Wednesday, January 13, 2021

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Jan. 13: An important fight is going on in Chester PA, where plans are in motion to outsource some or all of the schools in the Chester Upland school district.

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Keystone State Education Coalition

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 13, 2021

An important fight is going on in Chester PA, where plans are in motion to outsource some or all of the schools in the Chester Upland school district.



PA School Funding Lawsuit Overview Wed, January 13 12:00 PM  1:00 PM

Join attorneys from the Public Interest Law Center and Education Law Center and learn about Pennsylvania's School Funding Lawsuit.

Click here to register.



Chester charter RFP process likely to be updated

Delco Times By Alex Rose @arosedelco on Twitter

MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> Common Pleas Court Judge Barry Dozor denied a motion Monday to suspend a request for proposal process that could bring more charter schools into the Chester Upland School District, but indicated some tweaks should be made to the timeline and language. The daylong hearing included testimony from Receiver Dr. Juan Baughn, Superintendent Dr. Carol D. Birks, certified public accountant John Pund, who helped craft the district’s financial recovery plan, and Dr. Leroy Nunery, strategic advisor to the receiver and author of the RFP. Dozor issued an order in May that would open up all grades in the district to outsourced management as part of a financial recovery plan. Under the language of Act 141 of 2012, which dictates Chester Upland’s “Financial Recovery Status,” the district could convert an existing school or schools to charters if doing so would result in financial savings. Dozor said he intended the order to be used as a roadmap for CUSD to exit its financial recovery status and allow the elected school board to resume control. But there have been some snags, according to court filings. Attorneys from the Education Law Center and Public Interest Law Center, representing a group of parents in the district, argued that the RFP process has not been transparent and the district has failed to provide any status updates or other information publicly, as provided for in the May order. A copy of the RFP went up on the district website Dec. 23, about two months after it was sent out to prospective providers.


Blogger note: In light of efforts that may charterize the entire Chester Upland School District, here’s some background on the for-profit operator of the Chester Community Charter School

Reprise August 2019: Pennsylvania: The Political Contributions of the Owner of the State’s Largest Charter School

Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch August 17, 2019 //

Pennsylvania’s largest charter school is the Chester Community Charter School. It is owned by Philadelphia lawyer Vahan Gureghian, who is a major donor to the Republican Party in the State. He was the biggest contributor to former Republican Governor Tom Corbett. What is surprising about his political donations is how little it takes to win the affection of the party in power. The Chester Community Charter School enrolls most of the elementary students in its district and even draws students from Philadelphia, despite the fact that it is a low-performing school on state tests. As you will see in one of the articles below, CCCS received a charter renewal through 2026, an extension not given to any other charter in the state.

The Keystone State Education Coalition posted this list of his political contributions.


In wake of federal court ruling, Corman says Sen. Jim Brewster will be seated Wednesday

PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison January 12, 2021

(*This was updated at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 1/12/21 with statements by Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, and at 3 p.m. with news about Brewster’s swearing-in.) 

More than 300 voters who made minor errors casting their mail-in ballots will still have their votes counted in a close state Senate race, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.  The ruling from U.S. District Judge Nicholas Ranjan clears the way for Democratic incumbent Jim Brewster to be sworn in for a fourth term representing Pennsylvania’s 45th Senate District, which includes parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland County.   Republicans who control the state Senate announced last week that they would not let Brewster take his oath of office until Ranjan ruled on the case brought by Brewster’s Republican opponent Nicole Ziccarelli, whose request to toss to 311 undated mail-in ballots would have erased Brewster’s 69-vote lead in the race and made her the winner.  In a Tuesday tweet, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, said Senate will return to Harrisburg on Wednesday so Brewster could take his oath of office.


May 18th special election set to fill Mike Reese’s state House seat

Trib Live by RICH CHOLODOFSKY   | Tuesday, January 12, 2021 4:19 p.m.

A special election to fill the vacancy in the state House 59th District left by the sudden death of Rep. Mike Reese will be conducted May 18. Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, announced Tuesday the special election will be held along with the regularly scheduled primary the same day. The 59th District is made of 42 voting precincts in eastern Westmoreland County, including parts of Hempfield and Unity townships as well as Cook, Donegal, Fairfield, Ligonier and Mt. Pleasant townships; and Bolivar, Donegal, Ligonier, Laurel Mountain, New Florence and Seward boroughs. It also includes 10 rural precincts in western Somerset County. Reese, 42, a Republican from Mt. Pleasant, died Jan. 2 of an apparent brain aneurysm just days before he was to be sworn in for his seventh term. In December, Reese was chosen by GOP leadership to serve as the majority caucus leader in the House.


Articles of Impeachment of President Trump for Incitement of Insurrection


How to Watch the Second Trump Impeachment Vote

The House will hold a vote on Wednesday to impeach President Trump. Here’s how to follow along.

New York Times By Zach Montague Jan. 13, 2021Updated 6:03 a.m. ET

The House will convene on Wednesday to debate and vote on whether to charge President Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” advancing an effort to impeach him for the second time in fewer than 13 months. The decision to move ahead with the vote comes after Vice President Mike Pence declined on Tuesday, in a letter sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to strip the president of his powers using the 25th Amendment. The article of impeachment that Democrats introduced on Monday aims to hold Mr. Trump responsible for his role in inflaming a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol last week, killing a Capitol Police officer, raiding lawmakers’ offices and stealing federal property. More tangibly, it also invokes the 14th Amendment, potentially prohibiting Mr. Trump from holding office in the future if he is ultimately convicted by the Senate. Members of the House will gather at 9 a.m. to begin debate on the impeachment resolution. Here is how to follow the debate and what to watch for:


Trump on verge of 2nd impeachment, this time with some Republicans joining the effort, after Capitol riot

Trump, who would become the only U.S. president twice impeached, faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection.”

Inquirer by Lisa Mascaro, and Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press January 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is on the verge of being impeached for a second time, the House planning the unprecedented vote one week after he encouraged a mob of loyalists to “fight like hell” against election results and the U.S. Capitol became the target of a deadly siege. While the first impeachment of Trump last year brought no Republican votes in the House, a small but significant number of leaders and other lawmakers are breaking with the party to join Democrats on Wednesday, unwilling to put American decency and democracy at further risk, even with days remaining in the president’s term.  The stunning collapse of Trump’s final days in office, against alarming warnings of more violence ahead by his followers, leaves the nation at an uneasy and unfamiliar juncture before Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20. “If inviting a mob to insurrection against your own government is not an impeachable event, then what is?” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a drafter of the articles of impeachment. Trump, who would become the only U.S. president twice impeached, faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection.”


Trump’s grip on GOP loosens as No. 3 Republican Liz Cheney backs impeachment

Trib Live by LOS ANGELES TIMES | Tuesday, January 12, 2021 5:53 p.m.

WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump denied responsibility for the U.S. Capitol riot that left five people dead and the FBI vowed to prosecute hundreds of his supporters who took part in the attack, the No. 3 House GOP leader announced she was voting for impeachment. It marked the starkest Republican defection yet and could open the door for other GOP House members to join Democrats during Wednesday night’s historic impeachment vote. “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”


McConnell is said to be pleased about impeachment, believing it will be easier to purge Trump from the G.O.P.

New York Times by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman January 12, 2021

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country. At the same time, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of the riot at the Capitol last week, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations.


Philly parents deeply divided over virtual school, data shows ahead of district decision

WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent January 13, 2021

Philadelphia’s public school system is headed toward a third attempt at offering in-person school during the pandemic. Whether it succeeds will depend partly on the cooperation of parents, who appear deeply divided on the issue. A WHYY review of survey data from November shows that families — when given a choice between in-person learning and hybrid learning — were fairly split on the topic. When looking at school-by-school breakdowns, few patterns emerged. Families attending schools in affluent areas were about as likely to choose in-person instruction as families attending schools in low-income neighborhoods. Similarly, survey response rates did not seem tied to school demographics. The data has inherent limitations with the types of parents surveyed and the way the survey questions were presented to families. That said, it’s the only time Philadelphia asked its public school families to commit to a reopening option. And it shows that the path ahead will run through a deeply divided pool of parents.


Western Pa. teachers grapple with current events lessons after Capitol riot

Trib Live by TEGHAN SIMONTON   | Tuesday, January 12, 2021 4:45 p.m.

Going over current events is one of Barak Naveh’s favorite parts of teaching. It’s an honor and a privilege, he said, to be able to help his history students at Pittsburgh Obama Academy understand the world in the context of the past, to show them how history is relevant in their lives. But last week, while he was watching rioters storm the Capitol on the news, he couldn’t help but think about how difficult this was going to be. “I would be lying if I didn’t say I wish it was a little less frightening,” he said. “To talk about things that are not only pressing, but terrifying … it’s an incredible challenge. It’s a daunting task.” Teachers and professors of history, social studies and political science are reckoning with the added obligation of explaining historical events as they are happening — navigating discussions that inevitably lead to disagreement and partisanship, and trying to reassure students at the same time.


Whitehall-Coplay School District to move from hybrid to 4-day in-person learning in February


In February, the Whitehall-Coplay School District will move from its hybrid model to four days of in-person instruction a week for all students who choose to attend school, the school board decided last night. Beginning Feb. 16, after the President’s Day holiday break, students will return to school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with online learning for all on Wednesday, Superintendent Lorie Hackett said. As before, all families have the option to remain entirely remote. Hybrid attendance — two days a week — will no longer be an option. School Director George Makhoul introduced the motion, which was approved by a 6-3 vote, against the recommendation of the administration. Makhoul had also introduced the idea in an October board meeting, but the board narrowly voted then to table his motion.


$500,000 in grant funding available for education programs for Youth and Agriculture by NCPA Staff January 12, 2021

Harrisburg, Pa. – During the virtual 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding has announced the availability of $500,000 through the Pennsylvania Farm Bill’s Ag and Youth Grant Program. The funding can be used for projects such as ag education and workforce development programs, seminars and field trips, agricultural safety training, capital projects, or equipment purchases that will help to build a strong future workforce for Pennsylvania’s leading industry. “We predict a shortfall in the agriculture workforce in the coming years as more older farmers retire and new, more technological jobs are created,” Redding said. “The remedy is education and awareness. By sparking an early interest in agriculture through hands-on programs, we cultivate future industry leaders. Agriculture offers a variety of satisfying, family-sustaining jobs. These grants will expose youth to all that agriculture has to offer and lead to a strong ag workforce for tomorrow.” A total of $500,000 is available for two different grant types that can be awarded under the program:


Bristol Township School Board, teachers reach settlement

Peg Quann Bucks County Courier Times January 13, 2021

The Bristol Township School District and its teachers' union have reached a contract settlement more than a year after their previous contract expired. "The estimated cost to the district is $4M (million) in additional wages and benefits over the four-year term of the contract," said district Business Manager Joshua Sweigard.  The two sides reached out to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in February last year and a fact-finder took on the negotiations in April. The school board agreed to the fact-finder's terms at its Dec. 14 meeting, voting 8-1 to adopt the contract. Board member Constance Moore voted against it. The board also unanimously passed a resolution allowing for up to a 4% increase in property taxes when the district prepares its budget for the 2021-22 school year.



PSBA Spring Virtual Advocacy Day - MAR 22, 2021

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


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.

Resolution for charter funding reform (pdf)

Link to submit your adopted resolution to PSBA


337 PA school boards have adopted charter reform resolutions

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.

The school boards from the following districts have adopted resolutions calling for charter funding reform.


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.


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