Thursday, February 11, 2021

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Feb. 11, 2021: Know Your Facts on Funding and Charter Performance. Then Call for Charter Change!

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 Feb. 11, 2021

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



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

PSBA Charter Change Website:



“Reopening schools is probably the most thorny and challenging of all the problems presented by the pandemic. Every side represents opposing pressures: parents with jobs who need kids to be in school, educators and other child advocates alarmed about the devastating loss not only of in-person learning, but social supports provided by schools, and families and teachers concerned about safety. Add this to lack of consistent guidance or support from the federal government, and it’s a dilemma playing out in school districts across the country, with few satisfactory solutions.”

More voices needed on reopening Philly schools, including Mayor Kenney’s | Editorial

The Inquirer Editorial Board Posted: February 11, 2021 - 5:00 AM

The latest public school debacle unfolded this week when teachers refused to return to classrooms at the direction of Philadelphia Federation of Teachers boss Jerry Jordan, defying Superintendent William Hite’s directive for them to show up. When Hite threatened no-shows with discipline, Mayor Jim Kenney stepped in and said teachers could stay away after all. The call was for 2,000 teachers to return to classrooms Monday to prepare a limited reopening for about 9,000 pre-K through second grade students on February 22. The district says it has worked to make buildings safe for return, but the PFT balked at some elements of the plans for ventilation. Hence the showdown. Reopening schools is probably the most thorny and challenging of all the problems presented by the pandemic. Every side represents opposing pressures: parents with jobs who need kids to be in school, educators and other child advocates alarmed about the devastating loss not only of in-person learning, but social supports provided by schools, and families and teachers concerned about safety. Add this to lack of consistent guidance or support from the federal government, and it’s a dilemma playing out in school districts across the country, with few satisfactory solutions.


Pittsburgh City Council moves forward with plan to open talks with school board

ANDREW GOLDSTEIN AND ASHLEY MURRAY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette FEB 10, 2021 5:03 PM

City Council will move forward with its plan to open conversations with Pittsburgh Public Schools officials on how it can help the district reopen schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic and solve issues of inequities and low achievement levels. Council on Wednesday approved holding a series of public hearings with district officials after council members Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle last week introduced legislation declaring an “educational emergency” in Pittsburgh. "I'm going to work with council in terms of how we move forward together," Mr. Burgess said. "I am hopeful that we'll start this process in February." The school board has expressed willingness to work with the city, but some board members objected to council’s approach to the matter because the government and the district operate as separate entities.


Northampton Area, Southern Lehigh will start bringing students back for 4-day in-person instruction in March


Two Lehigh Valley school districts on Wednesday announced plans to phase students back into the classroom four days a week beginning in March, eliminating the hybrid option but keeping an all-virtual option for families who are not comfortable. Southern Lehigh School District makes the transition March 1 for students in all grade levels whose families choose for them to learn in person; Northampton Area School District will bring students back in phases, beginning March 9 for kindergarten through second grade, according to letters the respective superintendents sent to families. Both districts had previously been in hybrid learning for all grade levels. Northampton had been planning for this since before the winter holidays, Superintendent Joe Kovalchik said, but spikes in COVID-19 cases in the community during the holidays led him to revert to online learning from mid-December to mid-January. The decision to bring back the lower grades first was based on lower transmission rates among young children and the smaller class sizes the district already has at that level, Kovalchik said.


North Penn board OKs five-day return for students starting Feb. 22

North Penn Reporter By Dan Sokil @dansokil on Twitter February 11, 2021

LANSDALE — The community has spoken, North Penn School District officials have heard them, and students could be back in school full-time soon. The district's school board voted Tuesday night to prepare for five-day in-person instruction starting Feb. 22, for those students who choose to do so. "A motion: to return students to five-day in-person learning, or virtual, or hybrid, or whatever they so desire, beginning on February 22nd," said board Vice President Christian Fusco, before the board unanimously approved it. In late January the school board approved a new round of surveys for parents of district students, as staff reported on efforts to plan a return from fully virtual learning in early January, to a split-hybrid return with alternating groups of students in school since then, and toward a full five-day a week return parents have pushed for.  During Tuesday night's school board meeting, Dietrich outlined the results of the latest survey data and steps staff will need to take to make a full return possible for those who want it. "We recently asked our parents if they desire fully virtual, hybrid, or the third choice, of five days of in-person instruction per week," he said. "Our principals and our central office administrators have been reviewing the results, and are looking at various solutions to meet the ask," Dietrich said.


Wheatland Middle School to go virtual after staff shortage

LANCASTERONLINE | Staff February 10, 2021

Wheatland Middle School will immediately move to a virtual format through Wednesday, Feb. 17 due to a shortage of staff, the School District of Lancaster announced on Wednesday. All students will report to class online beginning Thursday, Feb. 11, the school district announced. Students will keep their regular class schedule. Though the school does not currently have any cases of COVID-19, the virus is currently keeping an unspecified number of employees in isolation or in quarantine, making it difficult to provide coverage for students, the school district said. “While this brief closure is unfortunate, these practices are to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff,” Superintendent Dr. Damaris Rau wrote to families in a letter Wednesday. “We will not compromise that.”


“The 11,000-student Erie School District started its hybrid program for its 4,900 elementary school students on Feb. 1. Since the first day of school, on Sept. 8, all district students had been taking remote-only classes, with exceptions for some special education students and career and technical school students in high school.”

Erie School District to poll high schoolers about return; bids awarded for Erie High work

Ed Palattella Erie Times-News

  • Erie School Board on Wednesday night approved sending survey to high school students for return to in-person classes under hybrid plan
  • Erie School District wants to bring middle, high school students back by start of fourth quarter on April 7
  • School Board also awarded bids for Erie High renovation project

Families of high school students in the Erie School District are next up for answering the big question related to the pandemic. After asking how many middle school families want their children to return to in-person classes with a hybrid approach, the Erie School District is surveying high school families for the same reason. The Erie School Board on Wednesday night consented to the district administration sending a survey to high school families about students' plans. The district will use the survey results as it works to bring high school students back to class on April 7, the start of the fourth quarter, or possibly earlier. The survey will go out on Friday, district spokeswoman Erica Erwin said. The Erie School District is targeting the same return date of April 7,or possibly earlier, for its middle school students. The middle school survey showed that 65% to 70% of those students want to return to school under the hybrid program, which features rotating in-person and online-only classes, Assistant Superintendent Teresa Szumigala told the School Board on Wednesday night. District students can choose to stay remote-only under the hybrid plan.


Council members offer support to three Philadelphia school board nominees

Chalkbeat Philly By Dale Mezzacappa  Feb 10, 2021, 6:22pm EST

City Council members questioned Mayor Jim Kenney’s three new nominees to the Board of Education Wednesday, offering all of them strong support and a word of caution about the difficulty of the volunteer position. “It can be a thankless job,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, chair of council’s education committee. Council president Darrell Clarke concluded the 90-minute hearing with the words, “It will be a challenge for you.” The three appointees are Lisa Salley, an engineer and businesswoman; longtime education activist Cecelia Thompson; and attorney Reginald Streeter, who sits on the board of the Philadelphia ACLU. All three are lifelong Philadelphians who graduated from the city’s public schools. They are all Black, potentially making the board composition six Black members, one Latina, and two white members. If the three are approved and seated, Streeter also will be the only male on the nine-member board. The hearing was held in the council’s capacity as Committee of the Whole, which voted unanimously to put the nominees before the full body. A vote to approve will be held Feb. 18. The next board of education action meeting is Feb. 25.


Made in Philadelphia, the ‘first modern computer’ is celebrated on 75th anniversary

Inquirer by Tom Avril, Posted: February 11, 2021- 5:00 AM

Imagine life without your laptop, your smartphone, even such ordinary electronic gadgets as your alarm clock. The ancestor of them all — a room-sized contraption made of switches, cables, and 18,000 glass containers called vacuum tubes was unveiled to the public 75 years ago this week, in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Called ENIAC, it was the first all-electronic, programmable computer. Historians, engineers, and tech aficionados are celebrating its creation in a weeklong series of events, starting Thursday. And unlike in some past anniversary celebrations, organizers are recognizing not only the men who built the massive device, but also the pioneering women who programmed it. With its coding prowess, Silicon Valley can claim to be the center of today’s tech world. But with the wartime effort to build ENIAC, Philadelphia laid the groundwork with both sides of the computer equation: hardware and software.


“Greenleaf was a Republican member of the state Senate between 1978 until retiring in 2019, earning recognition for passing and influencing more legislation than any other member of the General Assembly in session at the time.”

Former PA state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf dies at 81

Chris Ullery Bucks County Courier Times February 10, 2021

Former state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, who represented the 12th District in parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties, died Wednesday at 81. News of Greenleaf's death first appeared via the Twitter account of Patrick Cawley, former Counsel to the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee and current attorney for Keystone Elder Law P.C., of Mechanicsburg. "A great mentor, Pennsylvania Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf, has died. A rarity in today's politics, he cared about justice above partisanship and was a work horse to achieve it. He taught me much about protecting the dignity of vulnerable people. Godspeed to an extraordinary man," Cawley wrote.


Mars school district, teachers union continue negotiations ahead of Feb. 19 strike deadline

Post Gazette by SANDY TROZZO FEB 10, 2021 3:21 PM

Negotiations between the Mars Area School District and its teachers union have produced agreement on several issues as both sides face down a Feb. 19 deadline before a possible teachers strike. “We are committed to working toward a fair settlement,” Joe Graff, president of the Mars Area Education Association, said following a seven-hour negotiating session on Monday. “It is not personal. There is obviously a difference of opinion, a disagreement on numbers, but there is a hope that a settlement is reached.” Monday’s meeting was the 15th bargaining session since the contract expired June 30, 2020. Another round of talks are scheduled for Thursday, followed by additional sessions Feb. 16, 17 and 18.


Will There Be Standardized Tests This Year? 8 Questions Answered

Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa & Sarah Schwartz — February 09, 2021  12 min read

With spring around the corner and end-of-year state testing season looming, there’s still uncertainty about what standardized assessments will actually look like this year—or whether schools will give them at all. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, the U.S. Department of Education approved requests from all 50 states to be excused from the standardized testing required by federal law. In fall 2020, then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that the Education Department wouldn’t be granting these waivers again, but with the change in administration, the decision will be up to President Joe Biden’s nominee for education secretary, Miguel Cardona. Proponents of giving the exams this year argue that the data are necessary to quantify student learning loss during the pandemic and to help target support to the kids who need it. But others say that testing adds another stressor to an already difficult year and presents insurmountable logistical challenges—safety risks for testing in person, and validity issues testing remotely. Amid these debates, educators planning for testing windows this year have practical questions: Will the exams happen? If so what will they look like, and how will the results be used? Education Week answers some of the most-pressing questions below.



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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