Wednesday, August 5, 2020

PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 5: Pa. Education Secretary Rivera announces departure while schools scramble for fall plans

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 5, 2020
Pa. Education Secretary Rivera announces departure while schools scramble for fall plans

Blogger note: I would like to compile a list of school districts that have announced 100% virtual openings. Please drop me a note if your district has done so. Thanks!

Philadelphia City SD
Data Source: PDE via PSBA

Why are cyber charter tuition rates the same as brick and mortar tuition?
Why are PA taxpayers paying twice what it costs to provide a cyber education?

Below is a link to a Joint Letter from the PA Principals Association and other education organizations to the Governor and Secretary Rivera asking for clearer, scientifically-based directives on the reopening of schools. 
Pennsylvania Principals Association Monday, August 3, 2020 3:12 PM

Pa. secretary of education to leave post, become Thaddeus Stevens College president
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer August 4, 2020
Pennsylvania's secretary of education will leave his current position to become Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology's 10th president.  Pedro Rivera, who was superintendent of School District of Lancaster prior to serving under Gov. Tom Wolf's administration and still resides in Lancaster, succeeds William Griscom, who retired in January after leading the technical college for 23 years.  Rivera will remain secretary of education, a position he's held since 2015, until Oct. 1, when he officially enters his new role, a state Department of Education official confirmed. Noe Ortega, the state's current deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, will replace Rivera, the Wolf administration announced Tuesday afternoon.  The move comes as schools across the state wrestle with the decision to reopen in the fall despite the risks associated with the coronavirus, and many school officials are still looking for additional guidance from the state.  "As we all prepare for the upcoming school year during unprecedented times, I am reminded every day of the exceptional leadership we have in this community," Rivera said in a statement, "that even under challenging conditions, these leaders and educators continue to serve students and communities equitably and with understanding." Rivera said serving as education secretary has been "tremendously fulfilling." "While leaving this position was a difficult decision," he said, "I am comforted that my new role allows me to continue to serve Pennsylvania students and continue to advocate for equity, access and opportunity for all."

Pa. Education Secretary Rivera announces departure while schools scramble for fall plans
PA Capital Star By Cassie MillerElizabeth Hardison August 4, 2020
This developing story will be updated.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera announced that he’s resigning his post to become president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. The turnover comes as public schools across the state scramble to finalize fall reopening plans amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The news was first reported by the Associated Press. Rivera will remain in his current position until October, the AP confirmed. …Wolf announced Tuesday that he planned to appoint Rivera’s deputy secretary of higher education, Noe Ortega, to serve as the next education secretary. Ortega’s nomination must be confirmed with a two-thirds vote by the state Senate. Education officials and advocates expressed surprise at Rivera’s departure, given the enormity of the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions. School administrators are facing a staggeringly expensive year as they try to retrofit facilities and stockpile protective equipment and technology. At the same time, pandemic-related job losses are expected to decimate local tax revenues for school districts, and to deplete tuition payments to colleges and universities. “I don’t envy the Wolf administration being in a position of having to change their Secretary of Education in midst of the worst crisis facing public education in modern history,” Donna Cooper, a longtime public education advocate who served in former Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration, said. “I don’t envy them at all.” Carolyn Dumaresq, an acting secretary of education under former Gov. Tom Corbett, was confident that Rivera would take steps to smooth out the transition.

“Day two of the House Education Committee’s hearing kicks off at 10:00am Wednesday morning. It will feature testimony from four more organizations, including the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pa. Association of School Administrators, Pa. Association of School Business Officials, and Pa. State Education Association. Later this month, the House and Senate Education Committees will hold a joint hearing on this topic, which will feature testimony from the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health.”
Two-Day Public Hearing on Resuming Education Kicks Off in Harrisburg
WENY Tuesday, August 4th 2020, 6:19 PM EDT by Cody Carlson
Harrisburg, Pa. (WENY)-- The Pennsylvania House Education Committee is gathering input from public, private, and charter school officials across Pennsylvania. It’s part of a two-day hearing focused on thoughts and concerns these officials have for the upcoming school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  “We held our first hearing on this topic on June 17th where we heard from representatives from traditional public schools, brick-and-mortar charter schools, and non-public schools. Today is simply a continuation of that hearing,” says House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie). The first day of the hearing featured testimony from six different organizations. These include the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, the Alliance of Approved  Private Schools, the ARC of Pennsylvania, the Association of School Nurses and Practitioners, the PA Cyber Charter Schools, and the Agora Cyber Charter School.  Greg Niels, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) started the day with his testimony. He brought up several concerns regarding in-class education with the ongoing pandemic. Amongst the issues- worrying about students and faculty contracting the virus at school. Niels wants to make sure there is enough personal protective equipment for students and faculty. But one priority  to PAIS that stood out- ensuring legal protection for school administrators if a student or faculty member contracts the virus at school.

Op-Ed: Pa.'s schools are left with few good options and little help
York Dispatch OPED by Mark DiRocco August 5, 2020
Mark DiRocco is executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. 
With just weeks to the start of a new school year, Pennsylvania’s public school districts find themselves under siege, facing extreme public pressure and scrutiny, as they furiously plan for how to safely reopen schools. It’s a fight they shouldn’t have to wage alone. They’re calling on the state’s leaders to support them and the 1.7 million students they educate as we move into the next phase of the pandemic. Amidst a backdrop of rapidly changing guidance and direction, school superintendents have spent the summer leading their districts through an emotionally charged public discernment process, one many of them feel was unfairly put upon their districts. While the state has emphasized a need for local decision-making, school leaders have questioned time and again why decisions about public health have been placed in the hands of educators. Perhaps the most frustrating decision point has been the conflicting and nebulous guidance schools have been given about social distancing. Numerous reports suggest 6 feet as the gold standard, but schools have been told to use this guidance “when feasible,” forcing many to consider whether 4 or 5 feet is “good enough” to bring schools back at full capacity.
As school districts have debated whether to use "hybrid models" that would allow that distancing by reducing capacity (meaning students would not be able to attend school every day), their communities have anxiously voiced serious concerns about child care and the practicality of these plans. Schools have also struggled with liability concerns. If a student or staff member contracts COVID-19 during the school year, is the district responsible for this illness? This question has led many leaders to consider whether a virtual opening would be a better choice.

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District approves plan to hire 21 new teachers to facilitate safe return of students to the classroom
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Students will unite in the classroom this fall thanks to the Unionville-Chadds Ford School School Board voting 7-2 in favor of a proposed plan to reopen schools during a virtual meeting held Monday evening. “The voice of our community, teachers and staff has been clear — that we all want to reopen schools in-person — but most importantly we want to do that safely,” said Superintendent John Sanville on Tuesday. Not only will students be able to return to their schools for the 2020-21 academic year, but the board also approved the hiring of 21 new teachers to ensure smaller classroom sizes for enhanced safety. Board Members Elise Anderson and Rashi Akki voted against the historic measure, described by the administration as the “Health and Safety Plan to Reopen Schools.” “Our students’ education is a priority as is their health and well-being,” Sanville said. “With that in mind, our plan to reopen was guided by three key principles — keep everyone safe, provide an excellent educational experience for our students, and support our students and staff socially and emotionally.” The plan allows for in-person instruction for the district’s youngest learners — kindergarten through third-grade students — five days a week. Older students, from fourth graders up to seniors, will attend in-person classes twice a week with additional learning conducted online and remotely.

School District of Lancaster to start school year fully online, pivoting from original hybrid reopening plan
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer August 4, 2020
Less than three weeks before students were expected to return in phases for in-person instruction, School District of Lancaster has shifted gears and now plans to begin the school year solely online. The school board on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion to direct Superintendent Damaris Rau and her administration to continue planning for a fully remote return rather than the hybrid model it approved last month. If the board approves a revised reopening plan at its meeting next week, School District of Lancaster, the largest district in the county and 13th largest in the state with about 11,000 students, would become the only Lancaster County school district to start the 2020-21 school year fully remote. The move comes as several school districts across the county revisit their reopening plans due to growing consternation among families and school employees about the potential risks associated with the coronavirus. "We've become less and less comfortable with the idea of bringing our students back into our buildings," board President Edith Gallagher said at Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting, which was held at McCaskey East High School and streamed online for more than 700 viewers.

Philly’s flip to all-virtual learning
WHYY by Ari Wolfman Arent Air Date: August 4, 2020  Listen 17:33
When the Philadelphia School District unveiled a “hybrid” plan to bring students back into the classroom part-time this fall, the backlash from parents and teachers was swift. One week later, the district abruptly changed course and said school would happen entirely online until almost Thanksgiving. WHYY education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent explains why that decision is still not working for everybody — and how tough it is to navigate the risks of COVID-19 and disrupting the education of tens of thousands of children.
Interview highlights: On the overwhelming objections to the original ‘hybrid’ plan
There was strong opposition for instance, from the union that represents principals and assistant principals. There was this incredible, remarkable, organized effort from these school building administrators to say, “We do not support this plan.” These are the people who were going to be responsible for carrying out the plan …And it’s also really important to point out that the district, the School District of Philadelphia has dissolved a lot of trust with the community. Remember, they’ve had a lot of problems with asbestos and their aging school buildings and lead and mold …And one thing I thought that was also really interesting is that people felt that this hybrid model doesn’t necessarily really solve any issues. Like, if kids are only in school two days a week, that still creates a huge childcare burden for parents. And then the teachers are in the school four days a week. And yes, the school itself might be a little less crowded than usual, but they’re still exposing themselves to tremendous risk, potentially risking their lives. 

Pennsylvania’s charter school law get poor marks. So why do reform efforts repeatedly fail? [The Caucus archives]
Lancaster Online by PAULA K. KNUDSEN | Investigative Editor August 5, 2020
Editor's note: This article was originally published in the February 20, 2018 edition of The Caucus, a publication of LNP Media Group, Inc. 
Pennsylvania’s decades-old charter school law ranks among the worst in the United States because it provides “insufficient accountability and inadequate funding” to those educational facilities, a national advocacy group found. Research conducted of all 50 states by the Washington, D.C.-based National Alliance for Public Charter Schools found Pennsylvania’s 1997 law deficient because it places restrictions on charter- school growth and fails to ensure “equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities. “The findings lend weight to the argument made by charter-school advocates in Pennsylvania that the state isn’t doing enough to help the alternatives to kindergarten through 12th-grade schools thrive and that the law, signed by Gov. Tom Ridge, should be fixed. But they do not address how, specifically, Pennsylvania should solve one of the biggest issues separating charter-school advocates and opponents: The level of funding public school districts, and taxpayers, spend to send children to charter schools. “We think the tuition rate calculation is flawed,” said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, which supports charter-school reform. Critics, in turn, say there’s not enough transparency or accountability in how charter schools spend money they receive under the state formula. They routinely cite the thousands of dollars in spending on advertising, travel junkets and blue-chip Harrisburg lobbying firms. “Those aren’t your dollars. Those are tax dollars,” said state Rep. Mike Reese, a Westmoreland County Republican who has pushed for charter-school reform for six years.

Blogger note: charter advocates routinely state that they only receive 75% of the per student funding. There’s good reason for that:
“The Public School Code specifically allows deductions for several expenditures—these expenditures either reflect areas where charter schools have no corresponding cost (such as nonpublic school-related expenditures), where school districts provide services to charter schools (such as transportation) or where charter schools receive state funding for the same purpose as school districts (such as Ready to Learn Block Grant funds; federal funds are also deducted for this reason).”
How are charter schools funded?
Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials Website
How are charter schools funded? While charter schools receive some limited funding from the state, the vast majority of their funding comes from school districts. When a student decides to attend either a brick and mortar or a cyber charter school, the school district of residence pays the charter school tuition for that student.
The tuition rate paid by a school district to a charter school is the same regardless of whether a student attends a brick and mortar charter school or a cyber charter school. The tuition amount is based entirely upon the school district’s costs. As a result, there are 500 charter school tuition rates—one for each school district. That means that a cyber charter school that educates students from multiple school districts receives an entirely different amount for each student.
The charter school tuition calculation is included in the charter school law, and it is broken into two parts: regular education tuition and special education tuition. Today, we’ll examine the regular education tuition rate.
The calculation is relatively simple, and it is completed by a school district and posted by the PA Department of Education annually. A school district starts with their budgeted total expenditures from the prior school year (for the current school year, school districts used their budgeted 2017-18 expenditures)—this means that they use what they budgeted at the beginning of the prior year to calculate the rate, not what they actually spent during the prior year.

Here it is, restated, on the PA Coalition of Public Charter Schools website:
Section 1725-a. funding for charter schools.
Pursuant to the statute, non-special education students, the charter school shall receive for each student enrolled no less than the budgeted total expenditure per average daily membership of the prior school year, as defined in section 2501(20) minus the budgeted expenditures of the district of residence for nonpublic school programs; adult education programs; community/junior college programs; student transportation services; for special education programs; facilities acquisition, construction and improvement services and other financing uses, including debt service and fund transfers as provided in the manual of accounting and related financial procedures for Pennsylvania school systems established by the department. This amount shall be paid by the district of residence of each student.
The list from the above paragraph allows for seven (7) deductions:
  1. Nonpublic school programs (1500)
  2. adult education programs (1600)
  3. community/junior college programs (1700)
  4. student transportation services (2700)
  5. special education programs (1200)
  6. facilities acquisition, construction and improvement services (4000)
  7. other financing uses, including debt service and fund transfers (5000)
While we understand the recent PDE rescission around the Charter School Funding is causing all public Schools in the Commonwealth (traditional and charter) to make late fiscal year adjustments, the statute mandates the charter school tuition calculation method described in Section 1725-a.

Peter Greene: How Charters in Pennsylvania Monetize Students with Disabilities
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch August 4, 2020 //
Peter Greene describes in this post how charter schools in Pennsylvania manage to game the system by making money from students with disabilities even while excluding many of them.
He writes:
In a new report, Education Voters of Pennsylvania looks at “how an outdated law wastes public money, encourages gaming the system, and limits school choice.” Fixing the Flaws looks at how Pennsylvania’s two separate funding systems have made students with special needs a tool for charter gaming of the system, even as some of them are shut out of the system entirely.
The two-headed system looks like this. Public schools receive special education funding based on the actual costs of services, while charter schools are funded with a one-size-fits-all system that pays the same amount for all students with special needs, no matter what those special needs might be….
Public schools receive state funding based on student tiers; charters get the same funding whether the student needs an hour of speech therapy a week or a separate classroom, teacher and aide.
This creates an obvious financial incentive for charter schools to cherry pick students who are considered special needs, but who need no costly adaptations or staffing to meet those needs, while at the same time incentivizing charters to avoid the more costly high needs students. Denial of those students does not require outright rejection of the students; charters can simply say, “You are welcome to enroll, but we do not provide any of the specialized programs that you want for your child.” Parents will simply walk away.

Blogger note: Here is the Education Voters report cited above….
Education Voters PA Report June 2020

State College shifts gears in elementary schools after 70% choose to learn in person
Centre Daily Times BY MARLEY PARISH AUGUST 04, 2020 02:38 PM , UPDATED AUGUST 04, 2020 06:43 PM
About 70% of State College elementary students plan to attend school in person this fall, prompting the school district to alter its reopening plan for those grade levels. State College Area School District parents and guardians had until last week to select their learning plan for the 2020-21 school year. After analyzing the numbers, the district had to reevaluate its elementary education model, according to a letter to district families from Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Vern Bock. With the high percentage of students choosing to learn in person, the district did not have enough teachers to cover both in-school and remote classrooms, according to Bock. Moving to a cohort approach, in-school and remote learning will be synchronous, and K-5 students will attend classes every day either online or physically. “Without this adjustment, we would face serious space and staffing issues because of the final numbers,” Bock wrote. SCASD plans to purchase cameras that will allow teachers to show remote students what is happening in the classroom. With 2,739 elementary students, 837 families — 31% — selected remote or virtual learning for the upcoming school year. Under the previous plan, SCASD would have needed to reassign 27-30 teachers to teach virtually. “This reassignment of teachers would have shifted some faculty to different grade levels and/or schools,” Bock wrote. “Additionally, class sizes would have increased for in-person learning, requiring classrooms to be moved to alternate spaces where possible, but in some cases, there simply wasn’t an available space.” The cohort approach, Bock wrote, will provide opportunities for in-person and remote students to interact with each other and their teacher throughout the school day. Students can now stay with their homeroom teacher — whether in-school or remote.

Cyber schools flooded with inquiries from parents seeking alternative to in-person schooling
Sunbury Daily Item By John Finnerty/CNHI State Reporter August 4, 2020
HARRISBURG — Parents concerned with the health and safety plans produced by their local school districts may not have an easy time transferring their children to cyber charter schools which are at or near their enrollment capacity, online school operators told lawmakers today. “Pennsylvania’s 14 public cyber charter schools have seen a record number of inquiries this summer from families seeking an alternative to their assigned school district,” PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden told members of the House Education Committee. Hayden said PA Cyber is already at the maximum enrolled allowed under its state charter — 11,600 students — and has a waiting list of prospective students.  The school has been fielding 1,000 calls a week from families interested in an alternative to traditional public schools, he said. The state's cyber charter schools receive public funding through tuition payments paid by local school districts based on the number of students enrolled in the cyber school. Traditional public schools have long complained that the cyber schools get more in tuition than it costs them to educate students online, prompting an increasing number of traditional schools to launch their own online programs.

Pennsylvania school districts unprepared for soaring cyber charter enrollment
(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s cyber charter school enrollment soared over the summer as families flocked to the well-established remote learning model amid uncertainty in public education. Now, school districts worry that the rising tuition costs will break their budgets – already sunk with reduced tax revenues – and make it impossible to provide safe environments for students come this fall.  That’s why at least one state legislator believes freezing cyber charter enrollment as of July 1 is necessary – and he’s begun circulating a cosponsorship memo in hopes of bringing more lawmakers onto his side. “Cyber charter schools do not face the same financial needs that public-school districts face to commence in person learning in an area of the novel coronavirus,” Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, said in the memo released Friday. “I believe that our public-school districts should be given all the necessary financial tools to ensure that reopening schools is safe, educationally sound and in the best interest of the entire school community.” Annette Stevenson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said the memo recognizes what the organization considers to be exorbitant tuition costs districts pay for cyber charter schools – which operate with less overhead than a brick and mortar school – while also considering the unique financial challenges imposed by a pandemic. For example, she said, districts simply haven’t budgeted for the unanticipated spike in cyber enrollment and would be forced to make “significant cuts” to accommodate the exodus of students.  “Capping cyber charter school enrollments would give school districts some certainty with regards to their cyber charter school costs and assure that they would not have to make those cuts or difficult choices,” she said.  It’s a position that’s unlikely to land with Republicans – who hold strong majorities in the House and Senate – long supportive of school choice and uninterested in proposals to lessen the cut of state money funneled through districts into charters. 

Activists call on Comcast to expand free internet as Philly virtual school continues
The Philadelphia-based cable giant was urged to open up more hotspots, increase internet speeds, and provide free access to low-income residents.
The notebook by Avi Wolfman-Arent WHYY NEWS August 4 — 8:38 am, 2020
With Philadelphia public school students slated to start the school year online, advocates renewed their calls for expanded internet access with a rally outside Comcast’s corporate headquarters Monday. Protestors urged the Philadelphia-based cable giant to open up more hotspots, increase internet speeds, and extend a deal that provides free access to low-income residents. “Comcast is the digital divide,” said Devren Washington, organizer with the Movement Alliance Project. “We are demanding that Comcast get our students online so that they can receive their education.” Comcast did not provide an official comment for this story. But in the past, the company has pointed to several steps it’s taken to expand internet access during the coronavirus pandemic and challenged the feasibility of some of the demands. The conflict is playing out at a time when internet access has become the passport to school attendance for the roughly 200,000 Philadelphia children in district and charter schools.

High school bands eager to march on through pandemic
Trib Live by JULIA FELTON   | Tuesday, August 4, 2020 8:01 p.m.
The high school marching band’s drum line heralds the start of a fresh school year. Chris Snyder, band director at Deer Lakes High School, wasn’t going to let a pandemic kill that tradition. Since March, Deer Lakes students — like high schoolers nationwide — haven’t participated in school events, seen their friends or kept a consistent routine. Snyder hoped the marching band could change all that, as he launched their annual band camp Monday. “Speaking with my kids the last couple days, I think they are super excited to be back,” Snyder said. “It’s a taste of normalcy. Just the opportunity to be in the same space as their friends is really exciting for them.” Many of the students in the marching band have been playing their instruments for years, Snyder said. For them, getting back to music is the first step in getting back to normal. Greta Olexa, a junior with the Deer Lakes marching band, has been playing baritone for seven years. Though she was subjected to a temperature check and required to wear a mask inside the building, she said being at band camp made her life feel a little more normal. “I’m excited to be back,” she said. “It’s a bit different, but it still has the same energy.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools wants all teachers, staff back in buildings by early October
ANDREW GOLDSTEIN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette AUG 4, 2020 10:30 PM
Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators Tuesday said they expect all district staff members to return to their buildings by early October. The school board last week mandated online instruction for all students for the first nine weeks of the year due to COVID-19, but the district wants teachers and other staff to come back in a phased approach so that they can help plan for the eventual return of students.   “The district will be better prepared to support our students if staff are on site to contribute feedback and ideas to individual school reopening plans that reflect the attributes of each classroom, building and student populations,” said David May-Stein, the district’s chief of school performance. “It’s important to note that as we prepare our buildings it can’t be done in isolation without staff input.”

Blogger commentary:
Parents considering cyber charters due to COVID might not be aware of their consistent track record of academic underperformance. As those parents face an expected blitz of advertising by cybers, in order for them to make a more informed decision, you might consider providing them with some of the info listed below:

A June 2 paper from the highly respected Brookings Institution stated, “We find the impact of attending a virtual charter on student achievement is uniformly and profoundly negative,” and then went on to say that “there is no evidence that virtual charter students improve in subsequent years.”

In 2016, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the national charter lobbying group 50CAN released a report on cyber charters that found that overall, cyber students make no significant gains in math and less than half the gains in reading compared with their peers in traditional public schools.

Stanford University CREDO Study in 2015 found that cyber students on average lost 72 days a year in reading and 180 days a year in math compared with students in traditional public schools.

From 2005 through 2012 under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, most Pennsylvania cybers never made “adequate yearly progress.”

Following NCLB, for all five years (2013-2017) that Pennsylvania’s School Performance Profile system was in place, not one cyber charter ever achieved a passing score of 70.

Under Pennsylvania’s current accountability system, the Future Ready PA Index, all 15 cyber charters that operated 2018-2019 have been identified for some level of support and improvement.

Cybers charters are paid at the same tuition rates as brick & mortar charter schools, even though they have none of the expenses associated with operating school buildings. It has been estimated that cyber charters are paid approximately twice what it costs them to provide an online education. Those excess funds are then not available to serve all of the students who remain in the sending school districts.

August 5th, 12th, 19th
ACT 48 credits available PA NASW CEU’s
This TIEC Summit is designed to provide in-depth, trauma-informed training for educators and other practitioners whose agencies or organizations service children and their families. Those who participate in the Summit sessions will be exposed to information and practices that enable them to approach their work through a trauma-informed lens.

PSBA: Adopt the resolution against racial inequity.
School boards are asked to adopt this resolution supporting the development of an anti-racist climate. Once adopted, share your resolution with your local community and submit a copy to PSBA. Learn more:

The 2021 PA Superintendent of the Year nominations are now open.
 Those seeking to nominate must first register on the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Superintendent of the Year website. For more information, visit:

Interested in becoming an Advocacy Ambassador? PSBA is seeking ambassadors to fill anticipated vacancies for Sections 1, 2 and 6.
PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program brings legislators to you
PSBA’s Advocacy Ambassador program is a key resource helping public school leaders connect with their state legislators on important education issues. Our six ambassadors build strong relationships with the school leaders and legislators in their areas to support advocacy efforts at the local level. They also encourage legislators to visit school districts and create opportunities for you to have positive conversations and tell your stories about your schools and students. PSBA thanks those school districts that have worked with their advocacy ambassador and invites those who have not to reach out to their ambassador to talk about the ways they can support your advocacy efforts. Interested in becoming an Advocacy Ambassador? PSBA is seeking ambassadors to fill anticipated vacancies for Sections 1, 2 and 6. For more information contact

PSBA Fall Virtual Advocacy Day: OCT 8, 2020 • 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sign up now for PSBA’s Virtual Advocacy Day this fall!
All public school leaders are invited to join us for our fall Virtual Advocacy Day on Thursday, October 8, 2020, 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 fall 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: As a membership benefit, there is no cost to register.
Registration: School directors can register online now by logging in to myPSBA. If you have questions about Virtual Advocacy Day, or need additional information, contact

Apply Now for EPLC's 2020-2021 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2020-2021 Education Policy Fellowship Program
The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  The 2020-2021 Program will be conducted in briefer, more frequent, and mostly online sessions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The content will be substantially the same as the traditional Fellowship Program, with some changes necessitated by the new format and a desire to reduce costs to sponsors in these uncertain fiscal times.
The commitment of EPLC remains the same. The Fellowship Program will continue to be Pennsylvania's premier education policy leadership program for education, community, policy and advocacy leaders! The Fellowship Program begins with two 3-hour virtual sessions on September 17-18, and the Program ends with a graduation event in June 2021.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but it must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 412-298-4796 or COWELL@EPLC.ORG

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.

283 PA school boards have adopted charter reform resolutions
Charter school funding reform continues to be a concern as over 280 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.