Archive

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Todd Platts, 10 candidates, and the Legend of Zelda: How to Create A “How to Pick a Congressman” Interactive Feature

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I love when news organizations go interactive.

When USA Today launched its first “Candidate Match Game” for the 2008 election, I was hooked. I hadn’t been that impressed by a game since I was 15 years old and watching the sunset on Hyrule Field in the “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”

I was similarly addicted to the New York Times’ “You Fix the Budget” interactive feature. (It’s informative across the board, but the health care section is really helpful.)

So I was really excited to help launch an interactive quiz at the York Daily Record/Sunday News, to help voters keep track of the seven Republicans, two Democrats, and one Libertarian hoping to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County.

Shortly after we finished the quiz, Sunday editor Scott Blanchard and Brad Jennings, who is the assistant managing editor for visuals, described what it took to get it done.

Steve Buttry, director of community engagement and social media for Digital First Media, wrote about the quiz on his blog Friday.

“This was especially helpful in such a crowded race, but I think candidate quizzes will be helpful in the fall races as well. Some candidates will decide those races based on party loyalty, but the independent voters will decide those races, and some of them won’t be paying attention to your daily coverage.”

Buttry shares a few ideas for using candidate quizzes in the fall, and I’ve got a few of my own.

But what do you think? (Some people who took the quiz, commented that they would have liked questions on abortion and LGBT issues.)

How do you think we should use quizzes for the fall election?

Or for our general government and politics coverage?

And, on a personal note, how would you feel about a quiz, where people answered questions to determine which piece of the Triforce –power, courage or wisdom –would be embedded into their hand if said Triforce ever split into three pieces?

Ok, well, maybe that last one would’ve been cooler when I was 15. (And I’m using “cooler” in the broadest sense of the word.)

Advertisements

New job at York Daily Record/Sunday News.

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello, readers:

I’m going to be trying to post more often on the blog.

But the big news since my last update: I’m now working at the York Daily Record/Sunday News. I cover politics and government and just wrapped up covering the crowded and occasionally contentious 4th Congressional primary.

I’ll keep you posted.

Legislators spar over vouchers, spending for charter schools

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2011

A1

BY ED MAHON

A proposal to create taxpayer-funded school vouchers in Pennsylvania may have suffered a fatal blow for this legislative year.

But Republican lawmakers hope they can revive another one of Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed education initiatives in the coming months.

“The issue is not dead. We have to still do a reform package on charter and cyber charters,” said state Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, chairman of the House Education Committee. “The whole idea is to have a fair and balanced package sometime this year that we can present to the committee and then to the General Assembly.”

But some Republicans disagree on what that final charter school package should look like.

State Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, voted against the charter school legislation Wednesday. He’s pushing legislation that would likely decrease funding for cyber charter schools, limit how much they can spend on advertising, and require the state to enforce minimum online and offline hours for students.

“They’re public schools. They’re here to stay,” said Fleck, a former Southern Huntingdon County school board member and current member of the House Education Committee. “But they need to be held to the same requirements as our regular public school system.”

State Rep. Dan Truitt, RChester, has two children enrolled at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School in a program that blends online classes with brick-and- mortar classes. Also a member of the House Education Committee, Truitt is opposed to the idea of changing the funding formula for cyber charter schools

.“I’m very concerned about the Fleck legislation — that he’s going to accidentally break a good thing,” said Truitt.

The charter and voucher-school legislation failed with a 105-90 vote. Truitt plans to seek out the 20 Republicans who broke ranks with their party to help shoot down the plan.

“What I figure I’m going to have to do is hunt down each one of these people one at a time and find what held them back, what were their reservations,” said Truitt. “I’m looking at this list, trying to understand what the pattern is, and I don’t see anything that I can firmly grasp and say, ‘Aha, that’s where things went wrong.’ ”

The issue is especially relevant in Centre County.

State College Area School District spends more on charter schools than 95 percent of other Pennsylvania school districts. The county has four brick-and-mortar charter schools. The nearby Sugar Valley Rural Charter School typically draws 20 to 30 students fromthe Penns Valley Area. And Centre County students also attend cyber charter schools, including Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which opened a satellite office in Bellefonte this summer.

Read more: Legislators spar over vouchers, spending for charter schools.

“For the Record” features information on State College Area School Board candidates

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

PUBLISHED AT CENTREDAILY.COM

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2011

Eight candidates are competing for five seats on the State College Area school board.

In “For the Record” blog posts, CDT reporter Ed Mahon offers some more information on who each of the candidates are, where they stand on some key issues, and what their priorities are.

Linked are the eight stories, along with an introduction and this week’s story on the status of a high school building project.

For more information the CDT Voters Guide, which was published in Saturday’s paper, will be available later this week on the website.

Read more: “For the Record” features information on State College Area School Board candidates.

Tea party ties become issue in race

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2011

BY ED MAHON

A member of the Centre County Democratic Committee on Friday criticized two Republican candidates for State College Area school board and incorrectly said both were aligned with the 9-12 Project of Central PA, a local conservative group that’s part of the national tea party movement.

But in emails Saturday evening and Sunday, the committee member partially backed away from that statement and apologized for sending out incorrect information.

“I have learned that school board candidate Dave Cannon is not aligned with the 9-12 Project; he was only an invited speaker at one of their meetings to discuss his research on climate,” Betsy Whitman wrote in an email Sunday.

Whitman sent the first email at 3:25 p.m. Friday. It was an invitation to a fundraiser for Amber Concepcion and Laurel Zydney, both Democratic candidates for school board, and in it she cited her reasons for supporting them.

“Two of the candidates are very troubling, in no small part because they align themselves with the 9- 12 Project of Central PA,” wrote Whitman, referring to Cannon and Samuel Settle.

But only Settle is a member of the group.

Whitman also encouraged supporters not to vote for independent candidate Lydia Glick, to increase the odds of Concepcion and Zydney getting elected.

Bellefonte, State College schools to pilot teacher evaluation plan

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

BY ED MAHON

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2011

Educators in the Bellefonte and State College area school districts have signed up to pilot a new teacher-evaluation program being pushed by the Corbett administration.

“We want to see what they look like and smell like,” said Bellefonte Area School District Superintendent Cheryl Potteiger, “to see what they actually want us to evaluate.”

The state Department of Education said a little more than 100 kindergarten through 12th-grade school entities, including career and technical centers and charter schools, volunteered to pilot the program, which won’t judge teachers solely on classroom observation. Student performance on tests will be a large factor.

In arguing that the overhaul is necessary, the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett has pointed to the fact that 99.4 percent of all teachers and 99.2 percent of principals received a satisfactory rating on reviews in the 2009-10 school year.

“How can virtually 100 percent of educators be evaluated as satisfactory, yet, based on statewide assessments, 1 in 4 students are scoring below proficient in reading and 1 in 3 are scoring below proficient in math?” Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said in a written statement last week. “It just does not add up.”

Read more: Bellefonte, State College schools to pilot new teacher evaluation plan.

Pa. secretary visits State College Area High Schools students

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Carol Aichele, Pa. Secretary of the Commonwealth, speaks to State College Area High School students, September 22, 2011. CDT/Nabil K. Mark

BY ED MAHON

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2011

STATE COLLEGE — Since the summer, State College Area High School social studies teachers have been planning to host a talk and question-and-answer session with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State.

The topic — the importance of voting — became much more of a hot-button one last week when state Republicans lawmakers proposed a major change to presidential elections in the state.

“I can honestly say I haven’t spent any time thinking about the Electoral College in almost 35 years, and in the last two weeks, I had to go back through … the Electoral College,” Carol Aichele told the students gathered Thursday in North Building’s library. “And I’d be interested to know, I’m genuinely interested to know, what you think.”

What the majority of the students — or at least the majority of those who peppered her with questions — thought could be summed up by 17-year-old Josh Clothiaux.

“I completely disagreed with her and her reasoning for splitting up the electoral votes,” he said, adding that he thought it would disenfranchise Republican voters in heavily Democratic districts and vice versa.

Read more: Pa. secretary visits State College Area High School students.

Categories: Politics, State College