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Friday, November 12, 2010

You Can Help 9,000 Pennsylvania Children Get a Head Start

Study after study has shown that early intervention is the best way to help kids succeed in school. So you’d think it would be a no-brainer for Congress to maintain funding for the Head Start program when it resumes on Monday, Nov. 15.

You would be wrong.

Congress is considering cuts to federally funded pre-school education programs. These cuts would leave 9,000 children in Pennsylvania and 300,000 children nationwide out in the cold.

But you can help.  Join Education Voters PAand Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children on Monday for a National Action Day.

We’re asking you to call Congress and tell them that these programs are vital for our country’s future.

Here’s what to do:
  1. Call 1-888-460-0813
  • The first person to answer the phone will be an operator who will ask how you want to be connected. Tell the operator the name of your Member of Congress. (Not sure? Look it up at the National Women's Law Center.
  1. Once you are connected to the office of your Member of Congress, a staff person will answer the phone. Tell the staff person: My name is XXXX and I am calling from (city, state) and I am (your role).
  2. Tell the staff person:
    “Don’t drop 300,000 children from child care and Head Start. Make sure that funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start is NOT REDUCED in the appropriations bill and that the Early Learning Challenge Fund is included. We are counting on you here in Pennsylvania. Thank you.”
Then, hang up and ask five friends or coworkers to make a call as well.
Just last month, a Pennsylvania Department of Education report noted that more than 98 percent of the children in pre-k programs like Head Start showed "age-appropriate or emerging age-appropriate proficiency" in literacy, numeracy and social skills. The children then continued to perform as well as or better than their classmates in kindergarten and first grade.

These children are depending on you.  Don’t let them down.  On Monday morning, make that call!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time to Work Together

After all the commercials, canvassing and phone calls, the 2010 election is finally behind us, and one thing that is very clear --  Pennsylvania’s politics will change dramatically come January of next year.
We congratulate Governor-elect Tom Corbett on his decisive victory.  The two gubernatorial candidates had a healthy dialogue about a great many issues, including education, and we are pleased to have been a part of facilitating that conversation. 
Mr. Corbett has made statements about public education and has said he thinks it is important.  We look forward to working with the new Governor and Legislature to continue the progress that has been made towards improving our public education system. 
 In each election, Education Voters will do our best to ensure that education issues are raised up and explored, to educate people running for office and the public about critical issues,  and to help make recommendations about how to elect people who will make it a priority.  And after every election we will work with people we have supported and people we have not supported -- to bring about solutions that make Pennsylvania stronger.  We will also expect to find common ground in unexpected places.  Our focus is will be on providing quality education to all children, and to push our legislature and all elected officials, to do better, to work harder.
Congratulations again to the candidates that were victorious last night and to everyone that participated in this election, whether by volunteering, voting or seeking office. 
Now, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work – together.

Monday, November 1, 2010


We know you’ve been inundated with phone calls, mailings, television and radio ads about the election tomorrow.  But think about it --  would all these candidates, political parties and interest groups be spending all these millions of dollars to get your attention if it wasn’t REALLY IMPORTANT? 

And yeah, I know you’ve heard this a million times too, but tomorrow’s election IS critically important. 

The votes cast tomorrow will determine the direction our state will take for the next several years.  As someone who cares passionately about public education, we know you share our concern that the next Governor and Legislature make this issue a top priority.  To see our endorsements please go to our website, EducationVotersPA.

So how do we make that happen?  WE VOTE TOMORROW!   We bring friends with us to the polls.  We make sure our family members, our colleagues and our neighbors go vote.  It’s all up to us now --  our kids are counting on us.

Make a difference, make your voice be heard, VOTE on Tuesday, November 2nd! 

For more about your voting rights or to find your local polling place, please visit or www.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Debate 2010 Part 1

If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.

Of course, the converse of that is also true, especially when we’re talking about public education in Pennsylvania.  As Education Voters, our mantra has always been, “If it’s broken, let’s fix it!” 
For too long, elected officials have acknowledged that public education – and in particular funding for public education – has needed to be fixed.  But the thoughtful and sometimes difficult conversations haven’t been happening.  Instead, we have seen too many instances of partisan bickering, finger pointing, passing the buck and stop-gap solutions that neither address the real issues nor solve any problems.

If we are serious about improving public education – AND WE ARE – we need to demand more from our elected officials.  We need to ensure that we support candidates that are committed to making sure that every Pennsylvania child has an opportunity for a top-quality education.  If candidates aren’t focused on education issues, we must make sure they know that we as voters ARE and we want to know their positions on this critical issue.  Finally, we need to put our money where our mouths are… get out and VOTE for candidates that support public education! 

To see our picks for Governor and the State House and Senate, click here. We’re pretty proud of this list and think we’ve selected the very best advocates for public education in the state.  Let us know what issues you will be making YOUR voting decisions based on.  And remember to let the candidates know too by attending public forums, writing a letter to the editor or contacting their campaign offices.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let’s Get the “How to Fix Education” Conversation Going!

Waiting for Superman, a new documentary about the U.S. educational system, has generated a lot of media attention.  While we don’t necessarily agree with every opinion or solution offered in the film, it does contain some sobering truths.

For instance:
  • We spend more money to incarcerate someone for four years than it would cost to educate the same inmate in private school for 12 years
  • Great teachers make all the difference
  • Parental involvement is key to making sure your child receives the best possible education.
Waiting for Superman may not be the Citizen Kane of education- themed movies, but it is a great way to get a conversation about public education started!  And that is one of our goals as Education Voters of Pennsylvania.  Now how can we KEEP the conversation going?
How about hosting a “movie night” at your home and inviting your neighbors, colleagues, or other parents in your children’s class?  Some recommended flicks that are sure to get people talking:
The Lottery
I am a Promise (the children of Stanton Elementary School)
Paper Clips Project
Race to Nowhere

With some popcorn and other movie-themed snacks, this is a fun, informal way to encourage discussion about the schools in your community --  what’s working, and what needs to be improved?   In these tough economic times, how can we convince elected officials that investing in public education is the right thing to do?  How can we train and better support talented educators?  Does your school district offer enough early childhood education programs or special education programs?    

With the General Election less than 3 weeks away, this is also a good time to talk about what education issues Pennsylvania’s next Governor should focus on.  Ask your guests to sign a “Pledge to Vote” card (call 215-564-2299 to receive cards) and follow up with them on Election Day to make sure they kept their promise!

Better yet, a representative from Education Voters would be happy to attend your gathering and share specific information about the challenges facing schools in Pennsylvania – we’ll bring lots of hand-outs and even a cool PowerPoint presentation! 

Leave a comment here and let us know how your “movie night” went… or if we missed any great education-themed movies.  And keep talking about the importance of public education! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We Endorse Dan Onorato for Governor

We believe that Dan Onorato is the candidate who is best equipped to create a brighter future for the students, parents, educators and communities of Pennsylvania as our next governor.

Education Voters conducted a detailed analysis of the policy positions of both major-party candidates.  While Attorney General Tom Corbett’s campaign has taken promising positions on certain issues, we concluded that Onorato would do more as governor to provide all Pennsylvania children with the education needed for their own success, and for the success of the entire commonwealth.

We view Dan Onorato is the education candidate. We are dedicated to putting pro-public education candidates into office, and Dan is committed to promoting equity and improving achievement in Pennsylvania’s schools, while relieving the burden on local property taxpayers.

Onorato proposed a detailed policy agenda aimed at improving virtually all areas of public education, including funding, teacher quality, school safety and access to early childhood and post-secondary educational opportunities.  Onorato has also displayed a clear understanding of the positive economic effects of improving public education and supports the idea that targeted investments in our schools can create a smoother path to recovery from the recession.

Our next governor must understand that the best thing we can do for our state’s economy is to make sure that our kids get a quality education, This year’s graduates will be entering a rocky job market or going through a competitive college admission process.  The next governor has an obligation to those kids, and it’s clear that Dan Onorato can live up to that promise.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Round of Legislative Endorsements

As promised, here are the first round of our legislative endorsements.

We have seen many positive developments in educational funding over the past few years,  As a result, Pennsylvania achievement has been steadily rising, with more students achieving proficiency in core subjects.   Pennsylvania’s reformed funding formula and efforts to target resources in order to provide sufficient program support provide for all Pennsylvania’s school districts are important steps in the right direction.

Because of these successes, we want to honor those legislators that have been champions for public education.  These incumbent members have worked diligently by serving on important committees, sponsoring or co-sponsoring initiatives or championing education issues in their own caucuses.

Education Voters PA endorses the following members for re-election to the PA House:

We are also looking for the next generation of leadership on education issues. We are pleased to endorse Justin Yaich for the open House seat in district 122, which was recently vacated by former House Speaker Keith McCall. We are confident Mr. Yaich will continue to be a strong representative for his district and for the issues important to communities there.

Justin Yaich has a remarkable understanding of how important strong public education is to our economy and to our local communities which will pay significant and lasting dividends for generations of Pennsylvanians. We believe Mr. Yaich will be a tremendous voice for education in the next legislative session, and we enthusiastically support his candidacy.

We'd like to know what you think of our choices.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Who's Looking Out for Education? Look for Our Endorsements to See!

Pennsylvanians have some very serious decisions to make this November – decisions about not only who will govern their state, but about what they want those elected officials to focus on.  Investing in public education will pay dividends for generations of Pennsylvanians, but we must act NOW to continue the gains we’ve made and lay a solid foundation for a bright future.  For that reason, we are planning to endorse a number of candidates that share our commitment to ensuring that every child in Pennsylvania has the opportunity to receive a world class education.
Later this week we will announce our first round of endorsements in key legislative battles across the state.  We have been meeting with candidates for several weeks  to discuss the vital issues that will face the next Governor and State Legislature, and we have a real opportunity to strengthen the allies we’ve made in Harrisburg AND help create new ones with a fresh perspective on the importance of public education.
Watch the blog for our endorsements! And please visit our website at to sign up for email updates about ways you can help aid candidates in your area who are committed to excellence in public education.

Have you already spoken to your candidates about education? Let us know what they said.  And tell us YOUR priorities as we move into election season.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Public Education Benefits All of Us -- How Can We Make it Better?

Is there anyone who is against providing a first-class education for our children?

Show of hands?

Of course not.

Being against public education is tantamount to being opposed to motherhood or apple pie.

But for most of our history, education was in private hands, mainly wealthy hands. The first compulsory public school legislation was passed in 1852 in Massachusetts, and it wasn’t until 1918 that all states had similar laws in place.

What changed?

As we moved from a farm-based society to a manufacturing one, we needed an educated worker population. In the past 100 years, each new technological breakthrough has made a quality education more critical.

Today, providing a quality education for children – everyone’s children – benefits all of us. Just last year,  a Northwestern University study quoted by the New York Times showed that on any given day, about one in every 10 young male high school dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention, compared with one in 35 young male high school graduates.

The report puts the collective cost to the nation over the working life of each high school dropout at $292,000. That figure took into account lost tax revenues, since dropouts earn less and therefore pay less in taxes than high school graduates. It also includes the costs of providing food stamps and other aid to dropouts and of incarcerating those who turn to crime.

While countries like China and Japan pour their efforts into education, we pour ours into building new prisons.

Yet, education remains the key to success in our society, both financial and social. For our country to compete in the 21st century global economy, we need an educated labor force to meet the technological challenges.

Here in Pennsylvania, the message is sinking in.  We were the only state last year (90-10) to increase the state share of education funding. As a result, we were also the only state to show achievement gains in every subject area tested and every grade tested. Between 2003 and 2009, PA's national rank rose from 9th to 5th (4th grade math), 17th to 8th (8th grade math), 15th to 7th (4th grade reading) and 12th to 1st (8th grade reading) (Governor’s Office)

Of course, we have much more work to do.  One way that helped us make these significant gains in Pennsylvania was a new funding formula that allocates money based on need, increases the state share and lessens the financial burden on local communities.

At Education Voters PA, we work to influence our policymakers and convince them of the need to support public education. 

Can you think of three ways we can improve public education in Pennsylvania schools?