Wednesday, February 10, 2021

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Feb. 10, 2021: Pa. has a chance to reform our struggling schools. Will the legislature let it happen? | Opinion

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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PA Ed Policy Roundup for Feb. 10, 2021

Pa. has a chance to reform our struggling schools. Will the legislature let it happen? | Opinion



Know Your Facts on Funding and Charter Performance. Then Call for Charter Change!

PSBA Charter Change Website:



Pa. has a chance to reform our struggling schools. Will the legislature let it happen? | Opinion

Commentary by Frank Gallagher, For the Inquirer Posted: February 9, 2021 - 1:33 PM

Frank Gallagher is the superintendent of the Souderton Area School District and the chair of LEARN, a coalition of Pennsylvania school superintendents working to improve charter school accountability, limit school privatization, and encourage youth to choose public education as a career.

Pennsylvania has a real chance to change its worst-in-the-nation reputation when it comes to education funding. It is a reputation we should run from — the most inequitably funded education system and the worst charter school law in the nation. Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed putting Pennsylvania on a new trajectory with $1.5 billion in additional education funding and a plan to make the most underfunded districts whole. He also called for comprehensive reform of Pennsylvania’s 24-year-old charter school law — to eliminate wasteful charter school spending and set higher standards to improve performance. With this budget, Pennsylvania can move from the back of the class to the best in the nation. The General Assembly should not pass up this opportunity to right these two wrongs. You don’t have to agree with the precise distribution of funds in the governor’s proposal to admire the boldness of the idea — students in Philadelphia, Norristown, Pottstown, Bensalem, and other inequitably funded districts getting the resources they need to compete and succeed next year, not in the next decade. Charter schools and funding adequacy are two sides of the same coin. To break this cycle, a comprehensive reform bill must address both funding reform and accountability.


PA SCHOOLS WORK: Budget Deep Dive Webinar —What Gov. Wolf's Budget Proposal Means for Public Education

Tue, Feb 16, 2021 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

PA school advocates take a deep dive into the details of Governor Tom Wolf's 2021-22 budget proposal and what the bold investment in public education would mean for school districts.


Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, lawmakers form joint COVID-19 vaccine task force

Penn Live by By Ron Southwick | Updated Feb 09, 2021; Posted Feb 09, 2021

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is teaming up with several state lawmakers on a new task force on the COVID-19 vaccine. Pennsylvania is still in the early phase of distributing the COVID-19 vaccines and some lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, have voiced concerns about the pace of the rollout. The task force will include key members of the Wolf administration and Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate. Wolf said the task force will help improve communication and address issues and solutions. “We have a good working relationship with our legislators, and we know they are the eyes, ears, and voices for Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in a statement. “The feedback they receive from their local communities is extremely important, particularly as the commonwealth continues to improve upon this once-in-a-generation vaccine rollout. “Working with leaders from each caucus in the General Assembly, we are creating a task force to ensure collaboration and strengthen communications about the state’s vaccine plan,” Wolf said.


York Academy implements new pool testing to track COVID-19 cases in schools

Erin Bamer York Dispatch February 9, 2021

York Academy Regional Charter School is taking a unique approach to test students and staff for COVID-19.  The school reopened both its buildings for four days a week in February, and is testing students and staff in groups by their classroom. CEO Angela Sugarek said she is not aware of any other schools in Pennsylvania using this method.  "I think Pennsylvania is behind the 8-ball," she said.  Up to 35 students and staff in one classroom can take the test in one group. The test uses a self-administered nasal swab, and can report back within two days whether there is a positive COVID-19 case within that group, Sugarek said.  The charter school tested this method among staff the week before the school reopened, and found one employee who did not exhibit symptoms until a few days later, Sugarek said. In the first week back at school last week, she said the tests found two classrooms with positive cases.  The pool tests cost $100 for each group, Sugarek said, while individual COVID-19 tests cost $100 per person. To save money, she said when the school identifies a positive pool, they instruct the people in that pool to quarantine and give them the same test again in smaller groups. When they find the smaller group with a positive case, then they administer the individual tests. Sugarek said she expects the charter will pay about $4,000 per week for the pool testing, using funds the charter school received through the CARES Act.


York Suburban elementary schools to move to four days of in-person learning

Erin Bamer York Dispatch February 9, 2021

York Suburban School District's four elementary schools will allow students to return to the classroom for four days a week starting March 1.  The school board voted 6-3 Monday night to transition its K-5 students out of the district's current hybrid model. York Suburban's middle school and high school will remain in hybrid learning, which sees students in the classroom two days a week.  The district has operated under the hybrid model since August. Superintendent Timothy Williams said officials went with the hybrid system to ensure all students could be kept 6 feet apart.  "We thought we were taking the best approach at the time, and I still think we took the best approach at the time," Williams said.  Williams said he recommended the board allow elementary students to return to class four days a week after he observed other districts holding elementary classes full-time successfully. He said although it is clear these districts are not maintaining 6 feet of distancing between students, they are still keeping their COVID-19 cases low.


Day after protests, mayor talks ventilation, vaccination plan for Philadelphia teachers

Chalkbeat Philly By Johann Calhoun  Feb 9, 2021, 6:07pm EST

A day after citywide teacher protests about school reopening, the mayor and health commissioner announced more details about a vaccination plan for educators and promised to bring in outside help to improve ventilation in schools, if necessary. The vaccinations will be offered starting the week of Feb. 22, at the Roberts Center on the campus of the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, or CHOP, plus six different school-based locations, said Dr. Thomas Farley. Those additional sites have not been determined yet. The plan requires schools to provide a list of names of their staff to CHOP. The school will then notify their staff about how they can contact the hospital to schedule an appointment. CHOP still is deciding how they will invite child care staff. Students are expected to return to school buildings the week the vaccination program starts. Addressing teachers concerns about returning without being vaccinated, Farley said, “I think people can prevent spread in schools if they follow safety precautions. So I don’t think vaccinations are necessary for schools to be open. Teachers should go to school to work to provide the kids with an education. But if we wait until every teacher gets the vaccine then we may miss the entire school year.”


Philly teachers don’t report to school buildings for a second day; teacher vaccinations expected to start Feb. 22

Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham and Justine McDaniel, Posted: February 9, 2021- 3:22 PM

City educators declined in droves to report to schools for a second day as the Philadelphia School District and its largest union waited for word from a mediator on whether 2,000 teachers can be forced back into buildings. Philadelphia public schools are scheduled to reopen for prekindergarten through second grades Feb. 22. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. had wanted 2,000 teachers back in buildings Monday, but the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers led a citywide action instead, with thousands teaching from outside buildings or working from home. The PFT has said it does not believe buildings are safe for re-occupancy. Hite had threatened discipline for teachers who did not show up to school buildings, but the city intervened late Sunday night, telling teachers they did not have to report to work until a neutral third party, Chicago doctor and public health expert Peter Orris, weighed in on whether the district had met safety standards. That’s expected to happen soon.


Child welfare nonprofits in Philly call for teachers to return to classrooms

WHYY By Miles Bryan February 9, 2021

Thirteen city nonprofits that work with children and families released a statement Tuesday calling on the teachers union to abandon its battle with the School District of Philadelphia and allow some teachers to return to their classrooms. The district had asked some teachers to report to school buildings yesterday ahead of a planned return of up to 9,000 young children to their classrooms later this month. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has objected, arguing that buildings are not yet safe because of ventilation problems and that members should be vaccinated before returning. Both sides now await a decision from a city-appointed mediator. The nonprofit coalition argues that schools can be reopened safely this month, but teachers must heed the district’s call to return in order to begin that process.


What to know about the debate over reopening Philly schools

Balancing students needs against teacher and community COVID safety concerns.

Billy Penn by Layla A. Jones Yesterday, 8:00 a.m.

Philly teachers staged protests in the freezing cold Monday against what their union called a premature and unsafe return to in-person learning. Coordinated by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, thousands of faculty, staff and advocates held a series of demonstrations outside schools across the city, from Wynnefield to Center City to North Philly. The day ended with a rally at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters on North Broad Street. Staff had been expected to return to their buildings on Feb. 8, two weeks before students’ planned Feb. 22 start date. This is Philly’s third attempt at returning to the classroom in some capacity, but teachers have not yet been offered appointments for the COVID vaccine. On Monday, Mayor Jim Kenney’s office announced pop-up vaccination clinics for teachers and childcare providers would launch at the end of February, in partnership with CHOP. After initially threatening to discipline teachers who refused to report as directed, the School District of Philadelphia backed off when the mayor’s office stepped in Sunday night, saying a third-party mediator would intervene.


Teach Plus Pennsylvania applauds Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2021-22, which includes nearly $2 billion in new funding for public schools.

“Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders are pleased to see Governor Wolf’s proposal for a historic, much-needed investment in Pennsylvania’s schools and students,” said Laura Boyce, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director. “The vast majority of schools across the Commonwealth are chronically underfunded, and the pandemic has only exacerbated inequities in educational access and district budget shortfalls. If passed, this proposal would be a major step toward educational equity and fair funding in Pennsylvania, and would particularly benefit students of color and low-income students, who disproportionately attend underfunded schools.”


More info on Teach Plus PA here…..

Teach Plus Pennsylvania

Teach Plus PA Website

+ Teach Plus PA launched in 2017 with the T3 program in the School District of Philadelphia, where T3 teacher leaders receive Teach Plus coaching and support to lead their grade teams and improve student outcomes. In the first three years, T3 partner schools improved faster than the district average and developed systems of shared leadership.

+ In 2020, Teach Plus PA renewed its T3 partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and launched new instructional practice programs with Independence Mission Schools and Chester Arthur Elementary School.   

+ The Teach Plus PA Teacher Policy Advisory Board launched in 2020, with Fellows focusing on equitable funding, and recruitment and retention of teachers of color.


Spring-Ford School Board grapples with how to hold senior prom

Pottstown Mercury by Evan Brandt @PottstownNews on Twitter February 10, 2021

You can add "senior prom" to the next challenge facing families and school officials struggling to give students something resembling a "normal" school year. The matter was front and center for the Spring-Ford School Board on Feb. 8 as members heard pleas from parents who desperately want something for their seniors to hold onto for their final year; and the logistical nightmare of trying to hold a prom in times demanding social distancing. "If winter sports can be approved, this can too," said parent Carin Davis. Currently, the senior prom is scheduled for April 24 at the Sheraton. It was booked two years ago before the coronavirus pandemic made six feet of social distancing the new normal. Under those rules, the indoor venue could not accommodate more than 80 seniors. That was a non-starter for the school board, given that the senior prom could attract as many as 650 students and their dates.


Hobbs Kessler — The Making Of A Miler

Track & Field February 8, 2021 by Jeff Hollobaugh   

AFTER RUNNING A 3:57.66 seemingly out of nowhere, Hobbs Kessler is suddenly one of the most talked-about names in the sport — usually appended to the words, “Who is…?” Understandable. It’s unprecedented for someone to jump to that exalted level directly from the plethora of 4:20 high school milers. The fastest 17-year-old in U.S. history (he turns 18 on March 15) is no fluke, and while his development might not have been visible to the world thanks to the pandemic, it reveals a fascinating combination of circumstances, the proverbial perfect storm of talent development.


Democrats, GOP spar over school funding, minimum wage amid push to land on pandemic plan

Penn Live By The Associated Press Updated Feb 09, 2021; Posted Feb 09, 2021

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Tuesday muscled past Republicans on portions of President Joe Biden’s pandemic plan, including a proposed $130 billion in additional relief to help the nation’s schools reopen and a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee say schools won’t be able to reopen safely until they get an infusion of federal funding to repair building ventilation systems, buy protective equipment and take other steps recommended by federal health officials. The plan faces opposition from Republicans who want to tie new school funding to reopening.


In-Person or Remote Learning: How the Biggest City School Districts Are Operating

Education Week By Tonya Harris — February 08, 2021 | Updated: February 09, 2021  2 min read

This page will be updated when new information becomes available.

The second half of the 2020-21 school year is poised to be as challenging as the first half for district leaders who must make high-stakes decisions about student and employee health and safety as the COVID-19 pandemic approaches the one-year mark. There is no national data that capture the mode of learning in the nation’s more than 13,000 school districts. This tracker presents the current operating status of some of America’s largest school districts (plus, the Toronto, Ontario district). All are members of the Council of the Great City Schools, which is closely documenting how its districts are providing instruction. Collectively, these school systems serve about 8.2 million students, or roughly 15 percent of the U.S. public school enrollment. Across these districts, 44 percent of students are Hispanic, 27 percent are Black, 18 percent are white, 8 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2 percent are Alaskan/Native American. More than 70 percent qualify for free and reduced-price meals.* The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities—in numbers of infections, rates of death, job losses, and food and housing insecurity. As of Feb. 8, 2021, 43 member districts in the Council of the Great City Schools—some of the largest school districts in the U.S.—are open for some type of in-person learning. Search the table for the current status and nuanced descriptions of what’s happening in each school district.


Is Biden Lowering the Bar for What ‘Reopening Schools’ Means?

Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa — February 09, 2021  5 min read

Just what does it mean to “reopen schools,” and how precise should leaders and the general public be with their answers? As President Joe Biden and his administration navigate the political and practical implications of trying to help U.S. schools reopen their doors to students in the first few months of his presidency, the public might be gradually learning that the White House’s definition of reopening schools doesn’t perfectly match what many people are picturing. In December, after winning the election, Biden promised that, “My team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days,” provided that Congress, states, and local governments give additional funding and support to ensure schools can open safely. In Biden’s COVID-19 aid proposal that he released in mid-January, he specified that his aim was “to open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days” of his administration.


PA State Board of Education Student Representative Application Now Available


On May 22, 2008 the Pennsylvania State Board of Education (SBE) amended their bylaws to add one nonvoting senior student member and one nonvoting junior student member. Since September 2009 two high school students have served on the SBE. For the past year those students have been senior Anne Griffith from Radnor High School and Junior Eva Rankin from Upper St. Clair High School. These SBE positions have provided public school students with an unprecedented opportunity in Pennsylvania to interact with the 22 adult board members and have helped shape long-term education policy for the 1.8 million K-12 students in our state and the 680,000 students impacted by our state system of higher education. The Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils (PASC) was first charged with the responsibility of recommending two students to hold these positions for the 2008-2009 school year. PASC is currently accepting applications for our new junior student representative.

Current 10th grade students (Class of 2023) enrolled in public high schools in Pennsylvania are eligible to apply for this position. The introductory letter, commitment forms and application can be found here. Applications are due back on March 8th, 2021. Interviews will be conducted virtually. One student will be selected for a two-year term at that time.

More information can be found at: . Questions may be directed to the two current student representatives at and


Virtual Town Hall on education fair funding co- sponsored by Avon Grove Charter School and Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools set Feb. 24

West Chester Daily Local by MediaNews Group February 6, 2021

WEST GROVE—There will be a virtual Town Hall Meeting on Fair Funding in Education on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 7 pm. The public is invited. The Town Hall is being co- sponsored by Avon Grove Charter School and Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools. Topics include: problem solve fair funding solutions; learn how public schools are funded in PA.;  learn about the differences between charter & district schools funding.

All are welcome. RSVP Link -


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


Attend the NSBA 2021 Online Experience April 8-10

NSBA is pleased to announce the transformation of its in-person NSBA 2021 Annual Conference & Exposition to the NSBA 2021 Online Experience. This experience will bring world-class programming, inspirational keynotes, top education solution providers, and plentiful networking opportunities. Join us on April 8-10, 2021, for a fully transformed and memorable event!


NPE/NPE Action Conference In Philly was rescheduled to October 23/24 due to concerns w/ COVID19.

Network for Public Education

NPE will be sending information to registrants very soon!


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


351 PA school boards have adopted charter reform resolutions

Charter school funding reform continues to be a concern as over 350 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:


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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