Monday, February 8, 2021

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Feb. 8, 2021: “Those three factors have meant the difference between being open five days a week or being closed.”

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Keystone State Education Coalition

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Feb. 8, 2021

“Those three factors have meant the difference between being open five days a week or being closed.”



Congratulations to #348 @UnionScotties for passing the charter funding reform resolution. Thank you @HeatherBScott @RepSainato and Senator Elder Vogel Jr.



See how Governor Wolf’s Proposed Charter Funding Reforms Would Impact Your School District (From PDE Website)

Estimated Charter School Reform Savings by School District (Excel)

Legislative Proposal

Governor Wolf has proposed comprehensive charter school reform legislation that would:

  • Establish performance standards that hold charter schools accountable for the educational outcomes of students and a moratorium on new cyber charter schools.
  • Cap student enrollment in low performing cyber charter schools until outcomes improve.
  • Require charter management companies be subject to the Right to Know Act, State Ethics Act, and post employee salaries on PDE's website, similar to requirements already in place for public school districts.
  • Create fair, predictable, and equitable funding for school districts, including in the areas of special education funding and cyber charter tuition payments.

Comprehensive Charter School Law Reform Savings

As part of his 2021-22 Proposed Budget, Governor Wolf is seeking comprehensive Charter School Law reform to help ensure all public schools in our commonwealth are providing high-quality education to every child.  Updated 2/3/2021: Based on 2018-19 data, this reform could make another estimated $229 million available for school districts.


“Who, if anyone, in Pennsylvania or South Jersey, has come up with a pragmatic plan to tackle three of the biggest barriers to reopening that private schools have largely figured out? I’d love to know.

1) Public school buildings were so packed with students pre-pandemic, with large class sizes aimed at keeping local property taxes in check, that they had no lavish extra real estate capacity to create classes large enough to keep students spaced six feet apart, as recommended by the CDC.

2) Many public schools lack adequate or any mechanical ventilation to circulate fresh air into rooms. Ventilation — whether open windows, fans, or elaborate HVAC systems — help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among masked, carefully spaced people indoors.

3) Many public schools lack the resources to hire enough additional teachers, substitutes, and support staff to shrink class sizes so that kids can be spaced apart, or to handle absences due to teacher leaves or quarantines.

Those three factors have meant the difference between being open five days a week or being closed. Addressing them enabled many private schools to open fully in September, long before any approved vaccines.”

The pressure is on to reopen public schools. But can it really happen? | Maria Panaritis

Inquirer by Maria Panaritis @panaritism | Posted: February 6, 2021 - 5:00 AM

In what is now the 11th month of shuttered or partially opened public schools since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the call to return to brick-and-mortar classrooms seems to be intensifying. But does that mean anything substantive or comprehensive has been done to address the biggest barriers to safely reopening our nation’s public schools? I wish the answer to that were “yes.” In the affluent Wallingford-Swarthmore School District in Delaware County, where students have been in actual school buildings for only a few days a week, the community was in an uproar Monday over plans for a five-day-a-week return to classrooms for children through fifth grade. People appeared split into two camps: Team Hell No or Team Hell Yes. That day’s snowstorm prompted postponement of a school board meeting until Monday, Feb. 8. Students began attending classrooms inside school buildings for just several days a week in Swarthmore, Pa., on Day One of hybrid learning October 5, 2020. Officials now want to open every day.

On Tuesday in a district 2½ hours west in Shippensburg, the school board gave angry parents what they wanted and approved a four-day-a-week return to buildings for all grades by Feb. 22. It was not clear if students would be spaced six feet apart as federal health guidance has urged.


Governor Wolf Proposes a Bold, Historic Investment in Public Education (and a lot more!!) .

Includes links to PDE district by district spreadsheets for BEF, Special Ed and Charter Savings.

Education Voters Published by EDVOPA on February 6, 2021

On Wednesday, February 5th, Governor Wolf gave his budget address.

Gov. Wolf’s proposed state budget for 2021-2022 demonstrates his understanding of the extensive unmet needs in Pennsylvania’s public schools and his commitment to fixing the unfairness of our current funding system.

Gov. Wolf’s proposed historic investment of $1.5 billion in public K-12 education would substantially increase resources available to students in the commonwealth’s most profoundly underfunded schools and make significant progress toward closing the resource and opportunity gaps that harm our most vulnerable children and threaten Pennsylvania’s future workforce, tax base, and economy.   This budget provides additional basic and special education funding to all school districts and would create more than $229 million in savings on charter tuition payments for districts.

It is a budget that Pennsylvania’s students deserve.


“Koons and the 12 Schuylkill County school district superintendents sent a letter to local legislators in October defending the need for cyber charter reform. The letter stated that the average cyber charter tuition paid by school districts is $12,660 per pupil in regular education and $27,699 per pupil in special education, compared to the average Schuylkill County school district tuition of $9,468 per pupil for elementary and $10,724 per pupil for secondary education.”

Proposed charter school reforms 'long overdue'

Hazelton Standard Speaker By Emily Graham Staff Writer Feb 7, 2021 Updated 8 hrs ago

Gov. Tom Wolf proposed some cyber charter school reforms, which many public school districts have said are needed to begin to reduce the increasing costs of cyber charter schools. Cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania charge public school districts between $9,170 and $22,300 per student per year. The governor’s plan would establish a statewide cyber charter tuition rate of $9,500 per student, saving an estimated $130 million a year. The governor also proposed changing the funding formula for special education at charter schools. Currently, charter schools receive funding for a special education population of 16%, regardless of the students’ needs. The new plan would put special education funding for charter schools through the same four-tiered formula that public school districts go through based on individual students’ needs. Gregory Koons, Ed.D., said in the 2019-20 school year, cyber charter tuition cost the Schuylkill County’s 12 school districts over $9.1 million of taxpayer money. “The costly tuition of cyber charter schools has created a fiscal strain on our local school district budgets,” Koons said. “The proposed cyber charter legislation would help reduce the draining of local school budgets and regulate the ever increasing cyber charter tuition costs.”


Readers' Views: Pennsylvania schools chronically underfunded

Pottstown Mercury Letter by Beth Yoder, Douglassville February 7, 2021

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget acknowledges the grave needs of Pennsylvania’s schools by proposing a $1.5 billion increase in educational funding. As a teacher in the Pottstown School District, I’ve seen first hand the devastating effects of chronic underfunding. Due to this, none of our elementary schools have guidance counselors, leaving classroom teachers ill-equipped to provide much-needed social-emotional guidance to our students. Our middle school does not have a music teacher or any foreign languages, leaving kids behind most of their peers in surrounding districts. Additionally, at the high school, we can only offer a handful of honors and AP courses. This leaves students who want to pursue numerous careers further behind than any of the properly-funded schools. Even before the pandemic, the district had to cut staff so class sizes are larger, leading teachers unable to spend much-needed time with each student every day. The detrimental impact of this lack of funding will follow my students throughout their lives. A recent analysis found that Pottstown School District is being shortchanged more than $13 million by the state’s current funding system. Pennsylvania’s schools need at least an additional $4.6 billion to adequately educate students. Every year that the Legislature delays addressing these growing needs, the outlook for underfunded districts and for our students’ education grows more dire. It’s time for legislators to take bold action to adequately and equitably fund our school so all students, regardless of their zip code, have not only an adequate education, but a truly exceptional one.


“Pennsylvania's 14 cyber charters will be audited. "Wait," you say. "the cyber charters aren't audited?" The answer is "barely;" six of the charters have never been audited at all, and the largest cyber charter in the state, Commonwealth Charter Academy, was last audited in 2012.  The proposal also targets cyber charter funding, one of the deeply nonsensical features of the Pennsylvania charter landscape. Cybers get 100% of the same payment as a brick and mortar charter school--even though they have no bricks, no mortar, and none of the other expenses of an actual school building. Consequently, cyber schools in PA are making money hand over fist, and taxpayer dollars go to things like advertising ($1,000 per student recruited at one charter) and, no kidding, a cool robot dog. The governor proposes to set a statewide cyber tuition rate that is still mighty generous. The state's in-house online education program costs about $5,400 per student per year, and the governor proposes a set $9,500 tuition rate.”

PA: Budget Kicks Off Another Round of Charter Battles

Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Saturday, February 6, 2021

Governor Tom Wolf has released his budget proposal, and charter supporters are not happy.

This is not the first time Wolf has made the charter school industry sad. Back in the summer of 2019 he fired some shots across their bows with an aggressive agenda for fixing Pennsylvania's messed up charter funding system. In return, they've launched a variety of PR pushes; indications are they have something a little more potent in mind this time. In his 2020 budget speech, tried to soothe the industry and thread the needle, saying that Pennsylvania students should get a great education "whether in a traditional public school or a charter school" an noting that "Pennsylvania has a history of school choice, which I support." But he also said that some charter schools are “little more than fronts for private management companies, and the only innovations they’re coming up with involve finding new ways to take money out of the pockets of property taxpayers.” The 2021 budget has several features to tighten up Pennsylvania's exceptionally loose charter industry.


“Another notable proposal would provide overdue reforms to the Charter School Law, adjusting the way cyber charters get funded to include a flat per student rate of $9,500 per year. Cyber schools who do not have expenses tied to brick-and-mortar structures have benefited unduly from the lack of meaningful charter-funding reform. This change alone represents $229 million in savings to districts.”

Gov. Wolf’s Pa. budget includes bold proposals. Now it requires bold action. | Inquirer Editorial

The Inquirer Editorial Board Posted: February 7, 2021 - 5:00 AM

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget — and the response it has generated — presents a somewhat jarring déjà vu to budgets of the recent past. On Wolf’s side, he has put forth bold plans to hike education funding, support environmental spending, give tax cuts to some families, and hike the state income tax for others. Republican lawmakers responded by immediately calling the budget a nonstarter. Bad enough that this performance is so predictable during normal times. But following a year of economic devastation due to the pandemic, it’s a particular disappointment. Lawmakers are missing the opportunity presented by the pandemic to throw out the old partisan and unproductive script and look at things differently. Contrary to expectations that this proposal would be a decimated shadow of past budgets, the new $37.8 billion general fund budget represents an 11% increase over last year’s. That increase comes from a combination of new taxes, reallocating revenues, and federal dollars. The elements of Gov. Wolf’s budget are indeed bold. Any proposal to increase income taxes in the midst of a recession takes guts. The hike in personal income tax from 3.07% to 4.49% is targeted to higher-income families (and will also impact businesses) and is coupled with tax cuts for working families hit hardest by the pandemic.


Blogger note: Senator Mensch serves as Majority Caucus Chair

Sen. Bob Mensch: Wolf budget is like the film 'Groundhog Day'

West Chester Daily :Local Opinion By Sen. Bob Mensch Guest columnist Feb 5, 2021

State Sen. Bob Mensch is a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 24th Senatorial District in portions of Montgomery, Berks and Bucks counties.

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” the Pennsylvania weatherman played by Bill Murray famously lives the same day over and over. In “Groundhog Day: The State Budget,” Pennsylvania taxpayers live the same threat of massive tax hikes year after year. On Feb. 3, one day after Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his proposed state budget, predicting at least six more weeks of Pennsylvanians fending off the largest tax and spending increases in state history. The governor’s proposed 2021-22 state budget includes a $3.1 billion (8.2 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year. This staggeringly large spending increase is unsustainable. In addition, he wants to increase the state personal income tax (PIT) rate from 3.07 percent to 4.49 percent (a 46.3 percent hike) as of July 1. About one-third of all Pennsylvanians would see their state tax burden increase under this rate hike. This doesn’t only harm families. Upwards of one million Pennsylvania small businesses will have their tax rates increased since these pass-through businesses (i.e. S corporations, partnerships, etc.) pay business taxes at the same PIT rate as individuals. This proposed tax increase coupled with the governor’s ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and his proposed minimum wage hike would be devastating for many family businesses that are already struggling to stay financially solvent.


Wolf's school budget proves disparities

Times Tribune Editorial BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD February 7, 2021

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget would right multiple wrongs regarding public education, which in Pennsylvania means it will not get through the Legislature. But conceptually and practically, the proposal points to more equitable taxation and, at long last, fair distribution of tax money for education. For years, the state has underfunded scores of school districts, including Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Wolf’s proposal fleshes out the degree to which taxpayers and children in those districts have been shortchanged. It would distribute all $6 billion in state education funding under the fair funding formula that the state adopted in 2014. Now, the state only applies the fair funding formula to “new” money appropriated after that year, rather than to the entire state allocation. By applying the formula to all state funding, the state would provide the Scranton School District with an additional $33 million — not just next year but every year. The state has placed the Scranton district in its economic recovery program, but has precluded it from including corrected state funding in its recovery plan. In Lackawanna County, the Carbondale Area, Mid Valley and Riverside districts also would receive significant increases. This is not a windfall. It is corrective. Wolf acknowledged that unfair application of the supposed fair funding formula has resulted in some districts receiving an aggregate of $1.15 billion more than they would if the formula were applied correctly. He proposed raising an additional $1.15 billion in education funding so that those districts would not lose any revenue.  To raise the additional money for fair funding, Wolf proposed, in effect, a progressive personal income tax rather than the highly regressive 3.07% current flat rate.


Chester Upland: Rally at Chester High School calls for equity in education

Delco Times By Kathleen E. Carey @dtbusiness on Twitter February 7, 2021

CHESTER — Concerned that the Chester Upland School District is going to be scavenged to the lowest bidder, more than 50 people rallied at Chester High School Saturday, calling for action and recognition that the city's students and teachers deserve better. "Chester Students Matter! Chester Teachers Matter!" were among the chants at the rally, organized by Delco Resists and Chester Upland parents. "I just don't get it," Carol Kazeem, a Chester Upland parent and Delco Resists member event organizer, said. "State funding needs to be increased and property taxes should not be used as part of our educational funding ... How are you going to use that money to make sure that every child got the same quality right to education? To make sure that they have the same resources?" The district has had to divert millions of dollars to charter schools such as Chester Community and Chester Charter Scholars Academy. "Whether you want to say it's charter, outsourcing, you can't do it, it's the same thing," Kazeem said. "Don't put children over profit. It's starting to turn into a business. Our kids are not for sale. This is not a business." In fact, she said money the district has been mandated to send to the charter schools over the years should be returned to the Chester Upland School District. "I want that back money too so these kids can get what they need in these schools," she said.  "The American Dream, it ain't working for all of us," Kazeem said. "And it starts here, education. Education is what put that American dream in place and that American dream do not work for all, not when we have disparities and systematic issues in our education going on." Maura I. McInerney, an attorney with the Education Law Center representing Chester Upland, summarized the situation.


“Online charter schools have a “uniformly negative” track record for every demographic subgroup of students. Every subgroup measured by the Department of Education does better in a traditional public school. And this is not just the result of one study, though there are many high-profile studies out there such as the study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford which found that cyber charters have an “overwhelmingly negative impact.” Even the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a charter advocacy group, in 2016 offered a report entitled “A call to action to improve the quality of full-time virtual charter public schools.

Report: California Wastes $600 Million Per Year On Cyberschools

Forbes by Peter Greene Senior Contributor Feb 6, 2021,02:51pm EST|402 views

Online charter schools have a troubled history in California. In the late 1990s, a series of scandals broke involving online charters revealed abuses such as public funds funneled to religious schools and huge management fees paid to a private company owned by the school executives. A new law was passed, but problems continued, until a huge charter chain was charged with defrauding the state to the tune of $50 million. At that point, the legislature pressed pause on authorizing any more nonclassroom-based (NCB) charters. That moratorium expires at the end of 2021. With that in mind, In The Public Interest issued a report this month offering “the first comprehensive assessment of California’s (’nonclassroom-based’) charter schools.” The report is written by Gordon Lafer (The One Percent Solution) from the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, with co-authors Clare Crawford, Karissa Petrucci, and Jennifer Smith. The bottom line of the report is simple: California’s taxpayers are overpaying for an inferior product. The report, Costly Failure, is heavily researched and well-sourced in considerable detail, but we can look at some of the highlights here.


Report on cyber charter schooling misleading

The Express, Lockhaven PA LETTERS TO THE EDITOR by TIM ELLER FEB 6, 2021

Tim Eller is senior vice president of outreach and government relations for Commonwealth Charter Academy

The Jan. 29 article “Cyber, charter schooling may cost JSASD $3.2M” this year is not only misleading but includes incorrect information. Jersey Shore Area School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Ulmer claims that the district’s cyber program only costs the district $3,000 for each regular education and special education student. The district’s school board, parents, and taxpayers should request a full accounting of Dr. Ulmer’s figures, specifically focusing on the following areas:

— Does the district’s cyber program provide comprehensive services and support to all students with disabilities and is it in compliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?

— Does the district’s cyber program include all technology for non-special education and special education students to fully participate from home, including a computer, instructional materials, home internet service, and in-home and/or virtual special education services?

— Does any portion of the district’s cyber program require students — both regular and special education — to participate from a district-run building?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” then the district’s cyber program cannot be compared to a public cyber charter school and any cost comparison is deeply flawed.


Commonwealth Charter Academy purchases former Macy’s space at Waterfront

Trib Live PAUL GUGGENHEIMER  | Wednesday, February 3, 2021 1:58 p.m.

A former Macy’s department store now known as the Waterfront Technology Center has been bought by one of its current tenants. Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), an online education platform, has finalized a deal to purchase the redeveloped office complex from M&J Wilkow and BIG Shopping Centers, which bought the 140,000-square-foot building from Macy’s in 2018. The building is located in The Waterfront shopping complex in Homestead. It was part of an effort to continue expanding the center’s mix of retailers and tenants. Following a reuse conversion, the building was leased at full capacity to Siemens Mobility and CCA, turning the space into an office and research and development facility. CCA currently occupies the first floor, spanning nearly 70,000 square feet. Seimens Mobility will continue to occupy the remainder of the building on the second floor. M&J Wilkow has been retained by CCA to provide property management services.


In a reversal, Philadelphia teachers are no longer expected to report to schools Monday

Chalkbeat Philly By Dale Mezzacappa  Feb 7, 2021, 10:45pm EST

The city is not asking Philadelphia teachers to return to school buildings Monday morning, a last-minute twist in the reopening debate. A spokeswoman said that about 2,000 staff members who had been expected to go to school buildings to prepare for a Feb. 22 reopening for early-grade students can teach remotely instead, since a mediator hired to review a safety agreement between the district and teachers union won’t have a decision in time. “The mediation process is still ongoing. Without a final decision from the mediator, teachers won’t be mandated to report tomorrow, but any teacher who chooses to report is welcome to do so,” said a statement from a city spokesperson last night. “We remain hopeful that this process will ultimately allow both parties to come to a resolution in time for students to return the week of February 22.


Philly teachers defy demands to return to buildings, plan Monday protests

WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent February 7, 2021

Philadelphia’s teachers union will hold citywide protests Monday, defying school district plans to bring teachers back into classrooms for the first time since last March. As part of its “day of action,” the union has told members not to enter school buildings as requested. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) said in a statement Sunday that “thousands of teachers” will work outside their buildings instead of going inside. The protests will include appearances by Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers. The union continues to maintain school district buildings are unsafe for occupancy given COVID-19 concerns. A mediator in the matter was named Friday. The school district has requested that some staff report to buildings on Monday to prepare for the eventual return of some pre-K through grade 2 students. A district official said staff who defy the order could be subject to “disciplinary action.”  The PFT has said the buildings are not safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and told its members not to enter school buildings.


Philly teachers union president tells members not to go to school Monday, setting up a showdown

Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Posted: February 5, 2021

The gulf between the Philadelphia School District and its teachers widened Friday, with the union president telling members not to report to work Monday amid concerns over COVID-19 and building safety. “There is absolutely no reason, other than sheer cruelty, to bring members into unsafe buildings Monday,” Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan said in a statement. He directed staffers to work remotely. The standoff emerged after Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he expects 2,000 prekindergarten through second grade teachers to show up at schools Monday in advance of a Feb. 22 reopening for 9,000 students. It’s the district’s third attempt at reopening since the pandemic shut schools in March. The district, in an email to PFT members Friday afternoon, took a hard line. “If you are expected to be in your building on Monday and choose not to do so, you will be subject to disciplinary action,” Chief Talent Officer Larisa Shambaugh wrote.


‘I would like for them to come back’: Mayor wants Philadelphia teachers to return to schools Monday

Chalkbeat Philly By Johann Calhoun  Feb 6, 2021, 6:19pm EST

Mayor Jim Kenney wants teachers to return to their schools Monday as part of the School District of Philadelphia’s effort to reopen schools to some students later this month. ‘I would like for them to come back,” Kenney told Chalkbeat on Saturday at an event at Smith Playground in North Philadelphia. “There have been people like the SEIU workers in schools since March.” District leaders planned to open campuses to teachers on Monday ahead of about 9,000 students in prekindergarten to second grade returning Feb. 22. But Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan on Friday instructed his members in an email not to show up to school because of concerns about whether the district’s buildings are safe. About 2,000 PFT members have been told by the district to return to school Monday. In his note, Jordan told teachers to continue to work remotely and “prepare for all eventualities.” Neither the district or city announced plans for schools or offices to be closed Monday ahead of the anticipated snowstorm this weekend, with the city declaring a snow emergency beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday.


Reopening debate tests Biden’s ties with major teachers unions

The school reopening debate is presenting an early test of President Joe Biden’s allegiance with powerful teachers unions

Post Gazette by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FEB 6, 2021 12:15 AM

The heated school reopening debate is forcing President Joe Biden to balance two priorities: getting children back into the classroom and preserving the support of powerful labor groups that helped him get elected. Following weeks of standoffs in some cities and states where teachers unions are demanding vaccines as a condition of reopening, the issue came to a head Wednesday when Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said vaccination of teachers “is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” But in a juggling of positions, the White House declined to back Dr. Walensky. Asked Friday about her earlier comments, Dr. Walensky punted. So far, it doesn’t appear that the issue is driving a wedge between Mr. Biden and the unions. Even those demanding vaccines say shots would not be required if schools were taking other steps to make buildings safe.


Which Centre County schools are operating remotely due to COVID-19? Here’s a running list

Centre Daily Times BY MARLEY PARISH FEBRUARY 05, 2021 08:32 AM, UPDATED FEBRUARY 05, 2021 10:15 AM

Since reopening in August, Centre County school districts have been forced to make adjustments to instructional plans as community COVID-19 cases continue to rise and statewide mitigation efforts aim to slow virus transmission. The Centre Daily Times is keeping a running list of school closures and planned reopenings. Because area schools are not required to publicly announce confirmed cases or building closures, this list may not be comprehensive but will be updated weekly with any changes or updates to instructional plans. If a school closure is not listed, or to provide more information, please email


Ears on the Philly Board of Education: January 28, 2021

Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools February 1, 2021  by Diane Payne

The Board set the tone for this remote Action Meeting by imposing more undemocratic, punitive measures on the defenders of public education. Disenfranchisement was carried out in a number of ways, all decided in secret. The Board, for the first time in District history,  cut every speaker’s time from three minutes to two, and they limited the total number of speakers. In addition, the deadline for submitting written testimony went from 24 to 48 hours before the meeting. Violating not only the trust of the public but its own by-laws and the PA Sunshine Act, the Board amended an official policy without a public vote. Thus, when Dr. Hite called a press conference on Wednesday to announce his latest reopening plan, parents, teachers, students and principals had no chance to voice their opposition. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers had been warning against the still unsafe conditions of school buildings, but the Board made sure that neither they nor the public would hear about them. The Board is taking advantage of a public health crisis to shut the public out even more.


Pa. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is officially running for U.S. Senate

WHYY By Katie Meyer February 8, 2021

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has become the first major candidate to officially launch a campaign for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate in 2022.The 51-year-old Western Pennsylvania Democrat’s announcement comes as little surprise. Fetterman, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate once before, has a steadily rising national profile and has long been considered a likely contender for the open seat. Politically, he has made a project of attempting to bridge the increasing conservatism of de-industrialized, once-Democratic-voting areas with his own brand of progressive politics. “I believe in the dignity of work and the dignity of a paycheck,” he said in his campaign announcement statement. “I believe the union way of life is sacred. I believe in health care as a fundamental, basic human right.” Fetterman also said he believes in “environmental justice,” wants to overhaul the American criminal justice system, legalize marijuana nationwide, and thinks the country needs to increase protections for LGBTQIA people.


Pa. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman enters 2022 Senate race, but plenty of rivals are on the launchpad

Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Updated 5:30 AM; Today 5:30 AM

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has commanded just about all the early public attention in the nascent race to succeed Sen. Pat Toomey in the U.S. Senate next year. But that doesn’t mean he’ll have the 2022 Democratic primary ballot all to himself. And a host of Republicans are going to be vying for the seat as well. Toomey, a Republican from Allentown, announced late last year that he would not seek a third term in office. A quick check-in with political consultants, donors, and leaders in both major parties Friday found robust “short lists” for the purple Pennsylvania seat, which could be one of a handful that proves decisive in the struggle for majority control in the second half of President Joe Biden’s time in office. The Senate is right now evenly split, 50-50, but Democrats have control of the chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote on key issues. “We need to know a lot more about the candidates. We need to know a lot more about the political environment,” said veteran Pennsylvania political analyst G. Terry Madonna. “But it is going to be one of the marquee races, there is no doubt about it.”


Summer School Is a Hot Idea Right Now. Could It Work?

Numerous obstacles make extending the school year a tough proposition, but the Biden administration wants to put billions behind it as a way of offsetting pandemic-era learning losses.

New York Times By Dana Goldstein and Kate Taylor Feb. 5, 2021

The idea makes sense, so much so that at least two governors, a national union leader and President Biden are behind it: extend this school year into the summer to help students make up for some of the learning they lost during a year of mostly remote school. By summer, more teachers will be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Transmission rates might be significantly lower. And it will be easier in warm weather for students and educators to spend time in the open air, which is safer than being indoors. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia promoted the idea on Friday, saying that schools should make summer classes an option for families. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and Randi Weingarten, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, have offered similar endorsements. Boston teachers and the district have started talking about summer options. And Mr. Biden is expected to ask Congress to approve $29 billion to fund summer programs and tutoring as part of his pandemic stimulus package. But if parents and students have learned anything during this crisis, it is that even simple, intuitive ideas are hard to pull off in a public education system that is simultaneously decentralized and highly bureaucratic.


The next generation of American voters must learn to decipher fact from fiction

WHYY By Olga Polites February 6, 2021

“Murder the media.” Those horrifying words were carved into a door at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, during the Trump-inspired insurrection on January 6th. While many images from that infamous day are seared into my memory, those words have me thinking about how educators like myself prepare students to be productive and responsible citizens. The fact that someone would write “Murder the media” at a symbol of our democracy indicates that we have a great deal of work ahead of us. The first thing we need to talk about is how people get their information. We know that social media has disrupted how citizens get their news. But it also hampers one’s ability to critically read and comprehend information. Many people rely on their Facebook and Twitter feeds for news rather than credible new sources, such as the Associated Press or their local newspaper. The disinformation campaign regarding the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election is a clear indication of the damage wrought by bad actors in the conservative media – people such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, and radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. The fact that so many Americans believe lies about widespread voter fraud speaks to the urgent need to increase media literacy. While it may be too late to provide a significant portion of the adults with the skills to be better consumers of news, there’s still time to educate millions of middle and high school students throughout the United States. The very first skill that must be taught is how to gather facts.


New Biden Education Staffers Arrive via Gates Foundation, K-12 Reform Group, Sen. Sanders

Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa — February 05, 2021  5 min read

The latest round of political appointees to the U.S. Department of Education include a veteran of Capitol Hill and Beltway education groups, the former leader of Democrats for Education Reform’s District of Columbia affiliate, and two former Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation staffers. The Biden administration appointments, announced Feb. 3, fill spots in key offices, although nominees forthe top jobs in the office for civil rights and office of planning, evaluation, and policy development. (We gave folks a heads up about two of the most recent appointments here and here before they were officially announced.) However, a few such jobs are being filled on an acting basis. It’s difficult to discern just one trend or policy direction based on Biden’s Education Department appointments so far; those who’ve worked for and supported teachers’ unions in the past, for example, will be working alongside union skeptics and those who’ve drawn labor’s ire in the past. The administration announced its first set of department appointees last month, and it included two former National Education Association staffers. Meanwhile, Miguel Cardona’s progression towards becoming the next education secretary continues, following his confirmation hearing. The Senate education committee is due to consider his nomination on Feb. 11. Here are a few notable names from the latest round of appointments:



PA Schools Work Next Lunch & Learn Webinar: A Deep Dive on the Budget Tuesday, February 9th at Noon
Join PA Schools Work partners on Tuesday, February 9 at noon for our next Lunch & Learn webinar, where we will explain the details of the education components of Governor Wolf's budget proposal. 
You can register for the webinar here. 


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


348 PA school boards have adopted charter reform resolutions

Charter school funding reform continues to be a concern as over 340 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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