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.
These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
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This budget season, lawmakers have to put underserved students first | Opinion
Snow delays Pa. governor’s budget address a day
Penn Live By The Associated Press Updated 9:06 PM; February 1, 2021
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf will move his annual budget address to Wednesday, amid a snowstorm that was prompting restrictions on highways across Pennsylvania and the cancelation of legislative hearings and sessions, his office said. The release of Wolf’s budget proposal and his address had been scheduled for Tuesday. Pennsylvania governors typically deliver their messages about state spending plans and priorities on the Tuesday in the first full week of February. In 2005, then-Gov. Ed Rendell asked House and Senate leaders to push back his speech a day to so it would not conflict with him and others returning from the Philadelphia Eagles’ appearance in the Super Bowl or a potential Eagles victory parade. Legislative leaders agreed to the request, but the Eagles lost that year. In any case, the setting for Wolf’s seventh budget address will be unusual because of the pandemic. Wolf will deliver the address — usually 30 or 40 minutes long — by a pre-recorded video instead of speaking in-person to a joint session of the House and Senate.
This budget season, lawmakers have to put underserved students first | Opinion
PA Capital Star Commentary By Nelly Jimenez, Deborah Gordon Klehr, Susan Spicka, Patty Torres, Laura Boyce, and Jennifer R. Clarke, Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor February 2, 2021
Nelly Jimenez, is the executive director and CEO of ACLAMO. Deborah Gordon Klehr is the executive director of the Education Law Center-PA. Susan Spicka is the executive director of Education Voters of Pa. Patty Torres is the organizing director for Make the Road Pennsylvania. Laura Boyce is the Pennsylvania executive director for Teach Plus. Jennifer R. Clarke is the executive director of the Public Interest Law Center.
Longstanding, devastating inequities in Pennsylvania’s education funding system guarantee that our state continues to mistreat hundreds of thousands of its historically underserved students, including many students of color, students living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners, and others. The problem: These students attend schools that lack the basic resources to meet their needs. In the 2021-2022 budget, the Legislature must finally take steps toward providing additional funding to schools that have the fewest resources available to meet their students’ needs. It must commit to fully closing the resource and opportunity gaps that threaten the Commonwealth’s future workforce, tax base, and economy. It is unacceptable to continue ignoring the substantial harm that Pennsylvania’s current funding system inflicts on students and communities throughout the commonwealth. It is no secret that Pennsylvania has one of the most inequitable school funding systems in the nation, and that students of color disproportionately experience the consequences of that neglect. A 2019 study from Research for Action, “Unequal Access to Educational Opportunity Among Pennsylvania’s High School Students,” found that the size and pervasiveness of race and income disparities in educational access in Pennsylvania are among the most severe in the country.
PA School Funding Case Trial Coming Soon – But Legislators Can Act Now!
Our historic school funding lawsuit against Pennsylvania officials will go to trial in Commonwealth Court this year. While we await the issuing of a scheduling order by the judge in the case, we continue to work with our partners and our co-counsel at the Public Interest Law Center to build awareness and support for the case through webinars, social media, and other activities. It is a good time to remind our legislators that they do not need to wait for a verdict to take action on addressing the grossly inadequate and inequitable funding system that Pennsylvania still uses. Sign up here both to get regular updates on the case and to volunteer to help spread the word.
Center Students Over Profits in Chester Upland
Education Law Center Email February 1, 2021
As the Chester Upland School District faces the potential outsourcing of some or all of its schools, ELC, along with Public Interest Law Center, continues to advocate on behalf of Chester parents, students, and the disability rights group Delaware County Advocacy & Resource Organization. We aim to ensure that the quality of education provided to students is centered, parent input and transparency are prioritized, and the needs of students with disabilities are addressed. The court-appointed receiver for the district is now implementing a court-authorized request for proposals (RFP) process that could lead to charter conversion or private management of some or all district schools by this fall. In response to our emergency motion to suspend the RFP process, the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas held a Jan. 11 hearing to consider our challenge that the RFP failed to ensure that charter operators demonstrate superior academic outcomes to the district’s and that all bidders establish their ability to improve educational outcomes and meet the needs of all students. On Jan. 14, Judge Barry Dozor ordered revisions to the RFP and suspended the RFP process until the district could submit its completed 2019 financial audits. The new deadline for RFP submissions is March 1. A task force will then be convened to make recommendations to the receiver, and a public hearing held where parents and stakeholders can ask questions of the selected bidders prior to a court hearing on a final plan. To learn more about this litigation and how to support the students of Chester Upland, join us for a Zoom meeting on February 4 at 7 p.m., Chester Upland Rising: Where Do We Go From Here?
‘Why are you silencing us?’ New Philly school board public comment policy draws ire
“It’s a step backwards,” said Tatyana Roldan, a senior at Central High School. “If you say they want to hear us, why are you silencing us?”
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham Published Feb 1, 2021
With a pandemic afoot and a controversial school reopening plan on the table, city parents, teachers, and concerned citizens have plenty to say to the Philadelphia school board. Because of changes to the school board’s public comment policy, there are now limited slots in which to say it. “It’s a step backward,” said Tatyana Roldan, a senior at Northeast High School. “If you say they want to hear us, why are you silencing us?” The board recently shifted its strategy overseeing the Philadelphia School District, shaking up board meetings, and adding more time on scrutinizing academic achievement. It also moved to limit the number of speakers — from no limit to 10 students and 30 members of the public — and cut from three minutes to two the amount of time each can address the board. The changes, board president Joyce Wilkerson said, aim to amplify diverse voices: Students and new speakers are prioritized. Wilkerson has said this was in part a reaction to a meeting in last July, when opponents of in-person school reopening packed a virtual board session that lasted eight hours and included public comment from more than 100 people. Nearly all of the speakers blasted Superintendent William R. Hite’s reopening plan, which was ultimately scotched. Wilkerson said those speakers did not reflect the sentiments of the entire community. “It turns out there was a whole community that wanted their kids to go back,” she said. “Just relying exclusively on those people who speak out at board meetings has not been as effective as we need it to be to make decisions as a board.”
Philly leaders lied for decades about school safety. Why should teachers trust them during a pandemic? | Opinion
The district still lacks a robust testing strategy and has failed to provide ventilation reports for many schools expected to return.
by Adam Sanchez and Nina Willbach, For the Inquirer Published Feb 1, 2021
Last November, when the Philadelphia School District aimed to reopen in-person schooling, the plan was thwarted by a surge in coronavirus cases. So now that the district is again attempting to reopen schools, the number of cases has declined, right? Wrong. In November, Thomas Farley, the head of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, reported an average of 387 new cases per day, enough to cancel school reopening. But in his most recent update, Farley explains that for the past week, we averaged 401 cases per day and 518 the previous week. While this seems to be part of a downward trajectory, our community transmission rate reached “substantial” according to state guidelines the week of Oct. 18 and has remained there ever since. The first cases of the more contagious coronavirus variants are being reported near Philadelphia; without a quicker vaccine rollout, these variants will likely cut short some of the progress that has been made. So why is now the time to reopen in-person schools?
PPS proposes school closures as district seeks significant changes in footprint
ANDREW GOLDSTEIN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette firstname.lastname@example.org FEB 1, 2021 6:44 PM
The Pittsburgh Public Schools on Monday proposed significant changes to its physical footprint, including the closure or restructuring of several schools and possible staff reductions. The moves, some of which could come as soon as the 2021-22 school year, would affect hundreds of students and staff members. District administrators asked the school board to vote Tuesday on opening to the public the discussion of closures and other changes. They said no moves would be made until the district held conversations with teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders. “This is only a draft plan,” said Michael McNamara, the district’s interim chief operations officer. “We are inviting and will purposefully engage board members, teachers, principals and community members as we take this journey of modernizing our footprint.” The schools that would close under the proposal are: Miller PreK-5 in the Hill District; Fulton PreK-5 in Highland Park; Woolslair PreK-5 in Lawrenceville; and Manchester PreK-8 in Manchester. The only school slated to close for the 2021-22 school year is Woolslair. All others would close before the 2022-23 school year.
'Black History is American History': Pa. schools urged to adopt anti-racist curricula
Bucks County Courier Times by Sam Ruland York Daily Record February 1, 2021
Throughout her years in the Central York School District, Princess Gabriel never sat in a classroom where a person of color stood at the chalkboard and lectured. It didn’t seem that strange, for the most part, she remembers. All her neighbors were white, all her friends were white — the lead characters in her favorite television shows were white. As a student, she recalls reading only a handful of books that featured nonwhite perspectives — titles such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Huckleberry Finn" come to mind. But even when those novels featured people of color, she realized, the books were often written by white authors who failed to portray the Black characters with depth and thoughtfulness. "It made me realize how important representation in the classroom is," said Gabriel, who is Black and a senior at Central York High School. "Talking about the Black, Latino or Asian community from a removed point of view and reading it from a white author isn’t enough. We must include and hear other voices." The way to begin fixing it, she said, is to move toward anti-racist curricula and away from practices that center only on the experiences of white people. So not only are Pennsylvania schools trying to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re also opening during a racial reckoning across the country — one largely fueled by the police killing of George Floyd in May, bullying of Asian-American students amid the coronavirus and a spike in anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Semitism since the 2016 election.
As virus cuts class time, teachers have to leave out lessons
Trib Live by ASSOCIATED PRESS | Monday, February 1, 2021 12:40 p.m.
English teachers are deciding which books to skip. History teachers are condensing units. Science teachers are often doing without experiments entirely. With instruction time reduced as much as half by the coronavirus pandemic, many of the nation’s middle school and high school teachers have given up on covering all the material normally included in their classes and instead are cutting lessons. Certain topics must be taught because they will appear on exit exams or Advanced Placement tests. But teachers are largely on their own to make difficult choices — what to prioritize and what to sacrifice to the pandemic. “I have to make decisions constantly about what material I’m not going to cover because it is impossible to get it all done,” said Leigh Foy, a chemistry and Advanced Placement biology teacher at York Suburban High School in Pennsylvania.
Allentown School District superintendent Thomas Parker resigning
Thomas Parker, the Allentown School District’s fourth superintendent since 2010 and the first African American in that position, will resign May 1, Parker said in a letter Monday night. “After much reflection and consideration, I have accepted a position at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, where I will work to help strengthen the education continuum in Flint, Michigan,” Parker said in the letter. “Ending this chapter in Allentown is not an easy decision,” he said. “I have poured my heart into serving this community for the past four years. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved and what we are working to achieve in the future. This city has embraced my family, and we will be forever grateful and supportive champions of Allentown.” Under his contract, Parker must notify the Allentown School Board at least 90 days before resigning. The district will not be responsible for the remaining year of his contract. Parker was hired at $175,000 in 2017.
Scranton school directors to discuss possible return to classrooms
Times Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL STAFF WRITER February 1, 2021
With new research and guidance that calls for the reopening of schools, Scranton school directors will likely meet next week to discuss a possible return to classrooms. A slower-than-expected COVID-19 vaccine distribution could mean that Scranton schools would not reopen until sometime in April, Director Ro Hume said during a virtual meeting Monday night. Though four Lackawanna County districts have been able to offer vaccines to employees due to a medical provider having extras, the amount needed in Scranton is too large, leaders said. Educators are included in phase 1B of the state’s plan. Before the state expanded phase 1A to include people age 65 and older and those with certain pre-existing conditions, officials hoped to start offering vaccines to Scranton employees this month. The district is working with Hometown Health Care of NEPA, which might be able to start offering vaccines to employees who fit within the 1A category soon, said Robert Gentilezza, chief compliance officer. School directors decided last month to continue fully remote instruction, with the hope that vaccines would be made available soon. New state guidance recommends providing in-person instruction to elementary-age students. Several parents asked the board Monday night to let their children return to school as soon as possible.
South Philly’s Andrew Jackson School is being renamed after years of advocacy
Community members will have a chance to weigh in on the new name.
Billy Penn/WHYY by Michaela Winberg Yesterday, 1:50 p.m.
A public school in South Philadelphia is set to be renamed after three years of advocacy from parents, teachers and city residents. Andrew Jackson School at 13th and Federal streets has received the School District’s stamp of approval to begin the renaming process, according to an email sent to parents from principal Kelly Espinosa and obtained by Billy Penn. The process will begin with a town hall meeting on Feb. 25. “We have made the decision to change our school name to one that will better reflect our school’s values and the diverse students and families we serve,” Espinosa wrote in the email to parents. Public complaints surfaced in 2018 about the K-8 school, named for the seventh United States president. Jackson had no major connection to Philadelphia, owned slaves and ordered the Trail of Tears that killed thousands of Indigenous people. Three years ago, an online petition garnered more than 800 signatures in support of renaming the Passyunk Square school. The idea? To keep the Jackson name, but have it rep Fanny Jackson Coppin, who was born into slavery in Washington DC and went on to become a teacher in Philadelphia.
Missing in School Reopening Plans: Black Families’ Trust
Deep-seated mistrust among Black families toward their public school districts is holding back school reopening, even as Black children suffer inordinately from remote learning.
For Farah Despeignes, the choice of whether to send her children back to New York City classrooms as the coronavirus pandemic raged on last fall was no choice at all. Ms. Despeignes, a Black mother of two, watched in despair as her Bronx neighborhood was devastated by Covid-19 last spring. She knew it would take a long time for her to trust that the nation’s largest public school system could protect her sons’ health — and by extension her own. “Everything that has happened in this country just in the last year has proved that Black people have no reason to trust the government,” including public school systems and her sons’ school building, said Ms. Despeignes, an elected parent leader on the local school board who has taught at several colleges. She added, “My mantra is, if you can do it for yourself, you shouldn’t trust other people to do it for you. Because I can’t see for myself what’s going on in that building, I’m not going to trust somebody else to keep my children safe.” Even as more districts reopen their buildings and President Biden joins the chorus of those saying schools can safely resume in-person education, hundreds of thousands of Black parents say they are not ready to send their children back. That reflects both the disproportionately harsh consequences the virus has visited on nonwhite Americans and the profound lack of trust that Black families have in school districts, a longstanding phenomenon exacerbated by the pandemic.
How the Biden Team Will Influence K-12 Education: The President’s Cabinet Picks
The U.S. Department of Education is the natural federal focus of the nation’s school leaders, as well as the lobbyists, researchers, and lawmakers involved in K-12 education. Yet it’s far from the only powerful federal agency that deals with important education issues. The Education Department’s primary mission for elementary and secondary education is to ensure equal access to education and promote excellence in the field. It investigates potential violations of civil rights law, and reviews and monitors states’ work to hold schools accountable, among other responsibilities. (Miguel Cardona is President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the department.) Yet from school meals and child care to guidance about discipline, a host of agencies work either independently or in conjunction with the Education Department to set policies and priorities for schools.
Education Leaders Introduce Bills to Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools, Save Education Jobs, and Recover Lost Time in the Classroom
House Education & Labor Committee Website 01.28.21
WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) joined Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03), and Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI-at Large) to introduce a package of education bills to reopen and rebuild our schools, save educators' jobs, and help students recover lost time in the classroom. The Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act, introduced with Congressman Norcross, the Save Education Jobs Act introduced with Congresswoman Hayes, and the Learning Recovery Act, introduced with Congresswoman Leger Fernandez and Congressman Sablan, are part of the Committee’s response to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, educators, and parents.
“Prior to the pandemic, our education system was suffering from crumbling infrastructure, understaffed schools, and widening achievement gaps. Now, after an unprecedented disruption in students’ lives as a result of the pandemic, we are seeing existing inequities exacerbated,” said Chairman Scott. “The package of bills introduced today reflects our commitment to helping students, educators, and parents overcome the pandemic, reopen our schools, and finally access a quality, public education.”
What you need to know about standardized testing
Washington Post By Valerie Strauss Reporter Feb. 1, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EST
Diane Ravitch is a former assistant secretary of education and historian. For more than a decade, she has been a leading advocate for America’s public education system and a critic of the modern “accountability” movement that has based school improvement measures in large part on high-stakes standardized tests. In her influential 2010 book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” Ravitch explained why she dropped her support for No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of President George W. Bush, and for standardized test-based school “reform.” Ravitch worked from 1991 to 1993 as assistant secretary in charge of research and improvement in the Education Department of President George H.W. Bush, and she served as counselor to then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander, who had just left the Senate where he had served as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. She was at the White House as part of a select group when George W. Bush first outlined No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a moment that at the time she said made her “excited and optimistic” about the future of public education. But her opinion changed as NCLB was implemented and she researched its effects on teaching and learning. She found that the NCLB mandate for schools to give high-stakes annual standardized tests in math and English language arts led to reduced time — or outright elimination — of classes in science, social studies, the arts and other subjects.
Broad Street Run postponed again due to COVID-19
The Broad Street Run, a Philly tradition for more than 40 years and the country’s largest 10-mile race, has once again been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Inquirer by Rob Tornoe Published Feb 1, 2021
The Broad Street Run, the country’s largest 10-mile race and a Philadelphia tradition for more than 40 years, has once again been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The run, scheduled to take place in May 2021, has been pushed back until the fall, organizers announced Monday. No final date has been announced. “While the future trajectory of COVID-19 is still unknown, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to welcome you all this fall for the 2021 Broad Street Run,” organizers said in a Facebook post.
Pat Metheny with Charlie Haden - Cinema Paradiso
YouTube 2,840,464 views •Feb 12, 2010 Runtime 5:14
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!
PSBA: Upcoming PA budget recap webinar Feb. 3rd
POSTED ON JANUARY 15, 2021 IN PSBA NEWS
On Tuesday, February 2, Gov. Tom Wolf will present his 2021-22 state budget proposal before a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives. Following the governor’s budget address, the Senate and House appropriations committees will convene hearings beginning March 15 on specific components of the proposal. The PSBA Government Affairs team will be providing members with complete coverage of the governor’s budget proposal, budget details and resources for school boards on February 3 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Claim your spot for the budget recap here.
Join PFPS and NPE for “Fighting Voucher Legislation in 2021: An Update on State Voucher Bills and Tools to Oppose Them” Webinar Feb. 4th 4 p.m.
Author: PFPS Posted: Jan 28, 2021
Public Funds Public Schools resumes our engaging and well attended webinar series begun in 2020 with the first installment of 2021. Join PFPS and the Network for Public Education on Thursday, February 4, at 4 p.m. EST for an important and topical webinar, “Fighting Voucher Legislation in 2021: An Update on State Voucher Bills and Tools to Oppose Them.”
Panelists will discuss the significant private school voucher bills that have already been introduced in State Legislatures around the country, additional legislative action to watch for during 2021 legislative sessions, and tools and resources made available to advocates by PFPS and others. The webinar will feature representatives from the SPLC Action Fund and Education Law Center, which support the PFPS campaign, and from the National Coalition for Public Education, as well as Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education.
Use this link to register for Fighting Voucher Legislation: An Update on State Voucher Bills and Tools to Oppose Them on February 4 at 4 p.m. EST.
EDUCATION CONVERSATION: An Introduction to the Philadelphia School Board’s “Goals and Guardrails” Initiative
Philadelphia Education Fund Free Virtual Event Thursday February 4, 2021 9:00 am - 10:15 am
Attend a typical school board meeting anywhere in the country, and the agenda will likely be largely made up of financial, contracting, and spending resolutions. What if, instead of school operations, a school board were to focus its attention on student achievement? Might that accelerate gains for students? Could that improve the student experience? Would that deliver educational equity? Two years ago, the Philadelphia Board of Education began consulting with education leaders across the country to explore this question. The answer, announced just last month, is Goals and Guardrails. The initiative has been described by former board member, Lee Huang, as both “obvious and revolutionary.” And, Superintendent Bill Hite called it a “game changer.” To learn more about this approach and what it might mean for Philadelphia’s schoolchildren, register for this free event here.
- Leticia Egea-Hinton, Vice President, Board of Education
- Mallory Fix Lopez, Member, Board of Education
- Angela McIver, Member, Board of Education
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 myPSBA.org.
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!
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.
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.
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.