Monday, November 30, 2020

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Nov. 30, 2020: Help Keep Our Schools Open – Mask, Social Distance, Avoid Gatherings

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.


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Keystone State Education Coalition

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Nov. 30, 2020

Help Keep Our Schools Open – Mask, Social Distance, Avoid Gatherings

 “Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.”

Source: Sen. Mastriano gets a positive test at Trump meeting

Gettysburg Times By Mark Scolforo Associated Press November 30, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press on Sunday. Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Trump told Mastriano that White House medical personnel would take care of him, his son and his son’s friend, who were also there for the Oval Office meeting and tested positive. The meeting continued after Mastriano and the others left, the person said.


“In photos, a maskless Mastriano can be seen speaking with fellow lawmakers during the meeting.”

Report: Pa. Sen. Mastriano tested positive for COVID-19 at White House meeting with Trump

PA Capital Star By  John L. Micek November 29, 2020

A Republican lawmaker from south-central Pennsylvania who has been a leading opponent of the Wolf administration’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic “abruptly left” a White House meeting with President Donald Trump last week after being told he had tested positive for the disease, according to a published report. Just hours after sitting shoulder to shoulder with fellow lawmakers for hours during a meeting in Gettysburg, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, was told he’d tested positive for the virus as he and other Republicans huddled with President Donald Trump to discuss Pennsylvania’s election results, according to the Associated Press, citing a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Members of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, joined by GOP colleagues from the state House, spent more than four hours taking testimony during a Thanksgiving Eve hearing about claims of impropriety in the Nov. 3 election. None of the witnesses, including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, presented actual evidence of fraud.


Standardized tests raise questions in time of pandemic

Delco Times By Alex Rose @arosedelco on Twitter November 29, 2020

UPPER DARBY >> Upper Darby School District Superintendent Dr. Dan McGarry is questioning a push for standardized testing this year even as the state is recommending that schools go to virtual learning in areas seeing a surge of coronavirus infections. “Is it really smart to put an emphasis on state testing during a pandemic?” he said. “That’s where it’s a head scratcher for me, and I would hope that the state and federal government would come together and say, ‘Look, let’s champion our schools, try to get them to open, support them trying to get open, but let’s not make the focus on state testing.’” McGarry said schools are getting a mixed message as the state government attempts to quell a rising surge of COVID-19 cases by placing restrictions on things like public gatherings while still requiring thousands of students to come to schools for in-person testing. “While the window has been extended a little bit for this school year, and of course we obviously appreciate that, we’re still in a pandemic,” he said. “So if you can imagine in Upper Darby High School, when we’re having to test over 1,000 students in the high school alone at a time, the longer we push off the window for meeting those requirements, the more complicated it becomes.” As it stands now, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is requiring that schools continue to administer tests mandated at the federal level – including the Keystone Exams that are tied to graduation.


Special Report: To reopen or not to reopen - That is the fraught question for U.S. schools

Reuters By Kristina CookeBenjamin LesserM.B. Pell November 25, 2020

(Reuters) - After a two-week deluge of calls and messages from parents - and at least one death threat - the school board in Chandler, Arizona, called a special meeting this fall. The board would revisit its decision, prompted by the coronavirus, to temporarily close local campuses and offer all classes online. Parents, teachers and others poured out their thoughts in 1,100 public comments posted online before the September meeting. “If our schools do not open in person I will yank both my boys OUT and take them to another school district!!!” one parent wrote. Many teachers assailed the district, which serves about 44,000 students near Phoenix, for wavering. “You look weak to the public; you look unconcerned for safety to your employees,” wrote one instructor. Ultimately, the board backtracked, voting 3-2 to start reopening school buildings. Eight-six percent of students returned to campus. Across the United States, district leaders face pressure from all sides as they grapple with how to educate children during the pandemic, a Reuters survey of 217 districts showed. Many parents are balking at online instruction, seeing it as inferior to classroom learning and disruptive to life at home and work. Other parents worry about sending kids back into classrooms prematurely amid a raging pandemic.


Schools struggle to stay open as quarantines sideline staff

ABC News By KANTELE FRANKO by Associated Press November 26, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The infection of a single cafeteria worker was all it took to close classrooms in the small Lowellville school district in northeastern Ohio, forcing at least two weeks of remote learning. Not only did the worker who tested positive for the coronavirus need to quarantine, but so did the entire cafeteria staff and most of the transportation crew, because some employees work on both. The district of about 500 students sharing one building had resumed in-person instruction with masks and social distancing and avoided any student infections. But without enough substitute workers, administrators had no choice but to temporarily abandon classroom operations and meal services. “It boils down to the staff,” Lowellville Superintendent Geno Thomas said. “If you can’t staff a school, you have to bring it to remote.” Around the country, contact tracing and isolation protocols are sidelining school employees and closing school buildings. The staffing challenges force students out of classrooms, even in districts where officials say the health risks of in-person learning are manageable. And the absences add to the strain from a wave of early retirements and leaves taken by employees worried about health risks. It’s another layer of the “tremendous stress” faced by administrators and educators navigating the pandemic, said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the nation’s leading school superintendents association.


HB1737: Wolf plans to veto bill that would have limited COVID-related lawsuits

Post Gazette by PATRICK BUCHNOWSKI  The Tribune-Democrat NOV 27, 2020 5:13 PM

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf plans to veto legislation that would give protection against COVID-related lawsuits to schools, businesses and nursing homes, his spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said this week. House Bill 1737 had been backed by groups lobbying for local schools, as well as business and healthcare industry groups. Mr. Wolf is rejecting the legislation as being “too broad,” Ms. Kensinger said. “That’s a big disappointment,” said Curt Schroder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, based in Harrisburg. “I hope he will reconsider.” Mr. Schroder said HB 1737 was “drafted carefully to be targeted and temporary.” The bill would have provided one year of liability protection from COVID-related lawsuits. Mark DiRocco, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said that if Mr. Wolf is vetoing HB 1737, the governor should use an executive order to extend liability protection to schools. “We’re very concerned about litigation coming down the road,” he said.


Pennsylvania senators try to have it both ways in Gettysburg hearing [opinion]

Lancaster Online Opinion by BRAD BUMSTED | Commentary Nov 29, 2020

Brad Bumsted is the bureau chief of The Caucus, an LNP Media Group watchdog publication.

The hearing smacked of blatant hypocrisy. The Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee’s field trip to Gettysburg on Wednesday featured President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and testimony from Republican elections workers who alleged improprieties and outright fraud in the Nov. 3 election. Let me be clear at the outset: This column is not about Trump-bashing, debunking conspiracy theories, or attacking the notion of a “stolen” election. It’s about inconsistency by Republican Senate and House members who went out of their way to attend the hearing in person or via Zoom. One of the chief Trumpers in Pennsylvania is Sen. Doug Mastriano, a freshman dynamo and retired Army colonel who wears his conservatism on his sleeve and makes no secret he is running for governor in 2022. Mastriano, R-Chambersburg, asked that the committee hearing be held in his district and invited Giuliani, whose appearance was touted in a Trump campaign press release breathlessly headlined “PENNSYLVANIA, ARIZONA, MICHIGAN LEGISLATURES TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS ON 2020 ELECTION.”


Philly-area school district’s commitment to in-person classes put to the test by COVID surge

WHYY  By Avi Wolfman-Arent November 30, 2020

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Superintendent William Harner roved Quakertown Senior High School looking for trouble. He wasn’t looking for typical teenage trouble — your bathroom vapers and hallway scufflers. He was looking for viral trouble — warning signs of potential COVID-19 transmission. The classrooms looked OK. It seemed they could keep three-to-six feet of space between desks, as promised. “But we’re crunched in a couple places,” Harner admitted. “The problem there is the hallways. They just look like regular class changes.” His survey came on the first day that the Quakertown Community School District welcomed middle and high school students back on a full-time basis. About three-quarters had taken the Bucks County district up on its offer, with another quarter choosing all-virtual instruction instead. It had already been a bumpy week — in a school year spent slaloming between challenges.


Virtual Charter Schools Are Booming, Despite A Checkered Reputation


Parent Mandii Brower vividly remembers what it was like when her kids' school in Yukon, Okla., switched to distance learning in the spring: "It was just like, we never learned with our teachers again. They never checked on things again." She says "school" consisted of just a few short daily assignments. "I [couldn't] see my kids' education going that way." So this fall, Brower enrolled her two daughters in Epic Charter Schools, a virtual program that allows students to study online, at their own pace, with pre-recorded lessons and one-on-one teacher support. For Brower, the difference has been night and day. She says Epic "[has] it down pat, and they know how to help families." Brower wasn't the only parent to give the Oklahoma-based virtual school a try this year. Since last spring, Epic enrollment has grown to be double the size of the state's largest public school district. In fact, across the country, fully virtual K-12 charter schools have experienced a pandemic-induced "surge," as one sector observer put it. K12 Inc., one of the biggest in the business, has reported a 57% enrollment increase, taking it up to 195,000 students; Connections Academy, another heavy hitter, has reported a 41% jump, and the list goes on.


The cyber switch is on in Schuylkill County

Hazelton Standard Speaker By Christine Lee Staff Writer Nov 29, 2020

More than 1,000 students who were attending public schools in Schuylkill County last year are now attending an independent charter or cyber school, or a public school district’s cyber academy, the trend fueled by the pandemic, administrators say. The 1,031 students who have made the switch are from 11 public school districts for which numbers were provided. A majority, 838, are attending cyber academies within their own school districts, while 193 are enrolled in charter schools, a majority of them cyber-based. The total represents approximately 15% of the combined enrollment for those public schools. The numbers do not include students who may be learning virtually temporarily as districts limit or avoid in-person classes because of the coronavirus. “There is an upward trend of students choosing cyber education,” Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29 Executive Director Gregory S. Koons said. “But districts are doing a good job of providing their own curriculum to students in a virtual format.”


Montgomery County parents stage another COVID-19 school-closing protest, this time with a road rally

Inquirer by Jason Nark, Posted: November 29, 2020- 6:18 PM

The road to reopening schools for in-person learning in Montgomery County appears to be a long one as COVID-19 cases surge. Clarice Schillinger thinks the worst-case scenario for the restart is September of 2021, but the mother of two from Horsham doesn’t like to think about it. “My 14-year-old was crying last week,” Schillinger, 33, said Sunday. “She said ‘Mom, all I want for Christmas is to go back to school, to go back and play sports.’” Schillinger said her children have had just three days of in-person learning in the Hatboro-Horsham School District since March. That’s why she helped organize “Voice for Choice — Open Our Schools,” a car rally that drove through Montgomery County on Sunday afternoon. “We don’t want to take away virtual learning, but we want a choice between that and in-person learning,” Schillinger said. “The kids are suffering right now.” Montgomery County has had 935 COVID-19 deaths this year, the second most in the state behind Philadelphia. The county had 21,021 total confirmed cases as of Sunday night and, like most areas, those numbers are going up.


Virus or not, Pottstown High's homecoming seeks a sense of the normal

Pottstown Mercury by Evan Brandt @PottstownNews on Twitter Nov 27, 2020

POTTSTOWN — Add homecoming celebrations to the list of things the coronavirus pandemic has turned on its head. With masks hiding smiles, social distancing stretching the sense of togetherness and a sparse-if-any cheering crowd across southeastern Pennsylvania homecoming celebrations, if they've happened at all, have been like nothing we've ever seen before — and hopefully, won't see again. Just ask John Armato, the Pottstown School District's director of community relations and a person who has attended every single Pottstown High School Homecoming since he first joined the district in the 1969-1970 school year. So we did ask him.


Report: The most and least equitable schools in Pa. | The Numbers Racket

PA Capital Star By  Cassie Miller November 30, 2020

The gap between the rich and poor have been exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, one of the areas where those discrepancies is most prevalent is in education. An August study from WalletHub, a financial news website, found that Pennsylvania has the 24th least equitable school districts in the U.S. Methodology - WalletHub based its rankings of school districts throughout the country on two metrics: 

  • Average household income
  • Expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil

WalletHub acquired this data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. The districts are ranked based on the total score of each district with the lowest value representing the most equitable.


“Education today is facing the worst crisis in over 100 years,” Dinniman said. “Many students, especially in poorer areas, just are not learning online.” These students were already vulnerable prior to the pandemic and “we have increased their vulnerability,” he said, noting many students, living in poverty, have not been in a classroom setting since March.”

As Dinniman nears retirement, he sets sight on forming PAC for transformative education

West Chester Daily Local By Jen Samuel @jenpoetess on Twitter Nov 29, 2020

WEST CHESTER — The ability for a person to create transformative change for a better community is everyone’s responsibility. That’s according to retiring state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th, of West Whiteland. He did not run for reelection in 2020. His current term in the State Senate ends in December. “I am not retiring from my effort to create change,” Dinniman said. The senator told the Daily Local News that he plans to create change after retiring from the State Senate as an advocate for “transformative” education. Dinniman said he is forming a Political Action Committee (super PAC) for education advocacy. He said he plans to officially launch the PAC this winter beginning in December. His term in the senate ends Monday. “One has a responsibility, all of one’s life, to make things better for your community,” Dinniman said. It will be a nonpartisan PAC, Dinniman said. Dinniman has served in government as an elected official for more than 30 years. He spent 14 years as a Chester County Commissioner prior to becoming an elected state senator in 2006. Further, Dinniman has launched a weekly podcast on education to continue his advocacy work. It is available on Spotify and via other digital platforms. He said the hope is for the issues PAC to advance solutions in education for students in Pennsylvania. The PAC will work together to collaborate on solutions and present its findings to the State Legislature and the governor.


Sturla booted from leadership position after 12 years, Pa. House Democrats moving in a 'new direction'

Lancaster Online by GILLIAN McGOLDRICK | Staff Writer November 30, 2020

Pennsylvania Democrats fell well short of their goal of reclaiming majorities in one or both chambers of the state legislature this year, and the party’s failure to win races the polls showed were in their grasp has cost Lancaster’s lone Democratic state representative his role in the party’s leadership. Rep. Mike Sturla, the 15-term legislator from Lancaster city, easily won reelection on Nov. 3, running unopposed. But nine days after the election, a majority of his colleagues voted against his bid to return as chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, a key leadership post responsible for setting the caucus agenda. Sturla was the last of the party’s senior leadership in the House to be reelected. Even the chamber’s top Democrat, Frank Dermody of Allegheny County, lost his seat, one of a net three Democratic districts picked up by Republicans. Dermody’s loss left Sturla, 64, as the longest-serving party leader running for another term.


Ziccarrelli continues to say certain mail-in ballots shouldn’t be counted, even after courts disagree

PA Capital Star By  Kim Lyons November 30, 2020

Republican state Senate candidate Nicole Ziccarelli trails incumbent Democrat Jim Brewster by 91 votes in Pennsylvania’s 45th state Senate District, but she is still fighting over whether hundreds of mail-in ballots should be counted. About 300 mail-in ballots from Allegheny County, which were turned in on time and filled out properly except were missing hand-written dates on their outer envelopes, were recently counted thanks to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. When it meets Monday, the Westmoreland County Board of Electors is expected to decide whether to allow some 343 mail-in ballots cast in the 45th Senatorial District to be counted. These undated ballots are similar to those in Allegheny County that were recently ruled valid. However, Ziccarelli doesn’t believe they should be counted, while Brewster says they should be counted.


New Jersey moves to strengthen Black history education mandates

Inquirer by Melanie Burney, Posted: November 27, 2020

When Cherry Hill seventh grader Ebele Azikiwe told her mother about a Black history lesson, she was surprised by the response. It was virtually the same lesson her mother learned 20 years ago at the same school. Ebele, 12, like many of her peers across the region, has been on a mission to change how Black history is taught. She wrote a letter to her principal and last month testified via Zoom at the Statehouse about a bill that would make sweeping changes to the curriculum. New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill last month to change how public schools teach Black history and hold them more accountable. If signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy it would require lessons about racism and social justice and contributions made by prominent African Americans from the past to the present like Kamala Harris, the first woman, and person of Black and South Asian descent elected vice president. “Our children will learn about Black history and not just being a slave,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D., Hudson), one of the bill’s sponsors. “We will know the contributions that Black people continue to do.”


Pa. high school staff member dies of COVID-19 complications

Penn Live By Tribune News Service Updated Nov 28, 7:34 PM; Posted Nov 28, 2:40 PM

A staff member at Greater Latrobe Senior High has died of complications of COVID-19, according to the school district. On Wednesday, the school board voted to continue offering in-person instruction for students, while COVID-19 case levels are in the “substantial” range and rising in Westmoreland County. Superintendent Georgia Teppert stated in an email sent to district faculty and staff on Thanksgiving Day that district officials learned Terri Sherwin, a senior high secretary, died Wednesday evening from COVID-19 complications.


The list: Pittsburgh-area school districts shift back to remote learning as COVID-19 cases surge


An increasing number of schools and districts in southwestern Pennsylvania are transitioning to remote instruction as the Pittsburgh region continues to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases. The districts said they plan to monitor conditions in Allegheny County and adjust their instruction schedules accordingly. Here are the districts that have announced changes (in alphabetical order):


Beaver County schools go virtual as COVID-19 rates climb

Many Beaver County school districts are transitioning to remote learning through at least early December as COVID-19 transmission spikes regionally.

Chrissy Suttles Daveen Rae Kurutz Beaver County Times November 27, 2020

Many Beaver County school districts are transitioning to remote learning through at least early December as COVID-19 transmission spikes regionally.  Students in districts including Ambridge Area, Freedom Area and New Brighton Area have all moved to virtual learning for the foreseeable future, as these districts, as well as New Horizon School and Baden Academy, have not yet specified return dates.  Big Beaver Falls Area is set to return on Tuesday, Rochester Area on Dec. 11, and Central Valley on Dec. 14. Midland Borough, Beaver County Career and Technology Center and Beaver Area could all return as early as Dec. 7, although decisions are subject to recommendations from state departments of health and education. Hopewell Area School District will go fully remote through Jan. 15, suspending all sports through at least Dec. 7.  South Side Area will go virtual through at least Dec. 11.


CTC of Lackawanna County transitions to online-only learning

Times Tribune BY JEFF HORVATH STAFF WRITER Nov 29, 2020 Updated 1 hr ago

Students at the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County will learn exclusively online until at least after the New Year’s holiday, Administrative Director Thomas Baileys, Ed.D., said. During a virtual meeting Sunday, the CTC’s Joint Operating Committee, composed of members from sending districts, voted 6-0 to switch from a hybrid model to full virtual education amid the ongoing threat of COVID-19. An earlier motion to continue with hybrid learning failed when the board deadlocked at 3-3. Board members Ronald Bukowski of Mid Valley and Stephen Ursich of Forest City did not participate in the virtual session.  The transition to full virtual learning is effective immediately, officials said. Exactly when CTC students will return to classrooms remains to be seen.


Central York High School, middle school closed for another week

York Dispatch Staff report November 30, 2020

Central York School District announced that the district's high school and middle school will remain closed through Tuesday, Dec. 8. The schools are closed because of the number of positive coronavirus cases linked to the buildings, the district said. "This extension of our closure of the secondary schools is an attempt to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19 within our schools and facilities and in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommendations," the district stated in a post on its website.


Hazleton Area schools stock up on computers, sprayers and thermometers for pandemic

Hazelton Standard Speaker By Kent Jackson Staff Writer Nov 27, 2020 Updated 10 hrs ago

No child should be left without a computer after 992 more machines purchased by the Hazleton Area school board arrive. “When we get them, we should have enough to deliver to all students,” Dr. Kenneth Briggs, technology director, told the board during a Nov. 11 committee meeting. On Tuesday, the board agreed to buy the computers with $849,115 of federal pandemic funds. The board also spent pandemic grants on cameras that take body temperatures and sprayers and scrubbers for cleaning schools. With other funds, the board bought two-way radios for buses and a system that will translate and display announcements in Spanish on screens inside Hazleton Area High School. To equip 11,498 students with computers that they can use while studying at home during the pandemic, the board has been buying computers since April. Also Amazon donated 500 Kindle Fire tablets, and a grant from the foundation of Mericle Commercial Real Estate paid for 1,077 computers. Briggs said a supplier told him that computers purchased Tuesday will arrive in December. But supplies for computers have exceeded demand worldwide during the pandemic.


“Several of the president-elect's cabinet picks, including, possibly, secretary of education, will be announced Tuesday, according to Biden's chief of staff Ron Klain.”

Five ways Joe Biden can "de-DeVos" U.S. education

Trump’s education secretary seemed to be at war with the idea of public education. How much can Joe Biden roll back By LARRY BUHL NOVEMBER 29, 2020 3:08PM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on Capital & Main.

Teachers and other education advocates are feeling giddy at the possibility of moving forward a progressive agenda that the current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, stopped dead in its tracks four years ago. President-elect Joe Biden campaign's policy director, Stef Feldman, told the Education Writers Association that as president, Biden would "get some big, bold education legislation passed and certainly immediate relief for our schools and our educators," and said Biden would take executive actions as well. Many of those executive actions, education advocates hope, will de-DeVos the Department of Education. Here are some of the likeliest ways public education will change in a Biden-Harris administration.


DeVos calls on Congress to postpone federal standardized NAEP exams until 2022

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed pushing back the 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress exams.

Washington Post By  Perry Stein November 25, 2020 at 7:26 p.m. EST

The national standardized test regarded as a crucial barometer of student achievement could be postponed until 2022 due to the coronavirus, the Education Department announced Wednesday. Federal officials said that too many students are participating in virtual learning or are attending schools that prohibit outside visitors, making it impossible to effectively administer the exam. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called on the National Center for Education Statistics — a branch of the Education Department responsible for the federal tests — to stop any further spending in preparation for the January exam. She also wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that removing the mandate to take the test should be an act of Congress and called on legislators to postpone it. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the NAEP, often referred to as the “nation’s report card,” is a closely watched exam because it assesses the performance of children from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds in urban, suburban and rural communities.


Teaching in the Pandemic: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’

Teacher burnout could erode instructional quality, stymie working parents and hinder the reopening of the economy.

New York Times By Natasha Singer Nov. 30, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

At Farmington Central Junior High in rural Illinois, classes still start at 8 a.m. But that’s about the only part of the school day that has not changed for Caitlyn Clayton, an eighth-grade English teacher tirelessly toggling between in-person and remote students. At the start of the school day, Ms. Clayton stands in front of the classroom, reminding her students to properly pull their masks over their noses. Then she delves into a writing lesson, all the while scanning the room for possible virus threats. She stops students from sharing supplies. She keeps her distance when answering their questions. She disinfects the desks between classes. Then in the afternoon, just as her in-person students head home, Ms. Clayton begins her second day: remote teaching. Sitting in her classroom, she checks in one-on-one via video with eighth graders who have opted for distance learning. To make sure they are not missing out, she spends hours more recording instructional videos that replicate her in-person classroom lessons. “The days where it’s 13-plus hours at school, you’re just exhausted, hoping to make it to the car at night,” Ms. Clayton said, noting that many of her colleagues feel similarly depleted. “We’re seeing an extreme level of teacher burnout.”



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


332 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.