State news roundup for September 15, 2012


New York – Creating a college-ready culture

People talk about changing a school’s culture.

For Copiague social studies teacher James Travis, a big breakthrough came when his students created a Facebook page for AP History.

“It shows such a camaraderie, a single-minded goal to beat the odds,” said Travis, whose students are often the first in their families to go to college. “Our kids have to overcome a lot — which makes it all the more impressive to me.”

The Facebook page, where students work together on essays and share study tips, is just one brick of what the high-needs district calls its “Road to College” K-12 initiative.

Other bricks include college days when faculty members proudly wear T-shirts from their alma maters, assemblies highlighting graduates who come back and talk about what it’s like in college and pep rallies featuring college fight songs [ed note: pictured above] to rev up elementary youngsters.

You can read the complete story at

 Massachusetts – Join Massachusetts educators online for #EdChatMA

Sunday, 8-9 p.m. EST

What is a Twitter Chat?

An online discussion using Twitter. Twitter Chat participants use hashtags, such as #EdChatMA, to tag posts to be part of the conversation. The hashtags  make it easy to find and filter and later to archive the chat conversation.

How can I participate?

Sign up for a Twitter account, if you don’t have one, so you can actively engage in the conversation. Even if you think you have nothing to say, you will be able to add new friends and experts to your Twitter #pln (personal learning network) during the chat.

You can follow along using Twitter, third party apps such as Tweetdeck or stand-alone chat clients such as Tweet Chat.

Use the hashtag #EdChatMA to search for chat tweets and be sure to include #EdChatMA in your own tweets.

Find out more and watch an instructional video to learn how to participate at

Pennsylvania – The consequences of voter apathy

Voter apathy comes at a hefty price. Journalist George Jean Nathan once wrote, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.’’

In Pennsylvania, U.S. Census and Pennsylvania Department of State data show that more than one million of the state’s eligible voters are not registered to vote.

On Election Day in 2010, less than 50 percent of Pennsylvania voters participated in the election that put Tom Corbett in the governor’s office. Since taking office, Corbett has cut nearly $1 billion in public education funding, pushed for tuition vouchers, and threatened school employees’ bargaining rights. Now he is coming after public employees’ pensions.

This November, PSEA members have a chance to “Stand Together’’ and support pro-public education candidates who will work to stop bad policies and fix the crisis in public schools.

Visit to get the full story.

Ohio – Federal judge resolves early voting controversy

On August 31, U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus resolved at least part of the controversy over early voting in Ohio, allowing Ohioans to vote during the last three days before the election—Saturday, Sunday and Monday, November 3-5.

“On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day—a right previously conferred to all voters by the state—outweighs the state’s interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline,” Economus wrote in his preliminary injunction order.

Early voting became the focus of controversy this year, despite a growing trend toward both early in-person voting and no-fault absentee voting in recent years.

Absentee voting was never in question. You can get an absentee ballot right now from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office or your county Board of Elections office. Just return the ballot postmarked by November 5 and it will be counted.

OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks said, “The rigged redistricting process, multiple laws to change early voting and even attempts to purge voter rolls appear to be part of an overall plan to give the advantages to one side in this election. The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling also allows unlimited corporate contributions and spending in this election, so we will have to work hard at the grass roots level to even the playing field as much as we can.”

Find out more by visiting

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