Started in November 2010, daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
“In 2018-19, Coatesville paid Collegium $13.2 million for special education tuition, which excludes regular funding for 443 students. Collegium's financial reports show the school only spent $6.7 million for special education for students”
Coatesville faces severe financial hardship as students flock to charters
West Chester Daily Local Fran Maye firstname.lastname@example.org January 14, 2021
COATESVILLE—Coatesville school officials may need to make further cuts to programs and staff unless there is a solution to the district's funding battle with Collegium Charter School, school directors said. By a vote of 7-1, Coatesville school directors adopted a resolution this week calling for a fair charter school funding formula, and authorizing the director of business administration to pay Collegium $2.7 million by Jan. 13, and another $2.7 million no later than March 1. The root of the problem, school officials said, is that school districts are required to pay charter schools based on enrollment. In the past few years, parents have elected to send their children to Collegium and Avon Grove charter school in droves. Coatesville pays $11,500 per pupil per year for students who opt to attend Collegium or Avon Grove Charter. More than 3,000 students from the Coatesville Area School District now attend charters, up from about 1,700 five years ago. In that time, Coatesvillle's payments to charters has expanded by $33 million, to about $54 million per year. And much of that problem is the price the district must pay charters for special education students, said Robert Fisher, Coatesville school director. Coatesville must pay charters more than $40,000 per special education student, even if that student only needs minimal classes for a hearing impediment.
Biden Calls for $130 Billion in New K-12 Relief, Scaled Up Testing, Vaccination Efforts
Education Week By Evie Blad — January 14, 2021 5 min read
President-elect Joe Biden is calling for $130 billion in additional COVID-19 relief funding for schools, ramped up testing efforts, and accelerated vaccine distribution strategies to help reopen “the majority of K-8 schools” within the first 100 days of his administration. The proposals, which Biden announced in a speech Thursday night, are part of a $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” that also seeks $350 billion in aid to state, local, and territorial governments. “We can [open schools] if we give school districts, communities, and states the clear guidance they need as well as the resources they will need that they cannot afford right now because of the economic crisis we are in,” Biden said. “That means more testing and transportation, additional cleaning and sanitizing services, protective equipment, and ventilation systems in the schools.” The plan will require approval from Congress, both chambers of which are narrowly controlled by Democrats, who have called for larger relief efforts. But some components, like a proposal for additional direct relief payments to individuals, may be sticking points for some members in both parties.
Advocates call for postponement of test for English learners
Advocates from the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center and other groups are pushing to postpone the exam, which is administered in-person.
WITF by Alanna Elder JANUARY 14, 2021 | 6:36 PM
(Lebanon) — Pennsylvania students who are learning English typically spend the beginning of the calendar year preparing for a standardized test to determine their proficiency. The test, called WIDA-ACCESS, can take up to four hours and is the primary way teachers who specialize in this area understand students’ skills in speaking, reading, writing and listening, according to Amber Abreu, director of English Language Development for Lebanon School District. “Unfortunately, every year, ACCESS starts right after the Christmas holiday,” she said, which means students start practicing almost right away in the new semester. This year, advocates from the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center and other groups are pushing to postpone the exam, which is administered in person, since COVID-19 numbers remain high and the disease has disproportionately impacted immigrant, Black, and Latino families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adjusts its data to account for the average age of White Americans being higher than other racial or ethnic groups. That data shows Black and Latino Americans are nearly three times more likely to die from COVID-19. According to an August report from the agency, hospitalization from COVID-19 was eight times more likely for Latino children and five times more likely for Black children, compared to White children.
Philadelphia to offer in-person special education testing to 600 students
Chalkbeat Philly By Dale Mezzacappa Jan 14, 2021, 7:22pm EST
The Philadelphia school district will open six high schools on Jan. 25 as regional centers for evaluating 600 high-needs special education students, Superintendent William Hite announced Thursday. West Philadelphia High School, Edison High School, Martin Luther King High School, Strawberry Mansion High School, The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, and the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts will design new or updated individualized education programs. The district will help families with transportation to and from the centers, if necessary, and will offer meals at the sites. The 600 students initially identified by the district are mostly those with complex needs and are a subset of the 21,000 district students with IEPs. They have disabilities that require some in-person therapy or interventions, said ShaVon Savage, the district’s deputy chief of specialized services. For now, the centers will offer only special-education testing, not services. “It is our intent to open the centers for purposes of assessment first,” Savage said. “There is a strong possibility that we will be able to provide additional supports and services to special education students in these centers moving forward.”
Ciresi appointed to Education Committee, highlights goals for term
Rep. Joseph Ciresi January 14, 2021
HARRISBURG, Jan. 14 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, today announced he was appointed to serve on the House Education Committee as part of his committee assignments for the 2021-22 legislative session. “As a school board member for 12 years and in my first term as a legislator, it’s clear that education has been a top priority of mine,” Ciresi said. “I am grateful to be given the opportunity to serve on the Education Committee and look forward to working on many important priorities, including achieving real fair funding for education, charter school reform, comprehensive education reform, cost savings and shared services, and more.” During the 2019-20 legislative session, Ciresi worked with Gov. Tom Wolf to craft a comprehensive charter school reform bill and introduced legislation to incentivize cost-saving shared services for school districts (H.B. 2760), extend budget deadlines for school districts during state budget impasses (H.B. 1227) and the COVID-19 pandemic (H.B. 2482), and create a Student Bill of Rights for Off-Campus Housing (H.B. 2761). Ciresi also co-sponsored multiple bills to achieve more equitable funding of education statewide; located in the 146th Legislative District represented by Ciresi, Pottstown School District is one of the most underfunded school districts in the state.
Scranton School District to wait for vaccines before starting in-person instruction
Times Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL STAFF WRITER Jan 14, 2021 Updated 1 hr ago
The Scranton School District will wait for employees to have the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccinations before students return to school. With the state updating recommendations for in-person learning last week, school directors discussed options for the city’s 9,300 students late Thursday night. The new state guidance, which is not a mandate, calls for districts to offer in-person instruction for elementary school students as soon as possible. Vaccines for staff could come next month, as the district works with Hometown Health Care of NEPA to secure the doses. The district hopes to administer the doses at Scranton High School on a weekend. During the special meeting and operations committee meeting, teachers urged the district to remain virtual for now. “Now is not the time to abandon common sense,” said Rosemary Boland, president of the Scranton Federation of Teachers. “We have to follow the science. We’ve been doing that, and I hope we can continue to do that.” One option presented by Superintendent Melissa McTiernan included the youngest students returning as early as Feb. 22 for a hybrid schedule. All intermediate and high school students would remain fully virtual. Directors said they would rather wait for the vaccine to be available.
Allentown School District to remain in online learning through third quarter
By KAYLA DWYER THE MORNING CALL | JAN 14, 2021 AT 3:06 PM
The Allentown School District will remain in remote learning through at least the end of the third quarter, with a new target date for reopening in mid-April, the district’s board of school directors announced Thursday. This means students will continue to learn online through April 13, school directors said, citing increasing coronavirus spread in Allentown and Lehigh County. “Please know that we are taking this action to protect our students, staff, and families,” the school board wrote in a statement posted to the district website. The district is developing a hybrid instructional model for students who choose to return to school in person. When that time comes, families will still have the entirely virtual option.
“Online-only classes have been the Erie School District's mode of instruction for most students so far this school year due to the pandemic.”
Erie School District uses new state guidelines to start Feb. 1 hybrid learning for pre-K-5
Ed Palattella Erie Times-News January 14, 2021
The plan for hybrid learning for the Erie School District's 4,900 elementary school students is finally going into action. The district on Feb. 1 intends to launch the plan, which will bring the pre-K-5 students back to school for in-person classes one week and online-only classes the next. Families can also choose to keep students in online-only classes. Online-only classes have been the Erie School District's mode of instruction for most students so far this school year due to the pandemic. As part of its state-required health and safety plan, the Erie School District months ago developed the hybrid plan, designed to limit the number of students in a building at one time to curb the spread of COVID-19. But the district has kept the plan on hold as coronavirus cases have risen in Erie County.
Some Philly students will likely return to in-person learning in February, superintendent says
“Our return is not conditioned on vaccines,” Hite said at a Thursday news conference, “however, naturally we support expediting the vaccines.”
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham January 14, 2021
Philadelphia’s youngest public school students can likely return to in-person learning sometime in February, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Thursday. Families of prekindergarten through second-grade students — more than 32,000 kids, roughly a third of district’s students — will have the option of sending them back to school two days a week on a yet-to-be determined date, though the superintendent said it would probably be next month. About 10,000 children have signed up to return. Students will have the option to remain fully virtual. Teachers in those early grades would likely need to return to buildings a week to 10 days before students come back. Based on the city’s current plans, it’s likely educators will have access to the coronavirus vaccine the first or second week in February.
Bucks County schools find ways to honor MLK in pandemic
Chris English Bucks County Courier Times January 15, 2021
Martin Luther King Day has become synonymous with service.
But in a pandemic things had to change this year as local school districts need to keep safe while still honoring the civil rights pioneer. Pennsbury, Quakertown Community and Council Rock are among the districts that will be holding virtual events, collections and other initiatives leading up to and following Monday's holiday. In Pennsbury, the district's 10 elementary schools have been collecting hats, gloves, socks, tissues, toilet paper and many other items to be distributed to the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter, Falls Township Senior Center and Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
When will snow geese arrive at Middle Creek, elsewhere in Pennsylvania?
Penn Live By Marcus Schneck | email@example.com Posted Jan 14, 5:00 AM
Flocks of snow geese, even some with thousands of birds in them, are being spotted across eastern Pennsylvania. Gatherings of several thousand to tens of thousands have been seen in the Allentown area. And some of the large waterfowl are now at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area on the Lancaster-Lebanon county line near Kleinfeltersville, but the time of the great snow goose hordes there is likely more than a month in the future. The current flocks are nowhere near the accumulations that gather at Middle Creek later in the winter and hit a record of 200,000 on February 21, 2018. The numbers at the commission site aren’t even close to the relatively meager peak of 125,000 last year on February 18. Previous peaks were seen on March 12, 2019, (150,000), February 22, 2017, (more than 70,000) and February 29, 2016 (more than 65,000). Tundra swan numbers peak at Middle Creek a bit earlier than those of the snow geese: February 3, 2020, 3,000; March 4, 2019, 5,000; February 22, 2018, 5,500; February 6, 2017, more than 4,500; and February 29, 2016, more than 3,500. Middle Creek will begin posting its annual Waterfowl Migration Update in late January or early February when snow geese start to make their migration north. A live stream of Middle Creek’s lake is live year-round during the day.
New Allentown Art Museum exhibit offers a deeper look at Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait of a Young Woman’
By JENNIFER SHEEHAN THE MORNING CALL | JAN 15, 2021 AT 6:47 AM
Allentown Art Museum’s “Portrait of a Young Woman” is more than a painting by one of the greatest visual artists in history. A new Rembrandt exhibit is going to help you find out why. “There’s a lot to tell about this one painting, and it’s place in the world and how it came to be here, " said Elaine Mehalakes, vice president of Curatorial Affairs at Allentown Art Museum. “Rembrandt Revealed” will open on Jan. 24 and the new exhibit will offer a rare, deep dive into the conservation and re-attribution of the well-known painting that’s been a part of the museum’s collection for the past six decades.
Somehow Paul Simon has turned into an old guy. This tune resonates with the times. Have a great weekend.
Paul Simon - American Tune (2015)
PA SCHOOLS WORK: New Tools for Public Education Advocates in PA
Thu, Jan 21, 2021 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST
PA Schools Work partner Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials will hold a digital workshop to roll out their new suite of tools on their Data Dive website to show parents, educators, and public education advocates how they can use the site (including interactive data maps and graphic visualizations) when talking to other members of their community, legislators, media, etc. Don't miss this first-look at these innovative tools for PA public school advocates!
Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register
Attend the NSBA 2021 Online Experience April 8-10
NSBA is pleased to announce the transformation of its in-person NSBA 2021 Annual Conference & Exposition to the NSBA 2021 Online Experience. This experience will bring world-class programming, inspirational keynotes, top education solution providers, and plentiful networking opportunities. Join us on April 8-10, 2021, for a fully transformed and memorable event!
PSBA Website January 2021
All public school leaders are invited to join us for our spring Virtual Advocacy Day on Monday, March 22, 2021, via Zoom. We need all of you to help strengthen our advocacy impact. The day will center around contacting legislators to discuss critical issues affecting public education. Registrants will receive the meeting invitation with a link to our spring Virtual Advocacy Day website that contains talking points, a link to locate contact information for your legislator and additional information to help you have a successful day.
Cost: Complimentary for members
Registration: Registration is available under Event Registration on myPSBA.org.
PSBA Webinar: New Congress, New Dynamics
JAN 14, 2021 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
The 2020 election brings significant changes to the 117th U.S. Congress. How will the newly sworn-in senators and representatives impact public education? What issues will need to be addressed this session? To become an effective legislative advocate you’ll need to understand the new players and dynamics. Our experts will profile key new members, discuss what big trends you can expect and highlight the issues that will be debated over the next two years.
Presenters: Jared Solomon, senior public advisor,
BOSE Public Affairs Group
John Callahan, chief advocacy officer, PSBA
Cost: Complimentary for members.
Adopt the 2020 PSBA resolution for charter school funding reform
In this legislative session, PSBA has been leading the charge with the Senate, House of Representatives and the Governor’s Administration to push for positive charter reform. We’re now asking you to join the campaign: Adopt the resolution: We’re asking all school boards to adopt the 2020 resolution for charter school funding reform at your next board meeting and submit it to your legislators and to PSBA.
Charter school funding reform continues to be a concern as over 330 school boards across the state have adopted a resolution calling for legislators to enact significant reforms to the Charter School Law to provide funding relief and ensure all schools are held to the same quality and ethics standards. Now more than ever, there is a growing momentum from school officials across the state to call for charter school funding reform. Legislators are hearing loud and clear that school districts need relief from the unfair funding system that results in school districts overpaying millions of dollars to charter schools.
Know Your Facts on Funding and Charter Performance. Then Call for Charter Change!
PSBA Charter Change Website:
The Network for Public Education Action Conference has been rescheduled to April 24-25, 2021 at the Philadelphia Doubletree Hotel
Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.