Tuesday, October 8, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Oct. 8, 2019 Ed Chairman Sonney’s bill would require all school districts to offer full-time cyber education programs

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for Oct. 8, 2019

Hershey Lodge & Convention Center OCT 15, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Ed Chairman Sonney’s bill would require all school districts to offer full-time cyber education programs
ABC 27 by: WHTM Staff Posted: Oct 7, 2019 / 11:26 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker has unveiled legislation that would require all school districts to offer full-time cyber education programs. State Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie) said his proposal, House Bill 1897, would require districts to offer three different full-time cyber education programs by the 2021-22 school year. Districts would be given flexibility in creating their own cyber education programs or work with third-party vendors such as intermediate units, cyber charter schools, institutions of higher education, or other school districts. Districts would also have to provide at least two alternative full-time cyber programs offered by a third-party vendor other than the district’s intermediate unit or another school district. Sonny said cyber education is an important choice that parents should be able to make for their children, but local accountability is desperately needed to control quality and cost. “It is my intention that this legislation will eliminate the tension between school districts and cyber charter schools,” Sonney said in a statement. “The goal of my legislation is to offer students access to high-quality cyber education programs in a way that is accountable and transparent to local communities.”

Superintendents representing 15 Schools in the CSIU 16 region reach out to local newspaper for help regarding Cyber School tuition rates.
What would you think if you were in line to check out at a store and the person in front of you was purchasing the same item you were, but was charged less and when you asked why that was you were told the price is based on where you live? Right now, Pennsylvania law allows cyber charter schools to charge tuition rates not based on what it costs them to educate their students, but on the per student expenditure of the school district from which the students come. In our local area, cyber school tuition for regular education students for the same product costs local districts between $8,950 and $12,512 per student and between $17,495 and $24,821 for special education students. What would you think if you were told that local schools that operate their own cyber education program do so on average of $5,000 per regular education student (Education Voters of PA, 2019) and, similarly, about half the cost cyber charter schools are allowed to collect for special education students? Considering cyber charter schools do not have buildings to heat, roofs to replace, grounds that need to be maintained, transportation and food service programs, band and athletic uniforms to purchase, and so on, one has wonder to if they have twice the revenue and half the costs, where does that extra money go? Maybe there’s a reason cyber charter schools are also referred to as for-profit schools.

Lawmakers, school and health officials discuss 'growing gap' in special education funding in Manheim Township
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer October 8, 2019
Lancaster County school and health officials on Monday expressed concerns with the cost of special education, an underfunded mandate, they say, that is increasing at an unsustainable rate. They did so at Pennsylvania’s recently reconstituted special education funding commission’s third public hearing at the Manheim Township School District office. The commission, originally formed in 2012 and called upon again this year to study the special education formula it recommended in 2013, is co-chaired by state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie). Lancaster County lawmakers Sen. Scott Martin (R-Martic Township) and Rep. Michael Sturla (D-Lancaster) are members of the commission.
Here are four takeaways from what panelists said at the hearing.

A running list of candidates vying for former state Sen. Mike Folmer’s seat
PA Capital Star By Elizabeth HardisonSarah Anne Hughes October 7, 2019
A sitting state representative, a district attorney, and the former leader of a conservative think-tank — these are just some of the candidates who hope to succeed former state Sen. Mike Folmer. Voters in the 48th Senate district, which includes all of Lebanon and parts of Dauphin and York counties, will choose Folmer’s replacement in a special election on Tuesday, Jan. 14.  Folmer, a Republican, resigned from the Senate in September after he was charged with possession of child pornography.  Republican conferees from Lebanon, Dauphin, and York counties will choose their nominee at a special meeting on Saturday, Oct. 19. Democratic electors will hold their nomination meeting on Sunday, Oct. 20. At least 11 people have announced their candidacies. Here’s a brief rundown. 

A public school start time forum will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, 705 N. Shady Retreat Rd., Doylestown Township. There will be a discussion of a Joint State Government Commission report on secondary school start times in Pennsylvania and other issues related to student sleep and school start times. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by Oct. 18 by visiting https://go.BucksIU.org/Forum.
It’s an idea gaining momentum across Pennsylvania and the country. A report on later school start times by Pennsylvania’s Joint State Government Commission is due out on Oct. 17 and will be discussed along with other later start time issues at a public forum at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit in Doylestown Township on Oct. 22. Several state school districts have already pushed back start times, including Radnor Township, Phoenixville Area, Unionville-Chadds Ford and Tredyffrin/Easttown in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Many school districts looking to get secondary students more sleep
Bucks County Courier Times by Chris English October 7, 2019
Several districts in Bucks County are forming committees to study the issue of later start times, a move that is gaining momentum across the state and nation. Like thousands of high school students across the United States, Josh Rosenthal would love a little more sleep in the morning. The junior at Harry S. Truman in Bristol Township feels the school’s 7:13 a.m. start time — fairly typical at area high schools — presents a variety of problems. “I wake up at 5:45 every morning to be out of the house by 6:45 to get to school by 7,” he said. “Some days, I miss breakfast, and some days I forget something, like my backpack, and it messes up the rest of the day. “I think having a later start time would allow students to be more prepared and allow us to do better academically. It would allow more time for study, more time to get ready for the school day and ultimately allow us to be more active and involved with the school itself.” Josh’s classmate Shayne Guzzie heartily agreed. “I think there has been many studies about the sleep patterns of kids our age, and how our brains work,” he said. “Starting later would help us retain more knowledge, do better academically and have an overall healthier lifestyle.” We hear you, say officials at the Bristol Township and other area school districts, many of whom have either formed or will form committees to study whether start times — particularly at their high schools — can be pushed back.

“When those relocation options went up on a projection screen before a packed auditorium, the audience started grumbling. “Hell no,” yelled out one parent. It only got more contentious from there.”
After contentious town hall, Philly high schools could be closed longer than expected
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent October 7, 2019
Philadelphia school district officials may have to abandon their plans to relocate students from two Center City high schools after parent outrage boiled over at a town hall meeting Monday morning. Students from Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy (SLA) won’t return to their shared building at Broad and Spring Garden streets until early January, according to district projections. A delay-plagued construction project, coupled with the discovery of exposed asbestos in the building’s boiler room, has already caused students to miss eight days of school. At a tense town hall with parents, faculty, and students, district officials pitched the idea of moving students to South Philadelphia High School and Strawberry Mansion High School as soon as Thursday.

Relocation of more than 1,000 SLA and Ben Franklin students still up in the air
Hite faces angry school communities at two town halls Monday, admits 'Trust has been broken.'
The notebook by Bill Hangley Jr. October 7 — 2:45 pm, 2019
Two passionate, contentious town hall meetings Monday ended without any resolution about where to relocate more than 1,000 Ben Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy students while construction continues in their shared building. The ongoing project to renovate the building at 550 N. Broad St. has disturbed asbestos insulation and shaken loose dangerous airborne fibers, prompting its closure to students and staff. At the morning meeting, Superintendent William Hite floated a plan that would quickly relocate students to one of two schools: South Philadelphia High School or Strawberry Mansion High in North Philadelphia. A packed house of parents and community members greeted that proposal with a chorus of groans and boos, peppering District officials with questions about their children’s health and safety, and demanding to know why the District hadn’t devised a better contingency plan months ago. By the afternoon, Hite had backed off that plan, but did not rule it out. Other sites were floated as possibilities, including two buildings abandoned by charter schools that closed. But neither of those are near the Broad and Spring Garden building where the two schools started co-location this year, and the District embarked on a fraught $37 million construction project meant to divide and upgrade the building. At the end of the day, Hite said that the goal is to notify families on Thursday where they should report on Monday. He said he wanted to get students back in school as soon as possible. District officials are asking the public to contact them to share any additional suggestions for sites.

With their asbestos-tainted Philadelphia school building closed indefinitely, where will 1,000 students learn?
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham and Wendy Ruderman, Updated: October 7, 2019- 10:00 PM
Classes will not resume Thursday for 1,000 Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy students displaced by construction woes and damaged asbestos found inside their North Broad Street building, superintendent William R. Hite Jr. announced Monday. Instead, school could start up again Oct. 14 — or possibly even later — depending on the relocation plan chosen by the Philadelphia School District. The news came at two crowded, contentious, marathon town hall meetings, where hundreds gathered to hear the district’s plan for the two schools and to fume at leaders for the way they have handled the $37 million construction project, two years in the making. For the first time, officials acknowledged that the Ben Franklin-SLA building, in the Spring Garden section of the city, will not reopen for students until January at the earliest.

LTE: Wrong way to address teaching diversity
Post-Gazette Latter by Jo-Anne Kerr, Ligonier OCT 8, 2019 12:00 AM
The writer is a professor emerita at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
As a former high school English teacher and teacher educator with 39 years’ experience, I read with interest the Oct. 3 article “Pittsburgh Public Schools Launches Pilot Program to Diversify Workforce.” While a lack of racial diversity in the teaching workforce is reason for concern, I question the method chosen for addressing the issue. That “selected paraprofessionals” can receive sound preparation for teaching via a “two-year master’s degree in education online” at Grand Canyon University is debatable. Furthermore, how and by what criteria will paraprofessionals be selected for this program? Must they hold a bachelor’s degree? What levels or disciplines will the master’s degree in education prepare candidates to teach, and what Pennsylvania teacher certification band will they receive to do so? How will Pennsylvania Department of Education field experience requirements be met by an online master’s degree program? Given the availability of reputable, high-quality educator preparation programs offered by state institutions like Slippery Rock University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as those offered by local institutions like the University of Pittsburgh and La Roche University, the rationale for choosing Grand Canyon University is not only unclear but troubling. Surely, a partnership with IUP, Slippery Rock, Pitt or La Roche would be preferable. However, it may be that these institutions would be reluctant to compromise the quality of their educator preparation programs in the quest for an expedient solution to a complex problem.

How should Pennsylvania fix looming teacher shortage? Readers say $45,000 minimum salary is only one solution
THE MORNING CALL | OCT 06, 2019 | 8:00 AM
First-grade teacher Hillary Madrigal at her school in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
A Sept. 30 op-ed by a Pennsylvania school superintendent sparked debate over how best to address a shortage of teachers. “Pennsylvania is facing a crisis it has not faced in decades: highly qualified classroom teachers are becoming scarce,” wrote Timothy P. Williams, a Freedom High School grad and superintendent of the York Suburban School District. Williams supported raising the minimum teaching salary to $45,000, as recently proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf. (See his full op-ed, below.)

North Hills seeks permission to have flexible instruction day
Post-Gazette by SANDY TROZZO OCT 7, 2019 12:58 PM
The North Hills School District will apply to the state for permission to use a “flexible instruction day” instead of cancelling school for weather or other reasons. The school board Oct. 3 approved filing the application to the state Department of Education. The Oct. 14 professional development day for staff will be used to further define what the schedule would look like for a flexible instruction day, said Sperintendent Patrick Mannarino. “It’s nice at the middle school and high school that a lot of our teachers have gravitated to Google Classroom,” which provides a digital platform for lessons, he said, adding that they have to determine “what it is going to look like for K-6.” Building the lessons plans may take time. “Even if we approve this tonight, there might not be implementation during this school year,” said board member Allison Mathis, chair of the education committee.

Federal education officials award Windber with Blue Ribbon
Johnstown Tribune Democrat By David Hurst dhurst@tribdem.com October 8, 2019
WINDBER – Rambler blue has a whole new meaning this week.
Windber Area High School was named a 2019 National Blue Ribbon Program Award recipient, gaining recognition as an “exemplary high performing” school by the U.S. Department of Education. The high school was just one of three statewide to earn the recognition, results show. The school was chosen from a field of 37,000 high schools across the nation, according to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” DeVos told winners nationwide through a video posted on the department’s Website.. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”

ACT to Allow Students to Retake Parts of College Entrance Exam
Students could boost their scores on parts of the test
Wall Street Journal By  Tawnell D. Hobbs Oct. 8, 2019 3:00 am ET
In a move that could boost student test scores, the ACT plans to let students retake portions of the college entrance exam. Beginning next September, students will be allowed to retake sections of the exam if they don’t like their score, the testing body said. In the past, students had to retake the entire exam. Colleges will see all of the student’s scores from a single sitting and any additional scores from retakes that students want to include. “We’re introducing the flexibility of students to improve on the areas where they didn’t do so well,” said Suzana Delanghe, the ACT’s chief commercial officer. “We believe that this will help a lot of students.” Nearly half of students take the test more than once, she said. The change is based on feedback from students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and higher-education officials, she said.

Stargazing: The Seven Sisters return
Post-Gazette by RALPH CREWE Buhl Planetarium OCT 8, 2019 12:00 AM
October skies herald the return of the most spectacular open star cluster (as opposed to a globular cluster like the one in Hercules), in the entire sky, the so-called Seven Sisters or the Pleiades. To the unaided eye, the shoulder of Taurus the bull, rising in the east after sunset, contains a group of beautiful blue stars, typically seven as seen without optical assistance. Located about 444 light years away, the light from this cluster was emitted in the 16th century, the time when Galileo was first observing the heavens, and is only now reaching Earth.
Viewed through a telescope, the Pleiades contains many hundreds of stars, and can be seen as it is, a cluster of young, hot stars still loosely bound by their mutual gravity, orbiting through the Milky Way like a stellar family on a grand celestial road trip. When photographed over a long time, a dusty, ethereal haze is seen among the stars, a tenuous reflection nebula.  So-called because it is only visible due to reflected starlight and is not actively producing its own light in contrast to the Orion nebula and others. This cluster is known worldwide by many names, perhaps most notably in Japan where it is known as Subaru, a word meaning to unite, and the inspiration for the famous automobile manufacturer.

Top 5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss PCCY’s Octoberfest!
Come meet Second Lady of PA, Gisele Fetterman!
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13 2019   1:00 PM — 4:00 PM
2440 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Know Your Facts on Funding and Charter Performance. Then Call for Charter Change!
PSBA PA Charter Change Website September 2019

(PA) 2019 Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Annual Conference October 9 - October 11 Harrisburg
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools invites charter school leaders, board members, new school developers, educators, support staff, and advocates to our second annual conference focused on educating, inspiring, and connecting the charter movement in Pennsylvania on October 9-11, 2019 in Harrisburg, PA!

Register now for PSBA’s Sleep & Student Performance Webcast OCT 31, 2019 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Our students face many issues today, but who would have imagined sleep deprivation could be a significant issue? The Joint State Government Commission established an advisory committee to study the issues, benefits and options related to school districts instituting later start times in secondary schools. Register now to hear from the executive director of the Commission, Glenn Pasewicz, commission staff and David Hutchinson, PSBA’s appointee to the commission, on the results of their study and work.

According to state law, all school directors must complete training. How many hours are required if you are a new school director? What about if you’re re-elected? Get the answers to these and other related questions in this episode of PSBA’s #VideoEDition

Information about the education sessions for the 2019 @PasaSupts @PSBA School Leadership Conference are now live on our website! We hope to see you there! #PASLC2019

Adolescent Health and School Start Times:  Science, Strategies, Tactics, & Logistics  Workshop Nov 13, Exton
Join school administrators and staff, including superintendents, transportation directors, principals, athletic directors, teachers, counselors, nurses, and school board members, parents, guardians, health professionals and other concerned community members for an interactive and solutions-oriented workshop on  Wednesday, November 13, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm 
Clarion Hotel in Exton, PA
The science is clear. Many middle and high school days in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, start too early in the morning. The American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other major health and education leaders agree and have issued policy statements recommending that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 am to allow for sleep, health, and learning. Implementing these recommendations, however, can seem daunting.  Discussions will include the science of sleep and its connection to school start times, as well as proven strategies for successfully making change--how to generate optimum community support and work through implementation challenges such as bus routes, athletics, and more.   Register for the workshop here: 
https://ssl-workshop-pa.eventbrite.com Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to offer early bird registration for $25, which includes a box-lunch and coffee service. Seating is limited and early bird registration ends on Friday, September 13.
For more information visit the workshop website 
www.startschoollater.net/workshop---pa  or email contact@startschoollater.net

WHERE: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16 to Friday, October 18, 201
Registration is now open!
Growth from knowledge acquired. Vision inspired by innovation. Impact created by a synergized leadership community. You are called upon to be the drivers of a thriving public education system. It’s a complex and challenging role. Expand your skillset and give yourself the tools needed for the challenge. Packed into two and a half daysꟷꟷgain access to top-notch education and insights, dynamic speakers, peer learning opportunities and the latest product and service innovations. Come to the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference to grow!

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.

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