inequality due to a reliance on property taxes for school funding. 
And while legislator pay and pensions have continued to rise, the percentage of state funding for public education has declined - from 55 percent in 1980 to 35 percent today. Legislators who claim they are spending more on education neglect to tell you the actual percentage has dropped - unlike their pensions. 

Education Voters PA ‏@EdVotersPA
Please take 2 minutes to send an email to your state reps; ask them to restore public ed funding:

Pennsylvania push for cyber and charter school funding reforms

Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 4:35 AM
Lehigh Valley Live By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times
Public school officials have long argued the state charter school funding formula is flawed.
Calls for reform reached a roar once the state this year stopped reimbursing traditional districts for a portion of their charter school costs. Critics argue charter and cyber charter schools are not held accountable for the taxpayer dollars they receive and that they should only be paid what it costs them to educate a child.
Districts pay cyber and brick-and-mortar charter schools the same tuition calculated on a district’s average per pupil cost less certain expenses, which varies district to district. 
Bethlehem Area School District 
pays $8,539 for a regular education student and $16,391 per special education students to charter schools. While Saucon Valley School District pays $11,561 per regular education student and $21,165 per special needs student to cyber and charter schools.  On Monday, state Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin, released details of his charter and cyber charter school reform bill (HB 2364). According to Fleck and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the bill would:

  • Mandate year-end audits of cyber charter and charter schools to ensure schools are being paid for their actual education costs and eliminate non-instructional services from tuition payments. Audits would be public.
  • Ban charters from using taxpayer dollars on school advertising.
  • Remove the so-called pension cost double dip, saving an estimated $510 million by 2016-17. A school district’s retirement costs are not subtracted from its costs allowing a “double dip” for charters since the state reimburses their retirement costs.
  • Charters would be paid the actual cost of educating a special needs student based on a year-end audit and reimbursement would be capped at the same level traditional districts receive from the state.

Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? Charter school funding, accountability and transparency

Keystone State Education Coalition Postings from Sunday, June 10, 2012
KDKA: Corbett To Ask Legislature To Reduce Cyber School Funding/ House GOP shops around hybrid school choice plan

For Republicans, Corbett poll numbers are a headache, but may not be a deal-breaker in the fall campaign.
For Republicans, poll numbers are a headache, but may not be a deal-breaker this fall.
By John L. Micek and Clara Ritger, Allentown Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau
10:33 p.m. EDT, June 10, 2012
HARRISBURG— Nearly 18 months into his first term, Gov. Tom Corbett has hit the political equivalent of a glass ceiling: He's yet to crack the all-important 50 percent mark in his approval ratings among state voters.
And with legislative Republicans set to answer to the voters for the first time since the GOP swept into power in 2010, Democratic efforts to hold them accountable for two years' worth of cuts to public education and social welfare programs are in full swing.

Changing the Classroom: Teachers help lead Faison K-5 into future

June 11, 2012 5:44 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Faison K-5 in Homewood is the newest school building in Pittsburgh Public Schools, but it is tackling one of the oldest problems faced by school districts: ensuring that all children -- no matter their family and neighborhood background -- achieve at high levels.

“American students who currently attend schools in wealthy communities — those in which less than 10% of all students are poor – score at the top in reading, even higher than the students of Finland. Finland’s childhood poverty rate is 5%. Our rate is 23% which is one of the highest rates of child poverty in developed countries — only Romania’s rate is higher. Poverty matters.”
Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 06/11/2012

Challenging Eli Broad’s school memories

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Carol Corbett Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State.
By Carol Corbett Burris
The May 23rd edition of Education Week featured an opinion piece by Eli Broad, philanthropist and founder of two Fortune 500 companies. The piece entitled, “Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste,” presents his assessment of American schools, and why he thinks it is important that his 
(Source: Bloomberg)foundation enter the fray to fight “entrenched bureaucracies.”
Mr. Broad begins by nostalgically describing the past glories of the public schools that he attended. He tells us that he “is old enough to remember when America’s K-12 public schools were the best in the world.” He tells us how proud he was of the schools in his day, and uses words such as “shameful,” “embarrassment,” and “crisis” to describe today’s public schools.

Backtracking on Florida Exams Flunked by Many, Even an Educator
Published: June 10, 2012 15 Comments
SANFORD, Fla. — Bill Vogel, the superintendent of schools in this suburb of Orlando, has always been vigilant about preparing his district for the state tests.
All students take practice tests in math, reading and writing in September and December. Heather Flay’s fourth graders at Crystal Lake Elementary keep folders with their test results so they can chart which scores need improving.

Diane Ravitch on PBS Newshour June 5th, 2012

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:

June 29 is deadline to submit proposals for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform
Your school board is invited to submit proposals for consideration for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform. The association is accepting proposals now until Friday, June 29, 2012.  Guidelines for platform submissions are posted on PSBA’s Web site.  The PSBA Platform Committee will review proposals and rationale submitted for the platform on Aug. 11. The recommendations of the committee will be brought before the Legislative Policy Council for a final vote on Oct. 18.

PSBA accepting nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
Last year, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA's Legislative Platform. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 22, 2012. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. For more information and criteria details, see the Allwein Advocacy Award page. To obtain an application form, see the Allwein Advocacy Award Nomination Form. Completed forms should be returned no later than June 22 to: Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Advocacy Award Selection Committee, PO Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0790.

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

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